Category Archives: Political Ideology

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
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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)

Free Trade: Does it really benefit all?

OP-ED: In economics, from day one you are taught the “Principles of Economics.” One of these principles, is that trade is always beneficial. Trade allows diversity into the market, trade leads to international interactions and trade leads to economic growth. But, in analyzing trade the variables behind what is specifically trade are left out. It as if economics assumes that in the trading system all are equal, when in fact they are not.

The material economy of: production, cultivation, processing, packaging, delivery and consumption…the perfect system of a world with free trade is not all that it seems. Although a linear model of production is easier to comprehend, “we live in a finite world, not in one of a linear system,” as said by the speaker of this capitalism-questioning video.

“La vida real no ocurre en una pagina en blanco; interactura con sociedades, culturas, economias, el ambiente…”

The economic system is not one that can be easily drawn on paper, because it is interacting with all sorts of variables such as different societies, cultures, economies and environments. Another thing too, is that at every step there are limits. In writing down an economic system and international trade and production, variables such as people that are in the mix of the “production, cultivation, exportation,” process are forgotten.

In analyzing this video, it is saying that with one of the biggest populations in the world, the United States has cultivated most of its own resources. The answer therefore is for it to turn to other countries for resources to survive off of. However, the system takes advantage of the weak infrastructures of other countries and inevitably exploits them. However it is not just the United States, it is developed countries over those that are struggling to develop, that become ensnared in the facade of a free market. As said, a free market and free trade is not always beneficial for everyone.

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Hay que ver que todavía son “países de la cosecha,” es decir que, hay países quien están atrapados en el sistema del libre comercio. Bajo el sistema del libre comercio estés países son como esclavos quien producen cosas necesarias con sus recursos, pero todo no vale la pena, porque reciben menos dinero de los quien al final venden los productos a un precio más alto. Los productores originales no reciben los beneficios reales del mercado libre.

A step away from dictatorship, but how far?

“Here we put a stop to this dictatorship,” Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said to a city in Peru called Moquegua. Reported by El Comercio, Humala, reminisced on him and his brother working along side in the armed forces to over throw the dictatorship lead by Alberto Fujimori from 1990-2000.

“To his supporters, Alberto Fujimori was the president who saved Peru from the twin evils of terrorism and economic collapse,” reported BBC News.

However to all the rest, he was a power hungry dictator who perpetuated his own rule and presidency with a disregard for basic democratic principles, further noted BBC.

Humala en Moquegua: "Aquí le hicimos el pare a esa dictadura"
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala traveled to Moquegua, Peru to discuss the positive move away from Peru’s dictatorship past. Photo: El Comercio Archive

In incumbent President Humala’s speech, he speaks against those who were selling out the country by using money for self interests. Those who controlled everything with money, by buying media, authorities, and powers of the state.

“Together we stood up against the corruption of the 90’s, against the dictatorship that had confiscated our rights and against spurious reelections where he [Fujimori] was taking the turn away from the people, for them to vote for their national interests and support minor subordinate interests,” said Humala remembering the stance him and his country took against the Fujimori dictatorship.

Humala, has become a more moderate president and played down his former leftist ties and past relations with Venezuelan Hugo Chavez, has wanted to adopt a system like that of Brazil. A system lead by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva which promotes a Workers Party, or rather reduces the economic disparities within the country. BBC noted,

“His critics worry he will move Peru in a more populist, authoritarian direction and damage the economy. Mr Humala has insisted he will respect the constitution and the rule of law, swearing on the Bible in May to uphold democracy and press freedom.”

Humala has been and plans to continue extracting Peru’s mineral resources, which account for more than half of Peru’s total exports, and use that money to implement projects to reduce poverty.

Conflict of Development: Nicaragua

A grave problem that has yet to be directly faced in this blog is the cost of human rights and natural resources at the hand of development and competing interests that come with increased foreign investment. As Latin America develops and becomes further intertwined into the global market, each government has to make a choice; whether to protect its people and environmental resources, or develop economically regardless of opportunity cost.

The Chinese $50 billion investment in the construction of a Nicaraguan canal, will not only create thousands of jobs, but bring in a higher overall income for one of the poorest countries in Latin America. However, this development project will also simultaneously destroy the country and its people.

Concepcion Volcano, reflected on the peaceful waters of Lake Nicaragua, the biggest lake in all of Central America. Photo: Telegraph

The route of the new canal will pass directly through Lake Nicaragua, a lake expanding about 3,191 square miles, making it the largest freshwater lake in all of Central America (19th largest in the world).

As the Nicaraguan government pops nice bottles of champagne in celebration of the monumental decision to build the Nicaragua Canal with Chinese aid, the rest of the population has begun to protest out of discontent. Once popular with citizens, President Daniel Ortega has now been labeled, “vende patria,” or “traitor of the homeland,” according to La Opinion.

