A death in the Petén

Tuesday, July 1, 1997 - 03:00
The hearse, an aging station wagon painted black, turned onto the dusty street. It was followed by the family members, walking arm in arm. Behind them a ragged band of trumpets, tubas, clarinets and bass drums produced a discordant sound that was nevertheless in tune with the poverty of the neighborhood and the events surrounding the death of Carlos Catalán, 36.

A new dawn for native peoples

Tuesday, July 1, 1997 - 03:00
After centuries of existence at the margins of society, Latin America's indigenous peoples are now entering their countries' economic and political mainstream. The population of indigenous peoples is increasing, and the territory they occupy is expanding. They are becoming full-fledged players in their nations' economies, and in some cases, the international economy. Their languages and cultures are not only surviving, but are becoming newly invigorated.

The other side of the reproductive revolution

Tuesday, July 1, 1997 - 03:00
Among the social and economic changes that have swept Latin America during the last generation, the evolution of women's reproductive behavior is one of the most striking. As recently reported in this publication and elsewhere, fertility rates in Latin America have dropped by half since the 1960s, from an average of six children per woman to just over three today, and further declines are likely. This trend has cheered advocates of women's development, since declining fertility is associated with better education levels among women and greater female participation in the workforce.

Reforms, regulations and privatization

Tuesday, July 1, 1997 - 03:00
When a state-run company is sold to private interests, the result is generally a more efficient, cost effective operation. But who reaps the benefits--a small group of wealthy shareholders, or society as a whole?It all depends on how well government regulators do their job, according to a study on the outcome of utilities privatizations in Argentina.

Banking and political power

Tuesday, July 1, 1997 - 03:00
Countries with high macroeconomic volatility, a weak judiciary, and a banking sector with considerable political and economic influence have a special need for a sound system of banking supervision. But if banking supervision is to really work in such economies, regulators must be given more power than is often the case, according to Augusto de la Torre, an economist and former general manager of the Central Bank of Ecuador.

Money isn't everything

Tuesday, July 1, 1997 - 03:00
Despite the fact that Latin America has the worst income distribution in the world and high levels of poverty measured by income, the region compares favorably with other parts of the developing world when it comes to health and education. A new Human Poverty Index (HPI), produced by the United Nations Development Programme and published in the UNDP's Human Development Report 1997, shows that eight Latin American and Caribbean nations rank among the top 10 in a survey of the 78 developing nations for which there is sufficient information.

Brazil in three dimensions

Tuesday, July 1, 1997 - 03:00
Fifty-two pieces by 19 outstanding 20th century Brazilian sculptors have gone on display in the IDB Cultural Center Art Gallery and the IDB building's atrium.Including large-scale works, such as Maria Martins' 300-kilogram bronze Impossível, the exhibit "Brazilian sculpture from 1920 to 1990: a profile," is the most ambitious undertaking of the IDB Cultural Center to date, according to its director, Ana María Coronel de Rodríguez. The showing was produced with the collaboration of the office of the IDB's executive director for Brazil and Brazil's Washington embassy.

The fruit of foresight

Tuesday, July 1, 1997 - 03:00
Travelers flying over the arid flatlands of the Monagas and Anzoategui provinces in eastern Venezuela are often startled by the sight of an immense patch of green. They are looking at one of the world's largest tree plantations: close to 500,000 hectares of Caribbean pine. Owned by Productos Forestales del Oriente, C.A. (PROFORCA), a Venezuelan government company, the plantation is the product of an ambitious project that began nearly 30 years ago.

Flower farmer turns millionaire

Tuesday, July 1, 1997 - 03:00
Every woman who stops at "El Gran Parqueo" Restaurant, which opened in March near Naranjo, Costa Rica, gets a bouquet of red roses courtesy of owner Tobías Chaves Rojas. "The ladies leave here happy and contented," he says.

River blindness in retreat

Tuesday, July 1, 1997 - 03:00
When Merck & Co., the United States pharmaceutical giant, announced 10 years ago that it had found a drug that could prevent onchocerciasis, one of the leading causes of blindness in Latin America and Africa, and that it would donate the medicine "wherever needed for as long as needed," it appeared that the last barrier to conquering this disease had fallen.