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  • Author: Cedric Herring
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: For many people, gender diversity is important because it removes barriers that have historically prevented women from taking their rightful places in the corridors of power. But there's also a specific business case to be made: including more women in the corporate setting will help meet customers' needs, enrich understanding of the pulse of the marketplace and improve the quality of products and services. The business case rests on what should be an obvious point: companies cannot effectively sell to women if they do not understand and value women, whether as customers or as employees. Therefore, increasing gender diversity in Latin American companies, especially in mass consumer-oriented sectors where women form large portions of the actual or potential customer base, will help boost their bottom line. In the United States, proponents of diversity commonly make the claim that diversity pays. The greater the diversity among employees, the broader their perspectives, resulting in an ability to marshal a wider array of intellectual and cultural resources to solve problems. Diversity also is a source of creative conflict that can lead to a re-examination of assumptions that would otherwise be dominated by male points of view. The putative competitive advantages—fresh ideas, positive outreach and communication with customers, more qualified workers— have persuaded many companies that diversity can produce greater profit.
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Michael Shifter
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: At first glance, perhaps the most notable feature of Plan Colombia has been its longevity. Given the current divisiveness in Washington, the bipartisan support it has received across three administrations now seems remarkable. After 12 years, the plan is gradually winding down, but the U.S. allocated more than $300 million under the program in 2012 alone. Although the Plan has evolved considerably since it was approved by the U.S. Congress in July 2000, it has become shorthand for wide-ranging U.S. cooperation with Colombia to assist that country in combating drugs, guerrilla violence, and related institutional and social problems. All told, the U.S. has spent nearly $8 billion on the initiative—more than anywhere outside of the Middle East, and Iraq and Afghanistan since the end of the Cold War. Although the effort gave priority to counter-narcotics operations—and specifically the eradication of coca in southern Colombia—from the outset it also encompassed assistance for the judiciary and economic development.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Development, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: Joan Caivano, Jane Marcus-Delgado
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Every day, women across Latin America are terminating their pregnancies under illegal and unsafe circumstances. The number of unsafe abortions—which represent about 95 percent of the total—grew from 3.9 million in 2003 to 4.2 million in 2008, with the annual abortion rate holding steady during that period, at about 32 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages 15 to 44. That's more than double the rate in Western Europe (12 per 1,000)—where abortion is generally permitted without exception. The high rate of unsafe abortions, which is defined by the World Health Organization as a termination of pregnancy performed by individuals without necessary skills, or under conditions that are below minimum medical standards (or both), underlines the dismal state of reproductive rights in the region. And it has had chilling consequences for poor and rural women in particular.
  • Topic: World Health Organization
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Renata Avelar Giannini
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The United Nations Security Council has promoted a gender focus in peacekeeping operations, including the protection of civilians, since the adoption of Resolution 1325 (RES1325) in 2000. The logic is simple: involving women in peace negotiations and reconstruction efforts helps ensure a more equitable and stable society following conflict. Since December 2000, Latin American participation in peacekeeping operations has increased by nearly 1,000 percent.1 Of 7,140 military troops deployed in peacekeeping operations worldwide, female personnel participating in those missions total 238, or 3.3 percent. In the two missions with the most Latin American personnel, the region's female representation is higher than that of many other countries, but still lower than the target of 10 percent laid out in UN RES1325. For example, female personnel make up only 2 percent of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), but they make up 2.5 percent of all troops deployed from Latin America.2 Likewise, in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, overall female participation is 2.2 percent, but women make up 6.4 percent of Latin American personnel deployed.
  • Topic: Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Stephanie George, Susan Silbermann, Elisa Garcia C.
