Columns

July 8, 2011
President Mauricio Funes reaffirmed last week that no mining projects will be permitted in El Salvador during his presidency, and condemned the recent murders of anti-mining activists.  But anti-mining organizations want a permanent legal ban on mining activity, and are critical of the government’s ongoing study to evaluate the costs and benefits of mining. At a recent meeting with international solidarity activists, Environmental Minister Herman Rosa Chávez offered insight into the government’s position.
July 6, 2011
A personal narrative of an encounter with the Border Patrol on the Tohono O'odham Nation in Southern Arizona. This close encounter with the Homeland Security state gives a glimpse into a place where anything and everything can be justified under the guise of national security and "securing our borders," trumping any impediment in its way. It is this that inspired six Native American activists to lock themselves down at Border Patrol Headquarters in Tucson in May 2010, and who finally won the subsequent court battle on June 29.
July 5, 2011
To no one’s great surprise, Mexico’s once-and-future ruling party (or so it seems), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), scored major victories in four state elections this Sunday. Mexico State has been governed by the PRI (or its direct ancestors) for over 80 years and that was not expected to change after Sunday’s election. The magnitude of the party’s victory, however, was surprising, impressive and a worrisome sign of its return to hegemony.
July 3, 2011
By Clayton Conn Since April 15th, members of the P’urhépecha indigenous community of Cherán, Michoacán have self-organized community defense committees to protect themselves from violence amidst Mexico’s drug war. On June 26th a small caravan set off from Cuernavaca, Morelos to bring food supplies to Cherán, to show support for the community, which is both suffering from and resisting the drug war model imposed by Mexican president Felipe Calderón soon after he took office in 2006.
July 3, 2011
Over the last decade, several studies have warned that agricultural production is one of the most vulnerable sectors in the global economy, particularly for subsistence and small farmers, who are the main food producers in the world. The upcoming U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is nothing more than the continuation of a policy that promises an economic disaster to small producers, and further opens the door to a global food crisis.
July 1, 2011
On Thursday, June 30, hundreds of people packed into Manhattan’s Riverside Church for the launch of 22nd Caravan to Cuba, and a memorial tribute to the late Reverend Lucius Walker, Jr. Among the people that spoke at the event was former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who captured the spirit of the evening, reminding the audience that “now is the time as never before” to continue the work that Walker began.
June 30, 2011
Dr. Gordon Rohlehr explains that any meaningful definition of community must take into account those whose struggles and humanity often fall below the collective radar, people who live ‘beneath the underdog’. The lesson he offers should be kept in mind when this Friday prisoners caged in California's supermax prison at Pelican Bay launch a hunger strike to protest the inhumane policies that prevail in the U.S. prison system.
June 28, 2011
This past Sunday, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas "outed" himself as an "illegal alien" in the pages of The New York Times Magazine. The reaction of many in the media establishment has been to dwell on Vargas's practices of deception that allowed him to "pass" for so long. In doing so, these pundits obscure and normalize the apartheid-like system which denies unauthorized immigrants many basic rights, and their complicity in its perpetuation.
June 28, 2011
Last Thursday, President Felipe Calderón held a highly publicized encounter with several victims of the extreme violence that has accompanied his ongoing war against drug trafficking and organized crime. The victims didn’t succeed in getting Calderón to apologize for the inordinate number of deaths and disappearances that have occurred on his drug-war watch, but they did get the president to listen to tales of immense suffering.  
June 26, 2011
Over the last decade, several changes occurred in the political economy of the war system in Colombia that may lead to the prolongation of the civil conflict.
June 24, 2011
By Deborah Poole and Gerardo Renique On June 5, Peruvian voters handed a hard won presidential victory to the progressive nationalist, Ollanta Humala. While it is too early to predict the future of the Humala government, his victory has dealt an important blow to both the Peruvian right and U.S. interests in Latin America.
June 22, 2011
Over the last decade the Caribbean has become one of the major trafficking routes for drugs leaving South America destined for the United States and other consumer markets. The twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago (T & T), a place I am currently visiting for the first time, presents a sobering case study on the failures of the punitive approach to drug control advocated and funded by the United States.  
