Thursday, September 5, 2013

Panama Parties Divided Ahead of 2014 Election; Upcoming Vote Affects Colombia Peace Talks; Mexico Debates Marijuana Legalization

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for September 4-6

Mexico Engages in Debate On Further Decriminalizing, Legalizing Marijuana
In 2009, the Mexican Congress approved legislation that decriminalizes possession of a small amount of narcotics. The idea of further loosening up Mexican laws on drug-related issues has been very much alive since that time. In 2010, ex-President Felipe Calderón offered to initiate a debate on legalizing drugs in Mexico , but nothing came from the proposal. The issue has resurfaced in 2013, with new proposals focusing on further decriminalizing or fully legalizing marijuana. Some proposals center on the entire country, while other initiatives would apply to specific locations like Mexico City and Morelos state. -Carlos Navarro  Read More

Colombia's 2014 Presidential Elections Play Role in Peace Talks
Throughout all of 2013, and certainly for many months to come, the political life of Colombians has been and will be marked by the peace talks between the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos and the guerrilla Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) underway in Havana, Cuba, since November 2012. In recent weeks, after many encouraging moves by both sides, a series of contradictory signs--radically different in some cases--has cast a shadow on the process and demeaned the level of the dialogue. Analysts from different perspectives believe that the cause has much to do with the approach of next year's legislative and presidential elections. -Andrés Gaudín   Read More

Panama's Political Parties Divided Before May Elections
Three of the country’s five political parties are divided by internal conflicts between rival factions that are endangering their electoral strategies as the country’s political machinery prepares for the run-up to the May 2014 elections. The Movimiento Liberal Republicano Nacionalista (Molirena) is one of the most divided contenders and faces a struggle between Sergio González Ruíz and other party leaders, who have chosen to maintain their alliance with the governing Cambio Democrático (CD). The Partido Popular (PP) has also been torn apart by internal struggles, after a faction voiced its opposition to its leaders’ decision to form an alliance with the Partido Panameñista. Although there are seemingly fewer tensions within the PRD party, it is clear that there is still significant discontent within its ranks. -Louisa Reynolds    Read More

Honduras Is Creating Two New Police Forces: a Military Police for Public Order and a Community Police
With its Policía Nacional (PN) in a hopeless, and seemingly endless, state of corruption, a Central American nation with some of the highest levels of criminal violence worldwide, is setting up two new security forces, combining police and military power. One new body is the Policía Militar de Orden Público (PMOP), in charge of carrying out regular as well as specialized police work in an effort to reduce crime rates. Congress approved its creation in late August. The other is the Tropa de Inteligencia y Grupos de Respuesta Especial de Seguridad (whose acronym TIGRES is the Spanish word for tigers), a police force thought up to be in direct contact with communities, in an effort to improve the abysmal image the vast majority of Hondurans has of the regular police force--which they either fear or abhor, mostly both. -George Rodríguez    Read More

With President Horacio Cartes, the Partido Colorado Returns to Power in Paraguay
For some, Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes' inauguration on Aug. 15 opened a new chapter in the country. For others, the ceremony marked the return to the worst form of politics, exemplified by the Partido Colorado (PC, Asociación Nacional Republicana, ANR), Cartes' party and the party that for 35 years gave civil support to dictator Gen. Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989). Cartes' signing, within a week of being sworn in, a law that authorized using the military against social protests, as well as the events on inauguration day and the initial statements by his ministers, seem to support those who looked with pessimism on the return of "Coloradismo." -Andrés Gaudín    Read More

Transportation Secretary Warns Aeroméxico to Improve Financial Situation or Face Same Fate as Mexicana
Imagine Mexico without a flagship airline. Communications and Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza raised this possibility as Mexico’s largest air carrier Aeroméxico was negotiating to avert a strike by the powerful flight attendants labor union (Asociación Sindical de Sobrecargos de Aviación, ASSA) in early June. Ruiz Esparza warned that Aeroméxico had to improve its economic situation or suffer the fate of Mexicana de Aviación, which has not been able to overcome bankruptcy. The communications and transportation secretary’s comments came just a few weeks before the three-year anniversary of the last time that a Mexicana flight took off, which was Aug. 28, 2010. The airline has had plenty of suitors but none of the bids have been deemed compatible with the requirements of Mexico’s bankruptcy laws. -Carlos Navarro   Read More

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