Things That Matter

21 Shots of Latin America That Left Us in Awe

You don’t need us to tell you, Latin America’s dripping in spellbinding scenery and boasts a rich culture and history. In light of this, we’ve collated 21 stunning images that portray South America in all its glory. From rolling valleys to urban skylines, we’ve covered it all. Let’s dive in!

1. Rio at Sunset

Credit: Rio. Digital Image. Pixabay, ujasnpandya. Jan. 27, 2015

This snap doesn’t need a description. The natural beauty here does all the talking. From the impeccable sunset over the mountains to the dreamy harbor- this shot captures some of the best features of Rio de Janeiro.

2. Cows in Rural Paraguay

Credit: Nature. Digital Image. Pxhere. Dec. 31, 2016

The mountainous landforms in Paraguay not only look sublime, but they’re the perfect place for herds of cattle to roam. Ethical farming amidst stunning scenery- what could be better?

3. Morning Brakes in Guatemala

Credit: Dawn. Digital Image. Pixabay marcoreyes. May. 25, 2015

Waking up at dawn and walking through the streets of Guatemala is one of the most peaceful experiences you’re ever likely to have. If you haven’t done it yet, put it on your bucket list.  For what this country lacks in size it more than makes up for in culture. Paraguay’s intriguing history coupled with its natural beauty creates a land full of breathtaking sites and photo ops.

4. Christ the Redeemer

Credit: Rio. Digital Image. Pixabay, fabiowanderley. July 26, 2016

We couldn’t compile a list of stunning Latin American images without including this magnificent structure! The colossal statue of Christ has proudly stood for 87 years at the summit of Mount Corcovado. This landmark’s one of Rio’s most internationally recognized hotspots. No one can visit this stature without being in utter awe of it

5. A Chilean Night’s Sky

Credit: Space. Digital Image. Pixabay, CristinaLaFee. Aug. 18, 2017

Have you ever seen a starry night’s sky as mesmerizing as this? On a clear evening, you can see dozens of twinkling stars. There’s so many dotted around you’ll struggle to count them all! Could you imagine anything more idyllic than setting up a hammock and sleeping here, under a sky as gorgeous as this?

6. Cycling in Paraguay

Credit:  Tree. Digital Image. Pxhere. 3 July. 2017

This snap captures an inkling of Latin American culture and tradition. This man’s working hard, transporting grass through the streets of Paraguay on the back of his bike.

7. Lima: A Dreamy Peruvian Coastline

Credit: Lima. Digital Image. Pixabay, ygrrr. Oct. 25, 2014

This image encompasses a gorgeous blend of cosmopolitanism and scenic coastal views. Lima truly has something for everyone to enjoy! Take a stroll down Miraflores boardwalk and explore all the nearby streets and parks. Lose yourself amidst the beautiful lanes lining the shore. It’s the perfect way to spend a laid-back afternoon.

8. Traditional Puerto Rican Architecture

Credit: Puerto Rico. Digital Image. Pixabay, sjdents. Nov. 10, 2014

Latin American culture’s full of color, creativity, and vibrancy- so it’s not surprising Puerto Rico’s architecture reflects these traits. The choice of bold paint is a treat for the eyes. The best word to describe the overall aesthetic is: ‘divine.’

9. A Long Peruvian Road

Credit: Peru. Digital Image. Pixabay, al3xitox100pre. Dec. 8, 2016

What could be better than jumping in a car and heading out on a road trip through the mysterious mountains of Peru? This image makes you want to pack up your bags and go on the adventure of a lifetime.

10. Glaciers in Argentina

Credit: Glacier. Digital Image. Pixabay, derwiki. Dec. 30, 2014

To the southwest of Argentina, there are more than 300 glaciers. Some are as large as 217-miles long in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.

11. Ipanema Beach

Credit: Ipanema Beach. Digital Image. Pixabay, eacuna. Dec. 21, 2012

Situated towards the South of Rio de Janeiro, this beach is famous for its breathtaking sunsets and natural beauty. People flock from all around the globe to visit this place- judging from the picture; we’re sure you can see why!

