CANADA: Oil Sands Fuel Debate
As Canada moves to further develop its oil sands, concerns surrounding pipeline construction, environmental regulations, Aboriginal rights, and investment from Chinese state-owned oil companies, have persistently grabbed headlines. Canada’s current Conservative government has been a staunch supporter of oil sands development, hoping the resource can buoy a relatively stable economy amid global uncertainty. The government recently barred future takeovers of Canadian oil firms by foreign state-owned companies.
MEXICO: New President, New Focus
Enrique Peña Nieto was elected president in 2012 with a hope for change. While his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, had a strong focus on the “war on drugs,” Peña Nieto is expected to focus on jobs, trade, and economic growth in 2013. He will try to leave behind Mexico’s image as a land of violence and drug cartels. He is expected to establish a national corruption commission and open up the state-owned oil company, Pemex, to private investment. He will still tackle drug-related problems in Mexico, but will focus on the violence. At least 180 protesters were arrested on Peña Nieto’s inauguration day; Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) was known for corruption in its decades-long rule ending in 2000.
BRAZIL: Natives Occupy Dam Site in Amazon
Several times this year, a group of indigenous tribes in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest occupied the construction site of a massive dam project on the Xingu River that they say would threaten their livelihood. The occupations caused work to halt on multiple occasions. The dam is expected to be finished by 2019. It is estimated that it will flood an area of 300 square miles near the Xingu River, displacing some 16,000 people. In 2013, Amazonian natives will likely maintain pressure on Belo Monte, the consortium behind the project.
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