Archive for category: Latin America
The head of SOUTHCOM, Admiral Craig Faller, told Pentagon reporters Wednesday that U.S. imperialism’s “competitive edge [in the region]…is eroding, particularly when it comes to the Chinese influence.”
This weekend, ten thousand people took to the streets in Guatemala to protest the President and Congress over a proposed budget, the largest in its history, that cuts funds for health care and education as poverty rises, and provides slush funds to politicians and governments. In Colombia, the people held a national strike to protest their violent, right-wing government. In Peru, protests against a right-wing power grab have ousted one appointed president and people are demanding a new government and constitution.
The post People Are Rising Up Against The Elites, So Should We appeared first on PopularResistance.Org.
Immigrant woman and children walk across a field as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Enforcement and Removal Operations hosts a media tour at the South Texas Family Residential Center, which houses families who are pending disposition of their immigration cases on Friday, Aug 23, 2019 in Dilley, Texas. (Photo credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Reproductive violence is constitutive of rather than an exception to the values of the United States of America. For those of us whose communities are deliberately targeted by the eugenicist American state, Dawn Wooten’s charges of mass sterilizations at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia come as a reminder that our reproductive lives have always been a threat to this country’s very foundations. Indigenous, Black, and Brown people pose a problem for a nation invested in white racial purity. These ICE abuses are only the latest and most visible in an ongoing U.S. project of genocidal extermination. Wooten, a licensed practical nurse who worked at the ICE facility until she was abruptly demoted in July, recently filed a complaint detailing forced hysterectomies of detained migrant women.
In the complaint published by Project South, an Atlanta-based advocacy organization, Wooten identifies a gynecologist she calls “the uterus collector,” who removes the uterus or fallopian tubes of practically “everybody he sees.” In her statement, the nurse details the confusion and dread experienced by detained women, who neither consented to hysterectomies nor understood what was happening to their bodies due to intentional, violent language barriers. A migrant woman confessed to Project South, “When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.” She’s not alone in identifying the conditions inside migrant detention centers as concentration camps, which by definition are a form of population control—a practice that extends to the origins of the settler colonial U.S. state.
Indigenous women in particular have long been targeted for genocidal violence, including experimentation and extermination. As climate disaster and civil conflict ravages Central American countries, more and more Indigenous people are migrating North (anthropologist Shannon Speed’s 2019 book, Incarcerated Stories: Indigenous Women Migrants and Violence in the Settler-Capitalist State, is a helpful introduction to the unique violences faced by Indigenous women in migrant detention centers). Their mobility poses a threat to the eugenicist state now, as it did in the 18th and 19th centuries. And so they are policed, surveilled, sterilized, and imprisoned—all techniques of reprocide. Loretta Ross—a Black feminist activist and survivor of sterilization abuse—coined the term “reprocide” to specifically describe genocide as primarily committed through reproductive control.
In the 2017 anthology Radical Reproductive Justice, Ross insists that reprocide extends to the political origins of the United States and that it happens not only through sterilization abuse, but also through mass incarceration, environmental racism, and the promotion of long-term contraceptives that providers refuse to remove or that carry prohibitive removal costs. The current forced sterilization of migrant women is not an aberration or anomaly in the history of this country; it’s an extension of the reprocide that created it. Indigenous scholars like Leanne Betasamosake Simpson teach us that Indigenous women are especially threatening because they have the potential to reproduce the next generation of people who can resist colonization. Brianna Theobald’s standout 2019 book Reproduction on the Reservation explains how the U.S. government has historically attempted to control and contain Indigenous women’s reproductive lives: Through assimilationist residential schools, the forced removal of Indigenous children into the white foster care system, and government efforts to move childbirth from the home to hospitals, the federal government surveilled where women gave birth, with whom they gave birth, and how their children were raised.
