Author Archives: Keira

“Latin America has a long history of humanitarian solidarity and protecting migrants.”

I think the article I chose for this week nicely touches on our themes of encounters and identities in Latin America, as it deals with the migration of citizens from one Latin American country to two other Latin American countries. The article is called “How Latin America Is Responding to Venezuelan Refugees” and emphasizes how Latin American countries have been accepting of refugees, and welcoming them with open arms. The article specifically mentions Peru and Brazil, and how there are governmental gaps that may worsen the situation if not taken care of. The two main issues are the governments being reactive rather than proactive, and a lack of communication about policies to refugees themselves. The article then breaks down the issues by country that refugees may face.

In Peru, the government has passed a temporary work study permit that is specifically targeted to Venezuelans for the length of one year, although it can be renewed. They also passed an asylum law that applies to Venezuelans who left due to persecution or violence. However, these policies aren’t adequately explained to migrants and refugees, leading to confusion and difficulty in applying for permits or refugee status. The work study permit, called PTP, shouldn’t be considered a form of protection according to the article, as it only briefly covers fundamental rights. Many people have applied for PTP when they qualify for refugee status, just because they don’t know that they qualify, making the government ineffective at properly helping refugees.

In Brazil, there was no law on migration or reception program/system until 2017. There was however, a refugee law, allowing migrants to stay in the country while a committee rules on their case. The refugee law allows for migrants to work and have access to public services. After pressure from citizens, Brazil passed a law granting temporary residence to Venezuelans, giving them work permits and temporary residency. However, many Venezuelans are unaware of this and still apply for refugee status, as well as the temporary residence permit being expensive.

I found this article to be very good at explaining the issues, but still applauding these countries for taking the steps they did.


The article I picked for this week is especially fitting as it touches on something Cesar mentioned in his presentation today; corruption in the Guatemalan government. While the author argues something a little different than Cesar does, in that he says that Guatemala has made successful strides in cleaning up government corruption, especially comparatively to the rest of Latin America. Currently there’s a UN sponsored commission that is attempting to end corruption in Guatemala called CICIG, and they’ve allegedly done a very good job at holding corrupt officials accountable for their actions. The article puts a lot of the blame on the judicial system in Latin America, claiming it protects local and federal political elites. However, there is fear that if CICIG gets disbanded that things will just return to the same they’ve always been, or that Guatemala is being controlled by outsiders, primarily by the US, which has a reputation of messing around in Latin America, much to the detriment of the citizens of these countries.


While the title of the article is Outsiders Can’t Clean Up Latin America’s Corruption, I personally feel like the author makes the opposite argument in saying that the UN sponsored commission has done an excellent job. The author himself says “the UN crime busters have won ample accolades and street cred. On their watch, convictions for homicides soared and the homicide rate plunged. A dozen tainted judges and some 2,500 crooked bad police have been sacked.” While the author does express concern that if the UN backed out, there would be nothing holding corrupt officials and indicted officials responsible for their actions, I think that the amount of attention that has been cast on the issue globally through the UN and the power of visibility via modern technology that Will brought up in his pecha kucha on Brazil, could be enough to hold people responsible for their wrongdoings.

Noticias Questions

For this week, please read Maggie’s article and Kanishk’s article. These two articles talk about Venezuela’s economic crisis (if you would like background information to better understand the topic before we talk about, you can skim this wikipedia article).

Discussion Questions:

(We probably won’t have time to talk about all of these, however they’re all pretty related, and we hope they spark interesting conversation and discussion)

  1. Is it the responsibility of global economic superpowers, such as the US, to give aid to countries that we’re politically opposed to? That is to say, are we responsible to the citizens of these countries with governments we’re at ends with? If so, what actions should we take to assist them, and how can they be financed? If your country’s government is corrupt, who takes care of you?
  2. Going off of the previous questions, should we intervene in the affairs of foreign countries? How responsible are we for the economic and political situation in Venezuela and Latin America as a whole? If we are responsible, should and how do we make reparations?
  3. How do we hold the US and other super powers accountable for their actions, especially in other countries? Who does Trump’s sanctions hurt, the people of Venezuela, or the government?


