Friday, October 28, 2005

Former Guantanamo detainee confessed to Russian bombing

Russian officials claimed that an ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee has confessed to a bombing in Russia earlier this month. However, the defendant’s lawyers say that police used torture to extract false confessions. (ABC)

Chilean soccer goalie close to breaking shutout record

Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Universidad Catolica goalkeeper Jose Maria Buljubasich is almost one game away from breaking the all-time league shutout record of 1390 minutes. Buljubasich has held opponents scoreless for 1323 minutes over a span of fourteen games. (SoccerNet)

UN: Funding for flood victims is running out

Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The UN World Food Programme is worried that I will not have enough funds to help nearly four hundred thousand flood victims in El Salvador and Guatemala. Only twenty-one percent of aid has been received through donations from the United States, Norway and Switzerland. (UN)

Cane farmers upset at Jamaican government

Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Jamaican sugar cane farmers voiced their opposition to the government’s sugar policy including the closing of two factories. Farmers also called for increased government cooperation with Brazilian sugar industry. (Jamaica Observer)

Dominican oil refinery head fired

Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The chief of the Dominican Oil Refinery was fired after a gas leak in Santo Domingo on Monday left over fifty people with breathing difficulties. Aristide Fernandez Zucco was a vocal critic of the Dominican Republic’s involvement in Petrocaribe, a Venezuelan plan to provide oil to Caribbean states. (Trinidad Express)

Rio rejects raunchy postcards

Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Rio de Janeiro’s legislature approved a bill that would ban postcards depicting scantily-clad women. Proponents argue that this measure would help combat sex tourism in Rio. (Guardian)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Noguera quits post as Colombian Intelligence Chief

Amid allegations that his Administrative Security Department (DAS) was infiltrated by members of a right-wing paramilitary group, Colombia's Intelligence Chief Jose Noguera has stepped down from his position. (BBC)

Argentina to buy $100 PC's for needy students

Argentina has committed to purchase between 500,000 and 1m laptops at $100 apiece, manufactured by MIT for needy students around the world. (The Inquirer)

Latin America: Debt ratings

Fitch Ratings has published its quarterly review of Latin American government's debt ratings. (BusinessWire)

Abortion becoming hotly debated issue in Latin America

Though abortion has been almost completely outlawed in all of Latin America, new political action groups and activists are working to change the status quo and relax abortion laws. (Newsday)

Cuban dissident group wins Sakharov prize

Cuba's Women in White, consisting of wives and other relations of Cuba's jailed dissidents, has won the European Parliament's Sakharov prize, given annually to individuals or organizations that make a significant contribution to human rights. (Reporters Without Borders)

Former Honduran President dies

Former President of Honduras Jose Azcona Hoyo died yesterday at the age of 78. He served the country from 1986-90, presiding over the dismantling of US bases established in Nicaragua during the country's civil war. (Mercury News)

75,000 need food aid in El Salvador

Relief Web reports that over 75,000 people in El Salvador are in urgent need of food aid, after flooding wreaked havoc in the Central American country. (Relief Web)

Tourists still stranded in Mexico

Cancun, normally home to half a million residents, is struggling to accomodate 22,000 tourists stranded during Hurricane Wilma. (CBS News)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Pumpkin alert in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has initiated a crackdown on Halloween pumpkins, which opposition activists have used to deliver anti-Chavez messages and bomb scares. (Reuters)

Debate: Current US policy in Latin America

As US President George W Bush gears up for a trip to Latin America this month, Latin Americanists and foreign policy wonks take a look at how the administration has handled relations with the region since 2000. Though Latin America was supposed to be a priority for him, September 11th shifted the nation's worries to other parts of the world, and Latin America was put on the backburner for several years.

Among the issues Bush will need to discuss with his counterparts is what the US army is doing in
Paraguay, how to "promote trade and democracy", and the US farm subsidies that Argentina and Brazil would like to see abolished. Though his trip will only include the Southern Cone and Panama, he may hear some complaints as to how Bush has handled his awkward relations with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick's troubles in Nicaragua, and, as always, immigration issues.

