Archbishop Romero

I’m not sure if we’re expected to do a post today, since tomorrow is our exam date rather than a normal class. Yet during my time spent studying, I felt inclined to see if any progress had been made towards the Beatification or Canonization of Archbishop Romero. As it turns out, within the past week Pope Francis officially ‘unblocked’ Romero’s path to Beatification; therefore, both he and Pope John Paul II will be up for sainthood simultaneously. If this is not already interesting (or is “scandalous” a better word?) enough, Rome is also looking into Romero’s death to see if it was in fact martyrdom due to faith or due to politics. If they rule that he was killed due to faith, he would automatically be Beatified and therefore only need one miracle in his name in order to become a saint (as opposed to the traditional 2). The article I attached is only one of many that I came across, yet they all sing the same tune. Controversy revolving around the simultaneous beatification of Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Romero is due to the fact that the former greatly opposed the ideology of the latter. During his time as Pope, JP II distinctly turned a blind eye towards Latin America during the rise of Liberation Theology. Being from Poland and living through the holocaust, he had a pronounced hatred towards leftist politics and communism, and Liberation Theology was associated with both. However, throughout his time as Archbishop, Romero consistently denied connection with the ideology in question.

Personally, I believe that both of these men are more than qualified for sainthood, and I hope that they both make it through the process without difficulty. Yet I wonder how Romero’s death will be defined- martyrdom due to faith or martyrdom due to politics. The two seemed very intertwined throughout his time in El Salvador. Learning about Romero was incredibly interesting to me as I was raised Roman Catholic, and I attended a Catholic school for 10 years- the same one that my mother taught at for 14. I distinctly remember Pope John Paul II and learning all about the wonderful things he was doing for the church- he was one of the most active popes yet to travel as much as he did and visit various surprising places, such as Cuba. Now that I’m becoming more informed on Latin America and religious history of this part of the world, I’m interested to see the outcome of these recent unfolding events. I’ll be sure to keep both sainthood-worthy men in my prayers.

Amy Abernathy

Immigration after Boston

Just like the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut did not bring about tougher gun control legislation in the United States, the Boston marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, will have no effect on the progress of immigration reform. The road ahead for a reform that offers a pathway to citizenship to 11 million undocumented workers is certainly difficult. Yet, the fact that the two leading suspects of having perpetrated the attacks, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were a naturalized citizen and a permanent resident will not be a relevant factor in the negotiations that will take place in the upcoming months to fix America’s broken immigration system.

Immigration reform will follow a similar trajectory. The legalization of 11 million undocumented workers is not a priority for a majority of Americans. Moreover, public opinion is divided on how to fix the system. Most Americans want undocumented immigrants — those who have broken the law by entering the country illegally or by overstaying their visas — to get back at the end of the line, behind those who are legally awaiting their immigration visas in their home countries. However, advocates of immigration reform — including immigrants’ rights groups, business groups and the farm industry — want to provide documents and a pathway to legalization (Republicans) or citizenship (Democrats) to those who are already in the US Because they fear that newly naturalized immigrants will mostly vote Democratic — for a large majority of them are of Mexican origin — Republicans are in favour of an immigration reform that legalizes those undocumented workers without offering them a path to citizenship.

POST BY: Judi Jackson

Cuba’s Ladies in White


Headline: Cuban Opposition Group Ladies in White Collect Prize

Summary: The article discusses a group of Cuban women (relatives or friends of 75 Cuban dissidents) who received The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2005. The European Parliament awards the prize to individuals or organizations who fight for the defense of human rights and freedom. Strict Cuban exit laws prevented the women from leaving the country to accept their prize; however, in January, the Cuban government made it possible for the women to travel.

Since 2003, the women have dressed in white and marched through Havana every Sunday. According to Cuban law, these types of organized demonstrations are forbidden and results in the women’s detention. While these organizations are against the law, they have yielded results: all 75 detainees have since been released. The women now demand that the convictions be overturned.

Relation to class: While the Cuban government tries to stifle the population’s voice, the citizens continue to find ways to be heard; whether its through revolution like Che Guevara’s and Fidel Castro’s or through quiet but loud forms of protests like these marches. The difference is that the world is far more interconnected than in Guevara’s and Castro’s time. These women have gained international attention that doesn’t need government approval. Now that Cuba’s restrictions have lightened, the women and ultimately their cause will receive a larger platform. Now that the end of the Castros’ rule is coming to an end, it will be interesting to see how the incoming government will handle the convictions.

