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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.

Policy Papers & Briefs 2010

Education challenges in Bolivia's decentralization process
María Cristina Mejía
FOCAL Policy Brief
December 2010

desksThis FOCAL policy brief looks into the interplays of Bolivia's education policies and the broader decentralization process underway in the country. It argues that the new education law that is currently being debated can be an opportunity to improve the quality of education if it can make decentralization more effective.

Available in Spanish: Desafíos para la educación en Bolivia en el proceso de descentralización



The case for the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement
Carlo Dade, Marina Connors and Mark Richards
FOCAL Policy Brief
December 2010

flag_of_panama_cropThis FOCAL policy brief makes the case for swift ratification by Parliament of the Canada-Panama FTA. It would enable Canadian businesses to increase their competitiveness in this national market vis-a-vis the U.S. and should create opportunities for more exports.

Available in French: Vers un accord de libre-échange Canada-Panama



Reduction of maternal mortality in Colombia: The impact of health policies from 1985 to 2007
Francisco J. Yepes
FOCAL Policy Paper
October 2010

health_colombiaDespite extensive health reforms in Colombia, high levels of maternal mortality persist and there are marked regional inequalities. Maternal deaths in indigenous and afro-descendent communities are alarming. This policy paper makes recommendations to address these issues.

Available in Spanish: Reducción de la mortalidad materna en Colombia: Impacto de las políticas de salud 1985–2007



Teacher performance and its impact on the quality of education in Peru
José Rivero
FOCAL Policy Paper
October 2010


This policy paper acknowledges that a consensus exists on the need to generate procedures and legislative measures to improve working conditions and teacher performance. It analyzes the context in which the profession has developed as well as the main national efforts to professionalize it and presents the difficulties in delivering concrete results.

Available in Spanish: El rendimiento de los docentes y su impacto en la calidad de la educación en Perú


Compilation of Articles: Latin America Multilateralism: New Directions
September 2010

FAL_Ecuador_Gov_editDespite the effervescence of new Latin American regional and sub-regional multilateral forums in recent years, and particularly bodies that exclude the United States and Canada, there has been surprisingly little systematic study of multilateralism in the region and almost none from a Latin American perspective. This compilation of articles paints the picture of a dynamic Latin American multilateralism with a number of distinctive characteristics, but one also fraught with challenges. It brings together influential academics to reflect on regional trends and provide insight into new directions of Latin American co-operation


The next stage of democracy promotion
Pablo Policzer
FOCAL Policy Brief
July 2010


This FOCAL policy brief examines the next stage of democracy promotion in the Americas in light of the crisis triggered by the 2009 Honduras coup. It argues that Ottawa could play a leading role in fostering debate on how best to reformulate undemocratic provisions to make the region’s constitutions reflect the democratic principles embodied in the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

Available in French: La promotion de la démocratie : poser de nouveaux jalons
Available in Spanish: La próxima etapa de promoción de la democracia


Bolivian maternal and child health policies: Successes and failures
Erika Silva and Ricardo Batista
FOCAL Policy Paper
May 2010


Bolivian maternal and child mortality rates are alarming: they are the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, after Haiti. The situation is even worse for some vulnerable populations. In a bid to improve the health of the population, especially mothers and children, Bolivian governments have implemented three successive free health insurance plans since 1994.This paper dissects all three plans, evaluates their impact on women and children and highlights persisting inequalities affecting the indigenous population. Policy recommendations are put forward based on this diagnostic.

Available in Spanish: Éxitos y Fracasos de las Políticas Bolivianas de Salud Materno-Infantil


Indigenous population and differences in access to primary education in Bolivia
Wilson Jiménez and Miguel Veras
FOCAL Policy Paper
March 2010


In the last few years, the gap in access to primary education between indigenous and non-indigenous populations has been decreasing in Bolivia. Proof of this is found in primary education enrolment rates for children that have learned to speak in an indigenous language and those that learned to speak in Spanish; the difference between these rates has fallen from six to three percentage points. However, the differences in Grade 8 completion rates between these two groups persist. Even though enduring access problems are being addressed by existing policies, these appear to be insufficient to deal with the division between urban and rural areas. Policy recommendations are put forward based on this diagnostic.

Available in Spanish: Población indígena y diferencias en el acceso a la educación primaria en Bolivia


Summitry in the Americas: The End of Mass Multilateralism?
Richard Feinberg
FOCAL Policy Paper
February 2010

This policy paper explores some of the many lessons learned since the inaugural 1994 Summit of the Americas. It highlights the valuable purposes of summitry and dissects its shortcomings.


A View of the Hemisphere



Explore the link between governance and development.