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.
January 4, 2012
As 2011 statistics demonstrate, violence continues to scar the U.S.-Mexico border, and climate change will likely intensify it. As recent publications suggest, declining agricultural output and gross socio-economic inequality between Mexico, Central America, and the United States are likely to increase unauthorized migration and militarized efforts to stymie it.
January 3, 2012
There is a broad movement for an end to the violence that has been gripping many parts of Mexico. But there is a major disconnect between, on the one hand, the movements that have arisen from (and remain in) civil society and, on the other hand, movements that seek state power through the organization of political parties.
December 27, 2011
The judicial reform bill, currently being debated in the Colombian congress, threatens to compromise the relative independence that the country’s courts have enjoyed since the passage of the 1991 Constitution. This independence has allowed Colombia to investigate more than 60 members of congress for charges of collaborating with narco-traffickers and paramilitaries.
December 24, 2011
The Border Patrol Santa appeared again this year in Sonoita, Arizona. This Santa Claus agent has had a long history of helping the Border Patrol with its mission and strategy.
December 23, 2011
More than 240 U.S. and international labor, environmental, and civil society organizations are calling for the World Bank to dismiss a $77 million lawsuit brought by the Pacific Rim Mining Corporation against the government of El Salvador under DR-CAFTA, for failing to grant a permit for its proposed cyanide-leach gold mining operation.
December 20, 2011
Criminality and corrupt authoritarian politics have a tendency to blend, especially when large sums of money are available to grant impunity to certain citizens. Over the past three weeks, for example, Mexicans have witnessed a number of deliberate attacks—whose obvious foretelling was conspicuously ignored by state authorities—on political activists.
December 14, 2011
A recent report on Border Patrol transportation raids in northern New York State demonstrates how "security" penetrates society in a virus-like fashion: it goes wherever it can. This has been reality in the post-9/11 era, where the Border Patrol has increasingly focused on interior enforcement, with harmful implications for human and civil rights.
December 13, 2011
This past December 2 and 3, in Caracas, the heads of 33 Latin American and Caribbean states signed on to a project that has long been dear to Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez's heart. Conservative Mexican president Felipe Calderón opened the founding “presidential summit” of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) with phrases Chávez has long championed.
December 12, 2011
Yesterday morning Colombia and Latin America lost one of its most influential intellectuals and social scientists: Álvaro Camacho Guizado, a colleague, mentor, and, above all, a very dear friend. Camacho dedicated his life and energy to the study of narco-trafficking. He was also an early critical voice against U.S. anti-drug policy in Colombia.