Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Monday Memo: UN General Assembly – Peruvian Mining – Mexican Storms – Venezuela – Amazon Trial

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Likely top stories this week: the UN General Assembly kicks off in New York; Peru’s minister of mines is optimistic about controversial projects; Mexico assesses damage from Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid; Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro travels to China after sparring with the U.S.; a Brazilian rancher is sentenced in the murder of American nun and activist Dorothy Stang.

Latin American Leaders Attend UN General Assembly: On Tuesday, at least eleven Latin American heads of state are expected to attend the 68th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. As of Sunday, the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay had officially confirmed attendance. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who will arrive in New York City on Monday, will open Tuesday’s general debate. Rousseff is expected to propose global measures against cyber-espionage after recent revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) monitored the e-mails and phone calls of Rousseff and Brazilian state oil company Petrobras.

Peruvian Mining Projects Expected to Resume: Peruvian Minister of Energy and Mines Jorge Merino said at a conference in Arequipa last week that Newmont Mining’s $4.8 billion Conga copper and gold mine and Southern Copper’s $1 billion Tia Maria copper project should be able to overcome community opposition and  resume operation. Peruvian President Ollanta Humala suspended Tia Maria in 2011 and Conga in 2012 due to deadly mining protests. Protesters were concerned that the mining would impact the local water supply. The next large-scale mining project expected to start production is Minera Chinalco, Peru’s Toromocho copper project, which should begin before the end of the year.

Mexican Storm Death Toll Rises as Cleanup Begins: Mexican authorities said that approximately 115 people had died in from widespread flooding and mudslides in the wake of Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid, which struck both sides of the country last week. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said on Sunday that the Mexican Congress will be forced to revise its 2014 budget to deal with the catastrophic damage. A mudslide in the town of La Pintada likely killed all 68 of the residents who remain missing.

U.S.-Venezuela Plane Incident Heightens Tensions: After the U.S. hesitated to grant Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro permission to fly through U.S. airspace on his way to China last Thursday, Maduro called the move a “serious offense” and Bolivian President Evo Morales said he would sue the United States for “crimes against humanity.” Roberta S. Jacobson, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs said Friday that the U.S. had granted permission for Maduro’s plane to fly over Puerto Rico after only one day, when it usually requires advance notice of three days for diplomatic flight requests. On Sunday, Maduro met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and signed 12 agreements to strengthen economic ties.

Mastermind of Amazon Murder Sentenced to 30 Years: A rancher who ordered the murder of American nun and longtime Amazon protection advocate Dorothy Stang was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Thursday night. Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura had already been tried three times and his last sentence was annulled by the Supreme Court. His lawyers plan to appeal the latest conviction. Of five people charged with involvement in the crime, only Bastos and another man are currently in prison.

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