Saturday, August 27, 2011

De Musica Ligera: The key

We're going to close shop for the weekend and wait out the oncoming Hurricane Irene.

In the meantime, please enjoy the following catchy tune from Venezuelan hip-hop group Cuarto Poder:

Take care readers!

Video Source - Nacional Records via YouTube

Weekend World Watch: Change for India

* India: Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare said that he will end his thirteen-day hunger strike after the Indian parliament agreed to his main demands.

* World: International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde urged governments to "act now" in order to avoid "seeing the fragile recovery derailed."

* Pakistan: According to an unnamed "senior Obama administration official" Al Qaeda's second-in-command was killed in a raid in Pakistan.

* Japan: Prime Minister Naoto Kan resinged from his post amidst dismal approval ratings and anger over the government's handling of March's earthquake and tsunami.

Online Sources - BBC News, CBS News, Reuters
Image Source - AP via New York Times ("A girl waved an Indian flag and another sang a patriotic song beside Anna Hazare, who was on a hunger strike in New Delhi against corruption.")

Titulares de las Americas

There are some news stories from Latin America that are covered by covered by the local press but overlooked or ignored by the English-language mainstream media sources. Here are just a few of these stories that have caught our attention:

* Argentina: Camila Sanchez, a two-year-old girl in a vegetative state since her birth, has been in the center of the debate over the right to life in Argentina. Legislators have discussed several proposals that would permit a "dignified death", which has been strongly advocated by Sanchez' mother. The bills have run into some opposition such as the mom of ex-Soda Stereo front man Gustavo Cerati.

* Mexico: There has been increased criticism of President Felipe Calderon's anti-drug offensive in the aftermath of an arson attack that killed at least 52 people. In an interview given to the EFE news agency acclaimed author Carlos Fuentes called on "help from Israeli, French or German police to combat crime" in Mexico. Fuentes also called on the decriminalizing of some drug use; a position he has stated before as part of a working group of intellectuals and former leaders critical of regional counternarcotics policies.

* Colombia: An anti-violence protest in solidarity with some twelve local theater groups will be held this Tuesday in Bogota. These groups, including some from the most impoverished neighborhoods of the city, were the aim of intimidation allegedly by the "Aguilas Negras" (Black Eagles) criminal gang. "It's a threat against our culture, civil society, and the country," said one of the targeted actors who will participate in the march on the same day that the gang ordered the actors to leave the Bogota.

* Peru: The mother of a Peruvian nanny jailed in the U.S. urged President Ollanta Humala to intervene on her behalf. Luz Fernandes claimed that she has felt "abandoned" by the Peruvian government in the legal battle to help her daughter, Ada Cuadros. A retrial is expected to start soon for Cuadros who was originally sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly killing a fourteen-month-old child that she was babysitting.

Video Source - C5N via YouTube
Online Sources - La Republica, Trme, Milenio, El Universal (Mexico and Venezuela),, Radio Santa Fe, El Observador, El Espectador

Weekend Headlines: August 27-28, 2011

* Mexico: President Felipe Calderon deemed as "true terrorists" those responsible for a deadly arson attack in Monterrey on Thursday but would it be better to heed ex-leader Vicente Fox's suggestion of negotiating with drug gangs?

* Chile: Chilean police have come under fire after authorities confirmed yesterday that a teen was killed during major anti-government protests.

* South America: A six-year-long diplomatic quarrel between Argentina and Uruguay over a Finnish-owned pulp mill seems to have come to an end.

* Guatemala: The country's Constitutional Court gave the green light for the extradition of ex-President Alfonso Portillo to the U.S. where he awaits trial.

* Argentina: An agreement was reached that would allow for a 25% increase of the minimum wage.

* Venezuela: Central bank data indicated that the Venezuelan economy is supposed to grow by 2.5% in the second quarter this year, which is 2.3% less than the first quarter.

