Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today’s Video: Gabriel's "golazo"

We'll be back on Sunday with analysis and videos of the World Cup matches with Western Hemispheric teams. (Yours truly is a little too tipsy from celebrating during the U.S.-England match!)

For now, here's Gabriel Heinze's awesome flying header; the lone goal in Argentina's win over Nigeria on Saturday:

Weekend Headlines: June 12-13, 2010

* Haiti: With roughly five weeks to go before the deadline for Haitians to solicit temporary protected status immigration officials have received a less-than-expected 51,881 applications.

* Latin America: Could microfinance institutions help push the economies of several Latin American countries?

* Chile: Seventeen Chileans will be tried in absentia in France over the disappearance of four French and French-Chilean nationals in the 1970s.

* Cuba: The E.U. said it would not modify its political policy towards Cuba, which has been to seek closer relations with Castro regime while also denouncing widespread human rights abuses.

Image – nj.com (“Inola Dugue (C) and other Haitian nationals receive assistance from volunteer lawyers during a Temporary Protective Status (TPS) immigration application clinic at Medgar Evers College on January 30, 2010 in Brooklyn.”)
Online Sources- AP, Huffington Post, Reuters, LAHT

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Watch: Madiba in mourning

* South Africa: We’ll have more detailed coverage tomorrow of the first day’s action in the 2010 World Cup. Despite the great celebrations throughout South Africa, Nelson Mandela mourned in private the tragic death of his great-granddaughter.

* Myanmar: The government denied allegations from defectors claiming that the state is developing a nuclear arms program.

* U.S.: Exactly how large is the BP oil spill? It depends on which expert you ask.

* Kyrgyzstan: At least 46 people were killed as a result of “ethnic riots” occurring in the southern part of the country.

Image – AFP (“Zenani Mandela (in green) was on her way back from a spectacular eve of tournament concert in Soweto” when she was killed allegedly by a drunk driver).
Online Sources- ABC News, BBC News, MSNBC, Reuters

Head choppings shock Guatemala

Some stories tragically speak for themselves:
Three human heads and three decapitated bodies with notes aimed at high government officials were found Thursday in different parts of Guatemala's capital, national police said.

The notes were addressed to Interior Minister Carlos Menocal and Eddy Morales, the nation's director of prisons. One of the notes said the officials must impose order in the nation's prisons or these atrocities would continue, police said. The other said that impunity against lawlessness must end, according to police...

"That's obviously a first for Guatemala," said Samuel Logan, an expert on Latin American gangs and founding editor of the Southern Pulse intelligence report. "That's something we've seen the Zetas (drug cartel) do in Mexico."

Online Source: CNN

Image: Reuters

Census: Latino population grows

According to Census data released yesterday the Latino population in the U.S. continues to grow.

The agency estimates that an increase in Latino births and interracial marriages have led to greater numbers of Latinos as well as a 2% growth in the numbers of racial minorities. Along with blacks Latinos now account for at least 35% of the total U.S. populace while the white/Anglo population have leveled off. Hence, Latinos along with blacks could both make up a racial “supermajority” nationwide by the middle of this century.

The Census estimates also show a growing age divide not only as baby boomers continue to age but also as the growing Latino populace tends to be younger. Thus, some areas in the U.S. may soon be demographically transforming into the example set by Georgia’s Gwinnett County:
In 2000, Gwinnett’s population was 67.3 percent white and 32.7 percent minority. Since then, the black and Hispanic populations of the county have more than doubled.

That’s no shock to Lisa Neidert, a senior research associate the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center. She said Gwinnett, with its booming population, was bound to join the more than 300 counties in the U.S. that are now minority majority.

“If you’re in an area of the county that’s growing you’re going to be a minority majority,” said Neidert. “Gwinnett is just reflecting what’s happening nationwide.”
Whether this growth in Latino population also translates into an increase in the group’s political and economic clout remains to be seen. Odds are it will and those in power should take notice.

Image- USA TODAY (“Minorities, such as Hispanic twins Michelle, left, and Melanie Pisqui-Beltran, 5, and mom Gina Beltran in Washington, made up more than half the population in 317 counties, four states and D.C., according to Census estimates July 1, 2009.”)
Online Sources- Los Angeles Times, star-telegram.com, AJC.com, AP, Latina Lista

Today’s Video: Viva Mexico! Viva Borgetti!

