Trump Breaks with Obama’s Colonialism in Guatemala

By: Carlos Sabino - @Sabino2324 - Jun 30, 2017, 4:11 pm
US President Barack Obama holds a year-end press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, December 16, 2016. Obama on Friday warned his successor Donald Trump against antagonizing China by reaching out to Taiwan, saying he could risk a "very significant" response if he upends decades of diplomatic tradition. / AFP / ZACH GIBSON (Photo credit should read ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)
The Alliance for Prosperity agreement put in place by Obama makes no sense when you look at the numbers. (Youtube)

EspañolDue to concerns regarding the scale of immigration from Central America, the United States created the Alliance for Prosperity three years ago. It’s a project designed to improve the quality of life in three countries in the region in order to reduce the quantity of those who wish to live on American soil.

The initiative, which originally had around USD $1 billion earmarked for Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras— the three countries with the highest number of immigrants— is now down to about USD $750 million. The payment of the funds, which were to be distributed during five years, was conditioned on changes which the recipient countries had to implement in order to guarantee a transparent use of the money.

In my view, the plan is ill conceived and, even if it can bring about some benefits to the region, it introduced new problems which should not be ignored. It’s senseless to think that this particular amount of money, which has to be divided among three countries during a five-year period, can change the social and economic conditions which motivate thousands of people to migrate to the United States annually. A few tens of millions of dollars per year, a tiny figure compared to the annual budget of each country, will not bring about any profound change. The gap between Central American and US salaries is so large– US employees earn between five and ten times as much as their counterparts in a country like Guatemala– that not even high speed development in Central America could seriously alter the flow of immigration to the United States. In the best of cases, it would reduce immigration numbers slightly.

No country achieves development by means of injections of foreign money, let alone with relatively meager amounts like the one mentioned above. Development requires large, steady flows of investment, which in turn requires a favorable investment climate in terms of low levels of crime and low levels of taxation. This is why it seems unrealistic to expect that USD $750 million could change structural problems that can only be altered very slowly.

Additionally, there is a truly alarming aspect of the Alliance for Prosperity and this became evident in Guatemala during the previous two years. In order to achieve a more effective use of the funds that are to be transferred, the United States has openly pressured Guatemala to carry out certain changes that Washington deems necessary:


US Ambassador Todd Robinson decided to brazenly interfere in local affairs. He has openly criticized or supported public officials and members of parliament, going as far as calling some of them idiots. He has intervened in legal processes with political undertones and he has supported certain plans to undermine Guatemala’s institutions.

In 2015, for example, he backed organizations that sought to cancel that year’s elections, and it seems that he has supported those who want to summon a constituent assembly which is prohibited by law. What is most unusual in my view is that Ambassador Robinson has boasted about all of his interventions, declaring shamelessly that, for him, it is necessary and just to interfere in our affairs whenever he finds a cause that, in his opinion, should be advanced.

Predictably, many Guatemalans have rejected this behavior, which goes completely against all diplomatic etiquette.

To accept a foreign ambassador who gives us orders and who considers it legitimate to intervene in our internal affairs is no different from accepting colonialism and Guatemala’s position of dependence on a foreign power. Some, however, have justified Robinson’s constant hampering because, in a particular situation, his point of view coincided with their own political or ideological agenda.

The recent announcement about Robinson’s replacement is a breath of fresh air for Guatemala-US relations. Luis Arreaga, the diplomat nominated to become the new American ambassador in the country, was born in Guatemala and he knows our reality and our lifestyle perfectly well. This is why we are optimistic that the new ambassador will concentrate on helping us to solve our real problems instead of trying to create new ones, as has been the case hitherto.

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

Philando Castile’s Death Should Rally Civil Libertarians to Improve Policing

By: David Unsworth - @LatinAmerUpdate - Jun 30, 2017, 3:21 pm
The shooting death of Philando Castile at the hands of police should gravely concern all civil libertarians (

On July 6 of last year, Philando Castile was driving with his girlfriend and her young daughter through suburbs outside of St. Paul, Minnesota. He was pulled over by officer Jeronimo Yanez, who was on the lookout for a robbery suspect. Castile calmly and politely notified the officer that he had a firearm in the vehicle. Yanez, in a show of incredibly bad judgment, proceeded to shoot Castile seven times, as Castile was reaching for his driver's license. The incident highlighted the problems posed by the Second Amendment in our society, and called into question persistent racism in our policing and criminal justice system. Read More: Texans March Against Open Carry Irony: Rifles, Shotguns No Problem; Modern Handguns No Way Read More: Judge Rules D.C. Ban on Handguns in Public Unconstitutional Castile had a valid permit for the firearm he was carrying. He had no real criminal record: two minor offenses for marijuana and a litany of traffic and moving violations...but he was widely regarded as an upstanding citizen who had worked for years in food services at local public schools. Castile's girlfriend filmed the minutes following the shooting. The video quickly went viral on social media. For any civil libertarian the video is extremely troubling, to say the least, and should remind us all of the constant and urgent need to "police the police." As civil libertarians, we take our Second Amendment rights very seriously. It is no coincidence that totalitarian and authoritarian governments worldwide from Hitler's Germany to Castro's Cuba to Stalin's Soviet Union, have come for their citizens' guns as soon as they take power. The Second Amendment was intended as a countermeasure to protect Americans against abusive political authority. Philando Castile's troubling death last year at the hands of Minnesota police should be a sobering reminder that the police have a solemn responsibility to American citizens to serve and protect; not to wield justice as they see fit. Officer Jeronimo Yanez exercised extremely poor judgment in firing seven shots at Castile. Yanez, in his defense, cited the odor of marijuana, as well as the possiblity that Castile was a robbery suspect, in his defense. But his defense rings hollow. Furthermore, did it not occur to Yanez that even derelict criminals on a robbery are highly unlikely to bring a four year old girl along? The American Left often asserts that big government is needed in order to pursue the goal of a racially just society where civil liberties and Constitutional protections are guaranteed to all citizens regardless of racial or ethnic origin. Yet, they often fail to see that government, particularly as administrated by Democratic "machines" in major urban areas, is often to blame. Having taken a swipe at the left, it would only be fair, as well, to criticize the right, which does need to recognize that we still have a ways to go in implementing, for example, the provisions of the 14th Amendment. It is sad, as well, that the NRA has yet to issue a statement in support of Castile. Castile was a law-abiding, permit-holding American gun owner, exercising his Second Amendment rights. Shouldn't the nation's largest organization for gun owner's throw some of its muscle into supporting Castile's rights as a gun-owner? Are they so afraid of alienating police departments that they are going to remain silent? Sadly, it does appear that he would be more likely to be alive today were he a white, or Asian, or Latino man...than a black man. That is unacceptable. As Ramsey district attorney John Choi noted, "I would submit that no reasonable officer knowing, seeing, and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time would have used deadly force under these circumstances." In addition to issues of racial profiling and Second Amendment rights, the sad case of Philando Castile should call urgent attention to the need for better police training and use of de-escalation techniques. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); }); Yes, police officers have the right to use force, and under the most extenuating of circumstances, lethal force. Clearly, however, officers such as Jeronimo Yanez who exercise extremely poor judgment in the use of such force, do not belong on police forces anywhere in America. Although Yanez was indicted for second-degree manslaughter in Ramsey County, but was acquitted earlier this month. That is unfortunate. Regardless of the potential sentences, Yanez' extreme negligence in discharging his firearm should have resulted in criminal sanctions. Monitoring police and policing is an area where the left and right, and all lovers of civil liberties, should come together to ensure that Philando Castile's unfortunate death will not have been in vain.

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