The Nicaraguan Canal

On June 13, 2013, the President of Nicaragua, President Ortega, and the chairman of HKND Group, Wang Jing, signed an agreement given HKND Group the exclusive rights to construct and manage the Nicaraguan canal and associated projects for 50 years.

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Colombia’s Biodiversity Conservation

Though the second country with greatest biodiversity in the world, Colombia ranks 27 among the 40 most highly unfunded countries for biodiversity conservation.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) failed to reduce the rates of biodiversity loss by 2010. To improve the chances of fulfilling the new 2011-2020 strategic goals of effecting a rapid and substantial reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss, a statistical model was created based on four main considerations known to be important in prioritizing global conservation spending. These four main considerations were: threatened biodiversity, cost, cost effectiveness (the likelihood of investment success), and the size of the area to be conserved. This model was developed by six universities from the United States, Europe and Latin America and has been recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Some of the interesting findings from this study include:

1)   Highly underfunded countries are often neighbors creating areas where underfunding affects taxa across their entire ranges.

2)   A sizable fraction of the countries identified as highly underfunded have suffered or in some cases are currently suffering armed conflicts, suggesting that a net donor reticence to investing in countries in conflict still exists overall.

3)   Globally, countries in conflict have high levels of both biodiversity and threat. Donor reticence therefore deserves careful consideration because removal of funding may make a bad situation even worse.

This study has established relative levels of funding adequacy across countries and highlights countries where biodiversity conservation seems most severely underfunded.

Reference: Waldron, A., Mooers, A. O., Miller, D. C., Nibbelink, N., Redding, D., Kuhn, T. S., Roberts, J. T. and Gittleman, J. L. 2013. Targeting global conservation funding to limit immediate biodiversity declines. PNAS.

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Nomination of Openly Gay US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic

The social and political turmoil underlying the riots in Brazil represents just one challenge facing an era of change in Latin America.  Not only are economic conditions being called into question, but social conditions have also faced recent attention.  In the largely Catholic Dominican Republic, religious leaders had been pressuring president Danilo Medina since last Friday to reject the nomination of openly gay US ambassador, James Brewster, calling the appointment “an insult to good Dominican customs” and “a lack of respect, of consideration” in an interview with the Associated Press.  This comes just after the US Supreme Court issued rulings on two landmark cases concerning gay marriage – Hollingsworth v Perry and US v Windsor.  Despite the recent advances in gay rights within the United States, however, the highly conservative populace of the Dominican Republic appeared hard-pressed to accept the nomination, what some religious activists believe is an attempt by the United States at “exporting” gay rights.  Gay marriage was banned in the Dominican Republic in 2010.

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Food Security vs Environmental Conservation: Brazilian Cerrado’s example

In the face of farm crises and fear of not being able to import enough food in the 1970’s, Brazil, stepped up to the challenge and established itself as an agricultural miracle as the total value of the country’s crops increased by 365% in ten years from 1996 to 2006. Some regard the agricultural revolution as a model of how to feed the world.  Brazil is considered to be the first tropical agricultural giant challenging the dominance of ‘big five’ food exporters – the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina and the European Union. This success is mainly attributed to “Embrapa” i.e country’s innovation capacity in agricultural research and development.

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Protests in Brazil

Although it is impossible to foresee which will be the end of the street movements started in Brazil at the beginning of the month, it is undeniable that the protests have become one of the biggest street demonstrations since Brazilians took the streets in 1992 to demand the impeachment of president Fernando Collor de Mello due to corruption charges. The first protest started on June 6th and consisted of just 150 people from the “Free Pass Movement” (MPL – Movimento Passe Livre) and individuals affiliated with PSOL and PSTU, small left-wing parties, in front of the City Hall of Sao Paulo over a BRL 0.20 increase in bus fare (i.e. approximately USD 0.09). At that point, local conservative newspapers were against the protests, which were considered unrealistic and troublesome. The movement would have been unnoticed if it was not for the brutal reaction of the police on the protests of June 13th, the fourth day of protests.

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Making an Impact: Lessons and Encounters in the Social Business Sector

This summer I am interning at Agora Partnerships, a nonprofit organization that provides early stage social entrepreneurs with access to capital, networks, and resources in Latin America. Social businesses are those organizations that are financially sustainable and make an economic, environmental, or social impact. Impact investing refers to investments that are made by individuals into organizations or products that claim to make a social impact and generate sustainable financial returns.

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The Dichotomy between Hispanic groups in the United States: What does the future look like?

Two articles, written within a day of each other speak to the idea that Hispanics in the United States are a driving force of the population and its economy. Yet, these articles pose two very different stories: one the one hand, Hispanics in the U.S. are doing extremely well, and in fact are contributing to the U.S. economy vis a vis their spending habits; on the other hand, Hispanics in the U.S. are living in poverty in a way that is cyclical (what sociologists used to term a “cycle of poverty.”) How can two articles pose such different stories regarding the state of the Hispanic population in the United States?

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Venezuela’s Legitimacy Crisis and Latin America’s Response

On May 29, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos met with Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles in Bogota. The meeting came as Capriles begins a Latin American tour to make his case that last April’s presidential election was fraudulent. This was the second time that Capriles met with Santos, the first being in October of last year.

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United States – Colombia Environmental Cooperation Agreement

On May 15th of 2012, Colombia and the United States signed a free trade agreement called the Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) that eliminates tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods and services between the two countries. An increase in trade has environmental implications and thus has become a concern for the Colombia’s Ministry of the Environment.

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Casa Cornelia Law Center

The Casa Cornelia Law Center is a public interest law firm dedicated to helping indignant clients with pro bono legal services. The law center is located in San Diego, California and its clients are from all over the world; although, the majority of clients are from Mexico and the rest of Latin America. The law center has three programs that specialize in asylum cases, domestic violence, and child advocacy. The center focuses on providing free legal services to San Diego’s expansive immigrant community. The American Provenience of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus established the Casa Cornelia Law Center to address the need to provide quality services to San Diego, which is one of the largest border towns in the world with vast number of immigrants crossing the U.S./Mexican border each day.

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