Despite promises by the Mexican Congress and the executive branch to protect the news media against violence by organized crime, journalists remain extremely vulnerable because of the government’s ineffective efforts to prosecute perpetrators. In June, the semi-independent Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH) reported that journalists have suffered 126 attacks since 2000, and prosecutions have occurred in only 24 of those cases. Only two of the prosecutions resulted in convictions. Meanwhile nearly a dozen journalists have either been murdered or disappeared since the beginning of 2012.
In late July, the government’s statistics agency (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, INEGI) released what appear to be very favorable trade-balance statistics for Mexico. INEGI reported Mexico’s trade surplus at nearly US$3.3 billion for the first six months of 2012, compared with surpluses of US$3.1 billion in January-June 2011 and US$288 million in the first six months of 2010. But some exonomists point out that Mexico’s trade balance remains too dependent on oil exports, with sales of hydrocarbons accounting for more than 14% of all exports.
Hours after the June 22 political trial that removed Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, and just over three years after a bloody coup toppled Honduran President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya , the head of Honduras’ unicameral Congreso Nacional Juan Orlando Hernández began promoting a constitutional reform to introduce the same mechanism in this Central American nation. But the PN legislator’s efforts sparked warnings against the idea on the grounds that Honduras is not ready for such a mechanism and that its eventual implementation could damage more than strengthen this country’s battered democracy.
Dos Erres: a Second Trial for Guatemalan Former Dictator Efraín Ríos Montt
Uruguayan President José Mujica extended an "invitation to reflect on the value of life," which was followed by a document with certain fundamentals to give the country a "strategy for life and living together harmoniously." Mujica then added the broad outlines to facilitate the collective writing of a bill to establish "controlled and regulated legalization of the production and sale of marijuana." His proposal opened an internal debate and turned the eyes of the world toward Uruguay.
"Mapuche Conflict" Flares Up In Chile’s Araucanía Region
A flurry of arson attacks, land occupations, and violent police raids have refocused public attention on Chile’s long-simmering "Mapuche conflict," which is once again showing signs of boiling over. So-named for the involvement of ethnic Mapuches, Chile’s largest indigenous group, the conflict also involves non-Mapuche farmers and rural business magnates, as well as heavily armed carabineros [uniformed police], which maintain a constant presence in and around certain ‘hotspot’ communities in the Biobío and Araucanía regions. Fueling tensions are issues of poverty, land ownership, and racism