Columns

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.
August 5, 2011
Latino households in the United States experienced a record decline in wealth in 2005-2009. It looks like U.S. immigration and border enforcement is significantly to blame.
August 5, 2011
Last week, after a wave of popular protests, the Salvadoran legislative assembly voted to repeal controversial Decree 743 which required the country’s highest judicial body to  reach decisions by unanimous consent. The action ended two months of political turmoil, averted a constitutional crisis, and represents a victory for civil society that strengthens the role of democratic institutions in El Salvador.
August 4, 2011
Over the past two weeks, U.S. media airways have been dominated by the sad spectacle of elected representatives’ refusal to govern, their repudiation of even the pretense of trying to seek agreement on issues of grave importance to people living in the country and many more affected by their actions around the world. However, despite unprecedented levels of acrimony, open hostility, and free-flowing expressions of contempt, one issue seems to continue to galvanize widespread support: the drug war.
August 3, 2011
A lot of media attention has been given to the Arizona state government's latest anti-immigration ploy—to build its own border wall, in defiance of the federal government, on the boundary between the state and Mexico. Much less attention has been given to an emerging corporate-state nexus which is both obscured by, and a result of, this type of heated anti-immigrant rhetoric found in Arizona.
August 2, 2011
A week and a half ago, a group of activists and immigrants began a trek from various locations in Guatemala and Mexico’s southern border to Mexico City. Among them were anguished mothers and fathers carrying portraits of their missing sons and daughters. The mothers, in particular, looked, talked, and mourned like any other “mothers of the disappeared”—decades ago in Argentina and Chile; more recently in Guatemala and El Salvador—only this time their sons and daughters were not disappeared for being radical activists, but for being undocumented migrants trying to make their way northward.
August 1, 2011
During the 1980s, Colombian narcotraffickers fought ferociously against being extradited to the United States. But lately in an unprecedented shift, narcotraffickers are changing their attitudes, and courting extradition—the sooner the better.
July 29, 2011
Left-leaning president Ollanta Humala faces the formidable task of resolving a growing number of mining conflicts, especially in the Puno region where widespread protests shut down the economy last spring. While lame duck president Alan García made numerous concessions to the protesters, the conflicts are far from resolved and could become the defining challenge of the new administration.
July 28, 2011
President Reagan’s justification for siphoning money out of the collective effort and into the pockets of the wealthy remains in vogue today. If the government pursues tax cuts and subsidies for the rich, so the pitch goes, everyone will benefit.  The wealth at the top will eventually “trickle-down.” It is unclear how the new government of Peru will respond.  
July 27, 2011
A recent report reveals that large increases in the number of individuals deported for drunk driving, minor traffic violations, and violations of immigration law have played a significant role in fueling the dramatic rise in immigrant deportations from the United States over the last few years. In doing so, it illustrates the dangers of embracing the slippery slope of deportation and the immigration enforcement apparatus more broadly—an error committed by all-too-many advocates of comprehensive immigration reform.

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