Friday, November 16, 2012

Mexico Overhauls Labor Law; Municipal Elections Held in Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua

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These articles were published in SourceMex, NotiCen, and NotiSur on Nov. 14-16

After a few weeks of acrimony, the Mexican Congress approved the first overhaul of Mexico’s labor code (Ley Federal del Trabajo, LFT) in 42 years. The measure--considered generally friendly to employers and the business sector--was introduced by President Felipe Calderón and endorsed by President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto as an instrument to help Mexico become more competitive in the global market.  -Carlos Navarro

Brazil's municipal elections, held in October, ended with significant numerical growth nationally for the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), the party of President Dilma Rousseff and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2010). The elections also showed a certain voter disillusionment with leaders of party politics and a desire for renewal, for change, for the future. -José Pedro Martins 

President Daniel Ortega’s Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) mauled the reeling opposition in nationwide municipal elections earlier this month, leading Nicaragua closer toward one-party-state status with wins in more than 80% of the country’s towns and cities. Sandinista candidates drew approximately 68% of the votes cast in the Nov. 4 contest, giving the leftist party control of all but one of the country’s 17 provincial capitals, including Managua, where Mayor Daysi Torres was re-elected in a landslide. -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

President Sebastián Piñera’s center-right Alianza coalition stumbled in municipal elections, held late last month throughout Chile, dropping tight mayoral races in several conservative strongholds. But, while most pundits and political leaders agree the elections were a "defeat" for the Alianza, few are clear on what the results mean for its traditional rival, the still influential but increasingly fractured Concertación coalition. -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

The Mexican mining industry, already beset by accusations of environmental violations, territorial fights with local indigenous communities, and safety concerns, is facing a relatively new threat—connections with drug-trafficking organizations like the Zetas in Coahuila and La Familia in the central state of Michoacán. There are reports that the Zetas are extracting coal illegally, many times in collusion with local mining companies, and selling it to the state utility, the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), through an intermediary, primarily the Promotora de Desarrollo Minero (PRODEMI).  -Carlos Navarro

Representatives of 18 Ibero-American nations, meeting in Costa Rica during the 17th Annual Assembly of the Federación Iberoamericana de Ombudsman (FIO), agreed to push for all countries in the regional bloc to pass legislation to fight violence against children--the meeting’s main topic. The idea is to review legislation, where it exists, and to promote it in countries where it does not, as a means to penalize child aggression, Defensoría de los Habitantes spokesperson Ahmed Tabash told NotiCen. -George Rodríguez

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