Just Americas Blog

Obama Losing Popularity in Mexico and Argentina

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In early June, we released Waiting for Change, a report on President Obama’s first-year policies toward Latin America. We aren’t the only ones aware of limited progress: Latin Americans are also less enthusiastic than at last January’s inauguration.

On June 17, the Pew Research Center released its most recent 22-nation Global Attitudes Survey, with Mexico, Argentina and Brazil representing Latin American opinion. Though U.S. favorability ratings in these nations jumped after Obama’s election, this year’s poll shows that fewer people in Argentina and Mexico have confidence that Obama “will do the right thing in world affairs,” than did one short year ago. Brazil, which has received special attention from the Obama Administration, consistently responded more favorably to this poll than did the other two Latin American countries represented.

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Ag Committee Chairman Peterson Outmaneuvers Opponents of Travel to Cuba, Moves Legislation Forward

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After a momentous week in the nation’s capital, advocates of lifting restrictions on U.S. citizens’ travel to Cuba have reason to celebrate.

On Wednesday, June 30, the House Committee on Agriculture held a mark-up session of H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act. While out-of-touch hardliners on the committee tried to amend and motion Ag Committee Chairman Peterson and Congressman Jerry Moran’s bill to death, it ultimately received a favorable 25 to 20 vote, putting Congress on the verge of voting on ending the travel ban, rather than simply shutting down its checking account, for the first time in history.

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Colombia: A False Sense of Security

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Over two thousand civilians intentionally killed by army soldiers seeking to beef up their body counts and score days off. A massive illegal wiretapping operation by the president’s intelligence agency targeting Supreme Court judges, journalists, opposition politicians and human rights defenders. Seven human rights defenders and leaders of displaced communities killed in May alone, in a nation where threats and attacks against defenders are rarely effectively investigated and government officials’ denunciations of them place them in danger. In which authoritarian country opposed to the United States did these abuses take place? In none other than Colombia, often called “the United States’ best ally in the Western Hemisphere.” And we, the U.S. taxpayers, bankrolled this friendship to the tune of more than $6 billion.

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House Ag Committee Set to Vote on Cuba Travel Bill

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Chairman PetersonOn Wednesday, June 30, the House Agriculture Committee votes on H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, which restores U.S. citizens' right to travel to Cuba, creates jobs in the U.S., and puts food on Cubans' tables. What happens Wednesday will determine if this landmark legislation sees the light of day on the House floor this summer or dies in committee. The LAWG Cuba Team will be on the Hill (in 1300 Longworth) for the vote on the bill, championed by Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota (picture right), at 2pm EST. You can follow our "live-tweets" via Twitter or tune in online through the Agriculture Committee's website. Live video coverage can be found here once the "mark-up" begins.

Photo Credit: aflcio

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Listen Up: Time for Change, Latin America & the War on Drugs

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We’ve seen up close how the production and trafficking of illicit drugs has fueled a war in Colombia, corrupted governments in Central America and brought terrifying violence to Mexican communities.  We know about the devastating effects of drug abuse in our own neighborhoods in the United States.  What has become clear is that solutions the U.S. government has pursued, such as the massive aerial spraying campaign in Colombia which destroys food as well as illicit drug crops or aid that encourages the Mexican army to police the streets and checkpoints do not solve the problem. Instead, it leads to more devastation and violence.

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