New from the Americas Policy Program

U.S.-Latin America: The Intersection of Trade and Security
By Laura Carlsen

There has never been a time in U.S. history when the nation’s security and trade policies were not linked. The nation’s status as a superpower on the world stage derives from both its $14 trillion economy and its unsurpassable military might. In attaining U.S. global objectives, if the military is the stick, the market is the carrot—and sometimes also the stick.

Although this relationship has been a constant in Latin America since the Monroe Doctrine, rarely have trade and security been as explicitly linked in a single foreign policy grand plan as in the Bush National Security Strategy of 2002. The U.S. Congress faces a vote on two more free trade agreements in Latin America that will test domestic sentiment on trade policy and the relationship of trade to security. The administration hopes for rapid resolution of the Colombia FTA and eventual passage of a U.S.-Panama agreement as well.

Laura Carlsen (lcarlsen(@) is director of the Americas Policy Program in Mexico City. The Americas Mexico Blog is found at

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Border Land Battle Pits Development against Human Rights
By Kent Paterson

Not too long ago, the high desert community of Lomas de Poleo was considered a desolate, impoverished outpost of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Now as turf battles for real estate and drug routes spread, border residents are struggling against multiple challenges. In this context of mounting violence, the struggle of Lomas residents for basic human rights has become an example for the rest of the borderlands.

Kent Paterson is a freelance journalist who covers the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Latin America, and an analyst for the Americas Policy Program at

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Two Chicken Stories: NAFTA’s Real Winners and Losers
By Laura Carlsen

The single most important thing to understand about NAFTA is who are the winners and the losers. The international system is rigged to strengthen the hand of mega-corporations and weaken small farmers, workers, women producers, and migrants.

Laura Carlsen (lcarlsen(@) is director of the Americas Policy Program in Mexico City. The Americas Mexico Blog is found at

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Letters from our readers

In response to Food Fights by Laura Carlsen:

One day after Laura Carlsen’s piece was published, Alan Beattie wrote a piece entitled "Governments can no longer ignore the hungry" in the Comment and Analysis, The Financial Times of London. His treatise was that governments need to listen to the hungry urban poor and not to pork-barrel agro-industry lobbies.

Mentioning what is happening here in Argentina with 50% agricultural land now turned over to soy production, he also went on to talk about alarming shortages of rice in Asia. While rice is basically used as a foodstuff, South American transgenic soy, is mostly exported as animal feed for pigs in China and elsewhere, and some bio-diesel so Germany can continue conscience-free production of cars.

The adjustments of the export taxes (up for soy, down for wheat) have caused resistance here but have brought the discussion of food back to the table, even if the supermarket shelves have less to offer. They are partially designed to try to reduce rampant inflation in basic foodstuffs. The inflation is fueled by an artificially debased currency, itself a measure to reduce costs for exporters.

Alan Beattie’s suggestion for a solution is more food production and more exports, though he found it difficult to suggest where. National Governments seem to be choosing to restrict exports, but the debt machine precludes this because they need foreign currency.

Tony Phillips