Author Archives: cvillegas12

ANCLAS book launch – Australia and Latin America: Challenges and Opportunities in the New Millennium

The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies presents the book launch of:

Australia and Latin America
Challenges and Opportunities in the New Millennium

Edited by Barry Carr and John Minns

Published August 2014

3:00pm Wednesday 29 April
L.J Hume Centre, Copland Building (24) 1st Floor, Room 1171, ANU

This is a good time to reflect on opportunities and challenges for Australia in Latin America. Impressive economic growth and opportunities for trade and investment have made Latin America a dynamic area for Australia and the Asia Pacific region. A growing Latin American population, Australia’s attractiveness to Latin American students, a fascination with the cultural vibrancy of the Americas and an awareness of Latin America’s increasingly independent stance in politics and economic diplomacy, have all contributed to raising the region’s profile. This collection of essays provides the first substantial introduction to Australia’s evolving engagement with Latin America, identifying current trends and opportunities, and making suggestions about how relationships in trade, investment, foreign aid, education, culture and the media could be strengthened.

About the editors

Barry Carr is Adjunct Professor at The Australian National University for Latin American Studies (ANCLAS) at the ANU and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Latin American Studies at La Trobe University. A historian of modern Latin America, he has researched and published widely on the twentieth century development of Mexico and Cuba. His most recent book is (with Jeffrey Webber) The Latin American Left: Cracks in the Empire (2013).

John Minns is the Director of the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies and Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations at The Australian National University.

The launch will be followed by light food and beverages. Free and open to the public, no RSVP required.

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ANCLAS book launch

The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies presents the book launch of:

“Neoliberal Hegemony and the Pink Tide in Latin America: Breaking Up With TINA?”

3:00pm Wednesday 4 February
L.J Hume Centre, Copland Building (24) 1st Floor, Room 1171, ANU

Meet with the author Tom Chodor, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UQ and guest speaker Associate Professor Alastair Greig, reader in Sociology, ANU.

The book examines the struggles against neoliberal hegemony in Latin America, under the ‘Pink Tide’ of leftist governments. Utilizing a critical International Political Economy framework derived from the work of Antonio Gramsci,  it looks at its two most prominent members – Venezuela under Hugo Chávez and Brazil under Lula and Dilma Rousseff. The author argues that Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution represents a counter-hegemonic project that seeks to construct a radical alternative to neoliberalism, while the Brazilian project is better understood as a passive revolution aiming to re-secure consent for neoliberal hegemony by making material and ideological concession to the Brazilian masses. Despite their differences, the two projects cooperate at the regional level, driving the process of regional integration that aims to make Latin America more politically, economically and ideologically autonomous in the neoliberal world order. The book suggests this process opens up opportunities for a fairer, more prosperous and more democratic Latin America in the 21st century, challenging American hegemony and its neoliberal project in doing so.

About the author
Tom Chodor is the UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland. His research interests include International Relations, International Political Economy, globalisation, global governance, neoliberalism, regionalism, and the Pink Tide. He is currently working on a book about the Global South in global governance.

The launch will be followed by light food and beverages. Free and open to the public, no RSVP required.

Updated: 29 January 2015/ Responsible Officer:  Director, ANCLAS / Page Contact:  Web PublisherBook Cover

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with Duo Ramirez Satorre. Direct from Buenos Aires.

19th February Thursday: Concert
Great Hall, University House
Australian National University
Entry: $30
Tickets at


The fiery nightlife of Buenos Aires is coming to Canberra as Tángalo and Duo-Ramirez
Satorre combine forces at a series of special events this February. Duo Ramirez-Satorre are masters of their craft, capturing the essence of the Argentine spirit with their interpretations of classic and contemporary repertoire. Featuring Hugo Satorre on bandoneon and Adrian Ramírez on guitar the duo have recently released their Grammy- Nominated ‘Piazzolla de Camara’ album. Tángalo, Australia’s premiere tango quintet, known for their highly danceable sound and flair in performing golden age and modern tango are returning direct from successful performances in Buenos Aires, the international capital of tango.
Together Tángalo and Duo Ramirez-Satorre will present a captivating and eclectic selection of tango and folkloric music. In what is a rare treat for Australian audiences the gritty power of multiple bandoneons will feature in the grand seven piece orchestra – also including violin, guitar, flute, piano, bass and vocals.

