Since the first days of Joe Biden’s presidency, his administration has insisted that the growing number of migrants being apprehended at the US-Mexico border is not a “crisis,” but rather a normal, seasonal spike. US officials have even argued that the controversy was concocted entirely by former President Donald Trump and other Republicans.
While the Biden administration was not totally wrong about Trump, reality has since rebutted its claims. The situation on the border today is indeed a crisis, both for the United States and Mexico. As of late September, some 15,000 migrants and asylum seekers, most of them Haitian, are sheltering from the sun under the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas. They have brought the migration issue roaring back to the fore.
Mansoor Adayfi’s 2021 memoir, Don’t Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantánamo, transports readers to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to a world in which children and adults are routinely tortured by the United States. Guantánamo Bay has been a naval base in U.S. possession since 1903. Adayfi spent his childhood in the idyllic mountains of Yemen1 with dreams to study in the United Arab Emirates.2 When Adayfi was eighteen years old, he traveled to Afghanistan on a research trip for an important sheik in Yemen who promised him a university reference letter in exchange for his work.3 With the United States offering bounties for Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, Adayfi was captured and sold by warlords who instructed him to say he was a member of Al-Qaeda, or else the Americans would kill him.4 The Americans, in turn, took a nineteen-year-old Yemeni boy and reinvented the narrative of who he was. They convinced themselves he was an older Egyptian general (“they even believed [the general] had plastic surgery to look young and different, I guess to look like me”) and tortured him for years in search of information he couldn’t possibly possess.5
By Helen Clark, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Ricardo Lagos
With his evidence-based, public-health approach to drug policy, US President Joe Biden is signaling that America’s longstanding strategies of repression and punishment have failed. The US should also champion a similar shift toward harm-reduction policies internationally.
Fifty years ago this week, US President Richard Nixon declared that drug abuse was “public enemy number one” requiring a “tough on crime” approach in the United States and abroad. The “war on drugs,” which expanded in parallel with the global political, military, economic, and cultural hegemony of the US in the post-World War II decades, has delivered the exact opposite of its own stated aims. Today we have both plant-based and synthetic production; low-scale and high-level trafficking of illicit narcotics; disproportionate sentencing and over-incarceration; violence and rights violations; and money laundering and enrichment of organized crime – all strengthened, not weakened, by repressive responses to illegal drugs.
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.
For the U.S., the Latin American agenda is not a priority. Still, Biden’s arrival at the White House signifies a respite for foreign ministries, who are exhausted by the region’s tension created by Trump. What changes can we expect now?
While Donald Trump is disappointed with the results of November 8th, the world remains incredulous about the difficulties of the great American democracy in recognizing as president-elect the one who won the popular vote with 50.9% and more that 5.5 million more votes than his opponent, who obtained 47.3%.
Although Trump has raised an amendment to the entire election result, alleging massive fraud, he has been unable so far to present any evidence. Biden will be the 46th president of the United States after four years of Trumpism, which has generated turbulence worldwide. Latin America and the Caribbean wonder what the arrival of a Democrat like Joe Biden might mean for them.
We recently had the pleasure of sitting down (virtually) with Obie Anthony, Executive Director of Exonerated Nation, an organization that meets the immediate needs of exonerees by helping to heal the debilitating spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical effects of being wrongfully incarcerated and affects policy change for restoration and the righting of wrongs.
At only 19 years old, Obie was convicted of a murder he did not commit and spent 17 years in prison before being exonerated and released in 2011. When he left prison in 2011, he didn’t have a social security card or birth certificate and had to learn how to use a cell phone and write a resume. Since then, he’s helped other exonerees navigate the often difficult transition out of prison. He has been instrumental in the passage of California Assembly Bill No 672 (Obie’s Law) along with other key pieces of legislation.
We talked about identity and personal growth, what gets him up in the morning, his important work with Exonerated Nation, and which Seinfeld character he relates to the most.
That’s what Martha from Colón, Honduras, said to a reporter in November 2018. If you turned on any U.S. news channel in the Fall of 2018, you likely saw a lot of people like Martha—people who left their homes in the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in search of a better life in the United States.
When large numbers of people arrive en masse to seek asylum at the U.S. border, it’s a newsworthy story. But what kind of story is it? Who decides how to tell it?