Around Latin America

June 25, 2012

The events in Paraguay this weekend were particularly exceptional and important, but there were many other things going on throughout Latin America that are worth noting.

-Bolivia is going through its own domestic strife, as police have gone on strike over pay. The strike quickly spread throughout the country and could lead to the type of confrontation that left 19 people dead in a similar strike in 2003. With police striking, the Bolivian government has mobilized the army to fulfill police functions and patrol the streets. This is the second police strike in the region this year – in February, police in Brazil went on strike right before Carnaval, also demanding higher pay.

-In Argentina, truckers went on a one-day strike demanding higher pay, a tactic that was successful for the truckers. However, they have also announced another one-day strike this week to demand a reduction in taxes.

-While Mexico has made a number of high-profile arrests (and at least one possibly mistaken identification in an arrest) of drug cartel leaders in recent weeks, a new report says that Mexico lags behind Colombia and even Guatemala in seizing criminals’ actual assets, calling such seizures “nearly null” in Mexico. Meanwhile, “intern” over at Just the Facts breaks down nicelyhow July’s presidential election may impact the drug trade in Mexico.

-On the other end of the drug trade debate, Uruguay’s government is set to submit a bill that would legalize marijuana.

-The Rio+20 environmental summit wrapped up last week, though with little concrete change or improvements in sustainable development; rather, “everybody” was “unhappy” and the conference agreed to future conferences. That said, Rio Real was in Rio de Janeiro and had some interesting on-the-ground observations, as did Lucy Jordan, who provided “A Brazil Perspective on Rio+20.”, and Lisa provides a layperson’s view on living in Rio in the midst of the summit.

-In El Salvador, a gang truce reached its 100th day, with homicide rates dropping significantly in that period.

-Indigenous peoples in Venezuela are demanding Germany return a 35-ton boulder that is (ironically) a part of a “global peace project” but that is also a sacred object to the Pemon peoples.

-Tropical storm Debby formed in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. This marks the first time since 1851 that there were four tropical storms that had formed before July 1.

-An investigation into the death of General Alberto Bachelet, the father of former president Michelle Bachelet and a military official who was loyal to president Salvador Allende after his overthrow and suicide in 1973, has found that the former general most likely died from heart problems aggravated by the torture the Pinochet regime forced him to endure. Meanwhile, the Chilean courts also ordered an investigation into the 1976 assassination of US citizen Ronni Moffitt in Washington DC. Moffitt died in a car bomb that also killed exiled Chilean human rights and anti-Pinochet  dictatorship activist Orlando Letelier.

-Uruguay’s Minister of Economy, Fernando Lorenzo, said that the country is worried about the economic impact of the Euro zone’s ongoing instability might have on countries like Uruguay. The admission serves as an important reminder that, despite recent regional economic successes, Latin America is still somewhat dependent on the economic strength of Europe (and susceptible to economic troubles there).

-Finally, Brazil is set to raise the price of gasoline for the first time since….2008.

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