April 11, 2006
As of dawn Tuesday, Alan Garcia's lead over Lourdes Flores is now nearly a full percentage point, with 80 percent of the votes counted. Flores cannot be counted out, however: So far she has received 62.2 percent of the votes cast by Peruvians living abroad, of whom nearly a half million are eligible to vote, and only 3.8 percent of those votes have been tabulated so far. Garcia has received only 8.5 percent of those votes, and Humala only 8.0 percent. Voters residing in foreign countries comprise 2.8 percent of the Peruvian electorate. See El Comercio of Peru (in Spanish). If those trends continue, an admittedly big if, Flores would prevail over Garcia by a comfortable margin in the race for the number two spot. In any case, it will take several days or even weeks to finish the vote counting, and there are likely to be a lot of heated arguments over alleged irregularities. This situation is reminiscent of the controversy over handling ballots cast by U.S. servicemen overseas in recent presidential elections. The possibility that overseas votes might tip the balance toward Flores constitutes Peru's only real hope for the future at this point, which would provide an entirely new aspect to weighing the pros and cons of undocumented immigration into the United States, where most Peruvian expatriates live. Living in the Land of Liberty, where contrasting ideas are openly debated in public forums and no one is afraid to express their opinion, gives one a new perspective on social and economic issues.
NOON UPDATE: With 84 percent of the votes counted, Flores continues to slip further behind Garcia, who has 24.7 percent to her 23.6 percent.
That's what Glenn Reynolds suggests, and he is not being entirely facetious. The point is, as I have argued over and over again, is that job-seekers leave Mexico and other Third World countries because their corrupt political systems stifle opportunities for their own people. Therefore, any concessions by the United States on immigration must be matched by reciprocity in terms of economic policy by countries that have gotten used to "exporting" workers rather than face up to the need for reform. ¡No más!
At some point, the United States will have to confront the ugly question of what to do about countries whose governments are so irresponsible that there is no hope for poor people to ever make a decent living in their own country. Imperialism is often regarded as a thing of the past, just as sovereignty is. As those of us who follow politics in the Third World know, however, sovereignty is at the top of the list of the national agenda. This asymmetry cannot go on for long. Either they let in our "exploiting" investors to hire people in their own countries, or we shut the door to further immigration. The question is whether this could be done on a selective basis, targetting the countries with the worst government, like Haiti, Venezuela, or ... Cuba. Therein lies the big irony in all this, folks: Our historical practice of favoring the victims of economic oppression in Castro's hell hole has created an ironic incentive for other countries in Latin America to follow in Cuba's footsteps. It's time to exert the potential leverage we have had and insist that the principles of NAFTA (and now CAFTA) be carried out.