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Banana Republic Of America: Beware Of The 'Latinamericanization' Of US Politics

Op-Ed: Thanks to the climate in Washington, the United States is beginning to resemble Latin America’s “Banana Republics,” where for years, ideological fanaticism trumped common sense – all to the detriment of the general population. A view from those who

A Tea Party rally in Minnesota (Fibonacci Blue)
A Tea Party rally in Minnesota (Fibonacci Blue)

SANTIAGO -- The American presidential campaign is in full swing, and has grown increasingly intense as the weeks go by. For those Latin Americans following the process closely, the campaign triggers a real sense of déjà vu. Not because this contest resembles past elections in the United States, but because it recalls the dangerous ideology-driven politics that were once so commonplace in Latin America. Never before have politics been so rough, so hate-driven, observers in Washington have remarked.

For the first time in the history of the U.S. Congress, the most liberal representative of the Republican Party is more conservative than the most right-wing Democrat. The result is a political system that appears headed toward a new era that is both uncertain and unstable. The radicalization of the Republicans, a process that's being fed by fanatical conservatives in the media, is giving rise to words and actions that are simply uncompromising.

So far the response from the other side of the political spectrum has been slow, tepid and even incredulous. The appearance of Occupy Wall Street, however, shows that those who've been ridiculed by the right as being soft, cowardly and socialist can also be driven toward a more radical position. This, in turn, accentuates a polarization that is making the country ungovernable.

For years Americans feared the "Latinamericanization" of their country, as immigrants from the Spanish-speaking south moved to the United States in droves. But those immigrants embraced the values of the country that received them. What's paradoxical is that that the real Latinamericanization taking place in the United States has to do with how its political elites are making a dangerous and harmful turn toward the kind of ideological fanaticism that used to dominate politics south of the Rio Grande.

Read more from AméricaEconomía in Spanish

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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