Saturday, March 19, 2011

Obama not keen on Brazil Security Council bid

U.S. President Barack Obama began a five-day trip to Latin America with a visit to Brazil. Although he acknowledged the country’s emerging political and economic power he stopped short of endorsing one of Brazil’s top diplomatic goals.

At a press conference with his Brazilian counterpart, Dilma Rousseff, Obama did not back Brazil’s bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council (UNSC). He did express “appreciation” for the bid and backed a reform of the UNSC in a joint statement with Brazilian officials. As part of the reform both governments called for a “modest expansion” of the UNSC.

In her remarks, Rousseff emphasized that reforming the UNSC would help in “the construction of a more multilateral world that will bring peace and harmony for all people.” Yet she seemed to be disappointed that Obama did not endorse Brazil’s campaign for a UNSC permanent seat. Rousseff underlined that her country’s bid was not “a minor interest of bureaucratic occupation of spaces” but would instead make it easier for the UNSC to reach peaceful resolutions.

It could be possible that Obama’s decision was affected by Brazil abstaining from backing the UNSC’s resolution authorizing the use of force on Libya. As Brookings Institution fellow Kevin Casas-Zamora noted, the president’s move may’ve had to more to do with preventing diplomatic problems between the U.S. and Mexico. In addition:
While Mexico has no hope whatsoever of landing a Security Council seat for itself, it nonetheless stands a fairly good chance of bringing most of Latin America around the conclusion that the current arrangement, whereby the region permanently has two rotating seats at the table, suits everybody just fine.
The primary goal of Obama’s visit to Brazil is to strengthen economic ties between both nations. "The goal today is ... essentially to make sure that we work to facilitate an effective dialogue," Obama said at a meeting with Brazilian CEOs.

Obama and Rousseff signed a number of trade and energy pacts including one key agreement for the U.S. to become "a strategic energy partner" to Brazil. Though Brazil has placed a greater emphasis on biofuels the South American country could become a major oil exporter with the development of several major offshore oil fields.

Image- AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais via (“U.S. President Barack Obama, left, with Brazilian President Dilma Vana Rousseff, right, during their joint news conference in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday.”)
Online Sources- NASDAQ, BBC News,, Toronto Sun, Council on Foreign Relations, USA TODAY, Reuters, Brookings Institution, The Guardian

Friday, March 18, 2011

Today’s Video: Aristide's arrival

We'll be back over the weekend to publish several posts in order to make up for the lack of articles during the past few days. On Saturday the focus will be on U.S. President Barack Obama's diplomatic trip to Latin America while we'll analyze other stories of interest on Sunday.

In the meantime, the following video from TeleSUR showed the arrival of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Port-au-Prince on Friday morning:

"Today the Haitian people mark the end of exile and coup d'etats while peacefully we must move from social exclusion to social inclusion," Aristide said to reporters who gathered at the Toussaint L'Overture Airport. He did not address Sunday's upcoming presidential runoff though he did critique the exclusion of his Fanmi Lavalas party from participating in the elections.

Hundreds of jubilant supporters cheered and held signs of support while he traveled from the airport to his former home in the neighborhood of Tabarre. Aristide backers living in the Miami enclave of Little Haiti also celebrated the return of "Titid" to his homeland.

Aristide returned to the Caribbean country on a flight from South Africa and after having spent nearly eight years in exile. Traveling with him where several family members as well as actor Danny Glover who deemed Aristide's return as "a historic moment for the Haitian people."

The U.S. officials were none too pleased over the past week with rumors over Aristide's return. On Tuesday Obama called his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, and urged him to delay Aristide from leaving until after Sunday's runoff. National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor expressed the government's "deep concerns that President Aristide’s return to Haiti in the closing days of the election could be destabilizing."

Video Source - TeleSUR via YouTube
Online Sources - Reuters, CNN, NPR,, CBC News, IOL

Daily Headlines: March 18, 2011

* Colombia: Colombia’s refugee crisis worsened with the displacement this month of over 800 mostly Afro-Colombian residents originally from the Pacific coast.

