Author Archives: Jonah

Final Noticias

Tijuana turns wastewater into wine, as Latin America dips toe in reuse

Reuters. “Tijuana turns wastewater into wine, as Latin America dips toe in reuse.” NBC News, November 27, 2017.

Image result for water reuse

My final article was about a new way that people are using wastewater from a Mexican treatment plant. An Italian wine maker has begun to use treated wastewater from a Mexican plant to irrigate his nearby grape fields. While it may seem gross or unsanitary to use wastewater, this winemaker guarantees the water is perfectly clean and suggests that the water will make grapes that will eventually become wine that will sell for $200 a bottle. In addition to growing good grapes, the use of wastewater helps with water shortages in Mexico’s arid climate. In many other regions around the world including Singapore, Israel, and parts of the US people already use recycled wastewater however Latin America has been slow to adopt the trend despite water shortages. In some Latin American countries including Mexico, Chile, and Brazil are beginning to use treated wastewater for agriculture, specifically irrigation. Water recycling is very efficient and cost effective but it requires lots of infrastructure that many Latin American nations do not have yet. There is also a stigma about treated wastewater that makes people reluctant to use it, especially for drinking. There is also a growing concern among farmers about water prices potentially increasing because of water recycling which could easily put their farms out of business.

This article is interesting because the portrayal seems very balanced which is rare, especially for an article about Latin America. I liked this article because it did not talk about anything bad or violent like many other articles about Mexico and Latin America in general. Many articles that I have read for noticias posts in the past week have talked about murder, rape, corruption and poverty. It was nice to find an article that focused on an example of technological advancement in Latin America. While it did not really mean anything, it felt kind of nice to end on a high note.

This article began by portraying Latin America and Mexico in a positive light by talking about the technological advancements that Mexico has made that help deal with wastewater and water shortages in arid regions. The article also discussed similar systems in other Latin American countries which is a good thing and could save Latin America. The only part of the article that portrayed Latin America in a negative light was the part where it talked about the lack of technological advancement in Latin America. This may have been negative in a way but at the same time it was purely factual and did not embellish at all which is good. They also did not talk about poverty or infrastructure outside of the context of the article so I think that this article did a good job overall of remaining unbiased.

Paerregaard article

The Virgen Carmen is very important to the culture of Cabanaconde. The Virgen is very important because she offers a type of connection to the culture of Cabanaconde for the many migrants who leave the area. All people from Cabanaconde, weather or not they live in the area, can look to the Virgen and be connected to their native culture. The festival of the Virgen Carmen is very important to the people of Cabanaconde because many migrants return to their home in Cabanaconde which allows them to reconnect with their native culture. This prevents them from loosing touch with their home but it also helps to build social networks that draw new migrants which causes the growth of the international community. The incredible festival for the Virgen Carmen is also important because it draws tourism to the area. Transnational migration has reinforced the importance of the festival as a means to develop social networks because these social networks are critical for migration, especially for poorer families. The festival for the Virgen Carmen has also changed because of transnational migration because the migration has shifted the festival from a festival that was primarily agro-religious to a festival that emphasizes citizens and migrants devotion to the local town and area.

Noticias Week 11

Mexico drug cartel’s grip on politicians and police revealed in Texas court files

Agren, David. “Mexico drug cartel’s grip on politicians and police revealed in Texas court files” The Guardian, 10 November, 2017.

Organized crime in the form of cartels has been found to have deep rooted influence on local politics in the border sate of Coahuila. A recent report released by the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas school of law has released testimony from many Texan courts showing the extent to which cartels like Los Zetas (logo pictured above) have infiltrated border state politics. In addition to bribing local politicians, cartels have paid off local policemen who turn a blind eye to mass murders and disappearances in the state.  Experts were not surprised at the lack of government response to this new study however some said they were disheartened by the apathy of Mexican citizens. It seems like Mexican citizens are becoming accustomed to this type of violence and are ignoring it more and more.

The article went on to describe recent violence by the Zetas cartel. It mentioned that the cartel has carried out hundreds of killings between 2014 and 2016 and that there are probably many more killings that went unreported. The Zetas cartel has also bribed or “purchased” many government leaders, even at the executive level. There are strong allegations that the Zetas have bribed two governors to work for them.

