What's New From AQ

  • The Washington Post Editorial on Free Trade with Latin America

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    The Washington Post’s editorial board published an opinion piece today that called on President Obama and his administration to take a more proactive stance toward pushing the already-signed free-trade agreements with Panama and Colombia through Congress.

    Americas Quarterly's Winter 2011 issue, dedicated to free trade and market access, will be released on January 28, 2011.

    At last, the Obama administration has cut a deal with South Korea, paving the way for congressional approval of a long-stalled free-trade agreement with that crucial Asian ally. Now, what about Colombia and Panama? Alas, the administration's answer still appears to be "not yet." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs announced Friday that the president would not be submitting the Colombia or Panama free-trade deals to Congress anytime soon, ostensibly because they don't command majority support.

    This is getting ridiculous. Both of these Latin American countries, longtime friends of the United States - in a region where it's not always easy to be America's friend - made tariff-slashing agreements with the Bush administration in late 2006. Thereafter, the deals languished because of objections from the Democratic Congress. In the case of Panama, the ostensible concerns were the presence of the alleged killer of an American soldier in Panama's national legislature and the lack of transparency in the country's banking and corporate-registry sectors. With a new government in power in Panama City since July 2009, those issues have been addressed. All that remains is to take advantage of new opportunities for U.S. exports in a small country with which the United States already enjoys a $4.5 billion annual trade surplus.

    As for Colombia, free trade would also be lopsided in favor of the United States. Colombia already enjoys duty-free access to the U.S. market under existing laws benefiting Andean nations threatened by drug traffic. The trade agreement would give U.S. exporters similarly free access to Colombia's market. The argument against congressional approval has been Colombia's purported neglect of human rights, specifically for trade unionists. In truth, though the record is not perfect, there has been dramatic improvement across the board on human rights in Colombia over the past decade. Only 27 union members have been killed in Colombia this year - in contrast to 196 in 2002 - and it is not clear that they were killed for political reasons. Meanwhile, homicides in general have fallen from nearly 29,000 in 2002 to under 11,500 this year.

    The Obama administration, however, has continued to drag its heels on Colombia and Panama free trade, in deference to U.S. labor unions - for whom the very phrase "free trade" seems to be anathema, regardless of the economic merits of any particular deal. Meanwhile, Colombia has approved free-trade agreements with the European Union and Canada, putting the United States at a competitive disadvantage - and raising the question of why the United States, but not these democratic powers, should scruple about trading with Colombia.

    Indeed, Colombia is in danger of losing its usual preferences in the United States; they may lapse at the end of this year amid partisan wrangling in Congress over extraneous trade matters. Recent floods have killed 300 Colombians, left 2 million homeless and caused $5 billion in damage, adding a humanitarian argument to the already convincing economic and strategic case for stronger U.S.-Colombian ties. The Obama administration, supposedly intent on boosting exports and the domestic jobs they create, must stop equivocating and add Panama and Colombia to its free-trade priorities in the new Congress.

    To access the text online, click here.

  • AS/COA's Jason Marczak Analyzes Peru's "Look to Asia" Strategy in World Politics Review

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    In a nod to Peru's banner economic performance of 2010, Americas Quarterly's Senior Editor Jason Marczak explains a principal driver of this growth: free trade and economic alliance with Asia.

    Peru is again on pace to end the year as one of the world's fastest-growing economies, due in no small measure to its ambitious strategy of economic diversification. In 2010, it finalized four new free-trade agreements (FTAs) -- three with Asian partners -- and launched the test phase of a joint stock exchange, Mercados Integrados Latinoamericanos (Integrated Latin American Markets, or MILA), with Colombia and Chile. Peru's global and regional trade diplomacy has resulted in more domestic investment and a larger network of export markets for Peruvian goods.

    Peru's open-market policies can also be partially credited with the country's rapid recovery from the world economic crisis. Peru's economy is forecast to grow by 8.6 percent in 2010 -- a quick rebound to pre-crisis levels, which included 9.8 percent growth in 2008. In addition, Peru's capital, Lima, recently earned the distinction of being the third-fastest among 150 global metropolitan areas to recover from the crisis, trailing only Istanbul, Turkey, and Shenzhen, China.

    The decreased vulnerability to international shocks through a diversified international market has been key to Peru's success.

    Since the 2001-2006 presidency of Alejandro Toledo, Peru has embarked on an ambitious path of solidifying FTAs with the world's most-powerful economies -- a strategy that gained greater importance since President Alan García took office in 2006. The first step was the entry into force of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement in February 2009, which made permanent the duty-free status that Peruvian exports to the U.S. had been enjoying under the Andean Trade Preferences and Drug Eradication Act. As of 2009, the U.S. was Peru's largest trading partner, representing approximately 18.4 percent of its overall commercial relations.

    To read AS/COA's full coverage of the analysis, click here.

    To access the briefing on the World Politics Review website, click here.

  • Due Process of Law Foundation Releases New Study on Transitional Justice

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    The Due Process of Law Foundation, a nonprofit and nongovernmental organization that promotes the reform and modernization of national justice systems in Latin America, has just announced the publication of Victims and Transitional Justice: Are Latin American states complying with international standards? The result of a research project encompassing Argentina, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, and Uruguay, and carried out in collaboration with the Swiss government, the book consists of national studies and a comparative report on the advances and obstacles victims have made in obtaining justice.

