Vanisa Machado, 42, attended the march on Sunday. "I want Brazil to get back on track," she said.

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — On one side, the geeky, understated and deeply earnest Brazilian judge overseeing the so-called Operation Carwash investigation into a massive kickback scheme at oil giant Petrobras. On the other, a pro-gun, anti-LGBT congressman who once told a female colleague that she was not worthy of getting raped by him. Sunday’s nationwide demonstrations…

Young migrants from Central America gather every Saturday to play soccer in the Bronx. (Image: Katie Schlechter)

This article was originally published in Civic Ideas on February 17, 2016, and is the second in a two-part series. NEW YORK — On artificial turf at the foot of Yankee Stadium, some 40 teenage boys kick soccer balls on a Saturday afternoon, laughing and yelling to each other in Spanish. On the sidelines, later…

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in  DeKalb County, Georgia. (Image: Wikimedia Commons/Gulbenk, CC BY-SA 3.0)

This article was originally published in Civic Ideas on February 17, 2016, and is the first in a two-part series. NEW YORK — Congregating on benches in a downtown Manhattan courtroom, children and their guardians listen to a young woman who stands in front of them talking in Spanish. The speaker, Marielos Ramos, is not…

A protest against police violence and racism in Rio de Janeiro.

RIO DE JANEIRO — After celebrating 16-year-old Roberto de Souza Penha’s first paycheck on a late November night, Souza and his four friends were shot to death in their car while passing a military police patrol in Rio de Janeiro. As the black youth were driving back home, police allegedly fired on their car over…

Julián Bedoya, the mayor of the town of Toro, who was Colombia's first openly gay candidate for political office. (Image: YouTube, screenshot)

The past few weeks have been incredibly important for Colombia’s LGBT community. Last month, the country’s first openly gay candidate for political office was elected mayor in the southern city of Toro. Then, last Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that adoption agencies can not discriminate against LGBT couples. These events come during a time of…

U.N High Commissioner for Human Rights António Guterres. (Image:  U.S. Government, Public Domain)

WASHINGTON — Norma witnessed routine gunfights and murders when she lived in El Salvador. She paid a biweekly cuota, or street tax, to the Barrio 18 gang members controlling her neighborhood to avoid any trouble. Norma, the wife of a police officer, was the victim of a rape, which she told interviewers from the U.N….

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NEW YORK — Walking down Junction Boulevard toward Corona Avenue in Queens is akin to exploring a microcosm of Latin America: Mexican and Guatemalan eateries are clustered close to Roosevelt Avenue, then come Dominican phone shops, followed by Colombian and Peruvian bakeries further south until the scenery turns Argentine. Tree trunks are painted sky blue, white,…

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos shakes hands with FARC commander Timochenko after their announcement Wednesday of an imminent peace deal. (Image: César Carrión, public domain)

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — September 23 marked a historical day for the ongoing peace process between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. After an hour-long private meeting in Havana, Cuba, President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC commander Timoleón Jiménez, alias Timochenko, publicly announced that a peace treaty between the two…