Posts tagged Latin America

adam-wola:


  "Judicial independence and the rule of law are at risk. What does this mean? That anybody, without any grounds, can come and accuse a judge in order to avoid being judged. The door to impunity and corruption is being opened."


— Yassmin Barrios is the Guatemalan judge who, in a historic case last May, ruled that a former military dictator, Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt (1982-83), was guilty of genocide. Gen. Ríos Montt presided over a scorched-earth anti-guerrilla campaign that killed thousands of civilians in the countryside, many of them members of indigenous groups. For decades afterward, he enjoyed not only freedom but political power, even serving as president of the legislature.

He was thought to be untouchable until Judge Barrios’s ruling. It raised hopes that perhaps, for the first time in history, Guatemala was approaching accountability for both rights abusers and those who collaborate with organized crime.

Judge Barrios’s sentence, however, was overturned shortly afterward by a narrow vote in the country’s Constitutional Court, and the Ríos Montt trial must restart again sometime in the future (many doubt that it will).

And now comes the real insult.

One of Gen. Ríos Montt’s defense lawyers went to Guatemala’s equivalent of a bar association (Colegio de Abogados y Notarios de Guatemala) and said that Judge Barrios had unethically “humiliated” him during the trial. The association—which, shall we say, is not a force for progressive change in Guatemala—has suspended Judge Barrios from practicing law for a year and fined her the equivalent of US$650.

Guatemala has long been under the sway of large landowners, military officers, organized crime figures, and corrupt politicians, who have maintained their grip on wealth and power through brutal means. These “hidden powers" suffered some setbacks in the past couple of years.

But today, the backlash is in full force. If anything, Judge Barrios’s warning, in an interview published Monday, is too timid.

This deserves more attention.

adam-wola:

"Judicial independence and the rule of law are at risk. What does this mean? That anybody, without any grounds, can come and accuse a judge in order to avoid being judged. The door to impunity and corruption is being opened."

— Yassmin Barrios is the Guatemalan judge who, in a historic case last May, ruled that a former military dictator, Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt (1982-83), was guilty of genocide. Gen. Ríos Montt presided over a scorched-earth anti-guerrilla campaign that killed thousands of civilians in the countryside, many of them members of indigenous groups. For decades afterward, he enjoyed not only freedom but political power, even serving as president of the legislature.

He was thought to be untouchable until Judge Barrios’s ruling. It raised hopes that perhaps, for the first time in history, Guatemala was approaching accountability for both rights abusers and those who collaborate with organized crime.

Judge Barrios’s sentence, however, was overturned shortly afterward by a narrow vote in the country’s Constitutional Court, and the Ríos Montt trial must restart again sometime in the future (many doubt that it will).

And now comes the real insult.

One of Gen. Ríos Montt’s defense lawyers went to Guatemala’s equivalent of a bar association (Colegio de Abogados y Notarios de Guatemala) and said that Judge Barrios had unethically “humiliated” him during the trial. The association—which, shall we say, is not a force for progressive change in Guatemala—has suspended Judge Barrios from practicing law for a year and fined her the equivalent of US$650.

Guatemala has long been under the sway of large landowners, military officers, organized crime figures, and corrupt politicians, who have maintained their grip on wealth and power through brutal means. These “hidden powers" suffered some setbacks in the past couple of years.

But today, the backlash is in full force. If anything, Judge Barrios’s warning, in an interview published Monday, is too timid.

This deserves more attention.

From adam-wola:


Wow, that’s depressing. A new World Bank paper plots 14 Latin American countries’ per-capita GDP, as a percentage of the United States’ per-capita GDP, since 1950.
Chile is the only Latin American country to have gained any economic ground relative to the United States in the past 60 years. Though most have gained some ground since 2000, these charts show the so-called “lost decade” of the 1980s casting a very long shadow.

From adam-wola:

Wow, that’s depressing. A new World Bank paper plots 14 Latin American countries’ per-capita GDP, as a percentage of the United States’ per-capita GDP, since 1950.

Chile is the only Latin American country to have gained any economic ground relative to the United States in the past 60 years. Though most have gained some ground since 2000, these charts show the so-called “lost decade” of the 1980s casting a very long shadow.

La Desconfianza: The View from Western Caracas II

venezuelablog:

Rebecca Hanson

“It makes no sense! You go into a Chavista’s house and Chávez and Maduro’s faces are everywhere but you open their fridge and it is empty!  Empty!” This was the passionate reaction I received from an acquaintance I was chatting with yesterday when I commented that protests in Caracas have not seemed to receive support from popular sectors in the city.

His frustration came from seemingly inexplicable support for a government under whose watch food has become both more expensive and more difficult to find.

In the past year the large majority of Venezuelans have been hit hard by the food shortages this man was referencing. Indeed, it is specifically for this reason that some hoped protests would unite the country around common concerns and cross class lines.

