October 2011

The Juarez Cartel is a Mexican drug cartel, based in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, sharing a boarder with El Paso, Texas.  Ciudad Juarez is considered Mexico’s most violent city, and almost all of its violence is attributed to the drug and cartel wars.  This cartel controls one of the primary routes drug traffickers use to distribute billions of dollars’ worth of illegal drugs to the United States. The Juarez cartel has one of the most ruthless armed wings, La Linea which corrupt officers that many times perform murders and executions.  The corruption and ruthlessness of this cartel, which severely affects Mexico, is portrayed in the following 2 articles.

The effect of corruption related to Mexican government officers only enables the cartels to continue to grow stronger.  Recently, 10 Mexican Federal Cops were indicted for extortion and kidnapping.  “Judge Carlos Miguel Garcia Treviño formally accused the officers Wednesday after finding sufficient evidence of their involvement in crimes that also included causing bodily injury, abuse of authority, illegal weapons possession and crimes against health.”  A businessman from Juarez, Mexico stated the policemen kidnapped him and demanded a $5,000 payment.  If the businessman didn’t pay, he said the police officers told him they would plant drugs on him, as well as beat him and steal his bank cards.  This level of corruption related to cartels, particularly the Juarez cartel makes it nearly impossible to stop their illegal activities.  In attempt to combat the corruption, “Some 5,000 federal forces have been sent to Ciudad Juarez, which has been battered in recent years by a turf war pitting the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels with backing from local street gangs.”  These federal officers were sent to replace notoriously corrupt local cops.

The Juarez cartel and its enforcement wing, La Linea have been noted as one of the most ruthless in Mexico.  Luckily, Mexican authorities recently arrested a high ranking leader of the Juarez cartel.  Atonio Acosta Hernadez, one of Mexico’s most wanted criminals, was arrested with collaboration from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Mexican federal police anti-drug unit.  During investigation, Acosta “said he ordered the killings of about 1,500 people, mostly in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua’s capital.”  Acosta was also accused of being connected with the massacre at a house party which killed 15 people and a car bombing outside a police station.  Although the arrest of Acosta is encouraging, the federal government realizes bringing down the cartels is an ongoing battle, much of which is uphill.

U.S. and Cuban Relations

            The current relations between Cuba and the United States of America still have lingering doubt about trusting the each other.  The U.S. is a democracy where people vote for their leaders and have many rights.  Cuba was run by a tyrant named Fidel Castro, who has ruled his country with an iron fist and destroyed all ties with the U.S. The two countries have been at odds for almost half a century dating back to when John F. Kennedy was President.  Cuba is pressing for improved relations with the U.S.  Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, is one who is trying for Cuba to work with the U.S. saying, “It will be the beginning of a dialogue aimed at solving bilateral problems like the smuggling of drugs and humans.”

            Several incidents in the past have led the relations between Cuba and The U.S. to be stressed with constant distrust.  Fidel Castro and the Communist party took control in 1959, after a Cuban revolution ending with the execution of 15,000 people.  Three months after John F. Kennedy was elected into office, the Bay of Pigs, an attempt to overthrow the Cuban Government with U.S. trained Cuban exiles, had failed. Another incident that hurt relations between the U.S. and Cuba was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.  Cuba was going to let the Soviet Union station nuclear missiles there.  Nuclear weapons close enough to destroy many U.S. cities if a nuclear war was to break out with the Soviet Union.  In the same year an agreement was made between the Soviet to dismantle their weapons from Cuba and ship them back.  Recently, Fidel Castro has ridiculed President Barack Obama’s ideas, and has made little attempt to improve relations.   In 2008, Fidel Castro resigned his duties as the Cuban President to his brother the vice president Raul Castro.  Fidel had grown sick from what some believed was a stomach disease that was not terminal.

Below is a picture of President Fidel Castro (left) with his brother vice President Raul Castro (right) in 2001.


