Preview: Vol. 35 No. 7

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Bachelet’s Cabinet Reshuffle: What it Means for Chile

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced the replacement of five government ministers on May 11, less than a week after calling for the resignation of her entire cabinet. The move comes amidst a series of corruption scandals that have shaken Bachelet’s administration and seen her approval ratings plummet to a record low of 29 percent. For Chile, touted as the region’s least corrupt state, the scandals have marred the public’s trust in its elected officials and threaten to impede an attempt at revising the country’s constitution for the first time since the return to democracy.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Sam Aman

Troubled Petrobras Damages Brazilian Economy

Brazil’s state-owned energy company, Petróleo Brasileiro, has been caught up in a corruption scandal that has damaged both the country and its government. Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras), active in four continents and 25 countries, is the fourth biggest energy company in the world. In March, a former manager of Petróleo Brasileiro, Pedro Barusco, confessed to taking bribes of more than $100 million USD since 1997. His testimony shocked the Brazilian public, as he estimated the ruling Brazil Worker’s Party (PT) received twice as much. Pedro Barusco is only one of dozens of government officials, Petrobras  executives,  and  contractors  that  have  been

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Chen Jiang


Homophobia: Latin America’s Ongoing Problem

May 17 celebrates the International Day against Homo- phobia and Transphobia, in which (most) governments, civil society organizations and other types of entities across the world pledge to support the global LGBT community. For example, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to “keep fighting, for however long it takes, until we are all able to live free and equal in dignity and rights.” As for Latin America, the region has generally taken progressive steps to protecting the rights and promoting the advancement of Latino members of the LGBT community. However, we would be foolish to believe that Latin America is undergoing a “renaissance” when it comes to its cultural norms; the region continues to be characterized by its machista culture.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Senior Research Fellow Alejandro Sánchez


Puerto Rico on the Edge

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is in dire straits. The economy of the island has been stagnant for over a dec- ade, the unemployment rate has been at a constant 12 percent for more than 5 years, the Government pension fund is severely depleted, and its public debt is as high as 73 billion USD. On April 22, the Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank warned that, given the current state of the Commonwealth’s finances, the government might be forced to shut down. Bank officials also said that the government should implement a five-year plan in order to reduce public debt, and reform the Island’s convoluted tax system. Puerto Rico’s Administrative structure already shut down on may 2006, and the con- sequences were disastrous: For two weeks, schools were closed and half of the Government work force stayed at home. As a result, Moody’s Investors Services down- graded the rating of Puerto Rican government bonds.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Jaime Velasco

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