Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mexican Congress Approves Energy Reform; Peru Cracks Down on Social Protests; Costa Rica Spots Illegal Helicopter Landing Sites

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for December 18-20

CARICOM Nations Intensify Push for Slavery Reparations
Member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) continue to press their case for indemnities from European nations that engaged in the transatlantic slave trade following a Dec. 9 meeting of the CARICOM Reparations Commission. This meeting followed the international attention achieved by Caribbean heads of state during their September addresses to the UN General Assembly. Both Prime Ministers Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda and Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines used the UN bully pulpit to state their case. The latter will assume the rotating presidency of CARICOM in January 2014 and intends to make the reparations issue a cornerstone of his agenda.Fourteen countries have signed on to CARICOM’s position, which will focus on the governments of the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands. Several Anglophone Caribbean nations, Haiti, and Suriname, all CARICOM member states, were the respective colonies of the aforementioned European countries.  -Gregory Scruggs   Read More

Congress Easily Approves Energy Reform Plan; PRI, PAN Majorities Key to Passage
A little more than a year after taking office, President Enrique Peña Nieto has succeeded in reaching one of his most important goals: pushing through an overhaul of the energy sector, particularly the state-run oil company PEMEX . The reforms, which would allow increased private participation in Mexico’s energy sector, were approved by an overwhelming 353-134 in the Chamber of Deputies and 95-28 in the Senate. In gaining easy passage for his initiative, Peña Nieto benefited from strong numbers in both chambers of Congress, including legislators from the governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), the conservative Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), and their allies the Partido Verde Ecologista de México (PVEM) and Partido Nueva Alianza (PANAL). The parties formed enough of a majority to overcome strong opposition from the center-left parties--the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD), Movimiento Ciudadano (MC), and Partido del Trabajo (PT). -Carlos Navarro   Read More

Crackdown On Peru’s Social Protests Intensifies Under President Ollanta Humala
Opposition to Peru's extractive industries, particularly mining, has resulted in a steady increase in socioenvironmental conflicts since President Ollanta Humala came to power. Authorities have countered by criminalizing social protests as a way to neutralize the people who are speaking out and weaken their social movements. During the Humala administration’s two-and-a-half years in power, nearly 700 people involved in social conflicts have been criminalized, meaning they have been formally accused of various crimes and subjected to judicial proceedings, according to the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH). -Elsa Chanduví Jaña    Read More

Chile’s Once And Future President Michelle Bachelet Wins Election Runoff In A Landslide
If ever there was a case of victory foretold, this was it. On Sunday, Dec. 15, former President Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010)--the hands-down favorite long before she even announced her candidacy--completed her re-election bid with relative ease, besting her rightist rival Evelyn Matthei by nearly 25 percentage points in Chile’s presidential runoff election. Bachelet, 62, made history eight years ago when she beat current President Sebastián Piñera to become the country’s first female head of state. With her 62% to 38% triumph over Matthei, Bachelet’s name will now go down in the history books again--this time as the first president since Chile returned to democracy in 1990 to win a second term in office. -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar   Read More

Costa Rican Authorities Spot Illegal Airfields for Helicopters; President Says Finding Makes Organized Crime Nervous
Within a month's time, six clandestine airfields for helicopters were discovered during police operations next to makeshift camps inside sprawling rural properties in a mountainous sector in Costa Rica’s northeastern Caribbean area, close to the border with Nicaragua. Costa Rican authorities said investigations are focused on the structures being a part of an international organized-crime network’s operation in Central America--trafficking drugs northward, money and weapons southward. The findings took place from Oct. 8 through Nov. 8, after members of communities in the area reported having repeatedly sighted at least one helicopter, flying just above treetops, coming from the border area. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said organized crime has thus been exposed in this country, and it makes them nervous. -George Rodríguez   Read More

Mexico, Turkey Commit to Negotiate Free-Trade Agreement in 2014
Mexico and Turkey have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost cooperation in trade, finance, security, and other areas including negotiating a free-trade agreement (FTA) and developing a joint strategy to combat organized crime. The two countries announced their new cooperation efforts in Ankara in mid-December following a series of meetings between Presidents Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Abdullah Gül of Turkey. This was the first-ever state-level visit by a Mexican president to Turkey. During the meeting, which came at Gül’s invitation, the two countries signed 12 cooperation agreements. Leading the list of agreements was the commitment to work toward an FTA in 2014. -Carlos Navarro    Read More

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