Weekly Round Up - Stories from the Americas

  • According to the BBC, a court in Guatemala has ordered a halt to the divorce proceedings of the country's first couple.  Since the constitution bans the President’s close relatives from running for the top office, First Lady Sandra Torres announced last week she was divorcing President Alvaro Colom so she be a Presidential candidate to succeed him. Ms Torres told the Guatemalan people she was leaving a “loving marriage” for the sake of the nation.
  • The Houston Chronicle reported last week that  Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, introduced legislation in Congress to designate six murderous Mexican drug cartels "foreign terrorist organizations." Latin Americanist blogger and social commentator, James Bosworth, had a provocative yet interesting take on this piece of news on Bloggings by Boz.  An excerpt below:

We need to remember that the list of terrorist groups is a tool, not a strategy. Countering the terrorist/criminal organizations in Mexico is a very different issue from countering the other groups on that list, including Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Tamil Tigers, the FARC and the remnants of the AUC or IRA. Placing the Mexican criminal organizations on the list of terrorists doesn't solve the problem nor does it even fully define the problem. While it has some symbolic significance, whether or not they are on that list should not impact the amount of attention given to the problem. The security problems in Mexico are important whether or not the groups meet the definition of "terrorists."

  • It’s official: Martelly wins Haiti election with 67.57 percent.
  • The Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, gave a speech today at Brown University on ‘Why People Should Give More than a Damn about Latin America". (To read the the speech, please access the file at the end of the blog post.)
  • The Former President of Brazil, Luis Inacio Lula da Sila, and the Vice President of Paraguay, Federico Franco, are both in Washington DC this week for Microsoft's 'Public Sector Leaders Forum of Latin America and the Caribbean".
  • The Economist published a must-read analysis on Perú’s upcoming presidential election: 

Peru’s election runs some risk of turning into a lesson in what happens when economic growth is not backed up by more effective government, and when a democracy is hobbled by weak and fragmented political parties (see article). Mr García chose to pour public money into roads rather than social programmes. That helped sustain growth. But a fifth of Peruvians still lack access to piped water, almost a fifth of children are malnourished and health care is patchy. The interior ministry, run by a series of APRA mediocrities, has failed to stop Peru from becoming the world’s biggest cocaine exporter. Although it is still a fairly safe country, the murder rate tripled between 2002 and 2008, according to Ciudad Nuestra, an NGO in Lima. Gangland killings among drug mafias are a frightening novelty.

Please feel free to share any news or opinion pieces that  you find are not only interesting but demonstrate the diversity of Latin American politics and societal views. Remember to check back every Tuesday for the LAPI round-up! Also, we would like to remind you that our Latin American Policy Initiative and 21st Century Border Initiative will be joining forces on April 11 for Forward Together/Avanzando Juntos/Avançando Juntos – A Conference Looking at the Changing Politics of the Americas.  This day-long conference will look at how this fast-changing region might be able to do more together in the years ahead.  The agenda for this policy day is listed here. Please make sure to register for this event as soon as possible.