Geography Education
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Geography Education
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Curated by Seth Dixon
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Why Colombia has taken in 1 million Venezuelans

"Colombia is currently dealing with a massive wave of refugees coming from Venezuela. Venezuelans are fleeing their home because of a severe economic crisis under President Nicolas Maduro. There are high inflation rates and there isn’t enough food available for people within Venezuela to even eat. Thousands of Venezuelans cross the Simon Bolivar bridge located at Cúcuta every day and Colombia doesn’t seem to be turning anyone way. This borders episode looks at why Colombia doesn’t turn away these refugees, the shared history of the two nations and how there may be a limit to Colombia’s acceptance of incoming Venezuelans."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The Vox border series is one of Youtube series that is the most infused with geographic themes and concepts.  If you haven't yet discovered this yet, this episode is a great introduction to current issues in both Colombia and Venezuela.  This is also a curious case because it gets so close to the line of what we consider voluntary and involuntary migration. 


GeoEd Tags: South America, Venezuela, Colombia, borders, migration, poverty. TagsSouth America, Venezuela, Colombia, borders, migration, poverty.


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Peru gives landlocked Bolivia a piece of Pacific coast to call its own

Peru gives landlocked Bolivia a piece of Pacific coast to call its own | Geography Education |

"It might be a strip of sand without even a jetty but a small stretch of the Pacific coast now harbors Bolivia's dream of regaining a coast and becoming a maritime nation. The landlocked Andean country has won access to a desolate patch of Peru's shoreline, fueling hopes that Bolivia will once again have a sea to call its own. President Evo Morales signed a deal yesterday with his Peruvian counterpart, Alan García, allowing Bolivia to build and operate a small port about 10 miles from Peru's southern port of Ilo. The accord, sealed with declarations of South American brotherhood, was a diplomatic poke at Chile, the neighbor that seized Bolivia's coast and a swath of Peruvian territory in the 1879-84 war of the Pacific."

Seth Dixon's insight:

How important is a coastline to the economic viability of a country in the global market and to for the country's geopolitical strengthen?  Ask the countries without one. 


TagsSouth America, Bolivia, economictransportation, political, coastal, borders.


Albahae Geography's curator insight, July 22, 2018 10:48 AM
Unit 4
dustin colprit's curator insight, September 29, 2018 10:24 PM
Having access to a coast provides many benefits to a country. If Peru follows through and allows Bolivia use of the coast, both countries may profit from the deal. If Bolivia is unable to gain access to the coast it will continue to be dependent on neighboring countries.   
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, September 29, 2018 10:40 PM
A deal between the two countries of Peru and Bolivia giving the latter a small stretch of land to call their own. This is a win for Bolivia who had been left without a coastal shore since Chile took their land in the late 19th century during the War of the Pacific. As both a sign of friendship and a dig on Chile, Peru leased out a "1.4 square mile patch of sand" to Bolivia for 99 years. Morales, the leader of Bolivia, knows how much a port would do for the country being able to export more goods, dock naval vessels and bring more trade and investment into the country. 
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What Rio doesn’t want the world to see

"Rio is hiding poor people. See Part II: "

Seth Dixon's insight:

This isn't news, but it isn’t just about Rio de Janeiro, since the World Cup and Olympics have already come and gone. Yet the urban planning designed for the world’s gaze remains.  Some strategies used were to create economic development and stimulate the local communities, but more often than not, the poor of the city and the poor communities cities were swept under the rug without addressing the issues that creating poverty with the city.  Many of the poor communities closest to Olympic venues were demolished without real viable housing options for the displaced residents.


Questions to Ponder: Can you think of other ways (of other examples) that city planning is used to hide the poor or the ‘less desirable’ parts of the city?  Why does this happen?  How should urban planning approach economic redevelopment, poverty, and community?   


Tags: Brazil, urban, squatter, neighborhood, economicplanning, urbanism.


Mr Mac's curator insight, June 13, 2017 10:03 AM
Unit 6 - Uneven Economic Development
M Sullivan's curator insight, June 14, 2017 10:46 PM
Urban planning violating Human Rights
Douglas Vance's curator insight, February 2, 2018 3:40 PM
Whenever international attention is drawn to a city or specific place for an extened period of time, every city will make strides to make their city look as good as possible to international visitors. In the case of Rio, that involved altering bus routes and relocating poor populations to areas that would be away from the gaze of the international community. Using urban planning to reshape entire neighborhoods and essentially the makeup of the city itself is rarely undertaken and does not occur withour massive side effects as shown in the video with violence and protests against such actions.
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Colombia rejects FARC deal: What's next?

Colombia rejects FARC deal: What's next? | Geography Education |

"A narrow win for Colombia's opponents to a government peace deal with FARC rebels has thrown the country into disarray, leading one journalist to starkly declare, 'Nobody really knows what will happen tomorrow.'  Likened to the fallout from the United Kingdom's 'Brexit' referendum, the vote's unexpected failure has left the Colombian political classes reeling and unsure how to respond in order to save four years of hard negotiation with the Marxist militia."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The Colombian peace negotiations with FARC (the insurgent rebels in drug producing regions) were hailed as the key for Colombia to move past it's violent, drug-cartel past and move into the future.  As the Colombian population rejected the deal by the slimmest of margins (50.22% against), it leaves the government "without a Plan B." There are more questions than answers at this point about what might happen (if you are asking what's FARC?, then this primer will walk you through it). 


TagsSouth America, Colombiapoliticalnarcotics, conflict.

