Saturday, October 31, 2015

Charlotte Runway 5K

This morning I ran the Charlotte Runway 5K, which I'd never done. It's a very cool race, as you actually run on a runway, while planes are taking off and landing not too far away (and Charlotte has an extremely busy airport). I've never seen so many people stopping in a race to take photos. An added and pretty obvious benefit is that it is the flattest race you could possibly do.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Points About House Bill 318

Here is the text of the bill Governor McCrory signed into law. Key points:

1. E-Verify will now apply to contractors who work for a government agency in NC.
2. The matricula consular (even named specifically) is no longer acceptable to be used with any government agency (including police). The NC General Assembly must approve any ID not currently specified.
3. Sanctuary cities are prohibited. For example, you cannot tell police not to collect information of someone's immigration status, even if they're not arrested.

The upshot:

1. People will be even more afraid of the police, even if they've been robbed, assaulted, etc.
2. The civil rights resolution passed by the Charlotte City Council in June will be superseded.
3. The effort to create a municipal ID in Charlotte will be quashed.
4. The General Assembly is saying it does not trust local government.
5. This will help seal the Republican Party's alienation of the growing Latino population.


Annual Cuba UN Vote Game

The U.S. and Cuba played their annual game at the United Nations, as Cuba introduced a resolution condemning the embargo and got overwhelming support. The number of countries staying on the U.S. side has dwindled over time, and now includes only Israel. So the vote was 191-2. The first time I blogged about this, in 2006, the vote was 183-4.

Last month the Obama administration had indicated it might actually switch its own vote to abstention if some of the language of the resolution changed. But Cuba offered up the same language so the game was played the same way as always. Cuba's stance was that even with the diplomatic thaw, the embargo is still being enforced:

Rodríguez described the U.S. vote as unfounded, and reiterated that, as long as the blockade continues to be strictly enforced, the General Assembly will continue condemning it. 
He commented that he would not respond to the U.S. representative’s statements, but insisted that it is the blockade which must be substantially modified - not the Cuban resolution.

You have to figure this won't go on much longer. Either the embargo will be lifted or the two sides will come to some sort of agreement either on language or not bothering to introduce the resolution again. Until then, we're stuck in Cold War symbolism.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Is Demography in Cuba a Problem?

The New York Times just had an article lamenting the fact that Cubans were choosing to have fewer children, clearly seeing that as a problem. My dad responds:

But, wait a second. One of the reasons why the country has a growing older population is because the death rate is so low in Cuba. Life expectancy in Cuba is 78 years at birth, compared to 79 for the United States. Think about that. We complain in this country about how expensive health care is, but in poverty-stricken Cuba your chances of death at any given age are about the same as here. Why? Education is the key, as the article itself notes, quoting a former World Bank economist, Helen Denton.

Basically, as people become more educated, they tend to have fewer children. Obviously Cuba also has serious economic problems, but people would likely be having fewer children regardless. So we shouldn't be too surprised.

As far as problems, as my dad and I have argued, that as your population structure changes it becomes harder to sustain certain kinds of economic models. But this should be a matter of policy adaption, not lamenting that people are becoming more educated and therefore making different decisions about children than they might have in the past.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What Members of Congress Hear

Congressional testimony: Douglas Farah on Russia's role in Latin America:

Yet given its current positioning, one could argue that Russia now has more influence in Latin America than ever before, even including at the height of the Cold War. This will likely remain true despite the recent announcement of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and Russia’s ongoing economic turmoil.

Holy smokes, what a crock, and it's depressing to think members of Congress now tuck this away in their brains for future reference. But wait, it gets worse!

The ALBA bloc embraces terrorism and terrorist groups such as the FARC in Colombia, Hezbollah and the Spanish ETA and its military doctrine includes the justification for the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States.

This is crazy, but we know where it's leading, which is...

Russia’s rise underscores the significant loss of Washington’s ability to shape events in a region close to home and of significant strategic interest. This decline, due to waning policy attention amidst multiple global crises and severe budget constraints, is leaving a diminishing group of friends in the hemisphere. Since 2010, U.S. engagement efforts, both military and diplomatic, have been scaled back dramatically with overall aid decreasing both civilian and security assistance. And regional initiatives have been among the hardest hit by the ongoing budget austerity,33 which has left a vacuum that is being filled by extraregional actors and a growing group of political leaders who hope for the collapse of the United States.

We're losing Latin America! Except we're clearly not. But Farah has talked to some people who say we are.

