Brazilian Bloggers Encounter Threats Online and Off

Brazilian Bloggers Encounter Threats Online and Off

Via The Committee to Protect Journalists:

Enderson Araújo is so afraid of being killed by police that he fled his home and is reluctant to talk on the telephone for fear he is being bugged.

Araújo is the Brazilian blogger and brains behind Mídia Periférica, a blog run by young journalists in the northeastern city of Salvador that focuses on news in poor communities that are undercovered by mainstream media. He has good reason to be afraid.

Read the rest here.


Mannequin Monday #43

Mannequin, Marrakech

For this week’ inductee to the planet’s largest repository of blighted mannequins, we journey back six months to a market stall near the Jemaa el-Fnaa square in the medina in Marrakech, not too far from where my phone was stolen. I don’t remember what the price sign was referring to; I was too preoccupied with wondering why a shopkeeper would put cellophane tape over an eyeball.

If you’re new to this weekly series, you can and should catch up here. It’ll help you have a much better Monday. Promise. Enjoy and do spread the word.

By the way, this image also serves as today’s Pic du Jour, the 434th (!!) straight. When you’ve got a few minutes to spare, you can browse some of those here.

‘Marcha de las Putas’ Slutwalk Attracts Hundreds in Quito Demanding an End to Sexual Violence – 46 Images

Marcha de las Putas 01

QUITO — Several hundred people gathered in Quito to take part in the fourth annual ‘Marcha de las Putas’ on Saturday, part of the growing trans-national network of ‘Slutwalk’ marches to protest sexual and domestic violence towards women.

NOTE: There are 46 images below, a few of which are probably NSFW.

With an infectious rhythm of beating drums and the shrieks of loud whistles as a non-stop soundtrack, marchers chanted slogans demanding sexual and reproductive freedom and an end to rape culture as they set out on the two-hour march from the Parque El Ejido, a few kilometers north of the city’s historical center district. Night descended by the time the parade route reached its end at the Plaza Foch entertainment district.

One of the goals of the demonstration was to loudly denounce slut-shaming, victim-blaming and gender violence, which, organizers claim, is becoming less invisible thanks largely to awareness-raising actions such as the annual Slutwalks.

Another objective, said coordinator Ana Almeida prior to the march, was to challenge society into accepting responsibility for sexual violence, harassment and violence against women in general.

Indeed, the prevailing theme was one of women, tired of intolerance, male chauvinism and machismo, demanding respect and control over their own bodies. The mood was energetic, colorful, festive and confident.

While the majority of participants were women, men made up a substantial portion of the crowd, which also included families with young children, tourists and members of the LGBTI community from throughout Ecuador.

Marcha de las Putas 07

There was a sizable police presence whose role was limited to traffic control, with one notable exception.

A heavy metal guitarist, who La Hora identified as Juan David Benitez, stripped down to his socks for a three song set under the shadow cast by a statue called ‘La Lucha Eterna’, or ‘The Eternal Struggle’.

Two policemen approached and asked him to put his pants on, requests that went ignored. The standoff, accompanied by a growing crowd’s calls for encore after encore, ended in a surreal scene a few minutes later when Benitez found himself surround by nearly a dozen helmeted officers dressed in full riot gear who didn’t back off until they watched him put his pants back on. Yes, I have a photo; sroll way down.

Continue reading…

Have You Ever Tried a Chontacuro?

Rhynchophorus palmarum, or Chontaduro aka chontacuro.

Rhynchophorus palmarum, or Chontaduro aka chontacuro.

Or, chontaduro?

Me neither. When I crossed paths with this one on Thursday afternoon, I was on my way home from lunch with a full belly, so I passed.

What is it, exactly?

It’s not a colorful worm, nor is it an earth-toned caterpillar. It’s the larvae of the Rhynchophorus palmarum beetle, or South American palm weevil, which typically dwells in and kills the palm trees it’s named after. When a dying contaduro palm is found, the crawling nests are carved out and the larvae harvested.

They’re considered a delicacy, a protein-rich font of countless curative properties. The keeper of this one told me it’s to be swallowed raw when digestive problems pop up. But, she insisted, they’re just as good grilled or fried.

Fairly common throughout the tropics, they’re most prevalent in coastal zones of Colombia, where they’re also known as chontacuro, and in the Ecuadorean Amazon, which is how they made their way to a natural foods stall at the inaugural “Ecuador First” fair in Quito last Thursday, a showcase of domestically-produced handicrafts and specialty foods organized by the national government.

A close up of jewelry maker at work

Continue reading…

Quito Kebobs

Shish kebob stand in Quito, Ecuador

QUITO – Besides the rain poncho and umbrella vendors who worked along the fringes of Thursday’s anti-government demonstration here, yesterday was also a good day for kebob vendors working near the Plaza de San Francisco. Like this one on Calle Simon Bolivar, just west of the plaza, who prepared my dinner.

Shish kebobs are ubiquitous in the Ecuadorian capital, whose variety of combinations is limited only to the imagination of the vendors grilling them up each evening. Most have either have skewered chicken or beef as the main attraction, with vegetables, potatoes and/or slices of sausage added to fill out the foot-long stick. I’m trying to convince my neighborhood favorite to add more veggies, maybe even swapping out a potato. Mayonnaise is always offered and I always refuse, preferring aji, or a hot sauce, instead.

What doesn’t vary much is the price, standard at just a dollar; only once do I recall paying $1.25, but parting with that extra quarter was well worth it.

