The three Amarilla-Molfino brothers did not know their mother had given birth to a fourth son. The three older brothers had grieved the "disappearance" of their parents, Guillermo and Marcela, by the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from1976 to 1983. Yet evidence that came to light just three months ago revealed that Marcela had given birth to a fourth son - Martín - in 1979, while she was held prisoner at the clandestine detention center, Campo de Mayo. Twenty-nine years later, Martín Amarilla-Molfino was united with his three elder brothers, along with aunts and uncles, and saw a photo of his parents for the very first time.
Rapid economic globalization and recent political violence have spawned mass migrations of humanity across international borders throughout the Americas. The migrations have sparked fierce debates in many of the "receiving" countries, where the combination of exploding demands for cheap foreign labor and state obligations to protect incoming refugees have often provoked strong domestic opposition to the presence of foreign-born individuals—especially those without official documentation. While many of these debates have focused on the enactment of policies restricting the immigration of foreign-born adults, xenophobic sentiments have opened new political spaces to begin imposing limitations on the birth registration of the native-born children of immigrants.
Constitutional reforms have been seen by their leftist advocates as necessary to create the conditions for a redistribution of economic and political power, mainly by increasing public control over natural resources and national economies, and by expanding access to basic services. At the same time, however, particularly in Central America, constitutional reform has become a tool used by economic elites to retain and consolidate their power. Conservative forces in Honduras and Guatemala, for example, are defending existing constitutionally guaranteed power, or pushing power consolidation through proposed constitutional amendments.
After the indigenous uprising in Peru’s Amazon region in June, it appears that an indigenous pledge to physically resist the operations of Dallas-based Hunt Oil on communal rainforest lands could reignite the uprising. In what is shaping up as an important test case, Hunt Oil is opening trails in preparation for seismic exploration within an indigenous reserve in Madre de Dios.
Last January in northern Nicaragua, as a crowd of hundreds blockaded the Panamerican Highway late into the cool Monday night—soaking tires in gasoline before setting them on fire, hurling rocks at police and TV cameramen, bringing traffic to a standstill for 10 miles—the words once again began appearing in news reports and political speeches and inside the National Assembly debate halls: No Pago, No Pago!
On Sunday, September 27, a violent conflict broke out in El Estor, a municipality near Guatemala's Pacific coast, between members of a Q'eqchi' community called Las Nubes and private security guards of the Guatemala Nickel Company (CGN), a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company, Hudbay Resources. Community members report that CGN's security forces kidnapped and killed Adolfo Ich Xamán, a local teacher and community leader, and gravely injured eight others.
On October 9 a United Nations human rights panel issued a warning concerning the presence of contracted foreign paramilitary forces operating inside Honduras. According to the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, an estimated 40 members of the infamous United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) have been hired by wealthy Honduran landowners to defend themselves "from further violence between supporters of the de facto government and those of the deposed President Manuel Zelaya." As Zelaya's Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas notes, it is widely believed that these mercenaries are being used to "do the dirty jobs that the armed forces refuse to do."
The decision by a Miami court on October 13 to reduce Antonio Guerrero's life sentence to 22 years imprisonment is the latest chapter in the ongoing legal battle to free a group of men known as the Cuban Five. The case is inextricably linked to the ongoing standoff between Havana and Washington. In the early 1990s, the Cuban government sent a group of men to the United States to infiltrate violent anti-Castro organizations, which had been operating from Miami with apparent impunity since the 1960s. After these anti-Castro organizations orchestrated the bombings of Cuban hotels and the shooting down of a Cuban passenger aircraft near Barbados in 1976, the Cuban government decided to take covert actions, believing that Washington was not interested in preventing more attacks.
During Hugo Chávez's tour of nine countries across northern Africa, western Asia and Europe in early September, the Venezuelan president orchestrated the signing of a flurry of energy accords. Much ink was spilled over Chávez's agreement to exchange oil for machinery and technology with the West's favorite pariah, Iran. But the most far-reaching commitments Chávez secured on his trip took place in Moscow—a series of accords with Russian oil and gas firms to develop a block of the massive Orinoco belt in northeastern Venezuela, one of the largest oil fields in the world.
As Mexico's bloody crackdown on drug trafficking continues, Guatemala's physical location and recent military ties to Mexico make it an inevitable haven for Mexican drug cartels seeking to continue doing business. Guatemala, however, is far less equipped to handle the burgeoning problem than its larger and wealthier neighbor, and now drug-related corruption and violence are being added to the seemingly interminable list of challenges to this small country's hope for democratic peace and security.