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.”

Image result for President Obama's Santiago Speech

By Sergio Guzmán

The United States continues to be a global superpower. The US for the time being will continue to influence countries all across Latin America. However, recent events have suggested signs of decline. And as the decline grows more evident, how will the region’s political power rebalance? The election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in Mexico, as well as the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil marks a radical departure from the current status quo. What does this mean for Colombia and Latin America at large?

Congratulations to the winners of the first annual Open Americas photography contest! We received high-quality submissions from across the hemisphere, making it difficult to select winners.

Images were judged for their ability to capture the richness of the diverse landscapes and environments of the Americas. The beautiful photos below were taken in Mexico, Brazil, the U.S., Colombia, and the Dominican Republic.

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.

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.

614px-Enrique_Peña_Nieto_meets_with_Donald_Trump,_G-20_Hamburg_summit,_July_2017_(1)

By Blake Burdge

Argentina

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.

Mexico education

By Martina Guglielmone

The dysfunctionality of the Mexican educational system has been disproportionately widening the general wealth gap in the country, negatively impacting not only the lives of poorer individuals and families, but the progress of the country as a whole. Education is the fundamental base of any functional democratic society. There is overwhelming evidence proving that social conditions across the board are improved when the residents of any given community are better educated. For example, reports suggest that better education leads to higher voter turnout rates, lower levels of poverty and homelessness, and overall, higher standards of health and wellness due to a general awareness as well as access to well-rounded health care. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that with greater education, crime rates of all kinds are reduced, consequentially decreasing incarceration and marginalization rates.

Harvard University professor Ronald Ferguson, addressing the education gap, says that “we look at inequality in access to particular careers, inequality in income and wealth, inequality in the nature of political participation. All those things are mitigated by equalizing the skills that education produces. Not only the academic skills, but the dispositions, the frames of minds, the consciousness, the diligence, the sense of agency.” Simply put, the more educated a society is on average, the better it performs overall. Latin America, as the region with the highest levels of inequality in the world, is rapidly falling further behind other regions in education quality as well. More specifically, Mexico has the highest education inequality rate in the region, which as a consequence is producing broader inequality in wealth and presenting its leadership with a series of developmental obstacles of utmost complexity.