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History 105 – Matthew Unangst – Fall 2017 History 105

Two Powers Collide: French vs. American Education

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Two Powers Collide: French vs. American Education

In France, the most recent edition of their dictionary was published in 1935, written by guardians of the French language, called “immortals”. Currently, they are working on the newest edition, and thus far have changed the spelling of about 2,400 French words. When this news reached social media, teachers and traditionalists were furious as “many saw this as an attack on centuries of culture and history.”[1] The language being such a sacred value, even in the technological age, shows the importance of culture to the residents of France. To others though, like Patrick Vannier who works in the dictionary service, he believes that language is meant to evolve.[2] The modern age is constantly changing, so modernists believe that culture should follow. The ever-changing language and pop culture plays a major role in how students are taught in France. After all, students are the future leaders of France. Different education systems bring forth a variety of reforms and legislation that will improve the country as a whole.

Education plays a major role in the development of a country, as it sets a stepping stone for future generations. Schooling enriches the young mind, not only do children learn mathematics and science, but they also gain a better understanding of the world around them. Two countries that portray this are the United States and France. From the middle of the 1800’s to the 1970’s, France has been a leading educational resource compared to America, which is seen through France’s superior educational reforms and unique French language.

Figure 1 – French Flag on cigarette card in 1800

The background of French education stems all the way back to the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, then it was not very prominent, as learning in school was not considered to be a necessity. Once the French Revolution began in 1789, schools became “modernized.” Figure 1 shows the flag of France, symbolizing their culture after the Revolution. The revised curriculum, made by the French government in the 1790’s, included “republican morality and the public and private virtues, as well as the techniques of teaching reading, writing, arithmetic, practical geometry, French history, and grammar.”[3] These new lesson plans changed the curriculum, as new subjects were taught. The church started to lose power when it came to schooling. Priests were not the primary teachers, eventually board-certified teachers started to work as well. This change was not significantly prominent yet, but it was the beginning of a shift from religious school system to a public-school system. This was known as the transfer of power from the church to the state.

In the 1800’s, French education equality increased greatly. During this time, France provided classical education to about 50,000 young men that ranged from the ages of 10 years old to 20 years old.[4] Educating men was important, yet educating women was frowned upon. It was not until 1880 when things started to change for women, due to an important French politician named Camille Seé. He was the pioneer of the law that established lycees for girls. Lycees are the second, or last, stage of secondary education in the educational system in France.[5] Women were deemed not intelligent enough to get to this level of school, so when they were able to attend lycees, it was a huge step towards gender equality. In the United States though, equal rights for women in education did not happen until the 20th century. Although American girls had to learn how to read in the 19th century, it was solely so they could read religious material and teach others about it. One sees how France clearly surpasses the United States in the matter of equal education for woman, as they were the ones who made it legal first. France wanted to make higher education equal for both genders since primary school was already there, whereas United States twenty years later had to get equal rights in school in general. Through the reform made possible by Seé, one sees how France made gender equality more of a priority than the United States, overall showing how France leads them in education due to their moral viewpoints.

Figure 2 – Jules Ferry, Premier and Minister of Public Instruction in 1880’s

The second wave of important educational reforms in France were the Jules Ferry laws. Taken place from 1881-1882, a man named Jules Ferry, the Minister of Education, established free education to all French children.[6] Ferry is pictured in Figure 2, where he was the Premier and Minister of Public Instruction. Up until 1881, parents or guardians had to pay for their child to receive an education. During the time these laws were being enacted, the London Times wrote, “The violent discussions raised by the Ferry Laws have drawn the attention of many people on this side of the Channel to the all-important subject of education at home and abroad, and it may not be without interest to give a brief account of the educational system of France.”[7] The relevance of this article shows how big of deal this was to people in France, and in Europe itself. In Ferry’s speech to the National Assembly, he says, “I believe that there is some benefit in the form of arguments, the principles, the motives, and the various interests by which a policy of education may be discussed.”[8] With France being so strict and well-known for cultural importance, the shift is a bit surprising but obviously important, according to Ferry. Education being free means more access to children, but also demonstrates that learning is not bought anymore. A child could be sent to a private school if the guardian chooses, but most kids went to public. In America though, the education system had been in place for some time. While it had evolved over time, there was no major change that shifted the U.S. in the 1800’s to France’s level of importance. In American Education, “Southern states were creating “literary funds” for their schools instead of focusing on the education of indigent children.”[9] While the southern part of the United States was not focusing on the children that needed education, France had a turning point. From this, it is seen that French education is better as the whole country improved. America was ignoring the poorer families, just for the benefit of the rich, as it was families with money who were able to have their children attend school. One sees the difference as France focusing on their country in a crucial time of need for education, whereas America is not interested on bettering their system. The Ferry Laws made impacts all over France, as it helped all children gain access to one’s right to education.

Figure 3 – French Academic Meeting in 1893

While the Jules Ferry Laws in 1880’s improved the future for educational reforms, it stirred up a lot of turmoil between the church and state. The church and state had been fighting for power since the late 1700’s, but the Ferry Laws made it clearly prominent in France. Soon enough, religious staff that were once teachers became replaced by state appointed officials. Church-based schools in general were replaced by state mandated ones. In Figure 3, the picture shows a French meeting taking place regarding academic policies. After academic policies were integrated the church began to have significant less power, as the state was clearly taking over. The churches were angry, as, “the evaluative state is more powerful than the ‘state control’ model.”[10] This change in powers shows the shift in education, making an impact on the culture. Government itself starts to have more power in the way children are taught. It used to all be about religious teachings, but with this new reform outcome, that was not necessarily the case anymore. These laws were very useful in the change of education in culture, and that shows how France evolves and strengthens their country.

The French language has had a major impact on American departments of French, making a prominent effect in the United States in the late 19th century. Whether it is elementary teachers teaching students the French language in boarding school, or a public high school teacher teaching French 1, American students are learning a main part of another country’s culture, their language. It is hoped that in America, “More of us will reflect upon the historical and institutional importance of the teaching of French.”[11] In another published scholarly article, it is said that Americans should look at the French language more closely. The cultural background of how the French language came to be is interesting enough when taught, so out of few other languages taught in the United States, this shows importance. With France having this much effect on languages taught in these schools further shows how French education is better. After all, one had to learn the language from the French education system in order to teach it. But besides the language being taught, people like Jean Paul Sartre, the founder of existentialism, were recognized by American articles for their outstanding achievement. In the scholarly article that Yale Studies published, they discussed positive points about French education, as it was pointed out that, “this well-designed and thoroughly reliable institution [French education] was consistently able to produce not only literate citizens, but leading intellectuals of the era.”[12] The French liked to recognize themselves for their intellectuals, not other countries for theirs. With Yale Studies talking about French intellectuals, with Sartre for example, goes to prove the intelligence people in this country had. This goes to show between America and France, France is the leading educator due to the accomplishments made known not just by one’s origin country, but by others.

In the middle of the 20th century, education took another turn towards upgrading. One sees this with the classical, technical, and modern style lycees. Lycees, also known as vocational schools, were officially “modernized” in 1959 set in place by a decree. France was soon recognized by their education minister, Jean-Pierre Chevénement, in 1985 due to his announcement that, “80% of an age group are able to reach baccalauréat level.”[13] Following this announcement and decree, means education is going in the right direction, as lycees and higher education grew increasingly fast. More and more people were becoming educated, and with this came the desire for higher education to hold an important, steady job. Not only did people want to achieve this, but were now able to afford it. Collegiate graduates increased[14], and therefore continue to do so today. Since equal and fair education was a significant issue in the late 1800’s, France has come a long way since then.

In comparison to the United States, France has an overall better education system. This is seen through the various educational reforms, which have made profound impacts on France. The French language itself makes a positive effect in another country, America. In the United States, French is the second most taught language besides English, showing how one country’s culture is prominent in another’s. Seé’s reforms were able to create equal gender equalization, while Ferry laws were able to create free and public education for children. By the end of the 20th century, the number of people attending secondary schools and college were as high as ever. Overall, America can improve themselves by making a legislative effort to improve the quality of education for all, just like France has done. Therefore, showing how French education is better than America’s goes to prove how other countries education systems are different, and that everyone can learn from others.

[1] Dan Bilefsky, “In France, Tempers Flare Over Spelling,” New York Times, February 06, 2016.

[2] Bilefsky, “Tempers Flare Over Spelling.”

[3] J. David Markham, Napoleon’s Road to Glory: Triumphs, Defeats & Immortality (London: Brassey’s, 2003), 145.

[4] Robert Cowen, The Evaluation of Higher Education Systems (London; Philadelphia: Kogan Page, 1996), 43.

[5] Christophe Charle, A Social History of France in the 19th Century (Oxford: Berg, 1996), 37.

[6] “French Education,” London Times, 1879, 6.

[7] “French Education,” London Times, 6.

[8] Katharine J. Lualdi, “Defending Conquest: Jules Ferry Speech Before National Assembly,” in Sources of the Making of the West: People and Cultures, (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012), 187.

[9] Wayne J. Urban, American Education: A History (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996), 144.

[10] Cowen, Higher Education Systems, 66.

[11] Ralph Albanese, “Commemoration, Nostalgia, and Crisis in French Education,” Yale University Press, 2008, 4-6.

[12] Albanese, “French Education,” 1.

[13] Anne Corbett and Bob Moon, Education in France Continuity and Change in Mitterrand Years, 1981-1995 (London: Routledge, 1996), 107.

[14] Corbett and Moon, France Continuity, 108.


Figure 1: George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. “Pilot Flag France.” New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Figure 2: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Jules Ferry. [1832-1893].” New York Public Library Collections.

Figure 3: Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “The hats of the French Academy.” New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Egypt’s Newer Constitution Gives Female Citizens New Rights

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Should men and women have equal rights? The answer to that question seems obvious because why wouldn’t women deserve to have the same rights as men? Women in some countries, like the United States, are still fighting for equal rights. In Egypt, women were granted complete political, social, and economic equality with men after the constitution was rewritten in 1953. The new constitution allowed women to be equal before the law, participate in politics, the right to an equal education, equality in the workplace, protection from violence, and rights that benefited their families. These newly gained rights for women didn’t come easy and although Egyptian women are considered equal under the constitution, they are still unfairly treated.

Before the 19th century, women participating in politics was unheard of, but by the end of the 19th century, more and more women started taking on an active role in the political system [1]. The lack of women participants could be because of the very few of female representatives within the judiciary and political world. Aisha Rateb, a lawyer, was denied a State Council position in 1949 because she was a woman so she filed a lawsuit against the Egyptian government which resulted in them saying she was denied the job because she “wasn’t qualified enough” [2]. With more and more women speaking out on the discrimination of women in government, Egypt decided to make some changes. In 2003, the Supreme Judicial Council began to allow women to become judges and finally appointed Egypt’s first female judge, Tahani al-Gebali [3, 4]. After redoing the constitution, Egypt decided to remove gender inequality from their legal system and they commit to ensure there are an appropriate number of women in politics [3, 5]. Political parties in Egypt are no longer allowed to discriminate between citizens based on their gender, origin, or religion [6].

Tahani al-Gebali became Egypt’s first female judge in 2003 [4].
            Egypt ratified CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, in 1981 which really showed women that discrimination directed towards them was unacceptable in social, economic, and political settings [3]. According to Egypt’s reconstructed constitution, all citizens are equal regardless of race, ethnic origin, language, religion, or sex [3]. For the Egyptian government to finally recognize women as equal, was a huge step for women in Egypt. Gaining equality was the first step in creating never ending possibilities of opportunities for Egyptian women. It seems that Egypt truly listens to their female citizens and that’s obvious because they keep redoing the constitution to better benefit them. Women actually had full civil rights since the 13th century, but didn’t know due to the lack of education [7].

Women in Egypt do obtain a college degree, but that is very rare. Women furthering their education wasn’t something that was socially acceptable and instead, it was more common that the man of the household would have a higher education since the belief system in Egypt was that “women belong in the home”. Egypt’s constitution now makes it more acceptable for women to receive the same high-quality education as men [1]. Egypt actually encourages its citizens to pursue some form of education, especially technical education [1]. Although primary education is mandatory in Egypt, the gender gap didn’t start to close until 2007. In 1975, the girl to boy ratio in primary schools was 66:100 and in 2007, that number increased to 95:100 which means that more girls are receiving the education they deserve [3]. It’s only a matter of time that there will be more female doctors, politicians, lawyers, and scientists in Egypt because they were able to receive the required education of those professions.

Three Egyptian girls walking to class [8].
            It was normal to see women take on “untraditional” careers such as becoming physicians, lawyers, and aviators [7]. It was also normal for women to be paid less than their male coworkers even though job descriptions were exactly the same. Since women were paid less, they experienced greater hardships and were more likely to fall into poverty [3]. The lack of money limited choices for women, like the option to continue their education [3]. Women began to demand that the Egyptian government addressed the failure to provide proper wages that cover the cost of living in Egypt [3]. Now Egypt’s constitution guarantees that every worker will receive fair and equal pay, vacation time, retirement and social security, access to healthcare, and be protected against workplace hazards [6]. Women are still underrepresented in the work force, but the unemployment rate for women has decreased since 2004 [3]. Along with facing discrimination in the work place, women face discrimination on the streets in forms of violence, such as molestation [3].

