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  • Author: Roger F. Noriega
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: El Salvador will choose a new president in a runoff election on March 9. The nation's decision may prove critical to Salvadoran democracy and regional security, in light of substantial evidence linking the ruling party candidate to narcotraffickers, terrorist groups, and violent street gangs. Moreover, foreign interference in the form of billions of dollars in Venezuelan oil revenues has given the ruling party an advantage, despite the fact that its economic policies have increased poverty and stunted economic growth.
  • Topic: Corruption, Crime, Democratization, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega, José Javier Lanza
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: As stepped-up counternarcotics policies in Colombia and Mexico have increased pressure on regional drug trafficking networks, organized crime syndicates have relocated operations to Central America, where law enforcement agencies and institutions are ill-equipped to withstand the onslaught. These multibillion-dollar gangs are making common cause with some local politicians who are following a playbook honed by Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. The result in Venezuela was the birth of a narcostate, and similar dramas are playing out in Central America. Like Chávez, caudillos are using the democratic process to seek power, weaken institutions, and undermine the rule of law—generating turmoil that accommodates narcotrafficking. Making matters worse for Honduras is that left-wing activists abroad, in support of ousted president and Chávez acolyte Manuel Zelaya, are waging a very public campaign of outlandish claims seeking to block any US assistance to help the Honduran government resist the drug cartels. It is imperative that US policymakers vigorously support democracy, the rule of law, and antidrug programs in Honduras.
  • Topic: Corruption, Crime, Democratization, War on Drugs, Narcotics Trafficking, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: America, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Ted Brennan, Robert "Bobby" Charles, Henry Cuellar, Roberta Jacobson, Armand Peschard-Sverdrup
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Drug abuse and related crime claim nearly thirty-five thousand American lives and sap $180 billion from our economy every year.1 Although the United States is understandably preoccupied with the threat of Islamic terrorism, it must never let down its guard against the well-financed, bloodthirsty, illicit drug cartels that exact a staggering price on our well-being and economy. President George W. Bush's fiscal year 2009 budget proposes to spend well over $14 billion for federal programs to suppress demand and attack supply. Because most cocaine and heroin find their way to the U.S. market through Mexico, it is essential that Mexican authorities confront the illegal drug syndicates whose cross-border crime threatens both countries. The Mérida Initiative—named for the Yucatan city where Bush, then-president of Guatemala Óscar Berger, and Mexican president Felipe Calderón met in March 2007—proposes to make a $1.4 billion multiyear U.S. contribution to support Mexican law enforcement and judicial reforms in their antidrug efforts. The challenges are formidable: Mexico's relatively weak judicial institutions are hard-pressed to take on these well-heeled gangsters on their own, and both sides are protective of their national sovereignty. Nevertheless, both countries have signaled their commitment to this cause: at a February 7, 2008, hearing, the Drug Enforcement Agency's chief of intelligence, Anthony Placido, praised the tangible measures being taken and sacrifices being made by Mexico today and urged skeptical U.S. lawmakers to seize the opportunity to cooperate with Mexican allies against a common foe. Despite heavy media focus on the counternarcotics elements of the initiative, when the specifics of the initiative are examined, it is clear that its aim is to strengthen Mexico's security institutions, enabling them to deal with the threat nonstate actors—be they terrorists, organized crime, criminal gangs, or domestic radical groups—pose to the country's security.
