The Pope’s Encounter with Indigenous Mexico

Orsetta Bellani, Americas Program (Photo: O.B.)

Pope Francisco’s visit to San Cristobal de Las Casas in the southern state of Chiapas was perhaps his most symbolic visit on his six-day tour of Mexico last week. Here the Bishop of Rome held mass with indigenous peoples, in a city internationally known for the uprising of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in 1994, which inaugurated an era of indigenous self-government in parts of the state. Continue reading…

A Landmark Trial Seeks Justice for Victims of Sexual Violence From Guatemala’s Civil War

Orsetta Bellani, Vice News (Photo: O.B.)

The eleven elderly indigenous women of Maya Q’eqchi’ origin sat silently with their shawls covering their heads as their stories of sexual torture at the hands of the military from the height of the country’s civil war were retold in a Guatemala City courtroom. At times tears welled up in the eyes of the younger woman who was translating the Spanish proceedings into their language. Continue reading…

Pablo Escobar’s Legacy, 22 Years After His Death

Orsetta Bellani, Americas Program (Photo: O.B.)

Don Federico sweeps the edge of Pablo Escobar’s black marble tomb. He tells me that, a long time ago, he was selling ice cream at Medellin’s Monte Sacro cemetery, when Alba Marina Escobar, Pablo’s sister, approached him. She offered him the job of taking care of the former head of the Medellin Cartel’s grave, and she promised him a good salary. He enthusiastically accepted. Continue reading…

Interview with Carlos Beristain, independent expert who investigates Mexico’s Ayotzinapa Case

Orsetta Bellani, Americas Program

The reconstruction of events from the Attorney General’s office regarding the Ayotizinapa case has completely come undone. The results of the six month long effort by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), named by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (ICHR), confirmed the doubts that had already been raised by independent forensic investigators and media reports: that it is scientifically impossible that the 43 students from Ayotzinapa that disappeared in Iguala on the 26th of September, 2014 could have been incinerated in the waste dump of Cocula. Continue reading…

From Chiapas to Rojava: more than just coincidences

Petar Stanchev, Kurdish Question

The largely unknown until recently Kurdish city of Kobane managed to attract the attention of the world with its fierce resistance[i] against the invasion of the Islamic State and became an international symbol, compared to the defence of Madrid and Stalingrad. The bravery and heroism of the People’s Defence Units and the Women’s Defence Units (YPG and YPJ) were praised by a large spectrum of groups and individuals – anarchists, leftist, liberals and even right-wingers expressed sympathy and admiration for the men and women of Kobane in their historical battle against what was often seen as IS “fascism”. Continue reading…

The Diplomatic Breakthrough in Havana

Orsetta Bellani, Americas Program (Photo: O.B.)

Seated on a bench in Old Havana, Nilda Ayala reads the Granma newspaper with her index finger pointing to the page. “Did you see the big news?”, the elderly lady asks me while peering over the pages of the official Communist Party of Cuba’s (PCC) publication. On the front page reads the announcement by Raúl Castro and Barack Obama regarding the reestablishment, as of yesterday, of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States since being frozen for 54 years. Continue reading…

Zapatista Intellectuals and Base Communities Discuss “Critical Thought and Capitalism”

Orsetta Bellani, Americas Program (Foto: O.B.)

Selena is 17 and her face is covered by a ski mask. She comes from the same community where Galeano, teacher and sergeant in the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) was born. Galeano was killed on May 2, 2014 by members of the government-allied organization Independent Central of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos-Historical (CIOAC-H). A few days after the death of the Zapatista, Selena was approached and threatened by the murderers of her fellow community member, but she was not afraid.

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