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  • Commentary posted December 12, 2006 by Stephen Johnson Peru's Unlikely Capitalist

    At a time when an anti-U.S. leader like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is doing everything to drive a wedge between Latin America and the United States, you would think American lawmakers would be eager to confirm free-trade agreements with allies such as Peru. But with trade pacts facing an uphill climb on Capitol Hill these days, what should be a shoo-in is looking…

  • WebMemo posted December 12, 2006 by Stephen Johnson What a Chávez Win Means in Venezuela and for U.S. Policy

    To no one's surprise, Venezuela's authoritarian president, Hugo Chávez swept to re-election victory on December 3. Chávez clearly intends to turn Latin America and the Caribbean toward authoritarianism and closed markets. To counter those aims, the United States must ratify promised trade ties with allies. It must enhance security cooperation to counter new…

  • WebMemo posted November 29, 2006 by Stephen Johnson What Correa's Win Means in Ecuador

    Presidential runoff elections in Ecuador on November 26 appear to have produced a handy victory for radical young economist Rafael Correa over banana magnate Alvaro Noboa. Washington has an interest in a friendly, stable Ecuador, but this outcome may not be conducive to friendship or internal stability. The president-elect has expressed hostility toward U.S.…

  • WebMemo posted November 8, 2006 by Stephen Johnson, James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. A Border Security Strategy for Bush and Calderón: ImproveCooperation Between the U.S. and Mexico

    When U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President-elect Felipe Calderón meet on November 9, the U.S.-Mexico border will be at the top of their agenda. Their first priority should be shared initiatives that make border communities more safe, secure, and prosperous. This will require substantially reducing the illegal border crossing that fuels criminal…

  • WebMemo posted November 7, 2006 by Stephen Johnson Ortega's Comeback: Charisma with an Iron Grip?

    Former Sandinista comandante Daniel Ortega is back, having won a first-round victory on November 5-his fourth try at the presidency of Nicaragua since free elections were instituted in 1990. His vague promises to curb poverty were enough to beat investment banker Eduardo Montealegre's concrete proposals, thanks to a split opposition, a low victory threshold, and a…

  • Executive Memorandum posted October 23, 2006 by Ana I. Eiras, Stephen Johnson Promote Andean Free Trade But Limit Preferences

    In 2004, the United States began negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These were intended to replace the limited, temporary preferences granted to certain South American countries under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA). Peru and Colombia have signed bilateral trade pro­motion agreements with…

  • WebMemo posted October 19, 2006 by Stephen Johnson Correa vs. Noboa: Ecuador's Choice Between 'Marx' and Markets

    Radical leftist presidential candidate Rafael Correa was favored in opinion polls going into Ecuador's presidential and legislative elections on October 15. In a surprising result, moderate industrialist Alvaro Noboa garnered 27 percent of the vote to Correa's 23 percent, followed by other challengers with counts in the teens and single digits. Noboa and Correa now…

  • WebMemo posted October 10, 2006 by Stephen Johnson, Helle C. Dale Bush's Global Cultural Initiative: A Step Toward Revitalizing U.S. Public Diplomacy

    Ten years ago this month, the 24-person Arts America bureau within the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) got the budget ax-condemned as a Cold War relic. Now, the Bush Administration is wisely reviving it as the Global Cultural Initiative, which launched on September 25.   Spending U.S. tax dollars on fluff is never acceptable, but America's security can't…

  • Commentary posted September 23, 2006 by Stephen Johnson Trash talk at the U.N.

    There was plenty of sulfur in the air at the United Nations on Wednesday, but it wasn't coming from George W. Bush. It was in the fire and brimstone of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Heads of state, including U.S. presidents, have sometimes used the U.N. General Assembly to lambaste other governments. But Chávez's diatribe was over the edge. It painted him as…

  • Commentary posted September 16, 2006 by Stephen Johnson New role for a sore loser

    There was plenty of sulfur in the air at the United Nations on Wednesday, but it wasn't coming from George W. Bush. It was in the fire and brimstone of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Heads of state, including U.S. presidents, have sometimes used the U.N. General Assembly to lambaste other governments. But Chávez's diatribe was over the edge. It painted him…

  • Executive Memorandum posted September 6, 2006 by Stephen Johnson, Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., William L. T. Schirano Countering Hugo Chávez?s Anti-U.S. Arms Alliance

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has embarked on a military buildup, to counter alleged U.S. plans to invade his country, and has recently visited Rus­sia, Iran, China, Syria, and other countries to final­ize purchases and lobby for a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Chavez's aggressive policies could endanger U.S. allies in Latin America and a major source of…

  • WebMemo posted August 23, 2006 by Stephen Johnson Cuba Loses a Hero, But Labor Proposals Remain

    On August 8, Cuban human rights activist Gustavo Arcos Bergnes succumbed to respiratory and kidney ailments. Suffering years in jail and bad health for peacefully opposing Fidel Castro's dictatorship, Arcos was a tireless, patient crusader for democracy and civil liberties in Cuba. Oddly, Fidel Castro considers himself a hero for holding onto power while…

  • WebMemo posted August 4, 2006 by Stephen Johnson Public Diplomacy for Cuba at Fidel Castro's Last Gasp

    Fidel Castro is nothing if not a master thespian. His disappearance and purported power shift to his brother Raúl on July 31 is still a mystery. According to Miami Herald columnist Andrés Oppenheimer, it could be a cynical charade to smoke out disloyal underlings or a genuine health crisis, or perhaps the dictator died and the regime needs time to regroup. In any…

  • Commentary posted August 2, 2006 by Stephen Johnson Springtime for Cuba?

    On Monday, July 31, Fidel Castro's secretary read a letter in which the 79-year-old Cuban dictator temporarily purports to delegate authority to his brother Raúl Castro, first vice president of the Council of State and minister of the armed forces. Apparently stress from the dictator's recent trip to Argentina for a Southern Cone Common Market meeting resulted in…

  • WebMemo posted July 24, 2006 by Ana I. Eiras, Stephen Johnson Six Strategic Reasons to Support a U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement

    Populist nationalism emanating from Venezuela seeks to counter U.S. influence in Latin America, while Chinese deal-making is undermining the region's slow evolution towards market-based economies. At the same time, congressional opponents of the Bush Administration are eager to block trade agreements to hand the President an election-year defeat. But failure to…