Friday, February 14, 2014

Panama Canal Expansion Grinds to a Halt, Indigenous Group to Oppose Ecuadoran Oil Push, AH1N1 Virus Reappears in Mexico

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for February 12-14

Musicians Hold Concert to Promote Caballeros Templarios Cartel in Michoacán State
On Feb. 2, the music-promotion company Andaluz Music organized a megaconcert featuring popular performers of narcocorridos, including the groups Los de la A and Calibre 50. The narcocorridos are part of the música alterada movement, which uses a narrative format to highlight the lifestyle and violent actions of organized crime, including acts of revenge and retaliation against rivals. The show, which lasted about 10 hours, was held at the Pabellón Don Vasco in Morelia, a venue owned by the state of Michoacán. During the performance, Ríos and Los de A made no secret of their loyalty to the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel, Given the controversial nature of the concert, it was remarkable that authorities gave their approval so easily, even using state police officers to provide security. Carlos Navarro Read More

Costa Rica's Elections Go to Faceoff Between Leading Candidates Whose Positioning Was Unexpected
Costa Rica’s presidential election goes, for the second time in this country’s political history, to a faceoff between the two most voted candidates, since none of 13 hopefuls managed to round up more than 40% of the vote. The results of the Feb. 2 election were not a surprise regarding the need for the second round, but the candidates’ positioning was astonishing. After having led most pre-election polls, San José Mayor Johnny Araya of the ruling social democratic Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN) suffered a major blow, along with his party, when he did not win the preliminary electronic results. Instead, Luis Guillermo Solís, a political scientist and university professor and a representative of the the center-left opposition Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC), received the most votes. The runoff between Solís and Araya is set for April 6. George Rodríguez   Read More

Argentina Devalues Currency; Braces for Opposition Attacks
Following Argentine legislative elections that narrowed the gap between the opposition and the ruling party, power groups and major media have pushed President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) to devalue the country’s currency. Though opposition parties gained ground, they did not win the election.The government had held that its efforts to maintain monetary stability was a major achievement allowing it to enrich foreign-exchange reserves and develop social policy. However, on Jan. 24, persistent market movement culminated with the end of monetary stability, one of the pillars of the Kirchner administrations that began in 2003 with the late President Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007) and continued under his wife who was elected following his death in 2007. Andrés Gaudín   Read More

Indigenous Group Uses "Living Forest" Model to Oppose Ecuadoran Oil Push
Under renewed pressure from government-backed oil interests, the Kichwa people of Sarayaku, in the Ecuadoran Amazonía, are employing a new tool to defend their lands and lifestyle: an alternative-development model that challenges the classic concepts of wealth and poverty espoused by most western governments and international organizations. The Ecuadoran government has decided to include Sarayaku--along with the territories of other indigenous groups in Ecuador’s southern Amazonian area--in a new oil concession process. The people of Sarayaku, as a result, are mobilizing to prevent drilling on their lands. As part of their strategy, they have come up with a development proposal that stresses the sacred nature of their territory, that re-evaluates concepts regarding quality of life, and that respects their spirituality and right to make independent economic decisions. Luis Ángel Saavedra   Read More

Panama Canal Expansion Work Grinds to Halt
The expansion of the Panama Canal, which handles 5% of the world’s maritime trade, was suspended on Jan. 20 because of an acrimonious dispute between the Spanish-led building consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) and the Autoridad del Canal de Panamá (ACP), the autonomous agency that manages the canal, regarding who should pay the US$1.6 billion needed to complete the ambitious project. The expansion of the 80 km cargo route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans included the construction of a third set of locks that would accommodate larger post-Panamax ships travelling from North America to Asia and was originally expected to cost about US$5.25 billion. However, the overruns could increase that to almost US$7 billion. Louisa Reynolds  Read More

AH1N1 Virus Reappears in Mexico in Early 2014; No Health Emergency Declared
There was a time when the mention of AH1N1 flu brought extreme concern, even a sense of panic, to the Mexican public. This was especially the case in the aftermath of the pandemic that followed the outbreak of the virus in central Mexico in March and April 2009. The AH1N1 virus infected 70,000 Mexicans, resulting in 1,300 deaths that year. The AH1N1 virus has reappeared in the first several weeks of 2014, with health authorities reporting almost 3,700 cases of influenza between Jan. 1 and Feb. 7, including more than 3,110 of AH1N1 infections. Despite the moderately high number of flu deaths, the outbreak did not attract the same type of front-page headlines as the 2009 pandemic. "The major difference between the situation we experienced in 2009 and now is that we have access to better medical information and an ample supply of vaccines, which have been distributed throughout the country," said Enrique Ramos Flores, tourism secretary in Jalisco state. Carlos Navarro   Read More

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