The week at a glance...Americas



Conservatives win: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party won an outright majority this week in parliamentary elections that radically changed the political landscape. The leftist New Democrats surged to second place under leader Jack Layton, earning for the first time the role of the country’s official opposition. The center-left Liberals, Canada’s oldest and historically most successful party, finished a distant third as it shed votes in its traditional stronghold of Toronto, while the separatist Bloc Québécois took just four seats. With the pro-business Conservatives pitted against the social-democratic New Democrats in the new parliament, Canada now has “something approaching a two-party system,” wrote Adam Radwanski in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Mexico City

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Hard at work: Mexicans work the longest hours of any national workforce in the developed world, a new study has found. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which compiles statistics on its 34 member countries, found that Mexicans put in 10 hours per day of combined paid and unpaid work. The Japanese, South Koreans, and Chinese work the most paid hours per day, but they put in far fewer hours of unpaid labor, such as cooking and cleaning. Mexican commentators said they hoped the findings would end stereotypes of Mexicans as shiftless. “How did we acquire that picture of the lazybones snoozing under the cactus?” said Guadalupe Loaeza, a columnist for Reforma. “We know that life is hard every day in our country. You cannot work one job. You have to have three.”

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Never mind: Honduras has dropped fraud and corruption charges against former President Manuel Zelaya, clearing the way for the country to be readmitted to the Organization of American States. Honduras lost its membership in the organization after Zelaya was ousted in 2009 in what the Honduran legislature called a defense of its democracy and most other countries called a coup. The military expelled the former president from the country after he failed to abide by a Supreme Court order to cancel a referendum on abolishing term limits for the presidency. The OAS said it would let Honduras back in if it dropped the charges against Zelaya. The ex-president, currently in exile, has said he would return to Honduras only if guaranteed legal immunity.

Buenos Aires

Commuters riot: Enraged commuters set fire to train cars this week after they were stranded at stations for hours. The delay occurred after a train derailed on a busy rail line connecting Buenos Aires to the city’s eastern suburbs. Commuters torched eight cars, removed train drivers, and smashed up ticket booths in at least three stations along the delayed route. Firefighters said they had to force their way through angry crowds to put out the flames. “There were a ton of protesters,” said firefighter Juan Carlos Samproski. “I don’t know how many, but there were a ton of them, thousands.”

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