Thursday, May 2, 2013

Water Woes in Nicaragua; Dragon Mart Project in Mexico Suffers Setback; Brazil Catholic Church and New Pope

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for May 1-3

Nicaragua’s Water Problems Persist Amid Economic Upswing
After dipping into a recession in 2009, Nicaragua has enjoyed steady economic growth: GDP rose 3.6% in 2010, 5.4% in 2011, and 5.2% last year, the Banco Central reported. And yet not only has Nicaragua failed to improve its water services during the recent economic upswing, by some accounts, conditions have actually worsened. An estimated 15% of the population still have no access to "improved" water, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Most observers agree that the problem is primarily an infrastructure issue. Parts of the country have never been connected to any sort of water grid. The infrastructure that does exist is, in many cases, in dire need of maintenance and repair.  -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar  Read More

President Enrique Peña Nieto's Political Agreement with Opposition Parties in Jeopardy
The working agreement that President Enrique Peña Nieto forged with the opposition parties to try to push through important reforms for Mexico appears to be falling apart because of charges that a Cabinet member and a governor are engaging in corrupt practices favoring the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) in upcoming local elections. The agreement, known as the Pacto por México, enabled Peña Nieto to start off his administration on a positive note and demonstrated his willingness to cooperate with the opposition parties.  -Carlos Navarro  Read More

Venezuela's New President Nicolás Maduro Faces Tough Challenges Following Narrow Win
Forty days after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, the larger-than-life head of the Revolución Bolivariana who dominated politics in the last 14 years of Venezuelan democracy, voters in the Caribbean country had to return to the ballot boxes to elect a new president for the 2013-2019 term. Everything indicated that the governing party would repeat its success in the Oct. 7 election), when, with more than 55% of the vote, Chávez buried the electoral aspirations of Henrique Capriles, who received 44.3%. However, Nicolás Maduro, the Revolución Bolivariana candidate hand-picked by Chávez when he was becoming aware that he would not survive, defeated the opposition leader by only 1.83%. - Andrés Gaudín   Read More

Brazil's Catholic Church Waits to See How Pope Francis Addresses Multiple Challenges
Brazil's Catholic community closely followed the papal conclave to choose Benedict's successor. Until the last moment, the hope was that a Brazilian cardinal would be chosen to succeed Pope Benedict Pope Benedict XVI.. The name mentioned most often in the days leading to the election was Odilo Cardinal Scherer, archbishop of São Paulo. While the conclave's selection of Argentina's Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio as the next pope frustrated many Brazilians, the unprecedented choice of a Latin American to head the Catholic Church has been well-received. Among progressive sectors of the Catholic Church, influenced historically by liberation theology, Bergoglio's election was received with certain anticipation about what positions Pope Francis would take on the many challenges that the church faces in the world today.  -José Pedro Martins   Read More

Dragon Mart Project Suffers Setback After Local Authorities Deny Building Permit
Promoters of the controversial Dragon Mart project in Mexico suffered a major setback when the municipality of Benito Juárez in Quintana Roo state denied a building permit for the megaproject. The decision, announced in late April, raises some doubts on whether the project would proceed, although promoters have taken a couple actions that might allow Dragon Mart Mexico to survive: they filed a lawsuit against Benito Juárez, which includes the resort city of Cancún, and also raised the possibility of moving the project to some other site in Mexico. -Carlos Navarro   Read More

Will the Dominican Republic Remain Part of Petrocaribe?
The Dominican Republic faces uncertainty on whether it will continue to receive benefits from Venezuela's subregional initiative Petrocaribe, which provides oil to Caribbean nations at preferential prices. The Dominican government has used savings obtained through the Venezuelan assistance program to reduce the deficit by the electric-energy sector instead of spending the money on education, health care, and social projects to improve the living conditions of the poor, contrary to what funding from Petrocaribe is meant to be used for.  -Crosby Girón  Read More

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