Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Student Protests Grow in Chile

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on August 5, 2011

by Americas Quarterly Blog, August 4th, 2011.

The leaders of widespread student and faculty protests in Chile yesterday announced plans to mount a national strike and an additional series of mass demonstrations to contest a far-reaching education reform bill supported by the government. In response, Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter indicated that his office would deny to students permission to demonstrate in downtown Santiago where prior confrontations with police have caused significant property damage: “The march will not be approved by our government due to the damage caused to property, bystanders and police. We will take all necessary measures to enforce the decision. It is time for the demonstrations to end.”

According to student leaders, the government’s proposed education reforms would allow for excessive levels of privatization in the education sector and lead to higher levels of indebtedness among graduates. “We analyzed the ministry’s proposal and students considered it a setback because it allows profit in the education sector. We do not see any structural changes, but only further privatization and perpetuation of student debt,” said Univeridad Católica de Valparaíso official Nataly Espinoza.

Chile has long struggled with education reform initiatives and these latest demonstrations are the culmination of more than two months of smaller protests across Chile. Students are calling for a halt of the trend toward privatization in education and other basic services such as public transportation.

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Ecuador Reconsiders Controversial Austerity Law

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on October 5, 2010

by Americas Quarterly Online, October 5th, 2010.

Ecuador’s Congress has begun reconsidering the financial austerity bill that led to last week’s police uprising in Quito, which resulted in several deaths and the brief captivity of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa in a local hospital. The law, which proposed cutting salaries and benefits for public servants in an effort to reduce the country’s fiscal deficit, led to violent rebellion particularly among police and military officers who disputed the reductions.

The president of Ecuador’s Congress, Fernando Cordero, who is also a member of Correa’s Alianza País party, confirmed that his Asamblea would revise the law and in fact increase the wages of certain public officials who protested last week. Policy Minister Doris Soliz echoed Cordero’s statement, and added that President Correa would not disband Congress and rule by decree—a move that he had suggested earlier and is constitutionally permitted. 

Cordero praised the reforms but still warned that select government workers would still see their pay adjusted. The salary of police officers would not be affected.

Chile, Uruguay ranked least corrupt countires in Latin America

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on November 17, 2009

by Americas Quarterly Online, November 17, 2009.

Chile and Uruguay have been ranked the least corrupt countries in Latin America in 2009 by Transparency International, a global nongovernmental organization that releases annual ratings based on its Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The results of the Berlin-based organization’s annual survey are being reported throughout the hemisphere today.  In addition to being the most transparent in Latin America, both countries rank among the 30 least corrupt countries in the world, which the report calls “a benchmark and inspiration for the Americas.”

The CPI is a survey of surveys of experts, government employees and business persons, based both in-country and abroad. Among the 31 countries from the Americas included in the 2009 results 10 countries scored above 5 (out of 10)—indicating a reasonable level of transparency—while 21 scored lower than 5, indicating a serious corruption problem. In these countries, weak institutions, poor governance practices and the excessive influence of private interests undermine efforts to promote equitable and sustainable development…(continue reading)