U.S. Cuban relations are important for Latin America because much trading is done around the two.  Since the two countries are only now slowly normalizing their relations with each other, trading and other legal services are not up to speed.  Latin America can benefit, because if Cuba and the U.S. are satisfied with each other, then many more opportunities including tourism, trading, and alliances can be possible.  Countries will not have to pick any sides, or be judged by the two countries for their decisions.    There are still problems with the two countries, but with hard fighting officials to become civil and stay calm with each other, peace and prosperity can be one day achieved.

People generally don’t fully understand and appreciate what they have until it’s gone, and that is now becoming the case with forests in Latin America and the rest of the world. Before even getting into what deforestation is, what it’s doing to Latin America, and where it’s going, it’s important to go over what we get out of the forests (especially the Amazon Rain Forest) in Latin America and why it’s crucial to preserve and protect them. The forests of Latin America provide an extremely long list of products that are used in everyday life or are luxuries that people are drawn to. Some of these products include fruits / berries, nuts, gums, maple syrup, pulp (used in sponges especially), fibers, wood (for building materials or cooking), bark, dyes, tanning compounds / waxes, and so many other products that humans depend on. I personally have a major addiction to chewing gum and losing more and more of the gums found in forests would limit the supply of gum which would lead to price hikes for the limited supply which makes for one unhappy consumer, me. Ecosystem services provided are another crucial element of the forests. The biological diversity (especially in the Amazon Rain Forest) out there has so much potential to provide humans with new medicines and crop varieties that can only make us stronger and better. Forests help to maintain the local climates, have strong impacts on the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen, and forests protect the topsoil and some of the essential nutrients. That’s a pretty broad overview of some of the important things and features that come out of the Latin American forests, now it’s important to understand the deforestation that is threatening all of this.

Deforestation is basically the long-term or permanent loss of forest due to human destruction (generally done on purpose). Many things are going on that are leading to this deforestation but the one doing a large chunk of the damage is human greed. As humans, we always want more resources, more land, and more money and all three of these can be found in a Latin American forest. Agriculture is expanding as is industry, logging, mining, cattle pastures and many more all for economic development, which really doesn’t sound all that bad on paper (especially with how poor the economy is in so many places in the world today). The problem is that people aren’t looking far enough into the consequences of their actions, which are losses in the products and services that were addressed and play an important role in humans’ lives. Chemicals are being used in the Amazon Rain Forest (the most biodiverse tropical rainforest) for plantation, and what these different pesticides and methods of irrigation are doing is harming the land where animals live (killing the animals), hampering the water balance, destroying other plants / trees, and leading to human life loss. The whole situation is ironic because you hear so many people stating that these forests are vitally important and yet these forests are still being exploited to an excessive amount in order for many people to get rich. When a lot of these people are rich (or get rich) they push the poor off their land and these peasants are forced to relocate to treed forest areas in which they must remove trees for their farming (it’s their only way of attaining food and some money). Here are a few alarming statistics that may make the average Joe comprehend the damage being done in Latin America: less than 10% of the original tropical rain forest in Mexico is left; Brazil has lost 90-95% of its Mata Atlantica forest; and deforestation of the Amazon Rain Forest is now moving twice as fast as scientists previously believed just a few years ago. There was also a prediction I stumbled across saying that by the year 2050 (if things continue at the rate they are going) there will be major reductions in water resources, new and current diseases will spread all across the world, pest and crop disease will rise, and plant and animal species will decrease dramatically. None of those things sound pleasant for humans forty years from now so it’s urgent that people are aware of the deforestation occurring in Latin America and the rest of the world. It’s easy to say “that’s awful what’s going” and then move on and keeping doing what your doing while the world loses vital resources. If Latin Americans can push their different countries governments into stricter policies / rules about deforestation then it may indeed be the key starting point needed to slow down and prevent the increasing deforestation that is slowing but surely destroying out world. It’s effort that will need to be made by many and not just a handful of avid supporters.


« Previous Page