americas

The Nicaragua Canal

The Panama Canal’s opening in 1914 transformed global trade and fostered economic development in Panama. Today, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Chinese financier Wang Jing are trying to emulate its success by constructing a canal through Nicaragua. Read More

Human Rights and the Chocolate Industry

Nearly 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from western Africa, in countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast. In order to fill the global demand for chocolate, thousands of small cocoa farms often rely on slavery and child labor. Children ranging in ages from 5-16 are sent by their families with promises of education or additional income for a few months work, but often remain on cocoa farms through adulthood while being subjected to dangerous work environments. Cocoa farms, and sometimes even countries, are incentivized to use the cheapest possible means of labor in order to keep the price of cocoa globally competitive. Listen to this week’s episode for a discussion on the incentives driving these human rights abuses and why a boycott might be counterproductive.

Venezuela’s Shift from Chavismo

Note: this episode was originally published in February 2016. Given today’s announcement that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro will not allow the main opposition parties to run in next year’s presidential election, we’ve decided to republish this episode to provide context to Venezuela’s political and economic struggles.

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Spotlight: Guyana

Tucked away in the northeast corner of South America, Guyana is often overshadowed by its larger neighbors Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia. However, the Guyanese are a diverse and resilient people who play an integral role in the region. Read More

Colombia’s Human Trafficking Epidemic

As its conflict with the FARC rebel group comes to a close, the Colombian government faces another pressing humanitarian challenge. Rampant sex trafficking victimizes thousands of vulnerable, displaced, and poor Colombians. In this episode, we interview Garrett Suarez and David Medina about their field research on Colombian sex trafficking, government failures to combat it, and successes of the NGO Corporación Espacios de Mujer in helping trafficked victims.  Read More

Mexico’s Drug Cartels

We’ve heard a lot about the drug wars in Mexico. We’ve even become familiar with the cartels that wage them- their names, territories and sagas given ample play in US media. But how much do we know about what drives the violence and keeps it aflame? In what ways are the cartels able to innovate in order to keep ahead of law enforcement on both sides of the US-Mexican border? Can law enforcement keep up with these ever-evolving organizations? If drug demand in the US were to vanish, how would the cartels cope? How much does corruption dilute successful cooperation between the United States and Mexico? Come join us for a chat about the ins and outs of Mexico’s Drug Cartels. Read More

Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla

Greece has received an overwhelming glut of attention over the summer for its financial woes, but the brewing debt crisis in Puerto Rico seems to have been underhyped. What consequences might Puerto Rico’s financial predicament have for the US? How has Puerto Rico’s unique status as a US Territory contributed to its economic stability? Could this debt quagmire change the conversation about the territory’s statehood potential? Join us as we delve into the causes, characteristics, and consequences of the Puerto Rican debt crisis.

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