Thursday, July 11, 2013

Implications of Brazil Protests; Mexican Elections and Peña Nieto’s Pact; Nicaraguan Retirees Protest Lack of Pension Payments

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for July 10-12

Brazilians Take to the Streets and Change 2014 Political, Electoral Landscape
Two weeks in June, marked by massive demonstrations in more than 300 cities, have completely and radically changed Brazil's political, cultural, and social landscape. The events will likely have repercussions on the 2014 elections, when Brazilians will choose a new president, a position now held by President Dilma Rousseff of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT). President Rousseff was the public figure whose image was most tarnished by the widespread street protests in the second half of June 2013. The latest Datafolha poll published in the newspaper Folha de São Paulo showed an unprecedented drop in the president's approval rating. Datafolha, which regularly tracks approval ratings for the president and other government officials, found that Rousseff's approval plummeted from 57% to 30% in the days following the massive demonstrations. The poll focused primarily on São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte, Brazil's largest cities. -José Pedro Martins  Read More

Chile's Ex-President Michelle Bachelet Cements Front-Runner Status With Landslide Primary Win
Former President Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010) remains the candidate to beat following presidential primary elections held June 30 for Chile's two principal political blocs: the governing Alianza and center-left Concertación coalitions. Bachelet won the Concertación primary easily, scooping up 73% of the vote to secure a place on the ballot for Chile’s Nov. 17 presidential election. Bachelet’s principal rival in the November election will be Pablo Longueira, who narrowly won the Alianza primary against Andrés Allamand of the center-right Renovación Nacional (RN). Longueira hails from the Unión Demócrata Independiente (UDI), the RN’s more conservative Alianza partner. Former senators, both candidates served as ministers under President Sebastián Piñera, Chile’s first conservative leader since dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar  Read More

U.S. Senate Immigration-Reform Legislation Draws Mixed Reactions; Initiative Not Expected to Prosper in House
The consensus in Washington and Mexico City is that the chances that the US will enact comprehensive immigration reform in the near future are very slim to practically nil. A major reason for this negative viewpoint is that key Republican legislators in the US House of Representatives have already publicly rejected the version of the immigration reform that the Senate approved overwhelmingly on June 27. Many ultraconservative Republicans in the House oppose any steps to provide a path for undocumented immigrants to legalize their status. The Senate bill would add 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents and erect 700 miles of additional fencing along the 1,900-mile line between the US and Mexico, but this might not be sufficient to sway conservatives in the House. -Carlos Navarro  Read More

Apparent PAN Victory in Baja California Election Leads to Rumored Back-Room Pact with
Governing PRI Despite conflicting polls suggesting that either the conservative Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) or the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) would win the gubernatorial election in Baja California, there was broad speculation that the results of the election had already been pre-ordained. Rumors circulated that the PRI and the PAN had struck a back-room deal by which the conservative party would continue to support President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Pacto por México political agreement if the PRI did not block PAN efforts to retain the Baja California statehouse in the July 7 election. And, if the rumors of a pact are true, the election appears to have followed the script closely. Preliminary results showed PAN candidate Francisco "Kiko" Vega winning the election over PRI rival Fernando Castro Trenti by a margin of 47% to 44%. -Carlos Navarro  Read More

Police, Pro-Government Mob Crack Down On Pension Protests In Nicaragua
An auxiliary bishop in Nicaragua’s Catholic Church is among those accusing President Daniel Ortega and his Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN)-led government of "state terrorism" following a series of chaotic protests regarding senior pension benefits. The turbulent events began on Monday, June 17, when a group of approximately 100 viejitos (old folks), as local media dubbed them, occupied the Instituto Nicaragüense de Seguridad Social (INSS) in Managua. The protestors are all members of the Unidad Nacional del Adulto Mayor (UNAM), who claim that roughly 15,000 retired Nicaraguans receive zero government pension money despite having paid into the system for at least five years. -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar  Read More

Pro-Poor Tourism: Boosting Haiti’s Tourism to Steer Away From Aid-Dependent Economy Risks Commodification of Culture
The traditionally idyllic destination for tourists seeking fun and sun, Haiti is seen now as a destination for people on tourist visas coming to help out in post-quake and other relief work, for low-income or working-class tourists, and for Haitians from among the nation’s diaspora arriving to visit with relatives. A recent study by Brazilian think tank Instituto Igarapé put at 950,000 the number of visitors coming to Haiti last year, compared with the 4.6 million going to the neighboring Domninican Republic--both countries sharing the island of Hispaniola. Igarapé’s figures indicate that this French-speaking, endemically poor country hosts anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 nongovermental organizations (NGOs) aiding Haitians after the quake.  -George Rodríguez    Read More

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