Friday, August 25, 2006

Afternoon briefs

*Today marked the debut of the Quechua-language version of Microsoft Windows XP. (Image via ABC News).

*Tropical Storm Ernesto was named today and it may turn into a hurricane and hit the Caribbean region next week.

*The U.S. government issued a travel warning for Oaxaca, Mexico in response to a rise in violence.

*Columnist Andres Oppenheimer’s not a happy camper after moderating Ecuador’s presidential debate while commentator Ruben Navarette Jr. looks into criticisms that try to pin him as either a liberal or conservative over the immigration debate.

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‘Let’s make a deal’ says Bush admin to Castro regime

The U.S. State Department echoed an offer from the White House to leaders in Cuba- democratize the island and the U.S. will drop the 44-year-old embargo on Cuba. Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon laid out the rules for Cuban democratization including freeing political prisoners and protecting human rights. (Image via Voice of America).

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Morning briefs

*Journalism watchdog groups call on Guatemalan government to be more active in protecting journalists.

*Chile will resume importing argentine beef after a 7 month suspension.

*Jamaica honors reggae legend Bob Marley (image via this site) with a new commemorative coin.

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Immigration reform comes at a price – literally

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate last May would cost $127 billion over the next 10 years. Both sides of the immigration debate are spinning this information in their direction, like anti-immigrant Representative James Sensenbrenner calling it “a staggering burden on American taxpayers”, whereas supports of the Senate bill claim that reform is necessary to save money in the future. (Image via the linked article).

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Follow-ups on news from the Americas

The following are follow-ups from previous posts on the blog:

*Haiti gangs to give up arms…: Haitian gangs decide to not give up arms because of raids by U.N. peacekeeping troops. (Left image of Haitian gang leader via MSNBC).

*Chavez and Bush actually agree…: Venezuela is getting cold feet over signing drug accord with the U.S.

*Follow-up: ICJ gives Uruguay green light…: Uruguay is going forward with constructing paper mills along the border with Argentina.

*Ecuadorian volcano may erupt again: Slowly but surely the rebuilding effort is underway in areas affected by a volcano in Ecuador.

*Evening headlines: Rape case divides…: An Argentine court overturned a previous ruling that would have allowed a mentally disabled rape victim undergo an abortion.

Update (25 August): A court overruled the injunction against the rape victim and as of now she has the legal right to perform an abortion.

*"Salvation, salvation…": Foreign Policy’s blog refutes Pat Buchanan’s claims of an “invasion” of immigrants into the U.S.

*Controversial book on Cuba: Miami Dade public school leaders continue the push to ban a children’s book on Cuba.

*Pause that refreshes… and Op/ed article…: Coca-Cola has been getting stigmatized by activists partly due to union-busting in Central America and the “Killer Coke” (right image, via this site) campaign. For instance, the University of Sussex (England) banned all Coke products.

*Brazilian government asks Google…: Brazil’s government continues to put pressure on Orkut, a social networking site, which had been accused of making it easier to view and download child pornography.

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Argentina to expand nuclear program

Argentina’s government announced plans yesterday to expand its nuclear energy program in order to meet rising energy consumption. Planning Minister Julio de Vido emphasized that the expansion would continue the “strictly peaceful” nature of the country’s nuclear program. (Image shows the nuclear power plant in Atucha, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires).


Mexican prez threatens to use force against AMLO supporters

In an interview with the German media Mexican president Vicente Fox warned supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that he would use force if protestors try to disrupt his State of the Nation speech on September 1st. Meanwhile, “conservative” Felipe Calderon (image via this site) promised to boost social spending by $5.5 billion if confirmed as Mexico’s next president.


Morning briefs

*Over 200 students were arrested after clashing with police in Chile. (Image via BBC).

*Uruguay plans to cancel its debt with the IMF by 2010.

*Textile exports from the Dominican Republic have plummeted.

*Hostage exchange plan with Colombian guerillas at a standstill.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Afternoon headlines: AMLO staunchly opposed to Calderon; Brazil may lose trade preferences

*Foreign Policy magazine interview with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador revealed that he “would not recognize Felipe Calderon” as Mexico’s next president and is not worried over supporters getting out of hand.

*Big business in Colombia may face a double whammy with U.S. trade preferences expiring and the delays in passing a free trade pact with the U.S.

*Magazine editor Gustavo Guzman, the new Bolivian ambassador to the U.S. (image via MercoPress) is one of several unconventional appointments to the Bolivian government.

*Raids by immigrations authorities in Houston, Texas capture over 300 illegal immigrants, mainly from Latin America

*U.S. Ambassador to Brazil says Brazil may not need trade preferences due to their booming economy.

