Things That Matter

The Colombian President And Congress Just Passed A Peace Deal The People Didn’t Want

@JuanManSantos / Twitter / @sweetdulcelife / Twenty20

The Colombian Congress has ratified a new peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) bypassing that voters.

@ajplus / Twitter
CREDIT: @ajplus / Twitter

The Colombian Senate ratified the revised peace deal in a 75 to zero vote. Just days later, the Colombian House of Representatives also ratified the peace deal with a vote of 130 to zero. Sounds like it is a pretty unanimous vote, however, opponents to the deal that are in the Congress abstained from voting. The abstaining votes gave the peace deal an easy path to ratification but members against the deal were vocal about their discontent. President Juan Manuel Santos and top FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño both signed the agreement on on Nov. 24 before it was sent to the Colombian Congress.

“On signing this agreement, as president of all Colombians, I want to invite all, with an open mind and open heart, to give peace a chance,” Santos said during the signing ceremony, according to The New York Times.

Colombians voted on a referendum on Oct. 2 and voters narrowly blocked the original peace deal with the rebel group. Colombia has been plagued with civil war for the past 52 years and, according to The Washington Post, the war has killed 220,000 people and displaced 7 million people in the South American country. Part of the new peace deal would allow for the rebel group to transition from violent revolutionary army to a political party.

President Santos wasted no time in applauding and congratulating the Congress for their action.


“Gratitude to Congress for its historic support of Colombians’ hope for peace.”


READ:  NOThese Female Rebels Are The Scariest In The Jungle

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After Racist Chants At A Trump Rally Directed At Rep. Omar, Cardi B Has Come Out Supporting The Congresswoman

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After Racist Chants At A Trump Rally Directed At Rep. Omar, Cardi B Has Come Out Supporting The Congresswoman

@ilhanmn Instagram / Presley Ann / Stringer Getty Images

As President Trump continues to lead a national racist attack on progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar, Cardi B showed her support for the Minnesota congresswoman with a simple Instagram post.

Within hours, #IStandWithIlhan was trending on Twitter, with public figures and fellow politicians weighing in.

Cardi B was one of the very first people to show her support for Omar.

In typical badass fashion, the “Press” singer quoted Beyonce when posting in support of Omar on Instagram, sharing a photo and writing, “You know you that b**** when you cause all this conversation.”

This is not the first time this week Cardi B, born Belcalis Almánzar, has weighed in on politics. The Bronx-born rapper tweeted Tuesday that she was “really sad” that Democratic voters “let down” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the 2016 presidential primary.

She wrote that the senator has “been fighting for equal rights, HUMAN rights for such along time.”

“Seeing this country become a better place been really his passion for a long time not a new front for a campaign,” she added.

Cardi B’s appreciation post comes after a disgusting rally where Trump continued with his racist rhetoric.

Credit: @AlmaNiqabae / Twitter

Trump held a “Make America Great Again” rally in Greeneville, North Carolina. During the rally, Trump continued to rant against Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressly and Rashia Tlaib, who have become known as “the squad.”

“Let ’em leave… they’re always telling us how to run it, how to do this, how to do that. You know what? If they don’t love it, tell ’em to leave it,” Trump said of the congresswomen.

Although Trump spent time going after each woman individually, only his attack on Omar elicited an offensive chant from the crowd.

“Omar smeared U.S. service members in ‘Black Hawk Down.’ She slandered the brave Americans trying to keep peace in Somalia,” Trump said of Omar.

Trump paused his speech to let the chant continue.

The president also claimed Omar blamed America for the economic crisis in Venezuela and she refused to condemn Al Qaeda. As the president ripped into Omar, people in the crowd began chanting “send her back” in the same way that they chanted “lock her up” during his campaign against Hillary Clinton.

After, Omar responded to the chants at the rally by tweeting, “I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal!” along with a photo of her on the House floor.

Cardi B fans have been stanning extra hard after her post.

Credit: @yashar / Twitter

To see this strong woman of color come to defend one of Trump’s most vocal opponents sent me any people into a frenzy. Her tweet was simple yet totally summed up what so many of us are thinking and feeling.

I mean she quoted the Queen Bey in her post. Like OMG.

That is some mad stanning right there. Quoting Beyonce lyrics to support a woman of color suffering racist attacks from the President of the United States and his supporters…it doesn’t get more powerful than that.

Cardi B’s favored presidential candidate always weighed in on Trump’s remarks about Omar.

Credit: @SenSanders / Twitter

Cardi B has been pretty vocal about her support of Bernie Sanders for president. She recently said about Bernie, “Seeing this country become a better place been really his passion for a long time not a new front for a campaign.”

READ: Cardi B Stands Behind Bernie Sanders Because Of His Desire To Fight For All People And Their Rights

The Australian Police Found A Colombian Drug Operation Hidden Behind A Bookshelf

Things That Matter

The Australian Police Found A Colombian Drug Operation Hidden Behind A Bookshelf

Australian Federal Police

This is a story of a surprising find in a tranquil Australian suburb. What unfolds is a tale of hidden illegal activity and a surprise discovery. This all happened back in 2017, but legal proceedings are putting the spotlight on this case again. Cases like this bring to mind how many Latin American communities are stigmatized due to the incidence of drug-related crimes in the region, and how global cartels expand internationally. These processes of stigmatization not only affect everyday interactions but also wider policymaking, as the recent discussions around the proposed border wall in the US-Mexico border have highlighted. 

