Michael Quinones

Author's details

Name: Michael Quinones
Date registered: January 15, 2013
URL: http://thenewcontext.milanoschool.org

Latest posts

  1. Ecuador’s Mining Struggle Is a Hollywood Blockbuster — April 7, 2013
  2. Argo: Best Propaganda — February 26, 2013
  3. UN Disgrace in the Balkans Resurfaces in ‘The Whistleblower’ — February 1, 2013

Author's posts listings

Ecuador’s Mining Struggle Is a Hollywood Blockbuster

  Ecuador doesn’t often grab international headlines, but questions about its current course have relevance for the Western Hemisphere and beyond. What kind of leader is Rafael Correa? Is he a popular anti-imperial economist who champions 21st century socialism and rejects the “Washington Consensus” while protecting ecosystems by limiting oil production in vital wetlands? Or is he a neoliberal dictator who has rewritten his country’s laws to both initiate mega-mining and declare a state of emergency to intimidate and imprison his critics? Will mega-mining for copper, gold and silver in Ecuador’s Amazon decimate one of the most biologically diverse regions of the planet? How many indigenous tribesmen will be imprisoned or die fighting the Ecuadorian police, army and private security forces protecting the large-scale mining operations? Will making comparisons to Avatar, of which there are many, help to get the message out to the world or dilute the seriousness of that message? Investigative reporter Alexander Zaitchik recently spent a month going between Quito and the Cordillera del Condor, a land that indigenous peoples such as the Shuar, an ancient head-shrinking tribe famous for its savagery toward invaders, swear to protect. He explores these questions and more in a piece published […]

Argo: Best Propaganda

Argo, a suspenseful tale portraying America’s favorite bad guys, Iranians, as angry gun-toting religio-fascists, just won the Best Picture Academy Award for 2012. Ben Affleck’s directing is better than his acting, but this was not a character driven movie—it was made because it was based on true events. During the Iranian student takeover of the US Embassy in 1979, six embassy workers escape to the Canadian ambassador’s home and eventually make it onto a commercial plane with the help of the CIA and the Canadian government. The remarkable story is pumped full of cinematic and narrative steroids to create a marketable movie. This is not a critique of Argo per se—as everyone seems to agree, it was well-made. This is a swipe at the lack of vision from its left-leaning, politically active celebrity actor-director (Affleck, who also produced along with George Clooney, could have gotten a more relevant and risky movie made) and the Academy’s rewarding of Americana, disguised in the beginning but glorified by the end. It is also an admission that studying international relations and the sins of the United States can cause one to see unchecked pro-US propaganda everywhere. But at a time when our government continues […]

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UN Disgrace in the Balkans Resurfaces in ‘The Whistleblower’

Balkans International Field Program students attended a book tour event for The Whistleblower at picturesque Columbia University’s Pulitzer Hall January 31. Subtitled “peacekeeping and human-trafficking in Bosnia,” the event revealed how the United Nations and multinational contractor DynCorp were implicated in an international prostitution ring after the Balkan war and ethnic cleansing of the mid-’90s. Kathryn Bolkovac, a police officer from Nebraska turned International Police monitor for DynCorp, spoke out against the systemic hypocrisy she witnessed—think US Secret Service in Colombia debacle times ten—and was summarily fired for bogus reasons. As a result of her coming forward, International Police officers and DynCorp subcontractors were forced to resign, though they were not prosecuted. (She later won her wrongful termination case against DynCorp, still a US State Department partner.) In an unusual case of Hollywood-does-right, stars such as Rachel Weisz (playing Bolkovac’s character), Vanessa Redgrave and Monica Belluci lent new life to a story that happened almost twenty years ago in a titular 2010 major motion picture (based on real events, of course). For the movie’s opening, the UN and DynCorp had to prepare media statements—which alone is worth the price of admission.   The movie encouraged this brave woman, forced to leave […]

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