ANCLAS OpEd on Brazil’s Vote this Sunday

ANCLAS Deputy Director Sean Burges and ANU Economics Lecturer Patrick Carvalho have an OpEd in today’s Canberra Times looking at what is at stake in the Brazilian presidential election this Sunday:

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ANCLAS Business Briefings on the Brazilian Election

Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra

ANCLAS Deputy Director Sean Burges and ANU Economics Lecturer Patrick Carvalho will be giving a series of briefings the results and implications of the October 25th presidential election in Brazil. The events will be held in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

In Sydney the briefing is being held on Monday, November 3rd and is being run by the Centre for Independent Studies and is by invitation — to request an invitation please contact CIS at

In Melbourne the briefing is being held the morning of Thursday, November 6th and is being hosted by the Victorian Government — details are here:…

In Canberra the briefing is being held the afternoon of Thursday, November 6th at the Australian National University — details are here:…

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Dark days in Mexico

The situation of impunity for human rights violations in Mexico continues to be concerning, and the last few weeks have been particularly alarming.

Not only has there been an outcry over a recent massacre of 22 people by the Mexican army, in events that were seemingly covered up by the federal government as a shoot-out between criminals and soldiers and later revealed to be an extrajudicial execution with excessive use of forcé.

In addition, the events of the last week in the state of Guerrero have shocked everyone and appear to be one of the gravest and most chilling attacks on citizens in recent decades. 43 students of a rural teacher training school disappeared on the 27th September after being taken away in a police van, on the same afternoon that police opened fire on the bus that the students were travelling in to take part in a protest. There are suggestions that criminal groups may have been involved with policemen.

This weekend the news emerged that a mass grave with burnt bodies had been found close to the site of the disappearance of the students.  It remains to be seen if these are the bodies of the students, as DNA tests need to be carried out in coming days.

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Professor Abraham Lowenthal on democratic transitions and political leadership

We were lucky enough to have Professor Abraham Lowenthal as a visitor at ANU this week. ANCLAS’s Sean Burges was asked to do a short interview with him about his next book, which is a series of interviews with key political leaders in democratic transitions in Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia.

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AFTER THE SECOND YEAR…. #Mexicoenmovimiento



Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto presented his second State of Union earlier this week. Despite the tradition to address Federal Congress at the Palacio Legislativo de San Lázaro, Peña Nieto’s statement took place at the Palacio Nacional in front of almost 1000 guests, including 400 media representatives.

The expectation was for Peña Nieto to praise his government and the Federal Congress for achieving the so awaited structural reforms and especially to highlight the political collaboration of all major forces in both chambers thanks to the famous Pacto por México. For the first time the President of Mexico was welcomed and accompanied by the president of the Senate (Senator Miguel Barbosa) and the president of the Chamber of deputies (Silvano Aureoles MP), who are both from a major opposition party, PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática). Yet Peña Nieto chose to underline the future projects that his administration will undertake.

The first one is the construction of a new international airport in Mexico City, which will be located not far from the current one. It will have six air strips with annual capacity for 120 million passengers, becoming one of the largest airports in the world. In the voice of Peña Nieto the new airport will become a ‘landmark of modern Mexico’. The second project is to extend Mexico City’s public transport system. The expansion of four metro lines represents 43.5 kilometers more of network and 20% of additional capacity.

And finally, the transformation of the social program Oportunidades into PROSPERA.* This new face of social assistance will maintain the current support provided by Oportunidades but will also offer further coverage for vulnerable social sectors. PROSPERA seeks to create alternatives to incorporate citizens into economic activities and at the same time will enhance the government’s poverty alleviation efforts.

While previous versions of PROSPERA had been quite successful in attacking poverty in the country, inequality is still quite pronounced. Once beneficiaries reached a set level of wellbeing they lost certain entitlements to social support and slipped down back. PROSPERA will try to address this withdraw by supporting the incorporation of vulnerable populations into the productive activity. Some of the main measures of this program are financial inclusion, tertiary training, rural development and especial attention for indigenous populations,

It seems that Peña Nieto has been able to create a political consensus around his initiatives. Although the reforms have been approved and as EPN mentioned “reforming is transforming… the reforms were easy, but transformation must follow its course…” Implementation and the long term outcomes are the difficult part, which are still to come. But beyond the support of the political class, does Peña Nieto have the support of the population? Recent polls show that more than half of the population disagrees with EPN’s administration.

