Thursday, October 29, 2009

Colombia - FARC control and infiltrations of some labor unions

Colombian blogger Rafael Guarin, publishes his "revealing interview done in 2007" with the secretary of a leading agricultural Union, Fensuagro.

Turns out that Juan Efrain Mendoza was captured by the Colombian Army in a raid on a FARC camp.

Una inédita y reveladora entrevista que le fuera hecha en el 2007 al secretario de Fensuagro, Juan Efraín Mendoza, capturado por el Ejército en un campamento en Sumapaz, muestra lo que las Farc busca conseguir en el campo político.*

Tratándose de un dirigente sindical, muchos se sorprendieron de su captura en combates contra las Farc. No fue mi caso. La entrevista que le hice a Juan Efraín Mendoza revelaba una inquietante cercanía con la organización guerrillera y el papel que Fensuagro cumple.

Read the original here.

Basically Mendoza is either an infiltrated, clandestine FARC member, or a complete useful idiot from his rhetoric.

No surprise there, the FARC and its predecessors, as good Leninists have always had front groups, and had infiltrated other organizations - gaining effective control of some. It was always Jacobo Arenas' strategy to use different forms of "mass struggle" to complement the armed insurgency.

Sometimes, the FARC would tip its hand when it was trying to infiltrate Unions, causing dissension within Union ranks - and often involving violence. Not surprisingly, this often resulted in paramilitary reprisals, escalating general violence further.

The bottom line of this whole situation is that, yes, there are some Unions in Colombia where the FARC wields its invisible hand.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

US Policy Towards Latin America - Populism and The Rise Of The Center

---Interesting paper circulating among government officials, think tanks, academics about Latin America populism and implications for US policy.

Dealing with Political Ferment in Latin America: The Populist Revival, the Emergence of the Center, and Implications for U.S. Policy

, Dr. Hal Brands. esearcher at the Institute for Defense Analyses

Can be read in full here

The current political dynamics in Latin America is analyzed, and their meaning for the United States is evaluated. The author argues that references to a uniform “left turn” in the region are misleading, and that Latin America is actually witnessing a dynamic competition between two very different forms of governance. Represented by leaders like Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, and others, radical populism emphasizes the politics of grievance and a penchant for extreme solutions. Moderate, centrist governance can be found in countries like Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Uruguay. It stresses diplomatic pragmatism, the protection of democratic practices, and the need to blend macroeconomic responsibility with a social conscience. To the extent that the United States can strengthen the centrists while limiting the damage caused by radical populism, the author argues it can promote integral growth, democratic stability, and effective security cooperation in Latin America. A clear understanding of the trends discussed is essential to devising appropriate U.S. policies toward that region.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Cuba's Own Craigslist

Local papaer, Miami Times article Cuba's black market moves online with Revolico-com talks about the emerging internet marketplace in Havana. Taking the online classifieds concept pioneered by Craigslist to country with an onerous command economy, and very likely making it even more obsolete.

The article describes Mateo a home mechanics experience

One of his three kids, 23-year-old Manuel, wanted to join some friends on a trip to the north coast. For months, father and son tried to unload some expensive rims to raise money. Though Manuel thought they were worth 300 pesos — about $325 — no one was biting.

"Dad," Manuel finally said, "have you heard about Revolico?"

Revolico? In Cuban slang, it means "a mess." Mateo had no idea what his boy was talking about.

So Manuel took his father to the house of a friend, an engineer with spotty Internet access at home. They logged onto and discovered a capitalist Valhalla. There was everything for sale: cars, tires, motorcycles, diapers, cell phones, laptops, massages, Chinese lessons.