While Theobald highlights how Indigenous people lied to field nurses and concealed their pregnancies to practice reproductive self-determination, doctors in the United States began formally sterilizing Indigenous women in the 1930s. This practice ballooned in the 1970s when Congress passed the Family Planning Services Act, which subsidized sterilizations for Medicaid and Indian Health Service patients. As a result, an estimated 25 percent of Indigenous women of childbearing age underwent hysterectomies. The enslavement of Africans and their descendants was also undeniably marked by reprocide: Chattel slavery relied on enslaved Black women to produce as many children as possible; many were sold as breeders and routinely sexually assaulted to produce more enslaved people, but as scholars note, enslaved women used birth control and abortion as a means to resist this reproductive control.
Yet, enslaved women were still routinely subject to medical experimentation. James Marion Sims, also known as the “father of modern gynecology,” performed many reproductive surgeries on enslaved Black women and elected to do so without anesthesia. He also invented the modern speculum by experimenting on enslaved women. Other doctors perfected c-sections by performing surgeries on Black women without consent. During Jim Crow, some Black women were denied medical care or termination of welfare benefits if they didn’t submit to sterilization and others—including civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer—underwent “Mississippi appendectomies” as practice for medical students at teaching hospitals in the South. Today’s immigration detention centers are designed as reprocide machines—controlling who enters and is born into the country.
As a system of population control, detention centers confine and contain unwanted, undesirable populations. And while this long history of reprocide spans various—if not all—administrations, it’s clear that Trump is using migrant women’s bodies as a battleground in the struggle for white racial purity. In 2018, the Trump administration ended a previous policy mandating that ICE release pregnant women from detention—placing women outside the reach of adequate medical care and even ripping their children away at birth, as Tina Vasquez (who has contributed to Bitch) reported for Rewire. Women in detention centers are denied control over their bodies and their reproductive choices, refused access to abortion care, and the government has gone as far as to track incarcerated women’s periods to refuse abortion access.
When their children are born, many are sent to Bethany Christian Services, an organization that has received substantial donations from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. And, most recently, Trump granted visa officers the power to deny entry to pregnant women, calling their migration “birth tourism.” This rhetoric is an extension of eugenicist anxieties about “anchor babies” and poor, third world “over breeders” who take advantage of loose borders to invade the United States and interrupt the nation’s racial purity. Immigration enforcement is a mode of population control—period. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882—the first immigration law to banned an entire racial group—to the creation of Border Patrol in 1924, which drew on racist ideas of health and cleanliness to exclude “diseased” Brown migrants, borders and immigration bans are a way of keeping out the unwanted. Today, ICE commits reprocide when they separate families and divide them along an arbitrary border. The agency commits reprocide when it deports people to countries facing climate disaster—a phenomenon that increases poverty, threatens quality of life, and limits food supply.
Mass sterilizations are one aspect of a state-sponsored project of controlling women of color’s reproductive lives and eliminating unwanted populations. In this way, the call to abolish ICE is a call for reproductive justice because ICE agents and guards are trained and empowered to violate the reproductive agency of migrant women. In 1994, a caucus of Black feminists at a pro-choice conference coined the term “reproductive justice” to signal not only a woman’s right not to have a child, but also their right to have children and to raise them with dignity in safe and healthy environments. This framework repositions reproductive rights in an intersectional context that centers race, gender, and class oppressions. Abolishing ICE is a practice of reproductive justice and is ultimately a move toward creating safer communities where children and families are free from surveillance and immigration enforcement.
Wooten refused to stay quiet, and even as nuanced reporting from Vasquez complicates an earlier romanticized image we had of the nurse, it’s undeniable that she has helped pave the way for a more abolitionist future. Wooten refused to reproduce a system that controls women’s bodily autonomy. In denouncing “the uterus collector,” Wooten extends a legacy of Black feminists like Loretta Ross who understand that reproductive justice is not only about abortion rights but also about having and raising children with dignity. In calling out reprocidal conditions at Irwin County Detention Center, she continues the advocacy of Hamer and others who understood the bodies of Indigenous, Black, and Brown women as sacred and worthy of protection. ICE is committing reprocide, but like Wooten, we can refuse to be complicit.
Arresting and deporting undocumented people has become lucrative because their biological, biometric data can be mined, harvested, and used to generate profit.