Egypt’s constitution now protects women from, while also criminalizing, acts of violence, oppression, exploitation sex trafficking after people have continued to bring awareness to violence towards the female population [3, 6]. Women in Egypt face different forms of violence and from different people. As young as nine years old, girls fall victim to female genital mutilation (FGM) and although FGM is illegal, it is still widely practiced in rural areas [3]. FGM is a procedure that is performed to partially or fully remove the clitoris in hopes of purifying a girl and save her for marriage [9]. There has been over 125 million girls and women that have been circumcised and Egypt makes up for 25% of that population [9]. Aside from being victim to FGM, Egyptian women are also victims to honor killings. Honor killings are when a family member murders a woman who has been accused of moral or sexual transgressions that stain the family’s honor [3]. Men who commit honor killings, receive lenient sentences and are often excused if the honor killings were committed based purely on speculation [3]. Along with honor killings, men also abuse their wives. 51.05% of women in a marital union answered yes to have experienced interpersonal since the age of 15 [10]. In a DHS survey, men said it was acceptable to beat their wives if they went out without telling their husbands, if they neglect their children, if they argue with their husbands, if they refuse to have sex with their husbands, if they burn food or waste money, and if they talk to other men [10]. Women who have a higher education and are more financially stable, have a greater chance of being a victim to domestic violence [10]. Someone can assume that most of Egypt’s female population are victims of violence which can explain the increase in divorces from 2005 (149 divorces) and 2008 (617 divorces) after the reforms of the Personal Status code in 2000 which allows women to divorce their husbands [10].

Women gathered in Cairo, Egypt to protest against the rape of women on the streets [11].
            Egypt also cares about women and the family by making adjustments to the constitution in favor of families. Egypt raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 years old possibly in hopes of reducing domestic violence in the home [3]. With the newer version of the constitution, women gained equality within a marriage and marriages only took place with consent of both parties [6]. If an Egyptian woman were to marry a foreign man, she was not able to pass on their nationality to their children or to their husband. After the ratification of the newer constitution, Egyptian women were finally given the right to pass their nationality down to her children that she shares with her foreign husband [3]. When a woman is pregnant, Egypt protects the mother before, during, and after she conceives by providing maternal and child services for free which is something a lot of countries, like the United States, don’t provide [6].

Compared to women in other countries, it seems like Egyptian women have it all because they are technically equal in political, social, cultural, and economic aspects, but they’re still not considered equal according to other Egyptians. No matter the geographic location, all women deserve to be equal. Egypt’s government has been transforming its country to become more feminized and other countries should follow Egypt by establishing laws protecting women and making them equal in society.



[1] Lisa Blaydes and Safinaz El Tarouty. “Women’s Electoral Participation in Egypt: The Implications of Gender for Voter Recruitment and Mobilization.” The Middle East Journal: 364-80.

[2] Nancy Messieh and Suzanne Gaber. “A Win for Women in Egypt’s Courts.” Atlantic Council. July 22, 2015. Accessed December 07, 2017.

[3] Mariz Tadros. “Egypt.” In Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, by Sanja Kelly and Julia Breslin. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. July 16, 2010.

[4] Lloyd Duhaime. “Tahani al-Gebali.” – Learn Law. April 25, 2011. Accessed December 07, 2017.

[5] Egypt’s Constitution. 2014.

[6] Mohamed Al Agati. Women and Equal Citizenship: Analysis of the New Constitution of Egypt. December 2012.

[7] McLaughlin, Kathleen. “Egyptian Women Nearing Equality: New Constitution Will Provide Complete Rights for Them, Delegate to U.N. Reports.” The New York Times, September 20, 1953.

[8] “Education in Egypt: Access, Gender, and Disability – Part 2 Gender.” Sites DOT MIIS. May 14, 2013. Accessed December 07, 2017.

[9] Nick Thompson. “Egypt Takes Aim at Female Genital Mutilation.” CNN. June 25, 2015. Accessed December 07, 2017.

[10] Elena Ambrosetti, Nisrin Abu Amara, and Stephanie Condon. “Gender-Based Violence in Egypt: Analyzing Impacts of Political Reforms, Social, and Demographic Change.” Sage Pub, 2013.

[11] “57 Middle East Rights Groups Call For Legislative Reforms to Combat Sexual Violence Against Women.” Egyptian Streets. March 17, 2016. Accessed December 07, 2017.

U.S. Sanctions on Cuba: Effect on the Cuban People

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In the summer of 2016 airline service reopened for the first time in over half a century between the United States and Cuba following former president Barack Obama’s steps to create a more open relationship with Cuba. However, President Donald Trump has recently stated that, since Cuba has failed to take steps in correcting its human rights abuses, the United States trade embargo will remain in place. [1] This continuation of the embargo will include the restriction of American businesses in Cuba as well as a tourism ban. President Trump has faced some backlash following this decision from United States lawmakers and Cuban officials alike, but continues to hold his ground on the matter despite the criticism. He maintains that until the Cuban government deems all political activity legal, frees all political prisoners agrees to hold free and fair elections, observes and complies with all internationally recognized human rights, allows labor unions to be created, and grants freedom of the press the embargo will stay in place. Unfortunately, the Cuban government has actively refused to comply with any and all of the terms of the embargo for over half a century and the Cuban people have only suffered for it.

Since the sanctions and embargoes were put into place over half a century ago there has been a substantial amount of debate over how successful they have been in achieving their original goals and fulfilling the purpose for which they were created. However, in more recent years – especially following the change of ideology in the White House – there has been an increase in debate concerning the humanitarian aspects of the conflict and how much the sanctions and embargoes have escalated the issues. When the first sanctions were placed on the small island country a majority of the American public believed that, while it wouldn’t be the end of communist Cuba and the Castro regime, there was an incredibly good chance that the sanctions would result in an American victory. [2] Unfortunately, well over half a century later that predicted American victory against the communist regime has yet to happen and positive public opinion of the United States embargoes is dwindling. Today it is clear that the economic sanctions are simply not going to provide the desired results and instead have caused, and if they remain in effect, will cause a significant amount of suffering to the Cuban people who have had little to no choice in the matter. The economic sanctions and trade embargoes have caused the Cuban people to be subject to economic uncertainty and exile on both community and global levels due to the limitations placed on their country that have crippled their economy, the decrease of their ability to trade globally, and the outcast image that has been imposed upon them.

The relationship between Cuba and the United States has a long and tangled history with many different key players and complicated international relations. In 1933 Sergeant Fulgencio Batista rose to power after a successful coup against the former Cuban leader Gerardo Machado, and shortly thereafter the United States withdrew its right to intervene in Cuba’s political affairs – a formality allowed to them through the Platt Amendment of 1902. [3] In 1953 Fidel Castro attempted to lead a revolt against the Batista regime, claiming that Batista was a corrupt aristocrat and did not care for the Cuban people or their well-being. [4] Though his initial attempt at a revolt failed and he was held in prison for a short time, he returned three years later

Figure 1: Propaganda poster for Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, 1959.

with the help of public figure and revolution extraordinaire Ernesto “Che” Guevara and a guerilla army made up of Cuban citizens he had recruited for his cause. [5] Castro forced Batista to flee the country and assigned himself the role of prime minister. Much to the horror of the United States, Castro began to align himself and Cuba closely with the Soviet Union and the communist party as a way of pushing against the ideology of the former Batista regime and distancing himself from the effects of the 1960 trade embargo the United States had imposed on Cuba as punishment for Castro’s reforms. [6] With the perspective that the threat of Communism was growing and expanding to places close to the homeland the United States drafted and passed legislation that allowed more trade embargoes and economic sanctions to be placed on Cuba. [7] The conflict between the United States and Cuba is, in essence, a smaller branch of the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War for political influence around the world; the fight against communism and the race to spread democracy are the main, but often overlooked roots of the conflict between the United States and Cuba.

The reaction of the United States towards Fidel Castro allying himself with the Soviet Union is one that many modern scholars and political leaders point out could be considered radical and over the top, but potentially understandable given the circumstances in which the conflict began. In the decade before Fidel Castro rose to power and in the years following the United States was locked in a battle of ideologies with the Soviet Union. The opinion of the public in the United States concerning the Soviet Union and the spread of communism was one of distrust, paranoia, and fear – emotions that, at the time, manifested themselves into things like McCarthyism, HUAC, and the Red Scare. [8] The Red Scare is the term used to describe the mass hysteria over what many Americans viewed as the threat of a communist takeover in the United States. This panic created HUAC (House of Un-American Activities) and McCarthyism – named after Senator Joseph R. McCarthy – as ways to detect and destroy perceived communist threats within the United

Figure 2: Aerial view of the missiles in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962.

States. [9] It was with this paranoid mindset and perception of the threat of communism much of the American public viewed the conflict between the United States and Cuba. In some regards, President John F. Kennedy’s decision to place economic sanctions on Cuba in 1960 and 1961 were unsurprising given the context in which Fidel Castro turned Cuba towards communism. [10] In 1962 Cuba and the Soviet Union retaliated against the United States with the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union placed medium-range missiles about 100 miles west of Havana to pressure the United States to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey. Cuba, which was now closely allied with the Soviet Union and still reeling from the 1960 and 1961 sanctions, had no issue with the Soviet military presence in the country. [11] The United States begrudgingly complied with the Soviet’s demands and removed their missiles from Turkey in 1963. Not surprisingly, in 1964 shortly after the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis the United States placed more trade embargoes and economic sanctions on Cuba. Cuba’s alliance and compliance with the Soviet Union in a time when fear of communism was rampant, and paranoia concerning a Soviet attack was at an all-time high was ultimately the largest deciding factor for the actions the United States took towards the small island country.

From 1960 when the very first sanction was placed on Cuba to present day there have been many different layers that have been added to the sanctions and embargoes as attempts to get Cuba to comply with the original terms. In 1960 President Eisenhower declared that the United States would not import Cuban sugar and in January of 1961 all diplomatic and political relations with Cuba were broken off. In March of 1961 the Kennedy Administration announced the Cuban sugar ban would continue well into 1962, but by February of 1962 Kennedy had in placed an embargo on the country of Cuba that included all drugs and food products. [12] In a matter of three years all diplomatic, economic, and political ties between the two countries had been unilaterally severed. However, both the Kennedy Administration and Johnson Administration from 1962 to 1964 took steps to completely isolate the island country. Anything that contained Cuban materials was automatically banned from the United States; any nation trading with or providing aid to Cuba was barred from trading with the U.S. and was unquestionably disqualified from receiving aid from the USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) program. [13] Due to the fact that the economic sanctions are applied in an extraterritorial context and affect not only Cuba’s trade with the United States but also Cuba’s trade with all other countries, many Cubans refer to the sanctions not as a ‘blockade’. [14] The United States trade embargoes and economic sanctions that have been placed on Cuba effectively diminish Cuba’s ability to break into the world market and have relations within the international community. If the goal of the embargoes was to completely isolate the small island country then, in many ways, they were entirely successful.

Despite the many barriers and limitations that plague Cuba due to the United States trade embargoes, the country has continued to resist the terms of the sanctions for over half a century. Much of Cuba’s ability to oppose the United States came from with their alliance with the Soviet Union and support of the communist party that gave them access international trading partners as well as significant monetary aid that allowed them to stay afloat, albeit barely. However, with very few profitable international relations and little trading ability Cuba began to become incredibly dependent on the Soviet Union to keep the Cuban economy from collapsing completely; in 1980 the two countries signed a $35 billion, 5-year economic agreement that was to go

Figure 3: The Arizona Republic headline discussing the Cuba embargo.

towards bailing out the Cuban economy. [15] Thus the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left Cuba with little to no international relations, a quickly deteriorating economy, and many Cuban officials scrambling to find alternate sources of finances, technology, and trade. Despite the Cuban government’s previous reservations about allowing foreign investment into the country, lawmakers and political figures were quickly realizing that it was the only option they had to prevent the economy from continuing to plunge. [16] After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States capitalized on the sudden advantage they had over Cuba and passed two more acts between 1992 and 1996 with the purpose of strengthening the embargo: the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (Helms-Burton Law). The Helms-Burton Law was a law specifically created to discourage foreign direct investment into Cuba. Helms-Burton targeted foreign businesses that were attempting to do major business in Cuba by disrupting and delaying foreign financing, leading to a huge loss of time and money for the businesses involved. [17] Due to Cuba’s economic limitations the island country had to rely heavily on their main benefactor the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Cuba lost its main source of income, the United States used it to their advantage to significantly increase the already crushing pressure on the Cuban economy.

