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  • Author: Elizabeth T. Capiero, David E. Bloom
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: This year, about 75 percent of those who die in the Americas will die of an NCD. Over 33 percent of these NCD deaths will occur in people under age 70 and thus are considered premature. Some 25 percent of all NCD deaths will occur among working-age people. Although the four main NCDs pose the greatest health burden, other NCDs—ranging from neuropsychiatric conditions (e.g., schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer's disease) to musculoskeletal conditions (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis) and sense organ disorders (e.g., cataracts, hearing loss)—are responsible for a large proportion of ill health, disability and human suffering. To complicate matters, many people with an NCD have more than one coexisting condition, greatly increasing both suffering and costs.
  • Author: Alana Tummino
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Across Latin America, retailers, telecommunications companies and shopping malls are reaping the benefits of a growing middle class that is able to shop more and spend more. According to McKinsey Company, Latin America is one of the largest emerging markets in the world with a combined GDP of $3.2 trillion, boasting triple the GDP per capita of China and seven times that of India.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: China, India, Latin America
  • Author: Richard André
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The quality of Chile's universities is well known across the Americas. Two of these—Pontificia Universidad Católica de ChileUniversidad de Chile—rank in the top five of the 2011 U.S. News and World Report list of the 100 best schools in the region. Unfortunately, high-quality education comes at a high cost. Chile has the second most expensive private university system of any OECD country, after the United States. And due to the lack of financial aid, Chilean families shoulder 85 percent of the cost of a university education—more than any other developed nation.Until recently, most Chilean youth accepted the cost of education as the price of social mobility. Gabriela San Martín, 24, considered a university degree a ticket to a stable, decent-paying job. She took out a government-financed loan, known as crédito con aval del estado (CAE), to pay for her studies in early childhood education at Universidad Andrés Bello.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: America, Chile
  • 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
  • Author: James Bacchus, Bernard K. Gordon
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Do regional trade agreements weaken the global push for free trade? Yes: James Bacchus; No: Bernard K. Gordon In this issue: They waste energy and political capital. Reducing trade barriers makes sense at any level.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Luis Cubeddu, Camilo Tovar, Evridiki Tsounta
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Since 2003, mortgage credit in Latin America has expanded at an annual rate of 14 percent (adjusted for inflation)—well above rates observed in emerging Asia but below the exorbitant rates seen in emerging Europe before its housing bust. The region's credit expansion has been accompanied by burgeoning real estate prices and construction activity—now representing more than 6 percent of GDP, higher than in emerging Asia or Europe. Mortgage growth has been particularly strong in Brazil, where the five-fold increase in mortgage credit since 2007 has been accompanied by a near tripling of house prices in the main metropolitan areas.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: It's time to add another stop on Peru's archeological tour. Chavín de Huántar may lack the vertigo-inducing majesty and mystery of Machu Picchu or the intriguing juxtaposition of the pre-Incan pyramid of Huaca Pucllana with urban Lima, but it has two other important traits: novelty and a dash of creepiness.
The Chavín period existed from roughly 1200 B.C. to 500 B.C. and once stretched almost along the entire coast of Peru. The spiritual center was in Chavín de Huántar in Peru's Ancash region, the site of one of the period's most outstanding temples.
The dig has been led by Stanford University archeologist John Rick for over 18 years. Rick has been slowly peeling away the dirt covering the mysteries: a network of tunnels where he believes followers spent days underground; evidence of likely human sacrifices; and shards of delicately sculptured pottery still bearing the original paint.
Also present on the archeological site are a circular plaza and El Lanzón, a ceremonial totem that has been restored to its original condition—perhaps the best-preserved icon of a major New World culture found so far.
  • Political Geography: Peru
  • Author: Jose Luis Leon-Manriquez, Nnenna M. Ozobia
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Central America is receiving more attention in the U.S. news media and from the U.S. government than at any time since the region's civil wars and domestic insurgencies three decades ago. Unfortunately, the attention is negative. The focus has shifted from the 1980s Cold War battles of President Ronald Reagan's administration to the violence associated with organized crime, drug cartels and street gangs (maras). In Drug Trafficking and the Law in Central America: Bribes, Bullets, and Intimidation, Julie Marie Bunck and Michael Ross Fowler—professors of political science at the University of Louisville—provide those interested in Central America, the drug trade and U.S. foreign assistance in the region with an invaluable tool for understanding the causes and implications of drug trafficking through an analysis of what they term the “bridge countries” of Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama. The authors intentionally do not include Mexico, which they argue (correctly) involves a different dynamic both in terms of the strength or weakness of the state, and the nature of the drug trade.
  • Topic: Law
  • Political Geography: China, Central America
  • Author: Wilda Escarfiller, Leani García
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Think that your mobile phone is a modern device? Hardly. While the components and circuitry may be highly technical, the materials that go into it are as old as the earth. And the conditions under which they are extracted—often in remote areas high in the mountains or the desert—are the roots of an industry that has driven the global economy for millennia, and will continue to do so. When you're standing at the edge of an open-pit copper mine, you couldn't feel more removed from the digital world, yet you're just at the beginning of it. What you're holding in your hand is simply the most modern creation from some of the oldest materials in the world, and a lot of history in getting them there. Here are some of the more basic elements that go into our mobile phones, and where they are found in our hemisphere. Data is from 2010 and measured in short tons.
  • Author: Bernice Lee
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The specter of resource insecurity is back. Intensified resource stress, driven in part by the booming demand from emerging economies and a decade of tight commodity markets, is reshaping the global economy. Whether the resources are actually diminishing is a matter of debate, but one thing is clear: the resources sector is increasingly characterized by supply disruptions, volatile prices and rising political tensions over access. In many places, myopic government policies have exacerbated the challenges.
  • Author: Hal Weitzman
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Latin America's political Left has displayed symptoms of bipolarity for much of the past decade. An early purveyor of this diagnosis was Jorge Castañeda, former Mexican foreign secretary (2001-2003), who in 2004 identified what he called "two Lefts" in a piece for Project Syndicate. One Left had "truly socialist and progressive roots" that was "following pragmatic, sensible and realistic paths." The other stemmed from "a populist, purely nationalist past" that had "proven much less responsive to modernizing influences."
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Richard M. Abord, Ashley D. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Each year, millions of people across the world find themselves in jail without being convicted of anything-often for months at a time-as they await trial. Alarmingly, although the rights to liberty, security and equal justice under the law are cornerstones of justice systems throughout the Americas, pretrial detention is being employed at rates two to five times greater than the international average, and its use continues to grow unabated.
