Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas
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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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Illegal Mining

Propelled by the skyrocketing global price of minerals, illegal mining has recently come into focus as a major environmental and social concern. Images of pristine rainforest scarred by clear-cuts, toxic mercury released into rivers and the air, and accounts of human trafficking, child labor and prostitution in remote mining encampments all point to the need … Read more

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The Geopolitics of the Modern Resource Boom

The specter of resource insecurity is back. Intensified resource stress, driven in part by the booming demand from emerging economies and a decade of tight commodity markets, is reshaping the global economy. Whether the resources are actually diminishing is a matter of debate, but one thing is clear: the resources sector is increasingly characterized by … Read more


Ask the Experts: Mining

Jon Samuel answers: To secure a positive development outcome from mining, governments first need to create the conditions that will attract investment in new mines. This starts with open and honest means of allocating mineral exploration and development rights, the rule of law, a stable regulatory and fiscal regime, and openness to foreign investment.   … Read more

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Resource Nationalism: Beyond Ideology

Latin America’s political Left has displayed symptoms of bipolarity for much of the past decade. An early purveyor of this diagnosis was Jorge Castañeda, former Mexican foreign secretary (2001–2003), who in 2004 identified what he called “two Lefts” in a piece for Project Syndicate. One Left had “truly socialist and progressive roots” that was “following … Read more

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Crossing Boundaries

The extraction of oil, natural gas and minerals is transforming Latin America. The conflicts that accompany this extraction have become part of the social and political landscape in much of the region. Some of this conflict has been violent. In June 2009, a confrontation between protestors and police in Bagua, Peru left at least 43 … Read more


Monday Memo: Chávez Names Maduro – Regional Elections in Venezuela – Puerto Rico Discusses Next Steps for Statehood – Arab-Latin American Forum – and more

Top stories this week are likely to include: Chávez designates successor as he heads to Havana; Puerto Rico convenes legislature for statehood; Arab-Latin American Forum in Abu Dhabi; and impact of recent energy takeover deals in Canada. Developments in Venezuela: This is the final week of campaigning in Venezuela’s regional elections, and the electorate will … Read more


Mexico’s New Oil Discoveries: Too Good to be True?

Mexico’s successful deep-water drilling of wells “Trion-1” (August 29) and “Supremus-1” (October 5) in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico has caused national euphoria. It has shown the country’s considerable oil potential and revamped public confidence in state-owned company Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos), whose reputation had dwindled for the past years following a decrease in production, corruption … Read more

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