Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America

Articles

Vol. 8, No. 4, 2015

Cuba Sanctions: Legislative Restrictions Limiting the Normalization of Relations *
IntroductionSince the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba has consisted largely of isolating the island nation through comprehensive economic sanctions, including an embargo on trade and financial transactions. President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an...
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Testimony of Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Hearing on ''Understanding the Impact of U.S. Policy Changes on Human Rights and Democracy in Cuba'' *
Chairman Rubio, Ranking Member Boxer, and Members of the Committee:Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on our new approach to U.S.- Cuba policy. I know many of you have a deep interest in U.S. policy towards Cuba and have closely followed...
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Testimony of Tom P. Malinowski, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State. Hearing on ''Understanding the Impact of U.S. Policy Changes on Human Rights and Democracy in Cuba'' *
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, and Members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to testify today, and to share my thoughts about how we can best stand up for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Cuban people.It is plain from the...
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Cuba: Issues for the 114th Congress *
INTRODUCTIONPolitical and economic developments in Cuba and U.S. policy toward the island nation, located just 90 miles from the United States, have been significant congressional concerns for many years. Especially since the end of the Cold War, Congress...
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Vol. 8, No. 3, 2015

Argentina 2013 International Religious Freedom Report *
U.S. Department of State; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborSection 1. Religious DemographyThe U.S. government estimates the total population at 42.6 million (July 2013 estimate). A 2008 study by the National Council of Scientific and Technical...
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2014 Investment Climate Statement: Argentina *
Bureau of Economic and Business AffairsThe GOA's all-encompassing import licensing system has made it burdensome to import the materials necessary for the day-to-day functioning of a business. Factories and distributors occasionally sit idle while the...
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Argentina's Post-Crisis Economic Reform: Challenges for U.S. Policy *
At the close of 2001, Argentina plunged into a devastating financial crisis. Deep recession, high unemployment, and social upheaval brought to power a new government, and with it a new direction in economic policy away from market-oriented policies toward...
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Argentina: Background and U.S. Relations *
POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC SITUATIONIn December 2013, Argentina-a South American nation located in the continent's southern cone-celebrated 30 years of civilian democratic rule since the military relinquished power after 7 years of harsh dictatorship. The...
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Argentina 2013 Human Rights Report *
U.S. Department of State; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborSection 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom Froma. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of LifeThere were reports of deaths as a result of the police's use of...
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Vol. 8, No. 2, 2015

Venezuela 2013 Human Rights Report *
U.S. Department of State; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborSection 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of LifeAlthough the government reported no statistics on arbitrary or unlawful...
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Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations *
U.S. PolicyU.S. policymakers and Members of Congress have had concerns for a number of years about the deterioration of human rights and democratic conditions in Venezuela as well as the Venezuelan government's lack of cooperation on anti-drug and counterterrorism...
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Venezuela 2013 International Religious Freedom Report*
U.S. Department of State; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborSection I. Religious DemographyThe U.S. government estimates the total population at 28.5 million (July 2013 estimate). According to U.S. government estimates, 96 percent of the population...
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2014 Investment Climate Statement: Venezuela *
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs1.Openness to and Restrictions Upon Foreign InvestmentVenezuela's legal and regulatory regime reflects the GBRV's ambiguous posture toward foreign direct investment (FDI). The legal framework generally provides...
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Vol. 8, No. 1, 2015

Haiti under President Martelly: Current Conditions and Congressional Concerns *
POLITICAL BACKGROUNDHaiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic; Haiti occupies the western third of the island. Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Haiti has struggled to overcome its centuries-long legacy of authoritarianism,...
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Haiti 2013 Human Rights Report *
SECTION 1. RESPECT FOR THE INTEGRITY OF THE PERSON, INCLUDING FREEDOM FROM:a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of LifeThere were isolated allegations of police and other government officials' involvement in arbitrary or unlawful killings. Some of these...
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Haiti 2013 International Religious Freedom Report *
U.S. Department of State; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborSection I. Religious DemographyThe U.S. government estimates the total population at 9.9 million (July 2013 estimate). Approximately 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic and...
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Dominican Republic: Background and U.S. Relations *
BACKGROUNDThe Dominican Republic is situated on the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti (see Figure 1). A population of about 10.2 million occupies an area about the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined....
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2014 Investment Climate Statement: Haiti *
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs1. OPENNESS TO AND RESTRICTIONS UPON FOREIGN INVESTMENTHaiti's legislation encourages foreign direct investment. Import and export policies are non- discriminatory and are not based upon nationality. There is no...
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Dominican Republic 2013 Human Rights Report *
U.S. Department of State; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborSECTION 1. RESPECT FOR THE INTEGRITY OF THE PERSON, INCLUDING FREEDOM FROM:a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of LifeNeither the government nor its agents committed politically motivated...
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Dominican Republic 2013 International Religious Freedom Report *
U.S. Department of State; Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborSection I. Religious DemographyThe U.S. government estimates the total population at 10.2 million (July 2013 estimate). The population is 69 percent Catholic, 18 percent evangelical...
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2014 Investment Climate Statement: Dominican Republic *
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs1. OPENNESS TO AND RESTRICTIONS UPON FOREIGN INVESTMENTUnder theForeign Investment Law (No. 16-95), unlimited foreign investment is permitted in all sectors, with the exception ofthe disposal and storageof toxic,...
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Vol. 7, No. 4, 2014

