Thursday, January 10, 2013

Zapatistas Mark 19th Anniversary; Indigenous Consultations in Bolivia; Disasters Worsen Hunger Prospects in Haiti

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen, and NotiSur for Jan. 9-13

Ecuador: Made-to-Order Justice
Control of the Ecuadoran justice system has long been an objective of whatever government is in power, and it uses various tactics from imposing judges by force to employing processes that appear democratic but are unable to maintain their independence. The most serious incidents of interference with the Ecuadoran judiciary in the country's recent democratic history undoubtedly occurred during the administrations of rightist President León Febres Cordero (1984-1988), populist President Lucio Gutiérrez (2003-2005), and current President Rafael Correa. -Luis Ángel Saavedra 
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Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional Observes 19th Anniversary of Uprising in Chiapas
On New Year’s Day 2013, the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) marked the 19th anniversary of its uprising with a series of public events in the municipalities of Ocosingo, Palenque, Altamirano, San Cristóbal de las Casas, and Las Margaritas. These are the same communities where the Zapatistas first appeared on Jan. 1, 1994. The takeover of San Cristóbal de las Casas and other communities was intended to bring attention to the extreme poverty in Chiapas and elsewhere in Mexico and the ongoing violation of human and cultural rights for the country's indigenous communities. The uprising was planned to coincide with the start of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the Zapatistas viewed as a symbol of the neoliberal policies that were behind the economic inequalities in Mexico. -Carlos Navarro    Read More

Controversial Highway a Step Closer in Bolivia
On July 29, the Bolivian government began an unprecedented popular consultation to ascertain whether the 69 indigenous groups living in the Amazonía supported construction of a highway that would bisect the Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isíboro Secure (TIPNIS). The 306 km highway would open the door to developing a vast area of the departments of Beni and Cochabamba, which are now are isolated from the rest of the country The consultation was to have lasted until Aug. 25. but the process did not finish until Dec. 9, and 11 communities refused to participate in the consultation. This raised questions of whether outside forces might have influenced the process. -Andrés Gaudín    Read More

Repeatedly Hit by Nature Since 2010 Earthquake, Haiti Now Faces Massive Food Shortage
With thousands of people yet to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake, affected by drought halfway through last year, and hit by Hurricane Isaac in August, nature dealt Haiti another blow in late October when Hurricane Sandy plowed through the Americas’ poorest nation. Sandy resulted in 54 deaths, another 21 people missing, and anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 homeless. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates that a drought in May and July 2012, Hurricane Isaac in August, and Sandy together caused about US$254 million in agricultural losses. -George Rodríguez   Read More

Mexican Congress, President Enrique Peña Nieto Reach Easy Agreement on 2013 Budget
The Mexican Congress and President Enrique Peña Nieto had a surprisingly easy time reaching agreement on the expenditures and revenues budgets for 2013. The Chamber of Deputies generally approved the budget blueprints sent over by Peña Nieto, adding about 25 billion pesos (US$1.9 billion) in expenditures to the 3.931 trillion (US$309 billion) that the president proposed. And while the various political parties in Congress avoided a contentious process, they were keeping a close eye on the US Congress and US President Barack Obama’s administration, which during December seemed very far from reaching an agreement on a deficit-reduction package that would avoid the automatic enactment of the Budget Control Act of 2011. -Carlos Navarro  Read More

The Dominican Republic Four Months After President Danilo Medina Took Office
In the Dominican Republic, 2012 was marred by frequent street protests, some directed at outgoing President Leonel Fernández, of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD). Other protests were sparked by opposition to mining projects that would purportedly lead to the pollution of water sources, while others were caused by popular opposition to corruption and impunity. Since August, when President Danilo Medina took office, social unrest has worsened, especially after the newly elected president announced that he would put forward a tax-reform bill and after it became known that in 2012 the Dominican Republic’s fiscal deficit reached 8.5% of GDP, the highest in Latin America. -Crosby Girón  Read More

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