Monday, March 31, 2014

VOXXI: Central America’s coffee woes

Central America's Coffee Woes
W. Alejandro Sanchez
March 31, 2014
Originally published:

Over the past couple of years, coffee production in Central America has been hit by a deadly wave of coffee leaf rust (“roya” in Spanish), a type of fungus that has hurt the production of this valued commodity in the region. The Central American Secretariat for Economic Integration has quoted statistics by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) which estimates that Central American states lost roughly $243 million USD between 2012-2013 due to this fungus.
This is no pocket change for developing nations, as much of their economy is centered on exporting coffee and other basic commodities.

Losses in numbers

Central American states between southern Mexico and Panama have been particularly hit with a wave of coffee rust (it has also expanded farther south, to countries like Peru). A May 2013 report by the ICO explained that “the epidemic affecting the region [is] the worst seen since the pest first appeared in Central America in 1976.”
Honduras has suffered the biggest loss, totaling $90 million USD. This is a tragic development for a country that has experienced political instability and underdevelopment for years. (I discussed whether Honduras can be qualified as a semi-failed state in an August 9, 2013, commentary for VOXXI).
Honduran coffee exports between October 2013 and February 2014 were just over 1,800 million quintales (bags of 46 kilograms). This is 17.19% less than the same period one year ago, according to Honduras’ Institute of Coffee.
Costa Rica and Nicaragua have lost around $46 million USD each, while Guatemala lost $28 million USD. In Nicaragua there are some 125 thousand hectares used for coffee production, and between 37 and 69 thousand have been infected by the coffee rust, according to Oxfam, a global development organization. The loss of so many hectares is a major problem as the coffee industry in Nicaragua provides jobs, permanent and seasonal, to some 500 to 600 thousand people.
Central America’s presence in the global coffee market has understandably been diminished due to decreasing exports. In 2011 the region produced 11% of the world’s total production of coffee, but in 2013 it dropped down to only 8%.
An estimated 83% of coffee production in Central America is destined for export. As much as 36% of its coffee goes to the U.S., while Germany receives 15%.

Climate change and side effects

It is debatable to what extent climate change is to blame for the spread of this fungus. In a January 2013 BBC report Guatemalan coffee experts argued that in recent years, changes in the environment have included higher temperatures and more rain, contributing to the coffee rust’s expansion.
To make matters worse, the disruption in the ecological balance due to coffee rust has also affected other regional industries. Guatemala reports that honey is produced in the same areas where coffee grows, but due to the coffee rust and global climate change (which has brought other plagues), honey production in the country is expected to fall by 40% for the 2013-2014 harvest.

Reasons to hope?

It is unclear if things will improve in the near future. An October meeting in Costa Rica concluded that the region will need two-three years to bounce back from this crisis. The theory is that in order to stop the coffee rust, producers will have to prune up to 28% of their coffee crops. It will then take two years for the new rust-free (hopefully) plants to produce back to full capacity.
Unfortunately, the chemicals that can be used for fumigation to eliminate the rust are unaffordable for many farmers.
In Guatemala, 45% of coffee growers are small farmers while 8% are large companies. In other words, the government needs to step in and provide subsidies for fumigation and pruning initiatives so that small farmers can survive the crisis and successfully grow their crops once again.
Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that Guatemala can bounce back soon. In January, it was reported that the Guatemalan government purchased coffee seeds that are resistant to the fungus and hopes to replant one tenth of the 276 thousand hectares of coffee in the country by the end of the year (the government will provide these seeds free of charge).
However, even after the coffee rust (eventually) recedes, Central American governments and coffee producers will have to convince their clients, such as Starbucks or Green Mountain Coffee Roasters that their coffee grains are once again of high quality and safe.
The coffee leaf rust that is plaguing the region is not just an inconvenience; it has been, and will continue to be, a challenge to the livelihood of thousands of Central Americans involved in the coffee industry. The situation also has political and security implications as unemployed farmers could turn to criminal activities in order to survive, or protests could occur if regional governments are perceived to be inefficient to deal with this situation.
At best, the current wave of coffee leaf rust will not spread anymore and Central American farmers will, slowly, recover their crops. But this may just be wishful thinking.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

