Friday, February 24, 2012
¿A favor o en contra del "Dream Act"?
Telemundo - Washington DC
February 22, 2012
Video disponible: http://bit.ly/xFfa2Q
En el segmento político de Telenoticias Washington "Batalla de Ideas", Alex Sánchez e Israel Ortega muestran su postura sobre el "Dream Act"
Acta de Ensueño ha sido por varios años tema de discusión entre demócratas y republicanos.
Unos dicen que los jóvenes indocumentados que llegaron a este país traídos por sus padres deben tener los mismos derechos que los ciudadanos para asistir a la universidad, mientras que otros consideran dicha medida una amnistía injusta a inmigrantes que entraron al país violando la ley.
Este es el tema de hoy en la “Batalla de Ideas” de Telenoticias Washington entre Alex Sánchez e Israel Ortega.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Cientos de muertos en cárcel hondureña
Febrery 15, 2012
Para ver el video haga click aqui
La comunidad hondureña del área metropolita, compuesta por unos 100,000 hondureños está horrorizada con la noticia: un incendio anoche en una cárcel del país centroamericano que, según las autoridades, ha dejado por lo menos 300 reos muertos.
La cárcel, que según los expertos solamente tiene capacidad para mantener a 400 presos, asilaba a más de 800 personas.
Las imágenes que salen de la prisión de Comayagua, ciudad localizada a unos 140 kilómetros de la capital de Honduras, son desgarradoras. Según testigos, decenas de reos pedían ayuda a gritos mientras sus celdas se convertían en un infierno sin salida. El portavoz de los bomberos de esa ciudad descrió los hechos.
“Unos 100 prisioneros murieron calcinados o asfixiados… en sus celdas que estaban aseguradas con candados. Lamentablemente no pudimos sacarlos por no tener las llaves a mano y no hallar al guardia que las portaba”
Una situación difícil de creer, pero que según los expertos en el tema, no está para nada lejos de una realidad muy cotidiana.
“Desafortunadamente… esto no es nada nuevo. En el 2004 hubo un incendio en otra prisión donde murieron 100 personas. En el 2005 hubo otro incendio donde murieron alrededor de 70 personas”, dijo Alex Sánchez del Concejo Sobre Asuntos Hemisféricos.
Los familiares de las víctimas estaban desesperados afuera de la prisión tratando de averiguar por sus seres queridos, mientras militares vigilaban la zona.
En Washington, la Organización de Estados Americanos dijo que enviaría un emisario para ayudar en la investigación de lo ocurrido. Mientras tanto, la tragedia la siguen con interés las organizaciones dedicadas a América Latina.
“La solución es obviamente más presupuesto para tener más prisiones, para construir más prisiones y también para entrenar y contratar mejores policías”, dijo Sánchez.
Hasta ahora hay dos hipótesis sobre la posible causa del siniestro: un corto circuito en el sistema eléctrico, ó un prisionero que incendió un colchón.
Según las autoridades, este es uno de los peores incendios ocurridos en una prisión de Latinoamérica y es el segundo sucedido en una cárcel de honduras en las últimas semanas. Mientras tanto aquí en el área metropolitana, la comunidad hondureña siente este terrible incendio como ocurrido en casa.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Attended an off-the-record speech with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Interviewed today Wednesday February 15 by Telemundo's Washington DC station regarding the horrible fire in a prison in Honduras.
Will appear on Wednesday February 15 in Telemundo's Batalla de Ideas discussing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act/ La Protección del paciente y asequible Ley de atención (PPACA).
Interviewed by Voice of Russia America radio station (Washington DC & New York) on the Faklands/Malvinas dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom
Friday, February 10, 2012
What underlies the Falklands dispute?
Inside Story- Americas
Al Jazeera English
February 9, 2012
Two countries and two seemingly intractable positions.
The dispute between Argentina and Britain over the Falklands or Malvinas islands is at its bitterest for three decades.
This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the war the two sides fought over the islands - a war in which more than 900 Argentinian and British soldiers were killed.
Argentina may have lost that war, but it has never given up its claim to the Malvinas, which have been under continuous British rule since 1833.
Sovereignty of the islands is even written in Argentina's constitution.
But Britain has steadfastly refused to re-open sovereignty talks, saying the people of the Falklands say there is nothing to discuss.
The Falklands are a cluster of about 770 islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean. They lie about 483 kilometres off the Argentine coast and 13,000 kilometres away from mainland UK.
Its main link to the outside world is a weekly flight from Punta Arenas in Chile. But its route includes Argentinian airspace, which the government of Cristina Kirchner, the president of Argentina, has threatened to restrict.
On Tuesday, Kirchner said she would make a formal complaint to the UN following an announcement that Britain was sending a warship to the region.
In recent weeks, her government has also attempted to internationalise the issue further, and now Argentina's cause is backed by virtually the whole of Latin America.
"Joint sovereignty is not an issue because the British will never agree to it. If there is oil around the islands maybe there can be some kind of joint venture which both sides could benefit from. This will be a step forward."
- Wilder Alejandro Sanchez, a research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Bubbling under the surface is the issue of resources - particularly oil. Britain is seeking to tap into an estimated vast reserve under the Falklands sea bed.
Four areas that could potentially contain oil have been identified in the waters around the Falklands. Oil companies are hoping for 8.3 billion barrels this year. That is three times the UK's reserves.
But what do the Falkland islanders themselves think about the prolonged dispute?
Barry Elsby, a member of the Falklands Legislative Assembly, had this to say:
"The UN also recognises the right for people to determine their own future and that's all we're asking for as Falkland islanders. Also, it is very difficult for us to enter into negotiations with a country who, because of their constitution, cannot agree on any settlement that gives up their claim to the Falkland Islands."
So, where is the Falklands-Malvinas dispute heading?
Joining presenter Shihab Rattansi on Inside Story Americas are: Larry Birns, the director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a non-profit organisation dedicated to monitoring Latin American affairs; Fernando Petrella, a former Argentinian ambassador to the UN; and Wilder Alejandro Sanchez, a research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
¿Ha manejado Obama bien la economía?
Telemundo - Washington DC
February 8, 2012
Video disponible: http://bit.ly/yqN1uA
“Batalla de Ideas” es el nuevo espacio de análisis político de Telenoticias Washington. Un segmento semanal en el que cada miércoles dos analistas políticos con puntos de vista opuestos revisarán los temas más importantes que se vienen discutiendo durante la campaña electoral que desembocará en las elecciones presidenciales del próximo mes de noviembre.
Ustedes decidirán cada semana en sus hogares quién tiene razón. En el espacio de este miércoles, Alex Sánchez e Israel Ortega nos hablan sobre el manejo de la economía por parte del presidente Barack Obama.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Interviewed on Thursday February 9 about the situation in the Malvinas/Falklands for Al Jazeera English.
Attended an off-the-record meeting with Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon on February 8, 2012.
Interviewed by Telemundo (their Washington DC station) on President Barack Obama's economic initiatives and successes so far. Will put a link to the video when it's online.
Global Insider: UNASUR Defense Agencies Search for RelevanceBY THE EDITORS | 08 FEB 2012
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN: http://bit.ly/AqPhL4
Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay recently began to share information on national defense spending as part of a Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) initiative aimed at using transparency to maintain peace in the region. In an email interview, W. Alex Sanchez, a research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, discussed UNASUR defense cooperation.
WPR: What are the current structures in place within UNASUR for defense cooperation? W. Alex Sanchez: UNASUR’s two main defense bodies are the Defense Council and the Defense Strategic Studies Center. The center, which was created in 2009, is based in Argentina -- not surprising given that it was proposed by Argentina’s then-minister of defense, Nilda Garre -- and will have a rotating leadership. It is standard for multinational agencies to have some kind of security-related wing. For instance, the Organization of American States has the Inter-American Defense Board, the Committee on Hemispheric Security and the Inter-American Defense College, founded in 1962 and probably one of the most obscure security-related agencies on the continent. So while these two UNASUR security agencies exist, the real question is how relevant they will be in the future.
