September 14, 2011
Over the weekend, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that there was a “specific, credible, yet unconfirmed” threat of a “terrorist” attack in New York and Washington D.C.. This is the permanent state of things on the U.S.-Mexico border. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 has produced many reports that speak to this reality.
September 13, 2011
In Sunday's presidential election, Mexico’s southern neighbors gave some 60% of their votes to two candidates of the hard right who will now face each other in a November 6 runoff. It was disheartening to many Mexicans to see the "iron fist" emerge as a symbol of the Guatemala campaign’s leading candidates.
September 12, 2011
Colombia recently changed the method it uses calculate poverty. Consequently the numbers of the poor were reduced significantly. But how accurate are these statistics? And how are the chosen variables measured?
September 8, 2011
In the 1940s U.S. Public Health medical researchers conducted appalling experiments on vulnerable populations in Guatemala. After last week's convening of President Obama's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, the revelations are back in the news.
September 7, 2011
A former U.S. Border Patrol and ICE agent offers a perpective on immigration and boundary enforcement almost never heard of in the halls of power in the United States.
September 6, 2011
The government of Juan Manuel Santos is adjusting its military strategy to concentrate on special operations rather than on sustained large scale operations such as Plan Patriota. The move is another step in the shifting dynamics of the Colombian conflict in recent years.
September 6, 2011
When the bodies of two female reporters were found dead in Mexico City last Thursday, public opinion questioned whether their murder should be investigated as a crime against free expression or a crime against women. Before any evidence was gathered, it was assumed that they were killed because they were reporters on the trail of information that somebody didn’t want uncovered. The second supposition was that they were killed simply because they were women.
September 2, 2011
Negotiations between the Bolivian government and indigenous groups protesting the proposed TIPNIS highway broke down before getting off the ground this week, while a visit from Brazil’s ex-president Lula served as a reminder of the larger geopolitical interests involved. Brazil has a major stake in the road's construction, but it also needs a stable political environment in Bolivia to advance its overall economic agenda.
August 31, 2011
On August 30, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that deportations would continue to be "very robust." Why? Because of a recent federal decision to impose the controversial Secure Communities program on the entire country by 2013—a program, opponents say, that is tearing families apart.
August 30, 2011
Last Thursday, five or six armed men walked into the Casino Royale, a gambling house in Monterrey, Mexico, ordered patrons and employees to leave, and then quickly set fire to the place. At least 52 people died in the blaze. President Calderón called the attack an act of "terrorism," though the crime does not appear to have much to do with conventional terrorism, but rather with a fight for economic profits and market share.
August 29, 2011
In this post, I provide the reader with some additional context to the workers' mobilization in Puerto Gaitan and the problems that multinational investments bring to bear on the country’s political economy of war.
August 26, 2011
After a week of polarizing rhetoric and escalating conflict, the government and indigenous groups protesting construction of the TIPNIS highway have begun negotiations. While the outcome of the process is uncertain, it’s even less clear whether the fractured political alliance between President Evo Morales and the indigenous groups that helped bring him to power can be repaired.
August 25, 2011
I wrote last week about the pharmaceutical industry’s aggressive promotion of Intellectual Property Rights as part of U.S. government negotiated "free trade" agreements. This blog is an update.
August 24, 2011
The Department of Homeland Security has revealed that it is employing a new radar system—called VADER—that has significantly augmented its ability to surveil the borderlands and the people passing through from high up in the sky.
August 23, 2011
As Mexico gears up for next summer’s presidential election, the country’s electoral “lefts” are deeply divided. The mere fact that Mexico’s “lefts” are almost always referred to here in the plural, even when the discussion is limited to the electoral arena, highlights this division.
August 22, 2011
Colombian oil workers resumed their protests in Puerto Gaitan last week, once again confronting security forces. The new protests come after the Colombian government and the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales failed to fulfill promises made during last month’s oil workers’ strike.
August 19, 2011
It’s been a busy week in Bolivia, with major mobilizations by indigenous peoples in the Amazon marching against the TIPNIS highway, and by civic groups in Potosí and neighborhood organizations in El Alto who are demanding more, not less, development.
August 18, 2011
As the U.S. government and pharmaceutical companies continue to aggressively protect and enhance the power and profits accruing to major players in the international drug industry, a genuine critical assessment of the sources of market distortion and criminality which endanger people’s health is more important than ever.
August 17, 2011
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement promised in June to be more discriminating in terms of who it targets for arrest and deportation. A recent raid of a home in southern California, however, shows the hollowness of the pledge. It also displays the inherent dangers of the immigration policing apparatus for civil and human rights.
August 16, 2011
I blogged last week about the Obama administration’s attempt to control drug-war damage by regulating the flow of arms southward across the U.S.-Mexican border. This week we will look at a contradiction: The President’s people seek to control the damage, but at the same time they want to up the ante. You can’t go both ways at the same time.
August 15, 2011
Over the weekend thousands of campesinos, indigenous, and Afro-descendants gathered in the city of Barrancabermeja to call on the Colombian government and the insurgency to begin peace negotiations. The insurgency has expressed their willingness to talk, but the Santos government has yet to even explore the possibility. In order to understand why, we have to analyze the core obstacles that have confronted government peace negotiations with the FARC and the ELN since the mid-1980s.
August 12, 2011
Next Monday, representatives of three indigenous groups and their supporters will begin a 375-mile trek from the Bolivian lowlands to the capital of La Paz, to protest the government’s plan to build a highway through their ancestral homeland. The march opens a new chapter in the increasingly conflictive relationship between leftist president Evo Morales and the social movements that brought him to power, and could be another defining moment for the MAS government.
August 10, 2011
Given the impossibility of U.S. drug interdiction efforts in the borderlands, the beauty of the drug war for those championing—and profiting from—its undertaking is that there can never be enough resources. In this regard, nothing succeeds like failure.
August 9, 2011
This coming Sunday—or so the U.S. Justice Department has ordered—gun dealers in the four U.S. states that border on Mexico will be required to report sales of two or more high-powered rifles to the same person within any five-day period. The idea is to stem the flow of military-style weapons from the United States to Mexico, where such weapons have been implicated in some of the most atrocious excesses of the crime wars, and cannot be legally sold to private individuals. The National Rifle Association (NRA), of course, is suing to block the order.
August 8, 2011
During the government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Colombian courts defended their independence and the separation of power by holding the executive and the legislative branches accountable to the rule of law. This position sparked a power struggle in the Colombian government that is far from over. Now, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos is attempting to trim the power of the Supreme Court alongside the other courts.