The Germans may have Paul the Psychic Octopus, but the Peruvians have Jimmy the Frightened Guinea Pig, whose terrified skittering apparently means Uruguay and Germany will face off in the World Cup final.
Not sure if having the support of a guinea pig will do anything to encourage the Uruguayan squad today as they stare down almost certain destruction at the hands of the Dutch.
According to MineralMundi, the Caudalosa Chica mine is used for extracting silver, copper, lead, and Zinc. Government sources are estimating that 21,400 cubic meters of toxic material escaped the reservoir, though the article doesn’t specify what kind of toxic material is involved.
When an open-pit goldmine in Costa Rica was shut down in 2007 on fears that something similar was about to happen, the chemical causing concern was cyanide. Not sure if that’s the case here.
It would be easy to jump all over whatever mining company is at fault, but let’s be honest, mining companies and any other profit-motivated corporations will go as far as you let them. We know this for a fact. It’s what they’re designed to do: pursue profit where they can get it.
At the heart of the matter, therefore, these environmental catastrophes are the government’s fault, for not requiring strict enough safety procedures, for not funding the institutions charged with enforcing those safety procedures, and for not having strong enough punitive measures in place to punish companies who dodge the rules and to make damn sure any clean-ups are well funded.
Everyone seems to agree that the economies of Latin America are experiencing a nice little recovery. The IMF, for example, just raised its forecasts for the region and is now projecting 4.1% GDP growth for the region, with 4.2% growth for Mexico and 5.5% for Brazil. Oh boy, numbers.
But here’s something interesting.
In an analysis of the region’s sovereign debt prospects (PDF), Fitch Ratings divides the region’s economies into three “camps.” One camp includes countries like Venezuela, Argentina, and Ecuador, whose recovery will be slower than that of the rest of the world for reasons that should surprise no one (high inflation, weak institutions, poor fiscal discipline, if you must know).
In a second camp are countries like Chile, Peru, and Brazil, whose good fiscal discipline, low political risk, and safe investment environments mean their economies will be growing like weeds this year and next.
Then we have the middle camp, which is basically countries that cast their development lot with the United States: Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador. And here’s the interesting part. Fitch projects this group will see only a moderately-paced recovery specifically because they’re tied to the US.
Meanwhile, Fitch says the Chile/Peru/Brazil group is doing particularly well partly because it does more business with China.
So I ask you: At what other point in recent history has easy access and close ties to the US economy been seen as a disadvantage?
(Original image courtesy H. Langos via Wikimedia Commons.)
IPS has a nice profile of Marco Arana, the priest and environ-mentalist who looks to be preparing a run for the presidency in Peru. Arana has steadily opposed destructive mining activity in the Cajamarca region and was named a Hero of the Environment by TIME magazine in 2009. He was suspended from the priesthood in February for getting involved in politics. [link]
I’m not sure what I like more, the music and the dancing, or the fact that the two guys competing in this Peruvian dance-off are nick-named “Terrible” and “Satan.” Subtle intimidation tactics. Also: Must visit the Andes again.
Eight people died in Peru when a bar served them soft drinks mixed with methanol. Police are investigating. Methanol – also known as wood alcohol – is ethanol‘s evil, deadly twin, and used in antifreeze, solvents, and fuel. [link]
Peru is on its way to overtaking Colombia as the world’s largest producer of cocaine. Colombia producers 48.3% of the world’s coke, and falling, while Peru produces 33.5%, and rising. All this is according to the 2009 annual report of the U.N.’s International Narcotics Control Board.
PERU — Indigenous peoples from the Amazon region are protesting again for the first time since clashes with the government last June and left dozens dead. Four thousand “elite” police were deployed to the region where the protesters will be holding a sit-in.
The Nation has a long, wonky, wonderful article on Mexican maize cultivation, the effects of NAFTA, and the dangers of genetically-modified seeds. Author Peter Canby backs up his excellent writing with piles and piles of meticulous research. Not to be missed. [link, via SM] (Image from Joel Penner.)
Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas ended his hunger strike yesterday after 134 days. Farinas decided to end his strike after the Cuban government said it would release political prisoners rounded up in the "Black Spring" crackdown of 2003. Get well soon. [link]
The Uruguayan selection, which has made it to the quarter finals of the World Cup, just received a shipment of half a ton of fine cuts of beef for the mother of all asados in preparation for a contest against Ghana on Friday: "450 kilos of lomo, 200 of entrecot, 75 of vacío, 75 of colita de cuadril, 150 of ojo de bife and 50 kg of picaña." [link]
Hitmen have assassinated the PRI candidate for governor of Tamaulipas State, Rodolfo Torre Cantú. Torre was gunned down along with six others at about 10:30 this morning on a highway on the way to a campaign event. Drug mafias are assumed to be responsible. [link]
From the days when coups were something of a regional sport, new documents detail a famous British ballerina's role in a plot to topple the government of Panama. The plan was to use her yacht to gather men and arms, then "land somewhere and collect in the hills." It didn't work. [link]
Mexico's Attorney General's Office has posted on its web site irrefutable evidence that gold-plated AR-15s and diamond-studded pistol grips are not nearly as cool-looking as they sound. The deadly knick-knack collection is said to belong to Valencia Cartel leader El Lobo. [link]
Two Brazilian ranchers were sentenced to 30 years in prison apiece for ordering the killing of an environmentalist nun: "Prosecutors said the pair offered to pay a gunman $25,000 to kill the 73-year-old [Dorothy] Stang because she had prevented them from stealing a piece of land that the government had granted to a group of poor farmers." [link]
This video of a kidnapping and car chase in Mexico is notable mainly for the bad-assitude of the TV journalists who were on this like white on rice. Well done, gentlemen.
The Economist takes a peak at the Mockus phenomenon in Colombia: "His moustacheless beard gives him the air of a Baltic pastor... He is financing his campaign with a bank overdraft. His supporters rely on Facebook and make their own posters; street vendors sell unofficial campaign T-shirts." [link]
Some cruise lines will cease traveling to Antarctica after this cruise season, as a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil goes into effect next year. The ban came after a 2007 incident when a Gap Adventures ship got punctured by ice and sank, causing a mess. [link]