Leticia, Colombia

By Laura Schroeder

Spinning Stories in the Jungle

It was pitch black save for the stars that pierced the night sky and the faint glow of bioluminescent leaves underfoot, but Manuel could see. The hum of cicadas surrounded us as we wove around the thick growth of the jungle, and I tried not to stumble over the vines that snaked up ancient trees. Pointed stick in hand, Manuel spun stories of encounters with jaguars and deceitful ex-lovers as we traipsed to the river in hopes of catching a fish to bring back to our camp, where a caiman already hung from a line alongside our hammocks.

I had just completed a U.S. State Department-sponsored Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Colombia, and two members of my cohort and I had decided to spend some of our saved stipend on a trip to the city of Leticia, which is nestled between Brazil and Peru in Amazonas, a department in the south of the country. Having already taken the obligatory boat trip down the Amazon River to see monkeys, capybaras, and birds of all hues, we tasked ourselves with planning the remainder of the trip. However, when a man stopped by our hostel advertising a jungle trek with a local Huitoto guide, we were skeptical, as we had heard horror stories of cultural tourism gone awry. Luckily for him, he was persuasive and after five minutes, we paid him a small sum to go on the trip. Luckily for us, we spent three informative days conversing with our guide, Manuel, and his grandfather and aunt about their lives in both the city and the jungle, the history of the Huitoto people, and their struggle to keep it alive.

Marina_Silva_2007

By Alexia Rauen

Despite the distance from the illustrious Amazon rainforest, the Scandinavian nation of Norway has made significant investments to ensure its ongoing protection. From 2008 to 2014, under the presidencies of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, deforestation of the Amazon was in decline. However, this decline was reversed in the beginning of 2015, after Rousseff’s first four years in office, and has continued through the power grab of Brazilian business interests fronted by Michel Temer. Now, Norway is concerned that Temer’s government is backtracking significant progress in protecting the rainforest, and has announced a reduction of over half of its environmental aid in protest.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

By Madeline Asta

Venezuela began exporting oil in the beginning of the 20th century, and since then has built its economy on the revenue from its oil exports. Supported by its vast oil reserves, Venezuela rose to the position of the richest country in Latin America in 1970, but its economy was vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices. In the 1980s and 1990s, Venezuela sat on 60 billion barrels of oil. By 2010, it had 297 billion barrels in reserve, making it the country with the world’s largest crude oil reserves. However, when oil prices fell in the 1980s, Venezuela’s economy suffered greatly, due to 90 percent of its export revenue consisting of oil exports. When Hugo Chavez came into power in 1991, he brought with him a socialist revolution. To restore economic development, Chavez nationalized the country’s oil, healthcare, and food industries. He used oil export revenue to fund social programs as well as food subsidies for the poor, and supplied essential goods at low prices by importing them. Combined with high international oil prices during that period, Chavez’s economic system functioned well.

patriciomartinez

By Alexia Rauen

María de Jesús Patricio Martínez is an indigenous healer running for the Mexican presidency. Her hope is to fight Mexico’s rampant corruption by altering the system in which political parties, such as the Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN), have dominated for decades. While it is unlikely she will be competitive with national icon Andrés Manuel López Obrador and other big-party candidates, her candidacy still represents a significant movement within Mexico’s political system.

By Laura Schroeder

With the feminization of labor that has occurred in recent years, it is vital to examine the interplay between labor, gender, and globalization. In the book “Disposable Women and Other Myths of Global Capitalism,” the human geographer and feminist Melissa W. Wright effectively argues that in today’s global economy, the myth that the third world woman1  is disposable is pervasive. This ethos is tied to a culture of violence that normalizes the mistreatment of women and permits their dismissal and delegitimization in the public sphere. Using ethnographic research and a variety of theoretical frameworks, Wright presents the reader with an intricate and passionate account of the spatialized and corporeal aspects of factory work in the global South. However, a more detailed exploration of how workers perceive their own value and labor as well as a more committed examination of coalition-building and global solidarity would further strengthen her claims.