Saturday, June 24, 2006

Week in Review: June 19 to June 25 (aside from the World Cup)

Monday June 19: A top Mexican law enforcement official acknowledged that homicides dropped between 2000 and 2005. U.S. officials announced the arrest of the Mexican leader of a document-forgery gang.

Tuesday June 20: Hundreds of Latin American mayors attend conference in Miami to network and learn how to govern more effectively. Barbados appeals to resume capital punishment in the Caribbean. Argentina starts its first ever trial for human rights abuses during the “Dirty War.” A U.N. report claims that coca production has increased in Colombia.

Wednesday June 21: “Rising star” in Cuban politics sentenced to jail on corruption charges. U.S. denies sending disguised soldiers to Bolivia after “unfounded” claims by president Evo Morales. Venezuela’s vice president gets in a tizzy over a video game.

Thursday June 22: Bolivian doctors protest over the influx of medics coming into the country from Cuba. BBC claims to have a U.S. diplomatic note stating that Venezuela would use its possible seat on the U.N. Security Council for “ideological grandstanding.”

Friday June 23: Bolivia to seek prosecution of ex-president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. A Brazilian judge cancelled the sale of the country’s bankrupt national airline to a consortium of employees.

Saturday June 24: Brazil’s president announces bid for reelection by pledging to eradicate poverty.

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World Cup: On to the round of 16

With the group stages finished yesterday, let’s briefly check out the status of Western Hemispheric squads:

Still in the tournament-

Argentina and Mexico kickoff today at 3pm with the winner going through to play Germany in the quarterfinals. Argentina won their group by finishing undefeated including a 6-0 drubbing of Serbia and Montenegro. Mexico finished second in their group and is hoping that the return of Jared Borguetti will spark an offense that has scored only one goal in their past two matches. (Update: 10 minutes into a very exciting match and both teams are tied 1-1).

Ecuador meets England tomorrow morning with both squads hopeful for victory. “We have nothing to fear” is the mantra of Ecuador’s coach, Luis Fernando Suárez, as the team will be fit and with most of their starters well-rested after missing the last group match. (Kickoff is set for about 11am).

Lastly, Brazil will play Tuesday morning against surprise squad Ghana. Brazil secured first place in their group yesterday by beating Japan 4-1 with 2 goals by Ronaldo who tied Gerd Mueller’s record for most career World Cup goals scored.

Returning home-

After a promising start in a first game loss against Germany, Costa Rica lost their other two games to end with one of the worst records in the tournament. The “ticos” allowed nine goals to be scored against them.

If the United States seemed to catch all the breaks in the 2002 World Cup, then this year’s edition was a polar opposite. Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Ghana sealed the elimination for the U.S. as they ended with only one goal and five shots on goal in three games and a heap of scorn against coach Bruce Arena.

Trinidad and Tobago surprised many by playing well during their games inasmuch as they did not win one game. The “Soca Warriors” caused quite a stir by tying their first game versus Sweden before falling to England and Paraguay.

Speaking of Paraguay, two losses in their first two games against England and Sweden ensured their elimination from the World Cup. Still, Paraguay’s coach feels that the team should not change its aggressive and attacking style of play.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

“Ask a Mexican” columnist on “Colbert Report”

Gustavo Arellano (image), writer of the satirical “Ask a Mexican” column, appeared on the Tuesday night on the “Colbert Report,” and talked about issues like immigration and why Mexicans are infatuated with midgets. Video of the interview can be found here.

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Top Cuban politico off to jail

A former member of the Politburo and a rising political star was sentenced to 12 years in jail for corruption. Cuba’s communist party claimed to have wanted to set an example of Juan Carlos Robinson Agramonte by showing that “no one…can violate the law.”


Lula wins popularity contest against Chavez, Evo, and Bush

Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (image) is more popular than 3 of his Western Hemispheric counterparts, according to a survey conducted in 3 South American states. Lula was one of the most popular Latin American leaders according to a region wide survey last year.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

World Cup: Group stage finishing up this week (part 2)

Today: Mexico may have lost to Portugal 2-1, but they still were able to make it through to the next round since Angola tied with Iran. “El Tri” did not play well today and will have to improve significantly if they want to continue in the tournament. Though the officiating was poor, Mexico squandered several opportunities to tie the game including Omar Bravo shooting a penalty kick above the crossbar.