Back to my previous point. Members of Congress have limited time and expertise, which is why they call people to testify before them. If this is the quality of the analyses they receive, we can hardly blame them for making terrible decisions based on alarmism and nostalgia for the Cold War.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Exploding Canons NUEVOlution Event

Come tonight to the Levine Museum of the New South, where I'll be taking part in a program the Charlotte Teacher's Institute of UNC Charlotte has put together in conjunction with the new NUEVOlution exhibit.

I just got back from the morning TV show Good Day on Charlotte's Fox affiliate to plug it. All the speakers will be brief in order to facilitate some Q&A, and my talk will focus on how we need to stop saying Latino immigration is "new." Almost exactly nine years ago I gave another talk at the Levine Museum, and it just doesn't make sense to call it new for so long. It's like staring through the blinds at your neighbor for a decade, wondering who they are and whether they're going to stay (I actually wanted to use that line on TV but there was no good moment).

It's free, there's a reception, and we have some good speakers. So come check it out.


Monday, October 26, 2015

"Boring" Argentine Election

The news about the Argentine presidential election is naturally focused on the surprising surge by Mauricio Macri, which shows more disenchantment with the Kirchner era than expected.

What gets less attention is what hasn't happened. There has been no inflammatory rhetoric from the Casa Rosada (though Cristina Kirchner hasn't tweeted since yesterday so let's see). Daniel Scioli's response has been measured, there is no crisis, there are no accusations of malfeasance, nobody is being thrown into jail. The outcome was a big deal but the process was...boring.

And that's what you want to see.

Increasingly, Venezuela is become more isolated in this regard. We've seen major yet boring elections elsewhere as well (I made the same point about the 2013 presidential election in Ecuador). For all the talk about the problems Argentina faces, it is important to note that the electoral aspect of its democracy seems to be working quite well.

For general posts on the election, see Otto and Steven Hyland


Saturday, October 24, 2015

David MacLean's The Answer to the Riddle is Me

I read David MacLean's The Answer to the Riddle is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia. Very good book. MacLean was in India and had a terrible reaction to the malaria drug Lariam. He suddenly became conscious in a train station, not knowing who he was or what he was doing. He spends the book describing how he tries to understand who he had been before.

The book made me think about how brain chemicals essentially construct reality. His descriptions of hallucinations conjured up images of William Burroughs' Naked Lunch, who like other Beat writers (and many other artists of different eras) thought hallucinogens took them to a higher level. MacLean felt he was close to solving a riddle God had given him, and God looked like Jim Henson. Who's to say he's wrong?

But it also means that chemicals dictate how we feel about people. He couldn't remember his girlfriend, and so suddenly they had no past. It didn't matter if they had spent months together: his brain chemicals wiped out all the memories, so for him that time never occurred. It's scary to think about, and he was badly scared.

He spends much of the book using other chemicals, mostly nicotine and alcohol, to counteract the chemicals that are messing him up. As you might guess, they really only make things worse. In the end, he needed to forge a new romantic relationship to center himself. Past ones simply could not work because knowing that memories were missing created a chasm.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Venezuelan Elections and the Military

At Latin America Goes Global Andrés Cañizález asks the question about what happens the day after the December 6 Venezuelan elections. What he mentions but which deserves more attention is the role of the military. That it's still such a major factor in Latin American politics is sad, really. But this is where the rubber hits the road. If the government takes a major electoral hit, which is very likely, then the military leadership will need to decide whether it supports the government over the constitution.

We know the military is tightly bound to Chavismo. We know it is routinely used by the government to make political points about foreign policy. We know there is Cuban influence. We know that Maduro has needed the military to publicly pledge its loyalty.

But for the most part the focus on the military has been whether it would protect Maduro from a forced ouster, not a legislative defeat. The former is not in doubt but the latter is. So if the PSUV looks to be losing then we need to pay close attention to how the military reacts.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

China's Food Imports From Latin America

The Chinese state media has an article about how Chinese expertise can help diversify Latin American exports. The problem is that its suggested solution is to help Latin America produce more food for the Chinese to consume, which is in fact the opposite of diversifying exports.

With China likely to double its food imports by 2020, sharing its agricultural technology with Latin America may be a good idea. 

A good idea for China. yes. A good idea for Latin American diversification, no. It basically is a proposal to keep Latin America producing the exact same things it's been producing for many years, but now simply to export more to China.


