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Add comment May 6, 2007 katebask

AIDS Drugs in Brazil

Recently, the number of expensive patented drugs needed for patients in Brazil has skyrocketed. This is due to the number of AIDS victims there are in Brazil, as well as the amount that the pharmaceutical company, Merck is charging for the antiretriviral drug.  The cost has been $580 annually per patient!  In response to the high price, Brazil’s government has opted to buy the generic version of the drug from India for  only $170 annually per patient.  Although Merck has patented this drug, India, Brazil and many other places are overriding the patent because of the high price.  Other places, like Thailand have done the same thing.  Brazil has thought about making its own version of the generic drug, but fears trade retaliation from the United States.

I think this is a really interesting issue for a couple reasons.  First of all, I was in the AIDS Wiki group, and I actually did research about AIDS in South America (before our paper got edited and we took the country analysis’ out).  It is unfortunate how AIDS is a growing problem in the area.  It is also unfortunate how expensive the antiretroviral drug is.  I understand that it is a commodity and one is lucky to be able to have it, but I feel that it should be much, much cheaper in order to help more people.  If the Brazilian government can’t afford it,  the African government has no chance.  I’m glad that Brazil and other countries have found a way around this problem, even if it means having to overrirde another’s patent on a drug.  If the drug is generic, then India should be able to sell it to others at a lower price.  I’m wondering if the “generic” version is just as effective as the original version though.  I hope that this lower price of the drug will help the people in need in South America, and everywhere else in the world.

1 comment May 6, 2007 katebask

Abortion Battle in Brazil

    Abortion in Brazil, the world’s biggest Catholic country, is illegal.  Ironically, Brazilians tend to be sexually liberal. Prostitution and multiple sex partners is common.  Thus, many Brazilians have gone to seek abortions elsewhere.  In some cases, unfortunately, the women resort to doing so themselves, which leads to the high possibility of death.  Many ignore the church on birth control and abortion. The government hands out condoms (which is also opposed by the Catholic church)  to prevent the spread of AIDS.  Doctors blame Catholic leaders for hurting women’s health and weakening the fight against AIDS.  “Abortion activists believe abortion will eventually be legalized as the church, while powerful, has lost political sway since the end of military rule and the emergence of AIDS.”  (

I believe that this is an important issue because it is risking the deaths of many women who do not want to leave their country to get an abortion.  I feel that in this case, there definitely needs to be a separation of church and state.  The Catholic Church is allowed to have its beliefs, but they should not be able to say what is best for every woman.  The government is obviously defending its people by handing out condoms and sending the message to have safe sex.  I think that although Brazil is a developing nation with a strong democracy, they are way behind on this issue.  Religion should not regulate abortion, and in my opinion, neither should government.

Add comment May 3, 2007 katebask

Google’s 2nd Headquarter in Buenos Aires

Google has opened a second headquarters in the business district (Puerto Madera) of Buenos Aires, Argentina.  The new office in Argentina will act as the regional hub for the company, managing not only Latin America but also providing some services to the Spanish market.  Before Buenos Aires, Google had headquarters in the US and Ireland.  The company is expected to employ about 1,000 workers initially, and that number will move to 2,000 within the next few years.  The Argentina government is excited about Google opening in their country because of the many jobs it will create for its citizens.
I think this article is important because it is proving how globalization and transnational companies are really growing.  Google was started in Silicon Valley (my home) and now it has become so popular worldwide.  I think it is great that it is giving other countries opportunities for employment and experience at this kind of technological company.  Google is a search engine that should, and can be used by anyone to search anything that they might want to research.  It deinitely should be available for all those who want it.

3 comments April 18, 2007 katebask

Popularity of Bachelet declining

Michelle Bachelet, the President of Chile, has been losing popularity recently.  The main reason is the chaos in the costly new public transportation system being bulit.  This project was left over from her predecessor, but many say that she has done little to keep it up.  This transportation system was supposed to be one of the most modern and efficient in the world.  Many critics of Bachelet also argue that she has gone against her vow to lead a government that will address public concern.  Bachelet is only one year into her term, and receiving all of this negative feedback.  She is also being criticized for being too timid and is too slow responding to challenges that come her way. 
Lately, I have heard these same arguments being made about her.  I think that she has good intentions with leading Chile, and has done many positive things for the country. But it seems as though she came into office almost unprepared for what was ahead.  In regards to the issue on transportation, I am confused as to why she wasn’t fully briefed on the progress of the system.  You would think that her predecessor would have made sure that she was up to date on all of the details of the system.  Hopefully, Bachelet will start responding to this negative feedback by proving to the Chilean people that she is capable of being President.  She has already made a huge feat by being the first woman President for the country, and now she needs to prove that she can do the job well and make her people proud!

Add comment April 18, 2007 katebask

Brazil’s Air Traffic Workers’ Strike

The air traffic workers in Brazil decided to go on a 6-hour strike last Friday-Saturday.  The workers were protesting for better working conditions, which include hiring more staff and faulty equipment.  The strike made a huge effect for travelling in and out of the main airports of Brazil.  82 flights had been cancelled, and 101 delayed.  Passengers were outraged and started throwing objects at airline employees in Sao Paulo and broke airline computers in the airports.  Brazil’s airforce threatened to arrest the strikers.  The President even ordered that the workers bring things back to normal because it was a threat to national security with so many cancelled and delayed flights.  This strike isn’t out of nowhere, though.  Since September when a Brazilian airplane crashed, workers have been arguing unsafe working conditions.

