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  • Author: Nathaniel Parish Flannery
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: José Antonio Pérez remembers as a child seeing migrants climbing onto La Bestia (“The Beast”), the train that carries Central American migrants north to the state of Oaxaca, and wondering where they were going. An uncle told him the migrants were “traveling to El Norte,” the United States.
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, Mexico, Oaxaca
  • Author: Susan Segal
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: For almost two decades, I have watched entrepreneurship explode across Latin America and the Caribbean, empowering citizens, transforming economies and changing lives. In sectors ranging from restaurants and small manufacturing to high tech, entrepreneurs are changing the economic and social landscape of the region. Perhaps most important, they are also generating jobs. Across the region, 60 percent of employees work for businesses with five or fewer employees. In Mexico, 72 percent of employment comes from micro-, small- and medium-size businesses. In Brazil, small enterprises create two out of every three jobs.
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Cuba, Latin America, Caribbean, Mexico
  • Author: Eduardo Guerrero, Alejandro Hope
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Just look at the numbers; violence and murder are decreasing. When Mexican President Felipe Calderón left office in 2012, the nation's war on the drug cartels had already claimed 60,000 lives. Now, two years into the presidency of his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto, security conditions are still far from praiseworthy, but have improved in several key areas.
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Richard André
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and events from around the hemisphere with AQ's Panorama. Each issue, AQ packs its bags and offers readers travel tips on a new Americas destination.
  • Political Geography: United States, Mexico, Arizona
  • Author: Lourdes Melgar
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The time is ripe for a historic transformation of Mexico's energy sector. The 2008 Reforma Energética (Energy Reform)—a congressionally-approved presidential initiative that established or modified seven laws—highlighted the significant challenges facing the Mexican oil industry and the economic implications of a decline in oil production. The problem: it didn't resolve them. With the exception of Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Party of the Democratic Revolution—PRD), for the first time in Mexican politics the presidential candidates this year set out a series of bold institutional reforms. These included what was unthinkable years ago: turning the state-owned enterprise, Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), into an autonomous firm that could issue stock shares—a model similar to the one adopted by Brazil's Petrobras in the 1990s.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Mexico
  • Author: Lauren Villagran, Mitra Taj, Taylor Barnes, Haley Cohen
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Six days a week, María Felicitas Camacho Maya, 62, unlocks the door to Lilian Michel, a bright white salon in Mexico City's upscale Condesa neighborhood. She slips a white smock over her blouse and checks her hair at an island of oval mirrors. América Luz Valencia, a 27-year-old manicurist, arrives an hour or so later, her stylish hair sleek as a black onyx blade. Once her first customer for a manicure walks in, she'll clip, file and polish hands and feet for hours, sometimes without a break. Both the business owner and her younger employee are aspiring members of Mexico's diverse and rapidly expanding middle class. They demonstrate the critical role working women now play in their families' social mobility.
  • Political Geography: Argentina, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: "Don't be afraid of bureaucracy. Turn it into an opportunity." According to Brazilian entrepreneur Edivan Costa, that has been the guiding phrase of his life and career. But he is the first to admit that in his country, it's easier said than done: Brazil ranks 126th out of 183 countries in ease of starting a new business, according to the World Bank/International Finance Corporation's 2012 annual Doing Business report. That's why Costa founded SEDI, a company dedicated to helping new businesses navigate Brazil's often-frustrating bureaucracy. SEDI, the acronym for Serviços Especializados de Despachante Imobiliário (Specialized Forwarding Agent Services), offers one-stop shopping for businesses trying to obtain the federal, state and municipal licenses they need to operate. And that's a significant service in a country where, according to the Doing Business report, it takes an average of 13 procedures and 119 days to register and license a business. Certain businesses, such as a gas station, can require 120 separate licenses. It's one reason why 40 percent of Brazilian start-up businesses do not survive more than two years after opening, according to a 2011 report from Brazil's national statistics agency, IBGE.
