NDN Blog

Brazil Elects its First Female President

The first woman elected to preside over Latin America’s biggest country, Dilma Rousseff, won on Sunday, October 31st, with 56% of the votes. This outcome comes as no surprise, as polls had shown Rousseff leading over the opposition for the past couple of weeks.

According to The Economist, Brazilians chose continuity over experience:

 Her entire political life had been behind the scenes. Little was known of either her politics or her personality. Mr Serra was vastly more experienced and better known. But Lula campaigned beside Ms Rousseff, toured the country with her and was at least as visible in her television advertising as she was.

The Guardian also reports that voters were willing to look past her lack of political experience.

 If it were only about experience I would never vote for her,” said Denilson Quintino, 43, an electrician. “But she has a good team behind her. Today the country is much better off because of the Lula government. He did more for me than any other president”.

But despite Brazil’s massive growth, Rousseff inherits a set of very different economic challenges than when Lula took office back in 2003. However, the president-elect pledged to focus on poverty eradication and that certainly falls under the ‘continuity’ category.

In light of the election, The Wall Street Journal, celebrates the succesess of this Latin American giant, but highlights that the nation still has a long way to go.

 "This has been a two-decade process from a dire start to a new level of prosperity," said José Sheinkman, a Brazilian-born economist at Princeton University who occasionally served as a sounding board for policy makers during Mr. da Silva's first term. The challenge for the new government is figuring out the next steps.


POSTPONED EVENT - Chilean Ambassador, Arturo Fermandois at NDN & NPI

Due to circumstances outside of our control, we are rescheduling the NDN and NPI event with the Chilean Ambassador, Arturo Fermandois, originally set for today, Wednesday, October 27th at 12:30pm.  We will be sure to connect with you once the new details are confirmed.

Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may cause, and look forward to seeing you at a future event. Thank you for all of support in making the Latin America Policy Initiative a success.

NDN Hosts Chilean Ambassador, Arturo Fermandois on Wednesday, October 27th

The Latin America Policy Initiative (LAPI) is excited to host the Ambassador of Chile to the United States, Arturo Fermandois on Wednesday, October 27th at 12:30 pm.  This event is open to the public.  To RSVP, please click here.  If you would like to instead register for our live webcast, we still ask that you RSVP.

The global spotlight has been focused on Chile these past weeks, as people around the world were energized and captivated by the miraculous and heroic efforts of the Chilean government to rescue 33 trapped miners.  Yesterday, The Washington Post shed light on the new Chilean Ambassador to the United States, the Hon. Arturo Fermandois, and the party thrown at the Embassy's front lawn this past week:

"The new ambassador, who arrived in Washington just four months ago, erected a jumbo screen outside the embassy on Massachusetts Avenue so everyone could watch the live broadcast of Chilean miners being rescued. Fermandois set up a guest book for people to write messages for the men.. Quite a debut for the rookie diplomat, who left his life as a lawyer and professor of constitutional law (after stints as a Fulbright scholar and at Harvard Law School) to become ambassador. His first few weeks were packed with his country's earthquake recovery efforts, its bicentennial and a visit from new President Sebastián Piñera. Just when he expected things to slow down, news broke of the trapped miners."

But the rescue isn't the only noteworthy news; Chile's recent invitation to join the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development is recognition of the sound fiscal leadership and policies that have elevated Chile to be a regional economic power.  The Ambassador will explore all of this and more at NDN. We look forward to seeing you here at NDN!

Ambassador Arturo Fermandois
October 27, 12:30 pm.  Lunch to be served
NDN Event Space 729 15th Street, NW First Floor, Washington, DC

Live Webcast

Mexican Ambassador Advocates for New Approach to Border Enforcement

The Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, told The Dallas Morning News that Mexico must focus more resources and efforts on border enforcement measures.

Regardless of what happens on this side of the border, Mexico has got to be able to do two things it has either been unable or unwilling to do in the past," he said. First, it must boost economic growth and job creation "to anchor those women and men with well-paying jobs in Mexico." Second, it must "ensure that every single Mexican that crosses the border into the United States does so with papers, through a designated port of entry, and legally.

According to Ambassador Sarukhan, border enforcement can already be executed under existing law:

Until now, Mexican authorities have not enforced laws requiring citizens to use only legal ports of entry and departure. The consequences of lax enforcement are increasingly evident. At $3,000 to $5,000 a person, smuggling rings reap big profits, and drug cartels have begun a violent campaign to seize control of the business. There has been an explosive increase in kidnapping and extortion targeting migrants at the border. When ransoms aren't paid, hostages are forced into the service of drug cartels. Criminality feeds on itself, and Mexico pays an ever-steeper social price

This new approach would help the American government move forward with comprehensive immigration reform. It would also immediately benefit Mexico by reducing violence and in the long term it would set the proper conditions for economic growth in Mexican border states. Moreover, credibility and trust could be slowly restored in a government trying to take on a stronger role in national security.


Read full editorial here

Secretary Hillary Clinton Visits More Latin American Countries than Past Secretaries in First 18 Months

According to The Washington Post, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has dedicated more time to Latin America and the Caribbean than past secretaries. 

In the first 18 months of the Obama Administration, Secretary Clinton has visited 17 countries in the region. 


Not only has the United States increased its presence in the Americas, we have also received many visits from politicians from throughout the region.

