Crisis Korea

Panama America (10 August) reports that North Korea opened artillery fire in the Yellow Sea close to the South Korean border. According to sources the shots, that did not reach South Korea´s territorial waters, were fired when South Korea was about to put an end to its military maneuvers. Pyongyang had already warned Seoul that it would react if it would proceed with the maneuvers. Problems started in March this year when the South Korean ship “Chenoan” got torpedoed. The situation got worse last week when North Korea seized a South Korean fishing boat in the Sea of Japan.

El Siglo (8 August) published an article written by Euclides E. Tapia C., professor International Politics at the University of Panama. The author states that China clearly took sides when it invited Kim Jong-il even before the outcome of the report was known. Before the UN Security Council, however, China explicitly condemned North Korea. When South Korea and the United States decided upon a joint military China expressed its disapproval.


International Day of the World´s Indigenous People

Panama America (9 August), La Prensa (10 August), El Siglo (10 August) and La Estrella (8 August) all report on the International Day of the World´s Indigenous People, celebrated on 9 August. According to the UN State of the World´s Indigenous Peoples report there are over 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries. The report also states that indigenous people make up one third of the world´s 900 million extremely poor rural people. According to the report life expectancy of indigenous people is much lower, as is quality of medical service and education. At the same time employment rates are higher.

Panama America also quotes United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who said that there are reasons to celebrate the progress made in turning human rights into a reality for indigenous people, but added that indigenous people continue to suffer from discrimination, marginalization in such fields as health care and education. El Siglo quotes Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called upon member states to promote and protect the rights of indigenous people. La Prensa reports specifically on the situation in Latin America. According to Bartolomé Clavero, member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the situation for indigenous people in Latin America is deteriorating. The main reason for this are the transnational companies which exploit natural resources and pursue a policy that often ignores the rights of the indigenous people.

Panama America (9 August) published 3 articles about the situation of indigenous people in Panama. By means of resolution 48/163 the United Nations stated that one of the purposes is to strengthen international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous people in areas such as human rights, the environment, development, education and health. However, according to the Second Report on Development for Central America and Panama there is still lack of equal distribution of resources and opportunities, possibility for minorities to express their ideas and access to drinking water. In another article it is pointed out that indigenous people suffer a lot from diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. Children, on the other hand, often suffer from malnourishment.

La Prensa (9 August) and El Siglo (9 August) report on the situation of the Maya people in Guatemala. According to several sources the Maya have limited access to politics, education, health care and justice and continue suffering from discrimination and racism.


Israeli representative appointed to UN panel

La Prensa (8 August) reports that Joseph Ciechanover, former Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was named as the Israeli representative to the United Nations review panel investigating Israel’s raid on a flotilla earlier this year.


Members UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability

La Estrella (10 August) states that the Finnish President Tarja Halonen and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa have been appointed co-chairs in the UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability.


Panama – Prosecutor suspended

La Prensa (13 august) reported that a prosecutor in Panama has been sentenced to six months in jail or a $4,000 fine for authorizing wiretaps against a former colleague who was accused of accepting bribes. The Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that the wiretaps were illegal. Prosecutor Ana Matilde Gomez was suspended from her post in February. She calls the sentence politically motivated. Prison sentences for nonviolent crimes in Panama are sometimes exchangeable for fines. The country’s justice system has been plagued by accusations of corruption.