Week 12 – Speaking Truth to Power

When reading about the perils of Latin America, I sometimes sit back and think to myself, “how do we end this?” There are so many layers of trauma, corruption, and power imbalance that it seems an impossible struggle to fix. The interventions from more powerful countries (the United States, predominantly) seems to be only in the interest of those more powerful countries, although sometimes that backfires, as in the case of the US militarizing anti-drug efforts. Often, because of a weak state, poverty, intimidation, or the promise of wealth, anti-drug actors end up joining the drug trade, and so both sides are now heavily militarized to devastating ends. And because of a weak economy, drug money brings power and stability. So cartels and kingpins are the most powerful and have the most devastating weapons. Those who lose the most in this situation are the poor, without a strong state to protect them, and always fighting against the lure of drug money to feed their families. Cartels will resist any efforts to strengthen the state, and anyone who attempts to contain their corruption often walks straight into death. With these stats, the future seems bleak.

So how do you fight something so powerful? The cartels rule by intimidation, and even the media almost uniformly refuses to publish anything about the drug war. Perhaps personal testimonies broadcast through social media would bring attention, similar to the Madres de la Plaza do Mayo, in Argentina in the 1970s. In 1976, the junta ended all political opposition and began abducting youth. The mothers of these youths gathered peacefully in the Plaza, eventually drawing enough media attention that the events that would lead to a return to civilian rule were set in place. Without the wide circulation of these testimonials, the Argentinian juntas would not have been pressured to release control. But this is risky. Especially when dealing with heavily armed cartels. Even a peaceful act of protest could end in death.

From here in Canada, we can help in the unraveling of this corruption by being mindful of where we put our money, what are we funding? And we can have discussions, in person and online, drawing attention to these injustices so that hopefully awareness will spread, putting pressure on those responsible.

2 Comments

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2 Responses to Week 12 – Speaking Truth to Power

  1. craig campbell

    I think Canada needs to put greater restrictions on companies who work abroad, for example the mines of South America. They should be required to do more in public assistance down there, helping create/ improve infrastructures…but it should be done through a levy paid for in Canada and distributed by Canada…but then again, I suppose that would be insulting to the receiving governments. It is food for thought for sure!
    Cheers,
    Craig

  2. kito gordon romero

    Hmm, really interesting question, which I don’t think has an easy answer. As Craig mentions above, restricting are corporations is a great start to ending the cycles of abuse in the region. At the moment, a group of Mayan Women have brought a Vancouver based mining company to court in Canada! this has the potential to set a precedent for future prosecutions. Furthermore, if they are indeed prosecuted in Canadian courts, it sends the message to other companies that abuses will not be tolerated, which could have a huge impact on future actions.

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