Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 25-27: Femicide Law in Nicaragua; Mining Controversy in Peru; Money-Laundering at Mexcican branches of U.K. Bank

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SourceMex, July 25, 2012

 U.S. Senate Report Reveals Illegal Activities at Mexican Branches of British Bank HSBC in 2000-2010

The Mexican operations of British-based HSBC are part of a US Senate investigation on money laundering and other violations by some of the bank’s North American subsidiaries.  A report by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations revealed that HSBC branches in Mexico helped the Sinaloa cartel, also known as the Pacific cartel, use the US financial system to manage its finances.  The report also implicated prominent politicians in money-laundering operations, including a former governor of Tamaulipas and an ex-mayor of Cancún.

Supreme Court Expected to Rule in August on whether Rights of French Citizen Florence Cassez were Violated

A committee of Mexico’s high court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, SCJN) is expected to begin a review of the case of French citizen Florence Cassez in August to determine whether the manner in which she was detained violated her right to due process.  Justice Olga Sánchez Cordero will chair the deliberations, which will begin at the start of the court’s next session. 

NotiCen, July 26, 2012

Cash-Strapped Femicide Law Takes Effect In Nicaragua

The Ley Integral contra la Violencia hacia las Mujeres, Ley 779 went into effect in June,, with the goal of eradicating femicide.  According to  local women’s rights groups, more than 700 femicides--murders of women at the hands of men--have occurred in the past decade.  Just how effective Ley 779 will be in tackling the "epidemic" remains to be seen, particularly since Nicaragua’s Ministerio Público (MP) has not yet secured the budget funds needed to fully enforce it. 

Costa Rica’s "Invisibles" Debut with Massive March and Washing Façade of Congressional Headquarters

Some 3,000 "invisible" Costa Ricans debuted as a movement, peacefully and energetically marching down several of the capital’s main avenues and streets to support human rights and demand social reform. Participants came from a host of civil-society organizations, mainly of the country’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex (GLBTI) community, thus providing the core of slogans, chants, and phrases on banners and signs in the march characterized by colorful floats, creative costumes, and cheerful music.  The GLBTI population makes up about 500,000 of this Central American nation’s approximately 4.3 million people.

NotiSur, July 27, 2012

Mining--a Bone of Contention in Peru

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has proposed "a new relationship with extractive activities, especially mining," which will have "an environmental and social vision."  He made the proposal on June 20 at the plenary meeting of world leaders at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil June 20-22.  Humala announced the creation of a multisectoral committee that will have 30 days in which to come up with a set of proposals to build a new relationship with extractive industries.  It is expected that on July 28, the one-year anniversary of his administration, he will present these proposals.

Colombian General with Ties to Drug Traffickers Extradited to U.S.

For the first time ever, the US Justice Department has indicted a Colombian brigadier general.  Mauricio Santoyo Velasco was the security chief during four of the eight years of the administration of former President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010) and ended his active career as the police attaché in the Colombian Embassy in Italy.  He opted to avoid the humiliation of being detained by his fellow officers and then extradited, instead turning himself in to US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in Bogotá.  The formal indictment filed with the Federal Court in Alexandria, Virginia, accuses Santoyo Velasco of responsibility for a series of crimes for which, if convicted, he could spend the rest of his days in prison.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 18-20; Election Challenges in Mexico; Haiti Continues Recovery; Ecuador Changes Refugee Policy

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SourceMex, July 18, 2012
Argentina Withdraws from Agreement with Mexico, Raising Tariffs on Mexican Motor Vehicles
 * Trade deficit, declining foreign reserves behind Argentina’s move
 * Mexico retaliates, plans to bring dispute to WTO

Center-left Coalition, PAN Decry PRI’s Electoral Practices, but Take Different Approaches Following Presidential Election
 * Center-left coalition asks for election to be annulled
 * PRI defends victory
 * PAN proposes new set of electoral reforms

 NotiCen, July 19, 2012

As Haiti Gears Up to Boost Declining Agricultural Sector, International Cooperation Supports Efforts
 * Agriculture ministry given stronger role
 * IDB provides grant to modernize energy sector
 * Latin American countries also provide help

New Femicide Courts Seek to End Gender Violence in Guatemala
 * Gender violence and the justice system

NotiSur, July 20, 2012

 Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa Pulls Back Welcome Mat for Refugees
 * A tradition of welcome and protection
 * The security agenda
 * New law's limitations

Argentina's Main Opposition Figure Faces Multiple Legal Challenges
 * From wealthy businessman to Buenos Aires mayor
 * Wire-tapping ring allegedly run from intelligence office
 * Allegations of mistreating homeless

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 11-13: PRI Regains Presidency in Mexico; Gang Truce in El Salvador; Parliamentary Coup Topples Paraguayan President Lugo

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SourceMex, July 11, 2012

P.R.I. Candidate Enrique Peña Nieto Wins Presidential Election by Small but Comfortable Margin
 * Voter participation strong
 * Center-left coalition gains in Congress, but PRI still has plurality
 * Center-left candidate López Obrador accuses PRI of massive vote buying
 * Governing PAN considered the big loser

Avian Flu Outbreak Reported in Jalisco, Mexico’s largest Poultry- and Egg-Producing State
 * Government moves to prevent price speculation on eggs
 * Producers angry at government’s decision to boost imports

NotiCen, July 12, 2012

 Gang Leaders Call For "Peace Talks" With Salvadoran Government
 * A political future for the maras?
 * Funes sticks with mano dura approach

Mob Lynching in Dominican Republic: When Citizens Take Justice into Their Own Hands
 * Violence and the authorities
 * Reasons behind the violence

NotiSur, July 13, 2012

Organization of American States Lacks Credibility Among Some Member Countries
 * Anti-US sentiment evident at meeting
 * IACHR seen by some governments as biased
 * NGOs fear changes could weaken human rights protections

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo Toppled in Parliamentary Coup
 * Suspicions of setup
 * Why the rush to impeach?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Latin American Women Suffering from HIV/AIDS Battle Prejudice and Discrimination

ISSN: 1089-1560
LADB Article ID: 78632
Category/Department: Region
Date: 2012-06-07
By Louisa Reynolds

Flora, a 50-year-old Guatemalan woman, knew that her husband was terminally ill.  For three years, she had been aware that he was taking medication but never knew what his bottles of variously colored pills contained until two days before he died in hospital, when the doctors took her blood sample and she was diagnosed with HIV.