  • Topic: Crime, War on Drugs
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: One step ahead of the devil himself, Fidel Castro is proposing to pass the baton to his revolutionary partner and younger brother, Raúl. With characteristic audacity, the old dictator is hoping that he can bamboozle a gullible international community into recognizing such a succession as a fait accompli. Of course, there is no reason that the successor regime will be able to consummate this arrangement as long as the rest of the world gives the welfare of the Cuban people a second thought. Fidel's disintegration makes way for an extraordinarily expectant time in Cuba's history. Men and women of good will on the island may yet snatch their future from a decrepit and discredited regime, and outsiders' only role should be to help them in every way possible. We should bear in mind at this critical hour that one false move—by the United States, in particular—could confer legitimacy on a “new” Cuban dictator and consign 11 million Cubans to prolonged desperation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Communism
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Megan Davy
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) economies, usually susceptible to international financial turmoil, are especially vulnerable to even minor tremors in U.S. markets. Regional policymakers and entrepreneurs, therefore, have been closely watching the current U.S. subprime credit crisis. Here is the good news: all signs point to relatively minor symptoms in LAC countries—despite a rocky financial history during the 1980s and 1990s—thanks in large part to reforms undertaken in response to previous financial crises, as well as continued high commodity prices that will likely buoy export markets. Although the economic downturn in the United States and other global markets will likely expose lingering weaknesses in the region's economy, this latest crisis can provide an impetus to complete the unfinished business of building more modern, resilient economies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, South America, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: If Time magazine had wanted to recognize a true democrat and reformer as the 2007 Person of the Year, they would have chosen Brazil's president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva over Russia's Vladimir Putin. Working within Brazil's free, pluralistic democratic system, Lula has focused on economic growth and social justice, getting tangible results with his new anti-hunger and poverty programs. Unlike Putin, Lula is also strengthening key institutions and the rule of law.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean always seems to inspire criticism: Too much, too little, too late. Back off. Get in the game. Don't just stand there, do something. Don't do something, just stand there. Our geographic closeness has meant a rich, natural partnership, but this proximity easily stirs concerns over sovereignty. When the United States is preoccupied with events in other parts of the world, regional pundits accuse Washington of indifference. If we speak clearly on the issues in Latin America, we are excoriated for poking our nose “where it doesn't belong.” So where does this leave U.S. foreign policy in the region? It could be that what we do may not be as important as how we do it. The first step in developing a new paradigm for engaging the Americas is using the 2008 election cycle here at home to develop a serious domestic constituency for our policy. Then we should shape that policy through a conscientious dialogue with stakeholders in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, South America, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Roger Noriega
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Most of the fiercest opponents of the comprehensive immigration reform legislation saw no higher priority than securing our borders. With that divisive bill shelved for the foreseeable future, controlling our frontiers remains an urgent challenge. As we focus our attention on that task, many will be surprised to discover that our neighbor to the south is in the fight of its life. Unless we provide Mexico with the substantial help it needs and wants to battle the deadly drug syndicates that terrorize that nation, we may soon find our southern border more porous, dangerous, and unmanageable than ever.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, War on Drugs
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Roger Noriega
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean always seems to inspire criticism: Too much, too little, too late. Back off. Get in the game. Don't just stand there, do something. Don't do something, just stand there. Our geographic closeness has meant a rich, natural partnership, but this proximity easily stirs concerns over sovereignty. When the United States is preoccupied with events in other parts of the world, regional pundits accuse Washington of indifference. If we speak clearly on the issues in Latin America, we are excoriated for poking our nose “where it doesn't belong.” So where does this leave U.S. foreign policy in the region? It could be that what we do may not be as important as how we do it. The first step in developing a new paradigm for engaging the Americas is using the 2008 election cycle here at home to develop a serious domestic constituency for our policy. Then we should shape that policy through a conscientious dialogue with stakeholders in the region.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, Moscow, Latin America
  • Author: Roger Noriega
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Not long ago, the governments of the Americas recognized the value of working together to consolidate the historic, promising trend toward democracy. Now, with democracy being dismantled in several nations and being assailed by authoritarian Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez Frías, Latin American countries seem to have abandoned the fraternal ideal of inter-American solidarity. The United States and the Organization of American States (OAS) can both do more to salvage the regional commitment to democracy, but unless Latin American and Caribbean governments are willing to stand together to defend their principles, the end of democratic solidarity is in sight.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Latin America, Caribbean, Venezuela
  • Author: Mark Falcoff
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Since its financial crisis six years ago, Argentina has faded somewhat from the headlines. This is no doubt due in large part to the disproportionate space our media outlets now devote to Iraq and Iran, but also to the fact that other Latin American news stories—particularly Fidel Castro's surgery and the antics of Venezuela's clownish president Hugo Chávez—have dominated coverage of the area. Argentina is not, however, a negligent regional actor.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Argentina, South America, Latin America, Venezuela
  • Author: Mark Falcoff
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The recent passing of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and the events surrounding his last illness, death, and burial remind us that we are living through the last moments of a Latin American drama which began nearly a half-century ago with the Cuban Revolution. The only thing lacking to bring the curtain down once and for all is the disappearance of Fidel Castro, who began the whole business. Though no one knows precisely when that eventuality will occur, the Cuban strongman's unprecedented decision last July to transfer effective power to his younger brother Raúl and his failure to reappear publicly after abdominal surgery after nearly six months suggest it cannot be far off.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Government
  • Political Geography: South America, Cuba, Latin America
  • Author: Adam Lerrick
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: World Bank money is building schools in China's impoverished western provinces, but the bill for interest charges is being mailed to the United Kingdom, attention Chancellor of Exchequer Gordon Brown. Mexico, Chile, and Brazil will soon be lining up for the same deal. This is but the latest scheme designed to preserve the World Bank's lending role at a time when the need and demand for its services are falling. Major middle-income countries, the cream of the bank's lending portfolio and where more than 80 percent of Latin Americans live, are curbing their borrowing and paying down their balances, setting off alarms at the bank. Net loan flows have shifted from a positive $10 billion in 1999–2001, to a negative $15 billion in 2002–2004.
