Latin Americans Denounce U.S. Racism — But Are They Any Better?

Latin American media have joined the chorus that has condemned institutional racism in the United States, but rarely denounce discrimination and violence targeting non-white groups in their own countries.

At a protest against racism in Rio De Janeiro
At a protest against racism in Rio De Janeiro
José E. Mosquera


BOGOTÁ — Latin American media, and thousands of news outlets worldwide, are dedicating wide coverage to the protests in U.S. cities that have united so many Americans of differing backgrounds in expressing their ire at the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis policeman, Derek Chauvin.

Millions around the world are rejecting the racist segregation that White Anglo-Saxon Americans have imposed on African Americans for more than four centuries. Not surprisingly, Latin American media have joined the global condemnation of ongoing civil rights violations and the brutality that include white policemen killing African Americans. Media reflecting a range of opinions have also criticized President Donald Trump's brazen, xenophobic and authoritarian response to the protests.

In Colombia, an editorial in the newspaper El Espectador, observed that Trump preferred war to facing racism and criticized his failure to build bridges instead of doing what he did best, namely "divide, mislead and foment violence." The daily warned of a "dangerous time bomb," and needless to say I share its views.

They stay quiet about the same racism, segregation and exclusion against black Latin Americans.

Yet I also must add a dose of criticism directed at Latin American papers, most of which historically have lacked a coherent editorial policy rejecting with equal vigor the racism afflicting the black population in Latin America. They condemn racism and segregation in the United States, but are quiet about the same racism, segregation and exclusion against black Latin Americans.

Their execration of Trump's racism or of discrimination in the United States should also be directed at the racism of the élites that have held political and economic power for the past two centuries in the southern half of the Americas.

These have historically excluded black and indigenous minorities from the power pyramid and all the benefits of development. Our minorities live in backward, neglected zones, with the lowest living and developmental standards, and the worst levels of access to earnings, education, healthcare and social welfare in this hemisphere.

It is shocking to find Colombian media failing to condemn police and judicial abuses committed every day against Afro-Caribbean Colombians. None of our media condemned the killing last month of 19-year-old Anderson Arboleda. The black youngster from Puerto Tejada in the Cauca department died three days after he was beaten unconscious by two white policemen. Why? He had violated the quarantine. No editorials or press outcry against the "white" policemen: that must be because Arboleda was poor and living in a forgotten district of a marginal part of the country along the Pacific coast. Place matters too.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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