Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 on Two Weeks Notice

Mike Allison's post made me think of figuring out what post got the most hits in 2015. It was a January post on rumors of a Venezuelan coup. Of course, it is also a reminder that rumors are just...rumors. From a blogging perspective, Venezuela is always a hot topic. I don't see that changing in 2016. I am not big on predictions, but I predict the biggest post of 2016 will also be Venezuela, and may well be something on executive-legislative relations.

What's also interesting is that reviews of academic books often get a lot of hits. I still get tons of hits for a 2008 review of Leo Chavez's The Latino Threat. Same goes for a 2010 review of Tim Henderson's book A Glorious Defeat (on the 1846-1848 war with Mexico). From the searches, I get the strong suspicion that the books are being assigned in classes and students are trying to find synopses and/or some ready-made analysis.

This is my fourth year as department chair, and not coincidentally my number of posts decreased for the fourth year in a row in 2015, down to about 5.5 posts per week. I don't have any particular goals in that regard--I just write when I get an idea and have time.

The big blogging news for 2016 is that in January I will have my 10th anniversary writing this blog. After an entire decade, it's still literally fun. In some ways, it's even more fun because I am so busy with administrative work--it feels good to carve out a little time during the week to do something creative and to focus on a topic of endless fascinating for me.

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Raúl Castro's Pragmatism

Granma just published a speech by Raúl Castro that focused on the economy and foreign policy. Some highlights:

--the U.S. is to blame for anything wrong with the Cuban economy.
--the U.S. is to blame for Cuban migration
--the right (read: U.S.) is to blame for the Venezuelan elections
--the right (read: U.S.) is to blame for the Venezuelan economy
--the right (read: U.S.) is to blame for impeachment calls in Brazil
--Cuba is a responsible citizen of the global capitalist economy

There was no "viva" at the end, and presumably no shouting. Just "muchas gracias."

Basically, you have all the normal anti-U.S. rhetoric while Castro continues to work quietly to normalize Cuba's relationship not only with the U.S. but also with the rest of the world (e.g. debt). All the references to Venezuela lead very logically to that broader normalization because the combination of oil prices and an opposition legislative victory mean Cuba must make things right with other global economic actors. And now.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Israel Trolls Brazil

Diplomacy is a delicate thing, especially when the relationship between two countries is not strong. If you actually want to strengthen ties, then intentionally angering the other side is self-defeating. Such is the case with Israel's decision to a) tweet the announcement of its ambassador to Brazil rather than use regular channels; b) choose the former head of a West Bank settler movement; and c) start pressuring Brazil publicly to accept him.

This is either a power play or the policy of a tone deaf government. Perhaps both. Regardless, it is a very bad move on Israel's part in a decidedly pro-Palestinian part of the world (and this is not about populism or ideology, but rather historical migration patterns). It just cements a negative image.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem

I read Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem, which is a remarkable book. It ties together the Chinese Cultural Revolution, physics, and contact with another civilization in space.

It's the sort of book you read and realize how incredibly intelligent the author is, so that you sort of marvel at some of the ideas. Without spoiling it, the narrative follows Chinese scientists who are trying to make connection with space aliens, and how people in general react to that. In particular, many people feel that aliens--sight unseen--must be superior to humans and could solve all the problems we are unable to solve ourselves.

More philosophically, it asks the question of how we would respond if we started to believe that we would all be killed within a few hundred years. Would that simply lead to mass depression and suicide? Or, as the characters think about it, what can bugs do when they know they'll be squashed?


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Milicogate and the Copper Law in Chile

There is an infamous law in Chile providing the military with 10% of sales from Codelco, the state copper company. President after president has introduced legislation to derogate it, but all unsuccessful. Everyone talked about it ~20 years ago as I started my dissertation research on civil-military relations in Chile, and here it stands.

