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  • Author: Jose de Cordoba, Britta Crandall, Gabriel Sanchez Zinny
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Blogging the Revolution: Caracas Chronicles and the Hugo Chávez Era by Francisco Toro and Juan Cristobal Nagel BY JOSÉ DE CÓRDOBA Venezuela has been on a wild ride since Hugo Chávez was elected president in 1998. Now that the Comandante—as he liked to be called—has left us, things could get loonier a lot faster. That's one reason why Caracas Chronicles, an English-language blog that has provided a running narration since 2002 of the Chávez era, will continue to be an indispensable tool of analysis and information for addicts of the Chávez story—a story that so far has managed to outlive the flamboyant president. With the death of Chávez and his spectacular funeral still fresh in the collective memory, the publication of Blogging the Revolution: Caracas Chronicles and the Hugo Chávez Era, a compilation of some of the blog's best postings, is well timed. It provides an opportunity to look back on the past and to meditate on the future of Venezuela as it teeters between comedy and tragedy. This is an essential read for anybody interested in Venezuela.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Reform
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Venezuela
  • Author: Robert A. Boland, Victor A. Matheson
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: The urgency and scale of hosting can provide a needed boost to public investment and transform a country's image, infrastructure and business conditions beyond the games. BY ROBERT A. BOLAND Do megasports events contribute to economic development? Yes Following the 2014 World Cup? Read more coverage here. In the next two years, Brazil will host the three largest mega sports events in the world: the 2014 FIFA World Cup this summer, and then the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio in 2016. Other nations in the Americas and across the globe will be watching to see if Brazil's hosting duties lead to broad-based, lasting growth, or are merely an expensive distraction. While history provides examples of both scenarios, hosting such megaevents can provide lasting and transformative value, including to developing nations. Megaevents can accelerate the process of planning for and executing much-needed public investment, while the host countries or cities can rebrand themselves as safe for investment and trade, and as a destination for tourism. For democratic governments, the construction blitz around megaevents can cut through political deadlock, representing the best available chance to quickly bring about focused and necessary change. The ability to develop infrastructure that can improve the quality of life, health and economic strength of the host nation is key. Hosts with plans focusing on self-improvement, investment and the enlargement of existing assets tend to fare better than countries that simply build competition venues.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: America, Brazil
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Arts Innovator: Francisca Valenzuela, Chile Singer. Fashion designer. Entrepreneur. At 27, Francisca Valenzuela has already reached the kind of success usually associated with a professionally managed career. But instead of a top agent or a big record label, the San Francisco-born Chilean artist owes her achievements to a team that includes her mother, biochemist Bernardita Méndez, her boyfriend and artistic confidante Vicente Sanfuentes, and a small, committed staff in Chile that has skillfully used social media—including 275,000 Twitter followers and fans known as “Franáticos”—to spread the word of her talents. Valenzuela is one of the most engaging examples of a new generation of artist-entrepreneurs who are controlling their own career paths. “I'm not waiting for someone to come rescue me industry-wise,” Valenzuela says, describing how, when her music took off in her late teens, she and her mother purchased Business for Dummies online to understand the fine print in her first contract. Valenzuela's early musical success—with a hit single, Peces (Fish) in 2006—came after years of performing in talent shows, but she was never “serious” about music until she started performing on the underground jazz circuit in Chile. She eventually dropped out of the Universidad Católica de Chile, where she was studying journalism, to pursue her burgeoning musical career. Along the way, she has had two books published, two pop-rock albums that went platinum and gold in Chile, and designed a clothing line for the Chilean brand Foster. Now, Valenzuela develops projects and artistic collaborations through her own company, FRANTASTIC Productions. “We've structured an independent enterprise basically run by two people [that's] competitive with counterparts who have a whole corporate background,” she says proudly. Valenzuela's do-it-yourself ethic in the music industry is not the only thing that sets her apart from many of her peers. Valenzuela spent the first 12 years of her life in the United States before the family relocated to Santiago. In fact, Valenzuela's first book—Defenseless Waters, a collection of poems that she published at age 13 about themes ranging from long-lost love to social injustice to nature—was written in English. “When I was young in the Bay Area, everyone seemed to be doing extracurricular activities, sports, painting, nurturing kids,” she recalls. Valenzuela's literary background and political convictions have inspired her songwriting in Spanish. The title song of her latest album, Buen Soldado (Good Soldier, 2011), focuses on the power dynamic between men and women, and she has been an outspoken advocate of sexual diversity and LGBT rights in Chile, participating in gay rights marches since she was 14.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Brazil
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: World Cup Update Following the 2014 World Cup? Read more coverage here. With preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup nearing completion, soccer fans across the region can turn their attention to what really matters: their national team's chances of winning on the world's biggest stage. Although European teams have won four of the last six competitions, South American teams have historically fared far better when playing at home. The World Cup draw last December placed the 32 qualifying teams in eight groups of four. From June 12 to June 26, each team will play the other teams in its group in a round- robin format. The top two teams from each group will advance to the elimination round. Not all groups are created equal, so here are some predictions for the hemisphere's 10 qualifying teams.
