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Guatemala and the U.S.: Priorities in the Bilateral Relationship

February 23, 2012

by Joshua Ryan Rosales

With a visit this week to Washington by Guatemalan Foreign Minsiter Harold Caballeros, and an impending first-time visit to Guatemala City by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Guatemala appears to have momentarily captured the attention of the United States. For Guatemala, the bilateral relationship is a top foreign policy priority. In addition, the over 1.2 million Guatemalans living in the U.S. are an economic lifeline to their native country, representing 10 percent of Guatemala’s GDP .

Guatemala’s fate is invariably tied to its Northern Triangle neighbors; each face an uphill battle in increasing the protections for migrants, reducing rampant organized crime and strengthening incomplete security apparatuses. For the U.S., relations with Guatemala are largely viewed within a larger Central American context, particularly through the Sistema de Integración Centroamericana (Central American Integration System—SICA). Guatemala also is the beneficiary of USAID projects and the U.S. as well supports Guatemala’s UN-mandated Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala—CICIG). Still, funding increases for the Central American Regional Security Initiative is one area in which Guatemalans are lobbying for more support. 

With democratic consolidation solidifying in Guatemala, the U.S. has the opportunity to address other Guatemala-specific issues that lie near the forefront of the bilateral relationship. One would be granting Temporary Protection Status for undocumented Guatemalans living in the U.S., the economic lifelines of Guatemala. Another would be for the U.S. to further boost investments in security and development to the levels that other regional and global partners receive from the United States. Lifting the current military cooperation embargo against Guatemala would further provide the country with the technology, know-how and equipment to fight organized crime within its territory, a problem that is severely crippling the central government. Considering that Guatemala shares a border with Mexico and is used as a “bridge” for most narcotics trafficked to the United States, Guatemala should be part of the solution to the violence plaguing the isthmus. 

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Tags: Guatemala, migrants, Remittances, Drug Trafficking, Janet Napolitan

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

November 17, 2011

by AS-COA Online

From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

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Helicopter Crash Claims Mexico’s Second Most Powerful Official
Mexico’s Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora died in a helicopter crash on Saturday en route from Mexico City to Cuernavaca. The accident, which killed seven other people, was ruled a weather-related accident. In 2008, then Interior Minister Juan Camila Mouriño died in similar circumstances: he perished in a plane crash in Mexico City nearly three years to the day from Saturday’s accident. Blake was a powerful force in President Felipe Calderón’s war on drug trafficking, and his loss was a blow to the president’s administration’s war on drugs. Blake was also the fourth interior minister under Calderón, so his death could be a setback for Calderón’s National Action Party (PAN) prior to next year’s presidential elections.

López Obrador to Lead PRD Ticket in Mexico
Mexico’s leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) chose Andrés Manuel López Obrador as their candidate for the 2012 presidential election. Known as AMLO, the former mayor of Mexico City narrowly lost the presidential election in 2006. James Bosworth of Bloggings by Boz writes that the nomination could actually help the Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, since after AMLO’s 2006 loss, “bouncing back is going to be tough for him.” He also believes that current Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard would have been a more viable candidate for the PRD, with larger national appeal.

Security, Drug Trafficking Concerns Colored Michoacan Election
Sunday’s elections in the Mexican state of Michoacan resulted in a victory for the PRI, with the PRI candidate for governor, Fausto Vallejo, eking out a victory over PAN candidate Luis Maria Calderón (sister of the current president). The candidate from the PRD, which has ruled Michoacan for the past ten years, came in a distant third. A piece by Animal Politico evaluates the reasons behind this win, including very high voter concern for insecurity and drug trafficking. Michoacan has become one of the most violent states amid President Calderon’s war on drug trafficking. Those concerned with insecurity generally voted for the PRI, while those concerned with drug trafficking tended to support the PAN.

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Tags: Remittances, President Hugo Chavez, President Rafael Correa, Mexico Interior Minister, Mexico Elections, Michoacan Elections, Mexican Migration, APEC Meeting

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

March 31, 2010

by AS-COA Online

From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

UN Hosts Donors Conference for Haiti

The United Nations plays host to an international donors conference at its headquarters in New York on March 31. UN Dispatch reports that reconstruction will cost the international community $11.5 billion and that the Oval office has requested $2.8 billion from U.S. Congress to support Haiti’s rebuilding efforts. More than a dozen countries are participating in the summit and are expected to raise $4.8 billion. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the UN’s envoy to Haiti, will co-chair a rebuilding commission along with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is announcing a $1.15 billion pledge to Haiti to be disbursed over the next two years.

A new report by the International Crisis Group makes a series of recommendations with the goal of assuring Haiti’s political stability, particularly given that legislative elections were postponed in light of the January 12 disaster.

COA Vice President Eric Farnsworth writes in the March 2010 issue of Poder: “There is a significant opportunity in the wake of the earthquake to build Haiti into a modern, economically stable, environmentally sound nation.”

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Tags: Chile, Peru, Cuba, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Immigration, Ecuador, Argentina, Haiti, Health, Remittances, Trafficking, Hispanics

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

February 17, 2010

by AS-COA Online

From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

Haiti Reconstruction Costs Higher than Anticipated

A new Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) study estimates that Haiti’s reconstruction could cost as much as $14 billion, far higher than earlier forecasts of $5 billion. The IDB study thus predicts Haiti’s earthquake will be costlier than the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Canada to Build Temporary HQs for Haitian Government

Following a visit to Haiti this week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that his country will construct temporary Haitian government headquarters in Port-au-Prince after last month’s earthquake destroyed the government’s buildings. The provisional headquarters will cost $11.5 million.