Could it possibly be venality that finally creates consensus? #Milicogate ("milico" is slang for someone in the military) is a multi-year (2010-2014), multimillion case of fraud, involving siphoning of the funds. In response, the Bachelet government announced it will propose reforms in 2016. The funds are shrouded in secrecy, which makes no sense at all in a democratic context. That secrecy predates the Pinochet dictatorship, incidentally. The entire structure of the law is from a distant era.

The army commander in chief, Humberto Oviedo, had to testify before a congressional commission, and is scrambling to convince legislators that such a thing won't happen again. Seems like a propitious time for change. The main challenge is to establish a new law that provides stable, long-term military planning, which has traditionally been the reason the right supports the law.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ominous vs. Flapping Your Trap in Venezuela

Here's an article in Foreign Policy about the "institutional civil war" brewing in Venezuela.

Last Wednesday, Diosdado Cabello, the head of the outgoing parliament, announced the creation of a new and unelected “Communal Congress,” whose members he then invited to convene at the parliament building. Soon after, Maduro rather ominouslyfloated the idea of transferring “all power” to the new body.

Here's my question. Over the past several years, both Cabello and Maduro have made all sorts of comments that have been labeled "ominous." Perhaps the most notable was the "civil-military union" thing. But for the most part, these ominous omens have in fact been leaders flapping their traps.

There is a lot of flap trapping going on, which is pretty inexcusable for people in the highest political positions of a country. It does mean, though, that their current statements must be measured by their past flapping. I have a hard time seeing an autogolpe happening in Venezuela. The election made clear that the domestic response would be violent, and the military has little appetite for such a scenario. I doubt a shadow congress will matter, even if it actually ever exists, but transferring power to it would be an autogolpe.

No elected official should make such anti-democratic statements. Oddly enough, though, they may well be a sign of weakness rather than true threat. Maduro is not having an easy time garnering forces to effectively block the opposition, so what he has left are incessant threats, veiled or otherwise.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Self-Loathing in Academia

Perhaps because they're trained to be critical, academics seem to love criticizing themselves and their profession. We're even at a point where someone who left academia but coaches Ph.D.s to get into academia asks whether academia is "good" and defends herself from those who say it's odd to coach people to enter a profession you left and don't think is good. 

So I like this post by Martin Kich at The Academe Blog, responding to a piece in Salon that argued academia turns people into assholes and it's better to wait tables.

All of us bore the crap out of people by talking about our jobs, and because academics are more articulate than many other people, they are particularly adept at boring the crap out of people in this way.

Exactly. One of the reasons there is a firehose of self-criticism and even self-loathing (e.g. "I chose a profession that made me into an asshole!!") is that we are used to writing arguments, much more so than most other professions. We like doing that. But too often we don't do it very well.

Academia can seem like a weird profession, and most people not involved in it have very little idea of what we do all day. But it is still just a profession, and all professions have their problems. I don't think academia has more--funding crises and corporate management are not exclusive to academia, for example--but we just write about it endlessly.

It's good to be self-critical, so we should be making sure we don't turn into assholes. The problem is that despite our analytical skills, we're too quick to take anecdotes and make them into generalizations about the entire profession. My department is actually full of nice people who hang out together and talk about non-academic things. I could write an article saying academia is full of nice people, and of course I'd be wrong. My truth is not everyone's truth, and vice versa.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Melillo's Strangers on Familiar Soil

I read Edward Dallam Melillo's book Strangers on Familiar Soil: Rediscovering the Chile-California Connection (2015) to review for Journal of Interdisciplinary History. It's a history of bilateral relations, and he paints a really interesting picture of how much California and Chile have influenced each other, but also how much of that influence doesn't get acknowledged. So, for example, the building of San Francisco during the Gold Rush had a lot to do with Chilean labor and agriculture, but few are aware of that.

