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The roller-coaster of Cuba’s dual currency system

The unification of the two currencies circulating in Cuba, announced by the government but without any clear timeframes, will put an end to two decades of a dual currency system that was introduced when the country was brought to its knees by the collapse of the Soviet Union.But experts say the inequalities that emerged during the severe economic crisis will not be resolved through mere monetary reform.The following graphic provides a timeline showing the key developments in the dual currency system and the way nominal wages, revenue, savings and liquidity have evolved.

Mystery Attackers Hit Sinai

A period of more than three months since former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster by Egypt’s powerful military establishment have been marked by almost daily attacks on Egyptian security personnel, especially in the restive Sinai Peninsula. The identity of the attackers remains a mystery.

Pinochet’s lingering political reforms

The dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) from start to end systematically dismantled every vestige of “the Chilean path to socialism” that the government of Salvador Allende (1970-1973) had attempted to follow. But it also established political structures that Chilean democracy has not yet managed to eradicate. See the process in the timeline below:

Education: The mother of all Pinochetista reforms

Free, public education is the main demand expressed today by Chilean society, especially the young. The issue is not that Chileans don’t study, or that school enrolment is low. The problem is the growing privatisation of the system, as shown by this graph, and how that has divided students into different categories, in terms of quality of education. It all began with the reforms ushered in by the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).

The debate on doctors in Brazil – in maps and graphs

The controversy is on: the authorities in Brazil say there are not enough medical professionals, and to resolve the problem, they decided to import this “non-traditional product”. Doctors, on the other hand, are opposed to both the diagnosis and the treatment. But there is one thing everyone agrees on: the areas suffering from a shortage of health professionals are the poor suburbs and impoverished areas in the hinterland and remote border areas. The situation in Brazil as compared to itself and to other countries can be seen in this series of interactive maps and graphs.

Crossing Borders with Trade

Experts are agreed that the key to unlocking the economic potential of the Southern African Development Community lies in easing cross-border flows of people, goods, capital and services. But even if border restrictions can be lifted, a lot more needs to be done in terms of enhancing road, rail, electricity supply and other infrastructure within the region.

Africa’s Largest Hydroelectric Project May Hit the Rocks

There are big aspirations for Africa’s largest hydroelectric project, the Inga III that is set to be built in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But analysts are sceptical that such an ambitious project will ever be realised.

There are 46 women among the 195 workers at Vivero Alamar. - Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

Organic Cooperative Farm Proves that Agriculture Can Prosper in Cuba

Continuous upgrading and a “vocation” for farming are two keys to the success of a cooperative that could serve as a model for boosting agriculture in Cuba.

Children at the MST’s Frei Henri des Roziers Camp in Pará, Brazil - Fabíola Ortiz/IPS

Pará, Where Land is Power

The landless peasant farmers occupying large landholdings in Pará, the Brazilian state where the land conflict is most violent, face threats ranging from intimidation by armed private guards to the spraying of toxic agrochemicals over their homes and crops.

Artisanal miner panning for gold in Choluteca, Honduras. - Thelma Mejía/IPS

HONDURAS: Activists Protest Lack of Transparency in Extractive Industry Transparency Process

The Honduran government’s announcement of its plans to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has raised expectations as well as doubts, particularly due to the speed with which it aims to complete a process that has taken several years in other countries of the region.

Ecobreves – BRAZIL: More Research Needed on Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity

Only six percent of research on climate change and biodiversity conducted worldwide since 1990 addresses the impacts of these changes on biodiversity in Brazil, according to a literature review carried out by the Boticário Group Foundation.

Ecobreves – VENEZUELA: First Eco-Municipality

Rómulo Gallegos, a municipality in the southwestern plains of Venezuela where cattle ranching is an economic mainstay, has become the first of the country’s 333 municipalities to adopt legislation on ecologically oriented land management.

Luis Aillapán and his wife Catalina Marileo faced criminal charges in 2002 for defending their land. - Marianela Jarroud/IPS

Indigenous Chileans Continue to Oppose Pinochet-Era Highway Project

The Coastal Highway is meant to connect one end of Chile’s long, narrow territory to the other, running north to south as close to the Pacific Ocean as possible.

Ecobreves – CHILE: Environmental Delays Raise Electricity Costs, Says Gov’t

The Chilean government claims that delays in the installation of power lines due to legal proceedings and obstacles to the issuing of environmental permits will keep electricity prices high until at least 2016.

Ecobreves – CUBA: Livestock Raising Adapted to Climate Change

A change in forage crops and the search for new sources of water are among the climate change adaptation measures implemented as part of an initiative undertaken by eight cattle farming cooperatives in Camagüey, 534 km from the Cuban capital.

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