Alcohol Prohibition Looms for Uruguay

Everything Looks Like a Nail to the President with the Government Hammer

It might seem hard to believe that the same country that decriminalized marijuana [1] is now facing a law that aims to declare a war on alcoholic drinks, although Uruguayan officials have thus far insisted that it is far from what prohibition once was in the United States.

Nevertheless, on his first day as president (March 1), Tabaré Vázquez announced he would take strong measures against the excessive intake of alcohol, and 25 days later he convened a first meeting with the opposition, the Beverage Union, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the director of the National Board of Drugs, Milton Romani. The purpose was clear and allegedly “positive”: to limit the alcohol consumption of Uruguayans.

Today's meeting over how to curtail Uruguay's purported problem of alcohol consumption. (Maldonado Noticias)

Today’s meeting over how to curtail Uruguay’s purported problem of alcohol consumption. (Maldonado Noticias)

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Recovering the Libertarian Tradition of Magna Carta

Great Anti-Power Document Turns 800 Years Old on June 15

Grabado de la firma de la Magna Carta, que está cumpliendo 800 años en 2015 (Historic UK)

Magna Carta, which turns 800 in 2015, is more than a peace treaty between a desperate monarch and his rebellious barons. (Historic UK)

EspañolBy Joaquín Rodríguez

There are some misguided beliefs about history that prevent us from seeing the course of events that led to modern constitutional democracies, and the protection of our individual liberties against overreaching power.

We usually think this freedom starts in the modern era, with universal suffrage, national independence, or popular revolution. However, historical events are less democratic and idealistic than many wish them to be. Instead, democratic rights were acquired the hard way: an 800-year slog of trial and error, accident and design, by those that came before us.

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Bonil and Rayma: Cartoonists Speak Truth to Power

Venezuelan and Ecuadorian Satirists Defend Right to "Blaspheme"

Suprani and Bonilla address the Cartoons in Times of Authoritarianism conference in Washington, DC.

Suprani and Bonilla address the Cartoons in Times of Authoritarianism conference in Washington, DC. (PanAm Post)

Español“These cartoonists have been able to mock power.” This is how Héctor Schamis, Georgetown University professor and El País columnist, introduced Venezuela’s Rayma Suprani and Ecuador’s Xavier Bonilla both of whom have been targeted by their respective governments.

Bonilla and Suprani were featured speakers at the “Cartoons in Times of Authoritarianism” conference hosted by human-rights advocacy NGO Freedom House on March 18 in Washington, DC.

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The Manipulation of Student Struggles in Honduras

Outside Agitators will Lead to Misguided Martyrs

Protesters purporting to be students throw rocks at police in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Protesters purporting to be students throw rocks at police in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (La Prensa)

EspañolHistorically, heroes have often emerged from the ranks of a country’s student population, traditionally a seedbed of rebellion and passionate outrage. In many cases, from the US civil rights movement to protests against communist repression in China and the former Soviet Union, students have been the first to speak out against injustice.

In Latin America, students have also been at the forefront of social struggles. In 1968 in Tlatelolco, Mexico, the government massacred around a hundred student demonstrators in the city’s Plaza de las Tres Culturas. History repeated itself in 2014 with the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa.

It was also students who lead the protests against the authoritarian government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in 2014.

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Venezuelan Opposition Mustn’t Accept Sanctions Scapegoat

Corrupt Elites to Blame for Economic Failure, not Washington

Venezuela's opposition must shift the blame for economic failure away from Washington and onto the true culprits. (Correo del Orinoco)

Venezuela’s opposition must shift the blame for economic failure away from Washington and onto the true culprits. (Correo del Orinoco)

EspañolThe decision by US President Barack Obama to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials has caused a public-relations headache — not just for the White House, but for the Venezuelan opposition.

Taking his cue from his predecessor Hugo Chávez, President Nicolás Maduro has vilified the United States for years, declaring the North American nation Venezuela’s greatest enemy. For Chávez, this was easy. George Bush’s approval ratings were low at home and abroad amid the disastrous invasion of Iraq.

However, with Obama as president, it hasn’t been as straightforward: he can’t be accused of being the “white gringo” enemy of Latin America. However, Obama’s executive order has given Maduro the ammunition he needs to portray the old enemy as plotting a coup and waging economic war against Venezuela.

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Puerto Rico: No Food, No Thought

Statist Bid for "Food Security" a Disaster Waiting to Happen

During his thirty-year rule of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin took direct control of food resources, farms, and land, causing mass starvation and the deaths of nearly 7 million people in modern-day Ukraine.

