Mexico & Central America News and Discussions

caltrek
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The Dying Villages of Mexico’s Lake Cuitzeo
By Arnaud De Decker and Jules Emile
July 25, 2021

https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2021 ... ke-cuitzeo

Introduction:
(Al Jazeera) Fifty-two-year-old Augustin Rodriguez stands on the withered grass of his front yard and opens the tap. Water slowly drips from the garden hose the fisherman’s family uses for their daily needs. There is just enough to fill the cooking pot; the rest of the water is for the three goats that are cooped up nearby, next to the makeshift open-air kitchen.

The colourful buildings of San Nicolás Cuiritzeo in Mexico have seen better days. Like the water that has disappeared from the lake that neighbours the village, many of its inhabitants have left to seek a more prosperous life elsewhere. Once a healthy mix of farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, today only about 350 remain.

Augustin shrugs. “We have to be thrifty. The lake has been empty for months. We have to make do with some groundwater that we get from a well a little further away, but that too is almost empty. If it doesn’t rain in the next few days or weeks, we’re in for a big problem,” he says.

His family sits outside, in the shade provided by a skinny tree. Defeated, he steps towards them and wearily sits down on a dusty angular stone, taking a sip from his lukewarm beer. “My brothers and I have been out of work for months. We can’t hold out much longer,” he says.

He wants to show us the seriousness of the situation and takes us to the lake in question, about a kilometre south of his house. Lake Cuitzeo is a natural freshwater lake and the second-largest water reservoir in Mexico. Located 300km to the west of Mexico City, in the state of Michoacan, it is irregularly shaped, with its northern, western and eastern parts interconnected by marshland.
Image
Horses graze while a fire has been set to burn the remaining withered aquatic plants on the lakebed to free up more potential grazing area.
Jules Emile/Al Jazeera
caltrek
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The following article is a little bit more conservative in its orientation that the two previous articles on Cuba that I have cited. Still, I think it makes some valid points helpful in understanding a complex situation.

Five Ways Americans Misunderstand Cuba
by Caroline McCullough
(Does not appear to be dated, but recently posted at The Conversation.

https://theconversation.com/5-ways-amer ... ote-164996

Introduction:
(The Conversation) Cuba recently erupted in the largest protests seen there in six decades, reflecting popular anger over a crippling economic crisis, scarce food and medicines and a half-century of repression.

Cuba remains largely an enigma to outsiders, and especially to Americans. Myths prevail because of Cuban government censorship and the United States’ historic tendency – born of the Cold War – to stereotype and simplify the communist island.

“The truth is that Cuba is often more talked about, idealized or vilified than known,” wrote Martín Mosquera, editor of the Latin American edition of Jacobin, a leftist publication, recently.

This article examines five common areas of confusion about Cuba, Cuban Americans and the U.S.-Cuba relationship.
  • #1. The Cuban Revolution…
  • #2. The US embargo…
  • #3. US interference in Cuba…
  • #4. Cuban Americans…
  • #5. Race and equality in Cuba…
(See the article linked above the quote box for more discussion of each of these five areas)
caltrek's comments: Notwithstanding observations made in this article, I still think that the issue of sanctions needs to be re-thought. Even if the goal is further Western-style democracy, it is clear that sanctions have done nothing to help reach that goal. As one individual interviewed on television commented, all the sanctions do is give the Cuban government an excuse for the country's economic problems. Opening up trade and cultural contacts would remove that excuse and promote more of an interchange of ideas. Moreover, it is probably not a bad idea to allow that to happen on terms demanded by the Cuban government. That would allow that government to hold in check the possible negative consequences of foreign corporate influences.
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Yuli Ban
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Cuba's communist government has legalised small and medium-sized private businesses in the wake of mass anti-government protests last month
Cuba's communist government has legalised small and medium-sized private businesses in the wake of mass anti-government protests last month.

Under the new rules, enterprises with up to 100 employees will be allowed.

President President Miguel Díaz-Canel said Cuba was taking firm steps to update its economic model.

Critics say the government's plans have been accelerated because of July's protests, when thousands turned out to complain of economic ruin.

Demonstrators condemned the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and demanded political change.

