The FDA lifted it's warning, that some varieties of tomatoes may contain salmonella amid signs an outbreak of the illness is slowing...Source : NPR
Friday, July 18, 2008
Thousands of women in Venezuela live in a constant state of fear of violence from their partners, fear for their lives and the safety of their children. When a safety net is not provided, many women feel that they have no choice but to stay with their abuser or to be homeless and unable to support themselves or their children.
The AI report applauded a law passed last year designed to strengthen penalties for those who abuse women yet a senior AI official emphasized that “Venezuelan authorities must enforce it.” The study also noted that there are only three women’s shelters in the entire country and authorities “have not been properly trained” to handle crimes of abuse against women.
Sadly, violence against women is an all too common problem in the Americas; several cases of girls being raped in jail emerged in Brazil while Mexican police have been unable to solve the mysterious deaths of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez.
Image- BBC News
Sources- ABC News, BBC News, Amnesty International UK, The Latin Americanist, Reuters UK, El Universal
* Panama: Geologists have found hundreds of animal fossils which could help explain how the American continent was formed.
* Brazil: Thousands of striking workers of state-run oil firm Petrobras may soon expand their strike across the country.
Image- New York Times (“Farmers in Buenos Aires on Thursday celebrated the rejection by the Argentinean senate of the grain-export tax package.”)
Sources- BBC News, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Bloomberg, Slashdot
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The following video is a 1983 documentary looking at Nicaragua and the effects of the Sandinista regime. Produced by John Pilger, (who Wikipedia describes as a supporter of Hugo Chavez and a fervent critic of U.S. foreign policy), the film praised the “generosity of spirit” in Nicaragua under the Sandinistas and blasted the growing influence of the U.S.-backed Contras.
(Warning: Some scenes Not Safe for Work).
Sources- BBC News, The Latin Americanist, Wikipedia, YouTube
The bodies of Central American Parliament members Eduardo D'Aubuisson, William Pichinte and Jose Ramon Gonzalez along with their chauffeur were found dead and charred in an abandoned car. Days after the finding, Guatemalan police arrested four cops yet they were soon killed while in jail and before they could testify.
Image- Voice of America (“Agents of the National Civil Police stand before a charred Toyota Land Cruiser where three Salvadoran representatives were assassinated and torched by alleged hit men, 20 Feb 2007.”)
Sources- The Peninsula, The Latin Americanist, Reuters UK
Despite the decision Texan authorities claimed that the executions will go on as scheduled such as that of Jose Medellin on August 5th:
"This court ruling does not change anything," said Allison Castle, a spokeswoman in Gov. Rick Perry's office. "Those who come to Texas and commit crimes will have to pay the consequences"…
"(Mexico) hopes for proper enforcement of the injunction because of its legally binding nature," the country's Foreign Affairs Minister Patricia Espinosa Cantellano said in a statement written in Spanish.
The ICJ’s decision was the latest in a five-year dispute between the U.S. and its southern neighbor with Mexico arguing that nationals on death row have been denied their right to consular access.
The international court’s ruling contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court who ruled in March that states did not have to abide by a previous ICJ ruling in favor of Mexicans waiting execution.
Sources- Voice of America, TheMonitor.com, El Paso Times, The Latin Americanist, CBC.ca
Chilean television network TVN created a series of the greatest Chileans ever and the first episode aired last night. Poet Pablo Neruda, war hero Arturo Prat, folk singer Violeta Parra, and even Pinchot’s predecessor- Salvador Allende- where some of the ten finalists selected. Pinochet was omitted from the preliminary list of sixty; a decision that irked some Chileans:
"They avoided 'by committee' the possibility that the authoritarianism of the masses would rush to their computers and vote in favor of Pinochet," wrote historian Alfredo Jocelyn-Holt in a column for the newspaper La Tercera. "The final list, nevertheless, came out slanted toward a certain politically correct leftism."
Pinochet's influence and power played a pivotal role in Chilean history but go ask the orphans of those whose parents where killed or “disappeared” if he deserves to be the "greatest"? Or the thousands who were tortured by the state and fortunate to make it out alive or the families of Carlos Prats and Orlando Letelier.
Augusto Pinochet as the greatest Chilean ever makes as much sense as Stalin being considered as the greatest Russian ever. In other words: no.
Image- Guardian UK (“General Augusto Pinochet, left, and President Salvador Allende pose together in August 1973, before the coup in which Pinochet seized power.”)
