Skip to content

Sources for Boiling point: A Survey of Hemispheric Water Policy – Part 1 of COHA’s Water Series.

February 21, 2012

Works Cited

1.            Euthydemus, P.

2.            Conant, J., James Bond Takes on the Corporate Water Privateers. Upside Down World, 2008.

3.            Assembly, U.G., Resolution 64/292. 2010.

4.            Program, U.N.W.f.L., Human Right to Water. United Nations, New York, New York: USA, 2010.

5.            Canada, F.A.a.I.T., NAFTA – Chapter 11 – Investment: Cases Filed Against the Government of Canada. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Ottawa, Ontario: Canada, 2009.

6.            Canadians, T.C.o., The Safe Drinking Water For First Nations Act (Bill S-11) Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. The Council of Canadians, Ottawa, Ontario: Canada, 2011.

7.            Cooley, P.H.G.a.H., Total Renewable Freshwater Supply, By Country. Pacific Institute, 2009. World Water 2008-2009.

8.            Karunananthan, M.B.a.M., The Harper Record. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2008.

9.            Bureau, P.W., Water Quality Regulations and Portland’s Drinking Water. Portland Water Bureau, Portland, Oregon: USA, 2012.

10.          Lake, M.A.V.a.J.E., Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America: An Overview and Selected Issues. Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC: USA, 2009.

11.          Hanemann, M.W., The Economic Conception of Water. University of California, Berkely: USA, 2005.

12.          Horne, M.V.G.a.J.E., The Ogallala Aquifer. Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Inc., 2000.

13.          Vargas, G., Codiga Das Aguas. Ministerio da Agricultura, Rio de Janeiro: Brasil, 1934.

14.          Antonio Herman Benjamin, C.L.M., and Catherine Tinker, The Water Giant Awakes: An Overview of Water Law in Brazil. Texas Law Review, 2004. 83:2185.

15.          Amaral, H.K.d., Brazilian Water Resource Policy in the Nineties. Institute of Brazilian Business and Public Management Issues, The George Washington University, Washington, DC: USA, 1996.

16.          Nelson, B.M., Water Reform in Brazil: An Analysis of its Implementation in the Paraiba do Sul Basin and a Consideration of Social Marketing as a Tool for its Optimal Success. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan: USA, 2008.


We’ve moved!

December 13, 2011

You can now find our Blog on COHA’s main website. Just click here!

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs was stablished to promote the common interests of the hemisphere, raise the visibility of regional affairs and increase the importance of the inter-American relationship, as well as encourage the formulation of rational and constructive U.S. policies towards Latin America.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner Wins Re-election by a Landslide

November 2, 2011
Source: AP

Behind Every Great Man, There is a Great Woman

On October 23, 2011, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was re-elected by one of the widest margins in the country’s history. Sra. de Kirchner obtained fifty-four percent of the votes while her challenger, socialist Hermes Binner, acquired just seventeen percent. The provincial elections also confirmed the victory of Kirchner’s Peronist coalition; seven of eight governors were elected from the ranks of the ruling Frente para la Victoria.

Ultimately, the opposition had hobbled itself by failing to unite behind a single candidate. Rivals like Eduardo Duhalde, a dissident Peronist, and Ricardo Alfonsín, member of the Radical Civil Union, divided the anti-Kirchner vote. The most likely successful candidate would have been Mauricio Macri, leader of the center-right, had he not declined to run. Macri is probably working up to the 2015 election, for which Kirchner will no longer be able to run due to constitutional rules that do not permit a president to exceed more than two consecutive terms.

Kirchner’s successful re-election has been mainly due to economic growth under her administration, and this year alone, the growth rate is expected to increase to eight percent. This upward trend was stimulated in part by private consumption and investment, as well as the devaluation of the Argentine peso, which makes Argentine exports more competitive in foreign markets. Since Argentina defaulted on USD 95 billion of debt nine years ago, the economy has done remarkably well. From 2002-2011, according to IMF data, Argentina’s economy has grown by about ninety-four percent, the fastest economic growth rate in the Western Hemisphere.

