The story of Adolfo Pérez Esquivel is one of an international prisoner turned Nobel Peace Prize winner. A prominent human rights activist, Esquivel co-founded the NGO Service, Peace and Justice Foundation (SERPAJ) in Argentina in 1974. When military dictators overran numerous Latin American countries in the 1970s, Esquivel’s advocacy made him a target, leading to more than 14 months in Brazilian, Ecuadorian, Argentinean, Chilean, Paraguayan, and Uruguayan prisons. Regardless, the work of SERPAJ persisted. SERPAJ served to denounce the actions of the Argentine dictatorship after the 1976 coup, and helped countless political prisoners of the Dirty War. Esquivel’s unwavering activism in the face of adversity won him the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize, and still today he continues to fight for the protection of human rights with SERPAJ.
During the fragile presidency of Isabel Martínez de Perón from 1974 to 1976, the Anticommunist Alliance of Argentina was born. A paramilitary coalition empowered by the rising influence of the military, the Triple Alliance slowly began to eliminate the “left-wing subversion” of the Argentine populace. When the political climate was ripe, Isabel was ousted in on March 24, 1976, and the military dictatorship was declared over Argentine radio.
This month Latin America boasts a record number of elected female heads of states. The irony behind this is that Latin America has been historically viewed as a culture of machismo. Although the stereotype unfortunately does have more than an ounce of truth to it, when it comes to politics and leadership, both Latin American men and women show no qualms in electing women.
We landed at the Caracas airport on February 12th. My colleagues and I were reminded many times before our departure from Los Angeles that Caracas is considered the most dangerous city in the world, with a homicide rate of more than 100 deaths per 100,000 residents. Unfortunately, the government does not publish official records when it casts the country in a negative light. Venezuela today is similar to what Colombia was in the 80s and 90s—a dangerous country draped with insecurity. It seems now like the tables have turned quite. So our strategy was as such: bunker down, speak Spanish at all times, do our business, and leave fast.
In 1492, the discovery of America forced not only the European world to confront its finitude, but also interconnected the rest of that world, showing not only the roundness of a thought that until then had been flat, but also the natural, cultural, and human diversity. The configuration of both worlds had to be reinvented, and that is what happened. At the same time, a vision capable of synthesizing all these perspectives was also developed. This cosmopolitan syncretism was vital to the creation of modern Mexico. Immigration has been part of an exercise to get to know ourselves and the other. This coexistence is also a creative way to define new societies.
Across the globe, we hear too many stories of high youth unemployment. The part of the story we do not always hear, however, is the trouble businesses around the world have in recruiting enough high-quality talent from the STEM fields to fill all the IT, computer science, and engineering positions available.
Probably nowhere else in the world do cities matter as much as in Latin America, highlighted by the statistical fact that four-fifths of Latin America’s 589 million people reside in cities. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, Latin America is more urbanized than any other region in the emerging markets world. The region boasts 198 cities harboring a minimum population of 200,000, generating 60 percent of all of Latin America’s GDP output. The urbanization trend is only moving forward, with the United Nations forecasting that by 2050, 90 percent of Latin America’s population will be living in cities or towns–an amazing phenomenon indeed, but with an unintended consequence: inadequate housing for the low-income population.
What will pave the road to Colombia’s future? The country has been experiencing what some are calling an oil bonanza, with its oil production having surged 80 percent in the past seven years. It is estimated that the country will be extracting upwards of 1.6 million barrels of crude oil per day by 2016.
Amongst the brethren of emerging markets, Brazil not too long ago presented the most excitement and opportunity. Everybody and everything wanted to be somewhat associated with Brazil’s rising star power—epitomized by being awarded in a short time span both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Excluding China, Brazil has received the most media attention and hype in the last few years, often touted as the next emerging market country that will soon transform into a bona fide superpower. Yet time has a funny way of determining things. Brazil, at the blink of an eye, is now confronting a different reality, a most despised and feared three-headed dragon: slow growth, a weak currency, and worst of all, inflation.
“With new access to virtual space and to its technologies, populations and groups all around the world will seize the moment, addressing long-held grievances or new concerns, with tenacity and conviction. Every society in the future will experience different forms of protest in which communication technology are used to organize, mobilize and engage”.
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