That relationship is not always positive. A snippet from the review:

Chileans (like other foreigners, especially Mexicans) were also harassed, attacked, hanged, and lynched, all in the name of civilization. Indeed, the tone of the book tends toward the negative, where Chile gets the short end of the transnational stick. Californians brought wine knowledge and Monterey pines to Chile, for example, but that had all sorts of negative social and environmental repercussions. Californian academics in the 1960s celebrated scientific exchanges that took more than they gave (though, to be fair, they called for their termination after the 1973 coup). As Melillo notes, “Chile’s landscapes underwent profound transformations to supply the ingredients for California’s increasingly ravenous metabolic cycles” (200). 

It would be interested to do an analysis of the post-dictatorship era. How much is that ravenous appetite still going?


Ending the Cuban Adjustment Act

The New York Times has an editorial calling for the end of the Cuban Adjustment Act.

This system has been a boon for human smugglers in Latin America and created burdens for countries from Ecuador to Mexico through which they move. It has also been used by Cuba as a pretext to impose strict controls on its people and prevented the American government from conducting the type of thorough security vetting that all other immigrants receive.

I was once asked by a reporter whether I thought ISIS could exploint Cuban
immigrants, and my answer was no. I don't see the security issue as critical, though from a strategic perspecitve it clearly could be used very effectively to gain some votes.

More importantly, the current environment creates a strong incentive for Cubans to come now, anticipating the policy will end. The human smuggling and dangerous crossings will continue. The Band-Aid should just be pulled off quickly, and Cubans treated like other migrants.

I've made this argument for years, and so far the Obama administration isn't listening. The State Department just released this statement:

One topic of particular interest this past year was immigration. U.S. policy, which has not changed, emphasizes the safe, legal, and orderly migration of Cubans to the United States. Both the U.S. and Cuban governments are concerned by the efforts of human traffickers to exploit the fears of some Cubans and to encourage a mass exodus to the United States. We are in regular discussions with Havana about how to prevent smuggling organizations from achieving their illicit aims.

Riiiiiiiiighhhhttt. Our "wet foot, dry foot" policy is the opposite of safe, legal, and orderly. It's a big fat mess and was made on the run 20 years ago. Of course, it's important for the administration to say it's a great policy right up until the moment that it gets changed. I get that.

So we're stuck for the moment, and that isn't good for anyone.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Imaginary Moderate Rebels

From yesterday's Democratic candidate debate:

Mrs. Clinton all but accused her rivals of naïveté. “I think it’s fair to say Assad has killed, by last count, about 250,000 Syrians,” she said, adding that she had wanted to arm the moderate Syrian opposition years ago to avoid the creation of a dangerous power vacuum. “I wish it could be either-or,” she said.

This is a pet peeve of mine. When there is a civil war, U.S. policy makers seem to always convince themselves there is a third option between regime and radical opponents. We did so in Cuba in the late 1950s and again in Nicaragua in the 1970s. It is a way to signal to your domestic supporters that you oppose a dictator while assuring your opponents that you won't let bad guys take over. This middle ground is pretty much imaginary.

Hillary Clinton is basically saying she clung to the mirage for a long time and now just wants regime change. It's not good policy but at least it's more honest.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Non-State Actors in U.S.-Latin American Relations

Frank Mora and Brian Fonseca have an interesting article in Prism, a security studies journal connected to the National Defense University. Their main argument is that we need to look more at non-state interactions to really understand U.S.-Latin American relations.

The “real action” or impact is occurring below the state at other levels of interaction where non-state actors and individuals, such as universities, small to large companies, churches, transnational civil society organizations, media, etc. interact with their counterparts throughout the hemisphere in an organic way giving texture and meaning to U.S.-LAC relations. 

I agree with this, and have argued before that the "grand strategy" approach, which is tied to the "we're ignoring Latin America" thing, is wrongheaded.

I'd like to think about how to measure this because it is ripe for more study. It's harder than simply analyzing aid, trade, treaties, pacts, etc. It's really about measuring soft power.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sweaty on Immigration

I like this graphic from The New York Times about how Republican candidates insult each other's stances on immigration.

This is of course going to matter later once the party determines their candidate and has to appeal to a broader swath of voters. But for now we'll be seeing more over-the-top insults.


