Around the Region

Mapuches turn up heat in drive for traditional lands

The Mapuche Indians in southern Chile stepped up protests against timber companies last month, occupying several logging sites in the 9th Region, burning vehicles and engaging in violent conflicts with local police. After being rebuffed in their efforts to meet with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet in early July, the Mapuches mounted a campaign to pressure the government to meet their long-standing demands, the principal one being recovery of ancestral lands now owned by timber companies. Since July 23, Mapuche communities supported by members of a militant group called Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM) have occupied seven timber sites. As of mid-August, efforts to end the protest action had failed. “We were only demanding the recovery of some land; but after the way this racist...

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Brazil boosting cargo scans amid waste-import scandal

Brazilian officials are discussing ways to more quickly examine cargo entering the country’s ports following the discovery in June and July of 89 containers (1,476 metric tons) of hazardous waste shipped illegally to two southern Brazilian cities from Britain. This month Brazil sent 81 containers (1,350 metric tons) of the illegal cargo, most of it hazardous household waste, back to Britain. Meanwhile, the country’s Inter-ministerial Commission to Combat Environmental Crimes (Ciccia), comprising the Environment Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Federal Police and the Highway Police, met in August to speed the purchase of more scanners capable of determining the contents of containers unloaded at Brazilian ports. Currently, just 15% of arriving containers are scanned, according to the Brazilian environmental news agency Envolverde. “The government...

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Pilot bike-sharing program being tried in Mexico City

In his boldest effort yet to promote clean alternatives to cars, Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has unveiled a new bike-share program in the city’s congested center. The system, which has transformed the transportation culture in Paris, Barcelona and Montreal, is due to launch in December with the first fleet of 1,100 bicycles. The US$6 million pilot phase of the program involves installing 84 rent-a-bike stations in six interlocking neighborhoods near the city center. Residents will pay between $13 and $20 a year for the use of the bikes for 30-minute intervals—the maximum estimated time needed to travel between bus and subway stops. Critics call the program suicidal madness, pointing to the city’s free-for-all traffic culture. But...

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