Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

The Politics of Law and Order in Chile

Crime now tops Chile’s domestic political agenda, even though Chileans are comparatively safer than their counterparts in the region. Since 1990, nationwide surveys by the Centro de Estudios Públicos and Fundación Paz Ciudadana consistently point to crime as one of the top two public concerns. The anxieties—fueled by media attention and political posturing—may be overblown. … Read more


Dispatches: Tracking Cancer in the Guatemalan Highlands

A dusty, pocked ribbon of road winds up and down through the rugged mountains of Alta Verapaz, an extremely remote, mostly indigenous area of Guatemala. Temperatures rise and fall according to elevation, and the air is thick with smoke from the traditional burning of cornfields and from deforestation by fire. This land provides subsistence for an estimated 1.2 million Q’eqchi’ Mayans, who have clung tenaciously to it through colonization and the ravages of civil war.

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Growing Public Insecurity in Central America

Crime has replaced soccer as the hot conversation topic among business leaders, journalists, construction workers, and secretaries in Central America’s Northern Triangle—El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Although the problems of delinquency, particularly maras (youth gangs) and organized criminal networks, are not new to the region, public skepticism—bordering on contempt—for all three governments’ inability to deal … Read more


Tackle Global Warming

Global warming should be near the top of your priorities, Mr. President. You may wonder why a Bolivian is so concerned and impassioned about the subject—and why he would ask the most powerful man in the world to make it one of the most important issues on his agenda. I’ll explain. About a year ago I was in Bolivia and spoke with a friend of mine, an avid skier who frequents Chacaltaya, Bolivia’s only ski resort, situated on top of an Andean glacier. It is the highest ski resort in the world.

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But Will All This Work in Washington?

Every four years the policy community is abuzz with ideas and efforts for the next U.S. president. Discussions of new paradigms, new approaches and new realities dominate the policy world. From the economy to health care, energy and the Middle East, any policy entrepreneur worth his or her salt puts together position papers for the campaigns, the transition teams and for anyone perceived to be close to the candidates.

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Redistribute the Windfall from High Oil Prices

The Americas face multiple and simultaneous challenges in the coming years, ranging from climate change and the competition from the growing economies of China and India to rising crime and narcotics trafficking. These issues have been magnified recently by the severe problems associated with rising oil and food prices.

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Support Debt-for-Human Rights Swaps

As a human rights defender who works primarily in Latin America, I am reminded every day of the region’s profoundly unjust realities: the prevalence of urban and rural violence; the disenfranchisement of the poor and the alienation of vast sectors of the citizenry from basic rights and services; the rampant levels of impunity for outrageous acts of abuse; the persistent and complex manifestations of discrimination against women; and the lack of transparency and accountability in public finances.

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Go Beyond Free Trade

Mr. President-elect, on behalf of the many Nicaraguan citizens who believe in democracy, we hope your entrance to the White House will open a new era of fruitful relationships between the United States and Latin America. After many years of abandonment and disregard toward Latin America, I am sure this will be welcomed in the region. It will be particularly welcomed in Nicaragua, a country torn by dictatorship and war for most of the twentieth century.

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Recognize and Build on Our Progress

Mr. President-elect, your inauguration in January 2009 brings hope to Latin America and the Caribbean for a closer and improved relationship within the hemisphere. Unfortunately, many citizens of our region, including leaders and analysts, share the view that the prosperity of the Americas is not a high priority for the U.S. It’s a perception that … Read more


Respect Those on The Other Side

One of the most important steps you can take, Mr. President-elect, is to support the movement toward inclusion that is breaking down centuries of discrimination toward indigenous peoples around our region. My own experience, as the first indigenous woman to be named minister of justice in Bolivia, offers an insight into how much has changed—as well as how much still needs to be changed. In my country, a minority of Bolivians—many schooled in foreign universities—have traditionally pursued a Western model of governance.

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Treat the Caribbean Wisely

We look forward to welcoming you Mr. President-elect, at the Summit of the Americas in April 2009 in Trinidad and Tobago. It is a great privilege for us that you are coming to our area, and it is our hope that you will not overlook our region.

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Create a Hemisphere-Wide Security Alliance

My proposal to the next U.S. president is heartfelt—and simple: start regarding Latin America as a neighbor. This may sound obvious, but the truth is that although we live in the same neighborhood, the relationship is by no means that of close and important neighbors. It is in everyone’s best interest to put Latin America back on the map, and the way to do this, I believe, is by constructing a cooperative framework that will give a comparative advantage to our hemisphere.

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It’s Time for a Fresh Start

United States policies toward the region have oscillated between activism and aloofness. In both cases, the perception of U.S. attitudes has given rise to criticism in Latin America and the Caribbean. If the U.S. seems too involved, chances are that many observers will accuse Washington of unduly interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries. … Read more


Define the Next-Generation Agenda Of the U.S.-Mexico Relationship

In today’s fluid world, a nation’s ability to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its people depends to a great extent on the degree of peace and prosperity in the neighborhood to which it belongs. The U.S., notwithstanding its economic might and military power, is no exception. In a welcome respite from Latin America’s turbulent … Read more

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