  • Topic: Development, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Brazil, South America
  • Author: Jorge Heine, R. Viswanathan
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: India emerges as a major partner for Latin America.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Latin America
  • Author: Robert A. Pastor
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Two decades ago, the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States forged an agreement that transformed North America from just a geographical expression to the world's most formidable economic entity. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) eliminated most of the trade and investment barriers that had segmented the continent. Within a decade, trade among the three countries tripled and foreign direct investment (FDI) quintupled. By 2001, the three nations of North America accounted for 36 percent of the world product—up from 30 percent in 1994. And while many economists have waxed enthusiastic about the growing power of Brazil, U.S. trade with Mexico today is more than six times larger than its trade with Brazil. Unfortunately, since 2001 regional cooperation has stagnated. NAFTA, designed to expand trade and investment, has proven too limited in addressing the current issues facing the three countries. The time has come for the leaders of North America to recommit to regional integration if they want to effectively address the policy issues facing the region. For example, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, NAFTA can play a major role in job creation. A revamped agreement can potentially double exports and allow North America to once again compete with integrated markets in Asia and Europe. Beyond jobs, enhanced coordination and information sharing among NAFTA partners will allow for better control of immigration and the flow of illicit drugs across our borders. Finally, strengthening ties will begin to close the development gap between Mexico and its two neighbors, fortifying the economic and political bloc. The Rise and Fall of North America Though NAFTA has long faded from the headlines, the agreement's first years showed much promise. When the North American market was created in 1992, the impact was almost immediate. Contrary to the claim by U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot that American jobs would be “sucked” into Mexico, the dramatic increase in North American trade coincided with the largest wave of job creation in U.S. history. Between 1992 and 2000, roughly 22 million jobs were added in the U.S., while trade with and FDI in Canada and Mexico grew more than 17 percent each year. The combination of expanded trade and investment meant that the three countries were actually making products together rather than just trading them. By combining U.S. capital and technology with Mexico's cheaper labor and Canada's abundant resources, the enlarged North American market experienced rapid growth, while Europe stagnated. From the onset of the U.S.-Canadian Free Trade Agreement in 1988 to 2001, trade among Mexico, Canada and the U.S., as a percentage of their trade with the world, leapt from 36 percent to 46 percent. The decline of the integration idea could be dated to the spring of 2001, when Presidents Vicente Fox of Mexico and George W. Bush of the U.S. met Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in Québec. Fox and his Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda arrived with a suitcase filled with proposals, such as a North American Commission, a “cohesion” fund to reduce the development gap, a customs union and an immigration agreement. But Chrétien was not interested in including Mexico in Canada's talks with the U.S., and Bush rejected any new multilateral institution or fund. The opportunity for progress was lost. The share of trade among the three countries as a percentage of their trade with the rest of the world dropped from 46 percent in 2001 to 40 percent in 2009—almost to pre-NAFTA levels. The average annual growth of trade among the three countries declined by two-thirds, while growth of foreign direct investment decreased by one-half…
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, Brazil, North America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Brazil
  • Author: Andrew Zimbalist
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Can Brazil build the massive infrastructure it needs to host the Olympics and the World Cup?
  • Topic: Corruption, Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Brazil
  • Author: Simon Kuper
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Fans like their teams—but not necessarily the politicians who support them.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America, England