Thursday, December 27, 2012

VOXXI: Cuba ends 2012 looking for oil and with Castro brothers still in power

Cuba ends 2012 looking for Oil and with Castro brothers still in power
W. Alejandro Sanchez
December 26, 2012

The structure of the Cuban government is unlikely to change in 2013 as the Castro brothers appear to remain firmly in power and continue to search for oil.

Fidel Castro, the former president of Cuba who ruled the island for five decades, has been nominated to run for a position in the Cuban Parliament in the upcoming February 2013 elections. The move is largely a symbolic one, since Castro, despite no longer being head of state, still enjoys a great deal of influence within the Cuban government and is regularly consulted on state affairs. In other words, Castro hardly needs an official government position to be influential in Cuba’s decision-making process.
Regardless of this, given Castro’s frail state, it is unclear if the man will be able to actually take his seat in the National Assembly when elected (it is hard to imagine that he would not be). If he is not well enough to assume his parliamentary seat, there may be an agreement allowing him to choose someone to replace him.
Meanwhile, Fidel’s brother, Raul Castro, continues as president of the island nation, although that apparently has not prevented him from also being nominated as a municipal representative in the upcoming elections. The structure of the Cuban government is unlikely to change in 2013 as the Castro brothers, in spite of their advanced age (both are in their 80s), appear to remain firmly in power. It will be interesting to see what developments the New Year brings to the island. Of particular interest are economic and international affairs, particularly those regarding the U.S.

Castro brothers, economics and the continuous search for oil

The nomination of the Castro brothers to the Cuban Parliament, considering that they have jointly ruled the island since the 1950s, is slightly bizarre to say the least. Nevertheless, it is clear that the island, under Raul Castro’s rule, has evolved from Fidel’s Cuba. This is particularly true when it comes to the economy. Under Raul, the island’s Communist government has taken some steps to modernize its socialist economy, particularly by allowing the appearance of privately owned businesses. The head of state has declared that “today, nearly 40 thousand Cubans have licenses to have autonomous work or small businesses.”
An interesting development that may further affect the Cuban economy is the plan announced by the Russian oil company Zarubezhneft to utilize a Norwegian oil platform as means of continuing to search for deep-water oil deposits in the Cuban sea. For years there have been diverse reports about exactly how much oil Cuba possesses, but so far the numerous explorations have yet to find wells that yield commercially viable quantities of the liquid gold. If Cuba were ever able to actually find and produce massive quantities of oil (it claims to have up to 20 billion barrels while other analyses give a more modest number) this would be a huge turning point for the Cuban economy. But until this happens, the island will remain at the mercy of Venezuela, which, under Hugo Chavez’s rule, has essentially given thousands of barrels of oil to the island as a gift.
This brings up another issue as President Chavez’ deteriorating health, exemplified by his recent trip to Cuba for a new operation to deal with his cancer, should have put the Cuban government on alert as a non-Chavez government may not be so willing to essentially give away oil. Fortunately for Havana, Chavez’s health seems to be improving, which means that Cuba will continue to enjoy more essentially-free Venezuelan oil during the immediate future, at least until it discovers some of its own.

Relations with the US have yet to improve

Even though U.S. President Barack Obama has not fully lifted the embargo on the island during his first term in office, many Cubans and Americans hope that he will do so during his second term. Such a development would go a long way in improving U.S. diplomacy, and not only with Cuba but also with the rest of Latin America. During the Summit of the Americas held in Cartagena, Colombia, several heads of states protested the fact that Cuba had not been invited to take part in the high-level meeting because Washington opposed their participation. Despite the positive benefits that the United States would garner from such a move, it is still unlikely that President Obama will fully lift the embargo due to congressional political barriers.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Obama stated during an interview with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart that he still had his mind set on closing the U.S. naval base detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While not related with the embargo, closing Guantanamo’s controversial prison would be a huge victory for the Obama administration and be influential for U.S.-Cuban relations.

