Teo Ballve

Twenty years ago this month, U.S. authorities helped bring down Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, but Washington's global war on drugs has not let up. In fact, it has become costlier, bloodier, more widespread and futile.

Hugo Chavez proved that Venezuela and the rest of Latin America could chart an independent path in the world.

The Venezuelan leader, who died on March 5, often assumed the role of court jester on the international stage, raising uncomfortable truths by poking fun at the powerful -- namely, the United States.

But, for Chavez, revolutionizing Venezuela's political and economic system was a wholly serious matter.

As Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez fights for his life, an honest assessment of his 14 years in office must take into account his significant achievements.

From humble origins, Chavez worked his way up the ranks of the Venezuelan military. He hit the national spotlight in 1992 after leading military officers in a failed coup attempt.

In a televised address, Chavez admitted the power grab had failed -- "for now," as he ominously put it. For many viewers, the obscure colonel became a national folk hero, someone who had finally stood up to a corrupt regime.

Latin America remains missing in action in the battle for the White House.

A 16-second sound bite about boosting regional trade from Mitt Romney was all the candidates had to say about Latin America during the campaign's foreign policy debate. "Latin America's economy is almost as big as the economy of China," said Romney during the final debate in Boca Raton, Fla. Nonetheless, the region remained one of the night's most glaring omissions.

By Teo Ballve

President Obama left the summit in Latin America with Washington more isolated than ever before.

The reason: The stubborn positions the United States takes on the drug war and on Cuba.

When Obama first met with regional leaders in 2009, he recognized the mistakes Washington had made in the past.

“We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms,” he said. “But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership.”

In Cartagena, Colombia, Obama failed to live up to this promise.

The inauguration of Brazil’s first female president is a stark reminder that the United States lags far behind its Latin American neighbors in electing women to power.

The renewed strength of Republicans in Congress is bad news for human rights in Colombia — and for jobs and safety here at home.

Approval of the statewide ballot initiative on Nov. 2 would allow local governments to tax and regulate the limited possession and cultivation of marijuana for adults age 21 and over.

It’s shameful that the smallest, poorest and least powerful of the world are the ones leading the fight for a sustainable global future.

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“Climate change isn’t an ‘issue’ to add to the list of things to worry about, next to healthcare and taxes,” Klein...

Real leaders need to lead a push back against the firestorm of fear about Muslims—not fan the flames.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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