The Latin American Public Opinion Project, based out of Vanderbilt University, has issued a new report on the connection between religion and political knowledge in Latin America, entitled "Political Knowledge and Religious Channels of Socialization in Latin America" (Información política y vías de socialización religiosa en América Latina).
Avenida Pedragosa Sierra y San Ciro
Punta del Este, Uruguay
On Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 8pm, CADAL (Centro para la Apertura y el Desarollo de América Latina) will unveil its 2010 Democracy, Markets and Transparency research report at the Punta del Este Latin American Forum.
The annual report ranks each country’s level of development using three pillars: democratic freedoms, market-based economy and government transparency. Data is compiled from the 2010 editions of the following publications: Freedom of the World by Freedom House; Index of Economic Freedom by the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal; and Perception Corruption Index by Transparency International.
CADAL has offered a partial preview of the results: New Zealand ranks #1, Chile #16, Uruguay #22, Brazil #57, Argentina #73 and Venezuela #148.
LAPOP, or the Latin American Public Opinion Project, has unveiled a new report in its "AmericasBarometer Insights" series of policy analyses. The latest analysis, entitled "What Determines Trust in the Supreme Court in Latin America and the Caribbean" (or, "¿Qué determina la confianza en la Corte Suprema en América Latina y el Caribe?") discusses public opinion in the region toward the judicial process.
Where do Venezuela's present and future political and economic institutions stand? In the aftermath of the parliamentary elections in September 2010 and the ensuing installment of the new National Assembly last week, Americas Quarterly's Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini offers the following analysis.
Those who believed that the Venezuelan opposition's gains in the September 2010 midterm elections would chasten President Hugo Chávez have seen their hopes dashed in the past six weeks. Since the end of November, Chávez and his allies—Chavistas—rammed through a series of laws that consolidate his control over everything from banks and local governments to the Internet and the National Assembly.
In the waning days of the Chavista-controlled National Assembly, the legislation came fast and furious, including a long-threatened law that forbids organizations and individuals receiving international financial support from defending Venezuelans' political rights and prohibits local organizations from hosting foreigners who express opinions perceived offensive to the government. Other bills effectively established a parallel state on a local scale by creating community-level structures that report directly to the president, and granted the state unlimited discretion over economic policy.
Chávez's new laws decimated the authority and fiscal capacity of local governments by creating a vertical, separate structure for overseeing and managing social programs. The laws bypass municipal governments' fiscal and political authority (established under Chávez's own 1999 constitution) by establishing a new "commune"-level government and setting up a "popular power" chain of command that answers only to the "revolutionary leadership" in Caracas. Recent banking laws have put banks under the government's thumb by officially declaring them public utilities and requiring them to either donate five percent of their profits to a social fund or risk seizure by the state. To add an exclamation mark to the end of the Chavista-dominated legislature, on December 17, 2010, Chávez had the outgoing National Assembly grant him the authority to rule by decree for 18 months. This "enabling law" will allow him to pass laws of his choice on social and economic policy and matters of national security...
To read AS/COA's full coverage of the analysis, please click here.
To access the article on the Foreign Affairs website, please click here.
The fifth installment of the Cartagena International Music Festival is now underway. Beginning January 10, Nina Agrawal, Associate Editor of Americas Quarterly, will blog on AQ Online throughout the Festival.
From January 6 through 15, soloists, choruses and other musicians will perform in the Colombian coastal city. Featured instruments include violin, cello, harp and piano. A full list of artists can be found here.
The below YouTube is the 30-second preview for the 2010 Festival:
Some of the concert locations are at the following venues: Plaza San Pedro Claver; Iglesia Santo Toribio; Teatro Adolfo Mejía; Plaza de la Trinidad; and Iglesia María Auxiliadora.
In addition to musical performances, there will be ongoing exhibitions at the Institución Universitaria Bellas Artes y Ciencias de Bolívar in downtown Cartagena.
Questions should be directed to email@example.com. To access the Festival’s website, please click here. To follow the Festival’s ongoing developments, its Twitter handle is @CartagenaFest.
*Homepage rotator photo courtesy of Fundación Salvi.
178 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012
Many contemporary artists from São Paulo are presenting their works in painting, drawing, sculpture and photography at the Ward-Nasse Gallery in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The exhibition is currently on display until January 6, 2011. For more information, visit the exhibition’s website.
The list of artists includes: Angela De Luca, Ana Goldenberger, Camila Moura, Clairet, Désirée Sessegolo, Dino Pazzanese , Dircéa Mountfort, Eliana Tsuru, Gonçalo Borges, H. Benatti, H. Raucci, Isabel Pacheco, Jhonatan Ferraz, Leonardo Pontes, Licia Simonetti, Marcelo Cohen, Marcelo Gentille, Mauro Aguirre, Rafael Murió, Rogério Jaeger, Roselena Campos, Valente, and Vanina Franzoni.
El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Admission: Varies (Free to $9)
Presented in collaboration with the New-York Historical Society, this intriguing exhibition reveals the powerful role that Latinos and Spanish-speaking countries have played over three centuries to help shape New York into the most culturally vibrant city in the world. Art works, documents, printed books, artifacts, an installation by Puerto Rican artist Antonio Martorell, and a documentary by Ric Burns all serve as testaments to this dynamic history.
