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  • Author: Diana Rodríguez-Franco
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: On a hot Sunday morning in July 2013, the inhabitants of Piedras, a small municipality in the Colombian Andes, gathered to decide whether large-scale mining activities should be permitted in their territory.
  • Political Geography: South Africa, Colombia
  • 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: Francisco Miranda Hamburger
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: On May 25, 32 million Colombians will vote in one of the most important presidential elections in the nation's recent history—an election that will turn on the issue that remains Colombia's greatest challenge: putting an end to the armed conflict.
  • Political Geography: Colombia
  • Author: Sonia Meza-Cuadra, Katya Salazar, César Rodríguez-Garavito, Roberto Jungito Pombo
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: What have been the benefits of countries adopting consulta previa? Sonia Meza-Cuadra answers: Governments aim to make decisions that will improve the economic and social development and welfare of their citizens. But historically, decisions affecting Indigenous and tribal people's culture, ancestral lands and habitats have too often been made without their participation. ilo 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples seek to redress this situation. The processes of free, informed prior consent, or consulta previa, have faced several challenges, most of which are rooted in the historical mistrust between governments and Indigenous peoples. Rebuilding this trust and reaching a consensus is complicated by the long absence of the state and, consequently, minimal public services in remote areas where most Indigenous people live. Progress in the implementation of ilo 169 has already benefited countries. First, the convention has improved awareness and understanding of Indigenous peoples' rights among the general population and the Indigenous community itself. Second, the laws, regulations and court decisions that have followed have laid the groundwork for more responsible and socially, economically and environmentally sustainable public and private investment. Third, in seeking to meet their commitments under the convention, governments and public officials have improved their capacity to seek popular consultation and consensus. Fourth, already the dialogues that have been established among governments, companies and communities have improved discussions among these stakeholders and lowered the long-term legal risks of these investments.
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Michael McDonald
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Dispatches: Guatemalan Migrants BY Michael Mcdonald Guatemalans returning home from the U.S. face unemployment, a maze of red tape—and social stigma. (slideshow available) Read a sidebar about voluntary return migration. Read a sidebar about the stigma that return migrants face. View a slideshow of return migrants in Guatemala below. Fidelino Gómez remembers fondly the years he spent in Iowa, where his middle child was born. Standing outside his one-room wood home in his native Guatemala, Gómez, 34, thumbs through pictures he took of the Mississippi River, snowy Midwest winters and gatherings with family and friends. He recalls easier times. “We lived well,” Gómez says under the searing sun. “We could feed our children, pay our bills, and we still had money left over.” From 2004 to 2008, Gómez and his wife María earned roughly $7 an hour working at Agriprocessors Inc., a slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. The money was more than they ever imagined as subsistence farmers back home. But the family's dream was cut short when United States immigration officials raided the plant in May 2008, arresting hundreds of undocumented Guatemalan workers and deporting them. Now, like more than 100 other families deported after the Postville raid, they struggle to eke out a living back in the economically depressed farming village San José Calderas, some 40 miles (64 km) west of Guatemala City. They grow corn and beans to feed their loved ones and do odd jobs, scraping by on the equivalent of between $15 and $30 per month.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Guatemala
  • Author: Robert A. Boland, Victor A. Matheson
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The urgency and scale of hosting can provide a needed boost to public investment and transform a country's image, infrastructure and business conditions beyond the games. BY ROBERT A. BOLAND Do megasports events contribute to economic development? Yes Following the 2014 World Cup? Read more coverage here. In the next two years, Brazil will host the three largest mega sports events in the world: the 2014 FIFA World Cup this summer, and then the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio in 2016. Other nations in the Americas and across the globe will be watching to see if Brazil's hosting duties lead to broad-based, lasting growth, or are merely an expensive distraction. While history provides examples of both scenarios, hosting such megaevents can provide lasting and transformative value, including to developing nations. Megaevents can accelerate the process of planning for and executing much-needed public investment, while the host countries or cities can rebrand themselves as safe for investment and trade, and as a destination for tourism. For democratic governments, the construction blitz around megaevents can cut through political deadlock, representing the best available chance to quickly bring about focused and necessary change. The ability to develop infrastructure that can improve the quality of life, health and economic strength of the host nation is key. Hosts with plans focusing on self-improvement, investment and the enlargement of existing assets tend to fare better than countries that simply build competition venues.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: America, Brazil
