Category Archives: Latin America

Beyond Good Intentions

Via Natasha Hanshaw’s blog, Exploring Development, I found out about Tori and Eric’s project ‘Beyond Good Intentions‘, a documentary film about inspiring stories of international aid. Here’s the trailer.

And from their website, an outline of their project:

We are currently living in an age where endemic poverty, natural disasters, and war are defining factors in the lives of much of the world’s population. However, we are also living in an age of extreme generosity in which the desire to help others who are less fortunate is quite strong. Perhaps even you have been compelled to donate your time or money to help people in remote parts of the globe. But have your good intentions been enough to produce effective changes for those who need it most?

We are two filmmakers who are embarking on the journey of a lifetime to look beyond good intentions to discover what really works in international aid.

Our documentary film is taking us around the world to ten different countries over the course of a year including Colombia, Peru, Argentina, India, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, and South Africa. We are actively seeking out effective examples of international aid and inspirational humanitarians who are making the world a better place through their work.

Our film will document a remarkable journey of discovery as we attempt to answer the question, “What really works in international aid?” We are ready to be inspired. Are you?

Tori Hogan, co-founder of Beyond Good Intentions, spent the last three months of 2006 filming and interviewing aid organizations and inspirational individuals in Colombia, Peru and Argentina. The trailer is a rough cut of this filming and an introduction to the documentary.”

Google Earth in defence of Amazon tribe

The Peruvian Amazon Basin - by Sunvil

Via the PSD Blog, here’s a story about how Google Earth has come to the aid of a Brazilian Amazon tribe fighting for its rights against loggers and miners:

[…] “The Amazon rain forest and its indigenous peoples are disappearing rapidly, which has serious consequences both locally and globally,” said Google Earth spokeswoman Megan Quinn. “This project can raise global awareness of the Surui people’s struggle to preserve their land and culture by reaching more than 200 million Google Earth users around the world.” This is not the first time Google Earth has helped environmental or humanitarian causes. Last year, the Mountain View company joined with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to map out destroyed villages in Darfur, with the Jane Goodall Institute to follow chimpanzees in Tanzania, and with the U.N. Environment Program to illustrate 100 areas around the world that have been severely deforested.

In the case of the Amazon, Almir says improved satellite images would not only keep tabs on loggers and miners but would also help strengthen Surui culture by cataloging medicinal plants, hunting grounds, ancestral cemeteries and sacred sites. […]

Read the full article here.

Bush Seeks Ethanol Alliance With Brazil

Ethanol molecule formula

Source: Wired

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — Just an hour’s drive outside this traffic-choked metropolis where President Bush kicks off a Latin American tour Thursday, sugar cane fields stretch for hundreds of miles, providing the ethanol that fuels eight out of every 10 new Brazilian cars.

In only a few years, Brazil has turned itself into the planet’s undisputed renewable energy leader, and the highlight of Bush’s visit is expected to be a new ethanol “alliance” he will forge with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The deal is still being negotiated, but the two leaders are expected to sign an accord Friday to develop standards to help turn ethanol into an internationally traded commodity, and to promote sugar cane-based ethanol production in Central America and the Caribbean to meet rising international demand.

Across Latin America’s largest nation, Brazilian media are billing the Bush-Silva meeting as a bid to create a new two-nation “OPEC of Ethanol,” despite efforts by Brazilian and American officials to downplay the label amid concerns that whatever emerges would be viewed as a price-fixing cartel.

Meanwhile, political and energy analysts warn that any agreements reached between Brazil and the United States are unlikely to have short-term effects. And the deal itself could end up largely symbolic because of reluctance by Washington to address a key point of friction: A 54 cent-per-gallon U.S. tariff on Brazilian ethanol imports.

“For the Brazilians, the tariff has utmost priority,” said Cristoph Berg, an ethanol analyst with Germany’s F.O. Licht, a commodities research firm. “They will agree with developing biofuel economies around the world, but the first thing they will say is ‘We want to do away with that tariff.'”

No one is expecting Bush to give ground on the tariff. The politically sensitive issue essentially subsidizes American corn growers who are rapidly ramping up ethanol production amid Washington’s encouragement of renewable biofuels to ease U.S. dependence on imported petroleum.

But the visit will help Bush and Silva join forces to promote the politically popular issue of renewable energy simply by gathering in a place where ethanol is king.

Read full story here.

GlobaLab weekly round-up: 27/01/07-02/02/07

Regensburg, soon-to-be European Capital of eParticipation! 


  • Much to its participants’ relief, and to the world’s indifference, the World Social Forum came to an end in Nairobi. While some of us were there to tell (and espeically to experience the scorching African sun) …
  • … others – namely Dr Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, Firoze Manji and Patrick Bond from Pambazuka News – were beginning to raise questions about how un-representational and undemocratic this event has become.
  • But when even the World Bank’s President, Paul Wolfowitz, has no money to buy new socks, what hope is there for those billions still living in poverty?


  • Sudan was refused for the second year in a row the position of chair of the African Union, following a meeting of African leaders in Addis Abeba, on the grounds of its refusal to allow a peacekeeping mission in Darfur [via Patrick].
  • China’s President Hu Jintao begun an eight-nation tour of Africa, which has already brought him to Cameroon – where he approved $100m worth of grants and loans – and Liberia – where a possible package of investment in a special economic zone is expected to create some 50,000 jobs in the next 10 years.
  • Human Rights Watch takes on Nigeria’s oil corruption, accusing local governments of squandering rising revenues that could provide basic health and education services for the poor.
  • The FT reports that Aureos Capital, one of the most experienced private equity groups in Africa, is aiming to raise $400m for a ground-breaking bet on the potential of smaller companies to build businesses spanning the continent [via Timbuktu Chronicles]


  • David Calleo aligns himself with the social concerns of many Euro-sceptics, and criticizes free trade as the last religion of the West. He’s clearly not heard about Richard Dawkins‘ concern that we are progressively becoming delusional
  • Marie-Jose Garot makes a compelling case on Blog Europa for building a European political community as a prerequisite for any constitutional citizenship, although her suggestion of doing this by establishing a European military service doesn’t seem to me the most appropriate was of promoting the EU’s founding principles of peace and mutual tolerance. Nor am I sure I want to model Europeans’ sense of citizenship on the US’ idea of patriotism…!
  • DJ Nozem contemplates a proposal by French MEP Alain Massoure that would reform the CAP in exchange for the UK giving up it €7.5 billion-a-year rebate…
  • … and Clive Matthews reports on Timothy Garton Ash’s latest (and super-heroic) plan to construct Europe’s identity by letting its citizens tell its story. Could be interesting, but could also be incredibly messy, judging by the first vitriolic exchanges.


Latin America

Development Economics

Information Technology and Innovation

Blog-hopping: Pienso (Luego Existo)


Another very interesting discovery, Pienso is an English-speaking blog on ‘development, economics, international business, social enterprise, latin america and more dismal thoughts‘. Tons of links to really interesting sites and blogs and weekly link-drops with tens of articles and occasional editorials, such as these:



Social Enterprise:

International Affairs:


A slightly economistic, pro-private sector and anti-third sector bias, if I spotted correctly, but certainly an informed author. Check him out.Update: on second thought, this guy’s right up my alley. I love almost all his links, now that I’ve checked them properly. Will keep a close eye on his posts.