(We’ll be posting over the weekend, nevertheless).
Sources- YouTube, thepinkertones.com
"The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) should state whether the subpoenas and the grand jury questions are the product of illegal electronic interventions," the press release indicated.More than once, the grand jury proceedings have been postponed, leading many to think that they have no legal basis, but rather are a tactic meant to intimidate the Puerto Rican independence movement.
The attorneys also allege that the United States government has politically "repressed" independentistas since the decade of the 1930's, and that U.S. law requires that "the federal grand jury must respect the freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment" of the U.S. Constitution.Source : Personal email
According to the movement Table of Solidarity, legislators of the City of New York Melissa Mark Viverito, Leticia James and Rosie Méndez have rejected the grand jury subpoenas.
It was also announced that the organization Hostos One Eleven Grand Jury Resistance Coalition
will convene a demonstration of support for those subpoenaed to the grand jury on Friday, while the motion is presented in court.
Sources- The Latin Americanist, Babalu Blog, Bloggings by Boz, BoRev.net, Guanabee, Latin America News Review, Latina Lista, Plan Colombia and Beyond, VivirlatinoImage- Advanced Associates
* Haiti: A report has accused the U.S. government of using political motives to withhold drinking water to Haiti.
* Venezuela: A global diamond trade group has called for a boycott of Venezuelan diamonds over the “blood diamonds” controversy.
* Latin America: The region may be “resilient to the global credit crunch” though that hasn’t stopped many analysts from worrying over rising inflation throughout the continent.
Sources- The Latin Americanist, Monsters & Critics, MarketWatch, New York Times, Guardian UK
Earlier this week we also wished a feliz cumpleaños to ex-Mazzy Star vocalist Hope Sandoval.
Sources- YouTube, Vivirlatino, New York Times, The Latin Americanist
One senator was caught in a bind when he embarrassingly contradicted himself:
As the hearing began, Senator Brownback, a Republican of Kansas, said the rationale for border searches is "obvious." He noted that a conspirator in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, Zacarias Moussaoui, kept information on his laptop "that, if discovered, might have prevented" those strikes.
However, later in the session, Mr. Brownback acknowledged a visceral discomfort with government agents rifling through his digital assistant when he crosses the border. "I don't like the idea of coming across with my BlackBerry and somebody saying, 'I want to root around in your whole BlackBerry.' I got a lot of things on there. I don't know what all is on there, in some cases. I don't want people looking at that randomly," the senator said.
Sources- PC World, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, New York Sun
Image- Think Progress
"The quality of public education is very poor in this country, and does not stand a chance against the interests of the rich," said Jaime Gajardo, president of Chile's National College of Teachers…
Demonstrators want President Michelle Bachelet to withdraw an education bill from Congress that replaces a law in place since the end of Chile's 1973-1990 dictatorship.
Students and teachers don't like the existing law either, but they say the new bill does not go far enough to meet their needs, and are demanding the government draw more on funds from coffers bursting with revenues from a four-year copper bonanza.
Chile’s education minister has argued that changes are necessary in order to fix inequality within the school system.
Sources- Reuters, Xinhua, Prensa Latina, earthtimes.org
Image- The Valparaiso Times (“Police disperse student protests in Santiago.”)
First it was the “para-politics” scandal which linked Colombian politicians and government allies with right-wing paramilitaries. Then came the FARC-politica brouhaha where opposition figures had been accused of close ties with leftist guerillas. Now the latest Colombian corruption scandal revolves around accusations by a former senator over the buying of votes by the government.
Yesterday Colombia's Supreme Court sentenced ex-legislator Yidis Medina to three years and four months of house arrest after she confessed that she was bribed in order to pass an amendment permitting presidential reelection. The Yidis-politica affair has led to the investigation of numerous senior government members including an ex-Interior Minister and a top advisor to President Alvaro Uribe (image).
According to Medina’s testimony, she was offered quite a prize by the government for her support:
On another occasion Medina was called to the presidential palace and met with (ex-Interior Minister Sabas) Pretelt De La Vega, President Uribe and members of the presidential staff. In that meeting “they expressed their concern about my vote and asked what I wanted in return for supporting the bill,” Medina claims.
During that meeting, Medina says, Pretelt De La Vega explicitly mentioned the possibility of offering her a consulate.
