Latin America

An Olympic-Sized Problem in Brazil

May 2, 2012 by

With a cigarette in one hand and a net in another, Moisés, a middle-aged fisherman in Brazil, sits among choppy waters in his wooden boat, looking back at his home that may soon be destroyed against his will. Moisés is a resident of the community of Vila Autódromo in Rio de Janeiro—one of 119 low-income settlements, known as favelas, that the government plans to remove by next year under the so-called My House, My Life program.

Latin America Delivers A Swift Kick

April 30, 2012 by

On one level, April’s hemispheric summit meeting was an old fashioned butt kicking for Washington’s policies in the region. The White House found itself virtually alone—Dudley Do Right Canada its sole ally—on everything from Cuba to the war on drugs. But the differences go deeper than the exclusion of Havana and the growing body count in Washington’s failed anti-narcotics strategy. They reflect profound disagreements on how to build economies, confront inequity, and reflect a new balance of power in world affairs.

Latin America’s Shift on Drug Policy

April 16, 2012 by

I recently read an interesting and smart piece on one of Foreign Policy’s blogs which charted some notable policy shifts among current Latin American heads of state as it relates to drugs. It is true that, more than two years ago, the former leaders of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico all (rightly) claimed that the “war on drugs” had been unsuccessful. It is also true that the current presidents of Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala (among others) have also called for a rethink on the current prohibition regime.

The Promise of Colombia

April 10, 2012 by

While much of the globe has been mired in an economic malaise, the simultaneous growth of Latin America has been well chronicled. Most of the attention given to Latin America’s rise has focused on Brazil, which recently surpassed Great Britain to become the world’s sixth largest economy. The attention has been justified given Brazil’s remarkable turnaround, its economic growth, potential growth, and forthcoming global spotlight by way of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.

Brazil, U.S. Deepen Ties Ahead of Obama’s Latin America Week

April 10, 2012 by

Kicking off what some here have called President Barack Obama’s “Latin America Week”, the president and his Brazilian counterpart, Dilma Rousseff, touted a deepening of bilateral ties in her first visit to the White House as president of South America’s superpower. Adding to a growing basket of “presidential dialogues” that were sealed during Obama’s visit to Brazil in March 2011, the two leaders announced the creation of a “Defence Co-operation Dialogue” that will convene in the Latin American giant in two weeks.

A Moral Argument Against the War on Drugs

April 5, 2012 by

Former Brazilian President, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, has argued that the war on drugs has failed and cannabis should be decriminalised. He argued that the hardline approach has brought “disastrous” consequences for Latin America. Having just returned from Rio, we can only agree.

Argentina’s Economic Policy: Failing to Learn from History

March 28, 2012 by

Argentina is heading toward its second economic crisis in just over a decade and national leaders are unwilling to publicly acknowledge that the country’s growth is unsustainable. Since the country’s economic collapse a decade ago, President Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner (2007 – present) have allowed the national economy to function without interference or direction.

Losing Bolivia: Evo Morales’ Failing Presidency

March 13, 2012 by

For the sixth time in as many years, Bolivia is poised to nationalize more of its natural resource-based industries; a primary focus of the Morales administration since coming to power in 2006. For five years, the government – to the citizenry’s fanfare – has taken control of much of the country’s oil, gas, and mining industries; a transition justified by the government in that these sectors are integral for the nation’s survival.

A (Real) Turning Point in US-Latin American Relations?

March 8, 2012 by

Will November be the beginning of a turning point in US-Latin American relations? For that to happen, it is essential for Washington, both Democrats and Republicans alike, to accept a new reality in order to start the very complex process of avoiding the frustrated superpower syndrome vis-à-vis Latin America.

Revisiting Helms-Burton

March 6, 2012 by

In 1996, the US government enacted the Helms-Burton Act in an effort to tighten the embargo on Cuba and bring about the regime change that the Americans have long wanted. Sixteen years later, while Fidel Castro has stepped aside from his official role as Cuban president, the desired regime change has not taken place. Raul Castro has made some changes in the government-controlled economy, but no changes have been forthcoming regarding democracy or human rights.

Why is Iran interested in Latin America?

February 20, 2012 by

In January of 2012, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad conducted a four nation tour of Latin America, with stops in Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Cuba. From the time that this trip became public, US government officials began asking “Why Latin America?”

Protecting Progress: South America’s Battle with Chevron

February 19, 2012 by

The oil spill 230 miles off Brazil’s coast last November was, when compared to other international environmental disasters, relatively small and easily contained. What captured the world’s attention was not the spill itself, but the Brazilian government’s reaction. Domestic and international criticism concerning the penalties levied against Chevron focused primarily on the disparity between the leak’s size and the nearly $20 billion in fines currently being fought over in civil court.

Latin American Success: A Case for Comparative Advantage

February 7, 2012 by

The innovation and integration set in motion throughout Central and South America over the past decade is replacing the notion that effective market strategies must be devised within the zero-sum framework. Unifying socio-political schemes and initiating region-centric policies has made regional comparative advantage Latin America’s primary focus over the past decade.

Qualifying U.S. Military Aid to Guatemala

January 29, 2012 by

Public security is a growing concern in Guatemala as violent Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), most notably Los Zetas, make their way down into that country. Indeed, Guatemalans elected Otto Perez Molina to the presidency on January 14, 2011 attracted by his promise to take an “iron fist” approach to organized crime. In part, this “iron fist” approach means relying more on the military for security.

The Peace Corps, Drugs and US Foreign Policy

January 29, 2012 by

A few months ago, President Barack Obama was celebrating the “profound” relationship between the United States and Honduras. This happened in spite of the fact that current President Porfirio Lobo’s rise to power was aided by a June 2009 coup. Even though Obama publicly denounced the coup, the administration’s response was timid. It did not take the Obama administration long to warm up to the ouster of democratically elected Manuel Zelaya.

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