Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nicaraguan Cane Cutters Face Health Issues; Mexico Launches Anti-Kidnapping Campaign; Bolivia's Evo Morales Seeks Re-Election

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for January 29-31

Nicaraguan Cane-Cutter Movement Brings New Attention To Central America’s Kidney-Disease Epidemic
In Chichigalpa, Nicaragua’s tierra del ron y del azúcar (land of rum and sugar), hundreds of men who developed a "mystery" illness while working in local sugarcane fields are seeking compensation from their former employer, the powerful conglomerate Grupo Pellas. So far the cañeros (cane cutters), all of them with the debilitating medical condition known as chronic kidney disease (CKD), have failed to secure either money or medical attention. Their quest did, however, put them in the crosshairs earlier this month of a police assault that left one person dead and another, a 14-year-old boy, half-blind and fighting for his life. -Benjamin Witte-Lebhar  Read More

Execution of Mexican Citizen in Texas Reopens Controversy on Capital Punishment, Consular Rights
The long-standing conflict between Mexico and the US regarding the death penalty resurfaced in late-January after the state of Texas decided to move forward with the execution of Mexican national Édgar Tamayo Arias. Tamayo, convicted of killing a Houston police officer in 1994, became the ninth Mexican citizen executed by a US state since 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. All but one of the executions have been carried out by the state of Texas, including the high-profile cases of José Ernesto Medellín Rojas in 2008 and Humberto Leal García in 2011. At the heart of all the cases was the failure by local law-enforcement authorities to comply with US international obligations, specifically the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Article 36 of the treaty, which the US ratified in 1969, requires that any foreign national who is arrested be given immediate access to consular staff from his or her home country. -Carlos Navarro   Read More

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales Announces Re-election Plans
As Bolivian President Evo Morales begins the last year of his second term, his re-election as president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia appears assured. If elected next October, he could continue in office until 2020. Both sympathetic and unfriendly political scientists and analysts--in Bolivia social tensions have reached an extreme in which there is no room for middle-of-the-road or undefined positions--believe that, based on current economic indicators and inclusive social policies that have brought the majority indigenous population into economic and educational systems, there’s no possibility that the right could oust the current government in an election. -Andrés Gaudín Read More

Building Collapses and Severe Shortage Worsen Housing Situation for Cubans
Buildings that received little or no maintenance for decades, faulty construction, frequent collapses, and an overall 39% of homes in Cuba in poor or fair condition are worsening the housing situation on the island, confirmed government reports and details from the most recent population census. Cuba has more than 3 million houses, of which 61% are considered to be in good condition, but the rest are in fair or poor condition. The housing crisis is a recurring theme in demographic studies on Cuban families because of the generational issues caused by several generations of the same family having to live together, including those who were previously married and, after divorcing, were never able to move into independent housing. -Daniel Vázquez  Read More

President Enrique Peña Nieto Announces New Anti-Kidnapping Campaign
President Enrique Peña Nieto has unveiled a new strategy to prevent kidnappings and find missing persons that will shift the focus to intelligence gathering. The new plan, announced in late January, seeks to learn from the failed strategies of preceding administrations, primarily those of ex-Presidents Ernesto Zedillo , Felipe Calderón, and Vicente Fox. The Peña Nieto administration does not exactly have a stellar record when it comes to kidnappings. In fact, the number of abductions during the president’s first year in office increased significantly from the last year of the Calderón administration. This increase in abductions is what prompted the administration to put together an anti-kidnapping strategy, which places less emphasis on prosecution of the crime and more on intelligence gathering and prevention. -Carlos Navarro  Read More

Rights Groups Say Peru's New Law Protects "Trigger Happy" Police, Military
Numerous national and international human rights organizations are questioning a new law that gives police and the military more leeway to use lethal force "in the line of duty." President Ollanta Humala enacted the norm on Jan. 13. Ley 30151 modifies Article 20, Subsection 11, of the Código Penal, which exempted police and members of the armed forces from criminal liability in cases where, "in the line of duty and using their weapons in a prescribed manner, one causes injury or death." The Defensoría del Pueblo, Peru’s autonomous ombud’s office, agrees that "law enforcement should be given the tools it needs to tackle organized crime, terrorism, drug trafficking and common crime, as well as address the violence that can result from social conflicts. But it warned that the new regulations put everyone’s lives at risk by allowing the use of weapons without regard to established policing regulations. -Elsa Chanduví Jaña Read More

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