Several Latin American governments, which a few years ago joined in showy displays of anti-U.S. solidarity, are now distancing themselves from the Ahmadinejad regime, as tensions rise over Iran’s controversial nuclear policies and new administrations take over in key capitals, The Wilson Center’s Latin America Program director said Thursday. Briefing senators on Iran’s activities in the region, Cindy Arnson added that “vigilance” still remains necessary, to guard against any state or nonstate threat in the region. “Vigilance is essential, as is evidence-based consideration of the issues,” she told the subcommittee’s hearing on Iranian activities in Latin America.
President Calderon has used a military approach to combat the drug cartel problem in Mexico. Some wonder if tolerance or legalizing drugs would be a better approach.
Otto Perez Molina will likely propose drug legalization at the next summit of regional leaders. Dr. Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program, discusses how the initiative comes in response to the frustration over the current drug policy that has defined the region over the past few decades. She argues that even though it may not be implemented, it is a message that is icreasingly becoming part of the discussion in the region. [Article is in Spanish]
For Venezuela’s historically divided opposition, which enters a key test of unity this weekend, one-upping Chávez in the hearts of voters will be vital to winning this fall’s presidential election. Luis Vicente León and William H. Luers, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, gauge the current field of candidates and look ahead to October's general election.
Enrique Pena Nieto, a front-runner in the Mexican presidential race, is in the PRI, which is known for allowing drug cartels power. U.S. policy-makers are concerned for what may happen with the drug war if he wins the election.
Rousseff Offers Closer Economic Ties, Reflecting Nation's Bid for Greater Regional Leadership; Human Rights Remain Issue
"Lopez was running far behind in the polls, and the Supreme Court's defiance of the decision by the Inter-American Court left a big cloud of uncertainty over Lopez's future, even if he were to come out ahead," said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin America program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. "Capriles has been the front-runner for some time, so the endorsement will continue to bolster his campaign."
"FARC has been under unrelenting military pressure for over a decade," said Cynthia Arnson, the director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. "But FARC is still an enormously wealthy insurgent organization because of revenues from the drug trade. It still retains a capacity to commit acts of violence and harm people."
Latin American Program on the News: After 20 years of peace, Salvadorans in D.C. still worry about their homelandJan 23, 2012
Cynthia J. Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, said Salvadoran expatriates play a critical role by sending remittances home, but that is not enough. El Salvador needs people to help build the economy and provide education and job opportunities to keep people out of gangs, she said. “As important as the remittances are to subsidize consumption, [it] is not the same as creating productive capacity, and there is a huge role for the Salvadoran community living in the United States and other countries to contribute to their homeland by creating economic opportunity,” Arnson said. “It is a vicious cycle and, unless people who are in a position to provide capital for the economic growth and job creation [also provide help], it is very hard to see how the country will ever break this cycle.”
Many in the U.S. are taking a wait-and-see approach to Perez given his military background. President Barack Obama took two weeks to congratulate Perez on his November election victory, something some read as a chilly sign. "They want to sort of say, look, we're prepared to cooperate, but it depends on who is in the government, what priorities they have," said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin America program at the Wilson Center in Washington. "It doesn't come with a free ride."