By simultaneously admitting Venezuela into its fold and suspending Paraguay’s membership, Mercosur has sparked dissension within the trading bloc that threatens the future legal architecture of the Southern Common Market.
Many grow lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, beets and other vegetables. But cilantro is ever-present in the gardens that are helping rural families weather the lengthy drought that is once again wracking Brazil’s impoverished Northeast.
As Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which will discuss the green economy, the Brazilian city has put an end to one of its worst environmental sins: the enormous Jardim Gramacho garbage dump on Guanabara Bay.
Those who made the final decision on the design of Brazil’s Belo Monte hydroelectric dam will face legal action in the future for the damages caused. This is the kind of warning one would expect from environmentalists, but in this case it comes from a surprising quarter: staunch supporters of hydropower.
Energy integration in South America will be a reality "in the medium to long term," driven by hydropower and drawing on Brazil’s experience, predicts Altino Ventura Filho, secretary of planning in this country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Plans to build a massive thermoelectric power plant complex near an area of rich marine biodiversity has sparked fierce opposition from the small northern Chilean farming town of Totoral, which has now scored its first victory in court.
Brazil is keen to move ahead quickly with the construction of hydropower plants in neighbouring countries to supply its demand for electricity. But Peru is still stalling on an agreement between the two countries, due to a number of conflicting interests and demands.
The Brazilian government is stepping up South-South aid, to strengthen the South American giant’s status as a donor country and its international clout. It now provides assistance to 65 countries, and its financial aid has grown threefold in the last seven years.
"Perhaps it's the curse of Rondônia," joked Ari Ott, referring to teething troubles with the first turbine of the Santo Antônio hydroelectric plant which was intended to kick off a new cycle of huge power projects in Brazil's Amazon jungle region.
Ten years after its launch under a different name, the Mesoamerica Project, which involves major investments in energy, telecommunications, housing, health and other areas, is moving ahead slowly and continues to face scepticism that it will have a real impact against poverty.
Luiz Cardoso da Costa was horrified as he watched the Amazonian manatee, a large docile beast, bleeding out from the knife wound he had dealt it, yet greedily gulping down grasses as if eating could somehow stave off death.
Activists opposed to the construction of the Belo Monte hydropower dam in the Amazon jungle say the Brazilian government's decision to boycott an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearing represents a "radical" shift in the country's foreign policy.
With victory cheers and predictions of future campaigns in defence of their ancestral territory, indigenous protesters from Bolivia's Amazon jungle region celebrated the new law that banned the construction of the road through their rainforest reserve.
The visual impact is harsh: flattened hills, valleys full of mud, and kilometres and kilometres of bulldozed land - the modification of nature in Brazil's semiarid Northeast region is disturbing due to the enormous dimensions involved.