VOLUME VIII SPRING 2019
AMÃ‰R ICAS THE JOHNS HOPKINS JOURNAL OF LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES
AmĂŠricas The Johns Hopkins Journal of Latin American Studies Volume VIII 2019
Published By The Johns Hopkins University Program in Latin American Studies Baltimore, Maryland
AmĂŠricas: The Johns Hopkins Journal of Latin American Studies, was established in 2005 by students and faculty at the Johns Hopkins University under the endorsement of the Program in Latin American Studies. Our mission is to provide a multi-disciplinary form for students and scholars to present and discuss articles pertaining to Latin America, its issues and its diaspora.
Our website is available at http://americasjhu.org
AmĂŠricas: The Johns Hopkins Journal of Latin American Studies Published by The Johns Hopkins University Program in Latin American Studies 3400 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD 21218 United States of America
TABLE OF CONTENTS 1
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND JOURNAL STAFF
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR IN CHIEF
“THE BULLET WITH A SOUL”: AN ANALYSIS OF THE 1989 U.S. INVASION OF PANAMA Daniel Sullivan
THE ORIGINS AND EVOLUTION OF GUATEMALAN LEADERSHIP IN HUMANITARIAN CRISES Sabrina Rainsbury
MARGINALIZATION IN GUATEMALA’S MAQUILA INDUSTRY Alexandra Ciullo
EXAMINING GROWING TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES IN BRAZIL THROUGH THE RISE OF THE SOYBEAN Elizabeth Tian
CUANDO ERES NI DE AQUÍ NI ALLÁ: EXPLORING DIASPORIC AFRO-LATINIDAD THROUGH HIP-HOP Isabella Lajara
Acknowledgement We would like to thank our talented group of editors for investing their time and attention into each piece. Without them, this publication would not have been possible. A million thanks to Nicole Muehleisen, who was in charge of the journal’s layout and beautiful cover. We would also like to thank our contributing authors, who worked closely with the Américas staff over a period of several weeks to ensure their work was of the highest caliber. Finally, thank you to the Johns Hopkins Program in Latin American Studies for its financial and programmatic support during the publication process.
Journal Staff Editor in Chief
Osmel Alvarez Austin Cardona Gabriela Hubner Juan Gomez
Tolima, Anthropomorphic Pendant 5th-10th Century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Letter from the Editor in Chief Dear Readers, This year, I am proud to present you the eighth volume of Américas: The Johns Hopkins Journal of Latin American Studies. Our mission has always been to provide a multi-disciplinary forum for articles pertaining to Latin America, its issues, and its diaspora. Together with my editorial team, we have chosen a unique set of pieces on a diverse range of topics. From the 1989 U.S. Invasion of Panama to the exploration of Afro-Latinidad in hip-hop, our pieces examine important issues facing Latin America. The five pieces we have selected explore the formation of identity—national, political, economic, and cultural. We begin with a piece by Daniel Sullivan on the 1989 U.S. Invasion of Panama. Sullivan explores Panamanian national identity and the cognitive dissonance in the Panamanian response to the U.S. invasion. From foreign intervention in Panama, we move to foreign intervention in Guatemala. Sabrina Rainsbury explores humanitarian interventions in Guatemala through the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, arguing that Guatemala’s engagement with the doctrine has positioned it to become an international leader of humanitarianism. Alexandra Ciullo provides an opposing viewpoint on Guatemala in her piece on the country’s maquila industry and the many human rights violations it has perpetuated. From the maquila industry, we shift to the soybean industry in Elizabeth Tian’s piece on agricultural technology in Brazil. Like Ciullo, Tian explores pressing economic issues in the Latin American export economy. Through a case-study of the soybean, she argues that Brazil is poised to become a major agricultural superpower but has important issues it must first address. In our last piece, we move to a new industry altogether. In “Cuando eres ni de aquí ni allá: Exploring Diasporic Afro-Latinidad through Hip-Hop,” Isabella Lajara explores the creation of Afro-Latinx identity in the music of Nitty Scott, Princess Nokia, Maluca, and Ibeyi. This edition of Américas is about tension and ambiguity—in history, international relations, technology, and cultural identity. Our authors discuss and debate the disjunctive Panamanian response to the 1989 U.S. invasion; the complexities of Guatemala as a nation rebuilding after decades of war; the innovative potentials and environmental consequences of the Brazilian agricultural economy; and the unique struggles of living in the Afro-Latinx diaspora. These issues 2
are critical to Latin America, and yet often under-addressed. We are proud to present them here, in such interesting and timely pieces. This journal would not have been possible without the generous time and dedication of our editors. I am so grateful to have worked with and alongside each of them. Many thanks also to our contributors, who worked diligently with us throughout the editorial process. This year, we publish work by dedicated young scholars from Columbia University, the Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania. We hope you enjoy reading their work as much as we did.
Best, Kiana Boroumand Editor in Chief May 2019
“The Bullet with a Soul”: An Analysis of the 1989 U.S. Invasion of Panama By Daniel Sullivan ABSTRACT: This paper analyzes the domestic Panamanian response to the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama. On December 20, 1989, the U.S. army invaded Panama to oust the head of the Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) and dictator of the country, General Manuel Antonio Noriega. Through his grip on the PDF, Noriega was able to assume political and military control of Panama in order to rule the country with a strong hand that punished political dissidents. There is wide scholarly consensus that the Panamanian people responded positively to the U.S. invasion, despite an overall collapse of the Panamanian state apparatus that ensued in the absence of Noriega. This paper examines the dissonance between the overall support for the invasion itself and the widespread condemnation of the failed reconstruction effort following it. The paper attributes this discord to two main factors: (1) the apparent conclusion among Panamanians that the positivelyreceived overthrow of Manuel Noriega outweighed any resultant negative collateral impacts of the invasion; and (2) the conceptual separation by Panamanians of the invasion from the reconstruction effort that followed, as evidenced by the uptick in Panamanian nationalism seem in the weeks after December 1989.
“The bullet that will wound me / will be a bullet with a soul.” – Manuel Noriega
Introduction The transfer happened in the parking lot of a Dairy Queen in Panama City on Christmas Eve. Donning Bermuda shorts and a baseball cap to camouflage his appearance, General Manuel Antonio Noriega, the formerly proud and defiant comandante of the Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) and caudillo of the country, now appeared fatigued and shattered as he got into a car with Father Xavier Villanueva.1 Four days earlier, on December 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush had ordered the U.S. army into Panama, among other reasons, to oust the unpopular Noriega from power.1 The invasion, through an overwhelming and disproportionate use of force, successfully
See George Bush, “Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the
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led to both his capture and later trial in the United States, and enjoyed widespread support among the Panamanian public. On the other hand, the collapse of the Panamanian state apparatus in the following months left a power vacuum that led to widespread looting, unemployment, and destruction.2 This paper will examine the cognitive dissonance between the high levels of domestic support within Panama for the invasion and the subsequent reconstruction effort. It attributes the discord to two main factors: (1) the apparent conclusion among Panamanians that the overthrow of Manuel Noriega outweighed any resultant negative collateral impacts of the invasion, and (2) the conceptual separation by Panamanians of the invasion itself from the largely failed reconstruction effort that followed. The paper is presented in three main sections. The first discusses the circumstances of both the invasion and the ensuing reconstruction effort—focusing specifically on how each was received by the Panamanian public—in order to frame the cognitive dissonance present in the reception. The second section argues that Noriega’s removal from power ultimately overshadowed in importance any collateral damage from the invasion. The third analyzes the conceptual separation of the invasion from the reconstruction effort among many Panamanians, and focuses specifically on the noted uptick in Panamanian nationalism present in the weeks following the invasion. In addition to analyzing U.S. press coverage of the events of 1989, this paper relies heavily on the reporting of La Estrella de Panamá (hereafter La Estrella), one of the two major newspapers in Panama, in order to examine the domestic response to the invasion. At the time of the invasion, the paper was owned by Alejandro Duque, a member of the Partido Revolucionario Democrático
Senate on United States Military Action in Panama,” December 21, 1989. 2 See Russell Crandall, Gunboat Democracy: U.S. Interventions in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Panama (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2006), 209.
(PRD; Democratic Revolutionary Party). The party of famed military dictator Omar Torrijos (r. 1968-1981), the PRD initially was supported by both the lower classes—which benefitted from Torrijos’s populist reforms—and the wealthy, who benefitted from his kickbacks. Upon his rise to power, Noriega coopted the party apparatus. For example, the PRD’s candidate in the fraudulent 1984 presidential election, Nicolás Ardito Barletta, won the election only to be ousted by Noriega in 1985 for opening an investigation against him for his accused complicity in the death of political opponent Hugo Spadafora. Thus, while La Estrella—by way of its PRD-leaning proprietor—had an anti-Noriega tilt, the paper still provides invaluable, contemporary reporting that helps understand how the invasion and the reconstruction effort were received by the Panamanian public.3 Much of the scholarship surrounding the U.S. invasion to Panama focuses on either its legality or its efficacy in achieving its stated objectives as outlined by President Bush. 4 Scholar Charles Maechling, for instance, concludes that the invasion was illegal under both national and international law. Others, like Russell Crandall, have analyzed the invasion of Panama in the context of U.S. involvement throughout Central America and the Caribbean in the mid- to latetwentieth century. Scholars like Karin von Hippel have analyzed the “success” of the invasion and reconstruction effort against the reasons given for the invasion by President Bush in his address to Congress on December 21, 1989. Others like Kevin Buckley, Frederick Kempe, and Luis Murillo
La Estrella de Panamá reported from and largely focused on local news in Panama City. Given the small size of the country, as well as its poor system of infrastructure in 1989, Panama City was the therefore the economic, political, and cultural epicenter of Panama. Due to the City’s importance in the Panamanian historical narrative, this paper, although making some reference to other parts of the country, focuses largely on Panama City. Information on the political party system of Panama comes from John Weeks and Phil Gunson, Panama: Made in the USA (London: Latin American Bureau, 1991), x–xii. Information on the Duque family comes from Ermitas Pérez, a political specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Panama, in an email message to author, November 21, 2017. 4 See Crandall, Gunboat Democracy; Karin Von Hippel, Democracy by Force (Cambridge: Cambridge [Eng.]: University Press, 2000); Charles Maechling, “Washington’s Illegal Invasion,” Foreign Policy, no. 79 (1990): 113–31, https://doi.org/10.2307/1148680; Buckley, Panama; Weeks and Gunson, Panama: Made in the USA.
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present political histories of the U.S. invasion, prioritizing the geopolitical narrative rather than the social narrative unfolding in Panama.5 None, though, has done an in-depth analysis of the discord present within the Panamanian response to the invasion. It is this void that this paper intends to fill.
Section I: The Collapse of the Noriega Government In the early morning hours of December 20, 1989, U.S. troops—outnumbering the Panamanian Defense Force at a ratio of nearly three to one—landed in Panama and easily routed the bulk of the defending force in less than twenty-four hours.6 In his address to Congress, President Bush enumerated four reasons for the invasion: the protection of American citizens in Panama, the “continued safe operation of the Panama Canal,” the preservation of the “integrity of the [1977 Carter-Torrijos] Canal Treaties, and lastly, the apprehension of Manuel Noriega. 7 As early as October 1989, President Bush had begun framing any future military intervention as primarily defensive. In a meeting between President Bush and Mexican President Carlos Salinas in the same month, the U.S. president indicated that a US-led invasion of Panama was not only within his right but also within his legal “duty to protect the lives of Americans” living in the country.8 Avoiding Salinas’s critique that an intervention would be imperialistic, Bush instead framed the situation in Panama as one in which American lives were at risk. In doing so, Bush casted an invasion as a defensive necessity rather than a hegemonic overreach. Indeed, the “smoking gun” of the intervention was the assassination of Marine Lt. Roberto Paz by PDF officers
Buckley, Panama; Luis E. Murillo, The Noriega Mess: The Drugs, The Canal, and Why American Invaded (Berkeley: Video Books, 1995); Frederick Kempe, Divorcing the Dictator: America’s Bungled Affair with Noriega (New York, N.Y.: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1990). 6 Crandall, Gunboat Democracy, 203. 7 Bush, Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives,” December 21, 1989. 8 White House. “Meeting with Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari,” DNSA Collection: Mexico-United States Counternarcotics Policy, October 3, 1989.
on December 16, 1989, after he ran a military checkpoint, and the detainment of a Navy lieutenant and his wife who were thought to have witnessed Paz’s murder.9 Such conspicuous timing for the invasion four days later, as well as a disproportionate U.S. response to the death of one solider by sending in ten thousand, strongly suggests that the invasion was premeditated and brought about by ulterior motives.10 Nonetheless, without an army and fearing an American jail cell, Noriega went into hiding on the night of the 20th and four days later requested asylum at the Papal Nunciature in Panama City, where he would be untouchable by any police or military force. The Papal Nuncio, Monsignor José Sebastián Laboa, ultimately permitted him refuge, dispatching Fr. Villanueva to covertly retrieve the General from the Dairy Queen parking lot on Christmas Eve.11 When news of the sanctuary spread, Panamanians began to picket outside the Nunciature daily to demand Noriega’s surrender, while both the United States and the administration of the newly-installed president of Panama, Guillermo Endara, pleaded with the Vatican to release him from its custody.12 Laboa, the Papal Nuncio whom scholar Frederick Kempe describes as “one of the world’s more Machiavellian monsignors,” was also eager to rid himself of this political thorn.13 As such, he sought to convince Noriega to surrender to U.S. forces, an end he hoped would both “satisfy everyone’s needs” as well as “respect [Noriega’s] human rights.” Amidst Laboa’s persistent urging and his own fears of the protests outside, Noriega decided surrender was his best option. On January 3, 1990, he walked out of the Nunciature, donning his military uniform, and turned himself
Crandall, Gunboat Democracy, 200–201. Scholars speculate that one of these motives was an attempt to project strength in the so-called “War on Drugs,” which Bush himself hints at in his conversation with Gortari. See Weeks and Gunson, Panama: Made in the USA, 12– 15; “Meeting with Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.” 11 Kempe, Divorcing the Dictator, 399. 12 Kempe, 401. “Noriega continua en la Nunciatura,” La Estrella, December 27, 1989. All translations are the author’s unless otherwise specified. 13 Kempe, 403. 10
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in.14 Although U.S. forces had held most of Panama City by daybreak on December 20, “disorganized resistance” had continued throughout the capital. While Noriega was in the Nuncio, Luis Murillo writes that armed militiamen were “intimidating citizens, starting fires, commandeering cars, breaking windows, and…shooting from…strategic locations at the invading troops,” in what the Panamanian press referred to as “El Saqueo.”15 These roaming bands of “militiamen” were largely comprised of batalloneros, members of a plain-clothed paramilitary militia called Batallones de la Dignidad, which Noriega created in April 1988 in response to escalating tensions with Washington.16 Given their lack of uniform and roving nature, the batallones were able to survive the initial wave of the U.S. invasion, and were primarily responsible for the violence that succeeded the invasion.17 Some scholars have blamed the disaffected batalloneros for inciting the fire that razed El Chorrillo, a poor and densely-populated neighborhood directly adjacent to Noriega’s headquarters (La Comandancia). The conflagration killed more than 1,000 residents and left another 15,000 homeless.18 The most significant impact of the invasion was the widespread looting that pervaded Panama City and Colón in the absence of the defeated PDF.19 Both the batalloneros and, to a lesser extent, the citizens displaced from the invasion, pillaged department stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, and other easily accessible resources. The Panama City Chamber of Commerce estimated the price of the looting at one billion dollars.20 This collapse of public safety, according
Kempe, 401–17; Buckley, Panama, 251, 253. Murillo, The Noriega Mess, 789. 16 For background on the Dignity Batallions, see Murillo, 693. 17 Murillo, 793. 18 Buckley, Panama, 240, 264. Both the cause of the fire and its resulting death toll are still debated by scholars. Some, such as Luis Murillo, assign blame for the blaze to members of the Dignity Battalions, who 19 John T. Fishel, “The Murky World of Conflict Termination: Planning and Executing the 1989–90 Restoration of Panama,” Small Wars & Insurgencies 3, no. 1 (1992): 63, https://doi.org/10.1080/09592319208423011. 20 Buckley, Panama, 241. 15
to scholar John T. Fishel, ultimately left the impression “that there was no plan for the restoration of Panama and that everything was being done ad hoc.”21 The looting created severe food and medicine shortages. La Estrella reported thousands of people lining up outside food distribution centers, which were protected by U.S. troops to ward off attacks by roaming batalloneros still loyal to Noriega. As La Estrella reported, Panama City was “overwhelmed by the effects of the armed conflict and later razed by pillage in the absence of both authority and law.”22 The fearful week after the invasion was thus characterized by a pervasive struggle to procure basic necessities.
Figure 1: This political cartoon published in La Estrella plays with the distinction between "professional robber" and "opportunist," emphasizing the extent of the looting in the days following the invasion. (La Estrella, December 27, 1989)
Soon after the invasion, President Guillermo Endara established the Public Force (PF) to replace the collapsed PDF. However, due to the urgency brought about by the looting, the Panamanian government made what scholar Karin Von Hippel assails as a “controversial 21 22
Fishel, “The Murky World,” 63. “Se coordina ayuda humanitariana para normalizar el país,” La Estrella, December 27, 1989.
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decision.” The government decided to recruit former PDF members to the new Public Force through a retraining program conducted by U.S. troops, under the assumption that “it would take longer to train new officers than to retrain the old.”30 When Congress forbade the direct involvement of American troops in retraining efforts, the rehabilitation program was transferred to the International Criminal Investigative Training Program (ICITAP), a civilian agency under the auspices of the US Department of Justice. Although it was the largest civilian agency to assist in the reconstruction effort, the ICITAP was ultimately underprepared to rebuild a national police force from the ground up.23 After eight months of existence, the Public Force consisted of no non-PDF personnel, sparking fervent criticism that the new group was simply a reincarnation of the PDF in different uniforms.24 Indeed, many of these new PF officers acted as corruptly as they had under Noriega. A leader of a prominent anti-Noriega group called the Civic Crusade lamented that the government “[was] not creating anything, or filtering anything, [but was] reviving the old army.” For instance, the organization had four leaders in the span of only a year—each a former PDF member who was ousted on charges of corruption, incompetence, or inappropriate behavior.25 Exactly one year after the invasion, an opinion poll conducted by La Prensa reported that 75 percent of those asked believed the new Public Force could not guarantee public safety.26
Von Hippel, Democracy by Force, 40–41. Von Hippel, 41; Weeks and Gunson, Panama: Made in the USA, 100. 25 Weeks and Gunson, Panama: Made in the USA, 100–102. 26 Buckley, Panama, 258. 24
Figure 2: By showing a role-reversal between an officer of the Public Force and a burglar, this cartoon highlights the lack of faith and trust that Panamanians felt toward their new security force. (La Estrella, January 23, 1990).
It is therefore highly questionable that Panamanian society improved in the short-term without the omnipotent presence of Manuel Noriega. One year after the invasion, unemployment hovered between 20 and 30 percent, while 40 percent of the population remained below the poverty line. Moreover, the healthcare and educational systems both remained severely underfunded, as schools underwent periodic shut downs when the government could not afford to pay its teachers. The racial inequality gap also increased, as the rabiblancos—the mostly white upper class whose influence had stymied under Noriega— retained their command of the Panamanian economy, which largely excluded the poor, largely dark-skinned population. In the absence of an effective police force, violent crime tripled.27 Although Panamanians could extol the collapse of the Noriega regime and the hope it signified for societal betterment, the reality in the streets questioned such quixotic notions of progress.
The Bullet with a Soul
Thus, there exists a notable contradiction present within the domestic support for the invasion in Panama. On one hand, the invasion garnered an 92 percent approval rating in a CBSNew York Times poll conducted two weeks after the intervention, as the country heralded the downfall of Manuel Noriega.28 On the other hand, Panama City was in disarray during its aftermath, as evidenced by the looting, lack of basic necessities, collapse of the police force, and grinding economic halt that gripped the city.