Dozens were arrested nationwide and that least one man died in the unrest.
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
caltrek
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Tensions Escalate in Guatemala as National Strike Continues
August 6, 2021

https://ghrcusa.wordpress.com/2021/08/0 ... continues/

Introduction:
(Guatemala Human Rights Commission) In response to Attorney General Consuelo Porras’ dismissal of top anti-corruption prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval, the Biden administration has taken steps intended as a rebuke. On July 27 the administration announced it had “temporarily paused programmatic cooperation” with the Guatemalan Public Ministry. “Guatemalan Attorney General Consuelo Porras’ July 23rd decision to remove Special Prosecutor Against Impunity, or FECI, Chief Juan Francisco Sandoval fits a pattern of behavior that indicates a lack of commitment to the rule of law and independent judicial and prosecutorial processes,” according to the State Department’s spokesperson. “As a result, we have lost confidence in the attorney general and their decision and intention to cooperate with the US government and fight corruption in good faith.”

Attorney General Porras, rather than backing down in the face of the aid cut, argued in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Juan Francisco Sandoval’s dismissal was legal, a claim former Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz and other experts point out is false; Sandoval’s firing, in fact, was arbitrary and illegal. The Guatemala Human Rights Commission, along with eleven other international organizations, denounced the dismissal of Juan Fransisco Sandoval and called for his immediate reinstatement.

The embassies of Sweden, Switzerland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Canada, and the United States in a joint statement as members of the G-13 Donor Group lamented the attorney general’s firing of Sandoval. “This incident is seen as part of a pattern of instability and institutional weakening that affects the rule of law in Guatemala,” the statement said.

Indigenous-Led National Strike Continues

In response to Sandoval’s ouster, indigenous authorities on a national level convoked a national strike on July 29. Thousands protested Sandoval’s dismissal, demanding his reinstatement and calling for President Alejandro Giamatttei and Attorney General Porras to resign. According to Maya K’iche’ leader, journalist, and human rights defender Andrea Ixchíu, the indigenous-led movement for the national strike stemmed from frustration with a government administered by economic elites, the military, and drug traffickers who have blocked the possibility of a life with dignity for the indigenous peoples. “In the midst of the pandemic, the Guatemalan government is stealing the money from the vaccines and militarizing the country,” she told Democracy Now.
caltrek
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What’s Causing Cuba’s Economic Crisis?
from an interview with Jorge Salazar-Carrillo
August 12, 2021

https://theconversation.com/why-cubans- ... red-164472

Introduction:
(The Conversation) Cuba’s economy relies largely on tourism and raw exports such as rum, tobacco, sugar and minerals. Before the pandemic, tourism made up the biggest share of the country’s gross domestic product, or about 40% to 50%, and contributed significantly to the Cuban government’s foreign exchange reserves.

In addition, Cuba imports more than half of the fuel, food, medicine and other goods people consume.

All of that is now in crisis. Tourism had already collapsed because of pandemic-related domestic restrictions on travel, as well as Trump-era efforts to curtail American visits to the island. Both exports and imports have plunged, in part due to other recent U.S. sanctions, resulting in food and power shortages and long lines for fuel. The Trump administration’s November 2020 ban on using Western Union to send remittances from the U.S. to Cuba – a policy so far kept in place by President Joe Biden – resulted in a large drop in the amount of money being sent home by Cuban Americans. I estimate remittances fell about a tenth from levels they were at a few years ago.

To top it off, however, the Cuban government launched a calamitous monetary reform in January 2021 that led to high inflation and a plunge in the black market value of the peso.

In January, the government eliminated the covertible peso, forcing Cubans to exchange them for regular pesos by the end of June 2021. The long-planned reform – adopted by the government a decade ago to tighten links with the international economy – had the effect of devaluing the Cuban peso.
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Haitians Pleading for Help as Storm Makes Landfall Days After Earthquake
by Jessica Corbett
August 16, 2021

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/ ... earthquake

Introduction:
(Common Dreams) Pleas for international aid poured out of Haiti on Monday in the wake of a weekend earthquake that killed at least 1,419 people amid growing concerns that Tropical Depression Grace will hamper search and rescue efforts as well as the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

"We're pleading for help," Marie-Helen L'Esperance, mayor of the town of Pestel, told Haiti's Pacific Radio. "Every house was destroyed, there's nowhere to live, we need shelters, medical help, and especially water. We've had nothing for three days and injured victims are starting to die."

Marcelin Lorejoie, a volunteer, told CNN on Sunday that "we really need help, yesterday I was helping at the hospital and things were out of control."

