As has now become almost routine, this edition of JLAG contains a highly differentiated collection of articles. The first takes us to one of the world’s best preserved wilderness areas --the Baja California peninsula. The authors insist that given the potential risks of poorly-controlled development a detailed physical geographical regionalization was urgently needed based on biotic richness and endemism. Their detailed analysis provides clear evidence that around thirty percent of the peninsula is still inadequately protected. Such conservation gaps have to be urgently assessed and remedied if the peninsula is to maintain its unique identity.
The next article examines, with much-underused IRS data, the pattern of not only circular migration of Puerto Ricans, especially through the newly-emerging hub of Orlando, Florida, but also the income characteristics of the migrants. Though within Puerto Rico no data is available at the level of US counties, on the mainland the authors provide us with new maps of the county destinations of Puerto Rican migrants in the late 1990s and the early 2000s.
In the next paper the focus switches to northern Peru, to the city of Cajamarca, to examine a critical factor in the city’s development: an adequate water supply. A team of German colleagues provide us with a detailed analysis of the water storage volume of a key watershed serving the city. Much has been published recently of Latin American water issues but here we are taken underground to appreciate the relevance of hydro-geological structures. Statistical analysis allows us to see that not only is soil conservation essential to preserve the stored water source, but attention must be paid to subsurface water paths.
We next move from Peru to Brazil to read of a process associated with the private sector: ‘land-grabbing’ by national and multinational corporations. But here the story is quite distinctive given the fact that most of the grabbing of land is not only tolerated but actually assisted by the State. Under the blanket of the Growth Acceleration Program both state and federal governments have initiated private/public partnerships for implementing mega-projects, and if and when land is needed for their implementation by the various corporations the Constitution and relevant laws are conveniently set aside. Those who suffer are landowners and squatters, targets of eviction and clear victims of the Brazilian rush to develop at any cost.
Morelia, Mexico, presents a much less radical context for the next paper that asks key questions that are relatively scarce in the published literature: what do residents of this city think of their ‘historic center’? One often forgets that in spite of the prestige afforded cities bestowed with entry on the World Heritage List (in this case since 1991), people have to live with the everyday consequences of such a citation. Security, parking, public transport, rising housing costs---the list of perceived issues is a familiar one, but one that visitors especially need to appreciate. Heritage for some often means daily inconvenience for many others. [End Page 3]
Our next move is to Guatemala, to the Sierra de las Minas and the mountain community of Santa Rosalía, to read an analysis of yet another common question: why do people continue to live, apparently illogically, in zones that are sites of frequent natural physical hazards—in this case landslides? We learn from interview data and cartographic analysis that the diversified economic livelihoods provide cultural rootedness that defies re-location given the various hazards. Moving would be far more costly in cultural terms that merely persistently coping and rebuilding.
From real physical hazards we next turn to the electronic world of the Internet. Though one might think, given the frequency of the word ‘globalized’ in so many contexts, that anybody can get in touch from one (real) place with anyone else (in another real place) via the Internet, Gustavo Buzai’s analysis of connections between Buenos Aires and neighboring cities, such as Asunción and Santiago de Chile, demonstrates just how dependent Latin American sites are on connections that go not directly from Argentina to Uruguay, but rather Argentina to the USA, and then back to Uruguay! Real geographic proximity...