Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Panorama: Looking at our hemisphere from all directions (Spring 2008)

Andrés Oppenheimer issues a new, revised English edition of “Cuentos Chinos”; ten ways to enjoy São Paulo;a prize-winning film about Rio’s hard-fisted drug cops;alternative media in Chile;U.S. presidential candidates on our hemisphere;the political views of U.S. Hispanics;upcoming events.

Hispanic Voting

In states across the U.S., this year’s presidential primary elections have seen some of the highest voter turnouts in the past 40 years. Fighting for votes state-by-state, candidates are courting an increasingly important electorate: the Hispanic population.
An estimated 44 million Hispanics live in the U.S.—approximately 15 percent of the total population—and California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada represent five of the top 11 Hispanic-populated states (see map). In fact, California and these Inner Mountain West states account for 40 percent of Hispanics: voters who may determine the next president.

AQ examines the greatest concerns for Hispanics in these states. The top two responses are those of most non-Hispanic voters, but for the first time, immigration ranks high as a political concern. Education, not included in the survey, is another key priority…


 

Policy Wonk Corner

Citizens Strengthening Democracy
Carlos Ponce, Director, Consorcio Justicia, Venezuela

Weak democratic institutions and a failure to improve the quality of life for millions have ushered in a new era of authoritarianism with a populist tinge in Latin America. The result: a step back for the rule of law and for democracy. Human rights and democracy organizations have tried to confront this challenge. But without a platform for exchanging ideas and coordinating activities, successes are only short-lived.

To help fill this gap, the first meeting of the Latin American Democracy Network was held in Panama City, Panama, on February 29. More than 140 leaders from non-governmental organizations, unions, judiciaries, and the public sector came together for the two-day meeting. Participants discussed how to consolidate the network so that it could defend and advance democratic practices in the region…


 

Ten Things to Do: São Paulo

Travelers to Brazil’s financial center may want to think again before heading to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. The largest city in South America offers some of the hottest nightlife along with first-class restaurants and museums. One piece of advice: traffic can be unpredictable at any time.

1. Futebol Home to São Paulo Futebol Clube—the only team to win the national title five times—Estádio do Morumbi packs in up to 80,000 spectators. For a more intimate setting, check out the art-deco Estádio do Pacaembu.
2. Explore the Feijoada Tradition Brazil’s signature bean, beef and pork stew has been a tradition at Feijoada do Bolinha since opening in 1952. Both traditional and light, as well as kosher, are offered; women eat for free at dinnertime.
3. Rev Up Your Engines Formula 1 racing comes to town for the World Championship on November 2 for a 71-lap thriller. The lap record, set in 2004, is just 1 minute, 11 seconds for the 4.3 kilometers. Tickets and information are available at: www.formula1.com


 

Publishing

Unconventional Journalism

Few publications could get away with placing a story about a 300-pound stripper dressed as a nun on the same page as a piece on social inequality. In Chile, The Clinic, a newspaper where parody meets investigative journalism, offers an alternative to mainstream media. Published twice-monthly, with 230,000 readers in Santiago alone, it is one of the most successful major media outlets established since Augusto Pinochet left power. The magazine is named after the building where Pinochet was held in England in 1998 while awaiting trial. The editorial staff spares no one, not least Chile’s press, which they lambast for complacency during the Pinochet era. Students are the target demographic, but the readership spans generations. The tenth anniversary will be celebrated in November.

Pushing Back In English

Andrés Oppenheimer’s book, Cuentos Chinos, reviewed by AQ in its Spring 2007 issue, is now available to English-speaking readers. Published by Random House Mondadori, Saving the Americas: The Dangerous Decline of Latin America and What the U.S. Must Do includes travel notes from India and recommendations for the next U.S. administration. The English-language edition is more than just a crossover success for a book that has sold over 240,000 copies in Spanish; it’s a challenge to U.S. political leaders to stand up for the region and for their country’s Hispanic citizens. Says Oppenheimer: “At a time when isolationism, protectionism and chauvinism are spread by journalist agitators, the book makes exactly the opposite argument.”

 


Tags: Andres Oppenheimer, Captain Tough, Carlos Ponce, Consorcio Justicia, Cuentos Chinos, Elite Squad, Favela, hispanic voting, Sao Paulo, Saving the Americas, The Clinic, Tropa de Elite
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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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