Archive for the ‘Central America’ Category
By Jonathan Power
It was Charles de Gaulle, France’s Second World War statesman, who said, “Brazil has a great future, and always will”. Under the benign presidency of the ex car metal worker, Luis “Lula” Inacio da Silva, the adage seemed to be banished. But now under his successor, Dilma Rousseff, the tag has stuck once again. Brazil is back to its old ways, albeit with a difference.
An economy going down hill, incompetent economic mismanagement and massive corruption are frightening investors away. Brazil is now suffering its biggest recession since the 1930’s Great Depression. The difference is that this time the safety net of financial support built for the very poor by Lula remains intact.
Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, is having it especially bad but most of the other countries are doing not so well. The 2004-2013 decade was exceptional. Inflation which for the region was 1,200% came down to single digits and a strengthening of the tax base as economies grew facilitated a well-financed expansion of social spending.
Countries built up large foreign exchange reserves. This allowed them to have extraordinary access to external financing. There was an investment boom as economies grew at more than 5% a year, and some, like Brazil, Peru, Panama, Uruguay and Paraguay, exceeded 6%.
Even the great recession of 2009, triggered by the collapse of major US banks, only caused a brief slowdown thanks to the resilience of their economies. Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
The immediate reaction to Obama’s Executive Order of 17 December 2014 – re-establishing diplomatic relations, easing travel, swapping prisoners – was a sense of relief: finally correcting a more than 50-year old stupidity. But why now? Later. First, back to June 1960.
We drove from New York to Key West, then a ferry – the captain was Norwegian – to La Habana; we wanted to drive all over, talk with everybody to understand. And the social picture was very clear: black, woman, low class overwhelmingly in favor of the revolution; white, man, middle-upper class ended up in Miami. Why gender? US imperialism was obvious but in addition Cuba was one big brothel for “puritan” US men. And one of the first acts of the revolution was to stop that, liberate the dirt poor girls, organize vocational training – give them dignity. Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung & Fernando Montiel
Toluca, Estado De México; Workshop on Drug Traffic and Violence
300.000 kg of cocaine to USA via Mexico annually; 60% of marijuana producers had lived in misery, US$ 2/day; the drug traffic profit in Mexico was US$ 59 billion, 5% of GNP; 80% was spent on corruption; 125,000 were arrested since 2006; with an impunity of 98%.
2,000 weapons from USA to Mexico daily; 5.5 million legal and 20 million illegal arms in Mexico; 100,000 have died in the “war on drugs” from 2006; 30,000 disappeared; 42+ journalists killed (more than in Afghanistan); 50,000 military troops involved by 2006, 130,000 by 2009, 50,000 in 2012, 32,000 in 2013; US$ 16.6 billion spent on insecurity and violence, 1.34% of GNP.
Due process of law and violence did not reduce drug traffic and violence; a drug-arms-violence-police-military complex had evolved. No general prevention, maybe not even individual prevention. A discourse-change took place: the perpetrators were seen less as evil and more as products of the domestic and regional contexts. The new approach was prevention by eliminating causes. The goal is reduction of drug traffic and of violence, and even if related they were seen as two different goals not necessarily served by the same means.
Which are these means, causes to be handled? Read the rest of this entry »