Saturday, December 31, 2011

Today’s Video: It's (Not) the End of the World as We Know It

We're going to usher in the New Year by taking a few days off but we will definitely return this Wednesday (January 4th) with posts on news stories around the Americas.

In the meantime, we urge you to please vote in our Headline of 2011 poll and also please fell free to contact us via e-mail at with your feedback.

It has certainly been an eventful year here at The Latin Americanist, which included an appearance on Al Jazeera English's Listening Post program. We cannot thank you enough, our esteemed readers, for your attention and opinions throughout 2011.

We will strive to do a better job in the upcoming months by providing you timely and thorough reporting on news throughout the region. Plans are in the works to improve both the quality and appearance of this blog so please stay tuned!

For now we'll leave you with the following video of what will likely be one of the most overhyped stories of 2012: the supposed end of the world based on an inaccurate interpretation of the Mayan calendar.

Video Source - YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources -, Al Jazeera English

Weekend Headlines: December 31, 2011 – January 1, 2012

* Chile: Officials announced the arrest of a tourist suspected of starting a wildfire that has consumed at least 27,000 acres of forest land in the Torres del Paine National Park.

* Latin America: The Venezuelan and Bolivian governments offered to remove for free defective breast implants made by a now-defunct French firm.

* Peru: President Ollanta Humala told a local radio station that he “can't help but show my annoyance” at a judge who allowed paroled activist Lori Berenson to return to the U.S. during the holidays.

* Ecuador: President Rafael Correa pledged to extend the deadline for protecting the Yasuni rainforest reserve from oil companies.

* Brazil: Brazilian firm Embraer won a U.S. defense contract that would allow it to sell twenty fighter jets for use by the Air Force in Afghanistan.

* South America: The 2012 Dakar Rally will begin on Sunday in Mar de Plata, Argentina and will be held during fifteen days in that country along with Chile and Peru.

Video Source – YouTube via cnnchile

Online Sources- CNN, ABC News, Expatica France, NPR, Reuters, TSN

Friday, December 30, 2011

World Watch: An Early Jump on the New Year

* World: While New Year’s Eve preparations continue in areas like New York City’s Times Square, residents on the Pacific island nation of Samoa were among the first to usher in 2012.

* Syria: Despite the presence of Arab League monitors Syrian forces continued their crackdown on anti-government protesters with security forces reportedly killing over thirty people.

* Spain: The new government announced a series of tax hikes to go along with over $11 billion in planned public spending cuts.

* India: Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare urged his supporters to march nationwide after legislators in the upper house of parliament ignored voting on a proposal to control graft.

Video Source - YouTube via Euronews

Online Sources- CBS News, ABC News, Christian Science Monitor, BBC News

Daily Headlines: December 30, 2011

* Mexico: A court ordered that five Mexico City policemen stand trial after amateur video footage caught them torturing a suspect last month.

* Argentina: Former Dirty War-era dictator Reynaldo Bignone was sentenced to another fifteen years in prison for rights abuses committed under his repressive rule.

* Puerto Rico: Gov. Luis Fortuño gave his approval to a nonbinding referendum that will be held next year on Puerto Rico’s political status.

* Chile: Universidad de Chile’s annus mirabilis included capturing the Copa Sudamericana last month and winning the Chilean soccer championship yesterday.

Video Source – YouTube user MYUH10 (The alleged abuse occurred after a shootout between police and suspects last November 19th).

Online Sources- MSNBC, Monsters and Critics, New America Media, Yahoo! Eurosport

Thursday, December 29, 2011

World Watch: Fatal Error

* Turkey: Turkish officials admitted that the military killed thirty-five civilians after mistaking them for Kurdish militants.

* North Korea: Kim Jong Un was declared as North Korea’s new “supreme leader” at a massive public memorial for his recently deceased father, Kim Jong Il.

* Egypt: Egyptian authorities raided the offices of seventeen “pro-democracy and human rights groups” including several U.S.-based organizations.

* Saudi Arabia: The U.S. government signed an agreement to sell nearly $30 billion worth of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources – CNN, Christian Monitor, Reuters, Time

Daily Headlines: December 29, 2011

Obama lands at Fort Bliss during El Paso visit [Image 2 of 3]
* U.S.: According to a new Pew Hispanic Center poll most Latinos disapprove of the Obama administration's deportation policies but would back the president in a hypothetical matchup against possible election rivals Mitt Romney or Rick Perry.

* Latin America: According to the Venezuela Violence Observatory “2011 will end as the most violent year in the nation's history” while the El Salvador murder rate spiked by an estimated 9.3% from 2009 through 2011.

