Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Americas round-up

Barack Obama has dominated sufficient media time in recent month so I won't spend time writing about his presidential inauguration and concurrent events in the United States, other than saying that we have lived through an historic moment and a promising one too.

Further south, in the tiny haven of democracy and stability in the Central American isthamus called Costa Rica, earthquakes have caused devastation. Over 20 people have been killed and almost 500 homes have been ruined by the natural disasters. The Costa Rican government is rightly concerned about the effects on the nation's tourist industry, an integral part of the nation's economy and a significant source of foreign exchange.

South of the Panama Canal things are quite busy. President Jagdeo of Guyana has had his dirty laundry aired publically and Bolivan President Evo Morales is attempting to modify the Bolivian Constitution in a controversial move which will likely further polarise that land-locked South American republic. Morales, not unlike his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez, is revered by many and scorned by an equity. But unlike Chavez, Morales' core support is, and will remain unflinching due to the fact that he is the first indigenous president of a nation first which is primarily indigenous in composition. Bolovia has threatened to split into two nations in the past and has teetered on the edge of civil war. That isn't improbable if unrest continues and is exaserbated by the pro and anti Morales groups. The struggle of course is about more that a single man, rather it is about what he represents and what he is attempting to do. In my estimation, the biggest mistake Evo can make is allowing himself to become too influenced by Chavez's blinding anti-Americanism and increasing despotism. It pays to remember that constitutions and dictatorships are not mutually exclusive. Indeed Chavez's revered predecessor "The Libarator" Simon Bolivar wrote constitutions like they were notes, but was ultimately a dictator. Such activity has a long and storied history in Hispanic American history. Morales' proposals will invariably add fuel to the flames that burn in Bolivia.

Eastward across the Parecis mountains into Brazil 5 South American presidents (Morales, Chavez, Rafael Correra of Ecuador, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay and were joined by Brazil's Lula da Silva) were cheered by over 100,000 activists who had descended on the Amazonian city of Belem for the annual World Social Forum. South across the pantanal wetlands and over the Rio Plata into Argentina and skeletons of livestock are piling up in the scorching sun of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer as the worst drought in a generation turns much of Argentina’s breadbasket into a dust bowl.The nation faces losing billions of dollars in agricultural exports as a result. Argentines may receive some relief followinf President Cristina Fernandez's renogotiation of foreign debt repayments.

The Americas

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