Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Why the Latin American Region Matters to the U.S.

July 11, 2012

Latin America is a source of cultural, economic, and environmental opportunity for the U.S. Its proximity to the U.S. makes it a natural tourist destination, trade partner, and source of investment. Foreign direct investment to the region averaged $23.5 billion annually in 2010 and 2011. The U.S. accounts for approximately 18% of the FDI flows to the Latin American region. Total trade (imports and exports) between the U.S. and Latin America amounted to over $600 billion in 2010 and has grown consistently since at least 2005. Aside from being a destination for U.S. products Latin America is a source of prized raw materials for the U.S., especially oil. The total number of U.S. citizens that traveled to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2010 and 2011 reached 30 million, which means that the region accounted for half of all citizens travelling abroad.

More importantly, the region shares the same foundational values that are important to the U.S.: political liberty, economic freedom and democratic government. These can be traced back to the independence period when a majority of the emerging nations modeled their constitutions on that of the U.S., and more recently to the return to democracy and free markets of all Latin American countries (save one) during the 1980s. The cultural linkages between the region and the U.S. have deepened in the aftermath of the Cold War as the stream of Hispanic migrants seeking opportunities in the U.S. has skyrocketed. As a consequence, Spanish has become a dominant secondary language in the U.S. and Hispanics are now the largest ethnic minority in the country. Also as a consequence, money remittances from migrants to their relatives in the region have grown to exceed the flows of foreign aid and in many countries have become the primary source of foreign currency. These migrants, which tend to be younger on average than the U.S. population, have become an important source of labor that has helped maintain the dynamism of the U.S. economy. Their economic consolidation has also turned them into a substantial consumption force, and a source of entrepreneurship and employment through ownership of medium and small businesses. Their high birth rates and their concentration in urban centers are also transforming these communities into a significant political force.

But the relevance of the region is not only highlighted by positive factors. Latin America and the U.S. face common threats. In the globalized world in which we are living challenges to national security are eminently transnational and consequently cannot be addressed by single countries acting in isolation. Here are a few examples:

  • Drug trafficking: the Andean region in Latin America is a main source of drug production and multiple countries throughout the hemisphere have become important trafficking and distribution centers. But the main source of demand driving this industry is in the U.S.. The drug trade, estimated to be over $300 billion globally, is a source of domestic corruption and is linked to violence and other forms of criminality at its source and final destination.
  • Gangs: these highly complex and violent groups encompass multiple facets of criminal activity and through their highly effective networking span regionally and even globally. Their origins are traced to the deportation of illegal migrants who were schooled in the rituals and practices of violent U.S. street gangs through their mutual incarceration, particularly in the city of Los Angeles.
  • International crime: clearly related to the drug trade and gang activity but not limited to them, international crime involves human trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering and other insidious threats that put human lives at risk and are terribly costly to control. It is estimated that the fight against crime can absorb up to 15% of a poor country’s GDP, resources that could otherwise be devoted to more productive purposes.
  • Migration: people migrate primarily in search of opportunities they cannot find in their home countries. For this reason, the underlying poverty and inequality that still characterize most of Latin America are a permanent incentive for migration. But so is the lure of employment opportunities in the prosperous communities to the north of the Rio Grande. If there is a growing population of undocumented migrants in the U.S. it is at least partly due to the chasm between the actual demand for Latin American laborers and the ability of the existent regulatory framework to accommodate them. Among other implications, this situation raises delicate issues in the areas of human rights and the criminal justice systems.
  • Environment: the effects of environmental degradation do not respect international boundaries. Largely because of this, polluters can impose part of their costs on others. Those in a position to provide solutions have little incentive to do so as long as they bear all of the costs without capturing the benefits. Latin America is in a position to improve carbon sequestration and storage through reforestation and the preservation of tropical forests, but it needs the support of the U.S. and other developed countries to do so.