EPN and his government appear to realise the changes of Mexico’s socio-economic landscape and intend to address the increasing demands of the population. On the one hand, PROSPERA targets lower and rural classes and on the other hand the infrastructure projects target urban middle classes. Some political experts believe that this is only part of an electoral strategy to gain support for next year’s middle-term election from growing middle-classes living in the capital of the country. Mexico City is in fact PRD’s main political bastion and it turns out that PRD has two serious contenders to the 2018 presidential election, Marcelo Ebrard and Miguel Mancera, the former and the current governors of Mexico City….

Whatever the reading of the second State of the Union is, “Mexico is in movement” as the President himself mentioned on his speech. The issue now is how to maintain the pace and to ensure that both the Mexican government and the society keep up with the transformation that has started…

To read the executive summary of the second State of the Union click here, for the statistical data appendix click here and for the full version and broadcasting video click here.



* This social program was created in the late 1980s by President Carlos Salinas de Gortari under the name of Solidaridad. Then it was change to Pogresa by President Ernesto Zedillo and finally into Oportunidades under PAN governments. .

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by | September 5, 2014 · 2:07 pm

ANCLAS Business briefing in Melbourne, 12 September 2014

The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies at the Australian National University and the State Government of Victoria proudly invite you to:


Latin America Business Briefing


A unique opportunity for Australian business to learn more about conditions, opportunities and risks for business in Latin America.


Welcome by: Mr Julian Hill.   Acting Deputy Secretary, Trade, Manufacturing, Aviation & Employment, State Government of Victoria


Our distinguished speakers over lunch will be:


Juan MendozaThe controversies and challenges of mining in Latin America

Professor Mendoza is Director of the Master of Arts in Economics at Universidad del Pacífico in Lima and a member of the University´s Research Center since 2010. He holds a Doctorate and a Master of Arts in Economics from Brown University and a Bachelor of Arts from Universidad del Pacífico. He has been a lecturer at Brown University and a Visiting Professor at Peru´s Central Bank and at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. He was a Professor of Economics at the State University of New York. He was member of the board of directors of several Peruvian mining companies between 2006 and 2010.


Robert Funk “Recent political change in Latin America: the case of Chile”

Robert Funk is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Institute for Public Affairs of the University of Chile and Director of the Institute’s Centre for the Study of Public Opinion. Robert is Executive Director of Plural, a public policy think tank. He obtained his PhD in Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Dr. Funk has consulted on Latin American issues for a variety of government and private sector institutions.


Enrique Dussel Peters “Latin America’s engagement with the Asia-Pacific”

Enrique Dussel Peters is a Professor of Economics at the National Autonomous University in Mexico (UNAM) where he directs the China-Mexico Institute. He is the leading expert on Chinese connections with Latin America.


Supported by Dr John Minns, Director, Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies (ANCLAS) at the Australian National University and Dr Sean Burges, Senior Associate at ANCLAS.


Lunch provided.


Where: the Sir Redmond Barry Room, Victorian Government’s Investment Centre,

Level 46, 55 Collins Street, Melbourne


When: 12.30pm – 2.30pm Friday, 12 September


There is no charge however

RSVPs are essential by Friday 5 September:

For more information please contact: or phone +61 2 6125 4697


ANU logo     ANCLAS picture    Victoria


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Registration open — 2014 ANCLAS Conferece — The Asia Pacific-Latin America Nexus

Exploring the Latin America-Asia Pacific Nexus

All day event
9:00am – 5:00pm

The Haydon-Allan Lecture Theatre (The Tank)

The 2014 Latin American and the Shifting Sands of Global Power Conference held by the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies (ANCLAS) at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia will explore the extent and nature of the Latin America-Asia Pacific nexus, focusing on the areas of economics, international relations and corruption and governance.

Latin America and the Asia-Pacific have rediscovered each other. In the wake of the global financial crisis, both regions have thrived while traditional economic centres have struggled. This has created a shift in focus, with Latin American businesses and policy makers looking beyond China to include other countries in the Asia-Pacific and vice versa. This growing mutual awareness is reflected in trade, investment and tourism, leading to an enhanced sense of trans-Pacific opportunities.

Conference fee:

            Earlybird (16 August 2014)            Full-time employed: AUD$100
                                                                               Student: AUD$20
            After 16 August 2014                     Full-time employed: AUD$120
                                                                                 Student: AUD$20

For registration and payment via MasterCard and Visa, please follow the link below:
Conference email:

Further details and the program will be posted on the ANCLAS website and the ANCLAS blog as they become available.



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