Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Americas round up relaunched!

Wow, it has been so long since I proverbially put pen to paper that I do not know where to begin, so naturally I start where I left off and with something I'm familiar with! Looking at the date I last posted a blog it is evident that I last logged in one year ago, so forgive me if this first blog in twelve months seems somewhat 'rusty'! I'm sure I will in due course I will manage to ease myself back into the process.

Too much has happened in the Americas for me to offer thought since I last contributed my two and a half cents, so I'll start with what is happening in the hempishphere now. Haiti naturally is dominating international news stories. It saddens me that it has taken a tragic event of the magnitude Haiti suffered last week for the impoverished nation that occupies the western portion of the island of Hispaniola to occupy western media time. The story of Haiti is one that deserves considerable time itself. Now the poorest nation in the American hemisphere and rated number 149 out of 182 in the United Nations' human index league, Haiti, as Saint Domingue, was once the French empire's richest colony and indeed was for a period the richest colony in the colonial Americas in proportion to land space. In the late eighteenth century as France underwent revolution, the slaves of Haiti rose up and threw off the yoke of colonial rule and founded the world's first black republic against insurmountable odds. The newly-independent United States' chose not to support the revolution and the immature revolutionaries of Spanish South America (which Haiti would later help liberate by sheltering and arming the proclaimed liberator of that region, Simon Bolivar) were not in a position to do so and probably would not have even if they were. The colony of Saint Domingue was renamed Haiti in honour of the virtually-extinct Taino indigenous peoples who once lived in the land and had called the island of Hispaniola 'Ay-ti' or 'land of mountains'. Haiti started its post-colonial independent life in literal ruins and in debt with France to sum of 150 million Francs (popularly expressed to be the equivalent to $22 billion in modern-day currency). Little has changed since then. The country has been contiously ravaged, suffered civil wars and dictatorship after dictatorship, and more recently foreign intervention in its internal affairs when President Aristide was, he claims, kidnapped by U.S. forces and removed to Southern Africa. The current death toll in Haiti in 102,000. The vast majority of these are of course Haitian nationals but a number of internation and particularly Brazilian UN peacekeepers (Brazil provies the largest number of UN peacekeepers in Haiti) and international aid workers and volunteers are also reported dead or missing. Ironically, when Haiti is most in need of international occupation to help rebuild its destoryed fragile-at-the-best-of-times infrastructure, it is distinctly unoccupied.

West from Haiti across the Caribbean sea and president-elect Profirio Lobo has reportedly secured safe passage for ousted president Manuel Zeleya from Honduras to the eastern portion of Hispaniola, the Domican Republic. The Honduran political crisis, it seems, is coming to an end. Brazil along with the U.S. has been actively involved in the process and will both be looking to reintergrate restabilised Honduras.

Meanwhile north in Mexico President Felipe Calderon's federal government is beginning to demonstrate results in its 'war' against organised crime and drug trafficking. Mexican authorities last month killed cartel kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva and followed up by capturing his brother and acting-boss Carlos Beltran Levya. Since President Calderon started his war against the traffickers some 15,000 people have reportedly been killed in Mexico as a direct result of organised crime.

On the northern side of the U.S.-Mexican border the Democratic Party has suffered defeat in the election in Massachusettes to fill the federal senate seat vacated by the death of veteran Democrat and Kennedy brother Ted Kennedy. The election of a Republican represents a symbolic and substantive vote against the Obama administration.

South across the Panama canal in Venzuela President Chavez has devalued the Venezuelan currency in an effort to stave-off deeper recession there.

Way down south in the southern cone Jose Mujica's election secured a second consecutive presidential term for the Frente Amplio coalition. The Frente also won a majority in both the lower chamber and the senate allowing it to enjoy an absolute majority in both chambers.

Back aross the riograndenese pampa in Brazil, where heavy rain recently caused several deadly flash floods in the state of Rio de Janeiro, the world's first ethanol-fueled power plant has this week been opened in the state of Minas Gerais.

Remember America is a continenet not a single nation-state!