Americas Articles

Gail J. McGovern joined the American Red Cross as president and CEO on April 8, 2008 and has taken a strong leadership role at the nation’s leading emergency response and blood services organization.  Prior to joining the Red Cross, McGovern was a faculty member at the Harvard Business School and served as president of Fidelity Personal Investments, a unit of Fidelity Investments. McGovern is currently a member of the board of trustees of Johns Hopkins University and the board of directors of both the Hartford Financial Services Group and DTE Energy. McGovern was recognized by Fortune magazine in 2000 and 2001 as one of the top 50 most powerful women in corporate America.

By Gail McGovern  |  August 26, 2010

This article was written with assistance from Sarah Roberto, Alex Lassegue, Donna Barry, and Lauren Spahn

Dr. Joia Mukherjee trained in Infectious Disease, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital and has an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. She is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Global Health Equity at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical. Dr. Mukherjee consults for the World Health Organization on the treatment of HIV and MDR-TB in developing countries and is a member of the Executive Board of Health Action AIDS, a campaign conducted with Physicians for Human Rights to engage the US health professional community in the international advocacy and education effort to stop the global AIDS pandemic.

To the citizens of the tiny, embattled country of Haiti, the notion of human rights is ever present, based on their collective knowledge that Haiti brought Napoleon to his knees when the slaves fought and died for the right to self determination, removing the vast sugar wealth from France’s treasury.  Yet the rights of the people of Haiti have been perpetually suppressed by foreign powers, particularly the United States—from US President Jefferson’s fear of Haiti’s example as a danger to the slave-based US economies to the US President Monroe-lead occupation driven by resistance to European influence in the hemisphere to the more recent neoliberal front against socialism.    These forces have resulted in a political scorched earth campaign against rights in Haiti as occupations, dictatorships and kleptocracies have left the Haitian State with massively inadequate resources to fulfill basic rights for its citizens.  It is remarkable that, with less than 15 years democracy in Haiti—twice interrupted by US and French backed coups d’état, the people’s notions of rights and their participation in demanding them remains strong as evidenced by frequent protests for government protection of food prices, housing and education. 

By Joia S. Mukherjee  |  August 23, 2010

Greg Bankoff writes on environmental-society interactions with respect to disasters, natural hazards, human-animal relation, development, resources and community-based disaster management. Among his publications are Cultures of Disaster: Society and Natural Hazard in the Philippines (2003) and the co-edited volume Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People (2004). He is Professor of Modern History at the University of Hull, United Kingdom.

There are no such things as "natural disasters.“

By Greg Bankoff  |  August 23, 2010

Ferguson’s essay “Complexity and Collapse: Empires on the Edge of Chaos” in Foreign Affairs (March/April 2010) asserts that empires can suddenly and unexpectedly collapse if a small trigger throws off the balance of the system; imperial collapse does not necessarily require a long period of decline. Considering that fiscal failures often cause such collapses, the growing public debt of the United States may be a signal that the US empire is in danger.

By Niall Ferguson  |  August 1, 2010

A convergence of inward and outward-looking processes in US law schools creates both risk and potential reward in the development of legal education.  How each law faculty succeeds or fails in coordinating those processes will affect not just US law schools, but legal education across the globe. These processes should not produce changes without proper consideration of their impact on developments outside the United States.  Otherwise the result may be both the abdication of US leadership in legal education and a significant negative impact on the way in which US legal education can be and has been a catalyst for positive change in transition countries.

By Ronald Brand  |  August 1, 2010

Who or what holds the ultimate authority: a decade-old constitution or a leader with resounding popular support? Colombia’s Constitutional Court answered this question in February 2010 by upholding the integrity of the foundation of any modern democracy—its constitution—and denying President Álvaro Uribe the possibility of a third term in office. At first glance, this “defeat” may be seen as a crushing blow to Colombia’s future.

By Rodolfo Diaz  |  August 1, 2010

As a general rule, events that did not happen are not considered newsworthy or particularly relevant. Yet, the clue that helped Sherlock Holmes solve one of his cases was precisely a non-event: the fact that the dog had not barked. Likewise, the economic performance of Latin America since the outset of the sub-prime mortgage collapse in 2007 could be described as the financial crisis that did not happen.

By Domingo Cavallo, Rodrigo Botero  |  August 1, 2010

Since the Colombian Constitutional Court denied Álvaro Uribe a third presidential term in February, several candidates have stepped forward, the most competitive of whom are the former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos and Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus. All candidates have predictably campaigned on a more or less similar platform of continuing Uribe’s hard line policy cracking down on crimes and violence in the urban areas; after all, this policy has been successful and has earned Uribe a wild 70 percent approval rating by the public.

By Erika Lee  |  August 1, 2010

Take a look at any wall or sidewalk in Venezuela, and you are certain to see two images peering back at you—Hugo Chávez and Simón Bolívar.

By Alex Palmer  |  May 1, 2010

What progress has been made since January, and where is Haiti now?

Haiti is still in an extremly difficult situation because all the millions of people who lost their housing, belongings, and loved ones are still in the street. I’m not sure that we have even counted the dead properly because there are lots of neighborhoods where the dead are still under the ruble. Usually after two months, a country that has been hit by an earthquake is already in the phase of recovery.

By Michèle Pierre-Louis  |  May 1, 2010