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Weekly Roundup: Mexico's Security Pact, Santos' EU Tour, LatAm's Climate Change Role

November 07, 2014

Mexico’s President Proposes National Security Pact

As the search for Mexico’s 43 disappeared students continues, this week President Enrique Peña Nieto called on governors and party leaders to sign a security pact aimed at ending corruption and impunity. The accord would be similar to the “Pact for Mexico” used to push through numerous reforms last year. On Wednesday, thousands demonstrated in Mexico City, with solidarity protests taking place in cities throughout the world. Earlier this week, former Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca and his wife were arrested in Mexico City in connection with the disappearances.

Is Mexico’s security situation improving? Two experts tackle this question in a Hard Talk debate published in the latest edition of Americas Quarterly.

Mexico Calls off High-Speed Train Deal with China

On November 6, the Mexican government canceled a multi-billion-dollar construction deal with a Chinese firm slated to build the country’s first high-speed bullet train between Mexico City and Queretaro. President Enrique Peña Nieto said the government would restart the bidding process, and Transportation Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza cited doubts about the “legitimacy and transparency” of the original auction, during which only one company made a proposal. The decision came three days before Peña Nieto is scheduled to travel to China for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

Watch AS/COA’s Eric Farnsworth discuss China’s presence in Latin America in an interview with CCTV.

Venezuelan Official’s Brazil Visit Causes Tensions

In an unusual move this week, officials from Brazil’s foreign ministry repudiated the Venezuelan government after an unexpected visit from a high-level official. Last month, former Foreign Minister Elías Jaua—who now serves as vice president for the development of socialism—traveled to Brazil on a government plane and signed an agreement with land reform activists. The visit also began with a crime: Jaua’s nanny was arrested when she tried to enter the country with a loaded gun.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo called Venezuelan representatives for a meeting and said that it was "strange" Jaua had official business in the country while traveling unannounced. Brazilian authorities considered the Venezuelan official’s meeting with the activists as “interference” in domestic issues. Brazil’s Senate Foreign Affairs Committee invited Figueiredo to testify about the incident on November 19.

Learn more about the Brazil-Venezuela relationship in an explainer on Mercosur, a regional bloc of which both are members.

In Colombia, U.S. Senator Calls for Sanctions against Venezuela

This week, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) traveled to Colombia to meet with officials to discuss bilateral relations and the country’s peace process. In Bogota, he called for the passage of sanctions against Venezuelan officials who commit human rights abuses. He expressed hope that the new Republican majority in Congress will pass a sanctions bill approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May. President Barack Obama’s administration has opposed sanctions. 

Find out more about Rubio’s approach to sanctions.

Santos Seeks Peace Process Support in European Tour

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos traveled to six European cities to meet with heads of state this week in a bid for political and financial support of his country’s peace process. Traveling to Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, Santos compared his efforts to a type of post-conflict Marshall Plan. On November 4, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy promised that the EU would provide “concrete assistance” once the peace negotiations end. In Lisbon, Santos acknowledged the divisions the peace process created at home. “All of Europe’s political currents, from left to right, back Colombia’s peace process. It would be good if we had that consensus in our country,” he said.

Find out what’s happening with Colombia’s peace process in the new issue of AQ, which focuses on Colombia and Cuba.

The DR Withdraws from the IACHR

Following last month’s Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) ruling condemning the Dominican Republic’s immigration policies, the Caribbean country withdrew from the Court this week. The Constitutional Court ruled that legislators did not ratify the court’s jurisdiction as required by the Constitution. The Dominican Republic follows Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela, both of which withdrew from the regional body.

Learn about the Dominican Republic’s immigration policies and their impact on Haitian migrants in AQ.

LatAm: Ready to Lead on Climate Change?

Latin America stands poised to lead on climate change, former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos wrote for Project Syndicate this week. Given the region’s election cycle and the December UN climate change conference in Lima, Latin America can “show how countries can benefit from a low-carbon economy, reduce climate risks, and build long-term prosperity,” says Lagos. He adds that the Lima conference could also encourage countries in the region to enact climate change legislation and encourage sustainable development.

Find out more about Peru’s role in the climate change negotiations from our Lima blog and at our upcoming November 21 conference.