* Venezuela: One fatality has been reported as a result of a “resurgence” of the swine flu in Venezuela.

* Guatemala: A class action lawsuit was filed against the U.S. government in the name of a group of Guatemalans secretly infected with syphilis in the 1940s.

* Brazil: A French court has charged airplane manufacturer Airbus with manslaughter over the 2009 crash of Air France flight 447 off the Brazilian coast.

Image – AFP Photo / Inaldo Perez via Russia Today (Colombia has the world’s second-largest population of internal refugees).
Online Sources- CBS News, CNN, LAHT, Bloomberg

Aristede arrives in Haiti after exile (Updated)

Update (12:00 pm): From the AP (via NPR):

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned home from seven years in exile to a celebrity welcome Friday, mobbed by close allies and journalists outside his private plane before being hustled into an airport VIP lounge as crowds of supporters rallied in the streets outside the terminal.

Aristide waved and blew a kiss to the small crowd at the runway, then began to deliver a speech in which he thanked his chanting, jubilant supporters. His wife, Mildred, wept.

"This man is our father, without him we haven't lived,'" said 31-year-old Sainvil Petit-Frere, one of about 3,000 cheering and chanting supporters in a quickly growing crowd. "This is the doctor who will heal the country.'"

Update (10:30 am): According to the AP a plane carrying ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristede and has family landed safely minutes ago in Haiti.

Former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide is on his way back to the Caribbean country according to several news reports.

Aristide, who was exiled after a 2004 uprising, boarded a plane in the South African city of Johannesburg along with "his wife, Mildred, their two daughters and U.S. actor and political activist Danny Glover, The Associated Press reported." He departed on Thursday night and is scheduled to arrive in Haiti around noon local time.

As we mentioned on Tuesday, Aristide's return to Haiti was opposed by U.S. diplomats who worry that his arrival could destabilize Sunday's presidential runoff election. Indeed, it has been reported that U.S. President Barack Obama called his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, and urged him to prevent Aristide from leaving. (South African officials previously said that they could not stop him from returning to Haiti).

Despite being out of power for nearly seven years Aristide still has some popular support in Haiti. (Thousands of his backers last month marched in Port-au-Prince and called for his return). Yet he may suffer a similar fate as recently returned ex-strongman Jean-Claude Duvalier who may be formally charged with human rights abuses. Aristide could face criminal charges according to the Miami Herald's website:
Following his ouster, Haiti’s U.S.-backed interim government issued four blistering reports from two government investigative commissions, including one led by Haiti’s current Minister of Justice Paul Denis. The reports alleged that Aristide had embezzled more than $20 million of his country’s meager public funds for the benefit of his private charities, his political party and several private firms that existed only on paper. But the investigations stalled. His lawyers have always denied the allegations.
In a news conference shortly before he left, Aristide wished "a prosperous life and all the best" to his South African followers. It remains to be seen if "prosperity" awaits Aristide after he arrives in Haiti on Friday.

Online Sources - Seattle Times, The Latin Americanist, Reuters,, BBC News, CBC News, Democracy Now
Image Source - Ramon Espinosa/AP via The Guardian ("Jean-Bertrand Aristide's picture is held up by a demonstrator protesting against Haiti's President René Préval.")

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Today’s Video: Eire

In honor of St. Patrick's Day it's worth recognizing the Irish influence in Latin America. The following video highlights the Irish diaspora in Argentina:

Revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, actor Anthony Quinn, and independence figure Bernardo O'Higgins were all Latin Americans of Irish background.

Video Source - YouTube

Daily Headlines: March 17, 2011

* South America: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff claimed that the 2014 World Cup will lead to the creation of 730,000 new jobs while Argentina and Uruguay might present a joint bid for the 2030 tournament.

