Posted on24 May, 2016byCIPE Staff|Comments Off on Democracy that Delivers Podcast #17: Atlas Corps Fellow Gigi Raffo on What Life is Like for Regular Citizens and Business Owners in Venezuela
Podcast host Julie Johnson (center) and guest host John Zemko with guest Gigi Raffo.
Atlas Corps fellow and social media manager at Venezuelan think tank CEDICE, Gigi Raffo (@GianninaRaffo), talks about the everyday hardships experienced by citizens in her country, the challenges facing the private sector, and how she and others are trying to make changes and build hope for the future. Raffo also talks about adjusting to the freedoms and choices offered in the U.S. and what she is learning here that will inform her work when she goes home.
Selva Constructor, Karolo’s latest business venture, is an architecture and construction firm based in Tarapoto, Peru.
CIPE began working with Peruvian NGO, Instituto Invertir, in 2008, with the belief that developing business and leadership skills in young Peruvians from the country’s diverse regions would help build a culture of entrepreneurship and civic participation – creating alternatives to the limited social and economic opportunities. This, in response to the general populations’ frustration with the shortcomings of the country’s democratic system and an increasingly anti-democratic rhetoric from leaders in certain areas of Peru. The initial vision of what program success would look like has been far exceeded thanks to the initiative of young Peruvians like Karolo Pérez Alvarado.
Long-time CIPE Development Blog readers may recall being introduced to Karolo back in January 2010. As one of the inaugural fellows in the first ever EmprendeAhora (EA) program in 2008, Karolo and his teammates were awarded first prize in the business plan contest for their idea to inject adventure into bio tourism in the San Martín region of Peru.
Having struck up a friendship with Karolo during my visit to Tarapoto, San Martín, naturally we made it official on Facebook. In the years since I have maintained contact from afar and watched as Karolo grew from a young man with a fun business idea into a successful entrepreneur serving as a driving force behind his community’s development, and an inspiration for young entrepreneurs around the country.
What a difference a month can make! During Argentina’s first presidential candidate debate in October, Daniel Scioli, the Peronist government party candidate, appeared to be a shoo-in with voters. A month later at the November debate held at the University of Buenos Aires Law School the tables were completely turned. Mauricio Macri, representing the opposition voice of market friendly change had now become the favorite to win the election. What happened?
The role of the presidential debates—the first in Argentine history (see my previous post on the first debate which talks about this CIPE supported initiative)—is difficult to quantify. What we can see is that Scioli paid a heavy political price for not participating in October’s debate. The other candidates made constant references during the debate to the empty podium that referenced his absence. The press also excoriated Scioli’s last minute decision to not participate.
I was brought by God’s winds to the epicenter of a democratic battle: the Argentina ballotage (runoff), the second round of an election for the presidency of the Republic between two candidates.
I landed on Sunday, November 15 in Buenos Aires, exactly at the moment of the first presidential debate in the history of Argentina. During an incredibly intense week, for the first time in my forty years I observed the effervescent passion of a nation that today can settle the future of their country through ballot boxes.
On February 21, Bolivians will head to the polls to cast a yes or no vote on whether the constitutional two-term limit for presidents and vice presidents should be amended. The outcome will decide whether Bolivia’s current president Evo Morales will be permitted to run for office again if he so chooses.
Recent polling (10/26, 11/4) indicates that the vote will be close, with the intention to vote yes ranging from 46-49 percent and no from 39-45 percent, with 9-11 percent undecided. The current Bolivian constitution, approved in 2009 when Evo Morales was already president, establishes that presidents are limited to two terms (i.e. one reelection). President Morales was first elected in 2005. He was re-elected in 2009 and then was granted permission to run a third time in 2014 on the grounds that he had only served one term under the new constitution.
Why does it matter if citizens in Bolivia vote to approve a constitutional change that would pave the way for President Morales to run for a fourth term?
In an op-ed published in October 28, 2015 in Los Tiempos newspaper, Bolivian economist Roberto Laserna reminds his fellow citizens that the February 21, 2016 referendum only indirectly questions the permanency of president Morales. Ultimately, the vote will weaken legal certainty and stability of the rules of the game – i.e. democracy and rule of law. Read the translated text of the article below.
Brent Ruth is a Program Officer for Latin America & the Caribbean at CIPE.
Learn more about the private sector’s role in reducing insecurity in Tijuana with this short video (10 minutes, Spanish with English subtitles)
Between 2007 and 2010, Tijuana was one of the most violent cities on the planet. Kidnapping, extortion, and homicide became commonplace occurrences, and the notorious Tijuana Cartel, which had been gathering strength during the 1990s, dominated large swaths of the city.
The city’s main thoroughfare, Avenida Revolución, which had previously been full of street vendors hawking their merchandise and U.S. tourists, was deserted. Citizens stayed in their houses after dark and the city’s renowned nightlife ground to a halt. The Mexican government sent troops to the city in a bid to restore order, leading to violent confrontations with criminal elements.
It was with this image of a violent and crime-ridden city that I traveled to Tijuana in April 2015. Instead, however, I was surprised by what I found. Tourists were slowly starting to trickle back to Tijuana, families with young children enjoyed evening strolls in the balmy weather, and federal troops were absent from view. What led to such a drastic change in a mere five years?
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Okanagan Aboriginal Leader and President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, was photographed with a broad smile on his face the day of the unanimous Canadian Supreme Court ruling granting the Tsilhqot’in First Nation in Canada title to 1,700-square-kilometer area of their traditional land. To the Grand Chief, the decision enables his community to “participate in the economic future of this province as equal partners.” Chief Roger William of the Xeni Gwet’in, one of the six groups of the Tsilhqot’in, echoed Steward’s enthusiasm, saying “This case is about us regaining our independence to be able to govern our own nation and rely on the natural resources of our land.”
The Canadian Supreme Court gives the Tsilhqot’in full rights to negotiate land use with corporations interested in mining, logging or developing their traditional territory. Although the impetus for the Tsilhqot’in bringing the court case was a logging license issued by the government, the community is amenable to negotiating with business and developing portions of the Tsilhqot’in land. “The goal is to have proponents actually come through the door of the Tsilhqot’in Nation,” Chief Russell Myers-Ross of Yunesit’in said.
The Tsilihgot’in are among the few indigenous peoples that have full control over the use and development of their traditional land. Partially because of the Tsilihgot’in Nation’s unique history of never having signed land treaties with European settlers, two decades of court cases have paved the way for this land entitlement victory.
Although indigenous people around the world are granted rights to occupy land, these rights rarely extend to ability to manage the economic development of their land, which is generally managed by the government. This means that when businesses are interested in developing these territories they are legally obligated to negotiate use of the land with the government and not the local population.
The CIPE Development Blog provides coverage of the Center for International Private Enterprise and its partner network at work -- highlighting successes, drawing out lessons from failure, and exploring the broader issues of political and economic development. For more information visit CIPE.org.