Natural Resource Extraction in Latin America: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The Winter 2013 issue of Americas Quarterly, released on January 29, addresses the potentials and pitfalls presented by the growing global demand for and investment in natural resources: understanding the sources of conflict between investors and citizens, improving the public management of mining royalties and taxes, and recognizing examples of good—and bad—corporate practices. Plus, the new AQ looks at ways to address the alarming pretrial detention rates in in the Americas, the changing demands of Chile’s new middle-class voter, and Ciudad Juárez’ bid to remake its image and rebuild its economy.
Our natural resource section includes articles on how a changing global landscape in natural resources is recasting geopolitics, the multiple causes of social conflict over resource extraction, persistent resource nationalism in Latin America, and how Bolivia, Chile and Peru have addressed the region’s “resource course.”
Plus, a 30-page photo essay offers an on-the-ground look at mining projects and the communities around them. Based on a series of in-depth case studies, AQ analyzes how three Latin American countries—Chile, Colombia and Peru—have managed natural resource extraction projects in the areas of governance, community relations and consulta previa (prior consultation), value-added economic development, and the environment—and provides recommendations in all four areas.
In a memorandum to U.S. President Barack Obama published on January 17, Ted Piccone, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution, advises the president to move toward normalizing relations with Cuba in his second term. The memo is part of the “Big Bets and Black Swans” series of memos by The Brookings Institution, which identifies the president’s best foreign policy opportunities—and biggest potential disasters— in the next four years.
As China moves aggressively to establish bilateral trade relations with resource-rich states, it finds itself not in a tête-à-tête with its partners but a ménage a trois. There’s always a third party in the room: the United States.
The U.S. has interests in almost every country where China seeks resources. In some cases—Iran, for example, or Venezuela—the relationship is adversarial. In others—Australia, Saudi Arabia—friendly. In yet others—Russia, Nigeria—neutral. Regardless of which, Sino-American competition for resources is inevitably a triangular affair.
In an op-ed for Fox News Latino, Christopher Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief of Americas Quarterly and Senior Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, praises outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for focusing on gender equality and social inclusion in Latin America during her tenure, and predicts that U.S.-Latin America relations will receive less attention while the U.S.' secretary of state nominee, Senator John Kerry, focuses on foreign policy in the Middle East and China.
By Christopher Sabatini
In her four-year term, Hillary Clinton has not only been the State Department's most traveled secretary of state in history, she's also been a frequent flier to Latin America and the Caribbean. In 22 trips to the region (including Canada), she traveled to 31countries.
Can we expect the same level of attention from secretary of state nominee, Senator John Kerry? Not likely, though that may not be a bad thing.
By 2008, U.S. political capital in the region was badly damaged. In the first four years of President George W. Bush's administration, a number of high-level government officials made little effort to hide their preferences for specific candidates or parties in elections in Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela, violating a long-standing policy—in place since the presidency of President Bush's father—to support the process of democratic elections regardless of their outcomes. Moreover, the brief embrace of the seizure of power in Venezuela during the confusion that erupted on April 11, 2002 after troops, acting on orders from President Hugo Chávez, fired on protestors—further inflamed regional suspicions that the U.S. was up to its old habits of interventionism in the region.
Americas Quarterly Editor-in-Chief and Senior Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas Christopher Sabatini participated in a virtual discussion with Ray Walser, a senior analyst at the Heritage Foundation, former Venezuelan deputy Eustoquio Contreras, and Venzuelan lawyer Antonio Rosich as part of Voz de América's Foro Interamericana (Interamerican Forum) on Friday. The discussion, moderated by VOA's Patricia Dalmasy, focused on the Venezuelan Supreme Court's decision to indefinitely postpone Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez' scheduled inauguration as he fights cancer in Cuba, and the implications for Venezuela's political future as the president's ability to run the country remains unclear.
"There's a large part of the [Venezuelan] population that is not in favor of Chávez...and they also have to be represented," Sabatini said. "We're not talking about a totally homogenous popular will. There's a very large division in the country and this type of uncertainty and lack of transparency is very dangerous in terms of polarization."
