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Letter sent on Apr 19, 2016

The Viscerealist: Colosseums, Piper Pimienta & March

The March 2016 Newsletter

— the bedlam in macondo —

Why is Lula falling? The vortex of Brazil’s national corruption scandal this month pulled in former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. So how did this working class hero who was so admired that Barack Obama called him “my man” go from good to bad in the eyes of Brazilian justice? The Economist

Inside Timochenko’s head The combat-weary leader of Colombia’s Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) appears committed to doing politics without arms. “We are going to continue the fight, but we are no longer going to wield a weapon to back our ideas,” he said last month. No doubt the FARC has a political project in mind. They always have. If a peace deal goes through, how much political support would Timochenko have? Financial Times

Why is the Latin American left losing control? A wave of elections in Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela, as well as corruption swirling around Brazil’s Lula da Silva all point to shifting attitudes toward Latin America’s left. Former minister of foreign affairs for Mexico Jorge G. Castañeda asks what can leaders learn in the midst of the left’s decadence. The New York Times

Trumpismo? Yeah, yeah we’ve seen this one before Latin America has a word for politicians like Donald Trump.Caudillo. The thing is, with Trump’s populist love for the people comes a well of special Uncle Sam-style narcissism that Latin America’s leaders would have to deal with. Is the diplomat in them ready for a Trump win? WSJ

Is this really a new Argentina? The new president Mauricio Macri wants Argentina to play by global financial market rules. Now, after years of Peronist rule under Cristina Fernandes de Kirchner’s government, his administration of technocrats will have to push reforms through a congress in which Macri’s coalition lacks majority support. Can he actually deliver on his promise? DW

— long form—

Clara by Roberto Bolaño The New Yorker

The Judge I Knew by Wes Tomaselli The Viscrealist

Women’s Work by Francesca Borri Colombia Journalism Review

— review —

Piper Pimienta. That’s your bell-bottom-flashing front man in this soul-squeezing play of Las Caleñas son como las flores. Before becoming the Piper and joining Fruko’s combo and getting signed to Disco Fuentes, Edulfamid Molina Díaz was just that slinky tall kid walking around the neighborhood where he grew up: a salsa hotbed in Cali city called Barrio Obrero.

Barrio Obrero. The same neighborhood where a salsera I once met told me to roll up the windows and lock the doors to our taxi as we searched all over downtown for this place, where suddenly a nostalgic little joint on the corner of somewhere opened up its doors and dragged me in and ordered me a drink, where it was a Sunday and this time, yes, it was the older folks’ night to let the rum flow a little bit, where a woman I’d have bet was at least 46 years old and sweating through a tired little blue blouse pulled me up out of my seat and made me into something I’ve never been. Her name I heard only as another note in a world of music designed to revolt against the sacred day of rest. But what else could have happened in the hit-and-run company of white-velvet-tux-Rafael and his camaraderie? The something-so-badly-mixed-up-with-hysteria-it’s-somehow-right. The place where Piper learned it all from the time he was young. Now, there’s always that little bit that nostalgia won’t let you have. Otherwise, I totally feel it.

— straitjackets—


Monica told me yesterday that she had a nightmare about me. In shock, I realized that I had one with her in it that very same night. In my dreams, I received a text message from her. Seven or eight of them actually. In one message, I noticed there was a photograph of a guy kissing her. And it wasn’t me. Then I noticed that she had quickly deleted the photo from the thread of messages. Probably a mistake. When I saw her next, I didn’t ask her about it. Instead, I went off and questioned three or four other guys about whether they had ever kissed a girl named Monica. They had no idea what I was talking about. They didn’t know anything. Next thing I know I’m in the Adirondack mountains with my mother and my father and we’re waiting for my brother. Anxiously waiting for him and somehow I knew he wasn’t going to come. Sure enough, he never came. So I went off to look for him, and I remember running along the edge of a huge lake until I got to a colosseum — something straight out of Ancient Rome. Sandstone columns rising up out of an orange dusty earth. Alone at first. And then a crowd started to form. Soon the crowd swelled so much it started closing in around me. They were protesting, whoever they were. Boisterous people. Getting more and more rowdy. Suddenly I noticed a young woman get hoisted up on someone’s shoulders. She was yelling and everyone was looking at her. And then it came to me so fast: they were going to assassinate her. Any second now, there’d be a bullet whizzing through the air. And I was right. Next thing I know this young woman has been shot. The crowd dissolved into mayhem. I could hear the violence behind me as I ran and I thought for sure it would consume me. But somehow I escaped. Monica probably told me what she thought it meant, but I was so distracted by that photo… Who was in that photo? Then Monica told me about her nightmare, but by now I’ve totally forgotten.

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