Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekend Update

Because ya'll don't want to spend your Sunday on the google....

  • The US is looking more and more ridiculous on the Iran sanctions front. After the deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey was announced last week, the US seemed visibly shaken. Ray McGovern, with the quote of the week, "Tellingly, U.S. officials and their acolytes in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) could not bring themselves to believe that Brazil and Turkey would dare pursue an agreement with Iran after Clinton and President Barack Obama said not to." Perfect example being the "announcement" of a sanctions package with support from China and Russia (unsurprisingly written by cold warrior David Sanger at the Times), which turned out to be mostly bullshit. Then yesterday we get the news from Brazil that the deal "contains “to a great extent” details outlined in a letter Obama sent to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva two weeks ago, a Lula spokesman said, declining to provide any further description," this according to the AFP. This was front page news in Brazil, but barely registered in the English language media, surprise, surprise. Get used to it US, this ain't your daddy's global order.

  • From Colombia, polling is now done, and Otto has the rundown on what the final polls have to tell us. Nice pretty charts, so go check it out. Also, Adriaan Alsema from Colombia Reports has a terrific piece on how the momentum has shifted back to Santos with just one week before the election. Alsema brings up some of the points we did last week, including the over the top criticism of the left from Mockus. Fearless forecast: Santos gets 39% to Mockus' 34%. It all comes down to the run-off, where Mockus and Petro make nice and take Santos down.

  • Abiding in Bolivia seems like they're back for real, giving a nice news round-up on what else, Bolivia. I'd add that earlier in the week Evo reached some agreements with Norway, including a pledge from Norway "to share its expertise in the managing its oil and gas resources, including reducing the environmental impact of hydrocarbon production," according to EFE. Refreshing to see LatAm turn to the Nordic countries for development advice rather than the US.

  • Plan Colombia and Beyond is no more, but Adam Isaacson is over at the Just the Facts blog, and has his own weekend update. Unfortunately he links to the Juan Forero Washington Post article, which maladjusted covered here.

  • Upside Down World has an article from Alex Main on the rise of UNASUR. Key take away: "Though the group remains unknown to most of the US public - and is rarely referred to by US policy makers - it has, in the space of a few years, emerged as one of the Western Hemisphere’s leading multilateral bodies and, in the process, is rapidly undermining the regional clout of the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS)." Truth.

  • In Venezuela, Chavez is saying that the power-rationing that has been necessary for the last few months is coming to an end...but where is Setty to tell us what is really going on??

  • Joe Berlinger at the very least bought himself some time after a judge ruled there would be a hearing on June 8 on turning over the 600 hours of footage that Chevron is asking for. I'm no legal expert, but it seems like a documentary should be as protected as any other journalistic work. Thoughts?

  • Its bicentennial time in Argentina, for those in the DC area the Smithsonian Latino Center has an exhibit on Argentina (pdf) that I haven't checked out, but hope to.

  • Venezuela made some moves in the parallel currency market, media analysis of the Venezuelan economy is generally shit, but this quote from an economist in an AFP article might be right on: "The government is attacking the consequences and not the causes of the problem." Its time to get rid of the fixed exchange rate, period. But as an example of the idiocy of Venezuela "analysts", a few days before the gov announced that the trading band for the Bolivar would not exceed 4.3, Dow Jones wrote "Analysts say the trading band in the unregulated market might stretch between VEF5 and VEF7 for $1 whenever the band is created." So close, yet SO FAR.

  • Two Andean bears at the National Zoo (check out the picture, damn they're cute) were named this week. Venezuela and Peru submitted names that then went to a vote. The female is Chaska, the male is Bernardo....also the name of the Venezuelan ambassador to the US...jus' saying...

  • Justin Delacour is back....sort of...and his recent post on Phil Gunson and the Venezuela coup is good and worth a read. Money line: "Never does it seem to occur to Gunson that to speak of Carmona "as a conciliator, as a man of consensus" immediately after explaining that he had just dissolved the Congress and the Supreme Court is grossly contradictory." Also, if this is what he came across working on his dissertation, then sign me up as someone interested in reading it.

  • I agree with Boz (somewhat surprisingly) that it is a positive that Calderon directly involved himself in US policy while speaking before Congress this week. Boz writes, "The hemisphere needs to get over the "stop interfering in my politics" mentality as a way to dodge criticisms. Many of these "domestic" issues actually have transnational effects and even ones that don't are worth discussing." Certainly immigration, drug reform, and gun laws have DIRECT consequences for Mexico, but when the US threatens TPS status for immigrants to influence elections or cancels climate aid for governments they don't agree with, it most certainly deserves criticism. To be fair, although it is just rhetoric, Chavez's comments on the Colombian election should be criticized as well. Although similar to how US comments during Evo's election only strengthened Evo, Chavez comments probably only helped Santos. On the other hand, given Santos' role in invading a foreign territory he very well might be a threat to the region. Boz may completely agree with all that, but there is a clear difference between the two types of "involvement" that he doesn't address.

  • A bunch on Honduras from the two best sources, Honduras Culture and Politics and Quotha. Something positive from Pepe "reconciliation" lobo, as he acknowledges what happened last June was a coup, and also urged the Supreme Court NOT to fire judges who opposed the coup. Meanwhile, Quotha has the latest on Eduardo Stein's whitewash trip to Washington, and an action alert from Quixote Center on recent death threats to independent presidential candidate and anti-coup bad ass Carlos H. Reyes. If your
    interested in Honduras and your language of choice is English, these blogs are your must reads.

  • Nothing to link to here, but a few weeks back a good friend who is in El Salvador ran into some private military contractors while out on the town in the capital. They are apparently training some elite anti-gang units. They wouldn't say what contractor they worked for. Anybody have more info on this? Want to help find out what is really going on? Let me know in comments or over e-mail.

Enjoy your Sunday.

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