GUATEMALA: Protesting Against
the Central American Free Trade Area
GUATEMALA CITY- Local farmers and ranchers
are asking the Guatemalan government to exclude them from
the free trade agreement that five Central American countries
are negotiating with the United States.
“The United States says it wants to compete on an equal footing,
but it is talking about phasing out tariffs on our products
over a period of 10 to 15 years, and it refuses to open its
market to our sugar and coffee,” the president of the Association
of Rice-Growers of Guatemala, Luis Mazariegos, told Tierramérica.
If the free trade deal is signed this month as planned, over
two million people with links to the sector “will be affected
by unfair competition that will drive us into bankruptcy,”
the farmer warned.
A group of rice and bean farmers and ranchers “is demanding
that the government leave us out of the treaty, because otherwise
thousands of people will be put out of work,” he added.
But Deputy Minister of the Economy Guido Rodas said no sector
can be left out, and promised that the free trade agreement
will not be signed if it does not benefit Guatemala’s producers.
CUBA: Cuban Flicker Changes Habits
HAVANA – The bird known as Fernandina’s
or Cuban Flicker (Colaptes fernandinae) no longer pecks holes
in tree trunks to make its nests, which is accentuating the
risk that the species will go extinct, say researchers.
Experts in Villa Clara, 300 kms from Havana, warned that the
change of habits is leading to a reduction in the number of
flickers, which live in forested areas in the western and
central parts of Cuba. But they have not yet determined why
the flicker changed its nesting habits.
The 34-cm-long bird normally uses its beak to make nesting
holes in the trunks of sick or dead trees. The hollows are
then used year after year by other birds.
Although there is no lack of sick or dead trees, the flicker
now prefers to use hollows created by other species, unusual
behavior that is worrying researchers at the National Company
of Protection of Flora and Fauna.
NICARAGUA: TV Campaign to Protect
MANAGUA – Nicaragua’s Minister of Natural
Resources and the Environment, Arturo Harding, announced a
televised campaign aimed at preserving and publicizing the
natural beauty and biodiversity of the Biological Corridor
of the Atlantic (CBA).
Local flora and fauna and pristine spots on the country’s
Caribbean coastline recently began to be aired on TV as part
of a government publicity strategy.
The campaign, aimed at raising awareness on the need to preserve
nature in Nicaragua and to prevent the destruction of the
environment, will run through May 2004.
One of the objectives is to publicize the CBA, how it can
be sustainably exploited, and its importance for the development
of sustainable tourism.
The CBA, which stretches along Nicaragua’s Caribbean shoreline
and encompasses half of the national territory, covers one
of the biggest protected areas in the country, Bosawás, where
ancient trees of precious wood and abundant wildlife are found.
The CBA project was launched in 1994, with the support of
international bodies, to promote sustainable development.