New Internationalist

Briefly…

Issue 195

new internationalist
issue 195 - May 1989

BRIEFLY...

DEBT
[image, unknown]
Public spending on education at current market prices
(Base Year 1975 = 100. Sources: Unesco Office of Statistics.

Squeeze on schools
The debt crisis of the 1980s, and the demands of the International Monetary Fund and private banks on Latin American and Caribbean countries, have brought big cuts in government spending in the region. Education has not been spared. After reaching a peak between 1980 and 1982, education expenditure has fallen sharply. In some countries, spending in real terms has dropped below that of 1975. For Argentina and Brazil, the most recent figures available do show big increases, but they only compensate for previous cuts in spending in their respeclive countries - see graph.

From UNESCO Sources No. 1 1989

CHILD LABOUR

10-year-old Dubai jockeys
Winter is the camel racing season in the Gulf states. The season culminates in spring with races of up to 500 camels. Pakistani children are imported as jockeys. There are two types: the youngest - often only six years old - are simply stuck to the camel saddle by strips of velcro, behind an adult jockey. The screams and struggles of these children, brought about by fear and whip lashes, excite the camels and make them run faster. Older children, ten years old or more, receive jockey training and are tied to the saddle on their own.

The trade in child jockeys is generally with Karachi, involving poverty-stricken parents who badly need the money. Some believe their sons are being employed as domestics.

Once the children are in the Gulf, life can be hard. They are often physically assaulted and training is tough. But the greatest danger comes from the races themselves. There are injuries and falls. These are sometimes fatal, particularly when the camel comes down on top of the child.

From Future, development perspectives on children 24-25.

COLOMBIA

Internal security
Disappearances and assassinations are proliferating in Colombia, and it is not just the poor who are suffering. On January 18, 13 of the l5 members of a Government investigative commission were murdered at the town of Barrancabermeja, 150 miles north-east of Bogota. The judicial functionaries were themselves looking into the disappearance of 17 traders in the area and the many killings with which the Colombian military have been involved.

After the January 18 deaths, 20,000 judges and court officials went on strike. They were protesting at their vulnerability. During the last five years, 11 Supreme Court judges, the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General have been assassinated.

Meanwhile the current Attorney-General has asked President Barco to 'purify' the armed forces of those who support these irregular paramilitary groups.

Of the 128 paramilitary groups identified by Government, more than half are connected with cocaine trafficking operations ... and the financial connections reach high up into Government.

From Andean Newsletter No. 27, 1989

SPECIES

Rhinos threatened
China's new-found interest in the free market and the country's relative affluence could spell extinction for the already-endangered rhino in Africa's game parks.

China and Taiwan are the two main markets for rhino-horn - a vital ingredient of a traditional Chinese aphrodisiac. The horn is ground to powder and sold to herbal doctors in both countries. With the recent economic liberalization in mainland China, demand for horns from the heavily-poached African rhino has soared.

The price trebled between June 1988 and February 1989. Almost all this increase, Taiwanese traders say, is due to increased demand 'across the water'.

From African Analysis, No. 66, 1989

ARGENTINA

Hotting up
In Argentina, where summer is just ending, electricity problems have been leaving Buenos Aires and other regions without power for up to 12 hours a day. There have been a whole series of problems. Hydroelectric plants have been affected by a drought which has lowered the water level in the reservoirs which feed them. There have also been shutdowns of one of the country's nuclear power plants. And other power stations have been closed because of neglect and lack of maintenance.

Black-outs and Government-ordered power-cuts have forced the stock exchange, banks, businesses and broadcasting to reduce operating hours. In the summer heat complaints have proliferated about food spoiling. And working in poorly-ventilated conditions has been uncomfortable - to say the least.

From World Press Review. Vol. 36/No. 2 1989.

POLLUTION

Que sera, sera
Which is the dirtiest city on earth - 10 times more polluted than Tel Aviv, 3.5 times worse than New York and 2.5 times worse than Beijing? It is Milan, according to the World Health Organization. A report from the Rome newspaper, Il Messaggero notes 'the whole region around Milan is an ecological garbage dump'. In 1986, 20 tons of toxic waste were dropped into a manhole about 160 feet from the city's famous cathedral. Milan also has 'the Italian record for noise levels'. The local water is 'undrinkable', yet Milan has no water-purification plants and no plans to build any. Even the opera house, La Scala, 'is nearing collapse'.

From World Press Review, Vol. 36/No.2 1989

EAST TIMOR

Vatican puzzle
Pope John Paul II will almost certainly visit Indonesia this October, either before or after he attends the closing of the International Eucharistic Congress in Seoul on 8 October. Both Jakarta and the Vatican are understood to have agreed on the visit and it only remains for the Pope's programme to be worked out. There are five million Roman Catholics in Indonesia. However it is unclear whether the predominantly 600,000 Catholics of East Timor will be visited. Nor do we know if the Pontiff will discuss the 100,000-200,000 East Timorese who have died at the hands of the Indonesian army since their invasion of the independent state in 1975. Strangely enough, we do know that the Vatican still does not recognise the incorporation of East Timor into a greater Indonesia.

From Far Eastern Economic Review, 16 Feb. 1989

previous page choose a different magazine go to the contents page go to the NI home page next page


This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7

Comments on Briefly...

Leave your comment