Online Sources - Xinhua, Sacramento Bee, Voice of America, Reuters, El Universal, Bloomberg
Video Source - YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Friday, August 26, 2011

Today’s Video: "Doc" in Buenos Aires

We hope to be back over the weekend in order to look at some news stories from recent days that have caught out attention. Hopefully we'll also be posting on Monday if the oncoming Hurricane Irene doesn't cause too many problems.

In the meantime we'll leave you with this question: why is Emmett "Doc" Brown in Argentina?

The answer, according to the local press, is that the above video is part of an ad campaign for the local electronics store that the DeLorean "crashed" into.

(Hat tip: Huffington Post).

Online Sources - NY1, Huffington Post,
Video Source - YouTube

Daily Headlines: August 26, 2011 (Updated with video)

* Mexico:
At least 52 people died in Monterrey after several individuals burst into a casino, doused it with a flammable liquid and started a massive fire. (Update: The above video from Mexican authorities shows how the incident started. At the 0:50 mark, at least nine people suspected of starting the blaze emerged from three autos at the entrance of the casino. Two minutes later some flames and heavy black smoke can be seen).

* Brazil: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Brazilian ethanol exports will likely be surpassed U.S. exports in the second half of this year.

* Latin America: Representatives from thirty-six Latin American and Asian states at a conference in Argentina called for greater economic cooperation between the two regions.

* Caribbean: At least six people on the island of Hispaniola including four on the Dominican Republic died due to heavy rains and winds from Hurricane Irene.

Video Source - poliiticamx1 via YouTube (Hat tip: El Espectador).
Online Sources- AFP, Xinhua, Reuters,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

World Watch: Famine

* Africa: Donors at the African Union summit pledged $351 million in aid to combat a spreading famine though some activists expressed doubts over the figure.

* World: Typhoon Nanmadol is expected to bring heavy rains and whipping winds to Taiwan and the Phillipines while the East Coast of the U.S. is bracing for Hurricane Irene.

* Libya: The search continues for Moammar Gadhafi while rebels continue to make progress in Tripoli against loyalist forces.

* Sri Lanka: President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced that he would end the country's emergency wartime laws that have been in the books for nearly three decades.

Online Sources - Voice of America, CBS News, MSNBC, Bloomberg, Reuters
Image Source - AP via The Guardian ("Muslim clerics walk along a dirt road outside Dadaab, eastern Kenya. A forthcoming interactive will look at the relief effort in the area.")

Daily Headlines: August 25, 2011

* El Salvador: The country’s Supreme Court rejected arresting or seeking the extradition of nine men accused of murdering six Jesuit priests in 1989.

* Latin America: A two-day strike in Chile calling for education reform began yesterday while the Colombian government rejected a proposal that would’ve permitted the private financing of public universities.

* Mexico: One person was killed and four were wounded after gunmen fired into a crowd outside of a Ciudad Juarez elementary school.

* U.S.: According to a study published this week “high-achieving” black and Latino students are particularly vulnerable to obtaining worse grades due to bullying.

Image – AP via USA TODAY (“People hold banners depicting six Jesuit priests massacred in 1989, during an act to commemorate the 19th anniversary of their death in San Salvador, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008”)
Online Sources- CNN, UPI, Voice of America, Huffington Post, Reuters

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

World Watch: Advancing

* Libya: While rebels continue to make leeway in Tripoli the U.S. proposed that the U.N. Security Council unfreeze $1.5 billion in Libyan assets for humanitarian purposes.

* Sudan: The Sudanese army was accused of killing anti-government opponents after satellite images revealed freshly dug mass graves near the border with South Sudan.

* U.S.: Apple cofounder Steve Jobs resigned from his post as company CEO after claiming that he “could no longer meet my duties and expectations.”

* World: Researchers concluded that the climate changes such as those caused by El Niño could be a factor in civil conflicts.

