Friday, April 30, 2010

Venezuela and Iran

Two days ago I wrote about the ways in which Iran is portrayed as a hemispheric threat even while everyone admits there is no evidence.  Setty's Notebook has a detailed post focusing on Iran and Venezuela, questioning the jumps from circumstantial evidence (a tractor factory that has produced nothing) to accusations (the tractor factory is making weapons).  At this point, it is like religion--you make the leap of faith or you don't.

A link at the end of the post is also a reminder of the think tanks in DC pumping out all sorts of bizarre messages on the topic.  Check out the summary of this meeting, all about how Hugo Chávez is planning to blow up the Panama Canal (no, I am not making that up).

Some of the accusations are insane.  Others, like a potential Iranian threat, are not outlandish but as yet have no basis in fact.  It is important to keep that in mind.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Arias and the Uruguayan military

Abigail Poe at Just the Facts writes about Oscar Arias' letter to Uruguayan President José Mujica telling him to abolish the military.  From the letter:

Uruguay does not need an army. Its internal security can be handled by the police, and its national security gains nothing from a military that will never be more powerful than its neighbors, which are also democracies.

I agree with this 100%, but I wonder what Uruguayans think, as this seems to be some major meddling, and Arias takes the added step of addressing it to "Pepe the Revolutionary."

It's also worth noting the context in which last year Uruguayans voted down a referendum that would have repealed the amnesty.  Perhaps Arias only wants to generate debate, but Mujica cannot wave a wand and do something that most people would oppose.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More on Iran in Latin America

I've written numerous times about the overblown assessments of the Iranian presence in Latin America.*  Now we're getting a new flurry, and they go roughly like this:

--the U.S. is concerned about Iran
--Iran has a presence in Latin America
--there could someday be a military threat
--we admit we have no evidence of anything

The last bit always leaves me wondering what the point is.  It could well be about message sending--let the Iranians know publicly we are watching, and Hugo Chávez as well.  Maybe even a message to Republicans who make a point of Obama being soft that they are taking the Iranian presence seriously (on the other hand, these predate Obama).

The downside, though, is wolf crying.  After talking incessantly about a non-existent threat, who would believe it if a real threat emerged?

*A quick search shows that in over three years since I first blogged about it, U.S. government analyses of Iran in Latin America have not improved.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arizona and immigration reform

Jonathan Martin and Kasie Hunt at Politico have a good article on immigration reform.  Neither party really wants to tackle it, and definitely neither wants to do so this year.  But the Arizona bill could have the effect of forcing them to do so.

Along these lines, Paul Krugman argues incorrectly that Democrats want to vote for it, but can't because they can't make the safety net too large.  This ignores the fact that many conservative Democrats are totally opposed to immigration reform, especially anything resembling an amnesty.   I didn't get the impression that Krugman had thought too much about the issue, because it has long been known that immigration splits both parties.  That is precisely why they avoid it.

But Arizona has everyone in a fizz.  Even Mexican President Felipe Calderón took a shot at it (which might have the unintended consequence of making it more popular, though in the current din it could just go unnoticed).

The ultimate irony, of course, would be if the most hardline state policy of all time paved the way for broad reform at the federal level.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Vote in Cuba

According to Granma, the National Electoral Commission says that every vote in Cuba shows "an unequivocal message of Cubans' confidence in their political system" thus marking "another brilliant page in the history of the island's political system."  Brilliant!

There will then be "a public count by the authorities in the presence of anyone who wishes to attend."  It is safe to say that the definition of "anyone" is fairly elastic.  As is the definition of "vote" and "count."


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Graham's logic

Lindsey Graham, who was mad at the administration for not getting more Republican support for immigration reform, is mad that the administration is paying attention to immigration reform.  Logically, then, he will no longer support a climate change bill that he helped write.

The reason?  After approximately five years of debate over immigration, he believes it remains "hurried and panicked."  Further, he does not want to focus on immigration because it is too controversial and takes too much time.

In short, he has indicated that both bills are important to him, so it is best not to support them.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

The state of the immigration debate

In the wake of Arizona's SB1070 becoming a law, South Carolina's Lt. Governor André Bauer gave his take on Latino immigration to the U.S.:

"The problem is we have a give-away system in this country and in this state that is so strong that people would rather sit home and do nothing than do these jobs. Laziness is not a disability," Bauer said. "There are lot of people that are flat out lazy and they are using up the goods and services that we have in this state."


