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35 West

The CSIS Americas Program podcast looks at the politics and policies of the 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere. It especially focuses on U.S. engagement with the region, whether on trade, diplomacy, or security issues like drugs and terrorism. Guests include top policymakers from the U.S. and other countries.

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Apprehensive at the Border

The former Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Alan Bersin, explains exactly how the Trump Administration policy of detaining migrants works. He and Richard discuss the steep decline over the last two decade in apprehensions on the southwest border, the spike in Central American migration, and a potential remedy for the broken asylum process.


28 Jun 2018

Rank #1

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Unsafe Space: Mexico’s Security Problem

The security situation in Mexico remains grim, and is a major theme of Mexico’s presidential campaign. David Shedd, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, long time CIA professional, and Latin American expert, assesses the state of the drug war, the scope of US-Mexico security cooperation, and the future direction of Mexico’s war against the cartels. On Big Little News, Sarah explains how to steal over $1 million of fajitas, and in the process creates a new meme. 


3 May 2018

Rank #2

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Show Me the Money: Are Sanctions on Venezuela Working?

As Venezuela endures an upcoming presidential election on May 20th, widely seen as illegitimate, the U.S. and other like-minded countries are considering further sanctions on the Maduro regime. In a joint production of the Financial Integrity Network and CSIS, Juan Zarate sits down with Moises Rendon, Jose Luis Stein, and David Murray to discuss the effectiveness of sanctions on Venezuela and the opportunities ahead.


16 May 2018

Rank #3

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Good Cop, Bad Cop: Are US-Mexican Relations Better Than They Seem?

Mexico expert Shannon O’Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations gives her take on the Mexican economy, NAFTA, and President Enrique Peña Nieto’s faltering reforms. She also weighs in on the good cop, bad cop routine that constitutes the current state of the US-Mexico bilateral relationship, and finally, places her bets on the upcoming presidential elections.  In Big Little News, Sarah “Unbreakable” Baumunk exudes optimism in discussing Latin America’s falling homicide rates, due in part to a surprisingly simple tool.        


12 Apr 2018

Rank #4

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How To Get to a Start-Up Continent

How do entire economies become more innovative?  Jackson Streeter, an expert on technology transfer, maps the ecosystem of innovation. Strong intellectual property rights, investments in research and development, a risk-taking mentality, and seed funding are all necessary parts. Can they be nurtured and developed in Latin America? Sarah’s Big Little News is the rise of marriage fraud in Costa Rica.  


26 Apr 2018

Rank #5

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Coming Home

Images of migrants charging the U.S. border obscure a larger trend. Many Mexican and Central American migrants are returning home, whether they want to or not. Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, returns to talk about who is coming and who is going. What are the governments of Mexico and the Northern Triangle doing to handle this reverse influx and what does it mean for U.S. immigration policy? Finally, will Americans support an immigration deal anytime soon?


24 Jan 2019

Rank #6

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Troika of Punditry

The Axis of Evil is out, the Troika of Tyranny is in. Are Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba the prisms through which U.S. policy in Latin America can be seen? Pedro Burelli, a former director of Venezuela’s state oil company, Moises Rendon of CSIS, and host Richard Miles talk dictators, despots, sanctions, and regional stability.


8 Nov 2018

Rank #7

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AMLO Wins Big

Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s big victory in Mexico may mean changes for the U.S. Shannon O’Neil of the Council on Foreign relations returns to assess AMLO’s top priorities, his initial post-election signals, and the prospect of good relations with President Trump.    


12 Jul 2018

Rank #8

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Who’s on First, What Comes Next?

Juan Guaidó, the 35-year old legitimate head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, is facing off against Nicolas Maduro, who clings to his illegitimate power. Venezuela experts Moises Rendon of CSIS and Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas are back to describe the role of the United States, the international community, and the Cubans. Guaidó himself, according to Moises, has a promising political future and may be the rarest of creatures in the Bolivarian Republic; someone who can unite factions against the government. If he can convince the military that it won’t be unfairly prosecuted by a successor government, we may be in the final throes of the Maduro regime.


7 Feb 2019

Rank #9

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North of the Border

Texas is greatly affected by tariffs, trade, and travel across the U.S. southern border. Matthew Rooney, director of the Economic Growth Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, gives us the view from the Lone Star State. He also explains border infrastructure, supply chains, and the long-term economic effects of trade barriers on North America. He and Richard also trade predictions on the art of an immigration deal before the 2020 elections.


