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The Future of Latin America

South America Brazil Argentina Americas Western Hemisphere Peru Uruguay Chile USAN

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#41
caltrek

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^^^While Nicaragua is generally perceived (by myself at least) as being a very progressive minded country, any sort of government repression is rightfully worthy of condemnation. 

 

Meanwhile, over in Ecuador:

 

Top Ecuador Court Upholds $9 Billion Ruling Against Chevron

 

Entire article:

 

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador’s highest court has upheld a $9.5 billion judgment against oil giant Chevron for decades of rainforest damage that harmed indigenous people.

 

Plaintiffs celebrated the constitutional court’s decision announced Tuesday night by saying it leaves no doubt about their right to receive compensation for oil spills that contaminated groundwater in indigenous communities in the Amazon.

 

But the ruling is largely symbolic as Chevron no longer operates in the South American country. That means Ecuador’s government will have to pursue assets owned by the San Ramon, California-based company in foreign courts, where it so far has had little luck.

 

Chevron had long argued that a 1998 agreement Texaco signed with Ecuador after a $40 million cleanup absolves it of liability. Chevron bought Texaco in 2001.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#42
caltrek

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Ivan Duque sworn in as Colombia's next president

 

https://www.aljazeer...7152715594.html

 

Introduction:

 

(Al Jazeera) Colombia's president-elect Ivan Duque has been sworn in as the country's 60th president, amid concern over the influence he will have on the country's peace process.

More than 12,000 police were deployed in the historic centre of the capital Bogota for Duque's inauguration on Tuesday, according to local reports.

 

The heads of state of Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and the Dominican Republic are expected to attend ceremony at Bolivar Square, where Congress will gather for an open air session.

 

UN ambassador Nikki Haley is also expected to lead a US delegation to Duque's swearing-in.

The mayor of the US city of Miami, Francis Suarez, as well as the leader of Spain's Popular Party, Pablo Casado, are also attending the event.

 

 

The remainder of the article contains discussion that is also highly relevant to the recent alleged drone attack at a public event attended by Venezuela's president Nicolas Madura.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#43
caltrek

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Argentine Senate Rejects Legalizing Elective Abortion

 

https://www.courthou...ctive-abortion/

 

Introduction:

 

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s Senate on Thursday rejected a bill to legalize elective abortion, a defeat for a grassroots movement that came closer than ever to achieving the decriminalization of the procedure in the homeland of Pope Francis.

 

Lawmakers debated for more than 15 hours and voted 38-31 against the measure that would have legalized abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The decision could echo across Latin America, where anti-abortion forces remains strong even if the Roman Catholic Church has lost influence and moral authority due to secularization, an out-of-touch clerical caste and an avalanche of sex abuse scandals.

 

For long hours, thousands of supporters wearing green handkerchiefs that represent the effort to legalize abortion and opponents of the measure wearing light blue braved the heavy rain and cold temperatures in Argentina’s winter to watch the debate on large screens set up outside Congress.

 

The demonstrations were largely peaceful, but after the vote, small groups of protesters clashed with police, throwing firebombs and setting up flaming barricades. Police officers responded with tear gas.

 

Pushed by a wave of demonstrations by women’s groups, the lower house had already passed the measure and conservative President Mauricio Macri had said that he would sign it, even though he is anti-abortion.

argentina-abortion.jpg?resize=300%2C196

Pro-abortion activists gather around a bonfire to keep warm as celebratory fireworks go off in the distance from a gathering of anti-abortion activists, as they all wait outside Congress for lawmakers to vote on an abortion bill in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Aug. 9, 2018. 

(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#44
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Political upheaval in Nicaragua leaves scientists under siege

 

https://www.nature.c...586-018-07837-5

 

Introduction:

(Nature) Ongoing protests against the Nicaraguan government have led to violent clashes, and the crackdown by security forces has engulfed the country’s scientists, causing some to flee their homes in fear for their lives.

 

The student-led protests started in April in response to a decree from President Daniel Ortega that increased social-security taxes and reduced pensions. Ortega’s increasingly authoritarian administration tried to quell the protests with deadly force, which sparked demonstrations across Nicaragua. Since then, fierce confrontations between protesters, police and activists supporting the government have resulted in more than 300 deaths.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#45
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Colombia creates its first science ministry

 

https://www.nature.c...586-019-00087-z

 

Introduction:

(Nature) Colombian scientists are cautiously optimistic after the country’s Senate voted to create the nation’s first Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

 

Researchers hope that the ministry, announced in mid-December, is a signal that the government will start to address years of declining budgets and poorly coordinated science priorities. The move elevates Colombia’s existing science agency, giving research an advocate and agenda in President Iván Duque’s cabinet meetings, and placing it on equal footing with other ministries such as defence or foreign affairs.

 

But others say that for the research environment in Colombia to truly improve, there needs to be a cultural shift in how the country educates and employs scientists.

 

The new ministry will struggle without a system of meritocracy, the competent execution of state policy or adequate resources, says immunologist Gabriela Delgado, at the National University of Colombia in Bogota. “This can’t work the same as other ministries,” she says, referencing the corruption scandals that have plagued other parts of the government.

