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  • Author: Sonia Meza-Cuadra
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Governments aim to make decisions that will improve the economic and social development and welfare of their citizens. But historically, decisions affecting Indigenous and tribal people's culture, ancestral lands and habitats have too often been made without their participation. ilo 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples seek to redress this situation.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Melanne Verveer
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: When I attended the first Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994, only two female heads of state represented their countries: Dominica and Nicaragua. This past April at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, five of the presidents and prime ministers representing the 33 participating countries were women: from Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Their presence was an important example of the progress the hemisphere—and its women—have made. In fact, the region continues to make progress in a variety of areas. Latin America and the Caribbean are tackling ongoing challenges head-on, including promoting girls' education, improving women's and girls' health, facilitating women's political participation, and expanding women's economic opportunities. Governments throughout the hemisphere are increasingly recognizing that no country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: America, Brazil, Caribbean
  • Author: Lourdes Melgar
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The time is ripe for a historic transformation of Mexico's energy sector. The 2008 Reforma Energética (Energy Reform)—a congressionally-approved presidential initiative that established or modified seven laws—highlighted the significant challenges facing the Mexican oil industry and the economic implications of a decline in oil production. The problem: it didn't resolve them. With the exception of Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Party of the Democratic Revolution—PRD), for the first time in Mexican politics the presidential candidates this year set out a series of bold institutional reforms. These included what was unthinkable years ago: turning the state-owned enterprise, Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), into an autonomous firm that could issue stock shares—a model similar to the one adopted by Brazil's Petrobras in the 1990s.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Mexico
  • Author: 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: Maria Garcia Andia
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The strength and quality of democracy depend on how well judiciaries perform and function. In Latin America, after more than 20 years of judicial reforms, there have been some notable achievements. But there is a long way to go before judiciaries can adequately carry out their responsibilities to resolve conflicts, define and interpret rights and laws, and provide the framework for accessible, impartial systems of justice. The judicial reform movement that began in the 1980s—an effort that accompanied the rebuilding of democratic systems—sought to overhaul existing penal codes and procedures to respond to citizens' claims of human rights violations, and to pursue truth, justice and accountability for abuses committed during the dictatorships. Reforms were later expanded and deepened, while others did not take effect until the late 2000s.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: David Tebaldi
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: One hot afternoon during a visit to Cuba in March 2000, a traveling companion and I hopped into a tricycle cab for a ride from the Hotel Nacional to Old Havana. The young man pedaling the cab overheard us talking and turned his head to ask, “Canadian?” “No, somos Americanos,” I responded. His face lit up. “Every day when I wake up,” he blurted out, “I dream of going to America.” Orlando, whose name has been changed for this article, was in his early 30s. An ophthalmologist by training, he was pedaling a cab because he could not support his wife and three-year-old daughter on his government salary of $20 a month. We hadn't gotten very far when we were pulled over by a policeman. He walked Orlando some distance away from us and after several minutes of what looked like tense conversation, Orlando returned to inform us that he had broken the law by taking foreigners in his pedal cab, which was only for Cuban nationals. Only government-owned taxis were allowed to pick up tourists.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Ukraine, Havana
  • Author: Matthew Aho
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: It took courage and a splash of audacity for Argentine Congresswoman Laura Alonso to oppose the nationalization of Spanish oil giant Repsol's stake in Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF), her country's largest energy company. Her remarks in the Cámara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies) earlier this year earned her taunts even from fellow deputies from the ruling Peronist coalition of being “traitorous” and an “española” (Spaniard). Alonso gave as good as she got, calling officials in President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's government who orchestrated the takeover mistaken, corrupt and contaminated. “You can't just wave a national flag and evoke patriotism, while at the same time you're signing corrupt deals contrary to the rights of the people behind their backs,” she said in interviews after the speech.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Argentina
  • Author: Maria de los Angeles Fernandez, Peter M. Siavelis
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Commentary on Chilean democracy has evolved from praise to concern since conservative President Sebastián Piñera moved into La Moneda Palace in 2010, bringing the Right to power for the first time in over 50 years. The praise was well-earned. Piñera's victory not only showed the Right's vote-getting ability; the peaceful alternation of power in Chile offered conclusive demonstration of one of the continent's most successful democratic transitions. Nevertheless, the Right's victory, which ended 20 years of government by the center-left Concertación, also coincided with a challenge to perceptions about Chile as a paragon of fiscal discipline and political stability. Contemporary Chile is convulsed by social mobilization, and by demands for redistribution and deep reforms to the economic and social model that was once heralded across the region.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America
  • Author: 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
  • 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