By Christian M. Bills

The information in this article has no affiliation or association with the United States Government, the United States Military, or the Department of Defense. It is not to be misconstrued as the opinion or belief of the aforementioned parties.

For the last four decades, the War on Drugs has remained a constant in both the United States and Mexico. Since its official beginning in 1971, under the Nixon Administration, the meaning of the phrase “the War on Drugs” has varied depending on who is asked. In the United States, it is presented as an assault against drug abuse and addiction, while those who oppose the struggle claim it to be an attempt to diminish minority communities. In Mexico, the War on Drugs symbolizes the beginning of a long and bloody period full of corruption, violence, and pain. Regardless of which side of the border you live on, one component of the drug war remains a constant: the cartels who are responsible for initiating widespread violence and distributing millions of pounds of narcotics. However, despite the violence and pain felt in Mexico due to these criminal organizations, in 2018 the promises of reform and a new strategy were presented by recently elected Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador. This new breath of life was explained by presidential aid Olga Sanchez: “We will propose decriminalization, create truth commissions, we will attack the causes of poverty, we will give scholarships to the youth and we will work in the field to get them out of the drug situation.”

Por Pilar Espitia

Como bien habrá notado, hay días en la vida que pueden pasar sin contratiempos; poco memorables que quedarán enterrados en su almohada, una vez llegue la noche y le entre el sueño. Pero habrá otros días mucho menos agraciados; días funestos que cambiarán su vida. Es con días como estos en los que reflexionamos sobre el acto de comenzar de nuevo.

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By Christa Giesecke

In spite of Central America’s rich history, culture and traditions, international news from the region frequently tells of violence. Organized crime in the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala is frequently linked to maras, organized gangs with transnational origins. With a total of 431 reported homicides in September 2017 alone, El Salvador, in particular, is considered to be among the most violent countries in the region (Instituto de Medicina Legal, 2017). For women and girls, this violence poses an additional threat in the form of gender-based and sexual violence. Femicide, the intentional killing of women and girls on the basis of their sex, is prominent in El Salvador, with 468 reported cases, the equivalent of one woman’s death every 18 hours, reported in 2017 (Instituto de Medicina Legal, 2017). These alarming statistics raise questions about the nature and roots of violence in El Salvador. 

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By Leah Hutton Blumenfeld

Introduction

Writing a historiography of labor in Colombia is not a simple task. The variety of topics and time periods that have been covered in the literature reveal that it is underdeveloped, since there are not a significant number on any one era or area in particular. Generally speaking, as one searches for sources on Colombia, one finds hundreds of articles and books on drugs and violence. This may be part of the explanation for the unevenness of sources on labor, and can be considered a reason to explore other aspects of Colombian history so as not to pigeonhole it any more than it already has been. A reorientation in the approach to Colombian history may, in fact, help illuminate the proclivity towards drugs and violence in Colombian history in a different and possibly clearer fashion.      

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By Laura Schroeder

The video begins with slow, dramatic music.

The words “Grupo Jaremar” flash against a concrete wall, followed by shots of factory equipment and signage surrounded by lush foliage and zooming cars.

A deep male voice announces in Spanish that Grupo Jaremar, a Central American palm oil conglomerate, delivers high-quality products with the customer in mind.

Then, the stories start.

Por Susana Cardenas-Soto

La memoria como un remedio para el mal de Tzvetan Todorov identifica cuatro roles principales en las narrativas del bien y del mal: el villano y su víctima; el héroe y sus beneficiarios (8-10). Al examinar la esfera patriarcal de los cárteles mexicanos y sus narrativas, específicamente Fiesta en la madriguera de Juan Pablo Villalobos, podemos ver que las mujeres desempeñan el papel de víctima. Feminicidio se define como “el asesinato misógino de mujeres por hombres…” (Fragoso 283). Fragoso explica que esta violencia es “consecuencia lógica del sistema patriarcal que mantiene la supremacía masculina” (284). Es fácil disolver la empatía a favor de demonizar a los perpetradores cuando leemos sobre los horrores del narcotráfico. Todorov afirma que para evitar una ‘repetición de acontecimientos’ se requiere reflexionar sobre las circunstancias que dieron lugar a actos bárbaros, las motivaciones de los responsables y los medios que emplearon (80). No podemos simplemente culpar a los hombres como Guzmán, o el ficticio Yolcaut, sin mirar los sistemas de patriarcado y explotación económica. Es natural estar sorprendido sobre las realidades de la narco-violencia; para comprender, debemos emplear la empatía. Fiesta en la madriguera revela, a través de la estructura narrativa, la victimización de las mujeres en los cárteles mexicanos, e ilumina simultáneamente la humanidad de sus agresores y el sistema omnipresente que perpetúa la estratificación de clase y género.

By Emanuel Pietrobon

In 2014, according to Pew Research Center, about 69% of Latin America’s population identified as Catholic, in comparison with 92% in 1969. During the same period, the share of Evangelicals grew from 4% to 19%, a growth rate three times larger than the world’s population growth. Within the last decade, Roman Catholicism’s influence has decreased and is no longer followed by the majority of the population in countries such as Guatemala, Chile, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Uruguay. This trend is due to the increase of new Christian denominations and irreligiosity, and is being recorded all over Latin America, which may no longer be a Catholic majority by 2030.

Several factors pushed people to abandon Catholicism and to embrace other denominations or atheism such as sexual and accounting scandals involving the clergy, involvement with military dictatorships during the 1970s and 1980s, the crisis of the Catholic welfare model based on supplying public goods and services to villages and slums, secularization processes, and the energetic campaign of proselytism through social and political activism of Evangelical Churches.