Peripheral Revision

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Archive for the ‘Paraguay’ Category

Obama Continues Right-Wing Latin America Policies

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America’s ‘backyard’ has never been so united and independent of U.S. influence.

Steve Ellner, In These Times, April 14, 2011

In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama pressed for quick passage of a free trade agreement with Colombia, and since then has followed up on the proposal. In doing so he has delighted Republicans who had been accusing him of failing to prioritize the issue. In his January speech, Obama made no reference to his unequivocal concern over human rights violations which he had raised in his third presidential debate with McCain.

Since 2008, little has improved to justify Obama’s reversal. Human Rights Watch has reported a 41 percent increase in the number of victims in 2010 over the previous year, including the murder of 44 trade unionists. In the first six weeks of 2011, death squads assassinated three more labor activists.

In an attempt to assure members of U.S. Congress that progress is being made, on April 7 Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Obama announced from the White House the approval of an “Action Plan,” whereby the Colombian government pledged to take stringent measures to curb abuses. Many Colombian trade union leaders, however, refused to buy into the arrangement and expressed skepticism about their government’s resolve. Tarsicio Mora, president of the Unitary Workers Confederation (CUT), objected by saying, “It just can’t be that respect for a basic right established in the constitution, such as the right to life, has to be required by a commercial transaction.”

Obama’s new stand has also failed to win over U.S. trade unionists. In January, Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen argued against the agreement by pointing out that 15 million Colombians representing 82 percent of the working population are not recognized as workers and thus under the law “have no rights.”

Obama’s change–from opposition to the free trade agreement with Colombia, to lukewarm endorsement of it, to vigorous support–is just one example of his turnabout on Latin American policy. His modified stand distances Washington from an important bloc of Latin American governments and contributes to the decline of the U.S. leadership position in the hemisphere.

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Written by peripheralrevision

04/15/2011 at 4:08 pm

Lessons to be learned from Latin America

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Jonathan Glennie, The Nation, April 6, 2011

The idea that a successful model for development in one country could sensibly become a blueprint for another is now unfashionable – but important lessons can still be learned by examining other nations’ development paths.

One region is routinely overlooked in international development discussions that tend to contrast Asian success with African stagnation: Latin America.

Life expectancy has risen from 56 in 1960 to 73 today, and primary school completion rates are hovering at near 100%.

But the past decade has been the most dramatic for Latin America as the New Left governments – such as those led by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Cristina and Néstor Kirchner of Argentina, Michelle Bachelet in Chile, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay and, of course, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela – have swept to power.

After the years of austerity in the 1980s and 1990s, during which income poverty levels increased or stagnated, sustained growth in the past decade accompanied significant poverty reduction. Some 13% of Latin Americans lived in absolute poverty in 1980, and that figure was still 11% in 2002. But just three years later that figure had dropped to 8%, according to the World Bank.

Latin American countries are emerging from the global financial meltdown in good shape, in part because of their apparent familiarity with the rules of counter-cyclical spending, which depends on storing up money in the good times, and in part because their financial sector was less liberalised than in the west.

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Written by peripheralrevision

04/06/2011 at 7:17 pm