Argentinian president Alberto Fernandez, who has spent the last weeks leading up to the current Mercosur virtual summit promising to work to incorporate Bolivia into the bloc as a member-in-full, took a complaint from the Uruguayan president and flippled into an invitation to leave the group.
Uruguay’s Luis Lacalle Pou said, “It should not be a burden, we are not willing to make it a corset in which our country cannot move, that is why we have talked about flexibility,” in a speech referencing Argentina’s opposition to negotiations outside the group.
The speech was fiery and so was Fernandez’s response, “We don’t want to be anyone’s burden. For me, it is an honor to be part of Mercosur … If it is a burden, the easiest thing is to abandon ship.”
Uruguay is one of the four founding remembers of the 30-year-old group. Bolivia has been in observer status since the 1990s and its president announced at the summit, the country’s “immediate willingness to carry out the tasks necessary to assume full membership,” a step that requires the approval of Brazil.
Projected Gross Domestic Product growth for Latin America and the Caribbean is put at 3.2% for 2021-2023, according to projections of the Inter-American Development Bank, while Brazil’s expected growth is 2.7%. When Brazil is excluded, projected growth for the Southern Cone countries–Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay –is 3.5%.
“Brazil has significant challenges –it needs to enact a set of pro-growth reforms, as well as adopt a fiscal policy that maintains confidence and ensures fiscal sustainability, stabilizes rising public sector debt, and gradually reduces debt levels,” said IDB’s Chief Economic Adviser Andrew Powell, speaking about the lackluster expectations for Latin America’s largest country.
In an effort to understand why the Mayan civilization of Central America met its sudden demise, a new study at the underwater caves of the Great Blue Hole, located some 40 miles off the coast of Belize, has revealed that minerals found at the site indicate an extreme drought in the region between 800 and 900 AD, which may have forced the Mayans to adapt and relocate, reducing the plush region to deserted ruins.
A civilization that thrived for over 2,000 years across the area of modern-day southern Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, the Mayans are known to have been skilled astronomers, architects, masons, artists and mathematicians, chroniclers–as well as for creating calendar system and making doomsday predictions still referenced today. What spurred the team to investigate the lost civilization was the abrupt end of the once-thriving civilization, which continues to be widely referenced based on its pottery, artifacts and monolithic structures, as well as the desolate and ruined cities it left behind.
Andre Droxler from Rice University found that the mineral deposits in the caves of a 1,000-foot crater correlated with the period of the civilization’s demise.
Droxler’s team took core sediment samples and measured the ratio of titanium to aluminium. It is known that heavy rainfall deposit titanium from volcanic rocks into the Atlantic Ocean–ergo the Great Blue Hole. Over time, the deposits turn the crater into a “sediment trap”–a big bucket of titanium–leaving less titanium in the soil during dryer seasons.
With this information, Droxler compared the titanium levels in the soil to sediments dating to the Mayan era and found them to be significantly low. Live Science puts it in technical terms saying, “The team found that during the period between A.D. 800 and A.D. 1000, when the Mayan civilization collapsed, there were just one or two tropical cyclones every two decades, as opposed to the usual five or six.”
Although they wreak havoc, these cyclones were the only way the thirsty civilization was able to survive in the absence of a body of drinkable water. Besides water, the cyclones also redistribute titanium and other minerals to replenish the land of any minerals essential to make it inhabitable. The evidence recently observed corroborates a 2012 study published in Journal Science. A stalagmite from the caves in Belize dating to the Mayan era was analyzed and the observations are consistent with a sharp decrease in rainfall coinciding with the declining period of the Mayan culture.