Stories written by Humberto Márquez
Humberto, who joined IPS in 1999, has been a journalist for more than 25 years, specialising in international news.
He worked for 15 years with Agence France-Presse (AFP), 10 as assignment editor in Caracas, covering Venezuela, the Caribbean and the Guyanas. He also worked for more than five years in the international section of the Caracas newspaper El Nacional. Márquez has covered various international conferences, regional summits, electoral processes in the Americas and Europe, conflicts and peace negotiations, tours by the Pope, the petroleum business, sports events and the state of prison systems.
Menstrual hygiene management is elusive for millions of poor women and girls in Latin America, who suffer because their living conditions make it difficult or impossible for them to access resources and services that could make menstruation a simple normal part of life.
The reduction in the workweek recently approved by the Chilean Congress forms part of a trend of working fewer hours and days that is spreading in today’s modern economies, but also highlights how far behind other countries in Latin America are in this regard.
The vulnerability and struggles of the LGBTIQ+ community in Venezuela were once again highlighted when the Supreme Court finally annulled the military code statute that punished, with one to three years in prison, members of the military who committed " acts against nature.”
The installation of solar panels in a remote village in the Andes highlands in late February marked a second incursion by the Venezuelan government into the field of solar energy, previously uncharted territory in this country that for a century was a leading global oil producer.
The environmental priority for South America in 2023 can be summed up in the management of its terrestrial and marine protected areas, together with the challenges of the extractivist economy and the transition to a green economy with priority attention to the most vulnerable populations.
More than 100 radio stations were shut down by the Venezuelan government this year, accentuating the collapse of the media and further undermining the already meager capacity of citizens to stay informed.
The social crisis and humanitarian emergency in Venezuela became international headline news again once the government and the opposition, bitter adversaries for two decades, agreed to direct three billion dollars in state funds held abroad to social programs.
The decision to cut oil production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies as of Nov. 1 comes in response to the need to face a shrinking market, although it also forms part of the current clash between Russia and the West.
Thousands of Venezuelans who have crossed the treacherous Darien jungle between Colombia and Panama, or who have made the perilous journey through Central America and Mexico to reach the United States, have found themselves stranded in countries that do not want them, unable to continue their journey or to afford to return to their country.
Venezuela is preparing to replicate the experience of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), a mechanism with which more than 60 countries have tried to draw investment and accelerate economic growth, while under its avowedly socialist government a "silent neoliberalism" is gaining ground.
Illegal and excessive fishing, mainly attributed to Chinese fleets, remains a threat to marine resources in the eastern Pacific and southwest Atlantic, as well as to that sector of the economy in Latin American countries bathed by either ocean.
Economic sanctions against countries whose behavior is reproached by the West operate as punishment although they fail in their declared political objectives, and in cases such as Venezuela the contrast is clearly on display in the windows of high-end stores that sell imported goods.
Numerous countries of the developing South are distancing themselves from the contenders in the war in Ukraine, using the debate on the conflict to underscore their independence and pave the way for a kind of new de facto non-alignment with regard to the main axes of world power.
The voracious search for gold in southern Venezuela, practiced by thousands of illegal miners under the protection of various armed groups, represents the greatest threat today to the lives of indigenous peoples, their habitat and their cultures, according to their organizations and human rights defenders.
The oil and gas supply crisis unleashed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine represents new business opportunities for the oil-producing countries of the developing South, both traditional and emerging, and also for accelerating the global transition to green forms of energy.
Doris Martínez was a cook in a Venezuelan restaurant that closed its doors; she emigrated to Colombia, got sick from working long hours standing in front of a stove, and returned to her country where, together with her husband and children, she runs a busy fast food kiosk on a road in Valles del Tuy, near the Venezuelan capital.
The Covax initiative, the hope of the countries of the developing South to immunize their populations against COVID-19, only met half of its goals in 2021. And as 2022 begins, and the omicron variant of the virus is spreading fast, the scheme still depends on the decisions of pharmaceutical companies and the goodwill of donor governments.
The exodus of more than five million Venezuelans in the last six years has led countries in the developing South, Venezuela's neighbours, to set an example with respect to welcoming and integrating displaced populations, with shared benefits for the new arrivals and the nations that receive them.
Thousands of families in the Venezuelan capital have dipped into their savings or gone into debt, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in this country since the 19th century, so that their building has access to a well that will supply the water that has stopped running from the faucet.
Remittances that support millions of households in Latin America and the Caribbean have plunged as family members lose jobs and income in their host countries, with entire families sliding back into poverty, as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis and global economic recession.