Sabatini acknowledged that the U.S. government's response to the political uncertainty in Venezuela has been "cautious," and urged observers not to jump to conclusions about the motivations of regional heads of state that arrived in Venezuela to show support for the ailing Chávez on January 10, the day of his intended inauguration. "We don't know if they're there out of principle, or because of the benefits," Sabatini said, referring to the importance of Venezuela's petroleum exports to its neighbors.
Watch the discussion here.
Follow AQ's continuous Venezuela coverage here.
As Indonesia takes the helm for APEC 2013, the Asia-Pacific continues to emerge as the potential trendsetter for future models of sustainable growth, trade and investment liberalization, and fostering innovation to address economic and demographic challenges. Two distinct visions for multilateral trading relationships the Asia Society will join the U.S. National Center for APEC and the U.S. APEC Business Coalition in hosting an APEC briefing—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership—continue to coalesce in the region.
Americas Quarterly Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini spoke to Voz de América (VOA) reporter Celia Mendoza in a report that aired Wednesday about Venezuela’s uncertain future as the ailing President Hugo Chávez’ ability to govern the country remains in doubt.
Chávez remains in Cuba, recuperating from his fourth cancer-related surgery since 2011, and has not been seen in public since early December. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan National Assembly and Supreme Court have announced that the president’s inauguration, scheduled for Thursday, January 10, can be legally postponed until Chávez is well enough to resume governing—though the political opposition claims that doing so is unconstitutional.
Sabatini criticized the Venezuelan government for its failure to provide meaningful details about the current state of Chávez’ health. “President Chávez is not being open and transparent about his treatment, and that is a good symbol of the confusion that exists in Venezuela, as well as the lack of transparency and honesty of the government toward Venezuelan citizens,” Sabatini said. “That generates a lot of uncertainty and questions throughout the region.”
In an article for World Politics Review, Christopher Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief of Americas Quarterly and Senior Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, proposes four ways that the Obama administration can deepen its ties with Latin America: pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, strengthening NAFTA, improving relations with Cuba and building a strategic partnership with Brazil over the next four years.
By Christopher Sabatini
For decades, Latin America policy specialists have lamented how the Western Hemisphere is never a priority for U.S. presidents. For all the United States’ economic and cultural ties with the region, however, America’s neighbors to the south do not face the kinds of imminent threats that tend to get a president’s undivided attention -- and fortunately so.
But while Latin America may never, and arguably should never, figure on the list of the U.S. executive’s top concerns, several innovative pushes across the U.S. foreign policy apparatus would not only dramatically help advance U.S. relations and leadership in the region, they would also set the tone for relations for decades to come, while making sure the region never gets what many have wrongly longed for: the president’s urgent attention.
Christopher Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief of Americas Quarterly and Senior Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, discusses how Latin America’s vulnerable middle classes can better achieve social and economic stability in a special article for CNN World-GPS.
By Christopher Sabatini
Whether its growth is being hailed as a major advance for Latin America or its alleged decline in the developed world is taken as a sign of the global North’s impending fall, the middle class has assumed almost totemic status in popular discussions. The reality, though, is more complex.
The confusion stems in large part from how we define the middle class.
In the seemingly interminable 2012 U.S. presidential election campaign, the U.S middle class loomed like an endangered species, so much time was spent by the candidates positioning themselves as the savior of the supposedly beleaguered middle class. Lost within the debate was the matter of whether the U.S. middle class was actually shrinking and why – or why not.
Americas Quarterly Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini spoke to Laura Ingle on Fox News’ “On the Hunt” on Thursday to analyze whether reforms to Cuba’s migration policy will bring real change to ordinary Cubans, and how the U.S. should respond.
During the interview, Sabatini discussed the Cuban government’s new laws and regulations governing travel and emigration, promulgated in October 2012 and set to go into effect on January 14. The reforms have liberalized the Cuba’s travel and emigration policies by removing a 50-year-old requirement that Cubans secure an exit visa before leaving the country, and by extending the amount of time they can live overseas, among other changes.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.