From issue: Health Care (Summer 2010)


Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and events from around the hemisphere with AQ's Panorama. Each issue, AQ packs its bags and offers readers travel tips on a new Americas destination.

In this issue:

Marketing Documentaries

Educational TV can be a powerful tool for raising awareness of social issues. The problem: production costs place it beyond reach for most activists and educators in Latin America. Enter Fundación Albatros Media, a Panama-based nonprofit that produces and distributes documentaries on quality of life and environmental and social issues free of charge to television stations across the region.

Typically in Latin America—and even the U.S.—getting sponsors for do-gooder documentaries is a challenge. With a platform that reaches more than 70 million potential viewers, though, Albatros has been able to tap a number of powerful, deep pocketed backers. International Community Foundation, Plan International, the World Bank, and corporations like Shell, Copa Airlines and others have come forward to support—and lend their names—to Albatros’ work.

Albatros Media’s activities also extend beyond TV programming to inlcude multimedia content and workbooks for schools. “We seek to blend quality entertainment with education,” says executive director George Hanily. For Hanily, the Albatros model is National Geographic Television or the BBC’s Blue Planet series, but with a Latin American twist.

Stay tuned for future programming on the environmental challenges facing islands and on the uses of energy and renewable resources. This summer, catch the Spanish or Portuguese versions of Visions of Hope—a series on water pollution and preservation in 13 Latin American countries.

Regional Distribution:

  • Sun Channel Tourism Television
  • Televisión América Latina, TAL
  • LinkTV
  • Ecuador, United States, Canada, Spain and Italy: Ecuavisa Internacional
  • South America: Empresa Brasil de Comunicaçao, EBC, Canal Integración

National Distribution:

  • Argentina: Sistema Nacional de Medios Públicos, S. E., Canal 7
  • Bolivia: Radiodifusoras Populares (RDP), Canal 4
  • Chile: TV-UMAG (Universidad de Magallanes)
  • Colombia: TeleAntioquia
  • Colombia: RTV Señal Colombia
  • Costa Rica: Sistema Nacional de Radio y Televisión, S. A. (SINART), Canal 13
  • Dominican Republic: Corporación Estatal de Radio y Televisión (CERTV) en dos canales de TV (Canal 4 y 17)
  • Dominican Republic: Corporación Estatal de Radio y Televisión (CERTV) en tres radio emisoras
  • Guatemala: Planeta Verde de Televisión
  • Panama: Fundación para la Educación en la Televisión (FETV), Canal 5
  • Panama: Radio Hogar
  • Peru: Asociación Nacional de Canales Locales de Televisión Red TV
  • Peru: Corporación El Comercio en Canal N

Guatemala: 20 Years Later

Civil war, political repression and internal strife shaped the lives of thousands of Guatemalans in the 1980s and isolated the country from the outside world. Traveling the country from 1980 to 1988, Jean-Marie Simon, an American-born photographer, catalogued the turmoil and created a unique record of a country in conflict. An English-language collection of 150 of Simon’s full-color photographs was published in 1988; but this year a Spanish edition was released for the first time in Guatemala with the support of the Soros Foundation. The release of Guatemala: Eterna Primavera, Eterna Tiranía (Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny), is accompanied by a traveling exhibition featuring 40 photographs from Simon’s book.

Sponsored by the Centro Cultural de España, the exhibition, called “Itinerencia,” has already drawn crowds as it makes its way through Guatemala. “I was really surprised by the desire of the people who lived through that era to remember what it was like,” says Simon. “People in their 20s, 30s and 40s at the time really want to look back and remember.” Sales of the limited release of Eterna Primavera will help fund the production of another edition containing 200 photographs and priced to reach a wider Guatemalan audience.

Colombian Hip-Hop

The musical trio, Choc Quib Town (CQT), is putting the Chocó region of Colombia on the global music map this summer. The group will introduce its unique blend of hip-hop, urban soul and funk (infused with Afro-Colombian folk) to European audiences in their first-ever transatlantic tour.

CQT is made up of three emcees: Tostao, Goyo and Slow. They came together in 2000 in their home city of Quibdo, near Colombia’s Pacific coast, in part because of a shared passion for U.S.-based artists like LL Cool J and the Fugees. Their songs feature lyrics about everyday rural life and incorporate beats from well-known music such as Fania Music tracks and others with local rhymes and rhythms.

In 2009, the group was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Best New Group category for the hit songs “Pescao Envenenao” and “De Donde Vengo Yo” from its newest album Oro. According to Goyo, the group’s female lead, the album is intended to showcase the rich musical culture of the indigenous peoples of their region and demonstrate that “Colombia is more than coca fields, marijuana and guerrilla and paramilitary violence.” Plans for a U.S. tour are also in the works.

Watch the music video for "Oro":

10 Things to Do: Panama City

Panama, the crossroads of the hemisphere, has become one of the hottest business and leisure travel destinations in the Americas. With canal expansion underway, the tiny isthmus nation is poised to reap the rewards of being the bridge between the continents.

1.  Explore the Canal. The Panama Canal is the lifeblood of the city. A visitor center in Miraflores, just a few miles from downtown, lets guests see the immensity of the locks and view animated shows about its history.

2.  Wander Through Casco Viejo. San Felipe (a.k.a. Casco Viejo) is the heart of colonial Panama City and home to sites like El Salón Bolívar where El Libertador in 1826 launched failed efforts to establish a multinational congress. Also check out Panama’s national theater and colonial churches like La Iglesia de San José.

3.  Discover the Amador Causeway. At the southern entrance of the canal, the causeway boasts magnificent views of the city skyline and has long stretches to walk, bike or skate.

4.  Spend Some Money. If you like affordable quality merchandise, don’t leave without visiting the Panama City malls. Try Albrook Mall on Avenida Marginal or MetroMall on Vía Tocumen, or both.

