Saturday, June 10, 2006

World Cup: T&T record historic tie; own-goal sink Paraguay; Argentina win; Mexico ready for Iran

In the biggest upset of the tournament so far, World Cup first timers Trinidad and Tobago held Sweden to a scoreless tie. In a game were Sweden was expected to easily win, the “Soca Warriors” held up with last minute starting goalie Shaka Hislop making several fantastic saves and in light of being a man down for almost the entire second half. The smallest country ever to qualify for the World Cup, Trinidad will have to face England Thursday afternoon and hope they make their fans as proud as they were against Sweden.

Paraguay were fortunate to score in the first minutes of their first match; sadly, it was an own-goal off the head of defender Carlos Gamarra. The own-goal was the lone goal in the Paraguayan's 1-0 loss to England. The "Guaranis" created few clear scoring opportunities, especially in the second half where England possessed the ball most of the time and its defense held up rather well. A loss in their next game against Sweden and Paraguay will be eliminated from the World Cup.

Argentina had little trouble in defeating the Ivory Coast 2-1 via first half goals from Hernan Crespo and Javier Saviola. Juan Roman Riquelme could have been man of the match since he assisted on both goals. Argentina will most likely qualify out of the “group of death” and into the second round if they win their next match Friday morning against Serbia and Montenegro.

Mexico will be the lone Latin American representative playing on Sunday when they face Iran. Goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez is expected to start inasmuch as he had to return to Mexico earlier this week due to his father’s sudden death. “El Tri” are the top seed in Group D along with Iran, Portugal, andAngola; kickoff for Mexico’s first match is set for 12pm.

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World Cup Day 2: Paraguay, Argentina, and T & T play their first games today

Three teams from Latin America and the Caribbean play in today’s World Cup tripleheader in Germany. The first match looks to be the best as Paraguay faces off against perennial favorites England. Paraguayan striker Roque Santa Cruz has recovered very well from a serious leg injury to start today’s match, while midfielder Pablo Acuña observes the importance of this game for the “Guaranis” in that “we can’t concede any advantages…(the game ) is like a final.” Paraguay typically plays with a very physical style and today shall be no exception especially to control the English striking duo of Michael Owen and Peter Crouch. (Kickoff set for 9am EST).

At around 12pm noon, World Cup first timers Trinidad and Tobago will play against Sweden. The smallest country ever to qualify for the World Cup, Trinidad are not expected to make any major impact in the tournament and could easily leave Germany with three first round defeats. Worse, Marvin Andrews reinjured his knee during training and will miss today’s match and possibly the second game on Thursday. Yet with the odds stacked against them, the “Soca Warriors” are more than ready to enjoy the World Cup experience and make their country proud.

Speaking of odds, favorites Argentina start the road to the final today as they face newcomers Ivory Coast in Hamburg. Argentina is expected to easily win today, though they do not underestimate the potential for the Ivorians to pull off an upset. Midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme is the lynchpin of the “albicelestes” who are looking to surpass their disappointing performance in 2002 when they failed to make it past the first round. (Kickoff set for around 3pm EST).

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Friday, June 9, 2006

World Cup Day 1: Ticos lose inaugural match; Ecuador shuts out Poland

In the first match this year’s soccer World Cup, Costa Rica lost 4-2 against hosts Germany with Paulo Wanchope (image, left) scoring twice in a losing effort. Germany played well but not in convincing fashion over the Central Americans. Even in defeat, the “ticos” were pleased with the team’s performance as coach Alexandre Guimaraes noted that “we didn’t feel we made many mistakes today…we have great potential to do well in the other two games.”

In a slight upset, Ecuador shut out Poland 2-0 with a goal and an assist by Agustin Delgado, (image, right) who started the match despite a knee injury. “El Tin” Delgado set up Carlos Tenorio’s goal in the 24th minute and scored in the 80th minute to seal a crucial victory for Ecuador in front of a mostly pro-Polish crowd. With the win, Ecuador is in good position to qualify for the second round, especially if they win there next game Thursday against Costa Rica.

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From the presidency to prison: Luis Gonzalez Macchi sentenced to 6 years behind bars

Ex-president of Paraguay Luis Gonzalez Macchi (image) was sentenced to 6 years in jail on Monday for running an embezzlement scheme to pocket $16 million on the sale of two government banks. Gonzalez Macchi was Paraguayan president from 1999 to 2003 and faced a weakened economy and little support in the legislature.


World Cup Day 1: let the games begin!

Today marks the inaugural set of games for this year’s soccer World Cup hosted by Germany. In the first match, Costa Rica will face Germany, which is not an easy task given that the hosts are strong favorites to win the World Cup and the “ticos” have three injured players that may miss the game including their goalie. Nonetheless, coach Alexandre Guimaraes does not ignore the possibility of a massive upset to start the tournament. (Kickoff set for around 12pm EST).

In the only other game of the day, Ecuador will face off against Poland. Key Ecuadorian striker Agustin Delgado may miss the game with a nagging knee injury, and coach Luis Fernando Suarez has been tightlipped about revealing the team’s lineup until just before the game. Yet Suarez is optimistic of pulling off a victory against the Poles and starting off Ecuador on the right path. (Kickoff set for around 3pm EST).

