Latin America and the Caribbean are facing a serious debt crisis

Economy, Policies

Latin America and the Caribbean are facing a serious debt crisis

In the previous three parts we have observed the evolution of the DCs’ external debt over the last twenty years. The first part shows a dramatic increase of indebtedness, which multiplied by 2.5 with a steep acceleration from 2008 onward. The second part highlights the main threats on the DCs’ external debt, among which the growing significance of bonds, the evolution of interest rates and the depreciation of their currencies against the U.S. dollar. The third part examines the various factors that lure DCs into the debt trap: dependence on commodities, drop in foreign exchange reserves, inflating repayments, conjuncture of a multi-dimensional crisis aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, etc.

We deepen our analysis by focusing on various regions, starting with Latin America and the Caribbean.

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“A threat to the world”: Brazil’s Covid-19 tragedy

Brazil, Demographic

“A threat to the world”: Brazil’s Covid-19 tragedy

Brazil now has the highest number of daily coronavirus deaths anywhere in the world, with over 4,000 fatalities per day recorded twice this month, according to figures collated by Our World in Data, a project by Oxford University.

The country’s total confirmed death toll from coronavirus now stands at over 350,000, the world’s second-highest, behind the US, which has a larger population.

In March, the country recorded 89,984 excess deaths above the death-toll average during the same month from 2015 to 2019. That figure is over four times that recorded in the United States, a country with a population one and a half times the size. The number in neighbouring Peru was 3,740, a rate per capita nearly four times lower.

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Shining Path: Guerrilla War in Peru’s Northern Highlands (Liverpool University Press – Liverpool Latin American Studies)

Civil War, Threats

Shining Path: Guerrilla War in Peru’s Northern Highlands (Liverpool University Press – Liverpool Latin American Studies)

The jagged edges of South American societies attest to innumerable wars, relentless poverty, and a host of illicit activity that make the region a tumultuous brew of politics and military aggression.

Peru in particular suffered one of the bloodiest civil wars in contemporary Latin American history during the 1980s and early 1990s, when the Sendero Luminoso, or “Shining Path,” launched an assault to overthrow the national government.

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Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor

Health, Policies, Poverty, State War, Threats

Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor

Pathologies of Power uses harrowing stories of illness, of life—and death—in extreme situations to interrogate our understanding of human rights. Paul Farmer, a physician and anthropologist with twenty years of experience studying diseases in Haiti, Peru, and Russia, argues that promoting the social and economic rights of the world’s poor is the most important human rights struggle of our times.

A thoughtful memoir with passionate eyewitness accounts from the prisons of Russia and the beleaguered villages of Haiti and Chiapas, this book links the lived experiences of individual victims to a broader analysis of structural violence. Farmer challenges conventional thinking within human rights circles and exposes the relationships between political and economic injustice, on one hand, and the suffering and illness of the powerless, on the other.

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The Other Path: The Economic Answer to Terrorism

Terrorism, Threats

The Other Path: The Economic Answer to Terrorism

In this, his classic book on the informal economy of Peru and the reasons why poverty can be a breeding ground for terrorists, Hernando De Soto describes the forces that keep people dependent on underground economies: the bureaucratic barriers to legal property ownership and the lack of legal structures that recognize and encourage ownership of assets.

It is exactly these forces, de Soto argues, that prevent houses, land, and machines from functioning as capital does in the West — as assets that can be leveraged to create more capital. Under the Fujimori government, de Soto’s Institute for Liberty and Democracy wrote dozens of laws to promote property rights and bring people out of the informal economy and into the legitimate one. The result was not only an economic boon for Peru but also the defeat of the Shining Path, the terrorist movement and black-market force that was then threatening to take over the Peruvian government. In a new preface, de Soto relates his work to the present moment, making the connection between the Shining Path in the 1980’s and the Taliban today.

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Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues, Updated with a New Preface

Disease, Threats

Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues, Updated with a New Preface

Paul Farmer has battled AIDS in rural Haiti and deadly strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis in the slums of Peru. A physician-anthropologist with more than fifteen years in the field, Farmer writes from the front lines of the war against these modern plagues and shows why, even more than those of history, they target the poor.

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Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon

Brazil, Demographic

Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon

In 1857, Captain William Lewis Herndon sacrificed his life trying to save 600 passengers and crew when his ship foundered in a hurricane off the Carolina coast. Memorialized in Gary Kinder’s best-selling book Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, Herndon, with this final courageous act, epitomized a lifetime of heroism. Seven years earlier, the secretary of the Navy had appointed Herndon to lead the first American expedition into the Amazon Valley. Herndon departed Lima, Peru, on May 20, 1851, and arrived at Para, Brazil, nearly a year later, traveling 4,000 miles by foot, mule, canoe, and small boat. He cataloged the scientific and commercial observations requested by Congress, but he filed his report as a narrative, creating an intimate portrait of an exotic land before the outside world rushed in.

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