Wikipedia Peer Review Summary + Response

My Wikipedia article is on the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, the disarmed political party that is FARC. The notes I received on my proposed edits were to add more sections and background perhaps, as well as adding some scholarly sources to the article, as it didn’t have very many to begin with. Jonah agreed with my plan to maybe add a section on political opposition and also party ideals/political alliances. Adding to this page is important because Colombia has a presidential election and a parliamentary election next year, and the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force intends on partnering with the Colombian Communist Party to win some seats in the parliamentary election. I found the comments made by my peers to be helpful in thinking about what to do going forward and where I should concentrate my efforts.

Noticias Week 8

Previously in class we’ve talked about the lack of Latin American representation in media, and how the representation of Latin Americans that exists is often stereotypical and harmful (with most roles being maids or gang members). However, according to this article, that seems to be changing. While the article mostly focuses on global trends, it also highlights American companies like Netflix, HBO, Fox, Disney, Sony Pictures, and Time Warner Cable.

The article claims that the uptick in content being produced by and for Latin American countries is due in part to the success of Netflix which confirmed that they will be producing fifty original Latin American productions through 2018 alone. Another factor they mention is investments from other countries, demonstrating interest in Latin American television. Personally I think this is due to Netflix and other worldwide streaming networks that have the opportunity to show different types of content to people that may not otherwise be introduced to them, causing a rise in popularity and interest. Another reason is that as local TV companies are getting involved, causing healthy competition between networks, which in turn leads to competition and more improved content.

Due to this competition between companies, local TV networks in Latin America are producing their own content rather than just distributing the content of others. Since this gives viewers an alternative, companies like Sony, Fox, and Disney are forced to diversify and appeal more to their audience. HBO is developing talk shows in Mexico and Brazil, while Sony is producing seven series in Colombia and Mexico. With local TV networks diversifying and producing new content, networks like TNT are now distributing Latin American made content, creating partnerships that were unthinkable a few years ago. Another positive effect of competition is the rising quality of the content being produced. According to network representatives, until about 60 years ago the only shows produced in Latin America were telenovelas, and to compete, writers and directors have to change their style to better appeal to American and worldwide audiences, which very few writers and directors have experience with.


Noticias: Mexico’s Indigenous Congress

In the article I chose for this week, Mexico’s Indigenous Congress: Decolonizing Politics, the authors discuss The First Nations of Mexico’s attempt at a political campaign, and the response it has received. The political initiative is putting forward a candidate, Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez, in the next election for president.

There was outcry from the already established political parties, including racist and misogynist attacks on Martinez, to calls for including their proposals in already existing political processes. The ideas behind the Indigenous Council of Government (CIG) are not Western in practice according the the authors, and have drawn a lot of criticism.

The criticisms are largely due to two main misunderstandings according to the authors. The first is the fact that one of the groups that make up the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), has refused to participate in the electoral process and national government system for the past twenty three years. The second misunderstanding is that Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez is like any other candidate representing any other political party. According to the authors, these are fundamental misunderstandings about the First Nations. Their political ideologies aren’t based on the Greek style we’re familiar with, or even other European styles we typically think of. The authors argue that the CNI is “[appropriating] the tools of the modern/colonial state to advance their own project” to form a government modeled on their seven principles listed in the article, which are primarily based on being public servants and serving the interests of the people rather than furthering their own political goals. This seeks to decolonize the political process and put the needs of disenfranchised people first, primarily people of indigenous descent and women. The authors argue that the fact that Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez is not accepted shows how underrepresented groups are not listened to or supported in the current political climate of Mexico. The CNI seeks to unite disenfranchised groups across Mexico as their base of support and markets itself as a political platform for the people.

