Real talk? Or common presidential jargon?

“If we want to make a change we must make people aware of this…create greater consciousness,” said the speaker of the video above in relation to the need for reforms in Mexico.

It is up to Mexican youth. As of late, youth have started a movement for the Mexican people to regain control of their country, demanding better conditions.

Driving East on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande River passing Juarez, Mexico on the right.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, in the wake of disappearances, protests, and violence in Mexico, has announced that reforms will be made. Nieto has informed the public of constitutional reforms that will go in front of Congress within the next week. He has also emphasized scrutiny on municipalities, eluding to the problem being local governments.

CNN reporters point out, Nieto has strayed away from blame of the federal government as well as the major issues of corruption and insecurity between citizens and government.

Most critics believe, just like previous Mexican presidents, Nieto is simply saying the “right things.” However, the public doesn’t expect much to change. Or rather, they don’t expect much independent governmental action.



Oceanic Opportunity with the help of Mujica and Mercosur

Boundary before war (colored areas) and after the War of the Pacific (1879-1883) (black and red lines) Peruvian territories before the war (yellow) Bolivian territories before the war (blue). Chilean territories before the war Peru-Bolivia Boundary in Atacama Desert according to File:Departamento moquegua. Argentina-Bolivia Boundary in Puna de Atacama and Tarija was contested.

In 1879, the war over ocean access broke out between most of the newly independent countries of Latin America, however the war for the Pacific flourished between Peru, Chile and Bolivia.

Peru lost southern territory, but recaptured its capital, Lima (one of the Spanish’s main ports in Latin America during the colonization period), and kept much of its coastal territory. Chile, as seen by its geographic layout today, is a long thin strip along the coast. The conflict, lasting until about 1883, resulted in a Chilean victory and a land locked Bolivia.

With the results of the war, the denial of ocean access to Bolivia is arguably one of the main reasons why Bolivia has had one of the hardest times economically advancing and becoming integrated into the international trade system in comparison to other surrounding South American countries.

Today, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has broken the ice. The daring proposal made by Mujica has two parts. The first being, Bolivia must be given access to the ocean in someway. He mentions, if not by affirming a project on their own, to work with the Uruguayan government to establish a port on the coast of Uruguay.

Secondly, and most interestingly, Mujica stated that Bolivia must look to Mercosur for help. Mercosur is the sub-regional bloc comprised of: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Mercosur also has associates such as Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

In Mujica’s statement, he represented the rise of South America as a region; as more than a place which could be merely influenced and controlled. In promoting the integration and collaboration between South American countries, Mujica enforced the importance of effectiveness in Mercosur. Mujica said member and associate countries should turn to Mercosur for large scale reforms instead of looking upon the actions the United States or European Union.

With the emergence of Mercosur, South America will have the opportunity to slowly evolve its own regional micromanaging system for collaboration between neighbor countries to further the development and growth of the region. This development will also be based in the region’s best interests, rather than being influence by countries with other agendas.

Mujica called on Bolivian authorities to contemplate and work on creating a project on the Uruguayan coast, all of this almost seeming too good to be true.

“Los latinoamericanos nos miramos entre nosotros. Antes nos dedicábamos a mirar a Europa o a Estados Unidos. Hemos logrado acuerdos entre presidentes de lo más diferentes. Ya no tenemos fanatismos, porque ya no es tiempo para las verdades absolutas”, dijo Mujica, segun Russia Today.

Uruguayan President Mujica, “the best and most humble president in the world.” Photo: Gamba

Oil Cartel decision does not phase Venezuela’s Maduro

The reign of OPEC may be coming to an end. Oil prices have taken their sharpest plunge in three years according to Bloomberg. Latin America, the region that accounts for the largest crude oil reserves outside of the Middle East, has begun to feel the shock waves of the recent petro crisis.

OPEC, the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries, was founded in 1960 with the first five member countries being: Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Today, Ecuador has been another country from Latin America that has become an OPEC member.

Since September, prices have dropped significantly while alternate energy sources have been explored, for example the increased interest in natural gas and pipeline systems. The petroleum cartel, OPEC, an organization of countries with some of the largest oil reserves in the world, is facing off against a new era of alternate energy. The petro dollar has become depreciated.

“In just a matter of months, the price of a barrel of oil has dropped from more than $100 to about $70, and gas is now cheaper than it has been in years,” according to Fox News.

OPEC and the petro industry marked an increase in supply in the face of a falling global demand for oil; this combination creating the devaluation of the petro dollar, says Telegraph.

WTI Crude Oil Spot Price Chart
Photo: The Street

OPEC met this past week, and besides the fall of the crude oil prices, OPEC members have decided to not minimize current production quotas. The cartel of oil-producing nations, in the past has been able to fix prices based on their ability to increase or decrease their supply of crude oil. OPEC’s decision will inevitably lead the prices to continue to fall as there becomes a surplus of crude oil in the market.

The decision to maintain production, at about 30 million barrels a day, is seen by many as OPEC’s confidence in the resurgence of demand for oil despite the United States great success with increased fracking and shale gas extraction. The decision made by OPEC is seen as a response to hype about new energy take overs.

