Friday, June 25, 2010

Toledo on US-Latin American Relations

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo has some remarks about Barack Obama's Latin America policy, which really left me scratching my head.  He notes the huge problem of discontent with the status quo as being a major issue the U.S. must acknowledge: "one can hear the sound of 200 million poor and excluded women and men who were unable to taste the economic fruits of prosperity prior to the global financial meltdown."

Pot, meet kettle. David Scott Palmer, who has done research on Peru for years, writes the following:

Amidst violence and property damage, promises were made and not kept, decisions reached and reversed, and new programs announced  but not funded.  The president's disorganization, his libertine personal life, his assertive if talented Belgian wife, and the controversial personal advisors and family members who surrounded him all contributed to growing popular disillusionment with his administration.  Toledo's popularity declined to single digits for much of his five-year mandate, even in the context of renewed and sustained economic growth, and rumors were rife of an early resignation.*

So what we have is a former Latin American president unwittingly criticizing Obama for things he himself already badly failed at.  I come back to the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  There is research to be done there somehow.

*David Scott Palmer. "Peru: Authoritarian Traditions, Troubled Democracy."  In Howard J. Wiarda and Harvey F. Kline (eds.). Latin American Politics and Development, 6th Edition (Boulder: Westview Press, 2007): 234-267.


leftside 2:51 PM  

Not to defend Toledo, but I am would not call out anyone as a hypocrite for pointing out the fact that the US needs to focus more on social inclusion. Even if they are a past President who was not able to accomplish much in this area. Many of the structural constraints in place for Latin policy makers are dictated in Washington. And Washington continues to not play nice with those placing social exclusion at the top of their prioroty list. So Washington needs to hear this message, even if the messenger is no angel.

Justin Delacour 2:19 AM  

Not to defend Toledo, but I am would not call out anyone as a hypocrite for pointing out the fact that the US needs to focus more on social inclusion.

Unfortunately, Greg's presentation of Toledo's article distorts the basic tenor of Toledo's message. Toledo is clearly on the side of the United States. His only objective is to convince U.S. policy-makers that they could more effectively compete with the Latin America left if their policies toward Latin America had greater social content.

Boli-Nica 3:36 PM  

It seems kind of silly to imply Toledo's term a failure, or to fault him for hypocrisy.
Following key Fujimori economic policies that worked, while correcting the many political abuses of the Fujimori government deserves props. As does the fact there were many institutional reforms that in the opinions of organizations like transparency international have improved transparency in government.

David Scott Palmer, sort of minimizes "the context of renewed and sustained economic growth",

That is a huge deal, there is a consensus that this kind of economic growth is a key prerequisite for reducing poverty. And Peru has reduced poverty by 15 percent between Toledo and Garcia. Could he have done more? Yes, but he is leaving the conditions - incluuding a growing economy and a surplus that will make it easier to enact social policies.

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