Nueva York (1613-1945) is currently on display until January 9, 2011. For more information, visit the exhibition's website.
The Washington Post’s editorial board published an opinion piece today that called on President Obama and his administration to take a more proactive stance toward pushing the already-signed free-trade agreements with Panama and Colombia through Congress.
Americas Quarterly's Winter 2011 issue, dedicated to free trade and market access, will be released on January 28, 2011.
At last, the Obama administration has cut a deal with South Korea, paving the way for congressional approval of a long-stalled free-trade agreement with that crucial Asian ally. Now, what about Colombia and Panama? Alas, the administration's answer still appears to be "not yet." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs announced Friday that the president would not be submitting the Colombia or Panama free-trade deals to Congress anytime soon, ostensibly because they don't command majority support.
This is getting ridiculous. Both of these Latin American countries, longtime friends of the United States - in a region where it's not always easy to be America's friend - made tariff-slashing agreements with the Bush administration in late 2006. Thereafter, the deals languished because of objections from the Democratic Congress. In the case of Panama, the ostensible concerns were the presence of the alleged killer of an American soldier in Panama's national legislature and the lack of transparency in the country's banking and corporate-registry sectors. With a new government in power in Panama City since July 2009, those issues have been addressed. All that remains is to take advantage of new opportunities for U.S. exports in a small country with which the United States already enjoys a $4.5 billion annual trade surplus.
As for Colombia, free trade would also be lopsided in favor of the United States. Colombia already enjoys duty-free access to the U.S. market under existing laws benefiting Andean nations threatened by drug traffic. The trade agreement would give U.S. exporters similarly free access to Colombia's market. The argument against congressional approval has been Colombia's purported neglect of human rights, specifically for trade unionists. In truth, though the record is not perfect, there has been dramatic improvement across the board on human rights in Colombia over the past decade. Only 27 union members have been killed in Colombia this year - in contrast to 196 in 2002 - and it is not clear that they were killed for political reasons. Meanwhile, homicides in general have fallen from nearly 29,000 in 2002 to under 11,500 this year.
The Obama administration, however, has continued to drag its heels on Colombia and Panama free trade, in deference to U.S. labor unions - for whom the very phrase "free trade" seems to be anathema, regardless of the economic merits of any particular deal. Meanwhile, Colombia has approved free-trade agreements with the European Union and Canada, putting the United States at a competitive disadvantage - and raising the question of why the United States, but not these democratic powers, should scruple about trading with Colombia.
Indeed, Colombia is in danger of losing its usual preferences in the United States; they may lapse at the end of this year amid partisan wrangling in Congress over extraneous trade matters. Recent floods have killed 300 Colombians, left 2 million homeless and caused $5 billion in damage, adding a humanitarian argument to the already convincing economic and strategic case for stronger U.S.-Colombian ties. The Obama administration, supposedly intent on boosting exports and the domestic jobs they create, must stop equivocating and add Panama and Colombia to its free-trade priorities in the new Congress.
To access the text online, click here.
In a nod to Peru's banner economic performance of 2010, Americas Quarterly's Senior Editor Jason Marczak explains a principal driver of this growth: free trade and economic alliance with Asia.
Peru is again on pace to end the year as one of the world's fastest-growing economies, due in no small measure to its ambitious strategy of economic diversification. In 2010, it finalized four new free-trade agreements (FTAs) -- three with Asian partners -- and launched the test phase of a joint stock exchange, Mercados Integrados Latinoamericanos (Integrated Latin American Markets, or MILA), with Colombia and Chile. Peru's global and regional trade diplomacy has resulted in more domestic investment and a larger network of export markets for Peruvian goods.
Peru's open-market policies can also be partially credited with the country's rapid recovery from the world economic crisis. Peru's economy is forecast to grow by 8.6 percent in 2010 -- a quick rebound to pre-crisis levels, which included 9.8 percent growth in 2008. In addition, Peru's capital, Lima, recently earned the distinction of being the third-fastest among 150 global metropolitan areas to recover from the crisis, trailing only Istanbul, Turkey, and Shenzhen, China.
The decreased vulnerability to international shocks through a diversified international market has been key to Peru's success.
Since the 2001-2006 presidency of Alejandro Toledo, Peru has embarked on an ambitious path of solidifying FTAs with the world's most-powerful economies -- a strategy that gained greater importance since President Alan García took office in 2006. The first step was the entry into force of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement in February 2009, which made permanent the duty-free status that Peruvian exports to the U.S. had been enjoying under the Andean Trade Preferences and Drug Eradication Act. As of 2009, the U.S. was Peru's largest trading partner, representing approximately 18.4 percent of its overall commercial relations.
To read AS/COA's full coverage of the analysis, click here.
To access the briefing on the World Politics Review website, click here.
The Due Process of Law Foundation, a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization that promotes the reform and modernization of national justice systems in Latin America, has just announced the publication of Victims and Transitional Justice: Are Latin American states complying with international standards? The result of a research project encompassing Argentina, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, and Uruguay, and carried out in collaboration with the Swiss government, the book consists of national studies and a comparative report on the advances and obstacles victims have made in obtaining justice.