* Honduras: Officials announced that embassies would be closed in five Latin American countries that refuse to recognize the government that came into power after the ouster of Manuel Zelaya.

* Cuba: The Catholic Church claimed that the Cuban government would release another political prisoner who has been behind bars for at least eight years.

* U.S.: A Los Angeles police oversight panel ruled that a police officer was justified in the controversial shooting death of a Guatemalan day laborer last September.

Image – BBC Sport (Argentina won the 1978 World Cup on home soil after beating the Netherlands in the championship game).
Online Sources- Xinhua, UPI, TVNZ,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today’s Video: Yum

A little food for thought (pun possibly intended) in Nicaragua via Anthony Bourdain:

Video Source - YouTube

World Watch: Radioactivity

* Japan: Authorities keep trying to control an ailing nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan while stocks worldwide tumbled due to fears over the Japanese economy.

* Libya: UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called for an "immediate ceasefire" though intense fighting continues between factions loyal to and opposed to Muammar Gaddafi.

* Iran: Could boxing legend Muhammad Ali help free two U.S. hikers imprisoned in Iran?

* World: European police uncovered what is believed to be the world’s largest child pornography network with an estimated 70,000 members.

Image – AP via The Guardian (“The severely damaged unit 4 of the Fukushima nuclear complex in northeastern Japan. Behind it, white smoke billows from unit 3.”)
Online Sources- MSNBC, Reuters, BusinessWeek, Al Jazeera English

Mr. Calderon goes to Washington – I spy with my little eye...

One of the most important deals reached during the recent visit by Mexican president Felipe Calderon to the White House had to do with bilateral trade. But according to a New York Times article published today both Calderon and Barack Obama agreed to continue with the use of U.S. military drones along the border with Mexico.

The aim of the previously undisclosed agreement according to the Times is to collect intelligence on Mexican drug gangs. The data gathered by the drones reportedly helped with the capture of several suspects connected with the shooting death of U.S. immigration agent Jaime Zapata.

Mexico’s constitution strictly limits the operation of foreign military and law enforcement authorities. Nonetheless, CNN cited a statement from the Mexican National Security Council affirming that the drone activities are “undertaken with full respect to the law.”

The drone program started in February and includes the use of the Air Force’s Global Hawk that is unarmed, uses sensors and can reach altitudes of 60,000 feet.

The border drones have been previously used in order to catch illegal migrants though that program was not without its mistakes:
It used to be that the Department of Homeland Security flew drones over the U.S.-Mexican border to watch for illegal immigrants. That proliferation of military technology to a civilian mission isn’t without its share of malfunctions: Not only did the communications systems occasionally fritz out, but on at least one occasion, a small drone — the property of the Mexican government — crashed into an El Paso backyard.

Image- France 24
Online Sources- BBC News, The Latin Americanist, New York Times, CNN,

Venezuela, Chile nuclear plans in limbo

The crisis over Japan's Daiichi Fukushima power station has led to numerous countries around the world questioning nuclear power and their own reactors. Only three countries in Latin America- Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina- have functioning nuclear plants though plans for a fourth country may have to wait a little longer than anticipated.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez announced on Tuesday that his country would suspend plans for the development of nuclear power. He explained that the decision to freeze plans for a “peaceful nuclear program” came as result of the problems with Japan’s nuclear power program after Friday’s earthquake and tsunami. “I do not have the least doubt that this (the potential for a nuclear catastrophe in Japan) is going to alter in a very strong way the plans to develop nuclear energy in the world,” said Chavez.

Chavez originally penned a deal last year with Russian officials for the development of nuclear power in Venezuela. For the time being those plans are frozen.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos praised Chavez’ decision as “an opportune precaution” against developing nuclear power in Venezuela.

The Japanese nuclear situation may also affect the Chilean government’s aspirations to develop nuclear power. Opposition legislators have expressed doubts over a planned U.S.-Chile nuclear energy pact that includes building a nuclear reactor in Chile within the next ten years. Nonetheless, Chilean president Sebastián Piñera said that the agreement would be signed on Friday, two days before President Barack Obama’s visit to the Southern Cone nation.