Friday, April 23, 2010

Return of the Colombia FTA

José Cárdenas at Foreign Policy's Shadow Government blog resurrects the fallacious national security argument about a Colombian free trade agreement, which the Bush administration had used very forcefully and unsuccessfully.

The upshot is that "U.S. credibility suffers internationally" because "many are watching" and Hugo Chávez along with Rafael Correa will win if we don't pass the FTA.  We also learn that "no mere mortals" have the power to stop the trend of FTAs, though that begs the question of why we worry about them if they're going to happen no matter what.  Finally, "If one wants to predict the future of our hemisphere, it begins nowhere but here."

Look, sometimes an FTA is just an FTA.  We can argue the economic pros and cons, but the world has not blown up since the last time the Colombia FTA was shot down.  Hugo Chávez will rise or fall according to what happens in Venezuela, regardless of U.S. trade relations with Colombia.  The future of U.S. policy toward Latin America or even U.S. security interests simply do not revolve around those relations.


Crisis in Nicaragua

Contrary to what is often reported, the Nicaraguan crisis isn't about the left.  It's hardly about being "Sandinista," a term that means very little anymore.  It's not even really about the location of Nicaraguan opposition lawmakers (who met in a Holiday Inn rather than the National Assembly) which is a proximate rather than a distal cause.

It is more mundane, about the bitter fight over spoils in a very poor country.  The piñata in 1990 and the pacto in the last decade transcend ideology and center instead on money and power.  As one critic called it, "From Somocismo without Somoza to Somocismo with Ortega."

The government says it is no big deal and that "the people" are simply demanding that the legislators meet in the National Assembly.  It adds that the OAS should butt out because everything is perfectly in hand.  Nothing to see here.

Hopefully there is a peaceful solution in the short term.  In the longer term, Nicaraguans deserve to escape the cycles of kleptocracy under which they've suffered.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Immigration reform and tea leaves

The Obama administration has sent out all sorts of sometimes contradictory signals on immigration reform.  As summer creeps closer and closer, the president will have to make a decision one way or the other.  To push or not to push.  Peter Nicholas at the L.A. Times writes that Obama just doesn't know what to do:

Immigration advocates who meet regularly with White House officials said the Obama administration had been considering several approaches, including convening a summit meeting devoted to the issue and putting forward its own bill. Those who attended a session Friday with administration officials said they came away with no indication the White House had settled on a course of action.
This is particularly unfortunate because everyone knew immigration was going to be a controversial but necessary issue to tackle.  As the health care bill floundered for a while, it was also clear that immigration would require Obama to push very hard (and twist some congressional arms) if he wanted it done in 2010.  There has been plenty of time to think about what to do.

Obama apparently also wants Congress to take the lead, which is not far from saying the bill is dead.  In 2006 and 2007, immigration reform died in part because George W. Bush gave lip service but showed no interest in using whatever political capital he might have had.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trust in Latin American elections

Matthew L. Layton, "Trust in Elections."  AmericasBarometer Insights 37 (2010). 

I got this article via email, and it has not yet shown up on the LAPOP website (though they always do soon).  It takes a look at Latin Americans' trust in elections, taking a variety of different variables into account.  Its conclusions are not earth shattering (e.g., belief in democracy increases trust in elections) but the level of trust by country is interesting.  The neutral line is 50.

Uruguay 73.4
Costa Rica 61.4
Chile 60.6
DR 59.9
Belize 58.5
Venezuela 57.6
Bolivia 56.7
Mexico 53.1
Colombia 52.8
Guyana 50.8
United States 50.7
El Salvador 48.7
Brazil 48.1
Jamaica 47.8
Panama 47.8
Ecuador 45.7
Nicaragua 45.6
Guatemala 45.6
Argentina 44.9
Peru 44.4
Honduras 37.9
Paraguay 24.2

Immediately apparent is that the Venezuelans and Bolivians trust elections more than we do in the United States.  It is heartening to see Mexico that high, given its relatively recent history of rigged elections and the controversy of 2006.

