Tag Archive | "uruguay"

Uruguay: Another District Approves GMO Food Labelling

Under the law, products containing GMOs must carry a symbol advising consumers (photo courtesy of Laura Rosano).

Under the law, products containing GMOs must carry a symbol advising consumers (photo courtesy of Laura Rosano).

A district in Uruguay has approved a resolution to make GM food labelling obligatory, following the example set by the capital Montevideo in December 2013.

“The motivation began because of worry over the use of pesticides in Uruguay,” said Carol Aviaga, a senator for the Lavalleja district, in an email. In the past eight years, imports of pesticides have increased by more than 300%, she said.

“We have reasonable doubts, both social and scientific, of how this can affect human health – not just from consuming these GM products, but also from the pesticides that are used to produce these foods.”

Aviaga also said citizens have a right to know what they are consuming. This project will give them the power to know what they are putting in to their bodies.

Though it may seem odd for corporations to change the packaging of their products for a population of only 60,000, Aviaga is confident that other districts will adopt the same legislation, and eventually the entire country. Other districts like Paysandú, Canelones and Colonia have councillors who are presenting the project in the coming weeks.

“Corporations will have to adapt to these new requirements of the citizens. It is the change that other countries have already taken and we are sure it will be the change our country will take at the national level,” she said.

In December 2013, the city council of the capital Montevideo issued a decree ordering that all foods containing more than 1% GM ingredients must be clearly labelled.

Despite its relatively small size, Uruguay is ranked 10th in the world for the number of hectares used to grow GM crops, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. It is ranked fourth in South America, behind Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.

Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation released a study in which it identified glysophate – a common ingredients in pesticides – as ‘probably’ carcinogenic to humans.

Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Ten Dead as Plane Explodes leaving Punta del Este

(Photo: Pablo Porciuncula/Telam/AFP)

Judge Adriana Morosini (centre) inspects the aircraft (Photo: Pablo Porciuncula/Telam/AFP)

Nine Argentines and one Portuguese woman have been killed after a light aircraft exploded shortly after taking off from Punta del Este in Uruguay last night. The incident, which occurred just before 9pm, resulted in the death of all those on board.

According to sources, the plane – which was headed to San Fernando in northern Buenos Aires – had taken off normally, but minutes later the control tower lost contact, before an explosion was heard.

A number of locals confirmed hearing an explosion, and the fire that consumed the aircraft as it landed in a lake hampered initial rescue efforts. So far, seven of the bodies have been recovered.

Along with the two crew, travelling in the aircraft were various employees of La Rural S.A, who were returning from business meetings.

In a statement, the company said that their current priority was “with the families of the deceased”, and that they are helping Uruguayan authorities with their investigation.

According to the Civil Aviation Accident Investigation Board, the same Beechcraft King B90 was involved in another serious accident in November 2013, after an undertaking an emergency landing when the landing gear failed to lower. The aircraft suffered “serious damage” in the incident.

Uruguayan authorities, led by Judge Adriana Morosini, are investigating the cause of yesterday’s fatal accident.


Posted in News From Argentina, News From Latin America, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (1)

Uruguay: Government Postpones Sale of Marijuana in Pharmacies

Marijuana (Photo courtesy of Flores y Plantas on Flickr)

Marijuana (Photo courtesy of Flores y Plantas on Flickr)

The new Secretary of the National Drugs Board (NDB), Milton Romani, said the government “is in no rush” to implement the sale of marijuana in pharmacies as stated in the 2013 legalisation law.

The recreational use of cannabis was regulated in May 2014. The then-Secretary of the NDB, Julio Calzada, anticipated that marijuana would be available in pharmacies in November 2014. When November came, the government extended the deadline to between December 2014 and January 2015.

The new administration of Tabaré Vázquez, who took office on Sunday, has however decided to do away with deadlines altogether. “The law doesn’t impose any deadlines. I don’t want to be trapped by deadlines that may lead us to making mistakes. We don’t work with deadlines, but with guarantees to ensure everything works correctly,” said Romani before travelling to the UN to defend the project.

