Latin America: Arms Trafficking, Ash Clouds, Scientific Advancement, China and more

Below are some of the past week's most interesting stories on Latin America.  They range from arms trafficking in Mexico to a high-profile resignation in Brazil, to an amazing opportunity to promote scientific advancement across the region.  Enjoy!

A shocking Congressional report found that 70% of firearms recovered from Mexican crime scenes in 2009 and 2010 came from the U.S., prompting new proposals to curb arms trafficking. The full article from BBC News can be found here.  Given the violence in Mexico over the past week, this report comes at an especially poignant time. Below is Mexican President Felipe Calderon's fiery response to the situation:

"Why does this arms business continue?" he asked.

"I say it openly: it's because of the profit which the US arms industry makes," he added.

Not to say that both sides aren't to blame, especially last week's arrest of former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rohn for stockpiling weapons. (Elisabeth Malkin's New York Times story can be found here)

Here is a link to some incredible pictures of Chile's volcanic ash cloud, which continues to disrupt air traffic as far away as New Zealand and may have disastrous long-term effects on agriculture in Southern Chile and Argentina. (BBC News story here, which includes some amazing aerial video footage)

Lots of people are talking about China's push into Africa nowadays, but China also has important ties with Latin America.  In fact, according to Chen Weihua with China Daily:

China is now Latin America's second-largest trade partner, trailing the United States. Meanwhile, China's imports from Latin America grew more rapidly than from any other region. About 8 percent of Latin America's exports went to China last year.

China is now saying that it wants to broaden these ties.  Chen Weihua's article can be found here.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's chief of staff resigned last Tuesday under dubious circumstances, casting doubt on the strength of the President's government and her personal ability to judge character.

On a happier note, 10 outstanding young Latin American scientists were chosen as Pew fellows in the Biomedical Sciences, a program which will provide the fellows with $60,000 in salary support, opportunities to work with leading U.S. researchers and $35,000 to establish research laboratories and further scientific research in their home countries.