Latin America has a long, fractured, and ultimately failed history of public media. So-called “public media” typically functioned as government-controlled institutions for spurious goals - propaganda and clientelism - rather than quality content in the service of multiple public interests.
While driving around rural areas of Puno in Peru, Caaguazú in Paraguay or Granada in Nicaragua, do not be surprised to see women lifting rocks from the roads and using shovels and picks alongside men. In fact, in the past 15 years, the number of women that have joined organizations in charge of routine road maintenance in Latin America has increased significantly and with this their life conditions have improved dramatically.
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On a Friday evening last November, twelve mayors from nearby districts gathered at the municipal office building in Tarapoto, Peru. Even though the rainy season was just ramping-up in this lush tropical area of the country, local roads were already being washed away. These mayors were eagerly planning for the local Provincial Road Institute to use their tractors to protect their roads to counter the negative effects of the rain.
One of them cried out, “How will my people bring grapes and coffee to local markets without good roads? Our products are going to rot and my people are going to suffer.”
A five hours’ drive south of Lima lays the coastal provinces of Chincha. If one heads inland into the deserted mountains that are typical of costal Peru, one would be surprised to find agriculture blanketing the valley floor. For centuries local communities in these rugged terrains have been using water from small meandering streams to grow maize, and eke out a living by selling surpluses at nearby markets. However, in recent years the growth of industrial agriculture has squeezed these communities, making it hard for them to survive in these ancestral lands, forcing many of them to move to nearby cities such as Chincha Alta.
Many of our aspirations revolve around improving our personal finances—keeping better track of spending, saving towards a goal or perhaps getting out of debt. How can we work towards these goals and follow through on these changes?
The ritual publication by the leading multilateral organizations, think tanks and investment banks on the macroeconomic outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean which, without being too dramatic, puts an end to the era of growth rates above the region’s potential, has inevitably attracted the interest of policymakers, investors and the public in general.
Raul is short, skinny and has an enormous smile. Looking at him, it was hard to believe that this fifteen-year-old had long been feared in his community as a gang leader and had been the author of horrible crimes in Colonia Santa Marta in El Salvador.
Visiting a prison does not leave you feeling indifferent. After exhaustive security checks, you find yourself amid a sea of personal stories – many of them tragic – and the statistics begin to take on a human face. Life in prison is much more difficult than we imagine: discipline, strict schedules, cells shared with up to 20 strangers and views of the horizon that end with a security fence.
Confirming the dreadful situation of most Latin American prisons is nothing new. Overcrowding and the lack of health strategies are, along with corruption and the absence of effective reinsertion plans, some of the challenges faced by authorities across the region.
Corruption has a considerable negative impact on development. Besides considerations associated with public ethics, corruption discourages private initiative and reduces available public resources, which in turn translates, for example, in less hospitals and poor education quality. Corruption also distorts the way governments use resources and undermines the public’s confidence in institutions.
Bribing, embezzlement, nepotism, and traffic of influence in decision-making processes are some of the typical manifestations of this form of bad government.