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HONDURAS: New Threats Against Father Tamayo

TEGUCIGALPA - Catholic priest Andrés Tamayo did not heed the threats of expulsion from residents and logging businesses who demanded that he leave the northeastern Honduran department of Olancho by May 31.

The ultimatum took place in the town of Salamá, where a week ago a partial ban was declared on the forests, the preservation of which is the centerpiece of the fight led by Tamayo, who was born in El Salvador but became a naturalized Honduran citizen this year.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya pledged to protect the life of the clergyman, but the gesture was not enough in the eyes of many activists.

"Tamayo's life is in danger and it is not enough that the president says he is going to protect it. He must investigate and apprehend those who are making these constant threats," Bertha Oliva, of the human rights organization COFADEH, told Tierramérica.

Salamá, where Tamayo has lived for the past 23 years, is one of the areas most devastated by illegal logging and lumber trafficking. Official figures indicate that some 108,000 hectares of forest are cut down each year in Honduras.


BRAZIL: Zoos Preserve Threatened Species

RIO DE JANEIRO - Experts called for strengthening the role of zoos in the preservation of biodiversity, during the 30th Congress of the Brazilian Society of Zoos, which concluded in Brasilia on May 2.

Zoos are crucial for the reproduction of species that are extinct in their original habitats. One stand-out case is that of the zoo in Brasilia, where a group of antelopes (Tragelaphus buxtoni) that is no longer found in nature is being reproduced, with sights on future reintroduction in its African habitat.

"Zoos, whose first Latin American prototype was created by the Aztecs more than 2,000 years ago, were sites for contemplative entertainment. Twenty years ago their objectives were expanded to conservation, research and education, Raúl González, director of the Brasilia zoo and organizer of the Congress, explained to Tierramérica.

Brazil has 127 zoos, more than all the rest of Latin America, and the number is rising despite the scarcity of resources, he said.


MEXICO: Award for New Wood-Burning Stove

MEXICO CITY - A highly efficient and low emission wood-burning stove, designed in Mexico for low-income populations, received one of the Britain-based Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy.

"I hope this recognition, which is the most important for those of us who work with sustainable technologies, calls the attention of the authorities and draws their support," Omar Macera, team coordinator for the winning design, told Tierramérica. The stove is known as "Patsari", an indigenous word translated as "the one who cares for".

In Mexico, 25 million people continue to use firewood for cooking their food, which has grave consequences for the environment and for their own health.

The stove is an initiative of the non-governmental Interdisciplinary Group of Appropriate Rural Technology and the Autonomous National University of Mexico.

The Ashden Awards, which include prizes of up to 60,000 dollars, will be presented on Jun. 15 in London.


ARGENTINA: Uranium Victims Await Justice

BUENOS AIRES - A couple ill with cancer were accepted this month as plaintiffs by the Argentine judiciary, which is investigating charges of uranium contamination of water near the Ezeiza Atomic Center, in Buenos Aires province.

Two years ago, Beatriz Rodríguez, 62, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her husband, Antonio Rota, 65, with lung cancer that has metastisized in the ganglia.

"The oncologist assures there is a direct relation between the uranium and the cancer," Rota told Tierramérica. In the first instance, a judge rejected the case, but the Federal Chamber of Appeals accepted it. "This will allow us to present evidence and experts," he said.

The couple lives near the atomic center, which is under scrutiny by the legal authorities for the high levels of uranium found in the underground water in surrounding areas.


COLOMBIA: 20 Years for the Green College

BOGOTA - With the support of the Dutch government, the "Colegio Verde de villa de Leyva", in the central Colombian department of Boyacá, will celebrate its 20th anniversary June 5-6 with a seminar-workshop titled "Oversight of the responsibility and social impact of environmental projects."

Margarita Marino de Botero, director of the College, told Tierramérica that the seminar will include analysis of eight environmental initiatives that are currently under way in the country, with special attention to studying the level of social appropriation of the processes involved in them.

Some of the projects under scrutiny are the Regional Citizens Agendas of the Comptroller General of the Republic, and the Citizen Training School in northeastern Colombia.


GUATEMALA: A Push for Mango Crops

GUATEMALA - Mango growers in Guatemala seek to increase their crop, following the 200-percent growth of exports in the last decade.

The rise in sales generated some eight million dollars in profits, said Monica González, spokeswoman for the Association of Non-Traditional Product Exporters.

In 2004, 6.9 tons of mango were exported, rising to 14.2 million tons in 2005, and for this year the exports are forecast to reach 14.5 million tons with the introduction of the ataulfo variety, native to Mexico, González told Tierramérica.

Guatemala is the fifth leading exporter of mangos in Latin America, and first in Central Ameirca, with some 200 growers cultivating around 7,000 hectares, according to the private Association.

The U.S. market absorbs 85 percent of Guatemala's mango exports, says Eddy Martínez, manager of the DFT packing company.


* Source: Inter Press Service.

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