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June 14, 2005


Ronald Rutherford

The gangs do not scare me as much as any country(s) in our continent loosing its democratic institutions. With strong democracies and property rights enforceable, I feel the gang/terrorist problems can be corrected.
Even though this does not directly relate to Mexico and its problems, I feel there is a junction between Mexicos unwillingness to accept illegal OTM's back to Mexico and this problem.
While Fox wants us to loosen up our border to more Mexicans, he fails to control his own immigration problems. Oh, I forgot he has no immigration problem he is just acting as a ticket agent, since no one in his right mind would immigrate to Mexico. Mexico is definitely exporting its problems to the US.
And as far as CAFTA, Kerry's admendment fails:
If this causes CAFTA to fail then it would be bad and now Kerry has an excuse to vote it down. But amending it would send a message to the other countries and may not get passed by their democracies.
There is plenty of information to support that free-trade is good for the US and the world, and this is interesting:
"Using four different methods, we estimate that the combination of shrinking distances--thanks to container ships, telecommunications and other new technologies--and lower political barriers to international trade and investment have generated an increase in U.S. income of roughly $1 trillion a year (measured in 2003 dollars), or about 10 percent of gross domestic product. This translates to a gain in annual income of about $10,000 per household."
But I want to part ways on these two posits:
1. Free trade will increase democracy. As in: "By transforming our hemisphere into a powerful free trade area, we will promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic liberty for everyone."
They may help to maintain democratic institutions with economic growth but will do nothing to create democracies.
2. Poverty creates terrorists. While we may feel that the poor of the world have reasons to blow us up, they do not show a correlation to doing such actions.
The best medicine for terrorism and lawlessness is democracy. As in:Democracies Increase, Violence decreases, Media Still Blind @
And: The Solution to Mass Poverty @
And: Impact of democracy: Peace breaks out @
R.J. Rummel is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science
also showed that even economic freedom is not as important as political freedom in fostering growth and prosperity for its citizens.
Lastly I agree with some aspects of The Monroe Doctrine, and wondered why we have ran around the world trying to solve "their problems" while our own continent in need of repair and tending to.


I'm sure there's alot to digest in those link, and I suspect I'm at odds with a good deal of it, but two comments without having looked at the links.

1. I'm slowly building a case that MS 13 is in fact quite capable of destabilizing the already weak democratic institutions in Central America. I heard two different Cen Am reps say as much during a Q and A after one of the recent CAFTA meetings.

2. It will be pretty hard to convince me that "freedom" is a core human desire that trumps "peace." Some say you cannot have one without the other, and I would agree, but given a choice between the two, I think basic psychology holds that man wants to be at peace in his day to day comings and goings, and he cannot achieve that without food in his belly, medicine for his kids, etc.

It may be true that poverty doesn't create terrorists in what we've seen from Salafi ideology. But, poverty most certainly has an historic influence on revolution. In Central America the terrorism we're beginning to see is based on revolution, ideology has little to do with it beyond the issue of the ultra rich few and the starved many. It's not like there is a wide spread leftist Sandinista propaganda machine. Just a destitute population being asked to choose between oppressive conditions and forcing change. IF MS 13 gains a Robinhood appeal, things go south very fast.


One more thing, because there seemed to be something wedged in where it may not fit.

You said, "With strong democracies and property rights enforceable..."

That property rights wedged inside strong democracies, may be nice in theory, but it is a contested issue from Mexico to Cape Horn, and it is a "forced" comingling of democracy with capitalism. The two primary current examples are Venezuela and Haiti. In both cases, democracies under economic duress voted in, by substantial margins, leaders who would violate your "property rights enforceable."

We kicked Aristide out and replaced him with the worst thugs in the Caribbean. Why? Because Aristide was an agrarian, who wanted to feed the most impoverished people in the Western Hemisphere with a little wealth distribution. Powell was so confused when the trouble started he immediately came to Aristide's defense, having worked in the past to ensure Haitian democracy, that he ended up sounding even more confused as "we" ran out a VERY popular DEMOCRATICALLY elected government. For what? To protect a few super wealthy and their massive holdings as an angry and hungry population sees their democratically elected man whisked off to sanctuary in Africa? It was a clear decision to defend property rights over democracy.

The same is happening in Venezuela, but Chavez has deeper roots. So, the question becomes is democracy more important than property rights? Because we will see time and again in these very poor countries, if given free and fair elections, a movement to the agrarian left. People are hungry out there.


Was it Heidegger? Perhaps not, perhaps it was my 9th grade world civ teacher (great class)--who noted that revolutions are seeded by poverty, but fed on a taste for freedom lost. There needs to be a spark--some slight, a retrenchment of liberties, ethnic/tribal violence.

Interesting discussion, although I know nothing about either CAFTA or SA politics in general. Which is embarassing, since I'm 1/4 Chilean.


oh, and 13s are the big, trendy Hispanic gang in PDX these days. I think they're called 13th Streeters, but their roots are supposedly Cali and southward, so I bet they're the same.

Ronald Rutherford

1. Yes, if MS 13 could cause instability then this would be a problem.
2. I hope you have a chance to look at some of the links. But one example may shed some light on this. In Cambodia after a bloody civil war and Pol Pot gaining control, the people wanted peace and were willing to do almost anything to get that. There was no longer a war but a democide proceeded... And I think we can think of other times that people wanted "peace" but gave up "freedom" for it with dire consequences.
For your second post Zap:
Thinking ahead I had slipped that in to signify that may need to be the next step in development. But clearly "True" Democracy is more important than property rights.
Even though this may lead in a different direction, I want to spell out that property rights are not narrowly defined in the "ultra rich few and the starved many" having no property rights. Democracy as defined as the will of the majority can define it to mean cleaner air, cleaner water, basic health services, enough food to eat, etc. What I mean by property rights is not only the land, water and possessions we have titles to, but to our basic status as human beings (We always own ourselves).


Ron, I agree with all of that, with the caution that "forcing" democracy in poor countries has a very good chance of empowering systems contrary to our interests. It's a conundrum, but I'm all for your definition of property rights, and I'm a fan of capitalistic systems even in poor countries. The playing field needs balance, competition needs protection, and a middle class must be established. Unfortunately, when the poor hear a leftist agrarian message, a quick fix through wealth distribution, they stop listening to the likes of me. I will get to your links today sometime and respond again.

Torrid, MS 13 is so very difficult to measure because of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of cliques that are hard to quantify. It's not lost on the FBI that cliques have added several codified messages to their names. They add: Mara, or Salvatrucha, or M, or MS, or 13, or Sur, or Sureno. Some are hoping a perceived affiliation with the big dogs will intimidate other gangs. Some are trying to gain affiliation. Some are affiliated. If you were to take all of these groups and claim them for MS 13, there would be over 80,000 members in So Cal. However, Oregon has certainly made the list of having a significant, authentic MS 13 presence, which will soon be taking over top level distribution of all drugs but prescriptions and pot.


DR CAFTA passed the house 217-215.
Congress passes CAFTA after Bush lobbying President makes personal appeal to Republicans for free trade agreement.

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