Nevertheless, the protests have remained largely identified with the middle and upper classes, failing to gain traction in the popular sectors. Rather than uniting Venezuela it seems more likely that protests have deepened divisions and polarization.  

Why have common concerns not produced cross-class concerted action here? Just last year we saw exactly this happen with Brazil’s “Spring of Unrest.”

Read More

Excellent analysis.

adam-wola:

My favorite moment in last night’s super-close official vote counting for El Salvador’s presidential elections. At about 9PM Eastern time, with almost 1.4 million votes counted, the candidates were 28 votes apart.

The final margin is just over 6,000 in the FMLN’s favor, but no official winner has been declared yet.

(Screen grab from website of El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal.)

adam-wola:

My favorite moment in last night’s super-close official vote counting for El Salvador’s presidential elections. At about 9PM Eastern time, with almost 1.4 million votes counted, the candidates were 28 votes apart.

The final margin is just over 6,000 in the FMLN’s favor, but no official winner has been declared yet.

(Screen grab from website of El Salvador’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal.)

Q & A on the Venezuela Protests and What the US Can Do

venezuelablog:

David Smilde

The ongoing unrest in Venezuela has been portrayed abroad as a conflict between Venezuelan citizens and an increasingly desperate government that has resorted to massive human rights abuses to maintain its hold on power. That depiction both oversimplifies and distorts the issues at play.

Since early February, Venezuela has been affected by a cycle of protests against the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The government and groups sympathetic to the government have responded to the protests with force. At least 20 people have died in the ensuing conflict—mainly because of violence by government agents and pro-government groups but also from the actions of the protesters—and hundreds have been arrested. While it looked like the protests would diminish last week, at this time it is not clear they will.

The Maduro government has begun a series of “peace conferences” to address some of the issues protesters have raised. However, the opposition has maintained its distance from these overtures.

In the following, I will address some common questions we have been receiving at WOLA.

Read More

newsweek:

Who’s  fighting your drug war? Meet Private Morales, a 22-year-old Honduran who loves Facebook and dreams of the US. 

newsweek:

Who’s  fighting your drug war? Meet Private Morales, a 22-year-old Honduran who loves Facebook and dreams of the US. 

What makes the current conflict so sad is that it could have easily have been avoided if minimal spaces for dialogue between opponents had been safeguarded. The crisis, it seems, is institutional.
Venezuela’s Bloody Crisis Was Years in the Making—and Could Have Been Avoided (via thenewrepublic)

Yep. Part of what it means to live in a democracy is to tolerate even those we think are awful people. Muzzling one’s opponents in the name of a “people’s revolution” has never ended well. In fact, it’s the surest way to encourage a counter revolution.

Besides, think how conceited someone must be to believe they (and only they and their coterie) understand the needs of the people or the true arch of history or whatever. And how awful someone must be to think their righteousness justifies using force in defense of their moral certitude.

foreignaffairsmagazine:

The ugly legacy of the Mexican-American War: http://fam.ag/1d2g09b 

Interesting.

foreignaffairsmagazine:

The ugly legacy of the Mexican-American War: http://fam.ag/1d2g09b 

Interesting.

csmonitor:

Brazil’s Bolsa Familia: Welfare model or menace?
Big change for a buck? Latin America says ‘yes’
A welfare check under fire in Brazil

I’ve already added this to my Latin America politics syllabus for the future (along with more non-“scholarly” articles). I may add it to my intro to comparative politics syllabus, too. Few comparative politics courses cover social policy. They should. We could learn a lot from the mistakes and successes of other countries. And, IMO, bolsa familia is a great success.

csmonitor:

Brazil’s Bolsa Familia: Welfare model or menace?

Big change for a buck? Latin America says ‘yes’

A welfare check under fire in Brazil

I’ve already added this to my Latin America politics syllabus for the future (along with more non-“scholarly” articles). I may add it to my intro to comparative politics syllabus, too.

Few comparative politics courses cover social policy. They should. We could learn a lot from the mistakes and successes of other countries. And, IMO, bolsa familia is a great success.

From adam-wola:


Private security guards outnumber police or military in every Central American country. In some, they outnumber police and military combined.
Graphics borrowed from the just-released Public Security Index [PDF] for Central America, produced by the Buenos Aires-based Latin America Defense and Security Network (RESDAL).
They did a great job on this report, it’s a very highly recommended download.


I wish I’d had this last week, when we discussed Guatemala and Central America (and talked about crime in the region, and why, surprisingly, it’s so low in Nicaragua).

From adam-wola:

Private security guards outnumber police or military in every Central American country. In some, they outnumber police and military combined.

Graphics borrowed from the just-released Public Security Index [PDF] for Central America, produced by the Buenos Aires-based Latin America Defense and Security Network (RESDAL).

They did a great job on this report, it’s a very highly recommended download.

I wish I’d had this last week, when we discussed Guatemala and Central America (and talked about crime in the region, and why, surprisingly, it’s so low in Nicaragua).