LA in the News: Chile protests: state of emergency declared in Santiago as violence escalates

After a series of ongoing riots in Chile’s capital city Santiago, President Sebastian Pinera has declared a state of emergency. The protests have turned violent in the past week, which started in response to the city metro raising prices. While the protests started out simply has fare-dodging by students, they have become more widespread, and now are much more about high costs of living, and general inequality in Chile. As the article states, Chile is one of Latin America’s wealthiest nations, but also, among its most unequal.” (Reuters). As a result of the protests, there has been a considerable amount of violence, including the burning of multiple metro stations, and downtown Santiago buildings.

One consequence of the state of emergency declaration is that the Chilean military will be called into the streets to keep the violence in check. This could be unnerving to some as Chile is obviously a country with a history of military crackdown and violence, and calling the military has been rare since the country’s return to democracy. The last time this occurred was in 2010 in response to a devastating earthquake (The Guardian). The metro fare issue seemed to just be a spark for greater discontent at this point, as the protesters really seem to be focused on high costs of living, increasing inequality in recent years, and rising costs of healthcare and education among other things. (The Guardian) Both articles I read on this issue provided quotations from official government sources on the matter, while only The Guardian provided quotations from any protesters.

In regards to how this problem is covered in a Latin American context, both articles briefly mentioned Chile’s history of military rule under Pinochet, but neither goes into great detail on the origins of the inequality issue. Both seem to just be reporting of riots that happen to be going on in a Latin American country.

These articles clearly relate to what we are currently studying in class as it relates to Chile and ongoing problems in the country that relate to the Chilean Revolution under Pinochet. One of the main issues being raised in these protests is inequality, which according to the Becker reading on Pinochet’s rule, can be traced back to those times. Similarly to how Chile is seen as a wealthy, but unequal country today, Becker says as a consequence of Pinochet’s economic policies, “The rich became richer and the poor poorer, leading to one of the most inequitable economies in the world” (Becker, 152). It is likely that the inequality created by Pinochet’s economic policies continue to exist even almost 30 years after Chile’s return to democracy.


Works Cited:

Bartlett, John. “Chile Protests: State of Emergency Declared in Santiago as Violence Escalates.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 Oct. 2019. Web. 20 Oct. 2019.

Sherwood, Dave, and Aislinn Laing. “Chile President Pinera Declares Emergency as Capital Rocked by Riots.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 19 Oct. 2019. Web. 20 Oct. 2019.

“Chile’s President Declares State of Emergency after Riots over Metro Fare.” France 24. N.p., 19 Oct. 2019. Web. 20 Oct. 2019.

Becker, Marc. Twentieth-Century Latin American Revolutions. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. Print.

LA in the News: Bolivian leader wants five more years in power

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, has held his position for almost fourteen years. As Bolivia’s first indigenous president, he has expanded protections given to indigenous groups, most notably by backing a new constitution, which declared Bolivia to be plurinational and secular. He has also sought to reduce poverty, and has done so relatively successfully. At the start of Morales’ presidency, in 2006, the extreme poverty rate was 38%, and it has since been reduced to 17% in 2018 (BBC 2019). Due to Morales’ policies, the Bolivian economy has rapidly grown, with GDP per capita over tripling from $1,000 in 2006 to $3,600 in 2018 (Farthing 2019).

However, the presidency of Evo Morales has not gone without issue. The government debt is one such issue, with about 8% of the budget being deficit spending (Farthing 2019). Wildfires in the Bolivian Amazon have also hurt support for Morales. The slow response of the Bolivian government has resulted in large protests (Farthing 2019). Many critics also view Morales as autocratic, and point to his campaign for a fourth term as evidence.

A large part of why Morales’ campaign is so controversial is because it contradicts a 2016 referendum asking voters whether or not they wanted to keep a limit on the number of terms a president can serve. Most voters said the limit should stay, but a later court case ruled that such a limit is contrary to human rights. It’s worth noting that the tribunal in the case was appointed by a legislative body consisting largely of members of Morales’ political party (Farthing 2019). Many voters worry about Morales’ especially long occupation of the presidency potentially being authoritarian in nature. Despite this, he still has lots of support due to his reforms that have been beneficial to much of Bolivian society (Farthing 2019).

