February 12, 2012
Last Saturday Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos celebrated a media blitz in Necocli, Antioquia, when he launched his plan to return some of the lands that were forcefully taken from millions of peasants over the course of the last twenty years. The question is: Can this government withstand the resistance of the formidable forces that benefited from this land grab?
February 10, 2012
On February 9, Bolivia’s Plurinational Assembly passed a controversial new law mandating a consultation process for indigenous communities in the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS), to redetermine the fate of a government-proposed highway that would bisect the reserve. The next chapter of the TIPNIS conflict is likely to be more contentious than ever.
February 8, 2012
The recent announcement that former Haitian dictator Jean Claude Duvalier will stand trial for corruption charges related to his embezzling of millions of dollars, but not for his role in the murder, disappearance and torture of thousands during his presidency has sparked outrage throughout Haiti and from human rights advocates across the world.
February 8, 2012
In the United States, at least 5000 children are abandoned and left in state foster care, or in the care of extended family, when birth parents are arrested and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Many parents are deported with their children having little hope of ever reuniting with them again. On this day, we’ve been cleared to visit with a couple of mothers from Mexico.
February 7, 2012
Reactionary forces in Colombia are challenging President Juan Manuel Santos's plans to implement Law 1448, which calls for land restitution to the victims of Colombia's conflict. The Colombian Banana Growers Association (AUGURA) warns against possible violence that could be unleashed by Santos's demonstration in Necocli, Antioquia, this upcoming Saturday.
February 3, 2012
Bolivia’s controversy over the recently-cancelled TIPNIS highway intensified this week, as the CONISUR counter-march arrived to La Paz. The Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) government renewed its campaign for a formal consulta process to redetermine the fate of the road, fanning the flames of popular discontent and conflict between indigenous sectors.
February 1, 2012
Canadian Forces have participated in numerous counter-narcotics missions in the Caribbean basin as part of the wider U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force-South. The missions, in combination with the opening of a Canadian military base in Jamaica, raise serious questions about the wider militarization of Canadian relations with the Caribbean.
February 1, 2012
The Obama administration is allowing Department of Homeland Security prosecutors to drop low-priority deportation cases, thus allowing some would-be deportees to remain in the United States for now. At the same time, the Border Patrol is implementing a new national strategy, one involving ever-more punitive measures aimed at making the lives of unauthorized migrants more miserable.
January 30, 2012
A few days ago, I had a wide-ranging talk with Javier Sicilia, the founder of the Movement for Peace With Justice and Dignity. Since its inception last March, following the murder of Sicilia’s son, the group has campaigned against the spreading violence in Mexico, and more specifically against the militarization of Mexico’s Drug War and what Sicilia sees as the concurrent militarization of Mexican society.
January 30, 2012
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos recently declared that his government was committed to implementing the recently passed Victims’ Law, which calls for the restitution of lands that were usurped during the last two decades to their legitimate owners. There are many obstacles, however, and it is unclear if Santos is willing to stand up to the large land owners that have caused so much suffering.
January 27, 2012
Mass evictions and police violence at Pinheirinho, a favela on the outskirts of São Paolo, illustrate the collateral damage of Brazil's development boom in urban areas, while a conflict plays out between the state and federal government. President Dilma Rousseff's silence on the issue is deafening.
January 25, 2012
The fracturing of families and communities by economic restructuring has led to a dramatic increase in domestic violence throughout the Caribbean. What makes matters worse is that domestic violence is often trivialized and left out of context, therefore severely hindering efforts to implement meaningful and lasting reforms.
January 25, 2012
The report Guns, Drugs, and Money articulates an alternative to current U.S. policy toward the Mexican border. It points out that terrorism against civilians has no connection to this border. The flawed drug war has huge presence there, but the U.S. government’s main “homeland security” effort still is directed against labor and family migrants who pose no security threat at all.
January 24, 2012
Adhering to the results of three independent polls of Mexico City’s registered voters, Mexico’s center-left electoral coalition, known in this election cycle as the Progressive Movement Coalition, or, informally, the coalition of “the lefts,” agreed last Thursday to nominate Miguel Ángel Mancera to be its candidate to govern Mexico City.
January 23, 2012
Colombia has recently become very attractive to multinational corporations, particularly in the mining and oil sectors. Over the last three years foreign direct investment in these Colombian sectors has more than doubled. With this rise in investments land conflicts are only expected to increase, violating ever more human, cultural, labor and environmental rights.
January 20, 2012
Less than three months ago, indigenous protesters forced Bolivian president Evo Morales to sign a law cancelling the government’s proposed highway through the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS). Now, with a pro-highway counter-march and a legislative strategy to amend or bypass the law, the controversial road project may be on the verge of resurrection.
January 19, 2012
Two thousand and twelve holds both uncertainty and cautious optimism for the Caribbean. The recent election of new governments in Jamaica and St. Lucia, the controversial re-election of an incumbent in Guyana, and the selection of Michel Martelly out of a flawed election in Haiti has sent mixed signals about the overall direction of the region.
January 17, 2012
Maintaining inequality and injustice requires work, and the policing of the associated boundaries between the privileged and the disadvantaged. Increasingly, young people are involved in the project of exclusion—in the borderlands of the United States and Mexico, and Israel-Palestine.
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.