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LATIN AMERICA
In brief
Latinamerica Press
12/1/2016
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Bolivia, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay

Climate change is making Bolivia pay the bill, as the country is now going through its worst drought in the last 25 years. The lack of water in eight of the nine departments of the country forced the shutting off of services and rationing that has generated protests in different cities. President Evo Morales declared a national emergency on Nov.21, noting that this year has been the warmest in the last 100 years. According to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the highest land and oceanic temperatures in history were recorded this past April. Morales called on the population to ration water and also announced the signing of decrees to provide support assistance to food producers. It is estimated that the drought affects some 290,000 ha of cropland.

Former President of El Salvador Antonio Saca (2004-2009) was formally accused on Nov. 1 by the Attorney General’s Office of misappropriation of US$246 million from the Public Treasury during his term. Saca was arrested while attending the wedding of one of his sons and confined in the facilities of the Anti-Narcotics Division of the National Police along with six other former officials who were involved in the corruption scheme considered to be the largest ever uncovered in the country. Attorney General Douglas Meléndez explained that the money was collected in cash payments so as to not leave any trace, with the money being transferred to América Publicidad agency and then deposited to the radio stations of Grupo Samix, property of Saca. It was also discovered that $6 million were laundered through the purchase of vehicles.

More than 8,400 kidnappings have taken place in Mexico since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December 2012, reported Alto al Secuestro (Stop Kidnapping) association on Nov.16. There have been recorded 181 kidnappings each month, 42 per week, six each day in that period.  Between January and October of this year, Alto al Secuestro counted 1,512 illegal deprivations of liberty. The states with the highest number of kidnappings are Mexico State, Tamaulipas and Veracruz. As reported by the organization founded in 2005 to give support to kidnapping victims, besides the State not having enough lawyers, “the victims remain defenseless facing a justice system that provides more benefits to the accused and with laws that are dead letter”.

Only in the last four years, a total of 12,503 ha of Amazon forest in the south of Peru have been razed by illegal mining, informed the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) and the Association for the Conservation of the Amazon Basin (ACCA) in a report published on Nov. 15. According to the report, in 30 years of activity, gold mining has deforested a total of 62,500 ha in the regions of Madre de Dios, Cusco and Puno. Most of the deforestation has taken place in buffer zones of protected areas, as are the National Reserve of Tambopata, the Communal Reserve of Amarakaeri and the Bahuaja Sonene National Park. Illegal mining, which is connected to other illicit activities such as drug trafficking and human trafficking, moves more than US$2 billion a year.

The Catholic Church of Uruguay removed four priests from their posts following an investigation on cases of child sexual abuse and other misconducts. In a statement published on Nov. 16, the Catholic Conference of Bishops reported that 44 accusations were analyzed, with 34 of them that occurred 40 years ago. “There are some accusations that are being investigated and there are four priests that have been removed from their ministries”, the statement said, although it did not mention the names of the clergymen or give details on the misconducts. In April, the Catholic Bishops released a document in which they apologized for the sexual abuse by priests two decades before and whose statutes of limitation has expired in the eyes of justice.


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