Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weekend World Watch: Unholy behavior

* Vatican: According to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks Vatican officials were "offended” by an Irish investigation into alleged child abuse while the Holy See backed U.S. efforts in 2004 to ban “human cloning.”

* Iran: Did an Iranian women sentenced to death by stoning for the death of her husband really commit the crime as was depicted on a documentary on state-run TV or was the program government propaganda?

* Sudan: Southern Sudan’s ruling party backed independence for the region weeks before a critical referendum vote.

* China: Exports from China jumped by nearly 35% last month compared to November 2009 though the country’s trade surplus continued to grow.

Image – AP via CBS News (“Pope Benedict XVI uses a handkerchief during a canonization ceremony at the Vatican Oct. 11, 2009.”)
Online Sources- Voice of America, Reuters, BBC News, The Guardian, Al Jazeera English

Bolivia Against the Grain

Bolivia stood alone today at the UN Climate Summit in Cancun as the only country that opposed the summit's declaration. Why? Bolivia felt the declaration didn't go far enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions or to support the renewal of the Kyoto Protocol before it expires next year.

At last year's Copenhagen summit, British PM Gordon Brown accused Morales of "holding the world to ransom." The Bolivian position didn't seem to make a much better impression on this year's host, Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa who rejected Bolivia's attempt to "impose a veto" over the other 193 countries.

In economic news, Bolivia also lowered the country's retirement age from 65 (60 for women) to 58 and 55 in a time when crushing deficits are forcing Western economies to evaluate raising the retirement age.

It's worth pointing out however that France, which withstood protests to raise its retirement age to 62, enjoys a life expectancy of 81.5. By comparison, the average Bolivian (with a life expectancy of 65.2) could expect to get a whopping two-tenths of a year of retirement at the previous age of 65.

Image Source: The Guardian
Online Sources: Voice of America, Al-Jazeera, Google, MSNBC, The Guardian

Weekend Headlines: December 11-12, 2010

* Peru: In recognition of Nobel Prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa, Culture Minister Juan Ossio announced that the writer’s childhood home will be transformed into “an historic site” and tourist attraction.

* Puerto Rico: University student activists are planning a strike scheduled for next Tuesday in protest against government plans to institute new fees.

* Mexico: Retired pugilist Julio Cesar Chavez was announced as one of seven people who will be inducted next year into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

* Latin America: U.S. legislator Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the incoming House Foreign Affairs Committee chair, echoed the Israeli government’s criticism of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to recognize an independent Palestinian state.

Image – Fernando Llano/Associated Press via CBC (“Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa made a name for himself in the 1960s with several novels, which he now admits were altered to appease censors in Spain.”)
Online Sources- AHN, The Latin Americanist, AFP, Global Voices,

Friday, December 10, 2010

The year that was: Press under pressure

2010 has been a banner year for the Latin American press, albeit for the wrong reasons. From Cuba to Argentina, members of the media have come under attack from government censorship and violence from criminal organizations. For example:
  • A group of U.N. “human rights experts” criticized the Honduran government for not properly investigating death threats and murders of against journalists.
  • A study by a Mexican press watchdog group concluded that regional newspapers rarely reported on widespread “narcoviolence.”
  • Reporters Without Borders accused demobilized ex-paramilitary members in Colombia of “forcing journalists to self-censorship or exile.”
The following video is of a protest in Mexico City in the name of harassed and slain members of the media. Nearly 700 people participated in a silent march holding signs of killed press members as well as a banner calling for the government to provide “more guarantees” for journalists to fulfill their duties.

The above protest is an unfortunate reminder of the dangers constantly faced by the press in Latin America. Perhaps the situation for the media will improve in 2011 though it's much easier to be pessimistic than hopeful.

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist
Video Source - YouTube

World Watch: Absent but not forgotten

* China: Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize in absentia though his recognition may help advance the human rights movement in his native country.

* Spain: The non-profit Qatar Foundation will pay $225 million as part of a sponsorship deal with soccer powerhouse F.C. Barcelona.

* Pakistan: A pair of newspapers confessed to being duped by a fake Wikileaks report critical of the Indian military.

* Nigeria: On a related note, a statement from Pfizer rejected a cable uncovered by Wikileaks claiming that the pharmaceutical giant used "dirty tricks” against a former Nigerian attorney general.