Photo Credit: Delphine Ménard / licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
The Inca empire has long fascinated me: young, brash and stunningly successful, this mighty South American kingdom vanished virtually overnight. Recent developments make me wonder whether the United States empire faces a similar implosion.
Some of the parallels — admittedly far from perfect — are nonetheless remarkable.
The Inca empire rose up (and declined) with spectacular speed, starting in the early fifteenth century and unifying its territories in just one hundred years. At its peak in 1533, the kingdom was the largest in the world, stretching some 3,400 miles from Quito to Santiago. As a multi-cultural entity with some 12 million inhabitants, it had more than 100 ethnic groups speaking over 30 different languages.
Its military was huge, highly trained, well organized and versatile. It boasted some 200,000 soldiers who were posted far from home to keep regional allegiances at bay. Its garrisons were amply stocked so military conquest did not lead to plundering and pillaging. In addition to maintaining control of the territories under their purview, the army was called upon to engage in civic service, transporting food and materials to needy regions in times of war, drought, famine or other natural disasters.
The Inca system of roads and bridges was among the most elaborate of any ancient culture. The empire constructed over 15,000 miles of paved roads over rugged terrain, and the north-to-south Royal Andes highway was longer than the longest Roman road.
The communication network through this mountainous topography was efficient and amazingly rapid. Professional messengers, chosen from among the fittest young men, lived in cabins along the roads. Running in relays, they could cover between 150-250 miles per day.
Agriculture was advanced and technologically innovative. The Incas built a complicated and extensive system of irrigation canals, cisterns and hillside terraces, which ingeniously released heat on cold nights and retained moisture during dry seasons. These covered about one million hectares by the 1400s and, even in inhospitable climates, could feed a vast empire.
Economic productivity was consistently high and surplus goods – both agricultural and artisanal – were stored along the roads and near population centers, to be delivered to the locals in times of scarcity. In return for their labor, citizens were assured of basic needs for clothing, food, health care and education. The redistribution of wealth was carefully planned and socially-minded, ensuring a decent, if modest standard of living for all.
By the beginning of the 1500s, however, the Inca empire was starting to weaken. It was beset by internal political strife, marked by a bloody battle for the throne between Atahualpa and his half-brother Waskar, and by agitation at the edges of its overextended borders, with the northern territories in periodic rebellion.
Worse, a pandemic had struck. European diseases were spreading quickly from Central America. Smallpox killed the Inca emperor Wayna Qhapaq in 1528 (father of Atahualpa and Waskar). Gradually, it decimated the indigenous population, with some estimates placing the death rate as high as 65%-90%.
Nonetheless, the sudden end of this vast, once-mighty empire seems bizarre.
It was brought to its knees, in the span of a single year, by the illiterate adventurer Francisco Pizarro (1471-1541). A seeker of personal fame and fortune, he was a man without convictions, without morals or religious scruples, a liar who routinely double-crossed his allies and trusted only the innermost circle of his family.
On Nov. 15, 1532, Pizarro arrived in the company of 168 soldiers, including 62 cavalries. His rival Atahualpa was surrounded by 80,000 troops. That evening, Pizarro held a celebratory dinner in honor of his host but abducted Atahualpa the following night. The imprisoned emperor remained a hostage for the next eight months while an enormous cache of gold and silver was amassed to secure his release. As soon as the ransom was paid, Pizarro executed Atahualpa. Things went from bad to worse and the capital Cuzco fell, with barely a struggle, into Spanish hands exactly one year later on Nov. 15, 1533.
How was such a quick and ignominious end possible? How could so few Spaniards, even with their superior weaponry, prevail? How could 80,000 nearby troops (never mind the 200,000 soldiers stationed throughout the kingdom) fail to rout a small band of mercenaries?
Many scholars have probed these questions. Most recently, historian Jared Diamond has marshaled brilliant arguments for “the set of proximate factors that resulted in Europeans colonizing the New World instead of the Native Americans’ colonizing Europe.” The advantages the Spaniards had were numerous and overwhelming: technology (the invention of steel, fashioned into swords, armor and guns); agriculture (specifically, the domestication of horses, useful both in peace and in war); health (the development of immunities to diseases); and literacy (the dissemination of information about earlier exploits in the Americas).