Both of the articles do well at keeping a neutral tone. The Guardian article focuses more on how he is viewed by the Bolivian public. People from multiple parts of society are interviewed in the article, but it seems that most of the interviews are from people who benefit from Morales’ policies. Of the two articles, The Guardian seems to take more of an anti-morales stance, but the bias is very slight. The BBC article, meanwhile, takes a lot of time to review the history of Morales’ administration. It does not use any interviews, unlike The Guardian article. Interestingly, the BBC article briefly focuses specifically on Morales’ relationship with the US, despite not being an American company.

The controversy over Evo Morales’ campaign for a fourth presidential term relates to our discussions over the successes and failures of the revolutions we’ve been studying. While Morales is not a revolutionary figure – his policies are more reformist – his simultaneous expansion of democracy and social change, especially to indigenous groups and the poor, and his rejection of the democratic referendum that would limit his own power presents a contradiction that is similar to the sometimes contradictory changes occurring after the Mexican and Cuban revolutions.

LA in the News: Ecuador’s President Moves Seat of Government to Escape Protests (New York Times)

The article I chose to evaluate was about Ecuadoran President Lenín Moreno’s decision to move his government seat from the capital of Ecuador, Quito, to a small coastal city 150 miles away. It was written by José María León Cabrera and published in the New York Times. President Moreno’s ability to move the government seat came from his declaration of a state of emergency, which allowed him to suspend certain civil liberties. He came to this decision as a result of the protests that took place on October 8, especially the storming of the National Assembly. The protests began as a result of Moreno’s implementation of a new austerity plan to lower debt and grow the economy. 

The middle-class and indigenous response has been very vocal against Moreno’s measures toward his austerity plan. Moreno’s termination of a 40-year fuel subsidy caused a rise in fuel prices, much to the chagrin of transportation workers as well as young and Indigenous people who suffered immensely from Ecuador’s immense debt and radical tactics to emerge from the red. A coalition of indigenous groups stated that the protests “were a defense of ‘our life and our territories’”. Jaime Vargas, president of the Confederation of the Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, stated that “there will be no dialogue” between protesters and the Ecuadoran government if the austerity plan is not abolished.

This article, as well as the Western coverage of the topic in general, represents Latin America in a less than favorable light. Some of the language in the New York Times article, in particular, implies bias toward President Moreno, stating that moving his government seat was to “protect his government” and that he inherited a debt crisis from former President Correa’s many loans for special interest projects. In addition, the protestors are depicted as reacting negatively to Moreno’s policies despite their objective to improve the economy. These themes are recurring across many Western media platforms, even in video coverage. Many news clips and pictures from the protests display stereotypical behavior usually associated with anti-government protests, including rioting, looting, and destruction of property, with little to no focus on the issues at the heart of the protests or a reason behind them. These are common themes in the Western media coverage of the protests and arguably contribute to negative stereotypes of Latin America. 

Visual Persuasion

Protestors clash with Ecuadoran military. Credit: Rodrigo Buendia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Visual Persuasion

Protestors storm popular television station, Teleamazonas. Credit: BBC

Despite this, the New York Times article does give in-depth coverage of the topic, including an explanation of President Moreno’s actions as well as the timeline of significant events that led to them. Cabrera outlines the protestors’ reasoning behind their actions in accordance with Moreno’s new policies; however, the fact that the protestors’ reasoning is clear does not distract from the subtle bias in the reporting. 

