Thursday, March 31, 2011

U.S. and Brazil

Greg Grandin has an opinion piece in Al-Jazeera about U.S.-Brazilian relations, which I think tends to over-emphasize the negative but is worth reading.

I also keep thinking about the Brazilian abstention in the UN vote on Libya, which I've written about before, and its subsequent criticism of military action:

Even before Obama landed in Rio, Brazil, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, joined with China and Germany to abstain from the vote authorising "all necessary measures" against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.  
Since then, its opposition to the bombing has hardened.  According to the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), Brazil's foreign ministry – still, for the most part, staffed by the diplomats who charted Lula's foreign policy – recently issued a statement condemning the loss of civilian lives and calling for the start of dialogue.  
Lula himself has endorsed Dilma's critical position on Libya, going further in his condemnation of the intervention: "These invasions only happen because the United Nations is weak," he said. "If we had twenty-first-century representation [in the Security Council], instead of sending a plane to drop bombs, the UN would send its secretary-general to negotiate."  
His remarks were widely interpreted to mean that if Brazil had been a permanent member of the Security Council – a position it has long sought – it would have vetoed the resolution authorising the bombing rather than, as it did, merely abstaining from the vote.  

If this is what Lula meant, then I am confused.  Why would the nature of your participation in the UN change the way you voted?  Why not vote "no" regardless?

Regardless, it is also worth noting that President Rousseff's foreign policy does deviate from Lula's, so it is important not to generalize too much..


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No more awards

I would like to propose that governments impose a moratorium on granting awards to people from other countries, particularly when those people show evidence of doing the opposite of what the award is supposedly celebrating.

The latest was Hugo Chávez being given a press freedom award in Argentina, but there are plenty more.  Of course, Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, and Obama awarded Alvaro Uribe with the Medal of Freedom.  And who could forget the Libyan human rights award, won by that paragon of liberty Fidel Castro?  And don't bother offering a prize to Cubans because they're so free that they aren't even allowed to attend.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Obama on immigration

With the Libya crisis in full swing, what is getting less notice is the fact that President Obama has been repeating constantly over the past few weeks that he is committed to immigration reform.  He did so multiple times while on the trip to Latin America, and now has done so again in a speech at a high school.  The first paragraph in the Politico article makes clear the political risk this entails:

President Barack Obama on Monday told an audience of predominantly Latinos that he’s hopeful an immigration overhaul bill will be able to pass Congress soon, even though he was unable to shepherd legislation for the DREAM Act to his desk before the first half of his first term, when Democrats controlled both houses.

At what point does President Obama's promise to get things done combined with inability to convince Congress to pass anything start rebounding negatively on him?


Monday, March 28, 2011

Latin America benefits from tsunami

This is a bit twisted, but true.  From the Wall Street Journal: Latin America stands to benefit from the Japanese tsunami.  Latin American economies depend heavily upon commodities, which like thneeds are something that everyone needs.  Japan will need a lot as it rebuilds.  It would be more seemly, however, if Latin American foreign ministers were not salivating quite so openly:

Argentine finance minister Amado Boudou also sees Japan quickly restarting to rebuild its infrastructure. "We salute them because it's good for the whole international economy," he told reporters at the IDB meeting. In 2009, Argentina exported about $581 million in food and mineral products to Japan, or about 5% of its total exports.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Latest Colombia FTA threat

Throughout the Bush administration the primary public rationale for a U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement was security.  This reached absurd extremes, as in 2008 when President Bush said that without the FTA, we would all lose to the FARC and Hugo Chávez would "win" (whatever that meant).

This argument does keep popping up from time to time, but it has lost its luster as its apocalyptic visions have never come to pass.  So supporters are now looking to find another apocalypse.  The answer: China!  From the Financial Times:

China has meanwhile risen to become Colombia’s second biggest trade partner after the US, and by some estimates will overtake the US in the next decade if the trade deal is not approved.

I've been doing my best to debunk the breathless China threat meme, which is now coming fast and furious, but it has everything: foreigners we don't really understand, questionable statistics, and scenarios of "losing."