In the international arena, Kirchner renewed contact with the IMF that Néstor Kirchner had previously broke off, and debt negotiations with the Paris Club, an informal group that provides financial services. The Kirchner administration also instituted subsidies for transport and utilities and introduced several social programs. One such program provides a monthly per-child economic subsidy to families of which parents are unemployed or work in the informal sector. This stipend is contingent on children’s regular school attendance, vaccinations, and health checkups. The Kirchner welfare policy has generally been a success, reducing extreme poverty and increasing employment to record levels.

However, critics of Kirchner contend that the economy is only booming due to high commodity prices and strong demand from China and Brazil, factors that may be undermined by a potential global economic downturn. In addition, political opponents of Kirchner have repeatedly accused her government of tampering with economic statistics. Argentina’s official annual inflation rate is nine percent; however, the IMF and other economists suggest that the true rate is three times as high. Critics also say that Kirchner has not been able to attract foreign investment. In fact, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, Argentina receives relatively little foreign direct investment, lagging behind Colombia and Peru and receiving less than half the amount flowing into Chile.

In her victory speech on Sunday, October 23, 2011 in Plaza De Mayo, Kirchner said that she wanted to continue fostering Argentina’s strong growth: “All I want is to keep collaborating…to keep Argentina growing. I want to keep changing history.” She also mentioned her husband, stating, “This is a strange night for me; this man who transformed Argentina led us all and gave everything he had and more. Without him, without his valor and courage, it would have been impossible to get to this point.”

Despite the economic progress under the Kirchner administrations, a great deal remains to be done to reduce the existing gap between a rich minority and an impoverished majority and to reduce the high inflation. If Kirchner now wants to enable a durable and robust growth in Argentina, she must act to ensure the diversification of productive activities, as has transpired in Brazil and Chile. Similar to what happened in Chile with its exploitation of copper, the excessive dependence on the exploitation of raw materials could prevent Buenos Aires from breaking free of the so-called “resource curse” and prevent it from flying.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Sara Bruzichis

The Infamous Link Between Sex Trafficking, Sex Tourism, and Sporting Events – What Lays Ahead for Brazil?

October 18, 2011
Source: The Home Foundation

Every time there is a major sporting event, whether it is the Olympics, World Cup or Super Bowl, the illegal multibillion dollar business in the trafficking in persons flourishes. With thousands of people expecting to attend the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, Brazil has a challenging road ahead with the following preparations. Not only is the Brazilian government updating infrastructure, purging the favelas (slums) of drug lords, and modernizing stadiums, but it also has to put a great continuous emphasis on the social issue of child sex trafficking and sex tourism.

Brazil, with a population of approximately 204 million, is the largest country by far in Latin America. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, Brazil is acknowledged as a huge source, transit and destination country for the trafficking in persons. In short, human trafficking consists of the recruitment, transportation and harboring of persons by means of threat or other forms of coercion for the purpose of exploitation, in order for the trafficker to receive payments and benefits. Different forms of trafficking exists, however, with regard to its correlation with sporting events, sex trafficking is in first place.

The commercial view of Brazil is that it is a country of samba, football and carnival. Unfortunately, many tourists visit the breathtaking country not for its culture, but for its renowned reputation of exotically striking people and as a center of personal freedoms. This erotic picture of Brazilians has gained negative attention from inappropriate tourists seeking sexual experiences abroad, whether or not it is consensual or legal, – thus, the sex tourism begins.