WPR: What other plans are there for defense cooperation? Sanchez: There is no shortage of bilateral defense and cooperation agreements among UNASUR’s member states. For example, Peru and Colombia have signed numerous agreements aimed at improving monitoring of their border regions deep in the Amazon to tackle transnational crime, such as drug trafficking or the crossing of FARC insurgents into other countries. Regarding UNASUR, six members -- Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay -- have agreed to share information on defense expenditures. In addition, UNASUR Secretary-General Maria Emma Mejia has announced that a white book containing information about defense budgets in the region will be published during a security seminar in Quito this May. Moreover, UNASUR’s Defense Council met in November and approved an Action Plan for 2012, which touches on issues like defense cooperation, humanitarian missions and peacekeeping operations. There is even talk of creating a South American Observatory that will monitor drug-trafficking issues in the region.
WPR: What are the barriers to expanding defense and military cooperation among UNASUR members? Sanchez: The obvious issues are security tensions and disputes among member countries. For example, Peru and Chile have a maritime-border dispute that is currently being tried at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Additionally, situations sometimes arise that spiral out of control, like the 2008 incident in which Colombian forces attacked a FARC base in Ecuador without informing Quito first. This prompted Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to send his army to the country’s border with Colombia, declaring that he would defend Ecuador’s sovereignty. While the initiatives by the aforementioned six countries are important, it is necessary to highlight that Brazil and Venezuela have not yet agreed to share information about their defense budgets. According to a recent report by the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade, a Russian think tank, Venezuela was the eighth-biggest importer of military technology in the world in 2010, mostly from Russia. Combine that with Chávez’s sometimes belligerent declarations and initiatives, such as the 2008 incident with Colombia, and it is obvious that more transparency is needed from that country in particular.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Humala: Chavez Clone or Washington Partner?
By W. Alex Sanchez,
Foreign Policy in Focus
February 6, 2012
And yet, after half a year in power, the worst right-wing predictions about Humala’s government have yet to come true, casting doubt on his critics’ claim that Humala would be a “clone” of the eccentric Venezuelan president.
Even now, commentaries continue to appear about whether Humala is the Peruvian version of Chávez; similar discussions abound regarding presidents Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador. According to the current rhetoric, as exemplified by statements from former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, Humala is trying to militarize his government. These accusations took root in December 2011, when Salomon Lerner resigned as prime minister and Ollanta appointed Oscar Valdés Dancuart, a retired lieutenant colonel close to the president, as his successor.
But Humala has not carried out the repressive measures that critics predicted he would. Even before he won the elections, Humala campaigned on a fairly moderate platform, promising not to change the economic model that has brought a great deal of economic growth to Peru in the last few years, and vowing not to become a new Chávez. During the campaign, Humala also asked Chávez to stop calling him a “soldado” (soldier), as he is no longer in the military.
Yet Humala has not renounced his friendship with Chávez either. During an early January trip to Venezuela, Humala gave his Venezuelan counterpart a book with the speeches of former Peruvian military president, General Juan Velasco Alvarado. The two countries are currently in negotiations to sign a trade integration agreement. Due to his economic initiatives, Humala has been compared to Brazil’s former president Lula, who led the Portuguese-speaking nation through a decade of financial and diplomatic growth.
Interestingly, there has been no speculation that Ollanta could become like former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori, who replaced key government posts before his famous “auto golpe” (self-coup) in April 1992, in which he dissolved the Peruvian congress and eventually wrote a new constitution in 1993.
The Case against the Chávez Comparison
Since taking office, Humala has neither nationalized major industries nor carried out censorship initiatives against opposition parties and the Peruvian media. Indeed, so far he has not cracked down on opposition members, allowing them to continue their attacks against the head of state. In addition, the Peruvian economy is expected to grow 5.5 percent in 2012, while tourism in the Andean country is expected to grow 12-14 percent. Far from nationalizing private industries, Humala recently traveled to Spain to court foreign investment. Nor has the Peruvian leader freed his brother Antauro from prison, despiteaccusations during the campaign that he would.
