September 17, 2005 [LINK]

Illegal immigration in Brazil

Much like the United States, Brazil is beginning to face up to a growing threat of organized crime (mostly narcotics trafficking) connected to illegal immigration. There is as yet no clear link to terrorism, but the mere potential makes it a national security issue to Brazilian officials. Some Peruvians and Chinese were arrested in a series raids in which U.S. agents participated as observers. This is another headache for President da Silva, whose popularity ratings have dropped as the result of bribery scandals, meaning that he may face an uphill climb when he runs for reelection a year from now.

Independence day in Costa Rica

Costa Rica flag I didn't realized it at the time, but Thursday (the 15th) was Costa Rica's independence day. Presidente Pacheco pleaded for national consensus to enable the country to achieve economic advance. He also declared the torch to be the national symbol, in a gesture aimed at rallying nationalist spirit. Recent polls suggest that Costa Ricans are becoming deeply disillusioned with the country's political system, which is among the most successful in Latin America. In my view, the country's sluggish economy, which depends heavily on tourist dollars, is not likely to improve as long as the traditionally protectionist welfare state policies continue.

Presidents speak at United Nations

Being geographically isolated from the rest of the world, Latin Americans pay special attention to international meetings, especially the opening session of the United Nations each September. Predictably, Veneuzela's Hugo Chavez took the opportunity to denounce U.S. imperialism.