The Repetition of History




Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Haiti over the years has utterly and blatantly violated international human right obligations by making little to no attempt to protect their people who have been forced to abandon settlements. The Amnesty International group said they discovered that thousands of people were displaced and forced to live in public areas. “People kicked out of settlements find themselves further marginalized and driven deeper into poverty” said the Amnesty International. Of course, as the government tends to do, the blame was passed off to a third party. Haitian Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe, told The Associated Press monday night that there were “some” landowners who were responsible for forced evictions, however, it was not something the government endorsed. “We don’t believe in forced evictions”, Lamothe further stated.


However It does not seem that many efforts are being made to get these families, and hundreds of thousands of children to be properly placed back into homes. Governments are always throwing out numbers to their benefit, but it is never reflected in what’s being seen and reported by the people. I believe funds have to have been misappropriated, because millions of dollars were given to Haiti in their serious time of need following the 2010 earthquake.

We’ve read and discussed plenty of times in class how countries have been suspected and charged with crimes of violating international human rights laws, and this is no different.

Horacio Cartes, newly elected Paraguayan president.

In Paraguay, Horacio Cartes won the presidential election by a land slide, against fellow candidate Efrain Alegre. Cartes is part of an elite that controls ‘just about everything in Paraguay.’ Cartes owns banks, investment funds, agricultural estates, plantations and runs a champion football club. With the election of Cartes, who is returning the ‘Colorado Party’ back into power, citizens of Paraguay hope that Cartes will help end Paraguay’s isolation.


In the countries that we have learned about this semester, it seems like all of the winners of the presidential elections have had some sort of influence in the country that they are running for. For many of the past nations, the elected presidents or the candidates for the elections were a part of the military, or had the military supporting them. In the recent presidential elections in Venezuela, the elected president had the support of the previous president, Hugo Chavez, which gave him (Nicolas Maduro) the votes of the Chavez supporters. With Cartes, is seems that he had all of the support from his elitist control over many Paraguayan services. It seems that to get anywhere in an election, you have to have some sort of influence or some sort of support within the country that you are running for.


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Venezuelan president shuffles cabinet

Newly elected Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has made some changes to his Cabinet, announcing that key Chavez supporters will take on important roles in tackling problems in the state. Two key appointments were Jesse Chacon, who will manage upgrades to Venezuela’s power grid, and Nelson Merentes, who will take charge of the finance ministry. The economy and energy system are two critical aspects of Venezuelan life that have been plagued by problems in recent years. Rolling blackouts have troubled Venezuela due to lack of investment and poor infrastructure maintenance. Additionally, Merentes will need to tackle the very high level of inflation troubling the economy.

These appointments are significant because they are an attempt to reinforce loyalties of Chavez supporters among the nation’s population. By placing Chavez supporters in such important roles, Maduro has ensured that Chavez’s influence will live on after his death. As we have discussed in class, Maduro faces challenges in consolidating control after the death of such a charismatic leader. Although Chavez tapped Maduro as his desired successor, it is unclear that the people truly favor Maduro as leader.

–S. Lilly

Hunger Strike in Guantanamo Bay Grows

Tensions have been steadily growing in Guantanamo Bay after an armed fight between the guards and prisoners broke out on the 13th of this month. At least two prisoners have tried to kill themselves since the fight, and the weeks-old hunger strike is now growing. Although the military says that only four men are now hospitalized due to malnutrition, down from the previous six, many more of the prisoners are now refusing meals. Officials at the base put the number of men on hunger strike at 84, while lawyers have stated that nearly all of the 166 men detained are refusing meals. Some of them are evidently being fed liquid nutrients in order to prevent them from dying of malnutrition. Tensions have been steadily growing over the prison, especially since nobody is really sure what’s going to happen to the prison or the men detained there. President Obama attempted to shut the prison down upon taking office, but Congress shot his motion down. Added restrictions have since made it harder to move the detainees to other prisons, and transfers or releases have become extremely rare. This is making tensions run extremely high in the prison; some people believe that the situation is bound to explode unless the prison is abolished. Just this Friday, at least one prisoner had to be attended by the medics after passing out on the floor due to malnutrition.

Guantanamo Bay, located in Cuba, was taken by America for use as a military base as per a provision in the Platt Amendment, as discussed in class. Although Naval bases were set up over Cuba ostensibly for “protection of U.S. interests in Cuba”,  the base has become notorious as a detention center where the U.S. Government detains suspected terrorists, often indefinitely without official charges against them.

