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Trump Can Mark a Turning Point in US History of Meddling in Latin America

By: Carlos Sabino - @Sabino2324 - Jan 6, 2017, 3:29 pm
Meddling in Latin America
Many are unsure in what direction the new President will take Latin America (Saboteur)

Español There is a growing expectation among analysts, diplomats and politicians regarding president elect Donald Trump’s policy toward Latin America. Some fear that Latin America will become even more disaffected or that there will be a shift toward protectionism that reduces our foreign trade. Others, on the contrary, have positive expectations, especially in terms of facing the dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela. A review of the historical changes in US foreign policy might help, I believe, to better understand all possible scenarios.

We cannot go into profound historical analysis for reasons of space, so let’s begin in the final days of World War II, when the struggle against totalitarianism encouraged democratic reforms in the region. In Guatemala, the United States viewed with great kindness the resignation of Jorge Ubico and the overthrow of the regime that followed him for a few months. But shortly afterward, when the Cold War began against the Soviet Union and Communism, they changed their position: it was not so much a matter of democracy as a firm stance against communism. Thus, friendly relations with Trujillo were resumed in the Dominican Republic and with Somoza in Nicaragua. Such regimes were tolerated and this stance even caused coups against leftist governments.

Then, with the arrival of Jimmy Carter in 1977, a change took place. The fight against pro-Communist guerrillas, encouraged by Fidel Castro from Cuba, moved to second place. Instead, the subject of human rights was promoted. Those who fought against Marxism became enemies, such as the Somozas in Nicaragua and Pinochet in Chile. State coups were neither accepted nor tolerated; rather, non-governmental organizations that opposed the military everywhere were favored.

 

What can we expect now before the beginning of a new presidency in the United States? It does not appear that Donald Trump has a well-defined ideology, but he will apparently move away from his predecessor’s leftist leanings. A stronger stance on Cuba and Venezuela could be in the cards, which would be very favorable in a regional context. Trump’s statements against free trade, however, cast a shadow over inter-American trade relations.

Let’s hope that, if we act more consistently, we will reverse the human rights policy followed during the more recent administrations of Democratic presidents. It would be a good thing if, instead of persecuting those who fought against communist guerrillas in past decades, US policy is turned  against governments that violate elementary human rights in various countries. The hypocrisy of the policy followed so far is striking, and it casts serious doubts over Washington’s true intentions: how can the Obama administration favor Colombia’s FARC while it persecutes the military that fought subversion elsewhere? What human rights are being referred to when countless political prisoners continue to languish in Cuban and Venezuelan prisons while the US engages with these tyrannical governments?

The new administration, therefore, has a pending debt: to show that the United States is the country of freedom and respect for individual rights and not just another version of socialism, the ideology that, in various ways, has negatively affected so many of our people.

Carlos Sabino Carlos Sabino

Sociologist, writer, and university professor, Sabino is director of the masters and doctoral programs in history at the University of Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala. Follow him @Sabino2324

Cuban Coal Shipment Marks First Export to US in 60 Years

By: Ysol Delgado - Jan 6, 2017, 12:15 pm
Marabu coal, noted for its superb flavor, is to be exported soon to the US (

Español The first Cuban export to the United States in 60 years will be marabu coal. Despite the Washington-imposed blockade that currently restricts most of the island's exports, an agreement was reached with regard to exporting and marketing this mineral. Cubaexport was the company that signed an international contract with the North American company Coabana Trading LLC; the two companies recently signed a formal agreement on coal export. Read More: American Ex-Diplomats Ask Trump to End Obama's Appeasement of Cuba Read More: Fidel Castro May be Gone, but Socialism in Cuba Is Alive as Ever This signing took place at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (MINCEX), after a long series of negotiations. The agreement was spearheaded by the president of Reneo Consulting LLC, Scott Gilbert and the director of Cubaexport, Isabel O'Reilly. According to the Granma's website, Isabel O'Reilly explained that "This will be our first contract, but we hope to continue our relationship for many years, and not only with coal, but also with other products that we have ready to export like honey and coffee." googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); }); They agreed on a price of USD $420 per ton, so far, the highest that CubaExport has achieved in more than 10 years of marketing this product. In the international market the normal price for Cuban coal varies between USD $340 and $380 per ton. Gilber said he was very proud to have participated in the deal and added that "this is a far-reaching agreement for economic relations between the two countries. The most important thing is that it means another plank in the construction of the bridge between the United States and Cuba." With respect to the takeover of Donald Trump on January 2, the president of Reneo Consulting LLC said that if the new administration believes in free trade, such agreements can be made without problems. "We look forward to working with the new government just as we have done with Barack Obama," he said. The process will begin with the agricultural cooperatives that will be in charge of cutting and processing the marabú coal. It will then be sold to another company that prepares and packages it for final export. Cubaexport is in charge of the formalities, sales, and exportation from the country. It is important to remember that marabu coal is recognized for being one of the best in the world as it has a high energy capacity. It is produced in artisan kilns in a natural way and does not contribute to deforestation. Source: Granma

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