Mexico will play the winner of this afternoon’s match between Argentina and the Netherlands. (Kickoff set for 2:55pm EST). Both countries have had an interesting history playing each other in three previous World Cups including the 1978 final in Buenos Aires. The New York Times’ World Cup blog has a great post on past World Cup matches such as YouTube clips to Dennis Bergkamp’s stunning game winning tally in 1998. Even though both teams are expected to rest some of their starters, odds are it will be a great match between the free-flowing Argentines and the “total football” of the Dutch.

Tomorrow: Brazil plays its final group match against Japan fully knowing that they have already qualified for the round of 16. Brazil has failed to impress so far, especially Ronaldo’s performance, and their victories over Croatia and Australia were average at best. Japan needs to win in order to keep their slim hopes of making it to the next round alive. (Kickoff set for 2:55pm EST).

Speaking of “slim hopes”, the U.S. needs to win its game against Ghana and hope for a favorable result in the other Group D match between Italy and the Czech Republic. The “Stars and Stripes” will be without defender Eddie Pope and midfielder Carlos Bocanegra who were sent off in the previous match against Italy. The U.S. will need to make up for the loss of those key players and jump start their dormant offense if they are to have any chance of winning. (Kickoff set for 9:55am EST).

Friday: Guess what? No World Cup matches with Latin American and Caribbean squads on the last day of the group stage. Though there are plenty of blogs covering the World Cup, in case you still wish to follow the games.

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World Cup: Group stage finishing up this week (part 1)

Yesterday: In order to make it to the round of 16, Trinidad and Tobago needed to beat Paraguay and hope for England to win over Sweden for the first time in 38 years. Alas, neither scenario occurred as Paraguay won 2-0 and Sweden came back twice to tie 2-2. Entering yesterday’s game, the “Guaranis” were eliminated from further contention yet opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Trinidad’s Brent Sancho accidentally knocked the ball into his own net. The Paraguayan squad was pleased to finish their campaign with a win and is already looking forward to qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, while the “Soca Warriors” exceeded most expectations.

Ecuador succumbed to Germany 3-0 though both countries made it through to the next round. The Germans finished with a perfect record of 3 wins in 3 games for the first time since 1970 and took full advantage of Ecuador coach’s decision to rest several starters. The team still performed below average and will have to improve if they want to beat England this weekend.

Costa Rica finished a disappointing World Cup campaign after losing to Poland 2-1. The “ticos” scored first via a Ronald Gomez free kick, yet the team finished on the losing end without getting points in the tournament. Fans displeased with Costa Rica’s performance have called for their coach to be fired, which may happen soon.

Today (morning): Mexico kicks off its final group match against Portugal at 9:55am knowing that at least a tie can get Mexico through to the next round. Such a task will be difficult, however, since Portugal has yet to lose and “el Tri” will again have to play without striker Jared Borguetti.

Tune in this later when we preview this afternoon’s Argentina-Netherlands game as well as tomorrow’s matches featuring Brazil and the U.S.

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U.N. setting for latest round in Venezuela-U.S. grudge match

In yet another tiff between Venezuela and the U.S., Venezuela wants to fill a rotating seat on the U.N. Security Council that will be vacated next year. The Bush administration said that they would support Guatemala to fill the vacancy instead of Venezuela who U.S. officials worry would be too lenient in condemning Iran. Venezuela sees getting a Security Council seat as a prime way to help impoverished countries. For more media perspectives on this issue please check out this article from the Christian Science Monitor.

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DNA reunites Salvadoran families

Hundreds of Salvadoran children adopted and taken to the U.S. during El Salvador’s civil war are taking advantage of a DNA database to reunite with their long-lost families. U.S. and El Salvador based human rights groups in charge if the project admit that it is difficult task to sift through incomplete records and put the pieces together of families in El Salvador with offspring they gave up as long as 25 years ago. Yet they are hopeful of success stories such as that of 21-year-old Angela Fillingim who was left for adoption at the age of six months yet will meet her birth mother in El Salvador next year. (Image depicts a street child in El Salvador).

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Barbados wants to resume capital punishment

Barbados will appeal a statute stating that executions must take place within 5 years of conviction. The Caribbean Court of Justice will consider Barbados' desire to execute two criminals convicted of murder; it has been 6 years since the last execution took place in the Caribbean.

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Colombia: Coca, conflict, corruption, oh my!

According to a recently released U.N. report, coca production in Colombia grew for the first time in 5 years inasmuch as coca production in Peru and Bolivia has declined. The report comes on the heels of a corruption scandal in the Colombian armed forces triggered by the killing of ten intelligence officers by soldiers bribed by a top drug baron. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministers of Colombia and South Africa agreed to cooperate with each other in order to combat Colombia’s “drug problem.”

