Nine Months In, How Has Trump Fared with Latin America?

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By Blake Burdge

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The relationship between the United States and Argentina has remained strong under President Trump. It is likely that Trump views the country favorably due to the close relationship that he shared with Argentine President Mauricio Macri when the two were businessmen. Trump and Macri met at the White House in late April to discuss bilateral cybersecurity and to show joint support for the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights in Venezuela.

The United States and Argentina have strengthened economic ties since Trump entered office, as both countries have lifted bans on the other for certain goods. For the first time since 1992, U.S. farmers will be able to export pork to Argentina, with a potential market of up to USD $10 million. Additionally, President Trump followed through on the Obama administration’s proposal to relinquish a ban on lemons from Argentina, which is the fourth-largest producer of the fruit in the world.

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Staff Release: Open Americas Condemns Decision to Rescind DACA Program

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On the morning of Tuesday, September 5, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be rescinded. An Obama administration 2012 executive action, DACA grants temporary legal status and provides 2-year work permits to individuals who were brought to the country as children without immigration documents. According to the Washington Post, an estimated 800,000  immigrants benefit from the program.

Sessions maintained that to best serve the national interest, Congress must determine and enforce a legislative limit on immigration. Claiming that DACA violates the Constitution, he stated, “…it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld. No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law. Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed.”

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Armed Peace: Pacifying and Integrating the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro

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By Veronica Hildenbrand and Madeline Asta

The creation of order through military suppression—what critical theorist Mark Neocleous calls, “war as peace [and] peace as pacification”—is designed to provide security for bourgeois social order. Pacification in Rio de Janeiro can thus be viewed as a militaristic, politically-crafted response to social insecurity felt by Rio’s upper classes, magnified by forthcoming mega event preparations that occurred from 2008 to 2016. Nonetheless, social inequality and public insecurity have long inhibited the effective governance of Rio de Janeiro. Following Brazil’s belated abolition of slavery in 1888, informal housing settlements—known as favelas—began to form. These communities, which now accommodate about a quarter of Rio’s population, have endured a history of state abandonment and marginalization of the poor. This, coupled with the consequences of being the territorial domain of armed criminal groups, has led to nearly complete disenfranchisement of more than 1.5 million favela residents. In 2008, to curb notoriously high levels of violence and to rebrand the city for its bid to host upcoming mega events, Rio de Janeiro launched the “Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora” (UPP) program. This program aimed to increase security in the favelas by reinstating state control, and to finally integrate their residents into the formal city. Although the UPP program initially decreased homicide rates, its success has been dismantled by increasing frequency of police perpetrated violence, the persistence of drug trafficking and unmet promises of social benefits, thus facilitating the UPP’s post-Olympic fall.

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Nicolas Maduro is Failing to Act in the Interests of the Venezuelan People

By Jack Pannell

Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, has overseen a collapse of his country’s economy. It is undeniable that many in the country face a dire economic situation and that Maduro has wholly failed to remedy the crisis. Maduro has mismanaged the economy and his Constituent Assembly will serve more to consolidate his power than to solve the economic situation. It is essential to remain critical of the motives of the MUD opposition, but any criticism must also concede that the actions of Maduro, even if within a constitutional framework, are further polarising the country and risk the outbreak of armed conflict.

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Temer power plays attorney general to maintain control of government

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By Madeline Asta

On Tuesday August 8, Brazilian President Michel Temer asked the Supreme Court (STF) to remove the country’s Attorney General, Rodrigo Janot from power. The decision to remove Janot comes after an August 2 congressional vote to drop passive corruption charges filed by Janot against Temer in June. As Attorney General, Janot established a precedent of convicting high-level politicians for corruption throughout Operação Lava Jato, a set of investigations aimed to fight organized crime within Brazilian politics. Since Operação Lava Jato began in 2014, the investigations have uncovered sweeping political corruption across both political parties and neighboring countries in the Latin American region. However, Temer sees Janot’s charges against him to be attacks founded on personal motivation. Temer claims that Janot is acting “beyond his constitutional limits”, as the attorney general pursues obstruction of justice charges against Temer. Fearing that pending charges will unearth more concrete evidence of corruption, Temer moves to dismiss Janot from the investigations and ensure himself immunity. Riding a wave of confidence following the congressional vote, Temer hopes to solidify his political power by launching a counterattack against the nation’s top prosecutor to destroy his reputation.

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As United States Seeks to Decrease Migration Flow, Message of “Harvest of Empire” More Relevant Than Ever

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By Laura Schroeder

The 2012 film “Harvest of Empire,” based on the book of the same title by journalist Juan González of Democracy Now, demonstrates how U.S. policy toward Latin America has created political, social, and economic instability in the region. Directed by Peter Getzels and Eduardo López, it discusses the cases of Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. It also addresses the United States’ role in the military and corporate interventions that have triggered mass migration to the United States. Five years later, particularly given President Trump’s recent backing of the RAISE Act, the central theme of the documentary is relevant: anti-immigrant sentiments in the United States reflect a woeful ignorance of the structural forces that have caused millions in Latin America to flee their homes.

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Operação Lava Jato has created a new era for Brazil’s judicial system

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By Madeline Asta

During the week of July 17, Brazil’s Attorney General Rodrigo Janot visited Washington D.C. to discuss Brazil’s current fight against corruption. While in Washington D.C., Janot gave two presentations, one at the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute titled “The Role of Plea Bargains in the Fight Against Corruption,” and a second at the Atlantic Council titled “Lessons from Brazil: Crisis, Corruption, and Cooperation.” At these events, Janot highlighted the evolution of Brazil’s judicial system to where it is today – convicting high-level officials of corruption, both nationally and internationally with transnational cooperation. The following case study of Brazil’s judicial system takes information from these two events, as well as from past presentations of Brazilian judicial officials hosted by the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute.

The Evolution of Brazil’s Judicial System

Brazil’s judicial system has evolved from a system that only persecuted black people, poor people, and prostitutes to one determined to conquer the “white-collar” corruption that plagues Brazilian politics. Historically, high-society citizens were immune to the judiciary, but now the system has changed to include investigations into more influential people, specifically high-ranking government officials. The basic structure of Brazil’s judiciary was first established by the 1988 Constitution, which created a high court for federal legislation – the Superior Court of Justice, or TSJ. In addition, the constitution modified the Public Prosecutor’s Office to be an autonomous institution meant to preside over criminal proceedings.

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