Saturday, October 24, 2009
* World: Several thousand demonstrations from hiking atop Antarctica’s tallest mountain to diving off the Great Barrier Reef were held in order to raise awareness on climate change.
* Palestine: Tensions have gone up between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas selected January 24th as Election Day.
* Africa: A U.N. report found that cell phone usage has boomed across Africa by a whopping 550% between 2003 and 2008.
Image- BBC News
Online Sources- CNN, Voice of America, Guardian UK, Reuters
* Puerto Rico: Thousands of residents near Bayamon have been urged to evacuate after a fuel storage facility explosion yesterday spewed massive columns of toxic smoke.
* Latin America: According to the International Monetary Fund the global economic slowdown will cost Latin America over $150 billion in lost output.
* Colombia: Time is running short on whether or not President Alvaro Uribe will run for a third consecutive term.
* Mexico: Suspected leader of the Sonora drug cartel Miguel Caro Quintero pled guilty in a U.S. court to charges of marijuana trafficking.
Online Sources- YouTube, AP, LAHT, Reuters, UPI
Friday, October 23, 2009
* Pakistan: At least 27 people were killed in several attacks today as part of a Taliban offensive that has left over 200 dead in the past three weeks.
* U.S.: 106 banks have failed so far in the U.S. this year; the highest number since 1992.
* Italy: Over 100,000 women have signed an online petition against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after he made a sexist remark to a former minister.
Image- MSNBC (“Two North Korean soldiers on the lookout in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War”.)
Online Sources- AFP, Guardian UK, MSNBC, New York Times
The latest country considering loosening the penalties on abortion is Peru where the procedure is only allowed if the mother’s life is in danger. The country’s legislature is considering modifying the 85-year-old law to permit abortions in cases of rape or fetal deformity.
While congress debates the proposal, some Peruvians have rallied this week either for or against the bill. Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani has led the charge against all forms of abortion and declared that abortions are a “death penalty” to the embryo. Local women’s groups, conversely, claimed that about 376,000 illegal abortions are done in Peru yearly and that 22% of women in the capital city of Lima are victims of sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, a recent poll shows that Peruvians are mixed over the issue of abortion:
Many people in Peru are in favor of allowing a woman to terminate her pregnancy in some special cases, according to a poll by Ipsos, Apoyo, Opinión y Mercado published in El Comercio. 58 per cent of respondents agree with allowing an abortion when the life of the mother is in danger, while 38 per cent disagree.The abortion decriminalization bill faces a rocky road; the ruling American Revolutionary People’s Alliance party (APRA) opposes the bill while Justice Minister, Aurelio Pastor believes that the proposal will be defeated.
Additionally, 46 per cent of respondents would allow an abortion when the fetus has defects, and 41 per cent would consent to the procedure when the pregnancy is the result of rape.
Image- BBC News
Online Sources- AFP, The Latin Americanist, BBC News, CNN, Angus Reid Consultants, Living in Peru
The movie is partly autobiographical claimed director Sebastián Silva who hated being bossed around in his youth by the family nanny. “My attitude was to says things like ‘Who do you think you are to tell me what to do?’” Silva said in one interview though he admitted to gradually changing his attitude. His admiration for the often unsung and occasionally exploitative profession was demonstrated with this film:
Earlier this year, Silva held a screening of the film in Santiago for some 300 maids, all part of a profession that doesn't seem to receive the attention or respect it deserves in the South American country.“The Maid” won the World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance and actress Catalina Saavedra’s performance as the drama’s protagonist has received high praise.
"It was a touching, amazing screening," Silva says. "They were like crying, laughing. . . . They were extremely emotionally involved. The maids loved the film."
They weren't the only ones. "Even the president of Chile sent me a personal letter acknowledging the work of the women who are such an important link in Chilean society," Silva says.
Please check out the trailer below of what appears to be one of the top films coming out of Latin America this year:
Online Sources- Heeb Magazine, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Indiewire, YouTube
* Latin America: The presidents of Peru and Ecuador met yesterday in a “historic” bilateral meeting designed to calm over a century of diplomatic tensions.
* U.S.: Spain’s Prisa purchased a minority stake in U.S. Spanish-language network V-me with the possibility of full control.
* Mexico: Greenpeace activists rallied against the Mexican government's move to allow cultivation of the first genetically modified corn.
Online Sources- Miami Herald, Xinhua, CNN, Reuters
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Chile’s legislature is currently debating the bill whose proponents claim will remove the health hazard that are stray and lost dogs. “Euthanasia will only apply to sick dogs and those abused by people” claimed the head of the Senate health panel that's arguing the government-supported proposal. The bill also provides funds for provinces to carry out euthanasia against dogs and grants police wider authority to decide which dogs need to be exterminated.
