Olivier Dabène (Dir.)

Amérique latine - L’Année politique is a publication by CERI-Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC). The study extends the work presented on the Observatory’s website (www.sciencespo.fr/opalc) by offering tools for understanding a continent that is in the grip of deep transformations.

Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique is a publication by CERI-Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC). The study extends the work presented on the Observatory’s website (www.sciencespo.fr/opalc) by offering tools for understanding a continent that is in the grip of deep transformations.

Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique is a publication by CERI-Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC). The study extends the work presented on the Observatory’s website (www.sciencespo.fr/opalc) by offering tools for understanding a continent that is in the grip of deep transformations.

Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique 2017 est une publication de l’Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes (Opalc) du CERI-Sciences Po. Il prolonge la démarche du site www.sciencespo.fr/opalc en offrant des clés de compréhension d’un continent en proie à des transformations profondes.

Kevin Parthenay

In Latin America, as elsewhere in the world, regional and subregional organizations have multiplied recently. Scholars tend to focus on the variety of regionalisms or their ever changing nature (post-liberal, post-hegemonic...). This study, through a political sociology of regionalism approach, examines Latin American regions and their actors and goes beyond the first set of questions. In this perspective, scrutinizing the regional General Secretaries of the sub-continent is particularly useful to understand how regional powers emerge. With a specific focus on the Southern Common Market (UNSUR), the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) and the Central American Integration System (SICA), this research offers a more precise answer to the question of the configuration of power within Latin American regionalisms.

Jacobo Grajales

Four years after the negotiations started in Havana, 2016 marked the success of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the Farc rebels. Even if during the entire process the outcome was unclear, most political actors did not wait for the actual signature of the agreement to claim results. New public policies have been launched and in the rural and land sector the break with a violent past has been loudly dramatized. Changes conducted in the name of the consolidation of peace do however have more discreet effects. They cause an increased business of land, which risks producing exclusion and dissent in rural areas. Although it is undeniable that the post conflict agenda includes reparation policies for the victims and protection for small farmers, taking advantage of peace as an opportunity for economic development does also trigger interest for territories that are defined as new agrarian frontiers. And so, not only have the agro-industrial exploitation and the commodification of nature become legitimate, but they seem to be part of the social changes that are both made possible by peace, and desirable.

Alvaro Artigas

The South American continent has experienced a robust economic growth presently overshadowed by an uneven energy integration that fails to meet both an ever-growing industrial and metropolitan demand. Several integration mechanisms co-exist, but a poor integration layout threatens the energy security of the region and individual countries. Several factors contribute to this. Firstly, the very template of regional integration has failed to deliver a valid set of supranational coordination mechanisms aimed at coordinating and sorting out disputes among individual countries. Secondly, national States tie security to self-sufficiency in the face of mutual distrust, thus rendering potential advantages of market and networks integration a less desirable choice. The example of Chile and Peru integration drive reveals many of these dynamics while showing at the same time the windfalls of a transversal sectoral coordination over diplomatic exchange by individual states. What is the potential for an alternative template where the State will play a less intrusive role while consigning territorial disagreements backstage?

Isabelle Rousseau

Latin America's national oil companies, created at various times during the twentieth century, have each evolved in a different way. The two main companies – Petroleos de Mexico (Pemex) and Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) – provide excellent illustrations of the rich diversity of organizational and industrial development. Many factors – such as the importance of earth quakes – explain the diversity.
Nevertheless, the role of governments during the period of nationalizations is key. It was then that the relationships between the owners of natural resources, public operators, regulators, the finance ministries, and international operators were defined. This process shaped the companies' institutional structures (path dependency) and set the parameters for future entrepreneurial dynamism. The path by which each of these enterprises developed continues to affect their culture as evidenced by the recent reforms which attempted to restructure Pemex and PDVSA.

Alexandrine Brami Celentano, Jean-Marc Siroën

Since the 1970s, the world follows a triple evolution in favor of democratization, opening and decentralization. Brazil has been following this movement with a democratic and decentralizing constitution and by the adoption of market-friendly policies. However, since the Real Plan (1993), Brazil is recentralizing its fiscal policy. The huge increase of public expenses is predominantly at the profit of the Union, which imposes new fiscal constraints to the States and Municipalities. If the international integration is frequently associated to tax limitations and decentralization, Brazil would depart from this general trend. However Brazilian integration is recent and partial. Integration does not seem to increase inequalities what would justify a centralized transfer from the “winning” regions to the “losing” ones. The fiscal recentralization by higher public expenses might be therefore explained by the political will to reduce initial inequalities and to implement a better social protection. We show that fiscal recentralization is also the consequence of a distorted fiscal system notably in the nature of social security taxes and the type of VAT (ICMS) applied by States.

