“Mexico, Colombia and Argentina decriminalised the possession of small amounts of marijuana a few years ago. In Guatemala, President Otto Perez Molina is proposing moves to push for the legalisation of marijuana and potentially other drugs. Chile and Costa Rica are also debating the introduction of medical marijuana policies. Uruguay last year became the first country in the world to approve the growth, sale and distribution of marijuana”

Jamaica decriminalises marijuana use

“Corruption is still a major problem inside Panama,”  says Prof Orlando Perez, of Central Michigan University. “To some extent it’s systemic to the way Panama’s economy is structured.”

BBC News

Sunday Night Music: Luci and The Soul Brokers, Diabla.

“… scientists in Monteverde concluded that the abundance of mist in the cloud forests, which helped to keep the area cool, “has declined dramatically since the mid-1970s.” In the past, visitors were lucky to catch a glimpse of the active crater of Rincón de la Vieja because the clouds were so dense. But that’s not always the case anymore, Zuñiga said, which is good for tourists, “but we know something is wrong.””

Climate Change in Costa Rica

“As of January 16 three of former President Ricardo Martinelli’s top operatives, former national security directors Gustavo Pérez and Alejandro Garúz, along with former National Assistance Program (PAN) director Rafael Guardia Jaén, were being held in preventive detention at the notorious La Joya Penitentiary in Tinajitas on the eastern outskirts of the Panama City – San Miguelito metro area.”

With his world crumbling, can Martinelli muster enough defenders?

“I love the Ngobe. I’ve always been treated well on my visits to the comarca by friendly and sharing people. They refuse to do silly dances for tourists or sell products of child labor in Casco Viejo. They are among the few groups in Panama who, when push comes to shove, are willing to take considerable risk and make big sacrifices to win a fight. Even with the police shooting at them, killing several and wounding even more, they would just not give up in a battle to defend their land against mining interests – very unlike so-called “environmentalist groups” in the capital who were at the time having dinner with the board of WalMart.”

– Okke Ornstein’s A night with the cacica

“There have been lawyers convicted and jailed for stealing from their clients still allowed to practice law from their jail cells. The head of Noriega’s corrupt Electoral Tribunal? She was not only not disbarred, she went on to be a law school dean.”

Panama’s “legal” profession

“… Panama exists because of foreigners, was populated by foreigners, has money because of foreigners, all the products and services they use are made by foreigners. Without us, the country is nothing.”

– Okke Ornstein, Bananama Republic

“Several Latin American countries – particularly Mexico and Peru – have leapt up the index for their commitment in ensuring “social pensions” for the poorest older people. These are tax-financed, non-contributory pensions that ensure a basic income for the most vulnerable. In Mexico, nearly nine out of every 10 people aged 65 and over receive a social pension. Because of this, Mexico ranks at 30 on the index, outstripping the BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Peru has implemented the Pension 65 programme, which provides older people with 250 nuevo soles (£53) every two months.”

Global AgeWatch Index

Saturday night music: Señor Loop