October 21, 2005 [LINK]

Referendum in Ecuador?

The Supreme Court of Ecuador is reviewing President Alfredo Palacio's proposed referendum for a constitutional assembly, as a means for bypassing the legislative branch, which has stymied his initiatives. Since taking office after President Lucio Gutierrez was voted out of office by the Congress in the midst of a popular uprising in April, the new leader has been frustrated by opposition, and several of the cabinet officers he appointed have had to resign after being implicated in scandals. See CNN.com. Prospects for reestablishing political stability and advancing a coherent national development strategy seem farther away than ever. It's quite ironic for a country that used to export petroleum, but doesn't even have a national currency any more.

Mexico fears U.S. border patrols

The Mexican government expressed alarm over Texas Gov. Rick Perry's effort to tighten security along the border with Mexico, code-named "Operation Linebacker." It is feared that U.S. border patrols will lead to the militarization of the otherwise friendly border, and will violate the human rights of (undocumented) Mexican immigrants. The Foreign Relations Ministry said that Mexico "takes any threat to its national security or the region of North America with the greatest seriousness." See CNN.com.

Hurricane Wilma made a direct hit on Cozumel, the Caribbean paradise island that I visited with my late friend Joe Cash in 1985, when it was still mostly pristine and undeveloped. In Cancun, the overdeveloped coastal resort just to the north, thousands of tourists are seeking shelter in safe ground-level ballrooms.

Chavez "cries wolf" again

Speaking to a group of businessmen in Paris Thursday, Venezuelan President-for-life Hugo Chavez warned again that the United States is preparing to invade his country, in which case crude oil prices would soar, he said. He recently declared his desire to acquire nuclear technology, notwithstanding the fact that Venezuela is already a major energy exporter. See CNN.com. It's almost as though he wants to raise tensions in the region, practically begging for American aircraft carriers to sail toward Venezuelan shores just to rally popular support.