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Articles in Latin America

Spain, Bolivia, Iraq, and the Fallacy of the Nation-State

By Martin W. Lewis | September 10, 2010 | 2 Comments

This final posting on regionalism in Spain steps back to reexamine the concept of the nation-state. Spain constitutionally defines itself as a nation-state, insisting that all its citizens belong to the Spanish nation. But as we have seen, many are adamant that Spain is a country of multiple nations. Some sub-Spanish nationalists retain the

Argentina’s Regional Disparities and the Rise of Neuquén

By Martin W. Lewis | July 14, 2010 | 2 Comments

Latin American is noted for its economic inequality, the gap between rich and poor generally being considered the largest in the world. Class inequity often has a strong regional component; Brazil and Mexico are well known for their income variation from state to state. Less appreciated is the fact that Argentina is equally skewed

Panama: Economic Growth, Free Trade, and Indigenous Peoples

By Martin W. Lewis | July 12, 2010 | One Comment

The map of Central America’s per capita GDP posted last week showed Costa Rica and Panama in the highest category, easily outpacing the other economies of the region. What it concealed is the fact that Panama is the richer of the two countries by this criterion. According to the World Bank, Panama’s per capita

Migration and Diplomatic Tensions In Costa Rica

By Martin W. Lewis | July 7, 2010 | 2 Comments

Nicaragua, the poorest country in continental North America by a good margin, sends immigrants not only northward into Mexico and the United States but also southward into Costa Rica. The economic disparity along Nicaragua’s lightly policed southern border is steep and Costa Rica, unlike Nicaragua, is known for its political stability, effective government, and high

Regional Economic Disparities and Migration in Mexico

By Martin W. Lewis | July 6, 2010 | One Comment

On the global scale, Mexico is a middle-income country, a fact lost on most Americans. According to the IMF, it ranks 60 out of 184 in per capita Gross Domestic Product. Measured in purchasing power parity (PPP), Mexico produces roughly $13,600* worth of goods and services per person per year, a figure

Misconceptions About Mexico’s Birth Rate

By Martin W. Lewis | July 5, 2010 | 10 Comments

In the American immigration debate, the point is often made on talk radio that Mexicans stream into the United States because their birth rate is so high. Mainstream sources sometimes make the same argument. In June, 2010, Britain’s Prince Charles warned about the “cultural pressures that keep the global birth rate high,” arguing that

Struggles over Dams and Waterfalls in Paraguay

By Martin W. Lewis | May 28, 2010 |

The uproar over Kathryn Bigelow’s plans to shoot a film in the Triple Frontier region (discussed yesterday) might seem surprising at first glance. Ciudad del Este and the tri-border zone are already known in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay for smuggling and crime, and are thus unlikely to suffer much domestically from American movie insults

The Triple Frontier, Hezbollah, and Kathryn Bigelow

By Martin W. Lewis | May 27, 2010 | 2 Comments

The “TBA” referred to in the passage above is the Tri-Border Area, also known as the Triple Frontier (La Triple Frontera; Tríplice Fronteira), the zone where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet. Here a single metropolitan area of half a million is formed by three cities

Drug Wars in Paraguay

By Martin W. Lewis | May 26, 2010 | One Comment

In early May 2010, Fernando Lugo, president of Paraguay, met with Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the Paraguayan border town of Pedro Juan Caballero, population 75,000. Security was heavy, as befitted the location. Pedro Juan Caballero is noted for its cheap electronics and deadly drug smugglers.

Sexual Scandals and Paraguayan Wars

By Martin W. Lewis | May 25, 2010 |

In 2009, Paraguay’s recently elected president Fernando Lugo found himself embroiled in sexual scandal. A former Roman Catholic bishop not released from his chastity vow until 2008, Lugo was accused by three women of fathering their children. In April, lawyers representing Viviana Carrillo announced that they would file a paternity suit; five days later

Problems in Paraguay

By Martin W. Lewis | May 24, 2010 |

On April 24, 2010, Paraguay’s Congress granted its president emergency powers to combat the Paraguayan Peoples Army (EPP; Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo). The decree, which covered five of Paraguay’s departments for one month, allowed arrests without warrants and joint police-army raids. Several commentators on the left denounced the move as an over-reaction to a

Misleading Historical Maps

By Martin W. Lewis | March 12, 2010 | 4 Comments

Many maps are misleading, but few are as consistently deceptive as the basic historical-political maps that fill the pages of most historical atlases. Such maps usually portray the polities of past, whether smallish kingdoms or vast empires, as if they were clearly bounded entities that exercised full control over their territorial domains. In actuality, most

Argentina’s Claims to the Falkland Islands, and Much More

By Martin W. Lewis | February 24, 2010 | 6 Comments

The Falkland Islands, known in Spanish as the Malvinas, are back in the news, as Argentina reasserts its claims while objecting to offshore oil exploration in the vicinity by British firms. In 1982 the Falklands made global headlines when Argentina unsuccessfully attempted to militarily wrest control of the archipelago from the United Kingdom.

The Communitarian Nation of Moskitia?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 18, 2010 |

On February 17, 2010, Nicaragua’s La Prensa reported that a local council of elders had asked the people of Nicaragua’s coastal region not to participate in upcoming regional elections. The elders, representing the Miskito Indians, urged noncompliance for a simple reason: they no longer recognize the authority of the government of Nicaragua. In August

Coke vs. Pepsi; Venezuela vs. Zulia

By Martin W. Lewis | February 5, 2010 | One Comment

Although Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has been able to secure relatively high levels of electoral support, his campaigns have faltered in the northwest. In the Andean highland zone, closely linked to neighboring Colombia, the states of Táchira and Mérida both voted “no” on Chavez’s constitutional referendum in 2009. Anti-Chavez sentiments also run strong in the

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