Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sept 26-28: Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal; Peru Seeks Repayment from ex-Officials; Refinery Blast in Mexico

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SourceMex, September 26, 2012

An explosion at a natural-gas distribution plant near the US-Mexico border city of Reynosa in mid-September killed 30 workers and injured another 46, raising new questions about the safety record of the state-run oil company PEMEX. The plant measures natural gas extracted from neighboring wells and transfers the fuel to a nearby processing plant, which separates liquid hydrocarbons from the gas. And, while the tragedy made headlines because of the magnitude and severity of the explosion, the incident exposed a troublesome trend in PEMEX's hiring practices. A large majority the victims of the explosion were not direct employees of PEMEX but were working for subcontractors. This raised questions of whether the personnel were truly qualified to perform the technical duties required for the facility.

 Mexico’s President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto took a tour of six Latin American countries in mid- to late September, in what was generally seen as an effort to touch base with key leaders in the region. While Peña Nieto’s tour was an apparent effort to strengthen his foreign-policy credentials, the trip also provided hints of the policies that he would pursue in three domestic areas: the fight against crime and drug traffickers, policies on the state-run oil company PEMEX, and the fight against poverty.

NotiCen, September 27, 2012

The number of traffic accidents, one of the leading causes of death in Cuba, soared this year to the highest level in more than a decade despite warnings from authorities against drunk-driving and the lack of road-safety education. Meanwhile, the public complains about the capital’s deteriorating public-transportation service, the problems of aging automobiles, and the condition of the road system.

With no viable opposition to convince him otherwise, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is pushing full steam ahead with plans to build an ocean-to-ocean canal that would be longer, deeper, and significantly more expensive than its busy Panamanian counterpart. Critics call the "Nicaragua-Canal" idea far-fetched. Ortega and his allies insist otherwise, pitching the grandiose project as a national priority, an eventual money machine that will help Nicaragua--historically one of the poorest countries in the Americas--make rapid and far-reaching economic gains.

NotiSur, September 28, 2012

Isolated internationally, and with qualified support from the same political parties that named Federico Franco to replace constitutional President Fernando Lugo following the Paraguayan Senate's legislative coup Franco's de facto government obtained the support of José Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS). At the same time, the regime implemented a strategy of rapprochement with certain military sectors, and, in the face of timid Catholic Church criticism, it was confronted by a progressive bishop who condemned its decision to allow the use of new genetically modified (GM) seeds, a hot-button issue in Paraguay that has led campesinos and indigenous to clash with the armed guards of large producers, especially growers of GM soy.

The Procuraduría Anticorrupción is committed to recovering money stolen from the state during the regime of convicted felon and ex-President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). To do so, it is initiating a series of measures that range from seizing property to repatriating assets that the debtors have stashed abroad. The Observatorio en Delitos de Corrupción, created by the Procuraduría, estimates that the amount involved is almost 1 billion soles (US$384 million), owed by 314 persons convicted of corruption.

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