In light of President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Latin America May 2 to 5 and Latin America’s increasingly global role, AQ Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini looks at the United States’ heightened and shifting attention to Latin America. In a blog post for the Financial Times’ “beyondbrics” blog Sabatini explores the U.S.’s evolving strategy to leverage its domestic market and free trade agreements as tools to bolster hemispheric cooperation.
At last, U.S. recognition of its national interest in Latin America
By: Christopher Sabatini
It’s become a common refrain: US influence in the western hemisphere is on the wane. Whether measured by the US’s commercial weight in the region or its ability to dictate the terms of debate on everything from Cuba to narcotics, there is little doubt that the “Colossus to the North” is confronting a more diverse and at times contentious hemisphere.
President Obama’s trip to Mexico and Costa Rica in May and Vice President Joe Biden’s plans to travel to Brazil, Colombia and Trinidad and Tobago reflect – at long last – the US’s recognition of its national interest in the rising economic and diplomatic powers of its hemisphere and its capacity to influence its current and potential allies.
In an article published in the Financial Times’ “beyondbrics” blog, Eric Farnsworth—vice president of the Council of the Americas and a regular AQ blog contributor—looks at Bolivian President Evo Morales’ decision on Wednesday to oust USAID and explores the ramifications for Bolivia’s development.
Bolivia’s magical realism
By: Eric Farnsworth
Latin America Goes Global: From Diplomacy to Business to Pop Culture, the Ways the Region is Changing the World
The Spring 2013 issue of Americas Quarterly, released on May 2, examines the ways in which Latin America is asserting its new economic and diplomatic influence in the world and the future of U.S. power in the region. The new AQ looks at emerging blocs like UNASUR, IBSA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, changes in regional and extra-regional commerce flows and foreign direct investment, the stagnation in U.S. scholarship on Latin America, and one of the enduring myths about Latin America's relationship with the United States—the region's supposed anti-Americanism.
Also in the issue, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta S. Jacobson shares ten facts that you didn't know about U.S.-Latin America relations.
Plus, read in-depth articles on the NRA's hemispheric efforts to beat back gun control legislation beyond the United States, the Brazilian government's attempt to reform its monetary policy, and the toll that mara violence and extortion is taking on organized labor in Guatemala.
The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism will host a two-day roundtable conference in New York in honor of World Press Freedom Day on May 2 and 3. The “Press Freedom, Press Standards and Democracy in Latin America” conference will begin on Thursday evening and continue all day on Friday at Columbia’s Journalism Building.
In an article for the Financial Times’ “beyondbrics” blog, Daniel Kurtz-Phelan—a senior advisor at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author in the upcoming issue of Americas Quarterly—writes about the future of IBSA, the three-country coalition of India, Brazil and South Africa. As the three countries celebrate the IBSA Dialogue Forum’s 10th anniversary in New Delhi this June, Kurtz-Phelan argues that common democratic values and development experiences may give IBSA more staying power than the larger BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa)—if IBSA members can overcome their own challenges at home.
For the first time, The New York Times has published an investigative and multimedia piece in English and Spanish. The piece highlights an untold chapter of the drug war in Mexico that inspired the 2000 Hollywood film, Traffic.
“A Drug War Informant in No Man’s Land” by Ginger Thompson describes the dramatic decline of Luís Octavio López, a former police chief in Mexico whose role as an informant to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) precipitated his life’s devastating spiral from a successful officer to an impoverished fugitive.
Jason Marczak, Senior Editor of Americas Quarterly and Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, discusses important changes taking place in Mexico in an article for the CNN Opinion, and what the U.S. can do to take advantage of its neighbor's fast-growing economy.
By Jason Marczak
President Barack Obama will find that much has changed in Mexico when he arrives on May 2. Our neighbor to the South -- and second-largest export market -- has moved far ahead with reforms.
As Congress crafts comprehensive immigration legislation, Democrats and Republicans must keep in mind that Mexico is changing rapidly, and policies crafted to reflect yesterday's Mexico will not help the U.S. make the most of the potential of today's and tomorrow's Mexico.
Mexico's future is bright, and tapping into this growth and economic prosperity is vital to U.S. competitiveness. But the U.S. needs immigration reform to build on its huge bilateral trade with Mexico -- more than $1 billion in goods and services each day, or $45 million an hour.
Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto has achieved in less than five months in office what eluded previous administrations for six years. In the second half of 2013, he hopes to add energy to the improvements in education and telecommunications that are sailing through under the umbrella of the Pact for Mexico political agreement.
Demographic and economic transformations in Mexico mean that the U.S. can expect the number of Mexicans coming into the U.S. to slow to a trickle. Mexicans make up about 58% of the 11 million in the U.S. without authorization.
Read the rest of the article here.
In an interview on Bloomberg TV’s “Market Makers” on Monday, Americas Quarterly Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini discussed Nicolás Maduro’s narrow victory in the Venezuelan presidential elections on April 14. The results of the election are still being contested by opposition leader and rival candidate Henrique Capriles, who has called for a recount and whose supporters are likely to protest if Maduro is officially declared the winner.
Olmos’ play tells the story of Marisol Valles García, a young mother who made headlines in 2010 when she became the police chief of Práxedis Gilberto Guerrero at the age of 20 after her predecessor was murdered by cartels in 2009 and no one else was willing to take on the role.
In their article, "Building Institutions on Weak Foundations," Columbia professor of political science María Victoria Murillo and Harvard professor of government Steven Levitsky discuss institutional weakness in Latin America. The article appears along with analyses by other regional experts in a special section of the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Democracy , entitled "Lessons from Latin America."
Murillo and Levitsky observe that many Latin American democracies lack the ability to adequately and evenly enforce their laws, and that formal rules change repeatedly, making it difficult to predict when violations will be sanctioned or not. According to the authors, Latin America's patterns of institutional change, even during periods of military-led transitions, makes the region an exception to established models of institutional development: "Latin American relity poses a challenge to both punctuated-equilibrium and gradual models of institutional change," the authors write.
"Rather than being infrequent and radical or ongoing and gradual, institutional change in much of Latin America is frequent and radical," say the authors, who point out that in nations such as Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, constitutions "were replaced at least ten times during the first century of independence," and add that these patterns persist in some countries, such as Ecuador, which has changed its constitution twenty times since independence. Murillo and Levistsky refer to this pattern of frequent and radical change as "serial replacement."
Murillo is a member of the editorial board of Americas Quarterly. To read an AQ review of her recent book, Political Competition, Partisanship, and Policy Making in Latin American Public Utilities (2009), click here.