Articles by: Teo Ballvé
In the 1570s, a physician named Francisco Hernández led the first colonial scientific expedition to the New World. He traveled Mexico collecting plants that might prove valuable in curing European diseases. Since Hernández was clueless when it came to the properties of local plant species, he depended on knowledgeable indigenous healers who guided him to medicinal plants.
Last Thursday, we lost a friend and comrade in the quest for social justice and solidarity in the Americas. After almost 25 years of operation, the Minneapolis-based Resource Center of the Americas was forced to close its doors despite years of reluctant and painful lay-offs and budget cuts. All of us at NACLA are heartbroken by the news.
The world was stunned when it woke on New Year’s Day 1994 to news of an armed uprising in the mountains of Mexico. In an era of supposed global prosperity and stability, pundits were baffled revolutionary movements still existed. But by the time the masked Zapatista rebels left the jungle to make their international debut, the first revolution of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) had actually already occurred.
Buenos Aires has just elected a mustachioed, millionaire mayor who owns Argentina's most popular soccer team. Mauricio Macri is Argentina's answer to Italy's Silvio Berlusconi or New York's Michael Bloomberg. The only difference being shades of ideology, gradations of fabulous wealth and the fact that Macri's high-profile business is not media, but sport. In the fractured Argentine capital where the sentimiento for soccer is virtually the only language that cuts across class and ideological differences, that counts for a lot.
The elevator is broken in Bolivia’s Ministry of Campesino and Agricultural Affairs, so together with Arturo Mamani Poma and Salustiano Vargas Villca, I walk up to the sixth floor, where we find a small, dark office with three desks, a few computers, and a conference table. Mamani and Vargas, both members of the National Association of Quinoa Producers (Anapqui), have come to the La Paz office to request a loan to build a quinoa-processing plant.
“Free trade” and an aggressive military policy are central pillars of U.S. foreign policy. Better than any country in the world, Colombia demonstrates the intimate connection between these two aspects of U.S. power and their devastating results.
Impunity rides the coattails of amnesia and oblivion. Without memory to link the present with the past, current wrongs seem like historical aberrations, rather than the consequence of accumulated injustice. Authoritarian regimes and their allies know this well and are keen to snuff out those who reflect too thoughtfully on the past. By continually wiping the historical slate clean, they are free to do as they please and cover their tracks in the process.
“An island surrounded by land” is how novelist Roa Bastos described his native Paraguay, as much in reference to its political and social insularity, as to its landlocked geography. With less than seven million people in an area about the size of California, Paraguay is considered by some to be South America’s so-called “Empty Quarter.” The country’s eccentricity leaves many outsiders puzzled or uninterested.