Katie Kershaw's curator insight, February 14, 2018 7:43 PM
This article highlights the amount of division that is occurring within Colombia.  The country is divided in two ways.  Those who are supporters and members of FARC who believe communism is how Colombia should be governed are in conflict with the rest of the population who want to maintain their democratic ways.  Even among the majority of Colombians who are not associated with FARC, making peace with them is a point of division.  A nationwide vote very narrowly rejected a deal that would make peace with FARC.  Those who voted no do not want to forgive FARC for the crimes they have committed and feel the only way to make peace is to lock up those in FARC.  The rest of the country, including the Colombian president simply wanted to establish peace in Colombia.  The country was unsure what would happen going forward when this article was written.  This example of Colombian conflict shows the effects of globalization.  FARC was inspired by the vision of communism that Lenin had back in the early 1900s and is still effecting a country far from Russia one hundred years later.  As the world became more connected, so too were ideas able to spread and take hold in regions far from their origins.  Another big source of conflict involving FARC is the drug trade, which was only made possible by the consumption and demand of Americans.  Many of the problems facing the world today are often very complex and involve exterior forces, much like the dilemma in Colombia.
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Why the Catholic Church is losing Latin America, and how it’s trying to get it back

Why the Catholic Church is losing Latin America, and how it’s trying to get it back | Geography Education |

"A religious revolution is underway in Latin America. Between 1900 and 1960, 90% of Latin Americans were Catholics. But in the last fifty years, that figure has slumped to 69%, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center (from which most of the data in this article are taken). The continent may still be home to 425 million Catholics—40% of the world’s total—but the Vatican’s grip is slipping."


Tags: culture, religionChristianityMiddle America, South America.

Nicole Canova's curator insight, February 10, 2018 7:04 PM
Despite being home to a huge amount of the world's Roman Catholics, membership in the Church is dropping throughout South America in favor of other religious options, from various Protestant sects to New Age beliefs to African diaspora religions.  The Pentacostal church in particular is highly favored all over the region, predominantly because it puts a bigger emphasis on a relationship with God and faith healing.  It has also adapted much better to Latin American culture than the Catholic church.  Most Pentacostal priests are from the region, while most Catholic clergy are outsiders, and Pentacostal churches use more Latin American music and dance.  The Catholic church has, however, had some limited success in the region with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, which has adopted many aspects of Pentacostal church services while retaining the traditional church hierarchy and reverence for the Virgin Mary and the saints.  However, the Catholic church would systemic reform to slow or even reverse the the trend in South America, which would make the church unappealing to more conservative Catholic communities in Africa and Asia.  This touches on a variety of cultural differences between these regions, and poses an impossible dilemma to the church in which it must pick and choose which region or regions are more important.
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Bolivian Commuters Soar Through The Sky

"The world's biggest urban gondola system, known as Mi Teleférico, opened in La Paz, Bolivia, in May 2014. The 6-mile-long system is an engineering feat."


Tags: transportation, South America, Bolivia, urban, planningarchitecture.

Sally Egan's curator insight, June 26, 2016 7:14 PM
The gondola system of La Paz, Bolivia called Mi Teleferico,  addresses the transport challenge in a large and unplanned city already overcrowded with vehicles and facing steep terrain. This short video provides a great overview of the creative response to a transport challenge and the background images provide a view of what the city is like.
Matt Manish's curator insight, May 3, 2018 10:19 AM
This is quite an interesting transportation solution for the overcrowded city of La Paz, Bolivia. In this city there is so much traffic that it makes more sense for them to create a system of lifts to get around town rather than driving. This idea is indeed innovative and is helping the commuters in La Paz get to where they need to be faster and in a much more efficient time frame. It makes me wonder if this revolutionary idea will catch on in other major cities that are overcrowded just like how subway systems have been used in major cities. Overall, this system seems to have a lot benefits and it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring it to other growing cities as a new idea for transportation.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, September 29, 2018 11:31 PM
A very innovative way to fix traffic issues in a city with so many hills. In La Paz, Bolivia they have created this 6-mile-long gondola system that traffics 2 million people. It is the world's longest and highest gondolas system and since opening in 2014 has given 43 million lifts. With 76 thousand commuters per day, this is such an important part of the people's day now. The ride itself costs 40 cents US which equate to almost 3 BOB, Bolivian Boliviano. The gondola has 3 separate rails, a total of 11 stations and plans on adding 14 more miles with 4 more lines. This allows Bolivia to combat the urban planning problem within the city by taking the traffic off the streets and into the open sky above them. 
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Latin America Is Losing Its Catholic Identity

Latin America Is Losing Its Catholic Identity | Geography Education |
The Roman Catholic Church’s claim on the region is lessening as a younger generation turns to Protestantism, a Pew study found.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The Catholic Church was a main governing force in colonial times and was a significant political force in rallying support for independence movements throughout the Americas.  In the early twentieth century over 90% of Latin American were Catholic, but recently polls now show that the Catholic population is under 70%.  The Catholic Church is responding; in addition to a charismatic renewal to mass services appealing to younger audiences, the first non-European pope (Pope Francis) is from Latin America.      


Tags: culture, religionChristianityMiddle America, South America.

Douglas Vance's curator insight, February 2, 2018 4:28 PM
The shift away from Catholacism towards protestantism within Latin America poses significant implications for the political and social makeup of these countries. The shift towards a more socially conservative Protestant belief system poses an obstacle to any efforts to legalize same sex marriages or make abortion legal. Should this shift continue, Latin America will be primed for significant change in the future.
David Stiger's curator insight, September 23, 2018 9:14 PM
As this article points out, the term 'Latin America' was practically synonymous with 'Roman Catholicism'. Pew researchers have revealed that this religious trend is now changing. Catholicism, with its rigid liturgy and stiff hierarchies, may not be feeding the spiritual needs of the people in Latin America. Perhaps communities are realizing that it is okay to worship God differently. As Pew found out, it is not as if the region is turning secular as Evangelical Protestantism is growing. 

Interestingly, there is a similar trend occurring within the United States. Many Americans are dropping out of Catholicism (as well as mainline Protestant denominations) and either joining the 'none' category - shorthand for non-affiliated - or are flocking to mega churches, Pentecostalism, and other non-denominational branches of Evangelicalism. The latter three options represent alternative forms of Christianity which still stress the importance of traditionalism and scripture while offering more direct experiences with the divine. 

