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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
In Brief
Latinamerica Press
12/19/2014
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Latin America and the Caribbean, Cuba, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed concern over pervasiveness of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex persons (LGBTI) and the lack of data collections about this collective by governments in Latin America and the Caribbean. In a press released published on Nov. 17, the IACHR revealed that between January 2013 and March 2014, at least 594 LGBTI persons were killed, and 176 were victims of serious non-lethal attacks to their integrity apparently related to their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expressions in 25 countries of the region. According to the IACHR, the vast majority of killings targeted gay men and trans women.
 
In simultaneous messages sent on Dec. 17, Cuban President Raúl Castro and US President Barack Obama announced the start of an immediate dialogue to restore the diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, which have been broken since 1961. Both leaders also confirmed the release of an imprisoned US contractor on the island and of three Cubans held in the United States accused of espionage. Both presidents stated that they had coordinated by phone the agreement that has Pope Francis as mediator. The Cuban government hopes that, with the restoration of diplomatic relations at the embassy level — currently all relations are held through an interest section and a consulate —, the United States will end more than half a century of economic embargos.

Indigenous and Afro-descendant groups in Nicaragua made a request on Dec. 5 to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for precautionary measures to prevent the construction of the Interoceanic Grand Canal that would cross their ancestral lands. The groups request a prior consultation before the works starts. According to the Center for Legal Assistance to Indigenous Peoples (CALPI), the 278 km (172 miles) project linking the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific, causes “irreparable damage to the rights to a decent life and ancestral property as well as [violates] due process.”. A 52 percent of the route will cross indigenous lands, which have experienced a delay in the land title processes in order to carry out the project, said the CALPI. Government sources have confirmed that the construction would begin on Dec. 22.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) criticized the new youth labor law in Peru, enacted on Dec. 16, which does not recognize labor rights for young people between the ages of 18 and 24 by canceling the payment of compensation for length of service and bonuses, reducing the number of vacation days and lack of access to social security. The measure, which allegedly helps the entry of some 260,000 young people into the formal labor market, will not necessarily reduce the labor informality that now reaches 70 percent, pointed out Julio Gamero, ILO employment specialist for the Andean Countries. Union organizations announced that they will present a claim of unconstitutionality against the law, which they described as “neo-slavery”.

Tabaré Vázquez, candidate of the leftist Broad Front, comfortably won the second electoral round in Uruguay on Nov. 30. Vazquez, who was president between 2005 and 2010, faced Luis Lacalle Pou, from the right-wing National Party or “Blanco” party. The former president, who will take office on March 1 for a term of five years, won 53.6 percent of the votes against Lacalle Pou’s 40.4 percent. Vázquez will be joined by Raúl Sendic as Vice President, who will also chair the General Assembly, made up by the Senate and the House of Representatives. The ruling party will have a majority in both houses, with 16 of the 30 senators and 50 representatives out of 99.


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