Image – AP via NPR (“Nobel Commitee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland sits next to an empty chair with the Nobel Peace Prize medal and diploma during a ceremony honoring Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo at city hall in Oslo, Norway Friday Dec. 10, 2010. Liu, a democracy activist, is serving an 11-year prison sentence in China on subversion charges brought after he co-authored a bold call for sweeping changes to Beijing's one-party communist political system.”)
Online Sources- CNN, The Guardian, BBC News

Daily Headlines: December 10, 2010

* Cuba: While marching in Havana yesterday members of the dissident group the Ladies in White were reportedly jeered by a crowd who accused them of being “sellouts” and “opportunists”.

* Venezuela: A diplomatic cable made public through Wikilieaks said that officials at Venezuelan-state-owned oil firm PDVSA “had quicker access to U.S. visas” after they allegedly claimed to falsifying data on oil exports.

* Argentina: Avellaneda-based side Independiente won their first regional title in fifteen years after defeating Brazil’s Goias in the final of the Copa Sudamericana.

* Colombia: At a conference of the Internet Commitment for Social Responsibility in Cartagena the group called for the creation of a “.xxx” domain name for adult websites.

Image – Javier Galeano/AP via MSNBC (“Members of the Cuban dissident group Ladies in White demonstrate during their weekly march in Havana, Cuba on” last month.)
Online Sources- Reuters, AFP, ESPN

Thursday, December 9, 2010

World Watch: Free Liu Xiaobo

* China: On the eve of Human Rights Day, the U.N. and human rights activists worldwide called on China to release 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo from prison.

* Britain: Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in London against the legislative approval of a government plan to triple maximum university tuition fees.

* Ivory Coast: The African Union bloc suspended the Ivory Coast due to the disputed presidential election that took place last month.

* India: Several Transportation Safety Administration agents are under fire after patting down the Indian Ambassador to the U.S. reportedly due to the sari she was wearing.

Image – Morten Holm/Scanpix/AP via (“Supporters of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo demonstrate outside China's Embassy in Oslo, Norway, Thursday, Dec. 9.”)
Online Sources- Voice of America, Al Jazeera English, BBC News, New York Daily News

Daily Headlines: December 9, 2010

* Bolivia: Japan’s government agreed to help in the development of Bolivia’s potentially lucrative lithium industry.

* Latin America: Latin America’s education performance is below average compared to most member countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development according to a study by that body.

* Peru: A U.S. appeals court ruled that a case by indigenous plaintiffs from Peru against Occidental Petroleum should be heard in Los Angeles instead of Peru.

* Colombia: A U.S. diplomatic document revealed by Wikileaks showed that despite his tough-guy rhetoric former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe tried to secretly negotiate with the FARC guerillas.

Image – Mercopress (“The spectacular Uyuni salt lake that holds world’s largest lithium deposits.”)
Online Sources- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, ABC News,, LAHT

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

French court tries Pinochet-era officials

Former Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet may be deceased but some of his cohorts have been pursued by the long arm of the law. In the latest case, fourteen former officials including an ex-defense minister and the former chief of the secret police are being tried in absentia in a French court.

The defendants, who include an Argentine, were accused of numerous charges including the kidnapping and torture of four Frenchmen who disappeared in Chile between 1973 and 1975. Among the four “vanished” men is a former priest as well as two members of a Chilean leftists party arrested as part of the infamous Operation Condor.

Approximately thirty witnesses are expected to appear at the trial that began today and is planned to end on December 17th. The trial is based on complaints filed in 1998 by the victims' families, and originally included indictments against five people who were alive at the time including Pinochet.

According to an article by France24, the lawsuit takes advantages of several unique aspects of the French legal system:
The country’s criminal code can be applied to foreigners guilty of crimes committed against French citizens outside its borders. In addition, French judges have accepted that the forced disappearances constitute a “continuous crime” against the four victims and have cancelled the statute of limitations that would have exempted the accused from trial.
Some of the accused are already serving short prison sentences in South America while others live freely in Chile. Though they probably will not serve additional prison time if the defendants are convicted, lawyers for families of the disappeared men hope this can bring justice to their presumably dead loved ones. "Of course, Chile does not extradite its nationals, but Chile will be their prison - and if they cross a border, they will be arrested," said a lawyer representing one of the family members to BBC News.

