European Union-style bloc pitched for Latin America, Caribbean

Mexico City, Sept. 18 (Reuters) – Latin American and Caribbean nations should seek a bloc like the European Union, Mexico’s president and other leaders said at a summit on Saturday to host the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS ).

Some of the region’s left-wing flag-bearers who attended the CELAC Assembly of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States have viewed the OAS as too close to the United States for years, and were particularly angry about the exclusion of Cuba from its member states.

Saturday’s summit host, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said at the opening ceremony in front of more than a dozen presidents and prime ministers that such a reshaped diplomatic body would better strengthen the region’s inequality-stricken economy and deal with health and other crises could.

“In these times, CELAC can become the main tool to cement relations between our Latin American and Caribbean nations,” he said in a cave-like ballroom in Mexico’s ornate national palace, where leaders took turns and some sparks jumped between ideological opponents.

“We should build something similar on the American continent to the economic community that stood at the beginning of today’s European Union,” said the leftist Lopez Obrador. He emphasized the need to respect national sovereignty and to adhere to a non-interventionist and development-friendly policy.

The leaders gathered at the invitation of Lopez Obrador with the declared aim of weakening the OAS. The start of the summit drew attention to the region’s center-left leaders, including Peru’s new President Pedro Castillo, Cuban Miguel Diaz-Canel and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.

Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro withdrew from CELAC last year and criticized it for uprising undemocratic countries. The Argentine Alberto Fernandez canceled at the last minute because of a sudden cabinet reshuffle in his country.

SPARKS FLY

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks ahead of the traditional military parade on the occasion of the 200 February 16, 2021. REUTERS / Gustavo Graf

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Some cracks appeared among the executives. Uruguay’s center-right President Luis Lacalle said his participation should not be interpreted as an embrace of some of the region’s more authoritarian regimes or a rejection of the OAS.

“We are concerned and are seriously looking at what is happening in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela,” he said, ticking what he described as repressive actions, including imprisoning political opponents.

Cuba’s Diaz-Canel hit back by attacking neoliberal policies that he said had delayed social progress. He also criticized the leadership of Lacalle and referred to the great response to a recent petition by his domestic opposition.

The Uruguayan responded by criticizing the Cuban communist government, noting that it does not tolerate opposition or allow its people to choose their own leaders.

Bolivian President Luis Arce called for a global debt relief agreement for poor countries, while Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez called for a regional body to fight climate change.

A new CELAC Natural Disaster Response Fund has also been announced.

Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez helped found CELAC in 2011, and his contested successor Maduro arrived in the Mexican capital late Friday as a surprise addition. Continue reading .

In his remarks on Friday evening, Maduro suggested setting up a new CELAC headquarters in the Mexican capital. Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard politely accepted this proposal on Saturday when asked by reporters and described the idea as premature.

Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Noe Torres; Editing by Andrea Ricci and David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Drones, cash pitched to bolster pink tide efforts in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Florida. – Drones could be used to monitor the red tide, and money should be set aside to offset the local cost of removing fish killed by poisonous algal blooms, state wildlife officials said Wednesday as they attempt to prevent future outbreaks to manage something.

Members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said more proactive action was needed as red tide outbreaks will continue to hamper the state, particularly the Gulf Coast, which is grappling with an outbreak in the Tampa Bay area.

Commission chairman Rodney Barreto suggested that a state Red Tide task force consider using drones to monitor waters for outbreaks and assist with cleanup operations. He noted that the sheriff’s office helicopters were being used to coordinate the cleanup of recent outbreaks.

“Let’s go on the offensive. Drone technology is where it is today, ”said Barreto. “I mean it’s amazing. Right? Much cheaper. In any case, much more efficient than sending up a helicopter. “

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The current eruption, which has been changing daily since December due to wind and tides in the waters from Pasco County to Sarasota County, has had different effects on the Gulf Coast areas.

The key to tackling the red tide is efforts to improve water quality and reduce nutrients from human sources, such as:

In addition, Gil McRae, director of the Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, said one way to prepare for widespread fish deaths is to provide a source of funding to local governments, who are typically responsible for cleaning up the litter .

“We heard about this last event – and unfortunately we knew it beforehand – when we have large fish deaths, the burden tends to be on the level of the government that manages the waste. And that’s always, in Florida at least, always the local government, ”McRae said. “So since the local government has this waste management infrastructure, they really are the only ones that can handle these tons of waste.”

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As a result of the current outbreak, more than 600 tons of dead fish washed up along the Tampa Bay coast.

The state distributed emergency funds this year to offset some of the costs of cleaning up fish deaths. Local officials in the Tampa Bay area have asked the state to issue a declaration of emergency that would free up more money and resources.

As of 2019, the state has pumped $ 14.5 million into the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for its Center for Red Tide Research, which has a partnership with the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota

Barreto said another concern the task force could address is public notifications, especially for beach goers.

“When we flew yesterday, you could literally see the red tide. And you can see the people on the beach, ”said Barreto, who took a helicopter tour of the waters off Sarasota on Tuesday.

McRae said beach conditions are updated daily by the commission on their website and on signs posted by lifeguards from Collier County to Pinellas County.

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Meanwhile, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has spent the last three days promoting new “best management practices” in agriculture, which she said will help address issues that have exacerbated the red tide outbreak.

Changes in agriculture will focus on supporting practices such as cover crops, which are expected to slow down erosion and increase water availability. The changes are also intended to include the recording of nutrients used by farmers and government employees during face-to-face visits, and to replace voluntary self-assessment of the implementation of best management practices.

While at Mote Marine on Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis said he was “happy with the progress” in the state’s efforts to contain the red tide over the past three years following major water quality problems in areas of southeast and southwest Florida.

“What they are doing here (at Mote) in dealing with the red tide may have application to other types of algal blooms, such as the blue-green algae we struggle with in Lake Okeechobee,” DeSantis said. “Well, I think that was a really good investment. And I think it will pay off. Of course, red tide occurs naturally. We can’t tell people that there won’t be any. But if you have successful mitigation strategies and technologies in place, you’re really making it where it won’t have the impact it had in 2018. “