Latin America

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump walks with Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto at the end of their joint statement at Los Pinos, the presidential official residence, in Mexico City, Wednesday.
Dario Lopez-Mills / AP

As the United States gears up for the 2016 presidential election, voters must tackle the ever-present concerns of foreign policy and international engagement. In an era of globalization, increasingly open channels of information, disputes over land and growing trans-national trade, Americans are trying to figure out America’s role in the world.

Guest host Brian Hardzinski talks with Joshua Landis about an important victory for Kurds in the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, and why Kurds have done so well when Arabs have not against Islamic State militants.

Then Suzette Grillot talks with David Deisley and Rob Perreault about resource extraction in Latin American countries.

Miners at work in the Bolivian town of Potosí.
Christophe Meneboeuf / Wikimedia Commons

For nearly two centuries, the city of Potosí in the highlands of what is now Bolivia was the crown jewel of the Spanish Empire. From the mid 14th until the early 16th century, the Spain used the silver mined from Potosí’s Cerro Rico – or Rich Hill – to fund its empire

Puerto Rican Flag

When Esmeralda Santiago arrived in New York City in the early 1960s, she was completely terrified.

“I always think of the trip from Puerto Rico to the United States as probably the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me,” Santiago says. “I was a rural girl. We lived out in the country. I had never seen television. We had no electricity or running water.”

The alienation Santiago felt informed her writing. That turmoil, and her love for the history of Puerto Rico and the voices of characters she heard in her dreams, became Santiago’s novel Conquistadora.

In April, an investigation by the Associated Press revealed that the U.S. Agency For International Development (USAID) had created a Twitter-like company in Cuba. The goal was to undermine the Cuban government by giving disgruntled citizens the tools to more easily organize and communicate.

Suzette Grillot and Rebecca Cruise discuss the North Korean response to the Seth Rogen and James Franco film The Interview, and the report released this week  reviewing the increased use of drones by the United States.

And a conversation with University of Oklahoma Latin America historian Alan McPherson. His new book The Invaded explores early 20th century conflicts in Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

A.R. Harrison / United States Marine Corps

Eighty years after President James Monroe announced his opposition to any European intervention in Latin America, President Theodore Roosevelt expanded on the idea and justified the United States’ aggressive pursuit of its own economic and political interests in the region during his 1904 State of the Union address.

Suzette Grillot and Rebecca Cruise discuss President Obama's trip to Asia this week, and whether or not we'll finally see the long-anticipated foreign policy "pivot" to the region. They also talk about the kidnapping of hundreds of young girls in Nigeria.

Later, a conversation with activist, author and filmmaker Clifton Ross. He says solidarity among Latin American protesters and dedication to their cause can actually work against them.

andresAzp / Flickr Creative Commons

Translator, filmmaker, and author Clifton Ross says most Latin American social movements began among the indigenous people and urban poor during the 1970s and 80s as a response to neoliberal economic policies and limited citizen access to the political process.

You've probably heard a lot about "the Latino voter" or the way companies are trying to win over "the Latino consumer."

It's a cliché to point out that Latinos, like every other ethnic group, are not monolithic. But let's say it one more time, anyway: Latinos are not monolithic.

Friday marks 50 years since President John F. Kennedy died by an assassin’s hand in Dallas. University of Oklahoma political scientist Charles Kenney joins Suzette Grillot to discuss Kennedy’s global legacy, especially in Latin America.

Later, a conversation with Michael Covitt, the founder of the Malian Manuscript Foundation, and the producer of the documentary 333 – named after the saints buried in Timbuktu.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy at La Morita, Venezuela, during an official meeting for the Alliance for Progress in 1961.
Historia de Venezuela en Imágenes, El Nacional, 2001 / Wikimedia Commons

When President Kennedy took office in 1961, he immediately set out to combat communism wherever he could.

He didn’t need to look far, and signed off on a plan to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro put in motion by his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

University of Oklahoma political scientist and Latin America scholar Charles Kenney says it’s no coincidence Kennedy launched the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba within a month of a massive ten-year development program for Latin America known as the Alliance For Progress.

Luigino Bracci / Flickr

World leaders, athletes, and left-wing celebrities were among those who attended Friday's funeral in Caracas for Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

"He produced in people profound feelings of love, affection, and loyalty, and of rejection and hate," said Charles Kenney, a University of Oklahoma comparative political scientist and an expert on Latin American democratization. "So for those who loved him, this is a very sorrowful time, and he is indeed, I think, seen as a martyr-like figure."