At a forum at the Rubin Art Museum earlier this week, a group of global leaders, including two top US officials, talked about how reproductive health issues for women were wrongly cast as only a women’s issue.
Adm. Mike Mullin said air and sea attacks by allied forces had achieved their goal; Muammar Gaddafi said Libyans were armed for a "long" war.
BACKGROUND ON THE AMERICAS
After an era of bloody revolutionary movements countered by bloodier paramilitary responses in the 1980s and 1990s, Latin America has stabilized in the past 20 years leveling out with mostly democratic states and generally improved human rights conditions. But these revolutionary movements -- the Contras in Nicaragua for example, the Shining Path in Peru or Argentina’s dirty war -- have had lingering effects. In Peru many innocent victims are imprisoned for “subversive activities” nearly indefinitely; an institutional manifestation of the panic caused by the Shining Path. In Argentina though, a country-wide quest for justice has led to the arrest of nearly 400 who await trial for the killings and tortures during the last military dictatorship which ended in 1983.
More recently the 13 billion drug trade in Latin America has brought a different set of armed groups that are slowly eroding control from state, this time, it is drug cartels battling the police and military; resulting in torture, murders, and economic instability for the civilians caught in between. In Mexico tensions between drug cartels and police has reached the level of a public security crisis. An estimated 35,000 people have died in the past 4 years. Parts of the country, particularly in the northern regions, are controlled and run by the cartels prompting President Calderone to deploy the military to combat the gruesome and showy violence, mass graves and beheadings. This escalation comes at a cost. There are many, thousands of accounts of human rights abuses by security forces themselves, who often operate with impunity.
Similarly vast sections of Colombia’s interior are in FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) control, resulting in 3 million internally displaced people who are especially vulnerable to violence and abuse from both FARC and the army. Colombia also leads the world in killings of trade unionists-- more than 2,800 reported killings since 1986, according to the National Labor School (ENS), Colombia's leading NGO monitoring labor rights.
If the past 30 years was marked by a direct US political and military weight in Latin America, the current context shows a quieter US influence with America serving as the end market and revenue source for much of the drugs produced and trafficked by gangs and cartels in Latin America.