This concert has been made possible from
the sponsorship of The Embassy of
Argentina, as well as the support of
ANCLAS and The Artist’s Shed.

Morena Dancewear is a proud supporter of this tour


For full tour dates visit

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We want them alive: Violence and the “Mexican Moment”

The Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies, The School of Sociology and the Criminology Society at the Australian National University present:

We want them alive: Violence and the “Mexican Moment”


Public Seminar by Dr. Rolando Ochoa

1:00pm Wednesday 19th November Manning Clark Centre, Theatre 5, ANU

For most of the last decade, Mexico has been mired in chronic violence due to the toxic relationships between the state and organized crime. The government’s war on drug cartels has caused the death of over 80,000 and the disappearance of over 25,000. Today, the country is in the midst of an important political crisis triggered by the forced disappearance of 43 students at the hands of police, which has sparked mass protests for over a month. At the same time, the government is keen to promote its economic reforms and position Mexico as an important economic partner and international actor in the Asia Pacific region as evidenced by President Peña Nieto’s recent visit to China and the G20 Summit in Brisbane. How can we understand this disconnect between the local and international contexts? In this Public Seminar we will discuss the historical and institutional roots of the current situation in Mexico with regards to violence and how these may impact the government’s agenda at the international level with added discussions on possible policy paths for the future.

Speaker: Dr. Rolando Ochoa is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the School of Sociology, Australian National University. He holds a DPhil in Sociology and an MPhil in Latin American Studies, both from the University of Oxford, UK. He has been researching crime and violence in Mexico (in its many forms) for over a decade and is particularly interested in serious crimes, urban crime, organised crime, and crime prevention. He also has policy experience in the field of crime prevention and community safety.

The seminar will be followed by light refreshments. For catering purposes please RSVP by COB 17 November

For more information please visit: &


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Featured video on Sky News, Dr Sean Burges – Brazil’s leader faces division, poor economy

ANCLAS Deputy Director, Dr Sean Burges featured on Sky News, 28 October 2014.…

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ANCLAS Deputy Director Dr Sean Burges has published in today’s The Australian.

Rousseff’s Brazilian Challenge

published in today’s The Australian  (pre-publication text)

Dr Sean W Burges, Deputy Director of the Australian National Centre for Latin America Studies at the Australian National University
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has won re-election for a second term by the skin of her teeth, scrapping in just 51.6% of the vote in the second round runoff held on Sunday. Her victory represents a remarkable triumph of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s legacy amongst the poor and socially marginalized as well as the power of sophisticated political marketing to drive voter understanding of campaign debates.

It would be an understatement to say that the economic elites of Brazil opposed Dilma’s re-election. The major newspapers and television shows adopted a staunchly anti-Dilma editorial line. Most emblematic of this was the accelerated Friday publication of the weekly news magazine Veja, which carried details of a criminal investigation into a scheme that allegedly saw Dilma’s Workers Party (PT) divert close to AUD$4.6 billion from state oil giant Petrobras to its political coffers. While these and other charges of corruption at the heart of the PT certainly hurt Dilma’s support base, which is significantly down from 2010, ultimately voters decided to go with the devil they know.

Perhaps voters were thinking back to former mayor and governor of São Paulo, Adhemar de Barros, who was famous for his corruption, but lovingly embraced with the pragmatic justification: “he robs, but he gets things done.” Indeed, at one level the election can be seen as coming down to a choice of who would get the most done amidst a sustained mire of governmental corruption – opposition candidate Aécio Neves was also the subject of serious allegations of corruption stemming from his time as governor of Minas Gerais state.

Dilma is a dependent heir of Lula’s legacy of social programming and pro-poor inclusiveness, policies which helped lift well over thirty million out of poverty and transformed the country. Throughout the campaign Dilma’s team repeatedly pushed the message that Aécio would rollback social programming to balance the government’s books. For his part Aécio was clear that Lula’s programs stemmed from initiatives started by his party in the 1990s, and that he would extend and deepen the existing programs to make them constitutional rights, not mere governmental programs. In the end it came down to trust, with a thin majority of Brazilians placing their faith in the party of Lula, which widened the programs that lifted them from poverty, not the party that stabilized the economy to create the conditions allowing the establishment of a strong social welfare state in Brazil.

