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The Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) is no longer in operation. This website documents FOCAL's activities and accomplishments throughout its existence. Thank you for your interest in the work of FOCAL.

Obituary: Carlos Rico Ferrat

It is with great sadness that we say farewell to Carlos Rico Ferrat who passed away on Jan. 4, 2010. An accomplished diplomat and renowned academic, Mr. Rico’s work did much for the advancement and understanding of North American relations. As Mexican Undersecretary for North America, he will be remembered for his role in the negotiation with the U.S. of the Mérida Initiative, a $1.4 billion bilateral security cooperation plan. North of the 49th parallel, he will be remembered for his overall commitment to the strengthening of the Canada-Mexico relationship. We will keep a fond memory of his friendship toward Canada and FOCAL. May he rest in peace.

LAC exports drop: ECLAC

A 24 per cent decrease in combined export value and volume is “unprecedented,” according to a January 2010 report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The report shows that exports have fallen in value by 15 per cent since the global economic crisis began last year and export volume has fallen by nine per cent. The last time such a drop occurred was in 1937.

Aid needed to address marginalization in education

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released its 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report on Jan. 19, 2010; it focuses upon the aftermath felt by education systems in poor countries due to the effects of the global economic crisis on marginalized groups. The crisis led to an increase in poverty and unemployment, and many households made cuts in education spending or took their children out of school. National budgets are now tighter, resulting in less available spending on education. The report stressed the need for governments to address regional inequalities in education despite the unstable economic climate. Mexico provides a good example of these types of inequalities; this is most prominent in the poorer southern states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca and Veracruz. The average number of years of education for females is 5.7 in Chiapas; in contrast, the number is 10 in the Federal District. The report concluded that governments have failed to treat root causes of marginalization in education. It resolved that marginalized countries need an urgent boost in aid to balance income losses in light of the economic crisis, aid in recovery and maintain social spending.

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