Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bachelet to Run Again in Chile; Education-Reform Protests in Mexico; Glitch in Guatemala-Belize Referendum

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for April 17-19

Bolivia Continues Nationalization Policy
In mid-February, the Bolivian government authorized a new nationalization, continuing the process that President Evo Morales has claimed is necessary and indispensable since he headed the organized coca growers long before becoming president. This time it was the turn of SABSA, which in 1997 had been given a 25-year contract to manage the country's 37 airports. SABSA is wholly owned by TBI, the company acquired in 2005 by Spanish-owned Abertis and AENA.  Andrés Gaudín   Read More

Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Launches Bid For Second Term
Back home after a several-year hiatus abroad, former President Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010) has made a late--though not altogether unexpected--leap into Chile’s presidential race. The last to join the country’s crowded field of contenders, the popular ex-president nevertheless begins her quest for a second term as the clear favorite. Elections are scheduled to take place Nov 17. Bachelet officially launched her bid on March 27, just hours after returning to Chile from the US, where she spent two and one-half years as head of the New York City-based UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). Benjamin Witte-Lebhar  Read More

Education Reform Runs into Resistance from Teachers in Poorer States
A portion of the rank-and-file membership of the teachers’ union (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, SNTE) are displeased with the recent overhaul of Mexico’s public-education system, and this discontent has taken the form of demonstrations in Guerrero and Oaxaca states and other areas. The education reform changes the Constitution to transfer important functions from the SNTE to the Secretaria de Educación Pública (SEP), including the evaluation, promotion, and training of teachers. Under the reform, teachers would be promoted based on merit and aptitude, while the old system allowed the SNTE to use patronage and other methods to decide promotions. Carlos Navarro  Read More

Guatemala Demands That Belize Change Date for ICJ Referendum
Guatemala has complained that a change in Belize’s Referendum Act requiring a 60% threshold of voter participation for the vote to be deemed valid will place the two countries on an unequal footing in the forthcoming referendum, scheduled to take place on Oct. 6, since Guatemalan law has no such requirement. Belizeans and Guatemalans will be asked: "Do you agree that any 
Guatemalan claim on Belizean continental and insular territory as well as maritime areas belonging to those territories should be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) so that the issue can be definitely resolved and the court can establish the two countries’ respective borders?" Both countries require a "yes" vote in this referendum to take their long-standing border dispute to the ICJ in The Hague. Louisa Reynolds  Read More

Major Stumbling Block to Improving Security in Honduras, Cleaning Out Police, Difficult at Best
Weeding out dirty cops--at all levels--has proven to be, at best, a difficult enterprise for Honduran authorities in their announced move to purge the Policía Nacional (PN). Civil society sectors skeptical of the measure have signaled it as a failure, something the very institution in charge of shaping up the much-discredited force admits. But, in its defense, the Dirección de Investigación y Evaluación de la Carrera Policial (DIECP) claims that the failure derives from elements beyond its responsibility--such as lack of funds or the Secretaría de Seguridad not firing corrupt cops. George Rodríguez   Read More

Russia Bans Some Imports of Mexican Beef Because of Concerns about Use of Harmful Substance in Cattle
A trade conflict between Mexico and Russia regarding the alleged use of a banned substance in Mexican meat has caused some friction between the two countries. Effective April 8, Russia banned almost all imports of Mexican beef because of concerns that Mexican producers had not complied with a commitment to refrain from using the animal-feed additive ractopamine, used to promote leanness in animals raised for their meat. The use of ractopamine is prohibited in more than 100 countries, including members of the European Union, China, and Taiwan, because of concerns that residues of the stimulant could affect the health of consumers. The livestock industries in the US, Canada, and Brazil are the largest users of ractopamine. Carlos Navarro  Read More

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