Friday, July 28, 2006

Evening headlines: Rape case divides Argentina; PAN has lost its “philosophy”; not all Latin American nations are “happy”

-Church vs. government: Argentina divided over a rape victim’s wish to undergo an abortion.

-Insightful look at the Border Patrol Explorer Scouts which “exposes teens…to a career with the Border Patrol”. (via Metafilter).

-Aside from signing a major arms deal, Hugo Chavez’s visit this week to Russia also ensured the expansion of Russian oil and energy companies into Venezuela.

-“Have the Mercosur countries all gone bananas” after last week’s summit? According to Álvaro Vargas Llosa the answer is a resounding “yes”.

-Mexico’s ruling party “has lost its core philosophy” according to former members. (Via Hispanic Tips.)

-The unemployment rate in Brazil rose slightly to 10.4%, while Argentina’s unemployment rate fell to10.4%.

-Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell (right image) stretched his unbeaten streak in the 100 meter dash to 11 races this year with his latest victory coming at a meet in London.

-“American women traveling south of the border, whether to the Caribbean, Mexico, or other Latin American countries, should prepare themselves for…cat-calling, groping, and staring”. Oh really?!

-Trade representatives from the U.S. and Brazil will meet this weekend in order to smooth out disagreements over the World Trade Organization.

-Lastly, Latin American nations had mixed results on the “World Map of Happiness” though Venezuela and Argentina were ranked as above average and Nicaragua and Bolivia were deemed as the most “unhappy.”

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DNA testing more common for immigrants coming into U.S.

U.S. immigration officials are increasingly relying on DNA testing for immigrants who are trying to bring in family members into the U.S. DNA testing is usually done as a last resort and is used in a very small fraction of immigrant petitions yearly. Nonetheless, a few politicians have called for an expanded use of DNA testing, such as New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s idea to create a national DNA or fingerprint database for all U.S. workers.

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Chile: Government resists U.S. pressure on ICC; mine workers prepare for strike

-President Michelle Bachelet said that Chile will not bow down to U.S. pressure on issues relating to the International Criminal Court and Venezuela’s bid for a U.N. Security Council seat.

-President Bachelet also sent a stern letter to Argentina’s president demanding that Argentina curb their sharp spike in the price of natural gas exported to Chile.

-Over 2000 workers at the world’s largest copper mine in northern Chile are about to strike.

-Chile and Colombia started bilateral free trade negotiations this week.

-Human rights groups denounced the recent sentencing of four members of the Mapuche tribe accused of terrorism.

-Chilean airline LAN Chile’s profits rose by 32% in their first half.

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Alan Garcia to be sworn in as Peru’s president today

Alan Garcia’s possible redemption begins on Friday when he is inaugurated as the presidential successor to Alejandro Toledo. Garcia’s first term from 1985 to 1990 was a complete disaster marked by economic shortcomings and increased violence. Garcia (image) did get a slight head start on Thursday by appointing people from around the political spectrum to his new cabinet.

Soon to be ex-president Toledo will leave office with mixed results; though the economy has grown and his popularity has grown, Peru is deeply divided socially and Toledo was unable to fulfill several campaign promises to help the poor.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Afternoon headlines: Multimillion dollar pledge to Haiti; ex-governor demeans Hispanics; Jamaican icon passes away

-Several institutions, including the World Bank and European Union, pledged $750 million in aid to Haiti.

-Costa Rica relaxed its visa requirements in order to boost tourism and foreign investment.

-Protests over mines in Honduras (left image) temporarily shut down the Pan-American Highway.

-Controversy surrounds recent comments made by former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm by claiming that Hispanic culture is “not success-producing” and Hispanics tend to blame whites instead of taking responsibility for their “underperformance.” (Link via

-Foreign Policy lists the border dispute between Bolivia and Chile as “one of the most important border conflicts the world forgot”.

-Record numbers of immigrants have arrived in Spain this year with most of them coming from Latin America.

-Legislators in the Dominican Republic bowed to pressure from the Roman Catholic Church and withdrew an abortion reform bill.

-Atypical outsourcing – call centers in El Salvador are actively recruiting prospective employees from the U.S.

-This article contains by far the lamest headline I’ve ever read. Trust me, it’s bad.

-Last but certainly not least, a sad farewell for Louise “Ms. Lou” Bennett-Coverly (right image) who passed away yesterday at the age of 87. “Ms. Lou” was a Jamaican actress, entertainer, and author best known for promoting folkloric Jamaican culture.

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Controversial book on Cuba ordered back to Miami school shelves

A Florida judge ordered the return of “Vamos a Cuba back to the shelves of Miami public schools. The book had been banned by Miami school officials in response to complaints by parents offended at the positive portrayal of life in Cuba. Blogger Critical Miami posts on the reactions of several bloggers to the court’s decision.

