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
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.
May 30, 2011
For many Mexicans, holding a decent, steady job has become either a distant memory or a fading hope. An increasing number are opting to simply call out their trades on the street, offer their services or sell what they can on the street and other public spaces. Or leave the country. Or accept an offer—plomo o plata (a bullet or a nice sum of money)—they can’t refuse.
May 28, 2011
Over the past few weeks U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and latter-day media "experts" have hailed Manuel Zelaya's return to Honduras and the pending reintegration of the country into the OAS as a restoration of democracy. Here in Honduras, it is clear that such claims could not be further from the truth. Despite the triumphal language of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, Honduran president Porfirio Lobo, and even Zelaya himself following their signing of the Cartagena Accords, Honduras today is no closer to reconciliation than it was in the months following the June 28, 2009 military coup.
May 27, 2011
In remote corners of Bolivia, local communities are pioneering sustainable mining and forestry strategies that could provide useful models in the global struggle against climate change. Cotapata Mining Cooperative
May 24, 2011
Last week, President Felipe Calderón spent two days in Ciudad Juárez, ostensibly to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, the pact that transferred power from the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz to the provisional Revolutionary government of Francisco Madero. Harking back to the city’s glory days, Calderón called Juárez a “heroic city,” and presided over a parade of 700 soldiers and a huge amount of sophisticated military equipment (and a contingent of university students dressed as Pancho Villa’s cavalry).
May 17, 2011
Last week’s massive National March for Peace with Justice and Security called for, among other things, the naming of the killers and the dead: the active investigation of all murders, disappearances, kidnappings, clandestine graves and person trafficking, along with the publication of the names of the victims and the “material and intellectual authors” of these crimes.
May 13, 2011
The feature film “También La Lluvia” (“Even the Rain”) has been giving U.S. movie audiences a taste of the popular struggle against water privatization that took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2000. Drawing parallels between the exploitation of indigenous people—and their organized resistance—in colonial, neoliberal, and contemporary times, the film was shot on location in Cochabamba and features 3,000 extras drawn from the city’s poor southern hillside neighborhoods who were actual protagonists in the Water War. The main indigenous character (played by an actor/ filmmaker from El Alto) is partially modeled on Oscar Olivera, a leader of the water revolt.