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Not content with t-shirts and posters, Bolivia offers “Che trail” to tourists

Capitalism + nostalgia for famed revolutionary Che Guevara = the “Che trail,” a 500 mile path along landmarks associated with Guevara’s 1967 battles in Bolivia. Though the trail has yet to be finished, local Bolivians are excited with the income that could be created by the venture, including museums and hotels dedicated to the memory of “el Che.” (Image is of a large bust of Che Guevara along the “Che trail”.)


Thursday, June 8, 2006

Study: Most U.S. states fail at teaching Latin American history

A study conducted by the Fordham Institute found that 30 U.S. states (such as Florida) have “weak or non-existent standards” for teaching Latin American history. The study focused on world history, yet researchers were surprised at the lack of a comprehensive plan by most states to teach Latin American history. (Main link via Hispanic Tips).


Brazil: Protestors overrun parliament building

About 500 protestors were arrested on Wednesday for violently demonstrating in Brasilia including fighting with police and smashing windows. The protestors represented a splinter group of MST, an organization representing landless farm workers.

Correction: According to MST, they are not affiliated to the group protesting yesterday in Brasilia.

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U.S. report aims at global sex trafficking

A report released on Monday by the U.S. State Department accused 12 countries of not doing enough to combat the sex-slave trade. Interestingly, most of the states criticized in the report are constantly at odds with the U.S. including Cuba and Venezuela. Venezuela’s government has denounced the report as an attack against leader Hugo Chavez. (Belize was the third and last Western Hemispheric country mentioned in the Trafficking in Persons Report).


Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Oppenheimer: “Biggest threat to Uribe- his own success”

Columnist Andres Oppenheimer warns Colombian president Alvaro Uribe (image) to keep his hubris in check and not allow excess power to undermine his second term. Oppenheimer notes that reelected leaders in Latin America tend to hurt their countries after a first term in office.

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Metafilter talks about Operation Condor

Community blog Metafilter posted several interesting links related to Operation Condor, which was a comprehensive plan of intelligence and counter-terrorist operations carried out by right-wing governments friendly to the U.S. (such as those of Augusto Pinochet (image)) between the 1950s and 1980s.

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AIDS cases rise in Latin America

The silver anniversary of the discovery of AIDS last week was a painful reminder that the number of AIDS cases in Latin America has increased with the Caribbean HIV rate second to that in sub-Saharan Africa. Still, the issues of sex and AIDS have become less taboo throughout the region, and governments have taken a more active part in AIDS prevention. During last week’s conference at the United Nations on AIDS, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Chile agreed along with 14 other states to adopt a tax on airline tickets that would help pay for AIDS drugs.

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Alliteration highlights warning over Latin American populists

A U.S. State Department official warned of “the pied pipers of populism” during an OAS conference on Monday. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick declared that the region is not divided between left and right, but rather “democrats and authoritarians.” (Image is of the title card to the 1961 Speedy Gonzalez cartoon “The Pied Piper of Guadalupe”).

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Monday, June 5, 2006

Students tell Bachelet ‘Hell no, we won’t go’

Chilean students impatient over reforms promised by president Michelle Bachelet rejected an appeasement offer made by the government yesterday. Students have staged sit-ins in school buildings for nearly two weeks and clashed with police several times last week in Santiago. Though negotiations appear to continue, student protestors have called for a national education strike to take place today.

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Peru: Alan Garcia reclaims presidency

Former president Alan Garcia won Peru’s presidential election over Ollanta Humala with approximately 55% of the votes compared to Humala’s 44.5%. Garcia (image) assured supporters that he will run a “thrifty and austere” administration in order to avoid destroying the Peruvian economy as he did during his presidency between 1985 and 1990. Aside from ensuring that he does not repeat past mistakes, Garcia will have to find a way to unite a deeply divided country hurt by ethnic and class divisions.

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Week in Review: May 22 to May 27

Monday May 29: MTV Latin America begins a week-long series of interviews focusing on Mexico’s presidential candidates. Uruguayan leaders meet to rally support for a plan to construct a paper mill near the Uruguay-Argentina border.

Tuesday May 30: On a visit to Ecuador, Hugo Chavez signs several energy contracts that are expected to save $300 million in fuel imports for Ecuador. A report from the Brazilian Catholic group asserts that there has been an increase in the murders of the country’s indigenous people.

Wednesday May 31: Poll numbers published show Felipe Calderon and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador tied for the lead in Mexico’s presidential race.

Thursday June 1: Legendary Spanish singer Rocio Jurado died from cancer.

Friday June 2: Latin American currencies weakened against the dollar based on the possibility of a faltering U.S. economy. Chile’s government partially acquiesced to student protesters that hade been demonstrating for the past week.

Saturday June 3: Bolivia's government begins a land distribution program that would give away “idle land.” Several Latin American states agreed to a comprehensive energy plan that includes constructing a pipeline from Mexico to Panama.

Sunday June 4:
Russia will sell weapons to Venezuela in spite of a U.S.-imposed arms ban against Venezuela. Exit polls show Alan Garcia beating Ollanta Humala for the Peruvian presidency.

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