Despite mounting evidence of government corruption and malfeasance a poll released today showed that most Colombians in the five largest cities would grant Uribe a third term in the presidency. The results reflect Uribe’s high popularity throughout the country and shows that he’s untouchable in the eyes of most Colombians.
Though Colombians have mobilized en masse to march against violence it’s too bad that there isn’t a widespread protest against the fraud that has hurt the country.
Image- BBC News
Sources (English)- Colombia Reports, The Latin Americanist
Sources (Spanish)- Caracol Radio, RCN, El Espectador
"It is a blessing and an honor to host President Bush at the Prayer Breakfast," said Rev. Luis Cortes, Jr., President of Esperanza. "This year, more than ever, we have come together in a special way to pray, celebrate, and advocate for Hispanics everywhere."
IPS reports from Santiago:
"A total of 196,040 primary school students in the third and sixth grades were assessed, from 8,854 classrooms in 3,065 urban and rural schools in 16 Latin American countries and the northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo León.
The subject areas reviewed were reading comprehension, mathematics and science, focusing on "life skills." Student performance was evaluated, as well as factors that might contribute to the differences between their scores."
... and continues to summarize the findings:
"According to the study, school ambience explains between 40 and 49 percent of the variation in students’ learning attainments, while characteristics of the students themselves explain most of the remaining difference."
"When comparing schools, the "school climate" is the major factor determining student performance, followed by the average socioeconomic and cultural level of the institution."
As usual, Cuban education comes out high on top of the rest of the hemisphere, a strong point the Castro regime has long touted. The Dominican Republic was found on the bottom rungs in the most performance areas, qualifying it as the "least successful" in the region; this week, the Dominican secretary of education made no excuses and responded with a call to arms:
"...conocer (esta) realidad nos anima a trabajar mucho más para ir acercándonos a los estándares internacionales."
It is not yet clear what education experts and other politicians will make of the report, which provides many rankings, but fails to tease out any particularly revealing trends, or suggest any significant differences amongst the majority of the participating countries. The full data set has not yet been made publicly available, either.
* Brazil: According to Merrill Lynch there are more millionaires in Brazil than in any other Latin American country.
* U.S.: Police in a South Carolina town are investigating who set fire to a Puerto Rican flag that hung off a private house.
* Cuba: The country’s first ever Gay Pride parade was abruptly canceled after it did not receive the green light from the island’s government.
Image- New York Times (“Inside the Daslu department store in São Paulo, Brazil, where the wealthy gather to mingle and consume.”)
Sources- GreenvilleOnline.com, Queerty, People’s Daily Online, Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist
The Rio de Janeiro team came in as the favorites after blazing through the group stage, and beating 2007 tournament champions Boca Juniors in the semifinals. The team from Quito managed several upsets in order to reach the finals such as beating 2007 Copa Sudamericana runners-up Club America in the semis.
The last leg of the final will take place next Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Maracana stadium. A tie or a one-goal loss would be sufficient for LDU Quito to be the first Ecuadorian team to capture the Libertadores title. (The only previous time an Ecuadorian team made it to the final was ten years ago when Barcelona SC lost to another Rio de Janeiro side- Vasco de Gama- by a 4-1 aggregate score).
The following are highlights of the six goals scored in the first leg:
Sources- YouTube, Wikipedia, The Latin Americanist, People’s Daily Online, Reuters UK
The decision by Mexico’s Attorney General overturns one made by a judge in May barring Arellano Felix’s extradition. Authorities suspect that Arellano Felix’s brother and sister currently control the Tijuana drug cartel.
Suspected drug hitmen killed six people in Ciudad Juarez in northern Mexico on Tuesday, the latest in a killing spree that has left 41 people dead in the city since the start of the weekend, police said…
Tuesday's murders take the death toll to over 500 people in Ciudad Juarez since the start of the year, making it the most deadly city in Mexico's drug war, despite a large deployment of well-armed troops and federal police.
Not even the family members of U.S. legislators are immune from the violence; a relative of Rep. Silvestre Reyes who was living in Ciudad Juarez was kidnapped and then released according to “an internal ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) memo.”
Image- New York Times
Sources- El Paso Times, CNN, AFP, Reuters UK
Global climate change is likely to trigger humanitarian disasters and political instability that will have a major impact on U.S. national security, a top intelligence official told Congress on Wednesday…
"Logic suggests the conditions exacerbated [by climate change] would increase the pool of potential recruits for terrorism," said Tom Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, who testified before a joint House committee hearing Wednesday.
