Bush Visits Guatemala

Last week President Bush visited various Latin American countries, including Columbia, Brazil and Guatemala.

Here is what MSM (mainstream media) and the blogosphere say about the trip. Tough crowd. Tough crowd.

  • Spring break from the Economist
    Expectations are low as George Bush sets off to a region he has neglected throughout much of his presidency

    Here is a letter to the Editor from the Foreign minister of Guatemala in response to comments madethe above article

    Why Mr Bush paid a call

    SIR – You said that George Bush’s visit to Guatemala was “largely to thank the government for joining America’s ‘coalition of the willing’ in Iraq” (“Spring break”, March 3rd). In fact, Guatemala was the only country in Central America that did not join the “coalition of the willing” in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution sanctioning the use of force in Iraq.

    We would like to think that President Bush’s stop in our country was partly because Guatemala has had such a compelling story to tell since the signing of the 1996 peace accords. While still facing difficult challenges, we have made progress towards becoming a pluralist, democratic society. It is well known that the United States has not always been an objective bystander in domestic events, but I am happy to confirm the point you made that in more recent times our bilateral relationship has been very constructive and mutually respectful.

    Gert Rosenthal
    Foreign minister of Guatemala
    Guatemala City

  • Guatemala: Photos from indigenous protest of Bush visit from Boing Boing

    Read the text of the post for some commentary from Allen Sullivan, the photojournalist who snapped the shots.

  • Latin America Trip Not Entirely Business as Usual from NPR

Bonus Latin American Story:
Banana profits went to terrorists from Foreign Policy Blog
Banana companies, like Chiquita, have had to pay protection money to terrorist orgs to prevent their employees from being murdered or harassed.

So let me put my biases on the table before I begin the discussion. I’m black, a nice chocolaty black, not so black that I’m purple, but black. In the black community as in many communities around the world, lighter skin is viewed favorably particularly in women. There is the whole “lighter is brighter” thing plus the “good hair vs. bad hair” thing. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, watch Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, particularly the scene with the women are having a pow wow. Anyhoo, that’s where I’m coming from when I read about the Fair and Lovely Debate being played out between C.K. Prahalad and Aneel Karnani from U. of Michigan. See these posts from Salon’s HTWW () and NextBillion.net () for a summary.

Here are a few questions the whole debate made me think of:

1) Is it progress when a person purchases a product that allows them to rise above their station when the underlying discrimination that determines their station doesn’t change?

This is one of those questions is that much better with examples as my answers definitely vary.

Example 1: A person with a thick Mancunian accent gets elocution language to sound posh like Lady Di.

Okay, that seems fair enough. Sure it would be nice if all regional accents were equal (some are actually quite lyrical) but that doesn’t bother me too much. It saddens me because diversity is lost, but it doesn’t really bug me.

Example 2: A

Example 3: A person with dark skin buys Fair and Lovely to lighten their skin.

Now that really bothers me. I was trying to figure out why aside from the obvious reasons.

2) Is it empowerment when people who would not have dared to try to “pass” can buy things that allow them to do so now?

I think it is in that people are recognizing the racist system in which they live and doing what they can do get by within it. It is crafty and from the buyer’s side is a smart move.

3) Is it an example that I would use to illustrate the success of the BOP concept?

Uh no. It’s creepy. However you slice it and regale the customer’s rationale choices, Unilever is making a profit off the fact that a certain type of racism/classism exists in India and other places. Ew. Yes it is a product that the people want, but ew just the same. Sure, I probably would be less bothered if it were any other cosmetic and yes I am sensitive about this issue, but still.

Ask and you shall receive?

Hey folks,

I’m putting an all call out there to our friends and supporters. As you may know, we’re a young organization (we’re entering our third year of existence. Hurray!). We’re up and coming and have accomplished ALOT given a) how small and b) how young we are. We’re starting to have a bit of momentum in terms of getting our name out there, but we need your help.

So I want to ask you all a favor. If you believe in what we are trying to do and what to help us grow and build, please take 5 minutes out to tell four of your friends about us. You all are our best advocates and we need you to make our dream of getting green and renewable technologies to the rural poor a reality.

Click here to help us Spread the Word.

Other ways you can help

If you are signed up with Technorati, write a where’s the fire post about us: http://www.technorati.com/wtf?new&topic=AIDG. That would be a huge help!

If you have your own blog or website and want to help us with our 6 degrees campaign, post this charity badge on your site. The group with the most donors (not the most cash) by March 31st can get a $10,000 matching grant from Kevin Bacon.


Thanks so much for that taking this journey with us.

Warm regards,


Doha for dummies

Doha is sort of like ersatz or erstwhile. One of those words that you can vaguely define but when pressed for an accurate definition, you are left blushing or making things up.

With all the Davos talk and with me coming to the end of “The End of Poverty”, I figured do what my mum would always tell me to do: Go look it up.

So in keeping with my Kyoto, Mon Amour: 5 things you might not know about the Protocol

Ten things you may not know about the Doha round of trade talks. There is a lot of juicy stuff in there.

  1. Doha refers to the round of WTO trade negotiations that occured at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar in November 2001. The round was supposed to have occured in Seattle in 1999, but were disrupted by anti-globalization protests.
  2. My favorite part: The Declaration on the TRIPS agreement and public health which talks about public health, with special mention of HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB. A major point of the document is that member states have wiggle room when it comes to intellectual property in the face of national public health emergencies:

    [W]e affirm that the [Trips] Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO members’ right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all.

  3. Other highlights:

    • Each member has the right to grant compulsory licences and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licences are granted.
    • [P]ublic health crises, including those relating to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics, can represent a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency.

Where things all went pear-shaped:

Rich countries don’t want to give up their agricultural subsidies.
Poor countries don’t want to loosen their barriers to trade.

Also fyi: The G8 (aka Group of 8. Sounds so superhero-ish, no?) is Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States. It was the G7 until Russia joined in 1997.

Going Legit: Entering the Formal Sector

I found this post today (How do enterprises become ‘formal’?)on the Private Sector Development Blog. It’s actually from November but I thought the topic was sufficiently important to mention.

In many poorer countries, as much as 50% of entreprises operate in the informal sector. The percent of the population occupying the informal labor market drop to 4-6% in richer countries. Here are two ways that the World Bank characterizes “informal”.

  • Coping strategies (survival activities): casual jobs, temporary jobs, unpaid jobs, subsistence agriculture, multiple job holding;
  • Unofficial earning strategies (illegality in business):

    Unofficial business activities: tax evasion, avoidance of labor regulation and other government or institutional regulations, no registration of the company;

    Underground activities: crime, corruption – activities not registered by statistical offices.

When we were first started XelaTeco in Guatemala, we were surprised by the amount of labor regulations that protected workers that already existed.