Greg Weeks

George Orwell's Why I Write

Why I Write is a nice little collection of four George Orwell essays, with the second (The Lion and the Unicorn) being the longest by far.

"Why I Write"

Orwell describes how not until his 30s (with the Spanish Civil War) did he finally understand why he needed to write: "against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it" (p. 8). And I love this quote:

So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style,...

Impeachment and Presidentialism

In our podcast conversation, Leiv Marsteintredet and I talked a little about how presidential impeachment in Latin America had become like the equivalent of a parliamentary no-confidence vote, something I've blogged about before.

We also talked about the 2009 coup in Honduras, which occurred in part because there was no impeachment process that could be followed. Another part of that was the fact that there was no legal way to really deal with proposing changes to presidential...

ISIS in Latin America

Reading Admiral Kurt Tidd’s 2017 Posture Statement for U.S. Southern Command, two things jump out at me. First, there are repeated mentions of budget constraints. Second, there are repeated mentions of Middle Eastern terrorists, including ISIS. In short, at least from the outside this sounds like a way to get Donald Trump’s (or at least Jared Kushner’s) attention at a time when he is talking about increasing military budgets and ISIS.
Right off the bat:
Threat networks...

Nica Act

The U.S. Congress has revived the Nica Act from last year, while making it more stringent. The idea is that the United States should block international loans if Daniel Ortega doesn't follow some required conditions. An initial version passed the House in late 2016 but didn't get further than that. The new version has more conditions. From Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's own description, arguing that it's the same for other countries:

The act placed numerous conditions on aid for Honduras,...

Crying Fraud in Ecuador's Election

The Wall Street Journal has a piece on Guillermo Lasso's accusation of fraud in Sunday's presidential election in Ecuador. Especially coming from a conservative media outlet, the article does not reflect too well on Lasso's case.

Most problematic:

On Sunday, one of Mr. Lasso’s allies in his CREO coalition cited two other exit polls giving him the lead. However, one of the polls cited—by well-respected Informe Confidencial—was never conducted, said Santiago...

Immigrants in Argentina

Thanks to my student Nashaly Ruiz-González for pointing out this article about the mirror image of the immigration debates in the United States and in Argentina. Mauricio Macri has been aping Donald Trump's anti-immigrant language and policy, and is also getting an indignant response. There were recently protests/strikes to highlight how much immigrants do in Argentina.

"Soy mexicano, soy peruana, soy boliviano, soy psicóloga, soy costurera, soy estudiante.... soy...

Podcast Episode 31: Presidentialism in Latin America

In Episode 31 of Understanding Latin American Politics: The Podcast, I talk with Leiv Marsteintredet, who is Associate Professor of Latin American Area Studies at the University of Oslo. His main areas of study are presidentialism and constitutionalism in Latin America. I ask him about whether presidentialism is in crisis (or whether it's just always in crisis) and how this plays out across the region.

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Venezuelans Like Their Legislature

The Latin American Public Opinion Project at Vanderbilt has some brand new (October 2016-January 2017) survey data from Venezuela. Mariana Rodríguez and Liz Zechmeister just published a new AmericasBarometer Insights paper (it's been a while since one was published, so this was welcome). They show Venezuelans strongly disapprove of closing the legislature (a question they actually use in their normal battery, so obviously it's good to have in there).

As a matter...

Crazy Wall Ideas

The bids for Donald Trump's wall are now in, and some of the companies have released descriptions of their proposals. The upshot is that they're insane.

Imagine making the wall a tourist attraction. Perhaps sip a cold beer (maybe even a Mexican beer) at the top of the wall while you stare off into the desert.

Imagine storing nuclear waste inside it. Kinda like a moat, maybe?

Imagine it containing artifacts. I'm not sure how that works, maybe it's embedded. Even worse, the artifacts...

Elliott Abrams and Human Rights in Latin America

Mike Allison writes about how Elliott Abrams is mad that The New York Times is claiming Ronald Reagan (and by extension him) was indifferent to human rights in El Salvador in its obituary of Ambassador Deane Hinton. As Abrams writes:

And Ronald Reagan was a great president under whom there were remarkable advances for human rights in Latin American and around the world. Let’s leave it at that.

Mike puts that in the context of Efraín Ríos Montt, who Reagan believed was a committed...
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