17 Jan 2019

Rank #10

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Not Like a G7

President Trump got very mad at Prime Minister Trudeau at the recent G7 Summit in Canada. Christopher Sands of the School of Advanced International Studies explains how the blow up may affect Canadian politics and trade with the U.S. He also reveals what Canadians really think of Americans. Sarah Baumunk returns with Big Little News about which non-Americans to cheer on in the World Cup.    


21 Jun 2018

Rank #11

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Party Like It's 2018

Democrats now run the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Does it matter for Latin America? According to former Bush official José Cardenas, apart from Trump’s Wall there is remarkable bipartisan consensus on what needs to be done in hotspots like Venezuela, Nicaragua, and even Central America. On migration and border security, Cardenas argues against a “Fortress America” mentality if we want to preserve a dynamic economy. Finally, he predicts the eventual assimilation of Latin American voters into both major parties.


10 Jan 2019

Rank #12

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Blockchain Can Help Venezuela

How low can Venezuela go?  We’ve been predicting its collapse for a year, but it’s still around.  Moises Rendon, our resident Venezuela expert, updates us on the misery resulting from the Maduro government’s policies, and explains how blockchain technology could help Venezuela rebuild once it hits bottom. More than a source of digital currency, the technology enables international aid, electoral security, the protection of property rights, and helps fight corruption.     For more information, read Moises full report How the Blockchain Can Help Venezuela’s Future Recovery. To learn how the Venezuelan government is controlling the distribution of food through the CLAP program, read his latest article The Maduro Diet: Food v. Freedom in Venezuela.


19 Jul 2018

Rank #13

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Who’s Hispanic Here?

Arguably no state is more politically important than Florida, which has become an electoral microcosm for the whole country. But Hispanic voting patterns in the Sunshine State - and the definition of Hispanic - is very different. Ana Quintana, an expert at the Heritage Foundation, explains the results of the 2018 midterms on statewide races. She and Richard also discuss the importance of the immigration issue to Mexican voters, and the effect it will have on both parties for the 2020 campaign and beyond.


3 Jan 2019

Rank #14

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Who Moved My Monopoly?

Mexico’s government has surrendered its monopoly on the use of force, while large Mexican companies exert one in the marketplace. So argues Francisco González of SAIS in this week’s episode of 35 West. Along the way, Francisco covers 50 years of Mexican politics, Mexicans’ support for democracy, and the prospects for reducing violence and the flow of drugs to the U.S. Finally, he predicts stability in the US-Mexican political relationship, at least until the Mexican midterm elections in 2020.


27 Dec 2018

Rank #15

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Maduro’s Deadline: January 10th

January 10, the date a new presidential period begins, represents an unprecedented opportunity for the international community to help halt Venezuela’s collapse. Despite the refusal of nearly 50 countries to recognize the May 2018 Venezuelan presidential elections, Nicolas Maduro plans to be sworn in. The implications of so many nations not recognizing Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate president after January 10 have yet to be determined. CSIS Senior Advisor Mark Schneider and Venezuela expert Antonio de La Cruz join CSIS’ Moises Rendon to discuss the political, diplomatic and legal implications moving forward.


18 Dec 2018

Rank #16

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What Will AMLO and Bolsonaro Do To Energy Markets?

New leaders in Mexico and Brazil may mean big changes to their respective energy sectors. Energy expert Lisa Viscidi of the Inter-American Dialogue says a Mexican delay on offshore bidding could have a major impact, but that Brazil is likely to maintain the status quo. Finally, Venezuela may eventually run dry, given the massive investment required to reverse declining oil output.   


13 Dec 2018

Rank #17

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What’s Left in Venezuela’s Policy Toolkit?

Current international pressure on the Venezuelan regime has not been enough to help restore the country’s democracy – at least, not yet. Venezuela is enduring the worst humanitarian crisis in the region, which is having an overwhelming impact on neighboring countries, including unprecedented waves of migrants and refugees. Fernando Cutz, a former National Security Council advisor at the White House, joins Moises Rendon for a discussion on what options are left for helping Venezuela.


29 Nov 2018

Rank #18

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Welcome to My House

Gone are hopes for a swift congressional ratification of USMCA with the House returning to the Democrats in January. Is Canada worried, and if so, why? Christopher Sands of Johns Hopkins University is back to help us empathize with our northern neighbors, as well as the changes in the post World War II global order.


14 Nov 2018

Rank #19

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Free Fallin’

Bolsonaro in Brazil, migrants in Mexico, plebiscites on planes, and (assistant) Secretaries of State. Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas and host Richard Miles go down the alliterative alphabet of the atlas, inferring implications for U.S. politics and policy. Also, check out our cool new intro by producer Ribka Gemilangsari.


31 Oct 2018

Rank #20