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LATIN AMERICA
In brief
Latinamerica Press
7/25/2014
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Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico.

The Andean Parliament — the deliberating and control entity of the Andean Community (CAN), made up of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru — unanimously approved on July 1 the creation of a Regional Observatory to tackle, reconcile laws and establish public policy to eradicate femicide in the region. Presented by Hilaria Supa, a Peruvian Andean congresswoman, the initiative urges the legislative powers of the CAN nations to encourage the change of comprehensive laws to guarantee women a life free of violence and prevent aggressor impunity.

Children in Bolivia will now be able to work starting at age 10, according to a decree enacted on July 17. The decree authorizes child labor, arguing that poverty in the country forces children to prematurely start working. The law establishes the legal working age at 14, but it makes two exceptions:  working for others starting at age 12 and self-employment at age 10. For Ombudsman Rolando Villena, the measure will excessively encourage child labor.

On July 17, Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice sentenced Andrés Felipe Arias, former Agriculture Minister during the government of former President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), to 17 years in prison for diverting public resources from the Agro Ingreso Seguro program, aimed at reducing the impact on farmers of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, in force since 2012, and for entering into contracts without complying with legal requirements. Arias will not be able to hold public office during the length of his sentence and will have to pay a fine equal to 50,000 minimum wages (US$16,400) for his crimes.

On July 3 Ecuadoran authorities stated that Ecuador will do whatever it takes in the search for justice for the Huaorani indigenous people whose blood was illegally taken by American doctors working for the Coriell Institute in an evident case of biopiracy. According to the Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Secretariat, the Coriell Institute sold samples of the natives’ blood to Germany, Brazil, Canada, India, Italy, Japan and Singapore. More than 1,500 blood samples were taken during two decades without consent from this indigenous group, which lives in voluntary isolation.

A jury in the southeastern state of Yucatán, Mexico, annulled on July 22 a permit for the commercial cultivation of transgenic soy issued in 2012 to the agro-chemical transnational company Monsanto. The tribunal established that the permit endangered honey production in the states of Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatán. Mayan beekeepers had sued the heads of the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, SAGARPA, and Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SERMARNAT) for taking part in unconstitutional actions by granting Monsanto the permit.


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