Latin America's Populist Revival

Latin America's Populist Revival



you good evening ladies and gentlemen thank you for joining us my name is Ian Whitaker I'm the director of strategic content at the Chicago Council on global affairs welcome to this evening's program a Latin America's populist revival before I introduce our panelists please note today's event is on the record it's being live streamed we always welcome your social media engagement but please silence your phones before we begin the council is an independent nonpartisan platform and views expressed by individuals we host are their own and did not represent institutional positions or views of the council thank you to our members in attendance today your support is critical to our work if you're not a member please consider joining with a wide range of membership levels to choose from and you can talk to one of our young professional ambassadors use at the table at the back there they can tell you all about membership returning to the savings program the conversation will be followed by audience questions we'll take questions from inside the room you can also submit your questions online just open your browser and type choc n F dot hi ho the address should be rotating on the slides now by way of brief introduction our speakers this evening our ambassador Roberta Jacobson she was the u.s. Ambassador to Mexico from June 2016 to May 28th in she wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on October 20th she check that I followed by her experiences and she also previously served as acting assistant secretary and principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere affairs at the State Department and Roberta is currently a resident fellow at the University Chicago's Institute of Politics Peter Schechter at the the far end er is a political analyst author and co-host of the altmer podcast previously he was the senior vice president for strategic initiatives and the finance director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council he has more than 20 years of experience in politics and media and has served as the lead consultant on a number of elections worldwide including across Latin America I believe is the only goat farmer we have on the council's platform the Falls not over yet Joe Velasco netsu Julianne is a principal at the Albright Stonebridge group where he works with clients in the Latin American markets previously Joel was a senior executive at a California biotech firm with operations in Brazil he's also represented the Brazilian biofuels industry and he helped to start the Latin America practice at ASG he's also served as a senior advisor to the US ambassador to Brazil and moderating tonight's conversation is Juliana she directs the council's work on global cities and immigration and in the show she manages the council's publications research and partnerships on issues relating to global cities urbanization global Chicago and migration so with that please join me in welcoming our panelists thank you thank you and thank you to our panel and to all of you for being here with us tonight kudos to our team who put this on the calendar I know they reached out over the summer they're like there's a lot of elections happening this year June July and of course October just recently with Brazil's elections so they had a lot of foresight and the timeliness of this conversation when I look back 10 years ago we were looking at the region we're looking at Latin America there was a lot of promise in the region we were reading headlines about Brazil's rise on the global stage we were looking at Colombia the the failed state nation transformed you know the powerhouse now in Latin America Mexico's rising and there were all kind of really positive headlines and today we're looking at fake news on social media increased crime and violence a huge crisis in Venezuela and lots of stories focused on this populism making a comeback in Latin America so we put together this conversation to really cover a range of issues that's going on in the region we wanted to talk about the conditions that led to the situation that we're facing in the region we want to talk about the parallels populism in Latin America and then the rise of populism in other parts of the world what are the implications for these new political leaders both in relationship to the United States but also foreign policy more broadly and within their countries in Latin America themselves and then what can expect to see in the future both on issues of migration crime but also on foreign policy more broadly so with that we're gonna kick off our conversation I thought we'd start with Joel because Brazil's elections are really kind of top of mind and everybody has been following this vote for bolsa bol Salado and the victory that he had 55 percent of the vote which was really kind of surprising here's the candidate who derided race gender immigrants the LGBTQ community and he's the first right-wing president for more than 30 years in Brazil so what happened what were the conditions and if you can really kind of look back and set the stage for our audience and what led to this moment thank you yes great great to be here let's just jump right in basically if you could put it on a headline what you have in Brazil and I think in a lot of the region is government didn't deliver democracy in large part for a lot of the population Brazil hasn't delivered in their needs I think both in terms of the economy obviously Brazil has you know they survived through the 2008 financial crisis quite well with a lot of stimulus but then in the early 2010's that began to fall apart and the economy has really been in a recession ever since so the economy has really you know you've seen 14 million people unemployed in the country you know massive amounts of businesses closing and in those kinds of socio-economic issues the government also didn't deliver when it came to really security the issue of you know in the country where I was thinking the other day is it's got 65,000 people die every year in homicides you know I know this is an issue that comes up in this city a lot but when you think about this I mean it's basically in ten years the entire population of DC ceases to exist if you think of it in that those kinds of things and so there's a fear of among the population and then finally I think the issue of corruption which really kind of connected all of these that people got really perceived that there is a gov that's not only not delivering for them but taken from them ironically the solution or the candidate that emerged out of that was somebody who spent 28 years I believe in Congress and was previous to that a army captain in and but presented himself as an outsider somebody who never had been in politics and it's stuck you know we talked about messaging the guy found a message and it and he's an enjoyable senado and he's delivering on it at least up to now I think it certainly is caused a pause I'm also one of these who doesn't want