February 24, 2017

Political Report # 1231 The Consideration of Elliott Abrams for Deputy Secretary of State would Represent a Rude Shock for Latin America

lliott Abrams speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2012                
 Taken from Gage Skidmore. Wikimedia.

With the Trump Administration sponsoring what has been described as one of the most controversial cabinets in contemporary U.S. history, it is critical for those who are interested in such political concerns to not only look at those at the highest level of policy making, but also those who are called upon to support them, particularly the individual being considered for the position of Deputy Secretary of State. On February 6, it was revealed by Politico that Elliott Abrams is under serious consideration for the position, an appointment that would place him directly below Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.[i] Elliott Abrams is a U.S. diplomat who served during both the Reagan and G.W. Bush Administrations. Under President Reagan, he served as the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs and Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. Under George W. Bush, he served as Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, Special Assistant to the President, and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs.[ii] Given his experience, Abrams would appear to be a uniquely qualified choice below Tillerson, who, as the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, has little to no experience working within the U.S. foreign policy positions and its operational base.

Abstract, The Media and Power in Postliberal Venezuela The Legacy of Chávez for the Debate on Freedom of Expression

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The Media and Power in Postliberal Venezuela
The Legacy of Chávez for the Debate on Freedom of Expression
by Ewa Sapiezynska

Two narratives dominate the literature about the state of freedom of expression in postliberal Venezuela, and they have few points in common, since they depend on different conceptualizations of the notion of freedom of expression. While the traditional liberal narrative focuses on the negative freedom that prohibits state interference, the postliberal narrative is based on positive freedom that encompasses the collective right of self-realization, particularly for the previously marginalized. During the government of Hugo Chávez, the discourse of freedom of expression was renewed, placing it in the context of power relations, accentuating positive freedom, and emphasizing the role of the public and community media. The establishment of the international public channel TeleSUR has revived the 1970s debate about the right to communication and contributed to the creation of a new Latin American-ness.

February 23, 2017

Book, Violence Against Latina Immigrants Citizenship, Inequality, and Community

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Violence Against Latina Immigrants
Citizenship, Inequality, and Community
by Roberta Villalon 

Caught between violent partners and the bureaucratic complications of the US Immigration system, many immigrant women are particularly vulnerable to abuse. For two years, Roberta Villalón volunteered at a nonprofit group that offers free legal services to mostly undocumented immigrants who had been victims of abuse. Her innovative study of Latina survivors of domestic violence explores the complexities at the intersection of immigration, citizenship, and violence, and shows how inequality is perpetuated even through the well-intentioned delivery of vital services. Through archival research, participant observation, and personal interviews, Violence Against Latina Immigrants provides insight into the many obstacles faced by battered immigrant women of color, bringing their stories and voices to the fore. Ultimately, Villalón proposes an active policy advocacy agenda and suggests possible changes to gender violence-based immigration laws, revealing the complexities of the lives of Latina immigrants as they confront issues of citizenship, gender violence, and social inequalities.

February 22, 2017

Abstract, Indigenous Peoples, Social Movements, and the Legacy of Hugo Chávez’s Governments

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Indigenous Peoples, Social Movements, and the Legacy of Hugo Chávez’s Governments
by Luis F. Angosto-Ferrández

The unprecedented enfranchisement of Venezuela’s indigenous population is partly a result of the formation of a state-sponsored indigenous movement. This movement prioritizes access to social services, economic development, and political participation in state structures over certain goals of free determination. Other forms of collective action with different priorities are evidence of the existence of diverging interests and goals among indigenous people. These divergences are a reflection of the way in which the indigenous population partakes in the shaping of contemporary Venezuelan politics.

February 21, 2017

Book, Global Security Watch—Venezuela

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Global Security Watch—Venezuela
by Daniel Hellinger

This in-depth study provides a timely assessment of how the foreign, military, and security policies of Venezuela shape relations with the United States in the Chavez era.

The growing importance of Venezuela in the global oil market along with the controversial nature of its leadership provoke concern among some world powers—especially the United States, whose international policies have been heavily criticized by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. This critical look at American/Venezuelan relations presents perceptions held by each government of the other and examines the sources of tensions—and points of confluence—between the two countries.

Global Security Watch—Venezuela traces the political relations between the United States and Venezuela from the early roots based in Pan Americanism to the domestic and foreign policies of the Chavez regime, including petro-diplomacy. This book provides a serious examination of the allegations about Venezuelan involvement in the drug trade, terrorism, and intervention; the view that the unilateralism of the United States threatens world peace; and the future of relations between the two countries.

February 20, 2017

Political Report #1228 Chiquita Made a Killing From Colombia's Civil War. Will Their Victims Finally See Justice?

