January 17, 2012
With an eye on Mexico’s presidency, Andrés Manuel López Obrador is reaching out to civil society—not seeking a common stance on all social issues, much less any form of explicit alliance, but to pull prominent social activists into the arena of electoral politics. The electoral arena, he argues, is where real social change can take place.
January 15, 2012
The new leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Timoleón Jiménez has reiterated the call for the urgent resumption of peace talks. However, to get there, the United States must change its position toward favoring a peaceful solution. This is the white elephant whose role has been omnipresent yet underappreciated by analysts of war and peace in Colombia.
January 13, 2012
Fifty-six judges of Bolivia's top courts, elected in a historic but controversial popular vote last October, were sworn in by President Evo Morales on January 3. The new judges, 50% women and 40% indigenous, have changed the face of Bolivian justice, but confront significant challenges of legitimacy and obstacles to implementing judicial reform.
January 11, 2012
In the late 1990s, Oaxacan artist Alejandro Santiago set to repopulate his town with 2,500 individual human sculptures, each representing a person who had left San Pedro Teococuilco to migrate elsewhere. Right now these sculptures are alive in the streets of Oaxaca city, documenting a strong sense of pain that rarely makes it into comprehensive immigration debates in the United States.
January 10, 2012
This past September 19, in a federal civil court in Hartford, Connecticut, former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo—now a resident of Connecticut and an economics professor at Yale—was charged with crimes against humanity for the 1997 killing of 45 unarmed members of the Tzotzil Maya ethnic group, in the Chiapas village of Acteal.
January 8, 2012
On January 1, the Colombian government killed Juan de Dios Úsuga, the leader of the Urabeños, one of the most powerful groups formed out of the demobilized Colombian paramilitary. In response to the killing, the Urabeños unleashed a wave of violence and threats over the last week, demonstrating the intimidating power of this criminal group.
January 6, 2012
Two precedent-setting environmental challenges in Ecuador—an initiative to save the Yasuní rainforest, and a landmark lawsuit against Chevron Oil for dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste—have recently returned to the headlines, with their fates potentially intertwined.
January 4, 2012
As 2011 statistics demonstrate, violence continues to scar the U.S.-Mexico border, and climate change will likely intensify it. As recent publications suggest, declining agricultural output and gross socio-economic inequality between Mexico, Central America, and the United States are likely to increase unauthorized migration and militarized efforts to stymie it.
January 3, 2012
There is a broad movement for an end to the violence that has been gripping many parts of Mexico. But there is a major disconnect between, on the one hand, the movements that have arisen from (and remain in) civil society and, on the other hand, movements that seek state power through the organization of political parties.
December 27, 2011
The judicial reform bill, currently being debated in the Colombian congress, threatens to compromise the relative independence that the country’s courts have enjoyed since the passage of the 1991 Constitution. This independence has allowed Colombia to investigate more than 60 members of congress for charges of collaborating with narco-traffickers and paramilitaries.
December 24, 2011
The Border Patrol Santa appeared again this year in Sonoita, Arizona. This Santa Claus agent has had a long history of helping the Border Patrol with its mission and strategy.
December 23, 2011
More than 240 U.S. and international labor, environmental, and civil society organizations are calling for the World Bank to dismiss a $77 million lawsuit brought by the Pacific Rim Mining Corporation against the government of El Salvador under DR-CAFTA, for failing to grant a permit for its proposed cyanide-leach gold mining operation.
December 20, 2011
Criminality and corrupt authoritarian politics have a tendency to blend, especially when large sums of money are available to grant impunity to certain citizens. Over the past three weeks, for example, Mexicans have witnessed a number of deliberate attacks—whose obvious foretelling was conspicuously ignored by state authorities—on political activists.
December 14, 2011
A recent report on Border Patrol transportation raids in northern New York State demonstrates how "security" penetrates society in a virus-like fashion: it goes wherever it can. This has been reality in the post-9/11 era, where the Border Patrol has increasingly focused on interior enforcement, with harmful implications for human and civil rights.
December 13, 2011
This past December 2 and 3, in Caracas, the heads of 33 Latin American and Caribbean states signed on to a project that has long been dear to Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez's heart. Conservative Mexican president Felipe Calderón opened the founding “presidential summit” of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) with phrases Chávez has long championed.
December 12, 2011
Yesterday morning Colombia and Latin America lost one of its most influential intellectuals and social scientists: Álvaro Camacho Guizado, a colleague, mentor, and, above all, a very dear friend. Camacho dedicated his life and energy to the study of narco-trafficking. He was also an early critical voice against U.S. anti-drug policy in Colombia.
December 9, 2011
This week, Bolivian government officials and lowland indigenous leaders agreed on a new regulation defining the “untouchable” character of the TIPNIS national park and indigenous territory. But six weeks after pressure from indigenous protesters forced President Evo Morales to cancel the TIPNIS highway, the conflict shows no signs of abating.
December 7, 2011
Shortly after Border Patrol agent Bryan Gonzalez questioned U.S. drug enforcement policy to a colleague, he received a letter of termination that said that he held “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and spirit de corps.”
December 5, 2011
Over the weekend, it was reported that U.S. government agencies are laundering money on behalf of narco-traffickers, and helping them to smuggle weapons across the U.S.-Mexico border. With these policies, the U.S. government is increasingly participating in a war that that is killing hundreds of thousands and eroding the prerequisites for good governance.
November 30, 2011
Last Friday, 18-year-old Joaquin Luna shot and killed himself in south Texas. Luna, an unauthorized immigrant who had lived in the United States since the age of six months, had become increasingly depressed about his life prospects given his immigration status and the defeat of the DREAM Act. His untimely passing highlights the complicated ways in which the systems of immigration enforcement and state exclusion produce deadly forms of violence.
November 28, 2011
The Mexican president in the Dock? Well, not yet, but charges of “crimes against humanity” were filed last Friday in the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands against President Felipe Calderón, the Secretaries of Mexico’s Army, Navy and Public Safety, and notorious drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
November 28, 2011
Last Saturday, Colombian government troops attacked a FARC encampment, leading to the death of four FARC prisoners. The deaths are at least partially due to the government's willingness to take riskier missions, which threaten more lives. In the absence of a peace negotiation, a more cautious policy is badly needed.
November 23, 2011
There is a disconnect in Washington of the correlation between free trade agreements and increased migration. Instead of an effort to renegotiate agreements that are impacting countries in Latin America, U.S. officials continue to put more and more resources into border enforcement, including a proposed possibility of using war-zone equipment from Iraq, and new surveillance technologies to create a "virtual" wall.
November 22, 2011
With the virtual nomination of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as presidential candidate of Mexico’s multiple lefts last week, the 2012 Mexican campaign began to define itself. Two independent polling agencies confirmed what followers of Mexican politics already knew: López Obrador, the left’s 2006 presidential nominee, is one of the most popular and charismatic figures on the left and also one of the most polarizing.
November 21, 2011
In May, the World Bank published its 2011 World Development Report, in which it considered civil wars and organized crime to be obstacles to economic development. However, without properly examining the problem of unequal land distribution, the recommended policies in the report will not be enough to end violence in many countries, including Colombia.