Archive for the ‘Uruguay’ Category
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.
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.
The governments of Venezuela and Uruguay signed a series of strategic agreements on Wednesday, in the areas of science and technology, energy and oil, agriculture, food, commerce and ﬁnance, that will further the integral development of both nations.
The accords were reached during a trimestral visit between Uruguayan President Jose “Pepe” Mujica and Venezuelan chief Hugo Chavez.
Amongst the varied agreements approved in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, was a protocol amendment to a prior accord that will allow for the development of a satellite program “Venesat-1”, using Venezuela’s “Simon Bolivar” satellite, which will permit both nations a shared use of the orbit so that Uruguay can also develop spacial technology.
During the meetings on Wednesday, President Chavez praised the efforts Uruguay has made to advance the development of Venezuela’s satellite, which according to the Venezuelan President, should “beneﬁt all people in the region”.
Chavez highlighted the support provided by the Uruguayan government during the presidency of Tabare Vazquez (2005-2010), who helped initiate Venezuela’s statellite program.
The “Simon Bolivar” satellite project “was an older idea, from the 1970s”, explained President Chavez, but due to “foreign interests” it was never completed.
“The project didn’t happen at that time, and those same interests tried to prevent us from completing it as well”, revealed the Venezuelan head of state.
Nonetheless, other “developed countries with a progressive vision for the world offered us help”, said Chavez. “With the aid of the Chinese and Russian governments, we began our satellite program”.
Thanks to Uruguay, detailed Chavez, the Venezuelan satellite was able to be placed in orbit, “because we were blocked; we didn’t have an orbit to put our satellite in, because of the hegemony that also exists in space and is controlled by the US and other developed nations”.
Chavez also recalled that when the satellite was launched in October 2008, “the US government had sent a request to the Chinese urging them to suspend the launching of the satellite, because they were unsure as to what we would use it for, that it could interfere in another orbit…they just invented any excuse”.
“But, President Hu Jintao said he had made a commitment to Venezuela and would proceed with the launching of the satellite. And there it is, in Uruguay’s orbit, and we’re sharing it”, Chavez informed.
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