July 30, 2013

Chile is in the final stages of being accepted into the United States Visa Waiver Program (VWP), only waiting for the on-site visit from the Department of Homeland Security to confirm that all the pieces are in order. If accepted, Chile will be the first Latin American country in this program, currently including some 37 countries worldwide. The United States has several motives in this action, but appears to be rewarding Chile for its adherence to neoliberal economic principles by opening up to globalized trade.

For the second year, Americas Quarterly has ranked Latin American countries and the United States based on social inclusion, sifting through multiple data sets for 16 nations, including variables like access to education, housing, and employment, as well as basic political, civil, and human rights... The social inclusion index – which ranks countries based on how they score on each of the 21 variables – seeks to provide a picture of progress that goes beyond economic growth and poverty figures.

America’s long-running argument about immigration has reached a boil this summer, and as usual the political discussion has focused on domestic issues, including border security, the impact of immigrants on American jobs, and the proper way to deal with people who have come to the United States illegally. Proposals for reform are weighed with one question in mind: How will they help or harm our country and the people who live here?

Pope Francis celebrated the last Mass of his trip to Brazil on Sunday before more than a million people gathered on the beach in this city, the national flags of Catholics from around the world hoisted in the air as a chorus of Brazilian priests belted out songs before the multitude. It was a vibrant display of the Vatican’s ambition of halting the losses of worshipers to evangelical churches and the rising appeal of secularism.

Although doubts about Brazil’s readiness to host next year’s World Cup have focused on renovations at 12 stadiums, some Brazil trade experts say they are more concerned about travel logistics and whether airports, mass transit systems, hotels and railroads will be up to handling the crush of visitors. “The infrastructure behind the games is what will be complicated for Brazilians and foreign tourists,” said Marcelo Rocha e Silva Zorovich, a Sao Paulo business consultant who is a visiting researcher at the University of Miami.

Countries that provide conditions such as ample financial access, training programs, and social services are more likely to cultivate female entrepreneurs, says a new study. The Women’s Entrepreneurial VentureScope—launched by the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund on July 25—is the first comprehensive assessment to score Latin America’s best and worst environments for women business owners of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

For five days in July, the New Yorker hotel in midtown Manhattan hosts the daytime sessions of the Latin Alternative Music Conference (or LAMC). Each afternoon there are talks, gear demonstrations, lots of networking, and a general pulse of excitement in the air, but one of the best things about attending LAMC is the chance for unexpected encounters and chats with artists creating music all over the globe: From bands that are coming to the US for the first time, to industry veterans with Grammys lining their mantles.

Five Latin America leaders are on the list of the twenty most followed on Twitter in the world, among them Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, ranking number ten with 2.1 million followers (followers). The eleven and twelve positions are occupied by the Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, each with more than 1.9 million followers in the world. The report “Twiplomacy 2013″ was released this week.