Thursday, January 9, 2014

Poverty, Migration in Honduras; NAFTA's 20th Birthday; Military Attacks Small-Scale Miners in Ecuador

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for January 8-10

NAFTA Completes 20 Years of Existence with Mixed Results
On Jan. 1, 2014, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) completed 20 years of existence, amid varying opinions on whether the agreement has been good for Mexico. The agreement has certainly brought significant benefits for a segment of the population, primarily middle class and wealthy Mexicans. Critics suggest the agreement has personally not benefited the majority of Mexicans. The question after two decades is whether on balance the benefits of the agreement outweigh its negative aspects, including reducing tariffs that severely harmed producers of corn and other important agricultural commodities and derailed Mexico’s efforts to attain self-sufficiency in food production. -Carlos Navarro  Read More

An Unstoppable Tide of Femicides in Dominican Republic
Femicide in the Dominican Republic is a serious problem that the authorities have failed to address. According to recent reports, the Caribbean country has the third-highest femicide rate in Latin America. In 2011, 230 femicides were recorded, according to the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR), which compiles statistics from the police as well as the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Forenses (INACIF). In 2012, 103 femicides were reported, and, during the first half of 2013, 140 Dominican women died as a result of acts of violence, a figure that includes 69 cases recorded as femicides. -Crosby Girón   Read More

Ecuadoran Government Alleges Mafia Involvement In Small-Scale Mining
Early last November, an incident between a military platoon and Shuar communities living on the banks of the Río Zamora, in southern Ecuador’s Amazon region, resulted in the death of an indigenous man named Freddy Taish. Later that same day, in a nationwide broadcast, the government blamed the incident on foreign "mafias" involved in arms and drugs trafficking and money laundering. Authorities say the outside criminal groups have infiltrated the Zamora area’s artisan (small-scale) mining industry. Artisan mining is a subsistence activity traditionally carried out by local indigenous and campesino communities. Domingo Ancuash, a longtime Shuar leader, believes the crackdown resulted from his community's vocal opposition to mining concessions granted in the region to multinational mining interests. - Luis Ángel Saavedra    Read More

Tens of Thousands of Undocumented Hondurans Caught and Deported in 2013
Migrating to the US in search of finding the opportunity they lack in their country to overcome their dire socioeconomic situation is nothing new to Hondurans. Neither is the risk of being caught along the lengthy, perilous way and sent back. Some 74,000 undocumented Hondurans were deported last year, marking an abrupt end--however calculated the risk--to their quest for labor opportunities and improved income to support their families back home. -George Rodríguez   Read More

Venezuela’s Chavistas Gain Strength; Opposition Split After Elections
Following municipal elections Dec. 8 in which Venezuela’s governing party confirmed its political primacy, the right-wing opposition is reconsidering a strategy that set Henrique Capriles up as the leader of the Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD). During the past five years, the opposition had focused its efforts on Capriles, a task that was not always easy. Voter turnout in the municipal elections reached a record of nearly 60%, with the governing Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) winning 79% of the mayoral races in 337 municipalities. The ruling party had nearly 5.2 million votes while the opposition’s total came in a little under 4.1 million. Although not directly comparable, the gap between December municipal elections and the April presidential contest increased by nearly 1.1 million votes. -Andrés Gaudín    Read More

Telecommunications Regulator Announces Auction of Television Frequencies
When President Enrique Peña Nieto and the Congress proposed comprehensive changes to the telecommunications sector in 2013, they promised to enact a law that would bring greater democracy to the broadcast media. The telecommunications law approved in March 2013 included the creation of an independent agency, the Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFETEL), which was established to push for a more democratic broadcast sector. The IFETEL, which replaced the largely ineffective Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones (COFETEL), is taking its constitutionally mandated mission seriously, and this was reflected in the institute’s first major action. In early January, the agency announced the auction for 246 digital television frequencies around the country and in the process indicated that the two existing networks would not be eligible to participate. -Carlos Navarro  Read More 

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