Interesting Stories From the Americas

  • The White House announced President Obama and Panamanian President Martinelli will meet for the first time in Washington on Thursday, April 28th.  Check out today's special section about LatAm trade issues in  FT.
  • The long-awaited rules defining who can travel freely to Cuba were released last week by the Department of Treasury. The Miami Herald has all the details and full report. 
  • LatAm Dispatch reported that Venezuela has withdrawn its membership from the Andean Community of Nations. Chavez left the group because Peru and Colombia negotiated trade agreements with the US. Venezuela had expected to be a full member of Mercosur by this time. However, that membership remains held up by the Paraguayan Congress. Bloggings by Boz put out a short analysis on how this move is a step backwards for regional integration:

The move, officially announced five years ago, eliminates a number of trade benefits between Venezuela and the other CAN members (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia). However, Venezuela is working on temporary bilateral agreements with Colombia and Peru and already has agreements through ALBA with Bolivia and Ecuador.Interestingly, the only other country to withdraw from CAN was Chile under Pinochet in 1976. Pinochet complained that Chile's economic policy was incompatible with the other countries in the organization.

Medellín's reinvention holds potentially important lessons not only for the drug war in Mexico, but also for everyone else. Over the past generation, Americans have grown cynical about grand experiments in urban planning and other sweeping social-policy programs. But for most of the world's population, consumed with the necessities of day-to-day existence, getting social services right matters a lot more than ideology, as populist autocrats like Hugo Chávez and Islamist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah have figured out. Think government can't deliver smart, intelligent urban design that changes lives? Travel to Medellín, and it's hard to remember why it is that Americans have given up trying.

  • An awesome LA Times article takes a look at Mexico, where The richest man on the planet lives, as do millions of people existing below the poverty line. However, wealthy and poor constantly intersect, “entangled in a routine of mutual sustenance.”
  • Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala--who's leading the polls--promised to respect the ‘signed’ FTAs, but claimed the right to revise certain clauses within a judicial framework. Eric Farnsworth from the Council of the Americas explores the already existing debate ‘whether Humala, should he indeed be elected, will be a Peruvian version of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva or a Chávez acolyte, or perhaps some sort of hybrid nationalist.’