    Read More

  • Swiss Re Releases New Report on Microinsurance

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    On Wednesday, December 15, the reinsurance giant Swiss Re released a new report, "Microinsurance: Risk Protection for 4 Billion People." The report describes the ways in which microinsurance differs from conventional insurance and how it can effectively help low-income households manage risk, especially through such products as health or agriculture microinsurance. Microinsurance also represents a huge growth opportunity for the insurance sector at large, with the potential to cover 4 billion people globally and generate $40 billion in income.

    The report details some of the challenges the microinsurance industry faces, including developing an insurance-buying culture among low-income households, finding appropriate distribution channels and establishing a regulatory framework. It also points out that in those sectors where commercial microinsurance may not be completely viable--for example among extremely poor populations--government support through public-private partnerships may be necessary.

    To read the full report, click here.

  • Access to Education: Who has it and why it matters

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    The Center for Global Affairs at NYU-SCPS and the AS/COA held a Fall 2010 Issue Launch of Americas Quarterly featuring a discussion on the challenges and advances in improving access to quality education in the Americas featuring experts, authors and policy makers from NYU, Columbia University, NGOs and the private sector.

    Read More

  • Brazilian Musician Jair Oliveira Debuts New Album in U.S.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Tonight, Brazilian music star Jair Oliveira will kick off a U.S. tour to promote Sambazz, his latest release that is a CD/book combination. Born in São Paulo and the son of famed Brazilian singer Jair Rodrigues, Oliveira first became famous for his co-starring role on the hit TV show and band Balão Mágico (“Magic Balloon”). Today, he is a successful composer, performer and producer whose work has earned him several Latin Grammy nominations and collaborations with other top Brazilian artists. The tracks of Sambazz vary in their sound, ranging from a bilingual bossa nova ballad to a danceable ode to soccer fans. The book accompanying the CD chronicles the album’s creation.

    Oliveira’s U.S. tour begins tonight at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C. He will play two shows in New York on Saturday, November 13 at SOB’s in SoHo—and then continue on to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin. To learn more about Jair Oliveira, please visit his official website.

  • Latinos Living the American Dream

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
    El Teatro at El Museo del Barrio
    Admission: Free

    Produced and directed by Eva Longoria Parker in partnership with the Pepsi Yo Sumo ("I Count"/ "I Add Up") initiative, this film highlights Latinos' accomplishments and their impact in shaping the future of the United States. Latinos Living the American Dream, which includes just a few of the 600 stories submitted by Latinos nationwide, is the culmination of Pepsi's Yo Sumo initiative, which encourages Latinos to go beyond being simply counted in the Census and share their thoughts on how they contribute to American progress.

    Read More

  • New AQ Released on October 28

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Providing quality education for all is perhaps the defining challenge in the Americas today. Education affects social cohesion, political inclusion and competitiveness in a global economy. Yet the Americas, from the U.S. to the Southern Cone, are slipping in world rankings. What can be done to save them?

    The Fall issue of Americas Quarterly—released on Thursday, October 28—explores the economics, politics, challenges, and advances in education in the Western Hemisphere. Articles address a range of issues: school performance and education policy, the difficulties of measuring student performance and quality, and the challenges and stories of innovation and change.

    In our Ask the Experts section, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, the Minister of Education of the Dominican Republic and others offer their insight on the top priority for reforming education. The new issue will also feature a pictorial tribute to eight outstanding teachers nominated by peers across the hemisphere.

    The Fall AQ also features expert analysis on Argentina’s 2011 presidential election, the recovery of assets stolen by corrupt leaders, security challenges in Peru, organized crime in Guatemala, and the struggle over oil royalties in Brazil, among others.

  • Americas Quarterly Launch: Expanding Access to Health Care

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Last week Americas Quarterly held a launch of its summer issue, Health Care: How Technology and Business are Expanding Access to Health Care.

    •    How can mobile phones and other technology revolutionize health care delivery to reach underserved populations?
    •    How can the public and private sectors use their comparative advantages to improve the overall quality and reach of health care in the region?
    •    How is health care in Latin America likely to evolve in the next decade in terms of reaching excluded groups?

    Panelists: Challenges for Health in Mexico

    Fernando Alvarez del Rio, Head of the Unit for Economic Analysis, Secretariat
    of Health, Mexico
    Robert Simpson, Director of Latin America Public Affairs and Policy, Pfizer, Inc.
    Christopher Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief, Americas Quarterly; Senior Director of Policy, Americas Society and Council of the Americas (Moderator)

    Panelists: New Trends in Health Care

    Walter Curioso, Specialist in Biomedical and Health Informatics, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia
    Patricio Villareal, Co-Founder, Imagen Dental; Co-Founder, Alivio Capital
    Gustavo Menéndez Bernales, Manager, Emerging Markets, Cisco Internet  Business Solutions Group
    Jason Marczak, Senior Editor, Americas Quarterly; Director of Policy, Americas Society and Council of the Americas (Moderator)

    *Summary is forthcoming.

    This program was supported by the Ford Foundation and the Tinker Foundation.

  • AQ Course Packets Now Available

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Americas Quarterly custom course packets are now available for use in the classroom. Covering a wide range of topics, including the economy, security, immigration, and health care, AQ articles, interviews and data are an excellent resource for students learning about policy, politics and development in the Americas.

    For more information, click here. For help designing your course packet, please contact Nina Agrawal at aqinfo@as-coa.org or 212-277-8390.



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