to sort of paint with broad strokes and suggest that what we're seeing in Brazil is you know I think it has a lot more to do with what's going on in Brazil than necessarily what's outside of Brazil yeah the reaction to the unmet promises right in the outside politicians coming in and making promises to solve the problems it will turn back to the corruption especially on the the scandals with the operation car wash I think we want to get into that a little bit more but let's get through and make sure we just bring in Peter into this conversation with your thoughts on whether or not this political center is lost in Latin American politics and why wasn't Haddad or any other may be fiscally conservative but socially liberal Cannady able to mobilize people in Brazil or you know what's the trend do you see this as a bigger trend in Latin America yeah first a big word of thanks to to all of you for happening Austin for doing this panel I think it's it's great because this was a hugely important election and with huge and important consequences I wanted to just follow up on one thing that Joel said I think there's lots to be worried about what most not are beginning with you know the potential for a huge repression on crime that that becomes a massive human rights problem there's this this proposal that he has to liberalize gun ownership all over Brazil which is just mind-boggling in a country that that has 65 thousand homicides there's the problem with minority groups there's there's that but he's offended he's actually thinking of legislation to restrict some of these minority groups there's his his threats to clamp down Free Press there's his the environmental problem that that he poses by threatening to allow further agricultural development of the Amazon and so I fear a lot of these things and I fear the divisive nough sand the destructive policies but I fear just as much the potential that that this government ends up being government of no accomplishments and just simply an inability to implement reforms I think there's so many impediments in Brazil beginning with the relationship that governors have to okay the relationship that governors have to the state they control all the police so it's not a given that all the governors are going to agree to this the issue of Congress Brazil is a is a presidential system really in name only it's it's not it's a parliamentary system that requires huge coalition's and therefore there's all types of problems of trying to sell difficult problematic reforms to Congress and then both Romero's closest group they're constantly fighting with each other there are people who want deep reforms and industrialists who want a lot of protection there's evangelists who want to attack every communist country and agricultural interests that want to sell to every communist country I mean there's so many incredible tensions in that coalition so yes I think Juliana Brazil has begun populist but I think there's an open question as to whether the rest of the Latin America has become populist if you look at all of Brazil's neighbors in Argentina Chile and Colombia there's a bankers and businessmen in charge of the countries in Peru there is a centrist center-right president in Costa Rica the guy who was elected since he center-left but he used to represent either Colgate Palmolive or one of the large US US companies in in in Costa Rica so I'm not so sure and and and now we get to the big question as to whether Mexico has become a it's being led by a populist witch Roberta is gonna take on but I'm not so sure that Latin America has succumbed to a populist wave maybe because populism was invented in Latin America it's become immune to this and so it exported it and lets everybody else become populist and well it it resists it now I mean the headlines really Washington Post New York Times in The Guardian across you know it's all about the populism in Latin America and it's both left wing right wing it's kind of all over and it makes you wonder what is the narrative what is that narrative is it just anti-establishment anti elitist what you know what is playing out to lead to these concerns and I think in the Mexico case that's where the left-wing candidate was elected historic elections for Mexico and you know but here's the candidate who has been running for a long time he was a former mayor of Mexico City a popular mayor from what I've read you can tell more but when you look at Mexico's experience with their elections and the promises that he's made and the issues he's planning to confront what were you seeing or what do you think of how Mexico fits into this story yeah and I think Thank You Juliana I think it you know Mexico fits in well in many ways and and its election was before Brazil's but I think unconnected in some respects and others there are trends that we see throughout the hemisphere first of all I just want to say that given what we're talking about tonight we all believe elections have consequences so if you haven't voted already if you haven't voted already and I hope everyone will vote regardless of who you vote for everyone will get out and vote at least one yeah that's okay but I'm just making a pitch for voting what I think is really interesting about about Mexico and and Lopez Obrador is some of the some of the tendencies are very similar he obviously had a candidate winning by 53 percent in a four-way race three three candidates who actually garnered significant amounts of votes but to get over 50% in a race that had including an independent where most people thought in Mexico you might actually win with a 30% margin or 30% of the vote I think it's quite extraordinary he has he truly has a mandate he has both houses of Congress and he has a mandate the problem in a sense and this is what we're seeing lots of places is he is anti institutionalist that that's really what it is the the populism that I see of Lopez Obrador AMLO in Mexico is is an anti institutionalist populism that the levers of power whether it's what he calls the Mafia of power in the economic business class or those who were in government and the corruption was was fairly overwhelming during this past government without any of the catharsis of the prosecution's and trials that you had in Brazil and so and so there's a lot of sort of I alone can fix this language and that and that's what worries me I tend to think at this point that the labels of left and right are actually not particularly useful either in Mexico or in Brazil right now because on one issue these very same leaders may sound leftist and on another quite right-wing what they are is in so many cases anti elite and playing for the crowd playing for people who have in fact been disappointed in Mexico the big issue was corruption and yet Lopez Obrador is elected with any specifics whatsoever of what he's gonna do on corruption the second most important issue was security for people and he's elected with no platform no security plan is his tagline is that we're going to use hugs not bullets