Historically, Latin America has been within the U.S. sphere of interest, not always in the most felicitous of ways, but always at a high level of relevance. Most recently, however, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 and the global financial crisis, the U.S. has shifted its attention to other world regions. In the meantime, Latin America has undergone a transformation of its own. No longer seen merely as a testing ground for American policies, it has gained recognition for innovation in the areas of social policy, political participation, biofuels, and others. While poverty and inequality remain high they have fallen significantly. Together with sound economic management and growing investment this is swelling the ranks of the middle class across the region. To enhance its regional and even global standing, the U.S. must rediscover the relevance of Latin America and embrace it as a full partner.

Why the Latin American Region Matters to the U.S.

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Talk with Noah Bullock: What is a Human Rights Approach?

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Noah Bullock, the Executive Director at Cristosal, will be giving a talk entitled: What is a Human Rights Approach? This talk is part of Tulane University’s celebration of International Education Week which highlights the benefits of international exchange on campus. IEW at Tulane runs from October 16th- October 20th. More information about the Tulane IEW and the events on campus can be found here.

Olancho Screening-New Orleans Film Festival

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The Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Tulane University are sponsoring the following screenings for the New Orleans Film Festival, which will run from October 11th-19th. Screenings are held at various locations in New Orleans. The box office is located at the Ace Hotel (600 Carondelet Street, New Orleans, LA 70130).

OLANCHO

28th Annual New Orleans Film Festival to Feature Latinx Programming

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The 28th Annual New Orleans Film Festival will be held from October 11th to October 19th at participating theaters in the New Orleans area. Born in a city known for its eclectic and artistic vibrancy, the New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) has sought out bold and passionate storytellers since 1989. It is the longest-running festival of its kind in the state of Louisiana and one of the largest film festivals in the South. Now in its 28th year, the New Orleans Film Festival has grown into an internationally respected annual event that attracts 20-25k people, 400+ filmmakers, and 240 films.

This year’s film festival will feature a number of films relating to the Latin American community, either in subject matter and/or made by Latin American filmmakers. The Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the Center for Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute will be sponsoring several films, including Olancho and Cuban Short Stories.

A full list of film selections and synopses may be found here.

For more information on tickets, passes, and film packages, visit the NOFF website.

The Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Tulane University are sponsoring the following films:

Olancho
Manuel, a farmer from Olancho, Honduras, seeks fame by making music for the region’s drug cartels. When some of his song lyrics get him in trouble, he must make the most difficult decision of his life: continue the quest for fame, or flee. For information on times and locations, visit the Olancho event page.

Cuban Shorts: Cine Cubano
These Cuban short stories are a series of short films highlight cultural and social subject manner relating to the Cuban community. For more information on show times and locations, visit the event page.

Fighting Cuba’s Boxing Ban
A short documentary about female boxing in Cuba, where the Cuban government forbade women from competing in the 2016 summer olympics.

Manuel
A short documentary about an 87-year-old Cuban man who brews and sells potions said to be aphrodisiacs.

Parade
Jazz students from New Orleans travel to Cuba on a cultural exchange and collaborate on a parade, celebrating open borders.

Connection (Conectifai)
A portrait of a park in Havana where, thanks to public Wi-Fi, a new kind of meeting place has arisen.

Charlie
Four decades after hijacking a plane to Cuba to avoid charges of killing a state trooper, a former black power militant reflects on his past in a letter to his nine-year-old Cuban son.

Forever, Comandante (Hasta Siempre, Comandante)
Living in the shadow of the revolutionary generation’s unrelenting Cuban ideals, Ernesto, a 14-year-old barber, wants to get a tattoo despite his father’s adamant objection.

Prince of Smoke
Cuban tobacco farmer and artisanal cigar maker Hirochi Robaina follows in his legendary grandfather’s footsteps as he fights to preserve a 171-year-old family legacy.

Additional titles relating to the Latin American community include:

The Thunder Feast (Truenos de San Juan)
A documentary about the ancient festival of San Juanito in Guanajuato where homemade explosives are part of the revelry, but not everyone in the community is sure this tradition should continue.