In an age where traditional modes of living and thinking are breaking down, with the rise of individualism over the community, where materialism reigns supreme, and when people assume science has all the answers, institutions offering communal ways to engage the divine and exercise spiritual transcendence may be more appealing. Another possibility is that Catholicism is shrinking while Protestantism is growing is because believers crave certainty in a world that is constantly changing and becoming more ambiguous. The erosion of traditionalism can be unsettling. Protestantism, via the new evangelical movements, not only offers traditionalism with a new coat of paint but it also offers non-negotiable answers about the purpose of life and how to achieve paradise - a feeling that everything in the end is going to be okay. That is an idea which no geographic barrier can stop. 
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, September 29, 2018 9:21 PM
Roman Catholicism was a product of the missionaries and conquerors who first traveled to Latin America. They would bring their religion and impose it on the natives through different types of conversion methods whether it was outlawing the old religions or combining aspects of the old to create the new. Today fewer people in Latin America are Catholic and many are turning to other forms of Christianity.  It is very interesting as Christianity and Catholicism in Latin America could very well be used interchangeably for a long time. In Guatemala, one of the most famous sites is in the city of Esquipulas, the Basilica del Senor de Esquipulas. A towering white cathedral right in the heart of Middle America it still attracts pilgrims from all over the world to see the Black Christ statue, where you walk out backwards as to not turn your back on the Lord. It is an interesting experience seeing peoples level of devotion to the Catholic church and the Catholic faith. 
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The Pan American Highway: The Longest Road In The World

The Pan American Highway: The Longest Road In The World | Geography Education |
At its fullest extent the Pan-American Highway is a network of roads stretching from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, a distance of around 30,000 kilometres (19,000 miles).
Seth Dixon's insight:

I love a good road trip, and I while I love the idea of traversing the entire length of the Americas, I think that the idea of it might be better than the actual trip (at least will my kids in the back seat).


Tagsmobilitytransportationtourism, South America, Middle America.  

James Piccolino's curator insight, February 8, 2018 6:57 AM
Wow,yet another feature in our country that I never knew about, I'm finding the increasing amount of things I never even heard of right in our own backyard troubling (although if it lies on the education system or just my own flat out ignorance I have not decided yet). It is interesting that so many people turn to these things as challenges to beat and overcome where most would most likely view it as just another long road for transportation.
tyrone perry's curator insight, March 22, 2018 1:21 PM
 I couldn’t imagine the sites that you would see traveling the road between two different continents in over 14 countries.  30,000 miles, official  and unofficial road with a stretch of road that is uninhabited and another stretch that has no real roads.   I for one would love the beautiful sites that you would see but I would hate the actual traveling, driving  that many miles would drive me crazy.  one thing that I wonder is if you would actually be able to do it without any problems within each country.  The article also does not say How people made it across the Darian gap.  The top of one continent to the bottom of another is just amazing.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, September 29, 2018 9:00 PM
This sounds like it would be the best idea for a road trip. The question is whether you are making the trip because you can say you did or to see as much as possible. I prefer the latter so given the number of breaks needed in between to be able to get up, stretch, and see some interesting sites on the road, I would need to take a lot of time off, but it would definitely be worth it. All the different cultures and people you would meet as you pass over the border of fourteen different countries. Goes to show that we are more connected than we believe, literally. 
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Irredeemable? Brazil's Faltering Economy

Irredeemable? Brazil's Faltering Economy | Geography Education |
THE longest recession in a century; the biggest bribery scandal in history; the most unpopular leader in living memory. These are not the sort of records Brazil was hoping to set in 2016, the year in which Rio de Janeiro hosts South America’s first-ever Olympic games.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Brazil's economy has gone through a rougher stretch than most in the recent global economic downturn and some see more hard times in the near future for the South American giant.  BRIC countries aren't immune to economic crisis. 


Tags: economic, BrazilSouth America.

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Peru's Pitmasters Bury Their Meat In The Earth, Inca-Style

Peru's Pitmasters Bury Their Meat In The Earth, Inca-Style | Geography Education |
What's the epitome of summer for a lot of Americans? It's communing around a grill, with friends and family, waiting for a slab of meat to cook to juicy perfection.

In Peru, people like to gather around heat and meat, too. Except the heat — and the meat — are buried in the ground. It's called pachamanca, a traditional way of cooking that dates back to the Inca Empire. The pit cooking technique has evolved over time but remains an important part of the Peruvian cuisine and culture, especially in the central Peruvian Andes all year-round for family get-togethers and celebrations.

Tags: food, folk culture, culture, indigenous, South AmericaPeru.

Peyton Conner's curator insight, March 10, 2016 10:17 AM
Pop culture is taking over the whole world and few folk traditions are still around today. I believe this article shows a great example of how societies are still honoring their heritage and ways of life. Even something as simple as a way of cooking preserves cultures that are being lost. PC
Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, February 20, 2018 9:30 PM
(South America) This article describes a technique of Peruvian cooking showcased at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I had never heard of pachamanca, the Incan cooking method that involves layers of potatoes, corn, vegetables, and meat steamed in a hole in the ground. The system involves a bottom of hot volcanic rocks, then a layer of vegetables that must be cooked for longer, followed by a layer of 3-4 types of meat. Then vegetables with shorter cooking time goes on top, with another layer of hot rocks in between. Then the hole is covered with flavoring and fabric and cooked for 1-2 hours. This way of cooking has survived through centuries of conquest and war and remains a vibrant part of Peru's culture.

Matt Danielson's curator insight, September 24, 2018 1:47 PM
Most people have had great memories at family barbecues. I for one love cooking on the grill with family on a nice sunny day. being a lover of barbecue i would love to try and cook this way one time. This method called  pachamanca is an ancient Inca method, but shares similarities to other methods used in today's pit cooking techniques in america. Though it seems the Incas perfected it many years before us
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Brazil and Europe

Brazil and Europe | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

Brazil...because it's bigger than you might think. 

