New from the Americas Policy Program

The North American Union Farce
By Laura Carlsen

It’s got millions of rightwing citizens calling Congress, sponsoring legislation, and writing manifestos in defense of U.S. sovereignty. It comes up in presidential candidates’ public appearances, has made it into primetime debates, and one presidential candidate—Ron Paul—used it as a central theme of his (short-lived) campaign.

Not bad for a plan that doesn’t exist.

The North American Union (NAU) conspiracy theory is an offshoot of an all-too-real trilateral agreement called the "Security and Prosperity Partnership" (SPP). Cultivated by xenophobic fears and political opportunism, the NAU soon outstripped its reality-based progenitor. The confusion between the two today has made it difficult to sort out the facts.

Laura Carlsen (lcarlsen(a) is Director of the Americas Policy Program ( in Mexico City, where she has been a writer and political analyst for more than two decades.

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Historical Mapuche Hunger Strike Ends in Success
By Raúl Zibechi

After a 109-day hunger strike, Patricia Troncoso forced Michelle Bachelet’s insensitive government to yield and allow her weekend passes and completion of her sentence at a work-study center. Two other prisoners will reap the same benefits.

A new chapter now unfolds in the long Mapuche battle.

Raúl Zibechi is an international analyst for Brecha, a weekly journal in Montevideo, Uruguay, professor and researcher on social movements at the Multiversidad Franciscana de América Latina, and adviser to social groups. He is a monthly contributor to the Americas Policy Program (

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Indigenous Movements in the Americas: From Demand for Recognition to Building Autonomies
By Francisco López Bárcenas

Latin America is living a time of autonomy movements, especially for indigenous autonomy.

We must celebrate that many indigenous peoples and communities have decided not to wait passively for changes to come from the outside and have enlisted in the construction of autonomous governments, unleashing processes where they test new forms of understanding rights, imagine other ways to exercise power, and create other types of citizenships. No one knows how the processes will turn out, but it is certain that there is no going back to the past.

Francisco López Bárcenas is a Mixtec lawyer, specialist in indigenous rights, and analyst for the Americas Program ( He is author of Muerte sin fin: crónicas de represión en la Región Mixteca oaxaqueña [Endless Death: Chronicles of Repression in the Oaxacan Mixtec Region] and other books.

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Letters from our readers:

In response to Losing the War of Ideas, Again:

Tom Barry’s article is right on the mark when he wrote liberals were losing the battle of ideas relative to immigration. Several reasons exist for this beyond just the quality of ideas. To begin with, there is no central leadership on the liberal side of the debate. A number of groups exist with each making their own contributions but with little coordination.

No liberal organization exists to receive or stimulate ideas. Finally, no group strives to make pro-immigration an emotional issue as it is with those opposed to immigration.

Dave Anderson, Gainesville, GA


In response to Truth About Illegal Immigration and Crime:

I hate to point this out but, 100% of illegal aliens have committed at least one crime in the United States. They are here "illegally."

It is also statistically true that, a person who commits one crime is very likely to commit another. Something like, using a false social security number, id, name, etc., in order to cover for the first crime, (being here illegally). There is no way for any reasonable person to say that an illegal immigrant is a law abiding citizen. It is an oximoron of the highest order. The very fact that they are "illegal" is enough to make them, "not law abiding." "Illegal," means, "not law abiding"! There is absolutely no ambiguity in this whatsoever.

We can have other debates about other things like, should immigrants be allowed to come to this country, work in this country, collect benefits in this country, etc., But it is impossible and false to say that an illegal immigrant is a law abiding person. I don’t care how many "studies" we do.

If someone does drugs, (which is against the law), but does not agree that it should be against the law, is that person, somehow, not an illegal drug user?

If people will become reasonable in the debate over immigration, and separate the ones who do it legally from those who don’t, and stop justifying the actions of the ones who don’t, maybe we could get on with more intelligent matters like fixing the things in their home countries that make them come here, illegally, like corruption and poverty.

Just my humble opinion.

Aaron Creighton