VOXXI: Live in California? Drug cartel violence might be in your backyard

 Live in California? Drug Cartel violence might be in your backyard
W. Alejandro Sanchez
March 27, 2014
Originally published:
California’s Attorney General has released a new report, “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Crime.” As the title suggests, the report discusses links between Californian criminal groups and criminal organizations from countries in Eastern Europe, Asia and, as we will discuss here, in Mexico.But the spillover of violence from the cartels might be as close as your back yard, as far as the report can tell.
It is common knowledge that Mexican criminal groups such as the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, which recently suffered the capture of its leader “El Chapo,” have ties with criminals in the U.S. and throughout Latin America. Nevertheless, “Gangs Beyond Borders does a great job of explaining how these unholy relations are currently morphing, which makes it even more difficult for security agencies to crack down on criminal entities in California.
The Morphing Relationship of Cartels and Gangs
The Sinaloa cartel has a significant presence in California, as it is responsible for the vast majority of “drug, weapons, and human trafficking across the California-Mexico border,” as the aforementioned study highlights. The report also addresses relations between Sinaloa and California gangs, such as the Hispanic Sureño street gang. By using the Sureños as proxies, Sinaloa has increased its presence into Northern California, particularly in San Jose, but also in areas such as Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Monterey and Kern.
It is important to note that Sinaloa is not the only, or first, Mexican cartel with a presence in California.Gangs Beyond Borders explains that La Familia Michoacana (LFM) used to have a strong presence as well, particularly regarding methamphetamine production in the state’s Central Valley. However, the LFM has lost much of its strength since the 2010 death of its leader, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, and the 2011 capture of Jose de Jesus “El Chango” Melendez, the cartel’s second in command.
How the presence of Mexican cartels has impacted, and will impact, crime rates in the near future in California is an obvious concern of the Attorney General’s report. In other words, how bad will the spillover effect of cartel violence in Mexico be for California?
The Californian Attorney General’s report hypothesizes that “this ever-increasing zone of influence has caused friction with existing regional gangs [in California] that had previously controlled trafficking routes, resulting in threats of violence, homicides, kidnappings, and extortion.”
There is another type of spillover effect: Mexican criminals are creating their own gangs in the U.S. One prime example is Jorge Rojas, who fled from Mexico to California where he founded Los Palillos (“The Toothpicks”) gang. Rojas has vast experience regarding criminal groups, as he is the brother of the late Victor Rojas, the leader of the also defunct Arellano-Felix Organization, another Mexican cartel.
Rojas and one of his lieutenants, Juan Francisco Estrada Gonzalez, were convicted this past January on numerous accounts of murder and kidnapping in San Diego. Nevertheless, in March the jury announced that it was unable to decide whether both criminals deserved the death penalty.
While it is logical to fear a spillover of Mexican violence into California, it is important to note that there are differing views whether this could actually occur.
In contrast to Gangs Beyond Borders is a February 2013 study by the Government Accountability Officewhich argued that data shows that the average rate for both violent and property crimes had dropped in the Southwest border states. The renowned InSight Crime news website argues that this data means that the spillover fear is unfounded.
 Criminals say Presente!
Spillover violence by Mexican cartels has affected other parts of the hemisphere, however. For example, a horrific massacre took place in May 2011:  27 people were executed in a cattle ranch in northern Guatemala, close to the border with Mexico. The Zetas cartel has been blamed for carrying out this attack.
Moreover, it is worth noting that other criminal networks across the hemisphere are increasing their ties with different international syndicates, not just from Mexico. For example, in 2013 Domenico Trimboli a high-profile leader of the ‘Ndrangheta (an Italian mafia-type criminal group in Calabria) was arrested in Colombia. The ‘Ndrangheta exports cocaine from Colombia to Europe.
Colombian cocaine also finds its way toGuinea Bissau, a nation in West Africa, which is widely considered one of the world’s foremost narco-states. From there the drugs are smuggled into Europe.
It is ironic that while governments and security agencies often have problems promoting cooperation amongst each other due to differences regarding political ideologies or jurisdictional concerns, cooperation between criminal entities tends to be flourishing.
The report Gangs Beyond Borders serves as a powerful reminder of the growing and morphing inter-connectivity between Mexican cartels and Californian gangs. The report even explains relations between LFM and non-Hispanic gangs, such as the Aryan Brotherhood. In other words, the power of money can blur ethnic and cultural differences.
Finally, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto met with Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security this past March 20 in Mexico City. The Mexican media has reported that the two discussed economic agreements between both Washington and Mexico City and development of border communities. Hopefully, the security situation across the Mexico-California border was discussed in detail since, as the new report by California’s Attorney Generalexplains, this border area needs more attention by both governments.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quoted in: Cooperación espacial: China sueña con expandirse en América Latina