Confirm Roberta Jacobson Already

The New York Times notes that because of Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio's Cuba obsession, we don't have an ambassador to Mexico. Roberta Jacobson is the nominee and she had the gall to help fix our failed Cuba policy.

Ms. Jacobson played a leading role in re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. This has greatly annoyed two influential Cuban-American senators, Marco Rubio of Florida and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who want to keep America’s policy toward Cuba stuck in a Cold War mentality. And under the Senate’s opaque confirmation process, all it takes to sink the nomination of a qualified public servant is one or two people with a grievance.

Exactly. This is precisely the same thing that happened to Robert Pastor, who was nominated by President Clinton to be ambassador to Panama in 1995. Pastor had the gall to lead the effort under President Carter to return the Panama Canal to Panama. That policy of keeping our promise and restoring sovereignty enraged Senator Jesse Helms. He successfully blocked Pastor for about a year until Clinton withdrew his nomination.

A Helms aide said that the senator believes Pastor misled Congress during hearings on ratification of the Carter Administration treaty transferring the Panama Canal to Panamanian ownership at the end of this century. Helms opposed the treaty, which he said was a "giveaway" of American property and influence.

It would be a shame if the pettiness of one or two people blocked Jacobson as well. Just another example of U.S. exceptionalism.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Protests and the Left in Ecuador

Indigenous protests in Ecuador have prompted some fascinating debate. Jeffrey Webber has an article describing how Minister of Culture Guillaume Long criticized him and his description of those protests.

In a paradigmatic expression of passive revolution in the country today, Long weaves a technocratic thread throughout his interview, of loyalty and submission to benevolent elected officials and anxiety in the face of undisciplined, independent, social organization of workers, peasants, and indigenous communities from below. The post-modern liberal left, in this view, “exalts non-state actors, NGOs, and a nebulously defined civil society, elected by no one, who are always seen as forces for good.” The Correa government’s electoralist calculus – in which politics is increasingly reduced to choosing who rules – extra-parliamentary politics lose all texture and particularity. This is evident in Long’s inability to differentiate between Jaime Nebot and trade union activists, between Guillermo Lasso and indigenous activists mobilizing to fight mining incursions into their territories. There is no room in such a calculus for a virtuous dialectic of a Left government operating inside the contradictory apparatuses of a dependent capitalist state, on the one hand, and self-organization and mobilization of popular sectors from below. You could argue, plausibly, that such a dialectic was visible during the Constituent Assembly process of 2006 to 2008, but that time has long since passed.

In the mainstream media, Correa is painted as a radical leftist. Webber argues that Correa is nothing of the sort.

No one disputes Long’s basic points on economic growth and social improvements under Correa in the realms of health care, education, income inequality, and poverty. But he misrepresents the realities of the international economic environment and exaggerates some of this social improvement, while ignoring its most recent directionality. Improvements in income inequality and poverty outcomes in Ecuador have not been out of step with the general improvement across these areas throughout much of South America (governed by gradations of Left and Right parties) throughout the duration of the Chinese-driven commodities supercycle (2003-2011). Economic growth was rapid throughout this period in South America. Therefore Long gets the timing of the global recession’s impact on South America wrong. “Economic growth has averaged 4.3 percent,” he writes, “despite Rafael Correa’s coming to office on the eve of a global recession.” This was a general regional trend, not a particular achievement of Correa’s administration. 
The global recession, however, is now reaching South America in a delayed reverberation, through China’s slowdown. South America has entered what is likely to be an extended period of low growth, and Left (and Right) governments in the region are facing class decisions, made sharper by the absence of high commodity prices to lubricate social programs. Who is paying for the fall in state revenues? The rich or the poor? Mining capitalists or indigenous communities? Early signals in Ecuador are not promising for those interested in genuinely shifting costs onto the elite.

Boom! Disputes over ideological authenticity are bitter things (and laden with Marxist jargon).


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

U.S. Aid to Mexico

I was quoted in this Guardian article on the Obama administration's decision to cut some aid to Mexico because of failure to address human rights issues. I assume we'll hear some "Obama punishes his allies" sort of criticism, but the human rights problems in Mexico are real and serious, so deserve to be noted in a real and serious manner.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Is Cuba in Syria?

To what degree do we credit a single unnamed "U.S. official," talking to Fox News about how he saw Cuban military officers in Syria, especially as it comes just as a Fox commentator falsely claimed he worked for the CIA? As you might guess, Cuba has denied it.

