Tag Archive | "ecuador"

Latin America News Roundup: 11th April 2014

Government and opposition engage in 'dialogue for peace' (photo: Francisco Batista, courtesy of Venezuelan government)

Government and opposition engage in ‘dialogue for peace’ (photo: Francisco Batista, courtesy of Venezuelan government)

Venezuela: Government and Opposition Begin Talks: Representatives from the government and the opposition Mesa de Unión Democrática (MUD) held yesterday the first of a series of formal talks. The first of the ‘dialogues for peace’ called by the government went on for almost five hours and was broadcast to the country by radio and television. The debate was opened by president Nicolás Maduro, who gave a one-hour speech, and followed by 11 MUD and eight government representatives, who spoke for around ten minutes each. Talking about the debates, President Maduro said: “There are no negotiations or pacts here, what we want to find through this path is a model of mutual tolerance.” During their interventions, government representatives criticised the opposition for their role in the violent protests held around the country over the past two months: “We’re sitting here with the same opposition of years ago, experts in saying ‘I didn’t do it’. I feel no one who is here has condemned the violence,” said National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello. The opposition, in turn, criticised the government for the state of the country. Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles justified his attendance at the debate “because our country is doing really badly; Venezuela is in a very critical situation,” and added that the political crisis, which, in his opinion, dates back to last year’s tight presidential election, “may end up in either of two results that neither the opposition or Venezuelans want: a coup d’êtat or a social outburst.” A new meeting was agreed upon for Tuesday, the agenda for which will be defined by a special committee.

Ecuador: Environmentalists Closer to Referendum on Yasuní: Ecuadorian environmental group Yasunidos announced that it has collected over 700,000 signatures, more than enough to force a referendum on whether oil exploration should be authorised in the Yasuní National Park, in the country’s Amazon. The signatures still have to be verified, but if they are, the government will be obliged to put the matter to a popular vote. The park is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world and has hit the headlines numerous times in recent years, after President Rafael Correa launched the Yasuní-ITT initiative. The measure proposed the country refrain indefinitely from exploiting reserves in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini block, three oil fields within the Yasuní National Park, in exchange for 50% of the value of the income it would be forgoing from the world community. However, last August Correa announced that the plans had failed, after receiving less than 1% of the US$3.6bn target. Controversy arose in February, when The Guardian newspaper revealed that the Ecuadorian government had been negotiating a secret US$1bn deal with a Chinese bank to drill for oil under the Yasuní national park as early as 2009, while publicly pursuing the Yasuní-ITT initiative. Correa has said that any profit from oil extraction should be used in the country’s fight against poverty.

Paraguay: Indigenous Children Rescued in Trafficking Bust: Twenty-one indigenous children who were sexually exploited and had been forced to beg were rescued by prosecution agents in Ciudad del Este, on Paraguay’s Brazilian border. The 19 girls and two boys, who are believed to have been brought from Repatriación, a town between Ciudad del Este and the capital Asunción, are now in a state-run safe house. One man was arrested in the operation, which took place last Friday, but was only made public today for security purposes. Ciudad del Este, and the tri-border area with Argentina and Brazil, is notorious for child sex trafficking, with “continuous reports” of cases, according to the UNHCR.

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Latin America News Roundup: 28th March 2014

Uruguayan president José 'Pepe' Mujica (photo by Roosewelt Pinheiro/ABr on Wikipedia)

Uruguayan president José ‘Pepe’ Mujica (photo by Roosewelt Pinheiro/ABr on Wikipedia)

Uruguay – Partial Withdrawal of Police from Football Stadiums After Violence: President José Mujica has ordered the withdrawal of state police from the stadiums of the two biggest clubs – Nacional and Peñarol – following a violent confrontation between fans and officers on Wednesday. However, fears that the weekend’s domestic league fixtures would be suspended were abated today after an agreement was reached with the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) and clubs to send police to protect referees and stadium personnel, as well as patrol the areas surrounding the stadiums. The safety of the fans will be the responsibility of the AUF and the clubs. Speaking on Thursday, a day after 13 police officers were injured and 40 Nacional fans arrested after a Copa Libertadores game in Montevideo, Mujica said he was “prepared to stop football if necessary” to combat the violence in the sport.

