Weekly Round Up - Stories from the Americas

  • There was good news for the inclusion of Latin American women in positions of political decision-making as International Women’s Day hit the century mark last week:

Dilma Rousseff was inaugurated on January 1 President of Brazil after winning the secondround elections with 56 percent of the vote. With her inauguration there is for the first time ever three women presidents serving simultaneously. In addition to Roussef, Cristina Fernández is governing Argentina and Laura Chinchilla is president of Costa Rica.

 The regional average of female ministers increased from 23% to 26% over the last yearand four countries (Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Nicaragua) have gender parity in the cabinetsIn addition, in recent years Bolivia, Costa Rica, and Ecuador have introduced a series of comprehensive changes in their constitutional and/or statutory provisions shooting for, among other measuresparity composition (from 40% to 60% men and women) in their lists of candidates for popular electionThese figures and measures reflect the impetus that gender equality is coming to have on the public agenda in some countries.

       To access the full report as prepared by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral                    Assistance, click here.

  • Nobel Literature Prize Winner Mario Vargas Llosa fired back at the Argentine group that, due to his “liberal” and reactionary position,”recently asked that the Buenos Aires Book Fair retract their invitation for Vargas Llosa to inaugurate the event. In his letter to Spanish newspaper El País, Vargas Llosa asks if they want a New Cuba.
  •  Foreign Policy Magazine published two pieces that touch on Brazil's drive for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council:  Jorge Castañeda thinks it's too soon, while Celso Amorim calls for Obama to support this drive.
  • Christopher Sabatini wrote a very interesting blog post for Americas Quarterly where he expresses his hope that President Obama address the Administration’s understanding of -as well as its commitment to- social and racial inclusion on his trip to the region. Some excerpts below:

Inclusion. The concept will likely figure large during President Barack Obama’s planned trip to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador from March 19 to 23. This is so, not only for symbolic reasons (the U.S. President is a powerful symbol of inclusion and U.S. meritocracy), but also the significant advances and challenges of the countries he’ll be visiting on his first trip south of Trinidad and Tobago. Will he address it realistically or gloss over the ongoing challenges?

 In recent years, the growth of the Latin American middle class, especially in Brazil, has been significant. But those gains are delicate and limited by race. More than a decade of stable economic policy coupled with social policy innovations has lifted over 40 million people in the region out of poverty in what was, and remains, the most unequal region in the world. These numbers are nothing to sniff at, but they belie the fragility of this new middle class. Most academic or technocratic measures of “middle class-ness” rely on measuring income, while most journalistic reporting on the middle class tends to cite these arrivistes’ access to credit.

NDN will have the priviledge to host Christopher Sabatini in the upcoming joint event with Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on Public Diplomacy and Social Media in Latin America. The two part forum will first host Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Judith McHale, followed by a discussion panel that will explore the impact of social media and other network technologies on governance and civil society in the region.  If interested, click here to secure your seat ASAP.

Moreover, the Latin America Policy Initiative along with the 21st Century Border Initiative will be hosting a policy day on Monday, April 11th at the Newseum: Forward Together/Avanzando Juntos/Avançando Juntos– A Conference Looking at the Changing Politics of the Americas