Image – Hamza Turkia/XinHua/Xinhua Press/Corbis via The Guardian (“Rebels celebrate in Shuhada Square as they capture Muammar Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli. Other rebel fighters are advancing to (Gaddafi's hometown of) Sirte.”)
Online Sources- MSNBC, The Telegraph, The Independent, BBC News, Voice of America

Guatemala to Mexico: Don't end Tamaulipas massacre investigation

One year ago Mexico authorities discovered the bodies of seventy-two Latin American migrants buried in a ranch located in the northern state of Tamaulipas. Most of the deceased were originally from Central America and they were reportedly murdered when they refused to be coerced into joining the Zetas drug gang.

In the twelve months since the bodies were found Mexican law enforcement agents arrested over twenty suspects including the alleged coordinator of the mass kidnapping and assassinations. Nonetheless, Guatemalan officials called on their Mexican counterparts to continue their investigative work including attempts to identify thirteen bodies.

According to EFE (via Mexico's El Universal):
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested that Mexican authorities do not conclude their investigation" over the possibility that more Guatemalans may have been victims of the massacre...

(The Guatemalan Embassy in Mexico) observed that since the San Fernando massacre "there has been a rapid deterioration of the security in the Guatemalan migrant community in Mexico" including numerous kidnappings and two more mass killings in northern Mexico.
Numerous human rights groups and immigrants rights activists were more direct in their criticism of Mexican authorities in the months since the massacre. "We will not allow this massive crime against humanity to join others in which impunity and indifference have prevailed," according to a statement emitted on Tuesday by several non-government organizations in Mexico.

Thirteen Guatemalans have been identified among the seventy-two dead migrants that came from countries including Ecuador, El Salvador, and Brazil.

Online Sources - Fox News Latino, El Universal, The Latin Americanist, CNN Mexico
Image Source - AP via Los Angeles Times ("Workers (last September) begin examining the bodies of migrants killed in Tamaulipas at a morgue in Mexico City.")

Strong quake rattles Peru (Updated)

Video of reactions to today's earthquake in Peru from RPP Noticias. (Hat tip: La Republica.)

An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale hit Peru near the border with Brazil according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The tremor occurred at 12:46 pm local time near the city of Pucallpa but was strong enough to be felt throughout the country. A report from the AP observed that "an unidentified local woman interviewed by Peru's Canal N television station said the earth shook 'like a hammock.'" A seismologist interviewed on another TV station noted that the tremor was of a magnitude of "two to three" by the time it hit Lima, which is located about 370 miles away from the epicenter. Several small aftershocks have also been reported in Trujillo.

(Update: The earthquake was also felt in parts of neighboring Ecuador including the coastal city of Guayaquil and in tall buildings in Quito).

Thus far there are no reports of major damages or injuries though some readers on Brazil's admitted that they felt panicked and alarmed.

This afternoon's earthquake happened four years after approximately 600 people were killed by a magnitude 6.8 tremor in the Peruvian province of Ica.

Peru is one of several Latin American countries located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of increased seismic activity including volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Online Sources - Herald Sun, The Latin Americanist,,, La Republica
Video Sources - YouTube

Calle 13 plan Central America prison concert

Puerto Rican reggaeton duo Calle 13 is no stranger to politically charged music whether it is denouncing police brutality or solidarity with Chilean protesters. They are working on their latest project whose goal is to call attention to the problem of urban violence throughout Latin America. As part of this project, the group announced this week that they will record the music video for the single “La bala” (The Bullet) in Mexico and also is reportedly seeking a director for a planned documentary on street violence. More ambitiously, however, the duo reportedly plans to perform at a unique venue: a Guatemalan prison.

According to one of Calle 13’s members:
“This is one of our projects: to go to a maximum security prison where the “maras” are located in order to give a concert that will also be transmitted online,” said “Visitante”, whose real name is Eduardo José Cabra. His announcement was made in Guadalajara where Calle 13 is on tour…to promote their new album "Vamos a portarnos mal" (We are going to misbehave).
During the press conference fellow group member Rene “Residente” Perez also floated the idea of having a “student concert” at the campus of the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico). He claimed that this notion came about as part of the duo’s solidarity with Chilean student protesters.

