WRH Volume 37 Double Issue 7&8

The Latest Washington Report on the Hemisphere is out:

In the latest issue, you will find the following analyses:


1. Soliloquy on Political and Human Rights by Igor Drumond

On March 21, 2017, in a panel entitled, “Discussion on the Political and Human Rights Situation in Venezuela,” the Organization of American States (OAS) demonstrated how a narrative could be largely manufactured.

2. The Argentinean Neoliberal Specter: A Brief Analysis of President Macri’s Unsettling Economic Policies by Tobias Fontecilla

Mauricio Macri became the President of Argentina on November 22, 2015, after winning the election against the incumbent party led by Daniel Scioli by a 2.68 percent margin. The ousted Frente Para La Victoria party had been in power for more than a decade with the election of Néstor Kirchner in 2003 succeeded by his wife, Cristina Kirchner, in 2007. Kirchnerism has often been closely linked with Peronism because of its populist approach to politics that has often received domestic and international criticism. Most notably, the radical decision to maintain Argentina’s foreign debt default in 2001 (and then again, in 2014) was the foundation for a new era of protectionism, which isolated Argentina from a number of global markets. Macri’s campaign proposed changes in order to address the country’s struggling growth and high inflation; therefore, During its first 18 months in office, the new administration has worked hard to reinstate many neoliberal policies including: encouraging foreign investment, relaxing labor laws, and deregulating markets which were once artificially manipulated through tariffs and import restrictions.

3. The Current State of U.S.-Cuba Relations by Haley Wiebel

The 2014 announcement that the U.S. and Cuba would restore diplomatic relations signaled what appeared to be a new era in the countries’ bilateral policy. Rapprochement has not been an easy or rapid process. While the thaw lessened U.S. travel and financial restrictions beginning in 2015, the embargo’s ban on trade still remains one of the many obstacles to the normalization of relations. The death of Fidel Castro and the election of Donald Trump in November 2016 had even larger implications for the fate of U.S. – Cuba policy. Raúl Castro must now navigate bilateral relations with a new U.S. administration that has conveyed very little about its plan for Cuba. Therefore, the future of U.S.- Cuba policy remains uncertain, jeopardizing existing progress in the rapprochement process.

Country Briefs

1. Guatemala – Operation: Checkmate Leads to Arrest of Key leader of MS-13 by Kate Terán
On April 11, Operation: Checkmate proved successful as Guatemalan authorities apprehended Pedro Benjamín Rivas Zelaya, the alleged leader of Mara Salvatrucha, a street gang with origins in Southern California more commonly known as MS-13. Operation: Checkmate is a multinational anti-gang effort driven by Salvadoran authorities which works to attack MS13’s financial systems.
2. Mexico – Journalism in Mexico: A Fight for Survival by Mariana Sanchez Ramirez
Freedom of the press remains under siege in Mexico as violence against media organizations continues to mar efforts to freely report on organized crime, corruption, and institutional impunity. On April 2, the El Norte de Ciudad Juárez newspaper released an editorial stating the organization will no longer release print and digital editions of the publication. The newspaper cites the closure of the organization as a means of protest against the violent threats and killings of journalists throughout the country.
3. French Guiana – Turmoil in French Guiana by Alex Rawley
On Monday, March 27, French Guiana, one of France’s overseas departments which have the same administrative status held by the rest of France’s departments, was paralyzed by a strike organized by 37 labor unions in response to longstanding neglect from the national government, mainly located on the French mainland. The strike, which lasted for nearly one month, interrupted commercial flights, prompted a U.S. travel warning, and postponed the launching of the Ariane 5 rocket, which carries communication satellites for Brazil and South Korea. This unrest even had ramifications on France’s general elections, as the country’s presidential candidates used these protests to bolster their political platforms. The Front National candidate, representing the far-right, Marine Le Pen, used them to denounce what she perceived as years of neglect, while the more moderate right-wing candidate and former Prime Minister (from the political party les Républicains) Francis Fillon blamed the unrest on the five years of failed policies under current President François Hollande, from the center left Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste, PS).
4. Guatemala – Former Dictator Rios Montt will Face Second Trial by Erika Quinteros
On March 31, the Guatemalan Court for High-Risk Crimes ordered a trial date for U.S.-backed former dictator, José Efraín Ríos Montt, due to his involvement in the Dos Erres massacre. Because of his poor health, Judge Claudette Domínguez has allowed the retired general to not attend the court hearings in person and be represented by his lawyers. For the same reason, if found guilty, Ríos Montt would not have to serve his sentence in prison.

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