Monthly Archives: April 2013

A report from the April election in Venezuela

Prof Julia Buxton is a long-time leading expert on Venezuelan politics and highly respected UK academic. She has an interesting article giving a snapshot of events during the April 2013 presidential election in Venezuela for those trying to sort out what took place.

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Call for papers on China from top Brazilian IR Journal

The Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional, one of the top IR journals in Latin America (and indexed in Scopus, for the NPM metric trackers out there), is calling for submissions for a special issue on China’s rise. More details can be found here:

Papers are to be in English; distribution is quite wide and the journal is read by a large number of people.


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Insightful article on US-Mexico anti-drug cooperation

The Wasington Post has an article well worth reading if you are interested in US-Mexico anti-narcotics cooperation. The links are deep and command and control structures not always what you’d expect. Definitely space here for some interesting thinking on how to set up transnationalized responses to things like drug trafficking.

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Excellent working paper on Brazilian foreign policy from Oxford’s Latin American Centre

Leticia Pinheiro and Gabrieli Gaio have an excellent occasional paper on Brazilian foreign policy out through the Brazilian Studies Program at the University of Oxford’s Latin American Centre. Entitled, “The role of South-South Cooperation on Brazilian Regional Leadership and Global Protagonism”, the paper takes a careful look at the interplay between Brazil’s South American and South-South leadership activities, offering some very insightful analysis and one of the more penetrating and fruitful theoretical critiques to date. The abstract is below and the paper itself very much worth reading:

This paper seeks to discuss Brazilian regional policy by assessing what kind of leadership Brazil has been playing and the role played by the policy of South-South cooperation for development on the former. Our main argument is that although Brazil does play the role of a regional leader, a difference between regional leadership for matters of regional governance and regional leadership for global matters should be done. Besides we argue that, although not being necessary to be a representative of its own region to play a relevant role on the international scenario, being a Development Regional Leader, helps Brazilian global protagomism.

Leticia Pinheiro IRI/PUC-RioGabrieli Gaio
Occasional Paper No BSP-11-13

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After three rounds of voting the Mexican and the Brazilian candidates are the only ones still contending for Pascal Lamy’s chair, whose term as Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will end next August.

Nine candidates were put forward by their respective countries to contend for the position: Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand and South Korea ( The array of candidates, most of them from developing countries, reflects the shift in the international order and the interest of developing countries to be in the table of negotiations.

One of the favourites was Mari Pangestu, former Minister of Trade and current Minister of Tourism and Creative Industry of Indonesia, who retreated from the race in the last round of voting. Ms. Pangestu not only has experience as trade negotiator, cabinet member and in academia, but also an Indonesian candidate would have the advantage to easily build bridges with developing Asia and with the Muslim world.

Herminio Blanco was Minister of Trade and Industry from 1994 to 2000. He was chief negotiator for Mexico during NAFTA talks, the Uruguay Round and other trade agreements. Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo is a career diplomat who has represented Brazil in several trade negotiations, including the Doha Round. He has been appointed as Brazil’s Permanent Representative to the WTO and other international organisations.

In this last stage of the election process, the finalists seem to be focusing in African votes. Both have visited several countries in the continent and have met African leaders in multilateral fora. Some African countries have expressed their fears to abrupt trade liberalization and would prefer a more cautious candidate.

One of the main challenges for the future Director-General is to restore the trust of the international community on the multilateral economic system. Without the support and the trust of the members, it would be very difficult for the new head of the WTO to break the impasse and move forward the Doha Round negotiations. Moreover, Lamy’s successor will have to fight protectionist measures that have (re)emerged under arguments of national interest or disguised behind regional free trade initiatives.

More than ever the WTO requires strategic and effective leadership. While some developing countries would support the Brazilian candidate because they would prefer diplomatic activism or have similar trade interests, others would consider as a better option, the fresh blood that an outsider like Blanco could bring to the organisation.

Despite rivalries and personal preferences, no matter who the winner is, both candidates have excellent credentials to fulfill the position. Both understand the concerns of developing countries and have a broad and solid knowledge of the international trade system. The question is would they be able to modernize the WTO and bring it back to the core of the international economic system?

It is Brazil against Mexico… but at the end, it is Latin America and the developing world who wins.

¡Suerte, qué gane el mejor!

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WEF Latin America 2013


Since yesterday, more than 400 personalities, including heads of states and representatives from the private sector, academia and civil society, are gathered in the Peruvian capital, Lima, to participate in the 2013 World Economic Forum (WEF) Latin America. They will  discuss about challenges and  opportunities around the topic of “delivering growth and strengthening societies”.  Latin America has registered constant rates of economic growth in recent years.  However, there are big challenges ahead in terms of inequality and exclusion, and especially insecurity.

The program of the  event is organised around the following three pillars:

1) Modernizing economies for growth.

2) Strengthening society through innovation.

3) Building resilience for sustainable development.

Follow live panel discussions on:


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Venezuelan campaign lessons for Australian politicians?

The New York Times has a nifty little piece on a new salsa hit from Puerto Rican Willie Colón entitled Mentira Fresca (free online listen/download). As the Times points out, Venezuelan campaign stops are often a fiesta of food and fun to music to breath a bit of life into the politics. Colón’s song is a devastatingly direct attack on the failures of the Chávez regime, all set to a peppy salsa beat. Whether you agree or not with the message, at least you can dance to it, which breathes a certain extra element of life into an election. Salsa, rumba and meringue are the big flavours in the current Venezuelan campaign. What might Australia’s political parties choose to keep our feet taping through the winter? Colón’s snappy number has been downloaded over 670,000 times.

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