Today in Latin America
Top Story– Brazil’s lower house of Congress approved controversial revisions to the country’s Forest Code, which stipulates the number of acres of forest that Brazilian farmers are required to preserve or replant when clearing land. The revisions were long sought by Brazil’s agriculture lobby, which hailed the passage of the bill as a victory despite the opposition from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and environmentalists concerned about deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Proposed changes to the Forest Code include permitting states to set their own requirements for forest preservation in fragile riparian zones, which is regulated to prevent soil erosion into rivers, and would redefine the kind of land that farmers can count towards their quota of preserved forest. Supporters of the bill say that it will still encourage reforestation and would allow Brazil’s agricultural output to grow. Rousseff may still veto the bill, but Congress can overrule the veto with a simple majority vote and already passed the bill with 60 percent support.
Read more from Reuters.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that arrests carried out between April 9-21 resulted in 792 arrests of alleged drug and human traffickers across the U.S. and Honduras.
- The Mexican government said Thursday that it apprehended 68,000 guns since 2006 that were traced back to the U.S.
- Mexico’s Attorney General’s office said that it would begin a preliminary investigation into Wal-Mart’s Mexican operations to verify whether the company bribed officials to expand its influence.
- Haiti’s KOFAVIV, a Creole acronym that translates into the Commission of Women Victims for Victims, has helped more than 4,000 rape survivors in Haiti find support and legal aid.
- Former Washington Senators pitcher Conrado Marrero celebrated his 101st birthday in Havana, making him the oldest former major leaguer in baseball.
- The 25 year-old winner of the Miss Dominican Republic pageant was asked to return her crown after it was discovered that she is married.
- U.S. Secret Service members are now being implicated in another prostitution scandal in Latin America, this time in El Salvador, where agents allegedly hired strippers ahead of a presidential visit in March 2011.
- Honduran President Porfirio Lobo appointed Colonel Isaac Ramon Santos Aguilar the new director of the Anti-Narcotics Directorate . The former director was assassinated in December 2009.
- Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said Thursday that his administration would attempt to eliminate any FARC presence in Ecuador, but said he would seek to arrest, not kill, the rebels.
- Peruvian officials allege that the Shining Path guerrillas have ties to Mexican drug cartels and work primarily in drug-trafficking.
- Colombian Ambassador Gabriel Silva said that the White House should issue a clear apology for the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Cartagena that occurred before the Summit of the Americas.
- The Venezuelan National Guard seized 3.3 tons of cocaine at La Guaira port on Thursday.
- Argentina notified British oil companies exploring oil reserves off the Falkland Islands that they had until May 2 to justify their actions before facing sanctions over the disputed territory.
- A United Nations Organizations for Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report warned that the four Mercosur nations Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay are under threat from rising land costs and increased foreign ownership.
Image: CIFOR @ Flickr.