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Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Debates and articles from across the openDemocracy website that discuss or are relevant to the Americas

El Salvador’s gang truce: a lost opportunity?

The truce declared in 2012 may have been imperfect and controversial but positive lessons must be learned amid the country’s current crisis of violence.

An Oxford Scot at King Dubya's court: Niall Ferguson's 'Colossus'

First published in July 2004, an account of the current BBC Reith Lecture's long-standing affair with American power and its structures.

Ronald Reagan and America: the real legacy

The posthumous inflation of Ronald Reagan’s political achievement is also a covert critique of George W Bush’s foreign-policy failures. But there are deep continuities between the two administrations, says Godfrey Hodgson.

(This article was first published on 9 June 2004)

How to be radical? An interview with Todd Gitlin and George Monbiot

What kind of radicalism can help turn protest against injustice into a coherent movement for a progressive global politics? Here, leading voices of different generations – Todd Gitlin (‘Letters to a Young Activist’) and George Monbiot (‘The Age of Consent’) – discuss activism, nationalism, violence, and world government in an interview with Anthony Barnett and Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy.

(This article was first published on 5 September 2003)

Burma's struggle, Aung San Suu Kyi's role

The eighteenth anniversary of the “8-8-88” massacre in Rangoon is a moment to reaffirm the core principles of Burmese people's long march to democracy, says Kyi May Kaung.

(This article was first published on 8 August 2006)

Disarmed

In a return to the putrid nightmare of post-Katrina New Orleans, Jim Gabour learns the hard way about what is needed to keep on the right side of life. First published September 5th 2005. Updated August 24th 2010.

"Born-again" Muslims: cultural schizophrenia

The divine rage that sparked the attacks on New York and Washington was inspired by the collision between a particular interpretation of Islamic faith and disabling social experience, says Malise Ruthven.

(This article was first published on 27 September 2001)

A world of dignity

The death of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the United Nations special representative in Iraq, robs the world of a calm voice of reason, humanity, and deep intelligence precisely when these qualities are most needed. In tribute, openDemocracy publishes his 11 November 2002 lecture on the universal character of human dignity.

(This article was first published on 24 August 2003)

Black glove/white glove: revisiting Mexico's 1968

The persistence of Mexican writers in seeking to expose the truth about state massacres of students during and after the 1968 Mexico City Olympics is illuminating Mexico's past.

(This article was first published on 25 August 2004)

Guantánamo: the inside story

Clive Stafford Smith is a lawyer who represents many of the more than 500 prisoners in Guantánamo Bay. In an exclusive interview for openDemocracy, he describes the prison camp and the conditions that lawyers work under, tells us that his clients have been tortured and explains how false information extracted by torture is contaminating US intelligence. Listen to Guantánamo, the inside story.

(This was first published on 23 November 2005)

Fidel Castro's legacy: Cuban conversations

The dynamic of change in Cuba as the end of the Fidel Castro era approaches can be understood only by viewing the deep flaws of his leadership style in the context of the record of the revolution as a whole, says Fred Halliday.

(This article was first published on 24 August 2006)

Living with Castro

Fidel Castro has dominated Cubans' minds as well as lives for forty-seven years. How have they coped? Bella Thomas explores the intimate psychic effects of an era nearing its end.

(This article was first published on 13 August 2006)

Climate change, global justice: letter to Al Gore

The next climate battle offers a test that the maker of "An Inconvenient Truth" has yet to face up to. 

(This article was first published on 27 July 2006)

When the levee breaks

The New Orleans disaster should inundate the rich world’s political imagination with awareness of man-made climate change, says Ian Christie.

(This article was first published on 2nd September 2005)

America's dreaming

Can the “American dream” belong also to the world? In the sixth of our Letters to Americans series, the Iranian scholar Ramin Jahanbegloo, who teaches at the Cultural Research Bureau in Tehran, and the philosopher Richard Rorty of Stanford University discuss the future of America’s national story.

(This article was first published on 30 August 2004)

The road not taken: the Iraq Study Group

The belief in a military solution to the United States's predicament in Iraq underlies the Bush administration's rejection of the Baker-Hamilton commission's report, says Bob Burnett.

Bush's royal crush

The White House welcome to Britain’s queen was in keeping with the character of his presidency, says Sidney Blumenthal.

The crisis of Colombia's state

The intimate connection between paramilitary groups, state-security institutions and politicians in Colombia is corroding the foundations of Álvaro Uribe’s rule, says Jenny Pearce.

Mahatma 189

New Orleans is still a city of tiny miracles. Jim Gabour has the proof.

America's choice: imperial vs constitutional rule

A new phase of political confrontation in Washington touches the very constitutional foundations of United States government, says Bob Burnett.

Benedict XVI in Brazil: raising the Catholic flag

The shifting religious landscape of Brazil presents a major challenge of policy and empathy to the visiting conservative pope, says Rodrigo de Almeida.

Queen Elizabeth meets President George

The visit of the British queen to the United States highlights the merits of constitutional monarchy, says Godfrey Hodgson.

Cutting loose

Death and celebration, food and funerals, music and loss – New Orleans holds everything in the same hand. The story of traditional jazzman Pud Brown reminds Jim Gabour of his city’s eternal verities.

The Malvinas and Afghanistan: unburied ghosts

The unnecessary conflict in the south Atlantic in 1982 between Britain and Argentina helped sow the seeds of more momentous and destructive wars, says Fred Halliday.

The deepening of Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution: why most people don't get it

The radical project led by Hugo Chávez in Venezuela can’t be understood through the distorting lens of its inveterate opponents, says Julia Buxton. This is a politics for the future with emancipation, participation – and popular support - at its heart.

Bush's soft-focus hard-edge

George W Bush’s infatuation with the kitsch landscape of the American west lit the path to Abu Ghraib, says Sidney Blumenthal.

Latin American democracy: time to experiment

In Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, leaders are seeking new sources of political legitimacy in which participation is at the heart, reports John Crabtree.

After occupation: a containment strategy for Iraq

What can the United States salvage from the wreckage of Iraq? There’s time for a fresh policy that works, says Ian Shapiro.

The discomfort of strangers

How do western societies accept outsiders into their midst? KA Dilday reflects on one dimension of the Virginia Tech massacre.

This is personal


Forty-one years before Virginia Tech, there was the University of Texas. Jim Gabour has reason to remember.

"M.J and Mary Gabour, their two sons, and William and Marguerite Lamport were headed up the steps from the 27th floor. They found the door barricaded by a desk. Mark and Mike Gabour pushed the desk away and leaned in the door to see what was going on. Suddenly Charlie rushed at them, spraying them with pellets from his sawed-off shotgun. Mark died instantly. Charlie fired down the stairway at least three more times.

Brazil: the moral challenge

Brazil needs a new dialogue to address the violence and inequality holding it back, says Arthur Ituassu

The Republicans' grand experiment

George W Bush's agenda has been to turn the entire federal government into the instrument of a one-party state, says Sidney Blumenthal.

Hugo Chávez: yo, el supremo

Venezuela's revolution is leaving democracy behind, reports Phil Gunson in Caracas.

Kurt Vonnegut : a voice for life

Kurt Vonnegut worked through despair to infect a generation of Americans with humanity, says Christopher Bigsby.

Bush besieged

The United States president's response to scrutiny of his administration's behaviour confirms his imperiousness, says Sidney Blumenthal.
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