In hindsight, the Incas were doomed.
But in 1532, they did not have the benefit of hindsight, so I still ask myself: why didn’t they fight back during those first few days, weeks, even months? Why didn’t the generals come up with a plan to rescue the emperor, even if it meant breaking the chain of command? Why didn’t the leadership look to sacrificing some part of its vast standing army? Why didn’t the general population, for that matter, just rise up and squash the invaders to death?
The answer is an eternal mystery. We can only conjecture.
But clearly, the Incas had lost their will, their courage, their vision and, arguably, their common sense. Worse, they had lost faith in the ideals and values of their own way of life, which was — with all its terrible faults — still preferable to the Spanish colonization to come.
So what can history teach us?
Like the Incas, we are a young country that has risen in wealth and power with astonishing rapidity. We are home to a vast array of ethnic groups, representing some 350 different languages.
Like the Incas, we have built a worldwide “realm of influence.” Our military is huge, sophisticated and well funded, with some 1.3 million active-duty personnel. The Department of Defense budget in 2019 was $700 billion, and our overall military spending is approximately the size of the 10 next-largest military budgets in the world combined. We have stationed outposts of our military around the globe, and in addition to waging war and controlling foreign territories, the army regularly assists with disaster relief both domestically and abroad (Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti).
Our communications and technology are cutting-edge. In the 1950s, we constructed a modern system of interstate highways spanning more than 41,000 miles, costing over $26 billion. In the 1960s, we invented the internet.
Our agricultural prowess is second to none. Early industrial age inventions, like the McCormick reaper, led to the mechanization of farming in the twentieth century and to the mass production of food. Entrusted with the storage and distribution of water in 1902, the Bureau of Reclamation oversaw the construction of more than 8,000 dams and reservoirs; some, like the massive Hoover Dam of 1936, required hitherto unparalleled feats of engineering.
Our economic productivity remains high and our overall wealth is staggering. Our GDP in 2019 was $21.5 trillion (compared to China’s $14 trillion), and since 1871 we have steadily maintained our historic position as the world’s largest economy. For at least half a century (1932-1980), we made serious strides towards creating a stable, large, well-to-do American middle class, with relatively high wages for workers and a safety net against the hazards of poverty.
Like the Incas, we are now in the midst of a pandemic that has already claimed more than 180,000 lives. The most recent projections from the well-regarded Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predict between 300,000 and 600,000 deaths by the end of this year. The federal response to the health crisis has been pathetic or ineffective.
Like the Incas, we now live in the shadow of a would-be conqueror who is virtually illiterate, who lacks morality and empathy, who is single-mindedly focused on personal wealth and fame, who is a habitual liar, who betrays and dismisses colleagues, and who trusts only his closest family.
And like the Incas, we have lost our way as a society. Our American “can-do” spirit has yielded to perplexity in the face of contemporary problems, to an inability to find or to enact creative solutions, to a general paralysis of will. It is hard, perhaps impossible, to know how this gradual dissolution happened and why.
But the quandary brings me to the continuing demonstrations on our streets. Triggered by the murder of George Floyd, these loud protests against injustice, inhumanity and inequality are manifestations of a new, nationwide, inter-generational, interracial pushback. They are the voice of the voiceless. And they offer a glimmer of hope that we might be more than passive bystanders in the formation of our own future.
Let us remember that the Incas did not need to be conquered by Pizarro. They could have resisted. Their military could have resisted. Their population could have resisted.
Let us remember that we need not be “dominated.” That we can resist. That our population is resisting. That our military is resisting. That the president’s use of the army to break up a peaceful demonstration in our own capital was reversed by his own defense secretary, who ordered the units back home. That, as the Los Angeles Times headline succinctly proclaimed: “Trump finds an unexpected center of resistance: the Pentagon.”
Let us remember that we have our own ideals, originating in principles that are worth preserving. That our imperial aspirations may be wrong but our democratic culture, with all of its terrible faults, should be nurtured and improved. That our current system is clearly preferable to the darkness of tyranny.
Let us not be afraid to write our own story.