My take is that exactly none of these sources--anonymous official, Fox news, or the Cuban government--is trustworthy. So feel free to ignore the story until there is actual evidence. But rumors like this take on a life of their own, which of course is why they are sometimes intentionally put out there. Because senators will get indignant, which they like doing.

"Press reports now indicate that hundreds of Cuban military personnel are on the grounds in Syria, with the purpose of supporting Russia and Iran in bolstering the Assad regime," the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman wrote in a letter to Obama Friday.

You see how some anonymous dude suddenly became "press reports"? Genius!


Friday, October 16, 2015

Still Not Losing Latin America

Take someone who doesn't know much about Latin America, who wrote a book trying to rehabilitate Richard Nixon, and who refers to murders and torture in Chile as "infelicities," and then have him publish an article in National Review on U.S. policy toward Latin America. You'll get a mishmash of facts concluding that the U.S. is losing Latin America.

But Latin America, a region of vast potential right under America’s nose since James Monroe’s time, gets little apparent attention beyond the vagaries of immigration. It is a very important strategic area awaiting unconscionably delayed recognition from post–​Cold War America.

I am not sure why people cling to this myth, since it is so easy to debunk. The U.S. pays an enormous amount of attention to Latin America. Doing so does not require grand strategies, soaring speeches (though we've seen those too) or an effort to impose trade agreements many countries don't want. The U.S. can, in fact, engage much more successfully without those things. And currently it is doing so.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Morley & McGillion's Reagan and Pinochet

I read Morris Morley and Chris McGillion's Reagan and Pinochet: The Struggle Over U.S. Policy Toward Chile (2015). I'm finishing up a review for Latin American Politics & Society. The upshot is that I enjoyed the book.

The book makes two main contributions. First, it explains why U.S. policy toward Chile evolved in ways that were not obvious when Reagan first took office, and how that was shaped by internal administration schisms. Second, it explores the difficulties and frustrations U.S. policy makers had influencing events in Chile. 

It is based on extensive archival work and interviews, so it's a very nice insider view of the bureaucratic machinations going on. I actually found it more useful than the authors themselves give it (or seem to give it) credit for.

I don’t believe I’ve ever had reason to criticize academic authors for being too modest, yet that’s what I felt as I read. Morley and McGillion don’t situate themselves in any particular scholarly context. It is a bit frustrating that the introduction begins immediately with a chronological account of U.S. policy toward Latin America but does not first lay out the book’s key arguments, contribution and structure. In fact their foreign policy analysis is more useful than they even try to claim.

My full review will be much longer. I definitely recommend it.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Queen of the South

I started reading Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Queen of the South, a novel about a Mexican woman who had been a narcotrafficker's girlfriend in Mexico and then escaped to Spain (Melilla, specifically, on the northern tip of Africa) when he was killed. I really like Pérez-Reverte, who has a beautiful style and originality, but this book bored the living daylights out of me. I decided to stop if I got to page 100 and it hadn't changed. And it didn't. I found it to be a pedestrian and uninteresting drug story, of which there are a million to choose from. The main character Teresa is flat and boring, and there is no plot to make up for that fact. Major disappointment from a fine author.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cuba and Guantánamo

Cuba complains a lot about U.S. control over Guantánamo Bay. Raúl Castro did so again not long ago. If you remember, the United States took it during the Spanish-American War in 1898, wrote it into a 1903 treaty, then updated it in 1934 with the aid of, among others, Fulgencio Batista.

So op-eds arguing that Cuba has no right even to talk about it are funny to read.

A few short years after the Spanish-American War, 
Cuba emerged not as a colony of Spain but as an 
independent and sovereign republic - a change in 
status made possible only thanks to U.S. military 

I must say I've never seen anyone even try to make this claim, so I am impressed. If you also remember, the 1903 Platt Amendment explicitly noted all the ways in which Cuba was not allowed to be sovereign. In neither 1903 nor 1934 was the United States treating Cuba as sovereign.

It's very hard to argue that Cuba doesn't have a legitimate claim over it, and even harder to claim Cuba was sovereign when Guantánamo Bay was granted to the U.S.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Says the IMF: We're Best Ignored

Over time "IMF" has become a dirty word in Latin America, laden with images of externally-forced shock therapy programs. Governments, especially those on the left, searched for ways to avoid dealing with it. Now after meeting in Latin America, IMF officials say basically that rejecting the IMF worked pretty well.

