Sean Goforth

Sean Goforth teaches international political economy at Coastal Carolina University and blogs on Latin America for the Foreign Policy Association.

Articles written by Sean Goforth

With Groundwork for Reform in Place, Argentina Needs Leadership to Stabilize

By Sean Goforth
, on , Briefing

Since October, when President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner had surgery, Argentina has been on tenterhooks as people worried about the president’s future and mounting evidence that the country is once again headed toward economic collapse. Fernandez has been accused of having no plan to deal with Argentina’s slowing growth and rising inflation. But Argentina may not be in as tough a spot as many think. more

As Economy Stagnates, Brazil’s Rousseff Targets Corruption

By Sean Goforth
, on , Briefing

Corruption and government spending for the World Cup were seen as the primary grievances driving Brazil’s protests in June. Still, the relationship between economic stagnation and June’s protests appears to be more than coincidence. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has overseen a drop in economic growth. Rather than introducing economic reforms, Rousseff’s team has blamed a strong currency for Brazil’s woes. more

Once Kindred Spirits, Brazil, Argentina Diverge on Economic Management

By Sean Goforth
, on , Briefing

The Argentinian government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner recently announced the seizure of two rail lines operated by Brazil’s largest private transportation company, the latest in a string of nationalizations in Argentina. The nationalization drive seems to vindicate an earlier decision by a Brazilian mining giant, to shutter a $6-billion project in Argentina because of the unpredictable business environment. more

Pemex Proves Resistant to Peña Nieto’s Reform Drive

By Sean Goforth
, on , Briefing

Since taking office, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has mounted an assault against the country’s entrenched monopolies. Peña Nieto first took on the teachers union, then the telecom industry, explaining his aim was to “transform the country.” Still, despite the reform momentum, restructuring state-owned oil giant Pemex will prove far more difficult due to political and constitutional hurdles. more

Mexico’s Pena Nieto Faces Tough Choices on Trade

By Sean Goforth
, on , Briefing

Mexico relies more than most countries on free trade to fuel economic development. With trade making up more than 60 percent of Mexico’s economy, no Mexican president can do without a clear strategy for fostering better access to foreign markets. But while President Enrique Pena Nieto claims the economy is his highest priority, his administration has yet to spell out how Mexico will trade with the world. more

With Protectionism Rising, South-South Trade Retrenches

By Sean Goforth
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Dozens of developing countries recovered to near-record rates of growth in 2010, in part due to Chinese demand driving up global commodity prices. However, with China's economy now braking, South-South trade is segmenting. Many countries that have relied on commodity exports for growth are finding their economies badly off-kilter, with inflation outpacing growth. In a bind, several have resorted to protectionism. more

Colombia's Oil Industry: Between Boom and Frenzy

By Sean Goforth
, on , Briefing

Sandwiched between OPEC members Ecuador and Venezuela, Colombia has for decades looked like an Andean misfit because it was not a major oil exporter. But when Venezuela's foreign minister visited Bogotá in November, he reportedly asked his counterpart, "When is Colombia going to join OPEC?" Quietly, Colombia has become the fourth-largest oil producer in Latin America, after Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil. more

The Shadow of Protectionism Still Lurks in 2012

By Sean Goforth
, on , Briefing

Europe's unresolved debt crisis has been the major problem facing the global economy of late, leading investors to take refuge in the safe haven of U.S. debt and thereby driving down the value of many currencies that had been bid up at the beginning of 2011. But while the problem of overvalued currencies may have receded, the underlying issue of currency manipulation still threatens the global economy. more

Argentina 2001 Is Not a Model for Greece 2011

By Sean Goforth
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To many observers, Greece's lurch toward default in 2011 begs comparison to Argentina in 2001. Argentina has mounted a strong recovery since defaulting on its international loans, leading some to think it can offer lessons for Greece's turnaround. The comparison is misleading, however, for a variety of reasons. More importantly, prescribing policy based on Argentina's recovery would be disastrous for Greece. more

Mexico Fills Void in South American Free Trade Agenda

By Sean Goforth
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For years, Colombia, Chile and Peru have been searching for a regional power to spur integration in Latin America. Brazil, after being heavy-handed with its neighbors in the early part of the previous decade, grew indifferent to regional trade once the grandiose BRIC mindset took hold. Now, Mexico is taking the reins and, in the process, recouping some of the regional influence it has ceded to Brazil since 2000.

