News Release

Democracy in the Americas

The 34 members of the Organization of American States are meeting for the first time in the U.S. since 1974.

The AP is reporting from Bolivia: “President Carlos Mesa, his 19-month-old free-market government unraveling amid swelling street protests and a crippling blockade of the Bolivian capital, offered his resignation in a nationally televised address. The resignation, if accepted by Congress, could ultimately usher in new elections, raising the prospect of Bolivia becoming the seventh Latin American country to move to a leftist government suspicious of U.S. intentions in the region.”

JIM SHULTZ
Shultz is executive director of the Democracy Center and is in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The above web page features a blog he is writing from there.
More Information

DEBORAH JAMES
Currently at the OAS meeting in Florida, James is the global economy director of Global Exchange. She said today: “The major goal of the U.S. in this weekend’s OAS meeting has been to foment a regional chorus of criticism towards Venezuela through a proposal to monitor the ‘exercise of democracy.’ However, Latin American nations are refusing the bait. The Bush administration is singing its tune against the democratic leader of Venezuela, President Chavez, quite alone. The failure of the proposal this weekend is another strong indicator of the erosion of U.S. domination in the region. … Bush’s appeal to the U.S. Congress to pass CAFTA during the OAS meeting demonstrates a desperate attempt to give emergency resuscitation to a deal that is ‘dead on arrival.'”
More Information

SARAH SCHAFFER
Also at the OAS meeting, Schaffer is a research fellow with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. She said today: “If the OAS is going to make an authentic effort to bring long-overdue stability to Haiti, it must act on promises to investigate Aristide’s ouster, and establish the security for free and fair democratic elections. More than 700 people, including 40 police, seven peacekeepers and a French diplomat, have been killed in Haiti since June 2004. … While Rice highlighted the need to discern between democratically-elected governments and those that govern democratically, she chastised democratically-elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, but failed to mention the Washington-imposed Latortue regime [in Haiti].”
More Information

MARK WEISBROT
Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and co-author of the paper “Another Lost Decade? — Latin America’s Growth Failure Continues into the 21st Century,” Weisbrot said today: “Much of the current political unrest and dissatisfaction in the Americas today may be attributed to the region’s worst long-term economic failure in modern history. In the 25 years since 1980, income per person in Latin America and the Caribbean has grown by only 12 percent. By comparison, in only 20 years — from 1960-1979 — it grew by 80 percent. This terrible stagnation means that a generation and a half has lost out on an opportunity to improve its living standards. Without economic growth, it is also extremely difficult to reduce poverty or inequality.”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167