Friday, September 2, 2011

Top Stories: September 2nd, 2011

  • · Given a long history of authoritarian governments and state dictatorships, many Latin American countries have resisted establishing anti-terror laws. In particular, Brazil has no official recognition of terrorist presence within its borders, raising concerns over the country’s safety as it is set to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
  • · Humberto Moreira, the head candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Mexico, is making efforts to ‘repair the party’s image and regain the presidency in 2012.’ The PRI has a reputation of corruption and unfair elections—one which may be hard to shake as federal officials report a huge $2.8 billion dollar debt in Coahuila, which Moreira governed until January.
  • · A week after the Monterrey massacre, President Calderon released his annual national report yesterday, in which he argues that ‘he has strengthened the rule of law and fought against drug gangs like never before.’ According to the report, 21 of the 37 most wanted criminals have been either killed or captured, $12.7 billion has been confiscated in assets from drug gangs, and 35,000 people have died in drug-related violence.
  • · Police arrested a state police officer who is linked to the Monterrey massacre. A surveillance video inside of an SUV outside of the casino provided evidence of his involvement.
  • · On the verge of publishing a revealing story about drug gangs and local business corruption in the Dominican Republic, Jose Agustin Silvestre was kidnapped and killed. While police have arrested five suspects in the case, the subject of the journalists’ story and the mastermind behind the killing, Matias Avelino Castro, remains missing. Authorities are in the process of uncovering Avelinos alleged (extensive) drug ring.
  • · According to a ranking of the most livable cities in the world published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Buenos Aires and Santiago are the most livable cities in Latin America, figuring at 62 and 63, respectively. Motevideo, Uruguay is a close third at number 65. The survey assesses the best and worst living conditions using such criteria as stability, healthcare, culture, environment, education, and infrastructure.
  • · Through al-Jazeera, filmmaker Rodrigo Vazquez presents an interesting video project examining how Cuba’s new economic reforms and subtle progressive policy shifts are affecting Cubans.
  • · After implementing a new tax on mining companies and a law requiring local community consultation on gas and mining projects, Peruvian president Ollanta Humala has ‘gotten off to a calm start,’ according to the Economist. However, the new tax may cause problems because it replaces a voluntary contribution to local governments and the consultation requirement is, in reality, non-binding.
  • · President Obama’s promise of greater partnership with Latin America is proving harder and harder to keep, as Republicans continue to express opposition and a lack of confidence in the Organization of American States on grounds that it is too supportive of threats to democracy. Another point of contention is found in the free trade agreements currently under negotiation with Colombia and Panama, disliked by Democrats with protectionist sentiments and worries about the murders of union workers in Colombia.
  • · In response to the Monterrey massacre, former Mexican president Vicente Fox suggested that the government seek a truce with the drug cartels. Political critics immediately responded to the comment with strong opposition. In Sight Crime discusses why an explicit truce with the drug cartels in Mexico is not feasible nor would it be practical.
  • · A union of Peruvian coca producers has called for a re-evaluation of President Ollanta Humala’s policy towards coca eradication, arguing that the government needs to provide viable and legal alternatives to coca production.
  • · According to a Wikileaks cable obtained and published by Plaza Publica, the U.S. Embassy has classified Guatemala’s UCN party as having a ‘narco’ political ideology. An earlier cable described the party as having ties to narco-traffickers.