Jason Marczak, Senior Editor of Americas Quarterly and Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, discusses in an article for the Miami Herald the innovative efforts by El Salvador's private-sector to reduce violence and re-insert former gang members into society.
By Jason Marczak
Nine months after a gang truce more than halved the daily homicide rate in El Salvador, a new agreement between the maras and the facilitators of the peace process promises to pave the way for a long-term solution to the criminal violence that has gripped the country since the end of the civil war. The Dec. 4 pact will create 10 nationwide peace zones in which gangs will commit to end all homicides, extortions, thefts, and kidnapping.
The plan is intended to provide a first step in which gang members (mareros) will begin to reinsert themselves into society.
But where do they go? Former gang members — often tattooed and with little or no formal education or work experience — are at an inherent disadvantage in competing for jobs. In a country with high youth unemployment and underemployment, businesses are understandably either reluctant to take their chances in hiring former gang members or do not have the right employment opportunities.
Agentes de Cambio (Agents of Change), a free month-long arts and music celebration in Bogotá, kicked off on December 1 in Bogotá’s Parque 93 as part of a campaign to fight racism and discrimination around the world. Agentes de Cambio is sponsored by the Ford Foundation in celebration of its 50 years of work supporting leaders of social and political change in Latin America.
The concert series will be held throughout the month of December and will feature artists like Susana Baca, the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra and Totó La Momposina. This Tuesday, the Afro-Colombian hip-hop group ChocQuibTown, which was featured in the Summer 2010 issue of Americas Quarterly, performed in the park as a surprise guest.
Americas Quarterly Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini and World Bank Senior Economist Jamele Rigolini spoke to The Takeaway's John Hockenberry to discuss the definition and growth of Latin America’s middle class.
During the interview on Monday, Sabatini and Rigolini discussed the recently-released issue of the Fall 2012 issue of Americas Quarterly, “Latin America’s Real Middle Class,” and the World Bank report on the Latin American middle class that was published in early November. Rigolini also contributed an article to the latest AQ, entitled “Latin America’s Middle Class in Global Perspective.”
Both Sabatini and Rigolini agreed that economic growth was a fundamental driver of Latin America’s middle-class expansion, which has swelled by 50 million people in the last 10 years to include roughly one-third of all people living in the Western Hemisphere. Improvements in social policy, including universal health care, insurance, and pension plans, have also been important drivers of middle-class growth.
This Monday, AQ Editor-in-Chief and AS/COA Senior Director of Policy Christopher Sabatini appeared as a guest on Pura Política, a weekly political talk show on NY1 Noticias hosted by Juan Manuel Benítez.
During the interview, Sabatini announces the launch of the Fall 2012 issue of Americas Quarterly, entitled “Latin America’s Real Middle Class.” While he acknowledges the progress that Latin America has made over the last 20 years in overcoming poverty and inequality, Sabatini highlights the fact that Latin America’s middle class remains economically vulnerable. “We have to be very clear,” Sabatini says. “This is not the middle class of the developed world. Nonetheless, it is very important in that it’s consuming more, it represents a new market for investment, and it represents a new frontier for business.”
Americas Quarterly is pleased to announce the launch of its new software application, the AQ app, for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, and Android. The AQ app offers all the features of the full print edition of Americas Quarterly to our readers with mobile devices, starting with the new Fall 2012 Issue, Latin America’s Real Middle Class.
The new app contains AQ text-formatted articles that can be downloaded, bookmarked and read offline in a digital version of the print edition. Stay tuned for new features for the AQ app, available in the coming months, which will include special access to video, slideshows, and interactive features from the print edition.
Starting now, the app can be downloaded for free, directly from iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play onto your mobile device. The free app download includes a complimentary RSS feed of all new AQ Online content.
In his article, Shannon discusses the Brazilian diplomatic initiative Science Without Borders as a way to promote Brazil's scientific and economic capabilites in the future. By partnering with academic institutions in a core group of countries, including the United States and Canada, this innovative new government program will fund study abroad scholarships for 75,000 Brazilian students, with an additional 26,000 scholarships funded through the private sector. In the end, this public-private partnership would enable Brazilian students to acquire scientific and technical skills abroad while mastering foreign languages and interning at major science and technology companies. In return, the U.S. will benefit from young Brazilians' increased exposure to our country, new contacts with emerging international leaders in science in technology, increased diversity in U.S. science and education programs, and stronger bonds with Brazil's science and technology sector.
by Thomas A. Shannon, Jr.
Intercâmbios educacionais em ciências são uma grande ideia, talvez uma das iniciativas diplomáticas mais importantes das políticas do continente. Mas passar por todos os obstáculos para concretizar uma meta tão simples e poderosa não é tão fácil quanto parece.