Tags: Brazil, South America, mapimages, perspective.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, November 20, 2015 7:59 PM

I would say. Just imagine three mega cities like Rio de Janeiro, population 11,960,000 then Buenos Aires with a population of 13,530,000 and finally Sao Paulo with the Southern Hemisphere's largest metropolitan area with a population of 19,920,000 with 2 more Mega cities to be added by 2025.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, November 24, 2015 11:52 AM

I cannot believed the size of Brazil is at this scale because we don't hear a lot about it as being a world power. It shows that even though the country is this big, most of the land is uninhabitable due to the forests and geography of the land. In addition, from history class one cannot imagine a small country like Portugal controlled a big country as Brazil from the colonial times. Seeing this map with all these European countries inside of it with some space leftover, one can see the massive size of this South American country.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 7, 2015 12:47 PM
This link to show me a picture of Europe fitting in Brazil is astounding! I never realized how large this country was until it was put together like a puzzle for me. For a single country to be that large that you would be able to fit an entire continent inside is absurd. That really goes to show that looks can be deceiving.
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Brazil's ethanol revolution

"United Nations, June 2008 - The bio-fuel, ethanol, is generating a revolution in renewable energy that could help reduce the world's thirst for oil. In Brazil, the production of ethanol from sugarcane is booming, but what is not clear is the impact it is having on the industry's sugarcane cutters."  Transcript of video available here.

Seth Dixon's insight:

Although ethanol is working well for Brazil, there is a growing literature supporting the idea that wide-scale ethanol production is not sustainable or environmentally beneficial.  This is a great example to demonstrate that economic and environmental policies are locally dependent on geographic factors and are not universally transferable.  Click here for a simple explanation of the differences in the economic and environmental differences in the production of sugar and corn-based ethanol.  

Tagsenergy, resourcespolitical ecologyagriculture, food production, land use, Brazil, South America.

Patty B's curator insight, November 10, 2015 5:19 PM


The 'ethanol revolution' occurring in Brazil is a critical topic to examine in terms of global geography. With it's ethanol export rising 70% as of 2007-08, and with an abundance of sugarcane, Brazil is now beginning to offer an alternative to tradition fuels (especially for cars). Brazil is exporting a great deal of ethanol which is stimulating its economy, but there is a negative side to this energy boom. It's causing a great deal of unemployment in Brazil due to the mechanization of the process of sugarcane cultivation. The effects of a country or region's main commodity always goes under this mechanization process, it just depends on when the need for that commodity arises (this kind of relates to "Guns, Germs, and Steel" and the idea of determinism).

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 7, 2015 1:01 PM
This sounds like something that people need to learn from, making fuel from sugar and alcohol. It is said that because of this Brazil is a world leader in in this sector. Doing so reduces emissions making a cleaner environment. This is future. .Doing things such as this and making machine mechanized cutters is good too, because now humans do not have to do it. When humans by hand get the sugar they have to burn plants, and burning plants pollutes the air because of the fire and the fire can cause severe destruction if it gets out of hand. With hand picking going out, it will be better overall. Delivering ethanol to the rest of the world is believed to lift the developing world out of poverty. .
BrianCaldwell7's curator insight, March 16, 2016 3:43 PM

Although ethanol is working well for Brazil, there is a growing literature supporting the idea that wide-scale ethanol production is not sustainable or environmentally beneficial.  This is a great example to demonstrate that economic and environmental policies are locally dependent on geographic factors and are not universally transferable.  Click here for a simple explanation of the differences in the economic and environmental differences in the production of sugar and corn-based ethanol.  


Tagsenergy, resources, political ecology, agriculture, food production, land use, Brazil, South America.

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Moving Argentina’s Capital From Buenos Aires Could Make Things Worse

Moving Argentina’s Capital From Buenos Aires Could Make Things Worse | Geography Education |

"Argentina should be careful in considering the implications of the idea of moving the capital [from Buenos Aires] to Santiago del Estero. While a dramatic move might be appealing as a fresh start, it could end up aggravating the challenges of governing the country. Capitals, like flags, are symbols, but their choice has very real consequences."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Countries occasionally choose to move their capital cities to a region of the country where they want to promote growth.  A new capital such as the one being considered in Argentina, would be called by geographers a forward capital.  Although that term is not used in the article, it is one of the few examples of a forward capital being discussed a news article and it nicely discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages of forward capitals and the impacts they can have of regional growth, regime stability and the political organization of space.  

Tagspolitical, governanceArgentinaSouth America, unit 4 political.

Lena Minassian's curator insight, February 13, 2015 11:18 AM

This article discusses how there is a chance that the capital city in Argentina can change from Buenos Aires to a smaller city called Santiago Del Estero which is in the middle-north of the country. Many say this move can heal the divide between the two cities but the bigger picture it that it'll make it a lot worse. I wasn't aware that moving capital cities is actually a more common thing than we think. Buenos Aires is very over populated which is one of the reasons for wanting to move it. The major problem is an outcry from the people living in those cities and rebelling against this which could cause the government more problems. 

Brian Wilk's curator insight, March 22, 2015 3:50 PM

Very interesting article on capital city moves in this century. It also works for capital cities in the US that are rural in nature and away from the bright city lights. The plus side is that capital cities located within the most populated areas of a country or state will be under intense scrutiny to do the right thing and politicians will be held accountable for their actions. Doing business in the place where you live usually has this effect.

The negative aspect of moving to a rural area is that politicians can govern in relative anonymity away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. There is also a fear factor in South American countries that we in the US don't face; coups that will overthrow governments if they don't do the right thing. A protest in Buenos Aires for instance will carry much more weight than a protest in the rural setting of Santiago del Estero.

