Weekly Round Up - Stories from the Americas

LAPI shares five interesting stories you might have overlooked this past week while following the unbelievable events taking place in North Africa.  

  • In light of the upheaval that led to the resignations of the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents, this year’s South American-Arab summit had to be postponed. Even so, Peruvian President Alan García suggested the eventual meeting will be an opportunity to “shake up new alliances”. Jim Wyss from the Miami Herald reports that Latin America is calling to boost ties with the Middle East, seeking trade routes and allies different from the United States, China and Europe. Interestingly, Wyss points out that the demographics might have something to do with this call since:

Chile is home to more than 200,000 Palestinians—making it the largest such community outside the Middle East—Brazil has an estimated 10 million people of Arab descent, including seven million Lebanese. 

Wyss also brings light to the fact that since December, nine Latin American countries have recognized a sovereign Palestinian state. Definitely worth a read, please click here to access  the full story.

  • El País published an interview with Cemex CEO and Tecnológico de Monterrey Chairman, Lorenzo H. Zambrano, where he stressed his commitment to not losing the city to the narcos  It is refreshing to see a prominent business leader recognize that active and independent civil society organizations can work with medium and larger private enterprises to protect the Mexico’s most important industrial and innovation center from violence, corruption and chaos. 
  • News about months of unrest at the University of Puerto Rico finally made it to US media. The       New York Times reports that in the last week, a number of students have been arrested, students have been injured by riot police officers, faculty and staff members held a two-day walkout, the president of the university resigned and the police finally withdrew from campus. Students are protesting about a budget cut that requires them to pay a new $800 fee, increasing their costs by more than 50 percent.  In Puerto Rico, Protests End Short Peace at University is a great read because it shows that similar to the experiences and feelings being faced by students at public universities elsewhere in the US students in Puerto Rico worry that the new fiscal realities will restrict access to higher education.
  • The Washington Post writes about another student protest taking place, this time a hunger strike in Venezuela. More than 80 protesters are pushing the government to let the OAS Secretary-General visit and investigate allegations that Chavez’s government utilizes the judicial branch to persecute opponents. This story will continue to draw strong reactions from both sides, as shown by the excerpt below:

That drew a strong reaction from Caracas' friends in the left-leaning ALBA bloc of nations, which told Insulza to not meddle in Venezuela's domestic affairs. In a joint statement issued last week, ALBA allies including Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador said Insulza's actions threatened "a dangerous return to the times when the OAS was an instrument of interventionism and colonialism" of the United States.

  • Nicaragua-based ‘Bloggins by Boz’  analyzes how Cuba is running out of ‘censorship’ excuses. The blogger even posts a big ‘thank you’ to Hugo Chavez for connecting Cuba to the Internet with a major fiberoptic cable. 

The cable has a 640GB capacity, vastly increasing Cuba's potential connection to the internet, which was previously provided mostly by satellite. For years, Cuba has used the US embargo as an excuse for its censorship of the internet […] It won't create a democracy overnight, but I'd certainly appreciate the irony if it eventually turns out the Venezuelan government gave the Cuban government enough fiber-optic cable to hang themselves with.

Check back every Tuesday for the LAPI round-up and feel free to send us suggestions and cool stories worth sharing and reading.