The inaugural game of the 2010 World Cup is set to start around 9:45 EST (13:45 GMT) when the host country South Africa plays Mexico. If you're at work or cannot watch the game then please check out the live weblog of the match via our good friends over at Guanabee.

Even if El Tri wins over the Bafana Bafana, the team may have some difficulties emerging out of a group that includes Uruguay and France. Yet Mexico was solid in its final warm-up matches and they could produce a moment of magic similar to Jared Borgetti's sublime header against Italy in 2002:

Online Sources - YouTube, Guanabee, SI.com

Daily Headlines: June 11, 2010

* Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez announced that he would halt electricity rationing that had been occurring nationwide since January.

* Cuba: A group of 74 dissidents including blogger Yoani Sanchez and protesting journalist Guillermo Farinas signed a letter supporting U.S. legislation to ease travel restrictions to Cuba.

* Haiti: The U.S. Congress has threatened to withhold millions of dollars in aid unless Haiti’s government implements specific judicial reforms.

* Peru: The government announced plans to sell a 20% stake in state-owned oil firm Petroperu though it may not be a popular measure with Peruvians.

Image – The Telegraph (“Police officers control traffic during a partial blackout in Caracas.”)
Online Sources- Wall Street Journal, BBC News, BusinessWeek, Reuters

Nighttime News Roundup

  • Venezuelan academic says he saw Hugo Chavez cry while he was briefly imprisoned after the 2002 coup. The type of story that makes for good headlines with the Chavez-haters but is impossible to prove (based on one person's testimony) and not a big deal even if it is true.
  • Drugs go through Jamaica now, too. Or you could read it as: "Drugs continue to arrive without too much trouble to wherever people want to buy them."
Image Source: Wall Street Journal
Online Sources: Washington Post, La Prensa (Honduras), El Comercio (Peru), MercoPress

Thursday, June 10, 2010

World Watch: Seeking justice for Bhopal

* India: Could ex-Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson be forced to face trial over the 1984 Bhopal disaster?

* China: Roughly 1700 workers at a Chinese Honda factory are expected to strike and call for the right to form a labor union.

* Turkey: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied that Turkey was shunning the E.U. in favor of the Middle East.

* Philippines: International leaders such as Barack Obama of the U.S. and China’s Hu Jintao congratulated Philippine President-elect Benigno Aquino III.

Image – ABC Online
Online Sources- BBC News, Voice of America, New York Times, AP

Colombian colonel convicted over “forced disappearances”

It may’ve taken a quarter century but justice was finally served for the families of eleven victims of Colombia’s infamous Palace of Justice siege.

Army Colonel Alfonso Plazas Vega was sentenced to thirty years in prison over his role in the Palace of Justice incident in 1985. Plazas led the army response against the brazen attack by the now-disbanded M-19 rebels who took dozens of people hostage including the judges of the Colombian Supreme Court. The resulting 27-hour siege between guerillas and soldiers left over 100 people including all the rebels and eleven of the high court judges. There were also eleven survivors who disappeared supposedly under Plazas’ orders:
One witness in the trial, a former army soldier, testified that when someone asked Plazas what to do with the survivors he responded: "Hang the sons of bitches."

The witness said the survivors were tortured for eight days in a military compound in Bogotá. "They were hung by their wrists, they were beaten in the stomach, electricity was applied with wires to both men and women. Other testimony showed that Plazas wanted the survivors to sign statements saying they had received money to buy the weapons used by the M-19 in the assault.
The families of the disappeared as well as human rights groups hailed the verdict. “With this groundbreaking ruling the victims' families… have begun to break the silence that has for so long protected those responsible," said one researcher with Amnesty International.

The judge presiding over the Plazas trial recommended that he be transferred from hospital to a maximum-security jail in order to fulfill his sentence. Lawyers for the 65-year-old declared the sentence as "unjust" and vowed to file an appeal.

The landmark sentence could signal the beginning of the end to impunity by the military, a possibility that apparently worries Colombian president Álvaro Uribe. After meeting today with the country’s defense leaders Uribe is expected to announce in a speech tonight his proposal to shield senior military officials from prosecution.

