Saturday, May 28, 2011

Manuel Zelaya returns to Honduras

Nearly two years after being ousted from the Honduran presidency Manuel Zelaya returned to his home country.

The former leader arrived in the capital city of Tegucigalpa this afternoon on a flight from neighboring Nicaragua. Thousands of supporters of the deposed leader gathered near Tegucigalpa's main airport and celebrated the return of Zelaya.

After arriving, Zelaya addressed his backers and praised the "reconciliation" pact he signed along with current president Porfirio Lobo that facilitated his return:

Furthermore, according to AFP:

"We arrive full of optimism and hope to search for an exit to this crisis. At one moment we had almost lost it all, but they never defeated us," he told his supporters.

Zelaya, 58, thanked his supporters and paid homage to those "who spilled their blood in this plaza," including an 18 year-old shot dead during a protest a week after the coup.

"Their blood was not spilled in vain because we are here still engaged in the struggle," he told the enthusiastic crowd.

Despite the warm welcome some Hondurans were upset with Zelaya's return from exile. "(He) should focus on singing and playing his guitar, which he does well ... and forget about politics, because his time has passed," said ex-legislator Irma Acosta. Even if Zelaya does "forget about politics" the deal reached between him and Lobo last Monday permits the formation of a new political party by Zelaya's supporters.

The pact, which was facilitated by the Colombian and Venezuelan governments, also permits for the country's planned return to the Organization of American States (OAS). According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza claimed that Honduras "has already met the necessary conditions for its reentry into the organization". Reinstatement could come as soon as next month.

Video Source - YouTube
Online Sources - The Guardian, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Bloomberg, BBC News

Today’s Video: Go, go, Chicharito (Updated)

Update (4:45 pm):

In the end it was more like "no, no, Chicharito."

For the second time in three years Barcelona beat Manchester United to capture the the UEFA Champions League crown. The Catalan side absolutely outplayed their English rivals in a 3-1 victory earlier today.

Lionel Messi of Argentina was named man of the match after scoring the game-winning goal early in the second half. But it was a total team effort that gave Barca the title and championship medals for Messi, fellow countryman Javier Mascherano, and Brazilians Dani Alves and Adriano.

Mexican Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez was a non-factor in the match and the disappointment in his face was evident after he received the runners-up medal.

Ecuadorian Antonio Valencia, who hoped to cap his comeback months after a serious injury, was also ineffective and lucky not to have received a yellow card after multiple hard fouls against Barca players.

Original post:

At the time of this post the UEFA Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United is scoreless after seventeen minutes of play. Ahead of the kickoff the Spanish side was the odds-on favorite to win the European title.

The Barca team coached by Jose "Pep" Guardiola and starring the likes of Lio Messi and Andres Iniesta are looking to consolidate themselves as one of the best clubs ever. United can beat their rivals by playing a flawless match at Wembley. Striker Wayne Rooney will be looking for revenge two years after being part of a United side that lost 2-0 against Barca in the final. Ecuadorian Antonio Valencia is in today's starting lineup as part of an inspiring comeback eight months after suffering a near-career ending injury.

Alongside Rooney and starting with Valencia is Mexico's Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. The 22-year-old "little pea" has paid dividends for United after he tallied twenty goals in his first Premier League season. Hernandez has received plenty of praise in England for his hard work and maturity while playing in one of the world's top leagues. "Javier has developed his strength through his own volition...making sure he was in early every morning doing his core work and working on his upper body strength to handle the rigours of the Premier League" said his coach, Sir Alex Ferguson to BBC Sport.

As mentioned in The Guardian, the popularity of the former Chivas de Guadalajara star has grown in his native Mexico:
In Mexico, where what was supposed to be a year's supply of "Chicharito" shirts recently sold out in two months, that is certainly the expectation. "They are showing it live on television," Hernández says. "I read the newspapers back home and they are all supporting me and looking forward to the final. They have even changed the time of an international friendly so it doesn't clash." Mexico versus Ecuador was originally due to kick off in Seattle at 9pm British time. It has now been put back two hours – purely because of the Hernández factor.
The Anyone But United fans (myself included) will be cheering hard for a Barca win but there will be plenty of people cheering on "ManU" and singing (perhaps off-key) the praises of "Chicharito":

(Hat tip on the video link: Deadspin).

Online Source - The Guardian, BBC Sport,, Deadspin
Video Source - YouTube

Weekend Headlines: May 27-28, 2011

* Peru: Indigenous protesters continued their two-week protest against a Canadian firm’s plans for a silver mine in southern Peru.

* South America: Philip Morris filed a lawsuit in international court against Uruguay’s strict anti-smoking measures while British American Tobacco purchased Colombia’s second-largest tobacco company.

