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Articles in Latin America

Chile: Inequality, Education, and Geography

By Martin W. Lewis | July 22, 2015 | 5 Comments

As noted in the previous post, Chile has a strikingly high level of income inequality despite its considerable success in social and economic development. Many observers blame Chile’s educational system for such inequity, contending that the country has many poor schools and does not spend enough money on education. As argued in a recent Council on Hemispheric Affairs article, “National …

Chile: Inequality, Incarceration, and Drug Smuggling

By Martin W. Lewis | July 20, 2015 | One Comment

Chile is rightfully celebrated for the socio-economic progress that it has achieved over the past several decades. But although it has seen a substantial reduction in poverty, Chile still has a high degree of economic inequality, like most other Latin American countries. According to the Wikipedia,* in 2011 Chile ranked in the 155th position out of 176 countries in terms …

Chile’s Unusual Core/Periphery Pattern, Part I

By Martin W. Lewis | July 17, 2015 | 2 Comments

The Wikipedia includes a number of articles on “ranked lists” of the first-order divisions (regions, provinces, etc.) of various countries. The one on Chile is particularly comprehensive. It includes only one map, however, that of the human development index. As a result, I could not resist mapping some of the other data found there. I have focused on those tables …

Joaquín Guzmán and the Geography of Homicide in Mexico

By Martin W. Lewis | July 13, 2015 |

Considering the astounding escape of Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán (also know as “El Chapo”) from a supposedly secure prison, this seems like an appropriate time to examine the geography of violent crime in Mexico. Comparing crime rates from place to place is a notoriously difficult exercise, as official statistics tend to be unreliable and are often gathered on a …

Attempts to Map Latin America’s Political Spectrum

By Martin W. Lewis | April 16, 2015 | One Comment

This’s week’s lecture for my class on the history and geography of current global events focused on the crisis in Venezuela, the slides from which are available at the link posted below. I framed this situation in terms of Latin America’s “democratic revolution” of the late 20th century followed by its electoral turn to the left (the so-called pink tide) …

Brazil’s Soy Empire: Mato Grosso in the 2014 Election

By Martin W. Lewis | November 5, 2014 | 5 Comments

(Note: This post completes a brief series on Brazil’s 2014 Election. This series has benefitted tremendously from the informed and insightful comments by Frederico Freitas, Ygor Coelho Soares, and Steve. Many thanks!)
In the electoral map of Brazil’s 2014 election, the vast but relatively lightly populated state of Mato Grosso in the center-west stands out for the strong support that most …

Regional Stereotypes in Brazil

By Martin W. Lewis | November 1, 2014 | 12 Comments

As noted in the previous post, the Brazilian states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have distinctive voting patterns. In the 2014 presidential election, São Paulo voted strongly for the center-right challenger Aécio Neves, whereas Rio de Janeiro was the only state in southeastern Brazil to support the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff. The two states are similar in some respects, …

Preliminary Observations on Brazil’s 2014 Presidential Election

By Martin W. Lewis | October 29, 2014 | 10 Comments

(Note to Readers: GeoCurrents is interrupting its short series on the cartography of Michael Izady to examine the recent presidential election in Brazil. Note that on the maps posted below, the international norm of using red to indicate the left and blue to indicate the right is followed.)
It has been widely noted that Brazil 2014 presidential election revels a deep north/south …

Tiny …. Bolivia?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 21, 2014 | 7 Comments

One of my pet peeves is the journalistic use of the term “tiny” to refer to sizable but generally ignored countries. In my book, to be considered “tiny” a country must be small indeed, something on the order of Malta (316 sq. km or 122 square miles) or perhaps Luxembourg (2,586.4 sq. km or 999 square miles). (For countries smaller still, such …

Mapping the Farmlands of Coastal Peru

By Martin W. Lewis | July 19, 2013 |

In writing about the fruit and vegetable exports of coastal Peru, I could not locate any on-line maps of the farming districts of the region. It is easy, however, to distinguish these areas in Google Earth, as the color contrasts between the lush, irrigated lands and their desert environs stand out, as do the rectilinear patterns of the cultivated fields. …

Asparagus Land: Coastal Peru’s Fruit and Vegetable Export Boom

By Martin W. Lewis | July 17, 2013 |

The global market for temperate fruit was transformed several decades ago when Chile began to take advantage of its Southern Hemisphere location by massively exporting off-season produce to North America and Europe. When I was young, table grapes were only available in the United States during the summer and fall; now they are found in almost every grocery store year-round. …

Brazil’s Changing Geography of Murder

By Martin W. Lewis | May 23, 2013 | 6 Comments

Brazil is noted for its high murder rate. In the Wikipedia map posted here, Brazil falls in the highest homicide category, with more than 20 slayings a year per 100,000 people. This figure significantly exceeds that of the United States (4.8) and vastly exceeds those of such countries as Japan (0.4) and Iceland (0.3).  Yet Brazil is hardly the most …

Politics and Ethnicity in Ecuador and Bolivia: Twins or Opposites?

By Martin W. Lewis | March 26, 2013 | 2 Comments

On the surface, Ecuador and Bolivia exhibit close political similarities. Both countries are led by popular presidents who pursue leftist agendas, taking on multinational corporations, enacting land redistribution, and opposing U.S. interests. In Ecuador, incumbent president Rafael Correa just won an overwhelming victory, besting second-place finisher Guillermo Lasso by a 34 percent margin. In the most recent Bolivian general election …

Honduras Moving Ahead with Private Cities

By Nicholas Baldo | September 26, 2012 |

To most development economists, the key to economic success lies in the creation of good institutions, be they schools, corruption-free agencies, or the like. In 2010, the New York University Business School economist Paul Romer made quite a splash in the field by arguing that in countries where good institutions are lacking, new “charter cities” should be built and run by outside entities under their own laws as semi-sovereign entities.

Argentina’s Mounting Economic Troubles

By Martin W. Lewis | | One Comment

Economic pressures and uncertainties are again mounting in Argentina. Moody’s recently downgraded the country’s credit rating, and on September 24 the International Monetary Fund threatened it with sanctions if it does not produce “acceptable” economic data by December. The Argentine government has been accused for the past year of manipulating its economic reports to hide its true rate of inflation.

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