Mexico – Armed Militias Spread in Michoacán State: Armed militia groups, known as ‘autodefensas‘, marched into the municipality of Tacámbaro yesterday to take control of security and combat organised crime. The militias were accompanied by members of the state and federal police forces, local press report. The move brings the total number of towns reportedly under the control of the autodefensas to 31, a little over a year after first forming, with 20,000 people now part of the militia groups. Also yesterday, the public prosecutor’s office reported that 11 armed civilians were arrested in the town of Zitácuaro after allegedly falsely claiming to be part of the militia. Meanwhile, the government in the neighbouring state of Guerrero said federal police and the army had “sealed” the border between the two areas to prevent the spread of the militias – or the criminal gangs they are targeting – into its territory.

Ecuador – President Blames International Far Right for Twitter Hack: President Rafael Correa has blamed “extreme right-wing foreign groups” and the “unscrupulous local opposition” for hacking into his Twitter account yesterday. Messages that appeared on Correa’s account included links to a site called ‘Anonynews’, which included accusations against the government based on alleged official intelligence. The Interior Ministry and the National Intelligence Service today released a statement condemning the act: “We will not tolerate any illegal action that attacks and manipulates the president’s privacy, lying and making false claims on one of the direct channels of communication with the public.” The authorities added that a full investigation into the incident is underway.

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Latin America News Roundup: 26th March 2014

The Internet bill was debated and approved yesterday (photo: Luis Macedo/Câmara dos Deputados)

The Internet bill was debated and approved yesterday (photo: Luis Macedo/Câmara dos Deputados)

Brazil – Lower House Passes Internet Bill: The Chamber of Deputies passed a bill which has been dubbed Brazil’s “Internet constitution”, and which seeks to establish principles, rights, and obligations both for users and providers. The bill, introduced by president Dilma Rousseff’s government, was supported by all political parties except for the opposition Partido Popular Socialista (PPS). The main aims of the proposal, which was put forward after the espionage scandal that followed Edward Snowden’s leaks, are the preservation of user privacy -including the protection of private communications- and the neutrality of the internet, which means that companies will not be able to limit access or charge different prices to access specific services. President Rousseff called the passing of the bill “a victory of Brazilian society,” and added that “the bill shows the prominence of Brazil on an issue that is being debated by the world: security, privacy and plurality on the net.” The bill will now have to be approved by the Senate in order to become law.

Paraguay – General Strike Paralyses the Country: An estimated 80% of workers in Paraguay joined the first general strike under Horacio Cartes’ administration, which is also the first since 1994. Some 60,000 farmers arrived in the capital Asunción early this morning, and other protests also took place in Coronel Oviedo, Villarrica, Santaní, Pilar, and Encarnación. Protesters are demanding an agrarian reform, a 25% wage increase, and a reduction in transport fares, as well as denouncing the government’s plan to bring private investment into public services. The strike is organised and supported by unions, social movements, and farmers’ organisations.

Ecuador – Chevron Case Lawyer Receives Death Threats: Juan Pablo Sáenz, the lawyer representing small farmers on their pollution lawsuit against Chevron, denounced having received death threats. Talking to The Guardian, Sáenz said he received two anonymous phone calls telling him to “think very carefully about what you are doing, because it would be a shame if something happened to you and your family.” He also said that “people are constantly following us in Ecuador.” Texaco, which was later taken over by Chevron, was found guilty of polluting the Ecuadorian Amazon between 1964 and 1990 and sentenced to paying US$18bn in damages. However, after the company lodged an appeal in New York, a judge from the US ruled that the Ecuadorian verdict had been obtained through “corrupt means” and that the claimants could no longer pursue their claims for damages in US courts. Campaigners working on the case have stated they will appeal this decision.

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Latin America News Roundup: 6th March 2014

Chevron's toxic legacy in Ecuador (photo: Rainforest Action Network)

Chevron’s toxic legacy in Ecuador (photo: Rainforest Action Network)

Ecuador: New York Judge Rules in Favour of Chevron: A federal judge in New York has ruled that a two-decade legal effort to punish Chevron for massive oil spills in the Ecuadorian Amazon was marred by fraud and corruption, making it increasingly likely that the oil company would be ultimately successful in beating back the legal and financial challenge. Texaco, which has since been taken over by Chevron, spilled 18bn gallons of toxic waste water into the rainforest, as well as 17m gallons of oil in “cost-cutting measures”. However, despite an Ecuadorian court ordering the oil giant to pay US$19bn in damages (since reduced to US$9.5bn, when the ruling was upheld by an appeals court), the money for the clean up has never appeared, and the corporation instead took the indigenous communities and their legal team to court in New York, something many called a “show trial“. On Tuesday, Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in favour of Chevron, something observers had predicted would happen, given the judge’s sympathies for the oil giant. After the latest ruling, the corporation has been absolved of wrongdoing and does not have to pay damages to clean up the rainforest. Lawyers for the indigenous communities have said they will appeal the ruling in higher US courts.

