This Week in the Americas

Obama and the Minority Majority
By Laura Carlsen

The election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African-American has been heralded as proof that the United States has finally broken through the racial barrier. The image springs to mind of recalcitrant whites at last convinced to see beyond skin color and vote for a black man. This did happen—even in some unexpected places and demographics. But the real key to Obama’s victory is that the wealthy white elite no longer has a stranglehold on U.S. politics. The composition of the nation has changed so that the older, white male can no longer be considered the image of the universal citizen.

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

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New from the Americas Policy Program

Expect "Rule of Law" to Rule Immigration Policy
By Tom Barry

Gov. Janet Napolitano, the likely nominee to direct the Department of Homeland Security, is by no means an anti-immigration hardliner. However, as a lawyer, former federal prosecutor, and a governor who has insisted on more border control and has stood behind a tough employer-sanctions law, she will fit easily into the "rule of law" framework for directing ICE and CBP operations. It’s a framework that has already been adopted by the Democratic Party and to a certain extent by Obama.

Tom Barry directs the TransBorder Project ( of the Americas Policy Program ( at the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC. He blogs at

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Ecuador Seeks Non-payment of Illegitimate Foreign Debt
By Helga Serrano Narváez

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced on Nov. 20 that his government "will seek to not pay the illegitimate, corrupt, and illegal foreign debt," while at the same time demanding sanctions for those guilty of a series of irregularities in the accumulation of the Ecuadorian foreign debt. He said that "its weight should be transferred in equal parts to those who were responsible for acquiring it with dishonesty, blackmail, and betrayal. Each person will have to take responsibility and pay the corresponding amount with their own assets."

This was the Ecuadorian president’s response after the official presentation of the final report from the Public Credit Audit Commission (Comision para la Auditoria Integral del Crédito Pública, CAIC) audit regarding Ecuador’s foreign debt. It’s important to note that this is the first official audit that has ever taken place to determine responsibility for the debt. Among the main conclusions, the Commission pointed out that an "incalculable fraud" was produced during the process of borrowing and renegotiation of the debt. President Correa informed sources that he would promote the creation of an International Tribunal for Arbitration of Sovereign Debt in the United Nations and a reform of the international financial framework, through which it will be possible to arrive a comprehensive solution to the problem of foreign debt.

Helga Serrano is a member of the Global No Bases Network, No Bases Coalition Ecuador, and the ACJ/YMCA in Ecuador. She is also a contributor to the Americas Policy Program at

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Latinos for Latinos
By Tom Barry

Identity politics get results in terms of the increased presence of the groups being promoted. But the election of an African-American president may signal that it’s time to leave identity politics behind when it comes to governance and embrace the politics of the common good.

Rather than the usual in identifying individuals to serve and represent all Americans, Latino constituencies and organizations would do better to develop a set of priorities for their communities and focus primarily on the beliefs and commitments of the nominees rather than numerical benchmarks. Then, they could recommend a slate of individuals, including many of the Latinos that all Americans have come to respect, who measure up.

Tom Barry directs the TransBorder Project ( of the Americas Policy Program ( at the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC. He blogs at

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Three-part post-election immigration analysis
By Tom Barry

Both Sides of Immigration Debate Retrench

One side demands liberal immigration reform that includes legalization and family reunification visas, while the other side calls for conservative immigration reform that enforces the "rule of law" and dramatically lowers immigration flows.

Identity Politics and the Latino Payback on Immigration

Immigrant reform advocates will have to link the two issues into an integrated platform and be flexible regarding the timing on immigration reform.

Anti-Immigration Forces Ready to Challenge Obama

While pro-immigration groups are hailing the Obama victory and the Latino turnout as a victory for liberal immigration reform, immigration restrictionists are reshaping their messaging for the Obama era, already trying to leverage Obama’s promises to protect workers and create jobs.