right avid ISOs know what I saw and and so you know there everyone is voting for a different thing in this person that they've idealized at this point but largely what they're rejecting is the status quo right anybody but these guys and in Mexico that was a rejection of the pre and the pen the traditional parties and there are enormous expectations I think that will be difficult for almost any president to meet regardless of what they confront in in the economic sphere we're just gonna jump in here on two things because we've first actually would argue or point to the data this show that bolso not who you want fifty five percent of the vote in the second round that's actually not good for Brazilian standards this is the second round election he should have done far better than that and a lot of people expected him to surpass the sixty percent in fact if you look at second round results the only two other people who have done worse than he did were caller impeached Juma's second term impeached and the other thing is this bowl so now does rejection rate is extremely high we're talking about somebody who basically half of the country does is against them so it's a very divided country we haven't touched on that normally populist tend to give everything up for everybody we have here a much more a difference in error the other thing and I think it's a important distinction with Mexico is we have even though arguably boazlin out has been in government for many years he has no record whatsoever I mean in fact this is probably why he's done some so well he he nobody knows what he you know if you look at his voting record he voted completely different than what he is espousing to now and I think the danger is how's this guy gonna govern who's never had an executive position and how is he going to govern when he's it's unclear feels ideas will stick Lopez Obrador obviously had five years as mayor he stepped down when he ran for the presidency the first time and came within point five eight percent of taking the presidency in 2006 but people who point to that you know he left office you know twelve years ago or more and and since then hasn't managed anything doesn't have doesn't even have a voting record right he's just campaigned and remarkably these two virtually career politicians have run as outsiders right as people who are outside the system and so I think there's a similarity in the wits in Mexico it's which amlo is gonna is going to govern right because they're not sure the more radical one or the more conventional one more moderate one and in Brazil I think it's who knows how he's gonna govern and Peter when you I know you wanna come in but it can you also maybe address this divide this huge divide in these countries and what would it look like to be able to unify it if they're gonna have a populist agenda that it represents all the people so well I think I think the one thing that we've seen is that populous thrive on division and I mean if you look everywhere in Europe where there really is a populist wave and if you look in the United States I mean the key there's two things that populism the the version that we're seeing today of populism is it needs that it needs to foment severe divisions in society and one of the ways it foment severe divisions in society is by attacking immigration and anything that's them and not us and so whether that is people of different religions or races etc there is there is that that is that touch of xenophobia and everything and I think that one thing that's interesting is that in Latin America so far that has not appeared and it has not appeared in either the centrist governments that I mentioned before it has not appeared in with with I'm low and Mexico but so now does the first one who really is out there to foment division because if you look around Latin America one country in the last two years has coughed out 2.2 million people Venezuela 2.2 million people so Syria caught Syria exiled 6 million in six years when as well as right on track and so you know 2.2 million people have been absorbed by the rest of Latin America most of them in Colombia but in Peru Chile other countries Brazil has taken in provided these people work permits provided and help with housing I mean it had there has been an incredibly generous and welcoming and it's very difficult that this last because there's obviously huge economic dislocations that come with this and already in Brazil you begin to see at the border because Brazil is culturally different they spoke different languages so you were already begin to see at the borders and difficulty there was a new fascinating New York Times article just the other day about the resurgence of measles in Brazil which has been practically eradicated and now is coming back because there's no health system in Venezuela it's coming back because of the refugee so there is a there is a but I have to say I hold hope in the way the way Larkin governments and citizens have behaved I hold out a lot of hope about about finding a Center about finding a discussion which is more reasonable I'm not sure yet about Bob Salado though the one thing I would say the last thing I want to say is I want to comment on what Roberto just said it it's a question whether which I'm level will govern I'm sure you all read that last week on low designed this mom-and-pop referendum and he then declared Mexico's largest infrastructure project to be null and void it's the new airport in Mexico there 30 billion dollar xxx or maybe maybe I'm not sure another number many billion dollar project and he just declared it nullified and so Fitch has now downgraded Mexico's rating its currency plummeted its stock market plummeted so these things have huge consequences and it was amazing to me that I'm low before yet being president he's not yet president already is governing in one certain way which is why I can't actually cancel the airport because he's not president yet so it'll be interesting to see whether that actually causes him to raise a lot of concerns some of the impulsive nature of that's the question and is that going to be the way he governs because right after the election and I think this this is important right after the election the signals to the market were extremely positive and therefore you did not see the peso drop although people had expected it to and of course we had the completion of the negotiations on NAFTA which included his negotiator which was very unusual so that he was involved in it and took it as a victory and then he turns around and does this and I think you know that's really the question and I hear in Lopez Obrador I don't know about both so narrow the same kind of overt rejection on occasion of representative democracy and P an appeal to direct democracy that frankly we heard from Chavez early in his tenure and he moved increasingly taut away from the National Assembly and other structures that were representative and direct to the people now I do not necessarily believe that the AMLO is Chavez I