Image- Reuters via BBC News (“The trial is being attended by families of the four French citizens who disappeared.”)
Online Sources- BBC News, NPR, France24

Getting away with murder

The big news out of Colombia is the havoc caused by some of the heaviest rainfall in decades (and to a lesser extent reports that the FARC rebels will free five hostages). This post, however, will focus on a miscarriage of justice that occurred last week.

Jorge Ivan Laverde, a former paramilitary commander, had his sentenced reduced significantly after authorities deemed that he cooperated in a demobilization program. Laverde confessed to ordering the murders of over 4000 people and having their bodies incinerated in an oven. Furthermore he claimed to have personally executed 98 people during his time as the head of one of the blocs of the right-wing United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC, in Spanish). Yet under he statutes of the 2005 Peace and Justice Law, Laverde’s original punishment of forty years in prison was sliced to a scant eight years.

The Laverde case is symbolic of the problems behind the paramilitary amnesty program championed by the government. Last June two paramilitary leaders were sentenced to eight years in jail after confessing to participating in a number of massacres. Additionally, as was written in a Latin American Herald Tribune article:
The AUC’s more than 31,000 fighters demobilized between the end of 2003 and mid-2006 as part of a peace process with then-President Alvaro Uribe, although successor groups have since emerged that comprise between 4,000 and 10,000 members, depending on the source.
The Laverde incident wasn’t the only recent injustice regarding the paramilitaries; last month, an Israeli mercenary accused of training AUC troops was allowed to leave a Russian prison and return home free.

In the meantime, current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that he would continue the demobilizing program though a recent Constitutional Court ruling knocked out a key component of the Peace and Justice Law.

Image- Radio Santa Fe (Carlos Castaño was the founder and head of the AUC until 2004 when he was murdered under mysterious circumstances).
Online Sources- Herald Sun, Reuters, Xinhua, BBC News, LAHT, AP, Colombia Reports

The year that was: The (Peruvian) pen is mightier than the sword

We continue our look at some of the top stories of 2010 with a high honor granted to one of Latin America’s most famous authors.

In October, Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa was named as this year’s Nobel Literature Prize winner. Though oddsmakers named the likes of Philip Roth and Alice Munro as favorites, the Nobel committee cited Vargas Llosa’s “cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat". The 1995 Cervantes Prize winner and former presidential candidate thus became the sixth Latin American to win such a prestigious honor.

As part of his Nobel lecture in Stockholm on Tuesday, Vargas Llosa praised the maturation of democracy in Latin America though he also criticized the “pseudo populist, clownish” governments in parts of the region. Politics aside, he also gave some powerful and inspiring on the importance of literature in our modern world:
"We would be worse than we are without the good books we have read, more conformist, not as restless, more submissive, and the critical spirit, the engine of progress, would not even exist," he argued. "Like writing, reading is a protest against the insufficiencies of life. When we look in fiction for what is missing in life, we are saying, with no need to say it or even to know it, that life as it is does not satisfy our thirst for the absolute – the foundation of the human condition – and should be better."
The following video is of a 2007 Al Jazeera interview of Vargas Llosa by British journalist David Frost. He echoed the sentiments expressed in his speech this week including proclaiming that “literature is not only entertainment…writers and intellectuals can have an impact on political life.”

Video Source - YouTube
Online Sources- The Guardian, Times of India, NPR, The Latin Americanist

Daily Headlines: December 8, 2010

* Latin America: A report by the United Nations Environment Program and major climate talks in Cancun, Mexico concluded that glaciers in the Southern Cone region of South America are melting at an alarming rate.

* Haiti: Protests continued in Port-au-Prince after Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council declared that Jude Celestin and former first lady Mirlande Manigat will face each other in a runoff for the presidency.

* Argentina: Spanish oil firm Repsol reportedly found several massive fields of natural gas reserves in the Patagonia region.

* Mexico: Is a fourteen-year-old teen accused of being a Mexican drug gang hitman also a U.S. citizen?

Image –
Online Sources- AFP, USA TODAY, The Latin Americanist, CNN, Bloomberg

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Follow-up: Isreal peeved over Palestinian recognition

On Monday we looked at the decision made by several Latin American states to formally recognize a Palestinian state. "Israeli and U.S. officials who already critiqued Brazil’s move will likely condemn Argentina’s decision," we wrote in that post. As was noted in BBC News on Tuesday our assumption was not a bad guess:
Israel has reacted angrily to Argentina's recognition of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders...

Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the moves were irresponsible.

"They never made any contribution to [the peace process]... and now they're making a decision that is completely contrary to everything that has been agreed so far," he said.

Costa Rica, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela along with roughly 100 other countries have previously recognized a Palestinian state. Aside from the announcements made in recent days by Brazil and Argentina, Uruguayan officials said that they will officially recognize Palestine next year.

It remains to be seen if other Latin American countries will also engage in this "recognition diplomacy" regarding Palestine. An estimated 500,000 people of Palestinian background reside in Chile while El Salvador and Honduras allegedly have "substantial Palestinian populations."

Image - Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom via ("Palestinians walk past the Brazilian (r.) and the Argentinean (l.) flags hanging on a shop in the center of the West Bank city of Ramallah on Dec. 7. Argentina is the latest in Latin America to recognize an independent Palestinian state, just days after Brazil.") Online Sources -, The Latin Americanist, BBC News, Foreign Policy Passport

Lengthy Chilean miner strike ends

One of the most notable stories of this past year was the rescue of 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for approximately 70 days. Though the media tended to focus on the human-interest side of the story, the incident also shined a light on the problems regarding the Chilean mining industry.

Weeks after the rescue at the San Jose Mine, employees at the Collahuasi copper mine went on strike. The trade union representing the workers at the world’s third largest copper mine sought an increase in wages and benefits. Despite government intervention both management and employees the strike that began on November 5th became the longest recorded at a foreign-owned Chilean copper mine.

Last week union and company representatives finally returned to the bargaining table and on Monday most of the strikers backed an agreement. After thirty-two days the stoppage finally ended and striking workers returned to their posts on Tuesday.

So was the strike worth it? It depends on who you ask; for instance, a spokesman for the mine’s owner claimed that operations were “normal” though it wasn’t specified what “normal” meant. Meanwhile, union President Manuel Munoz told the local press that the deal signified “a win for the union movement in Chile.” He may be right according to the terms of the deal:
The offer included a bonus of about $25,000, a 3.25 percent average increase in base salary and improvements in health, housing and education benefits.
Image- REUTERS/Fabian Cambero via Reuters (“Workers march in support of a strike of Collahuasi copper mine at Iquique city, some 1862 km (1156 miles) north of Santiago November 24, 2010.” The banner reads “Collahuasi (mining company) saved the 33 (trapped workers) and buries its 1531 miners.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Bloomberg, BusinessWeek

World Watch: Nuked

* World: While international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program ended on a “vague” note, a deal was signed allowing a French firm to construct a pair of nuclear reactors in India.

* Ivory Coast: Hundreds of people are leaving the Ivory Coast amid growing fears of post-election violence.

* Middle East: Will the dropping of a U.S. demand to freeze Israeli settlements facilitate peace talks between that country and the Palestinian Authority?

* Britain: A British court denied bail to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange after he surrendered to authorities over sexual assault allegations.

Image – Reuters/Philippe Wojazer via Reuters (“Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) shakes hands with France's President Nicolas Sarkozy as they arrive for a meeting at Hyderabad house in New Delhi, December 6, 2010.”)
Online Sources- The Guardian, CNN, BBC News, MSNBC

The year that was: Up with Uruguay!

For the next few days we will highlight some of what we feel are the top stories of 2010. We’ll also post next week a poll where you can vote on what you think should be the leading story of the year.

One of the surprises of the year in the sports world was Uruguay’s extraordinary run to the semifinals of the soccer World Cup. The cynics will focus on Luis Suarez’ handball in a crucial match against Ghana. But la garra charrua demonstrated a gutsy performance throughout the tournament even in their one-goal losses in the semis and third-place games to the Netherlands and Germany, respectively.

Despite the great team effort, it’s necessary to recognize one player in particular: Diego Forlan. The striker deservedly won the best player at the World Cup honors for his stellar leadership as well as phenomenal goals such as those shown in the video compilation below:

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, BBC Sport
Video Source - YouTube

Daily Headlines: December 7, 2010

* Mexico: In an insensitive act of violence a Ciudad Juarez nursery school was allegedly burnt to the ground after its owners did not pay extortion money.

* Central America: Costa Rica closed its embassy in Nicaragua as part of a tense-filled border dispute between both countries.