The Uruguayan law was criticised this week by the UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). The organisation warned Uruguay that “their cannabis legalisation policies fail to comply with the international drug treaties.” Romani travelled to Vienna to participate in the annual UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), and said that “I have already defended the [legalisation] project in international forums, so I’ve got a personal commitment to this.”

In that respect, the NDB Secretary assured the press that the government will comply with the law. “The president has told me we will comply with the law in the best possible way. So there will be sale in pharmacies. When I took office, [President] Tabaré Vázquez was emphatic in saying that the law will be abided by, but all he wants is that it’s done properly,” said Romani, who pointed out that “we don’t want to rush things.”

Before last year’s elections, Vázquez had said that the idea of selling marijuana in pharmacies was “unheard of”. “But if the law authorises it, then that’s how it will be,” he added.


Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Uruguay: Tabaré Vázquez Sworn In as President

Vázquez hugs his predecessor, José 'Pepe' Mujica (photo: Uruguayan government)

Vázquez hugs his predecessor, José ‘Pepe’ Mujica (photo: Uruguayan government)

Thousands celebrated the inauguration of Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez yesterday afternoon in Plaza Independencia, in the capital Montevideo. Vázquez, 75, returns to the presidency after having served a first term between 2005 and 2010.

“I return with the commitment to fulfill that which has been promised. I will be the president of all Uruguayans,” said Vázquez on Sunday. In the first speech of this term, the newly elected president presented three main pillars as points of focus for his term: politics and decentralisation, social dialogue, and human rights.

Among the president’s priorities is the creation of a National Infrastructure System to improve recovery, maintenance, and development of the highway and railroad network. Plans for an Integrated System for Basic Education seeks a goal of “100% of young people under the age of 17 to be enrolled in the education system, and for 75% to finish high school.” Additionally, he highlighted the continuing work of the Working Group for Truth and Justice whose goal is the investigation of the crimes committed during the 1973-1985 dictatorship.

Vázquez takes office from 79-year-old José Mujica. Vázquez and Mujica are both members of leftist party Frente Amplio, which has governed the country since 2005. The new president commented that his predecessor, who left office with a 65% approval rating is a “first-class point of reference” and that he will continue to apply the social policies that have changed the country in the last ten years. He aims to focus on improving public education, healthcare, and housing.

Mujica leaves the presidency of Uruguay, which has been described as “the most progressive country in Latin America” with a legacy that includes a law to regulate the marijuana market, legalised abortion, and equal marriage. Vázquez will begin his new term with a growing economy, higher salaries, and a lower unemployment rate than when he finished his term.

Vázquez and his vice-president Raul Sendic were sworn in in the presence of numerous foreign leaders and politicians, including Cuban leader Raúl Castro, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. Argentine vice-president Amado Boudou was also present, as President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was in Argentina opening the 2015 legislative year.

The morning of his first full day as president, Vázquez met with Cuban leader Raúl Castro. Uruguay and Cuba maintain a good, cooperative relationship, especially as Operation Miracle has allowed the inauguration of the José Martí Ophtalmological Hospital and for 50,000 surgeries to take place. The day before, Castro had met with Mujica in Montevideo.

Vázquez was elected with 53.6% of the vote in a run-off on 30th November 2014. Ex-president Mujica, who was known for his farmer background and informal style, is expected to retire from politics. As he departed the inauguration on Sunday, he commented: “The Uruguayan people must do everything possible to support the new government, to give them all of the strength that they can, because if things go well for the government, things will also go well for the country.”


Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Uruguay: President-Elect Creates Truth Commission

Uruguayan president-elect Tabaré Vázquez (photo: Wikipedia)

Uruguayan president-elect Tabaré Vázquez (photo: Wikipedia)

Uruguay’s president-elect Tabaré Vázquez has launched a Truth and Justice Commission to look into crimes committed during the country’s 1973-85 dictatorship.

The Commission’s objective is to advance the search for the estimated 200 people who were disappeared during the junta, and will be made up of families of the victims and religious leaders.

The entity will formally come into being on 1st March, when Vázquez takes over from current president José Mujica. The group will work to analyse existing archives, follow up on cases that have been brought locally and internationally, and take witness statements from victims of human rights abuses and their families.

