This Week in the Americas

Drug War Doublespeak
By Laura Carlsen

Through late February and early March, a blitzkrieg of declarations from U.S. government and military officials and pundits hit the media, claiming that Mexico was alternately at risk of being a failed state, on the verge of civil war, losing control of its territory, and posing a threat to U.S. national security.

In the same breath, we’re told that President Calderon with the aid of the U.S. government is winning the war on drugs, significantly weakening organized crime, and restoring order and legality. None of these claims is true. Instead they are critical elements in waging the hypocritical drug war in Mexico.

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New from the Americas Program

The National Imperative to Imprison Immigrants for Profit
By Tom Barry

There is a codependent relationship between the private prison industry and the federal government’s immigration enforcement apparatus. Both GEO Group and CCA say that the deepening economic downturn has several silver linings for their business, including new incentives for government to privatize given increasing difficulty of securing tax income for prison construction and an increased supply of cheap labor. As GEO’s Zoley sees it, the prison industry will benefit from a new "national imperative" in these difficult economic times "to protect American workers by detaining and deporting immigrants."

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Trading our Way Out of the Financial Crisis: The Need for WTO Reform
By Kevin Gallagher and Timothy A. Wise

In the context of the deepening global crisis that is pushing millions more women, children, and men into poverty in developing countries, development should be the centerpiece of reforming the global financial architecture. Pressing to conclude a World Trade Organization deal based on the current proposals in Geneva would be counterproductive. This Policy Brief offers five policies toward reforming global trade that will enable economic development and stimulate global demand during the crisis.

Many developing countries have spent scarce resources to build human capital and technological capabilities in the manufacturing, services, and agricultural sectors of their domestic economies. In the wake of the current economic crisis, massive devaluations in currencies, along with the loss of credit, can wipe out domestic firms and put the real economy into a tailspin. Without care, these losses can be irreversible because the domestic firms are often replaced or taken over by foreign firms or import shocks. Losing such firms not only throws people out of work, it represents a long-term setback to dynamic development.

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Indigenous Panamanians Defend Nature Against Speculators’ Violent Onslaughts
By Talli Nauman

For the small Naso indigenous community of Panama, the curtain of 2009 opened on a heart-wrenching scene of conflict over the native people’s longtime demand for respect of their territory and natural resources. As they watched heavy machinery demolish their houses and tear up their land, residents of San San Druy in the northern province of Bocas del Toro brandished machetes, bows and arrows, spears, and Molotov cocktails to ward off intruders.

It was not the first time the Naso had gone to the wall for their native land claim. Nor were the Naso the only Indians in Panama or Pan-America who found themselves in such a situation. Theirs is just one manifestation of a story as old as the hills and as historic as foreigners’ conquest of the so-called New World more than five centuries back. It is a story, not only of greed, but of destruction.

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