This current event is very reminiscent of all of the Latin American revolutions and reforms we have studied in our curriculum. In DeFronzo’s work, Social Movements and Revolutions, he outlines five critical factors of revolutionary movements: 

  1. Mass frustrations
  2. Elite divisions
  3. Unifying motivations that cut across class lines
  4. Severe political crisis 
  5. Tolerant/permissive world context 

Cabrera outlines the mass frustrations with the timeline of events leading to Moreno’s decision to move his government seat, beginning with the protests as a result of the new measures in his austerity plan for economic growth. The elite divisions in the Ecuador conflict are evident because of the reaction of marginalized groups to Moreno’s new policies, as well as how these groups were actively affected by them. Subsequently, there are no unifying motivations across class lines because the upper-class and middle- and lower-classes are directly opposed. Those in lower classes and marginalized groups in Ecuadoran society are unified against the Ecuadoran government and military. The severe political crisis likely began when the rioting first began after Moreno’s announcement of the austerity plan, but the crisis came to a head with the storming of the National Assembly as well as Moreno’s moving of the government seat from the capital city of Quito. The permissive world context is seen in articles such as these that reach an international audience, which shows us why methodical reporting is vital and important. It is imperative that Western news sources take time to thoroughly examine both sides of political uprisings instead of mainly focusing on the actions of the government, as well as conforming to negative stereotypes about Latin America, even if on a subconscious level. 


Main Article: Cabrera, José María León. “Ecuador’s President Moves Seat of Government to Escape Protests.” New York Times. 8 Oct. 2019. The New York Times Company. Web. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019. 

BBC Contributors. “Ecuador protests: Unrest continues over fuel price hikes.” BBC News. 12 Oct. 2019. BBC. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019. 

BBC Contributors. “Ecuador protesters storm parliament as unrest worsens.” BBC News. 9 Oct. 2019. BBC. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019. 

BBC Contributors. “Ecuador violence: Protesters agree to talks with government.” BBC News. 13 Oct. 2019. BBC. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019. 

Sims, Shannon. “Ecuador Declares State of Emergency as Striking Workers Block Roads.” New York Times. 9 Oct. 2019. The New York Times Company. Web. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019.


LA in the news: State of Emergency Declared in Ecuador in Response to Strikes

Ecuador Declares State of Emergency as Protesters Decry End to Fuel Subsidies

Photo Credit: Dolores Ochoa/AP

Demonstrators clash with the police in Quito, Ecuador, on Thursday.

On October 3 the Guardian reported that the President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, had just declared a State of Emergency in response to widespread strikes over the end of Ecuador’s 40-year fuel subsidy. The main supporters of the strikes are taxi, bus, and truck drivers who are severely impacted by the loss of the subsidy, as well as students, unions, and indigenous groups. The article makes no claim about general support for the strikes outside of these groups.

The strikers have so far blocked roads in Ecuador’s two largest cities, Quito (the capital) and Guayaquil (a port city), using the vehicles of taxi, bus, and truck drivers (the largest supporters of the strike). Strikers have also had several clashes with police, including one instance where masked strikers threw rocks at riot police, who responded with tear gas and armored vehicles. So far there have been 19 arrests for strike-related activities.

A demonstrator is detained by the police in Quito.

Moreno, the President of Ecuador since 2017, justified the State of emergency as necessary to “ensure citizen’s security and avoid chaos”. A State of Emergency allows the government to suspend certain freedoms and to use the armed forces to reestablish order. During a press conference, President Moreno condemned the fuel subsidy as “perverse” and argued that in it’s forty years of existence it had severely harmed Ecuador’s development. Ending the fuel subsidy would alleviate $2.27 billion out of a target $3.6 billion deficit reduction goal of Moreno’s government. President Moreno went on to say that protesters would not “paralyze” Ecuador. The Article also noted that three presidents between 1997 and 2007 had been removed though similar street protests.

I selected this article because it was the most detailed report on the story unfolding in Ecuador. An overview of other major news outlets yielded some conspicuously weak coverage. The BBC’s report had minimal detain but kept a relatively neutral tone. The New York Times coverage had more detail and contextual information and touched more on the disruption of business in Ecuador (including international travel). The Washington Post’s coverage was noticeably more critical of strikers and protesters, at least relative to the other outlets I looked at. Ecuador is portrayed as suffering from systemic economic issues as well as a tendency towards violence in protests.

