South America

Amazon fires: Brazil indigenous reserve blazes contained

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Brazilian officials have managed to contain several forest fires that have destroyed half of an indigenous reserve in the Amazon region. BBC – Some 12,000 indigenous people live in the Arariboia reserve, in the state of Maranhao. Their leaders say the fires were started more than a month ago by hostile loggers and farmers who want exploit the area’s natural resources. Hundreds of firefighters and soldiers had been trying to put out the blazes. Their work has been helped by ... Read More »

World’s ‘poorest’ ex-Uruguayan president humbly hosted in Turkey

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Former president of Uruguay Jose Mujica, who is known for his humble character, was hosted modestly, in accordance with his wishes, with a ’73 VW as his official car and a three-star hotel in Istanbul. Hurriyet – ISTANBUL Known as the poorest president of the world, Mujica and his wife arrived in Turkey on Oct. 29 with a Turkish Airlines flight from Paris for a series of panels and conferences for the promotion of his latest book. He is also ... Read More »

Guatemala election: Comic Jimmy Morales elected president

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A former TV comedian with no experience in government has won the run-off vote in Guatemala’s presidential election. BBC – Jimmy Morales polled 72% against the former first lady, Sandra Torres, who is seen by many as part of the country’s unpopular political elite. Ms Torres admitted defeat before all the votes were counted, as the margin of Mr Morales’ lead became clear. The vote took place a month after the resignation and arrest of President Otto Perez Molina. He ... Read More »

Colombian government and Farc rebels reach deal on disappeared

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Colombia’s government and Farc rebels have agreed measures to find people who disappeared during the country’s decades-long civil war. BBC – The government estimates more than 50,000 people are still missing. The two sides will work together in a specialised unit to recover remains of those killed from unmarked mass graves and locate those still alive. The issue was a key sticking point in negotiations to agree a broader peace deal. The International Committee of the Red Cross will also ... Read More »

Venezuela Elections 2015 – No Room for Credible Observation

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On 6 December, Venezuela faces its most competitive election this century, and one that will play a crucial part in determining whether the country’s severe political, social and economic crisis can be resolved non-violently. ICG – By Phil Gunson | @philgunson * Also available in: español For the first time since 2003, opinion polls show the opposition leading by around 20 points, putting it on course to take control of the 167-seat National Assembly. So concerned is President Nicolás Maduro at ... Read More »

 Why the State Department Finally Confirmed Augusto Pinochet’s Role in International Terrorism

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It’s a great way of using US documents to advance the cause of human rights and redress Washington’s dark, interventionist past. The Nation – By Peter KornbluhTwitter *  In the fall of 1987, Secretary of State George Shultz faced a formidable challenge: to convince President Ronald Reagan that the time had come to jettison his favorite anti-Communist dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and openly align Washington with the forces of democracy in Chile. In September, Shultz sat down with CIA director William ... Read More »

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Pacific countries agree to historic trade pact

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Australian officials confident Drug breakthrough brings deal closer Washington, DC: After eight years of negotiations, 12 Pacific-rim nations – including Australia – have agreed upon the largest free-trade agreement in history during a last-minute round of talks in Atlanta, Georgia. The Canberra Times – Nick O’Malley, US correspondent for Fairfax Media The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which covers 40 per cent of the global economy, will strip thousands of trade tariffs in the region and set common labour, environmental and legal standards among signatories. Negotiations, ... Read More »

Peace needs truth, not punishment

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Retribution will not heal old wounds in Colombia, warns Leonardo Goi. New Internationalist – By Leonardo Goi Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri last week issued a historic joint statement. A transitional justice framework will be established, through which those responsible for the atrocities committed in the 51-year conflict between the state and the guerrillas will be prosecuted. Santos and Londoño (who goes by the alias ‘Timochenko’) announced that the ... Read More »

Success Is No Longer Foreign to East Timor, but the Players Are

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MELBOURNE, Australia — With so little to cheer in their nation’s brief soccer history, fans of East Timor’s national team would be correct to consider this the squad’s golden era. East Timor, which did not play a World Cup qualifying match until 2007 and did not win one until this year, has advanced to the second round of World Cup qualifying for the first time. The New York Times – By JACK KERROCT Under normal circumstances, the team would be ... Read More »

UN’s highest court to take up century-old dispute between Chile and Bolivia

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Bolivia – South America’s poorest country – became landlocked after losing a war against Chile at the end of the 19th century and wants to regain Pacific access The Guardian – AFP in the Hague The UN’s highest court has agreed to take up a century-old dispute between Chile and Bolivia, saying it could rule in the case as La Paz seeks to regain access to the Pacific. The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), which oversees disputes between countries, ... Read More »

Emerging headache: Brazil sinks deeper into recession

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Poor government policy and slowing demand for natural resources are plaguing the world’s 7th largest economy. Fortune Chris Matthews @crobmatthews Brazil’s central bank now forecasts that the once high-flying emerging market economy will shrink by 2.7% this year—the worst contraction in a quarter century, according to the Wall Street Journal. The revised forecast comes as Brazil’s currency, the real, has reached new lows against the dollar, and the unemployment rate has surged, hitting 7.6% in August, the eighth-straight month of ... Read More »

Statement on the Transitional Justice Agreement between the Colombian Government and FARC

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The agreement on transitional justice reached by the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and publicly announced yesterday in Havana is a major breakthrough in the four-year peace talks. In effect, it anticipates the termination of the 51-year armed conflict. In an unprecedented personal meeting, President Juan Manual Santos and FARC’s maximum leader, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry (“Timochenko”), agreed that a final peace agreement would be signed within six months. Bogotá/Brussels | ICG The agreement establishes ... Read More »

Venezuelan military jets ‘entered Colombian airspace’

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Colombia has said that two Venezuelan military jets entered its airspace without warning or authorisation. BBC – The planes encroached into Colombian airspace twice on Saturday morning, according to the defence ministry. They reportedly flew over a border military base in the Alta Guajira region before returning to Venezuela. Colombian officials have demanded an explanation from Venezuela, which has yet to comment. Relations between the two countries have been tense. “Initially the Venezuelan military planes entered 2.9km (1.8 miles) into ... Read More »

Border drama: A first-hand account from Cúcuta, Colombia

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On 22 August, the government of Nicolás Maduro closed the border crossing that links San Antonio del Táchira with the Colombian city of Cúcuta. In the succeeding days, more than a thousand Colombians were summarily deported via the Simón Bolívar international bridge between the two countries. Amid a sharp increase in the number of troops deployed in the area there were numerous complaints of human rights violations. At the time of writing, more than 20,000 people (most of them Colombians) ... Read More »

 The TPP Will Finish What Chile’s Dictatorship Started

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Salvador Allende warned against neoliberalism’s disastrous effects just before he was overthrown. He was right to be worried. The Nation – By Greg Grandin This September 11 will be the 42nd anniversary of the US-backed coup against the democratically elected Chilean government led by the Socialist Salvador Allende, kicking off a battle that is still being fought: In Chile, protests led by students, indigenous peoples, and workers to roll back the “neoliberalization,” or Pinochetization, of society, are a continuing part of ... Read More »

Brazil’s economy enters recession

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BBC – Brazil has entered recession after official figures showed the country’s economy contracted by 1.9% between April and June compared with the previous three months. Analysts had expected a contraction, but the number was worse than expected. First quarter output was also revised down to show a 0.7%, rather than a 0.2%, contraction. The country, the seventh-largest economy in the world, has seen economic growth fall sharply in recent times. This is due in part to low commodity prices ... Read More »