Source 1

Source 2

Suspected Drug War Collaborators Released

Last Wednesday General Tomas Angeles Dauahare was released from prison in Mexico from charges of collaboration with drug cartels that had led to his arrest. The day before another important defendant was freed of charges as Noe Ramirez Mandujano, former anti-drug czar, had his prosecutors fold on his alleged sale of information to drug cartels. Both high profile characters in the drug war were arrested during the Calderon government, and their prosecutions aren’t the only ones to have collapsed once Calderon lost the presidency this past December. Many arrests of military and police officials occurred in Calderon’s “operation cleanup” in order to root corruption out of Mexican officials. Recently,  almost all of these men have been proven innocent and released. General Dauahare attributes his arrest with political motivations: he had been loud in his criticism of the militant aspects of the drug war and close to the opposition party. In addition, his case was suspicious from the start as it relied upon “secret witnesses.” Dubious sources of prosecution became more common during the Calderon government as part of an attempt to reform the Mexican judicial system and carry through  difficult prosecutions against figures who could rely on the endemic judicial corruption. The U.S. tried to assist these reform efforts in its Merida Program, through which millions of dollars have passed into Mexico, apparently to no avail. Ramirez called the arrests a “farce” meant to trick people into thinking that judicial reform was having results. In the end, the judicial system is left looking at least as broken as before, and many former officials are emerging from jail apparently innocent, and likely disgruntled. Not as surprising is the revelation that the judicial progress in the drug war was illusory; like the war itself, it’s hard to see what has been achieved, if anything.

-James A Eichner II,0,2444382.story

Amnesty criticizes Haiti over evictions from camps

Haiti has violated international human rights obligations by failing to protect people who have been forced to leave the impromptu settlements that sprang up in the Caribbean nation after the 2010 earthquake, a global advocacy group said Tuesday.

A report by Amnesty International said it found that thousands of displaced people have been evicted from public spaces and private properties. People kicked out of settlements find themselves “further marginalized and driven deeper into poverty,” it said.

The government of President Michel Martelly has condoned theevictions led by mayors, police officers and others, the report charged.

“They are tolerated by the state and carried out in total impunity by state agents and private individuals or groups (non-state actors) alike,” it said.

Amnesty last week called for an investigation into the alleged police beating of a Haitian man who was protesting an arson attack in a camp under the threat of eviction.

As we learned in class many countries have been charged with crimes of violating international Human rights laws but for the most part these countries were at the brink of war in which the armies cause mass massacres like those in Argentina and Guatemala. In Haiti’s case this is not what happened but a number of natural disasters that devastated the country leaving millions of dollars of damage for the poor country to repair. Although Haiti’s government officials denied these actions, and that private owners  are the ones evicting the people only an investigation and time will tell if the government will be at fault.

~William Davis


Latin America in a labyrinth of violence

The World Bank is holding its annual spring meeting in Washington, along with the International Monetary Fund. Experts are warning that the widespread, unchecked violence is posing a great threat to the development of the region. Hasan Tuluy, vice-president of the World Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean states the following: “Behind Latin America’s economic boom, there is a hidden wave of crime and violence that threatens a decade of progress hurting all citizens, particularly the poorest, who have no way of protecting themselves.” On Thursday, panel participants referred to the gang truce between El Salvador’s two deathliest gangs, MS-13 and 18th Street Gang a little over a year ago. The truce led to a 52% drop in killings. Extortions, theft and drugs only had a minor drop. The truce highlighted an example of rampant violence, in which these criminal groups supplanted the government and neutered rule of law. According to Guardian, in El Salvador, citizens’ rights are in the hands of a corrupt few and temporary calm is a fragile peace. Public institutions and civil society are necessary to democratic growth and economic prosperity, all threatened by unchecked crime.

Studies in Mexico show that municipalities with higher levels of violence and usually associate with drug cartels had lower rate of electricity consumption – considered as a proxy indicator for GDP. In Uruguay, a study that took into account opportunity costs for jail time and cost of stolen goods, found that crimes cost Uruguay $319 million a year.

The panel emphasized that these issues should be taken as more of a social approach. The reaction before was to increase law enforcement and they understood that an integrated approach is best for the region – community services, youth services and job opportunities. An example of this was a pacifying police approach taken in Brazil in 2008. Law enforcement and social service programs pioneered in Rio de Janeiro’s most crime-laden neighborhoods. The units cleared out gang leaders, weapons and drug stashes. NGOs and the private sector followed up by cooperating to meet the communities social needs.

The president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes a keynote speaker stated: “There is no single response to [this] challenge, but we can find a way out of this labyrinth of insecurity. Reducing crime and ensuring justice will be the main tasks of our time.”

The aftermath of the civil wars in Central America left the countries devasted, all torn by violence and poverty. Twenty years later and not much has changed. The struggle agaisnt violence will continue as long as these countries are governened by corrupt officials who only look out for their best interest. In much of Central America, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The truce in El Salvador for much of its negotiation was kept a secret. The negotiation between the government and the gangs only proved that the government is not able to control them. After the truce, maximum security jails allowed prisoners to have flat-screen televisions, among other luxuries. This speaks very badly of the government, treating itself as a hostage.

Fatima Paniagua Emestica