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.

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.

Renaud Egreteau

The rise of both India and China at the dawn of the 21st century has been one of the main strategic stakes on which many international academic and political studies have been focusing since the end of the Cold War. With an almost two-digit growth, a booming trade, an ever increasing military budget, the possession of a credible nuclear force and asserted diplomatic ambitions on regional and international arenas, the simultaneous emergence of India and China have fascinated, but also raised many interrogations throughout the world. Will this emergence and the global Sino-Indian bilateral relationship be peaceful? Are the two Asian giants entrenched in a global and enduring rivalry? After a brief overview of the concrete rise of the two Asian neighbours on the international scene, this paper will analyse this phenomenon in the light of an original theoretical corpus, the “Rivalry” literature. Marginal in Europe, but well studied in the United States since the nineties, the “Rivalry” conceptual framework will enable us to see whether the bilateral relationship established by India and China might be theoretically qualified as a “rivalry” or if the expression has been too hackneyed. 1

Christian Milelli, Françoise Hay

The arrival in Europe of Chinese and Indian firms is a recent phenomenon, yet it should be viewed as one which will last as it results from the strong economic growth of these two Asian giants. In this light it is useful to spell out the principal traits of these investors which remain largely unknown in Europe outside a narrow circle of experts and which have their own unique characteristics which are, on occasion, similar; this diversity can be explained by their unique national histories. The various modes of interaction can be explained by the manner in which these enterprises establish foreign subsidies. An examination of the impact these firms have on European economies and societies can help avoid unfounded paranoia and better address possible risks. The principal message of this paper is that it is necessary methodically and periodically to follow this phenomenon which is only in its infancy.

Jean-Marc Siroën

The latest WTO Round launched in Doha in 2001 has once again stalled. Even if an agreement were reached it is not certain it would be ratified by the US Congress. The latest delay is due in part to the changing economic context in which the negotiations are taking place, some of which changes are due to decisions made during the course of the negotiations. Governments and public opinion are increasingly in favor of bilateral negotiations in which it is possible to include new subjects rejected in the Doha multilateral negotiations. These include rules on labor and environmental standards, competition policy, investment, and government procurement. The assertiveness of emerging economies has upset the co-leadership positions of the US and the EU and argues for a new, as yet-to-be determined, negotiating process. The latest economic crisis has raised question about the objectives of the agriculture negotiations and has revealed the difficulties faced by an organization that thinks long-term of adapting to changes in the short term. This paper’s recommendations are aimed at improving the ability of the WTO to operate under current conditions and advocates the inclusion of new negotiating topics. If the principle of decision by consensus is not revised the rush to bilateralism is likely to continue, which is dangerous because of its discriminatory character.

Damien Krichewsky

The post-interventionist development adopted by Indian governments from the mid-1980s onwards has enabled companies to further participate in the economic growth. Still, growth benefits are very unevenly distributed while social and environmental externalities weigh more and more on Indian society. In such a context, while public regulation tends to reduce social and environmental judicial constraints in order to encourage rapid growth of investments, civil society groups are intensifying their regulatory actions on private companies, and advocate for a balance of public policies in favor of a better protection of the social groups most affected by economic activity, and for a better protection of the environment. As a response, big companies are revising their strategies and practices of corporate social responsibility (CSR), to preserve their social legitimacy and the conciliatory attitude of the State. This study explores the recomposition of relationships and balances of power between economic actors, the State and the civil society, in a context of national modernization. It provides a detailed analysis of stakes and dynamics within public and civil society regulation, as well as companies’ self-regulations.

Sébastien Peyrouse

Since the early 2000s, The People’s Republic of China has invited itself to the “Great Central Asian Game” that traditionally counterpoised Russian and US interests. Today, Central Asia’s future lies mainly in its capacity to avoid neighbouring Middle Eastern destabilisations and integrate the Asia-Pacific Zone through China’s influence. In less than two decades, China has managed to enter significantly and in a variety of forms in the Central Asian region. The country has imposed itself as a faithful partner in terms of bilateral diplomacy and transformed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation into a regional structure much appreciated by its members. China has moved to the fore as an economic player in Central Asia in the trade sector, hydrocarbons, and infrastructures. Nevertheless, social fears have grown linked to this ever growing Chinese presence, and a number of Central Asian experts specialising in China do not hide their political, economic and cultural apprehensions when it comes to dealing with a neighbour whose power will be difficult to manage in the long run.

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.

Chinese aid and investment in Cambodia have been soaring for the last ten years thus indicating the rising influence of the People’s Republic of China, especially in countries where the Chinese community is strong. Chinese aid, free of any democratic rhetoric, allows the governments benefiting from it to ignore the requirements generally imposed by lending institutions. As a matter of fact, Cambodia is highly dependent on public aid for development. An analysis in terms of historical contingencies reflects a conjunction of two processes of putting a grip on the economy, both in China and Cambodia. Chinese aid and investment thereby help to consolidate a political economy based on arbitrariness, increased inequalities and violence, as well as the overlapping of positions of power and accumulation. In this regard, the analysis must take into account foreign aid not only because it competes with Chinese aid, but also since the Paris Accords it has participated – indirectly – in reinforcing Prime Minister Hun Sen’s power.