I just keep coming back to the same point: FTA supporters should argue its concrete merits rather than playing on fear.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Immigration in the South

If you want to see some bad reporting, check out this New York Times article on immigration legislation in the South.  The basic argument is that there is more restrictionist legislation in the South than elsewhere.  We know, of course, that state and local governments in the West and Northeast have already passed various bills that are being legally challenged.  In the South, however, the article points mostly to proposed legislation, and then mentions only one bill that has a clear chance of passing.  It then asks people in one Atlanta grocery store what they think, and generalizes from that.

If you want a more nuanced view, read my book.  To quote myself, "Although one might expect that as more immigrants arrive Southern legislatures would be more likely to pass legislation, thus far the evidence is not firm" (p. 154).


Friday, March 25, 2011

Walker and Wade's Nicaragua

I like Thomas Walker and Christine Wade's Nicaragua: Living in the Shadow of the Eagle, 5th Edition (2011).  It is clearly sympathetic to the revolution, but takes pains to remain even handed.  That means having no illusions, for example, about the political direction Daniel Ortega has been taking while also praising successful policies he implemented in the 1980s.  I highly recommend it as an excellent political history.  I would be tempted to use it in a class, but I don't tend to go that far in depth in a country study to merit an entire book.

The first half of the book is historical chronology, and the second half is separated by different issues: economic, cultural, political, and international.  Nicaragua has a fascinating history, and the writing is very good.  Who can resist sentences like the following?

On September 20, a young poet named Rigoberto López Pérez infiltrated a reception honoring the dictator and pumped five bullets point-blank into Somoza's corpulent hulk (p. 28).

My only complaint, and a relatively minor one, is that the facts can really stand for themselves in Nicaragua so there were far too many uses of the words "alleged" and "apparently," usually referring to some nefarious connection to the United States.  But there were so many such nefarious connections that including rumors weakens the overall argument.

I agree with their assessment of Ortega: "The Ortega government was both openly defiant and curiously submissive to the demands of its old enemy" (p. 213).  The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

QOTD: Obama trip post mortem

From Kevin Casas-Zamora in the Wall Street Journal.  I think this nails it, and underlines the gap between rhetoric and action:

"When it comes to the truly crucial issues that are at the heart of U.S.-Latin American relations, to really move the relationship forward requires politically costly decisions here in the United States," said Kevin Casas-Zamora, a former vice president in Costa Rica who now studies Latin America in Washington.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Obama in El Salvador

After much discussion, much confusion, and plenty of disagreement we finally got to hear what Barack Obama and Mauricio Funes prioritized during their brief meeting.  There were three main points.

First, pleasant pronouncements with nice names regarding economic growth.  Some of them, like the Bridge Initiative, are aimed specifically at immigrants (i.e. remittances).

Second, narcotrafficking.  The CARSI Initiative is an example they mentioned in particular.  To his credit, Obama does keep repeating the importance of reducing drug demand in the United States.

Third, migration.  Obama said again, as he did in Chile, that he would push for immigration reform.  He's been saying that for over two years, but still.

Boz mentions the environment, but I think it is noteworthy that Funes did not mention it, and Obama tacked it on the end of his speech as something he basically convinced El Salvador to do.

These do not preclude the symbolic measure of bolstering a moderate president in Central America, as Mike Allison has argued.  At least he isn't getting divorced in order to let his wife run for president!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Obama's speech in Chile

Barack Obama's speech in Chile was bland.  There's no other way to put it.  We're partners, we're connected, you're so democratic, let me mention JFK!  Funny thing is, he even seems to acknowledge that fact:

Now, I know I’m not the first president from the United States to pledge a new spirit of partnership with our Latin American neighbors.  Words are easy, and I know that there have been times where perhaps the United States took this region for granted.

Words are indeed easy, though at least he mentions things that previous presidents tended not to.  He talks about immigration reform, the flow of guns from north to south and an emphasis on drug demand rather than supply, so hopefully those translate into action.

Other views:

--Robert Funk says Obama's message is "I am not Bush."

--Kenneth Bunker says the visit is a boost for Sebastián Piñera, who can use it

--Pato Navia says the symbolism of visiting Latin America even though a crisis brew elsewhere is important, and also the specific choice of Chile

--Fox News just hates Obama's guts for visiting Latin America in the first place


Monday, March 21, 2011

Immigration bills in NC

The Charlotte Observer has a story about how quickly the new Republican state legislature is moving.  There aren't more bills than in the past, but more are getting passed rapidly (fortunately, screwball ones like introducing a new NC currency are not!).  What really got my attention, however, was that immigration was never mentioned.