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U.S. Set to Pass Trade Deals With Colombia, Panama and S. Korea

By Sean Goforth
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At long last, Washington looks ready to pass free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama. The trade agreement with Colombia was signed in 2006, while the agreements with Panama and South Korea were inked in 2007. But after Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006, the Bush administration no longer had the legislative support needed. More recently, however, Barack Obama has adopted the free trade agenda with a convert's fervor. more

Brazil Caught Between Titans in Global Currency War

By Sean Goforth
, on , Briefing

Brazil's Finance Minister Guido Mantega recently told the Financial Times that the global currency war "was absolutely not over," and cited two countries that, according to him, have not ceased the hostilities: China and the United States.  More and more, Brazil seems to be caught between -- and battling against -- the greenback and the yuan in its efforts to slow the rise in value of its own currency, the real. more

China and Cuba: No Longer Separated by a Common Ideology

By Sean Goforth
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Chinese foreign investment is often considered nonideological: Dictatorship or democracy, model state or pariah -- if a country has natural resources, China is an eager investor. In Latin America the characterization rings true, as China has curried favor with left-leaning governments and right-leaning governments alike. China's relations with Cuba are a case in point, if a counterintuitive one. more

Latin America's Narco-Traffickers Diversify, Again: Part II

By Sean Goforth
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Mexican President Felipe Calderón's "war on drugs" has increasingly pushed Mexico's criminal gangs out of their traditional sources of illicit income. Like the FARC in Colombia, they are now seeking to coopt an otherwise legal trade. Whereas the FARC has moved into illegal gold mining as a new source of revenue, Mexico's criminal gangs have been increasingly linked to thefts of Mexico's key export, oil. more

Latin America's Narco-Traffickers Diversify, Again: Part I

By Sean Goforth
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For more than 40 years, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has waged a war against the Colombian government, financed largely through cocaine trafficking. Over the past decade, as the Colombian government marshaled U.S. military assistance, the FARC has seen its guerilla ranks diminished by about half. To stanch its losses, the FARC has turned to Colombia's most venerated source of riches: gold. more

Latin America's Shifting Trade Winds

By Sean Goforth
, on , Feature

More than any other single factor, Latin America owes its growth in the new millennium to Asian demand. The increased trade and investment between Asia and Latin America ushered in what many thought to be the first era of South-South trade. But while the term suggests a dynamic encompassing the entire developing world, for Latin America it has been less expansive. more

Brazil Takes a Second Look at China Ties

By Sean Goforth
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In 2009, China supplanted the United States to become Brazil's biggest trade partner, allowing Brazil to skirt the global recession by insulating it from the drop in exports suffered by most other Latin American countries. The relationship is not likely to change in the near term. Yet Brazil is reappraising its trade ties with China, over worries that China is trying to pigeonhole Brazil as just another commodity supplier. more

Brazil's Middle East Roadmap

By Sean Goforth
, on , Briefing

On Dec. 3, 2010, Brazil's then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva officially recognized the independent state of Palestine, with six other South American governments following suit since then. Brazil's initiative has been explained as part of its effort under Lula to serve as America's alter ego in world affairs. However, an alternative cipher for interpreting Lula's move warrants consideration. more

Mexico's Arrested Development

By Sean Goforth
, on , Feature

In his 1996 classic, "The Clash of Civilizations," Samuel Huntington characterized Mexico as a "torn country" -- a condition produced by the Westernizing instincts of its elites pulling against the weight of its cultural heritage. Today, however, Mexico is not torn by internal discord, its drug violence notwithstanding. Rather, it is trapped -- caught between dynamic global trends washing over Latin America on one hand, and the dogged political realities of North America on the other.
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A Manifestation of Anti-Americanism in the Andes

By Sean Goforth
, on , World Politics Review

Ecuador recently had its name removed from the Financial Action Task Force's "black list" of countries failing to combat money laundering after it was relegated to the organization's lowest rung of noncompliance in February. The ordeal highlights a broader trend unfolding. The governments of Ecuador and Bolivia have shunned several international conventions and regulatory bodies, claiming that the regimes are biased. more