Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oct. 10-12: U.S.-Mexico Tomato War; Guatemala's Sierra Caral Threatened; Peace Talks in Colombia

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SourceMex, October 10, 2012

In late August, Nicaraguan authorities arrested 18 Mexicans in Managua on charges of drug trafficking. The arrests, while not routine, might have gone unnoticed if the suspects had not been using vehicles that displayed the logo of Televisa, Mexico’s largest television network. Subsequent investigations have centered on whether Televisa employees, including a high-level executive, and officials from Mexico City’s transit department (Secretaría de Transporte y Vialidad, Setravi) were involved in the operation. -Carlos Navarro

The US Commerce Department has reignited the tomato war with Mexico by announcing preliminary plans to scrap a bilateral trade agreement that has been in place since 1996. The timing of the announcement left US President Barack Obama’s administration vulnerable to charges of election-year politics, since the decision was a response to a request from tomato growers in Florida. Obama faces a tight race in Florida in the Nov. 6 US presidential election, and appeasing a powerful group such as the Florida Tomato Exchange is seen as essential to the president’s chances of winning Florida, a swing state in this year’s election. -Carlos Navarro

NotiCen, October 11, 2012

Inocente Orlando Montano is by no means the only former Salvadoran military official implicated in the infamous 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter. But the 70-year-old retired colonel is the only one currently awaiting sentencing--albeit not for human rights abuses. During a court hearing last month in Massachusetts, Montano pled guilty to several counts of immigration fraud and perjury, admitting he willingly and repeatedly lied when applying throughout the years for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Montano could end up doing a stint in US federal prison. face deportation to El Salvador, or extradition to Spain. -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

Sierra Caral, in the department of Izabal on Guatemala’s Atlantic coast, is the most biodiverse forest remnant in Caribbean Guatemala. Environmentalists warn that the area, home to several endangered species, is under threat because "campesinos are invading Sierra Caral and are making their way up the mountains because they have been forcibly evicted by narco-ranchers in the Motagua Valley." Legislation to protect the area, was introduced in 2011, but did not move forward. And the measure remains stalled because the members o the lower house who took over in the January 2012 election appear to have no interest in this issue. -Louisa Reynolds

NotiSur, October 12, 2012

After a half century of internal war, and much more importantly--50 years that cover one-quarter of the country's history since independence--Colombia seems finally on the road to ending a conflict that has cost three generations of Colombians thousands of lives and displaced millions more. Colombians have demanded a gesture of peace from the parties in conflict: the state, whose first independent government was installed in August 1819, and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, who came onto the scene in June 1964 in the Andean jungle of Marquetalia. -Andrés Gaudín

Ecuadorr's electoral maneuvering is beginning to take shape ahead of the February 2013 elections, amid accusations of fraud and falsifying signatures for registering movements and political parties that want to participate in the electoral contest. Government propaganda says that only President Rafael Correa seems honest; however, this hides what is really at play since the right is trying on various fronts to retake control of the government and the indigenous movement's participation is aimed at displacing Correa to radicalize the social-transformation process, using as its base the 2008 Constitution. Correa accuses both these tendencies of being corrupt. -Luis Ángel Saavedra

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