12. Colors of Peru

Credit: Substances. Digital Image. Pixabay, LoggaWiggler. Aug. 17, 2011

Peruvian fabrics are famous for their bold use of color- it’s hard not to smile when you see a market stall brimming with hues as bright as these. After all, they say variety’s the spice of life- so, why shouldn’t this apply to color-filled fashion.

13. Machu Picchu In All Its Glory

Credit: Machu Picchu. Digital Image. Pixabay, skeeze. Aug. 5, 2016

Behold, Machu Picchu. As you probably already know, this is the Incan citadel that sits proudly amidst the Andes Mountains. The structures were expertly crafted back in the 15th century and later abandoned. The best thing about this mysterious place is that no one’s 100% sure what the remains were used for by the Incas- eerie!

14. Colombian Street Art

Credit: Face. Digital Image. Pixabay, lanur. Aug. 23, 2014

The street art in Colombia is astounding. Take a walk through Bogotá, and marvel at the world-renown graffiti that’s captured the hearts and imaginations of art-lovers from around the world. The quality and the diversity of the work plastered across the walls is second to none.

15. Tango Like No One’s Watching

Credit: Tango. Digital Image. Pixabay, pinthemapproject. Sept. 14, 2015

Check out this stunning couple as they enjoy dancing the Tango in the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Can you think of anything more romantic?

16. Penguin Colony in Argentina

Credit: South America. Digital Image. Pixabay, magicaltravelling. Feb. 24, 2016

Everyone loves penguins, and Argentina is home to four beautiful species. The colony pictured above is nothing short of majestic.

17. Rainbow Mountain

Credit: Peru. Digital Image. Pixabay, jerzykwpodrozy. March 29, 2017

This beautiful Peruvian mountain looks as though it’s painted in stunning golds, emeralds, reds, and violets. Once upon a time, this mountain was covered in ice. As it began to melt, the water combined with the minerals in the rocks and created the colors you see here- how neat is that?

18. Chilean Shanty Town

Credit: Landscape. Digital Image. Pxhere. 03/04 2017

This photo’s living proof that money isn’t everything. These Chilean slums exude color right across the Valparaíso coastline. As you can imagine, the skyline’s mesmerizing!

19. Ecuadorian Llamas

Credit: Landscape. Digital Image. Pxhere. 4th April 2017

These Ecuadorian llamas are gorgeous. It looks like the one in the brown fur’s gazing out across the lake- and who can blame him? The mountainous landscape set behind the blue body of water looks idyllic.

20. Peruvian Dress

Credit: Architecture. Digital Image. Pxhere. 3rd July 2017

These Quechuan ladies are proudly sporting traditional Peruvian dress. Living high within the Andes, this community farms wool to produce beautiful handicrafts.

21. Traveling in Paraguay

Credit: Tree. Digital Image. Pxhere. 3rd Dec. 2017

This snapshot provides another quick insight into the traditional culture of Paraguay. This man’s elegantly riding a cart pulled by cattle. A mode of transport that’s better known as an oxcart. Initially, oxcarts were used in Costa Rica during the mid-nineteenth century to transport coffee beans. Although they’re rarer in today’s society, they remain a beautiful symbol of Latin American history.

A US-Backed Opposition Leader Has Declared Herself President Of Bolivia Amid Outrage At Her Comments About Indigenous Bolivians

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A US-Backed Opposition Leader Has Declared Herself President Of Bolivia Amid Outrage At Her Comments About Indigenous Bolivians

Jess Stringer / Getty

Bolivia is unrest. Following the ultimate expulsion of former President Evo Morales, after allegations of election fraud swept the nation, and Morales’ eventual flee to Mexico, conservative opposition leader Jeanine Añez declared herself interim president. Following her announcement clashes and protests from both supporters and detractors filled the streets. 