  • Topic: Corruption
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, Mexico
  • Author: Alejandro M. Werner, Oya Celasun
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Latin America has bounced back economically in the past decade. Between 2002 and 2012, the region has seen strong and stable growth, low inflation and improved economic fundamentals. As a result, the weight of the region in global economic output increased from about 6 percent in the 1990s to 8 percent in 2012. With that has come a greater voice in the global economy.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Jose Antonio Caballero
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Judiciary: The Courts in Mexico BY JOSÉ ANTONIO CABALLERO The steady process of change in judicial organizations in Mexico, which began in the mid-1990s, was given a major boost in the past few years with four constitutional amendments. The most significant is a 2008 amendment requiring that all state and federal judicial systems transition from a written-based inquisitorial system to an oral-based accusatorial one by 2016. This will bring greater transparency while better protecting the rights of the accused and allowing for the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Halfway into the transition phase, though, the processes' slow implementation poses a risk that states won't meet the 2016 deadline.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Central America, Caribbean, Mexico
  • Author: Saskia Sassen, Andrew Selee, Moses Naim
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead by Shannon O'Neil BY ANDREW SELEE Click here to view a video interview with Shannon O'Neil. No relationship in the Western Hemisphere is more critical for the United States than its relationship with Mexico. U.S. security is closely tied to Mexico's ability (and willingness) to strengthen its legal and judicial system, and to Mexico's economic potential. And conversely, an improving American economy will have an outsized impact on Mexico's future development. In Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead, Shannon K. O'Neil, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, provides both a readable recent history of Mexico and a cogent argument for why U.S. policymakers, business leaders and citizens should care about the future of their southern neighbor. In one of her more compelling passages, she imagines what it would be like if Mexico's economy were to take off as Spain's did in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Mexico
  • Author: Katherine Blumberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In 2003, Mexico's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) started work on a standard to dramatically reduce the sulfur levels in fuels. By 2005, the standard was published, requiring ultra-low-sulfur fuels (15 parts per million or less) nationwide by 2009. However, today, only about 25 percent of the diesel sold in Mexico meets the standard. What happened? Four years after the original requirement, SEMARNAT, SENER (the energy ministry) and PEMEX (the state-owned oil company) have still not settled on a new deadline for cleaner fuels in Mexico. And, in a chicken-and-egg dilemma, the motor vehicle industry has been reluctant to agree to standards that take full advantage of cleaner fuels, citing uncertainty about when those fuels will truly be available. The delay will have enormous consequences for public health in Mexico. Most of the world is all too familiar with the sight of a cloud of black smoke belching out of the tail pipe of a diesel truck or bus. Diesel particles cause more damage to health around the world than any other pollutant from the transport sector. What many people don't know is that the most dangerous particles are the ones you can't see...
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Diana Villiers Negroponte
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In April last year, the Colombian government announced its intention to pursue the creation of an interconnected electrical grid from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego. Naming the project "Connecting the Americas 2022" ("Connect 2022" ), the Colombians had picked up the idea from Washington and included it in last year's agenda at the Summit of the Americas. The goal, as defined by the hemispheric governments that attended the summit, is to create an integrated electrical grid that can provide universal access to electricity through enhanced energy interconnections, power sector investments, renewable energy development, and cooperation. Should it succeed, the project will bring together regional electricity grids, including the Central American electrical grid, known by its Spanish acronym, SIEPAC (see Jeremy Martin's article on the difficulty of completing SIPAC on page 102 of this issue), with South American networks. Completing it, though, requires passing through the Darién Gap.