Cooperacion espacial: China suena con expandirse a America Latina
Russia Today - Actualidad
Diciembre 27, 2013.
Articulo disponible:

El exitoso lanzamiento del primer satélite de comunicaciones de Bolivia, el Túpac Katari, beneficiará y facilitará mucho la cooperación entre China y América Latina en el sector espacial, sostienen en Pekín.
"Sudamérica siempre ha sido un mercado muy importante para nosotros en cuestión de satélites, teniendo en cuenta las condiciones sociales y económicas de la región, así como las buenas relaciones que hemos mantenido entre ambas partes", dijo He Xing, vicepresidente de la empresa tecnológica china CGWIC a la agencia Xinhua. Su empresa es la única autorizada para vender productos espaciales chinos en el extranjero. 

Campo de batalla

América Latina se ha convertido en un campo de batalla entre EE.UU. y China: ambos aspiran a vender en esta región sus productos y servicios espaciales, afirma el investigador del Consejo de Asuntos Hemisféricos en Washington, Alex Sánchez. 
"Las cuestiones geopolíticas y de seguridad de la Tierra continúan con extenderse al espacio"
"El hecho de que varios Estados espaciales, como EE.UU. y China, están ayudando activamente a los Estados regionales con sus programas nacionales constituye un factor crítico para las aspiraciones espaciales de América Latina. En el futuro esto puede provocar un cierto debate, ya que las cuestiones geopolíticas y de seguridad de la Tierra continúan con extenderse al espacio, especialmente en la actualidad, cuando los gobiernos caracterizados por sentimientos anti-Washington, como Caracas y La Paz, están recibiendo ayuda tecnológica, relacionada con el espacio, de países como China", explica Sánchez citado por 'The Space Review'. 

En 1985, China anunció que iba a comenzar a ofrecer servicios espaciales, de lanzamiento, para clientes internacionales. Después de que China fuera golpeada con sanciones tras el incidente de Tiananmen de 1989, el país tuvo que buscar socios no occidentales para que le ayudaran en su industria aeroespacial nacional, que entonces estaba a punto de nacer. 

Las búsquedas condujeron a Pekín a América del Sur, donde Brasil se convirtió en el primer país en aceptar la propuesta china. Por ahora China ha lanzado al espacio cuatro satélites de Brasil. La colaboración espacial de ambos países comenzó con el programa CBERS de 1999. China lanzó con éxito sus satélites meteorológicos en 1999, 2003 y 2007, que volaron al espacio a bordo del cohete Gran Marcha-4B. En 2014 China y Brasil lanzarán un satélite creado conjuntamente para sustituir un aparato que no llegó a la órbita a principios de diciembre y se estrelló contra la Tierra. 

Relaciones espaciales

Argentina colabora con China desde el 2004, con base en un convenio firmado por sus mandatarios que menciona servicios comerciales de lanzamiento, suministro de componentes de satélites y plataformas de comunicación por satélite. 

