May 23, 2013
Associated Press, 5/22/2013
The presidents of Colombia, Peru, Chile and Mexico meet in the western city of Cali on Thursday in hopes of completing a nascent trade bloc that looks to the European Union as a model and aims to further open their trade with Asia. The leaders of Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Spain, all interested in eventually joining the bloc, are due to attend as observers. Costa Rica was signing a free trade agreement with Colombia on Wednesday.
The Pacific Alliance was formally inaugurated last June. All its members but Colombia already belong to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asia-Pacific-wide trading bloc that includes Canada and the United States. In a televised speech Tuesday night, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, an economist and former foreign trade minister, called the alliance essential to “the most important process of integration in the history of Latin America.”
May 22, 2013
The Pan-American Post
On Friday, the Organization of American States (OAS) released a highly anticipated report on drugs and drug trafficking in the hemisphere, which for the first time includes decriminalization and legalization as potential and valid policy options in the hemisphere. Perhaps the most surprising conclusion in the report comes after its assertion that drug use must be addressed as a public health issue. According to the OAS, “decriminalization of drug use needs to be considered as a core element in any public health strategy.” The report’s authors write that a shift is already underway to emphasize prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, as well as a change “from viewing drug users as criminals or accomplices of drug-traffickers to seeing them as victims and chronic addicts.”
Of course, decriminalization and legalization have long been opposed by the biggest market for illicit drugs in the hemisphere: the United States. Even as it has embraced the idea of drug policy as a public health issue, the U.S. has firmly rejected legalization as a solution to drug violence. This position was recently echoed by U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske in an op-ed in Colombia’s El Tiempo. However, with marijuana legalized in Colorado and Washington, and seven states likely to follow in the next few years, the government’s foreign policy position on drug legalization seems untenable. A potential test of this stance will come next week when Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Colombia next week as part of a regional tour.
Click here to read the first and second parts of the OAS report.
May 16, 2013
In the last decade Mexico’s tech industry has flourished, growing three times faster than the global average. Most of that growth is fueled by demand from the United States. But without certain reforms Mexico’s progress can only go so far. On the cover of April’s edition of Forbes Magazine in Mexico is Blanca Treviño. She is the 53-year-old CEO of Softtek, the country’s biggest technology service.
Softtek spans four continents and provides software support to clients that include Fortune 500 companies. The business sector represented by Softtek is one that’s growing rapidly in Mexico thanks in large part to its proximity to the United States, the world’s largest consumer of tech services. “I think it’s safe to say that without the U.S. the Mexico market would not be doing very well,” said Morgan Yeates, an analyst with the IT consulting firm Gartner.
May 7, 2013
“While US immigration policy is a sovereign concern, the country does not function in a void. Major demographic, economic, and social changes are sweeping across Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that are altering the dynamics of the regional migration system and challenging the status quo.”
Click here to read more…
May 7, 2013
The New York Times, 5/4/2013
In February 2009, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. declared that international drug trafficking posed “a sustained, serious threat” to Americans. Two months later, President Obama, in his first visit as president to Mexico, made it clear that no issue dominated relations between the two countries more, saying drug cartels there were “sowing chaos in our communities.”
Last week, Mr. Obama returned to capitals in Latin America with a vastly different message. Relationships with countries racked by drug violence and organized crime should focus more on economic development and less on the endless battles against drug traffickers and organized crime capos that have left few clear victors. The countries, Mexico in particular, need to set their own course on security, with the United States playing more of a backing role.
April 16, 2013
BBC News, 4/16/13
Music streaming service Spotify has launched in Mexico – its first push into the huge Latin American market. The Swedish start-up, which has more than 24 million active users, has also gone live in Asia – in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Launches in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland mean the service is now accessible in a total of 28 countries.
Spotify is the leader in music streaming globally, but analysts expect Apple to make its move soon. It is believed, but not confirmed, that Apple has come to an agreement with several major labels, including Universal Music, to launch a streaming service which has been informally dubbed “iRadio”. A music industry source told the BBC he expected Apple’s product to be available by the third quarter of this year. However, Spotify’s head start in the market has seen it amass more than six million paid subscribers since its launch in 2008.
March 28, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 3/27/13
President Obama is scheduled to travel to Mexico and Costa Rica in early May to push for stronger economic ties, the White House announced Wednesday.In trip scheduled for May 2-4, Obama will meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was elected last year and took office in December. He last met with Obama at the White House in November.
From there, Obama will head to Costa Rica, where President Laura Chinchilla will host a meeting of several Central American leaders. The White House did not release a list of the participating countries or a detailed description of the agenda. The visit will come as Congress is expected to begin debate on immigration legislation. Obama said he hoped the visit would strengthen cooperation on a variety of issues.
March 15, 2013
The New York Times, 3/15/2013
In a country with barely any Internet access, the activist Yoani Sánchez has managed, with a blog and a Twitter account as her only tools, to tell the outside world about repression in Cuba. This has brought her a couple of arrests and a dozen international awards, including a special mention from the Maria Moors Cabot Prize committee and the Ortega y Gasset prize for online journalism. But in Mexico, Cuba’s most famous dissident was given a decidedly cool welcome.
A couple of weeks ago, Sánchez finally got an exit visa to leave Cuba and started a three-month tour that will take her across Latin America, the United States and Europe. Her first stop in Mexico was in Puebla, two hours from Mexico City, at the annual meeting of the Inter American Press Association. When some of her Mexican friends asked politicians and nongovernmental organizations to host an event in her honor, they found no takers. At the conference itself she was harassed and insulted. Organizations no one had ever heard of published manifestos in local newspapers repudiating her visit.
March 14, 2013
Chicago Tribune, 3/14/2013
Mexico’s peso is scaling new highs amid confidence in the country’s reform push, a likely credit ratings upgrade and profit taking after last week’s interest rate cut, sparking speculation about how far it will rise before authorities act. The peso has gained 2.6 percent since the start of the month, the best performance of the 152 currencies tracked by Thomson Reuters, and broken through key levels of 12.50 per dollar for the first time in 18 months.
The rise has come despite a 50 basis point cut in benchmark interest rates to a record low 4 percent on Friday, which only served to fuel investor optimism about the outlook for Latin America’s No. 2 economy.
March 13, 2013
The Globalist, 3/13/2013
One thing I didn’t expect to hear on my visit to Mexico was a lot about Brazil. Mexico sees Brazil, as the other large economy in Latin America, as a bit of a rival fighting for its place in the sun. This not-so-generous sentiment has intensified in Mexico as the world’s attention is making a turn toward to Brazil in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup (in 2014) and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics (in 2016).
The dilemma for Mexicans is simply this: It is hard enough for them even in the best of times to get anybody looking at Mexico City. But it is harder still at this juncture when the entire world, or so it seems, wants to go to Rio.