Chilean animal rights organizations have vehemently denounced the proposal and made their voices heard:
Thirty protestors rallied in front of the La Moneda presidential palace and carried out mock dog euthanasia while covered in plastic bags and red paint.According to the government there are over three million dogs in Chile and most of them live in the streets.
For Proanimal Chile president Patricia Cocas, the proposal contradicts a measure passed earlier this month for the protection of animals…
“The Health Ministry wants to dump their duties on municipalities without the funds to carry out such a responsibility and pretend that they can go on with the mass extermination of animals” assured Cocas.
Image- El Martutino
Online Sources- El Mercurio Online, EFE, CNN Chile
Gregorio Alvarez ruled as president of Uruguay from 1981-85 and he was also an instrumental figure behind the 1973 military coup that overturned the civilian government. Political repression, forced disappearances, and torturing of dissidents became the norm in Uruguay during the 12-year dictatorship which Alvarez was part of. Uruguayan authorities even took part in the infamous Operation Condor where the Southern Cone’s rightist dictatorships coordinated “an ambitious and successful plan to coordinate repression internationally”.
Though Alvarez was granted asylum in 1986 as part of the transition to civilian rule subsequent courts have chipped away at his impunity; in 2007 he was sentenced for kidnapping and exiling leftist dissidents to Argentina as part of Operation Condor. Earlier today a court sentenced Alvarez to an additional 25 years in jail for human rights abuses and the murder of political opponents during his time in the presidency. Alvarez was sentenced along with two other former senior military officials in a ruling praised by a lawyer representing the victims:
The sentence carried out by justice Luis Charles “grants dignity to the victims” underlined attorney Oscar López Goldaracena who also emphasized the importance that Alvarez’ actions be recognized as “crimes against humanity”…The “controversial norm” alluded to by Goldaracena is a referendum to scrap an amnesty law shielding other dictatorship figures from being put on trial. (The measure coincides with the country’s presidential election which is expected to be won by the ruling left-wing coalition).
“For us it’s a crucial moment since it shows that the truth can be reached through justice” added Goldaracena who urged Uruguayans to vote on Sunday to annul the controversial norm.
Image- Telecinco (February 2009 photo of former Uruguayan strongman Gregorio Alvarez).
Online Sources- Upside Down World, The Latin Americanist, BBC News, AFP, El Pais, Angus Reid Global Monitor
The two-day operation, involved thousands of police officers in 19 US states. The recent drug bust was part of Project Coronado, (which has led to almost 1,200 arrests over four years, according to officials).
Based in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, La Familia has been accused of carrying out bloody attacks on Mexican security forces.
After the arrest of 303 suspected cartel members on Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder described the gang as demonstrating "an incredible level of sophistication and ruthlessness".
According to BBC Americas, FBI Director Robert Mueller states "La Familia had transformed in recent years "from a drug cartel to a sophisticated criminal organization".
However, officials also state that this recent bust has made a significant blow to the cartel, and sees it as a great advance in stopping the cartel in its tracks.
* Brazil: The death toll of a recent surge in violence between drug gangs and police in Rio de Janeiro has grown to 32 as authorities keep pledging to beef up security.
* Ecuador: Antonio Valencia’s late goal was enough give Manchester United a 1-0 victory over CSKA Moscow in Champions League action yesterday.
* Panama: No major damages have been reported in Panama after an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale occurred off the country’s coast.
Image- El Mundo
Online Sources- CNN, MSNBC, The Latin Americanist, BBC Sport, Reuters
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Over the weekend, drug traffickers wielded a large-caliber weapon that shot down a police helicopter just one mile from Maracana stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics will be held and the World Cup final will be played two years before the Olympics.
This violent act worries Brazilians, not only for the violence itself, but for its image to prospective Olympic attenders and tourists during the Games.
“We need to tell the world where we stand so that people outside Brazil understand what measures we are taking and are not so worried when planning to come down here.” --Nadine Mato, 21 (nytimes.com)
Photo Source: New York Times
"Some of the woman who have been on board tell us how male taxi drivers cross the line and try to flirt with them and make inappropriate propositions," said taxi driver Aida Santos, who drives one of the compact, four-door taxis with a tracking device and an alarm button that notifies emergency services. "In the Pink Taxi they won't have that feeling of insecurity, and they feel more relaxed"...What do you think about the "Pink Taxi" initiative? Take a look and decide for yourself:
"We are in the 21st century, and they are saying women have continued worrying about beauty and nothing more," said Vianeth Rojas, of the Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Puebla. "They are absolutely not helping eradicate violence against women."
Online Sources - YouTube, MSNBC, Reuters
The special has not been without some controversy, however. Some activists have noted that while the network praises Latino culture one of its most prominent commentators is staunch anti-immigrant commentator Lou Dobbs. “The hypocrisy of a network that poses itself as a fair and balanced news leader, airing a series on Latinidad while paying the salary of a the hateful Dobbs…grows” mentioned former The Latin Americanist contributor Maegan la Mala recently.