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Anthony Bebbington
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The extraction of oil, natural gas and minerals is transforming Latin America. The conflicts that accompany this extraction have become part of the social and political landscape in much of the region. Some of this conflict has been violent. In June 2009, a confrontation between protestors and police in Bagua, Peru left at least 43 people dead, including 33 policemen. In September 2011, the Bolivian government cracked down on protestors who marched from Trinidad to La Paz in opposition to a highway designed to pass through the Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure (Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park-TIPNIS) that, among other things, would have facilitated hydrocarbon extraction. Mining Watch reports that since 2008, four activists have been murdered in Cabañas, El Salvador, where Canada's Pacific Rim Mining Corporation hopes to open a new gold mine; local organizations believe these deaths are linked to the mining project. In the Cajamarca region of Peru, site of the Yanacocha gold mine, many activists and protestors have been harassed and some killed for over a decade.
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Anita Isaacs, Rachel Schwartz
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The imposing statue of Anastasio Tzul, the nineteenth-century Guatemalan Indigenous intellectual and resistance leader, has presided over the tree-lined square in the town of Totonicapán in western Guatemala for as long as anyone can remember. But on a recent visit, it stood in mourning. Tzul, gripping the wooden cane carried by traditional Mayan authorities, was shrouded in a cape of black cloth, and the Guatemalan flag behind him was replaced with a sheet of black plastic, flying at half-staff. Scraps of paper carrying words of remembrance, of sorrow and fury, were haphazardly taped to the statue's base, and passersby—men and women, young and old—circled the figure reading each of the hand-scrawled messages. Although they said little, their faces made their feelings clear: pain, stoicism and defiance.
  • Author: Mari Hayman
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Propelled by the skyrocketing global price of minerals, illegal mining has recently come into focus as a major environmental and social concern. Images of pristine rainforest scarred by clear-cuts, toxic mercury released into rivers and the air, and accounts of human trafficking, child labor and prostitution in remote mining encampments all point to the need for Latin American governments to rein in the practice.
  • Author: Rosemary Thorp, Jose Carlos Orihuela, Maritza Paredes
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: A country's ownership of rich natural resources is not necessarily a blessing. It presents a set of extraordinary challenges for policy makers. Bonanzas in foreign exchange all too easily create overvaluation and undermine efforts at economic diversification. At the socio-political level, mineral exploitation provokes intractable social conflicts, while the prospect of environmental contamination is ever-present.
  • Political Geography: Canada, Latin America
  • Author: Gregory Elacqua, Cristobal Aninat
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Chile's middle class has always played a key role in the country's politics. In the first four presidential elections after the 1989 democratic transition, middle-class voters were a decisive factor in the victories of center-left Concertación candidates Patricio Aylwin, Eduardo Frei, Ricardo Lagos, and Michelle Bachelet. By 2009, however, Chile's middle class turned away from the Concertación and voted for Sebastián Piñera, a center-right businessman and former senator who became the country's first non-Concertación president since the return to democracy.
  • Political Geography: Chile
  • Author: Francisco Panizza, Jon Samuel, Anthony Hodge, Lisa Sachs, Edwin Julio Palomino Cadenas
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: To secure a positive development outcome from mining, governments first need to create the conditions that will attract investment in new mines. This starts with open and honest means of allocating mineral exploration and development rights, the rule of law, a stable regulatory and fiscal regime, and openness to foreign investment.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Joseph J. Kolb
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Documenting the return of civic and economic normalcy to a city under siege. Civic and economic life is coming back to a city once synonymous with gangland murders and violence against women. The lunch shift is in full swing at Viva Juárez restaurant. After a morning of shopping, pedestrians trickle into the popular eatery on Avenida Benito Juárez, where cooks chop onions and peppers at a formica counter and the aroma of carnitas wafts onto the sidewalk. The mood inside Viva Juárez and on the nearby streets is relaxed. But the bullet holes in the peeled and faded burnt-orange façade of the nearby Del Pueblo restaurant, closed down after a shooting, are stark reminders of the city's recent history as the “Murder Capital of the World.”
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: North America
  • Author: David C. Brotherton, Carlos E. Ponce
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: After decades of gang-related violence, resulting in unfathomable bloodshed and a worsening security crisis, change has come to El Salvador. One reason is the truce signed by the notorious street gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18—now nearing its one-year anniversary. In the process, El Salvador has transformed itself from a country with one of the highest homicide rates in the world to a regional leader on solutions for combating gang violence. The outcomes of the truce are unequivocal. The homicide rate has dropped 60 percent, from 14 per day before the truce to five per day today. Extortion has declined by 10 percent and kidnappings have fallen by 50 percent, according to the Salvadoran government. And due to less punitive crackdowns on gangs, fewer young people are serving time in the most overcrowded prison system in Central America, where 27,000 inmates languish in institutions built for 7,000. Now residents in poor communities once paralyzed by fear and intimidation are again engaged in rebuilding a society still ravaged by the civil war that ended 21 years ago.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Central America, El Salvador
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Arts Innovator: Andrea Baranenko, Venezuela Latin America is moving forward, but Venezuela is moving in the opposite direction,” says Andrea Baranenko, a 28-year-old Venezuelan filmmaker whose recent documentary, Yo Indocumentada (I, Undocumented), exposes the struggles of transgender people in her native country. The film, Baranenko's first feature-length production, tells the story of three Venezuelan women fighting for their right to have an identity. Tamara Adrián, 58, is a lawyer; Desirée Pérez, 46, is a hairdresser; and Victoria González, 27, has been a visual arts student since 2009. These women share more than their nationality: they all carry IDs with masculine names that don't correspond to their actual identities. They're transgender women, who long ago assumed their gender and now defend it in a homophobic and transphobic society.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Reform
  • Political Geography: America, Venezuela, Guatemala
  • Author: Aurora Garcia Ballesteros, Beatriz Cristina Jiminez Blasco
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Latin America has historically played an important role in Spain's migratory cycles—both as a sender and as a recipient. Spanish political immigration to the hemisphere surged following the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and again after World War II, when Spaniards flocked to Latin America for economic reasons. The flow reversed with the late-1980s economic crises in Latin America. Between 1996 and 2010, Latin Americans in Spain—measured by those who obtained Spanish citizenship—grew nearly tenfold, from 263,190 to 2,459,089. Now Europe's economic crisis, which has acutely affected Spain, is causing the flows to shift again. According to data from Spain's National Institute of Statistics (INE), for the first time in this century, more people are now leaving Spain than moving to it. Net migration in 2011 was reported at negative 50,090 people, with 507,740 leaving Spain and 457,650 arriving.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, War
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Spain
  • Author: Olivia Crellin