really don't but it worries me when you when you have that debate between representative and direct democracy and leaders start you know veering towards I'm going to take item direct to the people that's my mob rule in the end and this particular decision against the airport I think was a terrible decision I think ammo is being told by many of his own advisers it was it was terribly run and implemented and there's a real buddy saying all the contracts are going to be respected so I guess that means he's going to pay billions of dollars for people not to build in the original airport somewhere else and that's the other question that people keep asking is where is the money coming from I think that the question of social programs and addressing those in Mexico who've been left behind by globalization especially in Mexico South is incredibly important it's long overdue the question is where's that money gonna come from this question of follow the money if you take an example of Brazil I mean you know in to Peter's point we don't know what bolsa Donna's gonna be and that's honest truth I don't think anybody really knows and i think bolin otto has a sense of what he wants to do but he's gonna have to build a very broad coalition he said he's not gonna do the old patronage game I'm not sure how he's gonna manage to work but as a dia without that but let's just put that aside he needs to address he needs a major pension reform and probably in the first six months of his government otherwise the country is just out of money about you know there they're on a trajectory to just basically have to say okay we're not gonna pay anything other than the pensions we still owe and I think that is what really will determine his success or not and that's usually you know it's the economy stupid angle here but in this case that's what actually we're gonna could bring him down of course he's smart enough if he's smart enough he puts he's got a Chicago boy as Edge's is a well-known economist in Brazil trained here in Chicago and very much historically sort of two things that people will say about him you know traditional lays affair you know the market government let's get rid of as much as possible on that front and then and then the other one is he's very he's never worked in Brasilia he's this is a guy who has never really you know he's has great ideas but now he's gonna be in charge of not just one but really for ministries in Brazil and he's he's gonna have to do a lot he has certainly the the brainpower and he's got some some good informal advisors and I think you know the market wants him to succeed so to the extent that he you know I don't think he's gonna be doing crazy things like you know canceling airport concessions but I see Peters I think it's really interesting everybody needs to watch this guy Bhagat is he's gonna be the key either the success or failure because you know he's fighting and so much pressure against him because he's a big Chicago voice so he wants to rid the Brazilian state of a lot of these very heavy and not very efficient state-owned companies and you know there's lots of there's lots of people who oppose them people want protections the military who are so close to boson arrow that pension system that Joel just mentioned well over a third of the pension receivers are retired military their wives and their and their sons and daughters so actually just the daughters just a dog so it always follows two there was so you know this is an amazing you know this is something that gage is gonna go after the other thing I think it's worth talking about BOSU narrow he scored an enormous point last week when he managed to convince the cetera more of the mythological figure who is Brazil's crusading anti-corruption judge if you see a former president a number of ministers heads of companies in Brazilian jails today it's because of status remote oh they they I remember a year ago or two a year year and a half ago I landed in Mexico City and I took a taxi from the airport and I said how are things and as usual the taxi drivers anywhere in the world things are horrible things are terrible it's corrupt here and then you know let him go on and on so what so what are you gonna do in here in Mexico and the answer was we need Brazilian judges not American judges we need Brazilian judges because then they're the guys who put people into jail and so now what's another squirt of real coup and says Iran has agreed to be part of ostinatos government this isn't a really important step so now he has two huge figures Paulo gauges and and Senator Moro as part of his government this is he's had a he's had a good week yeah well and on Saturday model for those of you who don't know there is this operation car wash which was one of the largest scandals I think in the world from what I had read where all politicians and business executives had been involved in and he tackles that investigation and then most recently was responsible for Lula also being in prison so really high-profile cases and now he'll be heading up the judiciary and the corruption issue which is something that all these candidates keep running on and they say that they're gonna solve the corruption problems you you mentioned ambassador Jacobson that Lopez Obrador didn't actually have an agenda for for tackling it what are kind of the big cases in Mexico that he would need it like is it is it on the narcotics is it on trafficking or is there just more corruption in the government with you know overpaid salaries and pensions and benefits for the employee and I think in Mexico you have a number of things first of all you've got either 19 or 20 governor's former governors who are either indicted in prison have fled the country pending extradition or or already convicted so there's the sort of and gubernatorial cases of corruption some quite extreme that he can pursue but but he has a perfect opportunity in 2016 Mexico passed six or seven laws that together form their national anti-corruption system and it was it's only half implemented it was never fully implemented by the current government so the easy thing to do and I believe the right thing to do would have been to say during your campaign or subsequently I'm gonna fully implement the National anti-corruption system including an independent AG who is approved by the Congress or named by the Congress from a list that the president gives and and whose term outlives the six-year term of the presidency so that it doesn't have to always be such a political position and I'm going to name the anti-corruption prosecutor that's in that that those statutes and he's not said that he in fact seems to have some ambivalence about the idea of an independent attorney-general Mexico also began judicial reform about eight years ago to transition from Spanish inquisitorial system just to judge everything in writing to an oral adversarial system in which although there are huge flaws in it that have to be fixed conviction rates have in the states that have fully implemented they've