* Mexico: Police captured suspected narcotics trafficker Luis Rodriguez Olivera, "El Guero", who is said to be a close associate to Sinaloa drug gang boss Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman.

* Guatemala: Prosecutors are reportedly moving to drop genocide charges against ex-dictator Oscar Mejia since the 80-year-old is “not fit to stand trial”.

Image Source – Flickr via DVIDSHUB (U.S. President Barack Obama visiting El Paso, Texas last May.) (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources- AFP, BBC News, Reuters, Christian Science Monitor, Newser

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nuestro Cine: “Fruits” of Their Labor

On Wednesday the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC) announced this year’s list of films added to the National Film Registry. Works by Latino directors Robert Rodriguez (“El Mariachi”) and Ramón Menéndez (“Stand and Deliver”) where recognized by the LOC for their historical and cultural significance.

Among the twenty-five selections made by the LOC is “Fake Fruit Factory”, a documentary on focused on Mexican laborers constructing paper mache fruits and vegetables. According to the LOC, the 1986 film directed by Chick Strand deftly combined “documentary, avant-garde and ethnographic techniques.” Furthermore:
In "Fake Fruit Factory," Strand employs a moving camera at close range to create colorfully vivid images often verging on abstraction, while her soundtrack picks up snatches of conversation to evoke, in her words, "the spirit of the people." "I want to know," Strand wrote, "really what it is like to be a breathing, talking, moving, emotional, relating individual in the society."
See for yourself why “Fake Fruit Factory” was deservedly added to the National Film Registry:

Video Source - YouTube via mdfdoyle

Online Sources- Reuters, Library of Congress

Daily Headlines: December 28, 2011

Buenos Aires - Argentina
* Argentina: President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is scheduled to undergo surgery on January 4th in order to treat a thyroid cancer detected by doctors last week.

* Latin America: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to visit four Latin American countries next month including Venezuela and Cuba.

* Colombia: The FARC will reportedly release six hostages including three police officers kidnapped since 1999.

* Uruguay: The Uruguayan Senate approved a bill that would decriminalize abortions in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

Image Source – Flickr via Dilma Rousseff (Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (second from left) received the visit of her Brazilian counterpart, President Dilma Rousseff, in Buenos Aires last October). (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources- AFP, CNN, BBC News, Bloomberg

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Today’s Video: Up and Down

We'll be back on Wednesday with our daily headlines from the Americas and the world, and the posting of our headline of 2011 poll.

For the time being we'll leave you with the following video of a novel escalator project that was inaugurated this week and designed to help the residents of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Medellin, Colombia:

Video Source - YouTube via ITN News

Daily Headlines: December 27, 2011

* Mexico: Mexican actor Pedro Armendariz Jr., who appeared in over 180 films and several telenovelas, died on Monday at the age of 71.

* South America: Bolivian President Evo Morales said that he and his Peruvian counterpart, President Ollanta Humala, discussed the possibility of building a railroad that would link landlocked Bolivia to a Peruvian port.

* Colombia: Authorities released over two hundred members of a criminal gang that voluntarily turned themselves in to police.

* Latin America: One person died in Argentina after being burned by fireworks on Christmas Eve, while fireworks in El Salvador injured at least 16 children on that day.

Video Source – YouTube via oncenoticiasipn

Online Sources- Monsters and Critics, Huffington Post, CBS News, Buenos Aires Herald, LAHT

Monday, December 26, 2011

World Watch: The Start of Reconciliation?

* North Korea: A pair of South Korean delegation were allowed to visit their northern neighbor in order to pay condolences for the death of Kim Jong Il.

* Nigeria: Hundreds of mourners attended a memorial service outside a Catholic church where at least 39 people were killed by a bomb attack on Sunday.

* Egypt: Egyptian authorities charged three people with smuggling “a machine gun and ammunition” from Israel.

* Yemen: U.S. officials could allow Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to enter the country for medical treatment.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources – CNN, Reuters, CBS News, Xinhua

Daily Headlines: December 26, 2011

* Mexico: Police arrested the head of security for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the fugitive leader of the Sinaloa drug gang.

* Caribbean: Forty Haitian migrants died over the weekend when the ship they were traveling in sunk off the Cuban coast.

* South America: Bolivian authorities arrested and will extradite to Argentina a former military officer accused of human rights violations during the “Dirty War” period.

* Brazil: According to the Center for Economics and Business Research, Brazil has overtaken Britain in order to become the world’s sixth-largest economy.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources- AFP, BBC News, UPI, Xinhua