Image- Semana
Online Sources- BBC News, The Guardian, Amnesty International USA, People’s Daily Online, AP, El Espectador

Today’s Video: El Salvador’s moment of glory

For the likes of Brazil and Argentina winning the World Cup is not only possible but also expected from their countrymen. On the other side of the spectrum there are the “minnows”, countries whose main accomplishment was merely making it to the World Cup finals. Such was the case with El Salvador in 1982.

El Salvador qualified for the World Cup in Spain after finishing as shock runners-up in the CONCACAF tournament ahead of regional powerhouse Mexico. Nothing much was expected of the Salvadorans who had previously made it to the World Cup in 1970 after the infamous “Soccer War” with Honduras. Ultimately they would quickly end their participation in Spain having conceded an unlucky thirteen goals in three matches including being on the short end of a 10-1 drubbing by Hungary. Yet the joy in Luis Ramirez’ face after scoring El Salvador’s lone goal epitomized the pride one nation had in its team who were happy just to be at the World Cup:

Online Sources- FIFA, Wikipedia, soccerblog.com, FIFA, YouTube

ICE targets Gulf oil spill cleanup?

What does illegal immigration have to do with the need to clean up the monumental oil spill affecting several U.S. Gulf states? Plenty according to one Louisiana law enforcement official:
A sheriff in suburban New Orleans has asked federal authorities to investigate reports that illegal immigrants are working on the Gulf oil spill cleanup effort.



St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack A. Stephens said Wednesday that he asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement weeks ago to look into the reports…

Stephens says he wants to protect the community from "criminal elements" and not "people who want to earn an honest buck."
Immigration officials have so far denied that any “work site enforcement” has been done in cleanup areas. One blogger claimed, however, that ICE did visit a pair of “oil spill command centers” last week in order to check worker documentation.

Latino immigrants both legal and undocumented have served a key role in helping parts of Louisiana and other southern states rebuild after another disaster: 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

Image- NJ.com (“Clean up crews use artificial straw to soak up and remove oil from the BP Oil spill in marsh grass off the coast of Grand Isle, La.”)
Online Sources- The Telegraph, CBS News, The Latin Americanist, Democracy Now

”Abusive” actor steps down from Boricua parade

New York's annual Puerto Rican Day parade is one of the city’s most famous and festive parades, and usually gathers hundreds of thousands of revelers enjoying Boricua pride. At the same time the parade has gotten a bad rap over the actions of a few rabble-rousers like in 2000 when some women were groped and harassed. Hence, one would guess that it would not be in the parade organizer’s best interest to choose an actor accused of domestic violence as the event’s “godfather”. Think again.

Puerto Rican telenovela actor Osvaldo Rios was convicted on a domestic violence charge in 2003, stemming from the 1996 assault of his girlfriend. He would eventually serve a three-month jail sentence and the incident nearly finished his career. Yet parade chiefs decided that he would serve as “padrino internacional” at this Sunday’s parade.

The stunning and insensitive selection of Rios to the parade created a firestorm; anti-domestic violence activists blasted the move while Verizon pulled its sponsorship of the event. A group of local councilwomen threatened to boycott the parade and Rep. Luis Gutierrez resigned from being one of the event’s marshals.

The backlash became very strong and on Tuesday Rios publicly dropped out from the parade. Yet the damage may have already been done as seen by one of his detractors in the video below:

Online Sources- YouTube, NBC New York, New York Times, New York Daily News, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune

Daily Headlines: June 10, 2010


* Mexico: The fallout from the Border Patrol shooting of a Mexican teen continued with the F.B.I. starting their investigation into the incident. (The above video via Univision shows some Not Safe for Work amateur video of the shooting).

* U.S.: For the second time in three years, Homeland Security proposed raising fees for certain types of immigration services including work permits and green cards.

* Nicaragua: The U.S. judge presiding over a lawsuit by Nicaraguan workers against food giant Dole claimed that statements were made in that country accusing her of corruption.

* Bolivia: President Evo Morales was reportedly reelected to head Bolivia’s main coca growers union.

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today’s Video: Take a bow, Maxi Rodriguez

Perhaps one of the best goals in World Cup history occurred in 1986 when Diego Maradona slalomed his way through the English midfield and defense in a match better known for the infamous “Hand of God” goal. Beautiful as that goal was, it should not overlook what I feel is a better effort from another Argentine: Maxi Rodriguez’ wicked volley against Mexico four years ago.

Any thoughts fair readers?