El Salvador: Background and U.S. Relations *
INTRODUCTIONA small, densely-populated Central American country that has deep historical, familial, and economic ties to the United States; El Salvador has long been a focus of congressional interest (see Figure 1 for a map and key data on the country).1...
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Honduras-U.S. Relations *
Political SituationPorfirio Lobo, who was inaugurated president of Honduras in January 2010, is now in the final six months of his term. Lobo assumed power after seven months of domestic political crisis and international isolation that had resulted...
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Vol. 7, No. 3, 2014

Guatemala: Political, Security, and Socio-Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations*
Political SituationGuatemala has suffered much violence for decades. Currently, it is considered one of the most insecure countries in the world, with a rate of 34 homicides per 100,000 people, and 76% of the population expressing little or no trust...
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U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and Fy2015 Appropriations*
IntroductionForeign assistance is one of the tools the United States has employed to advance U.S. interests in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the focus and funding levels of aid programs changing along with broader U.S. policy goals.1 Current...
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Unaccompanied Children from Central America: Foreign Policy Considerations*
For more information, see:* CRS Report R43628, Unaccompanied Alien Children: Potential Factors Contributing to Recent Immigration;* CRS Report R41731, Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress;* CRS Report...
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Vol. 7, No. 2, 2014

Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress*
Criminal ThreatsWell-financed drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), along with gangs and other criminal groups, threaten to overwhelm Central American governments. Counternarcotics efforts in Colombia and Mexico have put pressure on DTOs in those countries,...
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Latin America and the Caribbean: Key Issues for the 113th Congress*
U.S. POLICY TOWARD LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEANU.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere are diverse, and include economic, political, security, and humanitarian concerns. Geographic proximity has ensured strong economic linkages between the United...
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Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations*
U.S. PolicyIn recent years, U.S. policy makers and Members of Congress have been concerned about the deterioration of human rights and democratic conditions in Venezuela as well as the Venezuelan government's lack of bilateral cooperation on anti-drug...
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The U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement: Background and Issues*
INTRODUCTIONThe U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement entered into force on May 15, 2012. It is a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Colombia that will eventually eliminate tariffs and other barriers in bilateral...
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Vol. 7, No. 1, 2014

Brazil: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations*
Political and Economic SituationDilma Rousseff of the center-left Workers' Party was inaugurated to a four-year presidential term on January 1, 2011, inheriting a country that had benefited from 16 years of stable governance under Presidents Fernando...
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Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances*
Obama Administration PolicyUnder the Obama Administration, Congress took action in March 2009 by including two provisions in the FY2009 omnibus appropriations measure (P.L. 111-8) that eased restrictions on family travel and travel related to marketing...
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Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress*
U.S. PolicyOver the years, Congress has played an active role in shaping policy toward Cuba, including the enactment of legislation strengthening and at times easing various U.S. economic sanctions. While U.S. policy has consisted largely of isolating...
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Vol. 6, No. 4, 2013

