Friday, December 18, 2009

Denise Stanley's Letter regarding the Abstention Rate Controversy in Honduras

Thanks so much for continuing to cover the events in Honduras! It has dropped out of the mainstream press, yet the problems remain. Many people in California remain outraged with the State Department's policy on this issue, and it is only through follow-up research that the true underlying problems in Honduras will be revealed.

As I mentioned in my earlier email I was always concerned about the survey results reported in the press about Zelaya having no support in Honduras. I remain convinced that a serious rural-urban split underlies Honduran politics and this has not been picked up in survey efforts or reporting. I hope that further analysis of the election results and absenteeism will be done.

Finally I did want to congratulate Michaela D'Ambrosio for her excellent piece on the economic backdrop to the coup and the subsequent effects. The populism model advocated by Zelaya clearly scared the Honduran elite, and apart from a few sentences in the LA Times I don't think the US press mentioned economics much. The country's future economic picture does not look bright as Michaela mentions. The Washington Post seemed to say that since remittances have continued to Honduras the country should be fine. But ECLAC just reported on Monday that Honduras will have the worst (negative) growth outcomes in all of Latin America in 2010.

Well since the postings on your blog have been so strident I just wanted to send this email to say thanks again for your work.

Cheers,

Denise Stanley, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Economics
California State University-Fullerton


We thank Dr. Stanley for her observations and want to take this opportunity to proudly announce that she has just been appointed a COHA Senior Research Fellow.

Sincerely,

COHA Staff

Friday, December 11, 2009

Loveman Speaks

Con todo respeto, and after years of admiring COHA's efforts, the piece on Correa was not acceptable.

I do not admire "radical populism," whatever that means (to SOUTHCOM or Congress -- and Obama has no clue) just as I did not admire Peron or Ibanez or even Haya de la Torre. But basic historical accuracy is important for credibility over the long-term.

My suggestion, for what it is worth, is that before such opinion pieces go out over the web some more senior person review the work of younger colleagues. Or, without compromising COHA independence, maybe country specialist could take a look? Most of what you send out is not highly time sensitive. The Correa piece (though it really was not mostly about Correa) could have gone out a week or two weeks later without diminishing its timeliness. In the case of the Correa piece, almost anyone at FLACSO Ecuador (and especially Adrian Bonilla, the director) could have helped with the historical errors.

In my opinion, there is no sense compromising the efforts to change U.S. policy toward the region by allowing obvious errors to go out under/over COHA imprimatur. I realize that you have already begun to deal with the fallout of this particular piece, but my concern is about longer-term credibility and also the internal vetting of such pieces which, once released, are not only read by the old selective audiences of professional journals and remain on the web as for a long time. The political implications of shotgun "research" may have longer-term consequences.

Saludos Cordiales,
Brian Loveman

COHA Bravely Follows the Leader

COHA,

It is a measure of COHA's moral cowardice and leftist bias that it grants Long's huffilly indignant letter its special distribution status. His enthusiasm for Latin America's self-impoverishing left wing revolution identifies him as a shill for increasing and centralizing governmental power. How many experiments of that sort must be observed before the failure of the model is finally acknowledged? It has been pointed out countlesss times, but here it is, again: the movement of millions of immigrants across the globe is from more heavily regulated economies to less heavily regulated ones. When the people vote with their feet, they vote for a smaller central government.Long's incidental defense of FARC seals the case against his standing as an honest critic. He hides behind an incomplete factoid, to wit, that a number of Latin American countries have not classified FARC as a terrorist organization, in order to legitimize that criminal gang. But one need not await the leadership of the Venezuelan government or its bought and paid-for lapdogs, the Argentine ruling family, to note that FARC has kidnapped and currently holds over seven hundred civilian hostages, that it is a drug dealer of considerable scale, and that the government against which it wars is the most honestly elected, broadly supported in South America. FARC is a terrorist organization; everyone knows it, even if not everyone has the courage to say it.My criticism is not aimed at Long; everyone knows what he is. I write to chastise COHA, which so slavishly kowtows to its ideological masters.

Bernard McElhone, Penseur Extraordinaire

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ecuador's Flirtations with Democracy: Correa Does it Somewhat Differently

Ecuador Today: How Does Correa Do It?

Latin America is watching another of its popular presidents, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, lead his country into the 21st century. The fact that he enjoys such high esteem among the population reflects a string of artful campaign strategies and a largely successful attempt to remove the political constraints to his strategic goals. Not alone in his ambition to grant himself unrestricted power, he joins the ranks of regional leaders like Hugo Ch├ívez, who have embarked on a radical and nationalist leadership effort. Correa has pledged economic relief to the poor, renewed political sovereignty to the indigenous, and regional integration. However, in doing so, civil liberties have at times been treated as privileges rather than guaranteed rights. Correa may appeal to the masses, but after fears of haphazard attempts to experiment with democracy in Ecuador, the country lingers in a political limbo, with many unsure as to which direction it will ultimately go.

In comparison to a number of other Latin American countries, Ecuador boasts a relatively stable, mostly-tranquil history that has been free of Pinochet-like military dictatorships, Batista-like presidential coups, and Salvadoran-like civil wars. However, such comparative stability cannot hide the formidable obstacles that face Ecuador today. In the most recent Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which rates countries on a ten-point scale (10 being the least corrupt) according to civilian perceptions, Ecuador received a low 2.2, denoting “rampant corruption.” Furthermore, in recent months under the rule of democratically-elected President Rafael Correa, Ecuador has been accused of harboring terrorists operating against Colombia, threatening to shut down the independent TV station Teleamazonas, and seizing oil fields owned by the Anglo-French company Perenco Corp. Whether or not these actions will directly effect the future of Ecuador’s democratic institutions remains to be seen; however, President Correa’s continuous drift to the left is sure to ignite significant instability, both domestically and in the Andean region.