Sambá
A documentary about Cisco, a Dominican-born man who returns to the Dominican Republic after doing time in a United State prison. Cisco soon finds that the only way he can make money is getting involved in loosely organized street fighting.

Days of Wholesome Joy
A Cuban narrative short about a woman taking care of her grandmother who has dementia.

Holy Hill
A narrative short story about a nun who works at a school for young boys in the Dominican Republic. Both she and the boys have parallel sexual awakenings.

Camp of the Innocents
A Louisiana-made short documentary about the U.S. interment of Latin American “enemy aliens” during World War II in New Orleans. The entire synopsis, as well as show times and location may be found here.

Dead Horses
A Catalan animated short film about a child fleeing his home during wartime.

Bells in the Mountains
A Spanish short documentary about a group of cows who migrate seasonally from the town of Ullé through the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees Mountains.

Elegy
A short narrative film about a girl who cannot process her complicated feelings about the death of her two classmates.

Cuban Shorts: Cine Cubano-New Orleans Film Festival

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The Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Tulane University are sponsoring the following screenings for the New Orleans Film Festival, which will run from October 11th-19th. Screenings are held at various locations in New Orleans. The box office is located at the Ace Hotel (600 Carondelet Street, New Orleans, LA 70130).

CUBAN SHORTS: CINE CUBANO

  • Saturday, October 14th 1:00PM | Member $10 General $13
  • Thursday, October 19th 11:30AM | Members $7 General $10

Tulane to host MET Curator Dr. Joanne Pillsbury for talk on Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas

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Dr. Joanne Pillsbury, the Andrall E. Pearson Curator of the Art of the Ancient Americas at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, will give a presentation titled From the Heart of the Andes: On Creating Golden Kingdoms, as part of the 2017 Wladis Seminar on Curatorial Careers at the Woldenberg Art Center, Tulane University. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Pillsbury will give a behind-the-scenes view of the exhibition Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas (Getty Research Institute and Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fall 2017-Spring 2018), and the international research project that inspired it. Drawing upon significant recent archaeological findings and new investigations into the roles of artists, their patrons, and their workshops, the lecture focuses on luxury arts in the lands between the two great imperial capitals of the ancient Americas: Cusco, the seat of the Inca state, and Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. It probes a fundamental question: How can we discern and interpret indigenous ideas of value?

Dr. Pillsbury is a specialist in the art and archaeology of the Precolumbian Americas. Pillsbury earned her PhD from Columbia University. She was previously associate director of the Getty Research Institute and director of Precolumbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. She is the author, editor, or co-editor of numerous publications, including the three-volume Guide to Documentary Sources for Andean Studies, 1530–1900 (2008), the Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Award recipient Ancient Maya Art at Dumbarton Oaks (2012), and Past Presented: Archaeological Illustration and the Ancient Americas (2012), which was awarded the Association for Latin American Art Book Award.

The lecture is sponsored by the Newcomb Art Department, supported by a gift from Mark and Diane Wladis.

For more information contact Dr. Elizabeth Boone via email to eboone@tulane.edu.

For more information, view the official flyer here.

Tulane to host Dr. Andrew Paxman for a talk on William Jenkins and the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema

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Join us at the Stone Center for Latin American Studies in welcoming historian and biographer Dr. Andrew Paxman, who will present his research and recent book in a talk titled William Jenkins: Profiteer of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema on October 19th.

In his talk, Dr. Paxman will focus on the life and film industry activities of William Jenkins, an American from humble beginnings who became the richest man in Mexico. Using biographical information and excerpts from his recent book Jenkins of Mexico: How a Southern Farm Boy Became a Mexican Magnate, Dr. Paxman will highlight how the American entrepreneur built up the Mexican film industry.

Currently, Dr. Paxman is a research professor at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico, where he teaches history and journalism. Earlier in his career, Dr. Paxman was a journalist in Mexico and co-authored El Tigre: Emilio Azcárraga y su imperio Televisa (2000). He earned a Masters in Latin American Studies from University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in History from the University of Texas, Austin.