Section II: Weighing Mechanisms As the previous section argues, there seems to be a cognitive dissonance between the positive reception of the invasion and that of the invasion’s aftermath. One explanation for this disconnect is that the removal of Manuel Noriega simply outweighed any negative impacts Panamanians experienced from the invasion. This can be qualified through both the anti-Noriega and pro-U.S. sentiments seen in tandem in the weeks following the invasion, as recorded in La Estrella de Panamá. Although protests against Noriega had begun well in advance of the U.S. invasion, they reached their apogee in the days after the invasion in December 1989. 29 With Noriega refuged in the Vatican, thousands of Panamanians picketed outside the Papal Nunciature to demand his release and surrender.30 Evident in these demonstrations was a strong sense of disdain—and even
Michael R. Kagay, “The Noriega Case: Public Opinion; Panamanians Strong Back U.S. Move,” The New York Times, January 6, 1990. 29 Antagonism against Noriega began in earnest in September 1985 with the murder of opposition journalist Hugo Spadafora on the Costa Rican border. La Prensa, the primary opposition newspaper, provided extensive coverage of the suspicious circumstances surrounding Spadafora’s death. The purported connection the paper established between Noriega and the murder led to a swarm of protests around the country that led to the establishment of the “Spadafora Commission” by President Nicolas Barletta. In response to the investigations, Noriega had Barletta forcibly removed from power, a move many scholars mark as the start of the caudillo’s downfall, and the beginning the pervasive opposition against him by the Panamaninan people and the U.S. government. For more, see Buckley, Panama, 13–54. 30 “Se entregó Manuel A. Noriega,” La Estrella, January 4, 1990. 28
of hatred—towards the caudillo, as protestors chanted slurs like “Death to Hitler” and “Justice for the Tyrant.” By the end of Noriega’s stay, they transitioned into a more foreboding threat: “we want him.”31 The New York Times reported a petition circulating among the protesters that assailed Noriega as “a criminal who ha[d] filled many human beings with sobbing, mourning and pain, who ha[d] robbed, killed and tortured.” The petition chastised any attempt to “let him go free in another country or to grant him refuge or diplomatic protection” as being against “the principles of justice and liberty for which Panamanian citizens have been fighting.”32 Toward the end of Noriega’s stay at the Nunciature, protestors outside had begun to wield skewered pineapples to personally insult the caudillo holed up inside. During his time at the Chorrillos Military Academy, Noriega had picked up the moniker “cara de piña” (pineapple face)—a reference to his pockmarked skin, which had been a constant source of embarrassment for him and became a symbol of the opposition movement against him.33 The skewered pineapples used in protests demonstrate that these crowds of protesters not only viewed Noriega with vitriolic disdain but even with insult, and demanded nothing short of due justice for the former comandante. Furthermore, many of the protesters questioned the continued political and legal legitimacy of Noriega after the invasion. Tomás Herrera, a lawyer and professor who was the lead orator of the protests outside the Nunciature, attacked Noriega’s political status as a military offer who deserved swift punishment: Noriega is not a political refugee, but rather a public military servant that must answer to the Courts of Justice for his horrendous crimes and widespread corruption he introduced in both the military forces [PDF] of the military regime and among thousands of civilians, all of which lead the country toward misery and immorality.34 Crandall, Gunboat Democracy, 207; “Se entregó Manuel A. Noriega,” La Estrella, January 4, 1990. Larry Rohter, “After Noriega: Panama City; Impasse Over Noriega Persists, But Order Returns to the Streets,” New York Times, December 27, 1989. 33 Kempe, Divorcing the Dictator, 414; Murillo, The Noriega Mess, 63, 650. 34 “Se entregó Manuel A. Noriega,” La Estrella, January 4, 1990. 31 32
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In this way, Herrera characterized the invading American force as the benevolent purveyor of justice against a tyrannical regime, rather than one which stood in violation of Panamanian sovereignty. Were Noriega indeed cast as a political refugee, it would have implied that he was thought to be the legitimate political leader of the country, and therefore in need of political asylum against the pressing duress of an invading foreign power. Yet, Herrera delegitimized Noriega’s claim to power by referring to him as a mere “public military servant” who abused his position as leader of the PDF and thus deserved no refuge. Another protestor in the crowd, Alberto Conte, largely agreed with Herrera’s characterization: Noriega was “not a persecuted politician but rather a common criminal,” and had to “turn himself in and be brought to justice.”35 This noted anti-Noriega sentiment continued to manifest itself throughout the celebrations of his surrender on the third of January. The next day, La Estrella observed Panamanians taking to the streets in celebration as drivers honked their horns and pedestrians waved white flags. Fireworks were set off throughout Panama City, as its gridlocked streets were replete with people celebrating until dawn. One of the main thoroughfares of the city, la Avenida Balboa, was temporarily dubbed la Avenida de la Libertdad in support of the victorious fight against Noriega. Testaments from those in the streets overwhelmingly cheered the downfall of Noriega. Karina Avogadro, a twenty-eight-year-old office worker in attendance, related to La Estrella de Panamá, “I danced and sang [that day] like I hadn’t done in a long time.” A fruit vendor on Via España assailed life under Noriega as a “seemingly endless nightmare,” and expressed gratitude that “he’s finally gone.” Another demonstrator—notably wielding a skewered pineapple—put it more bluntly: Panamanians “were tired” and “couldn’t breathe” under Noriega’s regime. The protestor welcomed the surrender of Noriega as an opportunity to start life in Panama over again. 36
Ibid. “Panamá celebró entrega del general Noriega,” La Estrella de Panamá, January 5, 1990.
Opinion polls substantiate this feeling of revelry. In the CBS-New York Times survey conducted two weeks after the invasion, 92 percent of those interviewed assailed Noriega’s “influence on Panama” during his six years in power as “mostly bad.” Along these lines, 95 percent believed he should not have been granted refuge at the Nunciature, 96 percent that he should be put on trial, and 91 percent that he should not be allowed to go into exile. Thus, it is no surprise that 92 percent of those polled “approved” of the U.S. intervention, while 64 percent “strongly approved.”37 One of the poll’s creators commented to La Estrella de Panamá that the invasion’s popularity reflected the overall “euphoria that Noriega ha[d] left” Panama.38 Closely coupled with this anti-Noriega sentiment was also a pervasive sense of gratitude toward the United States for its role in deposing the former general. In the days following the invasion, Luis Murillo relates, U.S. troops were “hailed like heroes” in the streets, Panamanians comforted the soldiers with food and drink, and some even lent their phones to the soldiers to call their families on Christmas.39 Larry Rohter of the New York Times reported Panamanians approaching American troop patrols to personally thank them and welcome them to the country. In Calidonia, a poor, lower class area once considered a bastion of support for the embattled Noriega, Rohter told of graffiti on the walls that indicated the extent to which Noriega had completely fallen from favor. The graffiti was clear: “Gringos amigos, Noriega malo.”40
All polling data from Michael R. Kagay, “The Noriega Case: Public Opinion; Panamanians Strongly Back U.S. Move,” The New York Times, January 6, 1990. The poll interviewed 794 Panamanian adults in 158 randomlyselected areas of the country, accounting for a cross-section of roughly 75 percent of Panama’s adult population. Sampling error was +/- 4 points. For details on methodology, see Kagay. 38 “Encuestas sobre la invasión a Panamá dan margen a favor,” La Estrella, January 7, 1990. 39 Murillo, The Noriega Mess, 790. 40 Larry Rohter, “After Noriega: Panama City; Impasse Over Noriega Persists, But Order Returns to the Streets,” New York Times, December 27, 1989. 37
The Bullet with a Soul
In the immediate aftermath of invasion, this positive relationship between the U.S. military and the Panamanian citizenry was a strategic asset for the United States, as every-day Panamanians were documented as physically aiding U.S. troops landing in Panama City. During an assault on a PDF garrison on December 20, a U.S. helicopter got stuck in the tidal flats surrounding the old zone of Panama City (Panama Viejo). Luis Murillo tells of “hundreds of men, women, and children, most of them poor,” gathering along the beach to cheer on the soldiers trying to free the helicopter from the mud, with some even wading into the water to personally offer assistance. Additionally, many turned on the batalloneros who were still loyal to Noriega by relaying their locations to U.S. forces in order to aid in their capture.41 Regardless of Noriega’s unpopularity, these welcoming gestures nonetheless represent a remarkable show of solidarity with a foreign invading power, and reinforce the vitriol felt toward Noriega. Such high levels of support for the U.S. invasion can also be seen in the demonstrations outside the Papal Nunciature. As Panamanians were protesting, U.S. troops maintained a military perimeter around the building with barbed wire fences, roaming helicopters overhead, and military personnel.42 The purpose of a military presence outside of the Nunciature was two-fold: to both ensure Noriega did not try to escape and to try to psychologically coax him to abandon his political sanctuary and surrender. For President Bush, the political success of the invasion was predicated upon the capture and surrender of Noriega. To avoid a public relations disaster, U.S. forces needed to leave Panama with Noriega in their custody.43 Diplomatically unable to order his troops into the Nunciature, Bush needed Noriega to turn himself in.
Murillo, The Noriega Mess, 790. “Noriega continúa aún en la Nunciature,” La Estrella, December 27, 1989. 43 Kempe, Divorcing the Dictator, 401. 42
Beginning on December 27, the troops maintaining the perimeter began a campaign of psychological intimidation to coerce Noriega to surrender. “Good morning, Panama!,” a radio announcer bellowed over the ensuing two days from loud speakers surrounding the Nunciature, in the style of Robin Williams’s character in Good Morning, Vietnam. Alongside the Panamanian protests already taking place outside, the 4th Psychological Operations Group of the U.S. Special Operations Command blasted songs such as “Voodoo Child”—a reference to Noriega’s purported predilection toward the practice of black magic—“You’re No Good,” and “I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)” at cacophonous levels over loudspeakers.44 They even played mock newscasts over the speakers that told of Panamanians overrunning the Nunciature and ripping Noriega apart limb-by-limb.45 The goal was to make Noriega fear for his life and to think that surrender was his only remaining option. This objective was ultimately achieved: the U.S. psychological campaign, coupled with the Panamanian protests outside the Nunciature and coaxing from Monsignor Laboa, eventually convinced Noriega to turn himself in.46 The Panamanian protestors continued to display a profound sense of gratitude toward the U.S. troops stationed outside the Nunciature. La Estrella published photographs of Panamanians lining up along Avendia Balboa to cheer the U.S. troop convoys headed toward the Nunciature, a welcoming gesture that not only implied disdain for Noriega but also support for both the United States and its role in helping oust el comandante. Once the American forces arrived at the Nunciature, their reception was similarly positive; the protestors outside gave the soldiers bouquets flowers in a display of gratitude.47
Buckley, Panama, 247. Kempe, Divorcing the Dictator, 406. 46 Kempe, 406, 412. 47 Crandall, Gunboat Democracy, 207. 45
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What is perhaps most important about these protests is their subtext. Not only did they highlight the pervasive malice felt toward the former caudillo, but they also reflect a tacit complacence with—if not approval of— the means through which Noriega was ousted. A key orator of the demonstrations was Dr. Winston Spadafora, the brother of slain opposition journalist Hugo Spadafora. Upon his brother’s death at the hands of the PDF in 1985, Winston took up the mantle of his late brother and was responsible for leading many of the protests against Noriega in the following years.48 In his view, he told La Estrella, the protests “represent[ed] the majority consent among Panamanians in the method through which the tyrant’s power was terminated.”49 Noriega’s overthrow was such an ostensibly worthy end that even an intervention by a foreign power was an acceptable means of achieving it. Ultimately, the weeks following the invasion saw such vitriolic anti-Noriega sentiment that many in Panama welcomed the U.S. invasion and endured numerous hardships in order secure freedom from Noriega. Indeed, many Panamanians did personally suffer as a result of the invasion: that same CBS-The New York Times poll reported that 23 percent of those asked had a relative or “good friend” either wounded or killed in the invasion while fifteen percent experienced property damage or vandalism. Yet, among those who experienced both property damage and the injury or the death of a relative or “good friend,” more than 80 percent still felt that the invasion was nonetheless “worth it.”50 Appropriately contextualized, the overwhelming approval ratings do not seem as peculiar, even when weighed against the plethora of woes that followed in the wake of the invasion.
Buckley, Panama, 27–43. “Se entregó Manuel A. Noriega,” La Estrella, January 4, 1990. 50 Kagay, “The Noriega Case” 49
Section III: Panamanian Nationalism and the Separation of Culpability In addition to prioritizing the removal of Noriega, many Panamanians reconciled the broad destabilizing effects of the US invasion by conceptually separating the invasion itself—and the removal of Noriega from power—from the widely-condemned reconstruction effort that followed. Such mental separation can be seen through editorials and opinion pieces published in La Estrella, which highlight two major broad trends in December 1989 and January 1990. First was an attempt to excuse American culpability for the reconstruction effort, and instead only credit the invasion with the capture of Noriega. Second was an uptick in Panamanian nationalism that manifested itself not in anti-Americanism, but rather in criticism of the post-invasion administration of Guillermo Endara. On December 27, 1989, the day on which La Estrella began printing again after the invasion, the periodical published an editorial that clearly sought to disentangle the invasion and resulting capture of Noriega from the reconstruction effort that followed. Entitled “The National Reconciliation and Reconstruction,” the piece emphasizes the many ills that plagued Panama one week after the invasion. Assailing the “acts of vandalism, sacking, and anarchy” over the preceding week as “unprecedented,” the authors posited that the nation was in “the most desperate economic, moral, and social situation in [its] history,” as almost all Panamanians had lost “their civil and moral conscience…in the middle of the disgrace that [they] have lived through” under Noriega.51 However, rather than attribute blame to the U.S. invasion, the editorial instead encouraged Panamanians to move past considerations of culpability and focus on both supporting the new Endara administration and rebuilding the nation. “Neither the government nor the Panamanian people should get distracted with the negative facts that caused what occurred,” the editorial
“La reconciliación y reconstrución nacional,” La Estrella, December 27, 1989.
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opined, but should instead “dedicate [themselves] in [their] entirety and without political bias to the normalization of the nation.” In trivializing questions of culpability as distractions, the authors of the editorial stifled discourse on such questions and, moreover, ignored the fact that the same invasion that brought about the positively-received removal of Noriega also submerged the country into what they assailed as “anarchy.” There was thus a clear attempt to dissociate the invasion from the hardships that followed in its wake. That both Manuel Noriega and U.S. invasion remained unmentioned in the piece further underscores the willful ignorance Panamanians employed to mentally separate the invasion itself from the reconstruction effort.52 Other opinion pieces from La Estrella went even further by denying the U.S. intervention as an “invasion” altogether. In her piece, “Qué entiendo por invasión,” Antonella Pompilla concluded that the intervention did not meet the necessary qualifications to be considered as an invasion. An invasion, she argued, “is an international armed aggression in which the territory of another country is entered with the goal of taking it over.” While her definition is perhaps myopic and certainly up for debate, the conclusion she draws is clear: If we base ourselves in these terms, I think that the term ‘invasion’ would not apply in our circumstances, because…no honest Panamanian can say that the North American forces have been occupying national territory with the goal of taking it over; on the contrary, [U.S. forces] have entered Panama because the immense majority of Panamanians had asked for them to in one way or another, and the proof of that is the joy and gratitude which we all experience when we see the U.S. troops who have liberated us from the military regime which has oppressed us since 1968 [the year Omar Torrijos rose to power].53 Her rejection of “invasion” as a label ultimately reads as an attempt to justify the intervention in the face of the negative realities that followed. By citing not only widespread Panamanian support for the invasion but also a lack of desire to occupy the country—no doubt an odd characterization
Ibid. Antonella Pompilla, “Qué entiendo por invasion,” La Estrella, December 31, 1989.
of the United States in Panama, given its occupation of both the Panama Canal and the surrounding Canal Zone—Pompilla was able to achieve the same end as the editorial board in “La reconciliación y reconstrucción nacional:” the mental separation of the invasion itself from any negative realities that followed—however causal they may have been.54 Meanwhile, some Panamanians not only refused that the U.S. intervention as an “invasion,” but also offered a replacement label: “liberation.” In an open letter penned by 500 Panamanians on January 3, 1990, the signatories intended to “make [their] voice heard so that the citizens of the world do NOT interpret the North American military intervention as an INVASION, but rather as an act of LIBERATION.” The letter implored the “citizens of the world” to not “condemn an act which, far from undermining our rights, has given us the opportunity to strengthen our national dignity…and to reestablish democracy in Panama.”55 The note is significant, as many of the international citizens to whom the letter is addressed did condemn the U.S. intervention on the very grounds that it undermined the Panamanian right to sovereignty and self-determination, as well as broke many international treaty obligations. The United Nations, for instance, censured the invasion with a 75 to 20 vote (with 40 abstentions), while the Organization of American States denounced it with a 20 to one vote.56 The international response to the invasion is ultimately beyond the scope of this paper, but what remains important is the insistence among many in Panama that the U.S. action was not really an “invasion” at all, but rather a “liberation”
U.S. control of both the Panama Canal and the surrounding Panama Canal Zone (5 km on either side of the Canal) was relinquished to Panama in the 1977 Carter-Torrijos Treaties, with the transfer date set to January 1, 2000. As such, questions over the ‘integrity’ of the so-called “Canal Treaties” tend to cloud debates on U.S. motives for the invasion. As noted, one of the reasons President Bush gave for the invasion was to “continue safe operation of the Panama Canal” and to maintain “the integrity of the Canal Treaties,” under the presumption that Noriega would shut down the Canal in a retaliatory and reactionary response to heightened tensions with the United States. Other scholars, though, have broached the converse, namely that U.S., in invading, wished to annul the Canal Treaties to keep it under indefinite American control. Both of these hypotheticals, however, remain highly unlikely. For more, see Crandall, Gunboat Democracy, 213. 55 “Carta Abierta a los pueblos del mundo sobre Panamá,” La Estrella, January 20, 1989. 56 Maechling, “Washington’s Illegal Invasion,” 125.