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In October 1988, a national plebiscite to extend the military rule of then-Chilean President Augusto Pinochet was voted down by 56 percent of the electorate. This transformational event has been re-imagined 24 years later in a film named after the “No” coalition of 16 political parties that led the opposition campaign.No is the third and final work in a cinematic depiction of the period of Pinochet's rule (1973–1989) by Chilean director Pablo Larraín, 36. The first two were Tony Manero (2008) and Post Mortem (2010). The 110-minute film, starring Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, is based on Plebiscito, an unproduced play by Chilean novelist Antonio Skármeta about René Saavedra, a young advertising executive who spearheaded the “No” campaign and managed to outflank the pro-Pinochet forces, who were outspending the opposition 30-to-1, with a shrewd messaging strategy that mobilized almost 4 million supporters.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Uruguay, Chile, Havana
  • Author: Sergio Teixeira
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: "Brazil, the country of the future” was a sarcastic cliché popular among Brazilians to describe a country striving to reach an economic potential that always seemed just out of reach. The past decade, however, offered hope that Brazil was finally fulfilling the cliché's promise. As hyperinflation became a distant memory, the hemisphere's largest country joined Russia, India and China in the ranks of emerging economies. The story of the passage from cliché to reality is explored in Multinacionais brasileiras: competências para a internacionalização (Brazilian Multinationals: Competences for Internationalization), co-authored by Afonso Fleury, a professor in the department of production engineering at Universidade de São Paulo, and Maria Tereza Leme Fleury, director and professor at Escola de Administração de São Paulo da Fundação Getúlio Vargas.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Brazil, Venezuela
  • Author: Leani García
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: There's no denying it; whether it's share of trade or percent of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the hemi sphere, the U.S.' economic presence has decreased. Even when the U.S. didn't slip a place in terms of a trade partner, its overall share of countries' imports or exports declined across the board, while other countries' increased—especially China's. In the same period, in Argentina and Brazil, the share of U.S. FDI declined by 22% and 27%, respectively.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, Latin America
  • Author: Jorge Heine
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: On January 26 and 27, representatives from 61 nations, including 43 heads of state, gathered in Santiago, Chile for the 7th bi-regional summit of EU-LAC Heads of State and Government. It was one of the largest summits ever held in South America, and the first time that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), launched in 2010, participated as the EU's institutional counterpart.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, Chile, Santiago
  • Author: Wendy Cukier
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: With gun violence once again at the top of the U.S. political agenda, the rest of the world waits anxiously for signs that Washington can move beyond the polarizing national debate over gun control and develop even modest improvements to firearms legislation. The issue is particularly sensitive in the Americas, where the trafficking of American guns, both legal and illegal, represents a threat to public safety. The National Rifle Association (NRA) will be at the center of this debate. Though widely considered one of the most powerful lobby groups in the U.S., the NRA's impact on firearms policies extends far beyond U.S. borders.
  • Topic: United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Canada
  • Author: Andy Baker
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: "Why do they hate us?” This question1, on so many U.S. citizens' minds over the decade following the September 11, 2001, attacks, is often asked about Islamic extremists and even the broader Muslim world. Among the most common responses is that “they” resent U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. When the focus shifts to Latin America, U.S. foreign policy similarly appears to be the principal reason for anti-Americanism. This seems to make sense. One would be hard-pressed to find another world region with greater and more long-standing grievances about Washington's actions. The Monroe Doctrine, Dollar Diplomacy and Cold War Containment were euphemisms for imperial abuses committed against Latin America over the course of two centuries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Latin America
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott, Barbara Kotschwar
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The hottest topic in world trade these days is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Hailed as a state-of-the-art free trade agreement (FTA), it will unite 11 countries—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam—with a combined GDP of almost $21 trillion (about 30 percent of world GDP) and $4.4 trillion in exports of goods and services, or about a fifth of total world exports. If you add Japan and South Korea—who are actively exploring entry later this year—TPP would cover 40 percent of world GDP and nearly a third of world exports.
  • Political Geography: United States, Malaysia, Canada, Latin America, Singapore, Peru, New Zealand, Brunei
  • 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: Seth Colby
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In November 2009, the cover of The Economist showed the iconic Christ statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro blasting off into outer space. This image, along with the cover headline, "Brazil Takes Off," represented the Carnaval-like euphoria about Brazil that infected journalists and financial markets at the time, buoyed by the country's impressive economic performance in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Mariano Bertucci
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The study of what scholars focus on and debate helps to shape how policy is understood and discussed in the public realm and, sometimes, even made. However, a close look at the past three decades of scholarly publications on U.S.–Latin American relations, covering 174 peer-reviewed articles and 167 non-edited books, reveals a disconnect with many of the themes and realities in the region today.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Daniel Kurtz-Phelan
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In June 2003, Brazil's then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva found himself on the sidelines of a G8 summit in France, along with his counterparts from India and South Africa. They had been invited to the summit as observers, but the invitation served mostly to underscore a common frustration. "What is the use of being invited for dessert at the banquet of the powerful?" as Lula later put it. "We do not want to participate only to eat the dessert; we want to eat the main course, dessert and then coffee."
  • Political Geography: India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Shefga Siegel
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, prices of major commodities (e.g., oil, coal, copper, gold, silver, tin, and iron ore) have skyrocketed, igniting a global boom in natural resources. Before this fairly recent development, a common assumption was that the world was entering a period of resource scarcity, most notably for oil, which would accelerate an eventual transition to renewable energy and weaken the reliance on carbon-loaded fossil fuels. While popular perceptions of oil and gas extraction are marked by explosive gushers needing only to be pumped—think of the 2007 film There Will Be Blood—deposits of commonly used resources are deeper, more remote, require more mining and processing, are more energy- and water-intensive, and more toxic than such images represent.
  • Topic: Environment, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Author: Howard J. Wiarda, Flavio Dario Espinal, Pablo E. Guidatti, Cynthia J. Arnson
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Political and economic integration schemes have long been a staple of Latin American foreign policy. But changes in the regional and global economy since the early 2000s have created new incentives for the reform of global governance mechanisms to reflect the new constellations of political and economic power. South American countries benefited from soaring Chinese demand for commodities, energy and agricultural products, put their fiscal houses in order after years of painful adjustment, and implemented social programs that lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty and reduced inequality. The United States and Europe, meanwhile, remain mired in recession, leading prominent Latin American intellectuals to speak of historic power shifts from West to East.