This article portrays the Coahuila region in a negative light. This negative portrayal may be appropriate because of the high levels of cartel violence in this region. As a whole, this article portrays Mexico as violent and cartel ridden however it also covers an under covered area of Mexico and an issue that many people are afraid to write about because of potential retaliation. Also this article portrays the citizens of Mexico as apathetic toward cartel violence. This portrayal is negative and harmful. When the article talks about how Mexican citizens are apathetic toward cartel violence it is also dangerously close to the stereotype of the “lazy Mexican”. Overall, this article does a good job of covering an under covered area of Mexican society however it also could be harmful to the identity of Mexican citizens, especially Mexican activists.

Noticias Week 10

Who Ordered Killing of Honduran Activist? Evidence of Broad Plot Is Found

Malkin, Elisabeth. “Who Ordered Killing of Honduran Activist? Evidence of Broad Plot Is Found”. New York Times, 28, Oct. 2017.

Image result for berta caceres 

Berta Caceres was a Honduran environmental activist. In the middle of the night in March of 2016, two men broke into Caceres’s house and murdered her because of her activist messages. Caceres was not the first or last environmental activist to be murdered in Honduras. Caceres was 44 years old when she was killed. Before her death, Caceres had gained global attention for her leadership against the construction of a dam in her small indigenous town. Because of her international acclaim, Caceres’s murder has also gained international attention. A team of international lawyers studying the case have deduced that a group of executives who ran the company that intended to construct the dam conspired to have Ms Caceres killed. The lawyers also believe that state officials may have been involved and that the killers will probably never pay for their crime.

Currently, there are eight suspects being investigated as part of the investigation of the murder of Ms Caceres. While this is good, the government has not indited any of the people responsible for planning the murder despite text messages showing that they were involved with planning the murder and linking them to the murderers. This is a huge problem because it demonstrates the weak rule of law in Honduras.

This article is very interesting because it seems to portray Honduras in a negative light while simultaneously portraying the common people of Honduras in a positive one. This is good writing because instead of talking about the Hondurans as one people they are careful about criticizing only the people they are trying to criticize (corrupt officials and corporate executives). This kind of separation is important in media coverage of Latin America, especially countries like Honduras. Honduras has a whole lot of problems including the highest murder rate in the world and lots of corruption however the article did not talk about these problems because they were not relevant to the subject. Many articles will bring up these negative points even if they are irrelevant.

The even portrayal of Honduras and its people in this article is good for the identity of Honduran citizens. The subject matter in this article is not good for the people of Honduras. The extremely weak rule of law in Honduras probably makes Honduran citizens feel insignificant and afraid. This kind of fear discourages activism and self advocacy. The fact that the government is involved in these horrible killings and helps cover them up for economic gain probably makes the people of Honduras feel even more unimportant which is extremely damaging to personal identity.

Wikipedia Revisions

The people who commented on my Wikipedia plans suggested that I add pictures and replace bad sources. They also warned me to remain unbiased because my topic can quickly become biased. As far as pictures go, I will look for good pictures of my topic but I am not sure that they will be available. I will try to at least incorporate a picture of the Autodefensa symbol which is a white dove. In terms of replacing bad sources, I will see what kind of overlap my sources have with the bad ones. If there is overlap I will absolutely replace those sources with better ones. If there is no overlap, I will do some research however it can be hard to find good information on my topic. It seems like the person who wrote my article originally had a lot of knowledge of Autodefensas groups in Mexico before they did any research and just tried to find a few sources to back up what they knew. Hopefully I will be able to find better ones that serve the same purpose. Finally, I will be sure to remain unbiased. This will be hard considering the topic however I think it will be doable as long as I stick to factual information and am very careful with my word choice. For example I will say that some Autodefensas groups began to sell drugs to finance their organization however I will not compare this to cartel activity even though it is similar. If I made that comparison I may be forcing my own conclusions on my readers which is not allowed on Wikipedia. I got a lot of good feedback so now I just have to get started!

Rivera-Rideau on Reggaetón

Rivera-Rideau’s central argument in this chapter is that Reggaetón has become racialized as Latino in the United States in the same way that Hip-hop has been racialized before it. The racialization of these genres of music are damaging because these genres are portrayed by the media as deviant and criminal. Because of these portrayals in the media, Reggaetón and rap have both come to be known as urban (or hurban in the case of Reggaetón), gangster, and violent. When these genres are portrayed negatively and then associated with an entire race of people, it reduces the people, the music, and the culture to simple negative stereotypes.