* Haiti: A draft report commissioned by the US Agency for International Development found that the death toll from a 2010 earthquake might have been between 46,000 and 85,000 instead of the estimated 250,000.

* Guatemala: Human rights groups including Amnesty International called on Guatemalan authorities to fully investigate the murder of a labor union official on Thursday.

Video Source – Al Jazeera English via YouTube
Online Sources- Amnesty International, Radio New Zealand, CBC News, The Telegraph, UPI

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nuestro Cine: The quiet man

Earlier this week we featured the trailer to “Las Acacias”, a movie that earned Argentina’s Pablo Giorgelli who won top first-time director honors at the Cannes Film Festival. Yet other movies from Latin America shined brightly at the latest edition of the prestigious film that ended last Sunday.

In 2005, Porfirio Ramirez, a wheelchair-bound Colombian man, hijacked a Cali-Bogota flight and demanded government compensation for his disability. (He alleged that he became paralyzed after being shot by police in 1991). The standoff ended when negotiators tricked Ramirez and he was captured without detonating the twin grenades he smuggled in his adult undergarments. He was sentenced to eight years of house arrest, a confinement made more difficult by his disability.

Though the film highlights several aspects of Ramirez’ daily life the film is in reality fictional. Director Alejandro Landes chose to cast Ramirez as the protagonist after meeting him. "When I met him [Porfirio] I was dazzled by his mental and physical strength and this story would not have gone far without Porfirio," said Landes in an interview.
According to Miami International Film Festival Director Jaie Laplante, including Ramirez into the film was a move that paid off:
What IS in the film is a minimalist approach to detailing the boredom and frustration of Porfirio's daily life as a paraplegic -- the effort it takes to scratch his back, or take a bath, deal with normal bodily functions, be able to parent his teenage son and have a physical relationship with his young girlfriend. 

Porfirio is an undeniably magnetic character and I watched every minute of Porfirio in hushed fascination. Landes has done an extraordinary job with his minimalist narrative, brilliantly explored a new genre (some programmers have taken to calling it "hyper-realism," a unique fusion of the bio-pic and cinema verite style) and in the process revealed new riches through quiet and stillness.
The Spanish/Colombian/Uruguayan co-production generated plenty of buzz at Cannes and you can hopefully see why via the trailer below.

(Note: the video is slightly Not Safe for Work).

Video Source – YouTube,
Online Sources- NPR, Miami New Times, Colombia Reports

Daily Headlines: May 27, 2011

* U.S.: Venezuelan oil exports to the U.S. may not be seriously affected after the U.S. sanctioned state-run oil firm PDVSA for selling oil to Iran.

* South America: Uruguayan side Penarol’s attempt at their first Copa Libertadores crown since 1987 received a boost after winning 1-0 in their semifinals first leg over Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield.

* Mexico: According to Reuters, the World Trade Organization ruled that U.S. meat labeling rules discriminated against Canadian and Mexican companies.

* Brazil: French investigators revealed the difficulties that the pilots of Air France flight 447 faced before the airplane crashed off the Brazilian coast in 2009.

Image – Reuters via BBC News
Online Sources- The Globe and Mail, Reuters, The Guardian

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Daily Headlines: May 26, 2011

* Brazil: Political pressure from “evangelical” legislators and religious groups critical of homosexuality may’ve influenced President Dilma Rousseff’s decision to suspend the distribution of sex education films in Brazilian schools.

* South America: Brazil’s Santos take a slim advantage to Asuncion next week after winning 1-0 in their Copa Libertadores semifinals first leg over Cerro Porteno of Paraguay.

* Latin America: The Mercados Integrados LatinoAmericanos exchange, a collaborative effort featuring stocks from Peru, Colombia, and Chile, will makes its debut on Monday.

* Mexico: Fifteen Tijuana police officers were suspended after a video emerged of them forcing a female suspect to perform a striptease reportedly in exchange for being freed.

Image – Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian (“Gay pride in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2010.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, New York Daily News, BBC News, ESPN Soccernet, MarketWatch

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ads Nauseam: To air or not to air?

There is an age-old question that asks “does the ends justify the means?” This comes to mind after ad that aired at one of the world’s most famous intersections was removed.

The Times Square Jumbotron’s owner, CBS Outdoor, pulled a video ad from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) calling for a halt to deportations to Haiti. The video, which you can see below, shows the slogan: "The cholera epidemic in Haiti is killing thousands. Why is the USA still deporting people to Haiti?"

The company did not publish an explanation as to why it removed the fifteen-second video that aired once every hour at the so-called “crossroads of the world.” According to a CCR petition supporting the ad, however, the video was yanked because it was “too controversial.”