So what do you think? Is CNN being open-minded regarding Dobbs or hypocritical? Will you watch the “Latino in America” special? What does being Latino in the U.S. mean to you?
Please give us your opinion via commenting to this post. (A corresponding poll will soon be placed on the sidebar).
Let your voice be heard!
Online Sources- Clipser, AP, Vivirlatino
Could new currency be in the pipeline for South America?
The New American reports that leaders gathering for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas, or ALBA, conference agreed to create a new currency for the region.
The flat money will be used instead of American Federal Reserve Notes and called the "sucre" to honor Jose Antonio de Sucre.
The BBC also has a story on their Latin American pages.
The ALBA conference in Cochababa, Bolivia, is the seventh meeting.
Will this be an effective attack on the U.S. dollar?
Source and Photo: The New American
* Peru: The country’s legislature is examining a vital reproductive rights bill that would depenalize certain forms of abortion.
* Bolivia: Could the 2500-year-old Akapana pyramid lose its World Heritage Site status due to planned restoration work?
* Cuba: Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos met with Cuban President Raul Castro and claimed that he wants to improve relations with the U.S.
Image- CNN (“A boy in Peru starts exploring all he can do on his new XO laptop.”)
Online Sources- Americas Quarterly, BBC News, AFP, Reuters
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Argentina receives $150 million
from World Bank
(Washington DC, October 20, 2009) The Board of Directors of the World Bank today approved a loan to Argentina in support of the Metropolitan Areas Urban Transport Project (PTUMA) to "improve the quality and sustainability of urban transport systems in Argentine Metropolitan Areas."
According to Pedro Alba, (World Bank Country Director for Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) --“The project promotes the development of an efficient urban transport system that supports economic growth by allowing lower income population segments to access urban services, employment opportunities, and commercial facilities”
The World Bank took into consideration the increase in demand for public transportation in Argentina over recent years. Public transit usage of the Metro has grown by 19% and in suburban railways by 17%. The WB also noted that significant infrastructure investments must be carried out to adequately meet increasing demand.
The 150 million dollar (American equivalent) loan has been allocated to Argentina as an adequate amount to help further the development of such infrastructure.
* World: Results of an experimental AIDS vaccine show that it’s “marginally effective” but could serve as a benchmark for future vaccines.
* Spain: Thousands of protesters marched in Madrid on Sunday and demanded a halt to a proposed liberalizing of abortion laws.
* Britain: Controversy has erupted over the BBC’s invitation of a fringe ultra-rightist and anti-immigrant political party to participate on the network’s main political debate show.
Image- Press TV
Online Sources- UPI, New York Times, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English
The Akuntsu tribe resides in small parcel of rainforest in the western Rondônia state and has been recognized by Brazil’s government. According to Survival International (SI), they reside in a pair of communal houses on protected land after encroaching ranchers nearly wiped them out in the 20th century. Originally numbering in the hundreds, only seven remained as recently as fifteen years ago. (One of the survivors died in 2000 due to a "freak accident").
What had been a tribe of six sadly dwindled to five after the death of the tribal matriarch called Ururú. She died of old age in her hut on October 1st and she may soon be joined by her brother Konibu who was reportedly in critical condition.
Unfortunately, the Akuntsu may soon be a relic of the past due to its own customs but also as a result of the outside world:
(…) on its own, the Akuntsu gene pool cannot allow it to survive another generation. Since tribal custom will apparently not allow outsiders to marry in, it is therefore effectively doomed.Online Sources- Survival International, YouTube, The Independent, Washington Post, The Australian
The Akuntsu story is not unique. Even if they escape persecution, communities that have never encountered the outside world often face tragedy. Typically they lose between 50 and 80 per cent of their population in a matter of months, since they have no immunity to common diseases…
(SI’s Stephen Corry)… said: "The "Akuntsu are at the end of the road. In a few decades this once vibrant and self-sufficient people will cease to exist and the world will have lost yet another piece of our astonishing human diversity.
Mexican Minister of the Economy Gerardo Ruiz Mateos said to the local press that the main goals for trade in North America are to work together, foster competition, and encourage employment. Along with U.S. counterpart Ron Kirk and Canada’s Stockwell Day, the three met yesterday in Dallas and pledged to improve envormental standards and ensure fair labor regulations.
In addition, Mateos and Kirk discussed the uncertain future of a program permitting Mexican freight trucks to enter the U.S. but whose funding was halted by the Obama administration. Mexico retaliated by raising taxes on ninety U.S. imports yet Kirk admitted that not all those tariffs have been implemented. For his part, Mateos was non-committal over what will happen to resolve that dispute:
Mexico's Secretary of Economy Gerardo Ruiz Mateos sidestepped a question asking if Mexico might lift the tariffs in advance of any resolution of the cross-border trucking issues.Image- MSNBC (“Mexican trucks drive on an international bridge leading to Texas.”)