Bolivia envió 74 científicos espaciales a China para entrenarlos para el lanzamiento del satélite Túpac Katari, que fue construido por científicos y especialistas en laboratorios de China, utilizando partes fabricadas en Francia, Alemania y Estados Unidos. Fue lanzado desde Xichang, en China. El lanzamiento fue financiado parcialmente por un préstamo de 250 millones de dólares ofrecido a La Paz por el Banco de Desarrollo de China. 

Venezuela también envió casi cien científicos espaciales a China y acordó con Pekín el tema de radares, estaciones de seguimiento y la defensa aérea para controlar los satélites venezolanos. El primero, el Simón Bolívar Venesat 1, fue lanzado con éxito desde el Centro Espacial Xichang en China en octubre del 2008. "Unas mayores relaciones espaciales podrían ser consideradas como otra forma de mejorar las relaciones entre Pekín y Caracas" en el intento de Venezuela de alejarse de EE.UU. y buscar nuevos aliados en el mundo, afirma Sánchez. 

También hay contactos de China con Perú, Colombia y Chile. El paquete completo de servicios que ofrece CGWIC generalmente incluye la fabricación y el lanzamiento del satélite, la construcción de las estaciones terrestres, la asesoría en seguro y la capacitación de ingenieros en el control y manejo del ingenio espacial.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

VOXXI: Latin America’s mixed response to the Ukraine crisis

Latin America's mixed response to the Ukraine Crisis
W. Alejandro Sanchez
March 21, 2014
Originally published:
The situation in Ukraine remains dire as the interim government in Kiev faces the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. At the time of this writing, governments from Washington to London and Berlin are discussing potential responses, including sanctions against Russia.
While Latin America is geographically distant from Ukraine, various Western Hemisphere governments have made official statements reacting and explaining their position on the situation in Crimea. Suffice to say, Latin America is all over the spectrum regarding their support or criticism of Russia’s actions vis-à-vis Ukraine.
Chile and Mexico
Chile is one of Latin America’s current representatives at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – the other is Argentina. Due to this honor, President Michelle Bachelet, who was inaugurated last March 11 as her country’s new leader, has been placed  in the spotlight regarding the Ukraine.
Ambassador Octavio Errázuriz, Chile’s representative at the UNSC, has declared that Chile supported a resolution, proposed by the U.S. that condemned the referendum that took place in Crimea this past March 16. The Chilean ambassador stated that international law demands “the respect of the independence, sovereignty, and the current borders of Ukraine.”
The aforementioned UNSC resolution was ultimately vetoed by Russia. Moreover, through the referendum, Crimeans voted in favor of seceding from Ukraine to become part of Russia.
Meanwhile, Mexico has taken a more neutral position regarding the situation in Crimea. A March 4th press release by the country’s Secretariat for Foreign Affairs called for dialogue between “all actors within and outside of Ukraine involved in this crisis.”
Maduro: Don’t Mess with Russia
On the other hand, the Venezuelan government has taken a more aggressive stance on Ukraine. In fact, when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was removed from power this past February he fled to Russia while the Ukrainian congress voted that he was unfit to fulfill his presidential duties – President Maduro used the opportunity to blame the West.
President Maduro stated that Yanukovych’s fall from power was a “Neo-Nazi coup” carried out by extremist groups within Ukraine and orchestrated by the U.S. and NATO.
Such declarations are unsurprising given that the Venezuelan government has accused Washington of fomenting protests in Venezuela to overthrow President Maduro. Three American diplomats were expelled from the U.S. embassy in Caracas this past February.
Moreover, the Venezuelan head of state has come out in support of Russia’s operations in Ukraine. “The U.S. has tried to frighten the great Russia and Putin has come out with his flag of historical dignity,” President Maduro has stated.
Argentina: Crimea = Falklands?
Finally, Argentina has also taken a somewhat bizarre position regarding the Ukraine. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has come out to say that the West is applying a “double standard” regarding the Crimean referendum.
Her logic is this: It is hypocritical that Western states have labeled the Crimean referendum as illegal. (U.S. President Barack Obama has declared that the U.S. will “never” recognize Crimea’s secession.)
This hypocrisy forms Kirchner’s point of view: Western powers do not recognize the results of Crimea, but have generally supported the results of the March 2013 referendum in the Falkland Islands. (I discussed the results of the Falklands’ referendum in a March 2013 commentary for VOXXI, explaining that Buenos Aires does not recognize that referendum, arguing that the Falklanders are not indigenous inhabitants of these islands).
Nevertheless, it is important to note that even though President Kirchner does not agree with theWest’s critiques of the Crimean referendum, Argentina voted in favor of the aforementioned draft resolution by the U.S. at the UN Security Council.
A March 15 press release by the press office of Argentina’s mission at the UN quotes Ambassador María Cristina Perceval, Argentina’s representative to the UN, who called for “all Ukrainian parts to stop from carrying out unilateral acts that obstruct dialogue.”
No Unified Stance
As the crisis in Ukraine is not likely to be resolved anytime soon, we will probably see more policy statements by Latin American states and regional blocs on the crisis.
So far, declarations and press memoranda by the countries discussed in this commentary demonstrate that Latin America has no common stance on this crisis.
Moreover, what positions have been put forward revolve around a government’s own ideology or interests as reflected by domestic realities (i.e. Venezuela focused on the coup while Argentina focused on the referendum) rather than the realities of the situation in Ukraine.
At this point, it is highly doubtful that anyone in Kiev, Crimea, Moscow or Washington care much about what Latin American governments think of a crisis on the other side of the planet but that negligence may come back to bite them as Latin American leaders exploit the events in Ukraine for their own ends.
If nothing else, the fact that Latin American states have opinions on the Ukraine and Crimea demonstrate that we live in a shrinking world.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


