Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Punching Above Your Weight in International Affairs

By Ludovico Feoli

At a recent event in San José co-hosted by CIAPA, the newly elected president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, presented his vision of a foreign policy for his administration. One may question the relevance of the subject for such a tiny player in the global sphere, with only 52,000 square kilometers, four million inhabitants, and no army. But the fact of the matter is that the country has historically played an outsized role in international affairs, punching well above its weight.

Standing up to the Reagan administration in the late 80s it helped broker the peace process that ended the Central American wars. It later spearheaded an initiative at the United Nations to regulate the international trade of small arms that culminated in the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty by the General Assembly in 2013. The country has twice occupied a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council. It is recognized for its leadership in international environmental policy, being among the first to negotiate debt for nature swaps and establish a large-scale program of payments for ecological services. It is also recognized for its respect for, and leadership in, the field of human rights, and serves as the host for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

This active international profile has been informed by close adherence to a set of core values: disarmament, denuclearization, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and respect for human rights and the environment. By enhancing the country’s “soft power” such a stance has enabled it to act as a “moral power” on the world stage. Yet the country’s bearing has also been pragmatic, embracing early adherence to GATT and global integration, for example, and being the first country in Central America to recognize the People’s Republic of China. Because Costa Rica’s “realist idealism” has been path breaking in these ways the new president’s foreign policy vision may therefore be of more than just local interest.

In fact, President Solís is not complacent about the country’s recent international profile. He made the case for a better articulation of its foreign policy. Latin America, in his view, has not to date been treated as the strategic space it is. Costa Rica has focused, historically, on its relations with Central America, the United States and Europe. Only a few Latin American countries have commanded attention, and then but insufficiently and inconsistently. Solís proposed Costa Rica should be an “impactful actor”, constructing a regional dialogue about security, climate change, human rights, migration, socio-economic equity, and trade and investment. These last two areas–trade and investment–have commanded too much attention from recent governments, in his view, and, while important, he believes they should be driven by the broader political considerations of foreign policy, and not the other way around.

While recognizing the importance of a Latin American focus, the President understands the region to be diverse and believes that policy should be tailored accordingly. He distinguishes four sub-regions with different relevance for national interests. First is Central America, the country’s natural geographic and historic reference point. But he proposes that this region should extend to the Caribbean Basin, his second sub region, incorporating not only its insular territories, but also those of important countries on the coastal areas, like Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela. Third is North America, understood not merely as the United States, but also Mexico and Canada–all countries with which Costa Rica already maintains meaningful and fruitful relations. The fourth sub region is South America, which he sub-divides into the Southern Cone and the Andean Region. Relations with these countries have been the least active but hold great potential, particularly in the case of Brazil.

Where does this leave the United States? The President acknowledged the long history of positive, albeit sometimes tense, relations with the U.S., which is currently also the country’s leading trade and investment partner. He expects this to continue, but not at the expense of the country’s autonomy. In line with his vision of a realist idealism, he wishes to stir clear from positions that, for the sake of alignment, would limit the country’s freedom of action. This would be true in general, not merely for the U.S. For example, he distanced himself from U.S. regional security policies, which he considered to be “militarized”, but he also announced that Costa Rica would not be joining Venezuela’s Petrocaribe.

Indeed, Solís vowed to follow a “pluralistic” approach to regional relations, one that recognizes the inherent value of the different integration institutions in the region, and defends their relevance. The CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which excludes the U.S. and Canada) will have pride of place, given that Costa Rica’s pro-tempore presidency provides a unique opportunity to exert the kind of leadership the President advocates. However, he does not believe that the Organization of American States should be written off. As the historical repository of inter-American integration and international law it must, in fact, be defended. But insofar as its political functions have been displaced to other fora this should be recognized as part of the new regional reality. As should be the fact that the U.S. can no longer strong-arm regional actors or inhibit the presence of extra hemispheric ones.

The SICA (Central American Integration System) will also be a focus of attention for the President, given its relevance to Costa Rica. The country has tended to retract from a full engagement with its Central American peers and the President believes it is time to change this, making the country a pacesetter for the sub-region. He pledged to pursue SICA’s next Secretary General post for a Costa Rican, from which vantage point he would seek to reform and update the institution.