June 22, 2011
There have been different responses to increased immigration over the Arizona-Mexico border on the Tohono O'odham Nation. One has been the dramatic increase of federal immigration enforcement agents and technology on the Nation. The other has been an attempt to put water along migrant routes, in attempt to stop migrant deaths. All of this has taken place on a Native American reservation, whose aboriginal land has been divided by the U.S.-Mexico border.
June 21, 2011
Central American migrants are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. Their resources are few and once they leave home they have no legal rights. Crossing Mexico, they are routinely held captive and extorted, not only by criminal gangs, but by unscrupulous public officials, private guards, transporters and even their own guides as they make their way northward. Sometimes, they simply disappear—not infrequently into enforced prostitution or perhaps into common graves.
June 20, 2011
For almost a century the dominant classes of Colombia have refused to accept a meaningful land reform as a way to end the civil war. What the Santos government needs is a change of course based on the acknowledgment that this protracted war has damaged enough Colombia’s social fabric.
June 17, 2011
Over the past 40 years, Bolivia has experienced an average of one “social conflict” per day, according to a recent report that measures episodes of conflict reported in the press. Underlying these statistics is the defining role played by Bolivia’s social movements—arguably the most powerful and combative in the hemisphere—in the country’s political history.
June 16, 2011
The ads that appeared in Drug Trade News, a pharmaceutical industry publication that existed from the 1920s through the 1970s, are striking today for their tone, tenor, racism, or maybe what could be described as devastating privilege. They reflect a U.S. drug industry that confidently presumed its dominant role in the global capitalist market in the 1960s, even as the world was rocked by popular rebellions.
June 14, 2011
On June 9, Alabama governor Robert Bentley signed into law what many see as the harshest anti-immigrant bill passed thus far by any U.S. state. H.B. (House Bill) 56, also known as the “Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act,” exceeds Arizona’s infamous S.B. 1070 in its ambition. Failing federal intervention to block it, the bulk of the law is scheduled to go into effect on September 1.
June 14, 2011
Last weekend, while in California, Mexico’s free-trading, conservative president, Felipe Calderón identified some of his principal political enemies: U.S. Arms Dealers, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Mexican pacifists. He named no names, but the identities were clear. He was invited to Palo Alto to deliver Sunday’s commencement address at Stanford University. A portion of his speech included a sharp, campaign-style attack on Mexico’s once, but no longer dominant PRI.
June 13, 2011
State-sponsored crime is neither unique nor exceptional. In fact, as the prominent sociologist Charles Tilly pointed out, the history of the nation state has been violent. This violence has been harnessed over time to serve the interests of capital—as was the case of Europe. Colombia is no exception.
June 11, 2011
On June 10, a new movement was born in Mexico. A peace caravan of hundreds of people from all over the country arrived to the border city of Ciudad Juárez to sign a national social pact with the goal of ending the militarized drug war in Mexico. This drug war has killed approximately 40,000 people since Mexican president Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006. This pact was appropriately signed in brutalized Ciudad Juárez, an epicenter of drug war-related violence, where 7,000 of these killings have taken place.
June 9, 2011
Last week Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff launched an ambitious program to eradicate extreme poverty by 2014. Under the “Brazil Without Poverty” initiative, the government will spend $12.5 billion a year to expand cash transfers and health, education, and job training services for some 16 million people (8.5% of Brazil’s population) with incomes of up to $44 per month, who have failed to benefit from Brazil’s rapidly expanding economy. The announcement comes as Rousseff continues to be challenged, in the international spotlight, by conflicts that expose the high cost of economic progress borne by Brazil’s most impoverished and indigenous communities.
June 8, 2011
June 8, 2011
From May 30 to June 5, I participated in the Migrant Trail Walk, a 75 mile walk from the U.S.-Mexico border to Tucson, Arizona, traversing the Altar Valley, one of the hottest stretches in the Sonoran desert during the summer months. This eighth annual walk was done in solidarity with the thousands of migrants who cross into the United States clandestinely, and in remembrance of the thousands whose bodies have been recovered, many in the same vast desert where we walked.
June 7, 2011
  There are times in which the enforcement of the law may represent a step backward for the rule of law. Jorge Hank Rhon, a powerful figure in Mexico’s once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was arrested before dawn last Saturday for the possession of a sizable illegal arsenal in his home. He may not be one of the world's good guys, but the circumstances and timing of his arrest are suspicious.

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