Levels of crime and violence have been rising in Central America over the past decade. Reversing this trend will require regional cooperation, cross-border action and public-private collaboration, writes AQ Senior Editor Jason Marczak in an article published yesterday in World Politics Review.
High levels of crime and violence have given Central America the inauspicious title of having the world’s highest homicide rate -- about 10 times the world average. Reversing this trend will require collective, crossborder action and regional partnerships that include the private sector. Unfortunately, for this to be possible, the mechanisms needed to do so must be strengthened significantly.
Statistics paint a grim picture of what lies ahead if meaningful cooperation is not taken soon. Honduras, the most violent country, registered 91.6 homicides per 100,000 people in 2011 -- nearly triple the rate observed in 2004, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. In El Salvador, a March 2012 truce between two notorious gangs has reportedly halved the daily death toll, which stood at 69.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2011. But the fragile accord leaves the door open for a return to high homicide rates should gang leaders decide the truce is not serving their interests. Following its southern neighbors, Guatemala -- generally the last stop for illicit drugs before reaching Mexico and then the United States -- registered a rate of 38.5 homicides per 100,000 people last year. Even Costa Rica, a bastion of stability and economic development in the region, saw its murder rate climb to 11.3 per 100,000 people by 2010, a 60 percent jump from 2004. By comparison, the U.S. registers 4.2 homicides per 100,000.
Read the rest of the article here.
Last Friday, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington awarded the 2012 John W. Kluge prize for lifetime achievement in the study of humanity to Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a leading scholar and practitioner of political economy for many years, and who also served two terms as the president of Brazil (1995–2003) and is a member of the editorial board of Americas Quarterly.
In his acceptance speech at a ceremony in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, Cardoso said he felt “honored and humbled” and even “a bit nervous” to receive the award. He called it “a true privilege” to be the first Brazilian—and first Latin American—to receive the award, which is administered by the Kluge Center in the Library of Congress to recognize and celebrate lifetime achievement in areas of study that advance understanding of the human experience.
Cardoso is the first prize recipient whose work spans the fields of sociology, political science and economics.
What is happening in the world, and how does it affect you, your family, your job or your country? What is the relationship between events that appear to be isolated, but are actually connected?
Efecto Naím, a weekly television news program broadcast by NTN24 and hosted by international news commentator Moisés Naím, offers a unique insight into how our world is changing. Watch Sunday's episode, in which Efecto Naím and Americas Quarterly offered a joint report on the status of LGBT rights in Latin America (preview below).
In some ways, Latin America has been a trailblazer in LGBT rights. Several governments have been leaders in offering gay people equal rights and protections as those enjoyed by heterosexuals. But in other respects, the region is lagging behind. Homophobia is still widespread in many countries, and homosexuals are still struggling for their rights.
AQ and Efecto Naím looked at the best and worst countries for LGBT rights in the region, and explored what changes the coming years might bring.
Time of Airing:
Efecto Naím airs Sunday evenings on channels in the U.S., Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. The full video of the LGBT rights report in Spanish can be accessed here. An English version will follow later this week.
A report released recently by CQ Global Researcher provides a primer for students and academics on China's expansion into Latin America and the Caribbean. Written by longtime international journalist Kenneth J. Stier, China in Latin America: Can Latin America Survive the Chinese Economic Juggernaut? raises the many questions attendant to such expansion—is Latin America benefiting? Does China threaten the Latin American economic model? Does it threaten the U.S.'s hegemony in the region? For additional analysis of these and other issues, see the Winter 2012 issue of Americas Quarterly.
China in Latin America: Can Latin America Survive the Chinese Economic Juggernaut?
China's global expansion has reached Latin America and the Caribbean, where the Asian giant has been pursuing an aggressive trade policy for a decade. Besides investing heavily in the region's abundant natural resources and shipping huge quantities of cheap industrial goods into the area, China is also interested in buying Latin America's food commodities—especially soybeans. While trade with China has provided a historic bonanza for Latin producers, a growing trade imbalance—favoring China—has soured the initial euphoria. In exchange for Latin America's raw materials, China exports manufactured goods that are clobbering Latin competitors, threatening to return the region to its 1970s-era over- dependence on commodity exports. China also has emerged as a major investor—and financier—for the region, helping it to weather the 2008-09 global recession. China's sudden emergence as a significant player in the hemisphere also has sparked concern that China might eventually undermine U.S. influence and interest in the vast region—a fear that Beijing carefully tries to assuage.
Access the full article here.
Americas Society's Music of the Americas concert series will again participate this year in Make Music New York, a festival of more than 1,000 free concerts in public spaces across the five boroughs of New York City. On Thursday, June 21, Americas Society will present performances by two arts-education groups—the Mariachi Academy of New York and the Corona Youth Music Project—and the international tango ensemble Los Chantas. Performances begin at 5:30 p.m. and will take place on 69th Street between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue.