The number of children involved in the sex industry has dramatically increased over the years. Presently, UNICEF states that approximately 1.2 million children are trafficked yearly, with as many as 2 million sexually exploited worldwide. According to Sarah de Carvalho of the charity, Happy Child International, “Brazil is overtaking Thailand as the world’s most popular sex-tourist destination”, increasing the number of children trafficked in and out of the country. This phenomenon has significantly developed as a direct result of an increase in the quantity of foreign tourists travelling to Brazil for the sole purpose of what is known as sex holidays, particularly in the northeast region. For instance, when asked about possible cases of sex trafficking with the upcoming festivities, Andreza Smith, lawyer of the NGO ‘Sodireitos’, stated, “Have you thought about a game in Manaus? Who will monitor the river?” Manaus is located in the northeast of Brazil, next to two major rivers, also popular as tourist destinations. With large rivers, comes the problem of human trafficking, since security seems to be lacking when it comes to monitoring river activities. Hopefully Brazil will look past their construction goals and tighten security measures in order to help decrease the presence of human trafficking during the events.

One might ask, does human trafficking increase during sporting events, or is it merely a matter of better security tactics that lead police to crack down on existing cases, leaving to a distorted image of the issue? This question may never be fully answered as it is difficult to differentiate the regular number of human trafficking cases, versus those that spike during sporting events such as the World Cup and Olympics. It is important to note that human trafficking figures are approximations, since the nature of the crime is hard to quantify, with numerous cases underreported. In order to attempt to answer this question, the previous sporting events such as the 2004 Greece Olympics, the 2006 Germany World Cup, and the 2010 South Africa World Cup, for example, should be examined to get a brief representation of the issue.

There seems to be a great deal of debate on the issue of human trafficking as associated with sporting events. When Greece hosted the 2004 Olympics, there was an alarming 95 percent increase in the number of human trafficking cases recorded during the event. However, when looking at the 2006 German World Cup human trafficking figures, according to a report by the Calgary-based anti-human trafficking NGO, The Future Group, “authorities implemented a wide range of actions to combat human trafficking during the event, with relative success. The result was that, while there was an increase in prostitution, authorities did not detect a rise in human trafficking.” On the other hand, South Africa’s 2010 World Cup revealed that there was in fact a pronounced increase in human trafficking cases. A source interviewed by ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines’, revealed that there was an increase in domestic trafficking, as well as the setting up of brothels in preparation for the World Cup. Time magazine also ran an article quoting a trafficker who was excited about the world cup bringing in business, stating, “Yeah, this is good! Us people are going to make a lot of money then if you know what you’re doing.” Furthermore, Zambian researcher, Merab Kambamu Kiremire, predicted that human trafficking flowing over from nearby countries would increase in the run-up to the event.

Nonetheless, Brazil is expecting a sex trafficking boom in conjunction with the World Cup and Olympics and has created an arsenal of tactics to fight this problem. For example, the program, “A Goal for the Rights of Children and Teenagers”, will train employees in the tourist industry and police forces on how to detect human trafficking cases. Also, the anti-trafficking program will focus on educating resident teenagers around the hosting cities about the issue, how to avoid being easy prey, and finding alternate ways of earning money rather than becoming underage prostitutes.

Whether or not one believes in the rapid increase of reported human trafficking cases that will be associated with the above cited sporting events, it must remain a top priority for all future host countries. Human trafficking is a serious human rights abuse and needs to be taken seriously. With progress on the drug lords’ removal from favelas, the Brazilian government will hopefully now look to expedite anti-trafficking tactics in order to rid traffickers and minimize sex tourism anticipated in the approaching athletic tournaments.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Melissa Beale

The Crooked Face of Corruption and the Monterrey Casino Arson Attack

October 13, 2011
Source: Reuters

On August 25, 2011 in Monterrey, Mexico, a devastating arson attack at the Casino Royale left 52 civilians dead. President Felipe Calderón quickly labeled the blow as “an act of terrorism” perpetrated by Los Zetas cartel. However, during his recent State of the Union address, Calderón’s position had seemed to have changed as he deemphasized the violence perpetrated by his country’s cartels. Due to the recent arrests of Jonas Larrazabal, the mayor of Monterrey’s brother, and a Nuevo León police officer, attention was centered on implications pointing to   police and politician involvement. The evil face of political corruption has shown itself once again, this time tied to a national tragedy, further blurring the lines between thugs and officials in the country.

