Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Haiti—The Job of Nations

    Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Haitians bore the afflictions of foreign exploitation, deforestation, and their own corrupt leaders. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Haitian government was so ill-prepared to deal with the calamitous January 12 earthquake.

  • On Shaky Ground

    Everyone likes to be on solid ground. But it’s amazing what you can get used to. In Delmas 33, where my friend Vilmond is living with a group of forty people who have come together to see each other through the crisis, people started laughing. Someone joked that he was getting used to the earth rocking him to sleep. “It’s so comforting,” he said.

  • Illusions, Delusions, Myths, and Realities

    Sometimes, Haitians refer to the earthquake as spektak la. It means not only “the show” or “the spectacle,” but also “the dramatic event.” Everywhere, people have been assigning meaning to the spektak in appreciation of their target audiences. Bill Clinton and the poor of Port-au-Prince are all discussing what the earthquake means to them in the context of their lives.

  • Universal disorientation

    Look at the front page of the New York Times (Jan 17), and you’d swear that chaos and violence are running rampant in Haiti, that everyone from journalists to relief workers must be risking their necks just to venture out into the streets…

  • On the Streets of Port-au-Prince

    For a very brief historical moment, all Haitians in Port-au-Prince found themselves in the same boat. But when President Preval announced to his compatriots that he was a victim like everybody else, they shook their heads in disgust.

  • Honduras: The Preventive Coup

    What provoked a dozen families last June to conspire to overthrow Honduran President Manuel (Mel) Zelaya? He did not apparently harbor a secret revolutionary agenda, nor try to impose non-legal changes to bridge the immense gap between the handful of super rich and millions of poor. The oligarchy bogusly accused Zelaya of seeking constitutional changes so he could run again.

  • The evenman (event) in Port-au-Prince

    Vilmond Deralcine is never late for the 5 o’clock mass on Tuesday evenings. However, on January 12, he had stopped to pick up a friend. As she was not yet ready, he decided to wait for her. Those who had arrived early for church would be dead just minutes later.

  • Media as Insurgent Art

    Twenty-eight years ago the Atlacatl battalion – a U.S. trained and financed squad of Salvadoran soldiers – entered El Mozote and told men, women, and children they were guilty of supporting guerillas and communism. They proceeded to kill every last person and razed the village to the ground. What makes the massacre at El Mozote all the more tragic is the media war and cover up it spurred. The largest massacre in Latin America remains, to most, largely unknown and its victims have been exiled to the rubbish bin of history.

  • Obama, the Blockade against Cuba and Democratic Reform

    As part of the Quebec Social Forum about fifty people gathered at Cégep (junior college) du Vieux Montréal to attend the conference in French “Obama, the Blockade against Cuba and Democratic Reform,” by Arnold August on behalf of the Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba. August is a journalist and author of “Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections” and is currently working on a forthcoming book to be published in the fall of 2010 and entitled “Cuba: Participatory Democracy and Elections in the 21st Century “.

  • Latin America: Social Movements in Times of Economic Crises

    The most striking aspect of the prolonged and deepening world recession/depression is the relative and absolute passivity of the working and middle class in the face of massive job losses, big cuts in wages, health care and pension payments and mounting housing foreclosures. To explore some tentative hypotheses of why there is little organized protest, we need to examine the historical-structural antecedents to the world economic depression.

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