Online Sources- YouTube

World Watch: Irritable Iranian

* Iran: How did Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad react to the U.N. sanctions passed today? By comparing them to “a used handkerchief that should be thrown in the waste bin.”

* Middle East: U.S. President Barack Obama pledged $400 million in development aid to Gaza while also opening the possibility for peace talks with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

* South Africa: Local health groups denounced soccer governing FIFA for supposedly “blocking condom and safe-sex information distribution” at World Cup venues.

* North Korea: In a letter to the U.N. North Korean officials denied that their military sank a South Korean warship in March.

Image – The Guardian
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Christian Science Monitor, MSNBC, CNN, BBC News

Hurricanes could batter earthquake-ravaged Haiti

With the possibility that the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could spread into the Caribbean, one might assume that this may be the main cause for worry during the hurricane season. Au contraire:
Relief workers are bracing for the extra-active hurricane season and hoping against hope that it does not unleash the kind of flooding and landslides which have killed thousands of Haitians in the past -- even without the kind of vulnerable situation that the poor Caribbean country now finds itself in.

"This is a prospect that we're certainly not happy about ... We don't want to have a secondary disaster on our hands," Julie Schindall, international media officer of Oxfam, said.
According to an estimate by Colorado State University researchers, the six-month season, which began last week, could say as many as 18 named tropical storms and five hurricanes rated category 3 and higher. Though this estimate is slightly lower than the one from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the odds are high that a major storm will wallop Haiti this year.

Image- ABC News (“A bulldozer removes debris from homes destroyed by the Jan. 12 earthquake, as people search for pieces of metal to sell in Port-au-Prince, Monday, June 7, 2010.”)
Online Sources- CTV, Reuters, NPR

Reports highlight violence in Colombia

A pair of reports published this week has highlighted how violence continues to hurt Colombia despite the advances made in eight years under President Alvaro Uribe.

According to the Global Peace Index's (GPI) 2010 study Colombia is the most violent country in Latin America and in 138th place out of 149 countries worldwide. Of the 23 indicators were used to rank countries in the GPI, Colombia scored very negatively in categories such as displaced people, “potential for terrorist acts”, and homicides per 100,000 people.

In terms of the rest of the Americas, Honduras and Venezuela were ranked as the second- and third-most violent countries in Latin America respectively. Uruguay was named as the most peaceful in the region under the GPI with a ranking of 24th. (New Zealand topped the list while Iraq was placed in last).

Meanwhile, a report from the International Confederation of Trade Unions concluded that Colombia is the world’s deadliest country for labor activists. 48 Colombian labor activists were slain in 2009 according to the study that also signaled Latin America as the most violent region for trade unionists:
Colombia was the deadliest country for workers; it said, with a total of 48 killings including 22 senior trade union leaders, 5 of them women. Next most dangerous were Guatemala, with 16 dead, and Honduras with 12.

Six were killed in both Bangladesh and Mexico and 4 in Brazil, the report said. Other countries where murders of union activists were reported were the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, India, Iraq and Nigeria.
Violence in Colombia was one of the main topics discussed between the country’s presidential candidates and visiting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ex-Bogota mayor Antanas Mockus denounced the deaths against Colombian labor members during his meeting with Clinton while former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos focused on free trade and security policies.

Image- LAHT (Photo of a Colombian police officer)
Online Sources- El Tiempo, El Espectador, Reuters, Global Peace Index poder360.com, BusinessWeek, Colombia Reports

Brazil rejects U.N. sanctions against Iran (Updated)

The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) dealt a heavy low against Brazil’s “soft” diplomatic approach towards Iran.

In a 12-2 vote the UNSC approved a package of economic sanctions against Iran as a sort of punishment over the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions. The resolution passed by the UNSC was strongly supported by Western countries such as the U.S. whose ambassador to the world body described as a "decisive" move against the “grave threat” of Iran’s nuclear plans.

Along with Turkey, Brazil was the only other UNSC member to vote against the sanctions, which comes as no coincidence since both countries have advocated a more diplomatic approach towards Iran. One key Brazilian representative expressed her disappointment that the sanctions were passed:
Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Brazil's permanent representative to the United Nations, told an open Council meeting before the vote that "the adoption of sanctions runs contrary to the successful efforts of Brazil and Turkey in a negotiated (opportunity) in regards to its trade program."