Cuba in 2013

2013 should be an interesting year for Cuba. If the Russian drilling team finally finds enough oil to make it commercially viable to extract, it would signify a critical influx of cash into the Cuban economy. This development, which may be a long shot since past drilling explorations have not been successful, comes at an important time for the island. The Castro brothers remain in power, but the historically protective and state-run Cuban economy continues to liberalize, albeit at a snail’s pace.
Fortunately for the Cuban government, it will continue to enjoy several regional allies thanks to Hugo Chávez’s improving health (which will mean more oil to Cuba ) and the near certainty that leftist Rafael Correa will be re-elected in Ecuador’s 2013 Presidential election. Regarding the U.S., Obama’s re-election might signal improved relations, but Havana is going to have to do its part as well. Liberalizing the economy is important, but so is stopping unwarranted arrests such as that of the 19 opposition activists, members of the Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), who were arrested in March or theactivists that were recently detained in early December. The discovery of oil, the emergence of privately-owned businesses and better diplomatic relations with its neighbors (i.e. Washington) are all important issues for Havana, but so should be maintaining a healthy relationship between the government and the citizenry.

Read more:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

VOXXI: Hugo Chávez successor: Possible scenarios in Dec. 16 elections

Hugo Chavez Successor: Possible Scenarios in Dec. 16 Elections
W. Alejandro Sanchez
December 12, 2012
Originally published:

After suffering a relapse, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has traveled once again to Cuba to undergo medical treatment for the cancer he’s battled for at least a year. Before his departure, he named Vice-President Nicolas Maduro as his successor.
Unsurprisingly, there has been a flurry of speculation regarding how dire Chávez’s health is and whether he will be able to recover (early reports state that the operation was successful) and continue ruling until the end of his term in 2019 or, in a worst-case scenario, should Venezuela be preparing itself for a post-Chávez era.
The head of state hinted that, should new elections be held in his country, he was confident that Maduro would earn the votes of Venezuelans. If indeed Chávez’s health eventually becomes too frail for him to continue the goals of his administration and his revolution, the million-dollar question will be whether his Bolivarian blueprint for Venezuela can be carried out without him at the helm.
Hugo Chávez successor named ahead of Dec. 16 elections
According to the Venezuelan Constitution, if the head of state cannot complete his six-year term within the first four years, new presidential elections must be call within 30 days. With Maduro now in control of the country while Chávez is in Cuba, it will be interesting to see if he will carry through Chávez’s ultimate legacy of being a steadfast constitutionalist.
In an extreme scenario, if Chávez does not return and elections are called for, then it’s anyone’s guess as to what might happen. Maduro may very well call for elections and run as the candidate for Chávez’s Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV). But does the interim head of state enjoy the same levels of popularity as Chávez among the masses? After Chávez’s latest medical trip to Cuba, the PSUV had an emergency meeting in which its major leaders signed an agreement calling for unity and loyalty.
However, as an analyst put it in Americas Quarterly: “It is likely that that the PSUV will grant Chávez his wish, and if the time comes, vote for Maduro for no other reason than to pay their last respects. But it is less certain whether this loyalty will be automatically extended to Maduro if he assumes office.”
Henrique Capriles emerges as the likely option
While Maduro has had a meteoric rise to power, he certainly is no Chávez and arguably lacks his charisma and popularity. Another question is whether or not the political opposition would be able to effectively organize itself in time for these possible elections and furthermore, who the presidential candidate would be. Henrique Capriles Radonski, who gave Chávez a run for his money in the recent October presidential elections, emerges as the likely option. Chávez defeated Capriles by around 10 points during the electiona bigger difference than was originally predicted, but it still demonstrated that Venezuela’s political opposition had managed to unite around a single candidate and that there is a growing number of dissatisfied voters. Capriles has yet to announce if he would run if new presidential elections are called for, but it is safe to say that pundits, politicians and the Venezuelan population in general may be wondering if Capriles could defeat Maduro.