More Unaccompanied Children Arriving

A new influx of unaccompanied children are arriving, once again from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

In October and November, more than 10,500 children crossed the U.S.-Mexico border by themselves, the vast majority from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, according to U.S. government data analyzed by the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank. That’s a 106 percent increase over the same period year, reflecting a steady increase that began in March.

In the past two years there has been quite a bit of debate about causation, which remain mostly unanswered because you can't explain variation (changes in the numbers) with a constant (violence and insecurity).

One possibility the article suggests is how the smuggling of unaccompanied children has become a booming illegal business. Some of the increase could there be attributed to more active recruitment by human smugglers making promises.

You may have noticed that in the past two years we've seen pretty minimal response rather than reactive. There is this massive Central America aid bill floating around but it's not even always clear how it'll get to the heart of this particular matter. Because of the Paris and San Bernadino attacks, unlike in the past this issue will likely get less attention than it did before.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Pragmatic Shift in Latin America

Eric Farnsworth has a very nice piece at the Huffington Post on Latin America's "pragmatic turn." The current mood is about rejecting what hasn't worked, which is not the same as shifting to the right. Money quote:

They are not looking for alternatives to populist governance due to a sudden conversion to Friedrich Hayek.

This is like my recent post on binary thinking about Latin America. It's not a shift from left to right. It's a shift away from incumbents. The more this is recognized, the better.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Unemployment in Latin America

The International Labour Organization has a new report out on unemployment in Latin America. The news isn't pretty.

In 2015, the unemployment rate in Latin America and the Caribbean increased for the first time in five years to 6.7 per cent, causing at least 1.7 million people to join the ranks of the unemployed, according to the ILO's annual report released today, in which the impact of the slowdown on economic growth in the labour market is recorded. 
The 2015 Labour Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean warned of a "turnaround" in the employment indicators, with a deterioration in the employment situation of women and youth, and indications of rising informality through "increased generation of lower quality jobs."
Here are the numbers by country.

Note that, like with so many things, ideology doesn't matter. Countries with center-right or left governments alike have better (Ecuador and Mexico) or worse (Colombia and Brazil).

It's interesting that for all the legitimate concerns about economic slowdown, current unemployment numbers are still better now in most countries than they were in 2005.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Transnational Dreams of Chavez and Lula

Chris Sabatini has an article in Foreign Policy analyzing the problems in Venezuela and Brazil, and how they eroded the dreams their governments had of transnational influence. Unfortunately, the title is really misleading--the article has nothing to do with the "sad" death (or any other kind of death) of the entire Latin American left.

One point I would make is that it's not just economic crisis that hit the dreams of Hugo Chavez and Lula. It's also that their successors simply didn't share the dream. Neither Maduro nor Rousseff had anywhere near the same kind of transnational ambitions, in part because they had to deal with problems at home, but in part because they're just different people.

Anyway, go check it out. He takes some pokes.

At the same time, with oil prices surging to $100 a barrel, Chávez became both the champion of the extreme anti-globalization left and the bête noir of the U.S. right. Seemingly respectable economists like Mark Weisbrot and members of the Hollywood glitterati, like Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, and Sean Penn, embraced his populist petro-patronage, under which the government established subsidized food banks and pumped up state employment as a viable economic and political alternative to the United States and the economic orthodoxy of Washington Consensus reforms of the 1990s. 
The left’s embrace of Chávez was, in part, a reflection of its mutual disregard for the George W. Bush administration and, in part, a genuine-but-misguided belief that Chávez’s self-proclaimed Bolivarian revolution was sustainable. This pro-Chavista solidarity required that one ignore his silence on progressive issues like the environment and LGBT rights, and the very real economic and institutional damage he was doing to his country by making it even more dependent on oil exports, inflating its currency, politicizing the military, and packing the judicial system with partisan allies.

