Uruguayan president José Mujica needs less than a minute to break down what he believes is wrong with modern society. Mujica is the farmer-turned-revolutionary who became president of Uruguay in 2010. He was dubbed “poorest president in the world” when he declined to live in Uruguay’s presidential palace and used a beat-up 1987 Volkswagen Beetle as his transportation.
The clip of Mujica comes from Human, a documentary by French filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand that collected thousands of interviews from people in 60 countries.
Arthus-Bertrand: “I dreamed of a film in which the power of words would resonate with the beauty of the world. The movie relates the voices of all those, men and women, who entrusted me with their stories. And it becomes their messenger.”
Just days after two mass shootings that left 31 people dead, multiple foreign countries are issuing warnings to their citizens about traveling to the United States. Venezuela, Uruguay and Japan have all released statements urging its citizens to postpone or reconsider trips to the U.S. after the “recent acts of violence.”
Here’s why some countries are calling on their citizens to reconsider making their way to the U.S anytime soon.
“These growing acts of violence have found echo and sustenance in the speeches and actions impregnated with racial discrimination and hatred against migrant populations, pronounced and executed from the supremacist elite who hold political power in Washington,” the country’s foreign ministry wrote in a statement. “This year alone, these actions have cost the lives of more than 250 people.”
“We warn Venezuelans, living in or aiming to travel to the U.S., to be extra careful or to postpone their travel, given the recent proliferation of violent acts and hate crimes,” Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro tweeted Monday.
The warning from Maduro came shortly before the White House announced that President Trump signed an executive order that expanded sanctions against the country. Back in April, the U.S. State Department also issued a warning to Venezuela when it came to travel. The U.S. gave Venezuela a Level 4: Do Not Travel, which is it’s most severe travel advisory due to crime, civil unrest and the arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens.
On the same day that Venezuela advised a travel warning, Uruguay followed suit. The country said those who visit the U.S. must take “extreme precautions” because local authorities are unable to stop mass shootings.
The Uruguayan government has also issued a similar warning about the increasing dangers if they are making a trip to the U.S in the near future. In a statement, the foreign ministry told people to be extra cautious if traveling to the U.S. because of its “increasing indiscriminate violence” and “racism and discrimination that cost the lives of more than 250 people in the first seven months of this year.”
The Uruguayan government specifically said to take notice and urged citizens to avoid places that have a large concentration of people such as theme parks, malls, concerts, religious activities, food festivals, sports events, and large city protests. Just a few days ago, the U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory level for Uruguay “due to an increase in crime,” from a Level 1 warning (exercise normal precautions) to Level 2 (exercise increased caution).
Japan has also issued a warning citing the U.S as a “gun society” and it’s lack of control when it comes to shootings.
The Japanese Consul in Detroit also issued an alert quickly after news of a second shooting broke. The Consul said Japanese citizens “should be aware of the potential for gunfire” everywhere in the U.S., which they described as a “gun society,” according to the Los Angeles Times. But the Japanese government currently still lists travel to the U.S. as safe.
This isn’t the first time that countries have gone forward to issue travel warnings because of gun violence in the country. France, New Zealand, and Germany have previously issued travel advisories to the U.S. shortly after mass shootings.
Among the 22 people that were killed in El Paso, eight were Mexican nationals. Foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard has even suggested that Mexico may even seek to charge the El Paso shooter, Patrick Crusius, with committing terrorist acts against its citizens.
“It is not our disposition to involve ourselves in the internal affairs of any country, but this topic should be considered again because it affects many people, in this case, Americans, as well as Mexicans,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said on Monday.
The deadly attacks over the weekend occurred at a shopping center in El Paso, Texas, and a popular housing complex in Dayton, Ohio. The El Paso and Dayton killings have added to what has already been an increasingly deadly year for mass killings in the U.S.
This past week was the week that the world brought attention to an issue that affects an estimated 40.3 million people around the globe, human trafficking. For Uruguayan Sandra Ferrini, 58, it was exposing a past that had followed her for most of her entire life. Ferrini was “sold” by her mother as a teenager into the world of street prostitution and after 37 years on the city streets of Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and in Europe, her story is now ready to be told.
According to a report from the International Labour Organization, there are around 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world, with 1 in 4 victims being children.
On Tuesday, Uruguay participated in its first anti-human trafficking march, with Ferrini joining countless of others who like her had to endure sex trafficking for years. Campaigners took to the streets of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, where in the country of 3.5 million people, the most common form of human trafficking involves women and girls where they are forced into sex work.
For Ferrnini, the march was something that was on her mind all the years she had no voice on the issue and couldn’t speak up about the horrendous conditions she was placed in. She says many people choose to ignore the issue or just not address it all together.
“It’s a march that I thought about when I was held captive,” Ferrini told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Human trafficking happens every day, but people don’t want to see it. We are seen as numbers. We want to be seen as people. We will march as people.”
The details of Ferrnini past experience is just one example of the countless lives that face these situations on a daily basis. She says that she was sexually exploited for 37 years and was even forced to have sex with up to 30 men a day.
“I am a survivor of trafficking. It was my mother who sold me at the beginning,” Ferrini told Subrayado. “I was able to get rid at 45 because I had a traffic accident in which I was paralyzed. They were going to kill me, they threw me in a field, and a person rescued me.”
Human trafficking remains a global issue and the United Nations has set out to bring awareness and combat this growing issue.
Uruguay is one of the biggest epicenters when it comes to human trafficking. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons report, Uruguay was placed in its Tier 2 Watch List, which is the second-lowest ranking. This was done as the country has not meet many of the minimum standards when it comes to efforts in eliminating human trafficking.
“Most detected victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation; victims are also trafficked for forced labor, recruitment as child soldiers and other forms of exploitation and abuse,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the United Nations on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. “Thousands of people have died at sea, in deserts and in detention centres, at the hands of traffickers and migrant smugglers plying their monstrous, merciless trades.”
For Uruguay, this is hopefully just the start of acknowledging and bringing to light the global issue of human trafficking.
There has been some progress in recent years when it comes to decreasing the number of sex trafficking victims. In 2017, Uruguay’s National Institute for Women assisted 172 women trafficking victims which was an increase from the previous year at 131, the U.S. State Department said.
There has also been legislative work put in place as last year Uruguay updated its anti-human trafficking law and action plan. The country also just recently created a new national committee to help combat it’s anti-trafficking efforts.
Ferrini now also heads “Yes to Life, No to Trafficking,” a survivors support group. It’s these types of groups and organizations that play a big role in getting women off the streets and rebuilding their lives and most importantly, rebuilding their broken self-esteem.
“I naturalized this as a child – for me it was something that I thought I had to live,” Ferrini said. “There’s a lot of work to do in education, training and prevention.”