The Mariachi Academy of New York is the first East Coast institution dedicated to educating young boys and girls in this traditional Mexican musical of Mexico. The Corona Youth Music Project in Queens, New York, offers tuition-free music programs for youth in Corona—Louis Armstrong’s neighborhood, today home to large Dominican, Ecuadorian and other Hispanic immigrant populations. Los Chantas are a multinational, New York-based group whose repertoire draws from the Argentine tango tradition of Carlos Gardel to the present.
Now in its sixth year, Make Music New York is part of an international event that takes place every year on June 21st, the first day of summer. The festival began with France’s Fete de la Musique, inaugurated in 1982, and is now celebrated by more than 460 cities in 110 countries. Music of the Americas is an ongoing concert series presented by Americas Society and made possible through support from MetLife Foundation.
Latin America remains a socio-economically divided place, both within and among countries, writes Christopher Sabatini, AQ Editor-in-Chief and AS/COA Senior Director of Policy, in a Miami Herald op-ed published today.
Inequality Still Haunts Latin America
To talk of Latin America as if it were a meaningful unit has always been forced, if not artificial. But now, as a recently released social inclusion index reveals, the region is becoming even more divided between countries — while remaining so within many.
Measuring the performance of 11 countries in the hemisphere by race/ethnicity and gender in access to public and private goods as well by political and civil rights, Americas Quarterly’s social inclusion index reveals huge differences between countries in the region. At the top, with a score of 71.9, stands Chile, with Uruguay just behind at 71.2. Contrast that with the lowest performers, Guatemala at 7.5 and Nicaragua at 10.3. Brazil is third, but a distant third.
Looking closely you realize that contrasts are stark, not just in the tremendous gaps between the countries, but within them, explaining their wildly divergent scores. For all the genuine gains of a rising middle class in the region, some countries and populations are clearly being left behind. To give a few examples, in Guatemala while 58 percent of school-aged children of European descent are enrolled in school, only 35 percent of those of indigenous or African descent are. In Bolivia those same numbers are 86 percent and 72 percent.
Continue reading here.
The future of the Western Hemisphere's independent human rights body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), has been called into question in recent days at the 42nd General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which concluded yesterday in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Several different reform proposals were considered at the summit, the push for which was initiated by Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua—all members of the ALBA bloc. Even more moderate nations such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico had also called for the IACHR to be "modernized." These reforms would give OAS member states the power to delay IACHR reports for up to one year, severely blunting their impact.
Opponents of the IACHR insist that the human rights body is a foreign policy tool of the United States and does not respect national sovereign decisions related to politics and economic decision-making. Leading that charge has been Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who was the only head of state to be present in Cochabamba other than Bolivian President Evo Morales. Correa was roundly criticized by the IACHR in 2011 for successfully prosecuting officials of the El Universo paper on the charge of libel when they gave him unfavorable coverage. He pardoned them in February of this year.
Correa said yesterday to TeleSUR, "If it's necessary to abandon the OAS and create our own system, then we have to do it."
Although some believed that the reform proposals would be put to a vote this week, assembly attendees managed to table the debate to next year's permanent council meetings—challenging OAS member states to prepare concrete proposals before next year's convention in Guatemala.
AQ Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini commented, "This is a very dangerous precedent—vesting a body of executives with the authority to recommend reforms to an independent judicial institution and the crown jewel of the inter-American system, the IACHR."
Below is a brief Americas Quarterly resource guide on the IACHR:
Americas Quarterly is pleased to announce a new collaboration with Efecto Naím, a weekly television news program broadcast by Nuestra Tele Noticias 24 Horas (NTN24).Content from the magazine will be featured in a series of news reports on the show, which is hosted by Moisés Naím, an internationally renowned columnist and commentator on international politics and economics.
Besides the joint reports, Efecto Naím also interviewed Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini about the findings of AQ’s “Social Inclusion Index” for his Sunday, May 27, program:
In the future, reports resulting from the new collaboration will include interviews with AQ authors and other experts on topics such as LGBT rights, Brazil’s road to the World Cup and educational disparities by race and income.
Efecto Naím airs Sunday evenings on channels in the U.S., Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. To catch the program in the U.S., tune into DirecTV/Channel 418 at 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. on the East Coast, and 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on the West Coast.
The Opportunities for the Majority Initiative at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is hosting a client workshop, “Reaching Scale Through Distribution Platforms,” at the IDB headquarters in Washington DC on Thursday, May 31. The workshop will present three cases of innovative business models that are successfully serving base-of-the-pyramid markets in Latin America and the Caribbean and that have also achieved scale by leveraging preexisting distribution channels.
On Sunday, the weekly broadcast of the Efecto Naím news program, hosted by well-known international affairs expert and commentator Moisés Naím, will feature an interview with Americas Quarterly Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini. Sabatini explains the meaning of the term “social inclusion,” and he discusses some of the findings of AQ’s original “social inclusion index,” launched in the Spring 2012 edition.
Efecto Naím is a weekly television news program broadcast by Nuestra Tele Noticias 24 Horas (NTN24), an international 24-hour news channel. Efecto Naím airs Sunday evenings on channels in the U.S., Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. To catch the program in the U.S., tune into DirecTV/Channel 418 at 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. on the East Coast, and 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on the West Coast.