Venezuela Breaks Ties with Panama: Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, yesterday announced the breaking of diplomatic and trade ties with Panama, during acts to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of former president Hugo Chávez. “We will not allow anybody to mess with impunity in our national affairs,” said Maduro, who then referred to Panama’s leader, Ricardo Martinelli, as a “grovelling lackey”. Martinelli had convened the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS) to consider the Venezuelan crisis, which has seen violent demonstrations lead to almost 20 deaths over the last three weeks. Martinelli seemed surprised by the decision, writing on Twitter “Panama only desires that our brother country finds peace and strengthens its democracy.” Venezuela’s government sees the OAS as an organisation run from Washington, and does not actively participate in the group in protest of the suspension of Cuba. Along with other Latin American nations, the country pushed for the formation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2010 as a response to the OAS. Meanwhile, Venezuela has asked the presidential council of Unasur to convene to consider the country’s current turbulence.

Chilean Mapuche Leader Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison: Mapuche indigenous leader Celestino Córdova has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after being found guilty of starting a deadly fire at a farm on 4th January 2013 in the Araucanía region in southern Chile. The fire led to the deaths of farmer Werner Luchsinger and his wife Vivianne Mackay. According to his legal team, he will appeal the ruling and sentence, as the prosecution had no direct or indirect evidence linking the Mapuche leader to the crime – the only thing connecting him to the fire was that he was arrested close to the farm on the night of the incident. Córdova also released a statement saying that he had been taken to trial “without any evidence” against him. He went on to say his imprisonment is a “threat to the new generations” and an “empty gesture” on the part of the Chilean state.

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Latin America News Roundup: 26th February 2014

President Rafael Correa talks to the press (photo: Government of Ecuador)

President Rafael Correa talks to the press (photo: Government of Ecuador)

Ecuador – President Announces Cabinet Reshuffle: After Sunday’s electoral defeat in key districts, president Rafael Correa announced upcoming changes to his cabinet and his party, Alianza País (AP). “I will ask all cabinet ministers to hand in their resignation [today],” said Correa in a press conference yesterday, as he stated that his cabinet needs “some oxygen.” The changes, he said, had been decided previous to the election. The president said that it “hurt” to have lost in important districts such as the capital Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca, but added that “the shake-up was welcome, because I think we were stagnating -not the government, but the political organisation at the local level.” Changes in local leadership positions within AP are expected to follow.

Guatemala – Minister Warns About Climate Change Effects: Agriculture Minister Elmer López warned that over a million Guatemalans could suffer from the effects of climate change on crops in the second half of the year. Talking to local newspaper La Hora, López said: “Right now we have a million people living in the Dry Corridor, who may reach a crisis point if the situation turns extreme due to climate change. This means we could have over three weeks without rain in the hottest period of summer. And if this period extends to more than three weeks, the crops could die.” The minister also informed that the country will soon start receiving grains from the World Food Programme to face the impending shortage, and that the government has earmarked Q62m (US$8m) from its budget to purchase food from the current harvest and for projects aimed at assisting small producers. According to official estimates, 933,000 families were affected by seasonal food shortages last year. Malnutrition is a perennial problem in Guatemala.

Venezuela – Opposition Rejects Calls for Dialogue: The Venezuelan opposition rejected president Nicolás Maduro’s call for a “national dialogue” today. Maduro made the call on Monday, and so far the Catholic Church and business representatives have agreed to participating. In a letter sent to vice-president Jorge Arreaza, however, the opposition coalition Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD) said they would not attend what they consider “a simulation” and “mocking our fellow countrymen.” They also blamed the government for the situation the country is in, after two weeks of protests which have left 14 people dead.