Helped by strong growth, social transformation in Latin America over the past decade and a half has been impressive. The region sharply reduced its poverty rate, cut extreme poverty in half, and income inequality also fell. Going forward, the challenge is preserving and increasing gains in a more difficult environment for growth, especially for commodity exporting countries.

Funny that "decade and a half" coincides very closely with the first wave of leftist governments winning presidential elections. So what at the time was a bunch of "populist" governments buying votes is now "impressive social transformation."

All IMF officials had to say now was that Latin America should consolidate what they already achieved once they stopped thinking in IMF terms.


Friday, October 09, 2015

Quant vs. qual and baseball

Watching the baseball playoffs, the issue of advanced metrics came up with regard to deciding the American League MVP, which unleashed a torrent of tweets. I thought for the umpteenth time how similar the "old school" vs. "advanced statistics" debate in baseball is so similar to the quantitative vs. qualitative debate in political science. Both sides dig in and puff up, too often asserting that the other side is just flat wrong. The tone gets really snotty, with both sides mocking the other. People routinely get genuinely angry, especially when they sense that their entire way of thinking is being challenged.

And in both baseball and political science, it's all so tiresome and unnecessary. There is (or at least should be) plenty of room for everyone to live together if every single one of us just decided to be even just slightly more tolerant.


Latin America's Economic Downturn

Moisés Naím has a doom and gloom forecast for Latin America: "perilous years lie ahead for Latin America." His argument is that people moved into the middle class, but with recession will fall behind and then they will...well, I am not sure and he doesn't say. I guess he is referring to protests.

There are obviously protests going on in a number of different countries, but I am not convinced that these automatically become indicative of "corrosive social conflict." In Guatemala, for example, they were an expression of broad consensus that corruption was incompatible with democracy. That's the opposite of corrosive. In Brazil, protests against Dilma Rousseff are not destroying the country. Same in Chile.

In the very first sentence of his article, Naím links to a news article showing how perilous things are. That article, which he uses as a base to discuss that "peril," notes that plenty of countries, including Mexico and in Central America and the Caribbean, are doing relatively well.

At this point we need to discuss not just economic downturn, but how political institutions have become stronger over time and better able to absorb discontent. By that I mean we need to shed the assumption that protests are necessarily a sign of instability. They may well reflect a belief that change is possible within existing political rules. This is not revolution, civil war, or military intervention.


Thursday, October 08, 2015

More Pinochet Guilt

Newly declassified documents show that Augusto Pinochet personally ordered the murder of Orlando Letelier in Washington DC and that he even contemplated murdering Manuel Contreras to cover it up. That Pinochet had ordered it never really seemed in doubt--Contreras was a thug but even he would pause before attacking the United States.

The documents note that Secretary of State George Shultz explained all this to President Reagan, which in turn helps us understand why Shultz became such a vocal opponent of Pinochet. Reagan vacillated, feeling ideological affinity with Pinochet, but Shultz was adamant.

As far as I can tell, the documents are not yet public but I would suspect that'll happen quickly.

h/t Ricardo Valencia on Twitter


U.S. Rhetoric and Latin America

Christa J. Olson, "But in Regard to These (the American) Continents: U.S. National Rhetorics and the Figure of Latin America." Rhetoric Society Quarterly 45, 3 (2015): 264-277.


This essay draws attention to the vital role that the “other” America has played in the creation of (U.S.) American rhetorics. It examines how U.S. presidential invocations of the Monroe Doctrine make use of the figure of Latin America to imagine the United States and its role in the world. In 1823, when James Monroe articulated what became the “Monroe Doctrine,” the idea that the United States had a two-continent sphere of influence was novel at best. Over time, however, U.S. public discourse developed a ubiquitous common sense in which U.S. strength, security, and even national being have a hemispheric basis. From Monroe’s assertion that actions against any American state would manifest “an unfriendly disposition toward the United States” to Theodore Roosevelt’s lionized national virility and into the present moment, the figure of Latin America—present and absent—has become powerfully definitive for U.S. national image.

I have never read an analysis of U.S.-Latin American relations focused specifically on rhetoric. That angle often comes up, but is a side note to something else. Olsen asserts that the construction of U.S. presidential rhetoric stems in large part from they articulations of Latin America.