The country has been struggling to find a successor to Morales who was forced to step down after a marginal win in Bolivia’s presidential election triggered a recount. Morales shut down the recount and declared himself the victor, but after an Organization of American States reported there were irregularities and possible fraud, he resigned. 

Jeanine Añez declares herself the president of Bolivia.

Añez claimed the position of Senate leader which would put her next in line for the presidency and make her interim president. The move came after the three people ahead of her quit.

However, at the time she did not have a quorum (the legal minimum necessary to make it official) present due to a boycott by Morales’ Movement for Socialism party. Although it is unofficial, she stood on the balcony of the presidential palace wearing a presidential sash and holding a copy of the Bible — which had been banned from the building by the Morales administration. 

“My commitment is to return democracy and tranquility to the country. They can never again steal our vote,” Añez said after declaring herself president. 

Añez quickly got to work appointing cabinet members and leaders of the armed forces. She insisted in her first address that her role is strictly “provisional.”

“This is a transitional government,” Añez told CNN. “Obviously, as soon as we can, we will call general elections so the Bolivian people can have a president elected by us in a democratic manner.”

Protests break out in protest of Añez’s declaration.

Protests broke out in La Paz, Bolivia’s main city, to oppose Añez’s presidency. The demonstrators were confronted by riot police who used tear gas while they retaliated with smoking containers and rocks. Morales, who is Bolivia’s first indigenous president, insisted those who opposed Añez were his supporters and a part of anti-colonial struggle. 

“We energetically condemn the coup d’etat in Bolivia, perpetrated by the army and oligarchs opposed to the government of our brother President Evo Morales,” said Rigoberta Menchu, an indigenous rights activist said. 

Although Morales did benefit indigenous folks by reducing poverty rates, he rewrote Bolivia’s laws to run for a second term and then did so a third time claiming his first term did not count. He would reign for 14 years the longest in Bolivia’s presidential history. Many felt he was becoming increasingly authoritarian despite some wins for indigenous peoples. 

Indigenous folks have a right to concerned about an Añez presidency.

“This coup d’etat that has triggered the death of my Bolivian brothers is a political and economic plot that came from the US,” Morales said.

Although Morales may not have been best for Bolivia, detractors of Añez have valid concerns as well. The conservative is married to the leader of a “Colombian conservative party with historic ties to paramilitary groups,” according to The Nation. 

“The potential return of a conservative government after Morales’ 14-year rule has brought with it a resurgence of a virulent strain of anti-indigenous hatred with deep roots in Bolivia, reminiscent of the country’s ‘gas wars,'” the publication notes. “The toppling of Morales’s government threatens a potential return to anti-indigenous violence.”

The United States and Bolivian officials recognize Añez.

The United States extended its support to the new government as did Bolivia’s military and courts.

“We will guarantee the security of the constitutional government,” Army General Orellana Centellas said in support of Añez. 

According to the New York Times, Añez’s presidency was backed by Bolivia’s Constitutional Court. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement. 

“The United States applauds Bolivian Senator Jeanine Anez for stepping up as Interim President of State to lead her nation through this democratic transition, under the constitution of Bolivia and in accordance with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” Pompeo said. 

“We look forward to working with the Organization of American States, Bolivia’s civilian constitutional institutions, and the Bolivian people as they prepare to hold free, fair elections as soon as possible. We call on all parties to protect democracy during the coming weeks and to refrain from violent acts against fellow citizens and their property.

 Whether Añez can garner support from political allies is unclear. Bolivians, on the other hand, have engaged in violent protests to defend their addled democracy, without their support any future candidate will have to face their ire.

A Former Brazilian President Was Just Released From Prison And Here’s What That Could Mean For The Country

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A Former Brazilian President Was Just Released From Prison And Here’s What That Could Mean For The Country

Henry Milleo / AP Images

A judge ordered the release of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, affectionately known as Lula, from prison today. Lula was sentenced to eight years and 10 months in prison in 2018, following a conviction on charges that he took bribes from engineering firms in exchange for government contracts. However, many Brazilians and officials felt Lula’s conviction was the result of corruption. 

