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 Alexia Rauen

Paraguay’s political system has long been dominated by the Colorado Party (Asociación Nacional Republicana – Partido Colorado, ANR-PC). The Colorado Party is pro-West, and has historically – and into present day – restricted civil liberties and stifled opposition parties. This party stems from a brutal 35-year long dictatorship under military leader Alfredo Stroessner, and has retained power for 61 years, controlling the parliament even when Stroessner was removed by a coup in 1989. The Colorado Party has consistently held the presidency except for a brief stint from 2008-2012, which ended in impeachment. The party also holds a majority in the larger branch of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, and a near-majority in the Senate.

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By Maria Luisa Olavarria

I miss Venezuela. I’ve thought about it every single day since I left in 2013. I wish I could wake up to have a cafecito with my mamá, have an arepa for breakfast and be able to share my dreams and goals with my childhood friends. I daydream about the warmth of its people and its weather. I reminisce over time spent in my family’s home, when we all lived nearby, and my siblings and friends were just a call away. I miss the sense of community and the feeling that I belonged. Painful as it is to accept,  I miss a country that no longer exists.

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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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On Monday, February 12, the White House released its budget request for the 2019 fiscal year. The document, which proposes drastically cutting the budgets for U.S. aid to Latin America, simultaneously increases defense and domestic infrastructure spending.

Open Americas firmly believes that any budget reflects the political and personal values of its creators. The very same strong sentiments of nativism, militarism, and U.S. exceptionalism expressed in the FY2019 document are embedded in policy decisions that adversely affect people throughout the Americas.

As it pertains to the relationship that the United States shares with Latin America, President Trump has requested roughly $1.6 billion USD to build 65 miles’ worth of a wall along the Texas-Mexico border and approximately $990 million USD to hire 2,750 new ICE and Border Patrol agents. In the same proposal, the President advocates for a $1.9 billion USD reduction in aid to Latin America, diminishing the United States’ ability to achieve its own regional objectives.