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  • Author: Jonathan Weigel, Paul Farmer
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Haiti is currently battling the world's largest cholera epidemic in half a century. An integrated, comprehensive response—including case-finding and rapid treatment, water and sanitation efforts, and vaccination—could bring cholera to heel on Hispaniola and help prevent its spread elsewhere in the region.1 But the local and international response has, to date, fallen short. Tens of thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths were reported in May and June of this year.2 If the disease had appeared in the United States or elsewhere in the developed world, all available control tools would have been deployed. But the safe, effective and inexpensive cholera vaccine has only recently become available in Haiti. In April, the Haitian Ministry of Health and two healthcare nonprofits began delivering vaccines to about 91,000 people in rural and urban Haiti.
  • Topic: Development, Health
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Michael Shifter
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: At first glance, perhaps the most notable feature of Plan Colombia has been its longevity. Given the current divisiveness in Washington, the bipartisan support it has received across three administrations now seems remarkable. After 12 years, the plan is gradually winding down, but the U.S. allocated more than $300 million under the program in 2012 alone. Although the Plan has evolved considerably since it was approved by the U.S. Congress in July 2000, it has become shorthand for wide-ranging U.S. cooperation with Colombia to assist that country in combating drugs, guerrilla violence, and related institutional and social problems. All told, the U.S. has spent nearly $8 billion on the initiative—more than anywhere outside of the Middle East, and Iraq and Afghanistan since the end of the Cold War. Although the effort gave priority to counter-narcotics operations—and specifically the eradication of coca in southern Colombia—from the outset it also encompassed assistance for the judiciary and economic development.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Development, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East
  • Author: R. Evan Ellis
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: In the past decade, China's expanding engagement with Latin America has captivated the attention of the region and the United States. Most of the focus, however, has been on whether the new trade and investment is good for the region's long-term development, and whether particular Chinese activities, such as military sales and loans to Venezuela and Ecuador, threaten U.S. interests in the region. Lost are the details and dynamics of how Chinese companies and the Chinese government have adapted to doing business in the region. China's new physical presence in Latin America is the product of a fast-growing commercial and investment presence. But as a consequence of that deepening relationship, Chinese companies and China's diplomatic apparatus have become increasingly immersed in the business, social and political conditions in those countries—and in some cases are even shaping those conditions to suit their interests.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: 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: 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
  • 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: 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
  • 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: Robert A. Boland, Victor A. Matheson
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The urgency and scale of hosting can provide a needed boost to public investment and transform a country's image, infrastructure and business conditions beyond the games. BY ROBERT A. BOLAND Do megasports events contribute to economic development? Yes Following the 2014 World Cup? Read more coverage here. In the next two years, Brazil will host the three largest mega sports events in the world: the 2014 FIFA World Cup this summer, and then the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio in 2016. Other nations in the Americas and across the globe will be watching to see if Brazil's hosting duties lead to broad-based, lasting growth, or are merely an expensive distraction. While history provides examples of both scenarios, hosting such megaevents can provide lasting and transformative value, including to developing nations. Megaevents can accelerate the process of planning for and executing much-needed public investment, while the host countries or cities can rebrand themselves as safe for investment and trade, and as a destination for tourism. For democratic governments, the construction blitz around megaevents can cut through political deadlock, representing the best available chance to quickly bring about focused and necessary change. The ability to develop infrastructure that can improve the quality of life, health and economic strength of the host nation is key. Hosts with plans focusing on self-improvement, investment and the enlargement of existing assets tend to fare better than countries that simply build competition venues.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: America, Brazil
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Arts Innovator: Francisca Valenzuela, Chile Singer. Fashion designer. Entrepreneur. At 27, Francisca Valenzuela has already reached the kind of success usually associated with a professionally managed career. But instead of a top agent or a big record label, the San Francisco-born Chilean artist owes her achievements to a team that includes her mother, biochemist Bernardita Méndez, her boyfriend and artistic confidante Vicente Sanfuentes, and a small, committed staff in Chile that has skillfully used social media—including 275,000 Twitter followers and fans known as “Franáticos”—to spread the word of her talents. Valenzuela is one of the most engaging examples of a new generation of artist-entrepreneurs who are controlling their own career paths. “I'm not waiting for someone to come rescue me industry-wise,” Valenzuela says, describing how, when her music took off in her late teens, she and her mother purchased Business for Dummies online to understand the fine print in her first contract. Valenzuela's early musical success—with a hit single, Peces (Fish) in 2006—came after years of performing in talent shows, but she was never “serious” about music until she started performing on the underground jazz circuit in Chile. She eventually dropped out of the Universidad Católica de Chile, where she was studying journalism, to pursue her burgeoning musical career. Along the way, she has had two books published, two pop-rock albums that went platinum and gold in Chile, and designed a clothing line for the Chilean brand Foster. Now, Valenzuela develops projects and artistic collaborations through her own company, FRANTASTIC Productions. “We've structured an independent enterprise basically run by two people [that's] competitive with counterparts who have a whole corporate background,” she says proudly. Valenzuela's do-it-yourself ethic in the music industry is not the only thing that sets her apart from many of her peers. Valenzuela spent the first 12 years of her life in the United States before the family relocated to Santiago. In fact, Valenzuela's first book—Defenseless Waters, a collection of poems that she published at age 13 about themes ranging from long-lost love to social injustice to nature—was written in English. “When I was young in the Bay Area, everyone seemed to be doing extracurricular activities, sports, painting, nurturing kids,” she recalls. Valenzuela's literary background and political convictions have inspired her songwriting in Spanish. The title song of her latest album, Buen Soldado (Good Soldier, 2011), focuses on the power dynamic between men and women, and she has been an outspoken advocate of sexual diversity and LGBT rights in Chile, participating in gay rights marches since she was 14.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Brazil