Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Weekly Roundup from Across the Americas

Reading Time: 6 minutes

From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online’s news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.

Sign up to receive the Weekly Roundup via email.

Haiti Reconstruction Costs Higher than Anticipated

A new Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) study estimates that Haiti’s reconstruction could cost as much as $14 billion, far higher than earlier forecasts of $5 billion. The IDB study thus predicts Haiti’s earthquake will be costlier than the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Canada to Build Temporary HQs for Haitian Government

Following a visit to Haiti this week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that his country will construct temporary Haitian government headquarters in Port-au-Prince after last month’s earthquake destroyed the government’s buildings. The provisional headquarters will cost $11.5 million.

Young and Jobless in Latin America

A recent report released by the International Labor Organization (ILO) shows that at least 600,000 young Latin Americans were unemployed in 2009, making them “hardest hit” by the global financial crisis, reports the Latin Americanist blog. The ILO report also showed that, of the 104 million youth in Latin America, only 34 percent attend school, only 33 percent work, and just 13 percent do both.

Remittances Benefit Developing Countries and U.S. Economy

A report released by the Immigration Policy Center on February 10 examines how both developing countries and the U.S. economy benefit from remittances. The Center also features a fact sheet on how remittances help Haitians and the United States as Haitians use remittances to purchase U.S. exports.

AQ: Voices from the New Generation

Released February 17, the new issue of Americas Quarterly features 29 essays by young business entrepreneurs, social activists, and political and civic leaders from across the Americas on their demands, challenges, visions, and how they represent a change from the past. The new issue also includes an exclusive interview with Mexican actor Diego Luna on documenting Mexico’s human rights abuses as well as updates on Latin America’s airline industry and crime against migrants. Other authors include: Naomi Mapstone, the Andean correspondent for the Financial Times, on how weapons-buying stokes regional tensions and David Barton Bray, a professor at Florida International University, on how a Mexican indigenous community runs a multimillion-dollar forest industry.

Read articles from the latest issue on www.americasquarterly.com.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Calls for Zelaya’s Return to Honduras

Speaking at an EU meeting in Madrid this week, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim urged Tegucigalpa to allow ex-President Manuel Zelaya, deposed in a June 28 coup, to return to Honduras and political life. In a subsequent interview with EFE, Amorim criticized Honduras for using elections to “wash away” coups. Amorim stated that Brazil’s relations with Honduras are based not on recognizing the new government but on improving relations with the country, which will depend on its respect for democracy.

From One Brazilian President to Another

In an article published in the Brazilian daily O Estado de S. Paulo and translated by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, former Brazilian President Fernando Enrique Cardoso criticizes President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva for “glorifying” his achievements in comparison with prior administrations and for “suggesting that if the opposition wins next October’s presidential election there will be chaos.” Cardoso writes: “Elections are not won by looking through the rearview mirror…But if President Lula wants to make comparisons with the previous administration, without lying and taking things out of context, it will be a good fight.”

EU-West Africa Join to Combat LatAm Cocaine Trafficking

The European Union is providing $20 million for a new “Dakar Initiative” that works in cooperation with Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Guinea, the Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau in an effort to combat Latin American cocaine trafficking in West Africa. The region is a transit point for Latin American cocaine shipped to Europe. The initiative will fund drug interdiction measures announced in 2008.

Calderón Pitches Plan to Mitigate Ciudad Juárez Violence

Mexican President Felipe Calderón met with leaders in Ciudad Juárez to express concerns over the recent massacre of 15 teenagers and the ongoing violence that has plagued the city. Calderón proposed a plan to invest $230 million in health, education, and social welfare to tackle the violence and restore order. He also announced deployment of 3,000 additional police officers to Ciudad Juárez. Over the weekend, civil rights groups in the city protested the presence of the armed forces.

PAN-PRD Alliance Sparks Mexican Secretary’s Resignation from Party

In protest of an electoral alliance formed between the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Mexico’s Government Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont resigned from the PAN. The two parties have joined forces in certain 2010 gubernatorial races in an effort to counteract a resurgent Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Gómez Mont reportedly promised that the PAN would not unite with the PRD in exchange for the PRI’s backing for tax increases in the 2010 budget.

Read an AS/COA analysis of the PAN-PRD alliance.

Mexico’s Pirating Problem

National Public Radio covers Mexico’s black market for pirated goods, which one report says is a multibillion-dollar illicit industry “worth more than its oil exports and illicit narcotics trade combined.” Experts say pirating cuts into the government’s tax revenue and funds organized crime.

