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LADB Blog Focuses on Mexico and the UN Peacekeeping Forces

Blue Helmets on Mexican Soldiers

If you examine the composition of UN Peacekeeping forces, you would be hard-pressed to find any Mexican soldiers. That is about to change with President Enrique Peña Nieto's recent commitment to provide military and civilian personnel to UN missions. The Mexican president made that pledge during an address to the UN General Assembly during the last week of September.

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Peña Nieto, of course, would still have to comply with the Mexican Constitution, which prohibits any chief executive from unilaterally offering Mexican troops for peacekeeping forces. The president would require the consent of the Senate. Conversely, Peña Nieto and other future president are allowed to provide military and civilian personnel for UN humanitarian missions without a vote from the Senate. How was Peña Nieto's decision received in Mexico? There were many supporters and some detractors. Read more in this week's issue of SourceMex.

Let's say hypothetically that Mexico had committed troops to UN peacekeeping operations a while back. Where would these Mexican soldiers be located? Currently, there are 16 ongoing UN Peacekeeping Operations, including Haiti, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, several Middle Eastern nations, as well as nine countries in Africa, from the Western Sahara to Democratic Republic of the Congo.

There are currently over 116,000 military and police personnel working under UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and although many personnel are armed and trained in military operations, the DPKO's main purpose and protocol does not normally involve active combat, but rather helping local security forces to establish the proper conditions for end of conflict and lasting peace. The UN does not have its own military force, and relies completely on contributions from member states.

There is some risk in committing military personnel to an area of conflict. In its 66-year history, the DPKO has suffered 3,177 fatalities, with more than two-thirds occurring since 1993. Uruguay, Haiti, Argentina, Guatemala and Spain have lost dozens of troops, although the majority of the casualties have come from Sub-Saharan African and Northern European nations. While armed conflict has been the major reason for the loss of lives, more than 1,000 deaths have occurred because of illness. The two places with the highest incident of fatalities have been Lebanon and the Congo.

-Jake Sandler

Also in LADB This Week...

Transforming the Sales Tax into a Value-Added Tax in Costa Rica: President Luis Guillermo Solís has a plan to boost government revenues: transform the current sales tax into a a value-added tax (Read more from George Rodríguez in this week's issue of NotiCen). So what's the difference? Diane Yetter explains in the Tax & Accounting blog "Sales tax is collected on retail sales at the time of the sale to the final consumer, and only the final sale in the supply chain is subject to tax. Sales tax is generally imposed on sales of tangible personal property and selected services. Value Added Tax, on the other hand, is imposed on each stage of the supply chain and ultimately charged in full to the final purchaser."

Investment in the Dominican Republic: Officials in the Dominican Republic are pleased about a recent increase in investment, but critics worry that the trend comes at the expense of human rights and the environment. Read more from Crosby Girón in NotiCen.

Argentina and U.S. Lock Horns amid 'Default' Fallout: Argentina's current "default" crisis, which began three months ago when a judge in New York ruled in favor of a group of "vulture funds"-lenders that in 2005 refused to participate in a restructuring of the South American nation's foreign debt-has gone from being a dispute between a sovereign state and private interests to a full-fledged face-off between the Argentine and US governments. Read more from Andrés Gaudín in NotiSur.

Center-Left Coalition Expected to Remain in Power in Uruguay: Uruguayan voters will head to the polls Oct. 26 for the last in a series of South American elections that also includes contests in Brazil, to be held Oct. 5, and Bolivia, on Oct. 12. The Frente Amplio (FA), in power since 2005, is hoping its progressive model-introduced by former President Tabaré Vázquez (2005-2010) and continued by the country's current leader, President José Mujica-will earn the party a third-consecutive term. The FA's conservative rivals, the Partido Nacional (PN or Blanco) and Partido Colorado (PC), are hoping to re-establish the political hegemony that kept them in power throughout most of Uruguay's post-independence history (from 1830 to 2005). Read More from Andrés Gaudín in NotiSur.

Another term for Mexican Human Rights Ombud?: Raúl Plascencia Villanueva, president of the semi-independent human rights commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH), is facing severe criticism from what academics and opposition legislators see as the commission's deficient and inadequate job of defending human rights in Mexico. Will the Senate reappoint him for another five years or will human-rights advocates succeed in pushing through a change? Read more from Carlos Navarro in SourceMex.

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About LADB

The Latin America Data Base (LADB) is one of the longest running premier news and educational services on Latin America. Established in 1986 as a unit of the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico (UNM), LADB has had an internet presence since 1996. LADB features three weekly electronic publications: NotiCen, NotiSur, and SourceMex, and a fully searchable archive of over 28,000 articles that provide timely information and historical perspective on a variety of Latin American issues. LADB is a subscription service made available at no cost to the UNM community. For more information, contact vnelson@unm.edu.

Image: "UN Battalion at 2008 Bastille Day." Reprinted CC-BY 2.5 © from Marie Lan-Nguyen (Wikimedia Commons).

--Posted October 6, 2014. Reprinted from LADB blog post, "Blue Helmets on Mexican Soldiers," written by Jacob Sandler on Tuesday, October 7, 2014.