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Guyanese businessman wanted for extradition

U.S. authorities have requested the extradition of a Guyanese businessman caught in a drug raid in Suriname (image, map). Shaheed Khan is accused of conspiring to smuggle 11 pounds of cocaine between January 2001 and March 2006.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Who really is “Mister Danger?”

Every so often Venezuelan head Hugo Chavez (image) insults the U.S. government; naturally his main target is President Bush. One of the recurring names Chavez refers to in describing Bush is “Mister Danger.” But who is “Mister Danger?” Blogger The Blue Voice cites a recently written article that shows that “Mister Danger” is a character from an early 20th-century novel that pretends to help people but is really a lazy, selfish person. Is Chavez accurate in his comparison or is “Mister Danger” a reflection of Chavez himself?


Caribbean headlines (aside from Trinidad and Tobago’s performance at the World Cup)

-Nearly 100 protestors in Miami demonstrate against U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba.

-Officials in the Bahamas are quarantining prison inmates in order to avoid a widespread outbreak of malaria.

-Burst of violence last week kills 12 people around Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

-Two-month-old Caribbean anthem seen as unpopular and “rejected” by musicians.

-Approval for Jamaican PM Portia Simpson Miller has slipped as the ruling party is divided over candidates for parliamentary elections.

-Barbados and France negotiate over boundary placement.

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Week in Review: June 12 to June 18

Monday June 12: A lawsuit was filed against a Florida law banning academic travel to Cuba. Brazil began their defense of the World Cup by shutting out Croatia. Latin American stocks and currencies suffer a seventh day of massive losses.

Tuesday June 13: Nearly 2200 illegal immigrants were arrested during a series of nationwide raids in the U.S. that ended today. A United Nations subcommittee approved a text calling for self-determination in Puerto Rico. The Andean Community of Nations agreed to figure out a new plan for trading with the U.S. and to begin regional free trade negotiations with the European Union this summer.

Wednesday June 14: Latin American stocks gained after seven consecutive days of heavy losses. Striking Chilean students return to school after accepting a government compromise. An ALF-CIO report finds that Colombia is the world’s most dangerous country for union representatives.

Thursday June 15: Venezuela and Colombia agreed to build a natural gas pipeline as part of a regional energy network. Stocks continued their rebound from yesterday. Costa Rica and Paraguay are eliminated from the World Cup while Ecuador go through to the round of 16. Protesting teachers in southern Mexico agree to negotiate with government representatives.

Friday June 16:
Family of a Brazilian man killed by London police are “outraged” over continued delays in the criminal investigation.

Saturday June 17: A U.S. official confirmed that the U.S will stop issuing visas to Honduras since falsifying Honduran documents caused a “national security problem.”

Sunday June 18: Votes from Caribbean states may overturn a moratorium on commercial whaling as the International Whaling Commission meeting in St. Kitts. Contemporary Latin American artists are showcased at the bâleLatina art fair in Switzerland which ended on Sunday.

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World Cup Weekend Review

Friday June 16: Argentina dismantled Serbia and Montenegro by a score of 6-0 and ensured qualifying into the round of 16. Argentina had five different scorers led by Maxi Rodriguez’ two goals and injured striker Leonel Messi (image, in the dark blue uniform) even marked a goal. The “Albicelestes” took their win in stride, however, and will rest several key players for Wednesday’s last group match against the Netherlands.

Mexico played to a scoreless draw against Angola in Hanover. It seemed like “el Tri” sorely missed striker Jared Borguetti who missed the match due to injury even though Angolan goalie Joao Ricardo made several masterful saves to deny Mexico the victory. Mexico can go through to the round of 16 if they win or draw against Portugal on Wednesday.

Saturday June 17: No Latin American or Caribbean teams played on Saturday, though Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrondia was controversial in the surprising 1-1 tie between the U.S. and Italy. Larrionda showed 3 players the red card, including two from the U.S., and nullified a goal by “stars and stripes” forward DeMarcus Beasley much to the ire of coach Bruce Arena (image, along with players after the game). Nonetheless, all four teams in Group E have the chance to move out of the group stage with the U.S. having the smallest probability of going through.

Sunday June 18: Brazil did not play pretty, or with flair, and at times they had their backs against the wall. Nevertheless, the defending champions qualified into the round of 16 by winning against Australia 2-0 with second half goals from Adriano (image) and Fred. The victory was not pretty as Australia played strong defensively, especially in the first half, and had several good scoring opportunities throughout the game. Much like the first game, Ronaldo was generally ineffective and mistake-prone aside from his game winning assist. Still, a win is a win and Brazil will play their last group match on Thursday against Japan.

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