Wikipedia Article Edits

I would like to expand either the FARC page or the National Front (Colombia) because they’re related to violence in Colombia and had a large effect on each other, but it’s only briefly alluded to in both pages. Another thing that could be expanded on is the new role of the FARC as a disarmed guerrilla movement and how it’s a political party now, although that is current news and would be more difficult to write about. There are many websites from reputable sources sources.  There’s also a series of interviews with former guerrillas about reintegration by Humans of New York, a blog whose author often travels to countries with humanitarian issues. There’s nothing on the Talk page of the National Front (Colombia) page. There’s a lot of argument about bias on the FARC page and how to remove it, as well as whether there is bias there to begin with.

Research Topics

My first topic of interest is the formation and history of FARC, a guerrilla movement in Colombia, that just disarmed this year, becoming a legal political party. They have roots in rural poor areas, forming during the Cold War as a communist group. In Colombia there are mixed views about them, as many urban and upperclass people don’t support the FARC as they often kidnap and ransom people, as well as commit acts of domestic terrorism. However, the government is pretty corrupt in Colombia, begging the question of whether they’re freedom fighters or terrorists. I hope to learn more about the cultural divide on FARC and urban versus rural perspectives in Colombia. Wikipedia’s page is very detailed on FARC, and there are several articles on Credo. Here’s a link to an article I read in May about the disarmament of FARC.

My second topic of interest is the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the role of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross lied about the extent of their relief efforts, and what they did with the funds that they raised. This incident illustrates the role that America has had in Latin America, often with a savior complex that ends up being damaging to Latin America. So I would like to investigate the relief efforts in Haiti and how they’re recovering. Wikipedia has a good starting point of information, but obviously this topic is pretty narrow and there isn’t a wikipedia page for this specifically. There were a few interesting looking articles on credo, but barely any relevant ones.

Following the Corn Trail + Trade/Economics

Chapter 8 of A Land So Strange deals with the journey in Mexico and their experiences traveling with various indigenous groups. Reséndez highlights the importance of trade in this chapter, something I talked about in my last blog post. Reséndez describes one such trade interaction, saying “Each time the explorers approached the next indigenous settlement on their journey, a curious exchange would ensue. Those who had accompanied the medicine men would pillage the new hosts, entering their huts and plundering whatever possessions or food they could carry back to their own encampment. In return, they left the medicine men.” This was disturbing to the castaways. However to the natives, this was considered an equal trade, as the skill of the castaways was well known and considered to be very impressive. Basically, Reséndez is describing how the natives traded goods for services, a pretty sophisticated economy. Also, the natives would escort Cabeza de Vaca and crew to the next group of natives and pillage them, so they would eventually get goods themselves, and thus the cycle repeated itself.

Reséndez and Economics/Trade

In the two chapters that we read for today, Reséndez describes the castaways’ time enslaved by the natives. Throughout these two chapters we learn a lot about Native American society and culture, but also specifically their economy.

I agree that independent and unaffiliated merchants, such as Cabeza de Vaca, were important figures in Native American society, a point that needs emphasizing because many people still think of Native American trade as being between two groups or tribes without a middle man. At the beginning of the Spaniards’ relationship with the natives, they were treated well, but slowly became slaves. (143) However, the native cultures that the Spaniards interacted with were not slaving societies. They didn’t systematically take slaves as the Europeans did but rather “tolerated like stray dogs and permitted to stay as long as they made themselves useful.” (146) Once Cabeza de Vaca left the band on Malhado, he joined the Charrucos, a band at war with several other groups around them. This left them unable to trade with hostile groups, which allowed Cabeza de Vaca to become an independent merchant, a middle man for them. He writes “‘And this occupation served me well because practicing it, I had the freedom to go wherever I wanted, and I was not constrained in any way nor enslaved,” showing how a former slave could become a merchant in the New World and a valued one at that. He was what allowed warring tribes to trade with each other, shifting what people usually think of when they think of native economies. Another way the castaways obtained goods was through practicing their healing, which they thought came from God. They became very famous through the land and natives would beg for their help. They claimed to have never failed at healing someone, and in exchange, the natives would give them bountiful gifts, thus further cementing the respect and power individuals could have inside of a community they didn’t belong to.