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Out America (ALBA) will also merit attention and consideration, although they will not be central. Solís seemed less enthusiastic about the Pacific Alliance (PA), an integration effort spearheaded by Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Chile, and eagerly embraced by his predecessor. Primarily a trade block, the PA exemplifies Solís’ concern about trade driving foreign policy priorities. While not dismissing the relevance of trade or the potential of the PA, he suggested it should be pondered carefully, respecting the concerns of Costa Rican productive sectors. This in turn reflects the President’s ideological convictions that the state should play a more important role in guiding the economy, a central theme throughout the campaign in the run-up to his election.

In sum, the President’s foreign policy will be, in his own words, a form of “conservative inter-Americanism” and “progressive neostatism”. It will be principled, in that it will continue to be inspired by the ideals of disarmament and denuclearization, human rights, environmental stewardship, and equity. It will be pragmatic, focusing on those geographical regions and partners that have greatest potential for the country and actively promoting its interests and defending its rights. It will be pluralistic, engaged with international institutions to the extent that they fit the country’s needs. And it will be integral, not surrendering policy to particular objectives, like trade and investment, or conceding the directive prerogatives of the state to the forces of the market.

Whether this will enable Costa Rica to continue punching above its weight in international affairs remains to be seen. But the President has articulated a comprehensive vision for a foreign policy which he clearly believes will do so.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Ludovico Feoli

    Executive Director - Center for Inter-American Policy & Research

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Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans Presents: SIN TITULO

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The Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans and the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery invite you to the following events of the groundbreaking Contemporary Mexican Art exhibition: SIN TITULO. This exhibit is curated by Dan Cameron, and combines the work of contemporary Mexican artists who have come together to explore the ties between New Orleans and Mexico. The exhibit will be presented at two locations:

Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
400A Julia Street

Art Gallery of the Consulate of Mexico
901 Convention Center Boulevard #119

For more information, please contact, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery at 504.522.5471 or info@jonathanferraragallery.com.

Stone Center for Latin American Studies to Host 10th Annual Workshop on Field Research Methods

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Join us at the Stone Center for Latin American Studies for the 10th Annual Weekend Workshop on Field Research Methods on January 27, 2018. The application deadline is January 20, 2018.

How will you get the data you need for your thesis or dissertation? Do you envision immersing yourself for months in the local culture, or tromping the hills and farms seeking respondents? Sorting through dusty archives? Observing musicians at work in the plaza? Downloading and crunching numbers on a computer? For any of these approaches: How might you get there, from here?

This workshop aims to help you approach your data collection and analysis for your thesis or dissertation topic, and to adapt and refine your topic to be more feasible. You will take your research project ideas to the next stop—whatever that may be, include raising travel grants. Learn to:

  • Plan more efficiently, feasible, and rewarding fieldwork
  • Prepare more compelling and persuasive grant proposals
  • Navigate choices of research methods and course offerings on campus
  • Become a better research and fieldwork team-member

Format
This is an engaged, hands-on, informal workshop. Everyone shares ideas and participates. We will explore and compare research approaches, share experiences and brainstorm alternatives. You will be encouraged to think differently about your topic, questions, and study sites as well as language preparation, budgets, and logistics. The participatory format is intended to spark constructive new thinking, strategies, and student networks to continue learning about (and conducting) field research.

Who is leading this?
Laura Murphy, PhD, faculty in Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, and affiliate faculty to the Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

Who is this for?
This workshop is targeted to Stone Center graduate students as well as graduate students from other programs (GOHB, CCC, humanities, sciences, and others) if space is available. The workshop will be particularly helpful for those who envision research with human subjects.

Sign up
Sign up as soon as you can! Apply by January 20, 2018, at the latest to confirm your stop. Send an email with the following details:

  • Your name
  • Department and Degree program
  • Year at Tulane
  • Prior experience in research, especially field research
  • Academic training in research design and methods
  • Include a 1-paragraphy statement of your current research interests and immediate plans/needs (i.e. organize summer field research)

Light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Not for credit.

For more information and/or to apply: Contact Laura Murphy at lmurphy2@tulane.edu or Jimmy Huck at jhuck@tulane.edu.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Foreign Language Pedagogy and Research

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Call for Papers: Foreign Language Pedagogy and Research: New Approaches to Old Challenges
The goal of this symposium is to bring the Tulane University foreign language instructor community together by sharing foreign language teaching ideas, methods and practices. The symposium is open to all foreign language instructors and graduate students are strongly encouraged to submit a proposal.

