Colombia just discarded a cornerstone of the American-backed fight against drugs, blocking the aerial spraying of coca, the plant used to make cocaine. Bolivia kicked out the United States Drug Enforcement Administration years ago and allows farmers to grow small amounts of the crop. Chile, long one of Latin America’s most socially conservative countries, is gathering its first medical marijuana harvest. Across the Americas, governments are increasingly resisting the tenets of the United States-led approach to fighting drugs, often challenging traditional strategies like prohibition, the eradication of crops, and a militarized stance to battling growers in a fundamental shift in the region.
Family members and supporters of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students made their final stop of a European tour in London Monday night. “Among the objectives of the caravan is to highlight the responsibility of European governments in the grave human rights violations committed against the 43 students,” states the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center in Guerrero, which provides vital support to victims’ families in the ongoing search for their loved ones. “They have signed cooperation agreements with Mexico on security and trade, which has involved the sale of arms and providing training to the police and Mexican military, although Mexico continues violating human rights.”
As leaders meet in South Korea this week for the World Education Forum, Bluefields – and Nicaragua as a whole – offers a snapshot of the huge challenges that still remain to get children into school. The links between leaving school and child labour are multifarious, but poverty plainly drives both. Nicaragua – a country of 6.1 million people – is the second poorest in the Americas after Haiti. It has the largest youth bulge in Latin Americawith more than 2 million school-aged children, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Unesco. Half of all children and adolescents live in poverty.
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina is under increasing pressure from civil society to step down amid calls for systemic change in the wake of a corruption scandal that forced a government shake-up in recent weeks. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Guatemala City Saturday calling for President Perez Molina’s resignation as part of a broader campaign demanding an end to government corruption. The demonstration was the largest of a recent wave of major protests of the growing “Renuncia Ya” movement pressuring top officials to leave the government.
Romero was indeed deliberately and intensely political. He discovered the power of the archbishopric and decided to use it to influence the Salvadoran political process in favor of the victims and against the military regime. But his direct confrontation with the established powers can’t explain his assassination. He was killed because those powers thought they could get away with it. And they did, because Salvadoran history, for them, was a lesson in controlling the system through repression.
The aggressive posture of police and soldiers worries human rights groups in El Salvador. Jeanne Rikkers, who has worked on police and human rights issues for years in San Salvador, said that as she takes testimony from citizens about disappeared relatives or other abuses, “people are reporting things to you that sound like the ’80s.”
Haiti has long held the title of poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Scapegoated in the Americas for disease, economic troubles and crimes, Haiti has seen little but contempt from the international community since its inception. At the core of Haiti’s economic history lies a debt forced upon it by its former colonizer, France. And while Haiti paid in blood and money for its independence from France, the French government refuses to open the discussion for reparations.
The border between Panama and Colombia is perplexingly unique. It’s the meeting point of two countries and two continents – North and South America – with long, connected histories of trade and migration. Yet it’s one of the only international frontiers without a pliable road across it. The 225km boundary, stretching from the Caribbean coast through dense mountainous jungle and swamps to the Pacific Ocean, has no formal crossings for people or cargo.
With the splintering of its once hegemonic cartels and the emergence of smaller groups that contract themselves out for various criminal jobs, Mexico in 2015 does not look that dissimilar from Colombia circa 2008 to 2011. During that time, Colombia saw a plethora of criminal groups emerge after the demobilization of its right-wing paramilitary forces. The government called these groups BACRIM, from the Spanish acronym for “criminal bands.” In 2009, Colombian security forces counted nine such groups in the country. There were other, higher counts released around this time — for its 2011 report, Colombian think-tank Indepaz counted five major BACRIM and eight smaller groups.