Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Rethinking Buildings

Read sidebars on public space, governance and energy efficiency. Cities are concentrations of people, buildings and activity. Infrastructure helps knit all of the pieces together and delivers essential services. The traditional infrastructure that supplies many of these services consists of a centralized, fixed-point service facility and a delivery network. Think energy (power plant and transmission … Read more


How Do We Make Sustainable Cities Sustainable Policies?

Read a sidebar on waste and recycling. Several of the region’s high-profile mayors who championed sustainability during their administrations have recently left—or will soon leave—office. This raises an important question: what will happen to the policies and programs they left behind? Incoming mayors have their own agendas and policy preferences, and sustainability initiatives—unlike crime or … Read more

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Journalism in Post-Coup Honduras

During the past two decades, as transnational criminal networks have expanded their reach, violence and murder have plagued several Latin American countries. But even among those countries, Honduras stands apart. With an annual homicide rate of 85.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants—an average of 598 a month, 20 a day, according to a 2012 study conducted … Read more

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Missed Opportunity?

For the past five years, Argentina’s current government and the Clarín Group, the country’s principal media conglomerate, have been on a collision course. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has denounced the group on national TV for having once been “partners” with the military dictatorship and accused its executives of plotting against her. Meanwhile, Clarín, the … Read more

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Will the Darién Gap Stop the Region’s Electrical Integration?

In April last year, the Colombian government announced its intention to pursue the creation of an interconnected electrical grid from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego. Naming the project “Connecting the Americas 2022” (“Connect 2022” ), the Colombians had picked up the idea from Washington and included it in last year’s agenda at the Summit of … Read more

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Central America Unplugged

The integration of Central America’s fragmented electricity market has always seemed a no-brainer—at least to outsiders.  A seamless grid for delivery of electricity would not only make regional power generation projects affordable, but would also reduce costs to consumers and governments alike, as well as strengthen energy security at the national level.  The foundations for … Read more

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Cleaner Air, Better Health

In 2003, Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) started work on a standard to dramatically reduce the sulfur levels in fuels. By 2005, the standard was published, requiring ultra-low-sulfur fuels (15 parts per million or less) nationwide by 2009. However, today, only about 25 percent of the diesel sold in Mexico meets the … Read more


Clean, Cheap Energy

While clean energy sources are gradually becoming more affordable, wind turbines and solar panels are still prohibitively expensive for much of the world’s poor. To fill the demand for cheap, alternative energy, a number of do-it-yourself innovations that cost next to nothing have popped up across the globe. They require little technical expertise to use, … Read more

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The Politics of Pipelines

Over the past decade, prices of major commodities (e.g., oil, coal, copper, gold, silver, tin, and iron ore) have skyrocketed, igniting a global boom in natural resources. Before this fairly recent development, a common assumption was that the world was entering a period of resource scarcity, most notably for oil, which would accelerate an eventual … Read more

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Latin America Has Moved On: U.S. Scholarship Hasn’t

The study of what scholars focus on and debate helps to shape how policy is understood and discussed in the public realm and, sometimes, even made. However, a close look at the past three decades of scholarly publications on U.S.–Latin American relations, covering 174 peer-reviewed articles and 167 non-edited books, reveals a disconnect with many … Read more

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Brazil’s Second-Best Financial Strategy

In November 2009, the cover of The Economist showed the iconic Christ statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro blasting off into outer space. This image, along with the cover headline, “Brazil Takes Off,” represented the Carnaval-like euphoria about Brazil that infected journalists and financial markets at the time, buoyed by the country’s impressive economic performance in … Read more

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Latin America Goes Global

On January 26 and 27, representatives from 61 nations, including 43 heads of state, gathered in Santiago, Chile for the 7th bi-regional summit of EU-LAC Heads of State and Government. It was one of the largest summits ever held in South America, and the first time that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States … Read more

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Chile’s Pragmatic Middle-Class Voter

Chile’s middle class has always played a key role in the country’s politics. In the first four presidential elections after the 1989 democratic transition, middle-class voters were a decisive factor in the victories of center-left Concertación candidates Patricio Aylwin, Eduardo Frei, Ricardo Lagos, and Michelle Bachelet. By 2009, however, Chile’s middle class turned away from … Read more

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Avoiding the Resource Curse

A country’s ownership of rich natural resources is not necessarily a blessing. It presents a set of extraordinary challenges for policy makers. Bonanzas in foreign exchange all too easily create overvaluation and undermine efforts at economic diversification. At the socio-political level, mineral exploitation provokes intractable social conflicts, while the prospect of environmental contamination is ever-present. … Read more

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