In this essay, I make a simple assertion that aims to have far reaching consequences for rhetorical studies. The assertion is this: while it may be possible to study the rhetorical histories of the United States without attending to the figure of Latin America, it is entirely inadvisable. Omitting Latin America leaves us with a foreshortened perspective on the theory and practice of American rhetoric. Rhetoricians working in the United States ought not only look southward when we invoke American rhetorical history but also re-examine U.S. domestic rhetorics with an eye toward Latin America. From Manifest Destiny’s westward vision to Audre’s Lorde’s intersectional critiques, Lincoln’s Civil War politicking to Roosevelt’s Arsenal of Democracy, Latin America figures consistently in U.S. public argument yet is obscured, repeatedly elided in the midst of its own prevalence. This essay illuminates one example of that Latin American presence-in-absence, inviting further work to trace it across the whole of U.S. rhetorical practice.

She argues that presidents may not even have been conscious of how Latin America helped form their rhetoric.

This can perhaps be seen as a companion to Brian Loveman's No Higher Law, where he argues how important Latin America is as a training ground for U.S. policies elsewhere. U.S. practices of imperialism, invasion, counterinsurgency, etc. all were formed in large part in Latin America and then used elsewhere in the world as part of U.S. foreign policy.


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

U.S. Leverage With Cuba

I have an op-ed over at Latin America Goes Global on how President Obama's shift in Cuba policy has produced leverage for the first time in many years. This was an idea that had been simmering around for a long time, mostly because pro-embargoists kept claiming the U.S. had leverage when in fact I saw none. My argument is that we didn't before, but we've got at least a little bit now. So go check it out.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

War in Post-Revolutionary Mexico

Check out Renata Keller's op-ed in Medium on the relevance of the Cold War for understanding Mexico now.

Today, Mexico is engulfed in a drug war, and the nation’s leaders and security services are still engaging in similar questionable activities. In both the Cold War and the Drug War, corruption and subterfuge have obscured the real nature of government activities and undermined public trust in the nation’s leaders. President Enrique Peña Nieto has been accused of corrupt dealings involving his wife and their opulent mansion, but he has so far escaped substantial investigation. The Mexican army has been exposed for committing extra-judicial executions, just as it did during the Cold War. Studentsjournalists, and other members of society are being murdered and disappeared. And just as it did in the past, the Mexico’s justice system is failing to solve these crimes. Given the Mexican government’s past record of atrocities during the Cold War, one has to wonder about official attempts to deflect blame for Mexico’s current problems.

Another potential hypothesis is simply that this characterizes post-revolutionary Mexico. For example, can we also compare the Drug War and Cold War to the Cristero War? There really is no past time when the justice system worked well and the government treated the opposition (whatever it might be at the time) peacefully.


Monday, October 05, 2015

Malvinas Marathon

The Marathon for the Malvinas. This was an actual thing, and not the first one. The Argentine government helped organize a marathon to inspire solidarity for getting the islands back from Great Britain. It's very high-minded. For example:

Los Argentinos corremos por la protección del medio ambiente y la biodiversidad frente al inminente riesgo de explotación remota e irresponsable de nuestros recursos naturales

Quick translation:

We Argentines run for the protection of the environment and biodiversity in the face of the imminent risk of remote and irresponsible exploitation of our natural resources.

A slightly more accurate version would include the fact that the Argentine government really wants to be the one to be leading that exploitation.

At any rate, the government's message is for "dialogue" and "peace," though it's unclear how to achieve those when the self-proclaimed Falkland Islanders are uninterested. As you might guess, the British tabloids were indignant.

Just yet another nineteenth century legacy that remains relevant. This is why I talk so much about history in my Latin American politics and U.S.-Latin American relations classes.


Thursday, October 01, 2015

Panama Looks For Cuban Tourists

We don't hear much about what Latin America thinks of U.S.-Cuban relations normalizing beyond just being relieved that such a ridiculous saga may actually end. Panama, though, is looking closely at it.

Restoring diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba will bring some new tourists and shoppers to Panama, though it won’t be enough to make up for the Brazilians and Colombians staying home, Varela said. He said Copa Airlines has cut flights to Brazil and now has seven daily flights to Havana. 
“How the U.S. handles this relationship is going to impact a lot,” Varela said. “We expect this new private sector that is emerging in Cuba to become an important customer for the free zone in Panama. We expect them to travel to our country.”

Panama is in a bind right now because currency slides in Brazil and Colombia have reduced the number of tourists going to Panama.

Fidel Castro famously would send people to shop in Panama and bring him stuff, but it seems premature to talk about a private sector in Cuba that produces a new middle class ready to travel anytime soon. But the basic point is that Latin American leaders are thinking about how they could potentially benefit.


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