Instead of detailed analysis, the Washington foreign policy establishment has long been hungry for generalizations about Latin America. Academics call them “heuristics” — quick-and-dirty mental shorthand that can sum up the story line for the region in just a few words.
In the ’60s it was Fidel Castro vs. Yankee imperialism. The ’80s were the “lost decade” of economic stagnation. In the ’90s there was the turn to neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus, followed by the “pink tide” of elected left-wingers in the 2000s.
Yet the shorthand peddlers may have outlived their usefulness. The region is now facing upheavals that resist easy categorization.… Seguir leyendo »
Long lines of motorists have been forming outside Mexican gas stations these past couple of weeks as reports of disruptions to fuel supplies spread, sending drivers scrambling for fuel. A vicious cycle took hold: Talk of shortages set off panic buying, and panic buying worsened the shortages. But there was no natural disaster behind the initial supply blip, just a blunder by the new populist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, that doubles as a troubling sign of the direction that populists in the hemisphere are taking.
During the campaign, López Obrador (or AMLO, as Mexicans refer to their new president) had promised to crack down on fuel theft, a serious problem in Mexico, where criminal groups routinely tap into remote pipelines and sell the stolen fuel.… Seguir leyendo »
For fans of “Black Mirror,” Charlie Brooker’s dark dystopian fantasy on Netflix, the news out of China recently had been disconcerting. Through its Social Credit System, the Chinese Communist Party is apparently determined to build out a real-world version of the streaming nightmare: a pervasive, highly intrusive AI-enabled surveillance system that tracks you all day every day and that largely determines all of your life chances.
Social Credit is creepy enough in its own terms, but the real question is whether it will remain quarantined in China’s huge walled garden, or whether it will spread, becoming a model for repressive regimes worldwide.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s a protest movement nobody saw coming. For more than a week now, tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have been out on the streets protesting the Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega. They’ve faced tear gas and bullets that have left more than 30 dead. Yet far from fading, the protests have grown. The citizens have begun tearing down the propaganda billboards and metal trees that Ortega’s government have so carefully erected in the country’s towns over the past 10 years. University students are calling for a new government.
Several protest groups have started talks with the government. Whether that dialogue succeeds or fails, Ortega’s government now looks much less stable than it did just two weeks ago.… Seguir leyendo »