Welcome to the FOCAL archive
The Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) is no longer in operation. This website documents FOCAL's activities and accomplishments throughout its existence. Thank you for your interest in the work of FOCAL.
Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, the three Latin American countries that participated in the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Toronto June 26-27, have conveyed their satisfaction with its outcome. The three countries affirmed they agree that policies to halve deficits without harming economic growth —a move supported by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper— are necessary for global economies to recover. This summit joins heads of state, finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 of the world’s leading economies to enhance co-operation on the international financial system. Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega was pleased with the idea that countries must avoid damage to their economic recovery in order to reduce deficit. However, he was slightly skeptical, saying he believed some countries will experience difficulty in the recovery process. Mexican Treasury Secretary Ernesto Cordero Arroyo supported the short-term stimulus policy, but said we must watch the public deficit. Argentine President Cristina Kirchner was pleased that the views and voices of emerging countries were present in the final communiqué of the meeting. Mexico is slated to chair the G20 Summit in 2012.
A United Nations agency designated Canadian Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean as Special Envoy for Haiti on June 22, 2010. Jean will begin her new duties for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) when her term as Governor General ends later this year. She travelled to Jacmel, Haiti with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in March of this year, two months after the area was largely destroyed in an earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 people. Bokova praised Jean’s “unwavering commitment” to gender equality, press freedom, the role of education in economic development and democracy, and greater dialogue and solidarity among different communities. Jean is a former journalist, human rights advocate and former child refugee from Haiti. Some of her main goals as Special Envoy include fighting poverty and the high illiteracy rate in Haiti. The Governor General visited Haiti in March following the devastating earthquake. Born in Haiti, Jean said she wanted the Haitian people to know that they are not alone and that people in the world, particularly Canada, will continue to care about Haiti as it rebuilds.
Peru has surpassed Colombia as the world’s leading producer of coca, says a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Bogotá. The report’s findings reveal a significant decrease in Colombia’s cultivation of coca, in contrast to a steep increase in Peru. The report states that Peru produces 45 per cent of all coca —a plant used in the cultivation of cocaine— production in the Andean region with 119,000 tons of coca leaf, while Colombia decreased to 39 per cent with 103,000 tons. In Colombia, coca cultivation has decreased substantially: a 16 per cent decline was observed from 2008 to 2009 and a cumulative drop of roughly 60 per cent in a decade. In Peru, on the other hand, coca cultivation has risen by 6.8 per cent from 2008 to 2009, adding to an approximate 55 per cent increase in cultivation in comparison to a decade ago. Shortly after the report was released, the UNODC based in Lima questioned the report and denied the allegations that Peru had become the world’s largest producer of coca, saying that different measurement methods were applied to both countries.
As of June 2010, Central America became the first landmine-free region in the world according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). With the completion of Nicaragua’s mine clearance activities, Central America is now free from the danger of landmines. This outcome marks a great success in a region that, as a consequence of conflicts and civil wars in recent history, has been threatened and harmed by the remains of landmines. Since the late ’80s, an estimated 5,000 casualties was the result of remnants mines, causing many communities and towns distress. Of the seven countries in Central America, five were once affected by mines: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. However, as of this year, all of the countries in the region have successfully met their obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty, which required the clearance of all known mined areas. This accomplishment is the result of a decade of efforts toward the elimination of mines. The ICBL advocated for the Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, signed in 1997, which aims to ban all anti-personnel landmines.