Chris Costa's curator insight, September 28, 2015 11:08 AM

National capitals are symbols of identity for countries, and moving them constitutes altering said symbol dramatically. It is a decision that should not be made lightly, as it does have consequences, and this should be kept in mind by Argentine legislators as they debate moving their capital. I did not agree with the author's assertion that shifting the capital away from major population centers decreases the government's ability to effectively lead; look at the United States, Brazil, Canada, Australia, etc. All of these nations are enormous in size, with urban populations scattered in all corners of their borders, yet their governments are still able to govern faraway urban centers effectively. I think his claim is right within the context of Argentina's history and the reality that Buenos Aires is a "super city" in much the same way that Mexico City is; to move the government away from the nation's only enormous urban center would be to suggest that the government is scared of its own people, and would almost undoubtedly lead to increased corruption. However, to make a blanket statement that this is true for all countries is absurd. I, for one, and interested in seeing if the move takes place. Perhaps the move would do the nation some good. However, I have a feeling that the problems the Argentine government are trying to run away from, and that the populace are protesting about, will only get worse with increased space between the ruling body and its constituents.

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Chile’s Energy Transformation Is Powered by Wind, Sun and Volcanoes

Chile’s Energy Transformation Is Powered by Wind, Sun and Volcanoes | Geography Education |

"Once energy dependent, Chile is on track to become a renewables powerhouse with the potential to export electricity. Chile is on track to rely on clean sources for 90 percent of its electricity needs by 2050, up from the current 45 percent."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The definition of a natural resource changes as the societal and technological context shifts.  Firewood was once the most important energy resource and now there are tree removal companies that haul are paid to haul away what some would consider very valuable goods. The coastal breeze of the Pacific, the harsh sun of the Atacama desert, and the rugged volcanic landscapes of Chile were never an energy resources...until they were made so by technological advancements and shifting economic paradigms.  As this article and embedded video demonstrate, Chile and South America are fully investing in the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to renewable energy resources.


TagsChileSouth America, industry, sustainabilityeconomic, energy, resources, unit 6 industry.

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As Venezuela Collapses, Children Are Dying of Hunger

As Venezuela Collapses, Children Are Dying of Hunger | Geography Education |

"Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. But in the last three years its economy has collapsed. Hunger has gripped the nation for years. Now, it’s killing children. The Venezuelan government knows, but won’t admit it. Doctors are seeing record numbers of children with severe malnutrition. Before Venezuela’s economy started spiraling, doctors say, almost all of the child malnutrition cases they saw in public hospitals stemmed from neglect or abuse by parents. But as the economic crisis began to intensify in 2015 and 2016, the number of cases of severe malnutrition at the nation’s leading pediatric health center in the capital more than tripled, doctors say. 2017 was even worse."


Tagsmortality, medical, developmentfood, poverty, Venezuela, South America.

Kelsey McIntosh's curator insight, February 13, 2018 9:57 AM
The article explores the devastation that Venezuela is feeling right now. After the economy collapsed in 2014, the entire country has been in shambles. Because of the inflation caused by the economy collapse, food has been nearly impossible to find. The article discusses multiple families who lost their children as a result of severe malnutrition. However, the government has turned a blind eye to the increasing infant mortality rate, often telling doctors and hospitals to not record many deaths.
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Venezuela Is Starving

Venezuela Is Starving | Geography Education |
Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela can no longer feed its people, hobbled by the nationalization of farms as well as price and currency controls. The resulting hunger and malnutrition are an unfolding tragedy.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Widespread famines are very rare in democracies and are much more prevalent in authoritarian regimes.  This is because food production is but a small part of a larger picture; the system of food production and distribution in Venezuela has been decimated by the nationalization of private farms.  Individual farmers can’t make a profit in the new political economy and consequently are going to stop producing for the market.  This vicious cycle is political in nature more so than in is agricultural. 


Tags: food, poverty, Venezuela, South America, economic, political, governance, agriculture, food production.

Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, February 9, 2018 10:46 PM
(South America) It's depressing to see the dramatic turn of events in Venezuela's political and economic climate in recent decades, coming from the richest country in Latin America to the country with the world's highest inflation rates and number two on country murder rating. This causes increased levels of crime, stealing and looting food for families to survive. The Venezuelan government has refused foreign aid and yet cannot find a solution to fixing the lack of food, healthcare, and medicine. This problem affects several South American countries and always poses a threat of travelling across borders. We tend to think of the Western World as more enlightened yet just south of the US we find authoritarian countries with the highest crime rates in the world, starving its own people.
Katie Kershaw's curator insight, February 15, 2018 2:05 PM
Sometimes the world seems like a really hopeless place and this article definetly supports that train of thought.  Venezuela only a few years ago produced enough food to feed themselves and actually had enough surplus that they were able to export.  What they couldn’t grow they would import.  The food shortage that the country is facing is not an agriculture problem in the sense that the land is incapable of producing food or shipping routes have been compromised, but a problem with how the government started running the system.  As one farmer said, “‘The system is created so you can’t win.’”  The government took ownership of many large farms and fertilizer and feed production.  Those groups have barely been producing anything and causes the entire agricultural community to suffer and Venezuelans to starve.  Another problem that is making the situation in Venezuela even worse is that the economy collapsed and inflation is rampant.  The value of currency is so low that people cannot even afford the scarce food available.  There are few employment opportunities, making finances even more strained.  But perhaps the most upsetting part is that children are literally starving to death and there is nothing hospitals can do to stop these deaths because they themselves do not have the resources.  The combination of an economy in shambles and a botched agricultural system have left Venezuelans in turmoil with little government effort to help.  The government is not only not providing help, but they are literally refusing aid from foreign governments who have offered.  Geographically, Venezuela is located in an area with sufficient farm land and large reserves of oil, so they shouldn’t be struggling.  But people have the ability to ruin or ignore what nature has provided them and that is why Venezuelans are withering away.
Stevie-Rae Wood's curator insight, September 29, 2018 10:05 PM
Venezuela has so much potential to be such an affluent country however it is severely mismanaged. It seems when the political power was lifted Venezuelas economy went down the tubes. There’s no hope in city for these people because the people in office do not even want to acknowledge that there’s a lack of food crisis. It is so bad that many Venezuelans have lost twenty pounds in only a year. Some call it the Maduro diet. The situation of the lack of food is a big problem the biggest concern is how fast Venezuela got to into this dire crisis. Even the meat in Venezuela is losing weight. Pigs for example have lost close to 60-70 Ibs with the food humans are suppose to be consuming losing weight. How can there be enough food to feed this crisis. 
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FARC-Colombia peace deal finalized

FARC-Colombia peace deal finalized | Geography Education |
Negotiators seeking to end the insurgency in Colombia, one of the world's longest-running conflicts, said they had reached a final peace deal.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Farclandia has long been an insurgent state where the Colombian government had no real power to enforce the rule of law and their sovereignty over this area that all the political maps say are Colombia.   This shadowy place became a place where drug cartels could operate freely and many of the concessions that Colombia is making for this deal to happen involve amnesty for past crimes. 


