Welcome to the FOCAL archive
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.
|Policy Papers & Briefs 2006|
The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and Mexican Development
Based on 187 interviews carried out in 2001-2002, this paper examines the social and economic implications of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) in selected Mexican communities of northwest Tlaxcala. It argues that the high levels of poverty of those prioritized in SAWP recruitment policies, combined with the changed expectations that commonly follow the improving lifestyles, reduce the funds available for productive investments. Moreover, the overall poverty of rural Mexican populations translates into a limited market and low prices for locally-produced goods and services. From the sample, 30 percent of households invested some Canada-earned income in the purchase of land or animals and/or used it to finance a small business. However, in all cases the investments complemented rather than substituted for wages obtained working in Canada. The paper concludes that the SAWP is best conceived of as a poverty alleviation as opposed to a development program. Several policy recommendations are offered based on that conclusion.
The Impact of "Populism" on Social, Political, and Economic Development in the Hemisphere
The paper begins by examining the nomenclature and definitions of populism, left and right. It argues that labeling changing political realities in Latin America as “left” or “right,” is an inaccurate oversimplification.Current versions of populism are analyzed, identifying and defining the phenomenon of neopopulism as anti-system, with redrawn lines of social division. Next, the paper discusses the underlying crises -and indicators- of the threats to democratic institutions posed by neo-populism. The last section of the paper examines the challenges of a donor country (Canada) vis-à-vis neopopulism in Latin America. The terms of engagement are discussed, favouring a permanent, multiprong approach. Canada should formulate its own policies towards the region, privileging the exploration of new bilateral-multilateral and hemispheric partnerships, programs and projects, whilst renewing support to the OAS’s Department for the Promotion of Democracy.
The Privatization of Foreign Development Assistance
Globally and in Canada the amount of foreign development funding coming from the private sector is estimated to be four to six times larger than all forms of official development assistance (ODA). Two important sources of private sector assistance are remittances (transfers from diasporas to their communities of original) and contributions from private businesses. Preliminary estimates based on limited survey data of corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending by Canadian companies in Latin America and the Caribbean indicate that these companies annually are investing an amount equal to 20% of Canadian ODA in the region. Data on remittance flows from Canada is not available, but in 2005, global remittance flows to the developing world are estimated to have approached US$250 billion, or close to three times the estimated amount of all forms of ODA from all donors for the same year. There are steps that the Canadian government can take to develop a structure to support investments in community development being made by the diaspora and private companies abroad.
Civil Society and the Promotion and Protection of Democracy in the Americas
This paper looks at the potential role for civil society participation in the promotion and protection of democracy in the Americas, focusing specifically on Inter-American institutions such as the Organization of American States (OAS).The author argues that while the existing democracy promotion mechanisms at the OAS are imperfect, civil society organizations (CSOs) must use their independence and flexibility and continue to develop the capacity to contribute to the prevention of, or recovery from, democratic ruptures. The author outlines existing and potential channels through which civil society organizations can work independently and with the OAS in the future to identify democratic crises in order to produce timely and effective responses. The paper concludes with some suggested guidelines for overcoming existing barriers CSOs currently face in democracy promotion and protection, drawing on the experiences of the Andean Democratic Network as an example.
Bridging Divides, Breaking Impasses: Civil Society and the Promotion and Protection of Democracy in the Americas
This paper explores the role of civil society in the promotion and protection of democracy in the Americas.
Spanish Investment in Latin America
Spain's Policy and Strategies Towards Latin America
This paper analyzes Spanish policy towards Latin America, highlighting the existence of a tendency to put relations with the region as a whole ahead of bilateral relations. This means almost equal treatment for all countries, rather than positive or negative discrimination based on common interests or on how much the different governments agree on policy issues. The Ibero-American summits are, in some senses, the highest expression of this tendency.
A Study on the Relationship between Canadian Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian State
Indigenous Governance and Territory
This document addresses some historical features through which Indigenous governance has evolved in Latin America, including its spheres, scope and limits, and the correlation between Indigenous governance, self-management, multiculturalism and territory.
Indigenous Women and Governance in Guatemala
This paper deals with the historical context and the systematic obstacles that hinder indigenous peoples, particularly indigenous women, to participate at the different levels of the society, especially the political processes.
The New Axis of Trade: A brief assessment of Sino-Brazilian economic relations since 2000
Public perception about bilateral economic relations has swung widely in Brazil, from widespread awe in 2004 to widely held anti-China positions in 2005. In the beginning of 2006, those extreme views seem to be giving way to more serene positions. Especially in Brazil, it seems to be getting increasingly clear China carries a complex combination of opportunities and challenges, and the country could largely benefit from China’s economic growth—and compete in third markets—should it implement the right policies to boost competitiveness and trade.