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LATIN AMERICA
In brief
Latinamerica Press
1/28/2016
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Latin America, Colombia, Haiti, Paraguay

In the context of the World Economic Forum held Jan. 20-23 in Davos, Switzerland, the humanitarian organization OXFAM highlighted that between 2002 and 2015, the fortunes of the multimillionaires in Latin America grew an average of 21 percent annually, that is to say, an increase six times higher than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the region. In 2014, according to OXFAM, the wealthiest 10 percent of the population concentrated 71 percent of the wealth and if this tendency continues, in 2022 the richest 1 percent in the region will have more wealth than the remaining 99 percent. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates that the cost of the tax evasion and avoidance on personal and business income reached US$190 billion in 2014, in other words, 4 percent of the regional GDP.

Latin America leads the 2015 ranking of the most violent cities of the world, with 41 of the 50 locations included in the annual report of the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, located in Mexico. According to the report, released on Jan. 25, Caracas (Venezuela), with 119.87 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, is the most violent city in the world, followed by San Pedro Sula (Honduras), which has a homicide rate of 111.03. San Salvador (El Salvador), Acapulco (Mexico), Maturín (Venezuela), Distrito Central (Honduras), Valencia (Venezuela), Palmira and Cali (Colombia) are among the 10 first cities ranked. Also, the report informed that eight Latin American cities were taken off the ranking, including Medellín (Colombia) and Ciudad Juárez (México).

In response to a joint petition from the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the UN Security Council unanimously approved on Jan. 25 a resolution to establish a political mission to supervise and verify the definitive cease of fire between the parties, as well as the surrender of arms by the FARC in eight zones of the country. The mission will include unarmed civil experts from the member countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and elected representatives of the government and the guerrillas. It will have an initial mandate of 12 months extendable, starting at the signing of the peace accord scheduled for March 23.

The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) of Haiti postponed for a second time the presidential elections scheduled for Jan. 25 because of “security concerns,” informed Pierre-Louis Opont, president of the CEP, on Jan. 22. The second round of elections were initially scheduled for Dec. 27, but was postponed shortly before that date. In the first round on Oct. 25, 54 candidates participated and the two candidates receiving the most votes were Jovenel Moïse, from the governing Haitian Tet Kale [Bald Heads] Party, who won 33 percent of the votes, followed by the opposition candidate, Jude Celestin, of the Alternative League for Haitian Progress and Emancipation with 25 percent. For the opposition, there is a possibility that the elections could be manipulated to favor Moïse.

On Jan. 21, the government of Paraguay requested the US Federal Court to reject a lawsuit filed against it by the Italian insurance company Sezione Especiale per l’Assicurazione del Crédito all’Esporazione (SACE) for a debt of US$ 85 million accrued between 1986 and 1987 by Gustavo Gramont, nephew of the former dictator Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989). Using the title of “itinerant consul” in Switzerland, Gramont requested the loan with a false guarantee in name of the Paraguayan State and a reinsurance provided by SACE. In 2005, a Swiss court ordered Paraguay and SACE to pay the debt, but the insurance company reached an agreement with the creditors and promoted the demand in the United States. Paraguay has rejected to pay the debt which has considered “spurious and illegitimate.”


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