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America, Germany, Mexico
  • Author: Kent Allen
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: E-Commerce: Easing Cross-Border E-Commerce BY KENT ALLEN The age of digital commerce is dawning in Latin America, with cross-border marketers looking to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Brazil as opportunities to connect with online shoppers. Will the region capitalize on its e-commerce potential? The cross-border e-commerce math is simple. More online traffic means more sales opportunities, especially for digitally savvy brands from the U.S. and United Kingdom. The number of Latin Americans accessing the Internet jumped 12 percent last year, and mobile traffic is on the rise too. From July 2011 to July 2012, Flurry Analytics reports that four of the 10 fastest growing iOS and Android markets, as measured by the number of active devices, were in the Americas: Chile (279 percent); Brazil (220 percent); Argentina (217 percent); and Mexico (193 percent). Federico Torres, CEO of Traetelo, a cross-border marketplace solely focused on Latin America, explained why the region's future is digital at the June 2013 Chicago Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition, the world's largest e-commerce conference. According to Traetelo, Chile (27 percent growth), Mexico (19 percent) and Brazil (19 percent) were among the five fastest-growing e-commerce markets in the world last year. “Three-quarters of Latin America shoppers find the products they search for on U.S. e-commerce sites,” said Torres.
  • Topic: Government, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Latin America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Panorama Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and events from around the hemisphere with AQ's Panorama. Each issue, AQ packs its bags and offers readers travel tips on a new Americas destination. In this issue: Mexico is Still Waiting for “Los Bitles” World Games, Cali American Sabor 10 Things to Do: Ponce, Puerto Rico Heart-Stopping U.S. Food Festivals From the Think Tanks.
  • Topic: Security, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Silvio Waisbord
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Media concentration remains a crucial challenge for democracy in Latin America. There are no media monopolies, strictly speaking, in the sense of a single corporation owning all media offerings, but media market concentration remains high. Legacy media properties, as well as the majority of advertising expenditures, are controlled by a small number of companies. Some television markets are "imperfect duopolies," such as in Mexico, where Grupo Televisa and TV Azteca reap the lion's share of ownership, advertising and audiences. In Colombia, CaracolTV and RCNTV attract over 60 percent of television advertising.
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Prost, Brazil! Grab a stein-full of caipirinha and stroll down to Ipanema beach in your lederhosen—it's Germany-Brazil Year in Brazil. The yearlong festival, aimed at deepening German-Brazilian relations, kicked off in May with the opening of the German-Brazilian Economic Forum in São Paulo. “Brazil is one of the most successful new centers of power in the world,” says Guido Westerwelle, Germany's foreign minister. “We want to intensify cooperation with Brazil, not only economically but also culturally.” It's no surprise that Brazil, the sixth-largest economy in the world, has caught the attention of Europe's financial powerhouse. Brazil is Germany's most important trading partner in Latin America, accounting for $14.2 billion in imports in 2012. With some 1,600 German companies in Brazil providing 250,000 jobs and 17 percent of industrial GDP, it's an economic relationship that clearly has mutual benefits.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, Europe, Brazil, Germany, Mexico
  • Author: Marcelo Ebrard
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Mexico City has one of the world's most complex concentrations of people. In the early sixteenth century, Mexico City already had 200,000 inhabitants, and the Valley of Mexico almost half a million—which is to say, it has always been one of the world's largest cities. Due to its longstanding position as Mexico's capital city, industrial development in the twentieth century, and particularly the rapid demographic growth in the 1970s and 1980s, the city's air quality was suffering by the early 1990s. Mexico City became known internationally as the most polluted city in the world.
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Bernardo J. Rico
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In June, 15 gunmen traveling in three vehicles attacked a police station in the small town of Salcaja in the northern Guatemalan highlands. By the time the shooting ended, eight policemen were dead—and one, the station's deputy inspector, was kidnapped. The motive was initially unclear, but the government's subsequent investigation revealed that the deputy inspector and a few of the police who were murdered had heisted $740,000 from the leader of a local narco-trafficking organization connected to Mexico's notorious Gulf Cartel.