5.  Spoil Your Palate. With Panama’s mix of cultures you can sample some incredibly diverse foods.
Check out Vía Argentina and local restaurant favorite El Trapiche for a Fiesta Panameña combination plate with sample-sized portions of up to seven dishes.

6.  Dance. When the sun goes down, Panama’s bars and clubs come alive. Visit the city’s central club area on Calle Uruguay.

7.  Get Away to the Beach. With Panama’s almost 1,550 miles (2,500 km) of coastline, it’s impossible not to find a beach. For crystal clear water and legendary beaches, visit Bocas del Toro Archipelago, a 40-minute flight from the city.

8.  Pump Up Your Adrenaline. Extreme sports like white water rafting are available within only a few hours of Panama City. Operator Aventuras Panama in Edificio Celma in El Paica offers day-long trips for all levels of expertise.

9.  Experience Panama’s Festivals. Learn about the many cultures of Panama by visiting one of the many annual festivals in the interior. Among the best are the Festival of Flowers in Boquete (January 1–10), the Festival of Azuero (April 22–May 2) and the Feria del Mar, a four-day event in September near Bocas del Toro.

10. Walk in the Clouds.
If you want to experience the intense beauty of a tropical cloud forest, the Parque Internacional La Amistad (PILA) will stun you with its treasures. Located in the province of Chiriqui, it’s just a one-hour flight from the capital.

Inuit Film Hub

When Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), an Inuktitut-language film based on Inuit folklore won the Camera d’Or at Cannes in 2001, few viewers had ever seen an Inuit film. Spurred by its success, the film’s creators, Igloolik Isuma Productions, went on to raise the profile of Inuit and indigenous filmmaking. In 2008, the company, based in the far-northern Canadian territory of

Nunavut, founded IsumaTV, an interactive web portal now featuring more than 2,000 films—features, shorts and documentaries—by indigenous moviemakers from across the globe. The site now attracts 20,000 unique visitors per month and posts videos in 41 different languages.

Building a hub for indigenous filmmakers is only part of the challenge. Most of their target audience lives in remote rural areas without access to the high-speed connections that support video-streaming websites. Norman Cohn, secretary-treasurer of Igloolik Isuma Productions (and one of its founders), says the company’s against-the-odds success in Cannes was gratifying, but “we realized [there are] limitations of succeeding in the twenty-first century film system when you can’t reach the audiences you aim to reach.”

Low-bandwidth versions of their films are available, but IsumaTV is launching a pilot program this fall in partnership with the Canadian government to install high-speed local Internet servers in seven Inuit communities.

Another of the project’s aims is to use video as a tool to preserve indigenous languages. “Many of these languages are from oral cultures,” Cohn says. “If people aren’t speaking their own languages on television or on the Internet, their children or grandchildren won’t speak them.”

From the Think Tanks

Matthew Aho

Plomo o plata, a phrase well-known to Mexican journalists, simply means: we own you. Accept a drug cartel’s plata (slang for money) and publish what they tell you, or get shot, plomo (lead). The horrifying spike in drug violence in Mexico over the last four years has taken a heavy toll on the lives and work of Mexican journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists’ new report, Silence or Death in Mexico’s Press, shows how Mexico has become one of the deadliest countries in the world for the media, as well as holding one of the world’s worst records for solving crimes against journalists.

The newest report by Buenos Aires-based Centro de Implementación de Políticas Públicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento (CIPPEC), entitled Coordinación e integración: el desafío del sistema de salud argentino, finds that Argentina’s extremely fragmented and decentralized health care system makes it difficult to provide quality, broad-based care. The report analyzes the health care systems of the United Kingdom, Spain, Costa Rica, and Canada, and draws lessons from these cases that might be helpful in future health care reform in Argentina.

It may not be a think tank, but policymakers and analysts have come to rely on the analysis and wit of The Economist when it comes to the Americas. At a time when newspapers and magazines have cut back overseas bureaus, The Economist has kept its network of correspondents in Latin America filing weekly dispatches.  Now, Latinophiles will also be able to follow daily news through the magazine’s new blog, Americas view. On it, you’ll find coverage of breaking news, accounts of reporting trips and interviews, and the politics, economics, society, and culture of the countries their journalists cover.

From the Think Tanks

Twenty years after education reform, Bolivia has changed an array of policies to improve access to quality education. Despite some progress, the Canadian Foundation for the Americas’ study, Indigenous Population and Differences in Access to Primary Education in Bolivia, finds that families’ socioeconomic status is still the most important factor affecting educational attainment. The gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Bolivians in eighth grade completion has not changed. The report offers a series of recommendations to address this issue.

Frustrated observers lament shortcomings in the development of the hemisphere’s vast energy resources. Despite the economic and national security rationale for regional energy coordination, the region is divided by political tensions, resource nationalism and technical challenges. A new study, Cooperación Energética en el Hemisferio Occidental: Beneficios e Impedimentos (Energy Cooperation in the Western Hemisphere: Benefits and Barriers) by Colombia-based Centro de Estudios Estratégicos Latinoamericanos looks at why and how the region needs to pull together for energy cooperation.

The international community has been a fixture in Haiti since the end of the reign of the Duvaliers. Less present has been the developing world’s nongovernmental groups, which can offer unique insight and collaboration. Integração Social, Ergo, Estabilização (Social Integration, Ergo, Stabilization), a report by Rio de Janeiro-based NGO Viva Rio highlights efforts to transplant some of its grassroots programs to Port-au-Prince. The organization works with local NGOs on projects ranging from community outreach and neighborhood “greening” initiatives to child soldier pacification. The overarching theme, of course, is South-South cooperation.



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