Stefania de Kenessey is the composer of “Bonfire of the Vanities: The Opera,” an updated and reimagined version of the novel by Tom Wolfe where both the New York Stock Exchange and American capitalism finally collapse. She is a professor of music at The New School.
Inter-American Development Bank headquarters at Washington, D.C. Photograph Source: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) – CC BY-SA 4.0
Four Latin American countries have called to postpone the election of the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), scheduled for September 12 and 13. Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico proposed suspending the election until March 2021 to prevent Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser for Latin America, the Cuban-American Mauricio Claver-Carone, from taking the powerful regional post.
On June 16, the Trump administration launched Claver-Carone’s candidacy for the presidency of the Bank that bills itself as “the leading source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean”.  Sixteen Latin American countries have announced support for the U.S. candidate as others reportedly are coming under heavy pressure to agree to Trump’s proposal.
Claver-Carone’s bid for power has sparked a controversy in large part because it breaks with the Bank’s 50-year tradition of being run by a president from a Latin American nation. The pretext for proposing a U.S. candidate is supposedly to fulfill its commitment to help Latin American and Caribbean economic recovery in the face of the pandemic.
The justification sounds good, but it is not true. The truth is that the U.S. president seeks: 1) to curry favor among conservative Cuban and Venezuelan-Americans, 2) to counter the growing presence of China in the IDB and in the region by transferring hegemonic power disputes between the two countries to a U.S.-controlled Bank, and 3) to maintain an important position of economic and political power following his likely defeat in the Nov. 3 presidential elections.
Blocking Chinese Influence
The Trump administration has deepened tensions with China and in this context has grown increasingly concerned about China’s growing participation in multilateral organizations in the Americas. China has observer status in the Organization of American States (OAS), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Pacific Alliance. It also maintains close ties with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and with the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America.
China became a member of the IDB in 2008. Its membership generated high expectations. The bank’s current president, the Colombian Luis Alberto Moreno, has repeatedly highlighted China’s potential to improve regional infrastructure. He recently stated that “China is an essential partner for the institution and for the protection of the social and economic benefits of Latin America”.
In 2013, the China Co-Financing Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean (“China Fund”) was created within the framework of IDB Invest–the Bank’s financial arm oriented to the private sector. The Fund provides financing for infrastructure projects, with an initial commitment of $350 million USD. The IDB and the Chinese Council for the Promotion of Trade Exchange (CCPIT) have also co-sponsored the China-Latin America and the Caribbean Business Summit for the past 13 years, the last one held in Panama in 2019. The IDB routinely co-sponsors summits between China and regional members on policy issues and knowledge-sharing to develop innovative programs.
The Trump administration has sought to undermine this growing relationship. The last annual meeting of the IDB was scheduled for March 2019 in the Chinese city of Chengdu. The meeting was suspended due to a U.S. government threat to block a quorum if China did not admit the participation of Ricardo Hausmann, Juan Guaidó’s representative at the IDB. The Chinese government wanted to avoid the presence of both Guaidó’s and Maduro’s representatives so the event was canceled. Several months before the meeting, then-U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury and current World Bank President, David Malpass, urged the IDB to reconsider holding the meeting in China and warned of China’s “substantial inroads” in multilateral development banks.
Breaking the rules to usurp the IDB presidency
Many members of political, diplomatic and academic circles in the region have voiced their opposition to a U.S. candidate for a post that has always been filled by a Latin American. Five former Latin American presidents, Fernando Henrique Cardoso from Brazil, Ricardo Lagos from Chile, Julio María Sanguinetti from Uruguay, Juan Manuel Santos from Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo from Mexico, immediately rejected the nomination in a letter that states that Claver-Carone’s candidacy “implies a break with the unwritten rule, but respected from its origin, by which the IDB, for reasons, among others, of financial efficiency, would have its headquarters in Washington, but in exchange would always be led by a Latin American”.  The letter adds that the move violates the spirit of the founding of the bank, explicitly expressed by former President Eisenhower in committing to a Latin American presiding. This unwritten rule, respected until now, also implies that a European is always the head of the IMF and a U.S. citizen runs the World Bank.
