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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
In brief
Latinamerica Press
6/3/2015
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Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana y Venezuela.

A second fire in less than a month of a clandestine textile workshop in Buenos Aires on May 8, brought to light again the existence of slave labor in Argentina. On Apr. 27, two Bolivian children died when a fire broke out in the workshop located in the neighborhood of Flores, where are numerous, similar establishments that employ mostly Bolivian and Peruvian migrants, as well as those from the country interior. According to the Alameda Foundation, only in Buenos Aires there are 3,000 clandestine clothing factories exploiting some 30,000 workers and that are not controlled by the authorities.

Negotiations between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) resumed on May 25 after being suspended after a May 21 military attack on a FARC camp in southwest Colombia that caused the death of 30 guerrillas, including three members of its negotiating team. The attack jeopardized the peace process being held in Havana, Cuba, since November 2012. The military operation was launched in response to a guerrilla attack on Apr. 15 in Cauca in which 11 military died.

Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in a ceremony attended by thousands on May 23 in El Salvador, initiating the path to canonization. Romero was assassinated on Mar. 24, 1980, by extreme right-wing paramilitary while he celebrated mass. In February, Pope Francis declared him a martyr “for hatred of the faith,” the prior step to beatification. The next step towards canonization is the proof of at least one miracle. The request for beatification was made in May, 1994, but the process was suspended until 2005 when the Congregation for the Causes of Saints gave its approval.

The Vice President of Guatemala, Roxana Baldetti, was forced to resign on May 8 after a corruption scandal involving her private secretary, Juan Carlos Monzón, was revealed. In mid-April, judicial authorities uncovered the network known as “La Línea” that received millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for modifying the amounts of customs fees that the users should pay. For the first time in decades, thousands of people took to the streets of Guatemala City demanding the immediate resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina, who will finish his term in January of 2016.

The existence of petroleum in a coastal area between Guyana and Venezuela provoked tensions between the countries. On May 20, the US petroleum company Exxon Mobil announced the discovery of an oil deposit located in the Stabroek block, in the disputed Essequibo region which both countries claim. Although an arbitration judgment in 1899 resolved the dispute in favor of Guyana, Venezuela considers the decision void. The Venezuelan government requested that the company suspend its activities and received the response that “frontier disputes should be resolved by the governments through bilateral discussions with the participation of appropriate international organizations.”


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