This October Dilma Rousseff was re-elected as Brazil’s president by the slimmest of margins. With approximately 51.4 percent of the vote she beat competitor Aécio Neves of the Social Democracy party (PSDB) who received about 48.5 percent.1 The election reveals Brazil’s clear divide amongst the population with regard to the direction of the country as evidenced by her victory speech in which she admitted that she wants to be “a much better president than I have been until now.”2
Most accounts of social sector reform in Latin America portray middle-class professionals as unmovable obstacles, while state elites from above or social movements below as the principle forces for reform. In our article “The Role of Professionals in Policy Reform: Cases from the City Level, São Paulo”, published in Latin American Politics and Society in July 2014, we raise the claim that social reform can come from the middle, through the professional networks of public sector workers and their allies in civil society.
Between the months of July and August of this year, in some parts of Latin America, there was no rainfall for 45 continuous days. While reservoirs and water systems are in place in most large cities across Central and South America, agriculture during those months suffered greatly. Across Central America, some of the poorest countries are being hit the hardest: 236,000 families in Guatemala, 120,000 in Honduras, 100,000 in Nicaragua and 96,000 in El Salvador are facing the repercussions of a long and unusual dry season.1
Hundreds of women sit behind bars in El Salvador punished for defying the ban on abortion. Many, such as María Teresa Rivera are pleading they are wrongly jailed for having suffered miscarriages or stillbirths. Three years ago Rivera miscarried and awoke handcuffed to her hospital bed surrounded by seven policemen who proceeded to charge her with murder.1 After an eight-month trial, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated murder.
Similar to various other Latin American countries, Brazil suffered through a right-wing military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.1 The aim of this dictatorship was to eliminate any and all threats of communist uprising within the country. This is similar to Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, but, unlike such countries, Brazil has only now acknowledged the torture and other atrocities committed during the 21-year dictatorship.
Having only been in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for one week, I cannot tell you very much about life here except for what I’ve observed in my short amount of time. If there’s one thing that is clear, it’s that the people of Rio want you to know that favelas aren’t dangerous. Favelas, which can only best be described as shantytowns built on the hills and mountains of the city, are also known as “comunidades,” or communities, among the more politically correct.
Last March, after reading several online articles about the expected increase in prostitution and human trafficking in relation to the World Cup in Brazil, I decided to research the issue of child prostitution. Although I expected this to be a complex issue, I did not realize how many challenges and myths I would encounter while researching the topic.
As part of Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympic bid, the olympic committee made a couple of large promises, one of them the clean up of Guanabara Bay in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The Guanabara Bay will be one of the main features of the opening ceremony and will hold competitions for all sailing and rowing events. City officials promised to reduce waste and pollution in the bay by 80% but little progress has been made.1 If you ask any resident of Rio de Janeiro if the bay is fit for competition, or even display, they would confidently say no.