According to Fox News Latino, numerous analysts are worried over the safety of the six existing Latin American nuclear power plants such as in Argentina:
"The gravest thing happening in Argentina, and this is a notable difference than in Japan, where the population is prepared for not only natural disasters but are technologically advanced...there is no preparation," said Raúl Montenegro, president of biology at the Foundation of the Defense of the Atmosphere.
Japan’s nuclear crisis has also hit the Brazilian stock market and national currency very hard this week.

Despite freezing Venezuela’s nuclear plans, Chavez noted a silver lining for the major oil exporting country: he predicted that demand for petroleum would increase due to global concerns over nuclear energy.

Image – AP via ABC News (“In this photo taken Friday Feb. 18, 2011, people look down at nuclear reactor RECH-1, located in the pool of water, at the Nuclear Study Center in Santiago, Chile.”)
Online Sources- Fox News Latino, Bloomberg, Reuters, El Tiempo, La Tercera,, MSNBC

Report: Most Puerto Rican kids in poverty

A majority of Puerto Rican children are in poverty and face dwindling prospects for the future according to a report by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

The NCLR study found that 56% of children on the island live below the poverty line, triple the figure or the U.S. as a whole. The “2010 KIDS COUNT - Puerto Rico Data Book” also noted that the commonwealth has one of the highest teen birth rates in the U.S. and leads all U.S. states and territories in the proportion of youth who neither work or go to school (14.6%).

What factors contribute to this problematic data on Puerto Rico’s youth? According to the report’s main author, Nayde Rivera-Hernández, one of the main factors is the prevalence of single-parent households. (Children live in 49% of them said Rivera-Hernández). In a press conference yesterday she detailed that the average household income in Puerto Rico in 2006-2008 was $20,795, over $1000 less than the poverty level for a family of four ($21,834).

While protests continue against government plans to impose a university fee, Rivera-Hernández called for officials to do more in order to combat “low educational levels” hurting the island’s youth.

Earlier today a White House task force on Puerto Rico advocated that a two-stage plebiscite take place to help determine the island’s political status. Gov. Luis Fortuño, a Republican who has called for Puerto Rican statehood, praised the White House report as one that “breaks the myths” of backing commonwealth status. Yet the NCLR could provide ammunition to anti-statehood activists who claim that Puerto Rico is too poor to become the 51st state.

Image- Prensa Latina
Online Sources-,, The Latin Americanist, FOX News Latino, America Quarterly Blog, MSNBC, Huffington Post, National Council of La Raza

Daily Headlines: March 16, 2011

* Mexico: Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored two decisive goals to help Manchester United progress into the Champions League quarterfinals.

* Nicaragua: Representatives for Dole Foods claimed that a federal court dismissed a lawsuit brought up by allegedly poisoned Nicaraguan plantation workers.

* Chile: Variety show host Don Francisco (real name: Mario Kreutzberger) denied tampering with the DNA testing being used in a paternity lawsuit against him.

* Venezuela: Hundreds of students, professors, and workers marched through the streets of Caracas yesterday calling for more public spending on universities.

Image – Reuters via IOL (“Manchester United's Javier Hernandez celebrates with Wayne Rooney (right) after scoring his second goal during their Champions League soccer match against Olympique Marseille at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England.”)
Online Sources- UPI, Press TV, RTT News, The Latin Americanist, The Telegraph

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

World Watch: Mortality

* Japan: The death toll from Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan rose to at least 3373 people though the country’s disaster preparedness system was credited with saving hundreds of lives.

* Bahrain: Hundreds of anti-government protesters were injured in clashes with domestic security forces and troops from neighboring Saudi Arabia.

* Italy: Prosecutors reportedly accused Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with having sex thirteen times with an under-age Moroccan teen.

* Ivory Coast: Violence has intensified between factions loyal and opposed to Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.