By: Stephen Paul Haigh (Surrey: Ashgate, 2013), 272 pages 
Review by: W. Alejandro Sanchez
Stephen Haigh has written a comprehensive and provocative book on the future of the nation state and how the world order is likely to alter as governments and the global population become increasingly interconnected.  He argues that “the novel pressures applied to Westphalian geology by universal, globalizing forces have resulted in major upheaval: there is no going back, since what was thought to be bedrock is proving infirm.”[1]
The goal of this essay is to discuss Haigh’s thesis and major arguments from a Latin American perspective. Haigh explains that “globalization does not leave states untouched… the pressures it exerts are transforming states into political arenas that must accommodate universal and particular as true complements.”[2]  While one is not prepared to challenge that globalization is affecting the world order, some of his arguments are not fully applicable to Latin America.
Thesis and Sources
Haigh argues that the future of nation states will be the creation of a new global order, which he labels as neo-medievalism, where the Westphalian system will still exist, but will have adapted to a more interconnected world. He also acknowledges the benefits, and potential perils, of growing cosmopolitan societies, specifically the “thick” globalization and the role of transnational entities (be they corporations, ethnic movements or criminal entities).[3] It should be stressed that this debate is carried out largely from a theoretical point of view, despite his utilization of brief case studies, such as, the future of the European Union regarding integration among its plethora of members or U.S. foreign policy after 9/11.[4]
COHA appreciates that Haigh’s argument was not simply an imposition of its point of view on the reader. At different points, he explains similar theories by renowned IR scholars such as Hedley Bull, author of The Anarchical Society.[5] Namely, Haigh discusses Bull’s five issues regarding globalization, which Haigh challenges with his own view of neo medievalism.
As for sources, it is impossible to not praise Haigh enough for the amount of research he carried out for Future States. Each chapter has a plethora of footnotes and the Sources section constitutes 22 pages of work by renowned scholars (i.e. Friedrichs, Haas, Held and Fukuyama, among others).
Finally, it is understandable that it would have been too much to ask for this book (272 pages, including Sources and the Index) to discuss the future of states in Latin America and other regions. In order to fully incorporate each region into a discussion of globalization; Future States would have had to be at least five times longer.
A Euro-Centric Approach
Any serious Latin Americanist inquiry would have to highlight that Future States reads like an euro-centric book due to the analysis of the history of the state, the case studies that have been discussed, and Haigh’s overall predictions for the future of the international system.
For example, Chapter 2 is a summary of the history of the rise of the nation-state. He begins with the rise of the polis in ancient Greece, and then discusses the Roman Empire, the feudal system and the Westphalian system. Haigh explains how “medieval political regimes were not equipped to deal with salient elements of globalization because those did not exist.”[6] Moreover, he argues that “the promise of our moment is unique, for unlike both Westphalia and the medieval era that preceded it, we live in a world of particular states inflected with manifold and unrelenting universal pressures.”[7]
His comparison of the world order continuously jumps from medieval times to the Westphalian system, while also occasionally mentioning the Holy Roman Empire and the Church. For example, he explains that stability provided in the medieval era “by the dual universalism of the Holy Roman Empire and the Church” have been replaced nowadays by the competing universal claims of the nation-state system as well as the transnational market economy.[8]
Moreover, the present-day case studies focus on U.S. foreign policy, namely Washington’s attitude towards internationalism post-9/11.[9] Haigh also utilizes the European Union as a mini case study of regional integration. There are some mentions of non-Western states, such as a brief comparison between multi-ethnic societies in Canada and Rwanda and how an ethnic civil war started in the latter country but not in the former.[10] Nevertheless, these non-Western references are sprinkled throughout Future States, but are not analyzed in depth.
