Saturday, March 17, 2007

How about some good news for a change

First some moderate good news. Following up on the possible peace deal in Ivory Coast I mentioned about two weeks ago, it seems that
Ivory Coast's President Laurent Gbagbo has signed a decree creating a military structure that includes rebel forces.

The new integrated command centre will include equal numbers of government troops and rebels, and will work to demobilise militias from both sides.

The initiative is one of the steps agreed in a recent peace deal aimed at ending years of civil war. ...

The joint army command structure is the first and relatively painless sign that the two leaders intend to keep their word this time round.

But the Ivorian peace process has floundered so often that Ivorians are not overly optimistic....
Still, some cause for optimism is better than none.

Next up, some pretty good news. It was announced on Saturday that
[f]ive of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are to have their national debts cancelled by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Bolivia, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua owe a total of more than $4bn (£2bn).

The debt relief initiative is part of the IDB's goal to cut poverty in half in Latin America by 2015. ...

Speaking in Guatemala City ahead of the bank's annual meeting, its president, Luis Alberto Moreno, described the move as an historic opportunity that will give these countries what he called a fresh start.
The question now is will the world financial institutions and the rich nations that back them go beyond giving those (and other) countries an opportunity to sink back into debt-driven poverty all over again or will they offer positive support that involves re-thinking their policies of pushing privatization even of basic commodities like water, encouraging big-ticket investments that overwhelm local ecosystems, and demanding export cropping that undermines local, sustainable food production.

Finally, some just plain old good news.
The first civil partnerships among same-sex couples in Mexico City have been celebrated under new legislation.

The law, which came into effect in the capital on Friday, gives gay couples similar social and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples.

Civil unions were approved by the city council in November despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. ...

Among the first Mexico City same-sex couples to tie the knot were journalist Antonio Medina, 38, and economist Jorge Cerpa, 31.

Mr Medina said: "With this law, a history of exclusion comes to an end. Today, the love that before did not dare speak its name has now entered the public spotlight."
The northern border state of Coahuila has similar legislation. While the laws do not give same-sex couples all of the legal rights available to straight couples, they are undeniably a real step forward. I'm beginning to think that the last places on Earth that will accept gay marriages will be the Vatican and the US.

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