Originally, Reggaetón and Latin music in general was not portrayed positively but also was not seen as hoodlum. The first artists to popularize Reggaetón had lighter skin and were portrayed as discoveries and as sexualized, spicy Latinos or Latinas. One example of this is Ricky Martin who is much whiter and was one of the first to bring Latin music to the US. Ricky Martin. Ricky Martin was never portrayed as hoodlum, he was portrayed as sexy and almost white. As Reggaetón evolved and more Afro-Latinos began to get into the genre, it became seen in a more negative light like rap. Another factor that contributed to the negative portrayal of Reggaetón in the US is the fact that many of the artists who performed Reggaetón were immigrants who were usually lower class and lived in poor urban areas. The economic status and living conditions of these artists made it easier for the media to portray the artists and the entire genre as urban and hoodlum.

Reggaetón is an interesting area of study that may help us learn more about cultural exchanges in America. In Reggaetón we can see that some artists have made an attempt at fusing Reggaetón and rap for example N.O.R.E however this has caused push back from African American and Latino communities. This may be indicative of the situation that Latin american immigrants face in the United States. Latin American immigrants may attempt to assimilate into American culture by attempting to connect to African Americans with whom they share some cultural and ethnic identity however when they attempt this there is often a push back from the African American community. These Latin American immigrants seem to face the same problems when they try to connect with White Americans which puts them in a strange place because they are not quite White and not quite Black.

Noticias week 8

Is there a link between abortion rights and democracy? 

Arroyo Navarrete, Larisssa. “Is there a link between abortion rights and democracy?” US News and World Report, Oct. 12th 2017

Image result for abortion rules latin america

My article was about the link between abortion rights in Latin America. In Latin America there are often social stigmas or laws that prevent women from getting abortions. It is not uncommon for women to have secret “backstreet abortions” which very dangerous and can lead to death. Six Latin American countries ban abortions under all circumstances, outside of Latin America there are only two other countries in the world with the same abortion laws. Studies show that laws prohibiting abortions do not stop abortions from being performed and most Latin American countries do not ban abortions. One example of a country that demonstrates the correlation between abortion rights and democracy is Honduras. In 2009, a Honduran coup overthrew the government and brought violence to the area. As democracy left Honduras, abortion rights were restricted. In Nicaragua and El Salvador the situation is similar. In 2007 the president of Nicaragua ended term limits. Immediately after ending term limits, the president began to restrict abortion rights. In El Salvador the country is extremely violent and law enforcement is corrupt. In this country, a constitutional amendment fully criminalized abortion under any circumstances. ‘

This article does a good job of separating the people of Latin America from the corrupt regimes in specific countries. The article also does a good job of talking about specific Latin American countries rather than grouping them all together. Too often in the media, all Latin American countries are grouped together and talked about as one country which can be harmful when the article is discussing negative aspects of the countries involved. Finally, this article does a good job of balancing the good from the bad. Articles about Latin America often only talk about the problems with the countries discussed. This is a form of conditioning that makes people believe that Latin America is all bad. This is obviously not true and by talking about the successes in specific Latin American countries, this article offers a more even and realistic image of Latin America.

I picked this article because abortion laws and democracy are indicative of the status of women in Latin America. The criminalization of abortion in countries like El Salvador tells women that they are not valuable as human beings, instead women are often treated like “receptacles” for babies like the Colombian constitution says. This is a huge blow to the identity of women in Latin American countries like El Salvador. I think that this article did a good job of portraying Latin America and its citizens because it was written by a woman from Costa Rica. It is great that this article was picked up by an American news source. If more articles were written like this there would not be as strong of a social stigma surrounding Latin America and its citizens.