gone from about two to three percent to over 30 percent nowhere near what a US prosecutor would consider acceptable but certainly better than than it was that's got to be fully implemented and he hasn't really talked about that so I think there are lots of areas that he could make progress in anti-corruption so far all you hear is well he's not corrupt he says I am not corrupt my ministers will not be corrupt and therefore it will all sort of follow the fact is I don't believe him to be personally corrupt not entirely convinced of all the ministers but but it's setting the moral example is not going to be enough in assist that entrenched and so there are a lot of things that need to be done the question is you know he has majorities in Congress he has a real mandate I think as Joel says 55 percent in a two-person race is very different than 53 percent in a four-person race he really did do extraordinarily well but you don't see him necessarily taking the bull by the horns even though this is enormously long transition in Mexico it's five months I hope you will because I think people really are demanding that greater transparency in their government and and what worries me most of all in all of these countries including our own is the sense that if democracy continues not to deliver that democracy itself is beginning to be rejected the numbers of people who don't believe democracy is the best system in the world or the right one for their country is increasing somewhat dramatically among young people and and that is extremely worrisome yeah well bull Sun Idol ran with this kind of return of the military campaign also in Brazil militarization on crime in particular in the cities and when we look at the statistics of the homicide rates of the cities that are in the most violent of the 42 out of 50 most violent cities like 17 of them are in Brazil alone 42 in total are in Latin America Mexico has like another 12 of the most violent cities and thinking about how they're going to be able to tackle this huge problem that the people on the ground are feeling and they want their government to solve but if they're gonna come in with their harsh tactics I mean when we look at Brazil I don't know Joel if you have any ideas of what his plan is gonna be but it's already a militarized zone and Rio and some of these places and it hasn't been well-received so I mean I think first he he chose the he's obviously comes from the military and his embrace military sort of doctrine and really used that language a lot largely also because it's really the only remaining institution in Brazil that is respected and is perceived as beyond corruption even the judges to some extent in Brazil I think the Brazilians of last few years know their judges better than they know their own soccer team players as truth and but that's because so much has come down to course but if he chose the military and he's he comes from because I think it is the resemble sort of okay these guys are the law and order there's a little bit of a feeling of nostalgia for hey you know Brazil had economic miracle in the 70s and by the way we didn't have all these murders and and so forth so must be because the military was a solution my view is I think the military in Brazil the last thing they want is to take on this assignment this is not an assignment that they they know they can succeed in what's gonna really require in Brazil I think is a much longer term I mean the reason there's so much violence for instance in Rio really comes down to its become a failed state and what worries me is that both senado is gonna empower malicious you know this is where I think the comparison to Venezuela is scary because here's is that he will sort of say well listen we don't have the resources but it's okay you guys start protecting your neighborhood and by the way that will be also that's gonna become a highly corrupt process but it is that that scares me and that's where the violence and things can get out of hand I think this is what you know worries a lot of people including myself about how it works with the cities to from the national level chin up to Brazil is today a war zone I mean 60 I mean I want to repeat Joel's figures 65,000 homicides a year this is the wars on today so if you ask me choose one issue to explain to me one give me one reason for both lobbies election and I'll say crime overwhelmingly the reason this man got elected is because Brazilians want something done crime they want a law-and-order president and so the most popular thing that Bond senado is gonna do is he's gonna militarize the poor neighborhoods all over Brazil this is gonna be initially initially a huge success because he's gonna go in and just like it wasn't real ten years ago it's gonna look like a show of force of the state and it's couldn't it's gonna be tough and it's gonna be they're gonna clamp down but then there's gonna be increasing amounts of human rights abuses arrests of killings of people's kids getting getting getting hit in the crossfire and this is this has all the potential to go wrong relatively fast particularly because the implementation of this is going to be very scattershot because governors in brazil are in charge of the police of two police forces the civil police forces and militarized police forces he said governors were in charge so to get cooperation from a governor both on our own needs needs a governor to say I want to want to I want to work with you some governor's will enthusiastically some governors won't because they're not from Boston Ava's party because they opposed Bolton ro etc and other governors the ones who do say they will some of them may want to show that they're even more bowls inaudible senado and really come down strong so I think that the on the one hand this has all the all the potential to go wrong and on the other and the implementation of this is going to be very scattered and different throughout the country not just say one thing when it comes to you know the way police works in Brazil correctly governor the governor's are in charge of the security within their state what's sad is or what's problematic is they don't have resources because the power and attacks all the money flows through the central government and then to the units of federal of the Federation states and municipality so that means the president has you know the money and he will say well you want me you want to deal with your state you need to do this or that other things so it becomes an all politicized part of the reason why we are in the situation we are I think what what I'd also want to make sure is we don't get confused here is that the role of the military as sort of the the idea that they can solve everything that's one and I think unfortunately Brazil's some sort of historical examples of things got better you know from from a state from a security standpoint the other one is to remember that the the police institutions you know Peter alluded to the military police in Brazil military police is not the