Venezuela Election Balt 2 404x296 Hugo Chávez successor: Possible scenarios in Dec. 16 elections
Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles talks to supporters and media members as he concedes defeat in the presidential elections at his campaign headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. Venezuela’s electoral council said late Sunday President Hugo Chávez has won re-election, defeating challenger Henrique Capriles. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
It is important to highlight that Venezuela will have regional elections this coming December 16. A total of 23 regional governors, 229 members of legislative councils and eight indigenous representatives will be chosen. It will be interesting to see how Chávez’s party does in these elections and what it means for the future of the Bolivarian revolution.
Moreover, Capriles will be rerunning for the governorship of the state of Miranda, and, should he be reelected, this may give him a boost to push for a new attempt at the presidency. Ironically, Elias Jaua, the former Vice President before Maduro, is also running as a PSUV candidate in Miranda against Capriles. The outcome of the governor’s race in Miranda can be used as a foreshadowing as to what could happen in the national elections if they were to be called.
Finally, there is the ever-present question of how the military, the Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivarana (FANB), will react to these new developments. While the armed forces are supposed to be neutral and apolitical according to constitutional mandate, it is no secret that Chávez has populated the military’s leadership with individuals loyal to him. In addition, he has kept his armed forces happy with his cause by spending billions of oil dollars on a variety of military purchases from Russia and China over the past decade. Occasionally the armed forces have declared that they would not accept a head of state that wasn’t Chávez, but what will happen if their former military comrade is physically unable to continue ruling? Another unknown factor will be if the Bolivarian military will be as loyal to Maduro as they have been to Chávez, as well as whether or not they would accept Capriles or any other individual as commander in chief if elections occur and the opposition wins the presidency.
Don’t cry wolf before it shows up
APTOPIX Venezuela Cha Balt Hugo Chávez successor: Possible scenarios in Dec. 16 elections
People, one holding an image of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez, gather to pray for him at Simon Bolivar square in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.  (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
The commentaries discussing Chávez’s health and the likelihood of a Venezuela without the outspoken head of state are similar to the plethora of analyses that have been written over the past decades regarding Cuba’s Fidel Castro and his health. Ultimately, in Cuba’s case, Castro has managed to outlast and outlive most of his detractors and enemies; now the question becomes if Chávez will follow in his mentor’s footsteps, overcome his health issues and continue his rule of the oil-rich Venezuela.
During his time as head of state, along with some controversial and memorable statements, it would be unfair to say that Chávez’s rule has only been detrimental to the country. Several of his social initiatives have been very beneficial to the lower echelons of Venezuelan society, which is where Chávez’s support originates.
Nevertheless, when people think of the Venezuelan government and the Chávez’s party, they focus more on Chávez than on any other figure. His power has held for more than a decade, but if his health worsens to the point where he can no longer rule, the question becomes if the Venezuelan people will vote for Maduro to lead in Chávez’s place, or if the Venezuelan armed forces will support a possible non-Chávez head of state. The December 16 elections will provide us with a better idea of what is in the mind of the Venezuelan citizenry and other possible outcomes that might occur in the near future.