Considering the statements by President Moreno and various protesters, unrest in Ecuador appears to be explained by political differences. The President is interested in ending subsidies, cutting corporate taxes, and working with international institutions to improve the economy. In February, he negotiated a $4.2 billion deal with the IMF, which is distrusted by many Ecuadorians who blame international forces with austerity policies. A sentiment apparent in many statements form protester is that the government has failed to keep promises and that they have not benefited citizens. This seemed to align well with what John Chasteen described and the right-left political spectrum in Latin America. Moreno’s policies cast him as a neoliberal, while the protesters support for subsidies and rejection of external influence is in line with Nationalism.

Some of James DeFronzo’s characteristics of successful revolutions are present here as well, notably mass frustration and political crisis. Support for strikes seems weaker among middle-class business owners (based on limited information) however, and it is unclear if elites are divided or if there are major external pressures on Ecuador.

The Guardian (main source):

The BBC (video):

The New York Times:

The Washington Post:

LA in the News: Violent Protests in Haiti

Protesters demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise faced the police in Port-au-Prince.

Photo: NYT article

In the nation of Haiti, protests have been going on for months calling for the country’s President Jovenel Moise to resign. These protests are happening for many reasons. The problems Haiti is facing is essentially being blamed entirely on President Moise, who has been in power since 2017. These reasons include corruption, a lack of care of citizens by the government, and a horrendous economy. The protests have been going on for a few months, but recently on September 27 and 28, 2019 they have escalated and several more events have taken place out on the streets. A police station was raided by protestors opposed to President Moise. Houses and buildings have been burned down, along with protestors attacking police forces and the police reacting to them with forces such as tear gas.

Protestors have claimed that the president is corrupt and “is not doing anything for us, just killing us,” as stated by the protestor Francois Pericat (NYT). The protestors are also pushing for the Haitian government to investigate how the funds under Moise are being spent, as his administration and allies have been accused of wasting money and resources. The New York Times referenced to the statements of Youri Latortue, a senator who is part of the opposition against Moise, who stated that “Moise will be held accountable for everything that happens in the country today.” (NYT). Moise himself made a statement earlier in 2019 that he refuses to resign, stating that if he does Haiti will be under the “hands of armed gangs and drug traffickers” (BBC). Moise’s speeches have not done anything for decreasing violence, and even cancelled a speech he was supposed to give at the U.N. due to the unrest.

I thought it was interesting in the contrast of how the New York Times (NYT) and how the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) represented the protests in Haiti. Both articles highlighted the demands of the protestors. But the NYT presented a statement from an opposition leader and nothing from President Moise, whereas the BBC article presented a statement from President Moise and nothing from opposition leaders. Both articles mentioned Moise’s corruption, but I thought it was surprising how the NYT did not go into any detail about the opposition leader whom they quoted, Youri Latortue. They merely stated that he was in opposition against President Moise, and that he has a specific stance against Moise. After doing some research, Youri Latortue is quoted in several recent articles in opposition to President Moise, yet in the past has been reported to have been one of the most corrupt politicians in the Haitian government. Without this context, people like Latortue and the opposition in general can be viewed as the solution to Haiti’s political crisis. Yet, he is as corrupt if not more corrupt than the president he is opposed to. This to me is a false representation of the intentions of the opposition on the NYT’s part, and instead the quote that they used of his should be seen as the government officials recognizing Moise’s corruption and not as an answer to Moise’s corruption.

While reading both the NYT and BBC article, I could not stop thinking about DeFronzo’s factors for revolutions. Currently in Haiti, there is a mass frustration (as seen by the protests and violence), elite divisions (institutional opposition to President Moise), and a political crisis (immense amounts of corruption and a failing economy). The only two factors missing are unifying motivations, and the world context. This is very relevant in our class discussions, since we have covered leaders in similar situations to President Moise. Moise’s corruption and failure to care for his citizens harks back to corrupt leaders such as Diaz in Mexico or Batista in Cuba. It is very possible that soon a revolution or extensive reform could take place in Haiti as a result of this violence and mass hatred for President Jovenel Moise.