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Latin America
  • Author: Quentin Delpech
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Guate-Mara: the Extortion Economy in GuatemalaBY QUENTIN DELPECH The maras add union-busting to their repertoire of murder and extortion. Behind the walls of export-processing zones in Mixco and Villa Nueva on the outskirts of Guatemala City, apparel workers assemble, sew, label, inspect, and iron millions of garments, packing them in cartons bound for the United States. For more than 30 years, Guatemala's maquilas have been a hub of the global economy; but lately, these plants have been the center of a much darker story. They've become the prime targets of the maras, gangs of criminals that are flourishing in this Central American nation.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: America, Guatemala
  • Author: Gregory Weeks, Pablo Solon
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Will ALBA outlive Hugo Chávez? Yes: Pablo Solón; No: Gregory Weeks In this issue: The popular tendencies that led to ALBA remain as relevant today as they were at its creation. Despite its pretentions, the alliance was held together primarily by oil largess that can't last.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Some of our hemisphere's emerging leaders in politics, business, civil society, and the arts. In this issue: Politics Innovator: Michèle Audette, Canada Arts Innovator: Mauricio Díaz Calderón, Colombia Civic Innovator: Tania Mattos, Bolivia/United States Business Innovator: Instiglio, United States
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, Bolivia
  • 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: Robin Dean
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The crowd at Rock al Parque 2012. Photo: Diego Santacruz/AP Rock al Parque With one of the richest musical cultures in the Americas, Colombia has added rock to its repertoire. Devout fans of the music that inspired generations of American and British teenagers since the 1950s have been gathering every year in Bogotá's Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park for Rock al Parque (Rock in the Park), the region's largest annual rock festival.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Colombia, Jamaica
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: We created the Social Inclusion Index last year for the fifth anniversary issue of AQ to provide a more nuanced and multifaceted discussion of a topic that is very much on the agenda of policymakers, multilateral agencies and politicians.
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Michael Levi, Jason Bordoff
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The energy landscape in the Americas has shifted dramatically in just a few years. Only a decade ago, experts expected most of the world's new oil supplies to come from the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. Now the odds are that most of the growth in global oil supplies will come from North America and Brazil. Just five years ago, conventional wisdom held that North America would become a big importer of natural gas—with some supplies coming from its neighbors to the south. Now, a boom in natural gas production raises the prospect that the U.S. will become a gas exporter. This is occurring at a time when developing countries in Asia are driving the growth in world oil demand. The collision of these trends is radically reshaping the global energy map—reducing oil imports to Europe and North America while increasing shipments from producers in the Middle East, Africa and Russia to the Pacific Rim.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Canada, Germany, North America
  • Author: Ban Ki-moon
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The private sector has long been a key partner for the United Nations on advancing sustainable development initiatives throughout the world. Today, climate change presents one of the most urgent global challenges to sustainable development, and it will demand the support and engagement of the private sector to confront it effectively. Investing in green energy is not only the right thing to do morally, but also, for companies who take it up, benefits the bottom line.
  • Topic: Environment
  • Political Geography: New York, United Nations
  • Author: Steven Cohen
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Climate change has been called the biggest global challenge of the current generation. As scientific uncertainty has diminished, climate change has emerged as an important item on the international institutional agenda.
  • Topic: Environment
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Tanya K. Hernandez
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The Americas present many contrasting approaches to affirmative action. In the United States, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its constitutionality, while at the same time narrowing the ability to use race in the Fisher v. Texas case. In contrast, several Latin American countries are beginning to explore more dynamic affirmative action policies. While many of these policies are recent and still developing, the new Latin American interest in affirmative action programs indicates how useful such programs can be in pursuing racial justice. In fact, Latin America has in some ways gone much further in broadly embracing affirmative action as a human right-a key, perhaps, to the growing support for the concept.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, Germany, Latin America
  • Author: Eric Farnsworth
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: A revolution in supply, driven by technological change and beginning in the United States, is transforming the energy sector. A commodity whose scarcity defined geopolitics and economics from the beginning of the industrial age is now becoming a potentially abundant resource. This will not only reshape the global energy map and global politics, but also change U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere. Unimpeded access to cost-effective energy supplies for itself and its primary allies has long been a U.S. strategic interest. Most observers know that Washington's foreign policy and defense priorities in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, including sea lane protection, are buttressed by energy security concerns. Many of these same observers do not appreciate that the Western Hemisphere is also a critical energy partner: peaceful, non-threatening and unthreatened. But all that is about to change.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Claire Casey
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Brazil's pro-álcool (pro alcohol) policy, which for decades had sought to substitute gasoline with locally produced sugarcane ethanol—a goal once dismissed as folly—suddenly became a world model. Brazil was hailed as the "Saudi Arabia of biofuels," and massive investment plans were launched. That year, my firm, Garten-Rothkopf, published the first major study of global biofuels markets, investment, innovation, and infrastructure. We found that Brazil had the conditions for sustained global competitiveness in this nascent industry, but faced multiple hurdles. Seven years later, that industry is limping along—short on investment and unable to compete in its own domestic market. The unfulfilled promise of Brazilian ethanol reflects a broader tension in the country's energy policy, a tension that has plagued Brazil's new energy projects—from the exploitation of its massive pré-sal (pre-salt) oil reserves to its rich wind resources—and remains a factor in the development of new shale resources. Brazil can become a net exporter of energy. The abundance of its domestic energy resource wealth, both renewable and fossil, is extraordinary. Yet today, the Brazilian government faces energy supply challenges in both fuels and power, as it struggles with stagnant economic growth and a mix of energy policies that can only be called unsustainable.
  • Topic: Biofuels
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Jennifer McCoy, Michael McCarthy
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In April 14, Venezuelans turned out en masse for a special presidential election. More than 79 percent of the electorate voted to fill the 2013–2019 term left vacant by Hugo Chávez' March 5 death from cancer. The photo-finish surprised and captivated the country, with interim President Nicolás Maduro defeating opposition Governor Henrique Capriles by a slim margin, 1.5 percent, or around 220,000 votes. Capriles reacted by demanding first a recount and then filing a claim to nullify the elections—a sharp contrast to his acceptance of his 11-point loss to Chávez in the October 2012 election. The events raised two questions: the first over Chávez' seemingly (and unexpectedly) weak legacy to Venezuela's electoral politics; the second over whether the opposition's rejection of the electoral results—and by implication, the system—is likely to become an enduring feature of their political strategy.