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Nathaniel Parish Flannery
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Dispatches: Xaltianguis, Mexico BY NATHANIEL PARISH FLANNERY How armed housewives in the hills of Mexico are fighting back against narcotraffickers—without the state. View a slideshow from Xaltianguis, Mexico below. Angelica Romero, a middle-aged mother of two, views her reflection in the bedroom mirror. She tucks her blue T-shirt into her jeans, pulls her hair back in a ponytail, and slips a tan baseball cap onto her head. In black letters across the brim, it reads: “Citizen Police.” Only a few months earlier, residents of Romero's town, Xaltianguis, located in the verdant hills outside Acapulco, had been paralyzed by fear of kidnapping gangs, armed robbers and extortionists. But since the townspeople banded together to form a militia this summer, the crime wave has come to an end.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: Richard André
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Graphicanos View a slideshow of Graphicanos prints below. Indiana is better known for the Indy 500 and sports teams than for a thriving art culture, so most art lovers would be surprised to stumble upon the cutting-edge exhibit of serigraphic prints—a contemporary art form that uses block-size ink stencils to print images onto canvas—on display this winter at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Charles Shepard, the museum's executive director and curator of the groundbreaking exhibit—Graphicanos: Contemporary Latino Prints from the Serie Project—likes to point out that there is a thriving art world beyond the traditional centers of New York and San Francisco. And he believes presenting often-ignored contributions of Latino artists in the American “heartland”—not usually seen as a center of Latino culture—reflects the rich diversity of U.S. society today. “Every part of our diverse culture is making art in some form,” Shepard says. “And as a museum, we should be looking at that.” The museum hosts an annual Día de los Muertos celebration every November, which attracts about 2,000 visitors from a variety of cultural backgrounds. The event became so popular that it inspired him to collaborate with the late Sam Coronado, a Mexican-American serigraphic print artist, for the Graphicanos exhibit.
  • Topic: Agriculture
  • Political Geography: New York, Cuba, Mexico
  • Author: Jose W. Fernandez
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: United States-Latin American relations have often suffered from a disconnect. While we stress security issues, the region's leaders speak of poverty reduction and trade. They resent being seen as afterthoughts to U.S. policies focused elsewhere. As a result, the region is sporadically open to new suitors, such as Spanish investors 15 years ago, or the Chinese today. Despite their frustration with Washington, Latin American leaders recognize that, as the hemisphere's largest economy and market, the U.S. remains the indispensable partner. The challenge, both for the U.S. and Latin America, is to agree on common economic priorities both sides can pursue jointly, rather than continuing parallel dialogues. Economic growth, poverty reduction and job creation are common elements on both sides' wish lists. Politically, the stars are more aligned than ever in recent history for a renewed emphasis on economics in our relations with Latin America. The administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has made clear that its priority will be economic reform at home and more integrated North American markets and supply chains. From the beginning of his term, the Mexican president called for elevating our economic diplomacy to the same levels as our security relationship, which led to the first High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) between Mexico and the U.S. in late September.
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Nathaniel Parish Flannery
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Can Mexico exploit its new demographic dividend? With contributing research from Miryam Hazán and Carlos López Portillo Maltos of Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT). Read a sidebar on Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT's) electronic job bank. Read a sidebar on Mexican migrants' return to restaurant work. José Antonio Pérez remembers as a child seeing migrants climbing onto La Bestia ("The Beast"), the train that carries Central American migrants north to the state of Oaxaca, and wondering where they were going. An uncle told him the migrants were "traveling to El Norte," the United States. "I didn't understand," Pérez recalled. "I only understood when I was older." At the age of 14, he joined them. He left his hometown of Arriaga, Chiapas, in 2003 and found work in a greenhouse in Chestertown, Virginia.
  • Topic: Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Mexico
  • Author: José Raúl Perales
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The hemisphere's free-trade agreements-and how to untangle them.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Canada, Latin America, Caribbean, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Latin America is a pioneer in gay rights, but popular attitudes lag behind.
  • Topic: United Nations, Law
  • Political Geography: Canada, Argentina, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Keith Dannemiller
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Mexicans and Chinese learn, play and work together.
  • Political Geography: China, Mexico
26. Media 1.5
  • Author: Silvio Waisbord
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: New technology has expanded the media choices available to Latin Americans. But don't expect it to usher in a new era of citizen engagement. (audio interview available)
  • Topic: Government, Communications
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico
  • Author: Steven Samford
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Helping small artisanal producers compete on the global market is essential to reducing inequality.