Sources (English)- Inside South America, The Latin Americanist, Guardian UK, Foreign Policy Passport
Sources (Spanish)- chile.com, Grandes Chilenos de la Historia
It seems increasingly likely that the next vice-president, to be elected in early 2009 regardless of the winning party, will be female - a first for Honduras since it's independence nearly 200 years ago.
In Honduras, local elections are held for the mayor only, who chooses his city council candidates ahead of the vote. In these elections, a mininum gender parity is mandated by federal law.
Sources: El Tiempo, Texas A&M, Wikipedia
* Nicaragua: President Daniel Ortega claimed that he would be “fully willing to contribute to the peace process” with Colombian guerillas.
* Mexico: Should domestic brewer Modelo be worried over the recent takeover of its U.S. partner Anheuser-Busch?
* Haiti: Supporters of ex-president Jean Bertrand Aristide rallied in the capital Port-au-Prince on the occasion of his birthday.
Sources- Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist, Reuters UK, Al Jazeera English, MSNBC
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Mr. Chavez has made an art out of insulting President Bush and his "imperialist" foreign policy. [ed. note – such as this diatribe on Tuesday calling for an “end to the (U.S.) empire"]
A McCain victory would allow him to sustain that message: Mr. McCain, after all, hails from the same party and shares many of the same policies as Bush. But Senator Obama is a different story…
"It's hard seeing Chavez calling Obama 'Satan' and the likes," says Ray Walser, a Latin America expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "He won't get as much traction."
Certainly there are those who back McCain such as right-wingers and proponents of free trade. Yet the article by Sara Miller Llana observes Obama's popularity in Latin America which could force Chavez to tone down his rhetoric:
"He would shift his tone probably away from personal attacks to questioning US policies and engagement in the hemisphere," Walser says. But his real aim "is his idea of restructuring Latin America, to make it an independent force."
What do you think of the article?
Sources- Xinhua, The Latin Americanist, Christian Science Monitor
"We regret that this occurred," President Alvaro Uribe said in a speech following reports that the Red Cross emblem was displayed on a vest or T-shirt worn by a Colombian intelligence officer who took part in the rescue mission.The Red Cross, said through it's Colombian spokesperson that their symbol must be respected, especially as they continue to work inside Colombia.
Falsely portraying military personnel as Red Cross members is against the Geneva Conventions as it could put humanitarian workers at risk when they are in war zones.
Sources : Yahoo!, The Latin Americanist
Admittedly he’s not a big name player as he decided to leave the reserve squad of MLS side New England Revolution after a mere four games with the team. Yet Hilgenbrinck’s decision to retire at the age of 26 was so he could train for the priesthood. “I know that I am moving on to something much greater” said the former defender who will now attend a Catholic seminary in Maryland.
Hilgenbrinck has been no stranger to make such major decisions; after gradating from college and not getting any offers in the U.S., Hilgenbrinck decided to ply his trade far away from home:
(…) A Chilean coach, Claudio Aureas, opened the door for Hilgenbrinck's move 10,000 miles, or 16,000 kilometers, to try his luck in another culture.
On trial with Huachipato, then loaned out to a second-division team, Naval, he was drawn to local Catholic churches. It felt as natural as attending Sunday class at Holy Trinity as a boy. Eventually, he settled at Ñublense, a team he helped get promotion to the top league in Chile. He turned down offers to move closer to Santiago because he felt committed and comfortable with Ñublense.
From the soccer pitch to the church altar; it’s been quite a journey for Chase Hilgenbrinck.
Image- Diario La Discusion (Chase Hilgenbrinck during his days playing for Ñublense)
Sources- Reuters UK, International Herald Tribune, USA TODAY
Despite the grim picture at GM there has been a bit of good news; sales in foreign markets such as Latin America grew:
GM reported that second-quarter sales generated by its Latin America, Africa and Middle East division surged 18% and that its market share in the regions rose almost a full percentage point, to 17.5%.
Total division sales for the latest quarter reached 346,100 units, up from 294,000 a year ago, with sales in Egypt doubling in that time. Brazil, Chile and the North Africa markets also hit all-time quarterly sales records.
It may not be enough to pull GM out of its deep financial crisis, but at least there’s some silver lining that can be taken advantage of.
Sources- AFP, Bloomberg, AFP, MarketWatch
* Brazil: Soccer star Ronaldinho is expected to leave Spanish side FC Barcelona to sign a three-year, $33.4 million contract with Italian club AC Milan.
* Caribbean: Scientists believe that tons of dust from arid regions in Africa could be damaging Caribbean coral reefs.
