Friday, March 7, 2014

South America Gears Up for Busy Election Year, Tension Mounts in Colombia During Electoral Campaign, Mexico Legislators Introduce Initiatives to Ease Marijuana Restrictions

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Articles in SourceMex, NotiCen and NotiSur for March 5-7

Statements Abroad Allege US Military Base in Costa Rica, Question Nation’s Sovereignty, Comment on Elections
On its foreign policy front, Costa Rica has recently been the subject of statements from a Venezuelan-based television network and Bolivia's President Evo Morales that have ruffled local diplomatic feathers and led this Central American nation to react, denying the allegations and demanding apologies. The comments coming from the South American countries appear to be an effort to sway the Costan Rican presidential and congressional elections. The first round of voting occurred on Feb. 2, and the presidential vote will be finalized next month in a runoff. George Rodríguez Read More

Tension Mounts in Colombia During Electoral Campaign, Peace Talks
Colombians, including President Juan Manuel Santos, live in a climate of tension, moving from one shock to the next. Between Feb. 4 and Feb. 23, disturbing allegations have been revealed about political destabilization and various cases of violence that include spying, military corruption, threats to political and social leaders, and attacks against progressive candidates participating in both upcoming elections. This tense situation unfolds in the context of 15 months of conversations between the government and guerrillas aimed at putting an end to the internal war that has gripped the country for more than half a century. Andrés Gaudín Read More

Center-Left Legislators Introduce Initiatives in Mexico City Legislature, Congress to Further Ease Restrictions on Marijuana
The latest attempt to bring greater legal legitimacy to marijuana in Mexico appears to have run out of steam before full debate could take place. A faction from the center-left Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) introduced legislation in the Mexico City legislature (Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal, ALDF) and in the federal Congress in mid-February to further liberalize Mexico’s marijuana laws. The initiative proposed to create marijuana dispensaries in Mexico City and increase the amount of the drug people across the country could carry for personal use. While the effort gained a lot of attention in the press, the measure appears to be going nowhere in the three legislative bodies. Carlos Navarro Read More

Constitutional Court Rules Guatemala’s Attorney General Must Step Down
Even though, under the leadership of Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, the Ministerio Público (MP) has achieved unprecedented results in tackling homicide, rape, and kidnapping in a country with high levels of impunity, Guatemala’s highest court, the Corte de Constitucionalidad (CC), ruled, on Feb. 5, that she must step down seven months before the end of her term in office. The ruling was based on a constitutional challenge put forward by wealthy businessman Ricardo Sagastume, who argued that, since Paz y Paz took office early to complete the term of her predecessor, Conrado Reyes, who was removed from office , her four-year term should end in May 2014. Local and international human rights organizations say Guatemala’s conservative establishment seeks to punish Paz y Paz for her efforts to bring human rights violators to trial. Louisa Reynolds Read More

South America Gears Up for Busy Election Year
Presidential elections are set to take place in four South American countries this year, starting with Colombia, where the right is expected to keep its hold on government. At the other end of the political spectrum are the governments of Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay, where progressives are also looking to retain power. All three face challenges from conservative forces, which are doing everything they can to push for leadership change. Convincing voters in those countries will not be easy, however, given the success the governments have had incorporating previously marginalized groups into the social, economic, and political fold. Andrés Gaudín Read More

Femicide: Alarming Problem Despite Vanguard Law
Despite a law approved by Congress in 2007 to confront femicide in Mexico, the killing of women and girls because of their gender--remains an alarming epidemic throughout the country. The 2007 law includes a unique mechanism to prevent femicide called the Declaración de Alerta de Violencia de Género, or gender-violence alert. Organizations have asked for gender-violence alert declarations eight times. But each time--from Oaxaca and Chiapas in the south to Nuevo León in the north and Hidalgo, Guanajuato, and México state in the center--the government commission charged with enacting the alerts has rejected the requests. The Observatorio Ciudadano Nacional de Feminicidio (OCNF) says an average of six femicides per day occur in Mexico. Lindajoy Fenley Read More

Femicide Rooted in Patriarchal Culture
The roots of femicide emerge from an extreme version of patriarchal culture, say Mexican activists. Despite the laws, ingrained cultural factors make it difficult to ensure women the freedom from violence. Yuriria Rodríguez, a lawyer with the Observatorio Ciudadano Nacional de Feminicidio, cites an example of the view she said arose in the wake of a gender-violence alert rejection. "An attorney general said, 'We’ve found the causes explaining why women are being killed. Women are being killed because they are transgressing the roles society assigns them. Every time you turn around there are more female workers, more female taxi drivers. Since they are transgressing cultural roles, men get mad and kill them.' Lindajoy Fenley Read More

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