Bogotá's Urban Wetlands: Environmental Issues
INTRODUCTIONWetlands are areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated...
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Elasmobranchs from Marine and Freshwater Environments in Colombia: A Review
INTRODUCTIONColombia occupies 401,042 mi 2 (1,038,699 km 2) of the north western end of South America. Its western shore is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, and its northern shore borders the Atlantic. Inland waters are characterized by rivers, streams,...
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Social and Technological Advances for People with Disabilities in Colombia
1. INTRODUCTIONThis chapter addresses some advances in social and technological environment for people with disabilities in Colombia, in especial, experiences in the Stimulation, Leveling and Development Center CEDESNID*, a nonprofit institution that...
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Climate and Natural Hazards on the Colombian Caribbean Region
INTRODUCTIONThe surface area of the Colombian Caribbean is close to 590,000 km2, the Caribbean Sea is bounded by South America to the south, Central America to the west, the Lesser Antilles to the east, and the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Haiti, Dominican...
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Vol. 6, No. 3, 2013

Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress*
U.S. PolicyOver the years, Congress has played an active role in shaping policy toward Cuba, including the enactment of legislation strengthening and at times easing various U.S. economic sanctions. While U.S. policy has consisted largely of isolating...
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Haiti under President Martelly: Current Conditions and Congressional Concerns*
POLITICAL BACKGROUNDHaiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic; Haiti occupies the western third of the island. Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Haiti has struggled to overcome its centuries-long legacy of authoritarianism,...
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Vol. 6, No. 2, 2013

Argentina's Defaulted Sovereign Debt: Dealing with the "Holdouts"*
INTRODUCTIONIn December 2001, Argentina suffered a severe financial crisis, leading to the largest sovereign debt default in history. In 2005, Argentina abandoned negotiations to restructure the debt and made a unilateral offer on terms highly unfavorable...
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Peace Talks in Colombia*
INTRODUCTIONIn mid-October 2012, the Colombian government opened formal peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with the goal of bringing an end to the longest-running insurgency in the Western Hemisphere. Since its founding...
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Chile: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations*
Political SituationSebastián Piñera of the center-right -Alliance for Chile," or Alianza, was inaugurated to a four-year presidential term in March 2010. Piñera's electoral victory was the first for the Chilean right since 1958, and brought an end to...
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Ecuador: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations*
The United States has traditionally had close relations with Ecuador, yet tensions in the U.S.-Ecuador relationship have surfaced in recent years as the left leaning government of President Rafael Correa (2007-present) has objected to U.S. influence...
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Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean*
BACKGROUNDTrafficking in persons (TIP) is considered to be one of today's leading criminal enterprises and is believed to affect virtually all countries around the globe. Despite limited data on the nature and severity of the problem, the U.S. government...
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Vol. 6, No. 1, 2013

Latin America: Terrorism Issues*
Legislative InitiativesIn the 112th Congress, several legislative initiatives were introduced and several oversight hearings were held related to terrorism issues in the Western Hemisphere regarding Mexico, Venezuela, and the activities of Iran and Hezbollah...
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El Salvador: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations*
Funes AdministrationTwenty-one years after the signing of the peace accords, El Salvador is governed by an FMLN Administration. In March 2009, Mauricio Funes, a former television journalist and the first FMLN presidential candidate without a guerilla...
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Honduras-U.S. Relations*
Political SituationPorfirio Lobo, who was inaugurated president of Honduras in January 2010, is now in the final six months of his term. Lobo assumed power after seven months of domestic political crisis and international isolation that had resulted...
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Guatemala: Political, Security, and Socio-Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations*
POLITICAL SITUATIONGuatemalan national elections for president, Congress, and local officials were held on September 11, 2011. Former army general Otto Pérez Molina of the rightist Patriot Party (Partido Patriota, PP) was inaugurated as president of...
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Vol. 5, No. 4, 2012

Chile Earthquake: U.S. and International Response *
CURRENT CONDITIONSOn February 27, 2010, an earthquake of magnitude 8.8 struck off the coast of central Chile. Centered 70 miles northeast of Chile's second-largest city, Concepción, at a depth of 22 miles, the earthquake was the second-largest ever recorded...
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REPORT ON THE 2010 CHILEAN EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI RESPONSE *: United States Department of the Interior, United States Geological Survey
By the American Red Cross Multidisciplinary TeamPrincipal investigators: Richard Hinrichs, PhD, CEM, Lucy Jones, Ph.D., Ellis M. Stanley, Sr., CEM, and Michael Kleiner, CEMOpen-File Report 2011-1053U.S. Department of the InteriorKEN SALAZAR, SecretaryU.S....
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Vol. 5, No. 3, 2012