TagsSouth America, Colombiapoliticalnarcotics. conflict.

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Making Ethanol from Sugarcane

This segment highlights how sugarcane is processed into ethanol for fuel and other uses.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Sugarcane ethanol has proven to be one of the most environmentally safe alternative fuel sources. In addition to its green energy properties, sugarcane ethanol has fueled the Brazilian economy for over a decade. The Brazilian automotive industry have developed a complex, “Flex Fuel” engine that allows vehicles to run off of both gasoline and ethanol. Also, sugarcane ethanol has been one of their leading exports in the global economy. Due to recently discovered fuel deposits in Brazil and around the globe, there has been a decline in the need for sugarcane ethanol. This has negatively impacted the economy in addition to the Brazilian job market. But thanks to the engineering of cellulosic ethanol, Brazil is striving to become the green energy superpower yet again.


Questions to Ponder: Since cellulosic ethanol production is so expensive, do you think that will deter production and customers from purchasing it? Do you think that Brazil will ever become independent of fossil fuels as a result of their successful sugarcane ethanol production?


Tagsenergy, resourcespolitical ecologyagriculture, food production, land use, Brazil, South America.

Katie Kershaw's curator insight, February 15, 2018 2:50 PM
While the process of making ethanol takes a long time and is expensive, I think it is worth investing in and pursuing as an alternative to fossil fuels.  Like most products, once the process of making the ethanol is perfected and made more efficient, it will be cheaper and easier to make.  Brazil has not invested as much time in the product after they found reserves of oil, because the oil was more profitable.  The demand in the world in extremely high and therefore it was more economically wise for Brazil to put focus on fossil fuel extraction.  However, they already have created technology that is able to run on ethanol and they’ve realized that the product is more environmentally friendly.  This means that the potential to stop relying on fossil fuels is realistic. Since sugar is a renewable resource, it makes more long term economic sense to invest into sugarcane and ethanol production because fossil fuels will eventually run out.
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There has never been a country that should have been so rich but ended up this poor

There has never been a country that should have been so rich but ended up this poor | Geography Education |

"Venezuela has become a failed state.  According to the International Monetary Fund's latest projections, it has the world's worst economic growth, worst inflation and ninth-worst unemployment rate right now. It also has the second-worst murder rate, and an infant mortality rate that's gotten 100 times worse itself the past four years. And in case all that wasn't bad enough, its currency, going by black market rates, has lost 99 percent of its value since the start of 2012. It's what you call a complete social and economic collapse. And it has happened despite the fact that Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves. Never has a country that should have been so rich been so poor.  There's no mystery here. Venezuela's government is to blame--which is to say that Venezuela is a man-made disaster. It's a gangster state that doesn't know how to do anything other than sell drugs and steal money for itself."


Tags: Venezuela, South America, op-ed, economic, political, governance.

Douglas Vance's curator insight, February 2, 2018 4:08 PM
Venezuela has the most promise to be an economic powerhouse. Their plethora of fossil fuel resources should make them such. However, their gross abuse of power and economic mismanagement have doomed the country to devastating economic hardships. Despite the clear fact that Venezuela should be a global fossil fuel player, the blatant and indredibly brash corruption and governmental incompetence was too much for their economic potential to withstand. 
David Stiger's curator insight, September 23, 2018 3:54 PM
The line "there has never been a country that should have been so rich but ended up this poor" is jarring. Venezuela has the world's largest oil supplies - a natural resource so valuable some refer to it as "black gold." But, the nation has oddly become, as the article judged, a "failed state." The nation is suffering from staggering unemployment, poverty, and economic decline. People are starving and cannot meet their basic needs. The country tried tackling poverty under a socialist system by sharing the oil wealth with its citizens. This socialist project collapsed into failure with the onset of increased government corruption. 

Hugo Chavez, the country's former president, set in motion a government that was doomed to fail. Seeking to find supporters who were loyal to him, Chavez removed the economic and oil experts from power. Oil production fell drastically while government officials began engaging in drug dealing and embezzlement of public funds. The three pronged cancer has crippled an economy based on only one export - oil. If the economy had been diversified from the start, perhaps the crisis would not be so terrible. 

To alleviate hyper-inflation, President Nicolas Maduro has been subsidizing certain businesses. These businesses have found that selling their capital on the black market is more profitable than restocking their shelves to sell needed products at discounted rates. The governments efforts only cause the nightmare to grow. 

As people decry the deplorable acts of crony capitalism in the U.S., it would be wise to examine how sour a purely socialist system can turn. More equitable distribution of a country's wealth can be wise only if there are safeguards against corruption. Venezuela is a key example of what happens when a elite few loot and pillage an entire nation. 
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Vultures, Environment, and Mapping Trash

"For generations we vultures, armed with our senses, have fought in silence. We’ve waged a battle against garbage, but now we’re losing that battle. We want to help humans, so we’ve launched a movement to help you detect piles of garbage so that you can take action to eliminate them. Join us in this fight. Vultures Warn, you take action!"

Seth Dixon's insight:

This video is an introduction to a fascinating (Spanish language) website and project that uses GPS-tagged vultures to map out the urban trash hot-spots in Lima, Peru.  We look at vultures as the dregs of the food chain and ascribe moral filthiness to the species (just think of any number of movie, literary, and cultural references), but they are simply filling an ecological niche.  This mapping project is a way to use vultures nature in a way that allows for humanity to fix our trash production/disposal problems.    


