International Coverage

NACLA Report on the Americas


| Utne Reader January / February 2007


2006 UIPA Winners
Change? S?:
Latin America points the way for progressive politics, and the NACLA Report is on the story
?By Joseph Hart, Utne Reader

When the Democratic Party wrestled a slim majority in Congress in the 2006 midterm elections, the punditry was quick to pronounce it a 'revolution.' But while lefties may have raised a hopeful fist on election night, nobody could legitimately claim that the shift in power stemmed from an energetic, organized, dedicated grassroots movement.

Latin America is a different story. The flourishing progressive political climates of Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Nicaragua represent, to varying degrees, the triumph of decades of political organizing.

'Overall, these changes were a long time coming,' explains Teo Ballv?, editor of the NACLA Report on the Americas, a bimonthly magazine that publishes some of the best reporting on the region. 'Progressive groups have been engaged in movement building and political organizing for decades. During the '70s and '80s, there was a leash on those organizations, because they were under the U.S.-supported right-wing governments. Now that more space is being afforded those groups, there have been dramatic gains.'

The NACLA Report offers its readers a front-row view of these changes. The magazine is the primary work of the North American Congress on Latin America, an organization founded in 1966 to provide an alternative to the mainstream media's coverage of President Lyndon Johnson's 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic. The NACLA Report's formula is to uphold academic standards of research and sourcing, but to deliver the information in writing that anyone can understand.

This mix of substance and style has won the journal a loyal following; it is the most widely read English-language magazine on Latin American affairs. Most of the work is commissioned, says Ballv?, from academics and journalists who are happy to write for a periodical that affords them the space to dig deep. 'The result is a form of intelligent journalism that's pretty rare,' Ballv? says.

In addition to shorter reports from various regions, the magazine typically collects related articles in a feature section. A recent issue explored Caribbean politics, with articles ranging from a report on the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti to a study of Jamaican gang violence. Another ambitious package called 'The Bio Politic' offered wide-ranging analysis of international politics and biology, including the appropriation of native plants, the global trade in human tissue, and the use of digital technology to enforce borders.






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