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from a “terrorist and totalitarian regime.”57 President Endara shared this view; in an interview aired on ABC News, he remarked that “a very, very high percentage of the Panamanian people” thought of the intervention as “more a liberation than an invasion,” which he asserted was “necessary for establishing freedom and democracy.”58 Notably, this designation of “liberation” was applied not only by naturalized Panamanians but also by other immigrant groups living in the country. In an open letter addressed to President Borja of Ecuador, a group of Ecuadorians living in Panama tried to convince the president to respect the “sovereign will” of the Panamanian people by recognizing the Endara administration. Claiming that they “[knew] the real truth about the events of December 20, 1989,” the Ecuadorians corroborated that Panamanians welcomed U.S. forces “as liberators and, in no way, invaders.”59 By labeling it as an act of liberation, this group was able to separate the invasion itself from its aftermath. In this way, the United States was lauded as a benefactor of justice and democracy, and excused of any culpability for the reconstruction effort. As a result of this mental separation, many Panamanians instead blamed the post-invasion government of Guillermo Endara for the bleak situation in the country. In the aforementioned editorials, there was an initial call among Panamanians to rally upon their new president to rebuild the nation after Noriega’s removal from power. Luis Murillo called January 1990 as “the month of great expectations” in Panama, which was reflected in Endara’s 90 percent approval rating.60 The CBS- New York Times poll corroborated this optimism: 90 percent of Panamanians polled “[predicted] their country’s situation over the next few years would improve as a result of the
“Carta Abierta,” La Estrella, January 20, 1989. Crandall, Gunboat Democracy, 209. 59 “Liberación y no invasión consideran panameños acción del ejército de E.U.,” La Estrella, January 5, 1990. 60 Murillo, The Noriega Mess, 834; Buckley, Panama, 258. 57 58
invasion.”61 Scholars John Weeks and Phil Gunson agree, arguing that the popularity of the invasion stemmed not only from anti-Noriega sentiment but also from a sense of optimism for a speedy recovery effort.62 Yet, the legitimacy—and approval ratings—of the administration soon began to decline as the nation failed to swiftly recover from its post-invasion morass. Weeks and Gunson note: Although Endara himself had won a convincing victory in the May 1989 election [which was later annulled by Noriega], Panamanians had voted as a protest against the Noriega regime, rather than to endorse Endara or his policies…Doubts over [his] government’s legitimacy also sprang from the manner of its investiture, sworn in on a US military base just hours before the invasion, and its reluctance to call fresh elections [after the invasion] to confirm its mandate to govern.63 At first, Panamanians appeared willing to overlook their qualms with Endara in hopes of an improved quality of life without Noriega. However, as Panama failed to recover as quickly as many had expected, the new government was held responsible.64 By the end of 1990, infighting and finger-pointing between Endara and his two vice presidents, Ricardo Arias Calderón and Guillermo Ford, began to grip the administration, and the administration’s approval ratings plummeted into the teens.65 The blaming of Endara for the failed reconstruction effort was largely commensurate with an uptick in Panamanian nationalism that can be seen throughout the editorials in La Estrella in the opening weeks of 1990. In the aforementioned “Open Letter to the People of the World About Panama,” for instance, the signatories thanked the United States for giving Panamanians the ability
Kagay, “The Noriega Case.” Weeks and Gunson, Panama: Made in the USA, 89. 63 Weeks and Gunson, 89. 64 Although Endara received most of the blame for the botched reconstruction effort, it should be noted that the U.S. also failed to carry out its promised portion of the effort. The one billion dollars in aid Bush had initially promised to Panama ended up being halved by congress, and much of it conditional. For the missteps of both the U.S. military and government during the reconstruction period, see Von Hippel, Democracy by Force, 45; Weeks and Gunson, Panama: Made in the USA, 97–103. 65 Weeks and Gunson, Panama: Made in the USA, 101–2; Buckley, Panama, 258. 61 62
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to “strengthen [their] national dignity.”66 There is a counterintuitive logic present in this implication, namely that a foreign power invading a sovereign country is able to impart national dignity to the citizens of the invaded country. Regardless, this insistence that the United States invasion gave Panamanians both a sense of nationalism and of national sovereignty— something that Noriega and later Endara were unable to inspire—is part of a broader trend noted after the December 1989. This burgeoning nationalism can be seen clearly in the January 9 homily of Marcos McGrath, the archbishop of Panama City and a noted Noriega critic. The topic of the sermon was the flag riots of January 9, 1964 in the Panama Canal Zone. In 1959, President Eisenhower had recognized the so-called “titular sovereignty” of Panama over the Canal, conceding that, although the Canal and the surrounding Canal Zone were U.S. sovereign territory, the U.S. concession was carved out from Panamanian territory.67 To the ire of most Americans, Eisenhower decreed that Panamanians should have “visual evidence” of previous sovereignty in the Zone, implying that, among other things, the previously-forbidden Panamanian flag, whose presence it had once been argued “would endanger the canal because Panamanians would claim a say in defense decisions,” should now fly alongside the American.68 At the “Zonian” Balboa High School, the governor of the Zone had decided to avoid the political thorn altogether and fly no flag. In outrage that “Old Glory [was] lowered just to achieve a symbolic equity with the Panamanian flag,” writes historian Alan McPherson, students at Balboa High School raised their own U.S. flag without the Panamanian counterpart and therefore in violation of Eisenhower’s decree.69 Panamanian students
“Carta Abierta,” La Estrella, January 20, 1989. Alan McPherson, Yankee No! Anti-Americanism in U.S.-Latin American Relations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 91. 68 McPherson, 87, 92. 69 McPherson, 94. 66 67
from the Instituto Nacional marched to Balboa High School in protest and clashed with the Canal Zone Police. The scuffle marked the beginning of the violent four-day “flag riots” throughout Panama, which saw “unprecedented, widespread, and indiscriminate… violence directed against U.S. citizens” that left twenty-one dead.70 In his homily published in La Estrella de Panamá on January 10, Archbishop McGrath expressed his dissatisfaction that Panamanians, in his opinion, had lost their national conscience, as well as their conception of national sovereignty and patriotism. He therefore urged Panamanians to “pick back up and study in depth” the events on January 9, 1964, in order that they “walk not as a manipulated mass but as a people responsible” for their own nation and with “deep and profound convictions cemented in values,” namely these principles of national identity and sovereignty. Like the signatories of the “Open Letter” who spoke of the inculcation of “national dignity,” McGrath also felt that the U.S. invasion was the watershed that had “cultivated and formed” within Panama an “authentic nationalism,” which he thought in turn would make Panamanians more “conscience of [their] national sovereignty.”71 In his definition of nationalism, McGrath made a noteworthy distinction between patriotism and rote allegiance to the government in power. In his homily, McGrath quoted Peruvian cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez, who identified a split between patriotic sentiment and blind loyalty to a government in a speech he gave in 1976: The countries of Latin America must overcome the concept of nationalism as an ‘exaltation’ of the patria [fatherland], which is made into an idol to be sacrificed to the same men who compose it, as well as to match patriotism (nationalism) with unrestricted adherence to a certain [sic.] regime of government.72
McPherson, 95, 97. The exact death toll from the so-called “flag riots” is not exactly known and often a point of debate among scholars. For more, see McPherson, 96–97. 71 “‘Tenemos el reto de aprender a vivir en democracia y libertad’ – McGrath,” La Estrella, Jan 10, 1990. 72 Ibid. The parentheses are those of the Cardinal. 70
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Importantly, Cardinal Henríquez argued that true patriotism—which he equated with nationalism—does not necessarily sanction unfettered loyalty to the ruling government. Therefore, McGrath’s decision to adopt Henríquez’s conception of nationalism as his own is very telling, as it implies a tacit critique of not only Manuel Noriega but of Guillermo Endara as well. At the time of McGrath’s January 9 homily, Endara had already been in power for a little under three weeks. At that point in Endara’s presidency, a definition of nationalism which censured “unrestricted adherence to a certain regime of government” demonstrated McGrath’s unhappiness with the new government in their handling of the reconstruction effort. Importantly, McGrath argued that Panama must “never…refuel a narrow and exclusionary nationalism that puts the country in the service of some against others.” Yet, as the days of Endara’s administration progressed, it did seem as though the state was working for some and not others. The previously discussed looting and unemployment pervasive throughout the reconstruction period had a disparate impact on the lower classes as the racial inequality gap increased. Scholar Kevin Buckley notes that the “mostly white middle and upper classes…reassert[ed] their power and once again exclude[d] the poor and dark-skinned population from national life,” while the Endara government “showed no sign of building a bridge between the mostly white elite…and the rest of the country.”73 In short, it seemed as though Endara’s administration was, whether intentionally or not, “narrow and exclusionary…in the service of some against others,” and therefore in contradiction with the kind of government McGrath encouraged Panamanians to support. McGrath’s homily ultimately underscored the nationalism that had gripped Panama in the opening weeks of 1990, which manifested itself in broad criticisms of the Endara administration and its handling of the reconstruction.
Buckley, Panama, 260.
Conclusion: Our Man in Panama Journalist Seymour Hersh titled his 1990 exposé of the long-standing ties between Manuel Antonio Noriega and the U.S. intelligence community as “Our Man in Panama,” a homage to the strategic asset Noriega once was to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).74 By the time George H.W. Bush was named director of the Agency by President Gerald Ford, Manuel Noriega had already been on the CIA payroll for years as an informant to help quell the spread of communism in Latin America. Acquainted with American intelligence circles when he was just in high school, Noriega quickly rose through the ranks of the PDF upon graduation, and was later promoted to PDF chief of intelligence after helping General Omar Torrijos thwart a 1969 coup attempt against him (a coup that ironically, Hersh argued, was a result of infighting within the U.S. intelligence community.)75 During the 1960s and 1970s, the CIA wished to befriend high-ranking officers in the PDF in order to keep tabs on communism in the region. Therefore, “by the early 1970s,” Hersh writes, “Noriega had become the most valuable asset of the…CIA station in Panama City, for whom he provided increasingly valuable intelligence on Cuba” on a salary upwards of 100,000 dollars annually.76 Lt. Col. Oliver North had even contacted Noriega about using PDF bases to train Nicaraguan Contras, as part of an elaborate arms trafficking scheme that would later be exposed as the Iran-Contra Affair.77 Since his rise to prominence in 1969, Noriega had committed acts at odds with the democratic mantra of the United States, including executing political opponents and even throwing a dissident priest out of a helicopter. Yet, rather than dispose of its asset, the CIA instead only worked to better ensure its continued positive relationship with Noriega by “agreeing to minimize
Seymour Hersh, “Our Man in Panama: The Creation of a Thug,” Life Magazine, March 1990. Hersh, 84–85. 76 Hersh, 88. 77 Buckley, Panama, 44. 74 75
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its internal reporting on National Guard corruption”—and thus began the pattern of the CIA turning a blind eye towards Noriega in favor of the intelligence he could offer. Even despite the “few illusions in Washington [that] Noriega was undoubtedly double-dealing by supplying intelligence on American military activities in Panama to the Cubans,” and later by providing protections to the very drug traffickers and money launderers the United States wished to eradicate, the CIA still continued to funnel money toward Noriega. In the words of one intelligence operative, “Noriega was a scum, but you use scum like him.”78 In this light, the moniker Operation Just Cause therefore seems like a rather ironic choice for the military action to remove a dictator that the U.S. itself largely helped create. Noriega was very much a military man whose rise to power initially rested upon the pillars of U.S. influence and power, and it was indeed these same two pillars that were the eventual drivers of his coup d’grace. In his poem “The Bullet with a Soul,” Noriega penned that “the bullet that will wound me / will be a bullet with a soul.”79 From a contemporary perspective, this elegiac premonition proved rather clairvoyant. On one hand, the bullet that wounded Noriega’s grip on power was the U.S. invasion, without which any overthrow of Noriega would have seemed unlikely. On the other hand, however, the invasion would not have been nearly as successful—or perhaps may not have even occurred—without the initial protests of the Panamanian people against their former dictator. The demonstrations created a hostile climate for Noriega and built the foundation for the U.S. intervention defiantly hailed as an act of liberation. These protestors proved to be a strategic asset during the invasion for their willingness to aid U.S. troops in any way possible, and later played a significant role in psychologically coaxing Noriega to turn himself in. The real bullet that wounded Noriega was therefore not the U.S. invasion, which only provided the resources and manpower to
Ibid. Manuel Noriega, “The Bullet with a Soul,” in Kempe, Divorcing the Dictator, 44.
remove him from power, but the Panamanian people who rallied to demonstrate both their commitment to democracy and their refusal to be bullied. The real bullet was a bullet with a national, and thoroughly Panamanian, soul.
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Bibliography Periodicals La Estrella de Panamá [Panama City] The New York Times [New York City] Published Primary Sources Noriega, Manuel. “The Bullet With a Soul.” In Divorcing the Dictator: America’s Bungled Affair with Noriega, Frederick Kempe, 44. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1990. United States, White House. Meeting with Mexican President Carlos Salinas De Gortari. DNSA Collection: Mexico-United States Counternarcotics Policy, 1969-2013, October 3, 1989. Secondary Sources Buckley, Kevin. Panama: The Whole Story. New York, N.Y.: Touchstone, 1991. Crandall, Russell. Gunboat Democracy: U.S. Interventions in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Panama. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2006. Fishel, John T. “The Murky World of Conflict Termination: Planning and Executing the 1989– 90 Restoration of Panama.” Small Wars & Insurgencies 3, no. 1 (1992): 58–71. https://doi.org/10.1080/09592319208423011. Hersh, Seymour. “Our Man in Panama: The Creation of a Thug.” Life Magazine, March 1990. Kempe, Frederick. Divorcing the Dictator: America’s Bungled Affair with Noriega. New York, N.Y.: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1990. Maechling, Charles. “Washington’s Illegal Invasion.” Foreign Policy, no. 79 (1990): 113–31. https://doi.org/10.2307/1148680. McPherson, Alan. Yankee No! Anti-Americanism in U.S.-Latin American Relations. Cambride, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003. Murillo, Luis E. The Noriega Mess: The Drugs, The Canal, and Why American Invaded. Berkeley: Video Books, 1995. Von Hippel, Karin. Democracy by Force. Cambridge: Cambridge [Eng.]: University Press, 2000. Weeks, John, and Phil Gunson. Panama: Made in the USA. London: Latin American Bureau,
The Origins and Evolution of Guatemalan Leadership in Humanitarian Crises By Sabrina Rainsbury ABSTRACT: Considering the historical consequences of Western intervention, the introduction of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which promises prompt international action in the face of humanitarian crisis, has understandably generated dissent among Latin American countries that believe the policy endangers the rights to sovereignty and nonintervention. The present paper uses the scope of the R2P doctrine to explore Guatemala’s unique position as a nation that supports international humanitarian efforts in spite of numerous experiences with unrestrained intervention. Firstly, the paper describes the Guatemalan ambassador’s claims on the R2P to date in order to highlight its degree of agreeance with the policy. Secondly, the paper follows the history and consequences of humanitarian crisis and intervention in Guatemala. Finally, this paper examines how the timing of Guatemala’s attempts and successes in reconciliation in the aftermath of genocide primed it to assume an unfilled position in the international arena. Guatemala has since been embraced as an international leader of humanitarianism that moderates the interests of developing nations against the necessary response to the world’s most extreme crimes against humanity.
The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a policy created by the United Nations after an international failure to respond throughout the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The R2P resolves to mobilize the international community to prevent and limit the impact of humanitarian crises such as genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.1 When officially outlined at the 2005 UN World Summit, the R2P proposed three central pillars to guide the scope of intervention: the responsibility of the state to protect, the international responsibility to provide assistance and capacity-building, and the need for a timely and decisive response. While these central pillars of the R2P have been largely embraced by Western nations, developing countries with a disastrous history of Western intervention are more skeptical of the policy’s implications.
“Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 16 September 2005.” General Assembly, United Nations, 2005. https://undocs.org/A/RES/60/1 1
The Origins and Evolution of Guatemalan Leadership Guatemala is a prime example of a country with vast experience in both humanitarian crises and Western intervention. Since gaining independence and constructing a nation, Guatemala has cycled through periods of violence and unrest with a vaguely constructed political infrastructure and an even looser national vision. Western powers, particularly the United States, have used CIA missions, economic sanctions, and financial undermining to influence and, at times, limit the development of Guatemala. While U.S. intervention efforts intended to establish democracy in Guatemala against the influence of communism, in reality they inhibited economic and social growth while further destabilizing the region—an unfortunate trend observed throughout various Western intervention efforts in Latin America. Considering the often detrimental impact of Western intervention throughout their region, Guatemala would be expected to mirror the stances of similarly impacted nations such as Nicaragua or Venezuela regarding the R2P.2 However, Guatemala has emerged as perhaps the greatest proponent the R2P among all developing nations. Guatemala’s supportive stance is reflected in their first official statement on the R2P during the 2009 UN General Assembly Debate on R2P. Here, Guatemalan Ambassador Gert Rosenthal praised the policy as an “important framework” outlining how the international community should respond to the worst humanitarian crises.3 Furthermore, Rosenthal reasserted Guatemala’s commitment to the three highlycontended central pillars of the R2P by claiming that they have made “a significant contribution to being able to move forward.”4 This show of support has since persisted, reinforced by statements made by Rosenthal at subsequent UN forums and later echoed by Guatemalan Ambassador Fernando Carrera in a 2015 statement in which he declared that the nation has and will “strongly support the evolved Responsibility to Protect.”5
Human Rights Center, “The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Moving the Campaign Forward.” Berkeley, CA: International Human Rights Law Clinic, 2007, 62. 3 Gert Rosenthal, Statement of Ambassador Gert Rosenthal, Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the United Nations Item 44: Follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit Implementing the responsibility to protect. Responsibility to Protect, (2009). http://responsibilitytoprotect.org/Guatemala_ENG.pdf 4 Rosenthal, Statement of Ambassador Gert Rosenthal. 5 Fernando Carrera, “Guatemala en el dialogo oficioso interactivo sobre la responsabilidad de los estados de proteger a sus poblaciones mediante la prevención del genocidio, crímenes de guerra, limpieza étnica y crímenes contra la humanidad.” Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, 2015. http://www.globalr2p.org/media/files/guatemala-2.pdf 2
Sabrina Rainsbury From the perspective of other countries in the Global South, it may appear that Guatemala has merely forgotten its history of unwelcomed Western intervention in the name of humanitarianism. Of all countries, it would be anticipated that Guatemala would arise as a stark opponent to the R2P out of fear that the policy would enable Western nations to enact regime changes and skew politics in their favor once again. Guatemala’s present support of the R2P appears contradictory to its historical experiences. Or rather, it may appear that Guatemala has assumed this stance out of fear of Western retaliation if it were to oppose the policy. Perhaps Guatemala hopes to gain the favor of Western nations as a developing nation that matchlessly supports their humanitarian vision. While Guatemala’s support of the R2P appears to oppose the interest of all developing nations with the similar interest of maintaining sovereignty, it may alternatively serve to protect these very interests. Guatemala’s historical experience as a nation riddled by both humanitarian crisis and Western intervention makes it the ideal voice of R2P opposition; yet, these experiences have both enabled and facilitated Guatemala’s evolution into the ideal voice of humanitarianism. By accepting humanitarian aid from the international community and assuming a position of expertise in human rights violations, Guatemala has transitioned from a country in crisis to an international leader confronting crises. Humanitarian crisis emerged as the cornerstone of Guatemalan society as military and elites strived to persist as the sole powerful voice in society. Since its establishment as a nation, Guatemala has endured cycles of revolution and counterrevolution characterized by instability and violence. Though its leadership changed continuously, civil war between guerilla groups and the corruption of each consecutive government remained consistent factors in shaping Guatemala’s history of humanitarian crises.6 The 1944 October Revolution was a coup by a reformist army which overthrew the standing authoritarian president in the name of widespread oppression. Post-revolution, Guatemala’s new socialist government pushed reforms in education, co-op programs, voter registration, and protection of indigenous
Tom Koenigs and Marcie Mersky, “Ensuring Progress on Guatemala’s Road to Peace.” UN Chronicle 41 no. 1 (December 2004): 68-69. 6
The Origins and Evolution of Guatemalan Leadership groups. The surge of Guatemalan socialism soon provoked U.S. intervention. In response to the 1950 election of Colonel Jacobo Arbenz as Guatemala’s new leader, U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower directed the CIA to catalyze a right- wing countermovement to prevent the nation from moving towards communism. With the financial support of the United States, Guatemalan Colonel Carlos Castillo formed the National Liberation Movement (MLN) to take up arms against the national forces. When ground efforts showed little progress, a “small CIA air force piloted by American contract pilots bombed Guatemala City” to generate a “chain reaction that destabilized the government.”7 Consequently, Arbenz was removed from power and a new counterrevolutionary government led by Castillo and funded by the United States took power, disassembling unions and forcing thousands into exile, execution, or imprisonment. This forced regime change marked the first of several unwarranted U.S. intervention efforts within Guatemala. Later, in an ever more devious account of U.S. involvement in Guatemala, President Ronald Reagan’s administration financially supported the regime of Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt who was responsible for the meaningless slaughter of tens of thousands of Guatemala’s indigenous people in what became the Mayan Genocide. Meanwhile, Reagan continued to support and defend Montt as “a man of great integrity” and “totally dedicated to democracy.”8 In the aftermath of Montt’s terrorizing regime, Guatemala was left “bankrupt and isolated” to allow yet another era of death-squad killings to rise under the influence of unstable government entities grasping at power wherever it remained.9 Through unlawful U.S. actions in Guatemala, the country lost the opportunity to progress beyond violence and towards respected sovereignty. While Guatemala was structurally and materially incapable of resolving the violence bred from internal conflict on their own, U.S. intervention inhibited the progress of democracy and equality while financing the massacre of an already disenfranchised peoples. The international consequences of intervention secured Guatemala’s fate as a pariah state isolated from global
Clifford Krauss, Inside Central America: Its people, politics, and history (New York, NY: Summit Books, 1991), 31. 8 Noam Chomsky, What Uncle Sam Really Wants. (Tuscan, AZ: Odonian Press, 1992). 9 Krauss, Inside Central America, 29-34.