* Venezuela: Candidates from President Hugo Chavez’s party emerged as the big winners of local elections held amid a backdrop of torrential rains and terrible flooding.

* Haiti: At least five people including two infants were killed when a boat full of Haitian migrants crashed and capsized near the British Virgin Islands.

Image – PRESS TV
Online Sources- AP, BBC News, People’s Daily Online, Bloomberg

Monday, December 6, 2010

World Watch: Plugging Wikileaks?

* Switzerland: While Wikileaks continues to release documents a Swiss bank froze the assets of an account used by the website’s founder, Julian Assange.

* North Korea: International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo could charge North Korea with war crimes over a deadly military attack last month on a South Korean island.

* Ivory Coast: The E.U. could raise sanctions against the Ivory Coast due to the country’s heavily disputed presidential election.

* Iran: Representatives of Iran and “six world powers” met on Monday to discuss concerns about the controversial Iranian nuclear program.

Image – CTV (“Cable released by WikiLeaks reveals Canadian sites 'vital' to U.S.”)
Online Sources- MSNBC, CNN, BBC News, The Guardian

More U.S. tourists to Cuba say Reuters

Is Cuba’s tourism industry on the up-and-up? According to a Reuters article published today the answer is “yes.”

The article cites several “travel industry and diplomatic sources” in claiming that visitors from the U.S. have jumped over the past year. "Through October around 265,000 have traveled. November and December are the peak months, so we expect 330,000 will go to Cuba on direct flights from the United States this year," said airline charter company president Armando Garcia. Furthermore, an unnamed “U.S. State Department source” claimed that the estimated number of tourists from the U.S. to Cuba in 2010 would be over 400,000. Of these visitors the article claimed that most are of Cuban origin; thus implying that the easing of travel restrictions under the Obama administration has had a notable effect on travel.

Tourism is a key portion of a Cuban economy that has been hit hard by the global financial slowdown. Despite the U.S. embargo on Cuba being blamed for decimating the country’s cruise industry, the government has recently allowed foreign cruise ships to dock on the island. Furthermore, Cuban officials claimed that tourism revenue increased in the first nine months of this year by 3.5% with revenues reaching $1.35 billion.

In the meantime, existing U.S. travel restrictions on Cuba might not change any time soon; staunch anti-Castro critic Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee after the Republican majority to that chamber gets sworn in next month. She may have to butt heads with incoming libertarian-leaning members, however, according to The Hill:
Although many conservatives have traditionally supported the ban as a way of pressuring Cuba's communist dictatorship, the incoming class of Republicans brings with it a libertarian streak that favors individual freedoms above government intrusion, many observers note.

That position could place them at odds with GOP incumbents — notably Ros-Lehtinen — who have fought for years to keep U.S. restrictions on Cuba in place.
Image- (“A British-style double-decker offers free sightseeing tours at Varadero beach in Cuba.”)
Online Sources- MSNBC, The Latin Americanist, Reuters,, The Hill, Canadian Press

Latino hockey pioneer retires

Generally Latinos are associated with sports like baseball and soccer. Yet a few hockey players are of Latino background and perhaps one of the most famous Latino players to lace the skates decided to call it quits.

Earlier today Bill Guerin announced that he would retire after an extraordinary eighteen-season career. Guerin, who is of Nicaraguan descent, played for eight different teams and played in four National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star Games. He also was part of the 1996 U.S. team that would upset Canada in the World Cup and the 2002 silver-medal winning team. He was the first player to score at least a twenty goals per season with seven different teams.

Guerin won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 1995 and with the Pittsburgh Penguins last year. Though Guerin may be best remembered as a member of the successful mid-1990s Devils sides, his brief time with Pittsburgh cannot be understated. Acquired at the 2009 trade deadline, Guerin scored twenty-six goals including a pair of game-winners in the playoffs and his invaluable leadership helped the Penguins win the title.

It’s unknown what Guerin’s immediate future will hold; for now, he expressed his immense gratitude towards his family in his retirement speech:
“There's not much I can actually say because I couldn't put into words what you mean to me, what you've sacrificed and how much you guys have done for me. I love you incredibly. I'm looking forward to spending more time with you, and doing all the things I've dreamt about for a long time. I'm looking forward to the second half of my life and you guys being the focal point. I love you guys. Thank you.”
Other Latino players currently playing in the NHL are Scott Gomez (Colombian and Mexican background) and Raffi Torres (Mexican and Peruvian descent). In addition, defenseman Francis Bouillon’s father was originally from Haiti.