Dilma’s challenge is that the magic aura of Lula is not going to help her address the pressing issues already waiting on her desk. First, and most worrying for Brazilians who remember the 1980s and 1990s is the question of inflation. Brazil has already exceeded its desired annual inflation ceiling of 6.5%, barely keeping the rising rate under control by artificially suppressing energy costs, most notably that of the gasoline sold by Petrobras, a company which is itself coming under pressure from creditors.

The second issue Dilma must address is the country’s anemic economy. With the commodity boom over, current projections from the IMF forecast a 2014 GDP growth rate of just 0.3%, rising to 1.4% in 2015. These numbers are inline with disappointing performance during the Dilma years, which the World Bank averages at 2.5%, one of the lowest levels in South America. Two factors are holding Brazil back, both of which can be addressed directly by Dilma. First, government banks and state-controlled companies are crowding out private investors, matters which are compounded by high interest rates. Second, the failure of the previous twelve years of PT government to implement effective regulatory and tax reform means that Brazil remains an incredibly difficult place to start and run an enterprise, languishing at 116th place in the World Bank’s ‘ease of doing business’ league table.

Addressing the economic hurdles of inflation, heavy-handed state intervention in the economy and oceans of regulatory red tape are critical hurdles that Dilma must address if her next presidency is to preside over further reductions in poverty. As effective as the Lula era social programs are at addressing the symptoms of poverty, the reality is that they do not address the cause, which is low economic growth.

Finally, Dilma must restore public faith in politics, which means addressing corruption. Alberto Youssef’s detailed revelations that billions of dollars were siphoned from Petrobras to PT mean that Dilma can no longer hide behind the plausible deniability line of “I did not know” when she oversaw the company first as mining and energy minister and then as president. In the past Dilma has studiously avoided rescuing public officials accused of corruption, most notably the eight ministers she inherited from Lula who were resigned amidst scandal at the start of her administration. The constant stream of allegations strongly suggest that her party has a serious cancer of corruption at its core, something which she is free to address now that she no longer needs Lula’s support for reelection.

Layered on top of these three big issues are the ongoing challenges of providing the public services that Brazilians are demanding – the health, transportation and education services claimed loudly during the massive street protests of 2013. Delivering is going to take serious effort at rebuilding bridges badly burned by the extremely negative campaign run by PT strategists. Although Dilma and the PT secured the presidency, they control neither congress, nor the a majority of powerful state governors, all of whom know that their electorate is angry and holds little faith in their leadership. For Dilma the campaign may prove to be the easy part. The hard work is only just beginning.

Dr Sean W Burges is Deputy Director of the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies at the Australian National University and a Senior Fellow of the Washington, DC-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

The author will be providing a series of briefings next week in Melbourne and Canberra on the implications of the election result. Details at

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Sydney Brazil Business Briefing Cancelled

Due to unforeseen circumstances the Sydney Brazil Business Briefing on Monday November 3rd has been cancelled.  We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.


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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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No middle ground on Chávez legacy

John Minns posted this from Buenos Aires

In death, Hugo Chávez has as much capacity to stir passions as in life. On the first day after the death the press in Argentina, as in much of Latin America, mostly adopted a respectful tone, often noting “problems” and “differences”, but reserving harsher criticism. Within 24 hours, the divisions over the appropriate economic and political model for Latin America – debates at  which Venezuela under Chávez was at the heart – re-emerged.
The conservative press – in Argentina led by the viciously anti-government Clarin – returned to strong criticism of his record – especically on questions of democracy. This is not surprising since it has been warning constantly that Argentina under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is actually becoming Venezuela and headed towards dictatorship.
The pro-government press – such as the completely uncritical Página 12 – has concentrated on the positive achievements of Chávez in reducing poverty and improving education for the masses.
The government itself declared three days of national mourning.
Professor Steve Ellner writing from Venezuela will be an ANCLAS Visiting Fellow in Second Semester of 2013. In this article he has produced a balanced summary of the Chávez years and the likely possibilities for Venezuela after his passing.
The website:

John Minns

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Captain Pantoja and instrumental rationality: a feminist critique

(On the occasion of the International Day of Women, March 8th)
By Eugenia Demuro
This text represents the views of the individual author, and not of ANCLAS

On 28 of February 2013, ANCLAS, along with the Embassy of the Republic of Peru, screened the first film of the Peruvian Film Festival. The Festival was organised to commemorate 50 years of Diplomatic Relations between Australia and Peru. The film screened was Lombardi’s Captain Pantoja and The Special Services (Pantaleón y las visitadoras, 2000), based on the homologous novel by the Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa.  I must admit that I have not read Vargas Llosa’s novel and therefore will limit my reflections to Lombardi’s film. These reflections, however, also serve as a platform to think about the role of art, and more precisely, to think about art as representative of a particular reality. Second, and no less important, is the question about by whom, and for whom, does a particular representation speak to. I am in this way grateful to the efforts of ANCLAS, and of the Embassy of Peru, for providing a context to engage these questions.

