Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Around Latin America

-While in Brazil, I commented on the disadvantages many Brazilians with disabilities and special needs face compared to a more accessible (if far from ideal) situation in the U.S. This week, disabled Brazilians and disability groups took to the streets of Rio to bring public awareness to the issues they face.

-Polls may or may not mean anything at any given moment. That said, the news that leftist candidate Ciro Gomes is now polling ahead of the PT's Dilma Rousseff in the latest round of polls for the Brazilian elections next year (which are still more than a year off) is interesting (the PSDB's Jose Serra still has a strong hold on the lead at this point). While I was in Brazil, many were pegging Gomes as the left's next big post-Lula hope, so this is interesting news, though certainly meaningless in terms of predicting how next year's elections will actually turn out.

-In a very grim statistic, Ciudad Juarez has already set a new record for murders in the city this year, with 1701 homicides in 2009 already, shattering the record set in 2008. And there are still three full months left in the year. Very sad.

-Argentina is preparing to send families to the Malvinas islands to commemmorate the official inauguration of a cemetary for those Argentines who died in the Malvinas (Falklands) War of 1982.

-Also in "Dirty War"-related news, Spain has arrested a Dutch commercial airline pilot for allegedly piloting "death flights" during the Dirty War. "Death flights," in which Argentina would take arrested victims on airplane or helicopter flights, pushing them out of the planes into rivers or the Atlantic, where their corpses would not be recovered. [Update: for an excellent explanation of and quotations about death flights, see Lillie's post.]

-The abortion debate in Jamaica continues. The country currently allows doctors to decide to perform an abortion if they think the patient's life is in danger, but there is no regulation of abortions, making conditions dangerous from place to place and hospital to hospital, and some groups are pushing to outlaw it altogether.

-Guyana's president has struck upon a novel idea for protecting the forests of that country. He's offering to protect the country's swath of rain forests, based on one condition: that the richer countries of the world pay for preserving the forest. According to his plan, the money from rich countries to protect the forest (which they rhetorically say has to happen) could then be used to sponsor green development and help provide alternate jobs and incomes for Guyanan families that might otherwise participate in deforestation for their living.

-Finally, talk about a movie series I'd love to watch: a series of films "focuses on Latin American freedom fighters key to their respective countries independence from Spain and is timed to coincide with the bicentennial of most of South America's independence from the colonial power." The first two entries (focusing on Jose Marti and San Martin) are already completed. Brazil's entry will focus on Tiradentes, a national hero who tried to lead an independence movement in Brazil at the end of the 18th century.