Image – Kim Jae-Hwan/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian (“Residents on a devastated street in Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture on Tuesday.”)
Online Sources- Xinhua, BBC News, Voice of America, BusinessWeek, MSNBC

Haiti: Aristide to return on Thursday?

Exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide could be back in his native Haiti this week according to the AFP news agency.

"Aristide is expected this Thursday in Port-au-Prince," reportedly said an unnamed source close to the ex-president in the AFP article published Tuesday afternoon. The article also cited Aristide spokeswoman Maryse Narcisse who claimed that preparations were under way for his return before Sunday.

Aristide’s possible return from South Africa could seriously affect the Haitian presidential runoff set to take place on Sunday between musician Michel Martelly and former first lady Mirlande Manigat. Both candidates gave their reservations over Aristide; Martelly today expressed his hope that “(Aristide’s) return doesn't create instability for the elections” while Manigat said last week that she “would prefer that he comes back after the elections.”

Earlier this week U.S. State Department officials have insisted that Aristide avoid returning to Haiti until elections are over. Yet South African deputy foreign minister Marius Fransman admitted that it is “not our responsibility” to decide when Aristide can return to Haiti. Moreover, Aristide attorney Ira Kurzban told CNN last week that his client “has no interest in meddling or being involved in the election” or with Haitian politics.

Journalist Kim Ives had plenty to say about the Aristide situation in an article in The Guardian. A recent message on his Twitter account was more concise and to the point:
The Martelly & Manigat show faced with Aristide's return is like two 60 watt bulbs burning in a yard when the sun comes up after 7 years.
Aristide was overthrown on two separate occasions including in 2004 after a “popular uprising.”

Image- AP via ABC News (“Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide seen during a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa in this Jan. 15, 2010 file photo.”)
Online Sources- Montreal Gazette, The Independent, BBC News, AFP, Independent Online, Twitter

Freed dissident blasts “totalitarian” Cuba

Days after leaving prison Cuban dissident (and Nobel Prize nominee) Oscar Elias Biscet blasted the Castro regime.

The Cuban government is a “totalitarian dictatorship akin to Hitler or Stalin” said the physician in an Internet-based press conference from his Havana home. Biscet denounced the government as “anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-black” and he called for the resignation of president Raul Castro.

Biscet also discussed the Cuban opposition movement and claimed that it’s “strong” yet “scattered”. He praised his fellow dissidents for advocating what he viewed as “advances” such as “slowing down” the use of death penalty and the number of abortions.

Biscet was allowed to leave prison on Friday after having served eight years of a 25-year prison sentence for "counter-revolutionary activities." He was the last of a group of 52 prisoners freed by Cuban authorities under an agreement reached with the Catholic Church last July.

Biscet was freed one day before a Cuban court sentenced U.S. contractor Alan Gross to 15 years in prison for allegedly supplying the opposition with computer equipment.

Image- AFP via BBC News (“Oscar Biscet said he would continue fighting for human rights.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, El Nuevo herald,, Al Jazeera English, CNN

Mexico: Women’s rights activists flee Juarez

While U.S. and Mexican authorities continue to debate over arms smuggling drug-related violence continues to run rampant over parts of Mexico. This violence has adversely affected women in the northern border region including females in positions of power and women’s rights activists.

Local police chief Marisol Valles Garcia fled across the border last week seeking political asylum in the U.S. and was subsequently was fired from her post. The twenty-year-old made headlines last year and was viewed as a symbol of resistance against the country’s narcotraffickers. Yet the possibility of “some new capo taking over the territory and demanding absolute unconditionality” according to a local human rights ombudsman seemed to have taken its toll on Garcia.

Prison warden Rebeca Nicasio became one of the latest victims of violence in Mexico after she was slain yesterday. An inmate stabbed Nicasio during a “routine inspection” at the infamous prison where about 150 inmates escaped last year. The prison escape, which occurred last December, was done with the cooperation of corrupt prison officials including Nicasio’s predecessor who has gone missing.