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: When I started my career over 30 years ago, there was strong resistance among companies to take a chance on a young woman whose nurturing and collaborative style seemed foreign to the traditional corporate culture. But I was lucky enough to work at two trendsetting companies, Disney/ABC and Time Warner, both of which recognized the importance of having women in the C-suite and championed sponsorship strategies and programs for women's advancement. The programs I participated in gave me access to top executives, prepared me to move forward in my career, and provided the necessary skills and acumen to better serve on corporate boards. While I learned a lot about business from these initiatives, I've also always stayed true to my own corporate style and I encourage other women to do the same. I'm more likely to start a business meeting with a hug than with a handshake. I manage my direct reports through motivation, not intimidation. I see colleagues as teammates, not adversaries.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Author: Maria Garcia Andia
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The strength and quality of democracy depend on how well judiciaries perform and function. In Latin America, after more than 20 years of judicial reforms, there have been some notable achievements. But there is a long way to go before judiciaries can adequately carry out their responsibilities to resolve conflicts, define and interpret rights and laws, and provide the framework for accessible, impartial systems of justice. The judicial reform movement that began in the 1980s—an effort that accompanied the rebuilding of democratic systems—sought to overhaul existing penal codes and procedures to respond to citizens' claims of human rights violations, and to pursue truth, justice and accountability for abuses committed during the dictatorships. Reforms were later expanded and deepened, while others did not take effect until the late 2000s.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Peter Klingstone, Lisa Schineller
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Is Brazil's economy too commodity-dependent? Yes: Peter Kingstone; No: Lisa Schineller In this issue: Brazil's reliance on commodity exports threatens its medium- and long-term growth prospects. Brazil's economic success is based on more than the demand for natural resources.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Brazil
  • Author: David Tebaldi
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: One hot afternoon during a visit to Cuba in March 2000, a traveling companion and I hopped into a tricycle cab for a ride from the Hotel Nacional to Old Havana. The young man pedaling the cab overheard us talking and turned his head to ask, “Canadian?” “No, somos Americanos,” I responded. His face lit up. “Every day when I wake up,” he blurted out, “I dream of going to America.” Orlando, whose name has been changed for this article, was in his early 30s. An ophthalmologist by training, he was pedaling a cab because he could not support his wife and three-year-old daughter on his government salary of $20 a month. We hadn't gotten very far when we were pulled over by a policeman. He walked Orlando some distance away from us and after several minutes of what looked like tense conversation, Orlando returned to inform us that he had broken the law by taking foreigners in his pedal cab, which was only for Cuban nationals. Only government-owned taxis were allowed to pick up tourists.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Ukraine, Havana
  • Author: Matthew Aho
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: It took courage and a splash of audacity for Argentine Congresswoman Laura Alonso to oppose the nationalization of Spanish oil giant Repsol's stake in Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF), her country's largest energy company. Her remarks in the Cámara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies) earlier this year earned her taunts even from fellow deputies from the ruling Peronist coalition of being “traitorous” and an “española” (Spaniard). Alonso gave as good as she got, calling officials in President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's government who orchestrated the takeover mistaken, corrupt and contaminated. “You can't just wave a national flag and evoke patriotism, while at the same time you're signing corrupt deals contrary to the rights of the people behind their backs,” she said in interviews after the speech.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Argentina
  • Author: Olivia Ruggles-Brise
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Latin America's travel and tourism industry took a hit during the 2008–2009 recession. International arrivals slowed and tourists had less money to spend. But over the longer term, tourism has been a success story—and forecasts suggest continued growth. That should surprise no one. Latin America's sheer diversity in scenic beauty, cuisine and cultures has combined with an increasingly sophisticated domestic industry to cater to every kind of traveler. Since 2006, tourism's direct contribution to GDP in Latin America has grown by 7 percent in real terms—more than double the world average—to reach an estimated $134 billion in 2011. This figure, which is projected to rise to $224 billion in 2022, includes revenue generated by tourism-oriented services such as hotels and airlines, as well as restaurant and leisure industries that cater to tourists. Forecasts for this year suggest tourism's direct contributions will grow by 6.5 percent, behind only Northeast and South Asia (6.7 percent).
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Brazil, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The Art of Peruvian Cooking Now that Peruvian cuisine has become a worldwide rage, it's hard to believe there was ever a time when people didn't know about Peru's culinary treasures. In 2000, Peruvian businessman and president of Lima's Fundación Custer Tony Custer helped introduce Peruvian cooking to the world with the publication of his best-selling The Art of Peruvian Cuisine. At the time, Custer says, “when people thought of Peru, it was always Cuzco and Machu Picchu, but there's a whole other world people miss out on. I wanted the world to see how rich and fascinating our food was; and there was no other book in English with quality photography.”
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: Canada, Brazil
  • Author: Maria de los Angeles Fernandez, Peter M. Siavelis
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Commentary on Chilean democracy has evolved from praise to concern since conservative President Sebastián Piñera moved into La Moneda Palace in 2010, bringing the Right to power for the first time in over 50 years. The praise was well-earned. Piñera's victory not only showed the Right's vote-getting ability; the peaceful alternation of power in Chile offered conclusive demonstration of one of the continent's most successful democratic transitions. Nevertheless, the Right's victory, which ended 20 years of government by the center-left Concertación, also coincided with a challenge to perceptions about Chile as a paragon of fiscal discipline and political stability. Contemporary Chile is convulsed by social mobilization, and by demands for redistribution and deep reforms to the economic and social model that was once heralded across the region.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America
  • Author: Elizabeth J. Zechmeister, Laura Sellers, Mitchell A. Seligson
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Ever since Aristotle, conventional wisdom has been that a robust middle class is a sine qua non for stable democracy. Put simply: no middle class, no democracy.
