Tag Archives: Latin America

The Ironies of New Social Movements: An interview with Dr. Judy Hellman

jhellmanSocial movements generate a lot of excitement. Many people see them as the most legitimate way of enacting change in society, as they are “from below”, from the people themselves, more ‘inclusive’ and ‘democratic’. Movements that have come around since the 1960s differ from older styles of public pressure where the voice of the poor and the oppressed was expressed through leaders in trade unions or political parties. Examples of the “New Social Movements” in contemporary Latin America include the indigenous movement EZLN (Exército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional) in Mexico and the landless workers movement in Brazil, the MST (Movimento Sem Terra). But how truly democratic and inclusive these new movements are is rarely a serious research question, but a mere assumption by scholars and supporters who fall in love with the idea of movements from below.

For almost 20 years, Dr. Judy Hellman, professor of Political Science and Social Sciences at York University, Canada, has written critically about the largely uncritical worship of new social movements that seems to have swept the world. She spoke to Development Roast about her once controversial views (which are increasingly becoming common wisdom) and the past and future of research on social movements in Latin America:

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Graphics: Bolivia tops Violence Against Women in Latin America chart.

PAHO Violence Against WomenIn a March 2013 report, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, presented comparative cross-country data on the state of violence against women in 12 nations across Latin America and the Caribbean. As the subsequent infographic by Hispanically Speaking News illustrates, Bolivia topped the chart by some margin.

When asked about their experiences over the past 12 months, one in five Bolivian women claimed to have been victims of physical abuse, with 53.3 percent of women reporting physical violence by a partner.

Intimate partner violence in Bolivia is 35 percent larger than the next highest abuse rate of 38.6 percent for both Colombia and Peru. At 17 percent, Dominican Republic appear to have the lowest, albeit still unacceptably high, level of partner violence against women. Read More »

Guest Roast: Why all borders are man-made: A response to DevRoast

In historical narratives encouraged by nation states and internalized by most of us, borders often take a natural character, enforcing the nation state as a ‘natural’ and ‘inevitable’ fact. However, these narratives obscure the fact that it is the state itself that drives the process of creating, defining and consolidating borders and their adjacent areas. This article explains how and why, using examples from Europe and Latin America. 

On March 28, Tracey Li wrote on the origin of borders here on the Development Roast. While the piece is both well-researched and well-written, it fails to elaborate on the centrality of states in driving the process that creates and defines national borders. Instead, agency is implicitly attributed to the (‘natural’) borders themselves: “the existence of natural borders in Europe and their absence in Africa is what makes the difference between multi-ethnic polities and ethnically homogenous ones.”

The Pyrenees between France and Spain is held up as an example of such a natural border that discourages migration and more or less naturally creates two national communities. This is incorrect: migration across the Pyrenees and around the region was common for centuries before the national border was determined. The evidence of this is clear: the Occitan language spoken in the south of France and Catalan spoken on the “Spanish side” of the mountains are closer to each other than either is to French or Spanish (or Castellano, as the Catalans call it) respectively. Read More »

Hasta Siempre Commandante: The Legacy of Hugo Chávez

By Nikole Hyndman

The death of Hugo Chávez rocked the world of international relations. As foreign governments scrambled to make public condolence statements, the world remembered just what a controversial figure Chávez was. While he was adored by the Venezuelan people, he was a thorn in the side of Western governments. He was also a close personal friend to remarkably controversial leaders like Fidel Castro, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Muammar Gadhafi.

Amidst the demonization of America and capitalism, Chávez kept the world watching Venezuela. His unrelenting criticisms of the Western imperialist powers got him significant attention from Western governments. His alliances with staunchly anti-American states like Iran, Belarus, and Syria gave him both power and influence in the international system. Chávez shaped a new, more powerful Venezuela.   Read More »

Guest Roast: Good Governance and Development – Which causes which?