So, food for thought.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Binary Thinking About Latin America

The presidential election in Argentina and legislative elections in Venezuela have unleashed a torrent of low-quality analysis, the likes of which we haven't seen in years (maybe not since the 2009 Honduran coup). Front and center is the persistence of binary thinking. I used to criticize the Bush administration for its insistence on Cold War/GWOT binary perceptions of good guy/bad guy and capitalist/communist, but it is apparently deeply embedded universally.

Thus, we have left/right, which is painfully inadequate for understanding what's going on in Latin America. But we also have populist/non-populist; pro-U.S./anti-U.S, and others.

And this is so very deeply embedded, even across the ideological spectrum. So we even have self-proclaimed socialists analyzing the elections, and coming up with yet another: left/pseudo-left.

Pseudo-left organization, both in Latin America and internationally, promoted Chavez’s “Bolivarian revolution” as some new road to socialism. These political elements, whose politics reflect the interests of more privileged layers of the middle class, were attracted to chavismo precisely because it represented not an independent movement of the working class from below, but rather a bourgeois movement that subordinated the workers to a charismatic “comandante,” whose policies were directed at mediating the explosive class struggle in Venezuela.

From a psychological perspective, it's interesting that everybody seems to buy into the binary way of thinking. People like heuristics. It represents an easy shortcut people can use that makes complicated situations appear simple and perhaps therefore also easier to solve.

The problem, of course, is that it's all bullshit. If forced to apply a binary category to these elections, the only one that really works is incumbent/challenger. But the prevailing categories are all rooted in ideology, which of course represents another simplistic shortcut people use to understand the crazy and complex world around them.

In short, ideological binary thinking pretty much gums up the works. Using it makes you understand the situation less and greatly increases the chances that you will not accurately assess it (e.g. why we saw the electoral outcomes in Argentina and Venezuela). If applied by the winners themselves, it will means screwing up by overestimating how ideological the votes were.


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The Diversity of Chavismo

I highly recommend Hugo Pérez Hernáiz's roundup of the Chavista reaction to the Venezuelan elections. The key point: diversity.

Government and pro-government forces have been reacting to Sunday’s adverse elections results. Comments have ranged from the self-critical to the blaming of an “economic war” waged by the opposition.

It is tempting and easy to portray Chavismo as a bloc.This usually involves taking quotes from Nicolás Maduro and/or Diosdado Cabello, both of whom are relentlessly hyperbolic, and attributing that to their constituents. But that isn't even close to accurate.

That fact is also important for understanding why Maduro would choose not to take the extreme measures his opponents feared he might, and which he indirectly alluded to himself. Knowing the diversity within his own loose coalition, he knows such measures would not receive universal acclaim. Perhaps not even majority support.


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

U.S. Congressional Reaction to Venezuela Elections

I'm quoted in this story about the reaction in the U.S. Congress to the Venezuelan elections. The regular suspects want to punish Venezuela more  even though Nicolás Maduro did what they wanted, which was to hold free elections and respect the results.

“I call on the administration to denounce the environment leading up to the elections and impose sanctions on those individuals that caused voting irregularities on election day, a dangerous atmosphere for opposition political parties and a lopsided playing field,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

Read more here:

This doesn't make any sense. Even Mauricio Macri has backed off his calls to suspend Venezuela from Mercosur. Any sanctions or other punishments isolate the U.S. and would make us look foolish. Instead of a carrot and a stick, it's just a stick and a bigger stick. We already saw how well that worked for 50+ years with Cuba.


Monday, December 07, 2015

6D Aftermath in Venezuela

The opposition won in yesterday's legislative elections in Venezuela. Current totals are 99 seats vs. 49 for the PSUV, with 22 still not reported. How those 22 shake out will be important because they add up to a supermajority. No analysis will be very useful until we know those numbers.

This is a huge deal, but a normal one. Venezuela will undergo the same pains that other Latin American countries have experienced when the left and right stop dominating the political system. This is vertical accountability and the incumbent regime took an electoral beating. That does not mean the "end" of Chavismo. So far the government's response is measured, which bodes well, but it's going to be a tough road ahead.