While the Cuban citizens faced economic exile under the Castro regime due to the trade embargoes placed on the country by the United States, Cuban Americans – Cubans who had immigrated to the United States in the decades following Castro’s rise to power – faced social exile on community and international levels. In 1980 alone more than 127,000 “social misfits” left Cuba for the United States and, upon arrival, were greeted with hostility; many of these Cuban Americans eventually adopted an “exile ideology”. [18] This exile ideology is born from the idea that Cuban Americans belong neither to Cuba nor America – they consider themselves political and social exiles from Cuba that are living in the United States. [19] Cuban Americans who adhere to the exile ideology can be characterized by their commitment to the struggle against the Castro regime, the importance in which they place their homeland, their refusal to accept any debate or criticism on their views towards Cuba, and their tendency to show absolute support for the Republican party; these die hard exile ideology followers are commonly called “hardliners”. [20] The hardliners were often incredibly vocal about their support of the Cuban economic sanctions and trade embargoes because they thoroughly believed, and still do to this day, that the only way to end the Castro regime was to cut off all economic, political, and social ties between Cuba and the rest of the international community, essentially suffocating the communist regime. While there were Cuban Americans that favored opening communication with the Castro regime and having a dialogue about possible political reforms that could be made – the “dialogueros” – they were regularly shunned by most Cuban American hardliner communities and their voices were not heard. [21] Unfortunately, as most Cuban Americans created significantly sized communities within American cities, there were quite a few politicians that catered to the hardliner’s demands in order to get elected into a position. Many Americans were angered by the apparent influence Cuban Americans had in political debate within the United States and this further drove a wedge between the Cuban Americans and their host country. [22] Cuban Americans faced social exile within their own communities through their own different perspectives and goals, statewide through the suspicion and prejudice of most of the American people, and on an international level through being labelled as “social misfits” by their own homeland.

The economic sanctions and trade embargoes have been in place for over half a century and it is still unclear whether the original goals will be met or not. While it is true that the sanctions have brought significant pressure onto the Cuban government through the limiting of finances, resources, and international support it has proven difficult for the United States to get the Castro regime to agree to the terms that have been laid out. In many ways the sanctions and embargoes are working perfectly by successfully isolating the small island country and making survival difficult; Fidel Castro himself made a statement in 2000 that the limitations and restrictions placed on Cuba were humiliating to the Cuban people. [23] Most people would argue that the embargoes were unsuccessful because the Cuban government managed to resist agreeing with the terms laid out by the United States for over half a century and continue to resist to this day. However, it is possible to conclude that because the economic sanctions and trade embargoes managed to send thousands of Cubans fleeing from their country, sent the country into an economic downfall, and ostracized the small island on a global level they could be considered successful. Unfortunately, all of the outcomes that could be considered successful have done nearly nothing to phase the Cuban government, but have effectively destroyed the lives of the Cuban people. The economic sanctions and trade embargoes that have been placed on the country of Cuba for over half a century have been unsuccessful in defeating the communist Castro regime, but have been entirely successful in uprooting thousands of families and ruining their chances to prosper.

As a result of the trade embargoes and sanctions placed on Cuba by the United States, the Cuban people have faced opposition both economically and socially. Due to United States interfering with any possibilities of foreign investment in Cuba following the collapse of the Soviet Union the Cuban economy has been in downward spiral and many Cuban people have attempted to flee the country and seek asylum in the United States. Of the thousands of Cuban people that emigrated from Cuba to the U.S., those that made it to land and managed to get settled into their new home have faced suspicion and distrust from the American people for decades. Understanding how the conflict between Cuba and the United States began and evolved is imperative to understanding the relationship between the two countries today. When former U.S. President Obama decided to make a shift towards a more open stance with Cuba there was hope from many dialogueros living within the United States that negotiating with the Cuban government might be possible. Despite current U.S. President Trump’s statement that the sanctions would remain in place as they were before Obama’s attempt to open communication with Cuba, there were already some irreversible changes that had occurred. Understanding where the original conflict stemmed from and what events brought the sanctions to where there are now is incredibly important in being able to understand the significance of any changes that have happened in modern times and what opportunities said changes could open up for the Cuban people who have suffered from the effects of the embargoes for over half a century.



[1] Felicia Schwartz, “U.S. News: Obama Cuba Policy Partly Rolled Back,” Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2017, accessed September 5, 2017, ProQuest Newsstream.

[2] “Sanctions Against Cuba,” New York Times, July 27, 1964, accessed September 5, 2017, ProQuest Newsstream.

[3] “Timeline: U.S. Cuba Relations,” BBC News, last modified October 11, 2012,

[4] Peter Pavia, The Cuba Project: Castro, Kennedy, Dirty Business, Double Dealings, and the FBIs Tamale Squad, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 25.

[5] Pavia, The Cuba Project, 29.

[6] “Timeline.”

[7] “Sanctions Against Cuba.”

[8] “Red Scare,”, last modified 2010,

[9] “Red Scare.”

[10] “Timeline.”

[11] “Cuban Crisis: A Step-by-Step Review,” New York Times, November 3, 1962, accessed December 1, 2017, ProQuest Newsstream.

[12] Salim Lamrani and Larry R. Oberg, The Economic War Against Cuba: A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2013), 24.

[13] Lamrani and Oberg, The Economic War Against Cuba, 25.

[14] Lamrani and Oberg, The Economic War Against Cuba, 55.

[15] James Nelson Goodsell, “Fidel’s Cuba in Trouble Despite Record Soviet Aid, The Christian Science Monitor, December 19, 1980, accessed December 1, 2017, ProQuest Newsstream.

[16] Paolo Spadoni, Failed Sanctions: Why the U.S. Embargo Against Cuba Could Never Work, (Gainsville: University Press of Florida, 2010), 63.

[17] Spadoni, Failed Sanctions, 101.

[18] Nelson Goodsell, “Fidel’s Cuba.”

[19] Guillermo J. Grenier, “The Creation and Maintenance of the Cuban American ‘Exile Ideology’: Evidence from the FIU Cuba Poll 2004,” Journal of American Ethnic History 25 (2006): 220, JSTOR.

[20] Grenier, “Cuban American ‘Exile Ideology’,” 211.

[21] María Cristina García, “Hardliners v. ‘Dialogueros’: Cuban Exile Political Groups and United States-Cuba Policy,” Journal of American Ethnic History 17 (1998): 8, JSTOR.

[22] García, “Hardliners v. ‘Dialogueros’,” 3.

[23] Steven A. Holmes, “Senate Approves Easing Sanctions on Food to Cuba,” New York Times, October 19, 2000, accessed November 10, 2017, ProQuest Newsstream.



Figure 1. Propaganda poster for Fidel Castro, 1959,

Figure 2. Cuban Missile Crisis, aerial view, 1962,

Figure 3. The Arizona Republic headline,

Child Hunger in Nigeria

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Africa holds the highest rate of risk that a child living there will die before the age of five years old and Nigeria is one of the biggest parts of Africa. The outcome of malnourishment and famine in Nigeria is causing many helpless kids to pass away so early on in life. There is nowhere else on earth that it is more relevant because, “in Africa south of the Sahara, where revised data place the Central Africa Republic in the “extremely alarming” category – the first time a developing country has fallen into the report’s highest category since the 2014 report. The country has the same score today as it did in 2000, suggesting any progress made in recent years has been subsequently reversed”1. America is trying to choose to step up with the government leading the way in reducing starvation in Nigeria, but some of the problems are have been around too long to fix in a short amount of time. The goal is to pull Africa out of trouble to get children and families fed by analyzing situations and causes. Nigeria has the most widespread child hunger in the world and knowing that, it is the perfect place to take a deeper look into when it started. History needs to take its toll on children not being in control of their food intake and being born into a society of shortages and not getting what they need to survive because of things going on around them that they helplessly have nothing to do with. Everyday others living are getting more than they need as apposed to starving children not getting even close, how is this possible? Inequality in Africa is inevitable, but putting in an effort to fix the problem by looking at the historical roots of the issue is a good place to start.

Historical issues, political causes and all aspects of Nigeria have very much lead not only children, but also everyone to become food deprived in the last thirty years. In different places all over the Africa, it is clear and obvious to most that the problem of poverty is far-reaching. When looking at the broad issue from a historical standpoint, explanations can be made to determine what brought Nigeria to become evidently hungry and how it began. More than just one thing has caused children to be hungry in Nigeria. Famine conflicts in Nigeria involve a number of issues leading up to the outcome what Nigeria is known as today. To truly understand the problem, the inaccurate labels of African policies need to be set aside and past events need to be brought into the reason of conflict. History has its way of telling a story by events it holds before a crisis or major event unfolds years and years later. After analyzing the Nigerians way of life today, it is logical to say that everything started with the Great Depression of South Africa and Nigeria, then the environmental effects of consistent drought effecting soil, then transportation and road construction development, and lastly the Nigerian Civil War. These events taking place back then in Africa have now lead Nigeria to be where it is today from a hunger standpoint. More minor problems that can be brought into play as well are health issues and disease, infrastructure and poverty on its own. There is a lot of historical value behind child hunger in Nigeria that still continues to expose itself today.

First and foremost, the Great Depression in South Africa and Nigeria both started around the year of 1929. Riots led by women in the provinces of southeast Nigeria were known as the “Aba Women’s Riots of 1929”. In Igbo, the first Nigerian colonial governor Lord Lugard began a system of direct rule, which started the riots. After a couple years of becoming extremely oppressive, the chief warrants started to seize property and imprison anyone who openly chose to criticize his way of ruling. Overall he was just a really bad and unreasonable ruler. Then, adding to the chaos, Colonial administrators announced future plans to impose special taxes toward the Igbo women working in the markets. These women working were responsible for distributing food to the Nigerian cities and they were afraid that taxes would lead all of them out of business and cause huge problems toward the supply of goods and food available. To try and stop this tragedy from happening, these working women in all towns protested the chiefs and the taxes all together. They chanted and danced in ridicule along with attacking European stores and broking into prisons releasing prisoners who were put in jail for speaking their opinion toward Lugard. Lastly, they burned Native Courts to the ground. Because of the women’s behaviors, police and officials were brought into the mess. On two occasions when the police and troops were called in,” the women were fired upon, leaving more than 50 women dead and another 50 wounded”2. The women of Igbo, in the end, got what they wanted. Taxes were no longer being imposed and markets stayed as they were. But, even though they got what they wanted, depression in Africa continued.

Colonial empire: A team of African microscopists in a southern district of Nigeria, who work under British guidance.

Once this women’s “war” began in Nigeria, so did the Great Depression in Africa. Everyone could see depression in all areas of South Africa weather it was industrialization or agriculture. Mines for gold and diamonds, shops and factories all closed. Corn exports that were commercially grown dropped 80 percent in distribution during the depression along with dropped wages as well. The rate of unemployment rose to a high. The urban working class was also hit extremely hard by the depression. The “poor whites” problem arose and the numbers of all falling into poverty were critically high. In 1930, commission became a huge problem because 300,000 out of the whole total population of 1.8 million white people, which is almost 17 percent of people, were living in the ‘very poor’ class. Therefore, once Brittan was hit with depression, so was Nigeria. Knowing that, eventually due to competitive shipping regime, small companies and all dealings with shipping were stopped during the depression. Once that happened,” produce buyers were caught between two unfavorable options and could do little other than pass on excessive charges to farmers; such was the dilemma of Nigeria”3. Once all of the weight of produce was out on the farmers, drought came into play and things started to go even more downhill than they already were. The period of the depression can be portrayed as one that is better forgotten than explained or understood.

Map of Nigeria 1961 (Niger River)

According to Abubakar,” the issue of droughts is often caused by factors such as the changing weather patterns e.g low rainfall, reduced cloud cover and greater evaporation rates which are exacerbated by human activities such as deforestation, bush burning, overgrazing and poor cropping methods, which reduce water retention of the soil. When this occurs it leaves many lives with devastating effect and such effects may include but not limited to mass starvation, famine and cessation of economic activity especially in areas where agriculture is the major boaster of the economy”5. When the first set of droughts occurred, it caused people living in those areas of Nigeria to move to other areas where they could potentially thrive which caused crowding and overpopulation, leading to more desertification in the long run for many years. When the drought happened back in 1932, hunger happened. Without farms, production of food becomes scarce. Animals will also go hungry and without plant life in the area, flooding was a problem as well.

“The performance of the Nigerian roads sector has not been satisfactory despite its enormous potentials for growth and development. Traditionally, the poor transport facilities and infrastructure have severely delayed economic development and this weakened transport infrastructure has contributed negative attempts to alleviate poverty in the country” 6. Paved roadwork in Nigeria started around 1920 and hasn’t been worked on since they were constructed. If you think about it, roads over time get destroyed and because paved roads are 85% of the transportation use in Nigeria, imagine the issues that come of that. When the roads were first started, paved or gravel, they did a lot for Nigeria when transporting goods all over and receiving them. But soon enough, things went downhill and problems began to occur. Thinking about different means of transportation, “The Nigerian Inland Waterways and Railways are ineffective, hence the heavy reliance of the nation’s economy on road transportation. Only 80% of federal roads in Nigeria are partially paved”7. In recognition of this, how is Nigeria going to be able to effectively attain stable transportation techniques for food needed by the people? Living in Nigeria during the time of six-wheeled motor vehicles being build, so many were being used by Brittan for transportation use, but the roads were not being given a second thought. Nigeria covered so much space back then that there were not enough roadways for the amount of use the roads took. Because of this, transportation became slim and goods were not being distributed, as they should. Weather conditions also effected the roads and,” during the wet season the routs get cut up with four-wheeled traffic; the roads are practically all made of earth”8. Famine resulted into absolute starvation once these tragedies began and nothing done to fix them.