"I had never had intercourse with anyone else.  He told me, 'I’m going to die, and you will too.'  The doctors found out what was wrong long before I did," Flora says.

Flora was one of the 57 HIV-positive women interviewed as part of the study "Our Stories, our Words: The Situation Faced by Women Living with HIV in 14 Latin American Countries," published in May by the Movimiento Latinoamericano y del Caribe de Mujeres Positivas (MLCM+).

Researchers from  MLCM+ talked to women from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, all between 20 and 79 years of age, using semi-structured interviews that included questions related to their social and ethnic background, how they discovered they were HIV positive, how they had managed their illness, its impact on their family life, relationships, and work, and other issues such as violence and discrimination.

Most interviewees fell within the 18 to 29, 30 to 39, and 40 to 49 age groups, and only nine of the 57 women interviewed lived in rural areas.  Eleven were indigenous, six were mestizo, three were of Afro-Caribbean descent, and the rest did not identify themselves as part of a specific ethnic group.  To protect their right to confidentiality, their real names were not recorded.  This is the first time that this kind of study has been carried out in Latin America.

More than 25% of the women interviewed, like Flora, found out they were HIV positive after their partner became ill or died of AIDS, which led to feelings of denial and disbelief.  With the exception of three interviewees who attributed their illness to drug use and four women who were raped by strangers, all had become infected during heterosexual relationships with long-term partners.

Discrimination at home and in workplace

Many women interviewed spoke about how their illness had led them to feel stigmatized, as most people, including family members, the doctors treating them, colleagues at work, or teachers and parents at their children’s school, associated HIV with sex work or "promiscuity."

Marcela, 32, from Bolivia, worked as a kitchen assistant in a small restaurant. After one of her colleagues revealed the nature of her illness, Marcela was fired, even though she had never been late for work.  Her bosses never explained the reason she had been made redundant, though she suspected it was because she was HIV positive.

"My older brother marked a set of kitchen utensils so that only I would use them, and my mother used to say that my illness was God’s way of punishing me for my bad behavior," said Carmen, 35, from Venezuela.

Most women interviewed said that they had suffered a loss of sexual desire because of feelings of guilt or shame, or from the weakening effects of antiretroviral drugs.  Most had been told by health workers that they had to use condoms to avoid infecting sexual partners, but their partners often refused to have protected sex.

"I was afraid of having sex and infecting my partner because we are always made to believe that women are the source of the virus.  The problem is that, when you tell a man to use a condom, he always asks why," said Clara, 42, from Bolivia.

Sixty seven percent of the women interviewed had suffered physical, psychological, or sexual violence during their lives, either during their childhood and adolescence or in their relationships, a situation that was worsened once their condition was revealed.

"My last partner used to insult and hit me.  He called me an 'AIDS-infested nigger' and said that I ought to be grateful that he wanted to have sex with me," said Marta, 42, from Colombia.

Interviewees described misogynistic relationships in which their partners refused to have protected sex and decided when and how often intercourse would occur.

Deficiencies in access to health care

Many women said that they were often forced to travel for several hours to the nearest hospital to receive treatment and that transportation costs had exacerbated their poverty.  Others, such as Cinthia, 25, from Bolivia, said that they had stopped receiving treatment because the hospitals had run out of antiretroviral drugs.

Other women abandoned their treatment because they felt unable to cope with lypodystrophy, a medical condition characterized by abnormal or degenerative conditions of the body’s adipose tissue, one of the most common side effects associated with antiretroviral drugs.  Only Brazil has a specific government policy on treating this particular condition.

Most women interviewed had been subjected to prejudice from health workers.  "One day I was crying, and the doctor said, 'Why are you crying?  If you hadn’t slept with so many men you wouldn’t have this illness.'  That was completely untrue, but I was too upset to answer back, and I just cried in silence," said Clara, 42, from Bolivia. 

Many interviewees were tested for HIV/AIDS without their prior consent and very few of them received any counseling before they were informed of their condition.

Health workers often stigmatized them.  "When they realized that I was HIV positive, they put on gloves and two white coats.  'What’s wrong with me?  What have I got?' I kept asking, but they said nothing.  They pulled the bed covers off me and put them in a plastic bag as if I had the plague.  I kept asking what was wrong with me, and a nurse burst into tears and hugged me and said, 'You´re going to live, you’ll see.'  The last thing that crossed my mind was that I could have AIDS.  Then, I was taken out of the ward and left in the corridor, wrapped in a nylon sheet because they said that my illness was too contagious and that they didn’t know where to put me."  This is how Clara described the stay in hospital during which she was diagnosed.

Many women reported that they were refused medical attention by gynecologists and dentists and that some doctors explained that because of their illness they were forced to wear two pairs of gloves as a precautionary measure.

Even though, if properly handled, HIV is no longer an obstacle for a normal and healthy birth, most interviewees were strongly advised against getting pregnant and some were forcibly sterilized.

The report’s final recommendations include the creation of gender-specific policies on the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients, the participation of HIV-positive women in public policy, information, and awareness-raising campaigns to fight stigma and prejudice, and the development of employment programs for HIV positive women.