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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

LULA VOWS TO LOOK SOUTH -- MIRARA LULA HACIA EL SUR?

SAO PAULO -- Days before his landslide reelection victory on Sunday, there was widespread speculation that left-of-center President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would seek closer ties with the United States in his second term. But judging from Lula's first postelection statements, it doesn't look that way. Read the full column to find out why, and let us know whether YOU think Lula will look north or south.

Monday, October 30, 2006

WILL LULA'S BE A STRONG PRESIDENT? - ?PODRA LULA SER UN PRESIDENTE FUERTE?

SAO PAULO - Shortly after the polls closed Sunday and leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had won a landslide reelection victory, his campaign manager and ruling party president, Marco Aurélio Garcia, brushed off with a wide smile my suggestion that Lula could be a weak president in his second term. ''On the contrary,'' Garcia told me in a half-hour exclusive interview. ``He will be much stronger than in his first term.'' Is Garcia right? Read the full column here, and let me know where do YOU think Brazil is going.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

LACK OF DRAMA IN BRAZIL'S ELECTION MAY BE GOOD NEWS -- BRASIL: CRECIMIENTO EN CAMARA LENTA

SAO PAULO -- The big question about the election in Latin America's biggest country was not who would win -- virtually all polls predicted a landslide victory by left-of-center President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva -- but whether Lula da Silva's second term would propel this country into one of the world's most vibrant emerging economies. The general consensus is that it won't, but that it won't be any disaster, either. Read why I'm still optimistic about Brazil here, and let me know what YOU think.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

PANAMA CANAL'S LESSON: U.S. MUST BUILD BRIDGES, NOT FENCES --- LA LECCION DEL CANAL DE PANAMA

Last weekend's decision by Panama to embark on a $5.2 billion expansion of the Panama Canal should teach a lesson to the new crowd of U.S. Latin America bashers -- often disguised as immigration control advocates on cable television networks -- about how wrong their predecessors were in one of Washington's biggest debates over Latin America ever. I'm talking about the 1977 Panama Canal treaties, which turned over full control of the canal to Panama in 2000. Read the full column here, and let us know what YOU think.

Monday, October 23, 2006

LATIN AMERICA MAY BE TOO OBSESSED WITH ITS PAST -- LA OBSESION CON EL PASADO

LIMA, Peru -- Last week's bizarre scenes of violence in Argentina during the reburial of former populist President Gen. Juan Domingo Perón, who died more than three decades ago, raise an interesting question: Is Latin America too fixated with its past and not focused enough on its future? Read the full column here, and let me know what YOU think.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

IS CHAVEZ GOING DOWNHILL? - SE LE ACABO EL CUARTO DE HORA A CHAVEZ?

Has Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez reached his peak? Will his political star begin to fade following his latest setbacks at the United Nations and his failure to get his protégés elected in Peru's and Ecuador's first-round elections? Read the full column here, find out who is feeding Chavez's megalomania, and let us know what YOU think.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

LATIN AMERICA'S UNDERGROUND ECONOMY KEEPS BOOMING - LA ECONOMIA SUBTERRANEA SIGUE CRECIENDO

The new Nobel Peace Prize for Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his bank for the poor should help draw attention to an explosive problem in this part of the world: the virtual exclusion of Latin America's poor from the capitalist system. By most estimates, more than half of Latin Americans operate within the so-called informal economy. A recent study of 12 major Latin American countries offers some alarming figures. Read the full column and let us know what YOU think.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

ELECTION WILL HAVE FOREIGN POLICY IMPACT - LA ELECCION TENDRA UN IMPACTO EN POLITICA EXTERIOR

While the Nov. 7 mid-term election is largely seen as a U.S. domestic affair, an interview this week with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson -- a likely contender for the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination -- convinced me that the upcoming vote may also have an impact on foreign-policy issues such as Iraq, the border fence, and free trade agreements. Read the entire column here, and let me know what YOU think.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

LATIN AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES GET POOR GRADE -- MALA NOTA PARA LAS UNIVERSIDADES LATINOAMERICANAS

Forget about oil-rich demagogues and retro-progressive populists: Latin America's real long-term problem to compete in the global economy may be the poor quality of its universities.
The 2006 editions of the two most authoritative rankings of the world's best universities -- put out respectively by the London Times Educational Supplement and by the University of Shanghai -- have now been published, and they coincide in giving pretty bad grades to the region's higher education institutions. Read the full column here. What do YOU think?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A LULA LOSS IS NO LONGER UNTHINKABLE...PODRIA HABER UN CAMBIO EN BRASIL

All bets are off in Latin America's biggest country: In the aftermath of Sunday's first-round presidential election, it's no longer outlandish to think that Brazil's left-of-center President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva could lose the Oct. 29 runoff, and that a center-right opposition victory could change the region's political map. Read the full column here, and let us know what YOU think.

Monday, October 02, 2006

OK, THEY APPROVED THE BORDER FENCE. BUT WILL THEY BUILD IT?

OK. The Senate has approved the 700-mile border fence, which - as we detailed in a recent column you can find below - is a monumental waste of money. But will they build it? I doubt it. First, the Senate appropriated $1.2 billion for the fence, which Republicans say would cost about $2.2 billion. But a more reliable estimate would be closer to $7 billion. Just as an example, a 14 mile stretch built on the border near San Diego is costing $126 million. In addition, as Dave Montgomery of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports in his article "Border Fence Faces Obstacles," environmentalists and landowners will fight it. What do YOU think?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

COLUMN: DESPITE HEADLINES, THERE'S HOPE FOR LATIN AMERICA

MEXICO CITY -- Cheer up! Despite a barrage of depressing news from Latin America and the Caribbean in recent days, there are some reasons to be optimistic about the region. Granted, the recent headlines can give the impression that the region is going nowhere. But there is also plenty of good news. Read the full column here, and let us know what you think. Are you an optimist or a pessimist about the region?