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Economics, Third World
  • Political Geography: China, United Kingdom, Brazil, Latin America, Mexico, Chile
  • Author: Mark Falcoff
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: This series began more than a dozen years ago with an essay titled "U.S.-Latin American Relations: Where Are We Now?" Since this is the last issue of Latin American Outlook, it seems worthwhile to pose the question again.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Mark Falcoff
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The March presidential election in El Salvador, in which the conservative ARENA (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista) Party won its fourth consecutive victory in fifteen years, invites serious consideration and analysis. At a time when many governments in Latin America are being voted out of office by anti-establishment (and sometimes, anti-party) candidates, and attacks on "neo-liberalism" and globalization are increasingly the order of the day, El Salvador seems to be swimming strongly against the tide. What lies behind this anomaly?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Central America, El Salvador
  • Author: Mark Falcoff
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The collapse of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government in Haiti and his unseemly flight out of the country may have come as a surprise to Americans and others who were not watching closely. It could not have been unexpected by those who were. Haitian history tends to repeat itself, and after a long detour, the circle closed once again. Even the sudden occupation of the country by a multinational force headed by the U.S. Marines is not without precedent. The big question is whether this time the cycle of failure will be broken.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Mark Falcoff
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Anyone who follows the Latin American news—even out of the corner of one eye—must be aware of the fact that Colombia, one of South America's largest and most strategically and economically important nations, has been bogged down for more than a decade in a seemingly intractable civil conflict. The term "civil war" is a misnomer in this case, to the extent that it suggests that roughly equal forces are confronting one another. The Colombian case is less dramatic than this but far more complex. On one hand there is the Colombian state and most ordinary citizens—some 40 million of them; on the other, two guerrilla groups, the most important of which, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), can count on roughly 17,000 armed militants. The failure of the Colombian state to provide basic security from the guerrillas, particularly in rural areas, led during the last two decades to the more or less spontaneous creation of the so-called Autonomous Defense Forces—paramilitary forces, or "paras," for short—whose ranks today number 13,000. While the FARC and other self-styled guerrilla formations claim to be fighting for a Marxist revolutionary project, their ideology is largely decorative. In fact they are thugs for whom violence is a way of life and has been for many years. They specialize in kidnappings and murders. The FARC alone has kidnapped more than a thousand people—politicians (including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt), soldiers, and police, presumably to win release of about five hundred militants captured by government forces. What makes the FARC an enduring phenomenon is not that it enjoys much popular support, but that, because it engages in drug trafficking on a monumental scale, it is perhaps the most economically self-sufficient insurgency in the history of Latin America.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Mark Falcoff
  • Publication Date: 01-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Probably more than any other Latin American country, the Argentine Republic is susceptible to abrupt changes of spirit and mood. Ten years ago it was apparently hurling itself, pell-mell, into the twenty-first century as South America's great example of economic liberalization and diplomatic alignment with the United States. Today both notions are distinctly out of fashion there, and no wonder—the advantages of both were drastically oversold to the public by the administration of President Carlos Menem (1989-1999). At the end of 2000 the economy virtually collapsed; for a time it appeared as if the country might actually dissolve as a coherent political community. Thanks to the strong hand of Senator Eduardo Duhalde, who took over at the end of 2000 from Fernando de la Rúa, Menem's successor, civic order was restored, though the last three years have been the worst in Argentina's modern history, more dismal even than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Argentina, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Claude Barfield
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Senator John Kerry and President George W. Bush offer distinct visions of how free trade would operate for the next four years. Senator Kerry has staked out a more unilateralist position with promises to review all trade agreements to strengthen labor and environmental sanctions, while President Bush reinstated trade promotion authority and expanded free trade agreements. The next president will face challenges regarding the WTO Doha Round and markets in Latin America and Asia.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Democratization, Economics
  • Political Geography: Asia, Latin America