Weekly Roundup April 11

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 1.06.34 PMNPR Borderland
This new NPR website follows migrants along the U.S./Mexico border and presents their stories with beautiful images, graphics and raw storytelling. These stories will expand your understanding of migrants and the border, starting with Saraa Zewedi Yilma, an Ethiopian assylum seeker who traversed 12 countries to get to the United States. Next, a series of colorful maps show how the border arrived at its current location, whereas Mexico used to include what is now the Western United States. In total, there are 12 dynamic sections that you need to see.

El Salvador groups accuse Pacific Rim of ‘assault on democratic governance’
From the Guardian:

A multinational mining company has been accused of launching “a direct assault on democratic governance” by suing El Salvador for more than US$300m (£179m) in compensation, after the tiny Central American country refused to allow it to dig for gold amid growing opposition to the exploitation of its mineral wealth.

More than 300 NGOs, trade unions and civil society groups have signed a strongly worded letter accusing the Canada-based company Pacific Rim of using a little-known international tribunal to “subvert a democratic nationwide debate over mining and environmental health”.

Haiti’s homeless earthquake victims drop significantly, but worry continues
The number of Haitians living in camps has dropped 91 percent since the January 2010 earthquake, according to the International Organization for Migration. But:

there are some worrying trends despite the 91 percent drop: families unable to pay rent are returning to the camps, while other camps are showing little to no prospect of ever being emptied, the Geneva-based humanitarian group said in its latest report.

“The phenomenon of new families moving into camps and families splitting and occupying more tents constitutes a worrying trend observed in 68 [camp] sites,” the report said.

Reversing the trend and emptying out the remaining camps require a strong commitment from the Haitian government to come up with solutions, the report said.

+ The ugly truth behind Guatemala’s fast-growing, super-efficient palm oil industry
Globally, the palm oil industry is booming, and Guatemala has become one of the world’s major suppliers. However:

The problem with the rise of Guatemala’s palm oil industry is it benefits only a tiny portion of the Guatemalan populous—just eight families control all of the country’s processing plants and produce some 98% of the country’s palm oil,according to a 2012 study. And it comes at a huge human cost.

Healthy cities in Latin America: Investing in mobility for all
Latin America is urbanizing quickly. At the World Economic Forum on Latin America, experts discussed the infrastucture needed to make health cities:

Bogotá is an interesting example because of the changes it has experienced over the past two decades. It has the world’s first large-scale BRT system and a 400km network of cycle lanes, as a succession of mayors in the late 1990s and early 2000s sought to ease the city’s transport woes. But another strong example is Medellin, also in Colombia. In 2013, Medellin was voted as city of the year by the Urban Land Institute.

+ Injured Central American migrants granted passage to Mexico City
Many Central Americans migrate to the United States by first crossing through Mexico on a freight train nicknamed La Bestia. It’s a perilous journey that involves threats from criminals, migrations officials, and falls from the moving train. A group of Honduran migrants who lost limbs under La Bestia petitioned the Mexican government for safe passage to Mexico City. On Saturday, permission was granted:

The men had entered Mexico illegally through Guatemala in late March. They had been asking the Mexican government to let them travel to Mexico City with letters that would instruct immigration officials not to deport them during that journey.

The men, all of whom have lost legs, arms or fingers, have made headlines in Mexico with their demand that President Enrique Peña Nieto meet with them, and consider their request that the Mexican government grant all U.S.-bound Central American migrants unimpeded passage through Mexico.

+ Neglected islanders resist plan for Haiti tourism revival
Without prior consulation from the government, 14,000 residents of the island Ile-à-Vache off the coast of Haiti are being forced to move without compensation to make way for a $250 million tourist resort. 

Like many islanders he said he isn’t against the tourism project as long as there is fair compensation. The government says that will be worked out by the state tax office, and would depend on what the land is used for now and whether residents were up-to-date with property taxes, likely to be an issue for many who live a hand-to-mouth existence.

“They tell us tourism will be good for the island, but then they tell us to go elsewhere. If they like our beach they will take it,” said Ilene Martier, a 37-year-old fisherman.

Colombia’s victims of conflict a “priority” for the state
So far, 360,000 Colombians have been compensated, according to the Unit for Attention and Reparation of Victims, out of 6 million registered victims. But the state says it is committed to meeting their needs.

“I don’t think the idea of holding peace talks would have had any traction if the Victims’ Law hadn’t been passed first,” she adds.

According to Ms Gaviria, the Victims’s Law and the creation of the Victims’ Unit was a “down payment on peace”, demonstrating the government’s commitment to the victims of the armed conflict.

And from the LACA Advocacy blog:

+ New Intersections issue on the theory and practice of advocacy in Latin America and around the world

+ Coverage of the MCC Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia, which took place last weekend. And more here.

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One Response to Weekly Roundup April 11

  1. Karry says:

    Ahaa, its nice conversation on the topic of this post here at thjis website,
    I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

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