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Chile’s campaign to combat wildfires shifts to Bío-Bío Region

Flames threaten nearby town of Quillon, as Torres del Paine blaze is brought under control. More than 604 people have been left homeless, 162 homes destroyed and one man killed since a massive fire began on Saturday in the southern Bío-Bío Region, 280 miles south of Santiago.

Chile’s president bows to pressure, reopens Torres del Paine

A week since fire began, 80 percent of national park declared safe for tourists to return. The world-famous Torres del Paine National Park in far southern Chilean reopened to the public on Wednesday, according to President Sebastián Piñera, despite large wildfires on park grounds that are still not fully contained.

S&P: Chile remains strong, but must improve productivity

Chile is the country best prepared to face the economic deceleration, according to credit rating organization Standard and Poor’s (S&P). In an interview with El Mercurio, Jane Eddy and Regina Nunes, directors of S&P’s Latin America and the South Cone divisions, explained that while South America as a continent is doing well economically, Chile stands above the rest in its financial stability and ability to face the world crisis.

Piñera names Harald Beyer as Chile’s new education minister

Last Thursday President Sebastián Piñera turned to technocrat Harald Beyer to help steer the Ministry of Education into safer waters, after Felipe Bulnes resigned for “personal reasons.” Beyer is the third person to assume the role of Education Minister since Piñera took office in March 2010 and succeeds Felipe Bulnes, who in turn took over the post from Joaquín Lavín amid fierce student protests last July.

‘Just forget about Syria. Forget about going back’

No matter how hard he tries, Nemer, a 22-year-old Syrian immigrant living in New Jersey, cannot shake the vision from his mind: 60 people huddled in a tin cell made for 10 out in the Syrian desert. They take it in turns to sleep on the floor. At night the desert is so cold the metal is like ice; by morning the prison is an oven.

This was the fate of a friend jailed for 18 months for publishing an anti-regime poem on Facebook. ‘Like this they torture you for 24 hours,’ says Nemer (who is using a pseudonym out of concern for his family’s safety). ‘But when a friend calls me to say, “Just forget about Syria, forget about going back,” it’s like pulling one of my nerves. It’s like holding my heart and taking it out of my body to tell me I’m not going back to Syria.’

Haiti cholera victims get a hearing in US court

Delama Georges lives one stop from the end of the No. 2 train line in Brooklyn, right next to Holy Cross Cemetery. His proximity to so much death did not bother him until Nov. 9, 2011, when he learned that both his parents contracted cholera during a visit to his sister in Haiti. While Georges’ mother lay in a coma, brought on by dehydration from violent vomiting and diarrhea, his father died, joining more than 8,500 Haitians who died in the epidemic, which began four years ago this month.

Will Brazil-style protests spread throughout Latin America?

Ro de Janeiro, Brazil – 24/06/2013 – as published by The Christian Science Monitor.  By Olivia Crellin and Steven Bodzin RIO DE JANEIRO; AND SANTIAGO, CHILE — Across the Americas, and even at home in Brazil, many were surprised by the quick surge in protests that brought millions to the streets in 80 cities across […] Read more

Brazilian president unveils series of reforms in attempt to end protests

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff unveiled a series of reforms on Friday night in an attempt to put an end to days of nationwide protests against government corruption and poor public transportation, health care and education. In an address broadcast on TV and radio, Rousseff said she had an obligation to listen to the voices of the people on the streets, but that a dialogue needed to be established between protesters and the government. “I’m going to meet with the leaders of the peaceful protests,” Rousseff said. “I want institutions that are more transparent, more resistant to wrongdoing.”

Elections in Chile: An Outlook from Santiago

Santiago, Chile – 27/10/2012 – as published by Americas Quarterly. As Chileans wake up tomorrow for municipal elections throughout the country, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has urged his citizens to investigate their local candidates online before arriving to the polling stations. If his advice is heeded, it may well be a first in a day […] Read more

CELAC Summit Produces Mixed Results

The most controversial outcome of last month’s second CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) summit in Santiago, following close on the heels of the first EU-CELAC meeting, was the decision in Santiago to appoint Cuban President Raúl Castro to the chairmanship of the 33-member regional body. Castro, who will be splitting the two-year term with his Costa Rican counterpart, Laura Chinchilla, could not resist several pointed remarks aimed at the United States. He decried the presence of multinational companies in the region and the U.S.’ continued possession of Puerto Rico. The 81-year-old leader’s message was clear, however: