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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
In brief
Latinamerica Press
4/30/2015
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Latin America and the Caribbean, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Jamaica.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) reported on Apr. 22 that at least 27 million youth work in the informal sector in Latin America and the Caribbean. Of the 108 million young people between 15 and 24 years in the region, 56 million are in the labor force. According to the ILO, six of each 10 jobs available for them are in the informal sector, with low quality and minimal productivity, low salaries, no stability nor prospects, and without social protection or rights. The organization called upon governments to guarantee a better future for youth and to take advantage of their contribution to social and economic progress in the countries of the region.

On Apr. 13, Chile approved the civil union for homosexual couples, which will come into effect in October. The Law of Civil Union, promulgated by President Michelle Bachelet, creates a civil state of legal cohabitation, establishing a new legal status for couples who opt for this type of union, independent of gender. One of the big advances is the recognition of couples that will adopt the name of “civil partner” as family, which makes possible that partners may assume care of each other in health sistems, custody of children in case of death of one of them and inheritance. However, the law does not include the right to adoption.

A total of 10,798 persons were considered disappeared in 2014 in Colombia, declared the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in this country. According to their report, “Colombia: Humanitarian Situation. 2014 Actions and Perspectives for 2015,” the number of persons considered as disappeared in the last four decades is 72,544. For the families of the victims “there will be no peace until they get an answer to the question that has marked their lives: ‘Where is my loved one?’ For those who live in areas contaminated by land mines, peace will arrive when they can plant their crops, go to school, or simply walk around without fear of losing a limb or life. For children who live separated from their loved ones due to armed conflict, peace will come when they are able to embrace them once again and, thus, resume their lives,” stated the ICRC.

Carlos Roberto Morales, manager of the San Rafael mine, owned by the Canadian company Tahoe Resources Inc., was imprisoned on Apr. 13 in Guatemala, accused of having polluted a river affecting thousands of people in at least three communities in the southern department of Santa Rosa. The Center of Environmental-Legal and Social Action of Guatemala (CELSA) denounced in 2012 that the company discharged into the Los Esclavos River substances utilized in mineral exploration, causing water contamination, making it unsuitable for human and animal consumption, not even for agricultural use. The company announced that it will appeal the judicial decision that it qualified as “exaggerated” and that did not respond to the seriousness of the supposed crime.

In mid-April, Jamaica began to apply the amendment that decriminalizes the consumption of marijuana for medicinal and religious purposes, permitting the possession of a maximum of 2 ounces per person. The measure, approved by Parliament on Feb. 25, establishes fines for those who are found in possession of a greater amount instead of prison sentences. It also allows the cultivation of up to five plants. The law includes the creation of an authority charged with the regulation of cultivation and distribution of marijuana or “ganja,” for medical, scientific and therapeutic purposes. Governmental authorities specified that the law will not mean a relaxation of their policies confronting international drug trafficking.


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