We recently sat down with Nestor “the Boss” Gomez, host of the storytelling podcast 80 Minutes Around the World and 40-time winner of the Moth Grand Slam

Nestor, who used to stutter, hails from Guatemala and found his voice after migrating to Chicago, enrolling in high school, and learning to navigate a new culture. Currently, he uses his platform to encourage others to tell their stories. 

“Every place, person and thing inspires a different story or poem,” he says.

This Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity. 

The Journey North

My childhood was a very hard childhood. I was the second of four siblings. Actually, I’m the second of six. Two of my siblings died when they were very young. We were poor and my family made Guatemalan worry dolls [small cloth figures dressed in traditional Mayan clothing] that we sold at the airport and tourist shops. 

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In the headlines: Deforestation in the Amazon increases under Bolsonaro, Ecuador fights illegal mining, Haitians demand President step down over corruption, Italian court sentences 24 to life sentences in Operation Condor trial, and more.

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Brazil

Brazil’s Amazon saw an 88% increase in deforestation in June compared to the same month last year. Since Jair Bolsonaro became president in January, he has supported development in the Amazon and criticized the environmental ministry’s harsh fines for deforestation. June was the second month in a row of high deforestation numbers, and in the last 11 months, deforestation is up 15% from the same period the previous year. While the Bolsonaro government seems to be supporting deforestation, international pressure to implement anti-climate change measures has increased. In the new European Union-Mercosur free trade agreement, members are required to implement the Paris Agreement provisions.

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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.

William ArrochaDr. William Arrocha, Assistant Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, recently shared his expertise and thoughts on compassionate migration, DACA, the upcoming presidential elections in Mexico, and what truly makes us human with Open Americas.

Can you describe your background? How did you become interested in the field of international policy and more specifically in U.S./Mexico relations, migration, and human rights?

I am an eternal migrant, born from immigrant parents in Mexico City, a place where many worlds have met, clashed and thrived for centuries. As someone born within an international and multicultural family, my reason for being will always involve more than one country or place. As the Argentina poet Facundo Cabral once said, “I’m not from here… I’m not from there.”

Being born in Mexico to an American mother and a Mexican father always placed me in the confines of U.S.-Mexico relations. Being raised in a family with parents engaged in the realms of the law, social justice, and human rights, studying in the French system during all my formative years and at my bachelors at the National Autonomous University of Mexico could not have taken me to any other path than that of an internationalist.

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.

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“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.” – Excerpt from Staff Release: Open Americas Condemns Decision to Rescind DACA Program

The following interview was conducted in November 2017 between Maria, a DACA recipient, and Alexia Rauen. Maria came to the United States from Mexico when she was only seven years old. She has an older brother and an older sister, neither of whom are eligible for DACA.

1. How did your life change on June 15, 2012 when former president Barack Obama implemented DACA?

My life was changed dramatically when President Barack Obama implemented DACA. DACA was not given to us, and on the other hand, it was as a result of immigrant activists, organizations, and allies fighting for it. With DACA, I now could continue to follow my dreams in this country without any fear for myself. Of course, I had fear for my parents, but at least with DACA, we had hope that there would be better things in the future for us.