The film tells the story of a ‘straight-laced’ captain of Peru’s army, Pantaleón Pantoja, who is given the task of putting together a force of sex-workers, las visitadoras (or the special service) to ‘service’ the military posts stationed within the Amazonian jungle. Part comedy, and part drama, the story follows the precise militaristic approach of Captain Pantoja as he executes the task given. The film reaches moments of high irony and absurdity as a result of the quantitative and precise management of Captain Pantoja in his endeavour to fulfil the high demand of sexual encounters (or renditions, as termed in the film).

The film’s success rests on carrying out, principally and convincingly, a critique of the Peruvian Military, including some of its key organisational structures such as authority, efficiency ‘at all costs and under all circumstances’ and Machismo. Even when this is so, as I will argue here, the film’s critique is still carried out within a male-centric optic. To be blunt, the film is based, exclusively, on a patriarchal and sexist representation of women. The two options of female identities available to the female viewer are either as a saint (as in the case of the Captain’s wife, a ‘decent’ woman), or as sex-workers, whose only concern is to provide sexual gratification to men, at a price. There is a complete omission of the female experience, of the problematic of becoming a visitadora and working within a corrupt, male-dominated environment. There is no treatment of the motives, frustrations and aspirations of women as full-fledged social actors who possess agency.

I’ve asked myself several times if I am not simply reacting to the very element that the film is attempting to critique, that is, the patriarchal structure of the military, the hypocritical approach to prostitution, and the idea that women’s roles function exclusively (in the film) to service men. I’ve pondered, as well, on whether this is the actual critique that the film enacts. This is the point where, for me at least, we need to be critical of the text itself, or at least to posit the question: at what point does the critique of sexism become the reification of sexist practices through representation? What I am trying to get at is that a radical critique actually requires embodiment and performance. The critique of the military, for example, is embodied in the character of Pantoja himself, and accordingly, it is ‘performed’ throughout the entirety of the film in his detailed approach to making the sex-industry efficient and ‘militaristic’. In fact, the final note of the film, sees Pantoja (and his wife) stationed in a remote desert, where Pantoja applies his characteristic rationalising principle to a literacy program he’s been given command of. The critique of military authority and efficiency, and its reductionist logic, is thus embodied in the main character of the film. In the case of the critique to patriarchal and sexist attitudes within the military, however, there is no female character that embodies or performs resistance in any critical way. Women are mere by-products or bystanders in the culture of the military, and not just that, they are very ‘attractive’, naked, and ‘willing’ participants. If the film Captain Pantoja and The Special Services is in fact a critique, it is a critique from a male-oriented perspective, where women (and their needs, aspirations, motivations, etc.) continue to be consigned to a second plane. The film proves lacking in its capacity to give any kind of visibility to the agency of women, that is: to the representation of women as actors within a social, cultural and historical context. The only point at which the female characters take a stand is towards the film’s end, as they are attacked, and at risk of being raped by the ‘local native’ populations who also want their sexual ‘needs’ to be met. I will leave to one side the representation of the ‘natives’, although this is another completely problematic representation. If the women only react when they are under the threat of rape and violence, what does it say about them? And what does it say about the women’s attitudes towards the sexist environment in which they are contained? Does this in any way diminish the film’s critical acclaims?

While I appreciate, and share, the critique of the military, as a woman (and as a Latin American woman) I cannot find, in this film, a female character with which to identify. I am therefore forced, if I am to engage the film’s critical message, to assume a sexist male-oriented optic. Any film that demands this of its female viewers cannot be considered as a radical appraisal of a reality. This is where the force of the critique to militaristic practices, and to instrumental rationality, comes to a halting stop. The film is a critique from within a naturalised male perspective, what it lacks, is any true account of the female experience.

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