Articles quoting Youri Latortue in opposition to President Moise:

Protesters in Haiti burn businesses in push to oust leader

Articles highlighting Latortue’s corrupt past:

Haiti Police, Senator Implicated in US Arms Trafficking Case




LA in the News: Lima’s ‘Wall of Shame’ and the Art of Building Barriers

This article focused on the border wall in Lima, Peru. The concrete wall divides the cities rich and poor. The building of the wall began in 1985 carving through the rugged terrain. This wall was built to segregate the plywood and metal sheet shacks from the Casuarinas. The Casuarinas were the luxury mansions the cities wealthy. This wall has expanded to keep separating the wealthy neighborhoods from “the other”  This article addresses the reasons that this wall was put up as well as personal stories that tell the effect the wall has.

This wall was put in place so that the rich didn’t have to see or experience the life of the slums. The economic disparity is very visible in Lima and all of Peru. This creates “…this idea of security behind the wall that creates homogeneous social groups,”. Further dividing the economic worlds and classes in Peru. about 6.9 million Peruvians live below Peru’s poverty line, that means they earn less than 338 soles ($102) per month. The wall was mainly in response to migration from rural areas in Peru in the 80’s. Because of this migration it caused these pop up houses that weren’t sturdy but they were safe. The wealthy residents of Casuarinas and other areas expanded the wall (this was approved by local government) for safety and to stop the crime spilling into their areas.

This article explained the effect that it had on the people who worked in these wealthy neighborhoods but lived in the slums. one woman Lily Mamani Reyes, a house cleaner has to wake up at 5a.m to begin a two-and-a-half-hour walk to get to work. She puts extra time into this job as a result of the extended commute and yet she says that-her pay has decreased.

Patricia Novoa has lived in the Casuarinas for half her life and said the wall was a security. She explains that the people living theres are criminals and thieves because they have no other choice. That the environment has no education and no way “to live”. This wall has very negative effects on one side and barely registers to the other.

I thought it was interesting that this article mentioned other countries multiple times. It mentioned the US and the current administration. This source is from the Atlantic an American magazine. This was clearly written from an outside perspective. It was very analytical and expressed the position of Peru instead of ways that this issue could be fixed or if theres any though to fixing this. This wall has been up for more than three there should be some sort of action around it. And if there isn’t then why is this being addressed now? and not 30 years ago? We can see a significant segregation of wealth and a visible separation of class in Peru.  Connecting this to the topics we have learned in class about Defronzos formula to a revolution this is a clear sign of class/ elite divisions. This also could be connected to mass frustration. Wether Peru will experience a revolution or reform is still unlikely but it is clear that this problem of economic inequality needs to be addressed. Putting a wall between one and their problem will not solve it.


LA in the News: US Expels Two Cuban Diplomats to the UN

On Thursday, September 19th, the US State Department expelled two Cuban diplomats, citing that they were working on “influence operations against the United States.” The State Department provided no further details on what actually occurred. The department’s spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus, could only label the alleged operations as, “activities harmful to US national security.” Along with the expulsion of the two diplomats, all other members of the Cuban mission to the UN have been restricted to the island of Manhattan.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez released a string of tweets immediately following the incident, calling the accusations “vulgar slander.” He stated that the US is seeking to provoke a diplomatic escelation that would lead to the closing of embassies and a strengthening of the embargo of Cuban goods.

These allegations of the Cuban diplomats came not too long after the suspected attacks on US diplomats in Havana. The US accused Cuba of using sonic weapons to cause ill effects on members of the US embassy, who reported dizziness and hearing loss. However, a Canadian study, published on the same day as the expulsion of the Cubans, suggested that neurotoxins from widely used Cuban pesticides could be to blame for the cognitive damage—not sonic weaponry.

US diplomats began experiencing symptoms in 2016

The information above is what I gathered from three different sources: CNN, Fox News, and BBC News. As expected, the BBC was the most neutral of the three, keeping their story short and to the point. CNN was also very neutral, but they included by far the most information, a lot of which could be used to defend Cuba in this situation. Finally, Fox News took a subtle anti-Cuban stance—expected from a conservative source. They used very strong rhetoric to describe the situation saying, “the Cubans were found to be running spy operations on American soil,” and they didn’t mention anything from the Cuban side of the story, unlike the BBC and CNN.

