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South American Regional Integration in the labyrinths of a Globalized World April 8, 2009

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by David Díaz

The potential of South America’s regional integration is enormous. Yet, it’s a process that stales indefinetely. Such it is the promise of uniting the continent that even back in 1824 the Libertador Simon Bolivar made it its priority. Back then, most of South America shared the fact of being oppressed by the Spanish. Yet, not even Bolivar’s firm fist could prevent the Gran Colombia to implode, and with it, his ambitions of a united continent. Eventually, South America became a fragmented mosaic of different entities, different pieces of a same puzzle.south_america_map3

      The US’ progressive rise to world hegemony has had an impact in South America like none other factor. The United States’ foreign policy towards the continent has shaped in many respects the structure in which countries evolve; from explicit military interventions to tacit neoliberal domination, the US have effectively organized the Americas mosaic in their own interest. “Pan Americanism” as an ideal of collaboration, of mutual respect between The United States and the rest of the nations of the Americas has proven to be an elusive chimera. In spite of the rhetoric, an undeniable hierarchical relationship has linked the United States with the South American continent.

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The failure of Plan Colombia: a story of success March 16, 2009

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by David Díaz

The name of Cesar Gavíria by itself might not elicit worldwide recognition, but the former president of Colombia will always be remembered for orchestrating the military operation leading to the death of legendary drug lord Pablo Escobar. Such an achievement warrants the former first secretary of the OEA with an immaculate spot in the war against drugs’ hall of honor.

Yet, in a meeting with former presidents Zedillo (Mexico) and Cardoso (Brazil), Gavíria himself turns to be  advocating a change in drug policy, and his new stance stems from a simple conclusion: the war on drugs has been a failure. The latest chapter of this ongoing saga of erratic episodes is the bloodshed crippling the corrupted Mexican state of Ciudad Juarez where drug lords have overtaken the city.

However, in the drug war saga, another country has played a pivotal role in the experimentation of anti-drug policies: Colombia. (more…)

Government control over Media in Latin America December 1, 2008

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By Emmanuel Neisa

In September, Alvaro Vargas Llosa, the son of the well known Peruvian writer, released Consecuencias, a four parts documentary about Latin America today. Through its four episodes – Autoritarismo, Populismo, Indigenismo, Dictadura-, the documentary explores the key events that marked Latin American history and that still influence it nowadays. The broadcasting rights were bought by National Geographic for Latin America but Venezuela’s government banned the part dealing with Chavez and Populism. This is not really surprising of a country where in 2004 the controversial RESORTE law (Law for the Social Responsibility of Radio & Television) was voted and where the broadcast license of Radio Caracas TV  -that was operating for 20 years- was denied a renewal, because it was accused of plotting against the Government.

Venezuela seems to be the only part in Latin America where the medias are controlled in such a strict way. In fact, since the end of dictatorships in the 80’s and with the democratization of the subcontinent, the media gained in autonomy and in some countries became extremely critical against governments, specially on issues related to corruption.

However, it would be ingenious to think that governments throughout Latin America have stopped controlling the media. A recent study realized by the Argentinian Association for Civil Rights and the Open Society-Justice Initiative explains what are the new mechanisms by which they continue to interfere. This not only raises the issue of the freedom of expression in Latin America, but also questions the real state of its democratization process, and opens the debate on how the continent will deal with these new threats. Even if this study focus on Latin America, its conclusions can be true for many realities.

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Obama or McCain – who takes lady America home ? November 3, 2008

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by Katja Ponath

The upcoming elections amount to a global super-event of a special kind. More than ‘just politics’ it has become a highly emotional affair, as well between Obama and McCain fighting for Lady America as in how  the voters and observers identify with the candidate of their choice. Walking the streets of New York I can see Obama T-Shirts, McCain tags and Democrat stickers.  The old Roman saying “Ex socio cognoscitur vir. » (Tell me what company you keep and I tell you who you are) apparently has been remodeled into “Tell me who you vote for and I tell you who you are (and if I still want to keep company with you)”. The election hype goes so far that the decisive question on American dates these dates probably is not “Your place or mine?”, but “Obama or McCain?”. (more…)

Obamamania 2 weeks from D-day October 22, 2008

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by Vera Quina

Who will win the election in two weeks time? If you wander around New York City, the question is straightforward: Barack Obama. What is interesting of this candidate, virtually unknown to the outside world and even to most Americans as early as two years ago is its mediatized campaign. He is a true master of communication and is the first politician to take full advantage of our marketing society in this beginning of the XXIst century. (more…)