Also, the Honduran result should surprise no one.  Given the way the coup and its aftermath was handled, I am not sure how to get that number up.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chávez and Santos

Hugo Chávez says the election of Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia would be a security threat not only to Venezuela, but also to Ecuador and Nicaragua.  He says Santos wants to bomb Venezuela.  In publicly entering the middle of a neighbor's presidential election in hope of swaying it, he is following the model of the United States, which generally made candidates stronger recently in places like Bolivia, El Salvador and Nicaragua (or even, way back in the 1940s, in Argentina) by criticizing them.  Santos should publicly thank Chávez for going after him.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Rural poverty in Colombia

Juan Forero at the Washington Post looks at the persistence of poverty in rural Colombia, something that is too rarely mentioned in the drug/guerrilla war context.

The other Colombia is one of rising inequality, the only major country in Latin America in which the gap between rich and poor has increased in recent years, according to a report by the U.N. Economic Commission on Latin America. The percentage of Colombians who are indigent also rose, from 20.2 percent in 2007 to nearly 23 percent in 2008, nearly double the region's average.

 The guerrilla conflict, meanwhile, has uprooted 5 million people in 25 years and has helped ensure that more than 60 percent of rural Colombians remain poor, according to Ricardo Bonilla, an expert on poverty at Bogota's National University.

I suppose one could argue that you have to address the violence before you can really tackle poverty.  However, those government policies aimed at rural development consciously ignore the poor because they aren't sufficiently productive.

But even government officials acknowledge that poverty remains widespread in the countryside. Indigent sharecroppers are relegated to the poorest soil, working land without title, while a swath the size of Virginia is in the hands of drug traffickers and corrupt politicians, said Alejandro Reyes, an expert on land and author of a recent book, "Warriors and Peasants: The Plundering of Land in Colombia."

Reyes said the Uribe administration places a priority on funneling aid to the biggest farms because the government thinks they are best suited to revive the rural economy. "The government thinks that the peasantry are not good producers, that they don't know how to save, how to assimilate technologies," Reyes said.

That philosophy was crystallized through the Insured Agro Income program, which provided most of a $250 million annual fund to sugar, palm oil and other large agricultural sectors.

In this desperately poor state of Magdalena, four families received most of the $10 million provided in 2007 and 2008, records show. Among those that benefited were various branches of the politically influential Vives family, which received $6.5 million. 

What Forero should also have mentioned is a historic lack of state presence in the countryside.  This is not just a matter of aid or spending, but a commitment to connecting far-flung communities to the rest of the country by working on infrastructure, effective local public administration, etc.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Quote of the day: China and Venezuela

"Venezuela's leader has declared himself a Maoist, but that scarcely matters to the Chinese. They just want the oil."

--from The Guardian


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Arizona's SB1070

The immigration bill passed by the Arizona House is making quite a stink.  You can see the full text of the bill here.  Article 8, Part E:


That's right.  Anyone can be stopped at any time for any vague reason--let me see your papers, please.  But the bill then veers from authoritarian to absurdity.    Sec. 5, Part A:


So now they'll have to park legally, which of course deters hiring undocumented immigrants.

The Senate will vote on the bill Monday.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

New non-alignment

I've been trying to think whether there is any period in Latin American history when three major powers were simultaneously vying for agreements (as opposed to the nineteenth century, when major powers were invading).  Russia is all over the place and currently in Argentina, Hu Jintao is in Brasilia while China now buys more from Brazil than the U.S., and the U.S. is doing defense.

It is akin to the non-aligned movement during the Cold War, but even better because there is far less conflict involved.  You don't even have to officially join anything.  Just put out feelers and you can get weapons, trade agreements, loans, nuclear reactors, oil deals, you name it--very often, they're even courting you.  The problems of dependency are at least potentially decreased because you can switch partners much more easily than in the past.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

McClarty and Piñera

Mack McLarty has an op-ed that falls all over itself to praise Sebastián Piñera.  There's nothing surprising or objectionable (or even very interesting) in it--the basic message is that Piñera is not extreme and Chile should work well with the United States.