Sabrina Rainsbury forums, investments, and the opportunity to gain a “position of autonomy in the international arena.”10 While several countries throughout the region moved towards greater self-determination after histories of similar intervention, Guatemala’s international growth and recognition were limited as it “clung to alliances and positioning” of the Cold War and seemed unable to progress.11 The sole prospect of progress for Guatemala lay in working to end its cycle of humanitarian crisis. While Guatemala may currently be considered a leader in global humanitarianism dialogue, their first global interactions regarding humanitarianism derived from seeking out humanitarian aid of their own. After the Mayan Genocide, Guatemala was essentially rejected and shamed by global actors. In an effort to end their international isolation and criticism, Guatemala reached out to the United Nations and requested the creation of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA).12 MINUGUA was a peacekeeping mission that deployed a team of human rights monitors, legal experts, indigenous specialists, and police to Guatemala for verification activities and institution-building. MINUGUA was enacted by the UN in 1994 and lasted through 2004. The program effectively combatted human rights abuses throughout Guatemala and laid the groundwork for combatting institutional violence and corruption. Broadly, MINUGUA worked to investigate trails of violence and help demobilize the groups responsible. In this effort, MINUGUA performed extensive investigations to be shared with Guatemala’s National Police. It was the ultimate responsibility of Guatemalan police to carry out operations to dismantle the crime networks.13 From 1994 to 2004, a single opposition group conceded over 500,000 weapons and munitions under the guidance of MINUGUA’s United Nations military observer group.14 In the narrower issues of voter suppression and indigenous rights, the MINIGUA team “worked with government agencies to improve their performance, and it worked with grassroots agencies to help
Gabriel Aguilera Peralta, “Guatemala, los derechos humanos, y la responsabilidad de proteger: Entre la memoria del pasado y los retos del presente.” Pensamiento propio 41 (2012): 133-135. 11 Peralta, “Guatemala,” 134. 12 Koenigs and Mersky, “Ensuring Progress,” 68-69. 13 William Stanley, Enabling Peace in Guatemala: The Story of MINUGUA. (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc., 2013), 77-78. 14 “MINUGUA: Tenth report on human rights,” United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala, last modified December 21, 1999. 10
The Origins and Evolution of Guatemalan Leadership them advocate more effectively for their own interests.”15Across the decade of their presence in Guatemala, MINUGUA helped facilitate the growth of voter turnout among the voting age population from 26 to 50 percent in presidential elections and from 14 to 62 percent in parliamentary elections.16 Furthermore, the mission worked towards more indigenous representation in local and national governments such that there was an 18.9 percent increase in the number of indigenous candidates and a 35 percent increase in the number of indigenous mayors elected to office.17 These improvements in popular political participation, particularly among indigenous groups, reflect how MINUGUA worked to facilitate national progress by directing change towards more democratic institutions while advancing public trust in the government. The national progress seen in Guatemala from 1994 to 2004 had lasting international implications. While the immediate aftereffect of MINUGUA was the establishment of an internationally sponsored peace program, the successes of the mission proved to be critical in Guatemala’s evolution to become a humanitarian leader because it presented a positive outcome of intervention for the first time in the nation’s history. In 1998, amid the upward scope of the program, Guatemala was welcomed onto the United Nations Committee for Human Rights where it began to participate in global humanitarian initiatives. Subsequent to the success of MINUGUA, Guatemala continued to seek opportunities to work with the international community in the prevention and maintenance of domestic security against humanitarian crises. MINUGUA was followed by the establishment of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in 2007 to support the nation’s efforts to prevent serious crime when their own resources did not suffice in the face of clandestine organization that continued to permeate and undermine state institutions.18 The CICIG were granted the capacity to conduct their own investigations and trials, issue public opinions, and train police or investigators.19 Essentially, Guatemala entrusted the CICIG with
Stanley, Enabling Peace in Guatemala, 2. “Voter Turnout by Election Type,” International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, accessed 7 April 2019. https://www.idea.int/data-tools/country-view/118/40 17 “The Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala: Overcoming Discrimination in the Framework of the Peace Agreements,” United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala, 2001. 18 Kirsten Weld, “CICIG and its Contradictions- Exporting Guatemala's "model" holds promise—and pitfalls,” NACLA Report on the Americas 48 no. 1 (2016): 4. http://dx.d0i.0rg/10.1080/10714839.2016.1170288 19 Andrew Hudson and Alexandra W. Taylor, “The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala-A 16
Sabrina Rainsbury the responsibility to carry out all functions necessary to uphold peace, security, and justice. Much like MINUGUA, the actions of the CICIG were considered a great success in the country. The CICIG “solve[d] several paradigmatic cases” and “dismantled networks of organized crime” to break the nation’s cycle of impunity bred from a century of corruption and incapacity.20 The mission is praised for building the capacity of national institutions as a whole but especially in the prosecution of crime. Successes in internal building transcended into the international sphere. As Guatemala repeatedly sought humanitarian support directly from the UN, it was able to regain influence in the international playing field by assuming an expertise in humanitarianism. Guatemala’s shift towards greater influence can be explained in part through historical institutionalism, which emphasizes the importance of timing and sequence of events in molding global relations. Historical institutionalism argues that global actors calculate their “stakes in the current setting” by considering how their actions and positions may advance their position in international institutions and by choosing to pursue or deny opportunities accordingly. 21 Whether or not Guatemala recognized its stakes in the current international setting is debatable. Even so, the timing of Guatemala’s humanitarian missions at the end of an era marked by unilateral interventionism and distrust between Western and developing countries primed it to assume a previously unfulfilled seat in the international arena. These UN missions, largely embraced in Guatemala, would serve as a base model for future efforts that moved the international community towards a more mutualistic interventionism. Guatemala’s cooperation with the UN initiated a long-term cooperation effort between the two that allowed Guatemala to rise as a critical component of the UN’s institutional legacy, legitimizing the institution promise of action and success in the face of the most devastating humanitarian crises.22 Capitalizing on its unique position as an archetypal nation, Guatemala transformed its successful experiences with humanitarian support from the
New Model for International Criminal Justice Mechanisms,” Journal of International Criminal Justice 8 (2010): 7071. doi:10.1093/jicj/mqq003 20 Peralta, “Guatemala,” 132-133. 21 Orfeo Fioretos, “Historical Institutionalism in International Relations,” International Organization 65 (Spring 2011): 370-373, doi:10.10170S0020818311000002 22 Fioretos, “Historical Institutionalism,” 373.
The Origins and Evolution of Guatemalan Leadership international community into expertise on how to make humanitarian missions effective in developing nations. Today, Guatemala holds a proactive role in the United Nations Human Rights Council, which evolved from their prominent position on the preceding UN Commission on Human Rights. In their position, Guatemala has helped direct humanitarian missions modeled after MINUGUA in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These missions include the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). While MINUSTAH initially aimed to initiate a disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program in Haiti, the failure of this effort led to “a more community focused army violence reduction and prevention.”23 Throughout the mission from 2004 to 2017, Guatemala aided in this community-based effort by providing military and expert personnel.24 Guatemala then assumed a more central role when Guatemalan diplomat Edmond Mulet was appointed as head of MINUSTAH for two terms, during one of which he assumed the responsibility of reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.25 In spite of its early failures, MINUSTAH’s community violence reduction efforts have since been praised as perhaps “the most successful UN effort in terms of stability and disarmament” because they were able to reduce unemployment and improve community cohesion.26 In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO has worked alongside the Congolese government to “help develop the country’s capacity to deal with the challenges it continues to face” which include but are not limited to police and justice reform. 27 As in Haiti, Guatemala provides military and
Moritz Schuberth, “Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in unconventional settings: the case of MINUSTAH’s community violence reduction,” Journal of International Peacekeeping 24:3 (2017): 411. doi: 10.1080/13533312.2016.1277145 24 “UN Mission Contributions by Country,” United Nations, last modified 31 December 2016. https://peacekeeping.un.org/sites/default/files/dec16_5.pdf 25 “Secretary-General Reappoints Edmond Mulet of Guatemala Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations,” United Nations, last modified June 2, 2011. https://www.un.org/press/en/2011/sga1296.doc.htm 26 Schuberth, Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, 427. 27 Janine Natalya Clark, “UN Peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Reflections on MONUSCO and its Contradictory Mandate,” Journal of International Peacekeeping 15 (2011): 373. doi: 10.1163/187541111X572728 23
Sabrina Rainsbury expert personnel to the MONUSCO mission team.28 However, because MONUSCO is ongoing, any evaluation of its success or failure would be premature.29 Ultimately, Guatemala was able to assume a significant role in both MONUSCO and MINUSTAH because of its unique expertise as a developing nation that experienced both the consequences of unwarranted intervention and the benefits of successful intervention. Guatemala stands alone as a model for when and how to appropriately employ humanitarian intervention. While Guatemala has assumed an active role in global humanitarian efforts, the majority of developing nations have not been as eager to do so. In light of the aforementioned consequences of Western intervention seen in Guatemala and throughout the Global South, many developing nations reject the R2P doctrine of humanitarian intervention altogether. For instance, Venezuela has assumed an oppositional stance, claiming that the R2P “has been used to justify coercive measures and interventions in the internal affairs of States” using means not necessarily relating to the prevention of humanitarian crises.30 The state of Nicaragua is similarly concerned that the R2P may produce “false arguments” that “justify intervention” to produce a redecorated colonialism.31 In fact, a 2011 statement from the Nicaraguan government asserts that it firmly rejects the use of the R2P to “intervene in [Latin American] countries, to bomb civilians and change free and sovereign governments.”32 Essentially, these R2P opponents argue that the policy inherently conflicts with the notion of sovereignty and the right to non-intervention. Despite their hardline support of the R2P, Guatemala has acknowledged the concerns held by the majority of other developing nations. During the 2009 UN General Assembly Debate on R2P, Rosenthal directly addressed the concern that the R2P may be “invoked as a pretext for improper intervention.”33 In doing so, Rosenthal demonstrated Guatemala’s understanding that the potential misuse of the R2P would
“UN Missions Contributions by Country,” United Nations. Clark, “UN Peacekeeping,” 364 30 Samuel Moncada. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela: Statement delivered by Amb. Samuel Moncada, Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Global R2P, 2013. http://www.globalr2p.org/media/files 31 Samuel Santos Lopez, Republic of Nicaragua: Statement by H.E. Samuel Santos Lopez, Minister of Foreign Affairs, United Nations, 2011. http://www.un.org/ga/64/generaldebate/pdf/NI_en.pdf 32 Lopez, Republic of Nicaragua. 33 Rosenthal, Statement of Ambassador Gert Rosenthal. 28 29
The Origins and Evolution of Guatemalan Leadership indeed seem to threaten sovereignty and the right to non-intervention for nations that have only a negative experience with foreign intervention efforts. However, in response to voiced concerns, Guatemala has ultimately continued to defend the pillars of the R2P by qualifying that the right to sovereignty and nonintervention is based upon the presumed notion that the state is effectively practicing their own responsibility of protecting their population from the devastations of humanitarian crises. To defend the necessity of all three pillars, Guatemala claims that they are all interconnected and essential to the successful operation of the R2P. Guatemala clarifies that the highly contested third pillar that invokes military intervention is considered a last resort. Such claims addressing the overreach concerns of oppositional nations have allowed Guatemala to appeal to the interests of developing nations based on their history as the target of humanitarian intervention. Before instances in which the R2P has been invoked and, at times, widely scrutinized, Guatemala has reasserted its necessity and justified its outcomes. In response to Libya’s 2011 crisis following the violent suppression efforts of its then-leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, the R2P was used to impose a nofly zone in Libya and enact military intervention led by NATO to target Qaddafi’s forces.34 While many developing nations criticized these actions as “military interventions under the pretext of humanitarianism” or “externally opposed solutions aimed at forcing regime change,” Guatemalan diplomats instead rationalized the actions.35 Amid R2P operations in Libya, Guatemala’s Rosenthal justified that when “nations fail in the basic commitment” to protect their citizens, “they should understand that they will face consequences from the international community.”36 Rosenthal furthermore confirms that in the case of Libya, military intervention was warranted because it was the last resort in an extreme humanitarian crisis, essentially reaffirming support of the R2P in the face of criticism and doubt.37 Guatemala often defends its
Jared Gesner, “The United Nations Security Council’s Implementation of the Responsibility to Protect: A Review of Past Interventions and Recommendations for Improvement,” Chicago Journal of International Law 18:2 (2018), 442-443 35 Justin Morris, “Libya and Syria: R2P and the spectre of the swinging pendulum,” International Affairs 89:5 (2013), 1276 36 Gert Rosenthal, General Assembly Fourth Informal Interactive Dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect. GlobalR2P, (2012). http://www.globalr2p.org/media/files/guatemala-statement-2012.pdf 37 Rosenthal, General Assembly. 34
Sabrina Rainsbury support of the R2P with the phrase “Never Again,” that cites a personal history of dictatorship and mass atrocity. This same rationality is mirrored in Guatemala’s response to attempts to employ the R2P in Ivory Coast and Syria. Guatemala’s responses to invocations or prospective invocations of the R2P are consistently supportive: the country tends to align with Western nations while appealing to the interests of developing nations by advocating a more mutualistic intervention process based on prevention rather than intervention. Guatemala has embraced the R2P primarily because its first-hand experiences with genocide have illuminated the importance of preventing serious crimes against humanity. The country’s experiences with both positive and negative consequences of intervention have demonstrated that developing nations in humanitarian crises may benefit by temporarily limiting sovereignty to welcome consensual and collaborative intervention. Yet, it cannot be ignored that Guatemala’s position has largely been shaped by the international demand for a mediating voice between the perpetrators and targets of intervention. The advent of humanitarian success in Guatemala following the failure to respond during the Rwanda Genocide primed Guatemala to become this voice and, subsequently, restore confidence in the power of international institutions. Guatemala’s rise as a global leader in humanitarianism now allows it to hold a specialized role at the negotiating table when working within today’s international order. In this position, Guatemala firmly supports the R2P while simultaneously validating the reservations of other developing nations. By leading missions such as MINUSTAH or MONUSCO, Guatemala has contributed to the humanitarian progress in other developing nations via mutualistic intervention efforts designed to evade intrusions on autonomy and self-determination. Guatemala’s global position enables it to advocate for the interests of developing nations by defending sovereignty and the right to non-interference all while ensuring that appropriate actions are taken when necessary in the face of crisis.
The Origins and Evolution of Guatemalan Leadership
Bibliography Carrera, Fernando. Guatemala en el dialogo oficioso interactivo sobre la responsabilidad de los estados de proteger a sus poblaciones mediante la prevención del genocidio, crímenes de guerra, limpieza étnica y crímenes contra la humanidad. N.p.: Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, 2015. http://www.globalr2p.org/media/files/guatemala-2.pdf Chomsky, Noam. What Uncle Sam Really Wants. Tuscan, AZ: Odonian Press, 1992. Clark, Janine Natalya “UN Peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Reflections on MONUSCO and its Contradictory Mandate,” Journal of International Peacekeeping 15 (2011): 363-383 doi: 10.1163/187541111X572728 Fioretos, Orfeo. “Historical Institutionalism in International Relations.” International Organization 65 (Spring 2011): 367–99. doi:10.10170S0020818311000002 Gesner, Jared. “The United Nations Security Council’s Implementation of the Responsibility to Protect: A Review of Past Interventions and Recommendations for Improvement,” Chicago Journal of International Law 18:2 (2018), 420-501. Hudson, Andrew; Taylor, Alexandra W. “The International Commission against Impunity in GuatemalaA New Model for International Criminal Justice Mechanisms.” Journal of International Criminal Justice 8 (2010): 53-74. doi:10.1093/jicj/mqq003 Human Rights Center. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Moving the Campaign Forward. Berkeley, CA: International Human Rights Law Clinic, 2007. Koenigs, Tom; Mersky, Marcie. “Ensuring Progress on Guatemala’s Road to Peace.” UN Chronicle 41 no. 1 (December 2004): 68-69. Krauss, Clifford. Inside Central America: Its people, politics, and history. New York, NY: Summit Books, 1991. Lopez, Samuel Santos. Republic of Nicaragua: Statement by H.E. Samuel Santos Lopez, Minister of Foreign Affairs. N.p.: United Nations, 2011. http://www.un.org/ga/64/generaldebate/pdf/NI_en.pdf “MINUGUA: Tenth report on human rights,” United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala, last modified 21 December 1999. Moncada, Samuel. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela: Statement delivered by Amb. Samuel Moncada, Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Global R2P, 2013. http://www.globalr2p.org/media/files Morris, Justin. “Libya and Syria: R2P and the spectre of the swinging pendulum,” International Affairs 89:5 (2013): 1265-1283 Peralta, Gabriel Aguilera. “Guatemala, los derechos humanos, y la responsabilidad de proteger: Entre la memoria del pasado y los retos del presente.” Pensamiento propio 41 (2012): 121-144 “Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 16 September 2005,” General Assembly, United Nations, 2005. https://undocs.org/A/RES/60/1 Rosenthal, Gert. General Assembly Fourth Informal Interactive Dialogue on the Responsibility to Protect. GlobalR2P, (2012). http://www.globalr2p.org/media/files/guatemala-statement-2012.pdf Rosenthal, Gert. Statement of Ambassador Gert Rosenthal, Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the United Nations Item 44: Follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit Implementing the responsibility to protect. N.p.: Responsibility to Protect, (2009). http://responsibilitytoprotect.org/Guatemala_ENG.pdf Schuberth, Moritz. “Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in unconventional settings: the case of MINUSTAH’s community violence reduction,” Journal of International Peacekeeping 24:3 (2017): 410-433 doi: 10.1080/13533312.2016.1277145 “Secretary-General Reappoints Edmond Mulet of Guatemala Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations,” United Nations, last modified 2 June 2011. 43
Sabrina Rainsbury https://www.un.org/press/en/2011/sga1296.doc.htm Stanley, William. Enabling Peace in Guatemala: The Story of MINUGUA. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc., 2013. “The Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala: Overcoming Discrimination in the Framework of the Peace Agreements,” United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala, 2001. “UN Mission Contributions by Country,” United Nations, last modified 31 December 2016. https://peacekeeping.un.org/sites/default/files/dec16_5.pdf “Voter Turnout by Election Type,” International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, accessed 7 April 2019. https://www.idea.int/data-tools/country-view/118/40 Weld, Kirsten. “CICIG and its Contradictions- Exporting Guatemala's "model" holds promise—and pitfalls.” NACLA Report on the Americas 48 no. 1 (2016): 4-7. http://dx.d0i.0rg/10.1080/10714839.2016.1170288
Marginalization in Guatemala’s Maquila Industry By Alexandra Ciullo ABSTRACT: U.S. based multinational corporations are inextricably linked to the welfare of “maquila” or factory workers in Guatemala, as the Central American country is one of the largest suppliers of the apparel Americans wear. Major corporations like Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, and Wal-Mart export a significant amount of their apparel from privately owned factories throughout Guatemala. These American corporations have demonstrated severe negligence in monitoring the working conditions at these factories, resulting in proliferation of gross human rights violations of Guatemalan employees. This paper explores the copious violations in detail, through the analysis of firsthand accounts, and evaluates what steps the U.S. and Guatemalan governments have (or have not) taken to reduce their occurrence. This paper ends by offering recommendations for how U.S. based corporations can improve the monitoring of apparel factories in Guatemala so as to eliminate exploitation of employees and conduct business in a more ethical, transparent way.