"Not enough doctors, not enough medicines, and we have people with serious injuries," Lorejoie said. "We need urgent help before things [get] more complicated."

Grace, which could dump up to 15 inches of rain on some areas, made landfall in Haiti Monday afternoon…
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Haiti: Blacks attack relief trucks and steal everything
Quote:
This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized 1536x1025.
https://nypost.com/2021/08/21/haitians- ... arthquake/
Haitians overran trucks filled with supplies, stealing food and other necessities Friday as the country’s leaders scrambled to provide relief a week after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the impoverished country.
Haitians attack relief trucks, steal food after earthquake
caltrek
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Neobroker Flink Raises $57 Million to Boost Financial Services to Mexicans
by Mary Ann Azevedo
August 25, 2021

https://techcrunch.com/2021/08/25/mexic ... -in-latam/

Introduction
(TechCrunch) Flink, a Mexico City-based neobroker, has raised $57 million in a Series B round of funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.

The financing comes just over six months after Flink raised $12 million in a Series A round led by Accel. Existing backers Accel, ALLVP, Clocktower and new investor Mantis Venture Capital (founded by The Chainsmokers) also put money in the Series B. Since its 2017 inception, the startup has raised nearly $70 million.

Neobrokers are defined as startups that are disrupting the investment industry by providing a platform for a wider range of consumers to partake in the stock market by offering them more incremental investment options and modern and easy mobile-based interfaces to manage their money. There is a growing number of them globally, including Scalable Capital, Bitpanda and Trade Republic in Europe.

For Mexico City-born Sergio Jiménez Amozurrutia, the fact that in his country of more than 120 million people, only a tiny fraction of the population has the ability to invest in the capital markets felt unfair. To him, the lack of widespread participation in investing is an example of the rich getting richer as part of an infrastructure “that is built for the wealthy.” The result of the imbalance is that a lot of people have historically been locked out of making potentially wealth-building investments.

So after selling Easy Credit, a consumer lending platform he’d built with Rick Rafael Bueno (whom he met in 2015 at a hackathon at Tech de Monterrey), Amozurrutia set out to give Mexicans access to something he believed they’d never had access to: an app-based consumer trading platform.
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U.S. Airlifts Aid to Haiti to Reach Areas Hardest Hit by Quake
by Ben Fox
August 29, 2021

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/us ... uxbndlbing

Introduction:
JEREMIE, Haiti (AP) — U.S. military aircraft are now ferrying food, tarps and other material into southern Haiti amid a shift in the international relief effort to focus on helping people in the areas hardest hit by the recent earthquake to make it through the hurricane season.

Aircraft flying out of the capital, Port-au-Prince, arrived throughout the day Saturday in the mostly rural, mountainous southern peninsula that was the epicenter of the Aug. 14 earthquake. In Jeremie, people waved and cheered as a Marine Corps unit from North Carolina descended in a tilt-rotor Osprey with pallets of rice, tarps and other supplies.

Most of the supplies, however, were not destined for Jeremie. They were for distribution to remote mountain communities where landslides destroyed homes and the small plots of the many subsistence farmers in the area, said Patrick Tiné of Haiti Bible Mission, one of several groups coordinating the delivery of aid.

“They lost their gardens, they lost their animals,” Tiné said as he took a break from helping unload boxes of rice. “The mountains slid down and they lost everything.”

At the request of the Haitian government, getting as much help to such people as fast as possible is now the focus of the $32 million U.S. relief effort, said Tim Callaghan, a disaster response team leader for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
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Mexico's top court decriminalizes abortion in 'watershed moment'

September 8, 2021

Mexico's Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Tuesday that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional, a major victory for advocates of women's health and human rights, just as parts of the United States enact tougher laws against the practice.

The decision in the world's second-biggest Roman Catholic country means that courts can no longer prosecute abortion cases, and follows the historic legalization of the right in Argentina, which took effect earlier this year.

Arturo Zaldivar, president of the Mexican Supreme Court, hailed the decision as "a watershed moment" for all women, especially the most vulnerable.

The vote by the 10 judges present stemmed from a 2018 case challenging a criminal law on abortion in Coahuila, a northern Mexican state which borders Texas, which has just tightened its laws.

It also comes as a growing feminist movement has taken to the streets in Mexico to press for change, including calls to end anti-abortion laws on the books in much of the country.

https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/ ... 021-09-07/


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Credit: REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
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