For example, Mexican President Felipe Calderón was the second world leader to visit the President Obama after his election. Dominican President Leonel Fernández is the most recent Caribbean dignitary, visiting the White House this past Monday.  Just this month, Assistant Secretary of State, Arturo Valenzuela, met with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Peruvian President Alan Garcia and Chilean Chancellor Alfredo Moreno.

A year ago at the Summit of the Americas, President Obama outlined four pillars of U.S. engagement in the region: democratic governance, social inclusion, citizen security and clean energy.  The Administration has been carrying out its strategy since:

  • The US' role as mediator in the Honduras coup last year as well the Administration’s willingness to re-establish migration talks and direct mail service with Cuba are examples of democratic governance efforts.
  • New programs like Pathways to Prosperity and Obra Initiative: Youth-At-Risk support women entrepreneurs and youngsters from all over the region.  Assistant Secretary of State, Arturo Valenzuela, reminded us at NDN three weeks ago that these socio-economic inclusive initiatives are a meant to address the inequalities uncovered by trade agreements.
  • Lastly, the Climate Partnership of the Americas, which was officially launched at the Summit of the Americas, serves as a forum for countries to share ideas, best practices and success stories of programs that will help create a cleaner space for people throughout the region.

 The graph above shows a clear difference of what can be done in terms of providing better leadership and engagement. There is no doubt that there is still much to do, not only 'for', but 'with' Latin America  However, if travel statistics are any indication of a region's importance, Latin America and the Caribbean once again figure prominently into US diplomatic priorities. 


Asst. Secretary Valenzuela Spoke to NDN About New Era of Parternship & Respect for US-Latin America

Monday afternoon NDN had the privilege to host Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. He spoke about a new era of partnership and respect between the US and the Americas.

NDN’s Latin American Policy Initiative Chairman, Nelson Cunningham, opened by reminding us that Latin America is a key neighbor which is frequently ignored by Americans. According to Assistant Secretary Valenzuela, in 2010 the Department of State has visited many countries in this region.

The Assistant Secretary noted that on his trips with Secretary Hilary Clinton to Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica and Guatemala he observed that many citizens of those nations were willing to engage with the US.  In his trip to Barbados, he was told by the participating nations of the region’s basin security initiative that they were "glad the US was back with the Caribbean."  These examples demonstrate a friendly desire to communicate lays the foundation for  new era of Latin American foreign policy.

Asisistant Secretary Valenzuela and his team recognized that there is no single formula for a region so diverse and that challenges still lie ahead. That same day marked the anniversary of the government overthrow in Honduras and he expressed how lots must be done by Latin American countries themselves in order to work with the US as partners.

The audience asked a variety of questions which included topics such as Cuba’s embargo, Colombia’s recent presidential elections, Panama’s Free Trade Agreement, Bolivia-US relations, Venezuela’s economic influence, and more.

Valenzuela summarized the Administration's vision for the upcoming years in his blog post for Americas Quarterly:

We are interested in thinking outside the box and working with partners everywhere in the Americas to make our common home safer, more democratic, greener, and more full of opportunities for all of its citizens.

We at NDN look forward to continuing to contribute to this the vital partnership between the U.S. and Latin America.

HOY--Secretario de Estado Adjunto, Arturo Valenzuela, hablará sobre relaciones América Latina-EEUU

Es nuestro placer recordarles que el Secretario de Estado Adjunto para Asuntos del Hemisferio Occidental, dará un discurso en NDN HOY-- ¡por favor RSVP si todavía no lo ha hecho!  Luego de viajar más de 16,000 millas para visitar América Latina en sólo una semana junto a la Secretaria de Estado, Hillary Clinton, el experto en la región vendrá a exponer su análisis de politica exterior latinoamericana.

Para todos aquellos interesados en aprender un poco más sobre cómo su viaje a Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Brasil, Costa Rica y Guatemala sirvió como un paso adelante para las relaciones con el país vecino estadounidense, esta es su oportunidad para hacer preguntas.

El Secretario de Estado Adjunto también hablará sobre cómo las redes sociales deben ser utilizadas como instrumentos de diplomacia pública para contar la historia de las Américas al resto del mundo y de la importancia de involucrar a la diáspora latinoamericana y caribeña para continuar con los esfuerzos diplomáticos en la región.

Por favor recuerden confirmar su asistencia aquí antes de que comience el evento a las 2 PM.  Luego de su discurso, el Secretario de Estado Adjunto contestará preguntas de la audiencia tanto aquí presente en NDN como de aquellos observándonos en línea.

¡Esperamos verlos esta tarde!



TODAY Assistant Sec. Valenzuela to Speak on US-Latin American Relations

The Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, will be speaking at NDN TODAY--RSVP here, if you haven't yet! After traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for more than 16,0000 miles to visit the Latin American region in just a week, Asistant Secretary Valenzuela will be at NDN to provide his expert analysis on Latin American foreign policy. 

For those interested in learning more about how his trip to Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica and Guatemala served as a step forward for US-Latin American relations, this is your chance to ask questions.

Assistant Secretary Valenzuela will also talk about how social media should be utilized as a tool of public diplomacy to continually tell the story of Americans to the rest of the world and will touch on the importance of engaging the Latin American and Caribbean diaspora to help further our diplomacy goals in the region. 

 Please remember to RSVP before the event starts at 2 PM.  After his remarks the Assistant Secretary will take questions from the audience at NDN and on-line.  We look forward to seeing and hearing from you this afternoon!

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