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  • Chávez Myth Will Outlive His Achievements

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    In an article for CNN's Global Public Square published on March 6, Christopher Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief of Americas Quarterly and Senior Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, argues that there will be little long-lasting institutional imprint left by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, despite his outsize personality and charisma.

    Chávez Myth Will Outlive HIs Achievements

    by Christopher Sabatini

    It’s difficult to remember a time when Hugo Chávez didn’t dominate the headlines, just as it is difficult to believe that, with his death, there will come a time when he no longer does. Elected as Venezuelan president in 1998 and sworn in in 1999, Chávez became the voice of a new group of leaders across South America that came to power with the collapse of traditional, elite-dominated party systems. He was the bête noir of the United States, a hero to the anti-globalization left and to the poor in his own country, a savior to the Castro regime in Cuba, and the clown prince of the regional summit circuit. For all this, though, Chávez’s legacy in Venezuela and in the region will be one of institutional debasement and polarization.

    The one-time lieutenant colonel rose to prominence in 1992, when he and a group of mid-level officers attempted a coup against the country’s then-President Carlos Andrés Pérez. In a brief statement to the media, Chávez promised that while he may have failed, that he would return to correct the social injustices that led to his putsch. After serving time in prison he did, winning the 1998 presidential elections, overturning a two-party system that had governed Venezuela since 1958 through an increasingly closed, corrupt system held together by the country’s oil riches and patronage.


  • Hugo Chávez’ Mixed Legacy

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    Americas Quarterly Editor-in-Chief and Americas Society/Council of the Americas Senior Director Christopher Sabatini spoke to CNN's Ali Velshi on March 6 about the polarized reactions to Hugo Chávez' death as U.S. celebrities like Oliver Stone and Sean Penn issued statements on Twitter praising the late Venezuelan president for reducing poverty in Venezuela.

    "Chávez did a lot of things and he paid attention to the poor, which the previous regime...had sort of left out of politics," Sabatini said. "And certainly, that captured the imagination of people like Sean Penn and Oliver Stone. But on the other hand, he didn't abide by human rights, he railed against the opposition, he controlled and nationalized a number of key media [outlets], tore down the independence of the Supreme Court, and essentially pulled Venezuela out of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights."

    Sabatini also said that although Chávez "became a voice of anti-American tendencies in the region," he never really posed a security threat to the United States. "It was mostly a lot of buffoonery, a lot of name calling, a lot of bullying, but not a real threat."

    Finally, reflecting on the chances for Venezuela's opposition in the presidential elections, which are scheduled to be held within the next 30 days, Sabatini said that all signs point to a victory for Venezuelan Vice-President and interim president Nicolás Maduro, Chávez' chosen successor. Chávez convincingly won Venezuela's October 2012 presidential elections by a margin of 11 percentage points, while Chávez supporters won in 20 out of 23 Venezuelan states. "It's really Maduro's election to lose," Sabatini said.

    Watch the full interview here.


  • Un país en una grave crisis económica

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    In an article for El Diario published on March 6, Jason Marczak, Senior Editor of Americas Quarterly and Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, discusses the economic uncertainty facing Venezuela after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and what it will mean for the region.

    Un país en una grave crisis económica

    by Jason Marczak

    El anuncio de la muerte del Presidente Hugo Chávez ayer tiene grandes implicaciones para el país y la región. En el corto plazo, la primera interrogante es si el vicepresidente y sucesor designado, Nicolás Maduro, mantendrá el control del poder en caso de ganar las elecciones que la Constitución estipula deben realizarse en los próximos 30 días.

    No había duda alguna de la muerte de Chávez, sino de cuándo ocurriría. El 7 de octubre de 2012, el mandatario derrotó a Henrique Capriles en la elección presidencial, tras declararse a sí mismo libre de cáncer. Pero, tan sólo dos meses después, resultó claro que su tiempo era limitado cuando —después de 14 años en el poder— hizo un llamado a los venezolanos a elegir a Maduro en caso de verse obligado a renunciar. Días más tarde, regresó a Cuba para su tercera ronda de tratamiento para el cáncer y no pudo regresar para su inauguración el 10 de enero. Ante la creciente presión de la oposición de demostrar su capacidad de gobernar, el presidente regresó a Venezuela para morir dos semanas después.