military police's we think here it just happens to be called military it is just the way they're organized and those are the people who bowl senado have basically said a good criminal is a dead criminal and if you shoot we won't ask questions and I think it is how quickly that can spin out of control and then we're in a situation where security hasn't gotten better but the state of the government has even less say in security one of the things I was gonna mention in terms of Mexico is obviously the the second most important and it it kept changing feature for Mexican voters was often security and there were somewhere between 29 and 31 thousand homicides last year that many of which were drug-related I would remind people that there were over 70,000 u.s. overdue last year of which 40,000 Plus were probably fentanyl the synthetic opioid heroin and so you know Mexicans and Americans at this point have this useless battle occasionally about who's paying more who is who's feeling the these drug wars worse right the fact that people are dying in enormous numbers on both sides of the border and the only way to resolve that is is together right is working on the demand side as well as the supply side and transit side but but what's happened in Mexico is a breakdown of larger cartels which had a certain amount of discipline into small and fragmented cartels and removing the heads of those cartels those who were in charge who often impose the discipline now you have less of that and you have them vying twenty or twenty-five cartels vying for four routes and for the money and therefore the violence has increased but but we also see the impact of all of this ourselves in the US and therefore it is and must be the security situation a really prominent part of the bilateral relationship and right now I don't I don't think either side has a strategy they're talking points and there are allegations against each other but not really a strategy and migration is a completely separate issue but interestingly the one thing I would say is that you know obviously we've looked at northward migration visa vie Central America or Mexico into the United States for quite a while we now have the countries of South America looking at a really grave Hugh Mann arian crisis of refugees and migrants out of Venezuela larger than we've ever seen in the region so the whole issue of migration and refugees is becoming one that is a regional issue at precisely at the time the Trump administration has walked out of the global compact on migration and is removing itself from the international structures that might help resolve some of those crises border because of the migrant caravan that's coming up from Central America and a lot have been dwindling throughout Mexico and so Mexico has been also addressing their own challenges with integration and figuring out and there isn't a shared answer but but the one the one the one constant between the Venezuelan migration crisis and the Central American migration northward which I don't actually think is a crisis as it reaches this border but but it is an issue is that unless you address the root causes of those migration whether it's a failed economic model and authoritarian government and corrupt government in Venezuela or the poverty and lawlessness that's driving Central American migrants you will continue to have people coming out of both places Peter can we just bring in Colombia really quickly I don't before we turn to the Q&A I want to make sure that we talk about some other countries and you just brought up narcotics and I when I look at the Colombian elections in June and who won they're also being labeled as a populist more on the right side I know you probably have different reactions but the question with him which was interesting is that he had was kind of an anti FARC negotiation peace agreement candidate even though Juan Manuel Santos worked really hard for that agreement of ending a 50-year conflict with in Colombia so what were your impressions on how Colombia fits into this general conversation in the region well just a few words on Colombia and then I'll talk about how it fits in I mean I think Colombia is continues to be one of the great success stories of the world a country that was 25 years ago was on the brink of absolute failure is today a thriving increasingly middle-class country full of problems but a country that works and that has notwithstanding all types of tough rhetoric I'm gonna interpret in the recent presidential campaign has elected a man who is from the center right and who is governing in a highly responsible manner today and so you know the country among its most recent achievements has been as giuliana said signing a peace agreement ending the the longest civil conflict in latin america for which the former president got the Nobel Peace Prize and and and that has made a lot of difference but it has also created a lot of resentment in Colombia because part of that piece has been to give away some some things to the FARC that people have found that they were Santos went too far in principally it is the two things that people resent are the fact that they are the FARC will not be if they confess they will not be tried in regular courts but in special courts and they will serve they were served sentences as a social penalty so if serving sentences often in the areas where they committed abuses and the second thing that people resent is that as part of the agreement the FARC actually has five seats in Congress that are non elected they just have them for the next five years so that that has created a Colombia that's divided on the peace but I think Duty has been very smart that he campaigned on I'm against the peace but he hasn't governed that way at all and meanwhile every day 70,000 people crossed the border from Venezuela 70,000 people now many of those go right back they do shopping and they go back but this is a huge huge because there's nothing there's nothing in Venezuela there's nothing in the pharmacies there's nothing in the food stores and so people come people who live along the border are actually quite fortunate so they cut they cross the border in order to shop but the Colombia has taken in 1.2 million refugees who live in Colombia today and has so far been very very hospitable and very generous with the way they have treated those refugees but there is no doubt that Venezuela is creating a regional crisis because how long can that last these countries are gonna you know organize against that what what is that what are we gonna see in Venezuela I think I think you know Roberta should probably talk a little bit here from the US standpoint at least to try to understand how they'll see this but for the last several years the US government has been trying to get the Brazilians to step up and be more active in terms of combating the government of Venezuela zhh actions but also taking in refugees the you think they got their wish and I think it's certainly going to combat medoras government I'm not sure about