Insulza’s OAS Reelection Faces Uncertainty

As Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General José Miguel Insulza seeks a reelection bid ahead of the OAS elections on March 24, Chilean President-elect Sebastián Piñera as well as Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Costa Rica have expressed support for Insulza’s reelection. The United States, Panama, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, El Salvador, and Peru have not revealed their position. Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador have suggested they may present an alternative candidate.

Venezuela Refuses Colombian Electricity Offer

The Venezuelan government rebuffed a Colombian offer early this week to provide electricity to stem Venezuela’s frequent blackouts. Last week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez declared an “electricity emergency” which will force savings in the use of power by 20 percent.

Owners End Publication of Colombian Investigative Magazine

In the Latin American Thought blog, Sebastian Chaskel looks at the important legacy of Colombia’s investigative journalism publication Cambio in the wake of the news that its owners decided to turn the weekly into a tourism magazine. “Since its founding in 1994 Cambio has played a crucial role in providing journalistic oversight over politicians’ corrupt doings,” writes Chaskel. He also recommends alternative sources for analysis and information on Colombia’s upcoming elections.

FARC Killing Its Own Forces

A February 13 article in Semana reports that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are killing their own members more than their enemies. Captured FARC notebooks indicate that such severe punishment can be meted out for crimes that include listening to the radio without permission, accidentally shooting a pistol while cleaning it, and buying candy without consent.

Ex-President of Uruguay Gets 30-Year Jail Term

Last week, the Uruguayan Supreme Court sentenced former President Juan Maria Bordaberry to 30 years in prison for his participation in Uruguay’s 1973 military coup. After he was elected president in 1971, Bordaberry collaborated with the military to break up the General Assembly, ushering in 12 years of military dictatorship. Bordaberry was arrested in 2006 on charges of murder and violating the constitution.

Uruguay Inducts New Parliament

The new Uruguayan parliament took office on February 15 in a historic ceremony that marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Uruguay’s return to democracy. The Broad Front coalition, whose core members are former Tupamaro guerillas, command a majority in both houses. “The interesting thing is that what the Tupamaros urban guerrilla movement was unable to achieve through armed violence almost half a century ago, they have now conquered legitimately through democratic elections,” reports MercoPress. Women lead both houses of the Broad Front-led parliament, with Senator Lucia Topolansky, President-elect José Mujica’s wife, taking over as president of the 130-member General Assembly. Mujica’s inauguration takes place March 1.

The Outlook for a Piñera Presidency

The University of Pennsylvania’s Universia Knowledge@Wharton offers an analysis of the challenges Chilean President-elect Sebastián Piñera faces after next month’s inauguration. The report looks at Piñera’s investments and his ability to transfer his business skills into politics, education, and public health issues. The article also examines Chile’s relationship with its neighbors, including tensions over the long-running border dispute with Peru.

Read an AS/COA analysis of Piñera’s cabinet picks.

Peru’s Advances and Setbacks in Resource Wealth

A Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder examines how Peru has benefited from its mineral wealth by commanding Latin America’s fastest-growing economy and cutting poverty from 50 to 34 percent. However, the country faces challenges ranging from environmental concerns to clashes between indigenous activists and government forces over land concessions, writes Toni Johnson.

Lima Mayor Leads in Peruvian Presidential Poll

An Ipsos Apoyo national poll published in the Peruvian daily El Comercio looks at voter support for candidates expected to run in Peru’s 2011 presidential race. Lima mayor Luis Castañeda is the frontrunner, polling slightly ahead of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori.

Top U.S. Envoy to Travel to Cuba for Migration Talks

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Craig Kelly leads a delegation to Cuba this week to discuss migration issues between the two countries. Kelly is the highest-ranking envoy to travel to Havana following the Obama administration’s resumption of migration talks with Cuba last year.

Argentina Tightens Falkland Islands Shipping Rules

In an attempt to strengthen control on shipping to and from the Falklands, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has ordered any vessels which seek to travel between Argentine ports and the Islands to obtain a permit from the government. The order comes after Argentina filed a diplomatic protest against Britain for oil drilling in the South Atlantic, set to begin this year.

Press Freedom: 1984 in the Americas

The Committee to Protect Journalists released its annual compendium of attacks on press freedoms around the world this week. Its Americas section focuses on government spying on journalists with focused analysis on activities in Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela. Mexico remained the deadliest country in the Western Hemisphere for working journalists.

Cruising the World for Carnival

The Boston Globe presents a series of photographs collected from some of the biggest Carnival celebrations throughout Europe, the Caribbean, and South America. Around 730,000 foreign tourists visited Rio de Janeiro for this year’s celebrations.

Tags: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, FARC, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, OAS, Peru, Remittances, Trafficking, Uruguary, Youth
Like what you've read? Subscribe to AQ for more.
Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Sign up for our free newsletter