October 19, 2012
The Honduras Supreme Court struck down a plan to build private “charter” cities, reports the Associated Press. The project, which envisioned areas of Honduras turned over to private investors and run with their own laws, was opposed by civic groups and the indigenous Garifuna, whose land was threatened by the project. Lawyer Fredin Funez told the BBC, “This is great news for the Honduran people. This decision has prevented the country going back into a feudal system that was in place 1,000 years ago.” The Honduras Culture and Politics blog has more on the American company, MGK, which was planning on making the first investment under the law.
President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil signed the country’s forest code into law yesterday, reports AFP. The president, who used a line-item veto to rid the bill of some parts that had been included by the pro agri-business bloc in congress, touted the law, saying, “No to amnesty, no to encouragement of illegal logging.” Environmentalists were less optimistic, however. Paolo Adario of Greenpeace noted that, “”The presidential veto slightly improves the text approved by Congress, which was awful, but the result continues to be very bad.” While former Presidential candidate Marina Silva agreed, “We can conclude that illegal loggers won and society lost.”
Uruguay became just the second country in South America after Guyana to effectively legalize abortion, reports the New York Times. The bill, which narrowly passed the Senate, would allow for “abortion in the first trimester, permits abortion through 14 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape and allows later-term abortions when a woman’s health is at risk.” While the bill is a step in the right direction, women’s groups criticized some aspects of the legislation, hoping that it would have gone further, reports Inter-Press Service. Women who are seeking an abortion must first explain to a doctor the “economic, social, family or age difficulties that in her view stand in the way of continuing the pregnancy.” The spokeswoman for Mujer y Salud en Uruguay, an NGO which is leading the push for legalization, told IPS, “We see this law as minimal; it is not what we were hoping for… It has many gaps, and satisfies no one.”
Hospital managers in Peru’s public health system have walked off the job, in solidarity with striking doctors, reports Reuters. This is the latest in a string of labor conflicts between Humala, who was elected on a center-left platform, and labor unions. Peru, which ranks last in Latin America in public health spending as a percent of GDP has refused to provide wage increases to doctors and teachers, a decision unions blame on conservative finance minister Luis Miguel Castilla. Jesus Bonilla, a leader of the doctor’s union, told reporters, “Our country has been growing strongly but pay in the public sector for the last decade has fallen substantially. We haven’t received a cent of increases. Our buying power has fallen 30 or 40 percent.” Criticism hasn’t just come from the left, conservative politician Lourdes Flores told Peruvian radio, “The president told the country he believed in a strong state. But the state is a disaster.”
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