Chile Officially Recognizes Same-Sex Civil Unions

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Top Story — Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a bill into law Monday that recognizes civil unions between same-sex couples, a historic piece of legislation that has been in the works for years and was praised by gay advocates as an important step in advancing the ultimate goal of full marriage rights.

The new law, which will take effect in six months, will give same-sex and unmarried couples many of the rights granted to married couples, including inheritance of property and inclusion in one another’s health plans.

Chile is a socially conservative nation — divorce was not legalized in the country until 2004 and gay sex not decriminalized until 1999. Members of the country’s gay community recognized the significance of the new law, “something which a few years ago was only a dream, even a taboo,” according to Rolando Jiménez, president of the Gay Liberation and Integration Movement.

Bachelet signed the bill into a law as her family is enmeshed in corruption scandals and she faces plunging approval ratings. Yesterday, her son Sebastián Dávalos was questioned as part of a corruption case regarding his wife’s real estate dealings.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Security contractors working for the Texas Rangers law enforcement agency may have violated U.S. law by spying on targets in Mexico, according to records obtained by the Texas magazine the Austin American-Statesman.

Caribbean

  • Activity in Haiti’s mining sector has slowed to a crawl in recent years, The Associated Press reports, due to political gridlock that has precluded the drafting of necessary regulations, much to the frustration of those who hoped mining would help alleviate the social and economic crisis that emerged from the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Central America

  • The government of Nicaragua has asked the U.S. to send home a worker from its embassy in Managua due to concerns he was exposed to Ebola on a recent trip to the West African nation of Liberia, a request U.S. officials have publicly questioned on the grounds that Nicaraguan authorities approved his entrance two weeks ago with the knowledge of his Liberia trip.
  • The Guatemalan general manager of a local mine was arrested Monday in connection with a 2012 lawsuit over the alleged contamination of a river, the first time, an activist told The Associated Press, that a manager has been jailed over such an issue.

Andes

  • Since the 2010 enactment of the Language Law in Colombia, which prioritized the conservation of indigenous languages, Colombians’ attitude towards the country’s 65 aboriginal communities has steadily shifted from one of condescension to respect, according to an in-depth feature by Los Angeles Times reporter Chris Kraul, who writes about the governmental push to develop bilingual programs for students in aboriginal communities.
  • A new government measure barring Venezuelans traveling abroad from spending over $700 caused the recession-plagued country’s global bonds to spike on Monday, possibly improving Venezuela’s chances of bouncing back from an economic crisis caused by plunging world-wide oil prices.

Southern Cone

  • Uruguayan author, journalist and critic Eduardo Galeano died on Monday. The acclaimed author of The Open Veins of Latin America was 74 years old.
  • A municipal waste management company in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, worked on Monday to clear a large number of dead fish from the city’s Rodrigo de Freitas lake, where the 2016 Olympic rowing competitions are slated to take place.
  • Apple product manufacturers Foxconn Technology Group’s 2011 investment into the Brazilian technology sector has failed to live up to the promise of creating 100,000 jobs or catalyzing the country’s technology industry, according to Reuters.

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