    Chávez deja un país en una grave crisis económica con enormes deudas a China después de años de mala gestión financiera y la disminución de los ingresos del petróleo —una consecuencia de la mala gestión de la empresa estatal PDVSA y un clima de inversión desfavorable para la inversión extranjera. Chávez también creó un país altamente polarizado, donde la violencia y las tensiones sociales se encuentran a la orden del día.


  • AQ’s Christopher Sabatini on CNN

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    Christopher Sabatini, Americas Quarterly Editor-in-Chief and Americas Society/Council of the Americas Senior Director of Policy, appeared on CNN Tuesday night with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour to discuss the immediate reactions to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’ death on Tuesday.

    Amanpour predicted that the political and economic aftermath of Chávez’ death “could be a pretty rude awakening” for other Latin American countries, particularly for Cuba and other neighbors that are dependent on Venezuelan oil. “I’m sure there’s a lot of worry going on there about what might be the result,” Amanpour said.

    Read More

  • El limbo de la prisión preventiva en América

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    On Sunday, Colombian publication El Tiempo published a Spanish version of Richard M. Aborn and Ashley D. Cannon's Winter 2013 article for Americas Quarterly, "Prisons: In Jail But Not Sentenced." Aborn, president of the consulting firm CAAS LLC, explains the consequences of Latin America's high pretrial detention rates and says that reforming Latin America's prison systems requires implementing simple changes such as better record-keeping to streamline the flow of cases, studies that analyze what delays cases from moving to trial, and the development of threat assessment tools that allow the release of prisoners who pose a low risk of flight or harm.

    To read the original article in English, click here.

    El limbo de prisión preventiva en América

    Por Richard M. Aborn y Ashley D. Cannon

    Entre el 10 y el 40 por ciento de los presos en el continente no están condenados.

    A pesar de que los derechos a la libertad, la seguridad y la igualdad ante la ley son los pilares de los sistemas judiciales de todos los países de América, la prisión preventiva se está utilizando en una tasa entre dos y cinco veces superior al promedio internacional.

    Aunque la detención previa a juicio tiene un propósito importante en el proceso judicial, su uso excesivo y arbitrario atrapa a personas inocentes en un limbo legal, forzando la capacidad de las ya superpobladas prisiones y socavando el respeto hacia el sistema de justicia penal.

    En la mayoría de los países del continente, entre el 10 y el 40 por ciento de toda la población encarcelada se encuentra tras las rejas sin una condena. La proporción más alta de detenidos en espera de juicio entre la población total de presos la tiene Bolivia (83,6 por ciento), seguida de Paraguay (71,2 por ciento), Haití (67,7 por ciento), Venezuela (66,2 por ciento) y República Dominicana (64,7 por ciento).

    En la mayoría de estos países, la ley les exige a las autoridades que presenten al individuo arrestado ante un funcionario judicial entre las 24 y las 72 horas posteriores a su detención. Si el acusado no recibe la libertad provisional bajo palabra o no puede pagar la fianza, es muy posible que pase meses detenido mientras se resuelve su caso.

    Resulta devastador que en algunos países (incluyendo a Bolivia, Argentina, Panamá y Paraguay) los informes de las organizaciones de derechos humanos y de los gobiernos reporten que los detenidos pueden pasar largo tiempo presos, esperando incluso a que se presenten cargos en su contra.

    Read the rest of the article here.

    Lea una versión completa en español aquí.

    Click here to watch an AQ Q&A video interview with Richard M. Aborn.

  • AQ Notable Patricio Villareal in New York Times

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

    Three years after appearing in Americas Quarterly’s Winter 2010 issue, “Voices from the New Generation,” Mexican entrepreneur Patricio Villareal Zambrano is continuing to receive media recognition for his mission to improve health care access for middle and lower income patients in Monterrey.

    Read More

  • AQ Holds Conference on IACHR Reforms in Washington DC

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

    Fifty-three years after its creation, the future of the main observer and protector of human rights in the region might be at stake. In March 2013, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) will hold a special session in which it will consider a series of proposals for reforming the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) which may include restricting the body’s discretion in granting precautionary measures, reducing the activities of and funding for the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, and imposing restrictions on the Commission’s decisions regarding individual complaints.

