Will U.S.-Mexico Relations Continue Deteriorating?

Will U.S.-Mexico Relations Continue Deteriorating?

Originally published in the Inter-American Dialogue’s Latin America Advisor

Question: Tensions boiled over between the United States and Mexico recently, amid U.S. President Donald Trump’s advancement of a plan to build a multi-billion-dollar wall along the countries’ shared border and his continued insistence that he will force Mexico to pay for it. The situation led Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to cancel a planned meeting with Trump in Washington and reiterate that his country would not pay for the wall. Are ...  

Trump Tough Talk Pushes Argentina, Brazil to Embrace Trade

Trump Tough Talk Pushes Argentina, Brazil to Embrace Trade

Two of South America’s most pro-market presidents are struggling to shake off the protectionist policies of the past when it comes to international trade.

Tuesday’s state visit by Argentine President Mauricio Macri to his Brazilian counterpart Michel Temer brought together the leaders of the largest two economies in Mercosur, the regional trade bloc. Both men took office amid deep economic crises in their respective countries and both have won investor accolades for dismantling the anti-competitive policies of their leftist predecessors in ...  

Just rewards of Brazil’s anti-corruption triumphs

Just rewards of Brazil’s anti-corruption triumphs

FEBRUARY 7, 2017 —Virtue is supposed to be its own reward. Yet for Brazilians, the reward may be more tangible.

Since 2013, millions of people in the world’s fifth most populous country have protested for honest government. Their call was met by an impressive prosecution of corrupt officials and their resulting removal. That in turn has led to recent reforms, such as a new president, a cap on government spending, and big changes at Petrobras, the state-run oil company that was ...  

Bipartisan US lawmakers urge Trump to sanction Venezuela

Bipartisan US lawmakers urge Trump to sanction Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela — A bipartisan group of 34 U.S. lawmakers has sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to step up pressure on Venezuela’s government by immediately sanctioning officials responsible for corruption and human rights abuses, The Associated Press has learned.

The letter was partly prompted by an AP investigation, which it cites, that found corruption in Venezuela’s food imports. It also calls for a thorough probe into alleged drug trafficking and support for Middle ...  

Business bets on Brazil economic rally

Business bets on Brazil economic rally

When Hanno Kirner, executive director of strategy at Jaguar Land Rover, visited São Paulo for the city’s recent motor show, he brushed aside concerns about the Brazilian economy.

Even though Latin America’s biggest country is suffering from its worst recession in more than a century, leading to a 20 per cent fall in car sales across the industry last year, the luxury carmaker is ramping up a new £240m factory it opened in Rio de Janeiro state last year.

“[Brazil] is a ...  

Trump: Mexico needs help on drug cartels

Trump: Mexico needs help on drug cartels

President Trump says he has discussed aiding Mexico’s fight against local drug cartels with his counterpart, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

“We have to do something about the cartels,” Trump said Monday while discussing the relationship with Mexico on Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

“I did talk to [Nieto] about it. I want to help him with it. I think he’s a very good man. We have a very good relationship, as you probably know.”

“We’ve got to stop the drugs from coming ...  

Venezuela, Russia cement ties during high-profile Moscow meetings

Venezuela, Russia cement ties during high-profile Moscow meetings

The Venezuelan government received a pat on the back from Russia Monday, with its foreign minister expressing the Kremlin’s strong support for Nicolas Maduro’s socialist rule and a willingness to expand the existing bilateral cooperation.

In a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Delcy Rodriguez, Serguéi Lavrov also spoke against foreign interference in the country’s internal affairs and reiterated Russia’s commitment to a 2016 deal to reduce oil production.

“Foreign pressure is unacceptable,” Lavrov said during a joint press conference after the Moscow ...  

Venezuela’s New Iron-Fisted Boss Facing U.S. Trafficking Probe

Venezuela’s New Iron-Fisted Boss Facing U.S. Trafficking Probe

When Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s new vice president, competed in student elections, his opponents said he brought in armed gangs to bully the competition. Then, they say, when he forgot to register for reelection he phoned the local political boss with a plan to rig the vote.

“I threatened to throw him in jail,” said Florencio Porras, the former governor of Merida state. “Since then, he’s declared me his enemy.” Climbing from student leader in rural Venezuela to the country’s number ...  

Repression worsens in El Salvador

Repression worsens in El Salvador

By Roger F. Noriega

[Translation by IASW]

Since the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) came to power in El Salvador in 2009, the former guerrilla began harassing its perceived enemies to gain a foothold in power. The FMLN not only attacks the political opposition, but also other government branches, businessmen, and NGOs.

Among the tactics used by the FMLN is electronic espionage, a practice that has had an exponential growth this year.

The first reported incident occurred in November 2009—only two months after ...  

Colombian Rebels Start Their Transition to Peace

Colombian Rebels Start Their Transition to Peace

CALDONO, Colombia—It was supposed to be a happy ending, with 6,300 Marxist rebels marching on jungle paths for days to lay down their guns in secure zones and finally put one of the world’s longest-running civil conflicts to rest.

But as bedraggled fighters carrying Galil assault rifles and rucksacks filed into this remote hilltop village, they took stock with looks of dejection. The government had promised them accommodations with beds, running water, electricity, and fully stocked kitchens. What they found were ...  

