Author Archives: vaclavmasek

Coming up in CLACS: Spotlight on U.S-Latin America Relations

Over the following week, the Center for Latin American Studies at NYU will be hosting two events that deal with the United States’ influence on Latin America.

First off, on Monday, March 9th, is The U.S., Mexico, and Latin America: A New Agenda for a New Reality. This event will feature a conversation with Dr. Jorge Castañeda, former Foreign Minister of Mexico (2000-2003) and Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU, about the current and future status of U.S.-Latin American relations. An important emphasis will be placed on the impact that the 2018 elections in Latin America will have on trade, migration.

This conference is organized by the Human Rights and International Law League (THRILL), the Mexican Student Association (MEXSA), and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS). This discussion will be followed by a light reception.

The event will take place in the Auditorium C95 at the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life (238 Thompson St) at NYU, starting at 17:30. You can RSVP here!

Prof. Jorge Castañeda

Dr. Jorge Castañeda, former Foreign Minister of Mexico and Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

The following week, on Monday, March 16th, our focus shifts to the Caribbean for the event Puerto Rico Before and After María. Six months after hurricanes Irma and María, Puerto Rico is ruled and abandoned by the metropolis, with a collapsed economic model, shrinking population and the aftereffects of these natural disasters. Is there light at the end of the tunnel for the island?

Join Dr. Ángel Collado-Schwarz, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and author of several books including Decolonization Models for America’s Last Colony: Puerto Rico, for a conversation about the island’s future under its current conditions. Dr. Collado-Schwarz is also the host of a weekly radio program, La Voz del Centro, at Univision in Puerto Rico and New York.

The event will take place in the Auditorium at the King Juan Carlos of Spain Center (53 Washington Square S), starting at 18:00. Following the conversation, refreshments will be served. RSVP here!

Puerto Rico Before and After María

A talk with Dr. Àngel Collado-Schwartz (Columbia University) on Puerto Rico’s resilience after hurricanes Irma and María.

Multiparty Politics in Post-Conflict Guatemala: A Qualitative Assessment 

Papelete TSE 2015

The official ballot for President and Vice-President in the 2015 Guatemalan General elections included 14 participating parties. Source: Soy502 and the Tribunal Supremo Electoral de Guatemala

Posted by Vaclav Mašek, MA Candidate at NYU’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. This post was written in the spring of 2018, based on research funded by the Tinker Grant. 

Following a 36-year armed conflict, which culminated with the Acuerdos de Paz Firme y Duradera (“Peace Accords on Long and Lasting Peace”), Guatemala’s transition to democracy signified the beginning of free and open elections. A new Constitution came into effect in 1984, and twelve years later, the Peace Accords made the ceasefire official between the insurgent guerrillas and the Guatemalan armed forces. While today the strengthening of the political institutions in the country has shown little progress in accountability and transparency—4 out of the 5 last presidents have been accused or sentenced in high-profile cases of corruption—, a lively multiparty system has emerged: in 1995, 19 parties contested in the presidential election, although only one party remains active until today. Twenty years later, in 2015, 14 political parties participated in the presidential contest, where the winner was candidate with no prior experience in public administration running on a party that had never succeeded in having members elected to any position in government.

A particular trend seems to have consolidated in this dynamic process of political alternation: no single party has gained enough traction to secure continuity in the executive. More surprisingly, as the 1999, 2003, and 2015 Guatemalan elections show, some parties that have proved successful in winning the presidential ballot have disappeared from the political map. Populist tendencies, exercised through the practice of clientelism to gain the voter’s gratitude in exchange for a vote, seem to have co-opted both sides of the ideological scale.

May the combination of a multiparty system and a presidential system be inimical to stable democracy in Guatemala? What effect does this have in the way the political system is organized and political parties created? How does the myriad options affect the way Guatemalan citizens cast their vote—and how they do politics in general?

Between March 6th and March 17th, 2018, I travelled to my home country’s capital, Guatemala City, to interview a dozen of engaged Guatemalans. Individuals featured include prominent scholars and political scientists, journalists and political commentators, former statesmen and current government bureaucrats, and activists and lobbyists, whom I talked about issues related to Guatemala’s multiparty system.

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