"The Tehran declaration showed that dialogue and cooperation can do more than punitive action," she said.
The sanctions against Iran includes targeting transactions done by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the entity in charge of running the country’s nuclear program. The resolution also leaves open the possibility of increased nuclear cooperation in exchange for Iran halting uranium enrichment.

It remains to be seen how today’s actions will affect U.S.-Brazilian relations. In a failed attempt to reach unanimous approval of the sanctions U.S. officials met Monday with Brazil's deputy foreign minister. Perhaps the Brazilians did not forget remarks made two weeks ago by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chastising Brazil’s approach towards Iran.

Update: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also criticized the U.N.'s vote which he deemed as "a case of getting even with Iran." In remarks to the local press, Lula added that "instead of bringing Iran to the negotiating table, the U.N. decided to impose sanctions which, in the end, will probably have no effect on Iran."

Image- The Telegraph
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Al Jazeera English, Xinhua, New York Times, Americas Quarterly, Voice of America

Arte para la gente: Peru’s prized poet

Yesterday Antonio Cisneros was announced as the winner of this year’s Pablo Neruda Ibero-American Poetry Prize, an honor chosen by the Chilean government in honor of the late Neruda. Cisneros is “a poet with notable influence over the younger generations” in the Americas according to a statement published by the awards jury.

Cisneros will receive a $30,000 prize from Chilean President Sebastian Pinera at a ceremony next month. Perhaps the biggest prize for Cisneros was the ideal timing of the award based on comments he made to the Peruvian press:
“I was driving my car after having gone to the doctor for a pneumonia vaccine and I was damning my luck for having reached such a senile age. Suddenly I received a call on my cell informing me of the award given by Chile’s Culture Ministry. That changed my mood very quickly.” – [ed. Translated text]
Below is Cisneros reading one of his more interesting works (to put it delicately) entitled “To make love”:

Online Sources- LAHT, RPP, YouTube, sify.com

Daily Headlines: June 9, 2010

* Chile: Chile's ambassador in Argentina reigned yesterday after a stunning verbal faux pas praising the dictatorship under the late strongman Augusto Pinochet.

* El Salvador: San Salvador’s archbishop praised President Mauricio Funes for “taking important steps” to promote democracy in El Salvador.

* Venezuela: The country’s new government-regulated foreign exchange market is set to begin operations today.

* Bolivia: Bolivia’s legislature approved a measure designed to give indigenous communities more judicial autonomy.

Image – The Guardian (2006 image of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet).
Online Sources – MSNBC, BBC News, Spero News, Wall Street Journal,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Border shootings could further strain U.S.-Mexico relations

Border shootings could further strain U.S.-Mexico relations
Political ties between Mexico and the U.S. have been shaky in recent months (e.g. arms smuggling, immigration). Relations could worsen, however, as a result of a pair of recent killings around the border region.

On Monday evening U.S. Border Patrol officers supposedly shot dead a fifteen-year-old Mexican teen below an international bridge connecting the Texan city of El Paso with Ciudad Juarez. According to an FBI statement, Sergio Adrian Hernandez was part of a group that had tried to illegally cross the border. Border Patrol agents encountered them, said the FBI, and the teens then tried throwing rocks at the officers. One of the agents subsequently opened fire and killed Hernandez reportedly with a near one of his eyes.

Mexican authorities energetically condemned the murder and accused the Border Patrol of using “excessive force”. "Using firearms to respond to an attack with rocks is a disproportionate use of force, particularly coming from a officials that are specially trained," said a statement from the Mexican Foreign Ministry. Moreover, a spokesman from the Chihuahua Attorney General's office alleged that the agents may’ve violated the agency’s own rules by crossing into Mexico.

While officials on both sides of the border attempt to figure out exactly what happened, Hernandez’ mother was disconsolate over the death of her son:
His mother, Maria Guadalupe Guereca, told Milenio TV in Mexico that her son had gone to visit his brother, who handles luggage at a border customs office. While there, he met up with a group of friends and they decided to hang out by the river, she said.

"That was his mistake, to have gone to the river," she said. "That's why they killed him."

She said he ran and hid underneath one of the bridge's pillars upon hearing gunfire.