First things first: Australia is hard to reach for drug cartels.

Credit: image. Digital image. Business Insider

Oceania is the last bastion for international drug cartels. Australia, in particular, is heavily guarded but also has miles and miles of coast that is practically impossible to fully surveil. Cartels, however, have found ways to enter this market. In recent years, journalistic accounts of the role that international criminal networks have in the distribution of drugs in Australia has sparked public concern and debate. According to recent research published in The Age, “Australians consumed illegal drugs worth $9.3 billion in 2018”.  The presence of organizations such as the Sinaloa Cartel in Australian cities and its role in the ice epidemic has sparked concerns among journalists and policymakers. The Australian media is up in arms every time the cartels are identified in the country. As reported by Daily Telegraph on January 28, 2019: “The Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, described as the most ruthless and deadly in the world, has joined forces with the increasingly dangerous Nigerian crime network in Sydney to carry out large-scale drug importation.” This story, for example, plays with fears of foreigners in a society that sometimes tends to be insular and afraid of immigration. Are reports like this generating stereotypes?

This is where this story begins:

Sylvania is like any upscale suburb in the ultra-expensive beachside city of Sydney, Australia.

Credit: Screenshot taken from RealEstate.com.au

Houses in Sylvania often reach the $1 million AUD mark. It is a pretty relaxed place with a mostly white population, but with pockets of Asian and Greek migrants. It is the synonym of a relaxed Aussie beach suburb. Nothing much happens and everything is usually closed by 7 p.m. 

There is some old money around, and plenty of new money.

Credit: Screenshot taken from RealEstate.com.au

When we said homes can easily reach a million, we were talking about the lower end of the spectrum. A four-bedroom apartment goes for more than two million Australian dollars. But look at those views!

From the outside, a suburban home in Sylvania was just another ordinary, sleepy household.

Credit: Image by Australian Federal Police

Nothing to suspect. Just a comfy couch and a bookshelf lined with Lonely Planet travel guidebooks. 

The cops suspected something was going on so they searched the property.

Credit: Image by Australian Federal Police

The Australian Federal Police was investigating a Sydney-based Colombian gang that was involved in the distribution of border-controlled drugs. The police were also following the trails of a money-laundering operation believed to be operated by Colombians. This all happened in 2017, but the details of the case are just being released as part of a court proceeding. As Australian Government News reported on July 12, 2019: “On 10 July 2019, the Supreme Court of NSW made orders which restrained a residential property in Sylvania, NSW, under section 19 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) based on the allegation the property was used in, or in connection with, various drug offences under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).”

This is what they found behind the now-famous bookshelf: and now the police is trying to seize the property.

Credit: Image by Australian Federal Police

The authorities believed that the house was actually a custom made to fit in the illegal drug operation. For this reason, the authorities are looking to confiscate the house. In addition, the authorities charged a 45-year-old man (the police hasn’t disclosed his name for legal reasons) with multiple drug-related offenses: supplying cocaine, being in the possession of cannabis and, as reported by The Sun UK, ” dealing in proceeds of crime with a value that reached around $100,000.” This man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years and six months in federal prison. 

Drugs, high tech transmitters, they really had everything they needed to run a drug business.

Credit: Image by Australian Federal Police

According to The Sun UK, police found that the property “was full of cash, replica weapons, tasers, and wireless transmitters, police confirmed”. This was a big hit on organized crime in Australia, a country that is hard to penetrate for drug cartels due to its tight borders and geographical isolation. There are also very few cases of police corruption. Officer Penelope Kelton, Coordinator of Criminal Assets Litigation, said (as per The Sun UK): “The ability to confiscate items used in the commission of crimes sends a clear message to the criminal underworld – if you commit the crime, we are prepared to target your assets. Drug-related crime puts a great strain on the community through increased health care costs, associated property crime and other forms of violence. It is only reasonable that police can fight back on behalf of the community by targeting those who seek to profit from inflicting this misery.”

Drug trafficking is a significant issue in Australia for multiple reasons.

Credit: mexico_drugs. Digital image. Australian Institute of International Affairs.

The illegal distribution and consumption of narcotics through global networks of criminal complicity is a significant social problem worldwide and public health concern in most Western countries, including Australia. Alongside the distribution of drugs, negative stereotypes about Global South populations run rampant. In particular, Latin American citizens from countries like Colombia and Mexico are stigmatized due to the negative image their home countries have in relation to the drug wars. 

Representation matters: not all Latinos are drug dealers!

Credit: Narcos / Netflix

Alongside extremism and terrorism, since the 1990s international criminal networks have been framed as one of the main challenges to Western democracies, a place formerly held by the Soviet Union and left-leaning countries. This understanding of recent world history has the potential to generate stereotypes that could influence national and international discussions regarding border security, as seen in the recent debate in the United States concerning the construction of a Southern border wall.

How stories like these are told in the media influences the way in which Latinos living in English-speaking and Global North countries are perceived. Australian newspapers emphasized the fact that those arrested were Colombian, which further adds to the bad rep that the country has in the Southern Hemisphere. To this, we have to add that most references that Australians and non-Latino Americans have of the region are through TV shows and movies. As a recent editorial by Hector Tobar published in The New York Times pointed out: “By the next network upfronts, or summer movie blockbuster season, Latino drug operatives may outpace their chief rivals — jihadist terrorists and Russians mobsters — and become the country’s leading screen bad guys”. 

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