How has the Bush administration handled Latin America policy so far? Tell us what you think.

Creel loses PAN primary

Mexican President Vicente Fox's ideal successor, Santiago Creel, has lost the primary of their ruling National Action Party. Former energy minister Felipe Calderon will move forward as PAN's presidential candidate. (Reuters)

Rejected Haitian presidential candidate faces arrest

Texas businessman Dumarsais Simeus, who seeks to be a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections in his native Haiti, has been told by election officials that he faces arrest for allegedly lying about his residency. Officials banned Simeus from running earlier this year because he holds dual citizenship in the US and Haiti. (BET)

Is Chile the new Norway?

Ethical Corporation, an online publication dedicated to corporate social responsibility, discusses the similarities between Norway and Chile and the latter's potential. (Ethical Corporation)

Yerba mate marketed in the US

Entrepreneur Paula Farell has successfully marketed the popular South American drink in the United States, with sales growing 15% a year. (Miami Herald)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mexicans turn their backs on beans and rice for ramen noodles

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. The surge in popularity of eating ramen noodles as quick and cheap meals has alarmed numerous officials and dieticians in Mexico. One government official has even called for UNESCO to recognize traditional Mexican cuisine as a “patrimony of humanity.” (LA Times)

Toledo okays open-source in Peru

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. Peru’s president approved legislation last week that would allow public institutions to use open source software. (

Massive agrarian losses due to heavy rains

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. Puerto Rico’s agriculture industry is predicted to lose sixteen million dollars due to last week’s torrential rains. (BusinessWeek)

Chile presidential race heading into a second round

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. Polls last weekend showed front-runner Michelle Bachelet’s numbers diminishing while her opponents have gained between two and three-and-a-half percent. (Plenglish)

Division over prison rehab program in Jamaica

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. Politicians in Jamaica are divided over the benefits provided from the prison rehabilitation program, especially over the release of two albums by a convicted rapist. (Jamaica Observer)

Brazil says no to gun ban

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. Approximately two out of three voters in a national referendum chose to reject a plan to ban guns in Brazil. (Yahoo)

Electoral battle amongst Argentine first ladies

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. The first ladies of current President Nestor Kirchner and his predecessor, Eduardo Duhalde, are fighting for a senate seat in a province around Buenos Aires. Both have claimed to be direct political descendents of Evita Peron in order to attract attention to their campaigns. (The Independent) In the end, exit polls showed that Cristina Kirchner (left) would easily win along with most of the other legislative candidates that have supported her husband. (Yahoo)

Life term for Bolivian in Australia

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. The Australian Supreme Court convicted a Bolivian man caught in a multi-million dollar cocaine bust. (ABC)

Deforestation in Amazon higher than originally thought

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. A report from Brazilian and U.S. scientists showed that increases in “stealth” logging shows that deforestation in the Amazon is much worse than it seems. (BBC)

Dozen foot-and-mouth cases in Brazil

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. The number of Brazilian cattle with foot-and-mouth disease has grown to twelve according to government officials. As a result, the cattle industry in Brazil may lose up to one billion dollars this year. (The Australian)

Colombian business community pleased with decision on reelection

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. Colombian business leaders welcomed their country’s Supreme Court decision last week to allow presidential reelection. Polls have shown that current president Alvaro Uribe would easily win a reelection if he were to run. (FT)

LULAC turns up the heat against Minutemen

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. Members of the League of United Latin American Citizens have increased pressure against a chapter of Washington DC-area Minutemen. Minutemen from the Herndon neighborhood plan to videotape and report on day laborers. (Washington Times)

Howard Dean: Minutemen send “the wrong message about America”

- Submitted by Erwin Cifuentes. During a two-day visit to Mexico City last week, Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean expressed disgust over American immigration policy. Dean also claimed that he did not have a preferred candidate for next year’s Mexican presidential election. (AZ Central)