Tagspollution, PerudevelopmentmappingGPSbiogeography, environment, environment modify, South America, land use, megacities, urban ecology, consumption.


Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, September 29, 2018 11:00 PM
An ingenious idea to clean up the environment. This group is based out of Lima, Peru uses the vultures in the city to find the piles of garbage and refuse left by people and set up events to clean up the area. It is an amazing way to utilize nature to help us solve the problems we caused ourselves. They utilize the vultures by putting GPS devices and GoPro cameras on them and wait until they locate large trash piles. The video itself is so well-made and interesting that it almost forces you to learn more by checking out their website and their social media pages. The phrase they use is "Gallinazo Avisa, Tu Actuas" translates to vultures warn, you act. 
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OTL: The promise Rio couldn't keep

OTL: The promise Rio couldn't keep | Geography Education |
Rio de Janeiro's bid for the Summer Games featured an official commitment to cleaner waters. But with less than six months to go, trash and contamination continue to lurk.
Seth Dixon's insight:

ESPN is covering this topic only because of the upcoming Olympics, but underneath the veneer of a sports article are some weighty geographic issues that loom large for Brazil.  


Tags: pollution, economic, Brazil, South America, urban ecology, sport.

derangedmanaged's comment, February 19, 2016 1:51 AM
Sarah Holloway's curator insight, February 23, 2016 12:34 PM

ESPN is covering this topic only because of the upcoming Olympics, but underneath the veneer of a sports article are some weighty geographic issues that loom large for Brazil.  

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The World’s Driest Desert Is in Breathtaking Bloom

The World’s Driest Desert Is in Breathtaking Bloom | Geography Education |

"After historic rains, Atacama, Chile is exploding with vibrant wildflowers.  Here's a softer side to the disruptive weather phenomenon known as El Nino: an enormous blanket of colorful flowers has carpeted Chile's Atacama desert, the most arid in the world. The cyclical warming of the central Pacific may be causing droughts and floods in various parts of the world, but in the vast desert of northern Chile it has also caused a vibrant explosion of thousands of species of flowers with an intensity not seen in decades."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The driest place on Earth, the Atacama Desert in South America, has spectacular vistas and biogeography ... especially when it rains.  To read more (and see some stunning images) check out the links from the Washington Post, Yahoo, and the Smithsonian Magazine.   It is amazing that life can flourish in even some of the harshest of physical environments. 

Tags: physicalweather and climate, ChileSouth America, biogeography, environmentecology.

Olivia Campanella's curator insight, September 26, 2018 10:42 AM
This article is about a desert located north of Chile where a barren desert becomes a valley of pink wildflowers. This desert acts like a high pressured trap keeping the low pressure storm out and leaving most parts of the landscape parched with less than 0.2 inches of rain. earlier that year, unexpected clouds started forming leaving the barren land with 2 inches of snow and rain. Enough had fallen to cause an overflow of the banks and rivers to create flooding. But, even though this rain caused flooding it brought the valley "back to life" leaving a seemingly endless carpet of pink wildflowers.
Matt Danielson's curator insight, September 29, 2018 4:59 PM
The Atacama desert is the nearly never receives rainfall. Every decade or so it does get some rain. When this happens the buried seeds that await the rains germinate and blossom causing a vast landscape of beautiful purple and pink flowers in a normally arid desert.  This phenomenon happen recently causing the greatest bloom seen in the Atacama desert in decades. This if anything proves the beauty and resilience of nature, even with nearly no rain in a desert plants still find a way to overcome. 
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, September 29, 2018 10:00 PM
Truly amazing. After an intense rainfall, the Atacama desert in Chile was in bloom. The Atacama desert which has been described as the driest place in the world was hit with 2 inches of rain that caused massive flooding throughout the area. While the floods moved the desert and created something beautiful, you can not ignore the fact that they also moved through cities causing some deaths and a billion dollars in damages. Nature can be both beautiful and terrifying.
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Colombia: from failed state to Latin American powerhouse

Colombia: from failed state to Latin American powerhouse | Geography Education |
In the shadow of a violent and drug-fuelled past, business confidence is growing in Colombia, a country that has been transformed over the past decade

TagsSouth America, Colombia, development, economic.

Zach Owen's curator insight, May 6, 2015 8:22 PM

What do you believe sparked this change in economic growth?

Chris Costa's curator insight, September 28, 2015 10:57 AM

It was refreshing to read about Colombia's improving economy and the growth of its middle class, although I am uncertain of how "real" any of this progress really is. Although the article talked up the growth of Colombia's industry and business, raw materials still constitute 72% of its exports as I read in another article, meaning that much remains to be done in terms of investment and diversifying the nation's economy. It was interesting to see how the continent is plagued by many of the same problems- poor infrastructure and government corruption, both the legacy of hundreds of years of colonial domination. It was this combination that allowed for the domination of national politics and the economy by the narcotics trade for much of the late 20th century. For the sake of the Colombian people, I hope that their nation's economy continues to grow, allowing unemployment to fall and the poverty rate to drop. It will be interesting to see how the Chinese recession affects this growth.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, November 16, 2015 1:42 PM

Columbia is well on its way to being a thriving economic powerhouse. They left the past behind with the violent and drugs now transformed by bringing businesses in and integrate western technologies. It shows that any country can rebuild and change itself if it has the potential and remove the on going problems that is bringing the country down.  Progress happens slowly and when it down it will take off toward a new direction.