This month alone a pair of Ciudad Juarez women’s rights activists, Malú García Andrade and Marisela Ortíz fled across the border to the U.S. and filed for asylum. In January, Garcia denounced to the local Attorney General’s office that she became a target for threats. Ortiz, meanwhile, served as the head of the “May Our Daughters Return Home” association yet feared for her safety after receiving several anonymous death threats. One of these vulgar messages aimed at both women:
“If you want to keep supporting that fucking whore of a professional Malu, piece of shit teacher Marisela (sic) Ortiz, we will fuck over your family staring with you son…who is on our list. Att. JL ____.”
Women like Garcia and Ortiz face a Catch-22 situation; if they stay in Mexico to help their communities they risk getting assassinated. Migrating to the U.S. may bring a measure of safety but that could be taken away if they get deported back to their homeland.

Image- Margarito Perez/Reuters via (“Pink crosses made out of paper, each representing a woman who has been killed, are placed on a square in Cuernavaca in Mexico on March 7.”)
Online Sources- Diario Digital Juarez, RTT News, LAHT, El Universal, BBC News, ABC News, UPI, AHN, The Guardian

Daily Headlines: March 15, 2011

* Latin America: The Inter-American Development Bank concluded that remittances to Latin American and the Caribbean are expected to increase this year though a weaker dollar and rising inflation could affect its “purchasing power” in some countries.

* Mexico: A judge ruled that "Presumed Guilty", a documentary critical of the Mexican judicial system, can continue its popular run in movie theaters.

* Haiti: U.S. State Department officials have urged exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to avoid returning to Haiti at least until presidential elections take place on Sunday.

* Venezuela: According to a report by a local NGO, 3114 protests (or an average of 8.5 per day) took place in Venezuela during 2010.

Image – LAHT
Online Sources- El Universal, ABC News, The Latin Americanist, BBC News, Hispanically Speaking News

Monday, March 14, 2011

World Watch: Beyond Japan

The biggest news story of the past few days has been the devastation caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on Japan. It’s worth noting, however, that there are other important headlines in the world news including the following below:

* Libya: While Libya’s civil conflict continues in several cities, foreign powers are divided over whether or not to impose a no-fly zone.

* Tibet: Exiled lawmakers are expected to soon decide if they'll accept the Dalai Lama’s proposal to step down from his political role.

* Bahrain: White House officials denied that Saudi troops entering Bahrain in order to protect the government could be classified as an “invasion.”

* Spain:
On Friday Spaniards commemorated the seventh anniversary of series of bombings by Islamic extremists that killed 191 people in Madrid.

Video Source – Al Jazeera English via YouTube
Online Sources- CNN, BBC News, Al Jazeera English, Reuters, MSNBC, The Guardian

Daily Headlines: March 14, 2011

* Brazil: O Estado de Sao Paulo reporter Andrei Netto was freed from a Libyan prison last week after being detained for approximately five days.

* Guatemala: Jorge Sosa may be under custody but that hasn’t deterred U.S. and Canadian authorities from “closing in” other ex-Guatemalan military members who participated in 1982’s Dos Erres Massacre.

* Haiti: Five candidates who lost in the first round of Haiti's presidential election have backed Michel Martelly in the March 20th runoff.

* Ecuador: Attorneys representing Chevron filed an appeal against an Ecuadorian court verdict last month that ordered the company to pay a $9.5 billion fine.

Image – AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere via (Brazilian journalist Andrei Netto addresses reporters, during an interview with the Associated Press in Paris, Saturday March 12, 2011.”)
Online Sources-, Reuters, The Canadian Press, France24, The Latin Americanist

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bad timing could affect Guillermo del Toro project

ELAINE: A big coincidence.

RAVA: Not a big coincidence. A coincidence!

ELAINE: No, that's a big coincidence.

