Posts tagged Latin America

From theeconomist:

A broken system: Latin America is the only region in the world where murder rates increased in the first decade of this century. Plenty of factors explain Latin America’s crime disease. The drug trade, a bulge of young, poorly educated men, income inequality and access to firearms are some. But perhaps the most important is the pervasive weakness in the basic institutions of the rule of law. As our map shows, trust in the criminal-justice system remains low in all countries.

From theeconomist:

A broken system: Latin America is the only region in the world where murder rates increased in the first decade of this century. Plenty of factors explain Latin America’s crime disease. The drug trade, a bulge of young, poorly educated men, income inequality and access to firearms are some. But perhaps the most important is the pervasive weakness in the basic institutions of the rule of law. As our map shows, trust in the criminal-justice system remains low in all countries.

theeconomist:

Map: Welcome to Italordan
The richest part of Brazil, around the capital, Brasília, is as wealthy as Italy, measured by GDP per person in 2011 (at market exchange rates). India, meanwhile, is much poorer than even the most destitute Brazilian states, Maranhão and Piauí, where income per head is roughly equal to that of Jordan.
See an interactive version of the map with GDP and population here

theeconomist:

Map: Welcome to Italordan

The richest part of Brazil, around the capital, Brasília, is as wealthy as Italy, measured by GDP per person in 2011 (at market exchange rates). India, meanwhile, is much poorer than even the most destitute Brazilian states, Maranhão and Piauí, where income per head is roughly equal to that of Jordan.

See an interactive version of the map with GDP and population here

adam-wola:

President Zuluaga?

In yesterday’s first-round presidential election, the 40 percent of Colombian voters who showed up at the polls gave a narrow victory (29.3 percent) to Jaime Zuluaga, the candidate of the party founded by hard-right Former President (2002-2010) Álvaro Uribe. The result was a stinging defeat for President Juan Manuel Santos (25.7 percent), whose reelection seemed like a sure thing as recently as March. Santos and Zuluaga will face each other in a June 15 runoff vote.

The result isn’t a rightward turn for Colombia. Colombian voters have been supporting politically conservative candidates—at least, those of Álvaro Uribe’s populist conservative strain—since Uribe was first elected in 2002. Colombians have now given a first-place result to Uribe, or his chosen candidate, in each of the last four presidential elections. Uribe will loom large in the runoff: his former defense minister—Santos, who earned his wrath by patching relations with Venezuela and pursuing peace talks with the FARC guerrillas—will face his former finance minister, Zuluaga.

If Santos is to continue in office, the 45 percent who voted for Zuluaga and the other challenger to his right, Marta Lucía Ramírez (15.5 percent), are probably lost to him. Santos will need to win over the 49 percent who voted for him, for leftist candidate Clara López (15.2 percent), and for centrist Enrique Peñalosa (8.3 percent). He must also hope that his voters are most of those who abstained yesterday but might be motivated to vote on June 15.

But what if Santos fails? What will change if Colombians awaken on June 16 to find that their new president is Jaime Zuluaga, with Former President (and now Senator) Álvaro Uribe guiding him from the sidelines?

Here are a few high probability outcomes for Colombia under a Zuluaga administration.

