One of Nigeria’s newest businessman, a slave trafficker for the modern age said: “I will marry out a female at 12; I will do same for a nine year old girl like it was done on my own mother. . . . I am the one that captured your girls and I will sell them in the market. I have my own market of selling people; it is the owner that instructed me to sell. Yes, I will sell the girls, people, I am selling the girls like Allah said, until we soak the ground of Nigeria with infidels’ blood.”
Such is the message to us from Abubakar Shekau, the fiery leader of Boko Haram, a militant Islamist organization whose very name means “Western education is forbidden.” Today, one month after the abduction of more than 200 girls from a Christian boarding school — and a few days after the dissemination of a video showing those girls as cowed, bewildered hostages “converted” to Islam — a worldwide campaign has been mobilized to save them from being sold off as sexual chattel in neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
How is their rescue being mobilized? Read more here.
Can a whole global development community be wrong? Can it be that it’s been wrong since the beginning? That the glittering palaces dedicated to fighting poverty — the World Bank, the United Nations, the Gates and Rockefeller foundations, not to mention the aid agencies, think tanks, and well-meaning initiatives by policy experts and Hollywood stars — are built on sand? Could it be that for 65 years they have operated on false premises and expended untold billions to prop up the very systems that undermine the poor?
William Easterly thinks so.
In his provocative “The Tyranny of Experts,” he lays out a passionate, if fitful, argument against the conventional approach to economic development. In the realm of benevolent intervention, the standing rule has always been that you can walk into a poor country and, with enough experts, supplies and bureaucratic correctives, make it rich and alleviate the woes of poverty. But according to Easterly, this is a fatuous idea that has sparked more havoc than good. Read more here.
Nadine Gordimer’s essay appeared in The Washington Post as part of Marie’s Book World series, “The Writing Life.” Scroll to the bottom to read Marie’s profile of the writer. The essay and profile can be found in the book, “The Writing Life.”
BOOK WORLD—THE WRITING LIFE—By Nadine Gordimer
In a series of guest Op-Ed columns for the New York Times, Marie explores a number of timely issues in Latin America, from poverty to Bolivarianism to new reverse-flow economies.
THE KIDS LEFT BEHIND THE BOOM:
March 20, 2013, Lima, Peru
Henrry Ochochoque is a jovial 12-year-old with a report card full of A’s and hopes pointed straight to the moon. Last year, he moved from the squalid gold-mining town of La Rinconada, Peru — at nearly 17,000 feet above sea level, the highest human habitation in the world — to the bustling hive of Juliaca, roughly the size of Buffalo, where schools are better, a water spigot sits across the road and his widowed mother awaits a brighter future. Read more.
LATIN AMERICA’S GO-TO HERO
April 17, 2013
Can you name an American founder whose name is shouted in the streets, whose legacy inspires fanatical worship, whose image is used to bolster ideals not his own, whose mantle is claimed by both left and right? There is no Washington party, no Jeffersonian republic. No one runs for president in Madison’s name. But in Latin America, as the Venezuelan election on Sunday reminded us, the question is easy, and the answer is Simón Bolívar. Read more.
THE MIGRANT CASH LIFELINE
May 15, 2013, Washington, D.C.
Every month, Tanita Alfaro, a diminutive night-shift office cleaner in Rockville, Md., puts aside $150 to send to her parents in an impoverished village near the Salvadoran city of San Miguel. Her husband walked 1,700 miles from their war-torn land to the United States-Mexico border 25 years ago and, several years later, she followed. Read more.
PREPARING FOR THE POPE
June 20, 2013
In April, in the sunlit city of Natal, Brazil, two men knocked on Sandra Abdalla’s door to apply for a painting job. Their pitch, as she described it in an e-mail: they were evangelical Christians and therefore more reliable than the competition. They didn’t drink, raise hell or steal, as a Catholic might. In a country that boasts the largest Roman Catholic population in the world — and a quickly rising tide of evangelicals — those are fighting words. Not least to Pope Francis, an Argentine who will visit Brazil next month, in the first trip of his papacy. Read more.