The decision came after Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned a law that required convicts to be imprisoned if they lose their first appeal. The ruling could end up benefiting other high profile prisoners and thousands of other convicts, according to Al Jazeera, and was not met without detractors. 

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is freed from prison.

On Thursday, Brazil’s Supreme Court decided in a 6-5 vote that a person can only be imprisoned after they’ve exhausted every possible appeal to the higher courts. Lula, who is currently appealing his case, benefited from the new rule. 

“There are no grounds for the continuation of this provisional criminal enforcement,” Judge Danilo Pereira Júnior said.

The ruling could release almost 5,000 inmates who are currently appealing their convictions, according to The Guardian. 

In 2016, the courts operated on the premise that defendants who have been convicted can be imprisoned pending the decisions of any appeals. However, Brazil’s constitution states that no one can be labeled guilty unless due process is completed in its entirety. 

Justice Gilmar Mendes acknowledged that Lula’s involvement in the discourse overshadowed the discussion, but that overall it is good for the public, according to the Guardian. However, analysts say that incarcerating people before they have appealed gives authorities leverage to strike plea deals that can garner vital information. 

Many analysts are criticizing the new rule. 

The “Car Wash” operation, as it is nicknamed, that got Lula arrested, benefited from the rule. By trading plea deals that would keep convicts out of prison, prosecutors obtained information that allowed them to unravel a massive conspiracy of corruption that resulted in entrepreneurs and politicians being imprisoned for bribes and kickbacks. 

According to Al Jazeera, “The Car Wash prosecutors said the ruling would make their job harder and favor impunity because of Brazil’s ‘excessive’ appeal processes. They said in a statement that the court’s decision was out of sync with a country that wants an end to corruption.”

Not only are officials displeased with Lula’s release, but some Brazilians are also angry as well. 

“I’m not surprised, politicians rarely stay very long in jail,” Rivaldo Santos, a 43-year-old waiter in São Paulo, told The Associated Press. 

Brazilians rally in support of Lula’s release. 

Lula was a once-beloved conduit of change. The Bolsa Familia welfare program significantly reduced poverty in Brazil, and his policies created widespread economic growth. Lula left the office with an 80% approval rating, only to have his legacy tarnished by his involvement in the Car Wash operation. 

In a turning point over the summer, Brazilians were left stunned by allegations that prosecutors and a judge colluded together in the criminal investigation of Lula. Sergio Moro, the judge who convicted Lula, allegedly gave prosecutors strategic advice and tips during the investigation. 

“The judge’s relationship with prosecutors is scandalous,” the Intercept Brasil’s executive editor, Leandro Demori, told The Guardian. “This is illegal under Brazilian law.”

The revelations caused many to wonder if Lula had been wrongfully imprisoned altogether. Last year, Lula was the left-leaning presidential frontrunner only to have his imprisonment pave the way for the far-right Jair Bolsonaro to snag the presidency. Thus, many Brazilians still revere Lula for the sweeping changes he brought to Brazil while wondering all that could have been.

“He is very happy and so are we,” Gilberto Carvalho, Lula’s former chief of staff and one of the leaders of the Workers Party, told The Washington Post. “We are pinching ourselves to make sure this is all true.”

Bernie Sanders and others praise the release of Lula.

“As President, Lula has done more than anyone to lower poverty in Brazil and to stand up for workers. I am delighted that he has been released from jail, something that never should have happened in the first place,” Sanders tweeted.  

“Lula is free. He walked out of Sergio Moro’s prison today, where he spent almost 2 years as a result of corrupted process conducted by a corrupt judge (now Bolsonaro’s Minister of Justice and Public Security) and corrupt prosecutors,” journalist Glenn Greenwald said on Twitter. 

While Brazil was set on an entirely different course after Bolsonaro’s election, perhaps, Lula’s release can usher in needed change.

“[Lula] is eager to come out, but at the same time he is asking everyone to stay calm and be careful with provocations to keep an atmosphere of peace,” Carvalho said.