Although the organization decided to face off against the increasing value of shale gas and other competing energy sources, sticking out the economic downturn at the moment, some OPEC nations may not be able to handle the short-term sacrifice. Countries like Venezuela and Nigeria who have economies almost completely dependent on the production and exportation of crude oil will be much more greatly affected with falling oil revenue prices below $100.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, after the OPEC meeting, announced the country will cut public spending, due to the fall of petroleum demand. Surprisingly, the first thing to be reviewed and cut will be the wages and salaries of leadership officials, “starting with the president of the republic.”

Cuts will be made to all the ministries and state owned enterprises. Maduro doesn’t see the fall in gas prices and its effect on the country’s economy as an “evil.” In his opinion, according to El Comercio, he sees it as an opportunity to cut unnecessary spending and reorient the country.

Despite recent problems of questionable dictatorship type actions from the Venezuelan government, Maduro assured that even though there will be cuts,

“’ni un bolívar se va a tocar de las misiones’ o programas sociales y señaló que, por el contrario, se ampliarán las inversiones en materia social.”

In this address to the country saying that social programs will not be touched or cut, but on the contrary, will receive increased investments and attention.

Venezuela: Maduro recorta gasto público por caída del petróleo
Maduro assures the public, that government sectors and officials will take the price cuts, but not social and public programs. Photo: Reuters.

Another one bites the dust

A couple months ago Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner publicly endorsed Russia Today as an accountable and reliable source of news recommended to the Argentine public.

The close bonds between Kirchner and Putin forwarded the adoption of Russia Today in the country; Putin’s views being that the news site is one that is not biased like those news sources of “monopolistic countries,” aka the West, mainly the United States.

As the leftist movement in Latin America continues, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro this past week addressed the country that Russia Today is an excellent alternative news source. Venezuela is just another one of the Latin American countries, among Argentina and Nicaragua as examples, who have shifted away from U.S. relations turning to Russian partnership.

Photo: Bolivian President Evo Morales (furthest left), Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, U.S. President Barack Obama, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (furthest right). Some governmental institutions in South American have had just about enough of American influence.

Binding cultivation system.

A Silver Lining for Mexico

Organized crime is what haunts Latin America. For whatever reason, in many countries guerrilla groups have caused mayhem, influenced politics, and represented the underdevelopment that plagues Latin America.

These groups seen all over the region undermine the weak governmental institutions. These organized crimes groups and cartels insight rebellion and angst within rural and poor communities, gaining support from those who have not reaped the benefits from their government. However, many of these groups collaborate with the corrupt and weak governmental officials.

It would be nice to think that the problem of drug cartels and guerrilla groups was simply a thing of the past, but drug trafficking is a business within itself that funds these radical groups. Since 2007, homicide rates in Mexico have tripled, and the death toll from the fighting has reached about 90,000, according to Foreign Affairs.  In the case of Mexico, one of my close friends from outside of Monterrey, Mexico told me the sad truth facing his country.

“The situation will never change in Mexico,” he said indignantly, “There is no way to fix it because these cartel groups are so embedded into the communities that don’t hold trust in the government.”

Being an optimist, this statement from a born and raised Mexican shocked me…nothing to be done for the system or country? The main cartel groups in Mexico are: Los Zetas, Sinaloa Federation, Beltan Leyva Organization, La Familia Michoacana and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

Los Zetas Marina Armada. Photo: Center for Security Policy

From Monterrey, Mexico my friend, whose name will remain anonymous, informed me of how integrated the cartel systems are within the communities. Originally created out of anguish and poverty, these groups and hacienda heads became mini governmental systems for their communities. In a ranchero/small town community outside of the city for instance, the governmental benefits would not reach these small towns or communities. Sanitation, education, transportation or any other types of services normally are not received from the government.

However, these small communities in turn for housing and abiding by the cartel activities and rule within the regions receive benefits from the wealth of the cartel heads. The communities then become dependent on this new form of communal support.

As long as the cycle of “protection for protection” continues, there is no foreseeable way of change. People have ignored the violence and other things they blame and accept as faults of the government or people who don’t abide by the twisted rules of the cartels that control the area.

Although Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has been traveling the world, from Beijing to Brisbane at APEC meetings and G-20 summits, Mexico has been turned upside-down within the past couple weeks.

There has to come a time when people begin to say enough is enough, and that time may have come in Mexico. There may be a silver lining.

It has been more than seven weeks now, since 43 college students training to be teachers have vanished in the rural state of Guerrero. Despite President Nieto’s efforts to promote an internationally integrated economy and a better Mexico, the political fallout for the recent event has put him and the whole Mexican governmental system in the hot seat. One governor has already resigned, a state prosecutor has stepped down and other officials have been arrested, according to the Washington Post.

“The drama of Mexico is about impunity,” said leading political commentator Jesús Silva Herzog. “This is not about the popularity or unpopularity of the president, that is irrelevant. It is about credibility and trust and, at its root, it is about legitimacy.” –The Gaurdian

Peaceful protests have been held, but most have ended in violence. What started with enraged family members and friends over the loss of the students has turned into a nationwide movement for disapproval of the government and the want for change.

Protesters take part in a demonstration in Guadalajara City on Nov. 18, 2014, over the disappearance of 43 teachers college students. (Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)