Senate Democrats on Tuesday unexpectedly challenged the Obama administration’s plan to pour $1 billion into Central America to try to slow the flow of unaccompanied minors and others who enter the United States illegally. In two hearings on the State Department budget, Democrats as well as Republicans warned that previous administrations have spent billions in the region without substantially reducing its violence or easing its poverty.
Almost every country in the region bears its distinctive mark of criminal activity, whether involving drugs, protection, corruption or money-laundering, and its particular understandings and accommodations, high and low, between crime and players in political life. But it is an open question as to why now, in countries supposedly transformed or revitalised, or merely repackaged for media consumption, certain crimes or scandals are mustering an indignant popular response rarely seen before. Nor can it escape notice that the crimes in question do not point in any straightforward way to an order from a president, minister or general, or any of the other more traditional sources of state-sponsored murder in Latin America.
The counterrevolution’s hallmarks are an unapologetic ideological attack on democratic capitalism; the revival of “traditional” moral values allegedly threatened by the decadent, conniving West; assertiveness about national interests, real and invented; and, perhaps most important, flexibility about methods. Illiberal states, parties and politicians have learned to exploit democratic institutions — elections, media and free markets — in order to undermine them.
The disappearance of the 43 students became the highest profile example of the country’s entrenched corruption in recent years, something that – until now – the government was able to ignore. Fault Lines travels to Mexico to examine the scope of the unchecked criminal activity, investigate the case of the disappeared students, and meet families of those that have gone missing across the country as they try to find out what happened to their loved ones.
Looking at San Pedro Sula, it is clear that a dramatic change in political will would be needed for any initiative of this kind to be successful. International donors should not support a militarized security strategy, which would intensify abuses and fail to provide sustainable citizen security. Funding for well-designed, community-based violence prevention programs could be helpful, but only if there is a government willing to reform the police, push for justice, and invest in the education, jobs, violence prevention, health, child protection, and community development programs needed to protect its poorest citizens.
Amid all the angry rhetoric, one question remains: Can Nicaragua build a canal that benefits ordinary people, mitigates the project’s environmental impact and serves international trade?
Let’s take a look at some of the key controversies.
SPECIAL MENTION: This piece was written by Katherine and Ted Oswald, MCC policy anyalists in Haiti. The UN has an obligation to support Haiti in the cholera elimination effort;overwhelming evidence shows that the UN introduced cholera to Haiti in 2010. The disease, not seen in Haiti in over one hundred years, was brought by peacekeepers stationed on a UN base that leaked untreated human waste into Haiti’s largest river system. The river was and is still relied upon by Haitians as a primary source of water for drinking, bathing and farming. As noted by Dr. Louise Ivers with Partners in Health, “the United Nations has a moral, if not legal, obligation to help solve a crisis it inadvertently helped start.”
“Despite our diversity, despite our differences, we are a country, we exist and we deserve respect,” said Roman Catholic Monsignor Pierre-André Dumas, who helped planned the march. “We are neighbors, sharing the same island. The question of racism and barbarism need to be finished with on this island.”
A recent analysis on the relationship between local drug markets and violence and crime in Colombia illustrates the dynamics driving the domestic drug trade, and provides recommendations for comprehensive government interventions designed to result in long-lasting security improvements.
Some Bolivians are immensely concerned. A collective of organisations and individuals calling itself the “Antifracking Movement in Bolivia” has emerged, and last October the Fundacion Solon in La Paz issued a “Declaration against Fracking in Bolivia”, describing it as a “highly risky and contaminating” technique using huge amounts of water and highly toxic chemicals with devastating health impacts
For recreation in the sprawling city, a group of women began to create a circle of luchadoras inspired by Mexico’s famous lucha libre. Each Sunday, the women descend on a complex in El Alto and put on a theatrical spectacle, wrestling and taking hard punches, pulling hair, and leaping through the air, all while dressed in colored petticoats and shawls. The women have also become a band of sisters, operating through an association they formed in 2011 that would hold everyone accountable–not just the promoters–for ensuring each person received fair treatment and compensation.