AUTHOR

Greg Weeks

Is Aid to Latin American A Total Waste?

If you are at all interested in U.S.-Latin American relations, go listen to Adam Isacson interview Lars Schoultz about his most recent book In Their Own Best Interest (which I reviewed here). The point of the book is to ask why the "altruists" in the U.S. keep on doing what they're doing to "uplift" Latin America when it is clearly not working and might even be harmful.

What it means is a lively critique of WOLA itself, and indeed any other altruists (USAID, you name it). Lars...

Using Venezuela as Distraction

Attacking another country to distract attention from problems at home is an old strategy all over the world, and used periodically by U.S. presidents. It's most effective, however, if you don't tell everyone that you are trying to distract them. There is sort of a Fight Club vibe in that respect. Yet I am not surprised that the Trump administration both is thinking of the strategy and talking about its purpose. "Please don't look at our inept Covid-19 response and instead think...

Teenage Parents in Central America

Teenage pregnancy is a challenge for poverty-stricken areas, because it reduces the chances the mother and child can escape that poverty. The mothers, of course, take on a disproportionate share of the responsibility, thus sacrificing other opportunities they might have. Teenage pregnancy is a huge issue in Latin America, and Honduras has one of the highest rates of the world. So why is this the case? My dad is co-author of a new study that examines it.

Holly B Shakya, Gary L Darmstadt,...

Thoughts on Trump's Transition Demands for Venezuela

Here is the text of the State Department's "Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela." Some of it is highly specific, which would normally come as the result of negotiation. In this case, it is purely imposition. In that regard, it resembles the many Cuba "plans" that have been put together over the years, forgotten after the Cubans ignored them.

See David Smilde's Twitter thread on why it is likely to fail. It's about creating fissures in the regime and, as always, encouraging...

NC Republicans Say We Need Mexican Immigrants

Unemployment claims recently hit record levels at both the national and state levels. People need jobs. This would be the time when they would work in agriculture, right? It's steady work and easy to find. Right?

No.

North Carolina conservatives successfully called on the federal government to unfreeze visa restrictions for immigrant workers. There is, in fact, a "labor shortage" at the a time of rapidly rising unemployment. There can be no better proof that there is no "stealing"...

Review of Stephen King's The Stand

I read The Stand when I was a teenager, a time when I think I read his first ten books by about age 15. That's a long time ago, so I didn't remember the details of the story, but I remembered how much it grabbed me and I've considered rereading it numerous times, demurring because it's so long. Ironically, a virus gave me more time and made it seem quite timely. It's a great book, even the second time roughly 35 years later.

The onset of the deadly superflu bears no resemblance to what...

Podcast Episode 73: Serving as an Expert Witness in Immigration Cases

In Episode 73 of Understanding Latin American Politics: The Podcast, I talk with Jonathan Rosen, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Holy Family University. Jonathan has served as an expert witness in almost 100 immigration cases, most involving Central American migrants fleeing violence and fearful of return. Really interesting stuff, with an insider's view into the process.
Incidentally, I last talked to Jonathan on episode 61 back in December 2018, where the...

Review of Rob Neyer's Power Ball

Rob Neyer's Power Ball: Anatomy of a Modern Baseball Game (2018) is ostensibly about a game between the A's and Astros on September 8, 2017. That is just a vehicle for discussing the state of baseball itself and how much it has changed and continues to change. With chapters organized by half inning, Neyer follows tangents related to what's happening in the game (Baseball versus baseball) as this single real one goes along, and it's a fun and wandering journey.

So, for example,...

Podcasting Latin American Civil-Military Relations

Over at the Washington Office on Latin America podcast, I talked with Adam Isacson about Latin American civil-military relations. I thought we had a nice, if not exactly uplifting, chat.

One point that came up that in my opinion merits more attention is the use of social media. Latest example: when the U.S. imposed sanctions on Nicolás Maduro and others, there was quickly a tweet of army support. It's just an assumed response at this point.

Also, we recorded on Friday afternoon...

Covid-19 and Latin American Multilateralism

Mac Margolis has a thoughtful article on Covid-19 and multilateralism in Latin America. Right now governments are closing their borders precisely at a time when they need to join together to address this common threat. Alone they can't do it effectively. Regional institutions now are so ideology-based that governments move in and out of them, thus rendering them weak.

I agree with his assessment, but he does not mention one serious obstacle: the United States. We are already...