As the fifth anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude Haitian earthquake passed on January 12th, one would hope to see substantial recovery with new infrastructure, improved health conditions and more efficient governance. As a country of only 10 million, nearly 1.5 million or 15% of Haitians were displaced and homeless after the rubble settled five years ago.
Health and Society
Having only been in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for one week, I cannot tell you very much about life here except for what I’ve observed in my short amount of time. If there’s one thing that is clear, it’s that the people of Rio want you to know that favelas aren’t dangerous. Favelas, which can only best be described as shantytowns built on the hills and mountains of the city, are also known as “comunidades,” or communities, among the more politically correct.
Despite the return of electoral democracy to most of Latin America in the 1980s and early 1990s, thousands of protesters continue to be arbitrarily arrested, injured, or even killed by police.1 At the most extreme, dramatic events result in many people losing their lives to police violence. For example, during the December 2001 economic and political crisis in Argentina, 39 protesters were killed. Yet such repressive protest policing is not limited to dramatic and destabilizing events.
Diverse studies observe that social conflicts and protests arise in areas where natural resource extraction occurs (Arellano-Yanguas 2011a, b). Recently, several intense localized protests have occurred at mining sites in almost all the democratic countries of Latin America (except in Paraguay); for instance, these social demonstrations have arisen in Peru (Conga), Chile (Mina Invierno), Argentina (Fanatina), Panama (Cerro Colorado), Uruguay (Aratirí), Costa Rica (Crucitas de Crutis), and Ecuador (Fruta del Norte).
On December 1st, people across the globe raised consciousness about HIV/AIDS through World AIDS Day. This year’s theme, “Close the gap for an AIDS-free generation,” is a reason to celebrate in Latin America since antiretroviral treatment has reached over 600,000 people in the past decade. The Pan American Health Organization recently released a press report that states that cases of antiretroviral treatment have increased from 210,000 in 2003 to 795,000 in 2013.1