In my opinion, it doesnt seem like the government is responding to the needs of the air traffic workers.  Their jobs are very important and vital to the country in many ways. If they are not kept happy, they can expect more strikes in the future.  The workers must be listened to and given some of the demands that they have been complaining about.

Add comment April 4, 2007 katebask

Kirchner’s wife to run for President!

Nestor Kirchner’s wife, Cristina, has announced that she will be running for President in the next elections!  This comes as a shock to most Argentinians.  Nestor has been doing a great job as President, and has raised Argentina’s economy by 8% each term he has been in office.  He has helped to lift Argentina out of the economic recession from 2000 and place them on the map as a strong democratic and industrialized country.  His wife, Cristina has recently gotten more involved in politics as she has been travelling to Europe to meet with several leaders.  However, many Argentinians are opposed to having Cristina as a President because they believe that she lacks administrative experience.  Nestor and Cristina shared that they plan on switching off Presidential terms for the next 12 years.
Many people have compared them to Bill and Hillary Clinton in the U.S.  They are both well liked and take a relatively liberal stance when it comes to foreign policy and economic issues.  While Cristina will run in the next elections, Nestor will not and instead will be her supporter.  I think that this is a good idea, and it is great to have a woman running for President in Argentina.  On the other hand, I think it is unfair to other candidates that she does not have the experience, but will gain many votes because of her husband’s popularity.  Additionally, if she is elected and does a poor job, that might cause a decline in popularity to re-elect Nestor if he were to run again.

Add comment March 8, 2007 katebask

Aid to Bolivia

On February 23, an article was written about the aid efforts to Bolivia.  Bolivia is a tremendously poor country; In fact it is the poorest of the South American countries.  According to the article, more than two dozen  ambassadors are located in the capital city of Bolivia.  These include people from the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina.  But Venezuelan Ambassador, Julio Montes has established a special relationship with Bolivian President, Evo Morales.  Montes and Morales often travel together internationally, and the two can be found conversing with the President’s top aides.  Venezuela has come to rival the U.S. assistance in Bolivia.  The current projects that Venezuela is assisting with are assistance for the army, cattle ranches, soybean cultivation, microfinance projects, urban sanitation companies and the oil industry.  The U.S. has also helped with the previous projects, but most of its assistance has come in the form of monetary aid.  Venezuela, for example, donated 300 tractors to Bolivia to help with its agriculture.
I think that the relationship between Venezuela and Bolivia is a positive and refreshing one.   We often forget that sometimes personal friendships can make  political ties so much stronger. There are some people against the actions of Montes, saying that what he is doing is a new form of imperialism.  I disagree with this thinking and believe that Venezuela is truely wanting to help out a country that is in dire need right now.

Add comment February 26, 2007 katebask

Chile: New Quota for Women in Politics

Chile is well known for being the only South American country with a female President.  Although this is true, there is a slim representation of women in Chilean politics.  Congress is debating a bill right now that would hold gender quotas for politics.  It says that at least 40% of politicians (from the federal to municipal level) will have to be women.  If this bill passes, it would force some current members of Parliament to leave their positions in order to make room for more women.  Currently, half of the countries in South America have this law, but their quota is only for at least 30% representation.  Right now, Chile is at 12.6% women representation  in both houses of Congress.
I believe that this bill has great intentions.  It is trying to get women more involved in politics and balance out the gender equality among politicians.  It is working in other South American countries, so it should work in Chile as well.  I think the problem is that the Chilean quota is a bit too high.  I think that they should make it a 30% representation, at least for the first couple years.  This way, the country can ease into it a little more, and not have to eject valuable members of the government for incoming women politicians.  I think also that this bill really depends on the number of women in Chile who are willing to get involved and run for office.  If there aren’t enough women, then there is no sense making the quota so high.
Congress should be deciding on this bill soon, so we will see what happens.
What do YOU think?…

3 comments February 22, 2007 katebask

Ex-Argentinian President to Re-Run in October

Former Argentinian President, Carlos Menem announced that he will be running for President again later this year in October.  Menem was President of Argentina from 1989-1999 and also ran for President in 2003, but dropped out during the bids.  In 2003, he was running against the current President of Argentina, Nestor Kirschner.  The announcement that Menem would be running for President again was breaking news in South America, as well as the fact that he would be forming a new political party called “Loyalty and Dignity”.  The details of that party, I am not sure of.  When Menem held office from 1989-1999 he was affiliated with the Socialist party.  Menem re-running is of significance because when he was in office was when the economic meltdown in Argentina occurred.  Many Argentinians still associate that horrible time with Menem.  The government froze many bank accounts, which led to riots. About 24 people died during that time.  Now, Argentina is in a great position economically.  In fact, their economy has never been better.  It will be interesting to see what happens and how the economy is affected if Menem comes back into power.  I am not saying that he was the sole source of the meltdown, but I believe that a leaders policies and the way they handle situations can definitely influence the outcome.  I guess we will have to wait until October to see…

Add comment February 14, 2007 katebask

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