He noted that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was meeting with Mexican Transportation Secretary Molinar Horcasitas in Washington soon to discuss the problem.
Online Sources- SDPNoticias.com, EFE, MSNBC, AFP, The Latin Americanist
Yesterday the constitutional branch of the Nicaraguan Supreme Court overturned the ban on presidential reelection. The move was backed by pro-government judges and after Ortega and a group of more than 100 mayors petitioned the country’s high court. The verdict still needs to be approved by the entire 16-judge Supreme Court though justice Francisco Rosales said that he expected it to be ratified.
As BBC News notes, reelection backers throughout the region have argued that “continuity over more than four years is needed if effective policies for change are to be enacted.” Conversely, opponents of the reelection move in Nicaragua like the country’s vice president have decried it as a gateway to “dictatorships, tyrannies, confrontation, and civil war.”
In the end it will be up to the Nicaraguan electorate to decide if Ortega will get reelected in two years time. If an April poll is any indication of what could happen in 2011, then Ortega may be on his way out of office.
Image- BBC News (An Ortega poster says “To serve the people is to serve God!”)
Online Sources- Angus Reid Global Monitor, Colombia Reports, Reuters, AFP, AP, BBC News, The Latin Americanist
* Mexico: Despite an increased push to combat drug gangs and other criminal elements, authorities estimate that over 4000 Mexican soldiers have deserted since 2003.
* Uruguay: The country’s Supreme Court voted to drop an amnesty statue for Dirty War-era military crimes.
* U.S.: The National Basketball Association will run a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign designed to attract Latinos to the sport.
Image- BBC News (“Mr. Zelaya has been in Brazil's embassy since returning in September”)
Online Sources- Bloomberg, BBC News, LAHT, Reuters
Monday, October 19, 2009
Thee lead singer of the Puerto Rican group – Rene “Residente” Perez - has come under fire after making harsh remarks against the island’s governor. Perez called Gov. Luis Fortuno a “son of a massive bitch” and blasted him for breaking his campaign promise by laying off over 16,000 government workers. “Latin America is incomplete without a free Puerto Rico” added Perez who also praised a massive strike that crippled the island’s capital city of San Juan.
Less than 48 hours after Perez’ remarks, San Juan mayor Jorge A. Santini Padilla pulled the plug on a Calle 13 Halloween gig. Padilla said that the concert was canceled due to a lack for use of the city's Roberto Clemente Coliseum, yet said that Perez wouldn’t be interested in staging the event in “a facility administered by government personnel for whom he has no respect".
Calle 13 has been shutout of another concert due to a separate political gesture by Perez:
A Colombian mayor canceled a Calle 13 concert on Monday after the lead singer for the Puerto Rican rappers wore a T-shirt appearing to link President Alvaro Uribe to illegal paramilitaries…Calle 13’s been no stranger to controversy due to the candor of their music; in 2007, the duo came under fire over an anti-police brutality song cheekily named “Tribute to the Police.”
"It is an insult to Colombians that someone of talent would use this to attack Colombians and especially our president," (Manizales Mayor Juan Manuel) Llano told local radio. "Manizales has decided under no circumstances or for any reason can this group take part."
Image- Washington Post
Online Sources- LAHT, YouTube, CNN, CBC, ABC News, The Latin Americanist
* Brazil: Clashes between police and drug gangs in Rio de Janeiro over the weekend have claimed at least 14 lives.
* Mexico: According to Mexico’s health minister the number of Mexican drug users has doubled between 2002 and 2008.
* Peru: British mining firm Monterrico Metals has been sued over allegedly kidnapping and torturing Peruvian protestors for three days.
Image- KTLA (“The "Illegal Alien" costume, as seen on Target's website (Target.com / October 16, 2009).”)
Online Sources- Guardian UK, UPI, AFP, CNN
Sunday, October 18, 2009
* Latin America: Here we go again – in a move likely to peeve South American states FIFA may try to impose a ban on high altitude soccer matches.
* Mexico: The mutilated bodies of ten people were found in the Mexican state of Guerrero along with a note from the La Familia drug gang claiming that they “deserved to die.”
* Cuba: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin traveled to Cuba on a visit “to study the island's respected disaster preparedness methods.”
* Venezuela: Spain’s Repsol confirmed the finding of a massive offshore natural gas deposit that would make it the biggest in Venezuela.
* Brazil: Two policemen were killed when drug gangs shot down a police helicopter flying near a Rio de Janeiro favela.
Online Sources- Al Jazeera English, LAHT, Canadian Press, New York Times, AFP, The Latin Americanist, The Telegraph
Image- AP (The sign from a Zelaya supporter hints at Honduras’ qualification to next year’s soccer World Cup.)