  • Topic: Markets
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Raul Rivera
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Most people have grown used to thinking about Latin America as a region of marginal global importance: painfully poor, violent, politically and economically unstable and, to top it all, fragmented into some 20-odd countries, each one different from the other. So when Jerry Wind, founding editor of Wharton School Publishing, invited me to speak on Latin America at a Wharton conference aimed at senior U.S. executives, I wondered what a group of U.S. businesspeople would be interested to hear about the region. Who, after all, would want to do business in a place like that? But how accurate are those perceptions? As I prepared for my talk, my conclusion was: not much. Let's address the four principal myths about the region one by one. Myth 1: Latin America Really Does not Matter Economically To start, the territory of continental Latin America is larger than the U.S. and China combined, four times larger than the European Union, and seven times larger than India—a country roughly the size of Argentina. With almost every ecosystem represented, it is in fact the world's most biodiverse region, containing five of the world's ten most biodiverse countries. The region's bio-capacity (the biological productivity of the land measured in hectares per capita) is also larger than any other's. Witness the region's role in the global food chain: it is the largest producer of soybeans, coffee, sugar, bananas, orange juice, a leading fishmeal producer, and a major grain and meat exporter. Its mineral riches keep world industry running: silver, gold, copper, zinc, lead, tin, bismuth, molybdenum, rhenium, telurium, borium, strontium—you name it. And it produces one out of every six barrels of oil. In fact, much of the global community depends on Latin America's vast riches for its prosperity—indeed, for its survival. To that point: the Amazon basin plays a crucial role in the recycling of atmospheric carbon, absorbing one fourth of all global emissions. Latin America's population, now approaching 600 million, is twice that of the U.S. and significantly larger than the combined population of the European Union. Those numbers do not include some 50 million U.S. permanent residents and citizens who trace their origins back to the region (and keep close ties with it). By 2050, the region's population will have risen to an estimated 800 million. Latin America is not poor either. It boasts a per-capita GDP similar to the global average: $10,000. It is no richer or poorer than the rest of the world. In fact, 400 million people, or two-thirds of all Latin Americans, already belong to the global middle class, with their purchasing power fueling much of Latin America's growth. With some 200 million people still living in poverty, Latin America's poor are still numerous. But their ranks are declining fast, at a rate of 5 million a year over the past decade. As a result, its Gini coefficient improved by 10 percent between 2002 and 2008. In brief: the world's poor are now elsewhere—mainly in Asia and Africa. A population this large combined with average income levels have turned Latin America into the fourth largest economy in the world, with a regional GDP of some $6 trillion (purchasing power parity). That is larger than that of Russia and India's combined—larger, in fact, than that of any country or region other than the U.S., the EU and China. Not bad for a “region of marginal importance.” You could argue that Latin America's fragmentation into small, separate markets makes all the difference. But you would be wrong. As a result of the free-market reforms of the past decades, Latin America's economy is now the most open to trade in the developing world, with average tariffs down to 10 percent or less. Intraregional trade is booming. Most significantly, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have signed bilateral free-trade agreements (with both the EU and the U.S., though Colombia's is waiting for the U.S. Congress' approval). These agreements are giving rise to a free-trade zone of some 200 million consumers, larger than Brazil and fully open to global trade. Surprisingly, it does not yet have a name—or a space among the BRICs. It will, though. Let's name these four countries the L-4 for now...