The many faces of corruption, however, are something new when it comes to the political climate in Mexico. José Cuitlahuac Salinas, an employee of the federal prosecutor’s office, has made the claim that Miguel Angel Barraza Escamilla, a state police officer, was one of the occupants in a vehicle that was parked in front of the Casino Royale while it was being attacked. Based on surveillance video footage, Escamilla parked at the entrance of the casino while the attack was occurring and waited as many as 19 seconds before quickly driving off. This type of suspicious behavior, especially refusing to offer assistance to those amidst the flames, leads officials to suspect that Escamilla is somehow directly connected to the attack.

Larrazabal has also been taken into custody following the release of a video showing him receiving large amounts of cash at three different casinos. A brief comment from Larrazabal’s lawyer argues that his client enjoys casinos, and received the money as payment because he has sold the casinos comestible products such as liquor and cheese. It is estimated that during at least one of the visits, Larrazabal collected  40,000 pesos from an unknown person at a gaming table.

Venality involved in the ongoing “War on Drugs” has, without a doubt, delegitimized Mexican law enforcement. Due to the lack of accountability and trust between the government officials and the police force, the Mexican government has often deployed branches of the military to manage the cartel violence throughout the region. On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, the Mexican Senate passed a resolution demanding widespread investigations into Mexican casinos, in hopes to discover a link between casinos and instances of corruption. As a result, security forces have confiscated 1,500 slot machines from 11 different casinos since the arson attack.

President Calderón has taken even more drastic steps in addressing the ever-growing, blurred distinction of legitimacy within Nuevo León and its capital, Monterrey. He sent letters to the governor of Nuevo León, Rodrigo Medina, and to the mayor of Monterrey, Fernando Larrazabal, suggesting they temporarily leave their positions, so that the investigation into last month’s deadly casino arson attack may be conducted thoroughly and with integrity.

One may ask why there is so much corruption in Mexico, and why the situation there never seems to improve, despite Mexican authorities’ desperate attempts to tackle the problem. In Nuevo León, Los Zetas cartels’ familiarity with the low income of police officers allows them to wholly take advantage of the complicity between police officers and citizens. “Mexico’s top federal policeman, Genaro Garcia Luna, has estimated gangsters pass out some $100 million each month to local and state cops.”  This type of pay out can be especially appealing to local law enforcement officials, whose average monthly income is only $350 a month. Therefore, wages are routinely supplemented with bribes in exchange for connections between cartels and local and state law officials. In addition, “Carlos Jáuregui, who was Nuevo León’s chief security official until March, reckons that more than half the officers in the state were being paid by organized crime.” Monterrey, the industrial hub of Northeastern Mexico, was once considered a relatively safe place, free from the influence of the cartels. Now, violence and corruption have completely spiraled out of control and will, regrettably, dominate the region for years to come.

With Mexico’s presidential election approaching in July 2012, concerns abound over the candidates’ will to confront cartel violence and police corruption. While discussing the nation’s political future, a Sinaloan police officer stated that “Mexico’s reputation as a gang-ridden narco-state run by a disconnected and corrupt leadership is perhaps the most serious issue that his [Calderón’s] successor will have to confront.” Since President Felipe Calderón first enforced his national crackdown on drug cartels throughout Mexico in 2006, over 40,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence. Efforts are currently under way to restructure the Mexican police force before Calderón’s term ends in 2012, but significant progress does not look promising as the full process of reform is expected to take years. Despite these promised reforms, it is unlikely that the corruption plaguing areas, like Monterrey, will easily improve.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Candiss Shumate

Scientific Progress at an Inhuman Cost

October 11, 2011

Source: National Library of Medicine

From 1946 to 1948, the United States conducted medical research in Guatemala to determine the effectiveness of penicillin in preventing and treating sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, gonorrhea, and chancroid. To carry out their study, U.S. researchers knowingly infected Guatemalan prisoners, prostitutes, mentally ill patients, and soldiers with multiple illnesses by means of experimental inoculations and direct contact with infected participants. More than 1,500 subjects were exposed to a variety of diseases and were given little to no information about the study. Of those infected, about 700 were treated with what was considered the modern wonder-drug, penicillin. Following the historic Nuremberg Trials in 1945-1946, a consensus on international ethics was achieved, but at the time of the Guatemalan experiments, these agreed-upon standards were not in effect.