  • Political Geography: Venezuela
  • Author: Jeremy M. Martin
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The integration of Central America's fragmented electricity market has always seemed a no-brainer—at least to outsiders. A seamless grid for delivery of electricity would not only make regional power generation projects affordable, but would also reduce costs to consumers and governments alike, as well as strengthen energy security at the national level. The foundations for a robust regional electricity market were, in fact, laid by a regional treaty in 1996, establishing the Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica de los Países de América Central (Central American Electrical Interconnection System—SIEPAC), which aimed to knit together the electrical grids from all six countries. But the original target completion date of 2008 was not met. Although several key pieces of the regional market are under development, the plan has fallen victim to regulatory bottlenecks and the shifting political priorities of individual governments. The unfortunate result: Central America's electricity markets remain mostly within national boundaries.
  • Topic: Power Politics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ramon Espinasa
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Whether the issue is global warming, carbon footprints, energy security, or shale oil, energy is very much front and center in the region's public policy agenda. Nevertheless, discussion has been riddled with suspicions, accusations and wishful thinking on all sides. Here are some of the biggest myths and fallacies to look out for.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil
  • 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: Ricardo Torres Pérez
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In an August 2010 address to the Cuban National Assembly, President Raúl Castro unveiled a plan that would irrevocably alter the Caribbean nation's trajectory. As part of a broader package of economic changes to increase productivity and exports in a number of sectors, the government planned to lay off 1 million state workers over the next five years, half of those in just six months. The announcement was based on the basic principle that the state could no longer afford to keep unproductive companies afloat and provide the public services—like universal education and health care—that are key to Cuba's socialist model. While Cuba is no stranger to economic crises, this time the proposal appeared to be well grounded and more in line with contemporary economic trends. To pick up the slack shed by the public sector, the Cuban government introduced a number of economic "updates," known as lineamientos (guidelines), to the Cuban economy. The idea was to create space for private-sector growth by granting more licenses for Cubans to employ themselves—an incremental first step grudgingly taken toward a more market-friendly system.
  • Topic: Agriculture
  • Political Geography: Russia, Cuba
  • 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: Alejandro Eder Garcés
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: After more than half a century of conflict, efforts to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate Colombia's warring groups are just beginning to take hold. While a few small left-wing guerrilla groups were demobilized in the 1990s, successful reintegration of thousands of ex-combatants—most of them right-wing paramilitaries—into peaceful society has remained elusive. But that seems to be changing. Reintegration involves providing ex-combatants with the educational, material and personal tools to become citizens and gain sustainable employment and income. It is a social and economic process with an open-ended time frame. Because it's so specialized, it mostly takes place at the local level.
  • Political Geography: Colombia
  • Author: Mari Hayman
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: While clean energy sources are gradually becoming more affordable, wind turbines and solar panels are still prohibitively expensive for much of the world's poor. To fill the demand for cheap, alternative energy, a number of do-it-yourself innovations that cost next to nothing have popped up across the globe. They require little technical expertise to use, and could provide a lifeline for low-income households. Take, for example, the "solar bottle bulb"—a plastic bottle filled with purified water and bleach that is used as a makeshift light bulb in the Philippines. Though the bulbs only work during daylight hours, they offer poor families a cheap, renewable energy source and generate as much light as a 55-watt bulb. Since 2011, the MyShelter Foundation has promoted the Isang Litrong Liwanag ("Liter of Light") project, which trains residents to make and install the bulbs themselves and aims to light 1 million homes by the end of 2015. SOCCKET, a soccer ball that stores kinetic energy while getting kicked around to power everything from cell phones and batteries to LED reading lamps, is another example of do-it-yourself energy. When the soccer ball is in motion, a pendulum mechanism inside generates energy that is stored in a lightweight lithium ion battery within the ball. After the game is over, electronic devices can be powered by plugging into a socket on the ball. According to SOCCKET co-creator Jessica Matthews, it's a fun and effective way to generate electricity. Thirty minutes of soccer can provide about three hours of LED light, and thousands of the balls, which retail for around $100, have been distributed to developing countries in Africa and Latin America through Matthew's for-profit social enterprise, Uncharted Play, which is planning a retail launch this fall...
  • Political Geography: Canada, Latin America
  • Author: Ramon Campos Iriarte
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Pimpineros BY RAMÓN CAMPOS IRIARTE Colombia's pimpineros struggle to survive in the shadowy, violent world of border gas smuggling. José, a tough-looking, dark-skinned man in his 40s, met me at a small restaurant in a crowded neighborhood in Cúcuta, capital of Colombia's Norte de Santander department, and a traditionally “hot” place for contraband and mafia violence. A leader of Sintragasolina, the gas workers' union, José agreed to see me only if we met in a public place in broad daylight to talk about the illegal fuel sellers—known as pimpineros—that he risks his life to defend. Pimpineros' livelihoods depend on the disparity between subsidized Venezuelan gas prices and the highly taxed Colombian ones. In towns like Cúcuta, poverty and violence have pushed entire neighborhoods to become “pueblos bomba”—“pump towns”—whose economies are based entirely on the smuggling, home storage and selling of pimpinas (five-gallon—19-liter—containers) of hydrocarbon-based products. Thousands of low-income Colombian families spend days and nights in their improvised street shacks, pouring gas through handmade funnels into their clients' tanks.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Colombia
  • Author: Juan C. Cappello, Noah Davis
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The series of scandals have not only tainted FIFA, but undermined trust in the game as well. BY NOAH DAVIS Does FIFA's corruption hurt the beautiful game? Yes FIFA, international soccer's governing body, is corrupt. The degree of corruption may be debatable, but its existence at the highest levels is not. Over the past three years, at least a dozen of the organization's 24 Executive Committee (ExCo) members have been accused of serious improprieties stemming from bribes, illegal ticket sales and other scandals. While Sepp Blatter, FIFA's president since 1998, has escaped punishment—so far, at least—many of his colleagues have fallen or resigned. The endemic corruption not only compromises the quality of play on the field, but reduces fan support of the sport and tarnishes the beauty of the beautiful game. For example, Jack Warner, the president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), resigned in 2011 after facing numerous corruption and bribery charges. In 2006, FIFA's Ethics Committee censured Warner after an audit revealed he made at least $1 million illegally selling World Cup tickets. Warner's deputy, CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer, earned the nickname “Mr. 10 Percent” for his rumored skimming on deals and was suspended for “fraudulent” behavior in 2013.
