May 01, 2013

New study finds the press in six Latin American nations "not free."

The percentage of the world’s population living in societies with a fully free press has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, according to a Freedom House report released today.

The study, "Freedom of the Press 2013," found an overall downturn in global media freedom in 2012 "punctuated by dramatic decline in Mali, deterioration in Greece, and a further tightening of controls in Latin America."

In Latin America, 15 countries were ranked with a "free press," 14 had a "partly free" press and six had "not free" press.

Among the Latin America highlights are:

St. Lucia ranked among the top for press freedom coming in at 12 out of 196 on the list.

Costa Rica came in at  23 (tied with the United States.)

Peru came in at 89

Bolivia and Panama tied at 94

Argentina 109

Colombia 112

The nations ranked "Not Free" were:

Mexico, Ecuador, Paraguay tied at 134

Honduras 140 

Venezuela 168

And at the bottom of the barrel was Cuba at 191. It's tied with Iran. 

See the full Freedom House list here

November 08, 2012

The US elections as seen from south of the Rio Grande

I spent election day on Colombian naval base on the Pacific. Military men are pretty circumspect when it comes to politics, but everyone said it wouldn't have mattered who won the vote, because US-Colombia relations are so institutionalized and far-reaching that they're immune to politics. I'm not sure that's completely true, but thought it was an interesting sentiment.

My colleagues Mimi Whitefield and Tim Johnson take a deeper look at the Latin American reaction to the US vote in today's Miami Herald.  

MEXICO CITY -- There’s agreement across the region that Latin America wasn’t a priority during the first term of President Barack Obama but analysts say there are issues that might raise the profile of Latin America and the Caribbean during the president’s second term. Among them: trade, potential political change in the region, the potent voting bloc U.S. Hispanics have become, immigration, changing U.S. attitudes toward drug policy and security. But, in general, regional expectations for meaningful change in U.S. Latin American and Caribbean policy during Obama’s second term were muted. The campaigns of both Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney “proved that Latin America is not a priority for the United States,’’ said Simon Pachano, a political science professor at the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences in Ecuador. “Latin America existed when they were looking for Hispanic votes, but it wasn’t present in their foreign policy proposals.”

Read the full story here.


May 28, 2011

Duff Beer flows in Latam

IMG_4031 BOGOTA -- Homer Simpson would feel at home in Latin America. His favorite beer, Duff, is available in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Chile.

The lager has the same logo as the brew that Homer guzzles at Moe’s, his local bar in the Fox cartoon series. In South America, the beer’s motto is “Yes it does exist!” But nobody seems to be willing to discuss Springfield’s finest.

The makers of Duff in South America say they aren’t allowed to talk to the U.S. media. Duff Mexico — which started the Latin American trend — would not respond to interview requests. And 20th Century Fox, which owns the rights to - Simpsons, said it would not comment on the story and would not say if it has a licensing agreement with any of the Duff producers.

Read the full story here

January 10, 2011

Latin American Optimism: Chile reigns but even Mexico trumps U.S.

Would you rather do business in Maine or Mexico?

For anybody who equates grisly headlines and a rising body count with bad business, check out this global survey by Grant Thorton's. It found that confidence levels among business leaders in Latin America are higher than anywhere else in the world. Chile topped the global list, with 78 percent of those surveyed saying they are optimistic about 2011.

Perhaps more surprising is that violence-rattled Mexico also fared quite well at 71 percent.

The U.S., by comparison, registered a gloomy 40 percent. 

Here's the release. For the full report click on the link below.


CHICAGO, Jan. 10, 2011 — Confidence levels are higher in Latin America than in any other part of the world, with the region leading the way in business optimism into the new year, according to a global survey of 5,700 senior executives by Grant Thornton International Ltd.

Across Latin America, 78% of business executives are optimistic about their region’s economic performance in 2011. Elsewhere, optimism in Europe is at 50%, while in North America it is just 44%, with the Asia Pacific region the least optimistic region at 40%.

Within Latin America, Chile (95%) scored the highest optimism of any country surveyed, followed by Brazil (80%), Argentina (75%) and Mexico (71%). In the U.S., optimism is at 40%.

 Other critical business findings:

 Inflation – highest rates will be in Argentina, India, Turkey and mainland China; lowest rates will be in Japan, Ireland, Greece and Sweden.

Plant and machinery investment – will be greatest in Brazil, Philippines, Armenia and Chile; will be lowest in Greece, Netherlands, Ireland and Japan.

Employment – highest rates will be in the U.S., India, Turkey and Chile; lowest rates will be in Greece, Ireland, Spain and Poland.

Business optimism in China waning – Levels of business optimism in mainland China have taken a dramatic fall over the past 12 months. Only 53% of businesses are now optimistic about the outlook for the coming year, compared with 68% last year. This represents one of the largest negative swings in Grant Thornton’s 2011 International Business Report (IBR).

 The survey of 5,700 business executives was conducted in November and December of 2010.



jim wyss

Inside South America is written by Jim Wyss, the South America bureau chief for the Miami Herald and McClatchy Newspapers.

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