I was left wondering what would prompt anyone to write such an op-ed, which are usually sparked by a sense of concern, alarm, or dissatisfaction.  Did anyone think U.S.-Chilean relations were in jeopardy?  I don't know anyone who thought there was some sort of problem on the horizon.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Brazil and the U.S.

Brazil and the United States signed a defense pact, that despite rumors does not include any access to bases as in Colombia.  It has major financial implications, since the U.S. is trying to get Brazil to buy U.S. jets (to the tune of over $4 billion).  So what's in the agreement?  From the Defense Department:

The accord will expand the two countries’ relationship into promising areas of mutual interest, including research and development, logistics support, technology security and the acquisition of defense products and services. This cooperation not only will strengthen both countries’ military capabilities, but also will provide industrial opportunities, Gates noted.

In addition, the agreement opens the door for more information exchanges about operational experiences, defense technology and peacekeeping operations, as well as more combined training and education and joint military exercises.

This will likely help the U.S. get the jet sale, which in turn deepens and lengthens the defense relationship between the two countries.  Given Brazil's prominence, and the Russian selling spree, this is an important deal for the U.S.

I can't help but be bothered by what seems to be a race between the U.S. and Russia to sell weapons and establish defense pacts.  They will not make Latin American countries much more secure, and certainly will not contribute to alleviating long-standing socio-economic problems.


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Military and Informality in Latin America

David Pion-Berlin, "Informal Civil-Military Relations in Latin America: Why Politicians and Soldiers Choose Informal Venues."  Armed Forces & Society 36, 3 (2010): 526-544.

Abstract (gated):

This study examines the phenomenon of informal civil–military relations. Informal behaviors are those that normally do not occur within the chain of command, are not mandated by law, and do not conform to official procedures. Politicians and soldiers discover that formal, institutional routines are sometimes too constraining and that they can advance their interests more effectively by amending, circumventing, or violating those routines. The party most aggrieved by the rules of the game initiates an informal solution. Whether the other side goes along depends on how divergent its preferences are with the aggrieved party. Greatly divergent preferences result in unilateral informalities, less divergent but still negotiable positions yield bilateralconflictive
encounters, and convergent preferences result in cooperative ventures. Case studies on Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia exemplify three different kinds of informal encounters and their impacts on civilian policy choices and military interests.

I studied this issue in considerable detail for Chile in the late 1990s and early 2000s (and he kindly cites me in several places).  Although I've moved in different research directions, there are still many unanswered questions and too few people tying to answer them.  This is a good article because it makes an effort both to consider different types of informal encounters and the different outcomes they produce, all in a comparative context.

His examination of Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia shows how either civilian governments or the military leadership chose informal approaches because they felt that formal channels would not serve their purposes.  I would quibble a bit with the case study choices, because the levels of conflict in each instance were quite different (Kirchner firing officers versus simply have a Mesa de Diálogo in Chile, for example) which might push us in an apples and oranges situation.  To be fair, though, it is hard to find identical cases across different countries.

He acknowledges that much more work is required, but he does a nice job of pushing us forward with directed questions.  I would suggest that we need to identify more causal mechanisms so that we can suggest concrete hypotheses.  As I know from experience, that is much harder than it sounds.


Justifying militarization in Honduras

All of Central America is affected by drug-related violence.  Nine people just died in Honduras in a Mara shootout.  I can't help but connect this to the efforts on the part of those who opposed the coup to continue protesting against the government.  As RAJ notes, the Lobo Sosa government has already begun militarizing the confrontation with unarmed peasants.

So at what point does drug trafficking become the perfect rationale for using more military/police force against any form of protest?  On the other hand, up to this point the government has not seemed to bother with providing much legal rationale, so perhaps it is a moot point.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

ISI and drugs

The keynote speaker for the SECOLAS conference was the Mexican historian Lorenzo Meyer, who talked about US-Mexican relations.  One of his points was that the Mexican economy has been stagnant since the import-substitution model was forcibly discarded in the 1980s, and now drug trafficking is filling the gap, which makes it even harder to combat.  Both involve exports to the United States, but he argued that drug trafficking was even "better" than ISI because more of the inputs are Mexican, which means even more of the profit remains in the country.

The problem, then, is now well beyond simple violence.  As more and more Mexicans are engaged in the drug trade in one form or another, it becomes a source of employment that otherwise would not exist.  You are not just fighting drug traffickers, but rather the economy itself.


