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This article was written by Ludwig Laborda and translated by Jesús Renzullo, Local Coordinators of Estudiantes por la Libertad in Venezuela.

June 2nd, 2016 became quite a tense day in Caracas, Venezuela. Many people were waiting for their turn to buy food, but they were not served. This provoked much tension that ended up in a protest. They tried to march to the Miraflores Presidential Palace near the Fuerzas Armadas Avenue, to demand a solution for the food supply shortage, but the only answer they received was plain repression from the National Guard. Venezuela Blog

Events like this could —and will— happen again in the country. On the one hand, price controls drown any entrepreneurial activity, since they prevent entrepreneurs from even recovering the resources invested in the manufacturing of price-regulated goods. On the other hand, foreign exchange controls make it much more difficult to obtain the raw materials needed for production. Also, in general, there are few guarantees for private property rights, which transform Venezuela into an inhospitable environment for investment.

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A few weeks ago, President Barack Obama became the first sitting US President to visit the city of Hiroshima, which was the site of the first use of nuclear weapons on a real target. There have been eleven presidents, from Truman to Obama, who have lived under the shadow of the Hiroshima bombing.

Obama laid down a wreath at the memorial to the dead, embraced a 79-year old survivor of the bombing and renewed the conversation about the role of nuclear weaponry in the world. Obama also mentioned that three casualty lists of the bombing included Koreans and Americans who were forced laborers and POWS in addition to the Japanese killed and injured.

While this may seem an innocuous trip for a world leader, there are many political implications of the meeting.

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Flower_Power_demonstratorFrom 1961-1973, the United States committed combat forces to the war in Vietnam. As the war continued on, an increasing number of American casualties and the knowledge of U.S. involvement in war crimes drove growing opposition to the war at home.

The bloody Tet Offensive and President Johnson’s refusal to seek re-election also helped increase American calls to the end involvement in the war. When President Nixon took the helm, he did begin to decrease the number of troops in the country, but he also began a process of heavy bombing which extended into neighboring Cambodia. This was happening at the same time as the Paris Peace Talks were being signed (in January 1973). The last American ground troops left two months after that.

Two years later, North Vietnam captured Saigon and the war was over. The US policy of “Vietnamization” or the propping up of an unpopular and ineffective government to act on America’s behalf, was revealed to be complicated and costly in both lives and treasure. The casualty numbers are estimated at 58,000 Americans killed and up to 2,000,000 Vietnamese soldiers and civilians lost. As we mark the end of US involvement in this grisly and protracted conflict, it’s worth considering the costs associated with American military aims today, and asking how we can revive the robust anti-war movement that helped end the terror of the Vietnam War.

The following was written by Oklahoma Campus Coordinator Cooper Williams

For governments, inhumane treatment of the displaced is not a bug but a feature.

An old classmate recently asked me, “What do you think should be done about refugees?” He was almost certainly asking “What do you think nation-states should do about refugees?” But I think this is a different question entirely. While many private individuals have worked to aid refugees, world powers are in the business of framing coercion as humanitarian and seeking bureaucratized, formal “solutions.”

A makeshift shelter in the Calais Jungle is demolished. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA

A shelter in the Calais Jungle is demolished. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA

Indeed many bureaucrats may believe that they are doing their best to contribute to human good. But, for institutions that do not suffer the consequences of their failures, intentions and incentives often work at cross-purposes. In recent years, the plight of some 50 million displaced people (and their treatment by governments), has highlighted just such systemic failures.

Since 2011, Turkey has stood out among European countries for its proactive approach to welcoming refugees. It has 22 camps for 217,000 displaced people, with two more in construction. Despite occasional illegal deportations, Turkey generally upholds the international non-refoulement principle that prevents countries from deporting refugees back into conflict zones.

Last Friday, however, the EU and Turkey reached an agreement on a Joint Action plan that will directly impact the lives of thousands of refugees. The plan purportedly aims “to step up cooperation for the support of Syrian refugees under temporary protection and their host communities in Turkey and to strengthen cooperation to prevent irregular migration flows to the EU.” For those who value human freedom, this mission statement bears examination.
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The following was written by African Students For Liberty Local Coordinator Zeiny Ali Taleb. 

Located between the Atlantic Ocean, Morocco, and Mauritania lies what many call “Africa’s last colony.” While the U.N. technically considers it a “non-self-governing-territory in the process of decolonization,” Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since 1975 when they marched several hundred thousand settlers into the territory. The Moroccan presence in Western Sahara triggered a sixteen-year war between Morocco and the Polisario, the leaders of the independence movement. Morocco also erected a 1,677 mile long sand berm and surrounded it with some seven million land-mines, which divide the territory.

Protesters waving Western Sahara flags shout slogans during a protest against the Moroccan government, in Madrid, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. Protesters waving Western Sahara flags shout slogans during a protest against the Moroccan government, in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010.
 

The violence and conflict have forced more than 100,000 Sahrawis to seek refuge across the border in Algeria. Thousands of refugees remain living in camps near Tindouf, Algeria and it is in one of these camps where I was born and raised.free-western-sahara

From the beginning, life as a refugee has been difficult. Like many of my fellow Sahrawis, I have lived my entire life in exile. I am torn between two countries: Algeria and Western Sahara.

Though I was born and raised in Algeria, my work is dedicated to Western Sahara and its people, who are marginalized and robbed of basic rights. The Sahrawi are also torn and struggle to balance the complex relationship between common identity, individual identity, and personal ambition. We are self-reliant and individualistic in certain ways, but we are also willing to sacrifice some of our individual identity for the sake of the community.

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