 

“We have the people, we have the knowledge, we have the biological resources — we are just missing the funding,” says Paul Chavarriaga, a plant biotechnologist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, Colombia.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#46
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Nicaragua - An Alternative Perspective

 

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/01/11/nicaragua-the-irony-of-the-nica-act-being-signed-into-law-by-trump/

 

Extract:

(Counterpunch) As a steadfast defender of the impoverished and working class through democratic socialist programs and progressive non-aligned geopolitical and economic relations, Washington’s ruling elite is no fan, to say the least, of President Daniel Ortega. So the fact that he won over 72% of the vote in 2016 remains hotly contested by their lackeys located in Nicaragua and Miami, as President Ortega directly thwarts the progress of their oppressive worldwide neoliberal agenda.

 

Similarly irksome to its ruling elite is the fact that Washington’s own IMF and World Bank sang President Ortega’s praises as recent as 2018 and noted his successful world-class renewable energy accomplishments. Equally troubling to Washington’s ruling elite is the fact that under President Ortega’s stewardship the people of Nicaragua enjoy: the lowest murder rate in Central America; unprecedented public healthcare and education, and a national police force it can trust and rely upon – since it is founded on the admirable principles of community policing. To the frustration of Washington’s ruling elite, President Ortega’s success in fighting the drug cartels and keeping them out of Nicaragua is also exemplary in a region otherwise plagued by narcotics, weapons, human trafficking and inexplicable violence.

 

So when all the money in Washington could not ruin President Ortega’s electoral victory…Washington then paid, armed and trained foreign drug cartel thugs and local criminals to impersonate student protestors. If Washington’s mercenaries weren’t deadly violent, the contrast between the news media’s photos of them and its captions about them would be comical – as Rambo type men with forearms the size of tree trunks, shown shooting weapons in trained fighting stances, frequently accompanied headlines that read: “Peaceful Student Protestors.”

 

…Washington didn’t anticipate the peasant’s participation…What Washington and its ruling elite never understand is that it is really difficult to install a coup in a country where the sitting President remains popular and every slanderous remark is ultimately revealed as a blatant lie. Washington’s strategy is to blame President Ortega for victims of its own mercenaries, and to defend its murderous thugs as “political prisoners” through its financially captive human rights and regional organizations.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#47
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I realized that I was coming across conflicting stories from sources that I more or less trust concerning Nicaragua. So I did some further digging in hope that I could construct a narrative that would help explain the situation and reconcile the conflicting reports. Here is what I came up with.

 

Prior to 2018, the economic performance of Nicaragua was strongly positive. Real GDP increased about 4.9 percent in 2017, supported by buoyant agricultural exports, tourism and remittances. The external current account (CA) deficit declined sharply to 6.1 percent of GDP (8.6 percent of GDP in 2016) and gross international reserves (GIR) rose by US$297 million to US$2.59 billion, reaching a coverage of about 4.2 months of imports. According to the 2016 Standard of Living Survey by the National Development Information Institute, general poverty in Nicaragua dropped from 29.6 to 24.9 percent between 2014 and 2016; while in the same period extreme poverty fell from 8.3 to 6.9 percent. 

 

Politically, Daniel Ortega had won re-election by what is on first glance an improbable 71% of the vote.  This lop-sided margin is explained by the opposition boycott of the election.  Instead of finding viable opposition candidates to support, opponents of the regimes simply did not vote.  So those that did vote were more prone to support Ortega. Despite the boycott, some  65 % turned out in the election.  Unless one believes charges that the election was rigged, clearly Ortega retained massive support.

 

 

So, what happened in 2018 that caused many to wonder if the country was on the verge of social collapse?

 

Nicaragua’s social security system, INSS, faced a budget shortfall. The IMF called for urgent reforms. The shortfall is actually running at about $75 million a year, or about 0.5 percentage points of GDP.

 

In response to this situation, President Ortega presented proposed reforms that would raise employer and employee contributions to the INSS system over a few years by 3.5 percentage points and 0.75 percentage points, respectively, and a 5 percent cut to pensions. Yes, benefits would be cut, but by far lower amounts than what the IMF and COSEP (the country’s main business organization) had been proposing.

 

Reaction to these proposals followed.  A wave of protests broke out on April 19, 2018.  By July, other protestors took to the streets in support of the regime. The initial protests against the government were followed by repressive measure by the state to quell the protests. If there is any criticism to be made, it is in the nature of that response. Apparently, many protestors were killed, an appalling development.  Condemnations followed from organizations such as Amnesty International1 and Human Rights Watch.

 

Counterpunch (see article linked in preceding post) claims that these protests were the work of American supported mercenaries.  While I could find no corroboration of that claim, it is clear that the U.S. government did provide significant support to opponents of the regime.  This aid came in the form of aid through the National Endowment for Democracy – a NGO created by the U.S Congress in 1983.  Even if such meddling contributed to the crisis, this is no excuse for the repression undertaken.   

 

Many pundits are predicting grave trouble for Ortega, while others call for his ouster.  Clearly, the protests and the government response to those protests has not helped Ortega’s cause.  Still, the military and significant segments of the population appear to continue to support Ortega.  One hopes that political differences will be settled through relatively peaceful democratic processes.  Perhaps then, Nicaragua can get back upon the path to continue economic improvement that it was on prior to 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. https://www.amnesty....a-manifesterse/


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






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