As was written in a post in the New York-centric blog Gothamist (no relation to this blog), the video shows an image of one Haitian deportee who died after leaving the U.S.:
The ad features 34-year-old Wildrick Guerrier, who was among the first to be deported since the earthquake leveled Haiti in 2010. Almost all the deportees in the first round were convicted criminals; Guerrier, who came to the U.S. as a teenager in 1993, was convicted of illegally possessing a firearm while working as a private security guard. After being deported in January of this year, he was incarcerated in a dirty Haitian jail, where he later died of an apparent case of cholera.
Thus, we pose the question at the top of this post to you: “does the ends justify the means?” Was the decision to remove the ad justifiable or not? Was it fair to pull the ad from the Jumbortron while other politically-charged ads have been allowed to run?

Let us know what you think by respectfully leaving a comment to this post.

Video Source - Center for Constitutional Rights via
Online Sources- Gothamist, New York Daily News,, Center for Constitutional Rights

Daily Headlines: May 25, 2011

* Guatemala: President Alvaro Colom claimed that authorities arrested the suspected head of a group of hit men who massacred twenty-seven Guatemalans earlier this month.

* Honduras: After an almost two year absence Honduras could be readmitted to the Organization of American States in a scheduled vote on June 1st.

* Nicaragua: A recent poll showed that President Daniel Ortega would easily win reelection despite serious concerns over the constitutionality of heist campaign.

* Mexico: Earl Anthony Wayne, a career diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Argentina between 2006 and 2009, will reportedly be chosen as the next ambassador to Mexico.

Image – AP via (“A soldier stands next to a message written in blood at the site of a massacre in a ranch in La Bomba, northern Guatemala, Monday, May 16, 2011.”)
Online Sources- Voice of America, The Latin Americanist, Bloomberg, Houston Chronicle, Inside Costa Rica

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nuestro Cine: On the road

Numerous Latin American movies were featured as part of the latest edition of the Cannes Film Festival that ended on Sunday. This week we will feature several of these films from countries like Colombia, Mexico and Brazil.

Among the winners at Cannes where Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, which received the Palme d'Or and Kirsten Dunst who was named as best actress. Another victor Cannes was Argentina’s Pablo Giorgelli who won top first-time director honors for his debut film, “Las Acacias.” “It took me five years to make it and I couldn’t do anything else to get out everything I had to say,” Giorgelli said after he won the Camera D’or.

“Las Acacias” is a touching story about a gruff Argentine truck driver who picks up a pair of hitchhikers: a young Paraguayan mother and her five-month-old son. As they travel several hundred miles to Buenos Aires, the adults gradually break down their defenses and build an understanding with each other.

The following is the trailer to a film from Argentina, a country that is enjoying a golden era in films that includes “El Secreto de sus Ojos” winning the Best Foreign Film Oscar last year. Enjoy!

Video Source - YouTube
Online Sources- The A.V. Club, The Latin Americanist, LAHT, RFI

Daily Headlines: May 24. 2011

* Honduras: The Central American country could soon be readmitted into the Organization of American States after Honduran president Porfirio Lobo and ousted leader Manuel Zelaya signed a key pact with the help of the Colombian and Venezuelan governments.

* Peru:
Conservative presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori led in two polls over her nationalist opponent Ollanta Humala though plenty of undecided voters are still up for grabs.

* U.S.: According to a newly released report, Arizona’s Latino population dropped by 100,000 residents since the controversial SB 1070 anti-immigration law went into effect over a year ago.

* Mexico: Authorities claimed that police freed 62 women including a 13-year-old girl who were forced to work as prostitutes.

Image – AP via MSNBC ("Honduras' President Porfirio Lobo, left, and Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya, right, shake hands after signing an agreement as Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos applauds in Cartagena, Colombia, Sunday, May 22, 2011. The accord allows the return of Zelaya to his homeland and Honduras' re entry into the Organization of American States, OAS, as a solution to the crisis caused by the June 2009 coup that sent Zelaya into exile and caused the OAS to suspend Honduras as a member.")
Online Sources- Reuters, LAHT, AS/COA Online, MSNBC

Monday, May 23, 2011

Daily Headlines: May 23, 2011

* Chile: The body of former President Salvador Allende will be exhumed today in order to potentially find out whether his death in a 1973 military coup came by suicide or by attacking troops.

* Costa Rica: According to a new study most Canadians would be willing to seek medical treatment abroad in countries like Costa Rica if it were covered by the healthcare system.

* Peru: Researchers concluded that the Inca civilization was able to grow partly due to the innovation of using llama dung as a fertilizer at high altitudes.

* Puerto Rico: Police are considering imposing a curfew in order to combat violent crime.

Image – AP via (“In this Sept. 11, 1973 picture, soldiers and firefighters carry the body of Chile's President Salvador Allende, wrapped in a Bolivian poncho, out the destroyed La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile after a coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet that ended Allende's three-year government.”)
Online Sources- CBS News, The Guardian,, Fox News Latino