Read more:

Friday, December 7, 2012

e-IR: Canada – Latin America Relations: Ottawa’s Struggle to Emerge From the Hemispheric Shadow

Canada - Latin America Relations: Ottawa's Struggle to Emerge from the Hemispheric Shadow
W. Alejandro Sanchez & Trent Boultinghouse
e-International Relations
December 7, 2012
Originally published:

When Stephen Harper assumed his position as Canada’s Prime Minister in 2006, those in tune with Canadian politics had already deemed him noteworthy simply for leading the Conservative Party, a center-right coalition whose policies had traditionally been in opposition to Canada’s historically liberal political tradition. Outside the perimeters of his predilections, however, Harper’s foreign policy initiatives towards Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have drawn upon a chapter of Canadian history that has continuously balanced an unabridged embrace of Latin America’s affairs between the wishes of its neighbor, the United States.
Today, a series of changing power structures in the hemisphere has placed Harper and his government into a crucial juncture for determining how Canada’s economic interests will be rooted in the region for the decades to come. Long behind the shadow of the liberalized economic wishes of the United States, Canada suddenly has found itself in a position to embrace its own sovereign trade initiatives with its hemispheric neighbors, although it has embraced this spotlight somewhat reluctantly in what could easily be described as too little, too late. One could argue that Canada’s current dilemma is to try and develop a comprehensive LAC strategy at a time when the liberalized trading policies of its primary trading partner, the United States, have fallen out of favor with more protectionist LAC economies in the region.
John Diefenbaker and the Precedent for Hemispheric Tentativeness
It is an understatement to say that Canada’s relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean has been complex. Indeed, the “other North American country” has struggled to differentiate its own foreign policy towards Latin America apart from the stances of the United States, a dichotomy that troubled the administration of Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (1957-1963), who served as one of Canada’s most vocal proponents of increased Latin American relations in the previous century. Diefenbaker’s term provides an interesting case study in the history of Canadian–LAC relations, for it came during the tensioned decade of Cold War sentiment sweeping across the hemisphere. The prime minister consistently deferred Canadian membership in the Organization of American States (OAS) until beyond his term. While certainly not as relevant in 2012 than the 1960s, membership to the OAS was seen by many Latin American governments of the day as the most tangible expression of diplomatic relations between the two parties, and fears of acquiescing to the White House’s diplomatic crusade against communism, starting with Washington’s October 1960 economic blockade against Cuba, set Canada back in the final decades of the 20thcentury.
Against the wishes of then-American President John F. Kennedy, Canada continued to maintain economic relations with Cuba, seeing no need to adhere itself to what many interpreted as a reactionary, if not misguided, interventionist strategy with its louder neighbor. Here, Diefenbaker once again resisted pressure by President Kennedy to join the OAS, as part of the grand scheme of his Alliance for Progress. One academic opines that Diefenbaker,  “was concerned about the level of commitment that would be required of his country.” Moreover, the Canadian statesman’s, “interest in Latin America came at an unfortunate point when the region was facing deep social and political unrest and was coming to the fore as a Cold War battleground.”[1] Canada achieved Permanent Membership status in the OAS in 1973 and did not become a full member until 1990.[2]
A Modern, but Tardy Hemispherical Embrace
Apart from economic interests, or maybe because of them, Ottawa has cultivated an undeniably budding presence in Latin American political developments beginning with its negotiations in the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1992. This involvement has ranged from stepped up Canadian private sector activity in the region to a continuous flow of political rhetoric, as evidenced by Ottawa’s less-than-timely reaction to the 2009 coup d’etat in Honduras.
What is clear is that Canada has used its economic potential to drive its relations for increased trade and development throughout the region. According to a 2011 article in the Journal of the Society for Latin American Studies, “whether led by Liberal or Conservative governments, the state has aggressively sought to position Canadian capital as a major economic player in Latin America since the 1990s.”[3] Amidst its efforts to increase trade with traditional giants such as Brazil and Mexico, for example, Canada has also held a historically special relationship with the islands of the Caribbean, which are parts of the British Commonwealth, like Ottawa.
For example, one obscure relationship is Canada’s ties with Barbados. A country profile in the government of Canada’s official website proudly describes Canada’s 1907 opening of a trade office in Barbados, which has helped banks such as the Canadian Imperial Bank of Canada and the Bank of Nova Scotia to establish a rooted presence in that country.[4]
In addition, since the end of the 1980s, Canada has taken a number of initiatives to increase relations with the Caribbean. Most of these stem from trade measures as well as direct investment. Canada’s Library of Parliament published a report in August 2011 which discussed trade relations between Canada and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The comprehensive report explains that, “in 2010, Canada’s bilateral relations merchandise trade with the CARICOM countries totaled $2.4 billion [USD], consisting in  $0.8 billion [USD] in Canadian exports to, and $1.6 billion [USD] in imports from, the CARICOM countries.” (p. 1). The article goes on to explain that Canada’s most important export products to CARICOM in2010 were ores, slag, and ash, while its major import products were precious metals, jewelry and coins, as well as energy-related products (p. 2). In other words, Canada’s main interests regarding the Caribbean appear to focus on trade growth, a strategy that has been generally successful over the past decades.