On the other hand, a December 2011 report in the Chilean daily La Tercerapointed out that Valdés’ appointment marks the first time since the Peruvian military governments of 1968-1980 that the two most important offices, those of the president and the prime minister, are occupied by military officers. Also in an important position is Adrian Villafuerte, Humala’s national advisor on security issues and a retired colonel himself.
Nevertheless, contrary to military regimes past, Humala was democratically chosen in elections that have been internationally recognized as free and fair. Moreover, it is only expected that, as president, he would appoint capable individuals that he knows and trusts. The majority of Peruvian ministry positions remain in the hands of civilians. In any case, rather than behaving like a dictator-in-the-making, Humala enjoys a 54.5-percent approval rating after six months in office.
There is yet another difference between Humala and Chávez that is often overlooked. Supposedly a revolutionary socialist, Chávez has often been accused of supporting the Colombian guerrilla FARC movement, though whether in a material or moral capacity is a subject of some dispute. But contrary to the Venezuelan leader’s alleged pro-FARC stance, the Peruvian government continues to see the Colombian insurgent group as a security threat. Recently, Peruvian Admiral Jose Cueto Aservi stated that his naval forces will ensure that the Colombian insurgents do not enter Peruvian territory.
Moreover, Humala has not been accused of being a sympathizer, much less a supporter, of Peru’s Maoist insurgent group, the Shining Path. As president, Humala has maintained a tough government policy against the insurgent group.In August 2011, he publicly demanded a victory date from his generals against the Shining Path.
Humala’s government has also prevented a new organization called theMovement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (MOVADEF) from becoming a legitimate political party because of its ties to the Shining Path. The Peruvian Times reports that Peruvian lawmakers, pushed by Ollanta’s cabinet of ministers, are expected to approve “a bill that would prevent political movements with links to insurgents and other violent groups from becoming registered political parties and participating in local and national elections.” Bowing to government and civil society pressure, MOVADEF recently declared that it will stop attempting to become a political party. Meanwhile, Humala’s Education Minister, Patricia Salas, has declared that new school textbooks will explicitly explain how Shining Path and the MRTA are terrorist organizations. It seems clear that Humala will hardly be an apologist or supporter of radical violent movements, whether at home or abroad.
The Conga Protests
A critical situation is currently developing in Cajamarca, a region in northern Peru where local inhabitants are protesting against a proposed $4-8 billion mining project. The local population believes that the mine will pollute local water sources, which are critical for both human consumption and irrigation projects. After major protests in late 2011, the project was suspended in December.
For Humala, the Conga project poses a dilemma. On the one hand, if Humala openly supports the local population, he could potentially scare international investors, which the country’s political opposition would quickly capitalize on. Opposition politicians have already attacked Humala on the Conga issue, charging that the protests there and social unrest elsewhere in the country are examples of Humala’s lack of leadership skills.
On the other hand, by siding with the investors, the president risks alienating the local population, a move that could cost him dearly in future polls, referenda, and elections (although it is important to mention that Peru’s constitution does not permit direct presidential re-election). In November 2011, Humala tried to appease both groups by declaring in a speech that the Conga mine was “important” to Peru but that he also supported local communities.
Humala and Washington in 2012
Recent U.S. administrations have faced an increasingly complicated relationship with Latin America, particularly due to the rise of anti-Washington governments in the region. Currently the United States enjoys strong relations with only a handful of Latin American states, like Mexico, Colombia, and Chile. Washington also maintains generally good relations with the governments of Brazil and Argentina, as well as smaller countries like Panama, with whom, along with Colombia, the United States recently ratified controversial free-trade agreements. Meanwhile, “Pink Tide” leaders like Chávez, Morales, and Correa have had increasingly tense diplomatic relations with Washington ever since they came to power. In one of the most recent incidents, the United States expelledLivia Acosta Noguera, a Venezuelan consular official in Miami, for her alleged ties to planned cyber attacks against the U.S. government.