  • Author: Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: During the first decade of the twenty-first century, Latin America's increasing prosperity and social progress have led analysts to conclude that historic change is taking place. Indeed, poverty in Latin America fell from 41.4 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2010, even at a time of global distress1—a result, in part, of both sustained economic growth and reductions in inequality. As a result, the focus in policy circles has switched to the role an emerging middle class can play in the region, both as an engine of growth and as the foundation for social cohesion and better governance. The key to understanding this shift is accurately defining the middle class in economic terms.
  • Topic: Economics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Jamele Rigolini
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Latin America and the Caribbean is experiencing a dramatic surge of its middle class. In just a decade, the proportion of people in Latin America and the Caribbean with a daily per capita income (in purchasing power parity) between $10 and $50 a day went from around one-fifth to one-third. For the first time in history, there are as many people in the middle class as there are in moderate poverty (i.e., per capita earnings below $4 per day). This socioeconomic shift stems largely from the sustained rates of economic growth in the 2000s that in most—though not all— countries trickled down and generated higher incomes. But growth in the 2000s was not exclusive to Latin America and the Caribbean. While the industrialized world was facing a challenging decade, many emerging economies surfed past the global turbulences and continued to grow, lifting people out of poverty and feeding the ranks of their middle classes.
  • Topic: Poverty
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Caribbean
  • Author: Thomas Shannon Jr.
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: During their meeting in Brazil in March last year, U.S. President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff discussed a plan to send 101,000 Brazilian students overseas to study science, engineering, mathematics, and technology-based disciplines. Announced soon after, the initiative, Science Without Borders, has signaled President Rousseff's interest in marking her tenure by building a gateway for her country to the twenty-first century. Just before their tête-à-tête, Obama had announced his own plans to send 100,000 American students to Asia and promised to unveil a similar initiative for Latin America in Santiago, Chile—the next stop on his 2011 Latin America tour. During their Brasília meeting, both leaders talked about the importance of using education to improve national science and engineering capacity to drive economic development, promote social mobility and enhance innovation.
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, Brazil
  • Author: R. Evan Ellis
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In the past decade, China's expanding engagement with Latin America has captivated the attention of the region and the United States. Most of the focus, however, has been on whether the new trade and investment is good for the region's long-term development, and whether particular Chinese activities, such as military sales and loans to Venezuela and Ecuador, threaten U.S. interests in the region. Lost are the details and dynamics of how Chinese companies and the Chinese government have adapted to doing business in the region. China's new physical presence in Latin America is the product of a fast-growing commercial and investment presence. But as a consequence of that deepening relationship, Chinese companies and China's diplomatic apparatus have become increasingly immersed in the business, social and political conditions in those countries—and in some cases are even shaping those conditions to suit their interests.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Maria-Eugenia Boza
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: There's been an amazing revolution in the global commercial landscape. The developing world has emerged as one of the most promising wholesale and retail markets. Many of these regions in the past were valued primarily as a source of cheap labor—often in maquilas and sweatshops. Today they are seen as a source of new consumers.
  • Political Geography: China, India, Latin America
  • Author: Alicia Barcena, Franciso Rivera-Batiz, Georges Haddad, Rebeca Grynspan
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Educational achievement has always marked and defined the middle class. Public policies that have led to mass access to education have led to a broad-based improvement in educational accomplishments, among them higher completion rates in secondary and tertiary education. This has led to more upward mobility in terms of earnings and types of occupation. Still, there has been an education depreciation effect. The higher the average years of schooling, the more demanding the labor market becomes in rewarding those educational achievements. Many non-manual jobs that require more schooling often see their rate of return to education deteriorate. As those non-manual jobs pay less for schooled employees, their workers fall below the income threshold characteristic of the middle class.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Richard E. Feinberg, Carlued Leon
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has expropriated some 1,000 firms of all sizes, both foreign-owned and domestically held. Yet one very large and highly visible Venezuelan company remains standing: Empresas Polar. The family-owned Venezuelan food and beverage sector–focused company survived by drawing on the support of workers, consumers and communities, managing to withstand the insults and pressures emanating from the presidential palace.
  • Political Geography: Venezuela