There are indeed restrictionists bills that have been introduced, but it is noteworthy that no one interviewed, including House Speaker Thom Tillis, ever brought it up.  I don't want to make too much of it, but it seems to be a positive sign.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Obama to Brazil: no UN for you!

Obama on India in 2010:

"And that is why I can say today, in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed United Nations Security Council that includes India as a permanent member."
Obama on Brazil in 2011:

In a joint statement, Obama and Rousseff said they recognized the need to reform international institutions to reflect the “current political and economic realities.”
But Washington did not explicitly back Brazil's aspirations for a permanent UN Security Council seat, as he did for India when visiting New Delhi in November.
“President Obama expressed appreciation for Brazil's aspiration to become a permanent member of the Security Council,” the statement said.


There are any number of reasons this is happening.  For example, as a permanent member India's votes would be far more likely than Brazil's to fall along the lines of U.S. policy.

Nonetheless, it opens up the Latin America trip with a slap at a time when the administration talks all about partnership.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Presidential plans

I just returned from the 2011 conference of the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies, which I regularly attend and really enjoy.  I also became president of the organization, and hope to learn from Latin American politics.  You see, I only have a one year term with no re-election, so I will spend the next year figuring out how to end term limits--but only because the people want me, and who can deny the people?  If SECOLAS had a Supreme Court, I'd pack it.  Just for the people.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Brazil and Libya

Brazil was one of five countries to abstain in the vote to approve use of force in Libya, and particularly given their UN Ambassador's comments, it strikes me as a particularly cowardly vote.

Among the five governments that abstained in the vote, Brazil’s U.N. ambassador, Maria Luiza Riberio Viotti, voiced concern that military action in Libya would “exacerbate tensions on the ground and cause more harm than good to the same civilians we are committed to protect.”
She also warned that military action would undermine the “spontaneous homegrown nature’’ of popular uprisings spreading through the Arab world and threatened to “change that narrative in ways that would have serious repercussions” for Libya and the rest of the region.

If you believe that firmly that military action will have very negative consequences, then vote no.  Instead, Brazil is trying to hedge its bets.  Abstaining means it is trying to avoid blame for the consequences of military action, but also does not want to be blamed for "doing nothing."


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Obama in Latin America

President Obama is already getting some pokes for traveling to Latin America despite the crises in the Middle East and Japan, not to mention a budget debate at home.  From the Wall Street Journal:

With the Middle East in turmoil, Japan’s nuclear reactors at least partly melting down and Congress in the midst of a budget battle, President Barack Obama is going to … Latin America.

Of course, he would also be criticized if he chose to postpone the trip.  In general, it reflects well on Latin America that it is not crisis-ridden enough to get the global spotlight.  In fact, Obama will likely talk about successful political transitions in Latin America in a comparative context.  It's downright comparative politics!

But during his trip to Latin America next week, Obama is likely to use his visit to a region that has undergone a long process of transitioning from authoritarian regimes to democratization to finally address the future of the Middle East. 

I have a feeling these will be superficial comparisons, but I will be interested to hear how he frames them.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

China in Latin America

One of the latest crazes is to argue that China is "challenging" the United States in Latin America, and this is something the U.S. government needs to address (exactly how is rarely explained).  So Reuters cries out:

China's growing economic stake in the region may one day raise a threat to Washington's strategic dominance too as its deep pockets bring new friends.

They toss that "may" in there as a qualifier, but the overall tone is very clear.  I am skeptical, and agree with those who argue that China cannot very easily displace U.S. influence, no matter how much money it throws at Latin America.  Plus, China mostly wants commodities and market access for its goods, neither of which "raises a threat to Washington's strategic dominance."

But wait, the end of the article acknowledges that China is viewed warily in Latin America:

Brazil's new government under President Dilma Rousseff has already taken a much cooler stance toward China than her predecessor, aiming to address a lopsided relationship that has seen imports of Chinese goods quintuple since 2005.
Tensions also surfaced with Argentina last year when China, in apparent anger over protectionist moves, boycotted soyoil shipments for six months.
And Chinese companies often face challenges winning local support for their projects in Peru, which critics worry will cause pollution or use scarce water resources.

