Greg Weeks

Support for Military Rule in Brazil

For quite a while, the Latin American Public Opinion Project has documented the weak support for democracy in Latin America, which is troubling.

A recent poll shows 43% support in Brazil for a provisional return to military rule. Younger people support it more than older, which makes sense because of course older people remember what it was like. From The Washington Post:

“This sentiment is in the air and is being exploited. The intervention in Rio is an attempt by the president...

Quick Thoughts on Mike Pompeo and Latin America

Franco Ordoñez writes that Latin America might look favorably upon Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. What the "favorable" really boils down to is the idea that Latin American leaders don't want to be ignored almost completely, as has been the case up to this point. But Pompeo is hawkish even for hawks and I expect initial shared interest in pushing Venezuela to sour. I expect the specter of Middle Eastern terrorists going crazy in Latin America and getting ready to invade the...

Venezuela and Teapot Dome

Remember the Teapot Dome scandal? Maybe not--it was in the early 1920s during the Harding Administration. But it was a huge deal then, as the Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall got bribes from private oil companies in exchange for access to oil fields the department controlled. Fall was convicted and spent a year in prison.
Fast forward to 2018.

The president’s oldest son and Texas hedge fund manager Gentry Beach have been involved in business deals together dating back...

You Should Go to SECOLAS Next Year in Oaxaca

From March 28-31 in 2019 the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies will hold its annual conference in Oaxaca, Mexico. It's going to be awesome.
I just got back from this year's conference, which was in Nashville on the Vanderbilt campus. I presented the first chapter from a book I am working on (which I will be podcasting about soon) and got some useful feedback. This is always a great conference--we had an opening reception and a networking event with free food and drinks,...

Failed US Meddling in Latin American Elections

Tim Gill has an article in today's Washington Post about U.S. meddling in Latin American elections. He notes U.S. officials participating in some manner in Venezuelan, Bolivian, and Nicaraguan elections, pointing out that supporting the military is not the only, or even main, avenue. There are strategy meetings, funding, etc. for opposition parties.

The interesting thing is that the U.S. failed in all three cases.

The failed efforts in these three countries against...

Peru is Tough on Presidents

Peruvian journalist Simeon Tegel has an article at Americas Quarterly about how Peruvian presidents have the political deck stacked against them. I've written numerous times about how unpopular Peruvian presidents always seem to be.

Tegel points to institutional design. In particular, Peru has a hybrid presidential/parliamentary system with a dual executive, which he argues "serves both to institutionalize conflict and prevent fresh voices with public backing...

Refugee Guidelines for Venezuelans

Emigration from Venezuela has reached the point where the United Nations' High Commissioer for Refugees issued guidance about how to deal with it. Although the statement takes pains not to be political, the last sentence in this quote really says it all.

There has been a 2,000% increase in the number of Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum worldwide since 2014, principally in the Americas during the last year. Although over 94,000 Venezuelans have been able to access refugee...

Bolivia's Message to Cuba

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro García Linera says Bolivia and other Latin American countries need to help Cuba more.

"Today, the great task of our country and progressive governments in Latin America is to quickly initiate the political brotherhood of our leaders and our governments channeling it into an economic and productive brotherhood. We must take a qualitative leap that will change our position in a time of continental combat," Garcia said. 
"We are advancing...

Constitution Problems in Latin America

Niall Ferguson and Daniel Lansberg-Rodríguez have a working paper on "disposable" constitutions in Latin America. I always make this case in my Latin American Politics class. Constitutions come and go frequently in the region and often get tied to individual leaders. That undermines long-term stability.

They conclude by arguing that Chile is better off amending the 1980 constitution rather than writing a new one, which Michelle Bachelet is pushing right now and which...

Laura Chinchilla on Sexism

Former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla has a great op-ed in the Spanish edition of The New York Times about sexism and female presidents. Even using some data, she shows how women are valued less, their governments are written about less, and their personal characteristics get more attention (she notes how often she was asked if she cried after some dramatic event). She lauds the quota laws that are common in Latin America, which bring more women into politics....
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