Jennifer Keck

Guest Blogger

Jennifer Keck is a writer with a passion for foreign policy. She is particularly interested in US-Latin America relations, with an expertise in Mexico and Argentina. She speaks fluent Spanish and is working on her French. She lives in New York, New York.

A Model for Climate Change: Guatemala's Agro-Ecological Center

Guatemala, Climate Change, German Society for International Cooperation, Agriculture, Food Security

Plagued by rising temperatures, droughts, and elevated carbon dioxide levels, Central America's agricultural sector hangs in the balance. But the Guatemalan town of San Miguel Chicaj in Baja Verapaz may have the answer to this increasingly worrisome problem. With support from the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), San Miguel Chicaj will soon be home to an agro-ecological center designed to serve as a model of adaption to climate change.

For the past ten years, the state of Baja Verapaz has been part of the 'dry corridor', making it the perfect testing ground for the agro-ecological center's techniques. The center, located in a small forest surrounded by cornfields and nurseries, plans to teach people to adapt crop production to the changing environment.  

"It will strengthen our crops…serve as a space for youth to be trained in agricultural-related activities," the chief counselor of San Miguel Chicaj told El Periodico.

The project, which is in the second phase of the "Adapt" initiative of the GIZ, has been called "innovative" and "a new way to address climate change" by the organization's head of cooperation Thomas Cieslik.

Under construction on municipal land, it will cost around $100,000 USD to complete. GIZ, meanwhile, is providing €10.5 million over six years (2013-2018) to invest in consulting and training. Once open, the center will fund operations by charging schools, universities, and companies for training students and employees.

It won't be ready for about a year-and-a-half, but GIZ is already conducting workshops to teach residents of Baja Verapaz how to reduce their impact on the environment. 

Rio 2016: Olympic Games Trump Human Rights?

2016 Olympics, Brazil, Rio de Janiero, Human Rights, Police Brutality

Ready or not, Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics in August.  The Brazilian city, which is set to receive one million visitors,  has long been plagued by violent crime and police brutality—a security risk for both athletes and tourists.  In order to combat these fears, Brazil loaned $895 million to the city to keep the peace. But there is another, often neglected group, that also deserves protection: Rio de Janeiro's residents.

Combined with the numbers on police violence, Brazil's security policy gives NGOs and observers reason to pause.  Police in the state of Rio de Janeiro were responsible for 436 killings in 2014 alone, according to Human Rights Watch. And no fewer than 85,000 security officers will be deployed throughout the games. (Forces include civilian and military police, National Public Security Force soldiers, members of the armed forces,  and privately funded brigades.)

Police Brutality

Brazil's extreme security measures might make visitors feel more at home, but the same can't be said for millions of residents who face high rates of homicides committed by police. These security operations to reduce crime before events such as the World Cup or the Olympics often threaten the local population, according to Amnesty International.

Donald Trump's Dangerous Views on Nuclear Weapons

Donald Trump, Nuclear Weapons, nuclear non-proliferation, United States, Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea, Russia

Barring a contested convention, Donald Trump will likely be named the Republican presidential nominee.  And while his polarizing stances on immigration, trade agreements, and economic recovery get the most press, there is one issue that should raise alarm across party lines: nuclear proliferation. According to Trump, it's "going to happen anyway."  

Surprisingly, the presidential candidate sees no reason for the United States to stop nuclear proliferation. In fact, he told the New York Times, "If Japan had that nuclear threat, I'm not sure that would be a bad thing for us." Nor would he dissuade South Korea and Saudi Arabia from obtaining nuclear weapons, too.

Japan and South Korea, in particular, rely on U.S. military support to maintain peace and stability in the region. Yet Trump has suggested withdrawing troops in favor of allowing nuclear armament, a move that would greatly impact foreign policy.

“If the U.S. allies defend themselves as Trump has said, the alliance will be broken, and it will lead to a nuclear domino situation in Asia,” Moon Keun-sik, an analyst with the Korea Defense and Security Forum in Seoul told Voice of America.