With the fastest growing Internet population in the world, social media and other online services have their eyes on Latin America. As successful businesses look to expand, the rise of the Latin American digital consumer deserves strong consideration — Twitter, Netflix and Waze are examples of businesses that have scaled in Latin America. And with the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics set to take place in Brazil, big things are on the way for Latin America and its economies.
But beyond the economic investment in Brazil, the Latin American market has a strong digital footprint. The continent has 159 million consumers online – a 21% increase from last year – and 42% of these users are in Brazil, while 15% are in Mexico.
Even more surprising is the social media saturation in Latin America. An astounding 94.1% of Latin American Internet users are on social networks. The U.S., by comparison, has just 67% of Internet users on social networks.
Although much of the focus has been on the larger economies such as Brazil, Chile and Mexico, many of the region’s smaller countries are growing even faster. Ecuador has the highest per capita of smart phone ownership in Latin America while Colombia ranks second
Doctors, government continue malpractice talks
Meetings continue between doctors and government officials to develop a new medical malpractice law.
Following passage by the National Assembly of a new penal code that carried prison sentences in some medical malpractice cases, doctors and medical students around the country mounted protests in opposition. Following meetings between doctors’ representatives and President Rafael Correa, the president agreed that the proposed laws went too far. “We need to protect patients but we also need to have an atmosphere in which doctors are not afraid to practice their trade.”
Meetings are expected to conclude late next week, after Correa returns from a European trip. Doctors say that talks with assembly leaders and the Ministry of Public Health have been productive and that they expect an equitable law will be drafted.
Doctors say their primary goal is to separate intentional criminal acts from honest mistakes. “It must be understood that our profession deals with life changing situations, often life and death situations, and doctors must have the freedom to make decisions without the fear that they might go to prison,” said Gustavo Ordonez, representative for a Quito medical association.
International drug gangs working in Ecuador
The U.S. State Department says international drug gangs are operating in Ecuador. It also says that gangs operate in most Latin American as well as in the U.S.
A State Department report says that Mexican drug cartels, including the Zetas, Sinaloa and Gulf groups, are active in Ecuador, particularly in the coastal region, with the largest concetrations in Guayaquil, Manta and Esmeraldas. It also says that gangs from Colombia, Nigeria, Russia and China are also active in the country.
Ecuador’s Minister for Security Homero Arellano acknowledges the presense of drug gangs although he said that it’s difficult to define particular groups. “Many criminal elements operate independently of the cartels, so it’s hard to put a label on who is doing what.”
Arellano says that Ecuador has made a record number of arrests within the last year, confiscating the largest amount of illegal drugs in its history. “We are aggressively pursuing drug crimnals and their product and we will continue our efforts,” Arellano said.