"He was a boy, and even then they killed him," she said. "I ask that they punish them. ... They left me without anything."
Monday’s incident comes on the heels of the May 31st death of an undocumented Mexican illegal immigrant while under Border Patrol custody. Coroners ruled the killing of Hernandez Rojas a homicide after he was shot with a stun gun and hit with a baton. Doctors also noted that he had signs of “methamphetamine abuse and high blood pressure” that could’ve contributed to his fatal heart attack.

Image- CBS News (“U.S. border patrol agents examine the area near where Mexican citizen Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca was killed under the Paso Del Norte border bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.”)
Online Sources- New York Times, BBC News, AP, CNN

Death penalty sought for jailed Peruvian in Japan

Perhaps by now you’ve heard that Joran van der Sloot- the Dutch teen who was the main suspect in the 2005 Natalie Holloway disappearance- confessed to killing a 21-year-old Peruvian last month. While the murder of Stephany Flores continues to make headlines worldwide, it's worth noting the fate of a Peruvian convicted of murder half a world away.

In 2006, thirty-eight-year-old Jose Manuel Torres Yagi was convicted in a Japanese court for violating and murdering a young girl in Hiroshima. Originally sentenced to life in jail, Yagi’s case was sent to a retrial in 2008 on the grounds that prosecutors withheld key evidence.

During the retrial the defense argued that Yagi was mentally unstable and that he did not kill the girl premeditatedly. Prosecutors, meanwhile, submitted his criminal past against minors in Peru as evidence and argued that Yagi should be punished with the death penalty.

Yagi’s fate will be decided next month at a sentencing hearing. If the prosecutors have their way, Yagi would be the first Latin American to be sentenced to death in Japan.

For his part, Van der Sloot could face a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison if convicted of the killing of Flores in a Lima hotel room.

Image- Christian Science Monitor (“In this May 27, 2008 file photo, the gurney used to restrain condemned prisoners during the lethal injection process is shown in Huntsville, Texas.”)
Online Sources- Mainichi Daily News, 24 Horas Peru, La Republica

Today’s Video: The "Battle of Santiago"

With the World Cup set to start on Friday in South Africa we continue our look this week at memorable matches with Latin American teams. Today's entry features the 1962 World Cup and host country Chile.

Perhaps there have been rougher World Cup games than the 1962 group match between Chile and Italy. (Netherlands vs. Portugal from '06 is one that springs to mind). Yet in the build-up to the match most Chileans were ready to make the Azzuri pay the price for the recklessness of a pair of Italian journos:
Chile was recovering from an earthquake that had killed nearly 6,000 people, and didn't have much money in the first place, so its countryfolk weren't particularly disposed to tolerate the two Italian journalists who swanned into Santiago ahead of the World Cup finals, sifted through the wreckage, and sent home dispatches painting a picture of Chile's capital as a poverty-stricken hole full of loose women. Antonio Ghiredelli and Corrado Pizzinelli insisted their reports had been distorted somewhere down the line, but the damage was done and all diplomatic bets were off. The pair skidaddled back home for their own safety – an Argentinian journalist mistaken for one of them was badly beaten in a bar – leaving the poor buggers in the Italian national team to deal with the consequences. Chile and Italy, of course, had been drawn in the same first-stage group.
Chile would go on to win what was later described as the "Battle of Santiago" by a score of 2-0. That victory was marred by the rough play, which the BBC's David Coleman would describe in the clip below as "the most stupid, appalling, disgusting, and disgraceful exhibition of football possibly in the history of the game":

Online Sources - The Guardian, YouTube, BBC Sport,

Daily Headlines: June 8, 2010

* Mexico: At least 55 bodies were found in an abandoned mine that police believe to have been a “dumping ground” for drug gangs.

* Colombia: The FARC rebels released videos of five hostages who have been held captive for over a decade.

* Dominican Republic: An application was filed with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to look into the 1994 disappearance of Dominican opposition figure Narciso Gonzalez Medina.

* Venezuela: A Chinese firm is set to purchase a two-thirds stake in a massive gold deposit located in southern Venezuela.

Image – The Telegraph
Online Sources – CNN, Reuters, BBC News

Hillary to OAS: 'You Mad'


A few years back, Harlem rapper Cam'ron appeared on Bill O'Reilly's "The Factor." O'Reilly wanted to know if Cam'ron felt his music was a bad influence on kids. When things got tough, Cam shut down the debate by taunting O'Reilly with a bizarrely effective chant of "you maaaad, you maaaaad."

