The future belongs to the Tropics
The International Day of the Tropics celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the tropics while highlighting unique challenges and opportunities nations of the Tropics face. It provides an opportunity to take stock of progress across the tropics, to share tropical stories and expertise and to acknowledge the diversity and potential of the region.
Photo credit: UNICEF Teachers and students were able to return to school in Lao Cai, Viet Nam, in May 2020
By Nicolas J. S. Davies
A recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that worries about the COVID pandemic in the United States are at their lowest level since it began. Only half of Americans are either “very worried” (15%) or “somewhat worried” (35%) about the virus, while the other half are “not very worried” (30%) or “not worried at all” (20%).
But the news from around the world makes it clear that this pandemic is far from over, and a story from Vietnam highlights the nature of the danger.
Vietnam is a COVID success story, with one of the lowest rates of infection and death in the world. Vietnam’s excellent community-based public health system prevented the virus from spreading beyond isolated cases and localized outbreaks, without a nationwide lockdown. With a population of 98 million people, Vietnam has had only 8,883 cases and 53 deaths.
However, more than half of Vietnam’s cases and deaths have come in the last two months, and three-quarters of the new cases have been infected with a new “hybrid” variant that combines the two mutations detected separately in the Alpha (U.K.) and Delta (India) variants.
Pedro Castillo speaking at a campaign event. Photo: AP
By Medea Benjamin and Leonardo Flores
With his wide-brimmed peasant hat and oversized teacher’s pencil held high, Peru’s Pedro Castillo has been traveling the country exhorting voters to get behind a call that has been particularly urgent during this devastating pandemic: “No más pobres en un país rico” – No more poor people in a rich country. In a cliffhanger of an election with a huge urban-rural and class divide, it appears that the rural teacher, farmer and union leader is about to make history by defeating–by less than one percent–powerful far-right candidate Keiko Fujimori, scion of the country’s political “Fujimori dynasty.”
Fujimori is challenging the election’s results, alleging widespread fraud. Her campaign has only presented evidence of isolated irregularities, and so far there is nothing to suggest a tainted vote. However, she can challenge some of the votes to delay the final results, and much like in the U.S., even an allegation of fraud by the losing candidate will cause uncertainty and raise tensions in the country.
By Kathy Kelly
“It’s not normal for people to live like this,” says Iman Saleh, now on her twelfth day of a hunger strike demanding an end to war in Yemen.
April 10, 2021: Since March 29th, in Washington, D.C., Iman Saleh, age 26, has been on a hunger strike to demand an end to the war in Yemen. She is joined by five others from her group, The Yemeni Liberation Movement. The hunger strikers point out that enforcement of the Saudi Coalition led blockade relies substantially on U.S. weaponry.
Saleh decries the prevention of fuel from entering a key port in Yemen’s northern region.
“When people think of famine, they wouldn’t consider fuel as contributing to that, but when you’re blocking fuel from entering the main port of a country, you’re essentially crippling the entire infrastructure,” said Saleh “You can’t transport food, you can’t power homes, you can’t run hospitals without fuel.”
Shrimper begins hunger strike to pressure Biden Administration to withdraw Matagorda Bay, TX dredging permit for oil exports
Point Comfort, April 7 — Today, 4th-generation shrimper, activist, and author Diane Wilson began a hunger strike at the waterfront of Lavaca Bay to demand that the Biden Administration stop the dredging of the mercury-contaminated Matagorda Ship Channel permitted by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The dredging, which has not begun, would allow for the construction and operation of a new crude oil export terminal proposed by oil company Max Midstream.