1968: Federal troops halt a car laden with food on the road to Onitsha, Nigeria, during the Biafran War. They are stopping all traffic on the road

The Nigeria-Biafran war began between 1967 and 1970. This war was fought between the Nigerian government and the secession state of Biafra. The Igbo people of Biafra felt they could no longer be one with the northern dominating federal government because of political, economic, ethnic and cultural conflicts. Right of the bat there were causes to the war that had to do with military coup and prosecutions of Igbo people. After the war went on for about a year, the federal military took over Biafra and acted on their oil facilities. Because they chose to block their oil centers it lead to the people of Nigeria to undergo large portions of famine in the population. “During the two and half years of the war, there were about 100,000 overall military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million Biafra civilians died from starvation”10. Malnourished and starving children of the war soon hit mass media of the west and continued on. This long lasting moment in history started the ongoing hunger issues in Nigeria to this day. Doctors and help was sent in to help the starving children but soon after they were attacked by the army and witnessed murder and famine were again caused even greater by the blockade. “The war cost the Igbos a great deal in terms of lives, money and infrastructure. It has been estimated that up to three million people may have died due to the conflict, most from hunger and disease caused by Nigerian forces. More than two million people died from the famine imposed deliberately through blockade throughout the war”11.

Nigeria Becomes a Sovereign Nation: Bagged groundnuts in pyramid stacks.

This whole war started just because Nigeria was successful in becoming independent from Brittan because of the harsh government, ethnic differences and depression period effects. Sir Benard Fergusson from the war says,” the tragedy of Nigeria is that, generally speaking, there is normally enough food for everybody, given that they stay and grow crops in their own district and are free to draw on those of others in the normal way of trade. But the upheaval of the last eighteen months has displaced thousands of people, and most of them have been unable to return to their own homes in time to show up for the next harvest-which should have been done by the end of January”12. The war was the biggest moment in Nigerian history that lead up to child hunger in Nigeria. “The Nigerian civil war not only came close to tearing Africa’s most populous country apart, it also provoked passions in many other parts of the world, particularly in Britain, the former colonial power”13. Once this war took place, child hunger in Nigeria has continued to be an issue ever since.

Nigeria is an enormous landmass of Africa and is home to many landscapes, culture regions and civilians. With that said, the area is also home to a lot of Africa’s hunger and famine. Important historical events have lead Nigeria to have ongoing problems with child hunger for centuries. Today, the main cause of hunger in Nigeria is still unknown, but there is definitely a way to look at past events to justify how the problem began to happen. It is felt that,” if early steps were not taken to encourage make possible the growth of feeling for Nigeria as one country, then all hopes of Nigerian unity and the growth of a Nigerian nation were doomed to fail”14. With that being said, the depression on Nigeria was a big step into failure for Nigeria. Massive genocide throughout the area continued to spread for years after that time I history. The lack of jobs, stores, taxes changes leading to riots and unemployment will never stop being a big reason why child hunger in Nigeria exists today. Along with that came the drought after the depression, which put Nigeria in an even deeper hole. Not having farms, soil and crops leads to nothing but failure in an agricultural aspect of life. Also, around the time of depression and drought was transportation and roadways, which have never been a benefit to Nigeria. Once the roads were constructed they were never worked on again, leaving Nigeria with even greater problems such as no way of getting goods or delivering them for income. Water transportation was unable for use and roads began to break apart years later. Lastly, the biggest offset of Nigeria was the Nigerian civil war that very plainly shows the reason of child hunger then and now. The government blockading the oil routs made it horrible for the children living in Biafra. Nothing could be done and nothing good came of it. A lifetime of hungry children and famine in Nigeria was well on its way after this three year long war. Historical issues, political causes and all aspects of Nigeria have very much lead not only children, but also everyone to become food deprived in the last thirty years. It is important to understand that views of Nigeria that the media shows today are not just happening because it is supposed to happen. Everything turns out a certain way for a reason and for child hunger in Nigeria, history is the best way to explain the outcome of what has been seen for so many years.

1 The Inequalities of Hunger: Global Hunger Index Spotlights Uneven Progress in Reducing Hunger.” 2017.Targeted News Service, Oct 12.

2 Judith Van Allen, “Aba Riots” or “Women’s War”?: British Ideology and Eastern Nigerian Women’s Political Activism(Waltham, MA.: African Studies Association, 1971)

3 Ochonu, Moses. “Conjoined to Empire: The Great Depression and Nigeria.” African Economic History, no. 34 (2006): 103-45. doi:10.2307/25427028.

4 Journal of Ecology and the Natural Environment, Drought, desertification and the Nigerian environment: A review (pg196), (June 10th, 2015)

5 Jibrin MJ (2010) Coping with Droughts in Nigeria’s Sudano-Sahelian Zone.

6 Rowland, Adewumi, Newcastle University, Nigerian Roads: Roadmap to Progress,

7 Rowland, Adewumi, Newcastle University, Nigerian Roads: Roadmap to Progress,

8 Correspondent, Our Berlin, and H. S. Whiting. “The Motor-driven Commercial Vehicle.” Scientific American111, no. 4 (1914): 64-65.

9 OUR COMMERCIAL MOTOR CORRESPONDENT. “Motor Transport.” Times[London, England] 25 Nov. 1926: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 7 Dec. 2017.

10 University: ICE Case Studies. American University. 1997. Retrieved 6 November2016.

11 The Polynational War Memorial, Nigerian Civil War, (prior 2013)–3.140

12 Sir Bernard Fergusson. “A British observer’s view of the Nigerian war.” Times[London, England] 12 Mar. 1969: 11. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 7 Dec. 2017.

13 BBC News, Biafra: Thirty years on, (January 13th, 2000)

14 copied  Milverton, Lord. “Nigeria.” African Affairs47, no. 187 (1948): 80-89.

Image endnote:
Figure 1 Colonial empire: A team of African microscopists in a southern district of Nigeria, who work under British guidance. Africa Nigeria, ca. 1949. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed December 07, 2017.)

Figure 2 Official Naija, Breaking News, Celebrities News, Entertainment, Politics, Finance, Tech, Sports and More…, Memory Lane on Biafra 

Figure 3 United States Central Intelligence Agency. Nigeria. [Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency, 1961] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed December 07, 2017.)

Figure 4 Nigeria Becomes a Sovereign Nation: Bagged groundnuts in pyramid stacks. , 1960. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed December 07, 2017.)










Ethnic Resentment Further Fuels Never-Ending Conflict in Darfur

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Ever since Sudan gained independence from Britain in 1955, ethnic conflicts have plagued the once thriving former British colony. While few are still sympathetic towards Britain, many have held onto a feeling of betrayal, believing that “Britain sold the South Sudanese down the river to the Arabs.” When the British handed the reigns to the northerners (a mostly Arab majority) in 1956, many of the native South Sudanese, who are mainly tribal, were upset. This resentment further grew when in the 1980s Arab tribes were able to get the ruling positions in all of the states and continue to oppress non-Arab tribes. Multiple times this tension has reached a boiling point, and conflicts have broken out. The violence in Darfur seems to be a cut-and-dry case of racial and ethnic discrimination. However, there are many more intricate levels to this conflict than meets the eye. When the British left, they incorporated Darfur in to Sudan, without realizing the consequences of British imperialism in Sudan. By the time Darfur was brought into Sudan, there had been decades of tribal strife, and the final straw was when the Arab-minority was given the power in the government. This caused major uproar, and has led to thousands of people dying with millions more fleeing their homes.

During the “scramble for Africa” in the 19th century, powerful European countries including Britain, France, Portugal all were intent on gaining as much territory outside of Europe as possible. As part of their agreement to divide Africa, Britain was given Egypt, Sudan’s neighbor. Britain quickly overran Egypt, and set their sights on Sudan as to prevent France from gaining more territory in Africa. Britain was finally able to conquer Sudan in 1899, and quickly began exploiting the land for its resources and minerals. It was while Britain was in Sudan, that they began to form relations with the Arabs who were native to the northern region of Sudan.

The British government had a policy of direct-rule in their colonies, meaning that a viceroy would be appointed to serve as the highest ranking official in that colony. Before the British colonized Sudan, there was a sultanate who unified the tribes in that region[i]. Under the sultanate, tribal and ethnic identities were rare, and everyone was unified under one ruler. The sultanate lasted for centuries, and many did not know what it was like to live in a tribe carrying a tribal identity. After the first world war, Britain could not afford the expenses of continuing a policy of direct-rule in their colonies. So the British adopted a policy of indirect-rule in their colonies. Britain used sympathizers of their empire to govern their colonies. In Sudan, these sympathizers were the Arabs, who had developed a good relationship with the British. As the Arabs were put into power, they began to systematically exert their power as much as they could under the guise of the British crown. As the British moved into a policy of indirect-rule, they expected those who lived in the south to automatically go back to living as tribes.[ii] The British government even went so far as to reward groups who formed tribes. Tribes formed identities and coalesced into a nationalist movement.

Before Britain was able to fully conquer Sudan, they had to defeat a nationalist movement lead by a tribal leader from the southern region of Sudan, also known as Darfur. The nationalist movement was led by Muhammed Ahmed, who called himself the “Mahdi.”[iii] This nationalist movement aimed to force both the British and the Arabs out of southern Sudan so that the ethnic tribes could rule over their native lands. Although the British defeated the Nationalist movement, they feared that such uprisings could happen again. Therefore, Britain cut off Darfur from the rest of Sudan as repercussions. This isolation proved to be very detrimental to the Darfur region, because its inhabitants were cut off from trade and education from the outside world. This action by the British planted a seed of resentment in the inhabitants of Darfur when they viewed the British and the Arabs.

Darfur’s isolation proved costly for the inhabitants of the region. The isolation from the northern part of Sudan led to economic suffering, low education rates, and impoverished the region. While Darfur suffered, the northern Arabs, who were a minority compared to the ethnic tribes in the south, grew friendly with the British and began to form a key alliance with the British officials who were in charge of Sudan.[iv] Contrary to the Arabs who were developing relations with the British, the ethnic tribes in Darfur began to fight one another for precious resources just to be able to survive. The infighting along with lack of resources helped further destabilize the region.

However after two world wars, Britain was left with an enormous debt. Facing a deficit, and mounting pressure from their closest ally— the United States— to decolonize their empire, Britain began the process of returning lands to the natives. Before they could do this in Sudan, they needed reassurance that Sudan would be able to hold free, fair democratic elections to choose their leaders—and that the British were not leaving behind a power vacuum. This did not sit well with the Arabs, who had grown comfortable in their role as the governing body of the country. They knew that they would surely lose in any election, given that the ethnic tribes in the south had a much larger population than they did. Fearing the possibility of losing their power, and given that the Arabs always sided with the British while treated ethnic tribes poorly, the Arabs were determined to hold on to their power. Therefore, they devised a plan to ensure that they would stay in power while the tribes in Darfur would remain impoverished and without a fair say in all political matters of state.

In 1953, the British government held an election in Sudan, which was administered by the Arabs. The Arabs wanted to stay in power, so they held a secret ballot, in which the Arabs got all the votes they needed to remain in power, and completely disregarded the will of both the British and the Darfur inhabitants. By 1955, the British had known about the secret ballot, but were too exasperated and depleted from fighting in two world wars to continue to hold a presence in Sudan. They decided to dangerously turn a blind-eye to the secret ballot, a move which set a dangerous precedent that is still in place today. Once the British left Sudan, the Arab ruling party began to systematically oppress and start killing off thousands of men, women, and children who lived in the Darfur region. They also continued to further choke the region of resources, which put Darfur’s economy into a downward spiral. The continued economic instability, coupled with a severe famine in 1984 led to extreme destitution throughout Darfur. People in Darfur had to resort to extreme measures to keep from starving, and they began to progressively use violence more often as a means to get what they needed to survive. The Arab government in the north did little to help those in Darfur, and they were only helped when in 1985 relief sorghum was distributed throughout the region. However, the region was never fully able to recover from the famine, as there has not been a substantial amount of yearly rainfall in Darfur since 1983.

As the farmers in the region are still struggling to yield a profitable harvest, militant groups and the Sudanese government have continued to inflict pain and suffering on the hundreds of thousands innocent men, women, and children of the region. Those living in Darfur wanted to unify the region as one country, and not the five states the British had created while they had colonized the region.  In 2016, there was a referendum held in Sudan to see whether or not the Darfur region should be granted independence, and be called ‘South Sudan.’ The referendum overwhelmingly failed, and while the Arab government in Sudan claims that nearly 75% of people voted, human rights groups speculate that the actual number may be much lower than that, given the millions of people who have fled their homes into neighboring countries.

When they colonized Sudan, all the British wanted was to prevent France from gaining more territory in Africa and resources from the land. The British never could have imagined the consequences of their actions. When segregating one region of the country from another, all the British intended for was to quash any nationalistic movement against them. When instituting a policy of indirect-rule, all the British hoped for was to be able to reap the economic benefits of materials from Sudan without bearing the cost. The Arabs were looking out for their own self interests, as the tribes in Darfur do. It was Britain’s responsibility to ensure equal and fair policies and practices in Sudan, and it was Britain who failed.



[i] R., Bassil, Noah. The Post-Colonial State and Civil War in Sudan : The Origins of Conflict in Darfur, I.B.Tauris, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central,




[ii] Bassil, The Post-Colonial State and Civil War in Sudan, 121

[iii] Wingate, F. R. (2010). Ten Years’ Captivity in the Mahdi’s Camp 1882-1892.