One important takeaway, and one the New York Times noted very well, is that Venezuelans were not really voting for the opposition. Many didn't even know--or care--the name of the person they were voting for. The biggest electoral mistake opposition leaders can make is to assume they have a mandate for sweeping change. This isn't #LaSalida.


Friday, December 04, 2015

What To Watch In The Venezuelan Elections

I wrote at Latin America Goes Global on what to watch for in the Venezuelan elections. If you were really interested, you could read it in tandem with yesterday's post on Venezuelan malapportionment. Anyway, go check out Latin America Goes Global.


Thursday, December 03, 2015

Rejecting the Word Reject in Political Science

Jeffrey Isaac, editor of Perspectives on Politics, has a thoughtful post in Duck of Minerva about not using the word "rejection."

The purpose of decision letters is not to say “yes” or “no.” It is to communicate honestly with every author in a way that is substantive and scholarly, and also collegial, constructive, and encouraging—which I take to be important scholarly values. And by communicating in such a way, we are fostering an intellectual community based on intellectual seriousness and mutual respect.

I'm undecided on this. Being polite and collegial is important, and so I can see how "decline" could be viewed as much more collegial than "reject." At The Latin Americanist we do use the "decline for publication." It would be interesting to go through a list of journals and catalog what language they use.

At the same time, I wonder how much this changes the relationship between editor and author. In other words, I am not sure how transformative it is for that relationship or for the discipline. Regardless of what you say, the person's paper will not get published in that journal, and they must now sort through discussions of why reviewers felt that way. Does "decline" make that an easier process?

I've submitted plenty of articles, and had plenty rejected/declined. Frankly, I don't remember much about the language of any of them. For fun and self-flagellation, I went back over a few in recent years. I see "decided not to accept." Another actually never said "decline" or "reject" but simply explained, finishing with "this is not a great fit." Another was "I am sorry to inform you that your manuscript will not be published." I tend to submit to interdisciplinary journals so I am not sure if straight political science journals are different.


Venezuelan Malapportionment and 6D

At The Monkey Cage, John Carey argues that not believing in the Venezuelan government's conspiracy theories mean a major win for the opposition. He, Brandon Nyhan, and Thomas Zeitzoff even conducted a nationwide survey in Venezuela.

Looking ahead to Sunday, these survey results suggest that a clean election (if the government allows it) should deliver a massive setback to the PSUV. The numbers look bad for chavismo in terms of outright loyalists, and the opinions that underlie political identity suggest that far more ni-nis should break toward the opposition than the PSUV.

Interesting, though one big question is where these opinions break down. It's very likely the opposition will win a majority, but because of malapportionment the size of that majority (i.e. "massive setback") depends in large part on the opposition's ability to win over rural voters. Their case would be stronger if the mapped it, showing how the perceptions of conspiracy theories were tied to seats.


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Venezuelan Election Quote

I'm quoted in this story on the Venezuelan elections. My bit focuses on the fact that the opposition has not been good at admitting that some of the Chavista reforms are popular and--gasp--maybe even good. Maduro is unpopular and there are all kinds of problems in the country, but yet that does not mean voter support necessarily shifts to the opposition. People may not like Maduro but they are not big fans of the opposition either.


Quantitative Social Science Latin America position

I am very excited about a new position we just got, and I am chair of the search committee. Please take a look and apply! At the very least, please let others know about it. I am happy to talk to anyone who has any questions.

This position is a tenure-track Assistant Professor who studies Latin America in any social science discipline. A successful candidate must use quantitative methodology. We seek a scholar who will contribute to the interdisciplinary Latin American Studies program at both the undergraduate and graduate (M.A.) levels. The tenure home will be in a disciplinary department: Africana Studies, Anthropology, Communication Studies, Criminal Justice & Criminology, Geography & Earth Sciences, Political Science & Public Administration, or Sociology. Required qualifications are: 1) a Ph.D. in any social science discipline; 2) expertise in quantitative methods; and 3) a commitment to excellence in teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The Latin American Studies program offers an M.A., B.A., and a minor. It has 14 core faculty members over eight departments and two colleges. The successful candidate will assume a 2-2 teaching load, two of which will be graduate and/or undergraduate courses in Latin American Studies.  The successful candidate will normally have the opportunity to develop new courses which support Latin American programming. 