No more peace process. Though they have made important progress, with three of five substantive agenda items completed, the Colombian government’s negotiations with the FARC will end. The guerrillas will not accept the conditions Zuluaga has set for the talks to continue—a permanent cessation of all illegal activity within seven days—and nor would they wish to start over with a new, harder-line government negotiating team.This may not be exactly the outcome that Colombian voters desire: polls show a majority supporting the talks, though a majority also doubts they will succeed and balks at concessions to the guerrillas. But as Zuluaga and Santos promise broadly similar approaches to the economy and public security, the future of the peace process is where they differ most. As the candidates’ post-election speeches seemed to make clear, the next vote will be largely a referendum on the negotiations with the FARC. A second-round victory for Zuluaga could only be interpreted as a rejection of the talks in Havana.
All-out war. With the negotiations over, President Zuluaga would order Colombia’s military to finish off the FARC. Would the military carry out this “final offensive” with full respect for human rights and international humanitarian law? Or will Colombia witness a “Sri Lanka solution,” in which a fully unleashed armed forces obliterate the guerrillas using scorched-earth tactics that kill hundreds or thousands of civilian non-combatants? The answer to that question lies with Colombia’s armed forces themselves. The manner in which they carry out a post-negotiations offensive will tell us whether years of U.S. training and international pressure have truly inculcated respect for human rights among the ranks.
Fire in the Andes. However it is carried out, the anti-guerrilla offensive could stumble as FARC leaders and members take refuge across Colombia’s borders, in remote areas of Ecuador and Venezuela. Zuluaga has already declared his intention to hold Venezuela accountable for FARC presence in its territory. This is a topic that President Santos downplayed as he sought to patch up relations with Caracas in exchange for crucial Venezuelan support for the peace talks.If the talks end and Zuluaga pulls the plug on detente with Venezuela, diplomatic and perhaps military tensions will return to where they were during Álvaro Uribe’s final days in office in July 2010, when both countries had withdrawn their ambassadors and Colombia was denouncing Venezuelan harboring of guerrillas at a special session of the OAS.These tensions, though, may have a very different effect on the Venezuela of 2014, which is a more volatile place than the Venezuela of 2010. Right now, Colombia is helping to ease that volatility, and to guarantee space for Venezuela’s opposition, by quietly leading UNASUR’s diplomatic effort in support of dialogues between President Nicolás Maduro and his opponents. If Colombia stops playing this role and launches verbal attacks instead, Venezuela’s dialogues will stumble, and Venezuelan government hard-liners, riding a nationalist backlash, will seize the momentum. Venezuela’s opposition will lose ground.
A cautious U.S. reception. Like both Uribe and Santos, Zuluaga is considered to be pro-United States. A Zuluaga government would favor U.S. investment, U.S. security cooperation, and expanded trade through Latin America’s Pacific Alliance and the worldwide Trans-Pacific Partnership. Despite these pro-U.S. leanings, though, don’t expect Zuluaga to get a quick invitation to the White House. If a President Zuluaga terminates a promising peace process and heightens tensions with—and within—Venezuela, he shouldn’t expect a warm embrace from an Obama administration already facing serious foreign policy challenges elsewhere. Official Washington will still consider Colombia an “ally.” But talk of Colombia being a “security exporter” will end.

adam-wola:

President Zuluaga?

In yesterday’s first-round presidential election, the 40 percent of Colombian voters who showed up at the polls gave a narrow victory (29.3 percent) to Jaime Zuluaga, the candidate of the party founded by hard-right Former President (2002-2010) Álvaro Uribe. The result was a stinging defeat for President Juan Manuel Santos (25.7 percent), whose reelection seemed like a sure thing as recently as March. Santos and Zuluaga will face each other in a June 15 runoff vote.

The result isn’t a rightward turn for Colombia. Colombian voters have been supporting politically conservative candidates—at least, those of Álvaro Uribe’s populist conservative strain—since Uribe was first elected in 2002. Colombians have now given a first-place result to Uribe, or his chosen candidate, in each of the last four presidential elections. Uribe will loom large in the runoff: his former defense minister—Santos, who earned his wrath by patching relations with Venezuela and pursuing peace talks with the FARC guerrillas—will face his former finance minister, Zuluaga.

If Santos is to continue in office, the 45 percent who voted for Zuluaga and the other challenger to his right, Marta Lucía Ramírez (15.5 percent), are probably lost to him. Santos will need to win over the 49 percent who voted for him, for leftist candidate Clara López (15.2 percent), and for centrist Enrique Peñalosa (8.3 percent). He must also hope that his voters are most of those who abstained yesterday but might be motivated to vote on June 15.

But what if Santos fails? What will change if Colombians awaken on June 16 to find that their new president is Jaime Zuluaga, with Former President (and now Senator) Álvaro Uribe guiding him from the sidelines?

Here are a few high probability outcomes for Colombia under a Zuluaga administration.

  • No more peace process. Though they have made important progress, with three of five substantive agenda items completed, the Colombian government’s negotiations with the FARC will end. The guerrillas will not accept the conditions Zuluaga has set for the talks to continue—a permanent cessation of all illegal activity within seven days—and nor would they wish to start over with a new, harder-line government negotiating team.

    This may not be exactly the outcome that Colombian voters desire: polls show a majority supporting the talks, though a majority also doubts they will succeed and balks at concessions to the guerrillas. But as Zuluaga and Santos promise broadly similar approaches to the economy and public security, the future of the peace process is where they differ most. As the candidates’ post-election speeches seemed to make clear, the next vote will be largely a referendum on the negotiations with the FARC. A second-round victory for Zuluaga could only be interpreted as a rejection of the talks in Havana.