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Latin American News Roundup: 20th February 2014

Yasuní National Park (photo: Joshua Bousel on Flickr)

Yasuní National Park (photo: Joshua Bousel on Flickr)

Ecuador: Newspaper Reveals Secret Plans to Drill in Yasuní: British newspaper The Guardian has revealed that the Ecuadorian government was negotiating a secret US$1bn deal with a Chinese bank to drill for oil under the Yasuní national park in the Amazon, while publicly pursuing a high-profile scheme to “keep the oil in the soil” in return for international donations. The Yasuní-ITT initiative was a proposal by the government of Ecuador, launched in 2007 by president Rafael Correa, to refrain indefinitely from exploiting the oil reserves of the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) block in Yasuní National Park in eastern Ecuador, in exchange for 50% of the value of the income it would be forgoing from the world community. The block consists of three oil fields which contain an estimated 846m barrels of oil, an estimated 20% of the country’s proven reserves. But in August last year President Correa announced the plan had collapsed as they had raised just US$13m of their US$3.6bn target.

However, yesterday’s scandalous revelations put the government’s will to have the project succeed into question, showing the government gave drilling access to the Chinese in exchange for loans for public projects, and that their negotiations began as early as 2009. The leaked document, entitled China Development Bank Credit Proposal, states: “Last minute clause: The Ecuadorian party has said it will do all it can to help PetroChina and Andes Petroleum explore ITT and Block 31.” Atossa Soltani, a former ambassador for the project, told the Guardian: “This raises serious doubts about whether the government was truly committed to keeping ITT oil in the ground. While we were promoting the Yasuni initiative to donors, the government was offering ITT’s crude to China.” The Ecuadorian government has yet to respond to the revelations.

Colombia: Campesino Reserve Zone Approved in Catatumbo: After seven months of negotiations, the Colombian government yesterday gave the green light to the creation of a Campesino Reserve Zone in Catatumbo. The zone, which will be in Tibú, north of Santander, in eastern Colombia, will be legally demarcated in March and will comprise some 115,000 hectares. A social emergency was declared in Catatumbo in August after their coca crops were destroyed as part of the US-led war on drugs. Farmers – who were compensated with two pigs, a food basket, and US$750 – were left with few resources to support their families, and started demonstrating. Their protests were violently oppressed, leading to the deaths of several farmers, and after nearly two months of protests the Colombian government set up a round table to come to an agreement. It is hoped that the creation of the reserve will pave the way for other campesino groups in other parts of the country to achieve the same.

Chile: Celestino Córdova found Guilty: In a divided ruling, Mapuche indigenous leader Celestino Córdova has been found guilty of starting a deadly fire at a farm on 4th January 2013 in the Araucanía region in southern Chile. The fire led to the deaths of farmer Werner Luchsinger and his wife Vivianne Mackay. According to his lawyer, Pablo Ortega, the prosecution had no direct or indirect evidence linking the Mapuche leader to the crime – the only thing connecting him to the fire was that he was arrested close to the farm on the night of the incident. Córdova also released a statement saying that he had been taken to trial “without any evidence” against him. He went on to say his imprisonment is a “threat to the new generations” and an “empty gesture” on the part of the Chilean state. The prosecution had envoked the anti-terrorist law in the case, something his defence argued was used to put fear into the population. However, the same tribunal absolved Córdova of terrorism charges. The prosecution have asked that he be sentenced to life imprisonment. Córdova’s sentencing will take place on 28th February at 4pm.

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Latin America News Roundup: 11th February 2014

Images of deforestation in the Chaco (Photo: Greenpeace)

Images of deforestation in the Chaco (Photo: Greenpeace)

Paraguay – Rancher Rejects Plea from Ayoreo to Stop Chaco Deforestation: A Brazilian rancher, Marcelo Bastos Ferraz, has rejected a plea from members of the Ayoreo indigenous community to stop cutting down the Chaco forest in which they live near the Paraguay-Bolivia border. Ferraz met with Ayoreo representatives and Paraguayan Environment Secretary Cristina Molinos yesterday, less than two months after his company, Yaguarete Pora S.A, was given a licence to clear forest on its 73,000 hectares in the Chaco, despite it being within a UNESCO biosphere reserve and home to the Ayoreo. As Paraguay’s last uncontacted indigenous tribe, the Ayoreo are highly vulnerable to disease from outsiders, as well as the destruction of the forest they depend on to live. At the meeting, Molinos, who has received international criticism for not protecting the Ayoreo, said there was nothing she could do to return the land to them. Last month, a study by the University of Maryland revealed that Paraguay’s Chaco forest has the world’s highest rate of deforestation.

