Haiti: After the earthquake, the illnesses
Nine days after an earthquake destroyed the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, medical authorities fear that typhus and dengue will start affecting those survivors who have not received help.
Many people are still living in the streets and those who received hospital treatment without proper equipment and antibiotics risk infections and traumatic illnesses.
Cuban doctors who arrived to Port-au-Prince in the first wave of foreign aid workers believe that, once the relief operation is over and volunteers are gone, the first cases of typhus and dengue will appear.
US soldiers and Cuban volunteers have been working shoulder to shoulder in a rare display of friendship, despite their political differences.
More US troops in Haiti but aid still vastly inadequate
While a further contingent of US troops will shortly be deployed in Haiti to help with the emergency activities, aid still does not seem to be getting to those people who need it most. According to the US navy. President Barack Obama has ordered the deployment of an extra 4,000 soldiers to “increase the ability to quickly provide aid”.
Despite a record outpouring of funds and hundreds of emergency flights congesting Port-au-Prince’s international airport, correspondents on the ground seem to agree in one thing: that aid is scarce at best and absent at worse. Some hospitals have had to operate in the street because of a powerful aftershock on Wednesday, and doctors have had to amputate limbs without anaesthetic. Many mothers have been giving birth in the open air in beds brought out on to the destroyed roads.
Haitian officials put the number of fatalities at 200,000 but the death toll is likely to grow as the rubble, under which some survivors have been found, is cleared and more bodies are found. Perhaps the exact number of deaths will never be known because many people have buried their relatives in common graveyards and back gardens.
Blockade to avoid immigration
The US soldiers, who have been sent to Haiti to help with emergency aid, seem to have another urgent mission: to prevent thousands of Haitian from illegally emigrating to the US.
In a statement published by Spanish media, the US said that it will apply a hard line approach to illegal immigrants coming from Haiti, and that any Haitian found at sea trying to enter the United States will be sent to the Guantanamo naval base to be deported back to their country.
Several Haitians have been seen trying to board US navy ships, whose crews have decided to move 30 kilometres away from the port at night, to prevent them from climbing aboard in the hope that they will go to the United States.
Listin Diario (Dominican Republic, Spanish)
El Mundo (Spanish)
El Pais (Spanish)
Honduras: Agreement for Zelaya to leave the country
Deposed Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, has agreed to leave his refuge in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa to travel to the Dominican Republic.
An agreement between Dominican President Leonel Fernández and Honduras president-elect Porfirio Lobo will make it possible for Zelaya not to face charges in his own country, as the de facto government wanted. Fernández phone Zelaya to inform him about the agreement.
Both Zelaya and close members of his family will be able to live in the Dominican Republic as “distinguished guests” said the Dominican government.
President Fernández, who will attend Mr. Lobo’s inauguration on 27 January, will pick up Manuel Zelaya from the Brazilian Embassy to travel together to Santo Domingo.
Support for Manuel Zelaya’s attempts to be reinstated as president, after he was deposed in July last year, has been fading away, after the US government urged Latin America to recognise the results of November’s general elections in Honduras.
El Nacional (Dominical Republic, Spanish)
Venezuela: Revolution until the year 3485
President Hugo Chávez said in Wednesday that he wants the “Bolivarian revolution” to last until the year 3485, and urged the opposition to collect enough signatures to organise a referendum about his presidency.
Using colourful colloquial language, Chávez said that the opposition lacks courage to challenge his government, and ask them to get rid of him by electoral means, after accusing them of being the “empire’s fifth column”.
The Venezuelan Government is facing a serious economic crisis, after it decided to devalue the local currency, the peso fuerte. At the same time there have been severe shortages of electricity that have affected the Venezuela’s industrial output.
El Nacional (Venezuela, Spanish)
Ecuador reduces “protectionist” measures
The Ecuadorian government has decided to reduce tariffs imposed on imported products. However, some measures to protect garment and electronic production will stay in place.
A year ago the government of President Rafael Correa imposed a special tax of 10% on imported textiles, metal and electronic products, in order to protect the national industry. This led to a 20% reduction in imports.
Representatives of the private sector criticised the partial reduction in import tariffs saying that they want the full abolition of the tax.
La Hora (Ecuador, Spanish)
Yasuní, the richest regional biodiversity
A group of scientists has concluded that the Yasuní National Park in Ecuador has the richest biodiversity in Latin America.
According to Dr. Clinton Jenkins, from the University of Maryland and one of the authors of the report, “Yasuní is at the centre of a small zone where South America’s amphibians, birds, mammals, and vascular plants all reach maximum diversity”.
It is believed that in just one hectare of forest there are more than 100,000 species of insects. According to the study, Yasuní has more species of toads than the United States and Canada put together.
The Ecuadorian government is working on a project to keep Yasuní’s vast oil reserves underground, in exchange for funding to cover the economic losses it will incur by not exploiting the oil.
US Department of Defense