Greg Weeks

Podcast Episode 27: How Latin America Views Trump

In episode 27 of Understanding Latin American Politics: The Podcast, I talk with my friend Robert Funk, who is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Instituto de Asuntos Públicos at the Universidad de Chile. He's in the media a lot trying to explain Donald Trump to Latin American audiences. That's what we discuss. For better or worse, schadenfreude is one word that comes up.

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Podcast Episode 26: Comparing Latin America Media Attacks to Trump

On Episode 26 of Understanding Latin American Politics: The Podcast, I talked with Liz Stein, who is the Mark Helmke postdoctoral scholar of global media, development and democracy and a visiting assistant professor at Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies. The topic is presidential attacks on media in Latin America, with comparison to Donald Trump. Be sure to check out her recent piece in the Monkey Cage with Marisa Kellan on this very topic....

David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster

I read and thoroughly enjoyed David Foster Wallace's Consider the Lobster, a collection of essays he published in 2006. It's tremendous writing, where erudition, humor, and keen observation all come together in a neat package. It's a massive mind rattling around America.

Wallace is famous for footnotes, and this book gets to the point where footnotes of footnotes are down to something like 2 point font to the point that my middle aged eyes are literally incapable of reading...

Bernard Malamud's The Natural

It's common for baseball fans to have opinions, sometimes intense ones, about baseball movies. So right off the bat (no pun intended) I will admit that I'm a big fan of The Natural. I know it's cheesy and unrealistic in a particular Hollywood sort of way, but the cheese works.

But until now I'd never read Bernard Malamud's The Natural, the 1952 novel on which the movie is based. The core structure is there--the young phenom shot down after striking out The Whammer, the return when...

Cuban Human Rights and the Trump Administration

The State Department released its human rights report, though was uninterested in it to the point that State did not have anyone on the record discuss it. I was curious about what it would look like under the Trump administration, so I compared 2015 Cuba to 2016 Cuba.

What I found is that about 90% of the report is copied verbatim from last year. This is not necessarily news since 2014 was very similar to 2015. In fact, 2014, 2015, and 2016 all have the following:

During the year some...

More Legal Coca in Bolivia

Evo Morales is increasing the amount of coca that Bolivians can legally grow, from 12,000 to 22,000 hectares.

"It was time to bury Law 1008, which sought to eliminate coca in Bolivia," President Morales said, referring to a U.S.-led 1988 law which sought to limit production and impose harsh penalties for illegal coca cultivation.

My immediate reaction was to wonder why it took this long--almost 30 years. Morales de-linked from the US drug war years ago. For example, he kicked...

State Department Dysfunction

From The Hill:

The State Department’s acting spokesperson admitted Thursday that he did not know Mexico’s foreign minister was in Washington to meet with senior White House aides.

And it gets worse:

Videgaray met Thursday with President Trump's son-in-law and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, as well as National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, according to the Los Angeles Times.

At this point, the State Department...

U.S. Aid to Colombia

U.S. diplomats were in Colombia to discuss two issues. The first was the rise in coca cultivation in Colombia and the second was the strong possibility that the U.S. would drastically cut its promised contribution to the Colombian peace process.

The reasons for the increase are complex and in part return us to the age-old supply/demand dispute. Largely because of years of abuse and distrust, farmers are in no mood to be sprayed and don't want the government come in and manually...

Venezuela's Oil Fantasy

The Venezuelan state news agency posted a triumphant story today about how exactly 14 years ago, Hugo Chávez appointed new directors to PDVSA, thus defeating the imperialist right. Incredibly, it goes on to say:

A catorce años del sabotaje criminal, y gracias a la consolidación de un sistema democrático, la industria petrolera ha experimentado un proceso de transformación que le ha permitido continuar la exploración, explotación y comercialización de crudo,...

Fires and Politics in Chile

An article in the Guardian says Augusto Pinochet's deregulation was partially responsible for the devastating wildfires.

Activists say that the seeds of the problem were sown decades ago, when Chile’s forestry industry was established in the early years of the Pinochet dictatorship. A 1974 government decree subsidised 70% of plantation costs, and over the next 40 years – and after the return to democracy – the sector received around $ 800m in taxpayers’...
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