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Bulletin 9 February 2010


Costa Rica: crime, a priority for new president

altLaura Chinchilla, Costa Rica’s president-elect, faces a tough challenge: crime. For many Costa Ricans, the problem of street crime and the risk that their country may become a battlefield in the struggle between the cartels for control over the profitable Central American drug trafficking routes to the USA are a serious concern.

Chinchilla said after her victory that she will appoint the right people to tackle the problem and promised to make sure that people feel safe on the streets. However, the new president may not have a working majority in parliament, which means that she will have to negotiate with smaller parties.

“The whole country will be watching me,” she said in an interview to local media. Chinchilla made crime the central theme of her electoral campaign. In the only Latin American country without an army, she will have to rely on the police to fight a problem that, for many Costa Ricans, is more serious than unemployment or immigration.

Nacion (Costa Rica, Spanish)

Argentina: illness of former president fuels political uncertainty

altHe may not be the official head of state, but the illness of former President Néstor Kirchner has created a climate of uncertainty in Argentina’s political system. Clarín, one of the country’s leading daily newspapers, says that the real significance of Kirchner’s illness is that it shows that he still rules the country.

For many Argentineans, President Cristina Fernández governs in tandem with her husband. Kirchner coordinates the country’s economic policies and relations with parliament, where he is a deputy.

“One of the main concerns for the government at the moment is to show that it can work without Néstor Kirchner,” says La Nación, another important newspaper. That was the main reason why Cristina Fernández decided to go back to work while her husband was recovering from heart surgery. However, before she doing so, she had to assure everyone that her husband was doing well.

The battle for the government to retain control over the Senate starts soon and it was widely expected that Néstor Kirchner would play a vital role. Even if Cristina Fernéndez is the President, she needs her husband for more than looking after the marital home while she’s at the office.

Clarín (Argentina, Spanish)

La Nación

Venezuela: Chávez 24:7

altPresident Hugo Chávez spends his Sundays in front of a microphone and a camera, talking about his revolution or about sending troops to the border with Colombia or about expropriating businesses. But is seems that Aló Presidente, his Sunday programme, is not enough. From now on, he will have a radio programme that could start at any time in any of the state-owned stations.

It will be called De Repente Chávez, or Suddenly Chávez, and, for the time being, will only be broadcast in the official broadcasting media. “When you hear the sound of a harp, it could be Chávez, suddenly,” said the President, who told his audience that he had been thinking about doing this for some time.

“I could be on air any time, even at 3 am,” he warned and said that the new programme (or programmes) was part of the war against “the private oligarchical media”.

According to the opposition, this is another attempt by Chávez to impose his presence on the media, after the government decided to cancel the licence of six cable TV stations that refused to broadcast his speeches.

El País (Spanish)


And you get fined if you do not save electricity

altThe Venezuelan Government has announced that it will fine households for not reducing their electricity consumption. President Hugo Chávez made the announcement in the state-owned media and said that the measure will stay in place until the drought affecting the country’s hydroelectric power stations comes to an end.

Private users who do not reduce their monthly electricity consumption by 10% will have their bills increased by 70% as a punishment. Chavez has also asked the industrial sector to reduce its electricity consumption.

Chávez has said that commercial establishments must reduce their consumption by 20%. Those who do not meet that target will be closed down for 24 hours.

The opposition has blamed the government’s lack of investment in Venezuela’s energy infrastructure for the crisis but the government argues that the drought that has affected the country as a result of the El Niño current has reduced water flows to the country’s hydroelectric plants.

El Nacional (Venezuela, Spanish)

El Universal (Venezuela, Spanish)


Bolivia identifies plants that resist climate change

altBolivia has been one of the Latin American countries to have suffered most from climate change: biodiversity has been lost and glaciers vital for water supplies in the Andean highlands are melting.

Now, the National Department for Forestry and Agricultural Innovation has identified 21 crops that seem to be resistant to climate change. They include some types of quinoa (pictured), broad beans, maize, onions and carrots that are surviving the changes that global warming has brought about in the Bolivian highlands.

The government says that age-old traditional farming techniques have helped these species to adapt and grow, despite the changes in climate.

Yahoo environment (Spanish)

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