The example of murderous central planning has been aped by other communist regimes worldwide with equally grim results, leading to widespread malnutrition and death in China and North Korea. Meanwhile, Cuba imports some 80 percent of its food, according to UN figures, despite purportedly being a paragon of self-sufficiency.

Puerto Rico's farms are to be the latest site of government intervention. (Pixabay)

Puerto Rico’s farms are to be the latest site of government intervention. (Pixabay)

Centralized government control over food and consumer goods is about control, not serving the interests of the people. It has one purpose: total power.

One might think that the lessons of the former Soviet Union and other failed communist states would resonate enough to preclude such madness from happening again, but those lessons have been forgotten or ignored.

Instead, Puerto Rico’s government is about to embark on a total food-control initiative dubbed the Food Security Plan for Puerto Rico. It calls for promoting local agriculture in line with the island’s Land Use plan, and helping Puerto Rico become more independent by producing more of its own food.

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Uncle Joe’s Squandered Opportunity in Central America

New Deal Overlooks Legalization to Solve Narco Violence

The US government has pledged support for the Partnership for Prosperity.

The US government has pledged support for the Partnership for Prosperity. (El Salvador Presidency)

EspañolUS Vice President Joe Biden is fast becoming Latin America’s new best friend: touring multiple countries and spearheading a number of trade agreements, he’s helped move the conversation beyond drug policy and dubious military assistance. Nevertheless, vestiges of the old relationship remain.

Earlier in March, Biden unveiled a US$1 billion package to help Central American governments make “reforms and investments” to “address security, governance, and economy challenges.” In return for the financial assistance, he called for regional rulers to deliver strengthened security, transparent and fair governance, and to provide “government money … to address economic need.”

These may all be laudable goals. But the top-down approach, focused on strengthening governance and military capability, has been proven to only achieve limited results by itself.

Indeed, Biden’s comparison of the new Central American aid package with the Clinton administration’s “Plan Colombia” — which sought to eradicate coca cultivation and drug cartels with limited results — suggests that Uncle Joe might actually be Uncle Sam up to his old tricks.

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Morales Blackmails Bolivia’s Democracy with Taxpayer Money

No Funds for Opposition Officials Ensures Even if MAS Loses, It Wins

Bolivian President Evo Morales continues his quest for absolute power in his third term in office.

Bolivian President Evo Morales continues his quest for absolute power in his third term in office. (Flickr)

EspañolBolivia is currently immersed in the run-up to the March 29 municipal election, and so any political event, comment, or maneuvering has enormous impact on the voting public.

Politicians in Bolivia campaign in different ways. There are those who use their own resources and rally supporters with populist speeches. Then there’s the ruling Movement for Socialism party (MAS), who on top of the same dogmatic rhetoric that encourages dependence and serfdom also uses taxpayer money to promise needless public-works programs and blackmail votes.

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Is Uruguay’s Chavismo Affair Nearly Over?

Maduro's Bluster Brings Love-In to Breaking Point

EspañolOn March 1, Tabaré Vázquez took office as president of Uruguay for the second time, now with Raúl Sendic as his vice president.

Vázquez, a socialist, belongs to the same coalition of our former president and greatest pop icon, José Mujica.

Sendic, meanwhile, is the son of the founder of the National Liberation Movement “Tupamaros,” who together with Mujica committed various crimes in the 1960s, including robberies, kidnappings, and even executions.

Vázquez and Sendic took office in Uruguay on March 1.

Vázquez and Sendic took office in Uruguay on March 1. (Causa Abierta)

Despite flirtations between Uruguayan socialists and Chavistas in Venezuela, the vice president made clear just two days after taking office that the Uruguayan government does not support Maduro’s assertions of foreign interference in Venezuela.

Maduro was quick to respond, and for a moment, the affair appeared to be over.

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How ZEDEs Can Make Honduras Prosperous

Next-Generation Zones for an Anti-Poverty Success Story

By Michael Strong

Español Why isn’t Honduras prosperous? Why do more than 100,000 Hondurans leave each year and risk their lives to get to the United States, where most of them will become illegal immigrants with no rights?

Conversely, why is China becoming prosperous so rapidly? In the past 20 years hundreds of millions of Chinese have escaped poverty. Averages urban wages in China today are more than five times what they were 20 years ago. What can be done to ensure that working-class Hondurans earn five times as much 20 years from now?

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