The Sunday Post for August 7, 2016

A Terrifying Journey Through the World’s Most Dangerous Jungle

The Darién Gap, an expanse of wilderness between Colombia and Panama, has seen countless deaths and disappearances. Snakes and guerrillas fill the jungle, but despite these perils, thousands of migrants from all over the world attempt to cross it in hopes of eventually reaching the US. Jason Motlagh faced the risks and trials of the journey leading up to and through the Darién Gap to document the experience.

As traditional pathways to the U.S. become more difficult, Cubans, Somalis, Syrians, Bangladeshis, Nepalis, and many more have been heading to South American countries and traveling north, moving overland up the Central American isthmus. The worst part of this journey is through the Gap. The entire expanse, a roadless maze that travelers usually negotiate on foot and in boats, is dominated by narco traffickers and Cuba-backed guerrillas who’ve been waging war on the government of Colombia since 1964. Hundreds of migrants enter each year; many never emerge, killed or abandoned by coyotes (migrant smugglers) on ghost trails.

Our attempted trip is possible only because we’re traveling with the permission of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Marxist rebels who control access to the most direct line through the Gap — an unmarked, 50-mile, south-to-north route that’s also used to move weapons and cocaine. Following months of negotiations, FARC commanders based in Havana have agreed to let us attempt the trek and visit a guerrilla camp, so long as we keep the main focus on migration, not politics. After five decades of fighting, at a cost of more than 220,000 lives on both sides, FARC and the Colombian government are in the final stages of a peace deal that would end Latin America’s longest-running insurgency. No more complications are needed.

Thank you, President Obama, for being a feminist

Lucia Graves notes that many find it difficult to take a magazine like Glamour seriously when it discusses politics or anything that isn’t fashion/makeup. Which is why it’s even more important that President Obama wrote a piece about feminism for it.

He delves into intersectionality in a way that only the country’s first black president could, channeling Michelle’s struggle as America’s first black Flotus to eschew the two stereotypes waiting to swallow her identity: that of “angry” black woman on one hand, and that of docile first lady on the other.

And he’s doing it not to be politically correct as Trumpian thinking would have you believe, but because it gets at something powerful, which is the universality of fighting sexism and constrictive gender identities. “Rigid notions of identity isn’t good for anybody – men, women, gay, straight, transgender, or otherwise,” he wrote. “These stereotypes limit our ability to simply be ourselves.”

From Clerk to Postmaster at One of the U.S.’s Oldest Post Offices

Since Benjamin Franklin became Postmaster General 200 years ago, the US Postal Service has seen incredible change. In a short interview with Cindy Mason, current Postmaster at Hinsdale Post Office, Bourree Lam unearths the joys of being a Postmaster and the optimism Mason has for the future of the Postal Service.

Email has certainly come into play with the Postal Service. People don't write letters the same way that they used to. However, that doesn't mean that we still don't fill a very important part. We will be changing ourselves, and can I tell you what we're going to look like in 10 years? Not exactly. But I see us continuing to be a delivery service: Because of all the rural areas, we are still going to be a very important part of the fabric of the country. I do believe that the Postal Service is going to change, but it’s still going to be a viable place to work in the future.
The art of the great political speech

Tara Sonenshine makes the case for passion, preparation, and positioning as the key to a good speech. She also reminds us that brevity often works well: think of the Gettysburg Address and Maya Angelou’s poem at Bill Clinton’s inauguration. (Donald Trump’s RNC speech was the longest since 1972. Just saying.) Sonenshine also discusses the element of storytelling in a speech. (Read what our own Paul Constant wrote about Trump’s broken narrative).

Speechwriting and speech-giving lie in the craft of storytelling. Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. A great speech is a story and contains stories within the body of the speech, delivered with the art of a narrator — someone you might enjoy listening to read an audiobook. Will that be the case this summer? Will any speech be memorable?