Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cuba Seeks to Boost Trade Prospects; U.N. Report Urges Mexico to Protect Journalists; Paraguay Congress Clears Privatization Law

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for October 30-31 and November 1

Central America Seeks to Become Biofuel Producer
With the price of fossil fuel rising on the international market, countries all over the world are seeking to boost the use of biofuel. For Central America, a region that boasts some of the world’s most efficient sugarcane producers and already has several ethanol production plants, this represents the opportunity to become a major biofuel exporter. Flavio Castelar, director of Brazil’s Arranjo Produtivo Local do Álcool (APLA), foresees that developed countries’ demand for biofuel will increase, which means that Latin American sugarcane producers will have to improve efficiency to produce the required volumes to meet the domestic demand and export the surplus. -Louisa Reynolds Read More

Bilateral Conflicts in Latin America Persist Despite Integration Efforts
Despite the proliferation of regional and global organizations designed to promote integration and good relations between countries, bilateral conflicts--territorial, political, economic, and environmental--persist in Latin America. In recent weeks, differences have re-emerged between Argentina and Uruguay and between Colombia and Nicaragua, reviving crises supposedly already resolved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. -Andrés Gaudín   Read More

U.N. Human Rights Review Urges Mexico to Improve Protections for Journalists
Mexico’s inability to protect journalists and human rights defenders were among the issues raised during Mexico’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of human rights, held in Geneva on Oct. 23. The process, which comes under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, allows a country to present an update on advances in human rights over a four-year period but also provides the opportunity for fellow members of the UN to offer their assessment on the state of human rights in the presenter. -Carlos Navarro    Read More

Cuba Seeks Greater Role in Transatlantic Trade with Mariel Megaport and Foreign Trade Zone
Mariel Bay, 45 km from Havana, will become Cuba's main port when the expansion now underway is completed at a cost of about US$950 million and, in addition, a foreign-trade zone will open to attract international business, foreign investment, and new technology, all part of President Raúl Castro's attempts to update the socialist economic model. The project is aimed at generating exports, employment opportunities, funding, technology transfer, and logistics systems and encouraging domestic and foreign companies to set up business, according to the legislative decree signed by the president and published on Sept. 23 in the Gaceta Oficial de Cuba. -Daniel Vázquez   Read More

Paraguay’s Congress Clears Controversial "Privatization" Law
Two months after assuming the Paraguayan presidency, businessman Horacio Cartes has convinced Congress to approve a law giving the government authority to rent out--for a period of up to 40 years and without legislative or judicial oversight--a vast array of state assets and services. Officially named the Ley de Promoción de la Inversión en Infraestructura, the norm is more commonly referred to as the Ley de Participación Pública–Privada, or PPP. Among other things, it allows the executive to offer leases on Paraguay’s two massive binational hydroelectric plants: Itaipú, which it shares with Brazil, and Yacyretá, which it shares with Argentina. -Andrés Gaudín   Read More

President Enrique Peña Nieto Issues Executive Order to Ban Slot Machines, Tighten Regulations for Casino Permits
In an effort to control one of the activities of organized crime in Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has enacted tighter restrictions on casino operations. Peña Nieto issued an executive order banning slot machines and limiting the ability of casino permit holders to rent out or cede their permits to other operators. By issuing the executive order, the president pre-empted the need for the high court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, SCJN) to issue a ruling on the legality of slot machines, a matter that ex-President Felipe Calderón had brought to the court. -Carlos Navarro   Read More

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