Between China staying mum on North Korea's attack against a South Korean sub, Iran sanctions despite Brazil's push back, Europe going broke and that huge diplomatic mess that is the Israeli blockade of Gaza, I wouldn't blame Hillary if she wanted to pull a Cam'ron this week when talking with Latin American leaders about Honduras at the OAS meeting.

The Obama admin came to DC with aims to change the Bush-era perception that minus drugs and immigrants, Latin America is a forgotten backwater of America's global reach. With so many pressing problems in the world, Hillary might wonder what's going on at an organization whose members bent over backwards to let in a country that doesn't want to join them and now are working hard to keep out a country whose government would love to get back to normal.

But Hillary and the Obama administration haven't given up. In the year and a half that she's been Secretary of State, Hillary has made 7 trips to the region. Because the region was an afterthought to the Bush admin and because the region has never been treated to full partnership status by any American administration, it's going to take a lot of time and a lot of investment to see dividends.

As you can see in the O'Reilly clip, Bill turns his attention away from the disruptive "Killa Cam" and focuses his attention on the slightly more reasonable Damon Dash.

In the sense of US-Latin American relations over Honduras, I find a parallel in what Christopher Sabatini at Americas Quarterly had to say:
The ALBA countries have no interest in seeing this resolved. But moderate countries should, and objective and skillful diplomacy can get them there; it’s up to the U.S., its Brazilian colleagues and the much-criticized leadership of the OAS.

Now there’s also the matter of why two whole meetings of the region’s foreign ministers and secretaries should be taken up by Cuba and Honduras. But that’s another issue.
The Cam'ron approach, though highly rewarding in the short term, doesn't do much to build bridges and get results over the long term. Sorry Hillary, looks like you're going to have to stick with playing O'Reilly.

Image Source: NahRight
Online Sources: NY Times, Americas Quarterly, YouTube, The O'Reilly Factor, International Herald Tribune, Bloggings by Boz, Business Week, BBC News, Christian Science Monitor

Monday, June 7, 2010

Today’s Video: Three's a charm for Brazil

With the World Cup starting this Friday it would be fitting to highlight some of the greatest games ever played in that tournament that involved Latin American teams. Tonight we highlight one of Brazil's greatest moments.

Coming into the title match of the 1970 World Cup, finalists Brazil and Italy had won the championship twice. Thus, the winner of that match would not only capture their country's third title but also permanent possession of the Jules Rimet trophy. What unfolded in Mexico City forty years ago this month was a masterclass of soccer by the South American titans.

Pele opened the match with Brazil's 100th World Cup goal though Italy would afterwords equalize via a Brazilian defensive blunder. The Auriverde pressured Italy's backline until Gerson found the back of the net in the 66th minute with a powerful strike from outside the penalty box. Two more goals (including an absolute gem from Carlos Alberto shortly before full time) meant that Pele would be carried on the shoulders of his fans off the field and Brazil would win their third World Cup crown in twelve years:

Online Sources - The Independent, YouTube

Cuban oil production dipped in ’09

Cuban authorities have been deeply concerned over the possibility that crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill could find its way to the island’s shores. (For that matter, Venezuela’s government has sent PDVSA officials to help with the possible cleanup efforts). Some analysts believe that what is a catastrophe for the U.S. could be a boon for the Cuban oil industry. But if Cuba wishes to become even a mid-level oil exporter it will have to do a lot better than its output for last year:
Cuba's oil production fell by almost 300,000 tones in 2009 over 2008, while natural gas output stagnated, the National Statistics Office reported on Thursday…

The government gave no reason for the decline, though it coincided with a forced buy-out of concessions owned by Canadian firms Pebercan and Sherritt International (S.TO)…

Output had stagnated for nearly a decade as old wells were exhausted and new ones did no more than take up the slack…

Since 2006, Cuba has shipped small amounts of the crude to Asia.
On a related note, lawyers for Mexican state-run oil firm PEMEX filed a lawsuit against Germany’s BASF and other oil trading companies. The suit alleges that the chemical manufacturer and the other defendants “illegally profited from processing stolen oil.”