Nevertheless, Canada has not stretched this focus to all Caribbean states, which have not continuously increased. A May report in Jamaica’s daily The Gleaner explains that trade between Jamaica and Canada has shrunk in the last four years. To remedy this situation, Canadian companies such as Solamon Energy Corporation are looking for energy investments in the Caribbean island.  The article explains that SEC was in discussions the construction of a solar power plant, while another, “energy company is said to exploring the supply of compressed natural gas (CNG) to Jamaica.”  Also, a Barbadian trade mission, sponsored by the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), visited Canada this past September. The President of the BCCI stated that the organization aims to create bridges for Barbadian companies to showcase their products and services including tourism.
Arms Sales and Security Relations
While Canada is not particularly known for its arms sales, it does have a thriving military industry. According to a March 2011 report in CBC News, “between 2007 and 2009, Canadian companies exported about $1.4-billion [USD] in arms with the United Kingdom, Australia and Saudi Arabia topping the list of buyers.” Interestingly, no Latin American country ranks between the top 10 Canadian arms importers. According to public data by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, arms exports by Latin American states summed up to generally low amounts. For example, Brazil imported $685,278 USD worth of military equipment in 2007, but jumped to $15,790,600 USD in 2009. Meanwhile, Colombia imported over $7 million USD in 2009 while Peru barely imported over $1 million USD.
Meanwhile, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) provides more in-depth data about the type of military equipment being sold to Latin America. According to SIPRI’s Arms Transfers Database, countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Ecuador have mostly been importing turboprops from Canada in recent years for warplane repair. In addition, Peru has purchased a number of Twin Otter transport aircraft from Ottawa while the Dominican Republic has obtained several light helicopters.
Finally, it is important to highlight that security relations do not just occur thanks to arms sales. In fact, Canada has strived to increase friendly military initiatives with Western Hemisphere nations besides the United States. For example, the Canadian frigate HMCS Regina visited Peru in September 2007. Moreover, according to a statement in the official website of the National Defense and the Canadian Forces, “Argentina, Brazil and Chile are the focus of most defence relation activity in South America, where we have correspondingly stronger political and commercial ties.”
 Diplomatic Trips
In order to increase trade and political relations, in recent years it has become standard almost for Canadian government officials to visit Latin American and Caribbean states. For example, in August 2010, Peter van Loan, then-Minister of International Trade, did a five-nation tour of the region, which included Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and Costa Rica.[5] More recently, Ed Fast, the new international trade minister, visited Colombia, Peru, Chile and Mexico from April 11-20 . Fast took the opportunity while in Lima and Bogota to highlight the benefits of the free trade agreements that Ottawa signed with both countries (in 2009 and 2011 respectively).[6] At the end of the tour, Fast stated that:
“Preferred access to fast-growing markets around the world like those found in Latin America gives Canadian businesses and workers a competitive edge.”[7]
Moreover, Prime Minister Stephen Harper carried out a four-nation tour in August 2011, which took him to Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Harper’s visit to Brasilia was to arguably repair ties between the two countries as they had, “become rocky in past years, especially amid disputes over government subsidies for Brazil’s Embraer aerospace conglomerate and Canada’s Bombardier, Inc. aircraft manufacturer.”[8]At the time, a report by the Canadian Press explained that:
“The Conservative government is eager to make inroads with Brazil in particular, the world’s seventh-largest economy and expected to rise to No. 5 within a few years. But doing a deal with Brazil is tricky. Brazil needs the consent of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – members of a common South American economic bloc called Mercosur – to enter into such an agreement.”[9]
Harper’s official government website stressed the success of his 2011 Latin American tour, highlighting that over 20 initiatives were signed. Some of them included an agreement to open three new Visa Application centers with Brazil, Colombia’s accession to Canada’s Military Training and Cooperation Program and a Canadian declaration to “support to help address regional security challenges in Central America, including Honduras.”[10]
Controversies: from Cuba to The Honduras Coup
In spite of mostly trade initiatives, Canada has been involved in a number of controversial issues regarding the Western Hemisphere. One immediately thinks of how Ottawa has maintained relations with the Cuban government instead of joining Washington’s embargo on the island. Outside of this, a May 2012 op-ed by Peter McKenna, a Canadian academic, explains that “[Canada] need[s] to jettison the ideologically tinged rhetoric of [its current conservatives] and focus on positive interaction, co-operative dialogue, and commercial exchange.” The professor also proposes that Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird might be well advised to undertake an official visit to Havana in the coming months, which could set the stage for a prime ministerial visit to Cuba or a visit by a senior-ranking Cuban government official to Canada. In a recent conference held in Washington D.C., a senior Canadian diplomatic official explained that Ottawa regards its continued relations with Havana as a way to assert that, “Canadians are not Americans.” The official went on to explain that Ottawa’s relations with Havana do not signify that it is in favor of the current regime or that it supports its practices, but that the Canadian government is convinced that positive engagement is necessary to bring about change in the island, instead of an embargo.
