Around Latin America
-Mitt Romney, in an attempt to address what American foreign policy would look like if he were president, spoke on Latin America recently. It shows a remarkable level of ignorance about any of the realities facing Latin America, its place in the world, or U.S.-Latin American relations in the 21st century. As Greg puts it, “we can only hope that if he is elected he will ignore the region or that this is just red meat for the Republican base that he won’t actually follow.”
-With massive public support for educational reform, Chile’s university students have rejected reopening negotiations with the Piñera government. Students broke off the talks last week after citing government “intransigence” in listening to their demands. Much like Brazilian student movements in the 1960s and beyond, the Chilean student protests, now entering their fifth month, are providing a powerful reminder of how university education and student mobilizations can define a government and transform both official policy and public opinion.
-Also in Chile, a controversial dam project that would build five dams along two rivers in the southern part of the country has made its way all the way to the Supreme Court. Lower courts have rejected lawsuits that challenge the dam’s construction. Opponents claim the dam will cause irreparable environmental harm, will hurt the Chilean economy by concentrating almost all of the power supplies in the hands of only two companies, and that the dam project is outdated and irrelevant to the current energy needs of Chile.
-The city of Linares, Mexico, finds itself patrolled by soldiers and state police after the city’s entire police force was investigated for “corruption and possible ties to organized crime.” However, as Shannon O’Neil at LatIntelligence points out, the pay Mexican police receives directly impacts issues of violence and corruption. Unsurprisingly, the better police are paid, the fewer homicides there are, as police can enforce the law rather than turning to drug cartels to earn a livable income.
-I wrote yesterday on the personal and broader social memory struggles Argentines face over the ongoing discovery of children of the Disappeared who were kidnapped from their parents during Argentina’s military dictatorship and adopted by military officers or supporters of the regime. Lillie points to another powerful story from a child of the Disappeared that’s worth reading in its entirety.
-Mike over at Central American Politics points to the major problem in recent UN reports that homicides have rapidly increased in Central America in recent years. To wit: “If your headline is UN study: Homicides soar in Central America, you need to write about more than El Salvador and Honduras.”
-Five Salvadoran military officers accused of murdering six Jesuit priests in 1989 during El Salvador’s civil war are free after the Salvadoran Supreme Court refused to detain the men. Spain indicted the men in absentia for the murders of the priests, five of whom were Spanish.