The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (Caftadr): Developments in Trade and Investment *
INTRODUCTIONOn August 5, 2004, the United States entered into the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic (hereafter the...
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Dominican Republic Country Profile *
United States Department of StateOfficial Name: Dominican RepublicPROFILEGeographyArea: 48,442 sq. km. (18,704 sq. mi.), about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.Cities: Capital-Santo Domingo (pop. 2.25 million). Other city-Santiago de los...
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Guatemala Country Profile *
United States Department of StateOfficial Name: Republic of GuatemalaPROFILEGeographyArea: 108,890 sq. km. (42,042 sq. mi.); about the size of Tennessee.Cities: Capital-Guatemala City (metro area pop. 2.5 million). Other major cities-Quetzaltenango,...
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El Salvador Country Profile *
United States Department of StateOfficial Name: Republic of El SalvadorPROFILEGeographyArea: 20,742 sq. km. (8,008 sq. mi.); about the size of Massachusetts.Cities: Capital-San Salvador (pop. 1.7 million). Other cities-Santa Ana, San Miguel, Soyapango,...
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Honduras Country Profile *
United States Department of StateOfficial Name: Republic of HondurasPROFILEGeographyArea: 112,090 sq. km. (43,278 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Virginia.Cities: Capital-Tegucigalpa (1,150,000); San Pedro Sula (800,000-900,000).Terrain: Mountainous,...
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Nicaragua Country Profile *
United States Department of StateOfficial Name: Republic of NicaraguaPROFILEGeographyArea: 130,370 sq. km. (50,336 sq. mi.); slightly larger than New York State.Cities: Capital-Managua (pop. 1.7 million). Other major cities-Bluefields, Chinandega, Granada,...
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Costa Rica Country Profile *
United States Department of StateOfficial Name: Republic of Costa RicaPROFILEGeographyArea: 51,100 sq. km (19,730 sq. mi.) about the size of the states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.Cities: Capital-San Jose (greater metropolitan area pop. 2.1...
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Vol. 5, No. 1/2, 2012

Cuba: United States Restrictions on Travel and Remittances *
DEVELOPMENTS IN 2011On July 25, 2011, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued an advisory maintaining that misstatements in the media had suggested that U.S. policy now allows for virtually unrestricted group travel to...
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Proposed United States-Colombia Free Trade Agreement: Background and Issues *
INTRODUCTIONThe proposed U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, also called the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), is a bilateral free trade agreement between the United States and Colombia which, if ratified, would eliminate tariffs and other...
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The United States-Colombia Free Trade Agreement: Background and Issues *
INTRODUCTIONOn October 3, 2011, President Barack Obama submitted draft legislation (H.R. 3078/S. 1641) to both houses of Congress to implement the U.S.- Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. On October 12, 2011, the House passed H.R. 3078 (262-167) and...
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The Proposed United States-Panama Free Trade Agreement *
INTRODUCTIONOn June 28, 2007, the United States and Panama signed a free trade agreement (FTA) after two and a half years and 10 rounds of negotiations (see Appendix A for a chronology of events). Negotiations formally concluded on December 16, 2006,...
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The United States-Panama Free Trade Agreement *
INTRODUCTIONOn June 28, 2007, the United States and Panama signed a free trade agreement (FTA) after two and a half years and 10 rounds of negotiations (see Appendix A for a chronology of events). Negotiations formally concluded on December 16, 2006,...
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U.S. Trade Policy and the Caribbean: From Trade Preferences to Free Trade Agreements *
INTRODUCTIONFor over 40 years, the United States has relied on unilateral trade preferences as an integral part of its foreign economic policy. Trade preferences give market access to selected developing country goods, duty free or at tariffs below normal...
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United States-Latin America Trade: Recent Trends and Policy Issues *
INTRODUCTIONTrade is one of the more enduring issues in contemporary U.S.-Latin America relations. Historically, growth in U.S. trade with Latin America has outpaced that of all other regions, and over the last 15 years, the United States has signed...
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Vol. 4, No. 4, 2011

Haiti's National Elections: Issues, Concerns, and Outcome *
INTRODUCTIONCongress views the stability of Haiti with great concern and commitment to improving conditions there. Both Congress and the international community have invested significant resources in the political, economic, and social development of...
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Brazil-United States Relations *
BACKGROUNDA former Portuguese colony that achieved independence in 1822, Brazil occupies almost half of the continent of South America and boasts immense biodiversity-including 60% of the Amazon rainforest-and significant natural resources. The country's...
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Panama: Political and Economic Conditions and United States Relations *
RECENT DEVELOPMENTSOn April 28, 2011, President Obama met with President Ricardo Martinelli in Washington, DC, to discuss progress in moving forward with the U.S.-Panama free trade agreement, including Panama's reform efforts in banking and taxation,...
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Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress *
INTRODUCTIONThe security situation in Central America1 has deteriorated in recent years as gangs, drug traffickers, and other criminal groups have expanded their activities in the region, contributing to escalating levels of crime and violence that have...
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Vol. 4, No. 3, 2011

