Daily Focus

This week in Latin America: the Pope on climate change—teacher evaluations in Mexico—Brazil's corruption scandal—the beautiful game

June 22, 2015

by AQ Online

Here’s a look at some of the stories we’re following this week:

Religious Leaders Respond to Pope Francis' Climate Views: Reaction was swift and loud following the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Friday. While his sweeping indictment of the global response to climate change inspired some to question the pontiff's understanding of economic policy, the reception in Latin America was more positive. Catholic leaders from Mexico to Peru echoed Francis' call for action in their own climate-related sermons on Sunday. The publication of the encyclical comes just weeks ahead of the pope’s trip to Bolivia and Ecuador, two countries with complicated histories when it comes to the environment, and Paraguay, where the government has positioned itself as an important player in UN climate negotiations, as Guy Edwards and Timmons Roberts argue this week in an AQ Online exclusive

Education Reform Stunted in Mexico: An instructor evaluation program that began over the weekend was marked by low participation and protests by teachers groups. More than 17 percent of teachers who had been scheduled to take evaluation exams failed to show up. Emilio Chuayffet, Mexico's public education secretary, must now negotiate terms with the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), a powerful and sometimes violent teachers union, whose opposition to reform contributed to low turnout and led to the outright suspension of evaluations in Oaxaca and Michoacan states. The difficulty in advancing even modest reform underscores a dramatic drop in President Enrique Peña Nieto’s political capital. After successfully pushing through changes to the country’s stiffly regulated energy sector last year, a series of scandals and increasing levels of violence have disrupted the president’s agenda. This week, responsibility for righting the ship lies largely with Mr. Chuayffet.

Brazilian Construction Execs Arrested: An ongoing corruption scandal in Brazil reached new heights on Friday with the arrests of Marcelo Odebrecht and Otávio Marques, two high-level construction executives. The arrests came as part of Operation Carwash, a federal police investigation into decades of graft and bribery at the state-run oil company, Petrobras. The scandal has already lead to the indictment of dozens of government and business officials in the country, and weakened President Dilma Rousseff’s standing among a frustrated populace, though she has not been implicated directly. Still, the accusations may be getting a bit too close for the president’s comfort, and just how far the effects of the scandal will reach is an open question.

Soccer Tournaments Near Conclusion: Finally, the beautiful game will be on display this week, as the Copa America (South America’s most important national soccer tournament) and the Women’s World Cup both enter their decisive knockout stages. The Copa America’s round of sixteen gets underway on Wednesday, with tournament host Chile taking on Uruguay. Despite student protests in the lead up to the tournament, drama on the field has captured most of the attention thus far. Meanwhile, three countries from the hemisphere are still competing at the Women’s World Cup. Canada has already locked down its place in the tournament’s final eight, but the other two regional players, the United States and Colombia, will go head-to-head tonight to determine who will progress. 

Tags: Daily Focus

Canada Won't Change Climate Goals

July 10, 2009

by AQ Online

G8 leaders meeting in Italyagreed this week that average global temperatures should not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times. But Group of Eight member Canada said it will not adjust its plan to combat global warming, despite the fact that it falls short of the new commitment.

Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice called his country’s planned reduction of 70 percent by 2050 “realistic,” in contrast to the G8’s number of 80 percent, given “the climate we have, the industrial base we have, our population growth.”

Data collected in 2007 placed Canada as the seventh largest annual emitter of CO2 gases, and a recent study by the German insurer Allianz has found that among major economies they, along with Russia, are making the least progress in combating climate change. In light of this, and the United States’ newfound commitment to reducing emissions, Canada has assumed “bad boy” status among the G8 countries, according to Bloomberg.

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Tags: Canada, Climate change, Daily Focus, G8

Daily Focus: Argentine Judge Freezes Assets of Former President Carlos Menem

June 4, 2009

by AQ Online

An Argentine judge has ruled that former President and current Senator Carlos Menem used funds slotted for national security improvements to overpay government employees, and froze over 100 million pesos ($26.5 million) on his assets.

It is only the latest legal trouble for Menem, who in November 2008 was charged with authorizing the sale of rifles, anti-tank rockets and other weapons to Croatia and Ecuador between 1991 and 1995. Menem, president from 1989 to 1999, claims that the shipments were destined for Panama and Venezuela: legal sales given those nations’ peaceful status at the time.

In both cases, Menem faced little threat of jail time, given the arrest-immunity for current senators.

Tags: Argentina, Daily Focus, Menem