By Edvin Arnby Machata

The international development community has for almost two decades focused on improving governance as a strategic priority for aiding economic growth. This article points to the historical record and argues that 1) growth does not require good governance, 2) good governance and representative institutions are products of economic development – not the other way around, and that 3) the configuration of national institutions determine whether a political order will produce developmental outcomes or not.

‘Good governance’ has been a mainstay component in most donor-funded development programmes during the last two decades. What exactly constitutes good governance is empirically problematic, but while implementations vary, demands for good governance generally include provisions to minimize graft and increase respect for human rights.

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Live Research Bulletin: How are governments greening national accounts in Latin America? (Part I)

Development RoastBy Adam Nelson and Allan Spessoto

“…Gross national product … counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage….Yet [it] does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play.”

Robert F. Kennedy Address, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, March 18, 1968

It has long been established that the way that national wealth is calculated is a poor measure of development. Gross and Net Domestic Products (GDP and NDP) positively count only the production of material goods, including weapons, cigarettes and handcuffs, but do not count some of the positive aspects of society like poetry, relationships, and music. Nor does it deduct ‘progress’ when the health of the environment, human beings or animals is negatively affected at the hand of pollution and toxic industries. Or give credit to ecosystems for the services they provide to nourish people and planet, like the rainforest’s capacity to purify air, stabilize soils and nutrients, curb global warming, and provide food, shelter, and cultural sustenance to millions of people. For many, such deductions and credits would mean having to put a dollar value on things in life that are just too sacred to be commoditized. For others, such a value is the first step to making them visible, and thus making them count, when they were taken for granted before. Throughout the month of November, Development Roast has shared with you a series of INESAD Live Research updates on how whole nations are rallying behind the call for green growth by trying to integrate the environment in national accounting calculations. Today, we start with the first of a two-part update on Latin America.

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Graphics: Pollution and Innovation—How Sustainable is Latin America?

To coincide with INESAD’s November Environmental Sustainability month, today’s Monday Graphics series is investigating pollution and sustainable innovations in Latin America.

The first infographic, entitled Pollution in Latin America, was compiled by Hispanically Speaking News using reports from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Yale and Columbia University, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), to show how pollution is affecting Latin America. In addition to illustrating the health hazards of pollution, such as the two million deaths a year attributed to it, countries like Nicaragua and Costa Rica are exemplified as countries heading towards environmental improvement. In fact, along with ranking fifth globally for its positive treatment of the environment, Costa Rica ranks first in a recent Happy Planet Index released by the New Economics Foundation, which measures how happy people are in relation to their ecological footprint. Read More »

Theory Bites: Development, Underdevelopment and Dependency

The contemporary common language of development divides the world between developed and underdeveloped countries. This common-sensical classification also guides us to think of the two groups as rich and poor. Or even further, that the developed world, despite its imperfections, is “fine” and its people are happy—they represent the way human society should generally be—while the underdeveloped, for whichever reason, has just fallen behind—its people suffer and are not an example of what we’d like to see for humanity. The assumption is that everyone would prefer to live in a city, drive their car to work, and enjoy air conditioning and washing machines, since humans can and should “achieve” much more than washing their clothes by hand or farming for their own survival.

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Graphics: Where Does Latin America Stand In Terms of Peace?

It is no secret that every nation in the world struggles with peace and stability in some way, shape or form. The Global Peace Index (GPI) attempts to capture this process by collecting data and information and collating it into 23 indicators that give countries a final score between one and five. You can view a map of the 2012 GPI around the globe here.

Hispanically Speaking News has gone one step further and organized the 2012 GPI measures for Latin American countries into an easy to understand infographic: Read More »

Graphics: How Many Families Live in Poor Quality Houses in Latin America?

Many people in Latin America live in poor quality housing or in no housing at all. According to an Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) report entitled Room for Development: Housing Markets in Latin America and the Caribbean, over two thirds of households in Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru and Guatemala lack adequate housing. The IADB has developed a very informative infographic to illustrate these and other country differences in the region:  Read More »

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