Former foreign ministers, the Puebla Group and, recently, the Latin American Reflection Table, have also opposed the nomination.
Europe has not remained on the sidelines. In late July, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, proposed to delay the elections until March in a letter to Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya. Borrell also argued that the U.S.-sponsored candidacy of Claver-Carone’s is unprecedented since the bank’s founding in 1959.
Although no European government member of the Bank has made an official statement so far, the proposal to postpone the election has received the support of twenty-two former government leaders that are members of the Club of Madrid, and also members of the Bank. In a Club de Madrid communiqué signed Aug. 18, the group stated that “the conditions are far from being favorable for the thoughtful and deep debate that this decision requires.”
The signatories note that Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the regions hardest hit by the pandemic–with only 8% of the world population, it represents 25% of infections and 28 % of deaths from COVID-19 in the world total. They emphasize the role that the IDB will play in the region’s recovery, since the Bank channels around 12 billion dollars annually to financing infrastructure and development in the region–more than any other multilateral development bank, including the World Bank. To carry out an “in-depth discussion on their role and leadership, and appropriate institutional response to the recovery from the pandemic crisis”, they propose “to postpone the election until March 2021 and that, in a similar way to what happened with the World Trade Organization, an interim president be appointed.”
Objections to Claver-Carone’s candidacy for the IDB presidency transcend the fact of his nationality. Claver-Carone is a key ideologue for President Trump in the design of Cuba and Venezuela policy. Appointed in September 2018, he worked under the direction of ultra-hawk John Bolton, replacing Juan Cruz, a former agent of the Central Intelligence Agency who had served on the National Security Council for more than a year. According to the daily Las Américas, Claver-Carone made a name for himself among Washington circles interested in Cuba with his blog Capitol Hill Cubans, where he fiercely criticized the policy towards that country of former President Barack Obama.
Claver-Carone also directed the “non-profit” organization Cuba Democracy Advocates INC, whose work consists of “raising awareness” about the opposition movement on the island and “collecting and disseminating information” on political prisoners and alleged human rights violations in Cuba. With this background, his presidency would represent the return of a strict ideological framework for inter-American diplomatic relations, at a time when it is necessary to expand the capitalization of the IDB. Erick Langer, Latin American history professor at Georgetown University, noted that Trump’s decision arises from his need for strong backing from rightwing Cuban-Americans and constitutes “a maneuver within the United States in electoral terms: Trump is thinking exclusively about his re-election and to improve his chances he has chosen Claver-Carone to win support in a group that has a lot of influence on the country’s foreign policy”.
Staunch Trump allies Brazil and Colombia immediately backed the U.S. candidate. They were joined by Ecuador, Uruguay, the Bahamas, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Suriname, and Venezuela, currently represented at the IDB by Juan Guaidó’s group. These decisions have reduced regional endorsements for the candidacies of the former president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla and the Argentine Gustavo Béliz, former president of the Institute for Latin American Integration (INTAL) and current Secretary for Strategic Affairs of the Argentine Presidency.
Trump has tasked the Colombian government with organizing regional support for his candidate. To this end, the Colombian Foreign Ministry issued a Statement of Support for Claver-Carone the day after the visit of the White House National Security Advisor, Robert O ´Brien, and Mauricio Claver-Carone himself announced a 5 billion-dollar loan to Colombia from the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC) within the framework of the “US-Colombia Growth Initiative”. The statement was signed by 17 countries, including the United States.
Nations that did not sign on include Canada, Belize, Nicaragua, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay (which initially supported Claver-Carone), Peru and the four (Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico) that officially proposed postponement of the elections for the IDB Annual Assembly scheduled for March 17-21 in Barranquilla, Colombia. The 20 extra-regional partners also have not endorsed the Trump candidate.
Claver-Carone already has the backing he needs to be elected as IDB president at the virtual meeting scheduled for September. First, he has the support of the absolute majority of member countries. To be elected president of the Bank, a candidate needs a minimum of 15 of the 28 regional members and the Trump candidate has the support of 17, including the United States. Second, Claver-Carone has the support of governments that represent more than 50% of the voting power, which is defined by the capital subscribed by each country. The United States and Brazil alone hold, respectively, 30% and 11% of the voting power. With Colombia (3.1%), Guaidó’s Venezuela (3.4%) and the other countries that support him, Claver-Carone more than meets this second requirement.