  • Topic: Corruption, Governance, Law
  • Political Geography: South America, England
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Business Innovator: Felipe Arango, Colombia The Chocó region in western Colombia is one of the most mineral-rich places in the hemisphere. It is also ecologically rich, boasting species of flora thought to be unique to Chocó. But due to years of commercial gold and platinum mining that have leached mercury and cyanide into local rivers, the Chocó region has also become one of the most threatened natural areas in the world. Felipe Arango has been working to change that. Arango, 34, is CEO of Oro Verde—an NGO based in Medellín, Colombia, that empowers local miners to use more ecologically friendly artisanal mining techniques. Founded in 2003, the organization purchases gold produced by certified artisanal miners, many of them Afro-Colombian, and sells it to socially conscious jewelers around the world. Oro Verde takes a 2 percent cut to fund its operations and administration, and contributes its profits and reinvested premiums to the protection of 11,120 acres (4,500 hectares) of tropical rainforest. Oro Verde's gold certification process, meanwhile, has influenced the development of a global “fair-trade, fair-mined” gold certification process.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: New York, Colombia
  • 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: Jose de Cordoba, Britta Crandall, Gabriel Sanchez Zinny
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Blogging the Revolution: Caracas Chronicles and the Hugo Chávez Era by Francisco Toro and Juan Cristobal Nagel BY JOSÉ DE CÓRDOBA Venezuela has been on a wild ride since Hugo Chávez was elected president in 1998. Now that the Comandante—as he liked to be called—has left us, things could get loonier a lot faster. That's one reason why Caracas Chronicles, an English-language blog that has provided a running narration since 2002 of the Chávez era, will continue to be an indispensable tool of analysis and information for addicts of the Chávez story—a story that so far has managed to outlive the flamboyant president. With the death of Chávez and his spectacular funeral still fresh in the collective memory, the publication of Blogging the Revolution: Caracas Chronicles and the Hugo Chávez Era, a compilation of some of the blog's best postings, is well timed. It provides an opportunity to look back on the past and to meditate on the future of Venezuela as it teeters between comedy and tragedy. This is an essential read for anybody interested in Venezuela.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Reform
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: With the exception of Cuba, the hemisphere is a relatively free place to be a journalist compared to much of the rest of the world. But that doesn't mean it's safe or easy, or that it's getting any easier. Below is a catalogue of the abuses, risks and challenges that journalists and media faced in the Americas and in selected countries outside the region last year.
  • Political Geography: America, Cuba
  • Author: Carlos Dada, Jorge Ramos, Ricardo Uceda, Tim Padgett, Michèle Montas-Dominique, Alfredo Corchado
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: When you received the Maria Moors Cabot Gold Medal in 2011, you—and the website you founded, El Faro—were cited for your courageous work in investigative journalism in the midst of difficult circumstances. Has the situation for journalism in El Salvador improved in the past two years? Investigating crime and corruption has never been easy in El Salvador, above all due to the lack of guarantees from state and public officials, who are complicit when it comes to this type of crime. But it's much more difficult for local journalists, who live and work in small communities far from the large urban centers. They're exposed to greater risks because the criminals and the corrupt officials whom they seek to expose live in the same town or are people who hold great power in their regions. In 2012, journalists were increasingly under attack from organized crime. The situation is much worse in Honduras and Guatemala, where a number of journalists have been assassinated.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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
  • Author: Mauri König
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In June and August of this year, millions of Brazilians took to the streets in 120 cities across the country to protest public transportation fare hikes, political corruption and excessive public spending on the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Dozens of these demonstrations ended in confrontations between police and protesters. Over the course of the protests, journalists suffered attacks from both sides — worsening what has already been one of the world's most dangerous climates for reporters.
  • Political Geography: Brazil
  • Author: Martín Becerra, Guillermo Mastrini
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: For the past five years, Argentina's current government and the Clarín Group, the country's principal media conglomerate, have been on a collision course.
  • Political Geography: Argentina
  • Author: Kevin M. Goldberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: From the high-profile cases of the Wikileaker U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley) and the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden to a series of lesser-known cases, the U.S. government has increased the investigation and prosecution of officials who have leaked government information. In many of these cases, the recipient of the information has not been foreign governments but the media, including new Internet-based platforms such as Wikileaks. Despite the novelty of the platforms and the government's harsher response, the law under which leakers have been investigated and indicted (and journalists subpoenaed) is the 1917 Espionage Act.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Carlos Lauría, Sara Rafsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: During the past two decades, as transnational criminal networks have expanded their reach, violence and murder have plagued several Latin American countries. But even among those countries, Honduras stands apart. With an annual homicide rate of 85.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants-an average of 598 a month, 20 a day, according to a 2012 study conducted by the Violence Observatory at the Honduran National Autonomous University— no place in the region is more violent.
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Santiago A. Canton
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The Inter-American System enshrined the right to freedom of thought and expression in Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article IV of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. In 1998, to further protect this right, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR or the Commission) established the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. I served as the first head of the office.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Sam Mendelson
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: For decades, lending to the poor meant microcredit, and energy related projects rarely fit into that model. The few attempts at intersecting energy and microfinance faltered for various reasons, ranging from the poor energy technologies available at the time to an aversion among microfinance institutions (MFIs) to move to a broader energy-lending program. Even in cases where microcredit clients could use funds to buy clean energy technology, few did. Instead, many continued to use traditional, inefficient and often dangerous means- kerosene, candles, animal dung, or diesel-to light their homes and cook their food.
  • Political Geography: South Africa
  • Author: Oliver Stuenkel
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama appealed to rising democracies around the world to help spread the democratic message, declaring that "we need your voices to speak out," and reminding them that "part of the price of our own freedom is standing up for the freedom of others."
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Brazil, North America
  • Author: César Batiz
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Venezuela is currently suffering its second electricity emergency in three years. The first was declared by the government in February 2010.