Brazilian Cameraman Dies From Rio Protest Injuries: Television news cameraman Santiago Andrade was confirmed to have died from the head injuries he sustained during last week’s violent protests in Rio de Janeiro. Andrade was filming the protest over hikes in public transport fares when he was hit by a flare. He was declared brain dead by doctors on Monday morning, and earlier today a spokesperson for the TV station he worked at, Bandeirantes, confirmed that he had died shortly afterwards. Vice president Michel Temer today blamed the death on violent groups that he said have infiltrated recent protests, including the so-called ‘black blocs’. “I think there is an element of terrorism in these organisations,” said Temer in a press conference. “The constitution guarantees the right to protest, but not to predation. This is a crime and it must be considered as such.” Police today said they had arrested the suspected thrower of the flare.

Ecuador to Open New Embassies: Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Leonardo Arízaga announced that Ecuador would be opening new embassies in five countries in Africa during 2014. The new embassies will be located in Kenya, Algeria, Angola, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, bringing the country’s total on the continent to seven, including existing embassies in Egypt and South Africa. The move is part of a plan to boost Ecuador’s strategic presence around the world. The government will also soon be opening a new embassy in Palestine, as it supports the search for a peaceful resolution to its territorial conflict.

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Latin America News Roundup: 3rd February 2014

Salvador Sánchez Cerén, El Salvadorian presidential frontrunner (photo: wikipedia.org)

Salvador Sánchez Cerén, frontrunner in the El Salvadorian presidential elections (photo: wikipedia.org)

El Salvador Presidential Elections go to Second Round: With nearly all the votes counted, results indicate yesterday’s presidential election in El Salvador will go to a run-off on 9th March. Current vice president Salvador Sánchez Cerén from the governing left-wing FMLN party received 48.9% of the votes, and will face conservative Norman Quijano from the Nationalist Republican Alliance, ARENA, who took 38.9% in the first round. The winner will take power on 1st June and will govern the country for the next five years. Both candidates accepted the results and announced their willingness to form alliances with other political parties. Sánchez Cerén has already reached out to the UNIDAD movement’s candidate, Elías Antonio Saca, to work together in the next government. Sunday’s election had a turnout of just 53%, according to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, almost ten percentage points lower than the 2009 elections.

Costa Rica Elections: Residents of Costa Rica also went to the polls yesterday to vote in the country’s general elections, choosing new representatives in congress, new governors, and a new president. With no outright winner, the two leading presidential candidates will face a run-off on 6th April. The governing Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN)’s candidate, Johnny Araya, who obtained 29.5% of the vote, will face Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC)’s Luis Guillermo Solís, who obtained 31% of the vote. Neither candidate has so far spoken of potential alliances, but it seems likely the winner will have to form some kind of coalition to govern, as they will face a divided congress when they take power on 8th May. PLN received 18 of the 57 legislative seats, PAC took 13, with the remainder divided between five other parties.

Honduras – Diplomatic Relations Re-established with Latin American countries: The governments of Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador officially recognised Juan Orlando Hernández’s government in Honduras at last week’s Celac summit in Cuba. Following this, the three countries announced at the weekend they would re-establish diplomatic ties with the Central American nation after almost five years, when a coup ousted democratically-elected Juan Manuel Zelaya, leading to a political crisis in the country, and a diplomatic crisis in the region.

Cuba has Highest Literacy Rate in Latin America: According to a UNESCO report published on Saturday, Cuba has the highest literacy rate in Latin America. The annual report, entitled ‘Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All‘, highlighted the Caribbean island’s achievements, noting that 13% of the country’s GDP goes towards education, compared to a regional average of 5.5%. The report looked at countries’ progress under the Education for All global commitment to provide basic education for all children, youth, and adults, as agreed at the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000. At the forum, 164 governments pledged to work towards six goals to be met by 2015, and are working with development agencies, civil society, and the private sector to achieve the targets, under the coordination of UNESCO. In Latin America, around 10% of children of school age are not achieving basic standards in reading and writing, and 30% are lacking in mathematics. Standards varied widely by country, and within social groups within national borders, with the poorest often faring the worst. For example, in Haiti only 42% of young people from a poor background know how to read and write, compared to 92% of their better off compatriots. The report highlighted that if current trends continue, developing countries will not achieve their targets until 2072.

