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  • Author: Olivia Ruggles-Brise
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Latin America's travel and tourism industry took a hit during the 2008–2009 recession. International arrivals slowed and tourists had less money to spend. But over the longer term, tourism has been a success story—and forecasts suggest continued growth. That should surprise no one. Latin America's sheer diversity in scenic beauty, cuisine and cultures has combined with an increasingly sophisticated domestic industry to cater to every kind of traveler. Since 2006, tourism's direct contribution to GDP in Latin America has grown by 7 percent in real terms—more than double the world average—to reach an estimated $134 billion in 2011. This figure, which is projected to rise to $224 billion in 2022, includes revenue generated by tourism-oriented services such as hotels and airlines, as well as restaurant and leisure industries that cater to tourists. Forecasts for this year suggest tourism's direct contributions will grow by 6.5 percent, behind only Northeast and South Asia (6.7 percent).
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Saskia Sassen, Andrew Selee, Moses Naim
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead by Shannon O'Neil BY ANDREW SELEE Click here to view a video interview with Shannon O'Neil. No relationship in the Western Hemisphere is more critical for the United States than its relationship with Mexico. U.S. security is closely tied to Mexico's ability (and willingness) to strengthen its legal and judicial system, and to Mexico's economic potential. And conversely, an improving American economy will have an outsized impact on Mexico's future development. In Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead, Shannon K. O'Neil, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, provides both a readable recent history of Mexico and a cogent argument for why U.S. policymakers, business leaders and citizens should care about the future of their southern neighbor. In one of her more compelling passages, she imagines what it would be like if Mexico's economy were to take off as Spain's did in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Mexico
  • Author: Kurt J. Nagle
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Infrastructure: U.S. Seaport Expansion BY KURT J. NAGLE U.S. seaports are in an enhancement and expansion mode. While the widening of the Panama Canal may serve as the catalyst for some of the anticipated $9.2 billion in annual facilities investment in the foreseeable future, this is only part of the story. Several other factors are propelling this huge investment of private capital into U.S. ports. One is the rebounding domestic economy: the value of U.S. exports has risen 70 percent and imports have increased by 53 percent since the first half of 2009. Another driver is the increasing overseas demand for U.S. exports, particularly among the growing middle class in Latin America and parts of Asia. In fact, in the next decade, total U.S. exports are projected to surpass imports for the first time in a generation. Yet another consideration is that manufacturing operations are returning to North America, a development known as “nearsourcing.” With rising labor costs overseas, a narrowing labor differential at home and long transit times to market, a Michigan-based AlixPartners survey conducted in 2012 found that 9 percent of manufacturing executives have already taken steps to “near-source” their operations, and 33 percent plan to do so within the next three years.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, California, North America
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Prost, Brazil! Grab a stein-full of caipirinha and stroll down to Ipanema beach in your lederhosen—it's Germany-Brazil Year in Brazil. The yearlong festival, aimed at deepening German-Brazilian relations, kicked off in May with the opening of the German-Brazilian Economic Forum in São Paulo. “Brazil is one of the most successful new centers of power in the world,” says Guido Westerwelle, Germany's foreign minister. “We want to intensify cooperation with Brazil, not only economically but also culturally.” It's no surprise that Brazil, the sixth-largest economy in the world, has caught the attention of Europe's financial powerhouse. Brazil is Germany's most important trading partner in Latin America, accounting for $14.2 billion in imports in 2012. With some 1,600 German companies in Brazil providing 250,000 jobs and 17 percent of industrial GDP, it's an economic relationship that clearly has mutual benefits.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, Europe, Brazil, Germany, Mexico
  • Author: John Carey, Adriana La Rotta, Nancy Perez
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Latin American Populism in the Twenty-First Century edited by Carlos de la Torre and Cynthia J. Arnson BY JOHN M. CAREY Legend has it that on his deathbed, Juan Domingo Perón, the former President of Argentina, uttered a curse condemning any would-be biographer to dedicate his or her career to defining populism. Or perhaps the curse was issued on the lost page of the late Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas' suicide note, or slipped in among the bills in an envelope passed surreptitiously by Alberto Fujimori to some Peruvian legislator, or whispered by the recently deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez into the ear of his successor, Nicolás Maduro. No matter. Whoever first uttered the curse, it worked: political scientists studying the region have wrestled and been obsessed with the concept for decades. We want to write about populism. Indeed, we need to write about it, because populism is among the most important and persistent phenomena in modern Latin American politics. But because the populist label has been applied to such a broad array of phenomena, we are condemned to define it before we can embark on any serious analysis. Academic exactitude being what it is, this leads first to extended consideration of what others have held populism to be, followed by a self-perpetuating and seemingly inescapable cycle of judgment, distinction and justification.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, Argentina, Colombia, Latin America, Central America
