The Council of the Americas is pleased to present the 2016 BRAVO Business Awards, continuing the time honored tradition, previously organized by the Latin Trade Group, which spans more than two decades recognizing excellence and leadership in the Americas.
In keeping with the tradition, this year Council of the Americas will recognize those Latin American leaders in the public and private sector who are remarkable for their talent, vision for the future, innovation, calm in the face of crisis, and their commitment to the betterment of society.
All of the award winners are notable for their deep commitment to and their passion for the projects and companies they lead.
This year, for the first time in the history of the BRAVO Business Awards, Council of the Americas will be recognizing the merits of a city: Medellin. This Colombian city has undergone an extraordinary transformation, moving from a center of crime and narcotrafficking into a model urban center, in which innovation and concern for the well-being of its people are the pillars of change.
Council of the Americas is proud to salute the seven winners and the City of Medellin from these pages, and congratulate them on their achievements. Council of the Americas hope that they and their stories of excellence and commitment to society will serve as an inspiration to others within the region.
FERNANDO HENRIQUE CARDOSO
BRAVO Legacy Award
Former President of Brazil, and President, Fundacao FHC
Mr. Cardoso never stops. FHC, as he is widely known in his home country, is still adding to the rich legacy he will leave after a lifetime of leadership. From his own memoirs, which he began to publish in instalments last year, * to regular newspaper columns, FHC remains a prolific writer nearly 15 years after leaving office. Moreover, he is still an active voice in domestic politics, commenting on the meaning of recent street demonstrations, the crisis of leadership and public rejection of politicians, or even supporting candidates of his own Social Democratic party (PSDB) during electoral campaigns.
Most of his work as a researcher and statesman is being preserved at his own Foundation in downtown Sao Paulo. It is also a meeting place and a platform for debates on issues ranging from fiscal adjustment in Brazilian states to common challenges shared by Brazil and Mexico or the threat of terrorism after the Paris attacks. During most of these discussions, FHC usually just sits among the audience listening to the Foundation's guests. He sometimes makes a few comments and leaves as discreetly as possible. The most important thing here is that the debate goes on well after the session closes.
SOCIOLOGY BEFORE POLITICS
FHC was born in 1931 into a family of military background. After earning a degree in sociology, he began lecturing at the University of Sao Paulo. A few years later, he completed his doctorate there. His first struggle was towards improving public education and modernizing university education. After the military coup in 1964, he went into exile and lived in Chile and France. When Cardoso returned to Brazil, the military regime revoked his political rights and he was forced to retire. He later co-founded the Brazilian Center for Planning and Analysis (Cebrap), a think-tank that published research carried out under the basic philosophy of political resistence and production of independent thought, critical of the military regime. As a sociologist, he has been one of the most influential figures in the analysis of large-scale social change, international development, economic dependency and democracy since the 1960s.
FHC is also one of the founding members of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), which broke off with the centrist PMDB in 1988. His political career received a major boost in the 1990s, when he was first appointed foreign minister and then finance minister in the government of Itamar Franco. Cardoso's impact on foreign and public policy shaped the direction of the country during the 1990s and into the 2000s and set the stage for Brazil's leadership in the regional and international community.
While finance minister, he laid the groundwork for the implementation of the Real plan, which would put an end to hyperinflation and stabilize the economy, although he left government in March 1994 to launch his presidential campaign. In October 1994, he was elected in the first round for the first of his two presidential terms. Cardoso kindled unprecedented modernization within the Brazilian economy. The macroeconomic policies gave stability to the nation and put the country on a path of historic economic and social development. The most important legacy, perhaps, is that his two administrations marked the consolidation of democracy, reforms and economic liberalization in Brazil.
But Cardoso's prestige goes far beyond Brazilian borders. As a statesman, his lifelong dedication to democracy, the rule of law, economic development and social progress has served as an example for emulation by leaders around the world. As a world-renowned intellectual and sociologist, he has influenced generations of academics, largely because he challenged traditional thinking on developing countries, and his writings have become a staple in the sociology, political science and international relations communities.
Through his Foundation, FHC has remained in a privileged position to analyze and comment on current affairs in the world and in his home country, which has been at the center of a deep political and economic crisis in recent years. "The challenge we are facing is to bridge the gap between the 'demos' and the 'Res publica', between individuals and the general interest, in order to cement the political system to the demands of society," he recently wrote in the Portuguese-language website of the Spanish newspaper, El Pais. But there is some ground for optimism, he says: "Brazilian democracy has proved its capacity to resist and adapt.".
THIERRY OGIER REPORTED FROM SAO PAULO
* "Diarios da Presidencia" Sao Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2015. v.1. & 2
JOSE ANTONIO MEADE KURIBRENA
Innovative Leader of the Year
Mexico Secretary of Finance and Public Credit
On Thursday, September 7, 2016, the career of Jose Antonio Meade took an unexpected turn. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto asked him to return to the position of Secretary of Finance and Public Credit, a post he had occupied in 2011 when he was a member of the cabinet of former president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa. This versatile public servant carved out a solid career in several stages in the finance ministry. He had been General Director of Banking and Savings during the government of former president Vicente Fox, coordinator of the Advisory Committee of former finance secretary Agustin Carstens, Under Secretary of Finance, and worked with congress as a negotiator of the 2009 fiscal reform.
Meade, who has worked in the financial sector for more than 25 years, once again took on leadership of the country's economy, succeeding Luis Videgaray, who resigned from the Treasury following the uproar caused by the visit to Mexico of the Republican candidate in the US presidential race, Donald Trump.
"Secretary Meade has broad experience in public finance and his first responsibility will be presenting to Congress the draft legislation on taxes and the proposed budget for 2017," said Pena Nieto. The secretary delivered the budget proposal to lawmakers one day after being appointed.
"I believe I have given a good account of myself with every opportunity I've had, in whichever trench I might be in and however large the responsibility might be," Meade said in an interview with Latin Trade prior to his latest appointment, and after he had completed a year as Secretary of Social Development (Sedesol). "I can look at each performance and say that what I had in my hands, in terms of personal effort, has translated into better circumstances for people or a sector."
One of the tasks Meade faces as Finance Secretary goes beyond containing the level of public expenditure. He must also tackle improving management of investment projects, reducing federal fixed expenses and unnecessary spending, and setting priorities in the programs for the fight against poverty. This issue is close to Meade because, as Sedesol secretary, he launched the National Inclusion Strategy, and it was his social work that earned him the BRAVO Business Award as Innovative for the Year 2016.
The Inclusion Strategy integrated the efforts of 19 federal agencies,
local governments, companies, and civil society organizations to protect the incomes of Mexican families and reduce inadequate service in education, health, social security, housing, and nutrition. One year after its launch, Sedesol had signed 24 agreements with the private sector, including foundations or business chambers that represent more than a million companies.
"The private sector makes its commitment to shareholders absolutely clear," Meade told Latin Trade, "but its...