Image- BBC News (“Four US states have now been affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, GlobalPost

Argentine “hooligans” deported from South Africa

Some of the main criticisms against South Africa in the run-up to the World Cup is rampant crime and possible security problems at venues. Sunday’s stampede in Makhulong stadium did little to dissuade those fears yet authorities are not taking any chances regarding potentially violent fans from other countries.

On the same day as the aforementioned stampede immigration officials detained as many as ten Argentine fans who authorities claimed to be “soccer hooligans”. "Intelligence indicated that these persons would commit acts of public disorder, engage in acts of violence and provoke conflict with certain fans of opponent teams and other groups from Argentina during the 2010 FIFA World Cup," said a statement from the South African police. Of the ten arrested (and soon-to-be deported) Argentines caught at Johannesburg's main airport was one man reportedly freed on bail for murder.

The Argentine squad-who we predicted would make it to the championship match- is under very tight security at the camp at the University of Pretoria. Over 200 security agents guard the team’s camp and only a very limited number of guests (“select schools and local dignitaries”) are permitted to visit los albicelestes.

In addition, Argentine police worked with their South African counterparts in order to ensure that rowdy fans from the infamous barras bravas are kept far away from the World Cup matches:
“We searched their rooms, took their photos, and asked them how much money they carried. Since they did not have tickets to Argentina matches we warned them that they are not to be within one kilometer of the stadium. We then left and wished them a safe stay in South Africa,” said Argentine Federal Police commissar Hugo Lompisano. – [ed. Translated text]
South African police have also kept a close eye on potential rabble-rousers from other countries like England.

The World Cup starts this Friday with the host country playing Mexico, followed by Uruguay versus France. Argentina commences their quest for a fourth title with a group match against Nigeria this Saturday.

Image- The Telegraph
Online Sources- AP, The Latin Americanist, The Guardian, World Cup Blog, Reuters, Clarin, Christian Science Monitor, BBC Sport

Peru: Protocol and protests

Van der Sloot! Van der Sloot! Van der Sloot!

Now that we’ve added our small grain of sand to the sensationalistic media firestorm over the murder of Stephany Flores, let’s check out two far more important stories involving Peru.

The 40th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) started yesterday in the capital city of Lima and several issues are expected to be discussed. One of the main topics for debate is the international recognition of Honduras, which has been a sensitive issue ever since the ouster of Manuel Zelaya from the presidency nearly a year ago. Countries such as Brazil and Venezuela are opposed to readmitting Honduras into the OAS since Zelaya was replaced for the remainder of his presidency by a de facto regime. On the other hand, the U.S. is in favor of Honduran recognition; "(Current Honduran president Porfirio) Lobo... has been very committed to pursuing a policy of reintegration," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Other vital topics for discussion at the OAS conference include immigration, relations with Iran, and drug trafficking. Clinton for her part will be in Lima for the meeting and will subsequently travel tomorrow to Ecuador and Colombia, then Barbados on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Peruvian indigenous activists continue their protests on the one-year anniversary of deadly clashes with police over controversial energy proposals. Their claims that the government was heavy-handed against indigenous demonstrators even reached the gates of the White House:
Actress Q'orianka Kilcher, who played the American Indian Pocahontas in the 2005 film "The New World" was arrested (last week) for tying herself to a White House fence.

The U.S. Park Police identified the woman as the 20-year-old actress and said her 41-year-old mother, Saskia, poured a black substance over her.

The two told authorities they were protesting Tuesday's visit by president of Peru, Alan Garcia. Q'orianka Kilcher's father is a Peruvian Indian.
Image- EPA (OAS head José Miguel Insulza at the body’s General Assembly this week).
Online Sources- AFP, Voice of America, CNN, AP, Latin America News Dispatch, CBS News, The Latin Americanist

Daily Headlines: June 7, 2010

* U.S.: Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto is now a champion in a third weight class after thoroughly beating Yuri Foreman to win the WBA light-middleweight crown.

* Cuba: Authorities raided the offices of two major dissident groups and briefly arrested 37 activists.

* Brazil: An estimated three million people marched in Sao Paulo’s gay pride parade and some called for equal rights for homosexuals.

* Chile: According to the Chilean Supreme Court the late dictator Augusto Pinochet’s personal fortune was $21 million and only one-tenth of his salary could’ve accounted for it.

Image – New York Daily News
Online Sources – The Independent, Kansas City Star, Miami Herald, BBC Sport