When Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs, Patricia Espinosa, recently acknowledged that Brazil is dragging its feet on the free trade deal the two countries agreed to hash out last November, it was not the lament of an aggrieved party. After all, Mexico, Latin America’s second-largest economy, is hardly a victim in its trade relations with Brazil, the region’s largest. To the contrary: In the first seven months of 2011, Mexico registered a $478 million trade surplus with Brazil, a 24-fold increase over the $19 million registered during the same period in 2010. That might explain Brazil’s lack of enthusiasm for […]
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin followed up his unsurprising Sept. 24 declaration that he would again seek the presidency with a more surprising call: to create what he called a “Eurasian Union.” In a rare and lengthy newspaper piece published on Oct. 4, Putin announced his desire for Russia to again lead a multinational bloc of tightly bound, former Soviet republics. But major obstacles stand in the way of Putin’s project, and the prospects of a new Eurasian Union emerging anytime soon in the former Soviet space are small. Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told the influential Kommersant newspaper that […]
Recent developments in South America have upended the United States’ historical — and often misguided — tendency to lump the region into a one-size-fits-all policy. A politically and economically muscular Brazil, the rise of an anti-American bloc of countries led by Venezuela, and the emergence of economic and even political extraregional rivals in the hemisphere have created a more diverse, independent and contentious region for the United States. At the same time, the looming shadow of a double-dip U.S. recession and the spectacle of partisan intransigence leaving Washington paralyzed have led to an overwhelming impression across the region that the […]
One of the subjects dominating discussions of Latin American politics this year has been the June 30 revelation that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is being treated for cancer. Very little is known about his illness, other than the not-so-encouraging news that he has received four, possibly five, chemotherapy treatments, most them in an undisclosed location in Cuba. A bombshell accompanied by such secrecy has raised speculation about the future of Venezuelan politics. It seems that all scenarios, ranging from Chávez’s death to his full recovery, are possible, which makes the presidential election scheduled for October 2012 one of the most […]
A free trade agreement between Israel and Mercosur entered into force in September, following Argentinian approval of the deal in August. In an email interview, Arie M. Kacowicz, a professor of international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discussed Israel-South American relations. WPR: What is the recent history of Israel’s diplomatic relations with South America? Arie M. Kacowicz: Israel has managed to maintain cordial diplomatic relations with most of the countries of South America, with the exception of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, with which relations deteriorated following the Second Lebanon War of 2006 and the war in Gaza of […]
“Resource wars” enthusiasts worldwide have a new — and unexpected — poster child: “zero problems with neighbors” Turkey. The Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is beside itself over Israel’s recent moves to cooperate with Cyprus on surveying its Eastern Mediterranean seabed for possible natural gas deposits thought to be lying adjacent to the reserves discovered last year off the coast of Haifa. I told Reuters last week that the mounting war of words between Turkey and Israel, which includes some clear military preparations, amounts to a “storm in a teacup.” But other respected experts quoted in the […]
MONROVIA, Liberia — In her 2006 inauguration speech, with Liberia still reeling from civil wars that had lasted from 1989 to 2003 and killed more than 250,000 people, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf referred to a greeting children here use when their fathers return home from work — or, as is common in Liberia, from trying to find it: “Papa na come.” “Well, too many times, for too many families, Papa comes home with nothing,” said Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state. “We will work to ensure that when our children say ‘Papa na come,’ Papa will come home joyfully […]
With North and South Korea technically still at war after more than 60 years, a possible reunification of the two remains hindered by vast ideological differences and recent military altercations. However, South Korea continues to entertain the notion and is now promoting a government-funded Internet news outlet that advocates reunification with the North.
Japan and Colombia recently agreed to deepen economic relations, following a meeting between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Tokyo. In an email interview, Melba Falck Reyes, a professor in the Pacific studies department at the University of Guadalajara, discussed Japan-Latin America relations. WPR: What is the recent history of Japan’s trade and diplomatic relations with Latin America? Melba Falck Reyes: In Latin America, Japan has a long history of diplomatic relations with Mexico, Peru and Brazil. It is no coincidence that these nations are presently Japan’s main economic partners in the region. In […]
On Sept. 6, members of Afghanistan’s upper house of parliament declared that the Afghan government and the international community have failed in their counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan. Just three months earlier, Afghan Deputy Minister for Counternarcotics Baz Mohammad Ahmadi told reporters that more than 3 million Afghans continue to participate in the illicit drug industry. He pleaded with the international community to support further operations, especially in Afghanistan’s border provinces, and to consider establishing a counternarcotics academy within Afghanistan. Ten years after the United States first invaded the country on Oct. 7, 2001, the drug menace emanating from Afghanistan remains […]
The decision this week by Russia and China to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for its use of violence against its domestic opponents has attracted much attention — and opprobrium. What has generated less discussion is the fact that the three states of the IBSA bloc — India, Brazil and South Africa — abstained from the vote. But their unwillingness to support the resolution has clear implications both for the future of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine as well as for America’s own relationships with the rising democracies of the South. […]
The transition from U.S. Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen to Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has triggered a wave of speculation about how the U.S. military is destined to evolve during the coming years. Some have gone so far as to paint Mullen’s departure as a turning point in American military history. In interviewing Mullen last week, for instance, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius found himself wondering “if we are entering a ‘post-military’ age when our top officers understand that the biggest problems can’t be solved with military power.” While it’s a […]
This report produced by the human rights advocacy organization Amnesty International asserts that 10 years after a US-led military invasion removed the Taliban from Afghanistan, the Afghan government and its international supporters have failed to keep many of the promises they made to the Afghan people.
One of the more curious aspects of the popular revolts unfolding in the Middle East is how much better monarchies have fared in the turmoil than have other unelected regimes. The region has long been ruled by a wide assortment of kings, emirs, retired military men, successful coup leaders and their sons. All of them came to power without the benefit of true democratic elections, even if they occasionally summoned their people to the polls. Despite that crucial similarity, the uprisings commonly known as the Arab Spring have followed remarkably different paths for monarchical regimes than they have in countries […]
When Argentina’s economic and political system imploded in 2001, few imagined that only 10 years later the Southern Cone nation would be one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. After a nimble recovery fueled by a depreciated currency and a spike in world commodity prices, today Argentina is flush with cash. Its economy is booming, and barring a global meltdown, demand from China and other emerging markets for its commodities is unlikely to fade. So it is not surprising that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner won more than 50 percent of the vote in the country’s open primaries in […]