Guatemala, as opposed to China or Russia, is not a country that frequents major US news headlines. While the link between Guatemala and the US is subtle, it remains absolutely integral to the functioning of US apparel companies, retailers, and consumers. Despite differences in size, culture, and levels of development between the two countries, many of America’s billion-dollar multinational corporations depend significantly on Guatemala for the production of textiles and apparel needed to satisfy their consumers’ constantly expanding and evolving tastes. Major U.S. apparel companies and retailers, such as Nike, Macy’s, and Wal-Mart outsource the production of their apparel to independent manufacturers in Guatemala. With over half of Guatemala’s population living below the national poverty line because of economic underdevelopment and rampant political corruption, these manufacturers are never in short supply of employees who are willing to work for extremely low wages.1 Unfortunately, private and public actors alike have taken advantage of these impoverished, hardworking individuals, which has caused a surge in
"The World Factbook." Central Intelligence Agency.
human rights violations in Guatemala’s apparel factories, known as maquilas. U.S. companies are complicit in these human rights violations, making it their obligation to stop them from occurring. First, it is essential to understand Guatemala’s role in the global economy and the quality of working conditions there. Guatemala is defined as a developing, lower middle income country.2 Its major exports include fruit, sugar, and apparel, and the U.S. is one of its top trade partners.3 About a third of the population is employed in the agriculture industry, providing products for major brands such as bananas for Chiquita and Dole as well as coffee beans for Starbucks.4 While the country itself may be small compared to the U.S., its influence on American consumption is not. Guatemala is subtly woven into the daily lives of Americans, and the relationship between the two countries grew significantly following the 2006 Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). This agreement permits almost all consumer and industrial products made in Central America to enter the U.S. duty free, therefore making apparel outsourcing to Guatemala even cheaper than before. Notably, CAFTA-DR also includes a labor clause that states that all participant countries must maintain obligations to their own constitutions, the International Labor Organization (ILO), and basic workers’ rights such as those related to collective bargaining, minimum wage, and acceptable work conditions. While it is Guatemalan professionals and politicians that officiate the country’s trade relationship with the U.S., it is largely the Mayan population that makes this relationship possible. About half of the population of Guatemala is Mayan, consisting of 21 different communities, 26 indigenous languages, and rich history and culture.5 Since the Spanish occupied the country in the 16th century, the Mayan population has suffered from severe oppression, enduring forced labor,
"Guatemala: Economy." GlobalEDGE. Ibid. 4 "Guatemala - Market Overview." Export.gov. 5 "Maya." Minority Rights Group. January 2018. 3
Marginalization in Guatemala’s Maquila Industry
harsh racism, and pervasive marginalization. In the 1960-1996 Guatemalan Civil War, over 200,000 Mayans were murdered and one million were internally displaced.6 As a result, former President Montt became the first president in the world to be tried for and convicted of genocide by the judicial system of his own country. Mayans continue to struggle in the political sphere, severely lacking representation and the chance to participate. They face similar marginalization in the workforce because of their differences from the Latino population in physical appearance, traditional dress, and language. As a result, poverty disproportionately affects the Mayan population as they account for over half the population but less than one-fourth of total income.7 It is common for all family members, including young children, to hold a job in order to attempt to make ends meet. As a result, many indigenous Guatemalans seek employment in the country’s booming maquila industry, supplying American apparel companies with their handmade products. Maquilas have been an especially important source of employment for Mayan women, who view them as a viable alternative to domestic servitude—the most common form of employment for indigenous females.8 Men and women alike endure harsh working conditions in the maquila industry. Regulation is extremely laid back in order to provide the manufacturer’s clients with as much flexibility as possible. As a result, attempted unions and workers’ rights activists are met with harsh resistance that can even produce fatal outcomes. Only one labor union is currently organizing in the entire maquila industry.9 Verbal and physical abuse is common. Workers are often robbed of wages,
"Timeline: Guatemala's Brutal Civil War." PBS. March 07, 2011.. "Poverty & Education." CoEd - Poverty & Education. 8 Judith Sunderland. "Women in the Labor Force." In From the Household to the Factory: Sex Discrimination in the Guatemala Labor Force. Human Rights Watch, 2002. 9 Ibid. 7
denied overtime pay, and locked inside the factories for days at a time. 10,11 These despicable conditions paired with the fact that many maquila owners are South Korean and unfamiliar with the language and Guatemalan norms explains the high turnover rate in the maquila industry.12 Employees frequently bounce around in desperate search for decent working conditions. Unfortunately, maquila owners are not troubled by this high turnover rate because there are always a number of Guatemalans ready to fill the vacant positions. It is clear that U.S. companies play a dominant role in fueling the country’s maquila industry, but what specific companies outsource their production to Guatemala? What independent maquilas do they partner with? Unfortunately, identifying exactly which labels are produced in Guatemala’s maquilas is challenging. U.S. companies face no legal obligation to disclose whom they outsource to, and few workers are able to track which labels they are producing for.13 However, some factories and their respective U.S. partners have received significant publicity upon exposure of human rights violations that occurred under their watch. One of the most wellknown maquilas, Alianza, was located in Chimaltenango (about 30 miles west of Guatemala City) and operated from 2001 to 2013. Sixty retailers such as Macy’s, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, and Wal-Mart contracted with Alianza, resulting in over 52 million garments being exported during its twelve years of operation. Alianza offered 100 percent tax breaks to its U.S. partners, making it an extremely attractive outsourcing partner.14 A second major maquila, Camisas Modernas I, was owned by the popular U.S. clothing 10
Mirna Ramirez Perez. "No Way Out." D C. January 30, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2018. Ines Benitez. "GUATEMALA: Labour Rights Mean Little in Maquila Factories." Inter Press Service News Agency. August 14, 2007. Accessed April 20, 2018. 12 Liliana Goldín. "From Despair to Resistance: Maya Workers in the Maquilas of Guatemala." Anthropology of Work Review 33, no. 1 (2012): 26. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1417.2012.01074.x. 13 Judith Sunderland. "Maquilas and the United States." In From the Household to the Factory: Sex Discrimination in the Guatemala Labor Force. Human Rights Watch, 2002. 14 "Corruption and Greed: Alianza Fashion Sweatshop in Guatemala." Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, January 2014. Accessed April 20, 2018. 11
Marginalization in Guatemala’s Maquila Industry
company Phillips-Van Heusen and was soon followed by Camisas Modernas II. They were located in Guatemala City and operated from 1988 to 1998. These factories produced over 300,000 shirts per year and featured the first maquila union, Sindicato de Trabajadores de Camisas Modernas, S.A. (STECAMOSA), to be officially recognized in the industry in over six years.15 These factories were the subject of major controversy after workers fought for nearly a decade for union recognition, only to have both factories shut down just months after their first contract was ratified. There still exists a lot of controversy and speculation behind the real reason Phillips Van Heusen closed its factories in Guatemala. While there is little publicity around maquilas other than Alianza and Camisas Modernas I and II, many of the same and different American retailers are known to have partnered with manufacturers in Guatemala, such as Dong Bang Industrial, S.A., Modas One Korea, S.A., Modas Cielo, S.A., Sul-Ki Modas, S.A., and more.16 Most of these maquilas were owned and managed by South Koreans and are no longer in operation. They have all been exposed as workplaces in which human rights were compromised in exchange for the maximum amount of production at the most minimal cost possible for multinational American corporations. The human rights violations that occur in Guatemala’s maquilas are grave and vary greatly. They violate an array of national and international laws and agreements. To begin, the right to unionize—despite being provided by Guatemala’s constitution (Article 102.q.), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (Article 23), and ILO Conventions 87 and 98—is practically nonexistent. For example, at the Alianza factory, an employee, Wilma Marina Socop
Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval. Globalization and Cross-Border Labor Solidarity in the Americas: The AntiSweatshop Movement and the Struggle for Social Justice. (New York: Routledge, 2005), 39. 16 Judith Sunderland. "Appendix C: Maquilas and Affiliated U.S. Corporations and Their Reported Practices." In From the Household to the Factory: Sex Discrimination in the Guatemala Labor Force. Human Rights Watch, 2002.
Toma, was fired illegally for “daring to exercise her legal right” to organize an ad hoc committee, which is the first step in forming a union.17 The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights writes that they made sure “every attempt to organize was crushed.”18 It is not uncommon for maquila employers to immediately fire an employee after he or she even begins to attempt to organize other employees. Similar resistance was observed at Phillips-Van Heusen’s Camisas Modernas maquila, where workers fought for nearly a decade to unionize. They were actually successful at procuring a contract with PVH—the first group to do so in the entire industry in years—only to have the factory shut down less than two years later. PVH blamed the shutdown on the loss of a major client, when in reality it was discovered that the company was faring “quite well.”19 It was then discovered that PVH fired workers, reduced hours, and hired armed guards to scare off the organizers. When that failed to work, they closed Camisas Modernas to “get rid of the union.”20 These incidents are evidence that unions receive recognition very rarely in the maquila industry and that even when they do, their members are harassed and removed so that the maquila employers do not have to pay attention to their rightful demands. Not only is unionization nearly impossible in Guatemala’s maquila industry, it is also extremely dangerous. From 2007 to 2014, over 70 trade unionists and workers’ rights activists in Guatemala were murdered.21 While the Guatemalan government refuses to recognize the connection between the victims’ activism and the murders, it is widely known that employees that
"Illegal Firings and Death Threats at Alianza Fashion Garment Factory in Guatemala." Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, May 10, 2010. 18 "Corruption and Greed: Alianza Fashion Sweatshop in Guatemala." Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, January 2014. 19 Armbruster-Sandoval. Globalization and Cross-Border Labor Solidarity in the Americas: The Anti-Sweatshop Movement and the Struggle for Social Justice. (New York: Routledge, 2005), 53. 20 Ibid 21 Gabriela Rosazza. "87th Labor Leader Murdered in Guatemala Since 2004." International Labor Rights Forum. October 10, 2017. Accessed April 20, 2018.
Marginalization in Guatemala’s Maquila Industry
try to organize face the risk of being fired illegally, attacked, threatened, and even murdered.22 This violence frightens employees into submission and passivity, while it kills or severely harms those who refuse to be intimidated. This illegal intolerance for unions helps explain why working conditions are so appalling in Guatemala’s maquilas: the only people that care to advocate for improved conditions risk death for trying to do so. The human rights violations that these activists try to protest are principally those related to pay. Robbed wages, insufficient pay, and no overtime pay are the norm in the maquilas. For example, after the shutdown of Alianza, it was discovered that workers had been robbed of wages amounting to at least 2,000 dollars each, and that the factory robbed them all of nearly five million in health and pension fund payments as well.23 Alianza pocketed the 4.83 percent contribution each worker made to the national security system from his or her paycheck by never enrolling them in the system but taking their contributions anyways.24 These injustices are in violation of Article 23 of the UDHR, which states that “all work will be fairly remunerated.” Alianza’s robbery deprived workers of the fair remuneration to which they were entitled. Those who are lucky enough to not have been robbed by Alianza do not have it much better at other maquilas, as the pay they earn is minimal and often insufficient. In the manufacturing industry, Guatemala allows for two separate minimum wages: one that applies to maquila workers and another that applies to workers employed in non-maquila, non-apparel manufacturing. The wage difference is staggering with maquila employees making up to 16 percent less than other manufacturing employees.25 Those lucky enough to be paid minimum wage at the maquilas still
Kate Conradt. "Guatemala: Another Union Leader Murdered." Solidarity Center. September 7, 2017. "Corruption and Greed: Alianza Fashion Sweatshop in Guatemala." Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, January 2014. 24 Judith Sunderland. "Maquila Workers." In From the Household to the Factory: Sex Discrimination in the Guatemala Labor Force. Human Rights Watch, 2002. 25 Mateo Crossa. "Maquiladora Industry Wages in Central America Are Not Living Wages." Center for Economic 23
find themselves with a severe economic disadvantage, unable to meet the basic needs of their families since their minimum wage hovers around a mere 11 dollars a day.26 Humans are protected against this alarmingly low pay, which does not constitute a living wage for most, by the UDHR (Article 23), ILO Convention 131 (Article 3), and the International Convention of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (Article 7). However, American businesses and their maquila partners have completely disregarded these rights in order to spend less of their potential profits on employee wages. Workers not receiving overtime pay is another critical pay-related human rights violation in the maquilas. The right to overtime pay is provided by Article 6 in ILO Convention 001. However, it is widely known that maquila employers use tricks to avoid having to pay overtime wages. For example, they require employees to fill out an assistance card corresponding to the number of hours worked but then alter the times on them to pay less than what workers are actually owed.27 In many instances, workers are not only denied overtime pay, but also denied the right to leave the factory. Many maquila employees report being locked in the factory until an order is completed, usually until late in the night but in some cases for up to three days.28 In addition to violating the right to overtime pay, this practice violates numerous policies that protect Guatemalans from forced labor such as UDHR (Article 24), ILO Convention 29, and the Guatemalan constitution (Article 102.g.). The human rights violations in the American-fueled maquila industry also violate several womenâ€™s rights. Young women are often forced to pay for and submit a pregnancy test to their
and Policy Research. May 20, 2015. 26 "Minimum Wages in Guatemala." WageIndicator.org. January 30, 2018. Accessed April 20, 2018. 27 "Situation of Women Domestic Workers, Maquila and Rural Workers, in Guatemala." Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 28 Liliana R. GoldĂn "Labor Turnover among Maquiladora Workers of Highland Guatemala: Resistance and Semiproletarianization in Global Capitalism." Latin American Research Review 46, no. 3 (2011): 133-56. doi:10.1353/lar.2011.0043.
Marginalization in Guatemala’s Maquila Industry
employers to prove that they are not pregnant since pregnancy is viewed as an extreme inhibition to productivity. Protection against pregnancy discrimination is provided by Guatemala’s labor code and the codes of conduct of U.S. businesses that outsource production to these maquilas. 29 Despite these protections, violations persist. For example, Sara Fernandez, an employee at the Textiles Tikal factory was forced to pay for a pregnancy exam if she wanted to be hired. 30 Similarly, at the Korean-owned maquila Modas One, Miriam De Rosario was fired for being pregnant.31 It is custom for women to have to reveal to employers whether or not they are pregnant through interviews, application questions, or physical exams.32 Additionally, it is not unusual for maquilas to deny workers that do become pregnant their full maternity benefits, despite the fact that they’re required under Guatemalan law.33 Guatemala’s maquilas are clearly guilty of invasive, discriminatory, and illegal human rights violations that have detrimental consequences for their employees. These violations explicitly contradict national and international law, prompting responses from the governments of both Guatemala and the United States. The Guatemalan government’s response to accusations of human rights abuses has been far from satisfactory. Guatemala is known for being corrupt, scoring a 28 out of 100 (zero being highly corrupt and 100 being highly pure and transparent) in 2017 on Transparency International’s corruption index.34 Embezzlement, extortion, and bribery are far too common, and even led to the impeachment and imprisonment of former president Otto Perez Molina.35 There exists a problematic lack of coordination between the country’s Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Economy,
Jim Lobe. "LABOUR-GUATEMALA: Women Workers Face Persistent Abuse." Inter Press Service. February 12, 2012. 30 Judith Sunderland. "Summary." In From the Household to the Factory: Sex Discrimination in the Guatemala Labor Force. Human Rights Watch, 2002. 31 Ibid. 32 Ibid. 33 Ibid. 34 "Guatemala Corruption Perception Index." Transparency International. 35 "Guatemala Corruption Report." GAN Business Anti-Corruption Portal.
Institute of Social Security, and other state institutions, making it extremely difficult to effectively monitor maquila working conditions and enforce national and international laws in the workplace.36 The state refuses to acknowledge the fact that union leader murders are related to activism and engagement in union activities.37 The government has done a pitiful job enforcing sanctions against employers who violate their employees’ human rights. The national court often refuses to enforce court orders and fines charged to employers, and, if on the rare occasion workers do succeed in bringing a case against maquila owners, they are often trapped in long, drawn out court proceedings that they cannot afford to sustain.38 More alarming, however, is the report that even the prosecutors of Guatemala’s Ministry of Labor—those responsible for prosecuting employers that violate national and international law—believe that “conciliation is better off for the worker” than attempting to hold maquila owners accountable.39 Even those whose sole duty is to advocate for employees advise them to submit to employers’ abuses because the state cannot effectively stop them. The other country playing a central role in ending human rights abuses in the maquila industry in Guatemala is the United States. The majority of companies that sustain the maquilas are American, and the U.S. is a signatory of the CAFTA-DR agreement, which explains why it has taken an interest in these violations. The most significant effort made toward controlling these abuses began in 2010 when the Obama administration filed a trade complaint against Guatemala for violating the labor rights that the CAFTA-DR provides. The complaint argued that Guatemala
Judith Sunderland. “Response of the Guatemalan Government." In From the Household to the Factory: Sex Discrimination in the Guatemala Labor Force. Human Rights Watch, 2002. 37 Kate Conradt. "Guatemala: Another Union Leader Murdered." Solidarity Center. September 7, 2017.. 38 Tula Connell. "3 Unionists Murdered in Guatemala, Honduras in Past Year" Solidarity Center. March 23, 2018. 39 Judith Sunderland. “Response of the Guatemalan Government." In From the Household to the Factory: Sex Discrimination in the Guatemala Labor Force. Human Rights Watch, 2002. 36
Marginalization in Guatemala’s Maquila Industry
put the U.S. at an unfair competitive advantage since the U.S. follows the human rights and labor laws that Guatemala completely disregards, allowing Guatemala maquila employees to work for much less money than their counterparts in the U.S. Guatemala never took the complaint seriously, neglecting to implement any significant changes that would improve conditions for maquila workers. In the end, these human and labor rights violations were not found to affect the U.S.’s trading advantage and the U.S. lost the case.40 The Guatemalan government’s role in ending human rights violations in maquilas has perpetuated the problem rather than helping stop it, and the U.S. government’s main attempt at intervening was unsuccessful. As a result, both countries face intense pressure from various NGOs, non-profits, and international organizations such as the AFL-CIO, Fair Labor Association, and Human Rights Watch. However, it is important to recall the entities that are the root cause of these human rights abuses: profit-motivated American apparel companies that use Guatemala’s maquilas for a source of labor that is much cheaper than can be found in the U.S. Both states’ governments must play an important role in ending these violations and must be held accountable for doing so, but it is American businesses that give the maquilas a reason to exist. Accordingly, these businesses should bear the majority of the burden for ensuring that maquilas comply with national and international law and respect their employees’ human rights. Fortunately, businesses like Macy’s, JCPenney, and Kohl’s have not gotten off easy. NGOs and journalists often use “naming and shaming” campaigns to hold companies accountable for human rights abuses, calling wide attention to the companies at fault and demanding consumer and employer action.”41 For example, in 2000 the NGO Human Rights Watch carried out an
"Trade Dispute Panel Issues Ruling in US-Guatemala Labour Law Case." International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development. July 06, 2017. 41 Menno T. Kamminga. "Company Responses to Human Rights Reports: An Empirical Analysis." SSRN Electronic Journal, 2015. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2559255.
extensive campaign in which it reached out to dozens of American companies, notifying them of the human rights violations that were occurring at the specific maquilas each company outsourced to. The most frequent violations highlighted were those related to pregnancy discrimination. However, most of the companies either did not respond, denied the allegations completely, or claimed to have addressed the problem somehow. These responses are disappointing and unfortunately typical of American companies that are thrust into the hot seat. The companies that claimed to have taken action upon learning of the allegations have clearly done a poor job doing so since human rights violations still occur frequently today, nearly two decades after they claimed to have fixed the problem. This campaign reveals the troubling unwillingness of U.S. companies to uphold the same international and national laws in Guatemala that are enforced in their home country.42 Phillips-Van Heusen responded to human rights violation allegations in a slightly more positive manner after the Alianza factory, responsible for manufacturing some of its shirts, shut down in 2013. The retailer donated 100,000 dollars to the hundreds of workers who were “abandoned” following the shutdown. This payout totaled about 125 dollars per worker.43 While this amount is minimal and barely helpful for employees who are responsible for sustaining entire households, at least PVH took direct action that had a tangible benefit for its victims. Of course, this money is only temporary and does nothing to address the overarching problem plaguing Guatemala’s maquila industry. PVH made an additional attempt at mitigating the poor working conditions in its own maquilas by signing a contract with the union, STECAMOSA, that it fought with for nearly a decade. While this agreement is much more significant than simply giving each
Judith Sunderland. "Women in the Labor Force." In From the Household to the Factory: Sex Discrimination in the Guatemala Labor Force. Human Rights Watch, 2002. 43 "Corruption and Greed: Alianza Fashion Sweatshop in Guatemala." Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, January 2014..