* Bolivia: President Evo Morales accused the U.S. Agency for International Development of restricting aid to Bolivia.
* Haiti: The family of a mentally disabled Haitian man who died while under custody at a U.S. immigration detention center are still seeking answers as to how and why he passed away.
Sources- CBC, Xinhua, New York Times, National Geographic
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
According to local media reports, over 120 people were killed in the past week due to gang violence including at least 21 people in the western state of Sinaloa. Authorities estimate that on Thursday alone 16 people were killed in separate incidents including the execution of a police chief in Chihuahua.
Mexican president Felipe Calderon has continued to stand by his aggressive anti-crime plan; “we are determined to recover streets that never should have ceased being ours,” said Calderon in May while attending the memorial of a slain officer. Yet the seemingly out-of-control violence has increasingly claimed the lives of innocent civilians and has had a very strong impact on migration into the U.S.:
Dozens of Mexicans — including police officers, businessmen, at least one prosecutor and a journalist — are asking for political asylum in the U.S. in a desperate and probably hopeless bid to escape an unprecedented wave of drug-related killings and kidnappings south of the border…
"It's hard. I've been doing this work for 25 years. I've been a reporter for 25 years," said newspaperman Emilio Gutierrez Soto, who is seeking asylum. "We had a life there, a house, my family. It's my country. But it's not safe for a journalist."
Image- AFP (Policemen carry on the coffins of three officers killed…in Culiacan, Sinaloa State”)
Sources- Los Angeles Times, The Latin Americanist, Houston Chronicle, Newsday.com, La Plaza, Canada.com, Monsters & Critics
The controversy over farm taxes has been going on for several months and has included several strikes and blockades. Tomorrow’s vote is expected to be a very close one as tensions have grown over the debate:
“We are going head to head on this,'' (opposition Senator Maria Eugenia) Estenssoro told reporters in Buenos Aires yesterday. ``We want senators to vote their conscience and do what their supporters are asking of them''…
(Argentine president Cristina Kirchner) says $1.5 billion additional revenue generated by the increased taxes on grains and oilseeds will help Argentina build more hospitals and roads.
Sources (English)- Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist
Sources (Spanish)- Clarin, La Razon
Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama spoke to the National Council of La Raza today, highlighting his grassroots work and outreach to "black, brown and white."
Obama said "the system isn't working" when Hispanic children cannot succeed and millions of illegal immigrants are living in hiding and illegally crossing the borders.
He lauded La Raza for their work, saying he understood they were frustrated and tired.
Within his first year as president he said he would fight for comprehensive immigration.
Read the entire transcript here.
Source: Washington Post, prepared remarks, Photo: barackobama.com
In the brief clip below, a distraught Khadr complained of being tortured and shows supposed wounds on his body. Agents reply by dismissing his claims (“I'm not a doctor, but I think you're getting good medical care”) and subsequently try to calm him before leaving the interrogation room:
Sources- Reuters UK, CTV.ca, BBC News, AHN
* Latin America: The latest summit of Petrocaribe oil alliance ended on Sunday with the loosening of terms between Venezuela and several Caribbean states.
* Uruguay: According to a demographics study, Uruguay has the oldest average population in Latin America.
* Cuba: A group called the Venceremos Brigade protested travel restrictions against Cuba by marching over the Peace Bridge linking the U.S. and Canada.
* Argentina: Could an alleged network of faked passports tarnish Argentine soccer?
Sources- Canadian Press, Goal.com, The Buffalo News, Xinhua
Monday, July 14, 2008
Don’t believe me? Then check out her finale where she sings “Me Voy” along with some help from a very thankful audience:
p.s. Thanks for coming out Maegan and letting me hang out with your charming family!
Since being freed along with fourteen others earlier this month, Betancourt has been active in trying to gather support for the hostages still held by Colombian guerillas. Speculating has grown over whether she will run for the presidency in 2010; perhaps to thwart a possible third term of current President Alvaro Uribe. As the Wall Street Journal noted, she may represent a viable center-left option against decades of conservative and right-leaning politics:
Over time, Ms. Betancourt could provide much needed balance in Colombian politics. The development of modern left-wing politics in Colombia has been frustrated because of the association of anything leftist with the FARC…
In interviews this week, Ms. Betancourt said the main difference between her and Mr. Uribe is that he feels Colombia's fundamental problem is violence, which leads to social problems. Ms. Betancourt says she thinks it's the reverse -- that social problems such as inequality lead to violence.