It is estimated that hundreds of people each year including disenchanted youth and deportees from the U.S. with criminal records join Central American street gangs.

Image- EFE via El Informador
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Fox News Latino, AFP, El Informador, Milenio,

Daily Headlines: August 24, 2011

* Chile: Police protection will be provided to student protest leader Camila Vallejo after she received death threats via social media networks.

* Brazil: Could a Brazilian proposal to grant more rights to stateless people push other Latin American countries to give more help to refugees?

* Cuba: A U.S. federal court ordered that the Cuban government pay $2.8 billion to a former CIA agent.

* Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez signed a decree that would nationalize Venezuela’s gold mining industry.

Image – AFP via BBC News (A Chilean student protester holds up a flag with the words “Five Years Studying (and) Fifteen Years Paying”.)
Online Sources- Reuters AlertNet, swissinfo, Sydney Morning Herald,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ecuador Embassy damaged by U.S. quake

On Tuesday a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the U.S. state of Virginia and was felt by residents on the East Coast (including yours truly). No deaths or major damages resulted from the tremor though one of the worst hit buildings in Washington, D.C. was the Embassy of Ecuador.

According to the EFE news agency (via Ecuadorian daily El Universo):
The business major of the Ecuadorian Embassy, Efrain Baus, confirmed that the dipomatic site suffered damages though "fortunately there were no victims"...

According to Baus, three chimneys collapsed causing damages to the roof and and the interior offices of the embassy and consulate...

"(The firefighters) asked that we remain patient in light of the emergency affecting the city," said Baus who also noted that workers will not return to the building until it's confirmed that there hasn't been serious structural damage.
The earthquake rattled the nerves of some Brazilian expats residing in the traditional Portuguese community of Ironbound in Newark, New Jersey. "It was crazy. The firetrucks and ambulances sped down the streets without stopping," said Marli Cagley in the article from the Brazilian Voice. "The duration (of the quake) was much shorter than in California but my office chair was still shaking as if it were balanced on a tightrope," admitted Francisco Salles who was a survivor of the 1989 Loma Prieta tremor.

Image Source - AP ("Christopher Hartman works on the roof installing a tarp after an earthquake tore down parts of the chimney on his dad's office in Mineral, Va., Tuesday Aug. 23, 2011. ")
Online Sources - NY1, El Universo, Brazilian Voice,

Daily Headlines: August 23, 2011 (Updated)

* Caribbean: Hurricane Irene drenched Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic shortly before strengthening into a Category 2 level storm. (Update: Meteorologists prognosticate that Hurricane Irene could reach Category 4 status in the upcoming days).

* Central America: According to several polls ex-general Otto Perez may not be able to avoid a runoff in Guatemala’s presidential elections next month, while Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega could win reelection in November.

* U.S.: A recent poll indicated that President Barack Obama is losing ground with Latino voters.

* Bolivia: About 130 women and girls living in a Mennonite community in Bolivia have come forward and claimed they were drugged and raped.

Online Sources- UPI, New American Media, Americas Quarterly blog, GlobalPost, Miami Herald
Video Source - AP via YouTube ("Hurricane Irene cut power to more than a million people in Puerto Rico, downing trees and flooding streets on Monday, and forecasters warned it could be a major storm as it threatens Florida and South Carolina by the end of the week.")

Monday, August 22, 2011

Today’s Video: The not-so-beautiful game

This has been a golden summer for Mexican soccer with the most recent accomplishment being a third place finish in the Under-20 World Cup. (It should be noted that Brazil won the tournament that was held in Colombia). Unfortunately, theses victories were overshadowed by the violence that has hurt parts of Mexico.

On Saturday a league match between Morelia and Santos in the northern city of Torreon had to be suspended after gunfire erupted outside of the stadium. In the video below the players quickly head for the lockers after the gunshots were heard, followed by a seemingly panic-stricken run by hundreds of fans to flee the stadium:

Authorities claimed that nobody was killed by the gunfire that was caused when local police were attacked outside the venue. The incident was bemoaned across Mexico including Santos president Alejandro Irarragori who said, “this is a day that should move us a society.”