Marginalization in Guatemala’s Maquila Industry
employee a small sum of money, PVH was still extremely intolerant of the union, to the point that it closed the factory less than two years after the contract was signed. The union was not active long enough for its members to experience true improvement in the factories’ working conditions. Other companies like Kohl’s have pulled clothing lines, such as that of Spanish celebrity Daisy Fuentes, that were found to be capitalizing on human rights violations at the maquilas.44 Companies like Kohl’s are taking preliminary, important steps towards effectively addressing the human rights crisis by reducing the consumer exposure and inclination to buy from these clothing labels. However, much work remains to be done because solitary actions by a few companies are not enough to put a stop to the violations maquila employees face daily in Guatemala. While maquila owners are directly responsible for the injustices that Guatemalan workers face, businesses are indirectly responsible because they give maquilas power and agency. The Guatemalan government is clearly of little use in ending this human rights crisis, and while past responses by businesses have been helpful, they have not been sufficient. It is thus vital that businesses that outsource their production to maquilas in Guatemala immediately begin to take the lead in addressing these human rights violations. A first step in taking this lead can come from the companies’ code of conduct. While most U.S. apparel companies already have codes of conduct, they are clearly ineffective. Businesses should make sure that their codes of conduct are up to date, featuring rules and regulations that are most applicable to the current working conditions and technology present in the factories. These codes must be widely publicized for employees of the U.S. company, consumers, maquila owners, and maquila employees. Language is especially important to consider in this publicization since over 20 Mayan languages are actively spoken in Guatemala and a large portion of maquila workers
“Daisy Fuentes Clothing Sewn in Guatemalan Sweatshop.” Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, 18 June 2007. 44
are Mayan. Codes of conduct must be published in English, Spanish, and the Mayan languages that most employees speak at each individual maquila. They need to be explicit and simple so that individuals of all literacy levels can read and understand them. At the same time, they need to be specific so that the companies and maquilas cannot use common broad and general terminology as a loophole for avoiding compliance. Second, businesses must demand improved record keeping from their maquila partners. Many maquila employers are guilty of not correctly filling out employeesâ€™ time cards, resulting in robbed wages and extra overtime hours.45 Therefore it is important that they keep detailed records of their employeesâ€™ information, including their full name, true age, and exact times of entering and leaving the maquila. Businesses must make it clear to maquila owners that they cannot force women to take pregnancy tests and cannot fire them for simply being pregnant. Beyond simply making it clear, businesses must ensure that this change and others are enforced. It is assumed that maquila owners will put on a good show for the visit of a monitor that is contracted by the partner company, but businesses also need to make sure that they have an accurate conception of the working conditions in each maquila. The most effective way to get an accurate idea is through an employee survey in which employees answer questions and have the chance to make anonymous comments about the working conditions and compliance of employers. This survey will ensure that employers are being truthful and can also assess how knowledgeable employees are about their rights. Finally, American apparel businesses that outsource to Guatemalan maquilas should establish a more long-term, if not permanent, presence there. That way they will be able to observe maquila operations at all times and not only on an annual visit during which the employer most
Mirna Ramirez Perez. "No Way Out." D C. January 30, 2015.
Marginalization in Guatemala’s Maquila Industry
likely puts on a deceiving show for monitors. Monitors should pay special attention to pregnancy and gender discrimination in the maquilas. Businesses with similar values and beliefs that outsource to the same maquila can collaborate by using the same monitoring team. This will reduce costs for each company and promote communication and collaboration between companies in the same industry. While many companies believe that enforcing human rights down the supply chain will be costly since they will have to pay for monitors, full and overtime wagers, and more, Powell and Zwolinski write in their article, “The Ethical and Economic Case Against Sweatshop Labor: A Critical Assessment,” that this is not the case. They reveal that wages are only a small fraction of the total cost of production of apparel, which means that wage increases can be absorbed by charging higher consumer prices. The first reaction to this claim is that consumers will not be willing to pay higher prices. On the contrary, Powell and Zwolinski found that U.S. consumers are willing to pay 15 to 25 percent more “to ensure that products are not made under sweatshop conditions.”46 This finding shows that enforcing human rights is indeed financially possible; companies can no longer use money as an excuse for not ensuring that maquila employees are paid full and fair wages and providing sufficient monitoring and investigation at the maquilas. Investing in putting an end to human rights violations at Guatemala’s maquilas would only be beneficial for American retailers. They will no longer need to worry about receiving damaging press for violations they chose to ignore or hide. Instead, they can use stronger enforcement of human rights to their advantage, attracting consumers, NGOs, and even governments for their commendable actions. Ultimately, businesses must invest in the protection of human rights because they want to.
Powell, Benjamin, and Matt Zwolinski. “The Ethical and Economic Case Against Sweatshop Labor: A Critical Assessment.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 107, no. 4, 2011, pp. 449–472., doi:10.1007/s10551-011-1058-8. 46
It will not reduce their profits and will make for more content and productive maquila employees, which in turn will result in higher quality products. There is no reason Guatemalan maquila employees—who struggle enough under a corrupt government and an underdeveloped economy— should be denied their basic human rights so that American apparel companies can make additional profits. Under numerous international and national laws, Guatemala’s maquila employees deserve immensely better working conditions than what they are currently provided, and it is up to the companies of the United States’ apparel industry to ensure that their human rights are upheld.
Marginalization in Guatemala’s Maquila Industry
Bibliography Armbruster-Sandoval, Ralph. Globalization and Cross-Border Labor Solidarity in the Americas: The Anti-Sweatshop Movement and the Struggle for Social Justice. (New York: Routledge, 2005) Benitez, Ines. "GUATEMALA: Labour Rights Mean Little in Maquila Factories." Inter Press Service News Agency. August 14, 2007. Accessed April 20, 2018. http://www.ipsnews.net/2007/08/guatemala-labour-rights-mean-little-in-maquilafactories/. Connell, Tula. "3 Unionists Murdered in Guatemala, Honduras in Past Year" Solidarity Center. March 23, 2018. Accessed April 22, 2018. https://www.solidaritycenter.org/guatemala-another-union-leader-murdered/. Conradt, Kate. "Guatemala: Another Union Leader Murdered." Solidarity Center. September 7, 2017. Accessed April 20, 2018. https://www.solidaritycenter.org/guatemala-another-union-leader-murdered/. "Corruption and Greed: Alianza Fashion Sweatshop in Guatemala." Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, January 2014. Accessed April 20, 2018. http://www.globallabourrights.org/reports/alianza-guatemala-2014. Crossa, Mateo. "Maquiladora Industry Wages in Central America Are Not Living Wages." Center for Economic and Policy Research. May 20, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2018. http://cepr.net/blogs/the-americas-blog/maquiladora-industry-wages-in-central-americaare-not-living-wages. “Daisy Fuentes Clothing Sewn in Guatemalan Sweatshop.” Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, 18 June 2007, www.globallabourrights.org/reports/daisy-fuentes-clothing-sewn-in-guatemalansweatshop. Goldín, Liliana. "From Despair to Resistance: Maya Workers in the Maquilas of Guatemala." Anthropology of Work Review 33, no. 1 (2012): 25-33. doi:10.1111/j.15481417.2012.01074.x. Goldín, Liliana R. "Labor Turnover among Maquiladora Workers of Highland Guatemala: Resistance and Semiproletarianization in Global Capitalism." Latin American Research Review 46, no. 3 (2011): 133-56. doi:10.1353/lar.2011.0043. "Guatemala Corruption Perception Index." Transparency International. Accessed April 22, 2018. https://www.transparency.org/country/GTM#. "Guatemala Corruption Report." GAN Business Anti-Corruption Portal. Accessed April 2,2018. https://www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/guatemala/. "Guatemala: Economy." GlobalEDGE. Accessed April 19, 2018. https://globaledge.msu.edu/countries/guatemala/economy. "Guatemala - Market Overview." Export.gov. Accessed April 19, 2018. https://www.export.gov/article?series=a0pt0000000PAttAAG&type=Country_Commerci al__kav. "Illegal Firings and Death Threats at Alianza Fashion Garment Factory in Guatemala." Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, May 10, 2010. Accessed April 20, 2018. http://www.globallabourrights.org/reports/illegal-firings-and-death-threats-at-alianzafashion-garment-factory-in-guatemala. Kamminga, Menno T. "Company Responses to Human Rights Reports: An Empirical Analysis." 61
SSRN Electronic Journal, 2015. Accessed April 24, 2018. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2559255. Lobe, Jim. "LABOUR-GUATEMALA: Women Workers Face Persistent Abuse." Inter Press Service. February 12, 2012. Accessed April 22, 2018. http://www.ipsnews.net/2002/02/labour-guatemala-women-workers-face-persistent-abuse/. "Maya." Minority Rights Group. January 2018. Accessed April 20, 2018. http://minorityrights.org/minorities/maya-2/. "Minimum Wages in Guatemala." WageIndicator.org. January 30, 2018. Accessed April 20,2018. https://wageindicator.org/main/salary/minimum-wage/guatemala. "Poverty & Education." CoEd - Poverty & Education. Accessed April 20, 2018. http://www.coeduc.org/guatemala/poverty.html. Powell, Benjamin, and Matt Zwolinski. “The Ethical and Economic Case Against Sweatshop Labor: A Critical Assessment.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 107, no. 4, 2011, pp. 449–472., doi:10.1007/s10551-011-1058-8. Ramirez Perez, Mirna. "No Way Out." D C. January 30, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2018. https://www.dandc.eu/en/article/labour-conditions-are-tough-guatemalas-garmentfactories-and-they-are-not-improving. Rosazza, Gabriela. "87th Labor Leader Murdered in Guatemala Since 2004." International Labor Rights Forum. October 10, 2017. Accessed April 20, 2018. https://laborrights.org/blog/201710/87th-labor-leader-murdered-guatemala-2004. "Situation of Women Domestic Workers, Maquila and Rural Workers, in Guatemala." Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Accessed April 20, 2018. http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/GTM/INT_CCPR_CSS _GTM_30245_E.pdf Sunderland, Judith. In From the Household to the Factory: Sex Discrimination in the Guatemala Labor Force. Human Rights Watch, 2002. https://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/guat/ "The World Factbook." Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed April 19, 2018. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/print_gt.html. "Timeline: Guatemala's Brutal Civil War." PBS. March 07, 2011. Accessed April 20, 2018. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/latin_america-jan-june11-timeline_03-07. "Trade Dispute Panel Issues Ruling in US-Guatemala Labour Law Case." International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development. July 06, 2017. Accessed April 23, 2018. https://www.ictsd.org/bridges-news/bridges/news/trade-dispute-panel-issues-ruling-in-usguatemala-labour-law-case.
Examining Growing Technological Advances in Brazil through the Rise of the Soybean By Elizabeth Tian ABSTRACT: This paper investigates the trajectory of agricultural and technological innovation within Brazil through the lens of the soybean commodity. By examining the political and economic conditions that have spurred agricultural research, the paper identifies intertwined periods of biotechnology, mechanization, precision agriculture, and modern data technologies that have resulted in the astronomical rise of soy in Brazil. Ultimately, state encouragement of technological adoption has resulted in Brazil’s role as a pioneer of agricultural innovation and its ascent to prominence on the global economic stage. However, there are also concerns surrounding a need for improved transportation infrastructure and negative environmental externalities of soybean cultivation that may hinder the country’s future economic success. Thus, by examining past periods of innovation through the soybean, this paper seeks to understand the current and future implications of encouraging agricultural innovation within Brazil.
“Celeiro do mundo.” During the New State in the mid-20th century, Getúlio Vargas often utilized this phrase—meaning “breadbasket of the world”—in his speeches, painting a sanguine image of Brazil as an agricultural powerhouse in the years to come. This was not without reason; in 2013, Brazil exported 89.5 billion dollars’ worth of agricultural and food products.1 Of these commodities, including soy, chicken, coffee, beef, sugar, and corn, the soybean has seen a monumental rise in the past century within Brazilian agriculture. In fact, the earliest known reference to soybeans in Latin America occurred in Brazil, when Gustavo D’Utra wrote a four page article on the “soja” in 1882.2 Between 1970 and 1980, Brazil’s soybean production skyrocketed over tenfold from 1.2 million tons to 15.4 million tons due to the influx of capital from governmental subsidies and the generation of soy demand from World War II food shortages.3 Paralleling this surge was the rise of innovation in agricultural technology, with developments in biotechnology, mechanization, precision agriculture, and modern data technologies. The exponential Daryll E. Ray and Harwood D. Schaffer, “Brazil seeks to become the world’s largest agricultural exporter,” Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, July 10, 2015. 2 In this article, D’Utra describes how the Japanese use soybeans to make miso paste and a sauce called “soja.” The Japanese in particular play a significant role in the rise of soybean cultivation in Brazil. D’Utra, Gustavo, “Soja [Soya]”, Jornal do Agricultor (Brazil) 4(7), September 16, 1882: 185-88. 3 William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, “History of Soy in Latin America,” History of Soybeans and Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s (Lafayette: Soyfoods Center, 2004). 1
Elizabeth Tian adoption of these technologies has catapulted the Brazilian economy onto the global stage; however, both the need for improved transportation infrastructure and conflicting environmental concerns about Amazonian biodiversity hinder continued agricultural innovation within the country. In this paper, I use a case study on the soybean in Brazil in order to examine the growing interest in agricultural technology that paralleled the rise of this commodity, as well as the resulting agricultural and technological implications for Brazil as the country transforms into a worldwide economic power.
Figure 1: Brazil has increasingly dominated the worldâ€™s share of the agricultural market (US Department of Agriculture)
Before the astronomical rise of the soybean, Brazil had already distinguished itself through other export commodities. Beginning in the colonial era when the country was under the rule of Portugal, sugarcane dominated the Brazilian export economy. The sugar plantations and the labor they exploited were intricately tied to each other under the institution of slavery and the power relations it created between the senhor planter and the plantation slaves. Lordship over the land and its slaves fell under the complete authority and control of the senhor, perpetuating a hierarchical system on the plantations which stunted the
Examining Growing Technological Advances in Brazil growth of any innovation.4 Eventually, the rise of a new production model, the usina (or sugar mill), ushered in a new era of industrialization of the land. Along with this change came a transition in commodity exports, including an increase in the prevalence of coffee as a major export crop in Brazil. In fact, coffee comprised 41.4 percent of exports in the 1840s, a monumental rise from nearly nothing in exports during the close of the previous century.5 Despite its immense rise, the accelerated growth of coffee was secondary to the sudden surge of the soybean in Brazil during the 20th century. This surge was the result of an increase in state investment in the commodity, both directly and indirectly, as the military government began to adopt reforms and policies aimed at transforming Brazil into a modern capitalist economy. Throughout the late 1960s and the early 1970s, agricultural exports experienced both immense growth and “substantial diversification” into commodities such as the soybean, due to direct intervention by Brazilian policy makers.6 This intervention included the implementation of the minimum price program to reduce price uncertainty for crops, significant subsidies for manufactured exports, and the provision of credit at lower interest rates.7 For example, highly subsidized loans distributed by the Development of the Cerrados (POLOCENTRO) played a key role in developing Brazil’s tropical Central-West region, also known as the cerrado, for soybean cultivation.8 Parastatal investment in fertilizers was also critical for soybean production, as soybeans accounted for 21 percent of total fertilizer tonnage in the late 1970s. Thus, the subsidies of organizations such as Petrofertil, which invested two billion dollars in fertilizer production, resulted in import substitution that was valued at 2.7 billion dollars in the 1980s.9
Thomas D. Rogers, “A Laboring Landscape” and “A Landscape of Captivity,” The Deepest Wounds: A Labor History of Sugar in Northeast Brazil (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010): 45-96. 5 Similar to soybeans, the rise of coffee as a cash crop in Brazil brought about significant changes. These included increased industrialization, the development of a middle class, and the devaluation and eventual abolition of slavery. Skidmore, Thomas E, “Coffee,” Brazil: Five Centuries of Change (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). 6 Ian Goldin and Gervásio Castro de Rezende, “Agriculture and the Brazilian Economy,” Agriculture and Economic Crisis: Lessons From Brazil (Paris: Development Centre Studies, 1990): 23-33. 7 Ibid. 8 In addition from support from POLOCENTRO, which resulted in 2.4 million ha of savanna to agriculture, NippoBrazilian Co-operation Programme for Agricultural Development of the Cerrado (PRODECER) also provided funding for the expansion of soybeans, especially within the Parrot’s Break region. Philip M. Fearnside, “Soybean cultivation as a threat to the environment in Brazil,” Environmental Conservation 28 (1), October 10, 2000: 23-38. 9 Goldin and Rezende, “Government Agricultural Policy,” Agriculture and Economic Crisis: Lessons From Brazil 4
Elizabeth Tian In addition to these economic policies, the Brazilian state also boosted the agriculture industry through indirect investments in transportation infrastructure projects that promoted the expansion of the soybean agribusiness. In order to transport soybean inputs and harvest in and out of Central-West Brazil, where the majority of the crop is planted, an enormous amount of infrastructure development was needed, including the construction of railroads, highways, and industrial hidrovias (waterways) as depicted in Figure 2. Thus, a large part of the budget for the Amazonian portion of the “Brazil in Action” (Brasil em Ação) program from 1996 to 1999 and the Pluriannual Plan (PPA) from 2000 to 2003 was dedicated to soybean infrastructure.10
Figure 2: Map of the industrial waterways in Brazil for soybean transport (Environmental Conservation)
Although government subsidies played a critical role, perhaps most significant in the rise of the
(Paris: Development Centre Studies, 1990): 33-49. 10 Fearnside, “Soybean cultivation as a threat to the environment in Brazil,” 24.
Examining Growing Technological Advances in Brazil soybean was the “strong impetus” toward state agricultural research and development, spurred by the creation of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Enterprise (EMBRAPA).11 EMBRAPA was formed in the 1970s by the military regime as a core agricultural institution and a structured agricultural research system, with a yearly budget of close to 300 million dollars.12 As a matter of fact, this organization produced significant scientific research that transformed the Central-West cerrado into a viable and fertile region for soybean production. While EMBRAPA is the leading public institution in Brazil that generates new advances in agricultural technology, various universities have also independently promoted agricultural research. For example, the University of São Paulo publishes 24 percent of Brazil’s overall scientific papers, and Esalq, a Brazilian college of agriculture founded in 1901, was recently ranked as the fifth best college of its kind in the world.13 In terms of patents, a common indicator of research activity, Brazil leads in the Latin American region, along with high level of IP awareness in their universities.14 The Inova Unicamp Innovation Agency in particular was the first technology transfer office dedicated to IP management created in a Brazilian university in 2003.15 With the support of these agricultural research institutions, soybean research and general advances in agricultural technology have led to the development of Brazilian land into a fertile region that is favorable toward the commodity’s production. This innovation can be categorized into four stages: the advent of biotechnology, the improvement and pervasiveness of planting and harvesting
Goldin and Rezende, “Government Agricultural Policy,” 46. Lael Brainard and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, “Brazil: The Challenges in Becoming an Agricultural Superpower,” Brazil as an Economic Superpower?: Understanding Brazil's Changing Role in the Global Economy (Brookings Institution Press: 2009): 81-112. 13 Nathalia Fernandes, “How technology will help Latin America to feed the world,” IDG Connect, February 15, 2017. 14 It is important to note that higher education and innovation systems differ considerably in the Latin American region. Brazil, in particular, has experienced a significant development of its higher education and research sector in recent years. Mark Anderson et al., “The Use of Intellectual Property in Latin American Higher Education Institutions,” Innovation Support in Latin America and Europe: Theory, Practice and Policy in Innovation and Innovation Systems (Abingdon: Routledge, 2014): 53-76. 15 Technology transfer offices serve the purpose of guiding the university community on using the intellectual property system. In 2008, Inova filed 51 applications through INPI and 12 through PCT. De Leon and Denoso highlight the importance of intellectual property management and note the rising interest in developing government, academic, and private sector partnerships for better IP systems. Ignacio De Leon and Jose Fernandez Denoso, “Government Strategies Toward IP Management”, Innovation, Startups, and Intellectual Property Management (Cham: Springer International Publishing AG, 2017): 111-132. 11 12
Elizabeth Tian machinery, the adoption of precision agriculture, and finally the rise of new modern technologies and startups aimed toward improving agricultural outcomes. Out of these four stages, biotechnology played both the first and the most critical role in the spread and prevalence of the soybean across Brazil. When the soybean was first introduced in Brazil, it was restricted to the subtropical South region due to the soil conditions the plant needed to grow. It was only until the 1980s after the crop expanded to the tropical cerrado region, when production of the commodity began to increase exponentially. This expansion was made possible through EMBRAPA’s development of a new cultivar of soybean named the “tropical soybean” through cross-breeding and genetically modified soya seeds. In fact, the cerrado region was originally described as “neither given nor inherited,” disregarded and overlooked as a viable farming alternative due to its acidic and nutrient-poor soil.16 However, new varieties of soybean were genetically modified through soybean-bacteria combinations with pseudosymbiotic relationships that allowed for growth in tropical climates without the need for nitrogen fertilizer. These cultivars have a long juvenile period, which also allows them to grow in tropical conditions of low latitude and short daylight by decreasing their sensitivity to photoperiodic variations.17 The use of another practice, which involved soybean inoculation with rhizobia, eliminated the need for a mineral nitrogen fertilizer, saving farmers millions of dollars when cultivating the crop. In recent years, nearly 96.5 percent of the soybean that was cropped and harvested in 2016 to 2017 was transgenic or mixed with transgenic and 59.8 percent had traits for insect and herbicide resistance.18 These developments resulted in the accessibility of huge land expanses for soybean cultivation. Coupled with increasing worldwide demand for the product, the biotechnological advancement of the soybean led to a mass movement of entrepreneurial farmers to the cerrado. After this transition of the soybean from southern Brazil to the cerrado, mechanized agriculture was rapidly adopted by large-scale farmers who primarily farmed for export rather than subsistence.