Fingar’s testimony was based on a comprehensive yet confidential study regarding global warming and future political situations. Regarding Latin America, Fingar said that the region is expected to see more rain yet between seven and seventy-seven million people (!) could be affected by water shortages. Moreover, possible global instability caused by climate change could lead to increased immigration into the U.S. from regions worldwide.
The study received bipartisan criticism from legislators; some Democrats asked that the report be declassified and blasted the Bush administration’s environment policy while some Republicans doubted the information in the study with one calling it a “waste of resources.”
The dangers of climate change have the potential to create bigger problems worldwide than what we currently face. It is vital that leaders around the world seek viable solutions and place petty politics aside.
Image- ABC Western Queensland
Sources- The Latin Americanist, CNN, AFP, Xinhua, NPR
* Central America: An operation conducted in the U.S. and El Salvador led to the arrest of 26 people accused of being part of the notorious MS-13 gang.
* U.S.: Communicable diseases common in certain regions like Latin America have increasingly infected people in the U.S. according to a scientific study.
* Venezuela: A heavy-carb big breakfast could be the key to cutting cravings and losing weight, says one scientific study led by a Venezuelan doctor.
* Haiti: Could a woman by the country’s next prime minister?
Image- CNN (“Police arrest a suspected MS-13 member during an April operation targeting the gang in El Salvador.”)
Sources- AFP, Bloomberg, Monsters & Critics, ZDNet Healthcare
The owner announced the raid over a loudspeaker and asked everyone to leave, promising free entrance the following week. But witnesses said they quickly found themselves trapped amid stifling heat.
"The police told us they were not going to let us leave and closed the doors," 16-year-old Rebeca Mohzo, told the Televisa network. "Everyone was desperate because there was no air."
A video showing the club before and after the raid was taped by police and distributed to local media outlets. However, the “heavily censored” footage did not show the stampede itself nor did it depict the bodies of those injured or killed:
The actions by police have come under fire from numerous sectors including from Mexico City Marcelo Ebrard who deemed the raid and its consequences as “ethically unacceptable.”
Sources- washingtonpost.com, chron.com, Monsters & Critics, YouTube
Duarte’s move was highly criticized by opposition politicos as well as members of his own party:
But other opposition members and even some of Duarte's own Colorado Party members oppose his bid, arguing the constitution does not allow the president to hold another position. Several others said they would not show up, thereby denying him the quorum needed for approval. They contend the constitution does not allow the president to occupy two offices at the same time, a rule intended to ensure the chief of state does not give short shrift to the job.
Both legislative chambers will vote today on whether or not to accept Duarte’s resignation.
Meanwhile, most Paraguayans are optimistic that president-elect Fernando Lugo will do a good job after he takes office on August 15th. According to a poll conducted earlier this month 86% of respondents are optimistic over Lugo, who recently returned from a political trip to Venezuela.
Sources- CNN, People’s Daily Online, Angus Reid Consultants, Prensa Latina, The Press Association
Yet the court’s decision, made without comment, acknowledged that Homeland Security's authority to waive laws such as the environmental tests was more important. Since the Real ID Act of 2005 was passed, Homeland Security has been authorized to waive over 30 laws.
Naturally, differing sides of the case had distinct reactions to the justices’ edict:
"This decision leaves one man -- the secretary of the Homeland Security -- with the extraordinary power to ignore any and all of the laws designed to protect the American people, our lands and our natural resources," (Sierra Club spokesman Oliver) Bernstein said…
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a proponent of the law, called the court's action "a victory for the American people" and a milestone toward finishing the barrier.
There are still other legal challenges pending against the fence including one by the government of El Paso, Texas.
Sources- SignOnSanDiego.com, Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, Voice of America, New York Times
* Ecuador: The country’s constitutional assembly chief resigned after claiming that there’s not enough time to rewrite the constitution.
* Colombia: In a video released over the weekend, a Colombian hostage blamed both the government and guerillas for their “cruelty and barbarism” in not reaching a humanitarian agreement.
Image- Los Angeles Times (“Argentines protest in Buenos Aires last week. Middle-class people worried about rising prices have sided with farmers in their dispute with the government over the tariff.”)
