Americas Quarterly: The New Brazil and the Changing Hemisphere
It’s time to rethink how both obvious and subtle changes are making the region more diverse, its future more unpredictable, and policy challenges more complex. This was shown by President Obama’s trip to three Latin American countries in March, and it comes at a time when trends such as migration, the declining influence of the United States and in the majority of countries a convergence toward more market-oriented economic models are promoting demographic and economic integration.
The Spring issue of Americas Quarterly—released on May 2, 2011— explores the political, economic and demographic forces that are changing the Americas.
Current and former government officials, scholars, and activists look at what national and international shifts over the past few decades, including the rise of Brazil, will mean for the hemisphere’s future. In his first article since leaving office, former Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim candidly shares his views on Brazil’s place in the world and his efforts to assert its diplomatic agenda, while Matías Spektor of Fundação Getulio Vargas analyzes prospects for greater U.S.-Brazilian collaboration. Beyond Brazil, Jorge Heine of the Balsillie School of International Affairs and Indian Ambassador R. Viswanathan discuss India’s growing interests in an evolving region, while this issue’s charticle looks at the mission and operation of President Chávez’ ALBA coalition. In the U.S., Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis points out how immigrants are the key to future economic growth.
Also, AQ interviews Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Jinzhang on his country’s plans as it increases economic and political ties with the region, Omar Everleny Pérez and José Antonio Ocampo debate whether Cuba’s economic reforms will succeed, Alejandro Grisanti of Barclays Capital Inc. analyzes Venezuela’s oil policies, and Robert Maguire of Trinity Washington University looks at the challenges ahead for Haitian President-elect Michel Martelly.
Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will debut a four-part series tonight on PBS—Black in Latin America—regarding the influence of African descent on Latin America. According to the official show page, Latin America and the Caribbean have the largest concentration of people with African ancestry outside of the African continent—having imported more than ten times as many slaves than the United States. Dr. Gates will assess how Afro-Latinos have impacted the region’s history and culture over time.
The miniseries will air a four-episode arc in as many weeks: April 19, April 26, May 3, and May 10. Over the span of his journey, Professor Gates traveled to Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru.
On Sunday, April 10, voters in Peru will cast their ballots for one of five candidates who have been playing musical chairs for popularity among voters in recent weeks. They include Keiko Fujimori, a right-wing lawmaker and daughter of jailed former president Alberto Fujimori; former president Alejandro Toledo, three-time cabinet member Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and former Lima mayor Luis Castañeda, who split the moderate vote; and the nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala, who has of late experienced a surprising surge in popularity. Visit Reuters’ election coverage webpage for breaking news, analysis, multimedia, and more.
On Wednesday, April 6 and Thursday, April 7, Women’s World Banking will convene its 9th-annual “Microfinance and the Capital Markets” conference, bringing together leaders from the mainstream financial sector and the microfinance industry to share knowledge, discuss trends and exchange best practices. Headquartered in New York, WWB is an umbrella organization for a global network of 39 microfinance institutions, with a focus on ensuring women’s access to financial services.
The conference, sponsored by J.P. Morgan, will consist of a series of moderated panels over 2 days. Some featured speakers include WWB president and CEO Mary Ellen Iskendarian; Michael Chu, co-founder of the IGNIA investment fund; Alex Counts, President and CEO of the Grameen Foundation; Adam Davidson, co-host of NPR’s Planet Money; and Nathaniel Goldberg, Policy Director at Innovations for Poverty Action. Panel topics include the social impact of microfinance, technology and alternative delivery channels, and the value of investing in women.
With financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) has just opened a competition for small research grants. These grants are meant to support graduate students and researchers around the world studying discrimination and marginalization (for example, based on gender, race or ethnicity) and their effect on political culture, public opinion and democracy.
Eligible applicants are graduate students and researchers at recognized public or private institutions whose proposed project will draw on at least one of the LAPOP databases. The grant, totaling $2,000, may be spent on any activity directly related to the conduct of the research project.
Applications are due by May 1, and final papers will be due by September 1. Best paper awards will be presented at a “Marginalization in the Americas” conference, to be held in Miami on October 26-27, 2011. For more information and an application form, please visit the LAPOP website.
As one of the invited guests to President Obama's speech to the Brazilian people on March 20, Julia Michaels, author of the blog Rio Real, described the atmosphere inside the Municipal Theatre and subsequent reaction from Rio residents in a recent post. The blog covers and analyzes the ongoing transformation of the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Ms. Michaels wrote that Obama struck all the right tones: starting off the address with a reference to Brazil's beloved soccer (which elicited cheers from the audience); mentioning the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games; and lauding the politicians who have sought to pacify favelas. Michaels said that the First Family's choice of tourist sites was praiseworthy: a tour of Christ the Redeemer, a Brazilian musical performance and a capoeira presentation. Also, Obama's effusive praise of Rio—and noted exclusion of São Paulo in his visit—won over the hearts of cariocas by speaking to the seemingly infinite potential of Rio de Janeiro.
Patricio Guzmán, a documentary filmmaker best known for his 1973 film La Batalla de Chile (Battle of Chile), on the end of Salvador Allende’s government, is again at the fore of the film world. Nostalgia for the Light, a 90-minute documentary set in the Atacama Desert, 10,000 feet above sea level, is a meditation on the past and on eternity. Archaeologists, astronomers and geologists dig in the desert and search the skies for clues to the Earth’s past and future, while women look for remains of their dead from during General Augusto Pinochet's regime.
Join Americas Society for a conversation with director Patricio Guzmán on Thursday, March 17. For event details, click here.
Nostalgia for the Light opens Friday, March 18, at the IFC Center in New York.
On Tuesday, Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, presented his new report, “Agro-Ecology and the Right to Food,” before the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. The report, which is based on an extensive review of recent scientific literature, calls for a shift in policy towards promoting agro-ecology in order to increase food production, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve the lives of the poorest.
“Agro-ecology” is the application of ecological science to the design of agricultural systems. It seeks ways to enhance these systems by mimicking natural processes, which includes organic and sustainable farming practices. Amid rising uncertainty about food prices and food availability, de Schutter urged countries to adopt “the most efficient farming techniques available,” including organic farming practices, the recycling of biomaterials instead of the introduction of external inputs, and the supporting of small-scale farmers.
Among the 20 people receiving the National Medal of Arts and the National Medal for the Humanities in the East Room of the White House today was Roberto González Echevarría, a renowned Cuban-American author and literary critic. González Echevarría is Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literature at Yale University. He will discuss and read from his most recent publication, Cuban Fiestas, at the Americas Society on March 31. The program is part of the ¡Sí Cuba! Festival, a celebration of Cuban arts and culture that will take place in venues throughout New York for six weeks during the spring.
Just two weeks after the arrest of 32 Rio de Janeiro police officers, State Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame has put forth a new crime-fighting strategy: encouraging snitches. In an interview with the national newspaper O Globo on Saturday, Beltrame announced a proposal for a state law that would allow public servants in Rio to apply for reduced sentences and even keep their jobs if they testify against co-workers.
Julia Michaels, author of the blog Rio Real, describes the details, context and significance of the proposed law in a recent post. The blog covers and analyzes the ongoing transformation of the city of Rio de Janeiro.