In June 2010, Professor Susan M. Reverby of Wellesley College exposed the unethical experiments in Guatemala, relating it to the Tuskegee experiments in Alabama (1932-1972), in which African-Americans were secretly injected with syphilis-causing bacteria without informed consent. Moreover, the subjects were not effectively treated despite the existence of a penicillin treatment. The studies in both Guatemala and Tuskegee were supported by the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and were overseen by the same man, Dr. John Charles Cutler. Even worse, the experiments in Guatemala were funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Pan American Sanitary Bureau in collaboration with several Guatemalan government agencies.

Although more than sixty years have passed, archives related to the work have surfaced only recently. What were the researchers trying to hide by not publishing the study? What convinced Cutler to archive the records decades after the experiments? Professor Reverby turned up evidence that Dr. Cutler stated in a letter to PHS Physician R. C. Arnold, “we are holding our breaths, and we are explaining to the patients and others concerned with but a few key exceptions, that the treatment is a new one utilizing serum followed by penicillin. This double talk keeps me hopping at times.” In another letter, he admitted that “a few words to the wrong person here, or even at home, might wreck [the study] or parts of it.”  Cutler was aware that the research was intrinsically unethical and he deliberately suppressed information.

Cutler and the other researchers on the Guatemala project infected subjects with life-threatening germs withoutinformed consent, even though an ethical standard was recognized. In 1943 and 1944, Cutler was involved in similar syphilis research performed at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. Prisoners signed consent forms to participate in the study in exchange for commuted sentences or monetary compensation. The study was later discontinued in Terre Haute, only to soon commence in Guatemala. Cutler, as well as the other researchers and funders hoped that a life-saving discovery in Guatemala would justify the controversial scientific investigation techniques conducted in Indiana. In addition to the unconsented involvement of prisoners, soldiers, psychiatric patients and prostitutes, Guatemalan children from an orphanage and school were involved in serological experiments without their parents’ consent. Cutler and his team of practicing medical professionals knew that the experiments were at the very least highly questionable, yet they proceeded with them.

Since the original records have been unearthed, The New York Times reported that at least 83 people had died from the experiments. Because of the inconsistency of the records, a final accurate number has not been determined. In September, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues published a full report of the study. In one particular case, a woman was deliberately infected in the eyes, urethra, and rectum, even though it “appeared [that] she was going to die,” which she did soon after. Adding to the terror of the experiments, seven Guatemalan epileptic women were injected with syphilis in the back of the neck through the method of cisternal puncture to test a theory that syphilis could cure epilepsy. Two test cases had severe headaches, one was paralyzed in the legs; five received preventative penicillin after the injection, one of whom died; one did not receive treatment.

The medical studies conducted in Tuskegee, Terre Haute, and Guatemala were unethical in the extreme. Advocates for the Guatemalan parties have insisted that they deserve more than mere verbal apologies from Washington, while the U.S. cannot officially undo their actions. Some of the surviving victims and their families continue to suffer. These researchers transmitted diseases to thousands of Guatemalans without proper treatment, which brought on grievous health issues. Even though apologies are profoundly necessary, those affected must be compensated for the subsequent costs of healthcare and for their psychological and physical suffering. There is no telling what other unethical studies have been archived and are waiting to be revealed. While nothing can undo the tragedy that these victims of human subject studies endured, the U.S. should at the very least set up a fund as a means of beginning to provide redress for the cases that have since surfaced.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Linnea LaMon