By Marie Arana
Henrry Ochochoque is a jovial 12-year-old with a report card full of A’s and hopes pointed straight to the moon. Last year, he moved from the squalid gold-mining town of La Rinconada, Peru — at nearly 17,000 feet above sea level, the highest human habitation in the world — to the bustling hive of Juliaca, roughly the size of Buffalo, where schools are better, a water spigot sits across the road and his widowed mother awaits a brighter future.
On a reporting trip last year, I’d heard his mother say she wanted to take the family down-mountain to safer ground. This year, I found them in a new home, not far from the shimmering waters of Lake Titicaca. For a child who once inhabited the ice and rock of an Andean promontory, with no clean water, no sanitation, in a mercury- and cyanide-laced mudhole riddled with whorehouses, raw sewage and AIDS, Henrry seemed to be on his way up.
But statistics tell us he is not. . . .
Read more here.
Girl Rising is a groundbreaking film, written in part by Marie, and directed by Oscar nominee Richard Robbins. The segment on Senna, a little girl who lives in the highest habitation in the world—the Peruvian gold mining town of La Rinconada—was written by Marie after traveling 18,200 feet up into a remote corner of the Andes. The movie tells the stories of 8 more extraordinary girls from different countries, each one written by a celebrated woman writer. The film is narrated by 9 renowned actresses, among them Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, and Cate Blanchett. Girl Rising showcases the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. Explore the film in detail at girlrising.com.
Watch a video in which Marie Arana talks about what it was like to meet Senna under a glacier-topped mountain in the gold mines of La Rinconada, Peru.
Also visit the fuller story.
EDUCATE GIRLS, CHANGE THE WORLD
La Rinconada, a gold mine at 18,000 feet in Peru, is the subject of this probing article, titled “Dreaming of El Dorado.” Marie traveled there to meet a young girl, Senna, and write a script for the forthcoming movie “Girl Rising.” The accompanying photographs are by Gina Nemirofsky of The Documentary Group in Los Angeles.
Read the whole text of “Dreaming of El Dorado”here.
And learn about Richard Robbins’s film “Girl Rising” here.
“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art,” William Faulkner once remarked, and the phrase became good as law. A writer, he said, was “driven by demons.” If he was any good, it was because he was ruthless, willing to sacrifice whatever it took to tell his story. Forget pride, honor, decency: If a writer had to rob his mother, he wouldn’t hesitate. Literature was a maw that had to be fed.
Indeed, robbing mothers is the least of it. The best writers have been known to rob fathers and forefathers, too; sisters, cousins and aunts. They’ll burgle their own children if they have to. If there’s a novelist or memoirist in your family, you know what I mean. You’re in for identity theft. You’re taking your chances.
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Marie has edited the Fall issue of the VQR (magazine published by UVA). Theme: “The Female Conscience,” featuring work by Jean Bethke Elshtain, Judith Warner, Joyce Carol Oates, Sylvia Earle, Mindy Aloff, Jonathan Yardley, Robin Marantz Henig, Reeve Lindbergh, Manal Al-Sharif, and many others. See more here.
“You think it will never happen to you,” Paul Auster writes at the very start of this incandescent memoir. “That it cannot happen to you, that you are the only person in the world to whom none of these things will ever happen, and then, one by one, they all begin to happen to you, in the same way they happen to everyone else.”
In turns contemplative, pugnacious and achingly tender, Auster, who may be one of the most imaginative writers living and working in America today, gives us a blow-by-blow account of his collision with life — a chronicle of scars, fears, deaths and afflictions that have hounded him to his promontory of 64 years. That he manages to plumb memory all the way to universal bedrock is a credit to his artistry. By the end of this hallucinatory journey, he is likely to have told something of your story as well.
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