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2/26/09

Chart of the day is......

.....the number of people "disappeared" for political motives in South America in 2008, by country.

The source is the US State Department 2008 report on Human Rights that was published yesterday.

Now that may be just another collection of numbers to you, but live in South America a while and you get to know what it means, too. During my time in Buenos Aires I was close to a person who lived through the 1970's dictatorship while at university. That person told me about how fellow students would suddenly stop coming to classes, with the more charismatic ones often the 'dropouts' (as the college authorities called them). The overriding emotion was fear and you just shut your mouth.

Remember that next time you see a band of 20something students making noise in the streets of Venezuela, because the lack of fear they have in protesting and voicing their opposition is indicative of a healthy democracy. Which reminds me; when was the last time CNN televised a student protest march in Colombia?