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Bulletin 19 January 2010


 Haiti: The US takes control of Port-au-Prince

American medic helping victim of earthquakeUS troops have arrived in the devastated Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, to take control of the situation, in the face of the UN’s lack of ability to lead emergency efforts. A number of UN workers, including their head of mission in Haiti, lost their lives when their headquarters collapsed as a result of last week’s earthquake.

Until now, the streets of the Haitian capital have been at the mercy of desperate looters of gangs of thugs who have imposed a reign of terror among the survivors, who are still waiting for more aid.

Boxes with food and medicine are scattered around the edges of the runway at Port-au-Prince’s international airport, without anyone taking control of the distribution. Meanwhile thousands of people languish in makeshift camps in the few areas not littered by debris and dead bodies.

President Barack Obama has promised to send 10,000 soldiers to Haiti to help with the emergency relief and to control a city where the government seems to be non-existent.

US aircraft have started to drop medicine and food in the worse-affected areas.

Reconstruction plans

altPresident Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic has called for a summit to discuss the reconstruction of Haiti.

The European Union and 20 other countries have agreed to take part in an international conference to design what Fernández has called a ‘strategic plan’ for the reconstruction of Haiti.

The first meeting, that took place in Dominican Republic’s presidential palace, was attended by the Haitian president René Préval, the current president of the European Union, María Teresa Fernández, the General Secretary of the Organisation of American States, José Miguel Insulza, and the president of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Edwin Carrington.

At the end of the meeting, president Fernández said that Haiti will need at least US$2 billion a year for the next five years to make it possible for Haiti to recover and to put an end to the country’s endemic economic and political instability.

Listin Diario (Dominican Republic, Spanish)

El Nacional (Dominican Republic, Spanish)

El Pais (Spain, Spanish)

BBC News

Chile: new president to continue current policies

altChile’s president-elect, Sebastián Piñera, promised to continue the policies that have made his country one of the fastest-growing economies in the region, but where social inequality still prevails.

In a sign that he does not intend to dismantle the policies of the Concertación, Piñera thanked the outgoing government for its achievements. The new president has not ruled out the possibility of inviting a minister from the Concertación to join his government.

Santiago, the capital, has one of the most modern transport systems in Latin America and a network of roads that is the envy of other countries. At the same time, Chile has one of the highest rates of inequality in the region.

Amidst protests from the conservative Catholic Church and from his own followers, Piñera has also said he will adopt some of the policies that outgoing president Michelle Bachelet tried to implement, like the distribution of contraceptive pills among young women and sex education.

El Pais

La Tercera (Chile, Spanish)


Venezuela: government does not rule out more expropriations

altThe Venezuelan government may expropriate more businesses if they continue to speculate with the price of foodstuffs. On Sunday, President Hugo Chávez announced the takeover of the supermarket chain Éxito.

Trade Minister Eduardo Samán said that the next target could be the chain Cada, one of the biggest in the country, because the government believes that their behaviour could lead to shortages of food.

Since President Hugo Chávez announced the devaluation of the local currency, the bolivar, thousands of people have tried to stock up food and other basic products because of fear that prices will go up. The government has accused supermarkets and grocery shops of taking advantage of the devaluation to withhold foodstuffs in the hope that prices will increase.

At the same time, the government has ordered the local industry to reduce their use of energy by 20%, something that has been criticised by the private sector, because they consider the decision “impractical”.

El Nacional (Venezuela, Spanish)

El Universal (Venezuela, Spanish)


Bolivia denies responsibility for failure of COP15

altThe Bolivian government has rejected an accusation by Jonathan Pershing, the US climate change chief negotiator, that the ALBA alliance (the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) contributed to the collapse of talks on climate change in Copenhagen last month.

The Bolivian Ambassador at the UN, Pablo Solon, said that “the USA’s deliberate attempt to sideline both democracy and justice in the climate policy debate is holding humanity hostage – and will be viewed as both reckless and immoral by future generations.”

Solon announced that his country is organising a “Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change” in April to discuss “effective proposals for saving humanity from climate chaos”.

Source: Bolivia Embassy at the UN.


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