Young and Jobless in Latin America

A recent report released by the International Labor Organization (ILO) shows that at least 600,000 young Latin Americans were unemployed in 2009, making them “hardest hit” by the global financial crisis, reports the Latin Americanist blog. The ILO report also showed that, of the 104 million youth in Latin America, only 34 percent attend school, only 33 percent work, and just 13 percent do both.

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Tags: OAS, Chile, Peru, Canada, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Argentina, FARC, Haiti, Remittances, Youth, Trafficking, Uruguary

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

January 6, 2010

by AS-COA Online

From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

Fernández Pushes for New Central Bank Head

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has sought to replace Central Bank Governor Martín Redrado after he turned down a presidential order to use $6.6 billion in reserves to pay off debt. Former Central Bank head Mario Blejer was named as a potential replacement. However, Redrado rejected the notion that he will resign and said that, according to the Bank’s charter, the decision to dismiss him lies with the Argentine Congress.

Buenos Aires Mayor Announces Presidential Bid

Mayor of Buenos Aires Mauricio Macri announced intentions of a 2011 presidential bid this week. A member of the conservative Propuesta Republicana (PRO) party, Macri hopes to face Néstor Kirchner in a second round and insists the former president “could never win” a one-on-one election.

Looking Back on Washington’s 2009 LatAm Policy

Writing for the State Department’s Dipnote blog, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela reflects on U.S. engagement in the Americas during the first year of the Obama administration. After recounting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Mexico in March and the launch of the Inter-American Social Protection Network, Valenzuela concludes “2009 has been an exciting year in terms of our relationships—both bilaterally and multilaterally.”

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Tags: Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Immigration, Honduras, Evo Morales, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Fujimori, Economy, Remittances, Malaria

Weekly News Roundup from Across the Americas

August 12, 2009

by AS-COA Online

From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

North American Leaders Meet in Guadalajara

The leaders of Canada, the United States, and Mexico met in Guadalajara, Mexico on August 9 and 10 for the North American Leaders’ Summit. The discussion centered on security, trade, coordinating response to the H1N1 virus, climate change, and clean energy. A Bloggings by boz post says that while all the leaders made a point of formally discussing these issues, “there weren’t any major new agreements.”

Read AS/COA coverage of the summit.

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Tags: OAS, Peru, Canada, trade, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Honduras, Ecuador, Argentina, Janet Napolitano, Remittances, Sonia Sotomayor, Affirmative Action, Immigration Reform, North America

Remittances to El Salvador Down in 2009

July 13, 2009

by AQ Online

The Central Reserve Bank reported that remittances from January to June fell by 10.3 percent, or $200 million, in comparison to the first half of 2008. The drop in remittances to a total of $1.74 billion is attributed to the economic crisis and to unemployment in the United States. Presently, 2.5 million El Salvadorans live in the United States.

Remittances are El Salvador's second-largest source of revenue and account for 17 percent of GDP. Two in 10 El Salvadorans rely on remittances as their main source of income. Adding to El Salvador's recession woes is its link to the U.S. dollar, which became legal currency in 2000.

President Mauricio Funes, who took office on June 1, vowed during his campaign that El Salvador would become "the most dynamic economy in Central America." This recession jeopardizes that goal and is a stumbling block for his planned social programs.

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Tags: El Salvador, Economic Crisis, Remittances

Weekly News Roundup from Across the Americas

June 3, 2009

by AS-COA Online

From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

OAS on Overturning 1962 Rule Suspending Cuba

Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Relations Fander Falconí told journalists Wednesday that the ministers at the OAS General Assembly have agreed to overturn a 1962 decision that expelled Cuba from the organization. Falconi said that Cuba’s suspension will be lifted as a result of a new proposal that eliminates conditions for Cuba to rejoin. This came after the first day of the assembly ended with no consensus about allowing Cuba to rejoin the organization. U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton insisted that Cuba must show clear steps towards addressing human rights and political freedom before the island can be allowed to rejoin.

Despite the United States opposing proposals to allow the readmission of Cuba without the country meeting certain democratic standards, signs of a U.S.-Cuba thaw continue. On May 30, the head of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington Jorge Bolaños officially accepted on behalf of Havana the U.S. proposal to resume high-level talks on legal immigration. Talks will also cover bilateral cooperation on drug trafficking, terrorism, disaster readiness, and resuming regular mail services.

Financial Times takes a look at how some members of the U.S. Senate hope to block easing of restrictions in U.S.-Cuba relations. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) suggested at COA’s Washington Conference that the United States should reexamine its funding for the OAS if the agency allows Cuba to rejoin.

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Tags: OAS, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Venezuela, Immigration, Crime, Ecuador, Argentina, Elections, Mauricio Funes, Remittances, Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Spain

Weekly News Roundup from Across the Americas

May 20, 2009

by AS-COA Online

From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

Colombian Defense Minister Resigns; Uribe Reelection Referendum Approved

Juan Manuel Santos will step down May 23 from his defense minister post to run for president in the 2010 elections. But Santos would declare his candidacy only if President Álvaro Uribe decides against running for his second reelection. If Uribe decides to go for it, Santos said that he’d be a loyal supporter of his campaign.

The Colombian senate brought Uribe a step closer to reelection Tuesday when it approved a path for voters to decide whether the constitution can be changed to allow the popular president to run again.

The Washington Post reports that “should Santos run and win, the Obama administration would have as a partner a U.S.-educated politician well versed in Washington ways.” The article also notes that Santos remains a firm supporter of Uribe’s democratic security policies and would likely continue them.

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Tags: Chile, Peru, Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Guatemala, Argentina, Haiti, Lula da Silva, Bill Clinton, Reelection, Remittances


 
 

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