Having met Betancourt during her campaign before she was kidnapped in 2001, she gave me the impression of being a headstrong, determined, and idealistic woman. Though her years in captivity have broadened her outlook, her basic political philosophy continues. This would be a huge asset should she decide to seek Colombia’s highest office.
Image- BBC News
Sources- Voice of America, International Herald Tribune, The Latin Americanist, WSJ.com, Time, Xinhua
(…) Remarkably, for more than a decade until 2006, Constant has been living in relative comfort in Queens (New York) thanks in part to intervention by our own federal government. The twists and turns of Constant's road from paramilitary leader to defendant awaiting trial for mortgage fraud tell us volumes about the last decade of Haiti's difficult history - and the twisted U.S. policy toward the poorest country in our hemisphere…
One day, Emmanuel Constant must be returned to Haiti and stand trial there. First, he must face trial for what he has done to the people of New York.
In the meantime, we must fight to ensure that in the future, our government does not allow our country to be a haven for war criminals.
The chief of one Haitian activist group in New York has advocated that Constant be punished with “the maximum sentence possible”. One would hope that is the case for someone who lived ten years in impunity and masterminded atrocious crimes against his own countrymen.
Image- City Room (“”)
Sources- New York Daily News, The Latin Americanist, Wikipedia, Guardian UK, MSNBC
This worker simply had the papers filled out for him at the plant, since he could not read or write Spanish, let alone English. But the lawyer still had to advise him that pleading guilty was in his best interest. He was unable to make a decision. "You all do and undo," he said. "So you can do whatever you want with me"…
"If you want to see your children or don't want your family to starve, sign here." That is what their deal amounted to. Their plea agreement was coerced...
As a citizen I want our judges, not a federal agency, to administer justice. When the executive branch forces the hand of the judiciary, the result is an abuse of power and arbitrariness that is unworthy of a democracy founded upon the constitutional principle of checks and balances.
The observations by Camayd-Freixas bring to light the need for comprehensive immigration reform to be enacted as soon as possible. The status quo on immigration has been an unmitigated disaster which- in the case of the Postville raid- unduly punishes the families of those arrested as well as customers who rely on the plants’ products. The longer politicos wash their hands of trying to fix the immigration issue, the greater the problems that will arise.
Image- New York Daily News (“Two of nearly 400 people arrested during an immigration raid of Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville, Iowa.”)
Sources- New York Times, The Tennessean, AlterNet, Democracy Now
Before dawn on August 20, 1976, thirty illegally detained and drugged prisoners from the Intendencia were forced into a truck and driven away from Buenos Aires up Route 8 beyond the outskirts of the city. About forty miles from the city, the prisoners were unloaded from the truck, blindfolded with their hands tied, and summarily executed. Each received a shot in the head from about three feet away. To dispose of the bodies, guards piled the dead prisoners over a charge of dynamite near the town of Fatima and blew them up. Body parts were found as far as 60 feet from the explosion.
It has been over two decades since the end of the argentine “Dirty War” yet it has been in recent years that there has been a greater legal and political push to punish those who committed barbaric crimes. Telenovelas have recently discussed illegally adopted babies during the “Dirty War” while a soccer match last month celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Argentina’s World Cup victory also commemorated those who died and “disappeared” during the military regime.
Image- New York Times (“A member of Mothers of May Plaza, a group that has pushed for answers about the dirty war. They wore scarves with names of the disappeared at the trial of the Rev. Christian von Wernich.”)
Sources- truthout.org, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC News
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Hurricane Elida's center was located about 335 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico, early Monday. Elida is moving toward the west-northwest at about 16 mph. That motion is expected to continue with a decrease in forward speed over the next couple days. Maximum sustained winds are near 75 mph with higher gusts. The hurricane center is expecting little change in strength over the next 24 hours.
This hurricane comes in the wake of Hurricane Bertha, which was downgraded to a tropical storm and petered out last week near Bermuda.
* South America: The rapid melting of glaciers due to climate change could lead to an energy crisis in South America according to an Andean Community of Nations report.
* Puerto Rico: Did you know that veterans in Puerto Rico get less health benefits than veterans in the U.S.?
* Panama: Another day, another “John McCain may not be eligible for the presidency because of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone” article.
Image- Living in Peru (“Changes in the Qori Kalis Glacier, Quelccaya Ice Cap, Peru, are shown between 1978 (top) and 2002. The glacier retreat during this time was 1,100 meters.”)
Sources- The Latin Americanist, Guardian UK, New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, swissinfo