NotiSur contains news, summaries, and analyses on a variety of political, economic, and social issues in South America. The publication covers regional integration and democratization, including topics such as political parties and elections, governmental reform and judicial issues, political violence and human rights, military issues, and inter-American affairs.
Current IssueGM Food Debate in Latin America Pits Economic, Environmental Concerns
The debate over the use of genetically modified (GM) maize in Mexico resurfaced at the end of January, when Mexico City’s First Collegiate Tribunal was due to rule on a 2013 resolution that suspended the cultivation of the crop on Mexican soil. Private corporations seeking to distribute the product within Mexico appealed against the resolution, while social organizations have said that they want to see a trial in the Supreme Court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, SCJN). The tribunal postponed the ruling on Jan. 26, provoking the launch of a new campaign against the GM crop called No More Abuses of Maize (#NoMásAbusosVsElMaíz). The GM debate has raged over recent years in Latin America, as economic interests and the attractiveness of greater control over agricultural production have fought against environmental, ecological, and health concerns. GM crops, which are developed to be resistant to herbicides and insects and are intended to improve crop yields, were first cultivated commercially in the US in the early 1990s, and according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), are now cultivated on over 100 million hectares in 22 countries.Bloody January Spotlights Deplorable Conditions in Brazilian Prisons
Ten incidents in eight states across Brazil left over 140 prison inmates dead in January. With the fourth-largest prison population in the world and a history of overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, the country’s penitentiaries are potential tinderboxes. Those conditions are longstanding––a 1992 rebellion in São Paulo’s Carandiru prison left 111 dead when police regained control of the facility. In 2012, on the 20th anniversary of that infamous conflict, Amnesty International (AI) declared Brazil’s prison system “medieval.”.Judge Luís Carlos Valois used a similar term to describe Brazil’s prison conditions last month in the aftermath of a prison riot in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, when rival gangs took over the Complexo Penitenciário Anísio Jobim. Valois was the lead negotiator attempting to defuse tensions, but the state could not halt a vicious killing spree that left 56 dead, the majority decapitated. The Jan. 1 massacre was only the prelude to a gruesome fortnight, with further gang-fueled killings in prisons across the country, including the states of Alagoas, Pernambuco, Roraima, São Paulo, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraná, and Santa Catarina. The bloody two weeks were capped off with the death of at least 26 inmates in Natal’s Alacuz prison, in Rio Grande do Norte. Public officials believe that most of the violent acts were repercussions from the Manaus riot. Human Rights Watch’s 2017 World Report singled out Brazil for a “cycle of violence” fueled by mass incarceration that ferments criminal gangs.