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Economic headlines: U.N. lauds economy; Varig forced to run flights; banks bolting from Brickell Ave.

-HSBC purchased Panama’s largest bank for $1.8 billion.

-A U.N. report says that Latin America’s economy is growing at a good pace.

-“Six Strategic Reasons to Support a U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement”: capitalist mumbo-jumbo or viable economic strategy?

-The cost of living in countries of the southern cone of South America has increased over recent years.

-Brazil’s government has rejected plans for Varig Airlines to stop carrying flights.

-Compare and contrast these two articles on IMF data on the Bolivian economy.

-Miami’s Brickell Avenue is slowly losing Latin American banks that made the street famous in films like Scarface.

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Police close case of unsolved murders in Juarez, Mexico

Federal officials have closed the case on the deaths of 14 women and teenagers in the Mexican border town on Juarez instead opting to turn the case over to state officials. Families of the victims were outraged at the finding and have accused officials of incompetence and lack of compassion. (Families found out about the federal case being closed via newspaper, for example). Since 1993, over 400 women have gone missing or killed in Juarez and nearby areas.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Russia to sell billions of dollars worth of arms to Venezuela

Russian president Vladimir Putin will sign an arms deal today with counterpart Hugo Chavez (image) that would allow Venezuela to acquire jet fighters and construct combat rifles. Russia has rejected U.S. pressure to avoid going through with the arms deal as Chavez is in the middle of a tour of several countries.

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Colombia headlines: Kidnappings, convicted killers, and compensation

-Angus Reid looks at the pitfalls behind the peace process with paramilitary groups.

-9 environmentalists were reported missing over the weekend, but then found safe after possible kidnapping by leftist guerillas of the FARC.

-Speaking of the FARC, they kidnapped thirteen members of a medical team in the southern part of the country.

Update: Colombian press reports that 12 of the 13 people kidnapped were freed on Tuesday. (Link in Spanish).

-British Petroleum agreed to an undisclosed settlement with farmers that accused the oil giant of damage from running a major oil pipeline.

-The Colombian government will sell 20% of the state-owned oil firm as part of a privatization plan.

-Two men involved in the kidnapping and murder of the sister of ex-president Cesar Gaviria were convicted and sentenced to 36 years in prison.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Afternoon headlines

-A wave of kidnappings has alarmed Haitians and it will not improve any time soon.

-Who will rule Cuba after Fidel Castro dies?

-Heroes honors will be prepared for the third soldier from El Salvador killed in Iraq.

-Surveys show that most Brazilians favor placing racial quotas in universities.

-Mexican legislators plan to soften immigration laws.

-Bolivia’s president defends measures to secularize schools.

-Ex-player becomes coach of Brazilian men’s soccer team.

-New York International Latino Film Festival starts today.

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Chilean mining town and Mexican agave fields added to World Heritage list

Three locations in Latin America were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list including agave fields near the Mexican city of Guadalajara, the Chilean mining town of Sewell (image), and a Colombian flora and fauna sanctuary. Meanwhile, archaeologists are calling for the Peruvian government to help in the preservation of Chan Chan, the world’s largest clay village, which is already on the World Heritage list.

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Latin Americans leaving war-torn Lebanon

The governments of Chile, Brazil, Mexico and other countries are working frantically to help Latin American nationals leave Lebanon; for example, the Brazilian Air Force evacuated 150 people on Monday as part of a drive to free all Brazilians in Lebanon. Meanwhile, Israel’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic warned of the possibility of Hezbollah attacks in Latin American and the Caribbean, while the foreign ministers of Venezuela and Uruguay hoped that Israel can halt its military offensive.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Latin American cardinal on immigration- “It’s the economy, stupid”

Roman Catholic Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras (image) emphasized economic development instead of increased border enforcement as the best way to ease illegal immigration into the U.S. Rodríguez Maradiaga, who has a strong chance of becoming the first pope from Latin America, said that development would bring “labor for our people, so immigration will not be so big".


Mercosur summit ends with Hugo and Fidel stealing the limelight

The summit of the Mercosur trading bloc ended on Friday with the heads of Venezuela and Cuba garnering the most attention. Cuban dictator Fidel Castro made a surprise appearance and took advantage of the visit to hobnob with Hugo Chavez. Aside from all the hoopla surrounding Castro and Chavez, the summit ended with member states agreeing to better economic integration as well as supporting Venezuela’s bid for a U.N. Security Council seat. (Image shows the presidents of Uruguay and Argentina talking over dinner Thursday night.)

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Mexico: Tempers flare over presidential election controversy

Supporters of Felipe Calderon and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador have intensified their vitriol against each other inasmuch as the Mexican government is pleading for calm. Though Calderon was declared as provisional winner, Lopez Obrador declared the elections as “illegitimate” and it is possible for the federal electoral tribunal to rule in his favor. (Image shows anti-Calderon protestor hanging a poster in Mexico City).

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