taking in refugees I think the the challenge on the Brazilian side it's bill if it weren't for television nobody in Brazil would know about what's happening in in the country in in Venezuela on the border because it is so far remote removed from it it is so far out and you've got this beautiful Amazon forest in between the population centers and the border so I think there will be a desire to work together I think the danger is what is the u.s. gonna ask and what is are these countries gonna actually be able to deliver i I think that is to me you know bolso not is gonna come to the US probably pretty soon he'll say all the nice things to president Trump president Trump's are gonna give them a nice pat in the back and presumably the governments are gonna actually try to work on something and what that something is to me is unclear we need to take questions from the audience we are quickly running out of time I know we could sit up here for hours talking about Latin America so now we have our lights on please raise your hands let's start with see me back there please thank you thanks for this conversation I think it's particularly crucial considering that you know given the current issue of migration and it's we living in a time where there's 68 million displaced people across the planet that this is certainly an issue that is very pressing so I actually have two questions I'm just pulling up my notes here the panel you get wanted see me you get one I'm gonna bring it down to one so as someone who holds both dual citizenship between the United States and Venezuela I'm very keen on hearing what exactly as what exactly is required of governments of municipalities when we are labeling certain subject matters or certain issues a crisis quote-unquote and in some cases a war zone quote-unquote right because we have a precedent where we have labeled certain issues a genocide but that doesn't necessarily mean that there's action that's taken so I'm very curious to learn from the panelists whether labeling the the issues that are ensuing as a war zone or as a crisis and in some cases not a crisis does that then deem government officials responsible for doing something or the local population for doing something thank you Bester Jason you want to take that although many people who are not in government have pronounced on this I think you know one of the things I think that I do think words matter and I think that when you use the word crisis you overuse the word crisis it loses some of its accuracy there are tools that are available in crisis situations that are not in things not called crises and I think that when you call a migrant caravan for example of whether it's 7,000 or 3,500 or by the time it gets here a national emergency as has been said it devalues that that phrase the national emergency actually does have legal and policy implications for the United States this isn't it I think also it's very important in the context of Venezuela and I think this is you know maybe what what Jolin and Peter were getting at in terms of you know as you put together coalition's right there is the Lima group of countries that have already sort of stood up and said that the region has to do more to find an answer to this problem push the Venezuelans for both economic reforms and political reforms which has not worked in the past because you have in Maduro a leader who seems impervious to sanction right he does not care how he impoverishes and starves his own people but you need more countries in the region to come on board in that group that group was fundamentally I'm not sure where that was missing Brazil but it was certainly not it didn't have Brazil as a leader which it may have now although you know simultaneously it will lose Mexico as a leader because amla will no longer lead on Venezuela the way the current government did but you must get the Caribbean countries and they've been even though they're small they're they're critical for our consensus at the OAS if you're going to try and do things and or even in the UN and they've been very reluctant partly because of Petrocaribe which at this point is is a is absurd I mean there's there's no reason for it but people are afraid for a long time to speak out against Venezuela but I think that one of the most important things is for the u.s. frankly to take the military option off the table because what's really worrying I think leaders around the hemisphere some of the comments that have been made about possible military intervention including potentially using involved in the US which is really the part you have to distinguish and I think without being clearer about that not being an option that you're looking at everything else and a whole bunch of things and that includes for example you know giving TPS to Venezuelans who are in the United States temporary protected status and not returning them we are still deporting Venezuelans back there which is absurd to me but in any case there are a whole series of things you can do and if you take that military option for u.s. involvement off the table I think you could help reduce some of the concern and paranoia from certain governments in the region let's right here please Andrea yeah I had a question for the panel specifically about Mexico but it applies with all the political flows in terms of corporate investment particularly with Mexico that under pena nieto you saw so much investment in telecom with AT&T manufacturing aerospace petroleum diversification what do you think is going to happen now in terms of corporate investment given the swing under Enlow and I guess this also goes first the swings happening in other parts of Latin America well for me I think it's pretty easy on Mexico but I think it may be true on Brazil too there's justice there's a continuing holding of breath and from my perspective people who are ready and willing to go to continue or go back or start working in Mexico who were waiting for both NAFTA and the elections who are still very unsure and emerging markets in general I think are are soft right now as people wait to see what happens but I don't know the Brazilian so I would just say in terms of Brazil Brazil has been managing through all this crisis we've had impeachments and so forth foreign direct investment in Brazil has remained strong you have not seen you've seen a little bit of a shifting less from the u.s. more from China but FDI has been very strong in to Brazil I think the question of whether it will continue will largely depend ironically I think the policies not just the Molson ah who has in terms of his fiscal and economic policies but also I think some of the social issues he brings up I've talked to a number of some more clients and others just companies who said listen if this guy starts you know going after minorities this way we're gonna pull everybody you know at least from our corporate standpoint out of that and I think that will get their attention very quickly which i think it's a it's a it's a good thing companies are