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  • 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: Mark Falcoff
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: When Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva was elected president of Brazil in October 2002, popular expectations nearly across the political spectrum were so enormous that he was bound to disappoint someone. Indeed, what is remarkable about the present situation in Brazil is just how popular Lula remains (60 percent approval rating) in spite of a conservative fiscal policy, a modest uptick in the unemployment figures, a willingness to expend valuable political capital on pension and tax reforms, a financial scandal involving his chief of staff, and an embarrassing threat to expel a New York Times journalist.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: New York, Brazil, South America, Central America
  • Author: Mark Falcoff
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On May 14, Jackson Diehl, the deputy foreign editor of the Washington Post, raised an intriguing question in an op-ed for that newspaper: Is Latin America about to “drift back toward its one-time status as semi-hostile territory for the United States”? Some of the evidence he cited was certainly enough to give pause. In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, that country’s former Marxist president—voted out of office in 1990—seemed poised to finally regain power later this year. In Peru, Alan García, the leftist-populist windbag—the consummate Latin demagogue, almost a caricature of the type—who drove his country to the verge of collapse in the 1980s, has reemerged as a presidential possibility in a runoff scheduled for June 3. In Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the perennial standard-bearer of the Left, is leading in the polls for next year’s presidential race. “Even in El Salvador,” Diehl writes, President Bush “may see the election of former FMLN guerrillas.” As to Venezuela, the machinations of its president, Hugo Chávez, hardly require comment; he makes no secret of the fact that his principal foreign policy objective is to forge a new, worldwide, anti-U.S. alliance.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Populism, Hugo Chavez
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, Venezuela