Friday, September 16, 2011

Rescued Chilean miner in rehab

It has been nearly a year since thirty-three men were safely rescued after being trapped in a mine for approximately seventy days. One of the most workers who made out alive was Edison Peña and his instant fame in the weeks since being freed included appearing as a guest on “The Late Show with David Letterman”, the chance to visit Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion and run in the New York City marathon.

Since Peña fell out of the spotlight, however, he has faced his share of difficulties including hospitalization after suffering a panic attack. Earlier this month Peña checked into a Santiago rehab clinic and his wife claimed that he was suffering from "fame disorder." Furthermore, as reported in Chilean daily El Mercurio (and written about in the Latin American Herald Tribune):
Edison Peña, who was nicknamed “the athlete” because he jogged up and down the subterranean galleries at the San Jose mine during the time he and his colleagues were trapped, will remain at the medical center for a month or two to receive treatment for his addictions.

Peña “is in very good hands, he is busy (with) workshops and therapy that are making him well,” said his wife, Angelica Alvarez.
The Chilean mining industry has gone through its troubles since the San Jose mine rescue last October. Several mine strikes and inclement weather have affected production in copper mining, for instance.

Image- CNN

Online Sources- LAHT, The Telegraph, Reuters, The Latin Americanist,

Video Source – CBS via YouTube

"White supremacists" ridicule Miss Universe winner

On Monday Leila Lopes of Angola won the latest edition of the Miss Universe beauty pageant that was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Despite the many congratulations she received for winning, a few individuals were unhappy that a dark-skinned woman from an African country won the contest.

According to several reports, Lopes was taunted with racist messages in English and Portuguese on the website of a “white supremacist” group called Stormfront. One commenter allegedly bemoaned that a “monkey wearing a dress” won the contest while another claimed that she ought to play “the daughter of King Kong” in a Hollywood film.

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time that members of the have cruelly ridiculed beauty pageant winners. “That disgusting black cannot be Italian,” was one of the messages supposedly written on the site weeks ago insulting Brazilian-born Silvia Novais after she won the opportunity to represent Italy in the next Miss World contest.

Brazilian police have been investigating the Stormfront group over suspected ties to neo-Nazi organizations. In the meantime, Lopes spoke out on Wednesday against being the target of racism:
“Racism doesn’t affect me. Racists are the ones who should seek help because it isn’t normal that a person should think like that in the twenty-first century. There is no basis for that type of prejudice.”
Lopes herself has faced other troubles this week including rumors that she falsified documents in order to enter (and subsequently win) the Miss Angola UK contest.

Image- AFP via USA TODAY (“Miss Angola 2011 Leila Lopes is crowned Miss Universe 2011 by Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrete of Mexico at the 60th annual Miss Universe beauty pageant at the Credicard Hall in Sao Paulo on Sept. 12, 2011.”)

Online Sources- ABC News, Guanabee, Portal Susse, Observador Global, El Universal

Daily Headlines: September 16, 2011

* Latin America: Seventeen Western Hemispheric nations including all of Central America, Bolivia, and Venezuela were placed on a White House narcotics watch blacklist.

* Mexico: Authorities reportedly believe that the Zetas drug gang may’ve been behind the murders of three relatives of a policeman detained in relation to last month’s arson attack on a Monterrey casino.

* South America: Tensions over areas such as energy and trade have led to deteriorating diplomatic relations between Argentina and Paraguay.

* Cuba: The Cuban government has become increasingly upset at ex-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s visit to the island in order to negotiate the release of jailed contractor Alan Gross.

Image – AP via BBC News (“The blacklisting came on the day El Salvador celebrates independence from Spain.”)

Online Sources- CNN,, BBC News, UPI

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Daily Headlines: September 15, 2011

* Colombia: Jorge Noguera, ex-intelligence chef under the presidency of Alvaro Uribe, was convicted and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for his ties to illegal paramilitary groups.

* Haiti: Protesters in Port-au-Prince called for the removal of U.N. troops from Haiti though President Michel Martelly is expected to seek renewal of the U.N. mission's mandate.

* Puerto Rico: Reggaeton duo Calle 13 received a record ten Latin Grammy nominations including album, record and song of the year.

* U.S.: President Barack Obama attempted to push his jobs plan to the Latino community in a speech given last night.

Image – AP via BBC News (Jorge Noguera, the former director of Colombia's secret police, has been jailed for 24 years by the country's supreme court.)

Online Sources- BBC News, USA TODAY, NPR,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daily Headlines: September 14, 2011

* U.S.: According to a Census Bureau report the poverty rate for Latinos rose to 26.6% while roughly one-third of Latino children are below the poverty line.

* Venezuela: Electoral officials announced that the presidential vote will be held on October 7 next year, roughly eight months after the opposition is expected to pick their candidate to run against President Hugo Chavez.

* Cuba: Sixty-two worshippers on a “spiritual retreat” have sequestered themselves for over three weeks in a Havana church.

* Argentina: Former President and current Senator Carlos Menem was acquitted on charges of arms smuggling to Croatia and Ecuador.