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Peru Is Indignant After Greenpeace Makes Its Mark on Ancient Site

Peru Is Indignant After Greenpeace Makes Its Mark on Ancient Site | Geography Education |
A sign urging environmental action during a United Nations summit meeting on climate change was placed near a 1,000-year-old geoglyph that is a cultural treasure in Peru. Officials are outraged over the trespassing and the disturbance of the ancient grounds.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Greenpeace is falling for some of the same social media fails as the selfie generation.  Peruvian authorities are angry that Greenpeace activists damaged a forbidden archeological site that is both a national symbol and sacred site.  UN climate talks are taking place in Peru right now, so this Greenpeace publicity stunt becomes all the more ironic.  The Peruvian government is accusing them of irrevocably damaging the environment at this site.  Here is an article about how the environmental community was impacted by this Greenpeace stunt.

TagsreligionSouth AmericaPeru, environment.

Kevin Cournoyer's curator insight, May 6, 2015 8:36 AM

In today's world, we often run into situations where preservation and advancement are at odds with one another. Instances where sites or areas are protected by historical or cultural heritage societies is just one such example. As a result, these places are often barred from making improvements or changes that would improve the quality of life for the people living there. Some places, however, also possess a natural geography that is significant and culturally valuable to the people living there. To change or mar these geographic landmarks is considered incredibly disrespectful and inconsiderate, as is the case with this Greenpeace blunder in Peru. 


The incident described in this article also seems to represent a kind of disconnect between the developed and developing worlds. Many times, developed nations feel it is there job to police the practices and beliefs of their less developed neighbors. This, of course, is a very insulting and elitist approach to enacting change that these countries see as positive. Often, the cultures and practices of these places are scorned for the sake of "progress" or "advancement", when in reality, these powerful countries are using their almost unquestioned influence to get their message across using the context of smaller, less powerful countries. Organizations and countries that are truly proponents of change and progress must strike a balance between cultural respect and effective methods. 

Chris Costa's curator insight, September 28, 2015 11:25 AM

People make mistakes with the best of intentions, and this is certainly a case of just that. Greenpeace hoped to make a lasting impression on world leaders by creating a powerful symbol illustrating the need for the world's leaders to embark on a policy of environmental conservatism; instead, they insulted the Peruvian government and desecrated a national heritage site. I feel like something like this would never have happened in a powerful Western nation; could you imagine the outrage if a historical site like the location of the Battle of Gettysburg or Jefferson's home of Monticello had been altered in such a away? Or if this sign had been hung from Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower? I feel like this group completely disregarded the sensitivities of the Peruvian government because it is only a "middle power," a nation that could easily be trumped by the group's ambitions- in short, that the nations concerns did not matter because it was "only" Peru. I find that train of thought extremely insulting and dangerous within the context of international relations- if smaller nations can be disregarded so easily in Western circles, what does that say for the future of global politics? An apology and, more importantly, a restoration project are in order, and Peru is right to demand them. I, too, would be insulted by Greenpeace's actions.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 12:23 PM

an environmental group disturbing on of the regions where man has been banned from going is insane. how do you justify defacing one of the last truly pristine places on earth, where people haven't walked for centuries, for the sake of some Eco-terrorism. did you not think through the response that this act would inspire, and if so, how did you become so dense?

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Cultural commodities and the idea of beauty

"In Venezuela, women are confronted with a culture of increasingly enhanced physiques fueled by beauty pageants and plastic surgery."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Unrealistic mannequins are nothing new...but this happens for some important cultural and economic reasons.  Society produces mannequins and the mannequins are a part of the cultural landscape that has some normative ideals of beauty and gender.  How does the media and society's images of the 'ideal body' influence and shape cultural values and aspirations?  How has this changed over time and space?  

This New York Times article shows some of the connections between cultural norms, mannequin production and plastic surgery in Venezuela, while this NPR podcast tackles similar cultural issues in Brazil.  On the opposite side of the spectrum watch this video about the production of mannequins modeled on people with disabilities.  The tag line for the project was "because who is perfect anyway?"

Tags: Venezuela, South America, gender, popular culture, media, culture.

Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, December 17, 2014 1:36 AM

In Venezuela, women are confronted with a culture of increasingly enhanced physiques fueled by beauty pageants and plastic surgery. The man at the beginning says that inner beauty does not exist and that's something that women who are not pretty invented just to justify themselves. This man happens to be the leader of the Miss Venezuela pageant. Another interesting thing he tells us is that in the rules of this contest, the girls don't have to be completely natural. They just have to be beautiful, but where that beauty comes from doesn't matter. For many people in Venezuela, beauty means perfection. Even though Venezuela's economic struggles mount, the search for an idealized and often inflated figure continues. Mannequins are being pumped up to match their outsized human counterparts. One of the workers at the clothing store says that when they had less developed mannequins, they sold less. So not only were mannequins being portrayed as busty because it was the ideal image, but because it also made them more money.

Kendra King's curator insight, February 8, 2015 4:27 PM

Venezuela added a whole new level to the unrealistic beauty standards that mess with some females minds. Putting these mannequins in numerous stores is just sickening. At least in the United States when we go to the mall, we don’t have a model staring us down (unless you’re in Victoria Secret). Yet, what is even worse is that the sales actually went up in one of the stores that introduced these mannequins according to the cashier. The only heartening bit of this clip was the cashier who actually went against societal norms by holding inner beauty above outer beauty.


A large part of me can’t grasp why more people don’t believe in inner beauty. As the 28 year old who looked like she was about to have surgery aptly stated, it is all due to “social pressure.” Yet, the last women interviewed about her body image caused by “social pressure” said she will never be “fully satisfied.” In fact, she already wants to get another boob job. If one realizes she will never be happy trying to chase the ridiculous standards of beauty, then why do it? The pressure will never get any better if you’re unfilled to begin with and going along the same path again is just nonsense. Yet, none of those women seemed to really ponder the norm. It’s why I wasn’t even remotely amazed that when asked “where this standard of beauty came from,” the male hand an answer and the female didn’t. At the same time though my parents raised me to understand there is more to outer beauty. So it is easy for me to pick apart their logic partly due to my social environment.     

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, October 13, 2015 12:39 AM

I think it is amazing to think how much one person can stand behind the scenes and yet play such a huge role in how a whole country sets its standards for beauty. I feel sorry for the women of Venezuela, they are being sold a lie.