Autodefensas wikipedia

For my Wikipedia Article assignment I would like to build the Autodefensas page on Wikipedia into a real page or look at an existing (more specific) autodefensas page to revise. Currently the page is only a disambiguation page meaning it has no content beyond a definition of autodefensas and a list of links to pages on specific groups. I think it would be interesting to elaborate on what autodefensas groups are and to provide a short history of the formation of the groups in general as well as a brief overview of each of the groups listed on the disambiguation page. This page does not even have a true talk page because it is a disambiguation page however I believe it could be more than that. As far as reputable sources go, I would like to look at the book “Blood and Capital: The Paramilitarization of Colombia” which was published by the Ohio university press and seems reputable. I could also look at THE “SIXTH DIVISION” Military-paramilitary Ties and U.S. Policy in Colombia and this article on Historia del paramilitarismo en Colombia written by a Chilean history professor. If I also wanted to look at autodefensas groups in Mexico the page for that is lacking as well and more resources can be found through the Spanish news source El Pais and even in the movie “Cartel land”. I think that there is a lot of good information and that I could pick the page Autodefensas (general), or Grupos de Autodefensa Comunitaria which is actually an English page about autodefensas groups in Mexico that has several major problems.

Noticias Week 5

McCormick, Myles. ‘They lied’: Bolivia’s untouchable Amazon lands at risk once more The Guardian. 11 Sept. 2017.

In 2011 Bolivia’s Tipnis national park was declared “untouchable” which protected the land from further development. This huge victory for the indigenous people living in the area came after months of protests in Bolivia’s capital La Paz during which protesters clashed with riot police and were subjected to tear gas, rubber bullets, and other riot control techniques. These protests were sparked by an attempt to build a road through the national park, luckily the plans to build the road were abandoned after the “untouchable” declaration.1


On August 13th, the Bolivian president signed a bill that revoked Tipnis’s untouchable status. This could mean that the road will be built through the park after all. Roughly 14,000 people live in the Tipnis national park, most of whom are indigenous. The park is also home to a diverse animal population and some studies estimate that the construction of this new road could cause up to 64% deforestation in this national park over the next 18 years. Much of this deforestation would not come from the new road on its own but would come from the people and the development that the new road would bring with it. While the native population is concerned about the new development, the government of Bolivia argues that the construction of this road is necessary to bring support services like education and medical services to the people who live in this area. To enforce their claim the government references a 2012 study that supposedly shows that the people of the area support the construction of this road however studies by an independent third party has showed that the government study was rigged. Many people in the area are not opposed to a road however they are opposed to a road that runs through the proposed area because it would be culturally and environmentally disastrous.1


This article actually does a good job of portraying the voice of the indigenous population of the area discussed. They include arguments from the native tribes but they also conducted interviews and used direct quotes from affected peoples. My one complaint about the portrayal of the native people in the article is that they seemed to group all of the tribes together despite the fact that they seem to have different opinions about the issue.

The article I picked relates to the the course topic of identity in Latin America because this is a common clash in Latin American countries that can challenge the identity of people, especially indigenous people. When the government tries to interfere with the Indigenous way of life, even if they are trying to help, it can erode indigenous culture and identity which can in turn erase an entire way of life.





Potential research topics

For my Wikipedia research project I would be interested in researching vigilante or autodefensas groups in Colombia. People these groups form in response to the formation of cartels and the lack of government response in order to protect themselves and their families. The problem is that these groups often lack order and this can lead to unintended violence. Because of all this, the difference between cartels and vigilante groups are not always clear. This is not necessarily an effective option for dealing with crime but what can people do about all of this? This could be related to culture because this is an increasingly common part of life in rural areas of many Latin American countries where drug crime is common. This could also be related to identity because the people who are part of these groups give up a big part of their identities as citizens of these countries to become vigilantes who are labeled as criminals by the government and often ostracized by others in their areas. Wikipedia does not have an official page for vigilantism in Colombia. Wikipedia does have a few specific pages for specific vigilante groups however most of these are stubs. Luckily I did find more comprehensive Wikipedia articles on the topic in Spanish so I may be able to use some sources from that page and translate them in order to create more comprehensive pages in English. Unfortunately, Credo also does not have a lot of information about these groups so if the sources on the Spanish Wikipedia page do not pan out I may be out of luck.

Another research topic I would be interested in for my project is Jews in Colombia. I am interested in Jewish culture (because I am Jewish) and I am interested in Colombia so I think it would be interesting to learn about Judaism in Colombia, especially because I am considering studying abroad there. This topic would relate to both culture and identity in Latin America and would be interesting to study because Colombia is a predominantly Christian country. Wikipedia already has an article about the history of Jews in Colombia, it is not super long but it is not a stub article either. Credo seems to have a bit more information on the topic, especially about Jewish contributions to Latin American and Colombian arts/culture however it is quite possible that there will be a good bit of overlap in the information that the two sites provide.