October 20, 2017

Abstract, Migrant Smuggling on Mexico’s Gulf Route: The Actors Involved

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Migrant Smuggling on Mexico’s Gulf Route: The Actors Involved
by Simón Pedro Izcara Palacios

Migrant flows crossing Mexican territory into the United States along the Gulf route are mainly driven by a demand for cheap labor. The decrease in the number of migrants wishing to cross the border to escape the violence in Mexico has turned undocumented migrants into a rare and valuable commodity. The increasing costs of migrant smuggling as a result of organized crime and the activities of the immigration authorities have prompted employers to finance this activity to ensure that they receive enough workers. In-depth interviews with 70 migrant smugglers shed light on the function and participation of the different actors involved in migrant smuggling.

October 19, 2017

Book, The Poor's Struggle for Political Incorporation: The Piquetero Movement in Argentina

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The Poor's Struggle for Political Incorporation: The Piquetero Movement in Argentina by Federico M. Rossi

This book offers an innovative perspective on the ever-widening gap between the poor and the state in Latin American politics. It presents a comprehensive analysis of the main social movement that mobilized the poor and unemployed people of Argentina to end neoliberalism and to attain incorporation into a more inclusive and equal society. The piquetero (picketer) movement is the largest movement of unemployed people in the world. This movement has transformed Argentine politics to the extent of becoming part of the governing coalition for more than a decade. Rossi argues that the movement has been part of a long-term struggle by the poor for socio-political participation in the polity after having been excluded by authoritarian regimes and neoliberal reforms. He conceptualizes this process as a wave of incorporation, exploring the characteristics of this major redefinition of politics in Latin America.

October 18, 2017

Introduction, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking in Latin America

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Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking in Latin America
by Daniela Issa

Very few scholars in Latin America deny the existence of modern slavery today, but when the literature began denouncing and analyzing it in the late 1990s1 as a practice very much present in the world the phenomenon was met with astonishment. Because of slavery’s being a historical practice, “vestiges” of it seemed a more plausible explanation than the purported reality of “modern slavery”—a construction seemingly leading to an oxymoron in the social imaginary. For one thing, this astonishment presupposed the incompatibility of slavery in any form with the promises of Post-Enlightenment modernity associated with emancipation and individual liberties. Further, modernity’s scientific and technical progress is invariably associated with the moral and ethical progress of humanity and the implication of a better world, a different stage of historical development. In the past couple of decades, however, the literature has come to be quite homogeneous in its acceptance of the phenomenon in spite of the apparent paradox of the modern, neoliberal world order: assurances of more freedom, in particular individual liberties, on the one hand and extreme exploitation of labor on the other.

October 17, 2017

November 2017 Issue, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking in Latin America

Issue Editor: Daniela Issa

Issue 217 | Volume 44 | Number 6 | November 2017

Modern slavery and human trafficking affect an estimated 1.8 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean today yet remain significantly understudied given their devastating human consequences. This issue addresses this gap in the slavery and trafficking scholarship by taking a critical look at it across the region and situating it within the transnational capitalist economy. Articles include theoretical analyses of the phenomenon as well as recruitment practices, populations susceptible to being enslaved/trafficking, and the role of violence. Additionally, it seeks to provide regional balance in the literature on slavery and trafficking in Latin America, which has disproportionately centered on Brazil; it highlights three underresearched areas—slavery outside Brazil, nonsexual slavery, and smugglers/traffickers rather than victims exclusively.

October 13, 2017

Political Report # 1283 Militarization and "Shock Doctrine" Policies Abound After Earthquake in Mexico

By Renata Bessi and Santiago Navarro F., 

The colored tarps hung over streets and patios of homes awaiting repair have become part of the everyday landscape of the Isthmus communities in Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, after the 8.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the country on September 7 causing around 100 deaths. It was the most intense earthquake to strike Mexico in a century. People are still afraid and panicked due to the destruction that the earthquake and its aftershocks have caused. The earth still hasn't settled. Since the initial quake, the Mexican National Seismological Service has estimated more than 6,000 aftershocks, in addition to the subsequent earthquake on September 19 that measured a magnitude of 7.2 and devastated Mexico City and other areas of central Mexico. Three hundred and sixty-nine deaths related to the September 19 earthquake have been accounted for as of October 4.
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec, measuring 20,000 square kilometers, is the region that has been most affected by the September 7 earthquake. Official data presented by the government of Oaxaca show that the earthquake affected 120,000 people in 41 different municipalities, and around 60,600 homes. Of those residences, 20,664 were lost completely, while 39,956 sustained partial damage. Their infrastructure, drinking water and sewage systems are damaged. The local economy has taken a hit. The streets are piled with garbage. Many are concerned that a possible health crisis is at hand.
It's been more than a month since the earthquake and the communal kitchens and tents set up by neighborhoods in public spaces, through their own resources or through donations from people, have become the only option for these communities. Shelters provided for by the state are almost nonexistent. In the municipality of San Mateo del Mar, for example, where 80 percent of homes were affected, the state response was to send the Navy to set up a shelter, but this meager gesture has been surpassed by the organizing of community members, who have found ways to address their most immediate needs.