In other words, the story contradicts itself, but sadly the lurid headline about losing clout in Latin America is what many people will remember.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Venezuelan take on Libya

If you want to see how much the Libyan people love Gaddafi, how there is calm in the streets, how the UN lies about human rights, how Gaddafi's son is just trying to do the right thing, and how the crisis is a U.S. plot, then check out the Venezuelan News Agency's special web page on Libya.  Dictatorship never looked so good.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Mexico and asylum

All the stories about Mexican law enforcement, journalists, and even just family of activists seeking asylum in the United States made me wonder about the numbers.  These are from the Department of Justice's Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2009 (I discovered that the 2010 numbers don't come out until next month).  The following is the number of individuals granted asylum from Mexico from 2000 to 2009.

2000: 42
2001: 52
2002: 36
2003: 35
2004: 53
2005: 85
2006: 84
2007: 103
2008: 176
2009: 192

In other words, in that decade the number rose 457 percent.  It is entirely reasonable to expect the 2010 numbers also to show an increase.  It makes me wonder a) whether the evaluation of asylum requests has evolved over time or not; and b) how much the number of total requests has gone up.

Regardless, this is becoming an increasingly public issue that is uncomfortable for both the U.S. and Mexican governments since it does not reflect well on current strategies for reducing drug-related violence.


Remittances are back

One sign of an economic recovery in the United States is the increase of remittances to Latin America, which had been down for several years.  Overall, they rose to $58.9 billion, a 0.2% increase.  Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico all increased between 6 and 16%.

We can therefore come to a few conclusions.

First, this once again suggests strongly that there is no exodus of migrants going back home.  They still see the U.S. as an economic engine from which they can draw.

Second, since we know that recent migrants are the most likely to send remittances, and many of them are undocumented, this constitutes anecdotal evidence that enforcement is not serving as a major deterrent.

Third, unfortunately, Latin American economies are still heavily dependent on the export of primary products, and that includes their own people.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Brazil at the UN

Peter Hakim at the Inter-American Dialogue has a balanced analysis of why the Obama administration should support Brazil's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and also includes counter-arguments.  He has one sentence that jumped out at me:

Washington would simply be acknowledging Brazil’s new global prominence and getting out in front of the inevitable.

I think "getting out in front of the inevitable" applies to many different foreign policy areas.  U.S. policy makers, not to mention the general public, all too often believe that sheer might, combined with our deeply embedded sense of exceptionalism, can bend international events to our own will.  You can push for your own policy preferences, but it is important to understand when something is going to happen whether you like it or not, and then adjust accordingly.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Current immigration reform

Here is where we currently stand on immigration.  Faced with federal inaction and knowing they need to regularize their workforce, state governments like Utah are trying to forge their own guest worker programs.  Whether or not the Utah plan passes constitutional muster, or works in practice, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the federal government raids Chipotle restaurants.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Fidel and Moammar

The Huffington Post has a post from Yoani Sánchez in English comparing Fidel Castro to Moammar Gaddafi.

Both leaders waved before their subjects' eyes the specter of foreign invasion and a return to political dependence, the worst of threats. Anti-colonialism became the big bad wolf of the eccentric Berber leader, while the Caribbean leader scratched around in the mud of anti-imperialism, turning the metaphor of David and Goliath into a perennial reference to Cuba and the United States.

It's a good post.  Short and sweet.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Drugs and innovation in Latin America

Sylvia Longmire has a very interesting article in Homeland Security Today about how drug traffickers are constantly finding new and innovative ways to transport drugs to the United States.  Although the U.S. government has been responding, it can barely keep up.  She makes the point that the innovation comes because of the squeeze--"record" busts mean it is necessary for traffickers to find new strategies.

This brings me to one of my numerous pet peeves.  I find myself annoyed at triumphant references to "records" regarding drugs, and though she doesn't focus on it I think her article highlights why they are terribly misleading yet media pleasing factoids.  To quote Inigo Montoya, I do not think it means what you think it means, because records don't automatically mean you are "winning" (and now I guess I am quoting Charlie Sheen).  Somehow the record number of busts continues to coincide with the record amount of drug revenue.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Chile-Japan nexus

From Wikileaks (via CIPER Chile): Alejandro Toledo thought there was a nefarious "Chile-Japan nexus."