Impeding a quorum to postpone the election
For the nations that uphold the political importance of having the leadership of the IDB in Latin American or Caribbean hands, the only viable strategy is to block quorum to force postponement of the election until March 2021 to avoid Trump’s candidate from taking over. The rules mandate that at least three quarters (75%) of the voting power of the institution must participate in the election. To prevent a quorum, the opposition to the U.S. power grab needs to pass the 25% mark in terms of voting power.
The four countries that call for postponing the election have a joint voting power of 22.2%, according to the following composition: Argentina (11.35%), Mexico (7.3%), Chile (3.1%) and Costa Rica (0.45%). They need 2.9% to exceed 25% of the votes to postpone the election. If Peru, with 1.5% of the votes, were to join, and Nicaragua with 0.45% of the votes adhered to this initiative, they could reach 24.15%, leaving only 0.85% of the votes missing to prevent a quorum.
To achieve this at the regional level, one possibility is for Uruguay to rethink its position. With 1.2% of votes, the Uruguayan government was one of the first countries to support Claver-Carone, but the Broad Front has called for a review of the Uruguayan government’s endorsement of the Trump candidate.Also important is Canada, which with 4% of the vote has not yet declared its position.
The IDB also has 20 extra-regional partners (16 European, in addition to China, Japan, Israel and South Korea) that have full voting rights. Spain with 1.96% and France and Germany with 1.89% each, could also contribute to preventing the quorum required for voting. The World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid letter shows that there is a strong current of political opinion in the European member countries of the Bank that favors postponement.
All these moves have irritated the Trump team and their candidate, Claver-Carone. Regarding the statements of the European Union’s Borrell, an unnamed Trump official told the press, “The European Union is not part of the IDB as an entity, only some of its member states are.” Indeed, the European Union as a body does not have representation in the IDB, but U.S. authorities cannot prevent the 16 European partner countries of the IDB from adhering to Borrell’s proposal for postponement if they so choose.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, consistently faithful to Trump’s designs, has come out in support of Claver-Carone’s candidacy. In a recent Tweet, he rejected Borrell’s statement, calling it a threat to “the independence and sovereignty of the region”, while saying nothing about the unprecedented imposition of a U.S. presidency at the Bank. The European proposal, rather than implying a threat, actually represents the legitimate right to give an opinion within an institution that includes European countries as members and contributors.
Claver-Carone himself has responded angrily to the movement to block his rise to power in the position Trump offered him. He recently aimed his attacks on the Argentine government, telling the press, “We are seeing a minority effort led by Argentina to obstruct the election because they have not wanted or been able to present a competitive vision”, referring to the candidacy of Gustavo Béliz. He also accused Argentina and the other three opposing nations of wanting to “hijack the elections” and of “subverting the process, leaving the Bank in paralysis and scaring the private sector”.
Claver-Carone went even further, brazenly threatening the region with U.S. government retaliation. He stated that “any attempt to hijack an election, despite a very clear regulation, would not only be undemocratic, but also an effort that the United States is going to confront very deeply.” This is a tendentious and unsubstantiated statement, since the proposal to postpone the elections until after the presidential elections of November 3 in the United States through the lack of a quorum is an action based on the legal regulations of the institution.
The nations that advocate postponement of the election are betting that a future Biden-Harris administration will desist from imposing a U.S. politician to preside over the IDB, and that a consensus candidate will again be promoted in the interest of pulling together regionally to face the crisis.
The political trajectory of Donald Trump’s candidate for the IDB presidency would imprint an extreme rightwing vision on inter-American diplomatic relations that many countries do not share. Under his mandate, the Bank could become a political instrumental to reward Trump’s allies and punish those who oppose his demands.
On the other hand, if Trump is not re-elected, as the polls indicate, dialogue between Bank leadership under Claver-Carone and the new U.S. administration would not be fluid and could generate tensions at a time when the region needs a major influx of resources for economic recovery.