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Arts Innovator: Francisca Valenzuela, Chile Singer. Fashion designer. Entrepreneur. At 27, Francisca Valenzuela has already reached the kind of success usually associated with a professionally managed career. But instead of a top agent or a big record label, the San Francisco-born Chilean artist owes her achievements to a team that includes her mother, biochemist Bernardita Méndez, her boyfriend and artistic confidante Vicente Sanfuentes, and a small, committed staff in Chile that has skillfully used social media—including 275,000 Twitter followers and fans known as “Franáticos”—to spread the word of her talents. Valenzuela is one of the most engaging examples of a new generation of artist-entrepreneurs who are controlling their own career paths. “I'm not waiting for someone to come rescue me industry-wise,” Valenzuela says, describing how, when her music took off in her late teens, she and her mother purchased Business for Dummies online to understand the fine print in her first contract. Valenzuela's early musical success—with a hit single, Peces (Fish) in 2006—came after years of performing in talent shows, but she was never “serious” about music until she started performing on the underground jazz circuit in Chile. She eventually dropped out of the Universidad Católica de Chile, where she was studying journalism, to pursue her burgeoning musical career. Along the way, she has had two books published, two pop-rock albums that went platinum and gold in Chile, and designed a clothing line for the Chilean brand Foster. Now, Valenzuela develops projects and artistic collaborations through her own company, FRANTASTIC Productions. “We've structured an independent enterprise basically run by two people [that's] competitive with counterparts who have a whole corporate background,” she says proudly. Valenzuela's do-it-yourself ethic in the music industry is not the only thing that sets her apart from many of her peers. Valenzuela spent the first 12 years of her life in the United States before the family relocated to Santiago. In fact, Valenzuela's first book—Defenseless Waters, a collection of poems that she published at age 13 about themes ranging from long-lost love to social injustice to nature—was written in English. “When I was young in the Bay Area, everyone seemed to be doing extracurricular activities, sports, painting, nurturing kids,” she recalls. Valenzuela's literary background and political convictions have inspired her songwriting in Spanish. The title song of her latest album, Buen Soldado (Good Soldier, 2011), focuses on the power dynamic between men and women, and she has been an outspoken advocate of sexual diversity and LGBT rights in Chile, participating in gay rights marches since she was 14.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Brazil
  • Author: Robert Muse, Natalie Schachar, Charles Kamasaki
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Travel Regulations: OFAC and Cuba BY ROBERT MUSE The re-opening of “people-to-people” travel to Cuba by President Barack Obama in early 2011 was the boldest and, arguably, the single most consequential step taken by his administration in relation to the island. It was in fact a revival of a Clinton-era exemption to the decades-old ban on U.S. citizens visiting that country. The exemption had been closed in 2003 by President George W. Bush. Visits to Cuba must meet two requirements to be approved as people-to-people travel: the travel must be for an educational purpose, not tourism; and there must be frequent “meaningful” interactions between the U.S. travelers and Cubans who are not officials of the government of Cuba. The educational requirement of people-to-people trips is most often met through cultural programs that explore such subjects as Cuban music, dance, fine art, and architectural history. However, among many other current offerings there are also environmentally themed trips, as well as programs focused on the Cuban health care and education systems. Since the program was re-introduced, an estimated 100,000 Americans have been visiting Cuba each year on people-to-people trips. The visits have been organized by a wide variety of groups, including the National Geographic Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and dozens of similar institutions. The travelers meet and talk with Cubans from different backgrounds and leave millions of dollars in the hands of non-state restaurateurs, artists, musicians, taxi drivers, and small farmers who supply the new private eateries of a changing Cuba.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Argentina, Cuba
  • Author: Ted Piccone, Jim Swigert, Ariel Fiszbein
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana by Marc Frank BY TED PICCONE Popular interest in Cuba will continue to grow as Americans open their eyes and ears to one key fact: after 55 years, Cuba is changing. It is shifting from a highly centralized, paternalistic, socialist regime, both lauded and vilified for achieving social progress at the cost of democracy and civil liberties, to a hybrid system in which individual initiative, decentralization and some forms of limited debate are encouraged. As the Castro brothers prepare to leave the scene, they are handing power to a more institutionalized Communist party that maintains tight political control even as it liberalizes the economy. Marc Frank's new book, Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana, expertly captures this evolving terrain. He provides a clear and compelling guide to the transition from Fidel to Raúl Castro after the demise of the Soviet Union. Frank, currently a freelance journalist for Thomson Reuters and the Financial Times, deploys his two decades in Cuba and his extensive network of colleagues, friends and family (he is married to a Cuban) to explain to both seasoned and amateur observers why Cuba's leaders are embarking on a new path. This is no easy assignment. Nearly everything about life in Cuba today is complicated by Cuba's outsized role during the Cold War, the trauma of exile and the opaque nature of its regime. Despite Cuba's controlled media environment, Frank managed to open doors to information not readily available to others, a testament to his intrepid reporting.
  • Topic: Economics, Governance
  • Political Geography: America, Soviet Union, Cuba
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: World Cup Update Following the 2014 World Cup? Read more coverage here. With preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup nearing completion, soccer fans across the region can turn their attention to what really matters: their national team's chances of winning on the world's biggest stage. Although European teams have won four of the last six competitions, South American teams have historically fared far better when playing at home. The World Cup draw last December placed the 32 qualifying teams in eight groups of four. From June 12 to June 26, each team will play the other teams in its group in a round- robin format. The top two teams from each group will advance to the elimination round. Not all groups are created equal, so here are some predictions for the hemisphere's 10 qualifying teams.
  • Topic: Development, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Brazil, South America