Today in Latin America
Top Story — In its latest move away from communism, Cuba announced on Monday that it will cut half a million state jobs by early next year and reduce longstanding restrictions on private enterprise in an effort to help the laid-off workers find jobs.
The move from the Communist government is a dramatic step that President Raúl Castro had only previously hinted at during a nationally televised address on Easter Sunday, where he said that 1 million Cuban workers may be redundant.
Cuba’s workforce stands at around 5.1 million, which means that almost 10 percent the country’s employees could be out of work. The lay-offs are expected to start immediately.
“It will take a few days before Cubans realize what is going to hit them,” said Juan Jacomino of Al Jazeera in Havana. “They are going to have to get used to working in a sector other than the state. For many years, 90 percent of the Cuban labor force have been working for the state.”
Cuba’s official trade union federation said on Monday that one million jobs will eventually be cut and according to a document circulating within the higher ranks of the Communist party the job cuts are in preparation for the “reorganization of the labor force.”
“Job options will be increased and broadened with new forms of non-state employment, among them leasing land, co-operatives and self-employment absorbing hundreds of thousands of workers in the coming years,” the trade union’s statement said, according to The Financial Times.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- The extradition of key Colombian paramilitary leaders to the United States is disrupting a historic amnesty program intended to demobilize units and deliver basic information, such as the location of bodies, to victims’ relatives. ProPublica explains in this investigative report.
- Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, lead author of the controversial immigration bill SB 1070, sat down with Molly O’Toole to discuss illegal immigration and elections. Here’s what he had to say.
- With classes about to begin, undocumented students are breathing a sigh of relief. Alison Bowen explains why.
- Chile has a new education initiative that it hopes will attract more qualified teachers. Read more about the new program in this article by Dispatch contributor David Mauro.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The Quinnipiac University national survey shows a strong anti-immigrant tilt, with respondents favoring an end to the constitutionally guaranteed practice of granting U.S. citizenship to children born of undocumented immigrants.
- Mexico’s capture of two rival drug gang leaders in two weeks may mark a new trend in the country’s drug war, an official said Monday: drug lords surrendering without a fight when surrounded.
- President Felipe Calderón on Monday criticized both Americans and Mexicans for their roles in the 1846-1848 war that cost Mexico half its territory during a ceremony commemorating the definitive battle of the conflict.
- An Argentine energy and agribusiness entrepreneur on Monday announced plans with a Haiti-based business group to build a $33-million (U.S.), 240-room business hotel in the earthquake-ravaged Haitian capital.
- The United Nations is launching a campaign to combat the rape of Haitian earthquake victims living in camps for the homeless, the U.N.’s top official in the country said Monday.
- Two young men dressed in women’s clothing were found slain Monday along a road in southern Puerto Rico, police said, prompting calls from gay rights activists to investigate it as a possible hate crime.
- A car packed with gunpowder, nails and propane tanks has been found parked outside the headquarters of Guatemala’s national prisons office, along with cellphones apparently designed to detonate the load.
- Hillary Clinton congratulated Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica on their 189th anniversaries on Monday on behalf of the Obama administration.
- Costa Rican police seized two guns from reality TV star Spencer Pratt at an airport as he was leaving for the United States, authorities said.
- At least fourteen people were killed Monday in a passenger-plane crash in Venezuela, and at least 33 others aboard survived, officials said.
- A Venezuelan man accused in the 2003 bombing of Spanish and Colombian diplomatic missions in Venezuela has fled that country and is seeking asylum in Miami.
- Peru’s Prime Minister Javier Velásquez said on Monday he would formally step down this week so he can run for president next year and that several ministers now serving would be a “good” replacement for him.
- Peru’s embattled President Alan García asked Congress on Monday to repeal a decree he issued two weeks ago that gave virtual amnesty to hundreds of people accused of atrocities during a civil war that killed 69,000.
- One of Brazil’s offshore oil prospects contains approximately eight billion barrels of oil, according to one of the country’s energy officials.
- The 33 trapped Chilean miners have persuaded officials to send them two packs of cigarettes a day.
- Argentina is in talks with Brazilian airplane manufacturer to help develop a military transport plane.
- Uruguay may increase their beef exports in 2011 by 2.6 percent as demand recovers from the global recession.
- Doctors have said that Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo is responding well to chemotherapy and there is no need for him to leave office.
Image: Trinidad-News.com @ Flickr.