The President also complained that he was surprised President Vicente Fox of Mexico did not promptly inform him that Fujimori’s plane had transited via Tijuana. The Ambassador replied that it appeared the Chilean Government had been caught off guard, noting that the flight manifest faxed to Santiago did not have Fujimori’s name on it (though the manifest handed over by the flight crew on arrival did). The Ambassador added that he suspected the Japanese Government also was taken unawares. Toledo indicated that he still suspected collusion between Chile and Japan, while continuing to express bewilderment at “”my friend”" Fox’s failure to provide timely information during their attendance at the Summit of the Americas.

In fact, by 2007 Fujimori was a hot potato for the Bachelet administration, which didn't want him around.    But I guess if you set the record for the lowest approval rating in a democracy, you feel pretty paranoid all the time.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

More on Libya and Latin America

Reading analyses of Latin American leaders' reaction to the Libyan crisis has been entertaining.  A simple matter of ideological unity--however repugnant--is transformed into sweeping arguments about Latin America as a whole.  This normally becomes a mirror of the author's own beliefs.  Take for example this L.A. Times op-ed by Andrés Martinez at the New America Foundation.

The fact that three Latin American leaders (Chávez, Castro, and Ortega) have expressed support for Gaddafi means the following (and I swear I am not making this up):

--All of Latin American civil society is "immature."  So presumably the fact that Hugo Chávez supports Gaddafi reflects Chilean or Mexican "immaturity" as well.

--"Latin leaders have arrogantly considered foreign affairs their exclusive prerogative, divorced from whatever constraints they face at home."  I will explain what this means once I figure it out.  If there were constraints, then presumably they would be constrained.  Otherwise they aren't constraints.

--Lula mocks human rights by his relation with Iran.  What this has to do with Libya or President Rousseff (she is not even mentioned in the article!) is not explained.  The Brazilian government has in fact not ruled any response out, but rather asserts any international solution must have UN backing.  Lula cozied up to Gaddafi plenty of times in the past, but currently Brazil is more or less in the mainstream with regard to a solution.

--In sum, the Latin American left is a big bloc and all of it supports Gaddafi. Except if it doesn't, I guess.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Latino population in North Carolina

I have not yet had time to dig into the Census data on the Latino population.  Nonetheless, the upward growth of that population is considerable--Latinos now constitute 8.4 percent of North Carolina's population, an increase of 111.1 percent since 2000.  I was quoted in a local paper, the Salisbury Post, about the origins of that migration.

There will be plenty of misunderstanding of the numbers, plus anecdotal accounts that may or may not have empirical backing.  Take this story in the News & Observer, which argues there is an "exodus."  The reporter spoke to one Latino immigrant who, as we learn at the end of the story, doesn't plan to leave despite economic problems!  As I've written many, many times, there is always circular migration and some people will indeed leave for economic reasons (or perhaps enforcement) but there is no exodus.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

Performance vs. ideology

There's a curious juxtaposition between North Carolina politics, where Republicans recently took control of the both legislative houses for the first time in more than a century, to Latin America, where over the past decade or so left-leaning governments are replacing right-leaning ones.  In both cases, the new governments confidently asserted that the voters actively wanted them in particular.  Increasingly, however, it is evident that voters are making their choices based on performance rather than ideology.  Assuming everyone voted based on your ideology can become problematic when performance dips.

From Jack Betts in today's Charlotte Observer:

"The biggest mistake Republicans can make is to believe that voters chose them because of their ideology," he said. "They chose Republicans because they had lost confidence in the Democrats' ability to solve the problems of the day. ... This has not become a Republican state."

And this abstract from Latin American Research Review:

Over the past few years, a burgeoning literature on Latin American politics has developed, focusing on explanations for the renewed success of the left in the region. Building on electoral trends and public opinion analysis, we argue that the region is experiencing the normalization of democratic politics rather than a backlash or a revolution. Furthermore, we believe that electoral support for the left reflects the disenchantment of voters with underperforming right-wing governments. Using a unique data set covering eighteen countries in the region, our statistical analyses demonstrate that retrospective voting provides a powerful explanation of the recent electoral success of the left in Latin America. Thus, the central implication of our argument is that electoral accountability is still the primary mechanism of controlling the executive in the region's young democracies.