Anne Rulliat

The city of Shanghai, which has been hard hit by the various reorganizations of state enterprises since the early 1990s, is a forerunner in policies to battle unemployment, to the extent that its achievements are often referred to by the expression the Shanghai model(Shanghai moshi). The city has been experiencing a variety of forms of unemployment since the year 2000, affecting not only workers in state enterprises but all categories of the population, particularly young people. This study examines the Shanghai model, first describing the causes of unemployment in Shanghai, and then tracing the development of the measures taken in the past ten years or so. From the widespread structural unemployment in the years 1996-1997 to the more contextual unemployment in recent years, the city has devised a whole array of measures that are constantly evolving. Some are specifically adapted to the organization of Chinese society, but a number of others are similar to those adopted in OECD countries. In opposition to the liberal discourse on the mercantilization of labor, these measures demonstrate a strong state voluntarism in employment policies. The preservation of social stability serves as a yardstick to gauge the effectiveness of these public policies.

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.

Florence Padovani

The study of the population movements caused by the major Chinese hydraulic projects reveals the true extent of the change which has come about in relations between the State and society in China. The construction of the Three Gorges dam – which led to considerable controversy both within China and beyond – is a prime case in point. As well as its social consequences, this infrastructure project has ramifications in the political, economic and legal domains, notably because of the forced migrations which it has entailed. The manner in which this question has been managed – both by central government, which planned the project, and by the provincial governments, which had to manage time constraints and financial and human resources at first hand – illustrates the extent to which the country has moved away from the authoritarian approach which had currency under the rule of Chairman Mao. The study of the project provides insights into the manner in which the authorities on the ground actually applied the directives received from the Centre, and into the difficulty encountered by the rulers in Beijing in ensuring that their centralised vision of the new China holds sway. The way in which the sensitive issue of forced migrations has been managed highlights what is at stake in the disputes between the various players, i.e. officials in the many ministries concerned, local and provincial authorities, displaced populations and host populations. The specific modes of justification employed by each group provide pointers towards an understanding of the complexity of China's new "civil society".

Sudipta Kaviraj

Western theories of democracy are not always helpful in studying Third World democracy. One promising way to undertake analysis is to consider democracy not as a political system but as a "language". Whilst in India the written constitution was inspired by models developed in the West, in practice Indian democracy is not based on the values of individualism associated with a liberal ideology. Indeed, initially the nation itself and, afterwards, social groups were considered as the basic units of the political process. This was particularly the case in the early post-independance period under Gandhi's inspiration for he regarded the nation as being composed of traditional communities. Later Nehru would abandon liberal values as a part of a leftist critique, one that would favorize state intervention. Nevertheless the stronger state was not able to undertake the expected redistributive measures due to the conservatism of the Congress Party "bosses " who were above all the representatives of a ruling coalition of large landholders, a capitalist bourgeoisie and the public service elite. The only real sign of progress prior to Nehru's death was the replacement of the first element by an upwardly mobile group of wealthier peasant farmers. Through her populist discourse, Indira Gandhi was able to veer Indian democracy towards greater centralisation and a more pronounced personality cult. As a result the democratic process was discredited and a State of Emergency declared in 1975. The return to democracy in 1977 did not reverse these trends, at least until the liberalisation of 1991. Today Indian democracy remains threatened by powerful groups, the Hindus and the lower castes who, in the name of "majority rights", seek to take power and keep it once and for all. This would amount to ousting minorities from the decision-making process

One of the most remarkable social phenomena in Iran in the 1990s is the audacious policy of urban redevelopment carried out by the mayor of Tehran, Gholamhossein Karbastchi. This policy, on the one hand, has become a model for the rest of the country. On the othe, it is the subject of a widespread political debate favorized by the personal, high-profile media style of the city's mayor. The most popular achievement of Karbastchi is the increase in the number of public squares and parks. These public places have become the stage for a whole series of totally new social practices. As such they are both a scene of acts of reconciliation and of potential conflict. In particular they are the setting for a coexistence between the ideology of the Islamic Republic and of national culture.However the increase in taxation that has accompanied this urban renovation has generated opposition both of a political and economic kind. The public's use of these gardens, the perception of the tax burden required to finance them, and the ensuing debates over these questions have opened up a negociating area between social actors, one that might well contribute to the creation of a public space. This process has helped the rationalization and the bureaucratization of society conveyed by the Islamic Republic while, at the same time, being carried out by a political figure who is perceived within the framework of a culturally constructed imagination. In fact the hypothesis of the "rentier" state, posited by a number of authors concerning the Middle East, is extended in this paper through anthropological study.

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