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, India, Brazil, Colombia, Latin America, Mexico, Chile, Peru
  • Author: Robert A. Pastor
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Two decades ago, the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States forged an agreement that transformed North America from just a geographical expression to the world's most formidable economic entity. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) eliminated most of the trade and investment barriers that had segmented the continent. Within a decade, trade among the three countries tripled and foreign direct investment (FDI) quintupled. By 2001, the three nations of North America accounted for 36 percent of the world product—up from 30 percent in 1994. And while many economists have waxed enthusiastic about the growing power of Brazil, U.S. trade with Mexico today is more than six times larger than its trade with Brazil. Unfortunately, since 2001 regional cooperation has stagnated. NAFTA, designed to expand trade and investment, has proven too limited in addressing the current issues facing the three countries. The time has come for the leaders of North America to recommit to regional integration if they want to effectively address the policy issues facing the region. For example, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, NAFTA can play a major role in job creation. A revamped agreement can potentially double exports and allow North America to once again compete with integrated markets in Asia and Europe. Beyond jobs, enhanced coordination and information sharing among NAFTA partners will allow for better control of immigration and the flow of illicit drugs across our borders. Finally, strengthening ties will begin to close the development gap between Mexico and its two neighbors, fortifying the economic and political bloc. The Rise and Fall of North America Though NAFTA has long faded from the headlines, the agreement's first years showed much promise. When the North American market was created in 1992, the impact was almost immediate. Contrary to the claim by U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot that American jobs would be “sucked” into Mexico, the dramatic increase in North American trade coincided with the largest wave of job creation in U.S. history. Between 1992 and 2000, roughly 22 million jobs were added in the U.S., while trade with and FDI in Canada and Mexico grew more than 17 percent each year. The combination of expanded trade and investment meant that the three countries were actually making products together rather than just trading them. By combining U.S. capital and technology with Mexico's cheaper labor and Canada's abundant resources, the enlarged North American market experienced rapid growth, while Europe stagnated. From the onset of the U.S.-Canadian Free Trade Agreement in 1988 to 2001, trade among Mexico, Canada and the U.S., as a percentage of their trade with the world, leapt from 36 percent to 46 percent. The decline of the integration idea could be dated to the spring of 2001, when Presidents Vicente Fox of Mexico and George W. Bush of the U.S. met Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in Québec. Fox and his Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda arrived with a suitcase filled with proposals, such as a North American Commission, a “cohesion” fund to reduce the development gap, a customs union and an immigration agreement. But Chrétien was not interested in including Mexico in Canada's talks with the U.S., and Bush rejected any new multilateral institution or fund. The opportunity for progress was lost. The share of trade among the three countries as a percentage of their trade with the rest of the world dropped from 46 percent in 2001 to 40 percent in 2009—almost to pre-NAFTA levels. The average annual growth of trade among the three countries declined by two-thirds, while growth of foreign direct investment decreased by one-half…
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, Brazil, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Kevin P. Gallagher, Arturo Sarukhan, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Kurt G. Weyland
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Do traditional models of international relations apply in Latin America?
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Environment, Government
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Liliana Rojero has had a passion for politics since she was 13 years old. Today, at 35, she is putting that passion to work. As the secretary of community outreach for Mexico's ruling party, the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), Rojero is responsible for creating programs to engage a new generation of PAN voters. Over the next three years, she aims to spread PAN's reach and, ultimately, help it win the 2012 Presidential election. Rojero, a native of the state of Chihuahua, learned about political commitment from her parents—former state election monitors who instilled in her the values of democracy, transparency and participation. Observing how officials from the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) blatantly manipulated election outcomes—she and her mother would sometimes find ballots “mysteriously” filed by dead voters—led Rojero to see her participation in the democratic process as a duty. During a hotly contested governor's race in 1986, she was inspired by watching her teachers and neighbors take their political protests to the streets and capitol. “I saw what freedom and their votes meant to them,” she recalls.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Real change begins when communities learn how to help themselves, believe Diego de Sola, his sister Celina, and her husband Ken Baker. This idea guided the three former Connecticut residents to pack their bags and move to El Salvador four years ago to start a small NGO, Glasswing International. Inspired by groups like Habitat for Humanity, Glasswing works in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Named after the transparent-winged butterfly native to Central America and Mexico and representing the transparency NGOs bring to development, Glasswing's efforts focus on education and health. The three founders believe these two areas are most in need of help and have the greatest potential for impact. Unlike the past work of Celina and Ken—former disaster relief workers—the work is not top-down or short-term. The projects are staffed by a corps of volunteers called Crisálida (Chrysalis—in keeping with the butterfly metaphor). The spirit that motivates the volunteers is not one of noblesse oblige. The Crisálida corps attracts the young and old, students and professionals, and representatives from all socioeconomic strata.
  • Political Geography: Central America, Mexico, El Salvador