Category Archives: United States

Friday Film: The War on Democracy

The War on Democracy (2007) is a documentary directed by Christopher Martin and John Pilger about the negative impact that US involvement in Latin America has had on the region. It documents not only past but recent US intervention, and demonstrates the human cost of US actions. There is no doubt that John Pilger has made some great documentaries about Latin America, and especially US involvement in the region, but I am still not quite sure what to think about him. Whether you agree with him or not, the film makes for fascinating viewing.

Full film available here:

The film is also available on google video. For more information see John Pilger’s website and the film’s page on IMDb.

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US Man Detained on US-Mexican Border With 268,000 Bullets

Picture of the back of the truck in Mexican customs

Mexican authorities have announced that they have detained a US-owned truck containing large quantities of ammunition close to Cuidad Juárez just as it crossed the US-Mexican border. Mexican authorities found the truck to contain more than 268,000 rounds of ammunition, mostly for automatic rifles. Although the driver, and the company that he works for, claim that he took the wrong truck at the depot in Texas, their story appears just a little implausible.

The story illustrates the extent to which companies and citizens of the United States are implicated in the violence which is occurring not just in Mexico but throughout the region. While it is widely known that most of the arms that drugs cartels use come from the United States, it is not often that it is demonstrated in such a clear and striking manner. Obama’s stance at the recent Summit of the Americas, however, shows clearly that the United States is still not ready to accept its share of the responsibility for drugs related violence in Latin America.

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ALBA Countries Threaten to Boycott Future Hemispheric Summits

The the Summit fo the Americas concluded today, the countries of the Alternativa para las Américas (ALBA) declared that they would not participate in future summits if Cuba was not invited. In a declaration they condemned the ‘unjustifiable and unsustainable exlcusion of Cuba.’ Before the start of the summit, there was some talk of an ALBA boycott, but finally only Ecuador decided to make good its promise and actually refused to attend. The promise that ALBA members will not participate in the future is just a first step; if they really want to have an impact they will have to follow through with actions. The United States is still the dominant power in the hemisphere, and it will take collective action to change its long entrenched attitude toward Cuba.

In other news, the pierogi continues to be excellent.


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Obama in Cartagena: No to Legalisation of Drugs

Addressing the possible legalisation of drugs at the Summit of the Americas today, American President Barack Obama has dashed the hopes of several Latin American presidents by declaring that the United States is firmly against moves to legalise drugs in the hemisphere. In a debate with Colombian President Juan Santos and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Obama commented that, ‘I think it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are doing more harm than good in certain places,’ although he continued by adding, ‘I personally, and my administration’s position is, that legalization is not the answer.’

This is a blow for leaders such as Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, who has called for a drastic change in Latin America’s thinking on the drugs problem. At the summit he asked for a ‘serious dialogue in which we scientifically analyse what is happening with the war on drugs.’ Even Santos is considering the option of partial legalisation. Despite the fact that Obama claims that he is open to debate, it is clear that the US wants to maintain the status quo, and has even impeded srerious debate on the issue.

I am currently away in Poland at the moment so my posts during the next few days will be on the briefer side while I enjot copious amounts of pierogi.

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Disagreement and Tension Mark Meeting Between Dilma and Obama in Washington

Source: noticias R7

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s first official visit to the United States this week has been marked by confrontation and disagreement. The purpose of the visit was to attempt to strengthen trade, investment and political ties between the two nations, but nothing substantial was agreed. Obama praised Rousseff and Lula for the progress that they have made in Brazil, and especially for aleviating poverty. The meeting, however, was marked by Rousseff’s combative mood; she strongly criticised developed nations for the financial policies that she said were threatening growth amongst emerging nations.

The biggest bone of contention for Brazil appears to be the fact that the US does not want to recognise Brazil as an merging world power. While Obama treated both Chinese and Indian leaders to a ‘state visit,’ which entails a formal banquet at the White House and the possibility to address Congress, Rousseff was on an ‘official visit,’ with less pomp and circumstance. The United States continues to be suspicious of the Brazilian government’s motives, and has been annoyed at Brazilian opposition to American international actions, most recently in Libya.

Both leaders were mistaken in their approach to the meeting; Brazil clearly wants to rival the United States in the Americas, as well as on the world stage, but it is still a long way from achieving that. Although Brazil has gained headway in terms of diplomatic power, and is fast emerging as a regional leader, the US still dominates Latin America economically and militarily. If Brazil covets a greater international role then it would be best advised to cooperate closely with the US, and not appraoch bilateral meetings in a combative mood. The United States must recognise that Brazil is a rising power in the hemisphere, and if it is not yet a great power, it looks likely to be one in the near future. Failing to recognise that fact now could have important ramifications for the US position in the Americas in the near future.

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