AUTHOR

Greg Weeks

WOLA Podcast on Venezuela

Adam Isacson talks to David Smilde about Venezuela in a WOLA podcast, which is worth your time. Some quick highlights:

--the point of the constitutional assembly is likely to create a communal system of governance that basically serves to avoid a popular vote.

--all the opposition can do is go to the streets because there is no power to vote. He repeats the long-standing point that the opposition needs to expand its base of support. They're not going to the barrios, but they need...

Vicente Fox's Mission in Life

Former presidents in the Americas have done lots of things. They've done good works, they've fled to the U.S. to avoid prosecution, they've gone to jail, they've painted bad portraits, they've trolled political opponents on Twitter, they've plotted to run for president again, they've made money, they've run for a legislative seat, and so on.

Vicente Fox is the only one who has made it his mission to make merciless fun of the President of the United States. I wrote about this just...

Somoza and Maduro

The Central America 1977-1980 volume of the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series was just released today. Naturally, a large proportion of it is dedicated to Nicaragua. Almost 40 years ago*, a beleaguered president told the U.S. to stop picking on him and declared confidently that friendly governments in the OAS would block these nasty U.S. policies.



This should sound quite familiar, though the confidence in OAS allies is significantly weaker for Nicolás...

Review of Merridale's Lenin on the Train

One hundred years ago Vladimir Lenin took a train from Switzerland to Petrograd (St. Petersburg). It was nearly impossible to get through Germany because of the war, but the Germans let him through. They figured he could both upset Russian politics and get Russia out of the war. Catherine Merridale's new book Lenin on the Train details the trip and the intrigue it involved. Her message goes well beyond that particular moment in time.

"The history of Lenin's train is not...

The Upside of Not Filling Positions

The Washington Post has a list of the hundreds of unfilled cabinet positions, many of them without even a nominee. There are a number that relate to Latin America. Below are those that directly relate to the region, though of course there are countless others that deal with immigration, trade, energy, etc., etc.

--Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
--Ambassador to Argentina
--Ambassador to Venezuela (this is not just a Trump issue, obviously)...

Keith Law's Smart Baseball

Keith Law's new book Smart Baseball is a great primer on the fast rise of advanced metrics in baseball. He starts by picking apart the old measures, especially wins, saves, and RBIs, given how arbitrary they are and how they do not tell you what they purport to. He then moves to newer measures with their pluses and minuses, showing how they do a better job of telling us what we need to know--what players. He ends with what I thought was the most interesting part of the book,...

Podcast Episode 35: FRUS, Central America, and Venezuela

In Episode 35 of Understanding Latin American Politics: The Podcast, I talk about the new volume of the Foreign Relations of the United States series and how for me it sparked thoughts about Central American migration (specifically how unforeseen it seems to be, though we need to see the Reagan volumes eventually) and comparisons to Venezuela today.


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LASA Resolution on Venezuela

The Latin American Studies Association has embarrassed itself by refusing to issue a resolution condemning repression in Venezuela. Via John Polga-Hecimovich on Twitter:



If you need a translation from academic-speak, "historicize" means "find a way to put in tons of caveats to prevent any actual statement against the government from being made." LASA has put out plenty of "one-sided" resolutions over the years. There was one on Obama policy four years ago that was literally...

Twiplomacy in Latin America

Twiplomacy is a new study done by Burson-Marsteller, a PR firm. As the name suggests, it looks at world leaders' use of Twitter. Here are the most followed presidents in Latin America:



It's a great read with a lot of detail about how different leaders deal with Twitter, how they promote it, how they interact with each other, etc.

But from a social science perspective there are a number of problems with the study. Most importantly, it does not really define "influence." Having...

Income Inequality in Latin America

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean just released its report on income inequality. There is actually some good news in there. Highlights:


 Income inequality has done down from 2008-2015 across the region.Venezuelan inequality is among the lowest in the region, but has not changed over that time. (And indeed, one issue with looking at equality is that if everyone is lacking, then equality looks quite good. Just look at Cuba during the Special Period).As...
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