Sunday, June 6, 2010

Weekend Update

(Update below)

Enough about military spending, what else is going on??

  • Okay, so maybe not totally off the military spending subject since I just saw this....Greg at Two Weeks Notice picks up a statement from Arturo Valenzuela arguing that there IS NOT an arms race in the region. He even says that "in fact, if you look at the statistics, the data, that there has actually been a significant decline in expenditures on armaments". Well, take a look at Otto's post, and Maladjusted's post from earlier in the day, where we do exactly that....look at the data. While Greg disagrees with Valenzuela's analysis, and sure total spending has increased, if you look at spending as a percent of GDP, most countries HAVE decreased spending over the last decade. Only Ecuador, Colombia and Uruguay have increased spending as a portion of GDP since 2000. Maybe Valenzuela knew that...or maybe he just realized the US looked like a bunch of jack-asses since they spend more than the entire world on military shit and their fav client state is increasing spending more than anybody else in the region.
  • Next, a movie recommendation, The Cove. A really disturbing, astonishing, moving, impressive, (insert laudatory adjective here), documentary about the slaughtering of dolphins in Japan. Led by the guy behind the TV show Flipper, a group of activists go all Mission Impossible on the slaughterers, hide secret cameras in the rocks and catch the seriously disturbing shit on video. Highly recommended.

  • Although the movie is about Japan, there are some regional implications. The International Whaling Commission (dolphins are whales), is where Japan goes to defend itself and convince others to end the ban on whaling. In any case, the area where Japan has found its most support seems to be the Caribbean. The documentary shows how Japan uses their foreign aid programs to influence Caribbean countries (sound familiar...think USAID). Well, I did a little googling, and it seems to be true. Check out this commentary in the Jamaica Observer today on issue. The author writes:

    When people around the world think of whale-hunting nations, the Caribbean is the last place that crosses their minds. Yet, the governments of Suriname and the six independent members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are in a pivotal position to end or continue a moratorium on commercial whaling that has been in place for 24 years

    Several authoritative reports suggest that Japan pays the membership fees of Suriname and OECS governments to the IWC and also pays the costs of their delegates' attendance at IWC meetings, directing how they vote. In return, these countries get fisheries complexes from Japan.
  • The other reference to the region was that while Dominica has supposedly withdrawn their support, Japan has some new allies, including Ecuador. I know Correa has come under some heat from enviros in the country, but after watching the documentary, this shit is seriously disturbing. I was glad to see then, that ahead of the upcoming IWC meeting, Latin American countries (including Ecuador), have made a strong statement against the loophole that allows the killing of whales for scientific research. Hopefully the stand will extend to blocking all commercial whaling.

  • Boz reports on the Brazilian presidential election and how it may relate to foreign policy. Read the post, very interesting. We'll just post Lula's FA adviser's statement in response to presidential candidate Serra's comments: "Serra is intent on being the exterminator of Brazil's foreign policy. He destroyed Mercosur, wants to destroy relations with Bolivia and treats Ahmadinejad like a Hitler. That is not prudent conduct for someone who wants to be president."

  • Delacour is back at Latin America News Review and provides a nice 'lil round-up. An invaluable source, so hopefully the dissertation is done, and he's back at it.

  • AP reports on a Chavez foe who has been barred from competing in upcoming elections....and I mean why would someone who was just sentenced to two years in jail for fraud NOT be able to run, right? You know where else opposition candidates are getting barred from running? Mexico...

  • From a recent Jeremy Scahill piece on US Special Operations forces being deployed all over the world, we learn that Obama (Mr. Hopey-Changey) has actually increased the deployment of these special forces. Regional take: countries where they have been sent include Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay.

  • The New York Times remembers that just because Zelaya isn't in an embassy, the political conflict continues...and continues to divide the region.

  • Just in case you also forgot, check out this statement from Friday from Reports Without Borders, "300 soldiers and police storm community radio in continuing coup against media". Reconciliation Lobo is really coming through eh?

  • For more on Honduras, check out RAJ and RNS at Honduras Culture and Politics. A series of interesting posts over the weekend are well worth your time.

  • Finally, by the time of the next Weekend Update the World Cup will have started, so happy World Cup everybody! Productivity the world over is sure to see a strong decline over the next few weeks. Personally, I'm expecting (hoping) for an African team to make a deep run this year, and for Messi to break every scoring record possible. Enjoy the games!

  • UPDATE: Check out Abiding in Bolivia, who picked up on the Scahill article, and has a nice comment on that. Also a link to the Peruanista with a video montage for the one year anniversary of the Bagua massacre. We are all thankful that Abiding is back...

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