By Domingo de Ramos

          On the road, smoky, more like oily
from Altamira where the little light
forms dreamy partitions in the dust
I grew up one of a kind on the ground-level trembling
grainy abolished and fictionalized
without opal to polish myself
I pulled myself up like a house under the moon
and I said to Diego Is this island or sea?
pointing to the scale model where a recently cut
breadcrumb was floating
No- he mumbled moving his pearly snout
it is Altamira and palpitating cherubs
getting submerged in the glow of streetlights
that turned the air into the mist
of cinemas paradisos and Diego who was more
profound than silence grabbed the whirlwind
demonized from fictions and his city imagined
his equestrian statue among the heaps
and in a click pushed away what was overwhelming him

By Alexia Rauen

Paraguay’s political system has long been dominated by the Colorado Party (Asociación Nacional Republicana – Partido Colorado, ANR-PC). The Colorado Party is pro-West, and has historically – and into present day – restricted civil liberties and stifled opposition parties. This party stems from a brutal 35-year long dictatorship under military leader Alfredo Stroessner, and has retained power for 61 years, controlling the parliament even when Stroessner was removed by a coup in 1989. The Colorado Party has consistently held the presidency except for a brief stint from 2008-2012, which ended in impeachment. The party also holds a majority in the larger branch of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, and a near-majority in the Senate.

International_Women's_Day_March_(35211930340)

By Laura Schroeder

This International Women’s Day, as we applaud the political, economic, cultural, and social advancements of half the population, there is much to celebrate in the Americas.

In the past decade, there has been a striking increase in political and economic participation of women. Promisingly, government and NGO agendas alike are increasingly prioritizing gender equity as a cross-cutting, pressing issue, and slowly, collaboration is leading to progress. In Bolivia, approximately half of the legislative body is female. Paraguay recently passed Act 5777, providing protection against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), outlawing femicide, and providing services to survivors of sexual violence. Originating in Argentina, the #NiUnaMenos movement against sexual harassment and assault has made great headway across several countries, and has been followed by the US-rooted #MeToo movement.

This is not to say that women do not struggle every day to feel safe, be heard, be recognized for their contributions, and be valued in government and society. Indeed, experts maintain that the global gender gap will close in 79 years for Latin America and the Caribbean and 168 in North America.

Despite this, change makers are pushing forward, inspiring us to join them in their pursuits or to honor their legacies. Without further ado, here are some of the many she-roes that have confronted challenges to advance the status of women in the Western hemisphere.

By Aidan Sanchez

The current political climate in the United States in 2018 is volatile. Among the many contentious topics is Islam’s place in modern Western society. Much of the kindling for growing islamophobic sentiments in the West has come from President Donald Trump. During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump regularly established that Islam, and by extension Muslims, are public enemy number one. During a campaign rally in December of 2015, Trump infamously called for “​’a total and complete shutdown’ of Muslims entering the United States ‘until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.’” In the same speech, Trump conceded that “we have no choice,” and must prevent Muslims from entering the United States. Establishing such a travel ban was, according to supporters, imperative in the interest of preserving national security.​ In his 1993 article ​The Clash of Civilizations?​, Samuel Huntington predicted that cultural differences between the East and West would be the fundamental source for international conflicts in the post-Cold War Era. Using Huntington’s hypothesis, it is possible to identify the historical framework that has led us to where we are now.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union took the place as the U.S. collective ‘other,’ unifying two distinct conservative political sects: civilizational and ideological, against a common enemy. The civilizational conservatives opposed communism due to ideological reasons. The Soviet Union was an atheist state; its lack of faith ran contrary to Anglo-Saxon Christian traditions. Ideological conservatives stood against communism in the interest of preserving liberty and preventing the global domination of a totalitarian regime. This ‘us versus them’ paradigm is useful in analyzing this time period. Politicians and media outlets alike utilized this worldview to frame international politics because it was easy to identify the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys.’ From this perspective, the United States was the good guy, and the Soviet Union was the godless enemy. In a December 1992 memo to his staff, ​New York Times​ foreign editor Bernard Gwertzman wrote, “​In the old days, when certain countries were pawns in the Cold War, their political orientation alone was reason enough for covering them.” However, when the threat of nuclear annihilation subsided, the United States emerged as the clear global hegemon.

By Christina La Fleur

Despite the progress the UIC-Cuban Ministry of Health collaboration has made for patients and diplomacy, the path ahead for US-Cuban healthcare partnerships is far from sure. Political and policy changes have already begun, and they have the potential to completely reshape US-Cuban relations.

Firstly, political power has changed hands in the United States. The Chicago programs’ main political supporters at the federal level were Democrats, who do not currently hold the majority in Congress.  The Chicago program was built off the foreign policy of the previous Democratic president, and has already been walked back by the current Republican one, who seems inclined to further distance the United States from its island neighbor. In fact, the Cubans’ first Chicago visit was expedited, according to Dr. Jose Armando Arronte Villamarin, so it could be completed prior to January 20th, 2017 – Donald Trump’s inauguration day. 

By Christina La Fleur

In 2016 and 2017, University of Illinois Cancer Center doctors and a team of Cuban Ministry of Health representatives observed healthcare practices in each other’s countries with the hope of addressing maternal and child healthcare in underserved Chicago communities.  

Dr. Robert Winn of Chicago had been looking for a solution to solve community health problems with few resources. In Cuba he saw the scarcity, but he also saw low infant mortality and high community trust, which was accomplished through the Cuban home visit system. 

In Cuba, primary care physicians “try to solve the problems of the community because they live in the community,” says Dr. Jose Armando Arronte Villamarin, a Cuban primary health professional. Cuba’s healthcare system has a  pyramid focus, from the individual to the family to the community, that starts with a visit to patients’ homes.  According to Dr. Armando, during the visit individuals are put into one of four groups – healthy, at risk, sick, or living with a disability – and are seen in the local office for care. A community-level health assessment is made every year.

By Christina La Fleur

Cuban doctors have been deployed all over the world to heal and to strengthen bilateral relations. In 2017, they came to Chicago to address extreme disparity and an urgent community need.

The University of Illinois Chicago-Cuban Ministry of Health collaboration is a first: American doctors invited Cuban medical professionals into American communities to help improve maternal and child health outcomes in underserved Chicago neighborhoods. This collaboration is a milestone in cooperative US-Cuban relations, and in Cuba’s medical diplomacy. 

Dr. Jose Armando Arronte Villamarin and two other Cuban health professionals came to Chicago in January of 2017 to visit University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (UI Health) clinics and discuss the potential of applying a Cuban-style home visit system, where doctors have the chance to observe patients, and their conditions, in their own home. During their next visit to Chicago, the doctors began the at-home interviews to assess the patients and determine their health needs at the individual and, cumulatively, community levels.