By Stewart Patrick, CFR
Stewart M. Patrick is director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. This entry of The Internationalist originally appeared here. The views expressed are those of the author.
On August 16, Doug Farah, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, published Transnational Organized Crime, Terrorism, and Criminalized States in Latin America: An Emerging Tier-One National Security Priority. The monograph contributes in a major way to our understanding of the increasingly complex relationships that exist among criminal networks, terrorists, and sovereign states.
One of its most original contributions is to get away from the tired conventional wisdom about “failed states” – which suggests that it is the world’s basket cases that present the greatest opportunities for exploitation by illicit actors. In Weak Links , I’ve also suggested that the most dysfunctional, chaotic, or even collapsed states, do not provide conducive environments for most forms of crime (or for transnational terrorists, for that matter), since they provide little operational security from interdiction and are often too far removed from the sinews of global commerce.
By Shannon O’Neil, CFR
Shannon K. O’Neil is senior fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This entry of Latin America’s Moment originally appeared here. The views expressed are solely those of the author.
With the Republican Convention underway, the Republican Party platform, in its entirety, has finally found its way onto the internet. The 50-plus page document touches briefly on all of the hottest election year topics, addressing everything from traditional marriage to Medicare to foreign policy. In regards to Latin America, the Republican platform focuses almost exclusively on the two states toward which the GOP has the greatest antipathy: Venezuela and Cuba.
On Cuba, the language harks back to the past, describing the regime as mummified and anti-democratic, and strongly declaring Republican support for Cuban opposition groups. Although the tone is decisively anti-Castro, the platform is less strict than in the past. Quite noticeably, there are no calls for a roll-back of the Obama administration reforms that loosened remittance restrictions and expanded family travel, perhaps because of their popularity with Cuban-Americans.
By Christopher Sabatini, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Christopher Sabatini is editor-in-chief of the policy journal Americas Quarterly. The views expressed are his own.
News last week that over 100 people had been affected by a toxic spill from the copper mine in Antamina added more fuel to the debate in Peru over the safety and responsibility of mining. Despite the spills and controversy, the extraction of natural resources in Peru contributed the largest share to the county’s impressive 7-plus percent average growth for the last seven years. But can it continue?
For almost a year, another conflict has raged north of where last week’s spill occurred in Cajamarca between a handful of community leaders and Colorado-based Newmont over the mining company’s plans to develop and expand the gold and copper Conga mines. Local community leaders, supported by international non-governmental organizations, claim that Newmont’s operations will pollute water sources, a charge disputed by the mining company and a number of studies it has commissioned. Public marches, road blockages and violence over the Conga mines have crippled the national government and forced President Ollanta Humala to make several cabinet changes.
In Peru and outside, the clash has been portrayed as emblematic of the escalating and inevitable tension between the global markets’ demand for natural resources and the environmental and political rights of the communities where those commodities are produced.
Editor’s note: Shannon K. O'Neil is Douglas Dillon Fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. The original post can be read at her Latin America’s Moment blog here. The views expressed are solely those of the writer.
Though legal battles are sure to continue, Mexico has chosen its next president. Enrique Peña Nieto will take office on December 1, and his party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, will dominate both houses of Congress.
Domestic and international audiences are now looking to the next government to pass the structural reforms needed for Mexico to become more productive, more competitive, and grow faster. This starts with the state-owned energy sector. Enshrined in Mexico’s Constitution, oil reserves are property of the state, and managed by Petróleos Mexicanos, or PEMEX, which retains full, control over exploration, processing, and sales. A modest 2008 energy reform pushed on the margins of this arrangement, allowing Pemex to offer incentive-based service contracts to private firms. These new rules so far have disappointed, with few foreign oil companies substantially upping their foreign direct investment or bringing in the technological know-how needed to unlock potential reserves and boost long term production.
Editor's note: Christopher Sabatini is the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and senior director of policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas. Ryan Berger is a policy associate at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. The views in this article are solely those of Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger.
By Christopher Sabatini and Ryan Berger, Special to CNN
Speaking in Santiago, Chile, in March of last year, President Obama called Latin America “a region on the move,” one that is “more important to the prosperity and security of the United States than ever before.”
Somebody forgot to tell the Washington brain trust.
The Center for a New American Security, a respected national security think tank a half-mile from the White House, recently released a new series of policy recommendations for the next presidential administration. The 70-page “grand strategy” report only contained a short paragraph on Brazil and made only one passing reference to Latin America.
Yes, we get it. The relative calm south of the United States seems to pale in comparison to other developments in the world: China on a seemingly inevitable path to becoming a global economic powerhouse, the potential of political change in the Middle East, the feared dismemberment of the eurozone, and rogue states like Iran and North Korea flaunting international norms and regional stability.
But the need to shore up our allies and recognize legitimate threats south of the Rio Grande goes to the heart of the U.S.’ changing role in the world and its strategic interests within it.
Editor's note: Christopher Sabatini is the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and senior director of policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas. The views in this article are solely those of Christopher Sabatini.
By Christopher Sabatini - Special to CNN
Social inclusion. Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has theorized about it. Peruvian President Ollanta Humala campaigned on it. Multilateral banks now regularly profess their commitment to it. And U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that U.S. foreign policy should promote it.
But what is it? The concept of social inclusion revolves around the idea that a citizen has the right and ability to participate in the basic economic, political and social functioning of his or her society. It’s more than economic enrichment, centered on access to basic public and private goods such as health care, formal employment, education, adequate housing, political and civil rights, and economic opportunity without discrimination.
It involves more than just reducing poverty and economic inequality. And if the U.S. is going to promote it, then there must be meaningful — even measurable — differences between countries that would provide foreign policymakers with priorities or targets of opportunity.