For the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the 431st straight, was taken on 19 March 2015 in Quito.

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Addresses Press Freedom, Demonstrations and Texaco Case

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Addresses Press Freedom, Demonstrations and Texaco Case

On the heels of the anti-government demonstrations that took place throughout the country yesterday, the Foreign Minister of Ecuador Ricardo Patino addressed some of the criticisms levied towards his government in recent months in an interview with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez this morning on Democracy Now.

On charges that the Correa administration is trying to muzzle the press:

We, citizens, have the right of freedom of expression—everyone, not just a few. But us citizens also have the right to receive accurate information that has been verified. And citizens, including politicians or members of the government, we also have the right to honor. All of these elements constitute the thinking in our government.

And some people try to criticize this. Why? Because what we do now—and this did not happen before—is that we respond to the distortions or the omissions that many large television networks commit in Ecuador. And that’s not fair. When they exercise their freedom of expression, we say they have the right—even if they lie. But we also have the right to refute those things that are said, and they don’t like that.

Listen to the rest here, transcript included.

Friday Photo Doc – An L.A. Street Stroll With John Free

I worked late last night editing and filing images from yesterday’s rainy anti-government demonstration here in Quito. After finishing up a post this morning highlighting some of those here and on my other site, the only element my now almost routine Friday morning ritual required, that of beginning the day with a photography documentary, was a simple and relaxing walk and some pleasant conversation.

And that was exactly what this 26min video provided: a stroll down some Los Angeles boulevards with street photographer John Free as he looks for shots, sets up a few, and even snaps some. Mostly though I just enjoyed listening to his stream of consciousness delivery.

The most important takeaway? He mentions in passing the exhilaration that shooting from the heart can bring. That’s nothing new, per se, but Free’s earnest way in describing that emotion makes it infectious. There’s a smile on my face as I prepare to head out the door and hit the streets.


Thousands March in Quito to Protest Correa Government’s Policies – a 30-Image Gallery

A protester stands before the Church of San Francisco during a demonstration in Quito on March 19, 215

QUITO – Several thousand people marched through heavy rain in the Ecuadorian capital Quito on Thursday to protest a large slate of grievances against the government of President Rafael Correa. On that list is a proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate term limits, the president’s included. Above, a protester standing in front of the 16th century Church of San Francisco holds a sign that reads, Indefinite re-election is indefinite corruption.

The demonstration in Quito was one of a dozen protests that took place across the country yesterday, an attempt to unify the disparate pockets of opposition to Correa, who has led Ecuador since January 2007.

Thousands march through rainy streets at a demonstration in Quito on March 19, 2015

Organized by a very loosely-knit coalition of indigenous, labor, student and environmental groups, the two-kilometer march, from the Parque el Ejido to Plaza San Francisco, was largely peaceful, although there were a few clashes reported between protesters and police after the demonstration. I didn’t witness any. The march began at about 4 pm and was scheduled to last until 8; I followed along and shot it from just after the start until about 7 pm.

Correa remains very popular among Ecuadorians, largely for the social programs his government has introduced and implemented through it’s so-called “citizen’s revolution”. One recent poll by the Madrid-based International Political Communications Association found that 79 percent of Ecuadorians view him favorably.

But he’s also widely criticized, both at home and abroad, for an increasing intolerance in recent years of criticism and dissent.

Thirty photos in all. All images © Bob Ramsak 2013-2015. All rights reserved. For editorial use, please check out the 22 images I filed for Demotix / Corbis. Or, simply get in touch. Enjoy!

Continue reading…

On the Necessity to Author an Eighteen-Volume History of Exploration and Travel After Nearly Going Broke

Kerr Voyages-1

While on a search for free travel books for Kindle yesterday, I happened upon A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea and Land, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time, an appropriately early 18th century title for an 18-volume series by Robert Kerr, a man whose name was new to me and likely is to you, too.

Born in Edinburgh in 1755, he was the son of James Kerr, a second generation jeweler and goldsmith who also served as an MP for Edinburgh city. The younger Kerr studied medicine and eventually became a surgeon at Edinburgh Foundling Hospital, working in partnership, according to nineteenth century Scottish historian Robert Chambers, “with an aged practitioner named Wardrope”, whose daughter he later married.

His hands, it turned out, were equally adept with a pen as they were with a scalpel. Literary ambitions led to a hefty production line of scholarly translations, beginning with French chemist Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier’s Elements of Chemistry, published in 1789. Others followed, including a translation of another French chemist’s work, Essay on the New Method of Bleaching by means of Muriatic Acid and Oxygen, by Claude-Louis Berthollet. (I haven’t read either.)

Neither was an indication of the massive work he would undertake two decades later.

Continue reading…

The Best 2015 Calendar on the Planet 2015 Calendar, by Lisa Brunetti

QUITO – Some things take me a while. Like cleaning off my dresser.

Had I been a little more conscientious about tidiness, I wouldn’t have let half of March slip away before finding this beautiful calendar this afternoon that my friend Lisa left for me when she visited a few weeks ago.

As is clearly evident, she’s a fabulous painter. That mighty ceiba is probably my favorite work of hers; here, combined with words from Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite poets, will make moving into June from May very difficult.

Thanks SO much, Z! This will truly brighten each day.

If you’re not familiar with Lisa’s work, check out her website Playamart where she blogs about art and life on the Ecuadorian coast in Manabi where she’s now called home for several years. I’m really looking forward to finally visiting again next month.