[iv] Bassil, The Post-Colonial State and Civil War 223

Dominican Republic Economy

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Figure 1- Santo Domingo flag

Originating in 1492, the area we now call the Dominican Republic suffered from multiple rulers, bloody wars, and political instability. This historical turmoil created an unstable framework for the country from the early formation and their citizens still struggle with these issues today. The Dominican Republic’s economic instability throughout history has negatively impacted its citizens with issues such as a high unemployment rate, inflation, and severe wage gaps.  In addition, a lack of natural energy resources such as coal, oil, and natural gases make industrial growth expensive and difficult.  The result of the unstable economy has caused great harm to the culture, society and the citizens. Agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and t ourism are the backbone of the current economy; however, it has not always been this way.

In 1492, Columbus washed ashore near the current city of Santo Domingo, located on the southeast coast of the island of Hispaniola.  The island was populated by Taino Indians (Arawaks) who made the explorers feel welcome. Drawn to the fertile region, forthcoming Spanish travelers to the region were more interested in obtaining wealth, rather than settling the land. This led to the area becoming Spain’s New World capital [1]. Seemingly rich and endless resources along with a limited work force from the natives foreshadowed an unhealthy alliance between them. As history reflects, the Spaniards took great advantage of the natives’ resources, causing relations with the Taino Indians to turn ruthless. The Spaniards also needed cheap labor, which they secured by exploiting the Taino Indians.  The Spaniards did not view the Taino’s as equals. One tactic they employed which negatively impacted the original inhabitants was to abuse the native women, and seize their food. The lack of food and resources spread disease, decimating the Indian population. The Spaniards left after cheap labor was unavailable, leaving the native population with disease, poverty and a resulting corrupted racial class structure.


Left with nothing but abandoned land and immoral racial class structure there was a longing for a new establishment. A great portion of the land known today as the Dominican Republic was ceased to the French in 1795 as part of the Treaty of Basel [2].  The French sought more control over the island of Hispaniola but were prevented by a Haitian uprising led by Jean-Jacque Dessaline, a former slave.  Dessalines was successful in defeating the French and established the independent nation of Haiti in January 1804. Dessalines together with his followers returned back to Santo Domingo with the motive to rebuild Spanish dictatorship. The French fled Santo Domingo in 1809. The bitterness among Dominicans and Haitians lasts throughout history and can be rooted back to when the Haitians demanded landowners to improve crop production. This was seen as unfair to Dominicans because they were being paid so little and expected so much.


Another factor which led to unrest between the Dominicans and Haitians, was the color of their skin.  Haitians showed resentment against lighter-colored Dominicans  [3]. In the year 1838, a young man by the name of Juan Pablo Duarte, returned home to Santo Domingo from his studies. Juan Pable Duarte would later become a key component of the independence from Haiti. Juan organized a resistance movement called La Trinitria. Failing the first time around, Juan suffered a disease and was not able to proceed with the plan.  Without Juan, La Trintria tried again and was eventually successful [4]. The execution was bloodless in Santo Domingo provoking the Dominican Republic to separate from Haiti. On February 27th, 1844, the Dominican Republic was declared independent [5].


The independence of the Dominican Republic made way for General Pedro Santana Familias and Buenaventura Baez Mendez to become the dominate leaders of the Dominican Republic from 1844 to 1864 [6]. Santana was proclaimed ruler of the Dominican Republic and soon took advantage of his power by executing anyone who was anti-Santana and rewarded those who supported him to superior government jobs. Santana stepped down from his position and cleared the way for Baez to become the new president in 1849 [7]. Eventually, Santana expelled Baez, and became president once again. The conflict between these two men throughout their reign impacted innocent civilian lives by death, harsh rule and creating greater economic poverty. With financial crisis and continual threat by Haiti, Santana tried to reinsert the country into the Spanish empire, the reinsertion failed due to an independence movement led by Gergrio Luperon [8]. During this time, Santana was reported dead. However, it is still unsure if he was killed, or this was an act of suicide. Baez, president for the third time, was defeated by Luperon as well. After years of rule, Santana and Baez were no longer part of the government. Their so called ‘domination’ was known to create a nation where violence prevailed in the quest for power, where economic growth and financial stability fell victim to an endless political rivalry and where foreign interests still perceived parts of the national territory, available to the highest bidder [9]. The corruption and hatred between these men devastated the country and there was a desperate need for a republic.

With Baez gone, the economy needed a political power to fill the void.  In 1884, Eugenio de Hostos a civilian at the time explains, “to maintain the appearance of legality, the sugar companies forged land titles. The cattle ranches have disappeared almost en masse; the hand mills that swamped the countryside of the south have rapidly disappeared, and the workers of most towns have abandoned their small-scale production” [10].The mills brought the offer of jobs and a demand for “braceros” [sugar workers], and the old land tiller became a “bracero,” the conuco was abandoned, domestic fowl were no longer kept for home consumption [11]. The need for a modern state political party and government enforcements became urgent as the Dominican Republic became more involved in the world capitalist community. With the loss of Baez, the following leadership under the presidency of Heureaux, led to the Dominican Republic greatly expanding its external debt. The money was going to his personal account and to the police state [12]. The money in the government at the time of Heureaux reign was being misused because of too much political power, abusing his right. With the republic in deep debt, the government turned to printing paper money, also known as the issuance of 1897.  The loss of currency value was so bad that at one point the Dominicans refused the currency. Heuraux’s regime built strong opposition throughout the region. One formidable group was the Young Revolutionary Organization, which emerged in Puerto Rico. Notable members were; leader, Horacio Vasquez Lajara, Federico Velasques and Ramon Caceres Vasques. Rethinking the revolution idea, Caceres shot Heureaux several times when he passed through Moca on July 26th, 1899. The Young Revolutionary Organization couldn’t control their political and personal problems therefore failing to organize any type of order. The death of Heurreaux caused the Dominican Republic to remain entrenched in debt and unable to repay to the government [13]. The United States at this time took more interest in the Dominican Republic. Specifically, Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States at the time. In June 1904, President Roosevelt negotiated an agreement whereby the Dominican government bought out the holdings of the San Domingo Improvement Company. Signed on February 7th, 1905 the United States took responsibility for all of the Dominican Republic’s Debt. Continuing on, the Caceres government attempted to reform the political system. This bothered many of the opposition parties. From this opposition thinking a small group was formed headed by luis Tejer, in 1922 Caceres was assassinated by Tejer. With the death of Caceres, his successor, Eldaio Victoria, increased the support for military campaigns against rebellious partisans in the Cibao. The violence caused President William H. Taft to command a dispatch to Santo Domingo to alleviate the conflict. The 750- member force of the United States Marines convinced the Dominicans of the seriousness of Washington’s threats to intervene directly in the conflict. The threat from the United States Marines caused Victoria to step down for Roman Catholic Archbishop Alejendro Nouel Bobadilla to improvise Presidency. Nouel proved to be unwilling to mediate between the two rivals and stepped down, causing the United States government to intervene once again. President Woodrow Wilson at the time put forth an ultimatum; “elect a President, or the United States will impose one” [14]. The United States had grown weary of the problems of the struggling republic.  In addition, the United States already occupied nearby Haiti. The U.S. was not empire building, they were just looking to provide stability to the region and were tired of the long history of instability which impacted the United States.

Figure 2- President Trujillo


With the ending of World War I, Warren G. Harding campaigned against the occupation in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Harding Plan, proposed all Dominican ratification of all acts of the military and the approval of a loan of 2.5 million dollars for public works and other expenses, the acceptance of United States officers for constabulary, known today as the National Guard, and the holding of elections under United States supervision. The reaction to the proposed plan was negative. Although the plan still went through, the Vasquez administration took responsibility for the issue and expanded and modernized Santo Domingo. The Marines eventually left and Trujillo became the Chief of the Guard, turning it into a private army. Trujillo was head of the Marine trained guard realized the economy was in depression. President Vasquez at the time also gave arms to the rebels in return for their support. Vasquez believed this was an open path to become President and he would appoint a rebel to become a Vice president in exchange for their support.  However, Trujillo was voted President by an overwhelming number of votes. Under his rule however, the Dominican Republic became isolated from the governments of other nations as his country pursued communistic ideal.  Trujillo was assassinated on May 30th, 1961. The United States Agency supplied the weapons used by the assassins according to multiple sources. The death of Trujillo was sudden and his office members showed no interest in stepping up to fill his position. The next candidates were Juan Bosch Gavino, a scholar poet who organized the opposition Dominican Revolutionary party, and Viriato Fiallo of the National Civic union with Bosch winning the election. Interesting enough, the administration expressed concern for the welfare of citizens and those whose voices had never been heard. These ideals struck landowners and military officers as a threat. The supporters of Bosch called themselves Constitutionalists, referring to their support of the constitution. The fight between Constitutionalist’s, and military officials divided the country further, creating threats to over-ride each other. On April 28th, the United States intervened at the order of President Lyndon Johnson.  U.S. intelligence at the time believed the Constitutionalists were a form of communism and were asked to step down. With Bosch stepping down, Balauer did not believe in the right for women and peasants to vote and was elected and reigned for twelve years. The beginning of his reign was going well and the economy expanded at rapid rates until late 1970’s when the expansion slowed and sugar prices dropped. At the same time oil prices were rising across the globe. Rising inflation and unemployment was negatively impacting the working class of the Dominican Republic. The United States intervened shortly thereafter and assisted in the election of Guzman. He was a wealthy cattle rancher, whose strong economic background influenced the policies he put in-place.

Figure 3- Santo Domingo Map

The roots of the Dominican Republic political and economic instability date back to the early settlement of the region. Throughout its’ history, the Dominican Republic has struggled to find a level of political and economic stability that would benefit all citizens and lead to a better quality of life for all classes of people. The issues preventing such political and economic stability are due to several factors which are common to their history. These include, but are not limited to; lack of political stability, corruption, divides between economic classes, and the lack of industrialization that affords sustainable growth and income for all in the economy. The history of the Dominican Republic provides a clearer picture how they live today and the challenges they face in the future.







[1] Richard A. Haggerty, ed. Dominican Republic: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1989.

[2] Richard A. Haggerty, ed. Dominican Republic: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1989.

[3] David Howard. “Development, Racism, and Discrimination in the Dominican Republic.” Development in Practice 17, no. 6 (2007): 725-38.

[4] Richard A. Haggerty, ed. Dominican Republic: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1989.

[5] “The World Factbook.” Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed December 07, 2017.

[6] Laura, Jaramillo, and Cemile Sancak. “Growth in the Dominican Republic and Haiti: Why has the Grass Been Greener on One Side of Hispanolia (EPub).” Google Books. Accessed December 07, 2017.

[7] Laura, Jaramillo, and Cemile Sancak. “Growth in the Dominican Republic and Haiti: Why has the Grass Been Greener on One Side of Hispanolia (EPub).” Google Books. Accessed December 07, 2017.

[8] Richard A. Haggerty, ed. Dominican Republic: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1989.


[9] Moya Pons, Frank. The Dominican Republic: A National History. New Rochelle, N.Y.: Hispaniola Books, 1995.


[10]  Emelio Betances. “Social Classes and the Origin of the Modern State: The Dominican Republic, 1844-1930.” Latin American Perspectives 22, no. 3 (1995): 20-40.


[11] Emelio Betances. “Social Classes and the Origin of the Modern State: The Dominican Republic, 1844-1930.” Latin American Perspectives 22, no. 3 (1995): 20-40.


[12] Jeffery Meiser. “Power and Restraint.” Google Books. Accessed December 07, 2017.


[13] Jeffery Meiser. “Power and Restraint.” Google Books. Accessed December 07, 2017.


[14] Saladen Ambar. “Woodrow Wilson: Foreign Affairs.” Miller Center. August 29, 2017. Accessed December 07, 2017.



Figure 1- George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. “Santo Domingo.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 6, 2017.


Figure 2- The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Rafael L. Trujillo Molina. President of the Dominican Republic. ” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 6, 2017.


Figure 3- Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. “Nieuwe en Naaukeurige Paskaart van het Eyland Hispaniola of St. Domingo.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed December 6, 2017.

Nuclear Waste Disposal in Developed Nations

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“The nuclear waste problems should be over in ten years, experts say” -This was the title of a newspaper article written about the Denver conference between the main nuclear nations in 1976. [1] Today, the problem is no closer to being solved and Japan is currently trying to stop the fallout from a nuclear meltdown at Fukushima by freezing the earth around the site. [2] Most people haven’t even heard about this problem and the ones who have aren’t very concerned about it. During the dawn of the Nuclear age, no one was concerned about the long-term effects of nuclear energy because as far as they knew, the process produced only massive amounts of energy and pure evaporated water.

Soon, however, the uranium became less and less efficient in producing energy and had to be replaced, but it was still highly radioactive. Nations have thought of methods of disposing radioactive waste from dumping it in the ocean to burying it to freezing it, with varying amounts of success; the problem still exists today and scientists are using superior technology to address the same problem. According to history and science, they will probably never find a permanent solution and many people don’t even realize the scope of the problem.