In addition, Canada has been indirectly involved in another controversy in 2009, when there was a constitutional coup in Honduras that saw President Manuel Zelaya ousted from power. Ottawa has not been accused of promoting or actively supporting the coup, but it has been critiqued due to its passive and neutral stance when the coup occurred. Moreover, after the coup occurred, Ottawa and several Canadian industries jumped at the opportunity to have relations with the new government. A 2010 analysis by the Latin American think tank NACLA argues that, “Canadian government officials never liked nor trusted Zelaya. Although they did not break ranks with the Latin American countries and the rest of the international community calling for his restitution, they were privately relieved that he was not restored to power.”[11]
Perhaps augmenting the problem for Canada first is the rise of regionalism and protectionism correlating with the current permeation of left-of-center governments in Latin America.
Thus, the Canadian private sector has largely spurred the diaspora of Canadian dollars into the southern part of the hemisphere, largely on the drivers of extractive natural resource projects like mining and oil production. Yet, these industries are hardly sustainable initiatives for a new Ottawa-LAC relationship primer. For starters, many resource-rich regions such as Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, for example, have a selective history of which foreign multinationals are allowed to enter the country and invest in valuable natural resources. This is an issue that is especially amplified given that much of Latin America lacks sufficient central regulatory bodies. Inevitably, these claims gave rise to legitimate concerns about pollution and environmental damage on the part of the companies.
In addition, while there have been government and private sector initiatives in the region, research and educational studies in Canada regarding Latin America have been slow to emerge. For example, Canada’s lone think tank on Latin America, the Canadian Foundation for the Americas, closed its doors in 2011, after operating since 1990.[12] Thankfully, Canadian institutes for higher learning have increased their interest in the rest of the continent in recent years, exemplified by York University’s Center for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean. Here, the university’s researchers have carried out studies on provocative subjects like land rights in Ecuador and the marginalization of women in Brazil, in addition to an analysis of Uruguayan governance.[13]
How can the Relationship Improve?
Trade between Canada with Latin American and Caribbean states is only expected to grow in the coming years, especially as Ottawa has decreased its exports to the United States ever since 2005. .. However, is this enough? While there have been a number of diplomatic initiatives, including high level trips by Prime Minister Harper to the region, Ottawa does not appear to have a comprehensive strategy or doctrine when it comes to dealing with the region in the vein of what Washington has developed over the centuries (such as the Monroe Doctrine, Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy, or JFK’s Alliance for Progress come to mind).
As other studies and ongoing media reports have clearly shown, Latin America and the Caribbean have increased their political and commercial ties with a variety of regions of the world. Besides major markets like China and the European Union, LAC states have also approached previously unknown regions, such as the Middle East. A major example of this is this year’s conference between South American and Arab states that took place in Lima, Peru.[14] South Korea recently held a seven-day convention called “Korea-Latin America Economic Cooperation Week” to celebrate 50 years of ties between the Asian state with LAC.[15]
Given the billions of dollars in potential trade, and coupled with Washington’s current focus elsewhere in the world, Ottawa would be well advised to develop a comprehensive doctrine or strategy with regards to its relations with the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Whether the Harper administration can continue to forge an inroad that avoids traditional hiccups of past measures remains to be seen. Yet, a Canadian official expressed his doubt in the doctrine’s materialization recently with these authors. In a somewhat cynical contention, the diplomat revealed that, “[he doesn’t] think Canadian attention to the Americas will reach 1990s or 2000s levels for quite some time.”
W. Alex Sanchez is a Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), where he focuses on geopolitics, military and cyber security issues. He regularly appears in different media outlets like Al Jazeera, VOXXI, BBC, El Comercio (Peru), New Internationalist, among others. His analyses have appeared in numerous refereed journals including Small Wars and Insurgencies, Defence Studies, the Journal of Slavic Military Studies, European Security, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism and Cuban Affairs. Follow Alex on Twitter here.
Trent Boultinghouse is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas and currently serves as a Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), where he focuses on Latin American corruption, governmental structures, and elections. His articles have been published in a variety of different platforms, including MercoPress, The Eurasia Review, The Costa Rica Star, The Washington Report on the Hemisphere, and the University of Kansas’s political report. In addition, he has appeared on Jamaican radio, Press TV, and other mediums to offer commentary on electoral systems in the United States and Venezuela.  Follow Trent on Twitter here.

[1]AsaMcKercher. “Southern Exposure: Diefenbaker, Latin America and the Organization of American States.” The Canadian Historical Review.Vol.93 / No. 1. March 2012. P. 80.
[2]The Organization of American States. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. International Organizations.  Available:
[3]Todd Gordon & Jeffery Webber. “Canada and the Honduran Coup.” Journal of the Society for Latin American Studies.Vol.30/ No. 3.2011. P. 329.
[4]The article also explains that Canadian security agencies such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Security Agency and the Department of National Defense have provided technical assistance to the island.
[11] Cameron, Maxwell &Tockman, Jason. “A Diplomatic Theater of the Absurd: Canada, the OAS, and the Honduran Coup.” NACLA Report on the Americas. Report: Canada. May/June 2010. P. 19. Also read Todd Gordon & Jeffery Webber. “Canada and the Honduran Coup.” Journal of the Society for Latin American Studies.Vol.30/ No. 3.2011.