Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

April 11, 2012

by AS-COA Online

From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

Presidents to Converge in Cartagena for Sixth Summit

Democratically elected leaders from throughout the hemisphere will convene in Cartagena, Colombia this weekend to attend the Sixth Summit of the Americas. The summit's theme is “Connecting the Americas,” and will focus on hemispheric integration and cooperation. “What is less clear, however, is whether the agenda that has been agreed to in advance by regional governments will have a meaningful impact on the hemispheric trajectory in the twenty-first century,” writes COA’s Eric Farnsworth for Poder. The Financial Times’s beyondbrics blog says the real issues on the radar will be the expected debate on the pros and cons of drug legalization, Argentina’s claims on the Falkland Islands, and Cuba’s continued exclusion from the summits—an issue that prompted Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa to boycott this summit. Speaking to Colombia's El Tiempo¸ Colombian President and summit host Juan Manuel Santos said he would be willing to mediate between the United States and Cuba, and voices support for the debate on drug legalization.

A report by AS/COA’s Summit of the Americas Working Group offers recommendations for job-creation initiatives in the Western Hemisphere.

Read an AS/COA Online Explainer about the origins and operations of the Summit of the Americas.

Obama Could Green-Light Colombia FTA Implementation

Colombia Reports writes that, while in Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas this weekend, President Barack Obama is expected to announce that Colombia has met the labor conditions necessary for implementation of the U.S.-Colombia trade pact. The U.S. Congress approved the Colombia free-trade agreement in October 2011, but implementation had been delayed pending fulfillment of an April 2011 plan requiring Colombia’s protection of worker rights. 

Will Obama's LatAm Focus Extend beyond April?

With April being touted as U.S. President Barack Obama's "Latin American month," New York University Political Science Professor Patricio Nava asks if the United States will continue paying attention when the month is over. Navia is skeptical, warning: "By failing to take advantage of the opportunities Latin America offers, the U.S. will further erode its declining economic and political power in the world and Latin America will find partners for development elsewhere." 

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Tags: Summit of the Americas, Colombia FTA, President Dilma Rousseff, Latino Vote

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

October 12, 2011

by AS-COA Online

From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

Second Guessing Zetas’ Ties with Iranian Terrorism

Concerns about the potential connection between Middle East terrorism and Latin American organized crime were revived this week when news hit that Iranians had plotted with an individual who they thought was a member of Mexico’s Zetas gang to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. The presumed gangster turned out to be an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. In Washington, legislators differed over whether the news demonstrated such a threat. “The fact that elements of the Iranian government targeted a Mexican drug cartel to carry out a high-level assassination is further evidence that the cartels are perceived as terrorists willing to participate in a lucrative, violent scheme inside the United States,” said Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX). But Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) said: “If anything, the Mexicans were trying to help us.”  A statement from Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Relations said: “In strict compliance with domestic and international law, Mexico was able to neutralize a significant risk to Mexico’s national security, while at the same time reinforcing bilateral and reciprocal cooperation with the United States.” Bloggings by Boz contends that the connection between Iranian terrorists and Zetas is unlikely, with Mexican drug cartels not wishing to disrupt their lucrative business. “I think the top leadership of the Zetas and others are very aware that any involvement in a bombing on U.S. soil or trafficking of [weapons of mass destruction] would bring a lot of additional focus and resources against them. They certainly wouldn't do it for the price of one truck of cocaine,” he writes.

Abbas on LatAm Tour to Bolster Palestine’s Statehood Bid

President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas took his fight for Palestinian statehood on the road this week with a Latin American tour that takes him to El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. But he failed to reach his goal during his first stop in Colombia. Speaking on the prospect of an independent Palestine, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos stated: “It must be the product of negotiations [between Israelis and Palestinians] because this is the only way to achieve peace,”after meeting with Abbas. Colombia is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and Abbas sees Bogota’s support as crucial, given that he needs at least nine out of 15 votes from the Council to gain a recommendation in favor of Palestine gaining UN membership.

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Tags: Colombia FTA, Panama FTA, Iran, Humala, Zetas, Terrorism in Latin America

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

October 6, 2011

by AS-COA Online

From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

Rousseff Urges against Austerity at EU-Brazil Summit

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff addressed the Fifth EU-Brazil Summit on Tuesday, where her agenda touched on the EU-Mercosur trade agreement and the eurozone debt crisis. Rousseff urged Europe to back away from recessive measures such as austerity plans to overcome the crisis, citing the need to pursue policies that create jobs and income. She assured the Europeans: “You can rely and count on us.”

Dilma and FIFA Chief Discuss World Cup in Brussels

In a meeting Monday in Brussels, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff assured FIFA President Jerôme Valcke that her country will meet all its obligations for the 2014 World Cup. The meeting comes after a series of public misunderstandings between FIFA and Brazil concerning issues such as concession prices and Brazil’s preparedness to host the event. Many of the infrastructure improvements necessary to host the 2014 World Cup are behind schedule.

The Summer 2011 issue of Americas Quarterly focuses on sports in the hemisphere and includes an article by Smith College’s Andrew Zimbalist covering Brazil’s preparedness for the World Cup and Olympics.

Brazil to Begin MINUSTAH Withdrawal in March

Brazil’s defense minister, Celso Amorim, announced that Brazilian troops will begin a gradual withdrawal from Haiti starting in March 2012. Brazilian troops have been stationed there since 2004, where Brazil leads the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH. The goal of the withdrawal is to hand local security control over to the Haitians and slowly reduce the number of troops to pre-earthquake levels.

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Tags: Brazil, Colombia FTA, Panama FTA, MINUSTAH, President Rousseff, FIFA World Cup, Canada Immigration

President Obama’s Trip to Latin America: Now What?

April 1, 2011

by Christopher Sabatini

President Obama’s trip one week later:  Did it matter?  It barely made a splash in the U.S. media, but at a regional and personal level it did.  Talk to Brazilians, Chileans or Salvadorans and they appreciate the fact that he went there.  Sure, he couldn’t do it with the festive, family-oriented aura that he had hoped, given world events, but it was precisely the frenzied swirl of those events that gave his trip to the region that much more credibility in the region. 

For many of us (here I speak not of Latin Americans but Latin Americanists) rooting from the sidelines, his trip meant, “Yes, yes he does care!!!”  (Maybe we’re just really needy.)

But the proof now is in what happens next.  The personal relationships President Obama developed with Presidents Rousseff, Piñera and Funes are immeasurably important.  There may be no tangible, obvious benefits of personal chemistry (speaking at least from a diplomatic standpoint), but these things are important.  They allow a president to make a phone call, personally press a position and establish the foundation for the sort of partnership that he talked about. 

What comes, though, of the speeches, declarations and commitments signed

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Tags: trade, Colombia FTA, Panama FTA, President Obama’s trip to Latin America


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