Alexandre José Cattelan and Amélio Dall’Agnol, “The rapid soybean growth in Brazil,” OCL 2018, 25(1), January 17, 2018. 17 Ibid. 18 Análise Geral, “3rd survey of the adoption of agricultural biotechnology in Brazil,” Céleres, April 18, 2017. 16
Examining Growing Technological Advances in Brazil Physical landscape factors, such as previous land-cover type, topographic slope, and proximity to paved roads, often weigh heavily in farmers’ decisions to adopt and invest in mechanized agriculture.19 The Brazilian government’s prior investment in transportation infrastructure thus contributed to the expeditious expansion of the soybean in Central-West Brazil. Moreover, the government’s funding of 4- to 5-year subsidized credits contributed immensely to the financing of tractors and other agricultural machinery, leading to the heightened mechanization of soybean production. These subsidized credits were estimated in the mid-1970s to be at least half of the sale price of the machinery, increasing tractor sales almost fourfold from the 1960s to the late 1970s.20 The transition to mechanized agriculture in soybean production also occurred in the reverse direction—the soy boom attracted large-scale mechanized farmers whose planting and harvesting experience was synchronized with the price patterns in the commodity market. The growing demand and prices for soy on the international market attracted these large-scale farmers who would utilize satellite imagery and expert testimony from land agents in order to maximize the amount and profitability of land bought in Central-West Brazil. They ran extensive operations for their enterprise, farming “not by clearing the forest with [their] scythe and axe and sowing the seeds by hand, but by supervising”—a significant shift from household farming that existed in the Amazon previously.21 Within the Mato Grosso, a primary state for growing soybeans in the cerrado region, the land area that has been planted with the crop has increased at an average rate of 19.4 percent per year.22 For these reasons, the expansion of mechanized agriculture has resulted in the advancement of Brazil as an international exporter for soy. Conversely, the rapid growth
It has been shown that when considering conversion to mechanized agriculture, spatially explicit models should also consider political and economic parameters in order to generate realistic scenarios for sustainable land-use planning. Ellen Jasinski et al., “Physical Landscape Correlates of the Expansion of Mechanized Agriculture in Mato Grosso, Brazil,” Earth Interactions 9 (16), 2015. 20 Goldin and Rezende, “Government Agricultural Policy,” 48. 21 The household farming that existed in Amazônia previously often involved small-scale land use with hard manual labor in an annual climatological and agricultural cycle. This shift toward capitalized high-technology agriculture practiced by large-scale farmers marks an important technological and agricultural change. Ryan Thomas Adams, “Large-Scale Mechanized Soybean Farmers in Amazônia: New Ways of Experiencing Land,” Culture & Agriculture 30(1-2), 2008: 32-37. 22 Jasinski et al., “Physical Landscape Correlates of the Expansion of Mechanized Agriculture in Mato Grosso, Brazil.”
Elizabeth Tian of the international market for soybeans, soy oil, and soy meal has also resulted in the mechanization of the Brazilian farms. In recent years, Brazil has become a key player on the global trade stage, even being identified along with Russia, India, and China as part of “BRIC,” the four large emerging economies that will serve as global economic growth engines in the future. In order to maintain this position in the international economy, the state has increasingly adopted the use of precision agricultural (PA) technologies, which involve making the practice of farming more accurate and controlled. These technologies include spatial variability in agricultural fields, such as GIS tools for mapping and sensing, and technologies related to automation, such as robotics, drones, and autonomous vehicles. In a study done by Silva et al., companies that adopt and use PA practices often see managerial improvements, higher yields, lower costs, and minimization of environmental impacts.23
Figure 3: Reasons for adoption of precision agriculture by farmers in Brazil (Agropolo Campinas-Brasil)
The benefits of precision agriculture were confirmed in another survey done on soybean and corn farmers in the South, Midwest, and “New Cerrado” regions of Brazil, the majority of whom stated their
Claudia Brito Silva, Marcia Moraes, and Jose Paulo Molin, “Adoption and use of precision agriculture technologies in the industry of São Paulo state, Brazil,” Precision Agriculture 12, February 2011: 67-81. 23
Examining Growing Technological Advances in Brazil reasons for adoption included productivity gains and production costs reduction. 24 In 2017, Bottega et al. utilized precision agriculture to characterize soybean yield by mapping the spatial variability of the fields within the Brazilian Savannah. By analyzing soil texture and electrical conductivity, the optimal management zone mapping was delineated in terms of productivity and revealed the highest Kappa coefficient (0.30) for soybean yield. 25 Furthermore, the management zones created through PA have allowed for differentiated management such as soil amendment and different methods of fertilization. Precision agriculture continues to develop and play an important role in soybean and agricultural production in Brazil today. In fact, Brazil hosts a yearly conference on PA, the Brazilian Conference on Precision Agriculture (ConBAP), demonstrating the increasing importance of precision agriculture for maintaining the country’s position in the world soybean market and the agricultural market as a whole. In the current world economy, the field of precision agriculture has evolved and intersected with entrepreneurship to form the term “agtech,” short for “agricultural technology,” an increasingly popular term used to describe the transformation of the global food system through digital technology. The principle behind digital agriculture has been described at its core as “combining data for more insight.” 26 Especially within emerging markets such as Brazil, there is a growing anticipation that agtech is the industry through which developing countries can differentiate themselves on the international domain. Professor Mateus Mondin, researcher at Esalq and president of incubator EsalqTec, describes Brazil as “[taking] the lead” in feeding the world. EsalqTec itself is part of a broader strategy within the country to transform the Piracicaba region of Brazil into a Silicon Valley for agribusiness, already amassing over 60 agtech startups. 27 In particular, the soybean has played an important role in serving as a model plant in these entrepreneurial ventures. Evogene is a biotechnology company that utilizes plant genomics in order to 24
Precision agriculture encompasses a wide variety of technologies aimed at controlling environmental variables in agriculture. Molin provides an informative overview on these technologies along with data on its crops, techniques, equipment, adoption, and market evolution in Brazil. José P. Molin, “An overview of Precision Agriculture in Brazil,” Agropolo Campinas-Brasil, February 2018. 25 Eduardo Bottega, Daniel Queiroz, Francisco Pinto, Cristiano Souza, and Domingos Sárvio Magalhães Valente, “Precision agriculture applied to soybean: Part I - Delineation of management zones,” Australian Journal of Crop Science 11 (2017): 573-579. 26 Alex Sampson, “Agtech: What the umbrella term really means,” The Weekly Times, August 9, 2017. 27 Fernandes, “How technology will help Latin America to feed the world.”
Elizabeth Tian bioengineer plants resistant to insects. The company has achieved soybean validation in greenhouse and field trials against the Hemipteran insect order and are currently looking to further expand into cotton.28 Another agtech start-up, ADAMA Agricultural Solutions, has announced its launch of a mixture fungicide for soybean rust in Brazil called CRONNOS TOV, which provides effective protection for soybean diseases.29 This startup has also expanded to improve crop protection in other fields and countries worldwide.
Figure 4: Evogene offers plant analytics, including a computational predictive biology and data visualization platform (NoCamels)
This general trend toward agtech is not solely limited to soybean production. Rather, the soy commodity exists on the frontier of agricultural production within Brazil and reflects a region-wide transition to the increased adoption and development of technology. The expanding usage of the internet and mobile devices for daily tasks, such as communication between farmers or completion of financial transactions, has also resulted in a widening potential for agtech to streamline quotidian agricultural jobs. On the whole, internet and mobile internet user growth across Latin America outpaces that of many developed countries, including the United States. Moreover, the combined GDP of the region is over 6 trillion dollars.30 These flourishing market conditions have come together to position Latin America and, more specifically, Brazil, at the helm of a revolution in agricultural technology. The potential of agricultural technology in Latin America has manifested in a monumental upsurge
Viva Sarah Press, “12 Food-Agri Tech Startups To Watch in 2018,” NoCamels, May 10, 2018. Ibid. 30 “GDP: Latin America & Caribbean,” World Bank (2017). 28 29
Examining Growing Technological Advances in Brazil in foreign investment in the region. In 2017, venture capital (VC) tech investment in Latin America reached 1.1 billion dollars, which doubled the consistent average of 500 million dollars throughout the previous five years.31 Brazil was the largest recipient of this funding, accounting for 45.4 percent of reported deals with 859 million dollars invested.32 In comparison to the foreign direct investment by transnational corporations
Figure 5: Venture deal volume in Latin America by country (LAVCA)
during the rise of banana republics—characterized by economic exploitation, highly stratified social classes, and uneven economic development—venture capital provides investment opportunity for local and Brazilian-born entrepreneurs without controlling the enterprise or its infrastructure.33 This alternative investment creates a positive cycle of success for the region by providing capital and expertise for local founders and entrepreneurs to solve real problems within agriculture. Ultimately, the diffusion and ubiquity of such innovation serve as “icons of progress,” as well as symbols of economic and social advancement.34 Outside of venture capital, there has also been increasing domestic institutional support for agtech
Brazil is not the sole recipient in this tech investment wave; many other countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Peru are also receiving increased attention from VCs and investors around the world. Gonzalo Costa, “The tech investment wave has reached Latin America,” TechCrunch, July 23, 2018. 32 Mary Ann Azevedo, “With Brazil Leading the Way, VC Investment in Latin America Has More Than Doubled,” CrunchBase News, June 1, 2018. 33 John Soluri, “Space Invaders,” Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005): 41-74 34 For further reading, Pereiro provides an in-depth analysis of how to value technology startups in emerging markets like Brazil by viewing them in context of rapid innovation and optimism, as well as associated risk factors. Luis E. Pereiro, “Valuing Technology Startups in Emerging Markets”, Valuation of Companies in Emerging Markets (New York: John Wily & Sons, 2002): 330.
Elizabeth Tian ventures, from organizations such as Brazil’s BNDES, which is a development bank whose goal is to provide long-term financing for endeavors that contribute to the country’s development. Specialized, industry-specific startup accelerators and incubators such as NXTP Labs have also focused exclusively on agtech startups within the region, providing support and funding to foster these growing ecosystems.35 With the aligned movement of agriculture toward the center of the Brazilian economy and of agtech startups toward the center of VC investment in Latin America, the two have converged to form a uniquely poised opportunity for Brazil to become one of the world’s leading economic and agricultural powers. The deals within the country have reflected this opportunity; for example, Sygenta, a leading international agricultural company, announced its plans in 2018 to acquire Strider, a Brazilian farm management software platform. Figure 6 displays a chart of recent and significant selected VC deals within Brazil surrounding agtech. Funding Source
Deal Amount (Reals)
Agrotopus, a startup focused on corporate solutions for agribusiness
6.5 million (acquisition)
SP Ventures, Abseed
Aegro, a software platform for grain cultivation
Génica, a startup developing a vaccine for a common soybean fungus
Criatec 3 (Inseed Investments)
Intergado, a Brazilian precision livestock platform
Mosanto Growth Ventures
Grão Directo, a grain marketplace that transacts via mobile and WhatsApp
Smartbreeder, a startup specializing in smart crop management software
EMBRAPA, Cedro Capital
7 agtech startups, including Agronow and Agrosmart
Figure 6: 2018 Agtech deals within Brazil (Data from LACVA, table by author)
This institutional support from organizations and the government has considerably differentiated Brazil from the rest of Latin America in terms of technological innovation and adoption. Agustín Esperón, “Startup accelerators helped spark Latin America’s tech boom,” October 4, 2018.
Examining Growing Technological Advances in Brazil Notwithstanding Brazil’s enormous potential in utilizing agricultural technology to feed the rest of the globe, significant obstacles still remain, including education and extension, development of necessary transportation infrastructure, and environmental interests and concerns. Although there is a widespread and growing body of research surrounding agricultural innovation, the adoption of these advances has been faced with considerable delay. The role of education and extension is particularly important in this regard. A recent study, which explored reduced form determinants of the adoption of technologies by rice and soybean farmers in the cerrado of Brazil, discovered the considerable positive impacts of farmer education and extension workers in terms of improved cultivation practice adoption, such as analyzing the soil, using cover fertilizer, and buying treated seeds.36 A case study on the learning modules for a master;s program in Brazil by Diamantini and Tommasone also highlighted the importance of a “global” training project that involves specialized training models integrating industrial and economic policies into quotidian knowledge and lifestyle.37 Therefore, educating farmers about the potential of agricultural technology is a critical task that lies ahead of the Brazilian government. In addition to farmer education, Brazil is behind in its construction of the necessary transportation infrastructure for agricultural production, despite state efforts to remedy this situation. For example, grain production is transported from the United States’ Midwest through the Mississippi River, while Brazilian soybeans from the cerrado travel on truck-wagons, costing four times more to ship products abroad.38 Despite a critical need for improved infrastructure, the development of the transportation matrix in Brazil has been met with increasing resistance by environmentalists who oppose the massive negative impact of soybean cultivation, which includes severe concentration of land tenure and income, expulsion of
John Strauss, Mariza Barbosa, Sonia Teixeira, Duncan Thomas, and Raimundo Gomes Junior, “Role of education and extension in the adoption of technology: a study of upland rice and soybean farmers in Central-West Brazil,” Agricultural Economics, 5 (1991): 341-360. 37 Mark Anderson et al., “The Use of Intellectual Property in Latin American Higher Education Institutions,” Disseminating Innovation by Improving Individual Capabilities (Abingdon: Routledge, 2014): 171-200. 38 Lael Brainard and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, “Brazil as an Agricultural and Agroenergy Superpower,” Brazil as an Economic Superpower?: Understanding Brazil's Changing Role in the Global Economy (Brookings Institution Press: 2009): 55-80. 36
Elizabeth Tian population to Amazonian frontier, and gold-mining. 39 Moreover, the “dragging effect,” or incitement of private investment after public expenditure, can also result in other destructive activities by private corporations, such as ranching and logging enterprises.40 The aggregation of these activities and the subsequent dragging effect have far-reaching negative implications for Brazil’s environment, especially the tropical biodiversity of the country’s rich Amazonia region. In spite of beliefs that research can resolve these barriers to sustainable agriculture, similar to how it transformed the cerrado into productive agricultural land, biologist Philip Fearnside warns against this unfettered optimism by citing severe limits on productive use of the Amazon, such as topography and physical factors. Fearnside recommends urgent action from policy-makers to create protected areas, eliminate governmental subsidies, and improve the environmental-impact regulatory system to avoid beginning these damage-inducing infrastructure projects.41 Unfortunately, these environmental concerns stand in direct opposition to the previously mentioned factors that led to the rise of soy in Brazil and the country’s resulting economic growth. Thus, while Brazil holds a promising outlook on becoming an agricultural superpower in the coming years, it is critical to address the potential barriers that may arise during the country’s journey to further agricultural innovation. By understanding agricultural developments in Brazil through the lens of the soybean commodity, we are able to paint a holistic picture of the stages of innovation which have led the country to its current position at the pinnacle of the international agriculture market. The past periods of biotechnology research and mechanization that have made the cerrado region of Brazil a fertile and prolific producer of soybeans have also launched the country into renown as a massive crop exporting nation rather than the domestic producer it was just a century earlier. In the present, precision agriculture, modern agricultural technologies, and vast VC investment and state institutional support have come together to produce promising agtech startups and entrepreneurial ventures. Key to this success has been Brazil’s receptive attitude toward the
Fearnside, “Soybean cultivation as a threat to the environment in Brazil,” 24. Ibid. 41 Fearnside, “Soybean cultivation as a threat to the environment in Brazil,” 35. 39 40
Examining Growing Technological Advances in Brazil adoption of new technologies, which has undoubtedly resulted in its role as a pioneer of agricultural innovation within the Latin American region. Of course, concerns surrounding education of its farmers, the need for extensive transportation infrastructure, and the environmental impacts of these large-scale farming enterprises remain. In particular, the infrastructure projects and the dragging effects of soybean cultivation direly threaten the abundant and undiscovered tropical biodiversity in the Amazonian region of Brazil. As with the transformation of the cerrado region for successful commodity cultivation, it is possible that further developments in biotechnology and agricultural technology will be able to address these concerns in the future. However, an immediate consideration relating to this research is the recent election of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, which could result in policy changes against state investment in innovation. Ultimately, Brazil must choose to maintain its receptive and encouraging attitude toward agricultural innovation in order for the country to resolve the issues that remain, and to continue on its current trajectory toward becoming a major agricultural power in the worldwide economy.
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Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s (Lafayette: Soyfoods Center, 2004). Silva, Claudia Brito, Moraes, Marcia, and Molin, Jose Paulo. “Adoption and use of precision agriculture technologies in the industry of São Paulo state, Brazil.” Precision Agriculture 12, February 2011: 67-81. Skidmore, Thomas E. “Coffee.” Brazil: Five Centuries of Change (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). Soluri, John. “Space Invaders.” Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005): 41-74 Strauss, John, Barbosa, Mariza, Teixeira, Sonia, Thomas, Duncan, and Gomes, Raimundo Junior. “Role of education and extension in the adoption of technology: a study of upland rice and soybean farmers in Central-West Brazil.” Agricultural Economics, 5 (1991): 341-360.
Cuando eres ni de aquí ni allá: Exploring Diasporic Afro-Latinidad through Hip-Hop By Isabella Lajara ABSTRACT: Within the constructs of music, Caribbean artists have been able to
carve out a space for themselves that expresses their diaspora identities. By using hip hop, a largely male dominated genre, Caribbean women have been able to explore traumas induced by gender, language, spirituality and blackness within the Caribbean Diaspora. By entering a space not meant to encompass them, artists like Nitty Scott, Princess Nokia, Maluca and Ibeyi have been able to amplify their voices and connect with one another.