Friday, April 09, 2010

Conference pet peeves

Frequent readers may know that when I attend conferences, all of the pet peeves I've developed over 15+ years of attending those conferences come rushing back to me (I last wrote about discussants).  Some people contest the pet peeves (or parts of them) which is good, and maybe I am being too uncharitable.  I should also point out that my experience is that conferences are valuable primarily for the personal contacts you make, and the friendships you keep going by getting a chance to see people in person.  So quibbles about panels are less important.

Nonetheless, I feel we academics must be failing when so consistently in presentations we take fascinating topics and make them mind-numbingly dull.  This is by no means everyone, and certainly is not aimed at anyone in particular, but it happens too often.  I am not entirely sure why, though maybe it has something to do with our love of our own voice and opinions.  It might also have to do with the fact that such things are not generally taught in graduate school (I've have commenters occasionally say their school does it, but I think that remains the minority).  We would benefit greatly by a) taking only occasional glances at notes or the paper itself while presenting; and b) knowing when simply to stop talking.  I don't see any need for anyone to go past 15 minutes, and 10 might well be better.  A panel should be an interactive thing, with the participants and the audience, but they become lengthy lectures, and perhaps that is because we're accustomed to captive audiences where we talk for an hour or more at a time.  We say "one final thing" or "in conclusion," then talk five minutes more.  We even say "I'm going to make this short" and then go over time.  We seem to be aware of the problem, but can't stop ourselves.

See, I even made that paragraph too long.   But in conclusion...

So get right to the heart of the paper, the main argument.  Give the key supporting arguments/details and leave out the rest.  Then you can hand it over to the audience, where you might get the person who turns a question into their own five minute discussion of their own opinions.

That's enough ranting for one day.  Plus, I need to go over the presentation I give in about an hour.


Cuban beer

This evening I experienced firsthand how ridiculous the Cuba embargo is, as I ordered a Cuban beer (Bucanero) not because it was famous, or known for quality, or highly recommended, but because it is illegal in the U.S., which makes it interesting for its scarcity to Americans.  It was, in fact, totally ordinary.


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Mexico en tus sentidos

At the Zócalo I saw a really cool (and huge) exhibit called "Mexico en tus sentidos" by the photographer/videographer Willy Sousa (news story on it here).  Sousa spent years going all across Mexico to get at the cultural foundations of the country, with high definition photos and videos accompanied by short texts about aspects of Mexico.  The end of the exhibit includes a short series of videos on a large movie screen, with incredible colors and scenes.  It is nationalist, to be sure (e.g. the end of the video shows different people with the Mexican flag) but in an affectionate way that highlights the racial and cultural mixes that make up Mexico.

I haven't been to Mexico City for years, and in general had forgotten how impressive the place is.



I'm in Mexico City for the SECOLAS conference at the Instituto Mora, and at the opening reception already talked a lot of blogging with Chad Black, a history professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, who writes the Parezco y Digo blog.  Last year at the LASA conference in Rio I talked (and blogged) about the connections I've made by blogging, and this is yet another.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Latin American Studies

To all UNC Charlotte student readers who are in the process of registering for the fall--be sure to think about Latin American Studies (LTAM) as a major (or double major).


More Russia and Latin America

If you want to read Pravda's account of Vladimir Putin's trip to Latin America, be prepared for some serious hyperbole.  It self-consciously tries to rival George W. Bush.  And really, why does anyone want to do George W. Bush even worse than George W. Bush?

The tangible results of the visit of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Latin America were, in a word, massive, the first concrete step in laying the cornerstone of a new geopolitical order based on multilateral values, a New World Order which spells a clear message to the USA: either you are with us, or against us. 

It goes on to bash Brazil and make the point that large-scale weapons sales and oil agreements mean that Venezuela and Russia are Masters of the Universe.


Monday, April 05, 2010


As of approximately two minutes ago, I am on Twitter as GregWeeksUNCC.  It will take me some time to follow and be followed, but feel free if you're interested.


Quote of the day: Cuba

"Hugo Chávez has been for the Cuban government like Viagra for an old man."

