March 8, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Bush's message to Latin America

As President Bush embarks on his week-long trip to Latin America, and leftist or nationalist protesters are already gearing up for a loud "welcome," pundits and analysists are offering him all sorts of (free) advice. At, Helle Dale says Bush should "Urge Mexico to Adopt Economic Reforms," apparently unaware that any such pressure from the gringos usually backfires. Most of her recommendations are sensible, but human nature being what it is, the Mexicans will have to arrive at that conclusion on their own. Broaching the very sensitive topic of privatizing PEMEX and other state monopolies right now would not be prudent. Ms. Dale notes correctly that the forces of reason and moderation are still prevailing in most of the region, for the moment. Who would have ever thought that Alan Garcia would be considered a positive influence? Live and learn...

Andres Oppenheimer offers four suggestions for Bush at (before the Democrats make such a Kennedyesque appeal next year!):

It would be nice if the U.S. government could devote enough resources and attention to such an ambitious cooperation program, but the war on terror will make that difficult. Given that his credibility is not high to begin with, Bush should not promise more than he can deliver.

Political showdown in Ecuador

Fearing for its political life (and perhaps the future of pluralistic politics in Ecuador), the opposition-controlled Congress voted to dismiss the head of the electoral tribunal, because of his decision to approve the referendum sought by the new (leftist) president, Rafael Correa. That official, "in turn, ordered the removal from office of the 57 deputies who voted against him." What gives him that authority? Correa is trying to to restructure the country's entire political system from the ground up, beginning with Congress, and he is resorting to extraordinary means to push his agenda. See BBC. The establishment will not go quietly, and the possibility of violence cannot be discounted. Ecuador used to be relatively tranquil but became extremely unstable in the late 1990s, thanks primarily to the foolish squandering of the nation's oil wealth. I continue to be amazed at how audacious and reckless Correa has turned out to be, in spite of his background in higher education. Chalk it up to headstrong egotism and youthful inexperience -- like Alan Garcia in the 1980s.

Latin America page updates

The Latin American wars page has been updated and revised, with the War Of The Pacific and Chaco War now appearing as separate pages. Other pages in that category are in the process of being updated as well.