November 1, 2011
On these first two days of November, known as All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead, many Mexicans bring offerings to their relatives, friends, and sympathetic public figures who have died within living memory. This year, groups around the country are using the occasion to remember the thousands who died violently over the past year at the hand of combatants in the country’s many-sided war on organized crime.
October 31, 2011
Regional elections were held across Colombia yesterday. However, at least 25% of the newly elected governors are alleged to have ties to right-wing paramilitaries. This reveals a deep-rooted problem in Colombian electoral politics in the midst of the on-going armed conflict
October 28, 2011
A new law signed by President Evo Morales has officially cancelled the controversial TIPNIS highway, bowing to demands of indigenous protesters after their 360-mile cross-country march. But the fractures in Morales’ political base and divisions among Bolivia’s social movements triggered by the TIPNIS conflict will be more difficult to resolve.
October 26, 2011
At an event at the Homeland Security Policy Institute called “The Hybrid Threat: Crime, Terrorism and Insurgency in Mexico,” Daniel Brito, of the Drug Policy Alliance, asked keynote speaker General Barry McCaffrey if there was complicity between the Mexican government and the drug trafficking Sinaloa Cartel. McCaffrey's answer offered a powerful glimpse into the drug war.
October 25, 2011
Just a few days after President Felipe Calderón excoriated the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party for wanting to dialogue with Mexico’s drug traffickers (a charge PRIistas vigorously deny), his position was undermined by a proposal of a prominent member of his own party and by comments made by U.S. officials.
October 24, 2011
In just 48 hours, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia delivered two strong blows against the Colombian military, killing 20 soldiers and wounding many others. The timing of the attacks is significant, occurring less than 10 days before the October 30 Colombian local and legislative elections.
October 20, 2011
This week, two historic events took place in Bolivia: the arrival in La Paz of indigenous marchers protesting the TIPNIS highway, and the country's first-ever popular judicial elections. Both sent a wake-up call to President Evo Morales.
October 19, 2011
The human right to work is increasingly under attack in the United States, especially for unauthorized immigrants. The recent case of The French Gourmet restaurant in San Diego shows how bad things have become. It also highlights the need for human rights and migrant rights activists to directly challenge a system that criminalizes non-citizens for laboring without official sanction.
October 18, 2011
Javier Sicilia, the poet, speaking to cabinet members of the Calderón government on behalf of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity: "Your decisions [to use the military to fight drug trafficking], in addition to generating more violence and terror, are provoking the rise of paramilitary groups who, in this rarified and atrocious atmosphere, feel authorized to practice, killing more Mexicans with impunity."
October 17, 2011
Among the wide spectrum of U.S. international conflicts is the U.S. war in Colombia. This war has been often understated and almost forgotten, but thanks to recently-released WikiLeaks documents the U.S. involvement in Colombia is increasingly coming to light.
October 14, 2011
In the 1980s Ronald Reagan’s administration illegally defied Congress. What came to be called the “Iran-Contra Scandal,” a nexus of drugs, terror, Latin American proxy conflict, and covert operations involving the United States and Iran, seems this week to have been sampled and remixed for the twenty-first century.
October 14, 2011
This week the focus of Bolivia’s TIPNIS conflict shifted to La Paz, with passage of a new law by the Bolivian Congress, massive demonstrations in support of President Evo Morales, and preparations for Sunday’s judicial elections, ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of the indigenous march early next week.
October 13, 2011
Yesterday the U.S. Congress approved the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia. While it is still too early to assess the full magnitude of the FTA, there are already obvious losers and winners.
October 11, 2011
There is some disagreement in Mexico as to whether the state and civil society are engaged in a tough battle against organized crime, or whether organized crime has so permeated these institutions that it is no longer a separate entity. The emergence of a group called the Mata Zetas (Zeta Killers) that has sworn to rid Mexico of its most brutal criminal predators, the Zetas, but which has strong and acknowledged links to rival criminal groups, has brought this argument to a head.
October 10, 2011
The U.S. congress is expected to approve the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Colombia this Wednesday. The alarms are already sounding among many sectors in Colombia, especially the producers of rice, corn, wheat, and dairy products. 350,000 Colombian small farmers are expected to be among the first to be hit.
October 7, 2011
A recent protest in Washington, D.C. against the TIPNIS highway in Bolivia serves as a reminder of how conservative forces are exploiting the TIPNIS conflict to undermine President Evo Morales’s leftist government. For the most part, though, the anti-highway movement is not so much against the government as it is for a recovery and revitalization of Bolivia’s “process of change.”
October 6, 2011
Bolivian President Evo Morales has argued that the United States uses the drug war to advance its own political interests and discredit political opponents. But does the Bolivian Government do the same?
October 5, 2011
Deportation does great damage to families who are often divided by the U.S.-Mexico boundary. The hardships that deported migrants endure and their great efforts to overcome the obstacles that prevent them from reuniting with their loved ones in el Norte exemplify at their very best the "family values" that many in Washington rhetorically and emptily champion.
October 4, 2011
Every year some 400,000 undocumented Central Americans cross Mexico trying to make their way to a better life in the United States. Most of them successfully make the trip, but many die, disappear, or are kidnapped en route. As they pass through Mexico they frequently encounter great brutality, but they also meet with great humanity.
October 3, 2011
Each year, including pensions and other benefits to military personnel, the Colombian government spends as much as 25% of it's GDP on defense. But this already huge figure only accounts for the immediate costs of the continuation of the war system and does not tell us much about the hidden and more important longer-term effects of the war on the country’s economic and political development.
September 30, 2011
In the wake of Sunday’s brutal repression of indigenous marchers against the TIPNIS highway, the past few days have brought renewed popular mobilizations, a few revelations, and more mixed messages from the Bolivian government.
September 28, 2011
Politically powerful officials are saying the U.S. counternarcotic program towards Mexico has not worked, and are calling for a counterinsurgency strategy to replace it. The organized crime "raging along our southern border," they claim, is waging a "strategic-level" of war against the United States.
September 28, 2011
Sunday’s brutal repression by federal police of lowland indigenous marchers protesting the TIPNIS highway has sparked widespread public outrage in Bolivia, while the MAS government’s response raises more questions than answers. With conservative opponents of Evo Morales also seeking to exploit the crisis, it's a critical moment for Bolivia's process of change.
September 27, 2011
Last Tuesday, in broad daylight, 35 bodies were dumped around the city of Veracruz. All the bodies had a Z painted on their torsos, presumably indicating membership in Mexico’s most brutal and vicious criminal gang, the Zetas. The Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel took responsibility for the killings, and is presenting itself as a paramilitary force, fighting alongside “the people.” What is happening is ominous, as the militarization of the drug war is spawns competing armies.
September 26, 2011
The United Nations Development Programme’s latest report on Colombia, released last week, reaffirmed what experts have claimed for a very long time: that the core of Colombia’s problems lies in its rural economy.