Figure 1. The meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine, 1986

As with many scientific advancements before the modern era, nuclear energy was mass produced without fully understanding the implications of the new technology and there was no environmental emphasis on dealing with the waste from it until the early 1960s. Nuclear experimentation was always a secretive operation, so advancements in nuclear energy became a part of the atomic race. From the Manhattan Project to Three Mile Island accident in 1979, the US government kept nuclear testing away from the public view, so other countries, especially Russia, couldn’t get any information on the state of America’s nuclear advancements. [3] Russia responded with the same amount of secrecy, even to the point that the horrific accident at Chernobyl in 1986 was kept secret from its own people. [4] Because of all the secrecy and closed doors, citizens didn’t realize the effect of radioactivity on humans, and the government compounded this by denying that nuclear operations had devastating health effects. The first countries to make nuclear reactors that created electricity maintained their lead for most of the 20th century. The US, Russia, and Europe were the first countries to have operating nuclear reactors while other countries were barely discovering the bomb. Japan followed close behind and kept up well. [5] The same countries that led the innovation in nuclear experiments are the same ones that lead it today. As the problem of nuclear waste became a global issue, nations began working together to maintain trust and find a common solution.

The depleted uranium created by early reactors was not dealt with in an environmental fashion, ending up in the water supply, the ocean, or even the people working at the plants. Dumping radioactive waste in the ocean was a common way to dispose of it in the 1950s, with Russia and Japan becoming the worst offenders. [6] This routine dumping had affected the environment in ways that wouldn’t become visible until many years later, as the ocean churned up the waste and poisoned fish and other ocean life. Furthermore, when accidents happened at the reactor or with the waste, the water supply became tainted, such as with the events at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. [7] The Russian government denied the effects of the meltdown, resulting in a site that is still radioactive today. By not informing their citizens about the health effects of the nuclear waste, they caused many of the plant’s workers and residents of the surrounding dwellings to develop cancer. The main concern in the disposal of nuclear waste is the loss of human life, especially by cancer and radiation poisoning. [8] The biggest problem with radioactivity is that people who have been affected by it don’t realize that they have been affected until years, possibly decades later. During the early experiments with atomic materials, governments understandably wanted to keep it a secret, but that decision may have cost thousands of lives. Even if scientists think they have a solution and implement it, they won’t know if it worked or not for thousands of years, and by that time it would be much too late to fix any mistakes and thousands of lives will be lost. [9] Just like the countries that dumped nuclear waste in the ocean, when they find a solution, they won’t be able to tell if it worked until decades of research have been conducted and the effect will be permanent by that point. The technology of nuclear energy as discovered before it was fully understood, and the effects of that are still being felt today.

Figure 2. A sailor dumps a barrel of nuclear waste into the ocean without any protective gear

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the nuclear nations met with each other and collaborated to try to find a way to safely dispose of the waste that they were creating, as they began to realize the time frame that they were dealing with. The Monaco conference held in 1959 allowed the main nuclear nations to meet and discuss the impact of dumping radioactive waste in the ocean, and agreed to avoid doing that in the future. The scientists invited to the Monaco conference agreed that dumping nuclear waste in the ocean is a bad idea and told the nuclear nations to stop doing it. [10] The nations at the Monaco conference stopped dumping their waste but no alternative solution was offered by the scientists, because they didn’t yet fully understand the nature or scale of the problem. [11] Because much of the research on radioactive materials was done in secret by the government, as it entered the private sector it became imperative to control the effects on people, both in the industry and disposal.


By 1959, the extent that was known about nuclear waste was that it was extremely radioactive, and it had a half-life of (what they thought was) 10,000 years. Nearly 20 years later, the Denver conference in 1976 revealed new plans on how to take care of radioactive waste, both lower and higher-level waste, in the long term. The scientists at the Denver conference had much more knowledge and confidence in a solution to the nuclear waste problem. They proposed burying it in steel and concrete containers that could hold hundreds of thousands of gallons. They also better understood the timeline they were working with, which was a half-life of millions of years. [12] They decided that this solution would be able to solve the problem completely within ten years. That was a severe miscalculation, because they did not realize the tanks to hold the waste had an expiration date that was sooner than expected, and the tanks required constant supervision and testing for leaks. [13] By this time, the public knew a limited amount about the link between cancer and radiation and because of this, nobody wanted the containment tanks near their towns. More information was gathered through private research and the problem of nuclear waste could be defined better with the collaboration of international meetings.

Figure 3. A view of the nuclear waste storage tanks at the Hanford nuclear facility in Washington

The question of what to do with the growing amount of nuclear waste has been attempted to be answered since the early 1970s, both politically and scientifically, without much success on either front. America has a large amount of resources to deal with the problem of nuclear waste, but the system is clogged with politics on a national level. The US has the largest budget and the best economy to deal with radioactive waste, but no one wants an underground repository or a dry storage complex in their county or even their state. [14] While the technology used to contain radioactive waste may be backed by research, the people of America don’t want to have it anywhere near them, because they don’t understand the amount of care and manufacturing that goes into the underground repositories. The repository under Yucca Mountain was the most scientifically sound plan, but after a decades long lawsuit, the people of Nevada won against the government and banned the storage of nuclear waste there. The outdated tanks that are currently storing the nation’s waste are reaching their expiration dates and leaks like the one in Hanford, Washington are becoming a real possibility. [15]

Although there is still no permanent solution, the government is taking extreme care to avoid disasters like those of the mid-20th century. Russia has addressed the mistakes of its past regarding nuclear energy, and has joined the world in attempting to dispose of the waste in clean ways. They have managed to learn from their mistakes and avoid another incident like Chernobyl. In Asia, Japan has experienced firsthand the devastating effects of lethal radioactivity with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and have responded to that by having one of the safest nuclear energy plans in the world. Japan has the resources to handle its nuclear industry and it keeps the level of waste low so it doesn’t have to deal with the sheer volume that other countries are dealing with. The Japanese government is more open minded to creative solutions to contain nuclear waste, like the Kajima Corporation’s plan to freeze the soil around the Fukushima plant. [16] Europe isn’t a trendsetter in the nuclear waste disposal world, but it has worked within itself to create a semi-sustainable plan for dealing with its radioactive waste in a high population situation. German scientists and engineers are known for their efficiency and ingenuity and applied that to their work all throughout the Nuclear Age, allowing them to keep pace with other, larger nations like the US and Russia. The unity of Europe through the European union allows easy transfer of nuclear waste across borders, to larger storage sites. Germany was one of the first countries to propose a modern solution and long-term plan, and it has collaborated with the rest of Europe to keep radioactive waste at a minimum. [17] At the Denver conference, Germany was one of the first countries to implement the storage of waste in massive underground tanks. There is no current solution to the nuclear waste problem, but there are many experiments in short and long-term storage around the world.

Nuclear energy is a dangerous friend that has brought good and bad results all around the world over time. Nuclear waste in the form of depleted Uranium is one of the worst side effects of this otherwise clean energy. Almost every nuclear country has had an accident or made a mistake at some point in the nuclear energy advancement, but the goal is to learn from the bad things and apply that knowledge to the future. If the world has learned nothing else, at least it finally realized that dumping hundreds of tons of radioactive waste into the ocean is a bad idea.



[1] Victor K. McElheny, “Nations tackle nuclear waste disposal,” New York Times, July 19, 1976, accessed October 3, 2017, Proquest.

[2] Martin Fackler, “Japan’s $320 Million Gamble at Fukushima: An Underground Ice Wall,” New York Times, August 29, 2016, accessed September 13, 2017,

[3] K. S. Shrader-Frechette, Burying Uncertainty: Risk and the Case Against Geological Disposal of Nuclear Waste (Berkeley, CA: Univ. of CA Press, 1993), 17-19.

[4] Victor Poyarkov and George J. Vargo, The Chornobyl Accident : A Comprehensive Risk Assessment (Columbus, OH: Battelle Press, 2000), 9.

[5] Shrader-Frechette, Burying Uncertainty, 17-19.

[6] Jacob Darwin Hamblin, “Hallowed Lords of the Sea,” Osiris 21 (2006): 210,

[7] Poyarkov and Vargo, Chornobyl, 97-179.

[8] Poyarkov and Vargo, Chornobyl, 181-204.

[9] Allison Macfarlane, “Underlying Yucca Mountain: The Interplay of Geology and Policy in Nuclear Waste Disposal,” Social Studies of Science 33 (2003): 784,

[10] Hamblin, “Hallowed Lords,” 213, 214.

[11] Hamblin, “Hallowed Lords,” 226, 227.

[12] McElheny, “Nations tackle nuclear waste.”

[13] Susannah Frame, “Another Hanford Emergency: Signs of Another Leaking Tank” King 5 News, May 19, 2017, accessed November 2, 2017,

[14] Macfarlane, “Yucca Mountain,” 783, 787-789.

[15] Frame, “Hanford Emergency.”

[16] Fackler, “Fukushima.”

[17] McElheny, “Nations tackle nuclear waste.”



Figure 1. The meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine, 1986,×999999/c/6b/4b4f415cd66c36f93a70b39b099c56bc.jpg

Figure 2. A sailor dumps a barrel of nuclear waste into the ocean without any protective gear, unknown date,

Figure 3. A view of the nuclear waste storage tanks at the Hanford nuclear facility in Washington, 1960,





Womens Inequality in Saudi Arabia

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Women in Saudi Arabia are trying to change the male dominance there country faces, but they have a lot of obstacles going against them, and while they are trying to change the flawed system that relies on male dominance they are also just trying to survive day in and day out without being imprisoned, abused or killed. Twenty-four-year-old Saudi Arabian women were arrested last May while she was trying to escape a forced marriage and a brutal life of being abused and used.[1] As she was caught trying to escape, officials at the airport took her passport, boarding pass to Australia, where she planned to escape to and drug her onto a plane with her arms and legs tied up and her mouth taped shut. Officials held her at an airport hotel until her uncles arrived, where they beat her and then sent her back to Saudi Arabia. After being caught and sent back, Saudi Arabian feminists aren’t sure where she is, but they believe she is being held at a women’s prison.[2] Most women in Saudi Arabia are imprisoned when they are caught in the presence of an unrelated male, when they are disobedient to parents or when they are accused of running away from home by someone male in their family.

Saudi Arabian Women Covered Up in Public

Why anyone would think this is okay to treat women more like they are a piece of property than an individual human being is a mystery to many not living in the country of Saudi Arabia. A woman living in Saudi Arabia that have seen this be a problem for generations throughout her life describes this being a system that ” has deep historical roots in the kingdom” [3]. The Islam religion, and laws based on the religion, in Saudi Arabia has caused gender inequality issues in Saudi Arabia since it was stated as the state religion of the country when it was founded in 1932. Since then women have watched men go on and receive more and more freedoms in their country but women have made minimal progress in their freedoms. Although it seems like life has gotten better in Saudi Arabia, it has not for women and their religious traditions that support male dominance over women are the reason women are still treated as property in their own country. There are many traditions and rules in the Islamic religion that don’t give women a chance to have almost any rights of their own. Even recent research has shown that the Islamic religion rising and becoming more popular throughout the decades, is also the reason gender traditionalism and retrenchment of women’s rights has become such a big problem at the same time.[4] However, this problem hasn’t just started in the last couple of decades, the roots of the problem can be found in Saudi Arabia’s deep history with the Islamic religion and laws.

In pre- Islamic Arabia the women had more freedom in their marriages and they didn’t have to worry about the possibility of their freedom being taken away, especially to the man they were to marry. After the Islamic religion took over Saudi Arabia, which was as early as 630 CE, the Islamic religion made a huge change in how marriages were dealt with in Saudi Arabia and how they impacted a women’s life. Marriages in Islam now were seen as a contract between two men, and the women had nothing to do with the agreements of the marriage. The husband of the bride gives the father of the bride money, cattle or even real property.[5] Men can also marry up to four wives but women do not get the same choice, instead, they are only allowed to marry one man and if they do not follow this rule they are known for committing bigamy.

The Saudi Arabian law based on their Islamic religion follows the rule that all women have to have a male guardian when they are traveling, conducting business or undergoing certain medical procedures. This takes away women’s right to even be able to do simple daily tasks on their own without a male counterpart overpowering them and their decisions at all times. Just like what happened to the woman last spring, when she was taken by airport officials and picked up by her male relatives where they abused her for punishment, throughout history women have never been able to travel through Saudi Arabia without a male companion. Saudi Arabian women will have a male companion or several until the day she dies and every woman has gone through this if they have lived in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabian laws are much stricter and harsher consequences are given to Saudi Arabian women, even compared to other middle eastern countries like Egypt.[6]

The sharia law is a huge law for Muslims and in Saudi Arabia that they follow it very strictly. As Al Ghadiya simply describes how it works “In Saudi Arabia, Sharia is the law applicable to all judicial matters”. [7] After the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Islam’s have been putting in huge efforts to make sure “Islamization” takes more power than “westernization”, meaning there religion and ways will influence the law and have more power than the “westernization” would.[8] This is why the Sharia Law has been in standing for years and will be years to come. It is very dangerous for any middle eastern countries that resist the demands for Islamization, they will face terrible obstacles if they even try to oppose and move away from Islamic tradition and law.[9]Also because of the fact that Saudi Arabia has been following the Sharia law since the beginning of the country’s history.

