Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Monday Memo: Brazilian Elections – Fires in Chile – Mexican Protesters – Nicaragua Canal – World Cup

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Likely top stories this week: Eduardo Campo and Marina Silva are expected to run in Brazil’s presidential elections; Chile suffers from drought and wildfires; Mexican police remove protesters; Nicaragua will start work on its canal in 2015; FIFA criticizes Brazil’s World Cup preparations.

Likely Campos-Silva Ticket in Brazil’s Next Elections: Pernambuco Governor Eduardo Campo and Former Brazilian Environmental Minister Marina Silva are expected to announce their candidacy this month for Brazil’s October 2014 presidential elections, challenging Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s bid for re-election. O Globo reported on Saturday that Campo will run for president and Silva will run for vice president, though this has not yet been confirmed by the candidates themselves. The two are expected to make an announcement at the January 17 meeting of the Brazilian Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Brasileiro—PSB).

Fires Rage in Chile During Drought: As Chile suffers its fourth severe drought in as many years, Chilean emergency workers are battling 19 wildfires in rural areas outside Santiago. The fires have affected 16,200 hectares (40,000 acres) of land and may cause more than $100 million in damages, according to Chile’s national emergency service. The fires started on Saturday near the town of Melipilla and covered Santiago in a blanket of smoke, causing the worst air pollution the city has dealt with in years.

Mexican Police Disperse Protesters: Mexican police took control of the plaza of the Monumento a la Revolución on Sunday, dispersing protesters who had occupied the plaza since September. Most of the protesters are teachers and members of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (National Coordinator of Educational Workers—CNTE) who are protesting Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s new education reforms. The police took over the plaza while only 60 people were present, but the CNTE said Monday that reinforcements would arrive from across the country to continue the protests.

Nicaragua Canal Construction Delayed: The head of Nicaragua’s canal authority, Manuel Coronel Kautz, said that construction on a $40 billion Nicaragua canal project will likely be delayed until 2015. Construction was first expected to begin in May 2014. The canal, proposed as an alternative to the Panama Canal, has been challenged by environmentalists and by critics of the Hong Kong-based HKND Group, which will be building the canal.

FIFA President Criticizes Brazil over World Cup Delays: FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in an interview Monday that no host country has been as far behind in its World Cup preparations as Brazil, which will host the upcoming competition starting on June 12. Six of the country’s 12 stadiums have failed to meet their December 31 deadlines after numerous construction delays and accidents, and several of the stadiums are not expected to be completed until April. Blatter said that although Brazil has had seven years to prepare for the tournament, it “has started work much too late.”

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