In addition, Haigh could have given a perfunctory nod to the fact that non-European societies have developed their own systems of government. In the case of pre-Columbian societies, there was a plethora of examples of cultures of today in Latin America, such as the Nazca, Paracas, and Chimu in South America, as well as the Mayas in Central America.[11] These cultures developed their own ways of extremely formal self-government. By the time the Spanish conquistadors arrived, there were two major empires in the region: the Incas and Aztecs, which had complex, and arguably effective, systems of government.[12]
Upon the victory of the conquistadors, the European empires created colonies in the region. After the wars of independence in the early 19th century, the new Latin American states organized themselves as republics, instead of reverting back to pre-Columbian types of government (i.e. no Inca was chosen again in Peru). Even if it was not a central issue of Future States, Haigh could have usefully summarized the voyage of non-European societies to the Westphalian system, instead of skipping it altogether. While there is a brief mention of the legacy of the European Imperum on the world, more analysis might have been supplied.
Future States:
From International to Global Political Order
Nuclear Security
Haigh stresses how the nuclear age has affected the global security system and how inter-state warfare due to the devastation that nuclear weapons could produce, which made its introduction and security system, an unthinkable option. He explains,
it is safe to say that the advent of nuclear weapons has diluted both the logic and political force of territorial demarcation, for nuclear arms ‘have dramatically extinguished the boundaries between destruction and destroyer,’ […] boundaries set us apart; nuclear weapons trump boundaries; collective security is entailed; the meaning of boundaries is thereby diminished. The bomb poses an institutional problem whose solution is corrosive of territorial demarcation.[13]
He also argues that “the threat of nuclear weapons has transformed the behaviour of states, forcing them to loosen their grip on the territories concept.”[14]
At this point it is worth noting that Latin America and the Caribbean have been a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) since the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco.[15] In the 1970s, Brazil and Argentina, then under military regimes, had secret operations to develop nuclear weaponry.[16] However, both Brasilia and Buenos Aires ultimately scrapped these programs. No Latin American (or Caribbean) nation possesses nuclear weapons in 2014. Hence, how much has the Latin American security system really been affected by the nuclear age?
Let us look at this situation in another way: the fact is that a handful of nations which possess nuclear weapons (and other types of weapons of mass destruction) does not necessarily mean that Latin American states will not go to war amongst themselves. During and after the Cold War, while there was a real threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, there were also armed but non-nuclear conflicts between Latin American states. For example, Peru and Ecuador had non-declared wars in 1981 and 1995 over a border dispute.[17] In 1969, Honduras and El Salvador had a brief conflict called the Soccer War. Moreover, in 1982 Argentina went to war with the United Kingdom, a nuclear state, over the control of the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas.
Inter-state tensions are still ever-present in the region today. To name a few examples, Nicaragua and Costa Rica have an ongoing border dispute which was taken to the International Court of Justice.[18] Likewise, in January 2014 the ICJ also ruled on another territorial dispute between two Latin American states: Peru and Chile.[19] In recent years there have been tensions and disputes where the risk of inter-state war was real. For example, in 2011, former President Tabaré Vásquez of Uruguay revealed that while he was president (2005-2010), he consulted his military about the possibility of a conflict with Argentina due to a dispute over a pulp mill being built by Montevideo on a river that borders the two countries.[20] Also, in 2008 a war almost commenced between Colombia and Venezuela over a bizarre incident involving a base of FARC guerrillas on Ecuador’s territory.[21]