  • Political Geography: Venezuela
  • Author: Sam Quiñones, Cristina Manzano, Andres Schipani, Sibylla Brodzinsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: One effect is certainly to have strengthened the hand of institutions- government as well as corporate. Spokespeople for these agencies and companies may object.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jorge Derpic, Sara Shahriari
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Dispatches: El Alto, Bolivia BY JORGE DERPIC AND SARA SHAHRIARI The former settlement on a plateau above La Paz is becoming a city unto itself, due in no small part to onetime protest leader and now favorite son, President Evo Morales. Blazing sun, freezing nights, roads clogged with traffic, and a vast maze of adobe houses populated by nearly a million people. This is the Bolivian city of El Alto. Once an outlying neighborhood on the high plains above La Paz, El Alto has today surpassed its population. Matching El Alto's growing profile, the city is also about to host some major public projects. President Evo Morales has promised a multi-million dollar soccer stadium and—perhaps most important—the government is installing natural gas connections to tens of thousands of homes. El Alto's new look also underlines its newfound political influence. Just a decade ago, in October 2003, demonstrators filled the streets to protest the Bolivian government's plans to export natural gas through Chile, turning the city into a battlefield. Those bloody days of conflict—known as the “gas war”—left more than 60 civilians dead in clashes with police and soldiers. The conflict set the stage for the rise of Morales, who in 2006 became Bolivia's first Indigenous president.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Chile, Bolivia
  • Author: Aldo Civico, Alfredo Rangel
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Will the negotiations between the government and the FARC bring lasting peace to Colombia? Yes: Aldo Civico; No: Alfredo Rangel In this issue: Pragmatism on both sides of the negotiating table suggests a willingness to end the armed conflict. The FARC's escalating demands; ongoing attacks and intransigence demonstrate that it doesn't really want peace.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Colombia
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Politics Innovator: María Rachid, Argentina María Rachid never wanted to become a politician. But she is responsible for some of the most important human rights bills in Argentina's recent history, including the 2010 Marriage Equality Law, which legalized same-sex marriage, and the 2012 Gender Identity Law, which allows transgender people to change gender identity on official documents without prior approval. The 38-year-old has served in the Buenos Aires city legislature since 2011 for the governing Frente Para La Victoria (Front for Victory) coalition. A former vice president of Argentina's Instituto Nacional contra la Discriminación, la Xenofobia y el Racismo (National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism—INADI), Rachid is a long time social activist who didn't always see party politics as the best way to accomplish change. “I never thought I would become a legislator,” she says, though she adds that she was always interested in politics “as a tool to construct a more just society.” Born and raised in Buenos Aires province, Rachid came out as a lesbian as an adult—around the same time that she came of age as a political activist, having left her law studies at the University of Belgrano to focus on a new career as an activist for women's rights and sexual liberation.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Law
  • Political Geography: United States, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba
  • Author: Kurt J. Nagle
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Infrastructure: U.S. Seaport Expansion BY KURT J. NAGLE U.S. seaports are in an enhancement and expansion mode. While the widening of the Panama Canal may serve as the catalyst for some of the anticipated $9.2 billion in annual facilities investment in the foreseeable future, this is only part of the story. Several other factors are propelling this huge investment of private capital into U.S. ports. One is the rebounding domestic economy: the value of U.S. exports has risen 70 percent and imports have increased by 53 percent since the first half of 2009. Another driver is the increasing overseas demand for U.S. exports, particularly among the growing middle class in Latin America and parts of Asia. In fact, in the next decade, total U.S. exports are projected to surpass imports for the first time in a generation. Yet another consideration is that manufacturing operations are returning to North America, a development known as “nearsourcing.” With rising labor costs overseas, a narrowing labor differential at home and long transit times to market, a Michigan-based AlixPartners survey conducted in 2012 found that 9 percent of manufacturing executives have already taken steps to “near-source” their operations, and 33 percent plan to do so within the next three years.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, California, North America
  • 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: John Carey, Adriana La Rotta, Nancy Perez
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Latin American Populism in the Twenty-First Century edited by Carlos de la Torre and Cynthia J. Arnson BY JOHN M. CAREY Legend has it that on his deathbed, Juan Domingo Perón, the former President of Argentina, uttered a curse condemning any would-be biographer to dedicate his or her career to defining populism. Or perhaps the curse was issued on the lost page of the late Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas' suicide note, or slipped in among the bills in an envelope passed surreptitiously by Alberto Fujimori to some Peruvian legislator, or whispered by the recently deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez into the ear of his successor, Nicolás Maduro. No matter. Whoever first uttered the curse, it worked: political scientists studying the region have wrestled and been obsessed with the concept for decades. We want to write about populism. Indeed, we need to write about it, because populism is among the most important and persistent phenomena in modern Latin American politics. But because the populist label has been applied to such a broad array of phenomena, we are condemned to define it before we can embark on any serious analysis. Academic exactitude being what it is, this leads first to extended consideration of what others have held populism to be, followed by a self-perpetuating and seemingly inescapable cycle of judgment, distinction and justification.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, Argentina, Colombia, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Michael Sorkin
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Most of us are familiar with the concept of the "ecological footprint." Originally developed by Canadian academics Matthis Wackernagel and William Rees, the idea embodies a series of algorithms (numerous versions are available on the web) that convert a wide variety of consumption inputs into a single quantity: area. Using this model, one can compare how much of the Earth's surface is required to build a car, heat a house, produce a meal, sink the carbon from a coal-burning power plant, etc.
  • Political Geography: New York, Canada
  • Author: Ellis J. Juan
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: For too long, Latin America's urbanization has been haphazard and chaotic. As a result, the world's most urbanized region (with over 80 percent of its population living in cities) became associated with sprawl, waste, inefficiency, pollution, and increasing vulnerability to climate change.
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • 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: Sibylla Brodzinsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: From his modest home in Ciudad Bolívar, high in the hills of Bogotá's poor southwestern edge, Alexdy Torres, 41, can see the city of 7.5 million people spread out before him. Far to the north, he can make out the wealthy districts of Bogotá and a small cluster of sky scrapers that mark the city center.
  • Topic: Corruption
  • Author: Flora Charner
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: It's nine a.m. in the Nossa Senhorade Aparecida vila (shantytown) in Curitiba, Brazil, and dozens of people have formed a line at the top of a small hill. Despite a slight drizzle and the brisk cold of the morning, people stand patiently with filled wheel barrows and carts. Two trucks pull up to the front of the queue and open their tail gates. The green one is practically empty, with the exception of a large scale. The white one is full of produce.
  • Political Geography: Brazil
  • Author: Hannah Thonet
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Several of the region's high-profile mayors who championed sustainability during their administrations have recently left—or will soon leave—office. This raises an important question: what will happen to the policies and programs they left behind?
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Bruce Schlein
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Cities are concentrations of people, buildings and activity. Infrastructure helps knit all of the pieces together and delivers essential services. The traditional infrastructure that supplies many of these services consists of a centralized, fixed-point service facility and a delivery network. Think energy (power plant and transmission wires), water (reservoir and pipes) and sewers (waste water treatment plant and more pipes). Buildings and their occupants have largely been passive service recipients and end users at the ends of these spokes.
