Today, the US is facing a migration crisis on its southern border with Mexico. Thousands of people from Central America, especially Guatemala and Honduras, are fleeing their home countries, taking a dangerous journey north through Mexico, and claiming asylum in the US. How did this crisis begin? Much of it can be traced back to the 1970s cocaine trade. Cocaine, which is mostly produced in Colombia, used to be shipped by boat and plane across the Caribbean. But in the 80s and 90s, the US cracked down on this route, so traffickers started shipping their drugs through Central America and over land to Mexico. That created a violent and competitive turf war between gangs and organizations in Guatemala and Honduras, and after the governments cracked down, violence only increased, forcing people to flee, often to the US.
The dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir is one of the longest running conflicts. Ever since Britain left India in 1947 and hastily drew borders demarcating a Hindu-majority India and a Muslim-majority Pakistan, Kashmir, located right between the two, has been fervently claimed by both nations.
India and Pakistan’s first war was fought over Kashmir’s status as the the newly independent countries were being formed. After over a year of bloody conflict the UN stepped in and brokered a ceasefire that drew a line down the middle of Kashmir and gave a portion of the territory to India and the remainder to Pakistan. This arrangement was meant to be temporary. Once the violence settled a vote was to be held that would allow Kashmiris to decide their own future.
But more than 70 years later, Kashmiris have yet to vote on their status. They remain stuck between two nuclear nations locked in a dangerous conflict with no end in sight.
Iraq gets almost all of its water from two rivers: The Tigris and the Euphrates. Both begin in Turkey and make their way down the entire length of the country, before emptying into the Persian Gulf. The problem is - they are drying up.
There are two main reasons for this. The first is geographical: Since both rivers begin in Turkey, Iraq doesn’t have control of how much water it receives. In the last 30 years, Turkey, Syria, and Iran have been building hundreds of dams along both rivers. Now only a quarter of the Euphrates reaches Iraq. Secondly, Iraq has been stuck in conflict for the last 16 years. In each case, the delicate network of treatment plants, dams, canals, and pipes has been repeatedly destroyed and neglected.
All of this has boiled over in the city of Basra - at Iraq’s southern tip. Last summer, after hundreds were poisoned by the water - riots erupted and were deeply destabilizing for the new Iraqi government. If Iraq is to rebuild, it needs to get fresh water to its people - a challenge that is getting harder every year.
The Tour de France is the most prominent cycling race in the world. It’s now in its 109th edition and it’s being called the ‘Highest in History’ because there are more climbs than ever before. This is important because the climbs are where the race is won and lost. The best riders rely on their teammates to get them through the long, flat, and hilly stages, before they take on the mountain stages on their own. These are the hardest and most brutal stages of the race - but they are exactly what makes the Tour de France famous.
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway that lies between Iran and Oman. This 21 mile-wide passage supports 20% of the world’s oil supply. A closure of this waterway could send the global economy into a tailspin.
In recent months, several oil tankers have been seized, attacked and harassed. These oil tankers — and this narrow water passage — are at the center of the conflict between the US and Iran. It's a conflict that spans decades and has the potential to escalate in one of the world’s most important oil chokepoints.
On Oct. 9, 2019, Turkey launched an attack in northeastern Syria. Turkey made the move shortly after the US announced it would remove some of its troops from the region. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had his eyes on the region for years. Turkey, he argued, needed a “safe zone” to serve as a buffer against the Syrian War happening just across the border. Yet back home in Turkey, there were other factors at play that accelerated his calls for an invasion that involved Erdoğan’s own political survival. The move has recalibrated alliances in the Syrian War and added new uncertainty on the future of the region.
The 2019 fires were just the tip of the iceberg. Vox Atlas: The Amazon is a three-part series about the world's largest rainforest, why it's in jeopardy, and the people trying to save it. Watch all three parts right here on YouTube. The Amazon rainforest has been reduced by about 17% since the 1970s. Cattle ranchers, loggers, and farmers are mostly to blame for the deforestation, but the demand driving them comes from all around the world. Brazil's economy depends on agriculture, especially beef and soy, which is grown on cleared land in the Amazon. Today, president Jair Bolsonaro, is weakening the environmental protections there in order to give agriculture more power. This came to a head when, in summer 2019, more than 30,000 wildfires burned in the Amazon, sparking worldwide outrage.
Vox Atlas: The Amazon is a three-part series about the world's largest rainforest, why it's in jeopardy, and the people trying to save it. Watch all three parts right here on YouTube. The Amazon rainforest has faced encroachment and deforestation for a long time. But it wasn’t until Brazil’s military dictatorship came to power in the 1970s that deforestation spiked, becoming a big business in the Amazon. When that expansion reached the state of Acre, it met resistance. Chico Mendes, a rubber tapper from the region, took the fight to protect the Amazon from the depths of the rainforest to the global stage. In the process, he gave his life. But the fight he started lives on.
And the president is part of the problem. Vox Atlas: The Amazon is a three-part series about the world's largest rainforest, why it's in jeopardy, and the people trying to save it. Watch all three parts right here on YouTube. Brazil has over 900,000 indigenous people, most of whom live in the Amazon. After centuries of persecution, they were given extensive rights under a new Constitution in the 1980s, including the right to claim and win back their traditional lands. Since then, hundreds of indigenous lands have been demarcated and protected by the Brazilian government. But in the last few years, those lands have come under attack by landowners, ranchers, loggers, and farmers who want access to the resources inside these indigenous lands. And since Jair Bolsonaro became president, the number of invasions into indigenous lands has skyrocketed.