Certainly, Haigh is correct when he suggests that there are links between globalization and the decline of interstate war.[22] This COHA analyst has researched the lack of inter-state warfare in Latin America, and I similarly argue that growing commercial ties between governments and the migration of people serve as a confidence building mechanism.[23] Nevertheless, the nuclear age in Latin America has not drastically affected national interests and inter-state tensions as has been the case in other regions.
Multinational Integration
As for the discussion in Future States of the “unique” case of the level of integration achieved by the members of the European Union, it is certainly true that no Latin American bloc today comes close to the level of open borders, as well as the free movement of goods, people and services that the EU has achieved. Haigh explains how Bull, “while acknowledging that groups such as [ASEAN] or the Organization of American states had been ‘affected’ by the EU example. He also maintained that none of them have displayed even a modest degree of advancement then extant in Europe.”[24]
It would be wrong to assume, or even to suggest, that Latin Americans are not trying to reach this kind of integration. Solely mentioning the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) as examples of Latin American integration initiatives is a minimalist approach in Future States.
There is a veritable alphabet soup of organizations in Latin America with overlapping memberships, some with political ideologies and others exclusively focused on trade, but all with the same goal of bringing their members together. A brief list of these entities include the aforementioned MERCOSUR, the Andean Community, the Central American Integration System, the Association of Caribbean States, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Even more, in 2011 the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC) with the goal of hemispheric integration was created with 33 Latin American and Caribbean member nations, without the U.S. and Canada as members.
Haigh also argues that “legally, institutionally, and in terms of commitment … the EU stands alone; and given the sui generis of the EU experience … it becomes difficult to imagine how ASEAN, Mercosur, or any other regional aspirants could, at least in the medium term, match either the achievements or the potential of the EU.”[25] Moreover, Haigh discusses the theories of Bull and other scholars regarding the EU’s consolidation of national defense capabilities, trade as a single entity, and also provides examples of other common policies, like visa and asylum rules.[26]
While Latin American blocs are not discussing common defense policies a la NATO, regional groups in the Western Hemisphere are carrying out interesting integration initiatives. For example, the Andean Community has “community passports” so that citizens of its member states (Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia) will not require visas to travel to other Community states. Meanwhile, the Pacific Alliance (Colombia, Peru, Chile, Mexico) is promoting economic integration by drafting free trade agreements between each other. There has even been talk of creating a community visa for the citizens of Alliance states. Meanwhile, ALBA has created the SUCRE, a virtual currency to promote commerce among its members.[27]
Sovereignty: Today and Mañana
Haigh’s Future States can also be regarded as a discussion on the future of national sovereignty vis-à-vis a changing global order with the rise of both transnationalism and supranationalism. Haigh argues that the nation state will not lose its influence anytime soon. He theorizes that in spite of how globalization may impose itself on the state, the latter will not lose its central position in political life since sovereign states have proven capable of adapting to the pressure that would cast a rigid, Westphalian-style apparatus into deep crisis.[28]
He also adds,
