Speakout is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. Speakout articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
As President Barack Obama makes history as the first sitting US president to visit Cuba since 1928, we find ourselves reflecting upon our historic relationship with Latin America. We were all taught in school that the United States is a "great" and "kind" nation that promotes "freedom" and "democracy" around the world. And many still drink the Kool-Aid of how the US can do no wrong. History, however, paints a rather different picture.
Family members of Berta Cáceres, General Coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), and the leadership of the organization, accompanied by national and international human rights defenders, held a press conference Wednesday, March 9 in Tegucigalpa expressing their growing concerns over the Honduran government-led investigation of Cáceres' assassination.
I watch as the Republicans battle to destroy Planned Parenthood, as state legislatures pass law after law blocking safe abortions, and I am outraged; I am aggrieved. But I did not viscerally comprehend the cruel effects of these political actions, the lived reality women must go through, until, as is too often the case, I witnessed it personally. Recently, a close friend of mine had an abortion.
Last year, I was invited to give a talk on peace in Carbondale, Illinois. I was surprised to discover that in recent years, activists from across Carbondale had come together with a broad vision of what their community could one day become -- a nonviolent city. They wanted a new holistic approach to their work, with a positive vision for the future, so that over time their community would be transformed into a culture of nonviolence.
What the late British historian Eric Hobsbawm called "the short 20th century" is said to have begun with the Great War of 1914 and ended in 1989-91 with the collapse of the Soviet bloc. This remarkably bloody short century is seen as marked by Nazism, Stalinism, World War II and the Holocaust, and then the Cold War. As Theodor Adorno famously put it after 1945, humanity had experienced "progress," albeit from the slingshot to the megaton bomb.
After two decades of progressive governments spreading in the region with unprecedented economic, political and social gains -- especially in what is recognized as a human rights year by the UN and several international organizations -- Latin America faces the advance of aggressive neoliberal sectors secretly supported and financed by Washington. Journalist, writer and filmmaker John Pilger granted the following interview.
The Board for the California Faculty Association, the union representing some 23,000 professors, lecturers and other educators across the California State University system, passed a resolution on February 5 to authorize a strike across all 23 CSU campuses on April 13-15 and April 18-19. To prepare to shut down school those five days this spring, the CFA held a "Strike School" session on the California State University San Marcos campus in early February.
Panama is nearing a shift that could change the country forever. President Juan Carlos Varela attended a national summit in the Bocas del Toro region of Panama on Tuesday, March 15, to address the severity of this issue. There is a growing chasm between the native population of Panama, its other citizens and the interests of the country moving forward in the modern world. "We are trying to work with the Indigenous people," President Varela said. "They are a part of our history."
On Feb. 26, 17-year-old Palestinian-American Mahmoud Shaalan was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers at a security checkpoint near the Beit El settlement in the West Bank. The Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint shot Mahmoud several times, and later reported that he had tried to stab them. The week after the incident, the Palestinian Ministry of Health released a statement saying that the teenager's body was "riddled with bullets." Witnesses said that the soldiers continued to shoot Mahmoud as he lay on the ground.
My heart broke last Thursday to read the Baghdad School of Music and Ballet -- the only remaining music and dance school in Iraq -- is in danger of closing due to a lack of funding. The rising tide of conservatism, the ramifications of war and equipment budget cuts posed increasing challenges to its existence through the years, and now dozens of fluttering arms and oud-wielding hands hang in the balance at this merit-based gem of an institution.