The New York Times headline on October 19 read: “Body Found in Argentine River Shakes Up Election.” Al Jazeera stated on October 22: “Santiago Maldonado’s death overshadows elections.” “A missing-person case looms over Argentina’s midterm elections,” was The Economist headline on September 7. These headlines contextualize the discovery of Santiago Maldonado’s body in terms of national politics and fail to capture the indigenous struggle at the root of his disappearance. Maldonado was present at a mapuche indigenous protest on August 1 in the Patagonian region of Argentina when he disappeared. Cristina Kirchner, the former president of Argentina who has not been shy about her discontent with Mauricio Macri’s government,has used Maldonado’s disappearance as further criticism. Ultimately, the coalition of parties of incumbent Macri proved successful in the elections despite the discovery of Maldonado’s body, securing a significant political victory by dominating “the top five population centers of Buenos Aires City, and Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Santa Fe and Mendoza provinces.” While the international community and Argentine politicians have gravitated to Maldonado’s death as a political instrument in these elections, the death has struck a different chord among the Argentine population. Widespread protests demanding his reappearance in Argentine cities occurred, and with his death an investigation must now be held to determine the cause of death and possible involvement of law enforcement.
Michael E. Donoghue’s historical study Borderland on the Isthmus: Race, Culture, and the Struggle for the Canal Zone exposes traditionally underrepresented issues in the Panama Canal Zone. The Panama Canal Zone, which encompasses the canal itself, a well-known trade route that splits Panama, also encompasses the surrounding area. This zone was under U.S. control from 1903 to 1979; the canal was returned to Panama in 1999. Donoghue’s book is impressive and particularly strong in its detail concerning themes of race and gender in the Panama Canal Zone.
The widespread lack of electricity across Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane María has been widely publicized and carries with it deep concern for the lack of vital resources available to the island. As Puerto Rico is a United States territory, the federal government is responsible for ensuring the reconstruction of the island. But is it doing enough now, and will it be doing enough in the future, when the world has turned its attention to the next headline-worthy natural disaster?
The relationship between the United States and Argentina has remained strong under President Trump. It is likely that Trump views the country favorably due to the close relationship that he shared with Argentine President Mauricio Macri when the two were businessmen. Trump and Macri met at the White House in late April to discuss bilateral cybersecurity and to show joint support for the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights in Venezuela.
The United States and Argentina have strengthened economic ties since Trump entered office, as both countries have lifted bans on the other for certain goods. For the first time since 1992, U.S. farmers will be able to export pork to Argentina, with a potential market of up to USD $10 million. Additionally, President Trump followed through on the Obama administration’s proposal to relinquish a ban on lemons from Argentina, which is the fourth-largest producer of the fruit in the world.
On the morning of Tuesday, September 5, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be rescinded. An Obama administration 2012 executive action, DACA grants temporary legal status and provides 2-year work permits to individuals who were brought to the country as children without immigration documents. According to the Washington Post, an estimated 800,000 immigrants benefit from the program.
Sessions maintained that to best serve the national interest, Congress must determine and enforce a legislative limit on immigration. Claiming that DACA violates the Constitution, he stated, “…it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld. No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law. Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed.”
The creation of order through military suppression—what critical theorist Mark Neocleous calls, “war as peace [and] peace as pacification”—is designed to provide security for bourgeois social order. Pacification in Rio de Janeiro can thus be viewed as a militaristic, politically-crafted response to social insecurity felt by Rio’s upper classes, magnified by forthcoming mega event preparations that occurred from 2008 to 2016. Nonetheless, social inequality and public insecurity have long inhibited the effective governance of Rio de Janeiro. Following Brazil’s belated abolition of slavery in 1888, informal housing settlements—known as favelas—began to form. These communities, which now accommodate about a quarter of Rio’s population, have endured a history of state abandonment and marginalization of the poor. This, coupled with the consequences of being the territorial domain of armed criminal groups, has led to nearly complete disenfranchisement of more than 1.5 million favela residents. In 2008, to curb notoriously high levels of violence and to rebrand the city for its bid to host upcoming mega events, Rio de Janeiro launched the “Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora” (UPP) program. This program aimed to increase security in the favelas by reinstating state control, and to finally integrate their residents into the formal city. Although the UPP program initially decreased homicide rates, its success has been dismantled by increasing frequency of police perpetrated violence, the persistence of drug trafficking and unmet promises of social benefits, thus facilitating the UPP’s post-Olympic fall.
Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, has overseen a collapse of his country’s economy. It is undeniable that many in the country face a dire economic situation and that Maduro has wholly failed to remedy the crisis. Maduro has mismanaged the economy and his Constituent Assembly will serve more to consolidate his power than to solve the economic situation. It is essential to remain critical of the motives of the MUD opposition, but any criticism must also concede that the actions of Maduro, even if within a constitutional framework, are further polarising the country and risk the outbreak of armed conflict.