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Latin America & Caribbean

Why Uruguay?

Silvio Waisbord's picture

Again, Uruguay shows that when civil society intelligently promotes coalition-building and finds sympathetic allies in government, media reform is possible. On June 10, the Congress passed a bill to reform the Penal Code and the Press Law. The new law will abolish libel laws and subject national legislation on communication issues to criteria enforced by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. The bill is likely to be approved by the Executive.

This achievement is another landmark of recent efforts towards media democracy in Uruguay. During the past two years, legislation on community broadcasting, access to public information, and national archiving of information was approved. The passing of community broadcasting law in December 2007 represented a major success. The law assigns one-third of radio frequencies to community, non-profit stations. It defines community stations in terms of the nature of their goals (“social mission”) and ownership (“collective properties”) rather in terms of reach or geographical location. It stipulates the existence of the Consejo Honorario Asesor de Radiodifusión Comunitaria, a multi-sectoral committee with significant representation from civil society that oversees the bidding process and monitors the performance of stations to ensure that they meet social goals. The passing of the “freedom of information” law in October 2008, and the elimination of libel and contempt laws are other positive advances. This is encouraging if we consider that, like in the rest of the region, the dominant media system historically conformed with the norm of media policies in Latin America: state patrimonialism and collusion between governments and large business.

Bank to give Mexico $205 million for swine flu

Nina Vucenik's picture

Augustin Carstens, Development Committee Chair, Finance Minister, MexicoAt the Development Committee closing press conference, Bank President Bob Zoellick together with Agustín Carstens, who is Mexico's Finance Minister as well as Development Committee Chair, announced that the Bank is giving Mexico more than $205 million to help the country fight the Swine Flu virus.

According to news reports, the virus has killed up to 81 people in Mexico city and a sickened more than a thousand people since the outbreak began.

“We're extremely grateful for the prompt response by the World Bank -- such promptness is always very, very appreciated,” said Carstens. “But beyond resources, what is also important is all the experience that the World Bank has accumulated in precisely having assisted other countries in this type of situation."

The project will be fast-tracked so that funds can be disbursed within 3-5 weeks.

Development banks join together to provide funding for Latin America and the Caribbean

Sameer Vasta's picture

Pouring and weighing fresh milk. Colombia. Photo: © Edwin Huffman / World BankThis past Wednesday, leading development banks joined efforts to provide as much as US$90 billion during the next two years in a joint effort to spur economic growth in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

The Inter-American Development Bank and the Inter-American Investment Corporation, the World Bank Group (IBRD, IFC and MIGA), Corporacion Andina de Fomento, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration are all working together to explore new opportunities to protect the economic and social gains achieved in the region during the last five years.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick spoke about the importance of this joint effort:

"Latin America and the Caribbean have achieved substantial economic and social progress over the last five years and we must ensure that this is not lost because of the external shock of the global crisis. We need to avoid a social and human crisis."

For more information:

Critical investments in safety nets to rise

Sameer Vasta's picture

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Bank Group Managing DirectorIn light of the global economic crisis, the World Bank announced today that its investments in safety nets and other social protection programs in health and education are projected to triple to $12 billion over the next two years.

Additionally, the Bank also increased its fast track facility for the food price crisis to US$2 billion from US$1.2 billion. As World Bank Group Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala explains:

"The continuing risky economic environment, combined with continuing volatility for food prices, means for poor people the food crisis is far from over. Many poor countries have not benefitted from some moderation of food price spikes in global markets. The decision to expand the facility will help ensure fast track measures are in place for continued rapid response to help countries."

More information about today's announcements:

A Survey of ICT & Education in the Caribbean

Michael Trucano's picture

infoDev Caribbean surveyinfoDev has released its two-volume Survey of ICT & Education in the Caribbean.  This work, which includes an overview of regional trends and initiatives, as well as sixteen country reports, complements earlier work that infoDev did in Africa and that UNESCO released (way back in 2004) for the Asia-Pacific region.

This study finds that:

In general, the experiences and situations among the countries examined vary only within a limited range. Countries differ in terms of their goals for the introduction of ICT and in the pathways they have chosen to achieve those goals. And, certainly, some governments and some institutions have invested more, attempted more, and achieved more than others. However none of the countries included in the Survey have “lapped the field” by achieving either system-wide adoption of ICT or the ICT-supported transformation of teaching and learning.

The Use and Misuse of Computers in Education: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Colombia

Michael Trucano's picture

super random sampling or random supersampling? you be the judgeWorld Bank Economist Felipe Barrera-Osorio, working with Leigh Linden of Columbia University, has just published a very useful and rigorous study on the impact of ICT use in Colombia.

The Use and Misuse of Computers in Education: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Colombia (PDF) looked at  97 schools and 5,201 children over two years of participation in the Computers for Schools program.

While some readers may immediately latch onto the finding that the program "had little effect on students’ test scores", I found the potential explanation for this lack of positive impact to be even more valuable:

"The main reason for these results seems to be the failure to incorporate the computers into the educational process. Although the program increased the number of computers in the treatment schools and provided training to the teachers on how to use the computers in their classrooms, surveys of both teachers and students suggest that teachers did not incorporate the computers into their curriculum."

Regional Movements for Media Reform

Silvio Waisbord's picture

Much has been said lately about the prospects for global institutions to promote media democracy and good governance. The jury is still out, however. How can a diversity of trasnational actors, including intergovernment bodies, donors, UN agencies, civic groups and business, be effective? Are all actors equally positioned? If national governments retain power over key decisions shaping media environments, how do global actors manage to influence opportunities for media pluralism and participation?

Latin America offers an interesting petri dish to examine the germination of regional movements promoting media pluralism.

España aprueba plan de retorno de inmigrantes

Sonia Plaza's picture

Un plan de retorno voluntario de los inmigrantes legales que no tienen empleo ha sido aprobado el 19 de Setiembre del 2008  por el gobierno de España.  Se podrán acoger a esta nueva iniciativa los inmigrantes que no pertenezcan a la Unión Europea y que sus países hayan firmado convenios bilaterales con España en materia de portabilidad de seguridad social.  El programa esta dirigido para los inmigrantes de Marruecos, Ecuador, Perú, Colombia, Ucrania, Argentina, Republica Dominicana, Rusia, Uruguay, Brasil, Venezuela, Chile, Filipinas,

'The Price of Silence: The Growing Threat of Soft Censorship in Latin America'

Sina Odugbemi's picture

I was sent this report this week by one of my colleagues in the World Bank. It speaks for itself. And it reinforces the need for serious attention to be paid to the strengthening of the media as an institution of accountability in developing countries.  Here's the press release accompanying the report.


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