Workers wash bananas on a plantation in Magdalena, Colombia. (J. Stephen Conn / Flickr)

Political Report # 1228

Chiquita Made a Killing From Colombia's Civil War. Will Their Victims Finally See Justice?
Getting an interview with Anabel (not her real name) is not easy. In Colombia, witnessing paramilitary violence against your family generally means you keep quiet about it-it's too dangerous to speak about what you've seen. Anabel tells us, after an extended period of negotiation, to meet her at her place of work near the trendy El Poblado district of downtown Medellín. We are told we cannot name her: What she saw and the powerful people who are implicated mean her own life is still not safe.

Abstract, Everyday Crafting of the Bolivarian State Lower-level State Officials and Grassroots Activism in Venezuela

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Everyday Crafting of the Bolivarian State
Lower-level State Officials and Grassroots Activism in Venezuela
by Iselin Åsedotter Strønen

Venezuela’s communal councils are legally sanctioned organs for popular participation implemented mostly in poor communities since 2006. The promotores integrales, lower-level state employees who assist the communal councils in their everyday work, serve as mediators between state policies and community politics, and study of their roles and perspectives provides important insights into the complexities of implementing policies of popular participation and transforming state practices in the context of radical social change. While the cultural politics and knowledges of the popular sectors have become imprinted on the Venezuelan state, attempts to change the state in accordance with Bolivarian ideology are subject to intense contestation and struggle.

Exclusive, Has Ecuador stemmed South America’s receding pink tide?

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Has Ecuador stemmed South America’s receding pink tide?

by Marc Becker

In a nail-biting finish, it appears that Lenín Moreno has fallen just short of a first-round triumph in Sunday’s presidential election in Ecuador.

In order to avoid a runoff election, a candidate must either win a majority of the vote or 40 percent with a 10-point margin over the nearest contender.

Preliminary electoral results show Moreno ahead of his nearest rival Guillermo Lasso by about 10 points, but just shy of the required 40 percent of the total vote.

Moreno is the candidate for Alianza Pais (AP) of outgoing president Rafael Correa. After ten years in office, term limits prevented Correa from running again. The conservative banker and former finance minister Lasso ran as the candidate for an alliance between two rightwing parties, Creating Opportunities (CREO) and United Society More Action (SUMA).

Moreno finished stronger than many pre-election polls had indicated, with some showing him in the mid 30s. Recent polling, not only in Ecuador but across the hemisphere, has been notoriously unreliable.

A total of eight candidates were on Sunday’s ballot. Before Correa’s ascent to power in 2007, multi-party races meant that it was rare for the eventually winner to poll more than about a quarter of the vote in the first round. Correa won outright in his 2009 reelection campaign—the first time a candidate had achieved that feat since Ecuador’s return to civilian rule in 1979.

An open question now is what will happen in Ecuador’s April 2 runoff election.

February 17, 2017

Political Report # 1227 Deported Mothers, Separated From Their Children, Wait in Limbo at the Mexican Border

Leticia Orozco and Manuel Aguirre peer through the border at their children and grandchildren at Friendship Park in Tijuana on April 9. (Photo: Natalie Keyssar)

Political Report # 1227

Deported Mothers, Separated From Their Children, Wait in Limbo at the Mexican Border
When deported mother Yolanda Varona received a call from photojournalist Natalie Keyssar on Friday morning, her voice was quivering. Varona, a Mexican mother of two and leader of the Dreamers Moms of Tijuana, spoke clearly - and forcefully - about her feelings on Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall to fortify the border between the United States and Mexico. In an executive order signed Wednesday evening, President Trump called for the “immediate” construction of the barrier that has already escalated tensions between the two nations.

February 15, 2017

Political Report #1226 Unease in Colombia, as Old Enemies Become New Neighbors

Tierra Grata, a settlement in La Paz, Colombia, where former rebels have moved. This year, 7,000 across the country are to surrender their guns.  (Photo: Federico Rios Escobar for The New York Times)

Political Report # 1226

Unease in Colombia, as Old Enemies Become New Neighbors
By  Nicholas Casey, NY Times

LA PAZ, Colombia - The town’s name is Spanish for “peace.” The days to come will test how accurate that is.

After a half-century of war, Colombia’s rebels are disarming, preparing to enter civilian life under the peace accord signed last year. In this mountain town, a new settlement of former fighters, 80 strong and growing, is taking shape, one of many scattered across the country.

Gone are most of the uniforms, replaced with the kind of clothes worn by the townspeople who live nearby and watch warily. The tents and their wooden poles will be swept aside too, replaced with a small library, a community center, a store - a town in miniature, a steppingstone out of the jungle.

“We’ve spent 52 years in hammocks,” said the fighters’ commander, who still uses his nom de guerre, Aldemar Altamiranda. “It’s time we moved into tiny houses.”