    Read More

  • El impulso de Obama a la reforma migratoria

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    In an article for El Universal published on February 16, Jason Marczak, Senior Editor of Americas Quarterly and Director of Policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas, discusses President Obama's pledge to achieve comprehensive immigration reform during his State of the Union speech and what it will take for the reforms to become a reality.

    El impulso de Obama a la reforma migratoria

    by Jason Marczak

    El martes pasado, el presidente Barack Obama, presentó sus prioridades legislativas en el discurso del Estado de la Unión, dándole un empuje adicional a la reforma migratoria comprehensiva. En su primer Estado de la Unión hace cuatro años, el presidente de los Estados Unidos ni siquiera mencionó el tema de inmigración.

    Este año, él reiteró el compromiso que dio durante un discurso efectuado en Las Vegas hace dos semanas para una reforma migratoria comprehensiva que incluya un camino hacia la ciudadanía para los inmigrantes indocumentados.

    Los tiempos han cambiado

    Este cambio también es evidente en el Partido Republicano, que optó por Marco Rubio, un senador cubano-americano de Florida en su primer mandato, para ofrecer la respuesta republicana. Al igual que el presidente, Rubio, miembro del grupo de los ocho senadores que están tomando la iniciativa en la reforma migratoria, se mostró a favor de dicha reforma.

    La selección de un latino para representar al partido es otra señal de que el Partido Republicano está tratando de hacer todo lo posible por aumentar su popularidad entre el electorado latino después de haber perdido ante el president Obama por casi 45 punto porcentuales durante las elecciones presidenciales.

    Read the rest of the article here.


  • The Future of Natural Resource Extraction in Latin America

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

    Voz de América’s Celia Mendoza reported live Tuesday from the launch of Americas Quarterly’s Winter 2013 issue on natural resource extraction in Latin America, which took place at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas in New York.

    The event, entitled “Natural Resource Extraction: Where Are We Heading?” featured panelists Maj. Gen. Richard L. Engel, the director of the environment and natural resources at the National Intelligence Council, as well as AQ author Bernice Lee, research director of energy, environment and resource governance at Chatham House. During a discussion moderated by AQ Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini, both panelists discussed the impact of natural resource extraction on national security, the environment, and economic and social development.

    “There’s always a great risk to the economy for states that depend too much on natural resources,” said Sabatini in an interview with VOA.  Sabatini said that resource producers must be especially conscious of price volatility, and ensure that taxes and royalties invested in public resources have an impact at the local level. High-tech mining equipment and other technology “comes from abroad and generates fewer opportunities for local workers,” he added.


  • Bernice Lee of Chatham House Proposes Resources 30 (R30) Group

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    In a guest post for the Financial Times' "Beyond Brics," blog, Bernice Lee of Chatham House proposes that the world's top 30 resource-producing and resource-consuming nations form a Resources 30 (R30) group to cooperate on global natural resources management and to tackle problems like resource price volatility, competition, and social and political conflict.

    Read Lee's exclusive article, "The Geopolitics of the Modern Resource Boom," in the recently-launched Winter 2013 issue of Americas Quarterly on natural resource extraction in Latin America.

    Guest post: let's start an R30 Group to manage global resources

    by Bernice Lee 

    Resource insecurity is back with a vengeance. It is time for world leaders to respond to burgeoning demand from emerging economies, which has driven up commodity prices and made them more volatile, and led to supply disruptions, environmental degradation and political tensions.
     
    Governments have mostly reacted with unilateral – and often myopic – policies, alongside vague attempts at collaboration. This is not enough. The world’s top resource-producing and resource-consuming nations should establish a Resources 30 (R30) Group, and cooperate in managing global natural resources.
     
    As my forthcoming article in the new issue of Americas Quarterly argues, the world needs a ‘coalition of the committed’ which would comprise 30 countries critical to the stability and functioning of resources markets.
    We at Chatham House, drawing on our Resources Futures report released last month, envision the R30 as an informal forum – with smaller working groups – in which governments, experts, and other stakeholders would tackle urgent issues. There would be plenty to keep them busy.


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