Review of applications will begin January 4, 2016 and will continue until the position is filled. Applications must be submitted electronically to Please attach the following documents with your electronic application: (1) letter of application outlining your scholarly interests and agenda, including teaching experience, related to the qualifications outlined above; (2) curriculum vitae; (3) a copy of graduate transcript; (4) one sample of professional writing; and (5) the names and contact information for three references.

Questions may be directed to Professor Gregory Weeks, LTAM Search Committee Chair, UNC Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd, Fretwell 430, Charlotte, NC 28223 or

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is a doctoral, research intensive university located in one of the country’s fastest growing metropolitan areas on an expanding, modern campus. One of sixteen campuses in one of the oldest public university systems in the United Sates, UNC Charlotte offers over 27,000 culturally diverse students a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs.  The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences houses twenty departments in the humanities, social and behavioral sciences, physical sciences, and military sciences, as well as eight research centers and institutes and thirteen interdisciplinary programs. 

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is an AA/EOE and an ADVANCE Institution that strives to create an academic climate in which the dignity of all individuals is respected and maintained. It values diversity that includes, but is not limited to ability/disability, age, culture, ethnicity, gender, language, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status. Applicants will be subject to a criminal background check.  


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Regional Response to Elections

Andreas Feldmann, Federico Merke, and Oliver Stuenkel have an article worth reading about the silence of Latin American governments with regard to the Venezuelan elections.

The typical way of understanding this is a "history of non-intervention" argument. Primarily because of the U.S. proclivity for widespread intervention, Latin American governments have responded by going far in the opposite direction. But the authors suggest that individual leaders matter. Lula was effective for a while, but then later wasn't. They also mention the "will" of individuals.

I think this would be an excellent research topic. How heavy is the weight of history, or is it just a convenient explanation? If we want to emphasize individuals, how should we measure that?  What are the structural factors that contribute to those individual decisions? Most importantly, we should look for domestic considerations that might show us patterns about when presidents/administrations are more or less likely to become vocal about elections in other countries. Further, we would also need to explain timing--at what point do concerns become so great that they speak out.

In short, I don't think the "history of non-intervention" is satisfactory, and this article is at least getting at different ways of thinking about. Latin American governments do push their counterparts sometimes. We just don't have a good handle on when and why.


Latin America on the Campaign Trail

Hillary Clinton made some comments at the Atlantic Council, and the Republican Party lashed back.

"I believe firmly that no region in the world, no region, is more important to our long-term prosperity and security than Latin America," Clinton said to applause. 
Not forgetting that she's on the campaign trail, Clinton used the forum to take a jab at some of her GOP rivals regarding Latin American and Caribbean issues. 
"I know there are Americans who only think of Latin America as a land of crime and coups. They're very out of date," she said. 
"They want to return to a failed policy on Cuba and cut our ties instead of strengthening them. They talk about deportation and walls, instead of recognizing that America's diversity is our greatest strength and supporting meaningful reform that will keep families together, benefits all of us," she said. 
The Republican Party jabbed back: "As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ignored our allies in Latin America, leaving the region vulnerable to brutal dictators, violence, and oppression. Hillary Clinton's actions, or lack thereof, speak louder than words," party spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement.

It's hard to see how the region is vulnerable to brutal dictators, or what allies we ignored. If anything, the statement almost literally proves Clinton is right. This is likely the sort of thing we'll keep hearing when Latin America--especially Cuba--is mentioned. In this particular quote the Republican Party seems to be describing Latin America as a nasty cesspool, which is the fault of the Democratic Party to boot. The "land of crime and coups."


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