Peru’s Shining Path: Still Operational

May 4, 2012 by

In mid-February, Peruvian security forces scored a major victory against the notorious Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) terrorist group with the capture of the movement’s last major leader known as Artemio (real name Florindo Eleuterio Flores). Shining Path has waged war on the Peruvian government since the 1980s, a persistent thorn in Peru’s side.

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.

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.

Do Country Acronyms Have a Meaningful Place in a Dynamic World?

March 10, 2012 by

When Goldman Sachs first coined the term “BRICs” in 2001, it did so on the assumption that these four countries were going to heavily influence the direction of the global economy. It turned out that China was much more influential than any of the other three, and that Brazil well underperformed the others based on its decade-long average GDP growth rate of approximately 3.5%.

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.

Amy Greeson: A Pharmacist and Healer

March 7, 2012 by

In Western cultures, people go to a pharmacy for medicine. But in far flung places around the world—the Amazon, Belize, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea—natives depend upon village healers and shamans for medicinal substances. Amy Greeson, a pharmacist and educator, is working to bring the two together. “My team and I have begun to realize, that through our global expeditions, we were acquiring invaluable knowledge about indigenous cultures and people,” Greeson said. “We were determined to tell their stories. And to work to preserve them. And, finally, to inspire a new generation.”

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?”

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.

Democratic Speed Bumps in Latin America

December 11, 2011 by

After a decade of growing popularity, democracy has hit a slump in Latin America. A recent Latinobarómetro poll cited by The Economist in late October underscores this point. In all but three Latin American countries, fewer people than last year believe that democracy is preferable to any other type of government. In the cases of Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, the drop in support for democracy is significant.

Mexico: Rising Natural Gas Superstate?

December 8, 2011 by

Americans looking south of the Rio Grande tend to forget, if they ever knew, that Mexico is, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, now America’s second largest source of crude oil. Of the United States’ total crude oil imports averaging 9,033 thousand barrels per day (tbpd), Mexico is the second largest source of imports, at 1,319 tbpd, exceeded only by Canada with 2,666 tbpd.

Rethinking US-Mexican Security Cooperation

December 4, 2011 by

Since Felipe Calderón came into office in 2006, security links between the US and Mexico have gotten noticeably stronger, the Mérida Initiative being the most obvious example of this. Funding under this program will almost certainly continue next year. Since “Mérida assistance” is costing the US government hundreds of millions of dollars a year, now would be an appropriate time to ascertain whether this is the best use of taxpayer money, or whether it promotes human rights or has even been effectual.

PRI Resurgence & the Future of the Border Wars

November 12, 2011 by

Election results in this year’s gubernatorial races have placed the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) back at the forefront of Mexican politics. Led by front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto – the former governor of the State of Mexico – the PRI is striving to rebuild its tarnished image rightfully earned during their seventy year reign. Since the beginning of the year, the party’s confidence has acquired hubris due to it amassing a nearly 30 point advantage over the other 2012 presidential candidates.

Mexico, te quiero!

November 1, 2011 by

1958––My first time in Latin America, the first love became everlasting. What is love? It is sharing the joy of the Other, like the beauty of Mexico City, with clear sky and good air; suffering the suffering of the Other like the direct violence with 50-60 thousand killed in the last 5 years. Mexico has 19 of the 50 most violent cities in the world. This narco-tráfico is linked to the structural violence of poverty for the lower half of the population, 95 percent of the 10 million indigenous population, and the flagrant inequality.

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