When leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies met at the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, on November 12-13, the only story in the news was a currency face-off between the United States and China. Missing was real movement on two issues with implications for Latin America and the Caribbean: Reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and a new “consensus” on development for the world's poorest countries. This was the final nail in the coffin of the Washington Consensus, the economic model that has held sway in the region for the past quarter century.
In 2008, 70% of the 10 million Latinos who voted in the U.S. election supported Barack Obama. But since that election, hope has turned to despair for many Latinos who still face racial profiling, deportation, and family separation under an administration they enthusiastically supported. In exchange for their loyal votes, Latinos are expected to join what we can call the Obama–Democratic Party Consensus on immigration reform. This consensus requires that the president and his party build a more efficient immigration-control apparatus, while Latinos are expected to settle for symbolic appointments in government.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2010 edition of NACLA Report on the Americas.
In August, Georgetown University appointed former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe as a "Distinguished Scholar," despite accusations that he had been behind serious human rights violations in his home country. While Uribe received a warm welcome from university officials, many students and faculty have not been so comfortable with his appointment, although it follows a history of Georgetown appointing powerful and controversial figures (including former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar) to posts as professors. On November 3, many rallied on the Georgetown campus against Uribe's appointment, and this culminated with law students handing the former Colombian president a subpoena.
The Bolivian government will commit $900 million to develop a state-run lithium industry, using the country's unexploited reserves which are estimated to hold 70% of the world's total of this metal. The potential of this industry (lithium is widely used in ceramics, glass, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, and batteries for portable electronic devices) has raised great expectations, along with many questions about Bolivia’s lithium strategy—including the role and choice of foreign partners, the market for Bolivia’s lithium products, and the potential environmental and political impacts of lithium development.
As Brazil's Guaraní Kaiowá attempt to reoccupy their ancestral lands, acts of violence against them are virtually an everyday occurrence. Having been stripped of nearly all their land, which has been converted into cattle ranches, soybean farms, and most recently sugar cane fields for the production of ethanol, their homelands now are largely unrecognizable. Containing Brazil’s expanding ethanol industry as it seeks to devour more indigenous lands will not be on the to-do list of President-elect Dilma Rousseff. On the contrary, one of her campaign pledges was to expand the industry.
When Rudolfo Muñoz, a reporter working in Ecuador for CNN, resigned from the cable news channel in the immediate aftermath of the September 30 political turmoil, not a single noteworthy U.S. news outlet—including CNN—bothered to report on his departure. Fittingly, Muñoz said that CNN had a “distinct slant” and “acted as if nothing happened” despite “proof that [police forces] tried to kill the president.” While it is still unclear whether the violent events of September 30 constituted an attempted coup, as President Rafael Correa claimed, Muñoz’s critique raises questions about how the crisis was covered in the U.S. mainstream media.
The assumption that few Latinos would participate in the U.S. midterm elections underestimated their political sophistication, as they were simultaneously disappointed with the Democrats, but also inclined to vote for them as a defensive measure against the virulently anti-immigrant Republicans. Despite economic woes, and no progress on immigration reform, Latino voters came out in much greater numbers than predicted. It is this grassroots and sophisticated organizing power that this newest edition of NACLA Report on the Americas examines.
Drug-trafficking has been on the rise in Central America since 2008, justifying the expansion of the U.S.-led drug war into the region. In a place where Washington has historically wielded tremendous power, the United States plans to continue using the same failed drug war strategy as it has in Colombia and Mexico. 7,000 U.S. Marines have already been approved for Costa Rica, and other countries, such as Honduras, are asking for an increased U.S. military presence. There is a broader geopolitical strategy, critics say, for the United States to tighten its hegemonic grip in the region.
On September 20, Haitian prime minister Jean-Marc Bellerive, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the World Bank announced their partnership with a South Korean garment firm to establish an industrial park that will create 10,000 garment assembly jobs in Haiti. Without a doubt, earthquake-ravaged Haiti needs jobs, mainly to provide the country’s 1.3 million homeless with the means necessary to rebuild their destroyed homes. However, rather than solve the housing problem, the factories will depend on the vast pool of low-wage labor present in the homeless camps. Haiti's meager minimum wage of $3.09 per day will be barely enough to cover the worker's food expenses.
Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA), joined by 29 other Members of Congress, sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today calling on the Obama Administration to suspend aid - particularly military and police assistance - to the government of Honduras, while murders of political activists and media workers and other attacks in that country continue with near impunity.