“The missing information is somewhere, and we have to find it, and I have high hopes that we can substantially advance,” said Vázquez at the press conference earlier today.

“We have moved forward but we want to advance further; we are going to work to overcome any hurdles that exist or that we may encounter, so that they disappear.”

It was not until Vázquez’s first term began, in 2005, that investigations into the country’s dictatorship began, with excavations at military barracks and other sites, where the remains of some of those killed were found. However, the vast majority of the victims have yet to be found.

Since then, 15 people have been convicted for crimes committed during the period, including former dictators Gregorio Álvarez and Juan María Bordaberry. All were imprisoned on murder charges. The majority of those disappeared were kidnapped in Argentina, under Plan Condor in which the de-facto governments of the region collaborated, through shared intelligence and assassinations of opponents.



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Uruguay: Congress Passes New Media Law

Uruguayan Senate (photo courtesy of Uruguayan Parliament)

Uruguayan Senate (photo courtesy of Uruguayan Parliament)

The Uruguayan lower house of Congress has passed a new Audiovisual Communication Services Law, by 50 votes out of 75.

The bill was backed by all the deputies of the governing Frente Amplio, and rejected by the opposition. The executive now has 120 days to implement it.

The new Media Law seeks to regulate radio, television, and other audiovisual media services to “avoid or limit the existence and formation of monopolies and oligopolies in audiovisual communication services, as well as to establish mechanisms to control it.” It also establishes limits to foreign media ownership.

The law has been praised by former UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Frank La Rue, who considered that “it democratises audiovisual media and facilitates freedom of expression.”

The law “must never be considered a gag, or an impediment to political expressions,” said La Rue on a visit to Uruguay last year. “One may argue about whether to regulate more or less, but they’re legitimate regulations, which exist everywhere in the world. It’s bad to bring the debate to an excessive degree of polarisation. We must be measured and we must not confuse freedom of expression with commercial freedom.”

The opposition has rejected the law on the basis that “it affects freedom of expression” and “affects private [actors] in order to benefit the state.”

The bill had been passed by the House of Representatives in late 2013, however the Senate introduced changes to it before approving it last week, and it had to be voted on again.

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Uruguay: Senate Approves New Media Law

Uruguayan Senate (photo courtesy of Uruguayan Parliament)

Uruguayan Senate (photo courtesy of Uruguayan Parliament)

The Uruguayan Senate approved a bill for a new Audiovisual Communication Services Law, which seeks to counter the concentration of media ownership in the country.

The bill was passed by 16 votes to nine. It received the support of the governing Frente Amplio, whilst the opposition voted against it.

The new Media Law seeks to regulate radio, television, and other audiovisual media services to “avoid or limit the existence and formation of monopolies and oligopolies in audiovisual communication services, as well as to establish mechanisms to control it.” It also establishes limits to foreign media ownership.

The bill creates an Audiovisual Communication Council, to be formed by five members —four picked by Parliament and one by the Executive— which will regulate the issuance of broadcast licences.

The opposition has criticised the bill, with the Partido Nacional saying it is excessively “detail-oriented” and “pro-state”, “monopolistic”, and against international law.

Talking to local radio, President José ‘Pepe’ Mujica said: “It seems that anything that implies regulation is a deadly sin. I think the exact opposite. If we don’t regulate the sharks, they’ll end up swallowing us.”

He added that “the worst threat is that someone will come from overseas and from the top or the bottom they will end up taking over. More clearly: I don’t want [Argentine media group] Clarín, [Brazilian media group] Globo, or [Mexican media mogul Carlos] Slim to become owners of communications in Uruguay.”

The bill will now return to the Lower House, where it is expected to be passed on 22nd December.

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Uruguay: Guantanamo Detainees Arrive in Montevideo

Uruguayan president José "Pepe" Mujica (photo by Vince Alongi/Wikipedia)

Uruguayan president José “Pepe” Mujica (photo by Vince Alongi/Wikipedia)

Six former prisoners freed from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp arrived in Uruguay in the early hours of Sunday. They were taken to the Military Hospital in Montevideo before being released.