*Costa Rican president Oscar Arias is enjoying good levels of popularity.

*Lastly, yet another reason why I love New York City.

p.s. Sorry for the late posting today.

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Controversy surrounds education in Mexico and art in Chile

Conservative and church groups in Mexico are none too pleased with the new policy of teaching sex education during 7th grade biology classes. (Link via Fleshbot, which is not safe for work)! In the meantime a satirical art exhibit by Nicanor Parra (image, via this site) has been causing controversy in Chile.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Afternoon briefs

*U.S. Senator Bob Melendez blamed President Bush for creating “a void” in U.S. relations with Latin America that has been exploited by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

*The situation surrounding teachers strike in Oaxaca, Mexico has significantly worsened by torching of buses (image, via BBC) and increase in violence.

*Ecuador reaps profits from seized oil fields.

*Guyanese political parties head down the homestretch as elections are less than a week away, while Bloggings by Boz crunches the latest poll numbers in Nicaragua.


Key cleric in London bombings to be sent to Jamaica

The Muslim cleric who influenced one of the culprits behind the 2005 London bombings is about to be paroled and deported to Jamaica. Some British politicians worry that Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal (image, via Guardian UK) will take advantage and resume his teachings over the internet.

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“Salvation, salvation, salvation is free”

Approximately 40 Dominican and Ecuadorian migrants were caught off the Puerto Rican coast and are expected to be deported back to their home countries. In the meantime, can you guess which conservative commentator asked if “the American Southwest (will) become a giant Kosovo” in his latest book?

By the way, did anyone get the musical reference made in the title? (Image via MSNBC).

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Morning headlines: Chavez off to China; resentment continues over Falklands War

*Hugo Chavez leaves today for a five-day trip to China, while Chile’s government passed a bilateral free trade agreement with China.

*Guaraní natives seize Paraguayan gas pipeline.

*The Falklands War ended nearly 25 years ago, yet it still upsets Argentineans today. (Image via Time).

*Nicaragua heads a pro-life push in disability treaty negotiations, while most Brazilians are in favor of their country’s strict anti-abortion laws.

*Lastly, a new candidate for the lamest headline involving Latin America has emerged. Can it beat the reigning title-holder?

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Colombia: Government and Bush admin refutes New York Times article on coca growth

Colombian government officials denied a report published over the weekend by the New York Times claiming that efforts to eradicate coca have “left the price, quality and availability of cocaine on American streets virtually unchanged”. “The world would be inundated with coca if not for the efforts by Colombia” said one government official though a drug policy expert noted that “it's hard to say that there's been tremendous success (in the war on drugs), but it's also hard to say that there has been tremendous failure.” (Image via El Tiempo).

Update (23 August): An English-language translation of the Colombian governmet's displeasure with the Times' article, via People's Daily Online.

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Haiti: gangs to give up arms in face of mounting pressure

Gangs in Haiti’s biggest slum outside Port-au-Prince are expected to peacefully give up their arms this week. The move comes days after the U.N. gave a 6 month extension for a peacekeeping mission in Haiti (image via People’s Daily Online) and after the government issued an ultimatum against gang violence.

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Latin American mercenaries for hire in Iraq and Afghanistan

Private security companies working in Iraq and Afghanistan have their eye on Latin Americans who have high military expertise and are willing to work for far less than European and U.S. security guards. One recruiter observed that “a Peruvian in Baghdad will not panic if he has to face a blast or a blackout because he has already experienced that on the streets of Lima” yet some human rights groups and Latin American media accused private companies of exploitation. (Image via The Economist).

Update (22 August): Colombia's El Tiempo reported that 35 ex-policemen and soldiers hired to work in Iraq were "tricked" by their contractor into receiving lower pay than they were promised.
El Tiempo also mentioned that the U.N. is investigating claims made by a group of Hondurans "hired as security guards in Iraq yet in reality served as soldiers." (Both links are in Spanish).


Yet another tight election in Mexico

The candidates from the PRI and PRD for the governor of Chiapas, Mexico are running neck-and-neck after elections were held yesterday. Incumbent Jaime Sabines, from the same political party as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has a 0.29% lead over Jose Antonio Aguilar Bodegas (image via Houston Chronicle) that was endorsed by the same party as alleged president-elect Felipe Calderon.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Me gusta la mañana/ me gustas tu/ Me gusta el blog/ me gustas tu

The following are several recent posts from various blogs. Please go to this link if you wish to read more blogs on the Americas and feel free to add your suggestions on blogs in the comment section of this post.

*Via Metafilter: a link to a fantastic Brazilian short film entitled “Ilha das Flores.” (Left image, from this site).

