Thursday, October 3, 2013

UN Honors Mexico Environmental Advocate; Guatemala Seeks to Crack Down on Contraband Along Northern Border; Colombia Campesinos Strike

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for October 2-4

UN Forces Linger in Haiti, Despite Calls for It to Leave and Despite Reduction in Its Numbers
The second ousting of then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whom the US whisked away on board a plane in the midst of a rebellion led by the opposition Front pour la Libération et la Recontsruction Nationales (FRLN) in 2004, brought an international peace-keeping force to Haiti. Political instability led MINUSTAH to stay on, a presence whose need was strengthened by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in January 2010 Now, Haitians and international human rights advocates are calling for the UN force to withdraw. UN Blue Helmets in Haiti are held responsible for sexual abuse of women and girls and for the cholera epidemic, which has claimed more than 8,000 lives and sickened hundreds of thousands more since it broke out some nine months after the devastiating 2010 quake. -George Rodríguez  Read More

Oil Exploration, Renewable Resources to Help Uruguay Reach Energy Independence
Uruguay is working toward a major change in its energy mix by installing wind and solar farms, biomass energy plants, and a regasification plant--actions that will thrust it to the forefront of countries generating and using clean energy. The program spearheaded by the progressive Frente Amplio administration aims to make South America’s second-smallest country more independent from foreign energy sources by 2016. In addition, Uruguay has opened up oil exploration for the first time. Based on geological studies that indicate a probability of economically viable oil fields, Brazilian and Venezuelan state oil companies and the French firm Total have already lined up for onshore and offshore exploration. -Andrés Gaudín  Read More

UN Environment Programme Honors Mexican Environmental Advocate for Work in Creating Biosphere
In mid-September, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) awarded the Champions of the Earth prize to Mexican environmental advocate Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo for her work in creating and developing the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in Querétaro state in central Mexico. Ruiz Corzo, also known as maestra Pati, was one of seven people honored in 2013 for their environmental work. Ruiz Corzo was a co-winner in the inspiration and action category, along with Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food Italy. Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixera was a co-winner in the policy leadership category. Ruiz Corzo is the second Mexican citizen to be honored by the UNEP since the prize was first awarded in 2005. -Carlos Navarro   Read More

Colombia's Nationwide Campesino Strike Takes a Toll
Colombia is still coming to terms with a nationwide campesino strike, the first in recent history, that dragged on for 19 days, affected all sectors of the economy, and resulted in a painful number of deaths and injuries. The strike involved permanent roadblocks along dozens of routes and caused serious supply problems in the country’s principal cities. The events were triggered by a crisis that has left hundreds of families in financial ruin and is prompting a gradual exodus from rural areas. The campesino protesters blame their problems on the free-trade agreements (FTAs) Colombia signed in recent years with both the US and European Union (EU). -Andrés Gaudín  Read More

Crackdown on Contraband Along Guatemala's Northern Border
The Talismán-El Carmen border crossing between Mexico and Guatemala is a hub of activity. It’s 8 a.m. and a long line of Guatemalans on bicycles and cycle rickshaws are waiting to cross the border. Many are farm laborers who commute to Mexico on a daily basis to work on agricultural plantations; others go to Mexico to purchase groceries and other goods. Although these goods might be legally purchased in Mexican territory they are then sold in Guatemala’s local markets, which is a criminal offense as it creates a price distortion that affects local producers who are driven out of business. The Comisión Nacional Contra el Contrabando (CONACON), a multisector coordinating body that includes business representatives and various government security bureaus, estimates that some 30.000 Guatemalan families are involved in piecemeal contraband. -Louisa Reynolds Read More

Judge Questions Circumstances Surrounding Arrest of Teachers Union Leader Elba Esther Gordillo
In April of this year, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration published a decree in Mexico’s daily register (Diario Oficial) that clarified and expanded the use of the recurso de amparo (recourse for protection), which strengthens constitutional protections under the law for a person accused of a crime. The changes, approved by the Senate in March and enacted by the Peña Nieto government a month later, included modifications to Articles 103 and 107 of the Mexican Constitution. One of the first big tests of the modified law came in September, when Federal Appeals Court Judge Francisco Sarabia Ascencio granted an amparo to Elba Esther Gordillo--the deposed leader of the teachers union (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, SNTE)--who was arrested in February on charges of corruption, money laundering, and racketeering. -Carlos Navarro Read More

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