Thus, although globalization has meant that states are now compelled to loosen their authority and to some extent dissolve the hard shell of territoriality, they have through that process ably demonstrated that recalibrated sovereignty is still sovereignty: the state is still very much the central agent in political life.[29]
Indeed, governments remain zealous guards of national sovereignty, which explains why a global government (i.e. via the United Nations) will not occur anytime soon. In Latin America, one reason why the OAS has not managed to increase its influence over its members is precisely because member states, do not want to give up their power to a supranational body. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, they are even more recluctant to defer to a body that has the U.S. as a member. Whether we may see smaller Latin American blocs such as UNASUR or ALBA gain some kind of “power” over their member states also remains highly unlikely.
Haigh’s overall thesis is that the world is entering a new type of global order where states remain a major player but “manifold and unrelenting universal pressures” have put governments in a unique situation. [30] He refers to this emerging system as neo-medieval.
While Haigh’s analysis is mostly theoretical, he often uses empirical examples to illustrate his point. However, a discussion of how Latin America has adapted, if at all, to this neo-medieval international system is lacking. Certainly, Latin American governments are seeking greater integration amongst themselves, but free trade agreements, new regional blocs or grandiose declarations at presidential summits do not hide the fact that national sovereignty is very much alive.
[1]Stephen Paul Haigh, Future States: From International to Global Order (Surrey: Ashgate, 2013), 137.
[2] Haigh, Future States, 163.
[3]Haigh, Future States, 156-157.
[4] Haigh, Future States, 216.
[5] Haigh, Future States, 140. Also see: Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002).
[6] Haigh, Future States, 136.
[7] Haigh, Future States, 137.
[8] Haigh, Future States, 138.
[9] Haigh, Future States, 216.
[10] Haigh, Future States, 184.
[11] Berthold de Riese, Los Mayas (Madrid: Acento Ediciones, 2002).
[12] Catherine Julien, Reading Inca History (Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 2000), Also see: Raul Perez Lopez-Portillo, Aztecas-Mexicas: El Imperio de Mesoamerica(Madrid: Silex Ediciones, 2012).
[13] Haigh, Future States, 72-73.
[14] Haigh, Future States, 119.
[15] W. Alejandro Sanchez, “The Dirty Little Secret: Nuclear Security Issues in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, January 6, 2010. Accessed February 10, 2014, .
[16] For a good discussing of Brazil’s nuclear program, see: Kassenova, Togzhan. “Brazil’s Nuclear Kaleidoscope: An Evolving Identity.” Report. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 2014.
[17] Ernesto Yepes, Peru Ecuador 1941-1942: Tres dias de guerra, ciento de ochenta de negociaciones (Lima: Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, 1998).
[18] Daniela Cerdas & Alexandra Araya, “Corte de La Haya ordena a Nicaragua detener dragado en la zona de conflicto con Costa Rica,” La Nacion, Nacional, November 22, 2013. Accessed February 12, 2014,
[19] W. Alejandro Sanchez, “January 27, 2014: A Date with Destiny for Peru and Chile,” Research, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, January 24, 2014. Accessed February 13, 2014,
[20] “Consideran ‘increible” que Tabare Vazquez haya pensado en una guerra por Botnia,” La Voz, Politica, October 12, 2011. Accessed February 11, 2014,
[21] Gabriel Marcella, “War Without Borders: The Colombia-Ecuador Crisis of 2008,”Strategic Studies Institute, December 2008. Accessed February 12, 2014,
[22] Haigh, Future States, 122.
[23] W. Alejandro Sanchez, “Whatever happened to South America’s Splendid Little Wars?” Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol. 22, Issue 2 (2011): 322-351.
[24] Haigh, Future States, 142.
[25] Haigh, Future States, 149.
[26] Haigh, Future States, 143.
[27] Tim Rogers, “Nicaragua trades beans for SUCRE,” Nicaragua Dispatch, February 28, 2013. Accessed February 13, 2014, . Also see: Olivia Kroth, “ALBA: Stepping stone for Latin American independence and unity,”, February 9, 2012. Accessed February 13, 2014, .

[28] Haigh, Future States, 81.
[29] Haigh, Future States, 125.
[30] Haigh, Future States, 137.