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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
In brief
Latinamerica Press
2/27/2015
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Latin America and the Caribbean, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru.

Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean have grown at least 4 percent in 2014 over the previous year, reaching to US$62.3 million, marking the first significant growth since the global economic crisis that erupted in 2009, according to a report by the Inter-American Dialogue Center, in Washington DC, released on Feb. 24. The most significant increases were in Mexico and Central America, due to the improvement in the US economy, while a large number of South American countries experienced a decline, which in most cases is attributable to the continuing economic crisis in Spain.

Amnesty International (AI) called attention in its Annual Report 2014/15, released on Feb. 25, about the deepening inequality, discrimination, environmental degradation, historical impunity, increasing insecurity and conflict in Latin America that continue to deny people the “full enjoyment of their human rights.” AI highlighted the massive demonstrations against the repressive practices of the state forces and were a very public challenge to high levels of impunity and corruption and to economic policies that privilege a few. These outpourings of dissatisfaction and demands that human rights be respected took place against the backdrop of an erosion of democratic space and continuing criminalization of dissent.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed its concern on Feb. 25 about the threats that a citizen and online user “Crudo Ecuador” — who used to post satire and criticism against the government through the social networks — received in Ecuador after the President Rafael Correa expressed dissatisfaction with the publications of “Crudo Ecuador” and other online users. Correa urged citizens to help uncover their identity and therefore expose them to the people. The IACHR reaffirmed the importance of creating a climate of respect and tolerance for all ideas and opinions and urged the Ecuadorean authorities to investigate and properly punish those who use violence to silence communicators or media.

UN experts criticized on Feb. 17 the decision of the government of Guatemala to reduce the minimum wage to promote manufacturing in some municipalities. In late December, President Otto Pérez Molina announced the cut in the minimum wage in the municipalities of Estanzuela, Masagua, San Augustín and Guastatoya to 1,500 quetzales, equivalent to US$195, an amount 44 percent lower than the national monthly minimum wage of 2,650 quetzales ($350). Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, noted that “having an exploited labor force is not a viable way to foster economic and social development.”

The news of three infants brutally beaten by their parents in early February in Peru, revealed that physical violence against children is an established practice in the country. According to the 2013 Demographic and Family Health Survey, 62.4 percent of the women interviewed reported having been beaten by their parents during childhood and 23 percent gave some kind of hit or spanked their children as a way to educate them. “We are a country where authority is imposed by force and not by reason and [those practices] are reproduced in everyday relationships, but how parents use their power creates fear and submission,” said Ana María Márquez, Save the Children representative.


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