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Lessons Learned: USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the 1985 Mexico City Earthquake

USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is perhaps the world’s premier international disaster assistance agency.  It was not always that way. OFDA administrator Oliver “Ollie” Davidson knows this better than most. OFDA’s response to the devastating 1985 Mexico City earthquake was ernest and energetic, but not always well-targeted.  In his oral history, Davidson recalls […]

Getting Mexico to the NAFTA Negotiating Table

U.S. diplomats who helped lay the groundwork for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) first had to overcome entrenched Mexican skepticism.  The United States, Canada, and Mexico decided in mid-1990 to start negotiating a free trade agreement.  Discussions began in earnest early the following year.  By mid-1993 the parties were fine-turning a draft agreement. […]

The 1985 Mexico City Earthquake

On the morning of September 19, 1985, an 8.1-magnitude earthquake hit the western states of Mexico and including Mexico City.  Western Mexico is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes with the Pacific plate and Cocos plate moving against the North American plate actively.  As Mexico City is situated on an ancient lakebed plateau composed of mostly dirt […]

The End of Omar al-Bashir—New Hope for Sudan

Since becoming independent from its former colonizer, the Republic of Sudan has fluctuated between democratically elected governments and severe dictatorships. Problematic civil wars and human rights violations have plagued the country. However, since December 2018 new hope has risen within this northeast African country. In the wake of large-scale protests which demanded his removal from […]

Putin in the Making—A Sour First Impression?

Who exactly is Vladimir Putin and how was his experience with U.S. high-level officials as a Russian deputy mayor? To understand Putin today, we must also understand him in the past. The president of Russia was not always the leader of his country. Like many leaders, he was once a government employee, following someone else’s […]

Wikileaks: The Revelation That Shook U.S. Diplomacy

As the hearings of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange continue, the question of whether he will be extradited to the United States remains uncertain. New scandals continue to pop up as Assange contends that former Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said that President Trump would give him a pardon in exchange for disclosing the source of the Hillary […]