RAVA: That's what a coincidence is! There are no small coincidences and big coincidences!

ELAINE: No, there are degrees of coincidences.

RAVA: No, there are only coincidences! ..Ask anyone! (Enraged, she asks everyone in the elevator) Are there big coincidences and small coincidences, or just coincidences? (Silent) ..Well?! Well?!..
--- Scene from the “Seinfeld” episode entitled “The Statue

Fate can work in strange ways, particularly in relation to man-made and natural disasters. The Kristin Hersch-led rock group 50-Foot Wave received an inordinate amount of attention when their first album came out weeks after the infamous 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. The original version of the Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes” was overhauled shortly after it premiered due to the 1934 shipwreck of the SS Morro Castle. “Collateral Damage”, an action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was delayed from its release due to the 9/11 attacks and the finished product did not include a scene with Sofia Vergara playing an airplane hijacker.

On the same day as a deadly earthquake and tsunami Japan details emerged of the possible plot of a film directed by Mexico’s Guillermo del Toro called “Pacific Rim”. The coincidence between the real event and the purported plot of the “Japan-based disaster film” is hair-raising:
Pacific Rim is set in a world where, in November 2012, giant monsters began emerging from a hole in the Pacific Ocean and wreaking havoc on Japan, leaving the nation devastated, and all but wiping out the population. The film mostly takes place some decades later, when the only hope for the “leftovers” are giant battling robots commanded by young pilots, two of whom will head through the monsters’ portal to find the “Anteverse” and fight them there at the source.
The movie is reported to be “in development” and planned for release next year; thus, there is ample time for any modifications to the movie’s script. Though as Sean O’Neal pointed out in The A.V. Club “if we were del Toro, we’d probably be feeling a little squeamish about hitting the storyboards today.”

Del Toro reportedly agreed to go behind the lens for “Pacific Rim” a few days before the disaster in Japan.

“Degrees of coincidence” indeed.

Online Sources- 24 Frames, The Black Table, BBC,, The A.V. Club,

LatAm ”desaparecidos” in post-earthquake Japan

Thousands of people are still missing roughly sixty hours since a 9.0-magntude earthquake and subsequent tsunami battered Japan. Among those yet to be located are a number of individuals originally from Latin America:
  • Peru: Twenty-eight Peruvians living in Japan are missing according to ambassador Juan Carlos Capuñay. He declared that these people have yet to be classified as “disappeared” since they may be incommunicado and not dead. Yet with some of the families of an estimated 60,000 Peruvians residing in Japan worried about their loved ones, the ambassador emphasized that diplomats are relying on social networks in order to obtain information.
  • Mexico: At least thirty Mexicans are missing in the tsunami-ravaged Tohuku region according to the Mexican Embassy in Japan. Though there have yet to officially be any Mexican fatalities that figure could change depending on the fate of the missing people.
  • Chile: Chile’s Foreign Relations Minister, Alfredo Moreno, said today that the whereabouts of two Chileans in Japan is unknown. “Of the nine Chileans potentially residing the high-risk area (of Sendai) seven have been contacted… and they are all in good condition”, said Moreno to the local press. (On Saturday morning Moreno claimed that there were sixteen Chileans missing in Japan).
  • Colombia: Two Colombian families may be missing in Sendai according to a statement from the Colombian Embassy in Japan. The number of members of the missing families was not mentioned in the diplomatic cable.
100,000 Japanese troops have reportedly been involved in relief efforts while at least 69 countries have pledged to send rescue missions to the Asian country. Mexico’s elite Topos rescue brigade is ready to go to Japan as soon as Monday (assuming that air travel is resumed by then).

Image- Masatoshi Okauchi / Rex Features via The Guardian (“The earthquake and tsunami devastated many towns in Miyagi prefecture, where the police estimated that as many as 10,000 people may have died.”)
Online Sources- La Nacion, La Cuarta, CBC News,, RPP, Proceso, El Universal, El Espectador, Voice of America, Milenio