From Volume 38, Issue 22 of EIR Online, Published June 3, 2011

Ibero-American News Digest

Sudden Cholera Upsurge in Dominican Republic Sows Panic

May 24 (EIRNS)—A sudden upsurge in cholera cases—100 appearing in just the last 24 hours—is overwhelming medical facilities in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

The Dominican College of Physicians (CMD) is warning that the country isn't just facing a new "outbreak," but a full-blown epidemic that is "out of control," and for which no one is prepared. Cholera appeared in the country last November, shortly after it broke out in Haiti, and to date, there have been 1,143 cases reported and 14 deaths. Now it's estimated to have spread to 28 of the country's 32 provinces.

The number of new cases reported on May 23 represented a 50% increase from two weeks earlier. Public Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez warns that the rainy season will bring a significant increase over the next four weeks. Flooding that comes with the rains also contributes to the spread of dengue and leptospirosis.

As in Haiti, poverty and lack of sanitation infrastructure facilitate cholera's spread. The Health Minister has declared a state of emergency in the capital of Santo Domingo, and ordered full-time monitoring of the city and provision of potable water, while asking the population to practice good hygiene. But there are several cities in the southeastern region in which the large number of cholera cases has overwhelmed local hospitals. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that people use the local rivers—in which they bathe and defecate—as their source of drinking water. This is also the case along the Haitian-Dominican border, in cities such as Dajabon, where, given the lack of potable water, people bathe and defecate in the aptly-named Massacre River.

Florida Expert Warns: Cholera Likely Already in Central America

May 31 (EIRNS)—With cholera rampaging through the Dominican Republic, a leading public health expert at Florida State University warned last week that "it is very likely that cholera cases will occur in other countries of Central America and the Caribbean area. I do not know if the surveillance systems in these countries are alerted about this possible event."

The alert was sent out to a private network of medical professionals formed to mobilize action against cholera and other epidemics sweeping Haiti, in the face of the failure of the Obama Administration and others to provide necessary assistance.

The expert suggested that the diarrheal diseases surveillance system already established in these countries be used to monitor cases of diarrheal diseases among children older than five years, "because that can be an early indication that cholera cases are happening in the area but are classified as generic diarrhea cases."

No Slowing of Argentine-Russian Nuclear Cooperation

May 25 (EIRNS)—Argentina and Russia signed a memorandum on May 23 for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Argentina's Planning Minister Julio De Vido said that he and Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko had evaluated the post-Fukushima nuclear energy situation, agreeing that "international regulatory organizations shouldn't impose conditions relating to nuclear safety that signify support for one system to the detriment of others, without taking into account each country's sovereign opinion."

De Vido was in Russia as part of a larger delegation led by Foreign Minister Héctor Timmerman, discussing a broad range of topics on economic cooperation, particularly nuclear energy. Rosatom has prequalified in the bidding to build Argentina's fourth nuclear reactor, vying with Westinghouse, and South Korean, French, and Chinese companies. De Vido also reported that he and Kiriyenko had "discussed the possibility of another joint project to build a 640 MW reactor based on enriched uranium, in addition to the development of our own CAREM reactor."

A number of other projects were discussed involving Lukoil's interest in investing in oil development in Argentina. De Vido invited Lukoil to send a delegation to Argentina to discuss joint ventures with state oil company YPF and Pan American Energy (PAE) in offshore drilling for oil and gas. Likewise, Russia conveyed its intention to propose financing plans for hydroelectric projects in Argentina.

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