  • Author: Dr. Nancy E. Brune
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Discussions of sustainable cities tend to focus on environmental goals such as developing eco-friendly architecture, recycling, and improving the resiliency of urban infrastructure systems. But public or citizen security is an equally important aspect of building a sustainable city. Often, it is the issue that tops the list of citizens' concerns—and with good reason.
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Ernesto Zadillo Ponce de Léon
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Has the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) fulfilled its promise? I believe it has.
  • Political Geography: North America
  • 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: Sergio Fajaldo Valderrama, Sérgio Cabral, Dr. Fran Tonkiss, Anne Palmer
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Cities must trade in their paternalistic and overprotective orientation for a more independent mentality. Government helps, but citizens do not depend on it completely. We must invest in education so that citizens can be the agents of their own progress. In parallel to this, we must set in motion comprehensive social programs to further protect citizens' rights and to expand economic, social, cultural, political, and territorial rights, which benefit their well-being, development and empowerment. Investing in education is a political decision. When I came to office as mayor of Medellín in 2004 and later as governor of the state of Antioquia in 2012, we pledged to transform the society through education. In the broadest sense, this includes science, technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, and culture. In the government of Antioquia, we devote half of the budget to education, one of the most important things we could do for the state. Another crucial component for reducing poverty is fighting corruption. To me, corruption is a criminal business no less difficult to combat than gangs and guerrillas. The corrupt line their pockets, reducing opportunities for everyone and leaving just crumbs for the poorest in our society.
  • 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: Gabriel Marcella, William McIlhenny
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Leaders' reactions to the revelations are really about domestic politics. Everybody spies, even on allies. BY GABRIEL MARCELLA Should the U.S. spy on its allies? Yes The reported snooping by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) on world leaders is a rich teachable moment. It shows the underside of international relations. Spying on other governments—including friendly ones—is a pillar of modern foreign policy and a vital tool to protect against modern security threats like international crime, terrorism, cyber-attacks, drug trafficking, climate change, and stealing technology. As the saying goes, friends today may be foes tomorrow. We really don't know what information was gathered, but it caused an upheaval in various capitals friendly to the United States. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cancelled a long-awaited state visit to the U.S. because of the Edward Snowden revelations, claiming that the NSA spying was an attack “on the sovereignty and the rights of the people” of Brazil. Similarly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was upset by reports that the U.S. was listening to her cell phone communications; she, in turn, demanded a no-spying agreement with the United States.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, France, Brazil
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Arts Innovator: Luis Antonio Vilchez, Peru Watch a video of Luis Antonio Vilchez dancing in Times Square below. Passing through New York's Times Square one winter day in 2010, Lima native Luis Antonio Vilchez noticed a group of street percussionists playing a familiar Afro-Peruvian rhythm—and immediately decided to join them. Soon, a large crowd gathered as Vilchez, wearing a button-down shirt and a winter coat, burst into a dance performance that was so impressive even the drummers watched in awe. The same kind of impromptu creativity dominates Adú Proyecto Universal (Adú Universal Project), a nonprofit arts organization Vilchez founded four years ago to re-imagine Peruvian identity through dance, theater and percussion. Financed by money the group earns from its performances, Adú (which means “friend” in limeña slang) encourages its 20 members—all dancers—to combine different dance and music genres, crossing back and forth between tradition and modernity.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, New York
  • Author: Duncan Wood, Marc Frank, John Parisella
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Cuba: Port Upgrades and Free-Trade Zones BY MARC FRANK When Latin American and Caribbean heads of state gather in Cuba in January 2014 for the Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States— CELAC) summit, the agenda will include a side trip to Mariel Bay. There, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Cuban President Raúl Castro will cut the ribbon on a brand new container terminal that Cuba hopes will replace Havana as the country's principal port. Brazil financed more than two-thirds of the $900 million project, built in partnership with Brazilian construction company Odebrecht over six years—providing $670 million in loans for terminal construction and infrastructure development such as rail and road. The facility, with an initial capacity of 850,000 to 1 million containers, will be operated by Singaporean port operator PSA International. The Mariel Bay facility, located 28 miles (45 kilometers) west of the capital on the northern coast, was built to attract traffic from the larger container ships expected to traverse the Panama Canal in 2015. It could also serve as a major transfer point for cargo heading to other destinations. But the competition is already fierce. The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Panama are all rushing to improve their port facilities.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Canada, Cuba, Latin America, Caribbean
  • 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: Albert Fishlow, Alejandro Garro, Matthew Aho
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Breves narrativas diplomáticas by Celso Amorim BY ALBERT FISHLOW Brazil featured early in the international crisis that erupted from Edward Snowden's disclosures of U.S. access to telephone conversations of more than 30 foreign leaders over the past decade, when Rio de Janeiro-based journalist Glenn Greenwald provided information about U.S. spying in Brazil to O Globo's television program, Fantástico. In response, President Dilma Rousseff took the unusual and unprecedented step of canceling her scheduled state visit to the United States. (That cancellation had some positive consequences for President Barack Obama; at least he did not have to worry about holding a state meeting during the Congress-imposed shutdown of U.S. government spending.) The Snowden disclosures increase the relevance of Celso Amorim's new book, Breves narrativas diplomáticas (Brief Diplomatic Narratives). Amorim, who served as Brazilian minister of foreign relations under two administrations of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and is now minister of defense in the Rousseff government, presents—as he had done in an earlier volume Conversas com jovens diplomatas (Conversations with Young Diplomats)—some highlights of his service as foreign minister. The emphasis in this book is on his first years as foreign minister, and gives the reader a window into Brazil's shift in foreign policy after 2003.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, Brazil
  • Author: Rebecca Bintrim
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Across the Andes, land-and natural resource-related conflict has been increasing in the past 10 years, with only minor fluctuations from year to year. In the past six years, those conflicts have occurred against a backdrop of discussion, adoption and refinement of International Labour Organization Convention 169 (ILO 169) and consulta previa regulations to govern it. While not necessarily related, the long-term trends in conflict and the adoption of consulta previa raise important questions. Can consulta previa address or contain long pent-up frustrations and conflicts? Or will the rising expectations they bring to communities, if the laws are imperfectly or subjectively implemented, lead to even more conflict? The Charticle here shows the risks of the latter.
  • Political Geography: Chile, Peru
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In most countries the process isn't always clear or direct. Who does it, how to do it and how long it can take varies from country to country—a reflection of the vagueness of ILO 169 and the uneven development of government regulations across the hemisphere. To compare, here are the steps you would need to take in Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru.
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Chile, Peru