Residents participate in a rally against the approval of the construction of an interoceanic canal, in front of the Nacional Assambly, in Managua, Nicaragua. (Xinhua/John Bustos)

The protests have been incited by two main reasons, the people are fed up with government secrecy and dis-communication between government and the people. The second reason is that the people are frustrated with the governments disregard of the societal and environmental effects the canal construction will have on Nicaraguans, According to La Opinion,

“Managua [Nicaraguan Capital] argues that the country’s economy will grow by 15% annually from the second year of construction onwards and it will generate between five to 50 thousand jobs. Nevertheless the government has not provided specific details about the project, such as construction timelines and potential environmental impacts.

…Nicaraguans that live in the Canal’s proposed path will have to move. Case in point, there have been reports that HKND representatives, with Nicaraguan police officers and soldiers acting as guards, have appeared in various homes, taking measures and informing homeowners that their households will be purchased by the company.”

The development of the inter-oceanic canal would dis-join the countries largest fresh water source and displace about 100,000 natives from their homes, said Telegraph. The fantastical land, where cattle roam around the lake, families live off the land, while children play in trees would become a passage way for modern day trade and industrialization.

“This is one of the most fertile regions in Nicaragua, and the government has sold it behind our backs to the Chinese, they’ve sold our heritage, our sovereignty,” says Arnulfo Sequeira, 51, a father of four with 200 acres of land and 100 cattle. There is going to be a massacre because we are not leaving our land, our lives, and we’ll fight for it until death.”

Telegraph reported that in the pueblito of Cruz Verde, 20 men and women gathered on the banks of Lake Nicaragua with machetes. Although the machetes are normally used as harvesting tools, in this instance they were used as  a shear representation of angst and the willingness to fight in order to protect their land. These men and women stood on guard denying access to Chinese census from entering into their community where their families have lived for more than 80 years.

A sign with an anti-Chinese message is seen in the village of Obrajuelo (OSWALDO RIVAS/REUTERS)

The clouded minds of the Nicaraguan government officials and the utter disregard of the country and its people from the Asian giant might lead to one of the greatest tragedies and atrocities of this time. According to a study done by Centro Humbolt, an internationally renowned environmentalist group, they concluded that the canal was,

“…unviable and posed extraordinary environmental risks, especially to the lake. It says there will be insufficient water to maintain the canal by 2039.

Dredging the shallow lake to create a 30metre deep canal will disturb huge amounts of potentially toxic sediment. The canal also risks contaminating the lake, home to fresh water sharks, sawfish, and turtles, with salty sea water, and any oil spill could inflict irreparable damage.”

Unfortunately President Ortega, a former guerrilla leader from the 1979 revolutionary victory in Nicaragua, foolishly believes that the building of the canal is the second phase of the Revolution. The has president, adamantly said that the project will lift Nicaragua out of poverty.

Ortega, originally a leftist president has switched in recent years and first made contact with Wang Jing (Chinese billionaire and investor in the Nicaragua Canal), three years ago. The two came in contact when Ortega’s son  and likely successor,  Laureano, was at a Communist Party meeting. Jing, who was also at the meeting, asked to speak with him privately, later bring up the canal plan.

Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega (L) and Wang Jing celebrate signing a concession agreement for the construction of an inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua at the Casa de los Pueblos in Managua (Reuters)

Laureano, Oretega’s son and the one who had first contact with Jing is said to have also been in contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Unsurprisingly enough, the Russians have a stake in the building of the canal as well, they have also greatly increased warm relations with Nicaragua as Putin went and personally visited the country this past summer in July.

If everything goes smoothly, geopolitically speaking, the construction of the canal would create a larger foothold in Latin America for China.

Anti-Capitalism, Anti- U.S.–Switching to Alternate Partners

Photo: Telegraph
“Fuera Los Gringos,” out with the white guys, signifying and obscured demonic version of Uncle Sam. Photo: Telegraph (Venezuela)
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“Los Pueblos de Latino America no aceptamos la imposicion del ALCA.” Photo: RebelsandThugs
fuera imperialistas
“…Olas de pueblo, montanas de pueblo, haciendo la historia de un continente NUEVO.” “Fuera Imperialistas de America Latina!” Waves of people, mountains of people, making the story of a new continent. Imperialists out of Latin America! Photo: Mike’s Bogota Blog (Colombia)
Photo: Paul Street
“Fuera El Imperialismo,” a command meaning out with imperialism. Photo: Paul Street (Venezuela)
"Fuera USA de Bolivia." Photo: TheWe
“Fuera USA de Bolivia.” Photo: TheWe