U.S. Citizens and Brazilians Flock South

September 27, 2011

Brazilian immigrants are returning home to a bustling economy that offers better financial opportunities for Brazilian natives and foreigners alike. As competition for jobs in the U.S. has become increasingly fierce, many Brazilian-Americans have been persuaded to return home, where obstacles such as work visas, English fluency, and not to mention prolonged separation from family, are absent.  Due to a historically low unemployment rate of 6 percent and earnings back home that have risen 170 percent since 1999, Brazilian immigrants are returning to their native construction, manufacturing, and service industries, which in the United States have been crippled by the ongoing effects of the recession.

Despite the global economic downturn, in 2008, the Brazilian economy rebounded quickly and has maintained steady growth. Brazil now leads Latin America with the world’s seventh largest economy, rising to prominence on the global stage. During the economic turmoil of the 1980s that swept Latin America, many Brazilians emigrated to the United States in hopes of achieving their own versions of the “American Dream:” an idealistic goal no longer possible in today’s stagnant U.S. economy. Subsequently, the Brazilian Diaspora is now beginning to return home for better economic opportunities. Recently, airlines have noted that a higher number of Brazilian migrants are now purchasing one-way tickets during the winter months when the need for U.S manual labor slows down.

As the number of Brazilians flocking home increases, the population of Brazilians in the U.S. decreases. According to the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, the amount of legal permanent residents who emigrated from Brazil to the U.S. has decreased from 14,701 residents in 2009 to 12,057 in 2010.” As Brazilians return home for better employment opportunities, U.S. citizens have followed suit, seeking the benefits of a potential “Brazilian Dream”.

Motivations Behind U.S Migration to Brazil

Americans are arriving in Brazil with a gold-rush mentality, determined to make profit. In the first six months of 2010, more than 4,300 U.S. citizens received working visas from Brazil’s labor ministry, an increase of twenty percent over the previous year alone.

U.S. bankers, hedge fund managers, oil executives, and engineers have fled to large metropolitan cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo in search of jobs. U.S. and foreign investors have been particularly attracted to Brazil’s oil discoveries. Meanwhile, the demand for jobs in information technology industries is also high. Brazil still needs about 60,000 new engineers and as a result the government has been soliciting U.S. and other foreigner workers to fill these needed skilled positions. Jobs in mining, infrastructure, retail, and finance have also attracted trained workers from all around the world.

According to the New York Times, salaries in Brazil “are at least 50 percent more than salaries in the U.S. for strategic positions.” Last year, Brazil’s economy increased 7.5 percent and is expected to grow by four percent this year. Despite the more favorable opportunities found in Brazil, US citizens heading south will face issues not encountered in the States. These include an overheating of the Brazilian economy and the high appreciation of the Brazilian Real. Americans also have to compete for jobs with homeward-bound Brazilians as labor legislation favors hiring a Brazilian worker over a foreigner.

For immigrants, obtaining a Brazilian work visa can be a lengthy process. Still, U.S. citizens are attracted by an alluring culture, the Portuguese language, the hospitality of the Brazilian people, and the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.  Despite these attractions, U.S. President Barack Obama’s new economic stimulus plan may alter the currently increasing immigration rate to Brazil.

Future Projections for Migration Patterns to Brazil

On Thursday, September 8, 2011 Obama outlined several goals for his stimulus plan, specifically geared toward creating more jobs to jolt the economy. If passed the stimulus plan will provide more summer jobs for young workers, invest USD 35 billion in local communities for more teachers and expanded healthcare, and provide businesses with USD 4,000 in tax credits to those unemployed for a period of six months or more. If the stimulus plan is passed and expands economic opportunities in the U.S. as intended, we can expect the mad dash to Brazil to abate. However, Brazil’s rise has turned it into a global destination of considerable gravity, particularly for those seeking a broad spectrum of economic opportunities.

Written by COHA Research Associate Denise Fonseca