Chill wind blows through Mexico’s industrial powerhouse

Chill wind blows through Mexico’s industrial powerhouse

It was not the grand spectacle typical of the launch of a multimillion-dollar plant. But in Monterrey, Mexico’s northern industrial capital, it was significant that American metal-stamping company Trans-Matic held an event in the Donald Trump era.

“I want to congratulate you on a gutsy move,” said Sergio Argüelles, chief executive of FINSA, a Mexican developer that owns the surrounding industrial park. “They did it because we all know projects like this benefit both our countries. You cannot flip the switch ...  

Argentina’s Trump-Like Immigration Order Rattles South America

Argentina’s Trump-Like Immigration Order Rattles South America

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina is so used to celebrating immigration as a cornerstone of society that a 19th-century saying — to govern is to populate — remains in use to this day.

But in an abrupt shift coinciding with the immigration restrictions put in place by the Trump administration, President Mauricio Macri has issued a decree curbing immigration to Argentina, with his government declaring that newcomers from poorer countries in Latin America bring crime.

The measures announced by Mr. Macri in recent ...  

Trump may confront hostile Venezuela

Trump may confront hostile Venezuela

By Roger F. Noriega

02/03/17

Just as the United States is undergoing a political transition of its own, Venezuela’s dubious regime has taken the provocative step of empowering an anti-U.S. hardliner with ties to narcotraffickers and Middle Eastern terrorism.

Many Americans may consider Venezuela’s collapsing economy, food shortages, and political upheaval as none of our business. However, the recent power grab of reputed drug kingpin and Hezbollah ally, Tareck el-Aissami, as Venezuela’s vice president poses a clear and present danger to the security ...  

The Struggle for Freedom Continues in Cuba

The Struggle for Freedom Continues in Cuba

Fidel Castro died on November 25, but Castroism — the one-party, neo-Stalinist system that has tyrannized Cuba for more than half a century — still needs to be defeated. Fidel’s brother, Raúl, “president” of the island nation for most of the last decade, has shown no signs of ending the political oppression and human-rights violations that define the regime. To be sure, Raúl has made a few minor reforms out of necessity, to open up the economy. But those changes ...  

Se agrava el autoritarismo en El Salvador

Se agrava el autoritarismo en El Salvador

Por Roger F. Noriega

Desde que el Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) llegó al poder en El Salvador en 2009, el partido de izquierda de orígenes guerrilleros dio inicio a una agenda de persecución para afianzarse en el poder. El FMLN no solo ataca a la oposición política, también a otros poderes de gobierno, empresarios y organizaciones a las que ve como una amenaza.

Dentro de las tácticas que usa el FMLN se encuentra el espionaje electrónico, práctica que ...  

Peru to give visas to thousands of crisis-weary Venezuelans

Peru to give visas to thousands of crisis-weary Venezuelans

Peru has created a temporary visa that will allow thousands of Venezuelans to work and study in the country, part of a migratory policy that aims to “build bridges” and “not walls,” the Andean nation’s interior ministry said.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s government issued 20 temporary visas to Venezuelan migrants in Peru this week. Kuczysnki, a centrist, has expressed concern about shortages of food and medicine in Venezuela, mired in a deep economic crisis.

Some 6,000 Venezuelans are expected to receive the ...  

The Anti-Trump Is Rising in Mexico, Feeding on Every Snub

The Anti-Trump Is Rising in Mexico, Feeding on Every Snub

By the time the last brick is laid atop President Donald Trump’s Mexican wall, it’s a fair bet that someone more antagonistic toward the U.S. will hold power on its southern side.

Especially if that someone is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Which, thanks to Trump, looks increasingly likely.

The politician known locally as Amlo is the early frontrunner in Mexico’s 2018 presidential race. By itself, that may not mean much: Polls are unreliable, voting is a long way off, and Lopez Obrador ...  

Exclusive: Brazil to ease foreign land ownership with restrictions: minister

Exclusive: Brazil to ease foreign land ownership with restrictions: minister

Brazil should push through a bill in the first of half of this year to ease limits on foreign purchases of agricultural land in a bid to rekindle economic growth, the agriculture minister said in an interview, adding it would be accompanied by measures to prevent speculation and ensure farms are not left idle.

The bill, which is with the president’s chief of staff and must go before Congress, is part of a broad series of reforms from oil to airlines ...  

Colombia’s ELN rebels free hostage, opening way for peace talks

Colombia’s ELN rebels free hostage, opening way for peace talks

Colombia’s second-biggest rebel group, the ELN, freed a politician it held captive for almost 10 months on Thursday, meeting a government requirement for delayed peace talks with the group to begin.

The National Liberation Army released Odin Sanchez, 62, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which will accompany him on a flight to Quibdo, in northwestern Choco province, a government official told reporters.

President Juan Manuel Santos had conditioned talks with the 2,000-strong ELN, considered a terrorist group by the ...  

Mexican Leader Enrique Peña Nieto Under Fire Over Trump Phone Call

Mexican Leader Enrique Peña Nieto Under Fire Over Trump Phone Call

MEXICO CITY—Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto faced calls on Thursday to disclose details of his recent telephone call with U.S. President Donald Trump after media reports said Mr. Trump criticized the efficacy of Mexico’s war on drug cartels.

During the call last Friday, Mr. Trump is reported to have told his Mexican counterpart that Mexico wasn’t doing a good enough job fighting cartels and that the U.S. stood ready to help.

“You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may ...  

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About

During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.