The former prisoners are Syrians Ahmed Adnan Ahjam, Ali Hussain Shaabaan, Omar Mahmoud Faraj, and Jihad Diyab; Abdul Bin Mohammed Abis Ourgy, from Tunisia; and Mohammed Tahanmatan, from Palestine.

Uruguayan authorities explained that the six men underwent routine tests for anemia, malnutrition, breathing problems, and other ailments, and were being kept in hospital for psychological examinations. They are between 32 and 49 years old, and were some of the first people to be taken to Guantanamo in 2002.

According to the lawyers representing some of the ex-prisoners, they are “doing very well” and look forward to learning Spanish and integrating into their new host country. The Uruguayan government is currently processing their applications for asylum.

The transfer of the six men to Uruguay was the result of an agreement between the government and its US counterpart earlier this year. There are now 136 people left in the Guantanamo Bay prison, located in Cuba. Of those, 67 have been approved to be transferred, 59 cases are being studied to determine whether they can be freed, and only 10 are facing charges, have already been charged, or have been convicted.

Uruguayan President José Mujica said that Guantanamo “is not a jail, it’s a kidnapping den, because a jail involves being subject to some legal system, to the presence of some prosecutor, to the decisions of some judge, whoever they may be, and to some minimum reference from the judicial point of view.” He added that, “for me, refuge is one of the most noble institutions that make humanity viable. Because there will always be someone who needs to escape from somewhere.”

Sunday marked the first time former Guantanamo detainees were transferred to South America, and the second time they were transferred to Latin America, since El Salvador gave refugee status to two Uighur men released from the prison in 2012.

The US government thanked the Uruguayan government for “its will to support the efforts” of the Obama administration “to close down the Detention Centre in Guantanamo Bay.”

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Uruguay: Tabaré Vázquez Wins Presidential Run-Off

Tabaré Vázquez and his running mate Raúl Sendic (photo: Pepe Delloro/Télam)

Tabaré Vázquez and his running mate Raúl Sendic (photo: Pepe Delloro/Télam)

Frente Amplio (FA) candidate Tabaré Vázquez won the presidential run-off yesterday by more than 12% of the vote.

Vázquez beat Partido Nacional candidate Luis Lacalle Pou by 53.6% to 41.1% and will take office from current president José ‘Pepe’ Mujica on 1st March 2015. It will be Vázquez’s second term in office (the first one was between 2005 and 2010) and the FA’s third consecutive presidency.

Addressing his supporters in Montevideo last night, Vázquez said: “We’re going to rule with you, we don’t want you to follow us, we want you to guide us. Don’t leave us alone.” He also promised that “we’re going to fulfill the programme of the FA to the last comma. Within the Constitution and the law, everything; without it, nothing.”
Before the official results were announced, Lacalle Pou conceded defeat. “A few minutes ago I called Tabaré Vázquez to recognise his victory, and to congratulate him for the legitimate victory he has just achieved,” said the former candidate.

President Mujica, who has an approval rating of 65%, will the country’s highest office with a healthy economic performance after 11 years of growth. Current annual growth in Uruguay is of around 3% and unemployment of 6.7%. During his presidency, important social laws were passed, such as those legalising marijuana, same-sex marriage, and abortion (the latter was passed under Vázquez’s first term, but the then-president vetoed it). Mujica will now return to the Senate.

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The Indy’s Weekly Review – 28th November 2014

Coming up on this episode of The Indy’s Weekly Review:

We analyse the mining lobby in Argentina after Wednesday’s release of a polemic photo, we speak to Juan Pablo Hudson of the Club de Investigaciones Urbanas about drugs, violence and police corruption in the city of Rosario, and we look at the media uproar over the Uruguayan president calling Mexico a “failed state”.

All that, plus the main news headlines from Argentina and Latin America and a preview of the new album by this week’s featured artist, Los Animales Superforros.

(Click on ‘Descargar’ to download)

Presented by: Kristie Robinson & Celina Andreassi
Editing: Pablo Fisher

We will be looking to continually improve and add to this podcast, and we’d love to hear your feedback on it, as well as suggestions for any additional stories or content you’d like to hear in it in the future. Send us an email at info@argentinaindependent.com, or comment on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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