María Victoria Murillo, Virginia Oliveros, and Milan Vaishnav, "Electoral Revolution or Democratic Alternation?" Latin American Research Review 45, 3 (2010): 87-114.


Saturday, March 05, 2011

Quote of the day: Chile

"The latest rumor is that Moammar Gadhafi is calling other countries to find a place to live in exile. So far, only Chile has offered to rent out an empty mine."

--Jay Leno


Friday, March 04, 2011

U.S. policy toward Nicaragua

Thanks to Boz for pointing out this speech from the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Robert Callahan.  It is an apologia for U.S. policy, and really a doozy.  He goes all the way back to William Walker.

Walker was clearly crazed, a true megalomaniac, and he caused death and destruction wherever he pitched up.  But he was acting on his own and received no support from the American government.

Then it gets worse.  Much worse.

Another renowned Nicaraguan figure to emerge from this period was Anastasio Somoza Garcia.  As history would prove, Americans erred in selecting him to lead the newly created and non-partisan National Guard, which was to replace a politicized army, but it would have been impossible to know Somoza's intentions at the time.  He seemed bright and well intentioned and he spoke English.  He talked of democracy.  He extolled freedom.  He promised elections.  He charmed us, and many others.
Yes, we supported him and his sons for years, tolerating them in the name of national security.  But at the end, admittedly late in the game, we abandoned him.  Many contributed to the defeat of Somoza, but we did play a modest, if belated, role. 

This is just embarrassing.  We thought Somoza was a great guy and he tricked us!  But then, after over 40 years of brutal repression we stopped supporting his son just when he was about to be overthrown anyway.  So we're the good guys.  Why can't you Nicaraguans understand that?

I will just provide one more example.

But there are many other, much less visible, ways that America and Americans contribute to Nicaragua's economic and social development.  Take, for example, remittances.  Although we have no exact figures, we estimate conservatively that Nicaraguans receive at least a half a billion dollars annually from workers and residents in the United States.  The United States has welcomed these workers, many of whom are immigrants, and has never interfered with their desire to send money home.

It is strange that anyone today could say that the U.S. welcomes Latin American workers.  Even setting that aside, it is bizarre that "never interfering" with remittances is equated with actively contributing to Nicaragua's "economic and social development."

There is more, but I won't subject you to it.


Thursday, March 03, 2011

Hugo Chávez on the Middle East

Hugo Chávez on Libya: I want to help mediate.

Hugo Chávez on Egypt: No outside power should be involved and the country should find its own solution.  "El pueblo decidirá."

Hugo Chávez on the U.S government.: It is hypocritical.

Oh, and don't call me Mubarak.


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Latin American drug consumption

A dark side of economic growth is that people have more disposable income to spend on illegal substances.  The UN is concerned about the rise of cocaine use among Latin American youths, led by Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.  Further, it looks like Peru may overtake Colombia as the world's largest exporter of coca.

Latin American governments rightfully criticize the United States for refusing to address the problem of consumption, but with increased Latin American consumption there is a pressing need to work jointly to find solutions that work.  Otherwise organized crime will be moving into places like Chile that have never experienced it before.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Why Cuba Isn't Likely Next

I think Chris Sabatini has a really interesting take about why Cuba is not likely to be the next in a wave of dictatorial uprootings:

For the last two decades, from Eastern Europe to Egypt, none of the countries that has experienced a people's revolution has been under a U.S. embargo.  Though it is about to be the target of focused sanctions as a result of its bloody response to the protestors (and deservedly so) before the current uprising even Libya saw its sanctions ended in 2004 by the George W. Bush administration.  In the case of Libya --and in the past-- targeted sanctions tied to a specific act by the government can provoke a course correction or even collapse.  Over the long-term, though, sanctions actually seal a country off from the rest of the world and allow a government to dig in.

The inverse relationship between isolation and people's revolution is no coincidence. Contact with the outside world builds capacity and ideas insidious to even the most tyrannical regime.  

Add this to all the other many reasons that the embargo helps to block political change in Cuba.


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