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Donald Trump’s Impact on US Latin American Relations

By: David Unsworth - @LatinAmerUpdate - Jan 24, 2017, 1:08 pm

With the January 20 inauguration of Donald Trump, much of the world is holding its breath. Trump represents perhaps the first president in American history who is truly not beholden to typical interests groups, party structures, or governmental institutions. He won the presidency almost in spite of the Republican Party, not because of it.

Thus, when analyzing the implications of Trump for Latin America, or the world in general, all bets are off. What the Republicans have advocated in the past is not necessarily indicative of Trump’s line of thinking.

Take Cuba, for example. Following Obama’s two year thaw in US Cuba relations, Trump has stepped in and claimed (assuming the mantle of world class negotiator) that Obama gave away too much. He has vowed to take a hard line against the Raul Castro regime. It is likely that this will entail policy changes regarding the trade embargo, diplomatic relations, and tourism.

Free trade was an issue that divided both parties in 2016. Trump took the most hard line anti-trade line in modern history, promising to revisit and renegotiate the trade pacts that a generation of presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have enacted. First up, he will meet with Justin Trudeau and Enrique Pena Nieto to renegotiate NAFTA, in a move that is certain to have earth-shattering reverberations for the Mexican economy. Trump’s potentially protectionist measures have also concerned major trading partners like Argentina’s Mauricio Macri.

Finally, immigration and border security are certain to loom large in US Latin American relations.

Trump has promised to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it, although such a move would obviously have to be through indirect means.

He has also pledged to immediately begin to deport illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes in the United States. With regard to mass deportations of the status of the so-called “Dreamers”…it really remains to be seen the degree to which Trump’s hard line rhetoric will correspond to his official policies.

With Trump only one thing is certain: The Bush/Clinton/Obama world order is going to be thrown out the window. For better or worse.

David Unsworth David Unsworth

David Unsworth is a Boston native. He received degrees in History and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, and subsequently spent five years working in real estate development in New York City. Currently he resides in Bogota, Colombia, where he is involved in the tourism industry. In his free time he enjoys singing in rock bands, travelling throughout Latin America, and studying Portuguese.

Why Governments Need Private Partnerships to Be Creative and Efficient

By: José Azel - Jan 24, 2017, 12:06 pm
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The City of Summit, New Jersey had a parking problem. It needed to accommodate commuters looking to park their cars at Summit’s Transit station for their daily train commute into New York City. At the train station there are 2,809 parking spaces which, on weekdays, are typically filled by 8:15 a.m., and the city needed 200 to 400 additional parking spaces to meet the daily demand. City officials considered converting an existing lot with 100 spaces into a structured garage with 400 spaces. The building project would cost around $10 million. Alternatively, officials looked into purchasing land for another surface lot of 100 parking spaces at a cost of $5 million to $7 million. Then, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, someone came up with a creative idea that solved Summit’s parking problem at an approximate cost of $1,670 per parking space per year. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1459522593195-0'); }); The solution: the city is subsidizing local residents to get Uber rides to and from the train station thus eliminating the need for additional parking. The pilot program offers residents an opportunity to take Uber rides to and from Summit’s NJ Transit station at the cost of the $4 daily parking fee with the time savings benefit of not having to look for parking. Read More: Venezuelan President “Only Joking” About Offer to Release Political Prisoner Lopez The city underwrites the additional cost for each Uber ride for an estimated yearly expense to the city of about $1,670 per rider.  The program, which was originally limited to 100 residents, oversold before it started and is now adding names to a waiting list. My purpose in sharing this story, there are many others, is to spotlight how innovative governments can benefit from private/public partnerships by thinking outside their bureaucratic solutions box. On the other hand, governments that favor economic statism fail to benefit from the disruptive technologies that organically flow from entrepreneurship and free market activities. This is the case with some Latin American countries that though structurally democratic, are not, in practice, liberal democracies. Read More: Venezuela: Leopoldo Lopez Proposes Roadmap to End Dictatorship Political scientists use the term “liberal democracy” to encapsulate two discrete concepts. Generically, the term democracy refers to a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly, or elect representatives to form a governing body. Liberal, as used in “liberal democracy” denotes a political philosophy of limited government  emphasizing the rule of law, an open society, the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and political freedoms, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and free markets. But the narrative of some democratically elected, but illiberal governments is that liberal institutions- such as a free press and free markets- are obstacles to effective governance. In this view, liberal institutions undermine a government’s ability to promote the wellbeing of the citizenry and governments must act to restrict private economic activities, and consequently disruptive innovations such as Uber. As of this writing, Uber which books over one million rides each day worldwide, does not enjoy a legal framework in most of Latin America and has been vigorously, and sometimes violently, opposed by politically powerful labor unions throughout the region.  In Colombia, for example, Uber has been deemed illegal in Bogota, Barranquilla, Medellin, and Cali.  In Argentina, a court initially ordered authorities to take steps to halt the ride-hailing service's operations in Buenos Aires a day after Uber began services. The larger point is that the antipathy towards disruptive free market technologies works against the development of imaginative private/public partnerships that can be useful in addressing many of the region’s problems. It seems the political preference is for government controlled grandiose and unaffordable plans – like the expensive structured garage considered by the City of Summit-rather than for the people empowering technologies exemplified by Uber. To unleash the economic problem solving power of creative free market solutions, nations need to understand that it is not enough to elect its leaders democratically. Being a democracy is a necessary but insufficient condition. Economic prosperity flows from the full empowerment of individual freedoms promoted by liberal democracies.

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