Durante encontro no Brasil em março do ano passado, o presidente americano, Barack Obama, e a presidente brasileira, Dilma Rousseff, conversaram sobre um plano para enviar 101 mil estudantes brasileiros para o exterior estudar ciências, engenharia, matemática e tecnologia. Anunciada logo depois, a iniciativa Ciência sem Fronteiras indicou o interesse da presidente Dilma Rousseff em marcar seu mandato com a construção de uma porta em seu país para o século 21. Um pouco antes do tête-à-tête, Obama havia anunciado seus planos de enviar 100 mil estudantes americanos para a Ásia e prometeu divulgar uma iniciativa similar para a América Latina em Santiago, no Chile — a parada seguinte da sua visita à América Latina em 2011. Durante o encontro em Brasília, os dois líderes conversaram sobre a importância de usar a educação para melhorar a capacidade dos países em ciência e engenharia e assim impulsionar o desenvolvimento econômico, promover a mobilidade social e intensificar a inovação.
A presidente Dilma Rousseff já vinha trabalhando em um plano destinado a usar programas de estudo no exterior para internacionalizar o ensino superior brasileiro e acelerar o desenvolvimento científico e tecnológico do Brasil. Impressionada com a abrangência e a ambição da iniciativa americana, ela se comprometeu a igualá-la.
Quatro meses depois, em julho de 2011, a presidente Dilma Rousseff lançou o Ciência sem Fronteiras no Palácio do Planalto, comprometendo seu governo a financiar integralmente 75 mil bolsas para o estudo no exterior e anunciando compromissos do setor privado brasileiro com o financiamento de outras 26 mil bolsas.
Inicialmente, o foco foi em um grupo principal de países com universidades capazes de receber um grande fluxo de estudantes brasileiros: Estados Unidos, Canadá, Grã-Bretanha, França, Alemanha e Itália. Logo depois, outros países como China, Rússia, Índia, Suécia, Irlanda e Bélgica se apresentaram para oferecer vagas em suas universidades aos ávidos estudantes brasileiros.
Read the rest of the article in Portuguese here.
Meet Latin America's Real Middle Class: What they Believe, What they Purchase, What they Want
Jason Marczak, Senior Editor of Americas Quarterly and Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, examines the role of Latino voters in the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama in an article for El Universal published on November 9.
by Jason Marczak
El presidente Barack Obama fue relecto el martes con un amplio margen en el Colegio Electoral y con victorias en la mayoría de los estados clave.
Su triunfo fue el resultado de una campaña eficiente y estructurada, pero también de la gran afluencia electoral de la población latina y su tendencia a votar por el Partido Demócrata.
En este sentido, a menos que el partido republicano modifique su mensaje hacia los latinos, su contienda será cuesta arriba en futuras elecciones presidenciales.
Uno de cada diez votantes que participaron es de origen latino, y 71% de estos electores apoyaron al presidente—una gran ventaja en relación al 27% de latinos que apoyaron al candidato Mitt Romney. Históricamente, la población latina ha votado a favor del Partido Demócrata, pero este nuevo margen de diferencia de 44%—el más grande desde que Bill Clinton ganó el 51% del voto latino, en 1996—es significativo debido a que el número de votantes de origen latino ha crecido en 13 millones desde 1996 hasta hoy.
El voto latino llegó para quedarse, y resulta imposible ignorar su relevancia.
Christopher Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief of Americas Quarterly and Senior Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, says that the U.S. will need to expand its working relationship with Latin American governments during re-elected President Obama's second term in an article for CNN World published on November 8.
by Christopher Sabatini
Despite its importance for U.S. exports and the counter-narcotics, Latin America will not be a high priority for the new administration – perhaps understandable given the other demands and crises across the globe. That said, there are a number of countries and issues that certainly deserve high level attention.
First among them is Brazil. The world’s sixth-largest economy, Brazil aims to be a regional and global power, an ambition that has made for a prickly partnership with the U.S., including over the humanitarian intervention in Libya and its goal to gain a permanent seat on an expanded U.N. Security Council. The administration should try to foster Brazil’s promotion into multilateral forums and agreements to leverage a closer working relationship.
Second, the drug trade and the violence and corruption that have come with it are threatening state collapse in Central America and have cost over 50,000 lives in Mexico. The U.S. needs to dramatically expand its assistance and cooperation with countries in the region while also attacking drug consumption and arms sales within its own borders.
Last, for domestic political reasons, Cuba has always – unfortunately – always commanded outsize attention in U.S. domestic politics and policy toward the region, with support for the U.S. embargo often serving as a litmus test for presidential appointees before congress. The next four years, it will deserve the attention – but of a different sort. With Fidel Castro 86 years-old and his successor brother Raul 83, there will almost certainly be a leadership transition in Cuba’s 60-year-old revolution. The embargo law currently ties the ability of the U.S. government in its relations with Cuba and the Cuban people until a democratic transition is nearly completed, and has isolated U.S.-Cuba policy from the rest of the world. The U.S. will need to refine its policy to play a constructive, multilateral role if it wants to shape the process – which, being just 90 miles from Florida, it must.
Read the rest of the article here.
In anticipation of the upcoming peace talks in Havana between the Colombian government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—FARC), the U.S. Institute for Peace will hold a panel discussion entitled Women, War and Peacebuilding in Colombia next Monday. The panel will address the role of Colombian women in the peacebuilding process and question why they have been left out of official peace negotiations.