The sharia law as a whole is discriminatory towards women and gives men the upper hand in every legal situation. Women have the right to inherit property but there inheritance is unequal and less than a man’s. Sharia law also encourages men dominance in the relationship, and the law even supports men punishing women through domestic violence when they believe their wife has been disobedient or disloyal. The law also encourages child marriage and is okay allowing girls under the age of eighteen to be married off without even their consent.

Not only do the men have the upper hand in law and marriage because of their Islamic traditions, but women are also segregated from the men in almost every social gathering. The religion believes that they should keep wives, sisters, and daughters from mingling with other men other than relatives because of the religions extreme concern for female purity and the family honor.[10] This often results in the woman being dangerously discriminated against, because if they are seen socializing with a strange man they are the ones that can be charged with committing adultery or prostitution, and the man is left unaffected by anything because the powerful religion they follow day in and day out supports sexual segregation.

Women walking around the villages as they are not allowed to show any of their physical features

When the women go to school they are only allowed to use certain facilities of it on certain days, as well as having all of their classes by male stuff not allowed is in the same classroom as the male teacher. The classes have to be watched by the women through a television instead to keep them segregated.[11] The religion also demands the women wear black veils especially in public when they are bound to see men, but men do not have to wear anything to cover up himself. The rule about the veil is very strict and they are not even allowed to lower the veil for passport photos and any photographers on the streets are not allowed to take pictures as them as they walk around their villages.[12] Patrick Ensor describes his feelings about the segregation and his belief that “their black veils are merely the first of many layers of isolation in a society run for and by men.” [13] Not only is the society run for men but the religion is based and focused on the best for the men, and not looking for the best for women as well. Throughout history, very minimal progress has been made on the laws women have to follow with wearing their veils everywhere they go and the segregation between men and women. 

As well as the Sharia Law giving all men dominance in everyday life and politics, the Islamic law also is the reason for such harsh gender inequality issues. Women in Saudi Arabia are repressed by the own men in their families because the government believes abuse, repression, and violence are not to be interfered with since it is seen as the own family’s personal problem.

Signs stating when women can and cannot be with men in public

Not only does the law based on the religion’s belief, create barriers that Saudi Arabian women have had to fight to break down for decades, but the barriers have not been broken down because the country has been ruled by the same family throughout the last century. The Al Sa’ud family has been in control, and they are part of the same royal family as Saudi Arabian’s founders were, Ibn Saud. They have ruled the government and follow the shariah Islamic law for centuries. This has been one of the huge reasons there has been barely any change in women’s equality over the last century. 

Women have had to fight for their freedom for the past hundred years, but they feel their fight is not even making any improvement because of the religion there whole country and politics follow. There religion and law should help protect them and give them equality but instead it is one of their biggest obstacles in just trying to survive everyday life in the place they call home. Instead, Saudi Arabia is known for being one of the worst countries in the world for gender inequality, and the country was even ranked 78 out of 80 countries by the 2005 UN gender empowerment measure.[14] This shows how awful women in Saudi Arabia have it right now and this has been apart of their lives for decades. The Islam religion and laws based on the religion in Saudi Arabia has caused gender inequality issues in Saudi Arabia since it was stated as the state religion of the country when it was founded in 1932. The political rules in the country also have seen the very minimal change in their government, because the same family has been ruling since the beginning and they are all hugely influenced by the Islamic religion. With the country following the same religion and laws throughout their history, that have made Saudi Arabian women’s life a living nightmare and even cost many more women their lives, nothing will change anytime in the near future. They keep following their same Islamic traditions that support male dominance and women are suffering because the Saudi Arabian people keep following the strict traditions and law they have throughout their whole history.

  1. Eltahawy, Mona. “Why Saudi Women are Literally Living ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’.” New York Times Company, last modified May 24. 
  2. Mona, “Why Saudi Women are Literally Living ‘The Handmaids Tale’.” pg number
  3. Mona, “Why Saudi Women are Literally Living ‘The Handmaids Tale’.” pg number
  4. Kucinskas, Jaime. “A Research Note on Islam and Gender Egalitarianism: An Examination of Egyptian and Saudi Arabian Youth Attitudes.” Journal for the Scientific  Study of Religion 49, no. 4 (2010): 761-770.
  5. Honarvar, Nayer. “Behind the Veil: Women’s Rights in Islamic Societies.” Journal of Law and Religion 6, no. 2 (1988): 355-87. doi:10.2307/1051156.
  6. Kucinskas, “A Research Note on Islam and Gender Egalitarianism: An Examination of Egyptian and Saudi Arabian Youth Attitudes”
  7. Mayer, Ann Elizabeth. “Law and Religion in the Muslim Middle East.” The American Journal of Comparative Law 35, no. 1 (1987): 127-84. doi:10.2307/840165. 
  8. Mayer, “Law and Religion in the Muslim Middle East.”
  9. Mayer, “Law and Religion in the Muslim Middle East.”
  10. Audrey Topping, “For women in 2 Arab Nations Road to Equality is Different,” New York Times (New York, 1975). <%22>
  11. Patrick, Ensor. “Saudi women’s long march from behind the veil.”
  12. Topping, “For Women in 2 Arab Nations Road to Equality is Different,”
  13. Ensor, “Saudi women’s long march from behind the veil.”
  14. Kucinskas, “A Research Note on Islam and Gender Egalitarianism: An Examination of Egyptian and Saudi Arabian Youth Attitudes”


Figure 1. Women of Saudi Arabia Photos  

Figure 2. Saudi Arabian Women In Public 

Figure 3. Sex Segregation

Women in Cambodia and their Lack of Education

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Women in Cambodia and their lack of Education

            Equality based on gender in Cambodia has never been a reality. Not now and not back then. The ongoing issue has been broken in some places where women are able to get a basic education and even get into college as seen at the Institution of International Education where they give scholarships out throughout Southeast Asia to girls inspiring in the STEM field as their goal is to try to close the gender gap. While their work continues, there is the ongoing issue of the booming sex industry keeps women out of schools and in houses that are not theirs for the night as the role of women has been degraded further, so they don’t have the power to change their lives. The role of women in Cambodia started back millennium ago when kings and queens still ruled, and the gender roles were defined harshly. The Khmer Empire or officially known as Angkor Empire (802 CE – 1431) ruled over now present-day Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand with an iron grip on the people and the overall structure of society and how it operated. Women have remained imprisoned in time as their role never evolved from the Khmer Empire many years ago. Women are subjected to the will of their husbands which more than likely was to take care of the house whether it be cleaning, cooking, or taking care of the many children, they were forced to bear. However, many women complied to the wishes of their husbands because they knew of nothing else; knew of no hope that would break the wheel of the continuous cycle of dominance from men. Women in Cambodia do not have the same opportunity to pursue an education as men because they are married off at a young age where they are to be kept at home to do the chores around the house, men believed they were objects that they could control and manipulate, and more recently the booming sex industry has robbed women an opportunity to get a proper education.

Before the 19th century, Khmer society structure controlled not only Cambodia, but Vietnam as well. In the society of both countries, women’s hellish life started when they were young, even at the age of 14, to men who wanted obedient wives, “…the gifts demanded to marry (sell) a daughter…women never freely chose their husbands; rather sold to the highest bidder…she, in fact, had no freedom.”[1] When sold off their lives were not their own, “Until she died, the code of the ‘Three Obediences’ negated all possibility of a woman’s self-determination…This rule by men is patriarchy in its purest form.”[2] With the stone structure of society women have very little opportunity to strive for an education because, “Female children had no opportunity to rise above their inferior status…system of education which barred women from learning… considered education wasted on women.” Women were inferior to the men, and their lives were dictated by men. The women no longer had any say over what they did, who they saw, or what they could say. Controlling through fear and obedience stripped women of their self-worth and confidence. This controlling aspect continued without any change in sight because the empire was fearless, and outsiders were often not allowed in. Education is valuable because with it one person can spark change and they didn’t want it in the hands of a women who they believed they had a right to control. Women in the empire had no education, so they did not know that the way they were being treated was forceful, cruel, and menacing.

As time progressed, women were still refused education, “Internal textual evidence and colophons suggest that official writing was the work of male scribes and clerics.”[3] However, as time progressed new evidence discovered that there was “female literacy…although women’s writing is confined to the composition, usually on flower petals, of lovers’ laments and messages of secret assignation.”[4] This was a sign of progress for women, but they were still controlled on what they could write and on what material. Often when writing to their lovers, they were discovered by their husbands and were beaten and their freedom that they once had reduced to nothing but shambles.

In modern day Cambodia, a study was done on women’s reproductive health and rights and they found that the Khmer press, which is controlled by the constitutional monarchy government, blatantly lied to the people as the “Phnom Penh Post reports examples of misinformation by the Khmer press prior to the launching of The Mirror, e.g. linking condom use to breast cancer, reporting HIV transmission through nail clippings and false cures for AIDS. No such examples have been included in The Mirror.”[5] The Khmer “government” uses false information and lies to prevent women from deterring away from the social structure that has been in place for hundreds of years. This allows the people in charge to keep women in the house bearing children, cooking and cleaning, and being submissive to their husbands. This kind of control keeps women away from schools and any kind of education. In any society, when you control the women, and control their access to education then you can control the rest of the population. Some women are even fleeing to Vietnam where many women die trying to sneak over the border to what they believe to be a better place; anywhere but Cambodia. However, Cambodia and Vietnam have a long-standing hatred of one another as their cultures, languages, etc. where branched apart and often saw one another as inferior when in fact both came from the same empire. But some women haven’t been so lucky in their attempts to flee Cambodia, “For them, Vietnam represented a halfway house to freedom… after living for 16 months under the Cambodian Communist regime, Vietnam was a relief…”[6] The women believe that there is anything better than Cambodia, but with the tension between the two countries the likely hood that life is better in Vietnam is slim. The two women had lived in fear for such a short time. The women who had been in Cambodia all their lives are strong, but they have suffered at the hands of men for far too long.

While the empire is gone, the society, roles, and structure remain. There was a huge gap between the years of education between man and women. However, under this regime they created an opportunity for women as men had a higher rate of dying whether it be because of false claims, being sent off to war, or becoming part of the government. Therefore, this left a lot of jobs open for women who had finally had an opportunity to get educated. By 1979, the gap in education between man and women slowly decreased, and with the lack of men women were in power to choose who they could be with. Society and the idea of what men thought of women diminished when they were confronted with a woman who had similar education as they did. Overall, women started to get the education they so rightfully deserved, but have not obtained the full rights of going to school and pursuing their goals as they should.

Figure 1

Now in Cambodia, there is a booming sex trafficking business which degrades women, takes them from their home, and limits their opportunity to get an education. But with the corrupt legal system that is supposed to protect women’s health, and reproductive rights is instead being thrown around in favor of the profitable sex industry, “They would take the girls and put them on display for all to see that they worked in the service. In reality, the police just wanted to have money, thirty dollars per girl.”[7] Many government officials, police force, and military exploit their power when they search for the illegal brothels. Nothing truly gets solved; they are just funding the operations instead of saving the girls inside. How the girls end up there is different for everyone; many families get large sums of money for trading their daughter over at whatever age they see fit. With less mouths to feed in a struggling economy, anything helps. The sex industry tears women down and uses them like property when they should be in school and getting a job. People in the sex industry rob women’s rights to education and rob them of any opportunity to be something; to do something. Women have no voice; they have no rights; and they have no way out often working for many years until they are undesirable where they are thrown out on the streets with no way of getting back on their feet.

Figure 2

Women were prized possessions for men. Now they have sought out young girls to be sold to sex slave owners from all over the world. In Figure 1[8] shows two young girls who resided in Cambodia where they would have been abused, raped, and tortured everyday by countless men to beat them down and break their spirit to fight back. They have girls as young as five years old trapped in a safe house where they tear them down to obedient young girls for which men would fly from around the world to purchase them. There is no freedom. There is no education. There is nothing for them. Girls these young being beaten down when they could have been out in the world learning. However, many families sell their daughters for money, so they can buy food or other supplies, and this also gives them one less mouth to feed. Other times they are kidnapped or picked off from the streets for the operation to fill their quotas. Their lives are over before they even begun. In Figure 2[9], is a lady named Somaly Mam who is a Cambodian sex slavery activist. She has gone onto countless news channels, number of radio talks, and interviews with influenceable people. And even with the statics that sex slavery makes 32 billion dollars in revenue, nothing has been done about it. More girls are still being taken or sold, and their opportunity to go to school and empower themselves are been ripped away from them; school is no longer an option-surviving is their priority now. Even today, Cambodia refuses to change their way of life as other countries change to the new social norms that have arisen. Cambodia is stubborn and refuses discussion with other countries about their way of life and their treatment of women. For hundreds of years that is all the women know. They know of the men at the head of the family controls everything; that they are in charge and they must be obedient to them unless they want a beating. Even now, that’s how they control the women is through fear and once you control them through fear then you can make them do your bidding.

In Figure 3[10] depicts more women who are tied to the sex trafficking industry. These women are older, but find themselves going in circles. With such little opportunity to get a job that pays well and provides the benefits, they turned to brothels where it is the only place where they feel safe because the pimps need the women to stay and creating benefits like protection for the women is a very enticing offer; harmony is needed for the business to run smoothly.