October 10, 2017

Abstract, Low-Intensity Democracy and Peru’s Neoliberal State: The Case of the Humala Administration

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Low-Intensity Democracy and Peru’s Neoliberal State: The Case of the Humala Administration
by William Aviles and Yolima Rey Rosas   

The election of Ollanta Humala in 2011 did not lead to a radical break from neoliberalism as many expected. His administration continued and deepened Peru’s conservative political and economic regime, its “low-intensity democracy.” His lack of a shift has been attributed to electoral dynamics, his leadership style, and the weakness of political parties. However, these readings overlook the structural impediments to any left government in Peru and Humala’s readiness to adapt his politics to this neoliberal reality. The power of Peru’s neoliberal political elite, the United States, economic groups, and transnational capital have all helped to constitute a structure of elite rule strong enough to prevent a radical shift.

October 6, 2017

Political Report # 1282 How Pentagon Officials May Have Encouraged a 2009 Coup in Honduras

By Jake Johnston, 
The Intercept

FORT MCNAIR, ONE of the oldest U.S. military posts in the country, is nestled on an outcropping of land where the Anacostia and Potomac rivers meet in Washington, D.C. There, within the National Defense University, is the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, where hundreds of Hondurans took courses over the years. In mid-July 2009, Honduran military officials sought the center's help to solve a problem that had recently arisen.
The Honduran military had just dispatched of its previous problem, President Manuel Zelaya, with a military coup. Now, the Central American military was facing international and regional condemnations for a brazen display of 1970s behavior in the 21st century. The military officials needed friends in the U.S. to rally behind it, but the Americans were wary of open shows of support. The U.S. had just revoked visas from top Honduran civilian and military officials, and suspended some security assistance.
Two Honduran colonels were dispatched to Washington on a mission to convince the Americans that the Honduran military's involvement in the coup was in fact constitutional. The military had reached out to the CHDS's academic dean to get help for the delegation. Officially CHDS said no, Kenneth LaPlante, CHDS's then-deputy director, told me. However, according to Martin Andersen, a former CHDS communications director who became a whistleblower, Gen. John Thompson, the academic dean, had allegedly provided "behind-the-scenes assistance in Washington, D.C., to Honduran coup plotters." Andersen's allegation was made in a complaint being investigated by the Department of Defense Inspector General, which has taken no action.

October 4, 2017

Political Report # 1281 Coca-Cola Sucks Wells Dry in Chiapas, Forcing Residents to Buy Water

Political Report # 1281

Coca-Cola Sucks Wells Dry in Chiapas, Forcing Residents to Buy Water

By By Martha Pskowski, Truthout 

The water is disappearing in San Felipe Ecatepec, an Indigenous town three miles outside of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, in southern Mexico.
"In the past four years, our wells have started drying up," says Juan Urbano, who just finished a three-year term this February as the president of the Communal Territory of San Felipe Ecatepec. "People sometimes walk two hours a day to get water. Others have to buy their water."
Where is all the water going?
In between San Felipe and San Cristobal lies a Coca-Cola bottling plant, operated by the Mexican company FEMSA. The plant consumed over 1.08 million liters of water per day in 2016.
Urbano, 57, explains that the urban growth of San Cristobal has gradually eaten up agricultural lands in San Felipe. He is part of a shrinking number of people in the community that still grow corn, beans and squash on plots of land passed down for generations, and drink pozol, a drink made from fermented corn dough.
"Many people don't drink pozol anymore," Urbano laments. "They've replaced it with Coca-Cola."
San Felipe Ecatepec is one of thousands of towns across Mexico where corporate water consumption has taken precedence over local need. Advocates are scrambling to rein in a chain of public health consequences.

October 2, 2017

Abstract, The Araguaia Guerrilla War (1972–1974): Armed Resistance to the Brazilian Dictatorship

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The Araguaia Guerrilla War (1972–1974): Armed Resistance to the Brazilian Dictatorship
by Janaína de Almeida Teles    

The Araguaia guerrilla war (1972–1974) was an attempt to reconcile armed struggle and political awareness that became a sort of “guerrilla focus” with roots in the peasant population, which assumed a decisive role in the resistance to military repression. This period was characterized by the centralization of operations of information and repression, consolidating the tactic of “political disappearance” in Brazil. The military occupation terrorized the population to mitigate any multiplier effect of the insurgency, and its success reverberated throughout the continent. At the same time, denunciations of its human rights abuses helped to erode the dictatorship.

September 29, 2017

Political Report # 1279 Obama's Guantánamo Legacy Lingers in Trump Era

By By Aisha Maniar, Truthout 

While President Trump has quickly developed a more violent record than Obama on drone warfare, immigration and other policy areas, Trump has thus far not embraced Guantánamo and made it his own the way that Obama did in 2009.
The 41 prisoners who remained at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp when Obama left office continue to be the only prisoners in the camp, and the arbitrary regime continues almost entirely as it did under Obama. Trump's odd tweets about Guantánamo, such as his tweet about the alleged recidivism rate of former prisoners, are about as meaningful and effective as his tweets about covfefe and the country needing to "heel."
Many of the 197 men released from Guantánamo by the Obama administration continue to suffer the repercussions of their imprisonment every day. More than two-thirds of releases under Obama were of men resettled in third countries. Most were effectively rendered refugees who could not return to their country of origin, either due to the safety risk that resulted from their association with Guantánamo or due to the United States' foreign policy of war and hostility in states such as Yemen and Syria.
The problems for prisoners transferred to third countries where they had no friends, family, job or connections, and often could not speak the local language, started almost immediately. Coupled with intrusive surveillance and restrictions, freedom remained elusive.