Sources- The Latin Americanist, Bloomberg, chicagotribune.com, Reuters, BBC News
Sources- YouTube, hopesandoval.com
Much like the previous votes in other eastern regions, Morales declared the plebiscite as illegal and pro-government supporters have urged a boycott. Nevertheless, autonomy backers celebrated the result and have declared that the rest of Bolivia will join suit against Morales:
“Today it is clear that Bolivians must construct a new Bolivian state based on autonomy” said the prefect of Tarija- Mario Cossio- during a speech where he also blasted the central government…
Beni prefect Ernesto Suarez said that the referendums in the four provinces signaled to the government that “autonomy is an irreversible process and it will not end in Tarija…until it becomes the norm in all nine departments.” – [ed. personal translation]
The division between the indigenous, impoverished western regions and the wealthy, energy-rich eastern provinces will come to a head in less than two months. A nationwide referendum will be held to decide the fate of Morales and the nine provincial governors.
Sources (English)- AFP, The Latin Americanist, Reuters UK, BBC News
Sources (Spanish)- La Razon
Image- Al Jazeera English (“Tarija has joined Santa Cruz, Beni and Pando in voting for autonomy")
When reporters on Friday asked about the connection between his advisors and the Gonzales case, Obama chose to emphasize his planned policy towards Cuba:
"That was eight years ago, and obviously it was a wrenching situation for the families involved," Obama said. "But I’m running for president in 2008, and my focus is on how do we create a US-Cuba policy that will create political freedom on that island and allow the people who live there to prosper. That’s not what we have right now and I outlined just as recently as a month ago an extensive approach that I think can lead to liberty in Cuba."
Meanwhile, the now fourteen-year-old Gonzales (image) continues to live in Cuba and last week was officially inducted as a member if the island’s Young Communist Union.
Image- BBC News
Sources- La Plaza, The Swamp, Political Punch, CBS News
But it has now emerged that, far from being unknown, the tribe's existence has been noted since 1910 and the mission to photograph them was undertaken in order to prove that 'uncontacted' tribes still existed in an area endangered by the menace of the logging industry.
The disclosures have been made by the man behind the pictures, José Carlos Meirelles, 61, one of the handful of sertanistas – experts on indigenous tribes – working for the Brazilian Indian Protection Agency, Funai, which is dedicated to searching out remote tribes and protecting them.
According to Meirelles, he was justified since indigenous peoples have come under increasing encroachment by the outside world. Furthermore, he claimed that the images of the tribe proved that the government policy of not forcing isolated tribes to integrate with society was working.
Yet do the ends justify the means? It is important for these indigenous tribes to be protected and allowed to live their lives in the dense rain forest. Yet Meirelles’ actions may backfire and lead to a backlash by certain windbags.
Image- BBC News
Sources- Al Jazeera English, Guardian UK, AHN, The Latin Americanist, Gawker
In the meeting, attendees said McCain promised that, if elected, Congress would pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. That's anathema to people like Rosanna Pulido, the director of the Illinois Minuteman Project, who attended the event. Pulido said McCain used the phrase "comprehensive immigration reform" three times. "To me, it's a code word for amnesty" for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, she said…
"He's one John McCain in front of white Republicans and he's a different John McCain in front of Hispanics," Pulido said…But (Democratic Illinois state Sen. Martin) Sandoval said Pulido's comments and the resulting fallout over his own meeting with McCain were an "overreaction" and that he told the Republican contender the same thing he would tell Obama--"Nobody should take for granted the Latino community."
After the meeting, Pulido- who is of Mexican background- told one journalist that she was “appalled” that McCain said that “did you know Spanish was spoken in Arizona before English?”
Democratic challenger Barack Obama’s communications director said that the meeting is the latest flip-flop by McCain which includes reversing his original stance on an immigration reform proposal he used to support.
Sources- Across The Pond, The Swamp, Political Punch, The Latin Americanist, Political Intelligence
* Latin America: From Colombia to Nicaragua – a look at how protest movements have appeared due to Facebook.
* Haiti: A UNICEF report found that kidnapped children in Haiti have been “raped, tortured and murdered.”
* U.S.: Has the immigration crackdown in the U.S. led to “a modest positive impact” for job seekers?
Image- economist.com (February 2008 protest in Colombia which arose from a Facebook entry)
Sources- washingtonpost.com, The Latin Americanist, AHN, Christian Science Monitor, CNN