Figure 3

Women have been kept in the traditional role of taking care of the house, married off at a young age, and forced to bear children, while there has been progress made through wars with Vietnam as this gave women opportunity to go to school and take the jobs men left behind as they were recruited for war. This made progress toward equality, but there are still hurdles to overcome for women to be consider equal to men. In Cambodia, the role people played in society never evolved or changed from the past, and what is considered not equality to one may seem normal to someone living in Cambodia. Not everywhere in the world is a free democratic country, and to understand Cambodia, we must wash away our assumptions and realize that the need to survive drives them to start the sex industry; the need for power comes from owning something even people. And with the way society has been run during the Khmer period, that is what people know and continue to operate as so until a new perspective comes in to show them that women are more than objects; that they can go to school; that they are a vital part of a society, until then Cambodia will not have equality if they don’t change their ways.

Endnotes and Illustrations

[1] Eisen, Arlene. Women and Revolution in Vietnam. London: Zed Books, 1984. 16-17.

[2] Eisen, Arlene., 1984

[3] Andaya, Barbara Watson. Other pasts: women, gender and history in early modern Southeast Asia. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 2001. 131.

[4] Andaya, Barbara Watson. 131.

[5] Hill, Peter S., and Heng Thay Ly. “Women Are Silver, Women Are Diamonds: Conflicting Images of Women in the Cambodian Print Media.” Reproductive Health Matters 12, no. 24 (2004): 105.

[6] Henry Kamm Special to The New, York Times. 1977. “Cambodian Women Recall Nightmare of 2 Escapes.” New York Times (1923-Current File), Dec 23, 2.

[7] Derks, Annuska. Khmer women on the move: migration and urban experiences in Cambodia. Amsterdam: Dutch University Press, 2005. 113.[8] [9] Cambodian sex slavery activist Somaly Mam quits foundation amid allegations she distorted her past. May 30, 2014. Accessed December 3, 2017.

[8] Cambodian sex slavery activist Somaly Mam quits foundation amid allegations she distorted her past. May 30, 2014. Accessed December 3, 2017.

[9] Cambodian sex slavery activist Somaly Mam quits foundation amid allegations she distorted her past. May 30, 2014. Accessed December 3, 2017.

[10] Summers, Collin. Cambodia Taxi Girls. In Young Folks Revolution. February 15, 2012. Accessed December 6, 2017.

Poverty in the Congo

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Poverty is at an all-time high in the Congo. The lack of good jobs is trapping the children and families into a cycle of poverty that is never-ending. There is lack or resources and money for education to be given to all children, making the majority of them stuck with doing hard labor every day that yields little to no money. The under development of the area for the past two decades has only made the situation worse. In the end, the feeling that younger family members need to help provide for their family makes getting out of the poverty cycle hard and almost impossible. In an article by Phil Moore, he discusses that the poverty rate is high because of the never-ending cycle.  “While some work can be positive in a child’s development, as defined by the International Labor Organization, absolute poverty stemming from decades of cyclical conflict can mean that the need for children to ‘help out’ their parents can lock them into a cycle of hardship.”(1) While it is easy to focus on the child poverty side it is also very important to look at poverty as a whole and in the continent of Africa.

The Congo was not always a large and bad place to live but just like many places and continents, it suffered turmoil and issues with government and leadership. The political issues and the first Congo war changed the Congo. This change was the result of extreme poverty and suffering like can be seen today. For today there is the outcome of poverty and distress, leading it to be a harsh place to live, with a long deep cycle of poverty that is not easy to get out of. The way this cycle works is children go to school for a few years until the parents can no longer afford for them to go and they need help back on the farm. Then the children go back and help out on the farm, soon take it over, and never finish school to gain a higher paying job. The main effects of this overall harsh life come from the Congo Crisis, The Cold War and the changes in government. Wars, and conflict can put any country into a poverty state, and for the Congo it is specifically hard to get out of.

The roles of conflict and how they have slowly changed the Congo is a huge contributor to the issue. The issues in the Congo have been effected first and for most by its past and the conflicts revolving the government and the upset citizens. Writers a lot of times talk about the Congo indirectly as they have always been an issue in the world. One of the first major issues leading to poverty is the Congo Crisis. The Congo Crisis was going on even before they gained independence. The Crisis was an era of political turmoil and conflict in the republic of the Congo.  “The conflict also became the site of a dangerous Cold War “proxy” contest between western powers led by the United States and the Soviet union-led Communist bloc.  Under pressure from western nations and in exchange for UN support, President Kasavubu purged his government of radical elements including Prime Minister Lumumba.  The ultra-nationalist Lumumba, though supported by the Congolese, was viewed by Western business leaders as an obstacle to their continued investments in Congolese diamond mines.  Fearing Lumumba was secretly a Communist, the United States was particularly adamant about his removal from power.” (2) Erik M. Davis argues that the UN wanted to keep communism as far away as possible from the Congo, but that it is also argued by some other scholars such as David Gibbs, that the United States may have just wanted to replace the Belgium mines with United States ones. “… tensions increased between Belgium and the United States because the latter wanted to replace the Belgian mining company of Union Miniere with an American company”. (3) It was truly a fight over land. The Congo had many factors playing into it and why it was the complex crisis that it became, most of which they had little control over with the opposing sides of the Cold war.

Congolese people chained by Belgiums as slaves for rubber mills. Primary Source

The Congo had just gained independence from Belgium on June 30th of 1960. They wanted this independence because they were being taken advantage of and were tired of working as slaves on rubber plantations, they needed independence to do their own thing after a long time of not being free. President Lumumba was working hard also for the independence and away from home and from his wife because it meant a lot to him and the country. He writes in a letter to his wife saying “…I have never doubted for a single instant that the sacred cause to which my comrades and I have dedicated our entire lives would triumph in the end. But what we wanted for our country — its right to an honorable life, to perfect dignity, to independence with no restrictions” this proves how much they would risk to gain this independence.(11) Shortly after these rights were negotiated the Congolese people demanded a higher pay and removal of white officers above them. This is where a large part of the conflict began and where there is also an effect on the poverty today because from this start point the Belgium refused to give them higher paying jobs. Erik M. Davis discusses how even though the Congo was considered independent they still were still going to be under control of the Belgium for years to come “…experience of violent struggle in the Belgian Congo and therefore was able to ignore calls for independence for a much longer time.” (4) This would lead to the people to still deal with the poor wages and tough working conditions with white leaders over them, they hadn’t become truly independent.

Further into the Cold war, the UN wanted to join in with the Congo as allies even though they were going in as part of the Belgium army. In the cold war the Congo soldiers were being slowly fought over. The Congo government was never taught how to work sufficiently on its own argues Brian Bertosa by saying “…from Belgium, and 24 November 1965, when Joseph Mobutu—better known as Mobutu Sese Seko—began his thirty-two- year kleptocracy, the Congo was one of the world’s foremost trouble spots. The outgoing Belgians had done virtually nothing to prepare their colony for independence…” (5) this made a weak power for arguing against being used as a place for resources and rest during the war. The Cold War was the other main factor in the crisis, the Congo became a Proxy for the Cold War. Poverty was not stated directly as a cause of the war and crisis but thousands of people died and it poverty can be predicted from how much devastation there was to the land.

the article

There were many points of view on what was happening in the Congo, for example England was publishing its view in the news. “Double crisis in the Congo” was an article written from the point of view of England. It was intended for the English people to read and get a feel for what was happening in the Congo. This is a primary source newspaper article that gives real evidence of how outsiders viewed the issues in the Congo. Also, their political leader issues and how that was a main problem. Although this is a short article it gives a primary evidence. The opinion in it from a white man also shows the race aspect. This article could have been controversial and hard to take in by many. It discusses the “Blood Feud, Posts Over Seas, and the Belgium Conspiracy.” (6) The main argument is that the outsiders of the conflict like England are still seeing these huge issues developing in the Congo. It was not just noticeable by the people in the conflict but the world also.

During the Congo Crisis, the land and the soldiers were not the only people under turmoil but so was the government of the Congo, leaders were changing, coming and going so quickly that they had very little control or leadership. The UN feared that the prime minister Lumumba was a part of the communist side, they urged for his removal. Making the United Congo to be under the dictatorship of Joesph-Désiré Mobutu. Kasavubu the president at the time was supported by the UN and western powers and Lumumba was supported by the Soviet Union. The two sides of the Cold War directly affected the Congo because they were being used for their recourses. They were not directly fighting in the war between the UN and the communist sides, they were a place of resource and rest almost. When the Congo was effected by war, and destruction of the government it effected the way that the Congo worked and the people inside of it functioned. Nicole Hobbs quotes Hammarskjold who spoke of the UN’s work in the Congo “The Organization must further and support policies aiming at independence, not only in a constitutional sense but in every sense of the word, protecting the possibilities of the African people to choose their own way without undue influences being exercised and without attempts to abuse the situation. This must be true in all fields, the political, the economic, as well as the ideological if independence is to have a real meaning. Working for these purposes, the United Nations can build on the confidence of the best and most responsible elements of all the countries of the continent.”(7) The UN wanted to help build the Congo to be fully independent in all ways not just to be called independent but to be independent in every sense of the word. This was one positive tale away from the conflict, but there was and still is poverty.

The last three major talking points for the lasting effects of the Congo, there are so many opinions of what is wrong with the Congo, one that makes a good argument is from T.R. Kanza, writing about the three main issues within the Congo during the Wars and how they relate today.  His claims are supported by his evidence and they also support the argument here that the war and lack of education have gone to further effect the Congo today. There are three main issues with the Congo according to an article titled, The Problems of the Congo “those are the people in the Congo have not learned to see that there is the ability to compromise. They only see wars or conflict as a win or lose situation even though there could be in-betweens…. I turn now to three important aspects of the political scene in the Congo. First, the Congolese politicians have never learnt the art of compromise, that is, the necessity to negotiate solutions which allow for concessions on both sides. For the Congolese, a discussion can only end with winners and losers, those who are right and those who are wrong.” (8)  Secondly, he discusses the issue of there being way to many political groups at the time of the 60s. (9) One of the last things he discusses is the lack of education in the Congo then and now. Though a lot of research this is true, and is one of the reasons trapping the citizens in poverty. The lack of resources and the expensive cost it takes to go to school is way too much for the people to afford. “It would seem that Belgium had always been afraid to form an intellectual elite qualified to replace European civil servants and technicians. Belgian paternalism has had grave consequences. There were fewer than twenty Congolese university graduates in 1960.” (10) The Congolese people suffered in many ways over the course of the 60s and these three issues were some of the reasons why conflict was hard for them to fight.  Overall the crisis and the war definitely contributed to the poverty seen today in the Congo. They saw it as a loss and that they were hurt in every way. Without this there would have been less overall bloodshed and loss of opportunity for jobs.

The Congo was and today still is a hard place to live in terms of poverty and lack of education or the means of getting it. Today we discuss the poverty in the Congo without fully knowing why or how it got to this point. They gained the freedom that they wanted but they were in no means ready for the terms that come with the independence, the government was not taught to work alone. Then they had to deal with the issues of the Congo Crisis and the Cold War, both of these made the land and the people suffer, and the lack of education did not and does not help the Congo to progress out of this painful cycle. Without the past history being the way it was the Congo may have not been as affected and in as bad of terms as it is today. The wars and government issues have pushed the Congo to be a hard place to live. It is important to understand that the Congo is not only a poor place but that it is a poor place because of the past and all of its effects today. It is important to realize the issues of the past in the Congo to know why they are in a cycle of poverty and hurt today. Overall, the Congo has a huge historical background with a lot of events that are necessary to learn, the problem will only be fixed with the increased knowledge about the topic.


Full Endnote Citation:

1: Phil Moore, “Child Labour traps DR Congo kids in cycle of poverty”, Aljazeera, 18 June 2015, 10 September 2015. 

2: Hurst, Ryan. “Congo Civil War (1960-1964).” The Black Past. Accessed November 2017.

3: Erik Davis “THE UNITED STATES AND THE CONGO, 1960-1965: CONTAINMENT, MINERALS AND STRATEGIC LOCATION.” University of Kentucky UKnowledge, 2013, pages 4-7,


5: Bertosa, Brian (2016) ““Ba leground Africa: Cold War in the Congo, 1960–1965 (Book Review)” by Lise Namikas,” Canadian Military History: Vol. 25: Iss. 2, Article 5. pages 9-10

6: Our Correspondent. “Double Crisis In Congo.” Times [London, England] 18 June 1960: 8. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 5 Dec. 2017.

7: Hobbs, Nicole, “The UN and the Congo Crisis of 1960” (2014).Harvey M. Applebaum ’59 Award. 6. Page 4

8: T. R. Kanza. “The Problems of the Congo.” African Affairs 67, no. 266 (1968): 55-62. pages 56-58

9: T. R. Kanza. “The Problems of the Congo.” 56-58

10:T. R. Kanza. “The Problems of the Congo.” 56-58

11: Jean Van Lierde ed., Lumumba Speaks: The Speeches and Writings of Patrice Lumumba, 1958-1961 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1972).


1: Chained Congolese slaves on a Belgian Rubber Plantation. Digital image. Ultimatehistoryproject. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.


3: Our Correspondent. “Double Crisis In Congo.” Times [London, England] 18 June 1960: 8. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 5 Dec.