Before drawing attention to the contents of the papers in this issue of JLAG I would like to note the ever-widening range of the origins of our authors. This issue contains not only papers from authors in Canada (2), Mexico (2), Brazil (2) the USA, and Argentina, but also from Austria and Switzerland, evidence that the journal is increasingly becoming known in European centers of Latin American research.
The issue begins with James Freeman’s analysis of the impact of the impending 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio on the city’s socio-physical fabric, most importantly on the landscapes of the favelas. Given that the Olympics have now become increasingly not only regional investment opportunities, but also national public relation moments when countries are expected to show their best face, the fact that shanty towns surround the residential zones of the richest cariocas is something to be urgently addressed. Even more so since drug gangs and crime rates are also known to characterize such areas. Just how can the city and other governmental agencies “clean up” the scene in time for the arrival of the all too observant foreign visitors? That is the key question.
Who would have thought twenty years ago that “amenity space” would have entered the vocabulary of Latin Americanists? Yet in Rainer and Malizia’s article one can appreciate the significance of an Argentine case study of the combined efforts of vineyard development and the construction of associated “gated communities” in Salta province. For those with money to invest in hobby farming (wine production) and requiring safe residential locations—Argentina can provide the necessary goods. As the authors describe there are multiple impacts on both the landscape and the local communities involved in this new and diffusing process.
Next we move to Chiapas, Mexico, to better understand yet another innovative practice—that of organic agriculture and its associated production under conditions of “fair trade”. The author presents a fascinating analysis of the details of how these recent changes have impacted traditional social hierarchies, rural development paths, and especially the empowerment of women. Alternative markets have reoriented not only local perspectives but have brought attention to a looming non-local threat–possible effects of climate change. Some benefits brought from afar have unintended consequences.
While most studies on Brazil focus on regional development in the Amazonian region or the many problems associated with urban issues, the next article turns our attention to a coastal problem that affects many parts of the 8,600 kilometers of coast that Brazil enjoys. The key issue is one of defining limits to what may be developed in coastal settings that include relatively large numbers of artisanal fisherfolk. As the case of Canavieiras’ extractive reserve in Bahia demonstrates, the last decade has seen a rapid expansion in intensive shrimp farming (20,000 tons in 2012!) and other industrial fishing ventures to supply the luxury hotel market. Meanwhile number of crabs and other species have fallen precipitously in the mangroves of the coastal margins. The paper [End Page 1] focuses the origins of the conflicts between those seeking to conserve traditional fishing communities, and those intent on benefitting from new commercial opportunities. The analysis follows the pioneering work of Elinor Ostrom in defining the institutional setting and competitors, and notes the establishment of this extractive reserve in 2000 after a decade of debate. Via participant observation and a careful presentation of the research methodology followed, the author emphasizes the complexity of the institutional context—no less than 25 involved in current debates. She emphasizes that the issues confronting all Brazilian extractive reserves are similar to those of national parks and nature reserves: what are the costs and benefits of conserving traditional ways of life?
We next move to an issue that affects every Latin American urban center, from the smallest to the largest: how can planned, regulated, formal economic order prevent the development of informal and illegal practices? The authors argue that not only do the three circuits overlap in complex patterns depending on the urban context, but that the informal and illegal are necessary components of market demands, and further attempts to reduce informality...