Programs in Latin America & the Caribbean
CIPE works with a network of local partners to address key democratic challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), including increasing political polarization and an accelerated dismantling of democratic institutions. CIPE’s programs in the region have helped create successful policy dialogue and improve governance in countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Paraguay. CIPE’s efforts have led to economic policy reform, greater transparency in policymaking, and the removal of restrictions on property rights.
Throughout Latin America, CIPE has helped youth to understand the importance of democracy and a market economy and to acquire the skills necessary for becoming successful leaders and entrepreneurs in their communities. CIPE continues to focus on strengthening and improving the private sector’s engagement in the democratic process, as well as improving the quality of policy debate in countries that are facing key elections. Finally, CIPE is strengthening the capacity of private sector associations and think tanks to advocate for a positive business environment that supports job creation and prosperity for the region’s citizens.
Colombia: Presidential Debates Open Discussion on Economic Policy
CIPE worked with the Foundation for Higher Education and Development (Fedesarrollo) to press decision-makers to move beyond general discussions to actual platforms during the 2010 election period. Fedesarrollo, one of Colombia’s leading think tanks, organized three debates on key economic issues with presidential and vice-presidential candidates, providing an opportunity to present clear and detailed policy plans for their future administrations. These initiatives represent not only important economic policies for the newly elected government but a step forward in the role of the country’s leading think tank in the democratic policymaking process.
Program Results & Impact
- Fedesarrollo’s policy papers on tax reform, labor markets, and infrastructure policy provided the foundation for discussion in advance of the three televised presidential debates.
- Several debate topics have become priorities in the government of new President Juan Manuel Santos; since his inauguration in 2010, some of Fedesarrollo’s recommended reforms have become law in areas such as youth employment and natural resource management.
- President Santos used Fedesarrollo’s recommendations to eliminate tax advantages from capital investment and the gradual elimination of Colombia’s financial transaction tax. This represents an important step in the constructive dialogue between government and nongovernmental policy organizations.
Peru: Investing in Peru's Future
Peru has enjoyed one of the highest economic growth rates in the region in recent years, but many citizens remain marginalized and unable to share in the benefits of that growth. Numerous constituents in regions outside the capital area feel excluded from the benefits of a growing economy. To encourage positive views of business, entrepreneurship, and democracy, CIPE partnered with Instituto Invertir to train students throughout the poorest regions of Peru – from the southern highlands to the northern Peruvian Amazon – in entrepreneurial and leadership skills through the EmprendeAhora youth program.
Program Results & Impact
- EmprendeAhora has trained 430 students on leadership, business plans, market economics, and democracy. Ten thousand high school, university, and technical school students have been trained by EmprendeAhora alumni. In addition to serving Peruvian communities, EmprendeAhora is encouraging participation in the democratic process.
- Since the program’s inception in 2008, EmprendeAhora graduates have launched over 42 new viable businesses from plans developed during the program. These businesses are creating employment opportunities for the youth in their regions and contributing to the economic development of rural Peru.
- Program graduates have completed more than 100 hours of training. In 2010 alone more than 2,700 high school and university students acquired new skills by participating in 25 workshops organized by EmprendeAhora alumni in 23 cities all over the country.
Argentina: Encouraging Fiscal Responsibility and Transparency
After the full nationalization of the pension system in Argentina in 2008, the Fondo de Garantía de Sustentabilidad (FGS) was established and soon became the single largest and most important player in local financial markets. A thorough study undertaken by the Center for Financial Stability (CEF) in 2009 compared the FGS with 83 public pension funds from around the world to assess governance and transparency practices. Argentina ranked 79th, reflecting the absence of internal checks and balances in the fund. Since financial issues have been at the heart of Argentina’s recent economic and political crisis, proper management of this fund is key to the stability in financial markets and the democratic process in Argentina. The weaknesses in the initial fund facilitated discretionary use of the funds, with little or no regard for investing and managing them responsibly on behalf of the Argentine people. CEF embarked on a mission to assist national legislators in designing a better management system for these funds and advocating for greater transparency in the process. CEF has enhanced the transparency and accountability of FGS, helping curb the negative effects that mismanagement of the fund could have on Argentina’s still fragile political and economic system.
Program Results & Impact
- CEF’s work has resulted in greater scrutiny by members of the Legislative Parliament on the use of pension funds, and in the adoption of governance and transparency practices more aligned with international standards.
- CEF has helped create better management practices for the pension system (FGS) fund. Periodic reports, detailed data on portfolio composition, and information about FGS managers are new elements of the improved transparency framework, and a code of conduct and annual report will soon be available for stakeholders.
- Disclosure and adoption of these practices, which are basic elements for the proper management of public pension funds, will help reduce the risk of discretionary actions by managers and assist legislators in monitoring their management, strengthening accountability in the process, and ensuring stability in the functioning of financial markets.
Paraguay: A Curriculum for Entrepreneurship and Participation
Emerging from years of dictatorship and one party rule, Paraguayans understand little about how market institutions underlie and support democracy. Paraguay’s educational system does little to help poor students develop entrepreneurial skills or participate in democracy. CIPE has been working with the Paraguayan Foundation for Cooperation and Development (FP) to build an entrepreneurial culture in the country by introducing entrepreneurship education in public schools. Programs have been initiated in thirteen different public schools throughout the country, working cooperatively with different stakeholders, including youth, families, teachers, and the Ministry of Education. Activities involve setting up, running, and liquidating a company that sells goods or services. In the process, students learn about the concepts of entrepreneurship and its importance to democratic society.
Program Results & Impact
- Over 1,600 young people have already benefited from this program, which functions directly in the classrooms.
- More than 400 teachers have learned skills to become more innovative educators in providing entrepreneurial skills to their students. Currently, FP has secured the commitment of the Ministry of Education to conduct Regional Entrepreneurship Forums for Educators in five regions, which are estimated to reach another 450 teachers.
- FP is developing a “roadmap” that will put entrepreneurship programs into the national curriculum of public schools, which will help thousands more students.
- Democratic Governance
- Access to Information
- Combating Corruption
- Business Association Development
- Corporate Governance
- Legal & Regulatory Reform
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- South Asia
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- Latin America & the Caribbean