Monday, May 18, 2009

Lots Going On Around Latin America

Regular writing on my own work has taken up most of my time lately, leaving me unable to comment in depth on some stories from Latin America lately (though I thank Erik for picking up some of my slack). Still, it seems worthwhile just offering another quick pointing to several stories of interest across Latin America recently, and hopefully, I'll be back to regular blogging soon (though it depends how writing elsewhere goes).

-To follow up on Erik's post, indigenous peoples in Peru have responded to Garcia's sending of the military to extract oil from indigenous lands by saying they will return to "ancestral laws" and interpret any invasion as an act of aggression.

-Things have gotten really ugly really quickly in Guatemala in the wake of the murder of lawyer last week. Rodrigo Rosenberg was killed while riding his bike, and a video of Rosenberg was released that said if he were killed, it was because president Alvaro Colom had ordered the killing. In response, mass protests calling for Colom's resignation and supporting Colom have burst out. The UN and the FBI are getting involved to help solve the case, while an individual who, via Twitter, recommended people withdraw their money from one of the banks (currently of major relevance to the events, as the assassination apparently involves Rosenberg, two of his clients who were also murdered, Colom, and charges of corruption) is under house arrest, charged with trying to spark a panic. Meanwhile, both Colom's supporters and his opponents are claiming the other side is propped up by money from drug cartels. I hope to have more analysis on this later, but right now, I fully agree with Boz: if there is any truth to any of these claims, then it means that the drug cartels have entered national politics in Guatemala, and that is nothing but bad news.

-Massive rains and flooding in the northeastern states of Piauí and Maranhão in Brazil have left 300,000 people homeless, and it appears no sign the waters will go down for at least a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, a recent drought in the Center-South has forced Brazil to increase its importation of gasoline from Bolivia for energy needs, as hydroelectric energy production has dropped.

-Chile marked the 50th anniversary of the Torres del Paine national park by increasing its preservation-and-maintenance funding from $60,000 to $800,000/year, and asked UNESCO to put the park on the wildlife heritage list.

-In more environmental news, Argentina has established quota limits for fishing on three types of fish, in an effort to try to stave off over-fishing and eventual extinction of these species.