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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
In brief
Latinamerica Press
6/30/2016
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Latin America and the Caribbean, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on June 9 that the El Niño phenomenon, characterized by the heating of the waters of the Pacific Ocean, reached its end 15 months after its start in March 2015. According to NOAA, the latest El Niño phenomenon, considered one of the biggest on record along with those of 1982-83 and 1997-98, had severe climate consequences in Latin America and the Caribbean, including high temperatures, an excess of rain, floods and droughts. NOAA reports that currently is being developed the La Niña phenomenon, the coldest counterpart of El Niño, which will last no longer than six months.

The foreign direct investment (FDI) decreased by 9.1 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2015 compared to the prior year, stated the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in its report “Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2016,” released on June 15. According to ECLAC, the FDI reached US$179.1 billion, the lowest level since 2010, due to the decline in investments in natural resources, mostly in mining and hydrocarbons, as well as due to the slowing of economic growth. Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, stated that “with proactive and integrated policies, countries can take advantage of these flows to diversify their economies, boost innovation and the incorporation of technology.”

Last year was the worst for those who defend the land and the environment. According to Global Witness, in 2015 there were 185 assassinations of environmental defenders in the entire world — 59 percent more than in 2014 — of which 122 occurred in Latin America. Brazil, with 50 killings, is considered by Global Witness as the most dangerous place to environmental defenders, followed by Colombia (26), Peru (12), Nicaragua (12), Guatemala (10), Honduras (8) and Mexico (4). In the report “On Dangerous Grounds”, released on June 20, Global Witness revealed that almost 40 percent of the victims in 2015 were from indigenous groups. The main causes of these assassinations are opposition to mining, agribusiness, illegal logging and hydroelectric projects.

The Coalición Nacional por la Democracia (CND-National Coalition for Democracy), the strongest opposition bloc in Nicaragua, announced on June 16 its withdrawal from the elections scheduled for Nov. 6. The CND, composed of eight parties, including the Movimiento de Renovación Sandinista (MSR-Movement of Sandinista Renovation), Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI-Independent Liberal Party), and Resistencia Nicaragüense (RN-Nicaraguan Resistance), decided not to participate in the elections after the Supreme Court revoked the PLI’s legal representation. The withdrawal of the CND paves the way of President Daniel Ortega, head of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), for a third, consecutive reelection. Due to the prohibition by Ortega of the presence of electoral observers, the Catholic Church called for free, transparent, plural elections with local and foreign observation and deplored the intent to impose a “regime of one party.”

On June 22, the government of Peru enacted the Law for the Search for Disappeared Persons, which will allow the implementation of the search and identification process, through the use and verification of data, of people who were disappeared “during the period of violence 1980-2000.” Congress approved the initiative on May 26 based on a proposal of the Ombudsman’s Office which includes humanitarian assistance to the families of the victims of the armed conflict. According to the Public Ministry, the number of persons disappeared during the internal war was 15,731 — mainly between 1983-85 and 1989-93 — of which 3,500 have been found and 1,775 identified. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission calculates that there are about 4,000 clandestine graves where could have been deposited the remains of persons whose whereabouts are unknown.


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