On November 18, the Supreme Court of Chile issued a protective order on behalf of Leopoldo Lopez and Daniel Ceballos, two opposition mayors imprisoned without just cause in Venezuela. These brave individuals had the temerity to oppose the regime of Nicolas Maduro, and earlier this year they went on a hunger strike.Read more
The Health Committee of Chile's Chamber of Deputies has voted out a measure to permit the killing of human fetuses in three cases: rape, fetal malformation, and danger to the life of the mother. According to opinion polls, each of these "exceptions" to the protection of life enjoys public support. A July 2015 poll by Plaza Publica-CADEM reports 74 percent support abortion when the life of the mother is endangered, 72 percent in case of rape, and 72 percent when there is a high probability the fetus will not survive, whereas according to the constitution, "the law protects the life of the unborn." Of course, the Constitution is not there to protect the lives of the popular, and the well being of the well loved, it exists to protect those who are disliked and discarded.
Call it a tale of two countries. Two would-be Latin American powerhouses, both with populations surpassing 100 million people – and both with weak presidents who are beset by corruption problems. Both, in other words, are severely underperforming countries, whose chronic inability to live up to their potential continues to undermine growth, stability, and hope for the future.Read more
Those looking for good news on the fight against Ebola will not find much encouragement from Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, the commander of the U.S. Southern Command.Read more
The world’s eyes may have been trained on the World Cup this weekend, but a different heated contest also took place in South America on Sunday night. In Colombia, incumbent president Juan Manuel Santos, who has made “peace” talks with leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas the center of his campaign, was reelected in a runoff. He defeated his assertive challenger, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, a staunch opponent of the negotiations, by a margin of 51 to 45 percent.Read more
Late last month, the Spanish energy giant Repsol agreed to accept $5 billion worth of Argentine bonds as repayment for the government’s confiscation of YPF, Argentina’s largest oil company, which was formerly controlled by Repsol until its April 2012 seizure by President Cristina Kirchner. With the South American country mired in financial turmoil and flirting with yet another sovereign default, the true value of its bonds remains to be seen. But for now, President Kirchner appears to have resolved a longstanding dispute that had polluted Argentina’s image and accelerated capital flight.Read more
The World Court resolution of Peru’s petition to change its border with Chile didn’t catch much attention beyond the Pacific coast of South America, but it matters, a lot. A century and a half ago la Guerra del Pacifico, in which Chile opposed both Bolivia and Peru, left Chile holding several hundred miles of coastal plane previously claimed by its opponents. Subsequently, in the 1929 Treaty of Lima, Peru conceded Arica to Chile, but got Tacna back. The marine border between the two countries, settled the following year, began at the coast, and extended due west at 18˚21′03′′, and there it stayed until this week.Read more
Vice President Biden spent only about 20 hours in Trinidad and Tobago on his recent six day trip through South America and the Caribbean, but the hotel bill for the vice president, his entourage and the advance team came in at about $245,000 for an estimated 1,134 room nights. As is typically the case with VIP travel, the contract was awarded without the usual "full and open competition" due to security and logistical concerns:Read more
If you want to see both the potential and the peril in Latin America, you could not do better than to visit Honduras and Colombia, as I did in mid-May: The former is Exhibit A for all that is wrong with the region, from drug trafficking and violence to governmental corruption; the latter a showcase of what can be done to bring even the most embattled country back from the brink.Read more
In late November and early December, Peruvian business leaders gathered in the industrial city of Arequipa for the 50th Annual Conference of Executives (CADE). When the polling firm Ipsos Apoyo asked CADE attendees whether they approved of the job performance of Peruvian president Ollanta Humala, a remarkable 75 percent said yes.Read more
At a candlelight vigil for Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in Bolivia, actor Sean Penn offered great praise for the sick strongman:Read more
When Argentine president Cristina Kirchner nationalized the Spanish-owned YPF oil company this past April, Washington Post correspondent Juan Forero proclaimed her “the standard-bearer of populist nationalism in Latin America.”Read more
China’s interest in South America is easily explained: The Asian giant has a voracious appetite for commodities and raw materials, including Argentine soybeans, Brazilian iron ore, Chilean and Peruvian metals, Ecuadorean and Venezuelan oil, and Uruguayan beef. Therefore, Beijing has expanded trade ties with governments across the resource-rich continent, from Caracas to Montevideo.Read more
Today in Washington, Argentine vice president Amado Boudou will be addressing a Council of the Americas conference on the global economic recovery. I have no idea what Boudou will say in his remarks, and I have no idea how the attendees will receive it. But I do know this: Having a senior member of the Kirchner government speak about responsible economic policy is like having a senior member of the Iranian government speak about religious tolerance.Read more
Ahead of the president’s trip to the Summit of the Americas this weekend, Gallup reports that Latin America is losing faith in President Obama. Specifically, the Gallup shows that only 24 percent of respondents in Latin American countries now believe Obama will strengthen ties between Latin America and the U.S.—in 2009, by contrast, that number was 43 percent.Read more
In April 2009, four months after taking office, President Obama wooed Latin American leaders and liberal elites at the Summit of the Americas by apologizing for decades of U.S. foreign policy and promising a new era of cooperation. Obama said:Read more
Like Hugo Chávez, Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa has used vast oil wealth to boost his personal popularity and camouflage the effects of his disastrous economic policies while steadily weakening his country’s democratic institutions.Read more
However poor his health condition, Hugo Chávez must have enjoyed a certain measure of satisfaction earlier this month when leaders from across the Western hemisphere gathered in Caracas for the first meeting of the new Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a hemispheric forum that explicitly does not include the United States or Canada.Read more
On October 21, President Obama signed into law the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement (FTA), thereby giving American exporters greater access to one of South America’s fastest growing markets. The long, tiring debate over the FTA—which began five years ago, when the agreement was first completed—showed that popular perceptions of Colombia are stuck in a time warp. Not only has the country become a much safer and less violent place than it was in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, it has also become one of the most promising economies in the Western Hemisphere.Read more
Back in May, Ecuadorean voters approved a referendum that gave President Rafael Correa broader authority to regulate opposition journalists. At the time, Freedom House expressed concern that Correa was acquiring “undue influence over the country’s media,” and its senior program manager for Latin America, Viviana Giacaman, said that “Correa’s continuous demonization of independent media and the use of criminal defamation suits to silence journalists are having a chilling effect on the press in Ecuador.”Read more
The elections in Peru, which were held on April 10, are a stern lesson in Latin American politics and its complexities. Consider the following: Peru’s conservative president since 2006, Alán García, has been wildly successful at growing his country economically, especially during a time of a worldwide economic downturn. But in Latin America, that’s apparently not enough for electoral success.Read more
The Brazilian magazine Veja is reporting that al Qaeda members have established an active presence in South America’s largest country, as have militants associated with Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups. They are apparently engaged in fundraising, recruitment, and strategic planning.Read more
Amid the crisis in Japan and conflict in Libya, President Obama is scheduled to take a trip to South America this weekend. The President undoubtedly has a lot on his foreign policy plate, but while he's in the region the administration ought to give pay some needed attention to what's going on between Venezuela and Colombia.
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