Although the Democrats and the Biden camp have not expressed an official position on the Trump candidate, unofficially an unnamed Biden spokesman criticized the move, stating, “Trump’s nominee for the Inter-American Development Bank is like most of his appointees: overly ideological, underqualified and hunting for a new job after November.” Democratic and even Republican personalities have spoken in the same vein, along with representatives of society civil. Within Latin America the question is: Why should our region inherit five years of an IDB president imposed by a discredited government, which, under the banner of “America First” has created an unprecedented health and economic disaster in its country and contributed to disaster and division in the region?
The imposition of a U.S. IDB leader intensifies the power struggle between China and the United States in the region and intentionally drives a wedge between Latin American nations. Given the historical moment characterized by the realignment of the hegemonic powers, it is essential to keep the presidency of the IDB in the hands of the region.
Latin America and the Caribbean today have the challenge and responsibility to defend their own interests and right to self-determination, and to reject any imposed alignment.
 Myers, M, China´s Regional Engagement Goals in Latin America, Carnegie Tsinghua, Center for Global Policy, Beijing, China, May 7, 2020 https://carnegietsinghua.org/2020/05/07/china-s-regional-engagement-goals-in-latin-america-pub-81723
 Former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961) stated in a speech in the United Nations in 1958: “For this institution to be successful, the function of leading it must belong to Latin American countries.” https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/506217-latin-americas-banking-system-isnt-broke-so-dont-fix-it
 See: https://andina.pe/agencia/noticia-ex-cancilleres-expresan-desacuerdo-con-ee-uu-asuma-presidencia-del-bid-804514.aspx , https://www.grupodepuebla.org/declaracion-del-grupo-de-puebla-sobre-la-proxima-eleccion-del-presidente-del-banco-interamericano-de-desarrollo-bid/ , https://www.opendemocracy.net/es/postergar-la-elecci%C3%B3n-del-presidente-del-bid-es-prioritario/
 Garrison, Cassandra, “Borrell insta a retrasar la votación del jefe del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo”, 3 de agosto 2020. https://es.reuters.com/article/topNews/idESKCN24Z2SH
 World Leadership Alliance, Club of Madrid, “A call for the postponement of the election of the president of the Inter-American Development Bank” http://www.clubmadrid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/CdM-IDB-President-Statement.pdf
 White House, Statement by National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-national-security-advisor-robert-c-obrien-081720/
 La Política Online, “El candidato de Trump para el BID dice que Argentina busca “secuestrar” la elección del presidente” 12 de agosto 2020. https://www.lapoliticaonline.es/nota/85315-el-candidato-de-trump-para-el-bid-dice-que-argentina-busca-secuestrar-la-eleccion-del-presidente/
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Years of social progress could be reversed by the virus, amid accusations that politicians have been fatally inept
As coronavirus galloped through Latin America in late April, the mayor of Manaus was in despair. “The outlook is dismal,” Arthur Virgílio admitted as gravediggers in the Amazon’s largest city piled coffins into muddy trenches, Brazil’s death toll hit 5,500, and its president, Jair Bolsonaro, responded with a shrug. “It’s obvious this won’t end well.”
Two months later, Virgílio’s nightmare has come true. Brazil’s death toll has risen to more than 60,000 – the second highest in the world after the United States – with some now predicting it could overtake the US, where 130,000 have died, by the end of July.
During an interview, then-Bolivia Vice President Álvaro García Linera and Spanish state parliamentarian Pablo Iglesias were exchanging ideas on classic texts and their own initiation into politics when the Spanish activist proclaimed: “All of us began with Marta Harnecker”.
Second wave fears rise in China; Chile health minister resigns; British citizens evacuated from Colombia; European borders reopen
China has reported its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases in months as parts of Beijing remained under lockdown, offering a second-wave warning to the rest of the world as the pandemic rages in South America and global cases approach 7.8 million.
The shock resurgence in domestic infections on Sunday has rattled China, where the disease emerged late last year but had largely been tamed through severe restrictions on movement that were later emulated across the globe.