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Latin America News Roundup: 27th January 2014

The map shows the proposed boundaries (in red and blue) and the final boundary as established by the ICJ (in black). Courtesy of ICJ.

The map shows the proposed boundaries (in red and blue) and the final boundary as established by the ICJ (in black). (Image courtesy of ICJ)

Chile and Peru: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague issued a ruling today on a long standing maritime border dispute between Chile and Peru. The ruling considered both positions in establishing a new maritime boundary, which extends along the line proposed by Chile -parallel to the Equator- for the first 80 nautical miles, and continues along the equidistance line proposed by Peru from there on. The dispute between the two countries, brought before the ICJ by Peru in 2008, concerned a triangle of around 38,000km2 rich in fishing resources, especially anchovies. The fishing industry in this area produces revenue for an estimated US$200m yearly, and the places most affected by the decision will be the Chilean town of Arica and the Peruvian town of Tacna. Whilst both governments have pledged to abide by the ruling, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said that “this transfer constitutes an unfortunate loss for our country.” Peruvian President Ollanta Humala celebrated that the ICJ “recognised the validity of the Peruvian position” and that his country “has won over 70% of the lawsuit.” Alvaro García Linera, Vice-president of Bolivia, said that the ruling “offers a very important precedent” and that President Evo Morales will refer to the matter tomorrow at the Celac summit in Cuba. The landlocked country is also involved in territorial disputes with Chile.

Honduras: Juan Orlando Hernández was sworn in as President of Honduras today. The ceremony took place at 9.50am local time in Tegucigalpa, and was attended by foreign dignitaries from around 80 countries. During his opening speech, Hernández promised to create 100,000 new jobs and to improve the quality of life of the 800,000 Honduran families that earn less than US$1 per month. He also pledged to improve the social security system, education, and to fight against corruption. Hernández was elected president on 24th November for a four-year term, amidst allegations of fraud by rival party LIBRE. Members of LIBRE organised a demonstration in Tegucigalpa to coincide with the ceremony, in protest against the “fraudulent” electoral process.

Ecuador: A man has been sentenced to six months in prison for killing a condor. Manuel Damián Damián, 61, confessed to the crime after pictures started circulating on social networks in April 2013 showing him with a dead female condor. Since he was arrested in November 2013, he will have to complete another four months in prison, pay a US$5,333 fine, and upon his release he will have to complete a series of environmental remediation tasks imposed by the tribunal. The condor is an endangered species -according to Ecuador’s Environment Ministry, there are fewer than 50 left in the wild, and 19 in captivity, in the country.

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Latin America News Roundup: 22nd January 2014

Uruguay's President Jose Mujica (Photo: Santiago Armas)

Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica (Photo: Santiago Armas)

Uruguay: Uruguayan president José Mujica has defended the country’s controversial large-scale mining bill, passed in August, as being “one of the best in the world”. His words came after the open-pit Aratirí mining project was one of four subjects discussed by the cabinet in their first session of 2014 on Monday, leading to protests. Aratirí, in central Uruguay, is home to 2.5bn tonnes of underground iron ore deposits, a figure that would make the country the eight largest producer of iron in the world. Mujica asked Uruguayans to have more faith in the government, and be less passionate about their protests about the possible environmental consequences of mining.

Ecuador: With 90 votes in favour, Ecuador’s National Assembly today announced their withdrawal from the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), an agreement signed in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro. The treaty’s central principle is that an attack against one is to be considered an attack against them all; this was known as the “hemispheric defence” doctrine. The vote was taken in Ecuador’s assembly, as the government considered the treaty anachronistic, out of sync with the current regional and global context, and additionally had never responded to the member states’ needs. Ecuador is not the first country to withdraw from the TIAR – their decision follows the exit of Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

Bolivia: President Evo Morales today presented a report to the country’s assembly highlighting the achievements of his eight years in power. During his annual report, Morales highlighted that “Bolivia has its own model in the fight against drug trafficking”, a model he said was more successful that the country’s previous cooperations with imperialist countries, alluding to the US. He reported that on all levels, the fight had been redoubled, from the amount of cocaine seized in operations (22 tonnes in 2013 vs. 11 tonnes in 2005), to the number of operations themselves (nearly 14,000 in 2013 compared to nearly 7,000 in 2005). He went on to highlight that the operations were often done in participation with the peasant movement and coca leaf producers. The Bolivian leader has an approval rating of 56%, and is able to stand for re-election in October.

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