Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Monday Memo: [i]AQ[/i]’s Top Expected Stories for the Week of July 23



Top stories this week are likely to include: release of the new issue of Americas Quarterly; post-election protests continue in Mexico; Argentina gains from grain after U.S. drought; fallout from Oswaldo Payá’s death in Cuba; and dialogue begins in Cauca, Colombia.

New AQ to be Released: Americas Quarterly’s Summer 2012 issue, “Gender Equality: Political Backrooms, Corporate Boardrooms and Classrooms,” will be released this Thursday. “This issue looks at the topic across a range of topics to get a broad view of beyond development and women’s rights,” says AQ Editor-in-Chief Christopher Sabatini. Articles will explore “how women and girls are faring in education, labor markets, politics, and the private sector, and why—politically, economically, and morally—achieving equality and parity is essential,” according to the issue’s press release. Authors include UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, Partners in Health Founder Paul Farmer and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer.

Election Protests Continue in Mexico: Despite officially winning Mexico’s presidential election earlier this month, President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto faces continued backlash from his critics. Last week, the two main opposition parties—Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party—PAN) and Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Party of the Democratic Revolution—PRD)—joined forces to raise allegations against Peña Nieto and his Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party—PRI) for illicit funds usage, adding that they have “strong and conclusive” evidence. The case is currently before an electoral court, with the final vote count to be certified by the Federal Electoral Tribunal by early September. In Mexico City, the #YoSoy132 youth movement organized a 30,000-person protest yesterday. Should months of continued protests be expected? AQ Senior Editor Jason Marczak sees the post-election protests dying down: “Peña Nieto won by a clear margin, and Mexico City residents are likely to quickly get tired of this attempted repeat of 2006. Already, organizers are seeing the number of protestors declining.” 

Argentina to Gain in Grain: The United States is experiencing its worst drought in 55 years, which is devastating key agricultural crops. This is raising the prices for key commodities such as soybeans (a 50.25 cent rise per bushel for August deliveries), corn (12.75 cents) and wheat (31.75 cents). A Bloomberg Businessweek report predicts that Argentina—where soy prices reach $440 per ton—will expect to see major windfalls as consumers look elsewhere for agricultural goods. This is particularly relevant, as Argentina is the world’s third-largest soy producer behind the United States and Brazil.

A Post-Payá Cuba: Cuba’s dissident community is reeling from the death yesterday of prominent anti-government activist Oswaldo Pa‎yá, whose influence stretched far beyond the Caribbean island. An official statement from Cuba’s government announced that two people including Payá died and two people were injured when the driver of Payá’s car lost control and struck a tree. However, Payá’s daughter Rosa Maria alleges that a second car was involved in the incident and intentionally crashed into Payá’s vehicle. Rosa Maria’s allegations suggest that this was a premeditated plot, and this week could shed some more light into the fallout from Payá’s death. Notes Sabatini: “Oswaldo was a leading light of the democratic movement in Cuba, an uncompromising voice for peace, human rights and the Cuban people. His name and dream will live on in Cuba’s future.”

Dialogue Underway in Colombia: After last week’s attacks on Colombian soldiers by the Nasa Indigenous group in the department of Cauca, UN-mediated dialogue is taking place today in the Cauca city of Toribío. The administration of Juan Manuel Santos is sending senior advisor Aurelio Iragorri to meet with Nasa leaders; however, the Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca (Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca—CRIC) has demanded that Santos or one of his ministers attend. Tensions between the Indigenous groups of Cauca and the government have been simmering for months, as the Colombian military sees Cauca as a stronghold of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—FARC). In fact, former FARC commander Alfonso Cano was killed in Cauca last year. Santos has remained firm in not ceding territory in Cauca amid the longstanding internal conflict. Indigenous groups see the government presence as a threat to their Indigenous territory. Look for updates this week on the mediated dialogue.

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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