Monday, December 10, 2007

Fujimori Has a Temper

Fujimori seems to be one of our favorite Latin American leaders to talk about. Here is a short description of his recent outburst in court. It took him 30 minutes to calm down.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Chavez and Barbara Bond

Many have labeled Hugo Chavez, "the archemeny of George Bush," but Barbara Walters has ignored such labels and decided to put him on her list of the "Most Interesting People of 2007." Barbara was one of the first American journalists to interview him since he called George Bush the devil, however Walters tried to address those issues in the interview, revealing a different side of Chavez, and some of his reasoning. At the end of the original interview, Walters asks Chavez to speak a little English and send a message to the American people, he says that Venzuela loves the American people.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

USA 1 Chavez 0

I have been thinking about Chavez's defeat in the recent Constitucional Referendum. I can't help but think that this is just a big political game that Chavez is playing in order to prove to the international community that Venezuela respects the institutions established and that Venezuela is a democratic country. I guess the main reason is because Chavez has said that he accepts the defeat for now. It seems to me if a country went through this whole process of a constitutional referendum, it basically means that it is a one time go. Instead, Chavez is esentially rejecting the outcome of the referendum - in an ambiguous manner of course - and suggesting that another one will come in the future. Imagine if Venezuela had a Constitutional referendum every year until Chavez won? I believe he won the 2006 election, meaning at least he has another 5 years to do what he wants. If you are a man like Chavez, I am sure 5 years is a pretty long time.

It seems to me that Chavez has a lot to gain internationally by taking the defeat while essentially retaining the same degree of power. Remember how there were student protests against the referendum? Those student protests probably were a result of the inadequacy of the political parties and the whole political process in general. Since the students (and the people who thought like the students) couldnt find adequate representation in the political party system, they just decided to take to the streets.

However, after the referendum, although No won, essentially nothing has changed institutionally. Does anybody imagine a figure rising that can challenge the authority and resonance of a leader like Chavez? Can the opposition really act in a manner that can actually challenge the power of Chavez? I suppose that has yet to play out. However, I would be hesitant to say that Chavez has respected democratic institutions. I would say he has respected them because it is politically convenient for him to do so. I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


As we were discussing in class Parimaribo is kind of a forgotten capital of a forgotten country. Apparently someone took notice long enough to recommend it to UNESCO though, because now the historical center of the city is a World Heritage Site as showing the mix of Dutch colonial, native, and immigrant worker cultures in the architecture. With a total population of 250,000 and few major exports (as well as a river whose silt buildups do not allow large ocean-going vessels) its hard to imagine this city getting much more attention. Perhaps for the best.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Chavez Referendum Defeated

A referendum proposed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, which essentially would turn Venezuela into an almost socialist state, was defeated this past weekend. This indicates that voters believe he had finally overreached in proposing constitutional changes that would have ended term limits for the president and greatly centralized his power. This referendum proposal caused many protests throughout Venezuela, and its defeat came to the surprise of many people. However Chavez did the right thing to respect the voters opinion by acknowledging the defeat, rather than taking the path of a dictator and doing something radical. This firmly established his classification as a supporter of democracy. Here is the story:

Colombian Hostage "living like the dead"

The Colombian government arrested three suspected members of the FARC and in doing so seized materials of hostages who haven't been heard from in over three years. A letter as well as a video show Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate in an extremely poor state of physical as well as emotional health. Each of the three US military contractors from Northrop Grumman Corp. are also seen in the video, indicating for the first time that they are alive. The letter and tapes were supposedly meant for Hugo Chavez to receive. Currently the FARC has 44 "high profile hostages," some of whom may be released as part of Hugo Chavez's conditional visit. The President of Colombia, Uribe, canceled Chavez's visit, saying that he had "overstepped his bounds." Hostages are still holding onto hope that the US as well as France will pressure Uribe into initiating some kind of swap to set them free. Full Article:;_ylt=Ahbm4V_FY9WkRWT_MYZfdle3IxIF

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Argentina's unemployement rate drops

After the 2001 economic crisis in Argentina, the economy has been gradually improving, especially under the leadership of President Nestor Kirchner. The unemployement rate has fallen to 8.1% . Kirchner said: "The economy is doing very well; We don't fear growth, we fear neo- liberal economic recipes.'' Bloomberg article: bloomberg

A Big Day for Chavez

There has been a lot of discussion on this blog concerning today's voting in Venezuela. As others stated, the results will determine whether or not Chavez can run for office indefinitely and 68 other proposed amendments to the Venezuelan constitution. It seems that the main concern in this election is fairness. So far in polls about 69% of Venezuelans oppose eliminating term limits. Opponents still fear that the measure may pass because people who do not support Chavez do not want to legitimize these elections by showing up at polls. I definitely understand why they are concerned given that several independent studies have shown polling equipment is susceptible to tampering. It doesn't help that since winning the presidency in 1998 Chavez hasn't really lost at anything. The ads on TV have played up the social benefits tied up in the deal, such as reducing the work week, while not mentioning the magnitude to which it would expand Chavez's powere. Read about it:

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Venezuela and Colombia

This Article which explains the growing tensions between Colombia and Venezuela may be an indicator of unrest in the future. Chavez has removed his ambassador from Colombia and cutting off ties between the countries. If their hostility becomes any more significant I believe that it is something the United States will become involved in.

Coup in Venezuela?

Coups are nothing new for Latin America. The word is perhaps one of the most commonly used in their political history, but the coups usually come from within their own country, either by a citizen group or the military. Could the United States be planing a coup in Venezuela?

Constitutional Changes in Latin America

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and two of his regional proteges are rewriting their nations' constitutions, following a Latin American tradition of using the fundamental charter to attempt radical breaks from past regimes. Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia are promoting constitutional reforms as ways to root out corruption, redistribute wealth to the poor, and in the case of Bolivia, reverse centuries of discrimination against an Indian majority. Here is the full story,8599,1688448,00.html?xid=rss-topstories