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?
In the headlines: Protests take over Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Haiti; Argentina puts Peronists back in power; Brazil suffers the largest oil spill in its history while former President Lula is released from prison; and more.
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 piece 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.
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.”
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?
Two years ago, I sat in a classroom in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and listened as Brazilian university students analyzed the election of US President Donald Trump on an international scale. It was the day after Trump was elected and I was still trying to wrap my brain around the outcome. I felt isolated from my country both physically and emotionally.The students spoke about a right-wing shift the world was undergoing, basing their arguments on their own political atmosphere – which had just seen their leftist president impeached – and the trends they were studying in England, France, and their own region. They predicted that their own country would again shift to the right in their next election, foreshadowing the results of Brazil’s presidential election on October 28.
Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election last weekend with 55.1% of votes against the leftist Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad’s 44.8%. Bolsonaro garnered attention during his campaign for his firm stance on combating the nation’s violence and ridding the government of corruption, which has indicted many high-level politicians since 2014. However, Bolsonaro is also known for his blunt, homophobic, racist, and sexist statements and is referred to as the “Trump of the Tropics” for the similarities in the two politicians’ rhetoric and campaign tactics. Bolsonaro’s election represents the most dramatic political shift in Brazil since it restored democracy in 1988, but the nation is not alone in its turn away from the left. Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and the United States have all recently elected conservative leaders, and this trend sparks questions as to why this shift is occurring and what it could mean for the Western Hemisphere.
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.