Isabelle Rousseau

Facing a very complex environment with many economical, geopolitical and climate uncertainties and risks, National and International Oil Companies have been looking for a more rationale organizational structure to hold out against competition. This is the problem Pemex – the Mexican National Oil Company - which is third-ranked in world oil production, has been facing with. The reform process is not easy: it implies changes to the Constitution. With the recent democratization of the political regime, none of the major political parties alone is dominant in the Congress and has the capacity to push through such changes. Since the beginning of the nineties, the teams who governed Pemex tried to reply the following questions: Which kind of organizational mechanisms would allow Pemex to conserve its condition as a National Company and, in the same time, to be managed with the private sector principles and criteria? More concretely, is it possible to stimulate a market context inside a state monopoly without modifying the text of the Constitution? How can a new labor culture be created when the very influential Oil Trade Union has been maintaining a corporatist logic of the ancien régime? How to introduce criteria for corporate social responsibility when secrecy has been part of the traditions in the management of the company? What kind of evaluation is it possible to make nowadays about the reforms those managers offered?

Philippe Létrillart

Alongside the socialist society that Cuba is in the process of constructing, an unofficial “civil society” is actually taking shape, made up for the most part of dissident movements. The Cuban Catholic Church, the only non-Castrist institution in existence, is playing a crucial role in maintaining a certain balance between the two; the Church’s dual nature – universal in scope but locally implanted – has fostered a unique conception of its relation to Cuban society, all the more so as its ambition is above all to win back a position of influence and reaffirm its central status. This ambition is furthered by two means, both of which are basically handled by secular representatives, in particular by groups associated with Dagoberto Valdès. On one hand there is a pragmatic approach based on social work and the activities of training centers; on the other an effort to rethink the role of the Church in relation to society and envisage the possibility of a new form of citizenship founded on Catholic values. The charitable initiatives are acceptable to the regime; but the same does not hold as far as the resolve to become active social participants is concerned, a move seen as a form of defense of conservative, backward-looking options. In addition relations between the Church and dissident movements are strained. This ambiguous situation might well render the role of Catholics in the post-Castrist transition more uncertain, even though the Church’s expertise will be required for national reconciliation to take place.

François d'Arcy

This study, which examines the chances of success of the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, takes as its starting point the idea that the main obstacle resides in the structure of the Brazilian political system. Being unable to reform that system, President Lula has skilfully adapted to it, but not without having to forge certain unusual alliances. He has, nevertheless, honoured the campaign promises which brought him to power after three unsuccessful attempts in a row, maintaining anti-inflationary policies and strict budgetary discipline, and respecting commitments given concerning public debt and privatised companies. This macroeconomic policy – which follows on from that of Fernando Henrique Cardoso – dominated his government’s first year in office, slowing the implementation of new policies addressing social issues and sustainable development. So far, the latter policies would appear to point more to continuity than to radical change, a fact which will, doubtless, contribute greatly to their success.

Luisa Palacios

This paper studies the institutional transformation of Latin America’s oil sector. It discusses specific policy choices and the timing of reforms in this industry. Latin American countries present different models of openness and energy-sector dynamics, and allow for an analysis of the liberalization process from a range of points of view: that of an importer (Brazil), of a historically self-sufficient country (Argentina) and of oil exporters (Mexico and Venezuela). The degree of dependence on oil revenues has proven in general to be negatively correlated with the level of openness of the oil sector. That is, countries more dependent on their oil sector for foreign and fiscal revenues tend to be less liberalized and open to private investment. This principle also holds true in Latin America: oil importers and self-sufficient countries like Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil indeed have oil industries that are relatively more open to private sector participation than those of the oil exporters in the region (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico). However, different levels of openness exist within these general categories of importers and exporters. This paper will further argue that differences among countries in the same category are a function of the strategic and financial position prior to reform of their respective National Oil Companies (NOC), which is in turn related to the institutional evolution of the oil industries in these countries.

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