Thursday, September 12, 2013

New MERCOSUR Resource on Dirty War; Mexican President Criticized for Timid Reaction to U.S. Spying; Guatemalan NGO Offers Gender Workshops in Rural Areas

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for September 11-13

MERCOSUR Unveils New Trove of Files on South American Dictatorships
Human rights violations committed by South American dictatorships during a period of four decades—from the 1954 coup d’état that brought Gen. Alfredo Stroessner to power in Paraguay to the peaceful departure of Gen. Augusto Pinochet in Chile in 1990—are part of the complex history shared by the countries of the Southern Cone. As the justice system continues to investigate the attrociities, with varying degrees of difficulty depending on the country, the Instituto de Políticas Públicas en Derechos Humanos (IPPDH) of the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR) has launched a guide to reference materials that compile information on crimes committed by the military regimes, "so that justice can act, so that memory can move forward." That was how MERCOSUR authorities put it when they announced, on Aug. 2, that the plan to make this information public had finally come to fruition. -Andrés Gaudín  Read More

Gender Workshops for Men Seek to Question Cultural Patterns at Heart of Guatemalan Machismo
The Colectiva para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres en Guatemala (Codefem), a Guatemalan nongovernmental organization (NGO) that focuses on empowering women and involving them in development projects for their community, is sponsoring a series of gender workshops targeted at men in rural communities. The 'masculinity' workshops--offered in 12 municipalities in the departments of Huehuetenango, Quiché, Sololá and Chiquimula--are an attempt to sensitize males in rural communities about their roles in society in the hope that this would eventually change some attitudes about women. The workshop organizers have found, however, that changing cultural patterns that have been passed on from one generation to the next has not been easy. -Louisa Reynolds    Read More

President Enrique Peña Nieto Criticized for Timid Response to US Spying Allegations
President Enrique Peña Nieto has taken a cautious approach in his reaction to reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on him by intercepting his emails and cellular phone communications while he was still a candidate for president. The president's timid reaction has prompted strong criticisms at home, with oppposition parties and political commentators pointing to a much stronger reaction from Brazil, which was also the target of US espionage. -Carlos Navarro Read More

Nicaragua Launches Oil-Exploration Effort In Contested Caribbean Waters
An offshore oil project has sparked a new outburst of ill will between Nicaragua and Colombia, which continue to dispute their Caribbean Sea boundary lines despite a binding ruling issued late last year by the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ). The contested waters include an area known in Nicaragua as the Tyra Bank, where last month--at the behest of the Nicaraguan government--the US firm Noble Energy Ltd. began drilling an exploratory oil and natural-gas well. The well is approximately 170 km east of Bluefields, the capital of Nicaragua’s Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur (RAAS). Drilling is expected to continue until mid-November. Noble Energy also has prospecting plans for the adjoining Isabel Bank. The company gained concession rights to the two banks in 2009. Together the concessions cover approximately 8,000 sq km. -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar Read More

Regional Teachers Union Holds Demonstrations in Mexico City to Protest Public-Education Reforms
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s public-education reform has encountered some unexpected hiccups because of opposition from labor—but the opposition has not come from the beleaguered Sindicato Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE), the country’s largest teachers union. The pushback is coming from the smaller Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), whose base is centered in the poor states of southern Mexico—Oaxaca, and parts of Guerrero, Chiapas, and Michoacán. The CNTE has organized a series of very vocal protests against Peña Nieto’s education reform, which the Congress approved a few months ago. Legislators had to pass several secondary laws before the initiative could be enacted. The approval in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate came in early September. -Carlos Navarro     Read More

Little Progress in Reparations for Victims of Peru's Political Violence
Ten years after the Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación (CVR) issued its report on human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict that ravaged Peru from 1980 to 2000, the recommendations to ensure truth, justice, and reparation for tens of thousands of victims and their family members are still on the table. "The general conclusion is that, ten years later, the victims of serious human rights violations, the vast majority of whom are poor and from the most remote regions, have yet to receive proper, timely attention from the state," the Defensoría del Pueblo said in its report on progress, setbacks, and challenges in the process. -Elsa Chanduví Jaña   Read More

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