It is interesting to see the implications that world context can have when looking at revolutions. The Cuban revolution was more than half a century ago, yet it affects the foreign policy of other nations today. Had the revolution happened at a different time, one that wasn’t as close to the Cold War, the present situation may have never occurred. A long string of events stemming from the actions of Fidel Castro, has led to a Diplomatic struggle he could have never seen coming in 1953.





LA in the News: Working in Mexico’s New Police Force is a Deadly Job

Mexico’s police force is in shambles. The newly-created National Guard is unable to fill its ranks with new recruits and has force the Mexican government to pull more than 58,000 officers from other security forces to make up for the shortfall of civilian recruits. Despite pledging that he would recruit an additional 50,000 law enforcement officers by 2020, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made no major headway thus far, and various groups including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) claim that there is less incentive now more than ever to join Mexico’s police force. This is for a great many reasons that I will elaborate upon below.

Recently, there has been an uptick in violence, both against the police and in general, within Mexico. Just last year, 421 Mexican police officers were killed in the line of duty, while only 55 American police officers were killed in the line of duty. The Mexican public has been apathetic towards this trend, and, in many cases, law enforcement are no better. Officer Ramos’s patrol partner was shot eleven times and left to bleed to death on a tarmac in Mexico City. No one was arrested for the murder, despite large suspicions that it was committed by members of a local gang. In many cases, the police officers themselves doubt the legitimacy of their superiors as many Mexican law enforcement organizations are rife with corruption and, in some cases, extort business through protection fees or do the same with organized crime. This is to say that Mexico’s police will, at times, accept money from criminal groups and in turn will allow them to operate unmolested by the law.

The overall impotence of the Mexican police force stems from the lack of proper pay, equipment, benefits, and leadership that its officers suffer from. It is difficult to uphold the law when one cannot support their family, must purchase their own boots, has no healthcare, and is haunted by  the suspicion that their superiors are secretly working with the criminals. By no means do I wish to imply that all or even the majority of Mexico’s police officers are corrupt, nor do I wish for the reader to believe that Mexico’s police of virtually of no use, but they are currently suffering from a great many institutional problems that must be addressed if they are to operate to the best of their ability.


The Mexican police force is portrayed to be an absolute mess. Interviews with current and retired officers only further cement this idea, and crime statistics paint Mexico as an increasingly lee-lawful country. While the article in no way paints every town and city in Mexico as being lethal to enter, there are a few that, with good reason, it describes as dangerous. The article also touches upon the public’s outrage against corruption within the police department, the attempts by officers at all level to reform it, and the positive progress, little as it may be, that has been made. In no way does the article attempt to paint Mexico as inherently lawless, nor is there any racial animus towards the people that live there. It is simply a situation wherein major reform must take place to fix the corruption to which any law enforcement organization might fall victim. 

Crime and corruption are major issues within Mexico and few of the people who live within its borders can escape their influence. These issues are universally condemned by the people, but they are not always fought in an organized manner. Many just try to get by as best they can. The fact that the battle against crime and corruption is central to all major political campaigns speaks to its importance in the mind of the public. All across the political spectrum, candidates and political groups voice their concerns and various solutions to the problem. In terms of how we have viewed Mexico within the context of this course, I would wager that organized crime, for a great many reasons, is one of the largest threats that Mexico must deal with in the modern era. The issue has become so large that it has begun to overshadow other operations of the state, which is unacceptable for so many reasons.

LA in the News: Nicaraguan Group Says 17 Gov’t Foes from Countryside Killed

The article describes that on Friday, September 13, the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center documented 17 deaths of government opponents from the rural north of Nicaragua (Selser 2019). All of the victims participated in political protests last year against Ortega’s regime and it was discovered that the victims were killed by gunshot wounds. The Nicaraguan Human Rights Center’s President, Vilma Nuñez, announced at a news conference that witnesses saw the killings being performed by “police and paramilitaries” (Selser 2019). The police and paramilitaries were known to participate in the repression of protests and the murder of 325 protestors last year. According to a report by Nuñez’s colleagues, no arrests were conducted for any of the 17 murders, all of which were rejected an investigation and were ascribed to personal conflicts among citizens.Image result for nicaraguan revolution 2018

Nicaraguan citizens against Daniel Ortega’s regime are pictured marching in protest and waving Nicaraguan flags. Photo by Alfredo Zuniga.