Image – (“Job seekers line up at a career fair in New York. Hispanics saw one of the sharpest rises in the poverty rate of any group in the United States. More Hispanics under 18 are poor than any other group.”)

Online Sources- Reuters, Al Jazeera English, Time, Voice of America, CNN

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today's Video: Fighting back

Last week we looked at several recent cases of violence and harassment against journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean. Some members of the media have fought back against those intent in trying to stifle them.

On Sunday approximately 250 protesters marched in Mexico City to call attention to the eighty journalists slain in Mexico since 2000. The protest was organized by Contralinea, an investigative magazine that employed one of two female journalists killed (and possibly tortured) in Mexico City last month.

The video below from YouTube user "PeriodismoIDN" provides footage of the demonstration such as posters with messages like "The worst crime is being silenced".

Video Source - PeriodismoIDN via YouTube

Online Sources - The Latin Americanist, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

Daily Headlines: September 13, 2011

* Chile: European researchers at an observatory in Chile discovered fifty “exoplanets” located outside of our solar system.

* U.S.: The possible discrimination against Latino educators in Arizona may've factored in the decision to halt monitoring classrooms to see if teachers speak with accents.

* Brazil: The country’s currency, the real, fell to its weakest level in ten months due to worries over a possible Greek default.

* Mexico: Monterrey mayor, Fernando Larrazabal has refused to resign despite allegations of corruption related to the last month’s deadly arson at the Casino Royale.

Image – ESO via MSNBC (“An artist's depiction of a super-Earth." Scientists using the Harps instrument in Chile’s La Silla Observatory discovered sixteen “super-Earths”).

Online Sources- UPI, The Guardian, Bloomberg, LAHT

Monday, September 12, 2011

World Watch: Swatting malaria away

* World: According to a report supported by the World Health Organization the number of malaria cases worldwide continue to decrease and could reach near-zero deaths by the end of 2015.

* Egypt: The ruling military council will widen a state of emergency days after a group of protesters attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

* U.S.: President Barack Obama continued pushing for a jobs plan that will soon be presented to Congress.

* Russia: Alexander Galimov, the last surviving member of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team that died in a plane cash last week, succumbed to his injuries and passed away today.

Image – The Guardian

Online Sources- Reuters, Los Angeles Times, AFP

Daily Headlines: September 12, 2011

* Mexico: A survey of 8,000 drivers concluded that Mexico City has the world’s worst traffic.

* Panama: According to the U.N. Population Fund there continues to be an in increase in the number of female AIDS patients in Panama.

* Argentina: “Los Pumas” lost to England 13-9 in their inaugural match at the Rugby World Cup.

* Honduras: President Porfirio Lobo sacked four key Cabinet members including the Ministers of Security and Foreign Relations.

Image – BBC News

Online Sources- BBC Sport, Honduras Weekly, Inside Costa Rica, Reuters

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Today's Video: 9/11/01

The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks gave us time to commemorate the nearly 3000 victims such as the father of Jillian Suarez, a New York City police officer who died at the World Trade Center (WTC). We also remember those like William Rodriguez, a janitor at the North Tower of the WTC whose quick action helped save dozens of lives. We cannot forget the hundreds of people who regardless of details such as immigration status unselfishly worked in rescue and recovery efforts. Lastly we honor those who have helped in the rebuilding process that cotinues in the decade since 9/11.

The feelings of loss and longing due to the attacks are perhaps best encapsulated in the following emotional video via StoryCorps:

Online Sources - WNYC, Azteca Noticias, La Nacion

Video Sources - Univision Nueva York, StoryCorps via YouTube

Nuestro Cine: 9/11/73

We will soon publish a few short posts examining the 9/11 attacks and its impact on the Latino community in the U.S. For this post, however, we're going to look at another important event that occurred decades ago.

September 11th is a notable date in Latin American history for it was on that day in 1919 U.S. Marines invaded Honduras while thirteen Haitians were killed in the St. Juan Bosco massacre of 1986. Yet the most well-known event on that date was the 1973 military coup that overthrew Chile's civilian government.

The overthrow of President Salvador Allende and the subsequent regime under Gen. Augusto Pinochet which lasted until 1990 continue to be the subject of debate. Backers of the late dictator claimed that the coup was needed in order to prevent Chile from turning into a communist country under a socialist leader. Detractors, meanwhile, contend that the CIA-backed coup helped usher in a wave of brutal repression under the iron hand of Pinochet.

The aftermath of the coup thirty-eight years ago today can be seen in "The Death of Pinochet", a film that depicted the reactions of Chileans on the day he died. The conflicting views on the impact of the coup and Pinochet's rule can be seen in this documentary, which aired last month in New York as part of the Latinbeat series. The Spanish-language trailer to the film provides a glimpse into mixed feelings of joy, sadness and anger held by residents of Santiago on that day in December 2006:

Approximately 5000 people in Santiago today participated in a march to commemorate the hundreds (if not thousands) of people who died in the 1973 coup. The event was reportedly marred by clashes between police and 300 demonstrators.

Online Sources - La Tercera, La Nacion, BBC News, The Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence,

Video Source - YouTube