*Tim’s El Salvador Blog gives his suggestions on how to combat the country’s terrible problem with gang violence.

*Fidel y Hugo- who’s the pitcher and who’s the catcher? (Link not safe for work!)

*Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik lost his job overseeing police reform in Guyana.

*Peruvian refugees who recently fled from war-torn Lebanon are now eager to return.

*Blogger Critical Miami links to a post that explains the difference between Cuban-Americans and Cubans.

*The latest from the reggaeton music scene via La Onda Tropical. (Right image of reggaton artist Don Omar, via this site).

*The Washington Post’s blog on Mexico’s elections looks at the many issues surrounding the presidential election controversy and also links to other blog entries.

*Columnist Andres Oppenheimer links to a Spanish-language report claiming that the possible next president of Mexico sent a get-well soon greeting to Fidel Castro.

*Fidel Castro’s death would seriously hurt both the Democrats and Republicans, according to the Guardian UK’s “Comment is Free” blog.

*Speaking of U.S. politicians, some are trying a little too hard to appeal to the Hispanic vote.

*We all can sleep a little easier tonight now that the chupacabra is dead.


Week in Review: August 14 to August 20

Monday August 14:

*Cuban newspaper Granma published photos taken over the weekend of Fidel Castro recuperating in bed accompanied by brother Raul and Hugo Chavez.

*Speaking of Chavez, he flew to Jamaica in order to sign a new contract boosting Venezuelan oil exports to that Caribbean country.

*A tough new anti-smoking law begins enforcement in Chile which bans smoking in large restaurants and most public places.

*Brazil’s president is accused of “arrogance” for skipping that evening’s president debate.

*Protestors and police clashed in front of Mexico’s congress building.

*The New York Times’ Charlie LeDuff looked at one man’s life as a Minuteman along the U.S.-Mexico border.

*A Sao Paulo gang released a kidnapped television reporter shortly after airing video demanding better conditions in Brazilian prisons.

*Prosecutors in Peru brought up charges against former presidential candidate Ollanta Humala.

Tuesday August 15:

*Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina set up an intelligence center near the border shared by those nations in order to combat crime.

*Australian television aired a BBC documentary investigating the murders of nearly 700 women in Nicaragua and how police have done woefully little to solve the crimes.

*Mexican police denied accusations of brutality during Monday’s demonstrations in Mexico City.

Wednesday August 16:

*Ex-Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner died at the age of 93 after spending several weeks in hospital.

*U.S. law enforcement officials announced the arrest of Mexican drug lord Javier Arellano Felix.

*Several Colombian right-wing paramilitary members were arrested for not obeying the rules set during peace negotiations with the government.

*Brazilian soccer team Internacional dethroned defending champion Sao Paulo and won the Copa Libertadores tournament.

*El Salvador became the only country in the world to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as Costa Rica decided to move their embassy to Tel Aviv.

*Mexico's highest electoral court confirmed the results of legislative elections allowing the ruling PAN to have majorities in both chambers.

Thursday August 17:

*A volcano exploded in Ecuador and wiped out several villages with dozens feared dead.

*Three Mexican fishermen tell their story after being rescued from nearly a year adrift at sea.

*U.S. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff claimed that illegal crossings of the border with Mexico have decreased due to the presence of the National Guard.

Friday August 18:

*Appointment of a special U.S. “manager” of intelligence operations in Cuba and Venezuela begs the question of whether or not those countries are under the “axis of evil”.

*Speaking of Cuba, acting ruler Raul Castro claimed to be willing to normalize relations with the U.S., but said that the Bush administration’s “war hawks” should halt with their threats.

*Denver police picked up a suspect in the murders of hundreds of women in Juarez, Mexico though some relatives of victims doubt he was the culprit.

*The 16th International AIDS Conference in Canada ended with a grim outlook for Latin America.

*British authorities recovered a valuable antique Peruvian headdress stolen nearly two decades before.

*Striking miners in Chile forced the worlds biggest mine to suspend operations while auto workers in Mexico planned to strike over insufficient pay.

*Trinidad and Tobago’s legislature started deliberating on a new constitution for the country.

Saturday August 19:

*Manuel Rosales, the main opposition candidate for Venezuelan president, registered his candidacy.

*A Chilean judge stripped the immunity of ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet in a tax fraud case.

*Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell equaled his world record time for the 100-meter dash during a track meet in Switzerland.

Sunday August 20:

*Gubernatorial elections take place in Chiapas, Mexico as police broke up a vote-buying scheme on Saturday.

*Leon Trotsky was fatally shot while in exile in Mexico City on this day in 1940.

*Ecuadorian soccer player Edison Mendez makes his debut with defending Dutch league champions PSV Eindhoven.