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Arts Innovator: Luis Antonio Vilchez, Peru Watch a video of Luis Antonio Vilchez dancing in Times Square below. Passing through New York's Times Square one winter day in 2010, Lima native Luis Antonio Vilchez noticed a group of street percussionists playing a familiar Afro-Peruvian rhythm—and immediately decided to join them. Soon, a large crowd gathered as Vilchez, wearing a button-down shirt and a winter coat, burst into a dance performance that was so impressive even the drummers watched in awe. The same kind of impromptu creativity dominates Adú Proyecto Universal (Adú Universal Project), a nonprofit arts organization Vilchez founded four years ago to re-imagine Peruvian identity through dance, theater and percussion. Financed by money the group earns from its performances, Adú (which means “friend” in limeña slang) encourages its 20 members—all dancers—to combine different dance and music genres, crossing back and forth between tradition and modernity.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, New York
  • Author: Michael McDonald
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Dispatches: Guatemalan Migrants BY Michael Mcdonald Guatemalans returning home from the U.S. face unemployment, a maze of red tape—and social stigma. (slideshow available) Read a sidebar about voluntary return migration. Read a sidebar about the stigma that return migrants face. View a slideshow of return migrants in Guatemala below. Fidelino Gómez remembers fondly the years he spent in Iowa, where his middle child was born. Standing outside his one-room wood home in his native Guatemala, Gómez, 34, thumbs through pictures he took of the Mississippi River, snowy Midwest winters and gatherings with family and friends. He recalls easier times. “We lived well,” Gómez says under the searing sun. “We could feed our children, pay our bills, and we still had money left over.” From 2004 to 2008, Gómez and his wife María earned roughly $7 an hour working at Agriprocessors Inc., a slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa. The money was more than they ever imagined as subsistence farmers back home. But the family's dream was cut short when United States immigration officials raided the plant in May 2008, arresting hundreds of undocumented Guatemalan workers and deporting them. Now, like more than 100 other families deported after the Postville raid, they struggle to eke out a living back in the economically depressed farming village San José Calderas, some 40 miles (64 km) west of Guatemala City. They grow corn and beans to feed their loved ones and do odd jobs, scraping by on the equivalent of between $15 and $30 per month.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Guatemala
  • Author: Johanna Mendelson, Anthony Spanakos, Roger-Mark De Souza
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Venezuela Before Chávez: Anatomy of an Economic Collapse by Ricardo Hausmann and Francisco R. Rodríguez BY ANTHONY SPANAKOS During the 1970s, Venezuela was the richest country in Latin America. With the region's highest growth rates and the lowest levels of inequality, it was also one of the most stable democracies in the Americas. But starting in the early 1980s, things fell apart. The nation endured three coup attempts and one presidential impeachment. Per capita growth plunged, and mass protests became the norm. What happened? Venezuela Before Chávez: Anatomy of an Economic Collapse, edited by Ricardo Hausmann and Francisco R. Rodríguez, offers some intriguing answers. Pointedly departing from much of the current research (and political discussion) on Venezuela, which focuses on the 14-year presidency (1999–2013) of late President Hugo Chávez, the editors have assembled a distinguished group of experts with the aim not only of exploring, as they put it, the “enigma” of Venezuela's pre-Chávez collapse, but to explain why some countries go through such turbulence. The unexpected outcomes in Venezuela are used by the authors to challenge hypotheses that rely on big data analysis to explain economic collapse. While the explanation behind Chávez' rise to power may draw attention, as Venezuela continues to be rocked by internal conflict following his death, it is the book's second aim that makes it stand out as an important work of scholarship.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jose W. Fernandez
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: United States-Latin American relations have often suffered from a disconnect. While we stress security issues, the region's leaders speak of poverty reduction and trade. They resent being seen as afterthoughts to U.S. policies focused elsewhere. As a result, the region is sporadically open to new suitors, such as Spanish investors 15 years ago, or the Chinese today.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Latin America, Spain