  • All-out war. With the negotiations over, President Zuluaga would order Colombia’s military to finish off the FARC. Would the military carry out this “final offensive” with full respect for human rights and international humanitarian law? Or will Colombia witness a “Sri Lanka solution,” in which a fully unleashed armed forces obliterate the guerrillas using scorched-earth tactics that kill hundreds or thousands of civilian non-combatants? The answer to that question lies with Colombia’s armed forces themselves. The manner in which they carry out a post-negotiations offensive will tell us whether years of U.S. training and international pressure have truly inculcated respect for human rights among the ranks.

  • Fire in the Andes. However it is carried out, the anti-guerrilla offensive could stumble as FARC leaders and members take refuge across Colombia’s borders, in remote areas of Ecuador and Venezuela. Zuluaga has already declared his intention to hold Venezuela accountable for FARC presence in its territory. This is a topic that President Santos downplayed as he sought to patch up relations with Caracas in exchange for crucial Venezuelan support for the peace talks.

    If the talks end and Zuluaga pulls the plug on detente with Venezuela, diplomatic and perhaps military tensions will return to where they were during Álvaro Uribe’s final days in office in July 2010, when both countries had withdrawn their ambassadors and Colombia was denouncing Venezuelan harboring of guerrillas at a special session of the OAS.

    These tensions, though, may have a very different effect on the Venezuela of 2014, which is a more volatile place than the Venezuela of 2010. Right now, Colombia is helping to ease that volatility, and to guarantee space for Venezuela’s opposition, by quietly leading UNASUR’s diplomatic effort in support of dialogues between President Nicolás Maduro and his opponents. If Colombia stops playing this role and launches verbal attacks instead, Venezuela’s dialogues will stumble, and Venezuelan government hard-liners, riding a nationalist backlash, will seize the momentum. Venezuela’s opposition will lose ground.

  • A cautious U.S. reception. Like both Uribe and Santos, Zuluaga is considered to be pro-United States. A Zuluaga government would favor U.S. investment, U.S. security cooperation, and expanded trade through Latin America’s Pacific Alliance and the worldwide Trans-Pacific Partnership. Despite these pro-U.S. leanings, though, don’t expect Zuluaga to get a quick invitation to the White House. If a President Zuluaga terminates a promising peace process and heightens tensions with—and within—Venezuela, he shouldn’t expect a warm embrace from an Obama administration already facing serious foreign policy challenges elsewhere. Official Washington will still consider Colombia an “ally.” But talk of Colombia being a “security exporter” will end.

foreignaffairsmagazine:

Contrary to popular belief, the CIA did not plot with the Chilean military to overthrow Allende and put Pinochet in power: http://fam.ag/1r0y2UM 

The idea that Latin American military regimes were merely American lackeys has always irked me. First, because it makes a story of Latin American dictatorships into one of American guilt (hey, it’s not always “about you”). Second, because it implies that Latin American elites don’t have agency and are incapable of being devious and evil on their own. Third, it eliminates the need for empirical analysis of causes of events by reducing them to “American imperialism” (again, it’s not always about you). So, yeah. Pinochet was awful. But we’re probably better off understanding the Chilean context from which Pinochet emerged than looking for how we can think about ourselves some more.

foreignaffairsmagazine:

Contrary to popular belief, the CIA did not plot with the Chilean military to overthrow Allende and put Pinochet in power:

The idea that Latin American military regimes were merely American lackeys has always irked me. First, because it makes a story of Latin American dictatorships into one of American guilt (hey, it’s not always “about you”). Second, because it implies that Latin American elites don’t have agency and are incapable of being devious and evil on their own. Third, it eliminates the need for empirical analysis of causes of events by reducing them to “American imperialism” (again, it’s not always about you).

So, yeah. Pinochet was awful. But we’re probably better off understanding the Chilean context from which Pinochet emerged than looking for how we can think about ourselves some more.

IAD Q&A: Is Chavismo Coming to an End in Venezuela?

venezuelablog:

Today’s issue of the Inter-American Dialogue’s Latin American Advisor ran a Q&A on Nicolas Maduro’s declining poll numbers and the future of Chavismo. Otto Riech, Michael Shifter and Dan Hellinger also responded. My contribution is below. You can access the newsletter here.

IAD: A Datanalisis…

If you think chavismo will die with Maduro’s presidency, you may want to consider how peronism has survived Isabel, Menem, and will outlast the Kirchners.

adam-wola:

The UN World Food Program maps out [PDF] the parts of the Andes most likely to suffer negative consequences of global climate change.

adam-wola:

The UN World Food Program maps out [PDF] the parts of the Andes most likely to suffer negative consequences of global climate change.

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.)