February’s freezing fury has left a path of crumpled crops, pummeled harvests and dashed dreams in the countryside of northern Mexico. Hardest hit was the northwestern state of Sinaloa, known as the”Bread Basket of Mexico,” where about 750,000 acres of corn crops were reported destroyed after unusually cold temperatures blanketed the north of the country in January and early February.
International cartels use their control over the global food supply to make huge profits. There are six major corporations that control the purchase and sale of agricultural products: Cargill, Kraft, Bunge & Born, ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), Nestlé and General Mills. Food prices are set at exchanges in Chicago, New York and London.
In the late 20th Century, a large commercial chile industry boomed in the southern part of the state near the Mexican border, drawing in thousands of immigrant farmworkers who earned a seasonal if precarious living from hand-picking the spicy pods that delighted connoisuers everywhere. Nowadays, the fortunes of New Mexico’s cherished chile crop are on the downside. Just ask Jose Rocha. A veteran farmworker with nearly four decades of experience in the fields of New Mexico and the US, Rocha says he once worked “first class fields” in a wide swath of the borderland chile-growing belt.
Global trade and investment patterns, coupled with mechanization, are at the root of the troubles of Jose Rocha and his fellow workers.
When George W. Bush left the White House, the rest of the world breathed a sigh of relief. The National Security Doctrine of unilateral attacks, the invasion of Iraq under the false pretext of weapons of mass destruction, and the abandonment of multilateral forums had opened up a new phase of U.S. aggression. Despite the focus on the Middle East, the increased threat of U.S. military intervention cast a long shadow over many parts of the world.
Two years later, that sense of relief has given way to deep concern. After hopes of a something closer to FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy of (relative) non-intervention, we find ourselves facing a new wave of militarization in Latin America–supported and promoted by the Obama administration.
Marisela Escobedo’s life changed forever in August 2008 when her 16-year-old daughter Rubi failed to come home. What was left of Rubi’s body was found months later in a dump — 39 pieces of charred bone.
Rubi became one more macabre statistic in Ciudad Juarez’s nearly two-decade history of femicide. The murder of young women, often raped and tortured, brought international infamy to the city long before it became the epicenter of the Calderon drug war and took on the added title of murder capital of the world.
I was recently in my bed in rural Colombia when an explosion rocked my house. I decided to get out of bed.
Heavy combat immediately ensued on the hill immediately adjacent to the village I live in, including shots from rifles, AK-47s, M-60s and occasional grenades. The combat on the “Hill of the Cross” between guerrilla and military forces continued for the next twenty minutes as I and my teammate scurried around making contact with community leaders, our team in Bogotá and Colombian military officials. While most of the gunfire and combat came from the far side of the hill, enough shots were fired from the side facing our house to induce wincing.