Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Through Dynamic Growth Latin America and the Caribbean Absorbed the Crisis’ Social Impact

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on October 7, 2010

by Gabriela Aguilar for The World Bank, October 6th, 2010.

Press Release No:2011/122/LAC

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) cushioned the social impact of the 2008 global crisis thanks to its ability to inter-connect firmly with emerging markets in Asia which in turn boosted growth to 5-6 percent for 2010 -and at least 4 percent for 2011- while keeping in place the region’s social protection networks. 

According to “Globalized, Resilient, Dynamic: The New Face of Latin America and the Caribbean” a report authored by the World Bank’s Chief Economist for LAC, Augusto de la Torre, the region showed a remarkable capacity to withstand the crisis’ impact which –the report argues- did not last very long in comparison with other regions, including developed countries, “due to the region’s sound macroeconomic, fiscal and financial policies.” 

Between 2002 and 2008, LAC managed to lift 60 million Latin Americans out of poverty, even as preliminary estimates showed the crisis adding 10 million people to the ranks of its poor. But according to new World Bank data, in 2009 the number of people living in moderate poverty ($4 per day) grew by 2.1 million with respect to 2008, totaling 168.3 million, while the number of Latin Americans living in extreme poverty ($2.5 per day) grew by 2.5 million, and now it reaches 85.9 million. (continue reading… )

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Obama and the Americas: Promise, Disappointment, Opportunity

Posted in News and Articles by politicalrisklatam on August 1, 2010

by Abraham F. Lowenthal for Inter-American Dialogue, August 1st, 2010.

INCOMING U.S. presidents, from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, have often announced a new policy initiative toward Latin America and the Caribbean. But few expected this from Barack Obama. His administration was inheriting too many far more pressing problems. During the presidential campaign, moreover, he had said little about the region beyond suggesting that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) be renegotiated and expressing vague reservations about the pending free-trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.

Soon after Obama’s inauguration, however, the administration organized high-level visits to Latin America and the Caribbean and announced various initiatives toward the region. Calling for a “new beginning” in U.S.-Cuban relations, it loosened restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba by Cuban Americans, said it would consider allowing U.S. investment in telecommunications networks with the island, and expressed a willingness to discuss resuming direct mail service to Cuba and to renew bilateral consultations on immigration to the United States. The administration also backed away from Obama’s earlier comments about the free-trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. In April 2009, the president announced that he would press for comprehensive immigration reform, a move that was welcomed throughout the region. He also won praise for his consultative manner and his interest in multilateral cooperation at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, in Trinidad and Tobago in April 2009.

In addition to the White House’s preexisting commitment to attend the summit in Trinidad and Tobago, there were two main reasons for the Obama administration’s surprising early attention to the Americas. One was the hope that it could score a quick foreign policy victory: people in the region had widely rejected George W. Bush’s policies, but more because of style — a combination of neglect and arrogance — than because of any deep, substantive conflict. Obama aimed to do better. (continue reading… )

First elected woman president for Costa Rica

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on February 8, 2010

by Euronews, February 8, 2010.

Costa Rica has its first ever elected woman president after a weekend election.

Pro-business Laura Chinchilla, the former vice president, is calling for unity among the country’s political parties.

She said: “My administration will be open to all Costa Ricans. That means we must listen carefully to the voices of those who didn’t vote for us in this election and we humbly ask for their help and support.”

Chinchilla won twice as many votes as her closest two rivals in a country decribed as one of Latin America’s most stable…(continue reading)

Opinion Briefing: Latin America’s Leftists

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on January 21, 2010

by Steve Crabtree and Jesus Rios, for Gallup, January 21, 2010.

Issue at Hand: Strengthening U.S. alliances with Latin American countries in light of the region’s increasingly leftist politics.

As in other regions around the world, the United States currently has strained relations with several of Latin America’s leaders and an image problem among many of its populations. The perceived failure in the 1990s of “Washington Consensus” prescriptions for market-driven reforms set the stage for a leftward shift in the region. The flag-bearer for this trend has been Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, who over the past few years has fed Latin Americans a steady diet of anti-U.S. rhetoric, regularly calling for resistance against the U.S. “empire.”

Obama’s Stance: Barack Obama‘s general approach to Latin America seems to be one of cautious engagement. During last year’s presidential campaign, Obama criticized the Bush administration’s “negligent” policy toward Latin America, saying it is one reason “demagogues” like Chavez have been successful in the region. Obama has indicated he is willing to open a dialogue with such U.S. adversaries as Chavez and Cuba’s President Raul Castro — but he has also opposed the proposed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, citing ongoing violence against Colombian labor leaders.

Latin Americans’ Perspective: First, it’s important to distinguish between Chavez’s polemics and the general leftist sentiment that holds sway in most Latin American countries. Any U.S. policy toward Latin America needs to recognize that “socialism” is not a dirty word in the region — though Chavez’s conception of it is controversial…(continue reading)

Iran in the Western Hemisphere

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk, Videos by politicalrisklatam on October 27, 2009

by Eric Farnsworth, for Americas Society, Ocotober 27, 2009.

COA‘s Vice President Eric Farnsworth discussed Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere during an October 27 hearing before the Committee on Foreign Affairs; the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; the Subcommittee on the Middle East; and the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade. “Countries where democracy is weak…have proven, time and time again, to be the most likely portals through which unhelpful influences such as Iran are introduced into the region,” explained Farnsworth.

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairmen and members of the Subcommittees. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today on such a timely and important issue. This hearing today continues your outstanding efforts to highlight the most pressing issues in hemispheric affairs by the full Committee as well as by the relevant Subcommittees, and I congratulate you for your leadership on these issues. I’m also pleased to share this table with others of such stature and prominence.

Recent reports on Iran’s presence in the Americas provide an excellent opportunity for us to evaluate the situation on the ground, and what it means for the Western Hemisphere and for the United States…(continue reading)