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  • Author: Jorge Derpic, Sara Shahriari
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Dispatches: El Alto, Bolivia BY JORGE DERPIC AND SARA SHAHRIARI The former settlement on a plateau above La Paz is becoming a city unto itself, due in no small part to onetime protest leader and now favorite son, President Evo Morales. Blazing sun, freezing nights, roads clogged with traffic, and a vast maze of adobe houses populated by nearly a million people. This is the Bolivian city of El Alto. Once an outlying neighborhood on the high plains above La Paz, El Alto has today surpassed its population. Matching El Alto's growing profile, the city is also about to host some major public projects. President Evo Morales has promised a multi-million dollar soccer stadium and—perhaps most important—the government is installing natural gas connections to tens of thousands of homes. El Alto's new look also underlines its newfound political influence. Just a decade ago, in October 2003, demonstrators filled the streets to protest the Bolivian government's plans to export natural gas through Chile, turning the city into a battlefield. Those bloody days of conflict—known as the “gas war”—left more than 60 civilians dead in clashes with police and soldiers. The conflict set the stage for the rise of Morales, who in 2006 became Bolivia's first Indigenous president.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Chile, Bolivia
  • 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
  • Author: Duncan Wood, Marc Frank, John Parisella
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Cuba: Port Upgrades and Free-Trade Zones BY MARC FRANK When Latin American and Caribbean heads of state gather in Cuba in January 2014 for the Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States— CELAC) summit, the agenda will include a side trip to Mariel Bay. There, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Cuban President Raúl Castro will cut the ribbon on a brand new container terminal that Cuba hopes will replace Havana as the country's principal port. Brazil financed more than two-thirds of the $900 million project, built in partnership with Brazilian construction company Odebrecht over six years—providing $670 million in loans for terminal construction and infrastructure development such as rail and road. The facility, with an initial capacity of 850,000 to 1 million containers, will be operated by Singaporean port operator PSA International. The Mariel Bay facility, located 28 miles (45 kilometers) west of the capital on the northern coast, was built to attract traffic from the larger container ships expected to traverse the Panama Canal in 2015. It could also serve as a major transfer point for cargo heading to other destinations. But the competition is already fierce. The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Panama are all rushing to improve their port facilities.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Canada, Cuba, Latin America, Caribbean
  • 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
  • Author: Robert Muse, Natalie Schachar, Charles Kamasaki
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Travel Regulations: OFAC and Cuba BY ROBERT MUSE The re-opening of “people-to-people” travel to Cuba by President Barack Obama in early 2011 was the boldest and, arguably, the single most consequential step taken by his administration in relation to the island. It was in fact a revival of a Clinton-era exemption to the decades-old ban on U.S. citizens visiting that country. The exemption had been closed in 2003 by President George W. Bush. Visits to Cuba must meet two requirements to be approved as people-to-people travel: the travel must be for an educational purpose, not tourism; and there must be frequent “meaningful” interactions between the U.S. travelers and Cubans who are not officials of the government of Cuba. The educational requirement of people-to-people trips is most often met through cultural programs that explore such subjects as Cuban music, dance, fine art, and architectural history. However, among many other current offerings there are also environmentally themed trips, as well as programs focused on the Cuban health care and education systems. Since the program was re-introduced, an estimated 100,000 Americans have been visiting Cuba each year on people-to-people trips. The visits have been organized by a wide variety of groups, including the National Geographic Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and dozens of similar institutions. The travelers meet and talk with Cubans from different backgrounds and leave millions of dollars in the hands of non-state restaurateurs, artists, musicians, taxi drivers, and small farmers who supply the new private eateries of a changing Cuba.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Argentina, Cuba
  • 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: Elaleh Kooalee, Amir Ebrahimi, Simin Shirazi Mougouee
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Center for Strategic Research (CSR)
  • Abstract: Kazakhstan needs the short transit route leading to open waters to supply its demands and export oil and gas to international markets. Iran's territorial status in the heart of Eurasia, has offered new capabilities for commerce, industry, and development to this country. But some factors such as the geopolitics of the region, having the second largest resources of energy in the world, and willingness to allow the presence of trans-regional powers with the aim to reduce dependence on Russia and attract foreign investment, has resulted in the presence of these powers in this country and has created serious obstacles for Iran's more effective participation. The main question of this paper is how has Iran benefited from the opportunity to develop relations with Kazakhstan? The authors analyze the most important factors regarding Iran's geopolitical position and status with regards to the development of its relations with Kazakhstan.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Caspian Sea
  • Author: Andrzej Paczkowski
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Obrana a strategie (Defence & Strategy)
  • Institution: University of Defence
  • Abstract: In the post-Cold War era the main purpose behind developing defence capabilities in NATO countries has been to achieve a technological advantage over the potential enemy. While it is reasonable in its own right, the complexity and the cost of newly developed military equipment are becoming an issue at both strategic and operational levels. Taking into account all the potential threats in the near future, I will argue that this struggle for ultimate technological superiority might actually decrease the overall effectiveness of the modern armed forces. To analyse this notion, I will describe and assess the current trends in developing armament and, based on the outcome, try to predict the long term effects.
  • Topic: NATO, Cold War, Development
  • Author: Zinaida Shevchuk
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Obrana a strategie (Defence & Strategy)
  • Institution: University of Defence
  • Abstract: This article explores the conflict processes in one of the most volatile regions in post-Soviet space - South Ossetia. The objective of the analysis is to bring more nuanced and explicit distinction to the understanding of the heterogeneous nature of the armed conflict. By studying the evolution of issues at stake and conflict processes we can trace the pattern of conflict behavior. The study focuses on an assessment of the extent to which ethnicity is merely a convenient common dominator to mobilize ethnic groups in the struggle over resources, land, or power. This study rejects the common notion that the contemporary conflicts in the South Ossetia can be understood as "unfinished business" from the past ethnic conflicts that had been "frozen" under the communist regime.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, South Ossetia