AUTHOR

Greg Weeks

Venezuela Leaving the OAS

Venezuela announced it will pull out of the OAS. This is getting compared to Cuba, which was suspended in 1962 and currently refuses to rejoin even though it has been told it can. There are, however, important differences, which all revolve around one main fact: in 1962 Cuba was operating from a position of strength. Fidel Castro thumbed his nose at the OAS and the United States, and was in complete control of his country. For Nicolás Maduro, the opposite is true. He's facing disaster...

Cuban TV and U.S. Soft Power

Cuban state television is trying to get slicker and more immediate to attract young Cubans. There are limits, of course, because of what the state will allow you to say, and the young people working there harbor no illusions in that regard, but feel they can push the envelope at least a little bit.

This is also where U.S. soft power should come in. Old-style, rabidly anti-Castro transmissions seemed to have little impact in the past and certainly will have minimal effect now. I would...

Maduro and Trump Hate Legitimate Protests

From Nicolás Maduro:

"The U.S. government, the State Department has given the green light, the approval for a coup process to intervene in Venezuela," President Nicolas Maduro said, speaking from the Miraflores Palace. 
... 
The “scenario” Maduro referred to consists in generating violence and deaths before blaming the Venezuelan government for allegedly violently attacking political opponents. Then the plot leaders would demand immediate elections,...

Trump and MS-13

In the 1980s President Ronald Reagan prioritized funding the civil war in El Salvador, which was extraordinarily violent and prompted large scale emigration. Many migrants went to California, especially Los Angeles, where over 30 years ago they formed gangs like MS-13 as a means of protecting themselves from existing gangs. Over time members of MS-13 became entrenched in their communities and spread out across the country. Prior to the civil war, there had not been a large...

North Korea Crisis is not Cuban Missile Crisis

Comparisons across time are never perfect but they can serve to give us a grip on current events. By the same token, inapt comparisons can make things more confusing. That is the case with comparing the U.S.-North Korea confrontation right now with the Cuban Missile Crisis, which The New York Times is pushing.

While all historical analogies are necessarily imprecise — for starters, President John F. Kennedy dealt with the Soviets and Fidel Castro in a perilous 13 days...

Podcast Episode 32: Lulu Garcia-Navarro

In Episode 32 of Understanding Latin American Politics: The Podcast, I was very excited to chat with Lulu Garcia-Navarro, host of NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, who of course reported for many years from Latin America. We discuss some of the political stories in Latin America that left the biggest impression on her, especially Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina. And, happily (not to mention selfishly!), she affirms that academics have had a positive impact on helping a broader...

Cixin Liu's Death's End

Death's End (translated in 2016) is the third in the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy and it is incredible. Its scope is immense, centering on the "dark forest" problem in the universe, namely that civilizations immediately try to destroy each other when they discover a sign of life. Therefore often the best idea is to hide. This third book is by far the best, and somehow manages to both be apocalyptic and hopeful. After reading, you'll be reminded (or at least...

Venezuela Protests

There will be dueling protests in Venezuela today. The opposition wants massive turnout, while the government is trying to turn out its own supporters and deploy colectivos basically to intimidate people. Nicolás Maduro has made creepy reference to handing guns to civilian militia as well, with a "civil military plan." That can't mean anything good.

I feel like the opposition's main hope at this point is to increase the number of soft-liners within the government...

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

I hadn't read Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (originally published in 1953) in many years. It's still so relevant for today. Not simply for the idea of book burning/banning, which of course is central to the story and is timeless, but for the idea of numbing oneself with entertainment. A major theme is how many people accepted the idea that thinking hard about difficult issues and dealing with complexity were overwhelming. Entertainment, which actually interacted with...

Racism and Latinos in Baseball

More than ever, there is talk of Latino players "playing with emotion." More specifically, we hear how this has discomfited white players, especially older ones.

Some of it is just youth. Hall of Famer John Smoltz, for example, said, "I lean towards being professional." That itself was in response to Goose Gossage, who whined about Bryce Harper not having respect for baseball.

But most of it is focused on Latino players. José Bautista's bat flip in the 2015 playoffs is now iconic,...
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