Submissions:

  • Deadline for abstract submission: January 31st, 2018
  • Proposal should include a one-page description of the presentation and the name(s) and contact information of the (co)-presenter(s).
  • Presentations will be organized with a general format of 15 minutes for topic presentation/hands-on demonstration and 5 minutes for questions/discussion.
  • Interactive presentations are strongly encouraged. Presentations should be in English, however examples/exercises can be in the target language.
  • All submissions should be sent to rjudd@tulane.edu.
  • Notifications of acceptance will be sent by February, 20th 2018.

For more information about the symposium, guidelines, or requirements, please email:
Ryan Judd at rjudd@tulane.edu:mailto:rjudd@tulane.edu,
Roxanne Davilá at rdavila@tulane.edu:mailto:rdavila@tulane.edu, or
Charles Mignot at cmignot@tulane.edu:mailto:cmignot@tulane.edu.

Global Read Webinar Series: Diverse Social Justice Books for the High School Classroom

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Once a month, the World Area Book Awards (Américas Award, Africana Book Award, Middle East Outreach Book Award, South Asia Book Award) sponsor a free 60 minute webinar on a book recognized by one of the awards and facilitate a discussion with the author on how to incorporate the book into the classroom. The 2018 Spring Webinar Series focuses on social justice. We encourage educators to read the books with your colleagues, students, and community, and then join us to hear more from the author.

On Thursday, February 8, 2018, join us for a 60 minute webinar/chat focused on Margarita Engle’s recent book Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words. In this haunting yet hopeful novel in verse, award-winning author Margarita Engle tells the story of Antonio Chuffat, a young man of African, Chinese, and Cuban descent who became a champion of civil rights. The webinar will be available through Blackboard Collaborate. The book is appropriate for students in grades 8-12.

Forum on Education Abroad Workshop: Health, Safety, Security, and Risk Management

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Forum on Education Abroad Workshop: Health, Safety, Security, and Risk Management
In conjunction with the AAPLAC Conference, Hosted by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies

The Standards of Good Practice workshop, with a focus on Health, Safety, Security and Risk Management (Standard 8) can provide you with the tools you need to do just that. After examining the data available (including The Forum’s Critical Incident Database), workshop participants will consider how this specific Standard works in conjunction with the other Standards to guide programs in developing a solid risk management plan. Participants will practice applying three different approaches to risk management as they discuss actual case studies from the field. This qualifies as a Forum Certification Workshop.

Registration Deadline: February 2, 2018
For registration and more info click here.

29th Annual AAPLAC Conference

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The Association for Academic Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean (AAPLAC) will hold its 29th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 21-24, 2018, hosted by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University.

AAPLAC is an organization that facilitates and supports study abroad programming among Latin American, Caribbean and US institutions of higher learning and organizations dedicated to the promotion of cross-cultural, academic-based experiences.

This year’s theme, “Study Abroad: Meeting the Challenges of Cultural Engagement,” will include a variety of paper topics:

  • New Orleans after Katrina: The impact of the growing Hispanic population which came to help with rebuilding and has since stayed on
  • Interdisciplinary Institutional Content Assessment: How to best track what students are doing overseas and the benefits for our campuses
  • Global Partnerships through Peer Collaboration: How we can better work with institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Research Collaborations – U.S.-Latin America: Faculty led/student participation in on-site studies
  • Anglo-Hispanic Challenges: Cross-cultural understanding through experiential learning and study abroad
  • Strategic Partnerships: How we can enhance protocols between our schools in the US and those in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Strengthening AAPLAC Relationships through Inter-Organization Mentoring: How we can enhance protocols amongst our schools in the US
  • Latina Empowerment: More women on study abroad programs: How we can take advantage of this bond between women of the North and the South
  • Rethinking Mobility: How is the student’s identity compromised/enhanced abroad?
  • Community-Based Partnerships: How students can learn as they engage with local communities in working type environments
  • Crossing Borders: The eternal quest for a global space as students interact with the other
  • Global Xenophobia on the Rise of Brexit/Trump? What is our role?
  • Cuba: Future U.S. Relations – Impact on Study Abroad

Our Call for Papers has now closed, but we encourage non-presenters and presenters alike to register for the conference. Any interested faculty, staff, and students from local and international universities, institutions, and study abroad providers are welcome. Registration is now open through February 1st.

A pre-conference workshop from the Forum on Education Abroad is also open to any conference participants. We encourage registration for this “Health, Safety, Security, & Risk Management (Standard 8)” workshop by February 2nd. Click here for registration and more information.

For questions, please contact Laura Wise Person at 862-8629 or lwise1@tulane.edu.