--Yoani Sánchez in an interview


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Dirk Hayhurst's The Bullpen Gospels

If you like baseball, then you have to read Dirk Hayhurst's The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran (2010).  It is not airy bow-tie George Will baseball, but nitty gritty Jim Bouton stuff.  I have rarely laughed out loud as much as I did reading this book.  Yet for all the raunchy parts (shared nudity and farting are important elements of a baseball career) Hayhurst thinks very deeply and intelligently about what it means to be a baseball player, and what it's worth.

Hayhurst (who, sadly enough, will miss this season with an injury) was in the minors when he decided to write a book about the 2007 season.  Eventually he made his way to the Padres (and later to the Blue Jays) but the book focuses on the details of spring training, A ball, and Double A.  Importantly, the point of the book is not just gross details, but how players find meaning in the game--how they socialize, connect with their own families, connect with communities, and even figure themselves out.  Hayhurst is a reliever and therefore spends a lot of time doing mostly nothing in the bullpen.  The pitchers get constantly heckled and pestered for baseballs, which they can't hand out, but every so often they get a situation like a boy with cancer who gets the time of his life by sitting in the bullpen for two innings.  Hayhurst chronicles the heckling (and counter-heckling) in a hilarious way, then shifts gears to think about how just being in the uniform can make a child's eyes light up.

Toward the end, Hayhurst spends time talking to Trevor Hoffman about baseball, and says the following:

Well, baseball is a lot of things, but it's not everything.  It can't make your brother sober.  It can't make your family stop fighting.  It can't make peace or win wars or cure cancer.  It makes or breaks a lot of people, like many jobs where the folks who do it find their identity.  I don't know if it should be as valuable as it is, or maybe baseball is valuable, and we players just don't use it the right way.  I guess that's what I want to figure out in this book (p. 336).

Well said.  And you also learn that players must wear a cup at all times or get fined, because otherwise, like Hayhurst, they may get nailed with a line drive and end up with a baseball seam mark on their testicles.  This book really has it all.

Update: Thanks to Dirk for linking to this review via Twitter and saying that he does now wears a cup all the time.  Now everyone should go read the book.


Saturday, April 03, 2010

Cuba policy

Nicholas Maliska at The Havana Note writes about John Kerry's decision to put a hold on USAID funding for the Cuban opposition.  He makes two very good points.

First, aiding the opposition is counter-productive, and many of those opposition groups agree.  Far from weakening the Castro regime, it (like the embargo) offers it a propaganda tool.  Groups with U.S. money become tainted.

Second, current policy encourages Europeans and Latin Americans to travel to Cuba to increase "people-to-people" contact, while the FBI works hard to punish Americans trying to do the same.

So we end up with policy decisions that make lots of people annoyed and also don't achieve their objectives.  Hardliners will likely cause a fuss, arguing that we really need to get that USAID funding going so that we can...strengthen the Castro regime even further.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Amnesty International and Venezuela

Amnesty International issued a press release criticizing the Venezuelan government for arresting Hugo Chávez's political opponents.  The Venezuelan government has not responded, though I expect it will include words like "Empire," "lies," and "venceremos."  Chávez himself was too busy to respond, as he was preparing for what he calls the "post-petroleum" era by, well, getting Russian help for oil exploration.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Come on baby, do the defamation

Tim Padgett at Time has a good comparative overview at defamation laws in Latin America.  He has two main conclusions: first, although Venezuela's use of them has the highest profile, they are used by all different types of governments; second, they are counterproductive and make martyrs out of the opposition.  He concludes with the following:

There are also hypocrisy factors involved. Conservative governments like Honduras' insist they're on a mission to stop the spread of Cuban-style autocracy in their region — and yet they seem oblivious to how Cuba-like their criminal defamation codes make them look. On the left, Chávez and Correa say they're out to curb insults — and yet Chávez rarely gives a speech that doesn't hurl a caustic catalogue of them at enemies at home and abroad, while the Mexico City think tank Ethos counted 171 separate insults in just 48 of Correa's radio and television broadcasts last year. What's more, many of the leftists in Chávez's government were once victims themselves of criminal defamation laws enforced by the corrupt élite he toppled.

Zuloaga was part of that venal establishment. Which is why it's all the more shameful that Chávez now risks making him a sympathetic victim.


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