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The Humanitarian Side of Latin American Studies
Wonder what humanitarian career options are available for you after you´ve finished an undergraduate degree or major in Latin American Studies?
According to one university website, you could become any of the following, although some of these jobs may require extra graduate education in a specific area:
- Admissions counselor
- Business Manager
- Attorney (perhaps specializing in immigration, for example)
- Civil service employee
- Coordinator of international students
- Customs/immigration officer
- Employee relations specialist
- Government agency administrator
- Management consultant
- Verbatim reporter (United Nations)
- College/University professor
- Cultural affairs officer
- Social worker
- Tour guide
For more potential careers, see http://bit.ly/1qE1ZeB
Working in Academia
When it comes to working in academia, passing on what you´ve learnt during your education can be a fulfilling way to help others and earn a living. Many students with advanced degrees go on to become professors of Latin American Studies.
In 2012, the Latin American Studies Association website showed more than 20 open academic position – some of them in Latin American countries. These positions could really help you form a network of contacts for humanitarian projects or lead on to jobs in this area, once you´ve found the ideal location for you within Latin America.
Completing advanced degrees in public policy or women´s studies could be a nice way to specialize, and gain specific skills to aid in your future humanitarian work.
International agencies often look for people like you with a degree in this area because you understand the language and culture of the region deeply.
Work as an international financial adviser or overseas representative could be available to you, or you could volunteer for the Peace Corps to gain initial practical experience and make you more employable.
There are many NGOs that focus on improving the lives of Latin American people or improving the environment through social initiatives.
The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is one example, dedicated to serving vulnerable people in Latin America through sustainable community development. The organization reached over 15 million people in the region in 2014. Volunteer with an organization like this, and you could qualify for an entry-level paid position.
The best way to monitor opportunities is to look at each organization´s website´s career area. For example, PADF is currently advertising their need for technical specialists to work in Central America. They seek specialists in climate smart agriculture/climate change adaptation, agronomy, gender and inclusion, citizen security, etc.
Education, experience and other qualifications required include a bachelor´s degree in a relevant field (master´s degree preferred), proven technical expertise in area of specialization, 5 years´ program implementation experience in technical area of specialization, etc.
Working in Public Service
Since law enforcement, family support agencies and schools often service people from a Latin American background, they really value employees with expertise in Latin American culture and language.
There´s no reason why you have to abandon Latin American Studies during your graduate study. There are plenty of dual degree programs out there.
Interested in going into nonprofit management? An MBA/MA in Business Administration and Latin American Studies like the one offered by San Diego State University, USA is a 3-year concurrent program leading to a double master´s degree that prepares you for a career in Latin America or the USA. There are core courses in statistical analysis, business economics, marketing, financial management, business strategy, plus seminars in international business finance, world business environment, international strategic management, and methodology of LA Studies.
If you´re more into the idea of studying for a career in public administration, there´s an M.A./M.P.A. in Latin American Studies & Public Administration at the same university. Elective courses include city planning, criminal justice administration, public personnel and labor relations, and general public administration.
If writing is your passion, the 24-month M.A. in Latin American Studies and Journalism program at the University of Miami, USA, costs USD 33,300 per year. Core courses include newswriting and reporting, interdisciplinary in Latin American and Caribbean, comparative media systems, theories of communication and writing for publication.
The M.A. in Latin American Studies and Public Health program offered by the University of Miami, USA, is a 2-year course that includes courses in medical biostatistics, fundamentals of epidemiology, global health, global outbreak, ecology and control of vector-borne diseases and research design in Latin American Studies.
If you love the idea of a career in border control working for a government service, community or NGO service work, commerce or education, the M.A. in Latin American and Border Studies program offered at the University of Texas El Paso, USA, has courses like issues in border studies and issues in Latin American studies.
So, are your career options broader than you thought? Working voluntarily is some of the areas that interest you can give you a good idea of what the work involves. And a master´s degree can really help, of course. If you already know which program you´d like to study, don´t forget to let us know if you´d like some help with your personal statement of purpose.
Mexico currently is at 98th place in Transparency International’s ‘Worldwide Corruption Perceptions Index’ and stands alongside such countries as Burkina Faso. Although the Index may be an imperfect measure, it is known that money laundering has been increasing in the country over the past 15 years and at 2010 was estimated to involve a sum of $10 Billion. Consequently much of the money circulating in the formal economy of Mexico has originated in corrupt transactions or illegal activity and has been successfully laundered.
The problems arising from so much ‘dirty’ money circulating in the formal economy and the corruption from which it arises include: the inability of the government to accurately estimate the level of legitimate economic activity and thus apply effective economic programs; the reluctance of legitimate foreign enterprises to do business with, and in, Mexico compared to other countries and thus a loss of jobs, income and prestige; the building of sub-standard and potentially dangerous infrastructure as monies are siphoned off from project funds to pay bribes, as seen in China recently; and the risk (or reality) of a compromised and undermined banking and judicial systems, and civil service.
The Mexican government has introduced some of the toughest restrictions in history on dollar cash transactions but other types of transaction are subject to relatively loose regulation currently and much remains to be done to eradicate money laundering and thus discouraging the corruption and criminal activity that necessitates and feeds it.
I am very interested in the effects of the corruption in the country on local industry and in conducting detailed research into the measurable effects of corruption, specifically money laundering, and to learn how the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related regulations are currently applied and how they might be improved. It seems clear that the Mexican banking industry either lacks effective compliance regulations or is failing to apply them as intended, although the possibility that ‘loose’ regulation has been purposefully introduced cannot be excluded nor the possibility that officials may be fearful about imposing them assiduously or have been bribed not to do so, similar considerations will apply to the judiciary and the civil service.
It seems that most laundered funds eventually reach banks in countries where bank secrecy is guaranteed and that Mexican banks are merely intermediaries. The current threshold for transactions that are subject to investigation is relatively high and should, in my view, be revised urgently so that more investigations are conducted. Certainly a much more generally aggressive approach seems to be a necessary first step, if things are to be improved. There should be a right, and readiness, to examine and freeze individual bank accounts pending investigations and proceedings together with the seizure of all liquid assets belonging to the relevant individual/corporation once any transaction is established to have been illegal. Banks should be given the incentive to ensure that suspicious transactions are identified and rapidly reported by ensuring that substantial fines and other penalties are applied for any proved failure to do so.
It seems that the proactive tracking of laundered money is currently almost non-existent. It is astonishing that billions of suspect dollars are wired annually into the global financial system without investigation. The will to tackle this problem is clearly lacking for some reason and it would be interesting to try to establish exactly why this is so as well as the extent to which it is true.
Mexico is currently conducting 15 open investigations with the US authorities but it is understood that the US authorities regard as inadequate the mechanisms for the exchange of information and so the means of liaison should be improved substantially and urgently.
To summarize: either regulation is inadequate or is not being imposed or is imposed on an uneven basis. I would say that all these situations apply but that it is necessary to know the extent to which each obtain so that effective remedies can be formulated.