According to information Nuñez received from the local press, there have been around 30 killings in the rural north this year (Selser 2019). One situation that occurred in the province of Jinotega between January and June involves the killing of four members of a family notably against the Ortega regime. Three out of the 30 killings, however, occurred in Las Trojes, Honduras and were caused by pro-government assassins rather than police and paramilitaries. After this instance, a request for comment was issued towards the government, but it was rejected. 

The article does well to briefly describe the type of terror that occurs in Nicaragua under Ortega’s regime. However, I believe the article could do more to describe the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center’s functions in combating political corruption and in describing its influence or status in political processes. Additionally, the article does not do much to describe the nature of last year’s Nicaraguan protests at all. Leaving such important information out of the article does not provide enough context to the reader to understand why the government is still permitting killings of their opponents. 

With regards to the article’s connection to class themes, I found the Ortega administration’s killing of protestors to be a representation of the types of severe political crises that would be identified as one of DeFronzo’s critical factors for revolution. I also found it interesting how the Ortega administration’s repression of protests could be compared to Batista’s attempts to silence his opponents before the Cuban Revolution. Additionally, I found it interesting how Ortega is targeting individuals from the rural north, whereas the Mexican government during the revolution focussed attacks on rural individuals from the south. The differences in rural communities’ locations are likely reflective of different geographies within both nations.

Source: Selser, Gabriela. “Nicaragua Group Says 17 Govt Foes from Countryside Killed.” Washington Post, September 13, 2019, sec. The Americas.

LA in the News: Argentinian Farmers ditch corn in favor of soy

Argentian corn field last harvest season. Photo by Augustin Marcarian

This article out Buenos Aires explains the recent move by the Argentinian government to have farmers switch from primarily corn exports to soybeans. This shift in crop export is unexpected and unusually late as the planting season in Argentina is already underway and this switch puts Argentinian farmers behind in the planting process. This decision stems from the fact that the Argentinian economy has been stagnating causing turmoil in larger cities such as Buenos Aires. The President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, has been under fire for the economic struggles of Argentina and this year is an election year in which he is struggling in the polls. This is ultimately what has caused for this action. Macri, is looking for a way to jump start the Argentinian economy temporarily to score cheap political points to maintain his job.

The question then becomes will this sudden change be effective. From a cost standpoint, soy is much cheaper to grow than corn as seeds cost less, it requires fewer resources and is easier to manage. From this base knowledge it seems that Argentina will able to make up some ground by having higher profits. However, this is not the case as soy yields a dramatically lower price per capita due to the ongoing trade-war between the United States and China. The hope of Macri is that Argentinian soy will be unaffected by the trade war and will result in some economic gains. However, economists believe that this policy change may be the final nail in the coffin for Macri as the trade war is only expected to continue thus skewing the price of soy.

Apart from potentially costing Macri his presidency the Argentinian switch may cause food challenges abroad as Argentina is the worlds third largest exporter of corn in the world. This sudden lack of corn will cause the price of corn around the world to rise and given that corn is a highly valued grain around the world this will have a ripple effect around the world. The effect will start in other corn producing nations as they are able to increase their revenue due to higher prices while corn importers will struggle to buy corn due to the price increase. This does not account for the trade war with between the US and China as the Chinese economy is difficult to predict.
In the United States this will hurt American farmers the most as soybeans are an essential crop to many farming co-ops and the influx of Argentinian soy will only add salt to the wound as the price of soy will continue to plummet from its already low point.

This is a timely article as we just finished discussing the Mexican revolution which was based on agrarian land reform. This is precisely what is transpiring in Argentina, the government is facing pressure from the working class and from that pressure a quick fix is being prescribed. The question becomes will this fix the issues or just proliferate the problem leading to radical reform.

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