However, these tensions have yet to materialize with Peru. In July 2011, Humalatraveled to Washington as president-elect and met with both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to assure them that he would not become another Chávez. In January 2012, Washington donated $2.3 million in military hardware to the Peruvian government to fight terrorism and drug trafficking in Peru’s troublesome Apurimac and Ene River valley. The U.S. ambassador to Perú, Rose Likins, was present at the ceremony in which equipment like night vision goggles, sensors, and mine detectors were given to the Peruvian security forces. Leaving aside questions about the wisdom of a militarized drug war, the fact that Humala maintains military relations with Washington half a year into his presidency is in stark contrast to the rapid deterioration of U.S.-Venezuelan relations after Chávez came to power.
In general, the Obama administration has taken the correct diplomatic course when it comes to relations with Humala, and vice versa. Neither government has attempted to antagonize the other. Consequently, relations remain generally as good as they were with previous Peruvian governments. When it comes to U.S. interests in Latin America, Peru is probably on the second tier when it comes to importance, after countries like Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil (unsurprisingly, there was no mention of Peru or the Andes in Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address). Nonetheless, Lima has generally been a close Washington ally, even during the Fujimori dictatorship, and Washington should avoid diplomatically aggressive measures that might push Humala closer to Venezuela.
W. Alex Sanchez, "Humala: Chavez Clone or Washington Partner?" (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, February 6, 2012)
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Interviewed by HispanTV about the "no-fly" lists on February 3, 2012
Attended the meeting of Think Tank Leaders with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza
February 2, 2012
Place: Washington, DC
Credit: Patricia Leiva/OAS
Source: OAS Flickr account http://bit.ly/zTGxUx
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Journal:Brazil's Grand Design for Combining Global South Solidarity and National Interests: A Discussion of Peacekeeping Operations in Haiti and Timor
Brazil's Grand Design for Combining Global South Solidarity and National Interests: A Discussion of Peacekeeping Operations in Haiti and Timor
W. Alejandro Sánchez Nieto
Special Issue: Global South to the Rescue: Emerging Humanitarian Superpowers and Globalizing Rescue Industries
Volume 9, Issue 1, 2012
Available Online: http://bit.ly/wj1bTI
The link above will take you to the Taylor & Francis where you can register/purchase the article. Please contact me if you would like a .pdf version if you're an academic/researcher etc. wilder.a.sanchez at gmail.com
This study analyzes how Brazil has assumed visible leadership of peacekeeping operations in order to increase its international status, with the ever-present goal of attaining a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, but also with the larger aim of cultivating forms of political-economic, cultural, and military globalization in which the Lusophone giant can articulate new forms of transnational influence. Brazil's role in MINUSTAH (the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti) and in peacekeeping interventions in Timor have become cornerstones of Brazilian nationalism, which is evolving into a particular, global South framed ‘Brazilian exceptionalism’. I will argue that these operations are seen by Brazilian policymakers as win–win scenarios: Brazil increases its international peacekeeping credentials while these fragile states obtain internal security, a first step towards development. But is this what is actually happening? I will conclude by addressing how peacekeeping in Haiti and Timor fit into Brazil's grand design for long-term global extension.
Este estudio analiza la manera como Brasil ha asumido un evidente liderazgo en las operaciones de mantenimiento de paz, para incrementar su estatus internacional con el objetivo omnipresente de obtener una silla en el Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas, y además con una meta mayor de cultivar formas de política económica, cultural y globalización militar, en la que el gigante lusófono puede articular nuevas formas de influencia transnacional. El papel de Brasil en MINUSTAH (la Misión de Estabilización de las Naciones Unidas en Haití) y en las intervenciones de paz en Timor, se han convertido en pilares de nacionalismo brasileño, que está evolucionando a una ‘particularidad brasileña’ del sur global. Yo sostendré que los políticos brasileños ven estas operaciones como escenarios de mutuo beneficio: Brasil aumenta sus credenciales de mantenimiento de paz, mientras estos estados frágiles obtienen seguridad interna, un primer paso hacia el desarrollo. Pero en realidad, ¿qué es lo que está sucediendo? Yo concluiré, abordando el tema de cómo el mantenimiento de paz en Haití y Timor, encaja dentro del gran diseño del Brasil hacia una extensión global a largo plazo.