U.S.-Latin America Trade: Recent Trends and Policy Issues
U.S.-Latin America Trade AgreementsLatin American countries have made noted progress in trade liberalization over the past three decades, reducing tariffs significantly and entering into multiple subregional agreements of their own. Early Latin American...
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Fy2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Other Programs
Most Recent DevelopmentsOn June 30, 2010, the House Rules Committee posted a revised draft version of H.R. 4899 that would provide $75.3 billion in discretionary and mandatory spending, and require $63.7 billion in new appropriations taking into account...
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Brazil's WTO Case against the U.S. Cotton Program
OverviewThis report provides a description and status report on Brazil's challenge to certain aspects of the U.S. cotton program under the rules of the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) dispute settlement process in case DS267.249 The -Brazil cotton...
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The Haitian Economy and the Hope Act
Political and Social Challenges to Haitian DevelopmentA discussion of Haiti's current social and political situation is now clouded by the massive destruction caused by the January 2010 earthquake. By all accounts Haiti struggles to provide basic services...
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Vol. 4, No. 2, 2011

Agriculture in Pending U.S. Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea
Recent DevelopmentsIn letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, the American Farm Bureau Federation on January 29, 2010, called upon these committees to expedite the approval of pending free...
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Venezuela: Issues in the 111th Congress
Recent DevelopmentsOn February 2, 2010, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that President -Chávez continues to impose an authoritarian populist political model in Venezuela that...
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Paraguay: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations
IntroductionOn April 20, 2008, a former Roman Catholic bishop, Fernando Lugo, was elected President of Paraguay, a land-locked South American nation critically wedged between Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia. The Lugo victory was hailed as a step toward...
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The Proposed U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement
On June 28, 2007, the United States and Panama signed a free trade agreement (FTA) after two and a half years and ten rounds of negotiations (see Appendix A for a chronology of events). Negotiations formally concluded on December 16, 2006, with an understanding...
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Mexico-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress
Recent DevelopmentsOn February 1, 2010, the Obama Administration submitted its FY20 11 budget request to Congress. Although the complete budget request for Mexico will not be available until the State Department releases its FY20 11 Congressional Budget...
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Vol. 4, No. 1, 2011

Uruguay: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations
Political and Economic SituationOn November 29, 2009, Senator José -Pepe" Mujica of the ruling centerleft Broad Front (FA) coalition was elected president of Uruguay in a second-round runoff vote. In legislative elections held concurrently with the October...
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Charitable Contributions for Haiti's Earthquake Victims
Current LawUnder current law, charitable contributions from individuals, corporations, and estates and trusts are tax deductible in the year they are made. Taxexempt 501(c)(3) organizations, which include religious, educational, social welfare, health,...
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Argentina's Defaulted Sovereign Debt: Dealing with the "Holdouts"
IntroductionIn December 2001, following an extended period of economic and political instability, Argentina suffered a severe financial crisis, leading to the largest default on sovereign debt in history. In 2005, after prolonged, contentious, and unsuccessful...
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U.S. Immigration Policy on Haitian Migrants
Current ContextThe devastation caused by the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti is focusing world attention on the humanitarian crisis and prompting U.S. leaders to reconsider current policies on Haitian migration.99 Some Members of Congress have...
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Gangs in Central America
IntroductionIn recent years, analysts and U.S. officials have expressed ongoing concerns about the increasing rates of violent crimes committed by drug traffickers, organized criminal groups, and gangs in Central America.125 U.S. concerns about gangs...
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Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response
Current ConditionsThe largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti devastated parts of the country, including the capital, on January 12, 2010. The quake, centered about 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, had a magnitude of 7.0. A series of strong aftershocks...
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Costa Rica: Background and U.S. Relations
Political and Economic SituationBackgroundCosta Rica is a politically stable Central American country of 4.3 million people with a relatively well-developed economy. The country gained its independence from Spain in 1821 as a part of the Central American...
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