Marta Barbara Ochman Ikanowicz is professor of Law and International Relations in the School of Government and Public Transformation at the University of Technology in Monterrey, Mexico. Her research focuses on political theory (civic participation, negotiation) and international politics (European Studies). Her recent research includes Targeted Social Policy and Social Cohesion: The Dilemmas of Material and Symbolic Equality.
The foreign economic and trade status of Latin American countries
1.In the Global Official Development Assistance, the Latin American region is in the "key non-core" region, the assistance scale to Latin America is always in the intermediate level. The United States, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom account for a relatively high proportion of bilateral aid to Latin America. What are the possibilities for Latin American countries to strengthen their economic and trade relations with these countries in order to obtain assistance?
Countries, such as Mexico, Chile, and Brazil, are considered developed, regional powers even, members of G20. Therefore, those countries can not be recipients of international assistance. On the other extreme, there are countries in Central America and the Caribbean that can increase their position as assistance recipients. But I think it is not related to economic and trade relations, instead to governance issues, such as corruption or even state capacities.
2.Civil society organizations in most Central American countries and the Andean Community of Nations continue to receive considerable official and unofficial international assistance, while relations with their governments and the private sector lag owing to problems such as a lack of mutual trust. What do you think should be done to solve these problems?
This problem is difficult to resolve since it is related to the poor quality of democracy and a high level of economic inequality. As long as corruption and governmental inefficiency are high, civil society will be the only trustworthy partner for any fund allocations. On the other hand, the private sector could be a recipient of assistance related to ecological projects, but not classical international assistance related to poverty issues.
3.Older, more conservative civil society organizations are more affected by changing circumstances and have limited resources, while newer, more open civil society organizations are more flexible in adapting to changing circumstances, ability to access the resources necessary for further development. What do you think should be done to address the more fragmented financing capacity of Civil Society Organizations in Latin America?
The tendency is to finance collaborative projects, so any SCO increases the possibility to obtain funds if it is part of a network. It is a complex issue since collaboration between SCOs implies additional costs that are not included in permitted spending. I think that funders should develop explicit strategies to help SCOs change, form collaborative networks, and share their experience. Sharing and pulling strategy would encourage old and new, big and small organizations, to work together.
4.Internet crowdfunding platforms first appeared in 2002, and since then a number of suitable mechanisms and channels for organizational financing have emerged. However, Latin American participation is not high, only Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and other countries have civil society organizations through the platform to raise funds for the project. Do you think Latin American countries will follow the Internet trend to participate more in internet financing platform?
There are two problems with crowdfunding in Latin American SCO. The first one is the overall societal culture of distrust with SCOs. A new culture of transparency and accountability must be developed to make crowdfunding a viable source of financing. On the other hand, small SCOs have no marketing strategies. They think that a good cause is sufficient to attract the interest of particular persons and have their economic support. There is a lot of crowdfunding competition, and presenting information is not enough to get money. Well-known organizations, such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, are the winners because they are trusted. For small and local organizations, crowdfunding is not an alternative for governmental or corporative funding. Trends such as corporate social responsibility, I think, are a more viable source of financing for small organizations.
Editor Assistant Research Fellow: Xianglin Gu