Archive for the ‘Latin America’ Category

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Neoliberalism’s newest foe: Orrin Hatch?

March 10, 2011

The Hill is reporting that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is threatening to package together the South Korea, Colombia and Panama FTAs into a single giant toxic loogie of awful. As the ranking member of the Senate Finance committee, which has jurisdiction over trade issues, Hatch is not in a powerless position, so this might actually matter.

While Hatch is doing this ostensibly to force the passage of all three FTAs, this action might also give opponents of the deals their best possible chance to stop their passage:

While the AFL-CIO and other big unions oppose all three deals, the South Korean deal has won support from the United Autoworkers. And while other unions oppose the Korea and Panama pacts, they would see movement on Colombia by the administration as almost an act of war. For years, unions have drawn a line in the sand over Colombia, which they say has not done enough to stop violence against union organizers.

The article concludes, “Trade was supposed to be a winning issue this year for Obama and the GOP. Wednesday’s move shows it will be a victory that is hard to achieve.” So, “Obama and the GOP” don’t win; who else loses? Let’s see… multinational corporations looking to hide behind generous Panamanian tax-haven laws; banks looking to hide behind Panamanian bank secrecy regulations; Colombian resource extraction companies looking for new markets for their products, created at the expense of millions of displaced indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples; any companies in the U.S., Korea, Colombia or Panama hoping to be able to sue against public health, environmental or labor protection laws that infringe on their expected profits…

Those are the regular folks “Obama and the GOP” are fighting for with these trade deals. Don’t you feel sorry for all of them already? Luckily, Orrin Hatch has our back.

It’s a strange world.

Flying Whale

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What happened in Ecuador?

October 4, 2010

Was it an attempted coup? Was it just a protest gone horribly wrong? Does it leave Correa empowered (especially given the support he received from unlikely governments like Colombia, Peru and… the United States), or does it leave him more vulnerable to future possible coup attempts? Is the United States to blame for this given its late, weak condemnation of the coup in Honduras last year?

Fun things to read, organized by… well, it should be obvious:

I like Weisbrot and he says all signs point to attempted coup. I find Keating’s article mostly solid, asserting that democracy is alive and well in Latin America, although he has a bizarre paragraph in which he claims that U.S. opposition to the Honduran coup and a “quick return to democracy” there is a big reason “coups happen a lot less often than they used to” in Latin America. Huh?

When your only source of news is various media outlets, without any contacts on the ground, it’s hard to know what to believe. The only things I’m willing to concretely take away are: Correa seems firmly in power; the U.S. response was much more encouraging this time around than last year with Honduras, although I remain very skeptical of Obama administration policy towards Latin America; and there was a freaking gun battle to evacuate Correa from a hospital, and I doubt it even cracked the awareness of the vast majority of Americans, which is pretty amazing.