Thursday, November 7, 2013

Protests Continue in Brazil; Mexico Cancels Refinery Project; El Salvador Deals with Deaths of Sea Turtles

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for November 6-8

Venezuela Opens Way for Paraguay to Return to MERCOSUR
After a 16-month rupture in diplomatic relations with Paraguay, the Venezuelan government has reopened binational dialogue. In mid-October Foreign Minister Elías Jaua traveled to Asunción to resolve the reopening of respective embassies and the naming of new ambassadors. In other gestures of rapprochement, on Oct. 30, Jaua invited the Paraguayan government to participate in a ministerial summit of the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR), and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes "to give him an embrace by phone." Maduro also urged other members of the trade alliance to "urgently bring the fellow nation of Paraguay back to the fold. -Andrés Gaudín   Read More

Rio Teachers Strike Sharpens Brazilian Protest Scene
Four months after the June protests in Brazil brought hundreds of thousands to the streets in a national airing of grievances, such mass demonstrations persist albeit on a smaller, more-focused scale. At the same time, marches continue to conclude with violent clashes between police and protesters. This trend is a result of both a tougher line by authorities as well as a proportionally larger use of black-bloc tactics, whereby masked protesters wearing black pursue direct action to destroy symbolic physical property such as banks, media vehicles, and police cars. The outcome has been widespread destruction of public and private property, mass arrests of civilians, injuries to protesters, and chaotic scenes on the streets of Brazil’s major cities, principally Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Brasília. -Gregory Scruggs Read More

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Government Launches Major Operation against Caballeros Templarios Cartel in Michoacán State
In early November, the Secretaría de Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) and the federal police assumed control of the port of Lázaro Cárdenas in Michoacán state, in an effort to root out massive corruption and cripple the operations of the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) drug cartel at one of Mexico’s largest seaports. The federal operation at Lázaro Cárdenas came just days after assailants—presumably members of the Knights Templar--damaged several electrical power plants owned by the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), triggering blackouts in at least nine cities. The destruction of the CFE plants was followed by attacks on several gasoline stations. Analysts said the attacks might have been intended as a show of power by the cartels to citizen groups, which have risen in resistance to the cartel, and to the government. -Carlos Navarro Read More

Scores Of Endangered Sea Turtles Wash Up Dead Along Salvadoran Beaches
Conservationists and government authorities are pointing their fingers in very different directions following a recent die-off of sea turtles, hundreds of which have washed up on El Salvador’s shoreline in recent weeks. In mid October, fishers operating along the Pacific beach of El Pimental, in the department of La Paz, reported finding some 100 dead turtles in a single day. Partially decomposed corpses have also littered the beaches of San Diego, El Amatal, and Toluca in the nearby department of La Libertad. Officially, more than 200 turtles died during a troubling three-week span that began in late September, the Ministerio de Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (MARN) reported late last month. Environmental groups suspect the real number of turtle deaths is higher still. Most of the dead animals were olive ridley and green turtles, according to MARN. Two other sea turtle species, leatherbacks and hawksbills, are also present in El Salvador. -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar  Read More

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Administration Apparently Cancels Construction of New Refinery in Hidalgo State
Without much fanfare, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration appears to have put the brakes on an ambitious project to construct the Bicentenario refinery in Tula, Hidalgo state. The facility--one of the largest investment projects launched during former President Felipe Calderón’s administration—was to be constructed next to an existing refinery in Tula. The project was intended to boost Mexico’s capacity to refine crude oil and reduce reliance on imports of gasoline and other fuels. Mexico at present imports about 50% of the gasoline consumed domestically, even though the country is a major producer of crude oil. The fate of the project became apparent with the release of the 2014-2018 business plan for the state-run oil company PEMEX, which left out the facility. -Carlos Navarro Read More

Still Wounded by 2009 Coup, Honduras Heads for Elections that End Historic Bipartisanship
Honduras is headed for its first elections since the much-questioned vote four years ago, within the framework of widespread repression under the de facto regime set up through the bloody 2009 coup that shook this poverty-stricken country to its very foundations and caused deep, unhealed wounds. The vote was held five months after the illegal political-military action that on June 28, 2009, brought to an abrupt end to President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya’s populist government, constitutionally scheduled to finish the following January. Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro, is the only woman in the eight-candidate presidential race, which includes the coup’s military leader, former head of the Fuerzas Armadas of Honduras and retired Gen. Romeo Vásquez of the rightist Alianza Patrótica (AP). -George Rodríguez   Read More

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