Image- Jamie Sabau/Getty Images via CBC (“Bill Guerin will be honored by the Pittsburgh Penguins in an on-ice ceremony before Monday night's game.”)
Online Sources- Official websites of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils, Wikipedia, Sporting News, USA TODAY

Palestine state recognized by South American countries

On Monday the Argentine government recognized a "free and independent” Palestinian state.

In a letter written from Argentine President Cristina Kirchner wrote to Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, the South American government officially recognizes Palestine based on the 1967 borders. Furthermore, Argentina claimed that such a recognition “reflected a general consensus” in the Mercosur economic bloc whose members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

On Friday the Brazilian Foreign Ministry emitted a similar statement to the one announced today by Argentina. ”Considering that the demand presented by his Excellency (Abbas) is just and consistent with the principles upheld by Brazil with regard to the Palestinian issue, Brazil, through this letter, recognizes a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,“ read the statement. Thus, both Argentina and Brazil would back Palestinian demands for a state in areas controlled by Israel (i.e. most of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem).

Israeli and U.S. officials who already critiqued Brazil’s move will likely condemn Argentina’s decision. A cable from the Israeli Foreign Ministry accused Brazil of “advancing in a unilateral manner” by circumventing the 2003 Middle East roadmap for peace. “Brazil is sending a message to the Palestinians that they need not make peace to gain recognition as a sovereign state,” said U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel to Bloomberg.

Despite the controversy a Brazilian official told that recognizing a Palestine state “was the natural thing to do." Indeed over 100 countries, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, have already recognized a Palestinian state. More crucially, however, Brazil becomes the last of the emerging BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) to do so.

In the meantime it appears as if other Latin American states will soon follow the example set by Argentina and Brazil:
Following Brazil and Argentina's footsteps, Uruguay announced Monday that it recognizes an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, according to AFP.

"Uruguay will surely follow the same path as Argentina in 2011," Uruguayan Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto Conde told AFP.

"We are working towards opening a diplomatic representation in Palestine, most likely in Ramallah," he said.
Image- PRESS TV (“Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas (L) and Argentine President Cristina Kirchner.”)
Online Sources- AFP, Mercopress, PRESS TV, Bloomberg,, Jerusalem Post

Tensions rise over Haitian elections

Haiti’s political divisions have deepened over allegations of widespread electoral fraud during last month’s presidential elections. Yesterday ten of the nineteen presidential hopefuls marched with an estimated 1500 protesters and called for the election results to be annulled. As the following video from Al Jazeera shows, the protest in Port-au-Prince turned violent as some demonstrators fought with police:

Despite allegations that President Rene Preval conspired to give the presidency to his party's candidate, Jude Celestin, Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council proclaimed the elections as a “success." A report from an international team of observers from the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community noted a number of voting irregularities such as "deliberate acts of violence and intimidation to derail the electoral process." Yet the group also noted that these problems should not “invalidate the process."

Whoever becomes certified as the next president will have plenty of problems to deal with including Haiti’s crushing poverty as well as rebuilding after last January’s major earthquake. In addition, the next leader will have to contend with a spreading cholera epidemic that has officially claimed over 2000 lives and nearly 89,000 cases.

Online Sources- Herald Sun, BBC News, Voice of America, MSNBC
Video Source - YouTube

Daily Headlines: December 6, 2010 (Updated)

* Colombia: At least 174 people died and 1.5 million people have been affected by one of the wettest rainy seasons in Colombian history. (Update: The death toll has grown to 188 after a dozen bodies were recovered after a landslide near Medellin).

* Latin America:
According to more documents divulged by Wikileaks the U.S. government is working closely with Mexican marines and Brazil sought the technology to build French military jets for sale to other Latin American countries.

* Chile:
Scientists discovered what is believed to be the oldest mine in the Americas - a 12,000-year-old Chilean iron oxide mine.

* Uruguay:
Rest in peace Maria Esther Gatti de Islas; the Uruguayan human rights activist died on Sunday at the age of 92.

Online Sources - MSNBC, Sydney Morning Herald, Voice of America, Reuters, PRESS TV, USA TODAY
Image - MSNBC ("
Residents wade through a flooded street Saturday in Puerto Santander, a town on Colombia's northeastern border with Venezuela.")