Unfortunately, in an index of social inclusion in Latin America recently developed by the journal I publish, Americas Quarterly, the countries south of the U.S. border face a number of differences and challenges. They indicate that despite all the feel-good rhetoric about social inclusion, this is going to be difficult to tackle meaningfully as a U.S. foreign policy issue.
Editor's Note: Antonia Hernández, Chief Executive Officer of the California Community Fund (CCF) and Solomon Trujillo, Chief Executive Officer of Trujillo Group Investments, are co-chairs of the Pacific Council on International Policy’s Latino Taskforce, the first group to look at foreign relations issues through the lens of Latinos.
By Antonia Hernández and Solomon Trujillo - Special to CNN
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s visit to the U.S. this week had the potential to repair the bilateral relationship between the hemisphere’s two largest economies and refocus U.S. foreign policy in its own neighborhood. Instead, Americans and Brazilians will bemoan another missed opportunity. Contrasted against the red carpet rolled out for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh - state dinner, honor guard, Jennifer Hudson - the lack of pomp and circumstance surrounding President Rousseff’s Washington debut is downright dispiriting.
President Obama’s announcement of a U.S. “pivot” toward Asia late last year left many Latinos scratching their heads. It is hard to understand why the Obama administration - and others before it - would hesitate to give a higher priority to our own hemisphere when redeploying the nation's economic, diplomatic, and military assets. A pivot toward markets much closer to home would better serve the national interest. Such a “Latino foreign policy” would reflects our country’s changing demographics and allow our leaders to pay closer attention to the political, economic and social development of their own hemisphere. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Juan Gabriel Tokatlian is Professor of International Relations at the Universidad de Di Tella, Argentina. For more, visit Project Syndicate's great new website, or check it out on Facebook and Twitter.
By Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, Project Syndicate
In January, US President Barack Obama nominated Marine Corps Lieutenant General John F. Kelly to head the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). Based in Miami, Florida, USSOUTHCOM runs military operations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and is the key US “drug warrior” in the region. Across the region, the key question, among civilian and military leaders alike, is whether the change in commanders will bring with it a change in focus.
The top priority for USSOUTHCOM is to fight narcotics trafficking from the Andes to the Rio Grande. With the Cold War’s end, fighting communism was no longer the US armed forces main objective; USSOUTHCOM increasingly concentrated on pursuing coercive anti-drug initiatives, and funds to fight the drug war were plentiful. But the change in commanders is an opportunity for the US to revise, at long last, its regional doctrine in order to address other pressing security needs. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Christopher Sabatini is the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly and senior director of policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas.
By Christopher Sabatini - Special to CNN
After listening to the debate in Washington DC on Latin America, no one could blame you for believing you had taken a time capsule back to the 1980s. With Republican candidates focusing on the subversive threats of an outside power, U.S. senators railing against a populist government that lost its regional appeal years ago and holding up presidential nominations over Cuba, and leftist advocacy groups still blaming human rights abuses on U.S. policy, it sounds like little has changed in 30 years.
But a lot has changed, both in the region and in the commentary about it. That message simply hasn’t trickled up to U.S. policymakers. The fault isn’t just the politicians in DC; the blame lies in part with the U.S. academic community and advocacy groups.
By Jessica Phelan, GlobalPost
Finally, some good news: around 30 dolphins were safely returned to sea after washing ashore on a Brazilian beach.
The mammals were saved by the quick thinking of beachgoers at Arraial do Cabo, in Rio de Janeiro state.
According to Gerd Traue, who caught the incident on camera, the dolphins appeared at 8:00 AM on March 5.
His video (below) shows the pod dragged closer and closer to shore, seemingly by a strong current, until the animals lie stranded on the beach itself. Thrashing their bodies and making high-pitched squeals, they become stuck in the wet sand and are unable to swim back out to sea.
People approach, at first unsure of what to do, but soon cooperating to drag the dolphins back into the water by their tails. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Michael O’Hanlon is coauthor with Martin Indyk and Kenneth Lieberthal of the new book, Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy. You can read more from him on the Global Public Square.
By Michael O'Hanlon – Special to CNN
How do successful counterinsurgencies tend to evolve over time? This question is paramount as the Obama administration tries to sort out next steps on Afghanistan. Most have heard by now the rule of thumb that even successful campaigns against insurgent groups typically take a decade or longer. But the recent Iraq experience, in which substantial military progress occurred in the short space of 18 to 24 months, still skews expectations among many Americans. In fact, Colombia’s ups and downs of the last two decades provide a more useful guidepost, as I was reminded on a recent trip to Bogota.
Colombia has been a major success story in the fight against drug cartels and industrial-scale insurgencies over the last two decades. A good deal of progress against the big cartels occurred in the 1990s, but since the Alvaro Uribe presidency starting in 2002, remarkable things have happened in dealing with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) insurgencies as well. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Ariel C. Armony, a political scientist, is a professor of international studies and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami in Florida. For more, check out the Winter 2012 edition of Americas Quarterly on China’s Global Rise: Implications for the Americas.
By Ariel C. Armony - Special to CNN
Shoes. Toys. Clothing. China has inundated Latin American markets with cheap goods. This flooding has jolted local producers and generated demands for government measures to protect domestic industries. But there is one Chinese export that has not received enough attention among policymakers, media analysts and public opinion: Corruption.
Though China and Latin America have different values and attitudes, both have traditionally lacked transparency in government. They operate according to informal business dealings which, in turn, undermine or further weaken the rule of law. Corrupt practices exacerbate distortions in public administration, impair sustainable development, erode a nation’s legal culture, and worsen inequality and poverty. FULL POST