Music has always been a tool to overcome oppression, connect with others’ struggles, and create a sense of identity and solidarity. For people within diasporic populations, music has become crucial. For the enslaved Africans brought to the Americas, the use of music helped maintain their connection to their homelands and their influence on the musical landscape. For those within the Caribbean, this African influence can be found in Caribbean instrumentals that have inspired genres like boogaloo, mambo, salsa, rumba, merengue, samba, bachata, habanera, bomba, plena, and reggaeton. Through music, different facets of identity are explored not only through lyrics but also in the selection of tempos, instruments, and genres. These facets of identity are explored further through issues of gender, language, religion and spirituals, trauma, and race. For musicians like Nitty Scott, Princess Nokia, Ibeyi and Maluca, how have these issues affected the role that their music plays in shaping identity for Afro-Latinxs? To go a step further, how have these musical tropes affected music’s storytelling ability for Afro-Latinas within the Caribbean diaspora? This paper explores these questions by closely analyzing Nitty Scott’s “La Diaspora,” Princess Nokia’s “Brujas,” Ibeyi’s “River,” and Maluca’s “Mala,” and their use of hip hop to represent issues of gender, language, spirituality, trauma and blackness that have shaped their Afro-Latinidad within the Caribbean Diaspora. 80
The usage of hip hop for Nitty Scott, Princess Nokia, Ibeyi, and Maluca is important to explore when thinking about Caribbean women’s identity within the diaspora. Hip hop derives its roots from black American history and was started in the South Bronx. What is important to note is that the person who started the hip hop movement, DJ Kool Herc, was a Jamaican teen born in Kingston, where he resided until he was ten before moving to New York.1 Hip hop is thus historically diasporic, so it makes sense as to why artists use this genre to explore their identities within the diaspora. However, hip hop has also been a male-dominated industry—so for these female artists to stake their claim in it and use it to tell narratives of trauma and resilience is to take a strong stance against patriarchal power structures which have proportionally disadvantaged them from the times of colonialism. Nitty Scott is an Afro-Puerto Rican emcee from Brooklyn, New York who explores her diasporic identity in songs like “La Diaspora.” Within “La Diaspora,” Scott taps into themes of her blackness, spirituality, language and trauma through an up-tempo beat fused with Spanglish and African drums. Her Afro-Latinidad is one of the most prevalent tropes within her song. With flutes, chanting, clicks and drums to accompany her lyrics, Scott acknowledges that her Latinidad is rooted in African culture, singing in the first verse: “Mira mi tranquila vida riding down the Congo/ Got that El Dorado and my mama do the mambo/ I'm so aficionado when I'm banging on my bongo.”2 The mention of the Congo, a country located in central Africa, is the first part of her cementing her Latin identity within an African context. She credits her life as starting calmly, and situates it in the center of Africa, both geographically and emotionally. This cementation of the self within the African diaspora and within African culture can
“Hip Hop is Born at a Birthday Party in the Bronx,” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hip-hop-is-born-at-a-birthday-party-in-the-bronx. 2 Nitty Scott, “La Diaspora,” Indigenous Digital, 2017, chorus. 1
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also be seen in Princess Nokia’s “Brujas.” Princess Nokia sings, “I'm that Black a-Rican bruja straight out from the Yoruba/ And my people come from Africa diaspora, Cuba,”3 proudly identifying herself as black and also contextualizing her identity with its African roots. The Yoruba is an ethnic group of Africans mainly from Nigeria and Benin. These Yorubans made up a large percentage of the enslaved Africans brought to Cuba. By claiming herself as a Black-a-Rican from the Yoruba, Princess Nokia is claiming both the Caribbean diasporic identity as her own and the identity of an enslaved ancestor, rooting her identity in trauma. Trauma is also explored in Nitty Scott’s “La Diaspora.” Still within the first verse, Scott mentions El Dorado. El Dorado, a mythical city of gold, addresses the Spanish colonial influence within the Caribbean. The misconception that “the new world” was filled with gold was a concept that Spanish settlers would use to justify the invasion of indigenous lands, genocide, and the enslavement of the indigenous people and Africans brought to Latin America and the Caribbean. These actions inflicted deep-rooted trauma for those enslaved and the families left behind of the massacred.4 Scott discusses trauma further in her second verse: Let her beam, let her twist Whine to remind and she twerk to resist Working it and worship the earth in her dip Stolen from Africa seeking a gift Sixteen on a ship.5 While the diasporic Afro-Latina has not directly faced the trauma her ancestors endured, it is ingrained in her so deeply that she is able to feel her ancestors kidnapping. “Stolen from Africa seeking a gift/ sixteen on a ship,” the woman of the narrative can feel the fear that her ancestors endured. She is reminded of her ancestors whose innocence associated with their young age was
Princess Nokia, “Brujas,” Rough Trade Records, 2017, verse 2. “Hernán Cortés,” New World Encyclopedia, 2017, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Hernan_Cortes. 5 Nitty Scott, “La Diaspora,” Indigenous Digital, 2017, verse 1. 3 4
met with pain. “Let her beam, let her twist/ whine to remind/ and she twerk to resist,” represents the autonomy that the formerly enslaved woman now has. She is now free to express herself in joyous ways, be it by having a positive attitude or moving her body however she wishes—twisting, whining or twerking. The free movement of her body is a reminder that she is the product of her ancestor’s survival, that she is surviving past their trauma and does not have to endure the extent of their suffering. She twerks to resist the perpetuation of abuse her ancestors endured, while simultaneously keeping the memory of that pain alive. This exploration of trauma is also evident in Ibeyi’s “River,” where the Yoruba language is used to pray for forgiveness. The Afro-Latina identity within the Caribbean diaspora is marred by the traumas induced by slavery and the separations of individuals from their families, cultures, and languages. One of these languages is the Yoruba language of enslaved Nigerians brought to the Caribbean, and particularly to Cuba. Ibeyi, an Afro-Cuban sister duo from France, use their song “River” to explore of trauma through language. In their last verse, they repeat four times: Wemile Oshun Oshun dede Alawede Wemile Oshun Moolowo beleru yalode moyewede.6 This verse translates to asking the goddess of healing, fertility and prosperity, Oshun, to cleanse them. For one to pray to Oshun and ask her to cleanse themselves is to want to be healed. Indeed, the entire song centers on the healing aspect of water, as water is used to both separate and unite. While also a healing force, water can be viewed as a separating force when thinking about the Atlantic slave trade, and the fact that a large body of water was crossed, a body of water that separated families and represented the divide between freedom and enslavement. Finally, the use of the Yoruba language and Yoruba religion is another nod to the acknowledgment of their
Ibeyi, “River,” XL Recordings, 2015, outro.
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ancestors’ trauma, signaling that they have held onto something that colonizers tried to rip from their ancestors’ tongues and spirits. Ibeyi’s acknowledgment of Yoruban gods can also be found in Princess Nokia’s “Brujas,” in the chorus dedicated to Yoruban gods. For Princess Nokia and Ibeyi, their Afro-Latinidad comes with the knowledge that their history is one of perseverance and resilience. Holding onto the religion of the Yoruba slaves who were brought to the Caribbean is a form of resistance for the artists, one where they uphold their ancestors fight to hold on to the parts of themselves that were not stolen. In the song’s chorus Nokia sings, “Orisha, my altar,”7 repeating it three times. Orisha is a term used to describe minor gods and originates from southern Nigeria, the lands where Yoruba slaves were stolen from. The usage of the Yoruba culture plays an important role for defining AfroLatinidad identity, not just through language and the trauma associated with the culture’s survival in the Caribbean, but also through its use of religion. All three Afro-Latina artists discussed thus far explore religion and spirituality in their music. In Nitty Scott’s “La Diaspora,” she sings: Sung, sung from the tongue of the native one The spirit is alive Light another fire, if you fuckin with the tribe, vibes I said the spirit is alive Light another fire, if you fuckin with the tribe.8 For Afro-Latinidad identity within the Caribbean, a large portion of identity is lost over time due to genocides and slavery, keeping those affected from writing down or orally passing down their history. So, with the identity comes the need to keep it from fading from the memory of its descendants. For Scott, her indigenous identity is upheld through the use of spirituality represented through music and fire. Fire can represent passions or destruction, or it can represent rebirth. In
Princess Nokia, “Brujas,” Rough Trade Records, 2017, chorus. Nitty Scott, “La Diaspora,” Indigenous Digital, 2017, verse 3.
this sense, the image of fire can represent the passions of Scott to learn from her ancestors, the destructive trauma that exists within her identity, or the rebirth of the spirituality that was lost when indigenous lands were colonized. Princess Nokia similarly explores her spirituality by evoking Yoruban gods, but also invokes the exploration of Brujería. She sings: I'm that Black a-Rican bruja straight out from the Yoruba And my people come from Africa diaspora, Cuba And you mix that Arawak, that original people I'm that Black Native American, I vanquish all evil I'm that Black a-Rican bruja straight out from the Yoruba And my ancestors Nigerian, my grandmas was brujas.9 Here, Nokia taps into the tripartite aspect of her spirituality: she has the Yoruban gods that come with her African heritage and are associated with Santeria,10 the religion of the Arawak tribes that existed before Spanish colonization, and the Brujería, or witchcraft, that arises from the mixture of the two. Brujería is rooted in “folklore, traditional herbalism, and Catholicism,”11 making it a tool for resistance of colonialism and white standards of spirituality used to explore Afro-Latina identity within the Caribbean diaspora. Brujería has a historically feminine history and has been most practiced by women. In fact, one of the first women accused of witchcraft in Salem was a slave from Barbados named Tituba.12 Tituba is also mentioned in Princess Nokia’s “Brujas.” The song is sampled from a scene in the show American Horror Story, from a conversation between two of the witches on the show. The conversation goes, “Tituba! Voodoo slave girl who graced us with her black magic... You made
Princess Nokia, “Brujas,” Rough Trade Records, 2017, verse 2. “What Is the Difference between Voodoo, Hoodoo and Santeria?” Santeria Church of the Orishas, 2012, www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199913701/obo-9780199913701-0075.xml. 11 Patti Wigington, “Brujas, Brujos, and Brujería in Witchcraft,” ThoughtCo, 2018, www.thoughtco.com/what-is-abruja-or-brujo-2561875. 12 “Hip Hop is Born at a Birthday Party in the Bronx,” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hip-hop-is-born-at-a-birthday-party-in-the-bronx. 9
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her a slave. Before that she came from a great tribe, the Arawak. She gave it to your girls of Salem. A gift repaid with betrayal... Maybe you ain't heard the news about civilization starting in Africa. We more than just pins in dolls and seeing the future in chicken parts. Been reading too many tourist guides, hm. Everything you got, you got from us.”13 By sampling from this conversation, one that pays tribute to black women’s involvement in witchcraft, Princess Nokia is reclaiming her spirituality—and, in essence, her identity—as her own. It also creates a linear connection between her and the matriarchal figures that help create her identity. She credits her grandmothers who were brujas, Tituba, Orisha, and the Arawaks, who were a matrilineal society. In doing so, she traces her identity through the women in her life, much like the Arawaks.14 She thus roots her identity in the female experience of the Caribbean diaspora. The Afro-Latina connection to the Caribbean diaspora is further explored in the song “Mala,” by Maluca. Maluca is a Dominican artist from Washington Heights, a neighborhood of New York with the largest Dominican population. Like Princess Nokia, Maluca explores her identity using Brujería. She sings: Yo soy la mala, sí, yo soy madura Pelo malo, pelo suelto como una bruja Me llaman loca, pero así te gusta Y como fuego muevo la cintura.15 To first claim herself as the dangerous or bad woman is to reclaim the title placed on her ancestors who were also considered dangerous women, like Tituba. She then discusses hair politics, an area of contention within the Caribbean community, where a majority of the population is black and where colorism, sexism and classism reinforce respectability politics imposed by western
“Boy Parts,” American Horror Story, Murphy, Ryan and Falchuk, Brad, 2013. Samuel M. Wilson, “The Cultural Mosaic of the Indigenous Caribbean,” Proceedings of the British Academy, 1992, 53. 15 Maluca, “Mala,” Mad Decent Records, 2016, verse 1. 13 14
standards of beauty and decorum. There is an expectation that “good” hair is hair that fits Eurocentric beauty standards: hair that is straight with no evidence of resembling any black heritage. By claiming her hair as being “pelo malo y suelto,” she distances herself from whiteness and Eurocentric ideas of beauty, instead rooting herself in her Afro-Latina identity. Maluca also connects her identity to that of brujas, the witches of the Caribbean, like Princess Nokia does. She portrays herself through imagery and diction that connotes images and ideas associated with brujas: wild hair, eroticism, and being understood as crazy by people who do not understand her spirituality. By evoking such images and ideas, Maluca claims her identity within the Caribbean diaspora as tied to spirituality, freedom of expression, and blackness. It is also worth noting that all four of the artists’ songs use language to further emphasize the idea of diaspora. The mixture of English, Spanish, Yoruban, Spanglish, and slang help give all the songs a place within the diaspora. All the artists are singers from outside of the Caribbean, so they adapt languages outside of the traditional languages of the islands, like English. However, they also retain the language that was forced on their ancestors by the colonizers: Spanish. Spanish is found in Maluca, Princess Nokia and Nitty Scott’s diasporic songs and is used to connect themselves not only to their “motherlands” but to each other and others within the diaspora. For Nitty Scott, she sprinkles her Spanish within the song “La Diaspora”—“Dale morena, like this Puerto Rico/ We go, when we make it rain like El Nino/ Got that sofrito, that primo, that negro”16— where it can be understood as a connecting force between those inside and outside of the Caribbean. She interjects her Spanish to encompass events and experiences that should be universally understood for Afro-Latinas within the Caribbean: “morena” is a term of endearment used for dark skin women; “el nino” is the strip of warm ocean water in the Pacific Ocean that hits
Nitty Scott, “La Diaspora,” Indigenous Digital, 2017, verse 2.
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the Caribbean; “sofrito” is a sauce typically used in Caribbean cuisine; “primo” the Spanish word for cousin, “negro” is black. For Scott, she views Spanish as a language all Afro-Latinas should be able to connect with since they have all survived their ancestors’ trauma of having the Spanish language forced on them. Maluca uses her Spanish to reclaim her own identity. Although her song contains both English and Spanish, she uses Spanish to express her rebellion: Mala! Sí, yo soy madura Con pelo, con pelo suelto como una bruja Mi gasolina prende fuego, muevo la cintura Te pongo loco, pero así te gusta.17 Here, Spanish is used to switch the power dynamic between the colonial power and the views of the indigenous. Where the colonizers saw the indigenous population as savage and wild, Maluca takes this narrative and owns it, expressing that she is bad and it is her gasoline that lights the fire. She takes the mentality that was used against her ancestors to keep them powerless and reverses its power dynamics, making them her own. Ibeyi reflects a similar notion of controlling power within language, but uses the Yoruba language to accomplish this. For Ibeyi, their use of Yoruba is their way of rejecting the Spanish colonialism enforced on their ancestors. In the song “River” they sing, “Let me baptize my soul with the help of your waters/ Those old me’s are so ashamed/ Let the river take them, river drown them,”18 before carrying on into Yoruban, when they ask for the goddess Oshun to cleanse them. They ask for help in cleansing themselves—cleansing themselves of the ways of the Spanish colonists, cleansing themselves of their own old ways—instead wanting a closer connection to their Yoruban roots. By doing so, they locate their narrative, and therefore their power, with that
Maluca, “Mala,” Mad Decent Records, 2016, verse 1. Ibeyi, “River,” XL Recordings, 2015, verse 1.
of the enslaved Yoruba people brought to the Caribbean instead of with the Spanish colonists who forced themselves on the island. This connects Ibeyi’s identity as Afro-Latina women within the Caribbean with the trauma and spirituality that has allowed them to persevere. While Yoruba and Spanish can be used by the diaspora to take back the power lost during colonization, Spanglish is used to make sense of that diaspora. For someone not born in the Caribbean, or removed from it at a young age, the sense of diaspora is different from those raised within the Caribbean or removed at a later age. For those born in the diaspora, Spanglish is used to create a sense of connection with the motherland, seen in Nitty Scott’s “La Diaspora,” when she sings, “Mira mi tranquila vida riding down the Congo/Got that El Dorado and my mama do the mambo/ I'm so aficionado when I'm banging on my bongo,”19 and Maluca’s “Mala,” when she sings, “I be the M-A-L-A/ Holler at me.”20 The Spanglish helps to make sense of the disconnect within black society in America. Knowing that the black identity within the U.S. is not enough to encapsulate the different dimensions of their identities, Maluca and Nitty Scott turn to the Caribbean diaspora to help understand their Afro-Latinidad. Through African inspired drums, hip hop, and the use of multiple languages to sing and rap, Nitty Scott, Princess Nokia, Maluca, and Ibeyi capture an understanding of identity for AfroLatinas within the Caribbean diaspora. The image captured by these artists is one that portrays an identity affected and created by blackness, trauma, and spirituality that manifests itself through language and experiences of womanhood. By reclaiming hip hop, a genre of music dominated by men, Nitty Scott, Princess Nokia, Maluca and Ibeyi illustrate their identity of neither belonging completely to the U.S. nor completely to the Caribbean, within a genre that has a history of exploiting women, especially black women. They mark themselves in a space not meant to
Nitty Scott, “La Diaspora,” Indigenous Digital, 2017, chorus. Maluca, “Mala,” Mad Decent Records, 2016, hook.
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encompass them and use it to raise their own narratives and connect with each other, much like how they relate their identities back to the Latinx Caribbean while maintaining their spaces within the U.S., or, in the case of Ibeyi, France. They use the male-dominated space of hip hop to discuss their relation to trauma, spirituality and blackness left in the wake of the colonialism, enslavement and genocide experienced by their ancestors. By contrasting “la diaspora,” a feminine word in Spanish, with the masculinity of hip hop, Nitty Scott, Princess Nokia, Maluca and Ibeyi are reclaiming the autonomy the women who came before them lost. They strengthen these contrasting themes by infusing the linguistic politics of Spanish, English and Yoruban—and which gets the most autonomy within their works—into their lyrics, making calculated choices to best represent their connection to the Caribbean. They further these politics by centering hierarchies of power between the Caribbean and the U.S., women and men, and whiteness and blackness into discussions of their womanhood formed by the diaspora. Finally, their use of spirituality allows them to connect their trauma to the women who came before them, and those who will come after them, creating a matrilineal connection to the Caribbean— even for the Afro-Latinas who may never visit the Caribbean, but nonetheless experience its history within themselves.
Bibliography “First Salem Witch Hanging.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/thisday-in-history/first-salem-witch-hanging. “Hernán Cortés.” New World Encyclopedia, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Hernan_Cortes “Hip Hop Is Born at a Birthday Party in the Bronx.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hip-hop-is-born-at-a-birthday-party-in-the-bronx Ibeyi. “River.” Genius, 16 Feb. 2015, genius.com/Ibeyi-river-lyrics. Maluca. “MALA.” Genius, 14 Jan. 2016, genius.com/Maluca-mala-lyrics. Nokia, Princess. “Brujas .” Genius, 4 Sept. 2016, genius.com/Princess-nokia-brujas-lyrics. Perez-Firmat, Gustavo. “Mambo.” Oxford Bibliographies. 20 Apr. 2018, www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199913701/obo9780199913701-0075.xml. Santeria Church. “What Is the Difference between Voodoo, Hoodoo and Santeria?” Santeria Church of the Orishas, 21 July 2012, santeriachurch.org/what-is-the-difference-betweenvoodoo-hoodoo-and-santeria/. Scott, Nitty. “Nitty Scott (Ft. Zap Mama) – La Diaspora.” Genius, genius.com/Nitty-scott-ladiaspora-lyrics. Wigington, Patti. “Brujas, Brujos, and Brujería in Witchcraft.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 22 Feb. 2018, www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-bruja-or-brujo-2561875. Wilson, Samuel M. “The Cultural Mosaic of the Indigenous Caribbean.” Proceedings of the British Academy, 4 Dec. 1992, pp. 37–66., www.britac.ac.uk/pubs/proc/files/81p037.pdf.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES ALEXANDRA CIULLO
Alexandra Ciullo is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies International Relations and Hispanic Studies. Her research interests include migration from the Northern Triangle to the U.S., and specifically how that differs from migration from Mexico to the U.S. She has traveled to the Western highlands of Guatemala several times to participate in development projects and has recently studied abroad in Mexico City, where she organized a donation campaign for the 2018 migrant caravan as it passed through the city. She is strongly passionate about and significantly involved with the Latinx immigrant populations in Philadelphia and Chicago.
Isabella Lajara is a junior at Columbia University, where she studies Latin American and Caribbean Studies with a concentration in Political Science. She is interested in narratives created through music and their relation to Latinx identity. She is strongly influenced by her background as a Puerto Rican and Dominican woman and her personal connection to music as a tool of expression.
SABRINA RAINSBURY Sabrina Rainsbury is a sophomore at the Johns Hopkins University, where she studies Spanish. She has a particular interest in the history of U.S. interventionism in Central America and how it has shaped modern politics and culture. She is currently working on a project that explores the regime of Rios Montt in Guatemala as a product of Cold War politics.Â 92
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES DANIEL SULLIVAN Daniel Sullivan is a senior at Princeton University, where he studies History with a Certificate in Latin American Studies. His research focuses on U.S. involvement in Latin America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He recently completed his senior thesis entitled, "The Southern Star of Empire: Shifting Attitudes Toward Mexico During the U.S. Civil War." His work analyzes various conceptions of the Union and Confederate relationships with Mexico in order to understand how the U.S. viewed itself and its relationship with the rest of Latin America during the 1860s.
ELIZABETH TIAN Elizabeth Tian is a senior at Princeton University, where she studies Computer Science with Certificates in Latin American Studies and Finance. Her research interests include the role of technology in transforming emerging markets within Latin America, especially through industries such as financial and agricultural technology. She is currently writing her certificate thesis, “Investigating the Emerging Startup Ecosystems in Peru." She will be working at the Two Sigma Investments in New York CIty postgraduation.
We are proud to present the eighth volume of Américas: The Johns Hopkins Journal of Latin American Studies.