No Picture
Americas

Mexico: Witnesses at Risk (5/98)

It’s hot already, as the early morning sun beats down on the crooked tin roof of the new church in Acteal. Just behind the makeshift bench where I’m sitting in the open air is a mass grave. It holds the bodies of 45 victims of a massacre that claimed the lives of mostly women and children here last December.

On either side of me are two young women, survivors of that massacre who lost most of their families. In front sits Maria Santiz Lopez, a leader of the Abeja, a religious group committed to nonviolence. Maria is talking about her traditional dress, and her fears that when it’s worn out, there won’t be another to take its place – that she’ll lose her identity in hand-me-down, non-traditional dresses from well-wishers who don’t understand what her clothes mean to her. read more

No Picture
Americas

Standoff in Chiapas (3/98)

Esperanza Aguilar Jimenez is a skinny seven-year-old, all legs and arms in a well-worn, carefully patched, poofy-skirt dress. She sits next to me on a dusty rock at the side of the road leading into Morelia, her village in the southernmost Mexican state of Chiapas. It’s mid-morning, and Esperanza ought to be in school. But all her teachers are gone. Fearing the imminent advance of the Mexican military, they packed themselves tightly into a little pickup and drove as quickly as they could down the deeply rutted road out of town. I know this because I watched them go. read more

No Picture
Americas

The New Roughriders (2/98)

Last summer a battalion of US reporters laid siege to the tiny island nation of St. Vincent, seeking to rescue an imprisoned American couple from the clutches of what they perceived to be a "Banana Republic" with no respect for due process or the American way. Many of the reporters — still in their 20s — were armed with the bulletproof zeal of their own moral certitude. They may not remember Teddy Roosevelt, but in their xenophobic euphoria they found a San Juan Hill to assault, one rich with the grapeshot of sound bites and innuendo. read more

No Picture
Americas

Latin American Arms Race (2/98)

Twenty-one years ago, responding to concerns about human rights abuses in Latin America, President Carter banned the sale of attack jets and other high-tech items to governments in the region. Other suppliers eventually followed the US lead; as a result, Latin America currently has one of the world’s lowest levels of military technology. But last year, at the insistence of military contractors, the Pentagon, and members of congress who received aerospace PAC funds, the Clinton Administration abandoned this relatively successful moratorium and made plans to sell $1 billion in jet fighters to Chile. read more

No Picture
Americas

Rethinking Bilingualism (2/98)

Rarely do we actually witness how one individual can change the world, even if it’s only the biggest barrio in the US, "La Raza." Jaime Escalante is that genuine American hero. He achieved his fame, depicted in the movie Stand and Deliver, by transforming a gang-ridden school and community into one that began to produce the nation’s top mathematicians and scientists. He did it at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles in the 1980s through the language of math and simple words such as "you’re the best." More importantly, he taught us that there’s no such thing as an insurmountable obstacle. Today, however, some people from that same community are calling him a vendido, or sellout, because he has endorsed California’s anti-bilingual initiative, slated for 1998. We disagree with his stance, but he’s far from being a sellout. read more