By Laura Schroeder

Like many fellow U.S. Americans, January 6, 2021 found me glued to a flurry of disturbing news reports. While a mass of pro-Trump extremists lay siege to the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers worked to certify election results, I couldn’t tear myself away from reports of the insurrection and chaos that President Trump incited. Tweets aggressively vied for viewers’ attention at the top of the screen, and my heart thumped in my ears in reaction to the inexcusably slow police response to the attack.

When I saw the term “banana republic” trending, I quickly eliminated any inkling that the fancy clothing store* had announced a poorly timed loungewear sale and continued scrolling. 

Por Laura Schroeder

Traducido por Pilar Espitia

Mi gran confesión

Soy fan del reggaetón. Ya éstá, lo dije.

Nada me hace bailar tanto como el bajo palpitante y el seductor ritmo del popular reggaetón, y no hay nada como una canción clásica de Daddy Yankee o de Don Omar para llenar la pista de baile de caderas danzantes y pies que se mueven. A lo mejor tiene que ver con los gratos recuerdos de mis viajes a República Dominicana y Perú, y mi año como becaria Fulbright en Colombia, lo que alimentó mi afinidad con el dembow de este género musical y sus letras dichas con frenetismo. A lo mejor, simplemente, el reggaetón es propicio para el baile.

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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.

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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.

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By Laura Schroeder

From the Zapatista movement in Mexico to the Shining Path’s activities in Peru, the Americas have experienced a great deal of political violence. Government structures have constantly changed and dictatorships have been toppled through force and the taking up of arms across the hemisphere. However, one of the most pervasive and dangerous myths is that systemic change requires violence. Nonviolent struggles to address corruption, environmental degradation, economic and social injustice, and political oppression have been– and continue to be– successful across the Americas. Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil have all ousted military regimes through the use of nonviolent resistance.

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By Laura Schroeder

The 2012 film “Harvest of Empire,” based on the book of the same title by journalist Juan González of Democracy Now, demonstrates how U.S. policy toward Latin America has created political, social, and economic instability in the region. Directed by Peter Getzels and Eduardo López, it discusses the cases of Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. It also addresses the United States’ role in the military and corporate interventions that have triggered mass migration to the United States. Five years later, particularly given President Trump’s recent backing of the RAISE Act, the central theme of the documentary is relevant: anti-immigrant sentiments in the United States reflect a woeful ignorance of the structural forces that have caused millions in Latin America to flee their homes.

By Laura Schroeder

My Big Confession

I am a reggaetón fan. There, I’ve said it. 

Nothing gets me dancing quite like the pulsing bass and seductive hooks of popular reggaetón, and there is nothing like a classic Daddy Yankee or Don Omar track to ignite the dance floor with swinging hips and shuffling feet. Perhaps it’s my fond memories of travels in the Dominican Republic and Peru and my Fulbright year in Colombia that feed my affinity to the genre’s dembow beat and frenetically delivered lyrics. Perhaps it’s simply conducive to dancing.