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From the Editor

After the first issue of 2013, a Special on the Commons in Latin America, here we revert to the regular numbers for the remainder of this year. As has now become a regular characteristic of the Journal, this issue contains a wide variety of topical themes.

We begin with another Steven Driever analysis of publications of the United States’ most prolific travel writer, Harry Franck. In this case the destination was Mexico, and Steven demonstrates where Franck’s travels took him as well as his travel modes, his use of regional contexts for his descriptions, and his methods of portraying Mexico’s landscapes and peoples. One can sense the professionalization of such travel writing through the years.

In the next essay Thomas Narins examines the use by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa of what are termed “territorial strategic assets” —all rooted in geographical space, to strengthen state capacity and to provide Ecuador with economic and political clout to be a regional actor in its own right, albeit as a relatively small state. Ecuador now enjoys trans-regional status and operates within a strategic politico-economic framework.

Next, Manuel Bollo turns out attention to Mexico and the implications of the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Protection of the Environment regarding areas of “priority of attention”. These are zones that evidence environmental conflicts due to antagonistic sectorial activities but which, due to their characteristics, deserve rapid environmental attention. The Program of General Ecological Planning establishes such areas based on two sets of indicators: the level of sectorial conflicts, using regional workshops in their definition, and second, the current state of the environment, using 16 indicators of biophysical degradation, anthropic modification and the socio-economic situation. Levels of priority attention are mapped and tabulated at the national level.

Carsten Braun and Maximiliano Bezada follow, addressing an issue at the forefront of public interest: what is happening to glaciers under the impact of alleged climatic change? The study area in this case is the Venezuela Andes, a region often excluded from the accounts that focus on the higher central Andes. Detailed field mapping and climatic data analysis show that 20th century glacier recession is similar to elsewhere in South America. In 2011 only one glacier with about 0.1 km2 remained, and the authors predict its likely disappearance over the next decade. Maps and photographs document the changing ice-fronts over the last six decades.

Historian John White examines a theme seldom discussed in academic literature—the extent and role of female prostitution at major infrastructural project sites. The case study involved the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, Itiapú Binacional, in Alto Paraná, Paraguay in the period 1974–1982. The death by drowning of a prostitute in 1979 triggered a national debate over sex commerce, and a local controversy of great significance for future border communities impacted by such projects. This is a gender issue of multinational significance when temporary massive male labor migration is involved. [End Page 1]

On a much more positive note Isis Díaz Carrión provides interesting evidence of how a group of sportswomen, in this case river-rafters, were able to break into a sport normally dominated by men and demonstrate with their exploits on the river La Antigua in Jalcomulco, Veracruz, Mexico, that women can and will break the gender stereotypes, operating in contexts that in the past have been the preserves of their male counterparts. The success of this particular enterprise is now attracting foreign sportswomen to the locale and region.

The following article takes us further west to Mexico City and the consequences of the Bando Dos urban development project of 2000. After acrimonious disputes over the preparation and approval of the project even more were generated by its implementation. The basic idea, one familiar to many other Latin American burgeoning metropolis, was to strictly limit housing construction in the outlying areas of the city, while encouraging it in downtown zones. María del Pilar Fuerte and Sazcha Olivera analyze the re-densification of the central barrios with new infrastructure and the re-use of under-utilized public services. They conclude with an appraisal of what the new central...