actually gonna be part of the check here I think there is something to be to be is an interesting parallel to our president's inauguration I mean after his election the stock markets here roar and and have continued to the roar and so very recently and and in in Brazil right now there is a bow senado high mostly having to do with our luggages and the possibility that he becomes this super finance minister that changes a lot of things but right now the rail has risen and price the stock market is booming and so there's all there's a lot of positive anticipation from business about what's gonna happen in Brazil and I think after the airport in Mexico is a lot of worry in from particular foreign investors I'm going to take a question from our online platform here one and I'm gonna actually modify it just a tiny bit but the question is would amel open have been elected with or without Trump what was the impact of Trump on his election and I'd like to think of that also in the context of Brazil or Colombia what's been that impact of having a president Trump at the helm of the United States influencing elections in Latin America and we'll start with Mexico if you have any impressions but I don't know quick I think I think Mexicans care a lot more about the bilateral relationship and what's going on in the United States then voters perhaps elsewhere in Latin America because of the proximity but I think it had very little to do with the election of Lopez I think in fact Lopez Obrador was it was his moment he chose the subject right to focus on anti-corruption and people were sick with the of the other parties so I think it was very limited in terms of how that that bounce sort of on Trump helped him yeah I would say I would say the same thing I don't think also not of effect has to do with the issues I've talked about security economy and this procedure this concern about corruption it's provided a character for the for the storyline in the press but it really I don't think has anything to do with it in the case of Brazil either so in my previous life I was a political consultant so I did polling all over the place in Latin America and do two things stand out I think Joel's absolutely right I mean there was trumpet played no role even though beau Sanada seems like the tropical Trump right but but but he but Trump really played no role at all in Brazil and in Mexico what is amazing I saw I looked at a lot of polls in Mexico is it's really surprising how little drama counted in the Mexican election it's it's amazing because the northern border was let is led by a man who repeatedly has reviled Mexico and Mexicans and it's amazing to me that just to play didn't play at all and and and it's also amazing that I don't know did he make it an issue which was very smart okay because he could have made it an issue but he didn't make it an issue so hey but I do think it's important to note that there's been an over 35 percent drop in u.s. approval in Mexico since President Trump came to office does that eventually constrains politicians to correct I think the place worked from accounts most is in Caracas so we are coming up on our time we only have about two minutes left and I really do want to let our panelists have their kind of closing comment and their closing thoughts to walk home with and and if you could also just integrate into your kind of final recommendation you know what's the one issue that you recommend that people follow closely in Latin America over the next year five years you know what's that what's that one thing that we want to see come to fruition and and if you can also in the 20 seconds that you'll have each talk about what that means for the United States in relationship with the US so let's start with Joel okay Ivan listen I think I think in the case of Brazil specifically watch the fiscal adjustment the country is gonna go through pension reform if they can't do that but none of this is gonna really matter I think in terms of their relationship with the u.s. it's Brazil certainly gonna get much better in terms of closer ties what is the substance you know inside that relationship it's still to me greatly an unknown and I would say that that you know I we don't I don't want to end in a pessimistic note actually think that out of these changes things some good things can come out of it and I think the us-brazil relationship may improve strangely as it maybe as well as the security and anti-corruption efforts in Brazil so I don't I wouldn't have voted for him but I think you know we've got to give him a chance now I would simply say that to me the things we have to watch our issues around the cluster of the rule of law which are the most important issues I think in the region specifically in Mexico right now and efforts on against corruption I don't think people will continue to support fundamentally support democracy without those and I think it's a shame that at this point we we that is the United States government of which I'm no longer apart but I still use it for all of us as citizens we can no longer be a leader in either of those two areas I would say three things in Brazil watched the relationship between Paulo gages the super Finance Minister and the guy who's called the Minister of the didn't say he's sort of the chief of staff a guy called on it on or onyx Lorenzo T who is is he's going to be the guy who's gonna try to sell all of these policies to Congress if their relationship is a good one this about senado presidency can be successful the second thing I would say is we didn't talk about him at all but president Macri in Argentina is in deep trouble and that is the place where I see a potential resurgence of populism I'm hoping that that's not the case I'm hoping that he is successful but Argentina is in for a very very severe recession in the next 12 months and it's also an election that's coming and there is no doubt in my mind the third thing that the most important regional issue is Venezuela if an as Wella keeps spewing out humans from that country we are on pace to have a Syria like consequence in in the region and the region cannot absorb six million people it is just it's impossible and so that crisis for Venezuelans of course for the for the the the horrible horrible situation they face but also for the rest of the region is really a hugely important thing yeah well thank you so much for spending your evening with us and thank you all for joining our program today on latin america just a friendly reminder that the live stream is available on our website so if you want to go back and watch it or share it with anybody else you think would be interested in this conversation we also hosted a podcast last week that's available on our website with peter when you talked mostly on brazil but there were some other implications for the region so I encourage you to check that out as well thank you all and have a good evening you you

One thought on “Latin America's Populist Revival

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *