[A-List] Fixing U.S.-Mexico Cross-Border Ground Transportation; Central America's Restless Garífuna
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
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Mon Jun 14 16:36:16 MDT 2010
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U.S.-Mexico Trucking Dispute Rolls On: Sixteen Years and Counting
President Felipe Calderón’s visit to Washington last month carried high expectations for those who hoped for a resolution of the cross-border trade dispute between the United States and Mexico. The Mexican president was expected to address the U.S.’s failure to comply with NAFTA regulations providing for an open border policy regarding ground transportation of goods across the U.S.-Mexican border.However, Calderón chose to focus his May 20 remarks to Congress primarily on U.S. immigration policy and the drug wars, resulting in yet another disappointing moment in the long saga of the cross-border trucking dispute.
Mexico’s dissatisfaction with U.S. border policy, as it relates to NAFTA, is not unfounded. In part attributable to the free trade agreement (FTA), Mexico has moved in to be the second largest U.S. export market, and is the U.S.’ most important trading partner, with a trade flow of approximately $1 billion a day. But in the sixteen years since the FTA went into effect, the U.S. continuously has failed to comply with the open border provision, denying full access to Mexican trucks on the claims of safety concerns on the part of U.S. trucking officials and government authorities. Last March, after over a decade of patient negotiation, Mexico slapped the U.S. agricultural and manufacturing industries with $2.4 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs on eighty-nine U.S. products. Despite the Obama Administration’s repeated pledge to resolve the trade dispute and heavy lobbying efforts on both sides, the U.S. still remains closed to Mexican trucks.
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This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Katie Zaunbrecher
Garífuna Voices of Guatemala: Central America’s Overlooked Segment of the African Diaspora
Although often disregarded by the roster of contemporary Latin American events, the African diaspora is an integral part of Hispanic culture and its contemporary history. Africans outnumbered Europeans throughout much of the Latin American colonial period, and West Indian blacks were a motive force behind the construction of the Panama Canal. Today, Brazil and Colombia have the second and third largest black populations in the Western Hemisphere. However, several Central American countries have only a small black minority, whose presence is sometimes overlooked. Among them is Guatemala, a multicultural nation in which the black Garífuna compose less than 1% of the population. As is often the case in countries with black minorities, these people have long been disenfranchised and considered inferior by the country’s other ethnic groups. The 1996 Guatemalan Peace Accords, which were established by the government in conjunction with the United Nations (UN), symbolized the end of a thirty-six year long civil war in which upwards of 200,000, mainly civilian victims, lost their lives. The accords offered words of hope for political inclusion of the Garífuna by officially recognizing multiculturalism in Guatemala. However, in spite of a wave of political reforms since 1996, overcoming the racial inequality impacting the Garífuna community will have to require further political and financial decentralization as well as citizen participation and a much greater focus on economic development.
The Garífuna people – an Ambiguous History of Mestizaje
Central America’s Garífuna population hugs the Caribbean coasts of Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Chronic undercounting of Latin America’s Afro-descended population make specific numbers hard to establish. Moreover, there are biases inherent in self-reported ethnic identification, especially in a Latin American context where such categories are less diversified than in many parts of the world. Keeping these limitations in mind, it can be taken from recent census data that there is a population of approximately 539, 600 blacks in Nicaragua (which include many non-Garífuna slave descendants) and about 159,800 in Honduras, known to have Central America’s largest Garífuna population. Belize is home to approximately 20,000 Garífuna and Guatemala to approximately 5,100. These numbers do not include the many immigrants who now reside in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other developed nations. Currently, there is debate over the Garífuna’s right to be labeled “indigenous;” their black appearance yet mixed heritage often has made the term’s application contentious. Only over the past 50 years has anthropological investigation of their ethnic background become systematic, revealing that they have bona fide ethnic roots in Africa as well as the Caribbean islands. Despite this diverse background, the Garífuna have a strong sense of unity, and many scholars, including James Minahan and Joseph O. Palacio, a Garífuna, refer to them as a nation that transgresses political borders. This transnational identity is reflected in their own tricolor flag. Its horizontal stripes are yellow, white, and black; these colors represent Amerindian hope and liberation, peace and freedom, and the oppression and death associated with their African heritage, respectively.
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This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Alice Barrett
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This analysis was prepared by COHA Staff
Monday, June 14, 2010 | Research Memorandum 10.1
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