March 5, 2007
The World Court has opened hearings on an old border dispute between Nicaragua and Honduras. Nicaragua has staked a maritime claim up to 17 degrees north latitude, about 200 miles north of the 15 degree latitude which roughly corresponds to the two countries' land border at the coastline. That is a large disputed area. There are only a few small islands and coral reefs in that area of the Caribbean, but the waters abound with fish and there may be oil and natural gas reserves as well. Nicaragua decided to seek recourse in the World Court after Honduras signed a bilateral treaty on maritime claims in the affected zone. See CNN.com. Tensions between Nicaragua and Costa Rica have risen in recent years as well (see Dec. 1, 2005), and neither case is directly related to the fact that the government of Nicaragua recently came under control of the left-wing Sandinista party. President Daniel Ortega's radical ideological affinities may make it more difficult to arrive at a peaceful resolution of the disputes, however.
The BBC has a story on Christian Chavez, an actor/singer from Mexico who has openly declared that he is gay. Like English pop singer Elton John, he is prone to flamboyant clothing styles, and often changes his hair color. In 2005 he was photographed at an apparent same-sex marriage ceremony in Canada, triggering rumors about his lifestyle. Mexico is no different than the rest of Latin America in terms of the culture of machismo, and it is considered a grave insult to be called maricón ["sissy"], the most common term for homosexual. It wouldn't even occur to many people that there is anything wrong with gay bashing. So, it took more than a little guts for Mr. Chavez to come out of the closet.