Sadly the chaos in Torreon wasn’t the only incident of serious violence outside of a sporting venue over the weekend. At least two shootings took place in the parking lot of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park after a preseason NFL game on Saturday.

(Video hat tip: MetaFilter).

Video Source- YouTube
Online Sources- Los Angeles Times,, NPR, CNN, Houston Chronicle, MetaFilter

World Watch: Battle of Tripoli

* Libya: The almost 42 years of rule under Muammar Gaddafi are close to over as rebels battle loyalists in Tripoli though reports that one of his sons, Saif al-Islam, was detained seem to be premature.

* India: Support seems to be growing for Anna Hazare, an anti-corruption social activist who has been on a hunger strike for over a week.

* U.S.: Prosecutors in New York have requested that a court drop sexual assault charges against ex-International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

* Syria: According to the U.N. over 2200 people have died in a government crackdown against dissidents and protesters since early March.

Image – Sergey Ponomarev/AP via The Guardian (“An artist paints a caricature of Muammar Gaddafi on a wall in Benghazi. The once-ubiquitous Libyan dictator is nowhere to be seen.”)
Online Sources- Al Jazeera English, MSNBC,, BBC News

Nuestro Cine: Adios Raoul

Chilean-born film director Raoul Ruiz died last week at the age of seventy. He passed away due to a pulmonary infection and while trying to recuperate from a liver transplant.

Ruiz was born in 1941 and grew up near the port city of Valparaiso. Despite studying law and theology Ruiz became an amateur playwright and also set up a film club at university. For apprixmately ten years he directed several short films and features including 1968's "Tres Tristes Tigres" (Three Sad Tigers), which looked at the experiences of three Santiago residents. He fled from his native country in 1973 shortly after Gen. Augusto Pinochet took over the country in a military coup. While residing in France, Ruiz became a prolific filmmaker with over one hundred films under his belt including "Three Lives and Only One Death" (1996), "Klimt" (2006) and "Mysteries of Lisbon" (2010).

Though Ruiz never returned to live in Chile he never forgot his love for his homeland. He stipulated before passing away that he wanted to be buried in Chile, a request that is in the process of being carried out. At the time of his death he was reportedly editing a film on his childhood in Chile.

Ruiz' death was mourned in the film world as well as by figures in his homeland. "Through his films and with a privileged perspective and intellect he opened up the world," said Chilean president Sebastian Pinera. Culture Minister Luciano Cruz Coke added that even though Ruiz "was little-known in Chile" he was also "the most important film luminary" in the country's history.

The following is a clip from Ruiz' 1970 film "The Penal Colony". (The TV Multiversity blog cites a piece that originally appeared in the "Monthly Film Bulletin" that gives an excellent and detailed description of the film). Like other great artists, it appears that Ruiz is gaining more widespread and well-deserved recognition in death than in life.

Online Sources - La Tercera, La Nacion, Time, The A.V. Club, TV Multiversity, AFP
Video Source - YouTube

Daily Headlines: August 22, 2011

* Argentina: The government backed the use of genetically-modified soy seeds made by Bayer though “Monsanto meanwhile is asking Argentine farmers to sign contracts promising to use its new Roundup Ready 2 Yield soy.”

* Latin America: Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are bracing for the impact of Hurricane Irene while Tropical Storm Harvey pounded parts of southern Mexico.

* Brazil: Pope Benedict XVI announced that the next edition of World Youth Day would be held in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

* U.S.: According to an article that originally appeared in The Arizona Republic "birth tourism" from countries like Mexico is far from being a “widespread” practice.

Image – Reuters via The Guardian (“A Romanian farmer shows genetically modified soybeans in the village of Varasti.”)
Online Sources- USA TODAY, Reuters, CNN, UPI, Al Jazeera English