Saturday, July 28, 2012

London Calling: Ouro

The first gold medal won by a Latin American athlete at this year’s Olympics came from a tenacious Brazilian martial artist.

Sarah Menezes won the under-48kg women’s judo gold on Saturday after beating defending champion Alina Dumitru of Romania in the final.

Menezes, who upset world number one Tomoko Fukumi to reach the gold medal bout, fought a tough and defensive bout against Dumitru. The patience from the twenty-two-year-old paid off when she threw the Romanian twice in the final minute.

I feel like I’m floating!” said Menezes to the Brazilian press after capturing the gold. Her victory was the pinnacle of a judo career that she admitted started “as a joke” thirteen years ago.

Menezes wasn’t the only Brazilian to obtain a medal on Saturday. Felipe Kitadei, who superstitiously touched the judo ring before each one of his bouts, won bronze in the under-60kg men’s category. Swimmer Thiago Pereira finished behind Ryan Lochte of the U.S. and won silver in the men’s 400-meter individual medley.

In other Olympics results from Saturday:

Weekend Headlines: July 28-29, 2012

* Mexico: Protests against allegedly biased coverage by Televisa of Mexico’s recent elections have extended nationwide.

* Cuba: The widow of Oswaldo Payá rejected the Cuban government’s report alleging that the recently deceased Cuban dissident was killed in a car crash.

* Ecuador: A judge increased the fine against Chevron for environmental damage in the Amazon to over $19 billion.

* Panama: The country’s rapidly growing economy will continue its high pace in 2013 according to new government data.

Video Source – YouTube via LinkTV

Online Sources- Huffington Post, Fox News Latino, GlobalPost, Reuters

Friday, July 27, 2012

Today’s Video: Sounds of Havana

We'll be back over the weekend with several news and notes from the Americas.

For now we leave you with the following video, which is a promo for "Havana! Havana!" The documentary on a group of Cuban musicians that returned to the island will air on most PBS stations tonight. (Check local listings):

Video Source - YouTube via PBS

Daily Headlines: July 27, 2012

* Puerto Rico: Univision apologized yesterday after accidentally running an ad congratulating Puerto Rico’s "independence". (The corrected ad is seen above).

* Venezuela: The U.N. blasted the Venezuelan government’s move to withdraw from two regional human rights courts.

* Cuba: A State Department spokesman said that the U.S. would not negotiate with the Cuban government unless several conditions are met.

* Argentina: The image of former first lady Evita Peron will appear on 100 peso notes to mark the 60th anniversary of her premature death.

Video Source – YouTube via brightspeak

Online Sources- Huffington Post, Fox News Latino, The Australian, Bernama

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Today’s Video: Going the Distance

This weekend we’ll take a look at several athletes from Latin America and the Caribbean that could make in impact at this year’s London Games.

The English capital city will host the Olympics for an unprecedented third time and the games will be officially inaugurated on Friday. Before that, however, several odd occurrences have taken place such as the suspension of a Greek triple jumper who published a racially insensitive Tweet. Yesterday the Colombia-North Korea women’s soccer match was delayed and nearly forfeited after the Hampden Park video screens displayed the flag of South Korea with the profiles of North Korean players.

One of the most unusual Olympics moments took place the first time London hosted the games in 1908. Dorando Pietri was initially declared the winner of the marathon after he crossed the finish line seconds before Johnny Hayes of the U.S. Yet the exhausted Pietri was disqualified since several officials aided him to the tape.

An unusual finish nearly marred the Olympics marathon when it was run in 1948, again in London. Etienne Gailly of Belgium dominated the race and was the first to enter Wembley Stadium with roughly half a kilometer until the finish. But the difficult course and inclement weather apparently caught up to Gailly and he collapsed with four hundred meters to go. The runner was dazed and disoriented but officials, (possibly remembering the chaotic incident with Pietri four decades before), did not help the Belgian.

Twenty-nine-year-old Delfo Cabrera of Argentina ran past the spent Gailly, which set up an exciting finish. As described by Liza Isaak on

Daily Headlines: July 26, 2012

* Dominican Republic: The debate over abortion has heated up after a ban on the practice has prevented a pregnant eighteen-year-old girl dying of acute leukemia from receiving chemotherapy.

* Mexico: Mexican regulators levied a $27.5 million fine against the local subsidiary of HSBC after the bank failed to prevent money laundering.

* Colombia: Venezuelan authorities extradited to Colombia Diego Perez Henao, the suspected leader of a neo-paramilitary group known as “Los Rastrojos.”

* U.S.: Mourners in Texas prayed in memory of fifteen immigrants, including nationals from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, who died in a car crash on Sunday.

Video Source – CNN

Online Sources- CNN, Businessweek, GlobalPost, Houston Chronicle

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Daily Headlines: July 25, 2012

* Venezuela: President Hugo Chávez announced last night that Venezuela would withdraw from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights after losing a case at the tribunal last week.

* U.S.: Latino leaders in California have called for a federal investigation into the police shooting and death of an Anaheim resident that has triggered several days of rioting.

* Latin America: A report found that the richest people in thirty-three Latin American and Caribbean nations hid over $2 trillion in assets in offshore tax havens between 1970 and 2010.

* Cuba: A U.S. citizen accused of traveling to Cuba as an “unauthorized tourist” in 1998 agreed to pay a $6500 fine.

Video Source – YouTube via teleSUR English

Online Sources- El Universal, NPR, Business Recorder, MSNBC

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Today’s Video: Peruvian Pride

We continue our look this week at athletes from Latin America and the Caribbean who excelled in the Summer Games with an almost-Cinderella story.

Throughout the 1980s the volleyball world was ruled by the likes of the U.S., Soviet Union and East Germany. Yet in that decade a formidable force emerged in the Peruvian women’s squad, which had won several regional titles in the 1970s under Japanese coach Akira Kato. South Korean Man Bok Park took the reigns from Kato after he passed away in 1982 and that same year the team made its first impact on the global stage with a second-place showing at the World Championship. Peru reached fourth and barely missed the medals in the 1984 Olympics but four years later the team would reach its pinnacle.

Nicknamed “Las Hijas del Sol” (“The Sun's Daughters”), the team qualified for the 1988 Summer Games and was undefeated in its three preliminary matches. The semifinal match was a tricky affair against Japan but Peru won three sets to two and made it for the first time ever to the gold medal match.

Peru was the underdog against a formidable Soviet squad that won gold at the 1980 Olympics. Yet the team led by Natalia Málaga, Cecilia Tait and Gabriela Pérez del Solar jumped out to capture the first two sets and was three points away from winning the third when the match suddenly changed:

Daily Headlines: July 24, 2012

* Argentina: Former dictator Jorge Videla, who was convicted weeks ago for the kidnapping and illegal adoptions of over thirty kids, said that the Catholic hierarchy “advised” him on how to deal with the disappearing of “Dirty War” dissidents.

* El Salvador: A truce between the Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha street gangs has led to a plummeting murder rate as well as renewed optimism in the Salvadoran economy.

* Colombia: Four suspected FARC rebels were convicted by an indigenous tribunal and will be punished via public flogging.

* Ecuador: President Rafael Correa claimed that he would make a decision regarding Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s asylum request “according to humanist principles.”

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English (In 2010 ex-dictator Jorge Videla was sentenced by an Argentine court to life in prison for human rights abuses during his rule between 1976 and 1983.)

Online Sources- Irish Times, The Latin Americanist, Businessweek, Fox News Latino, Bernama

Monday, July 23, 2012

Today’s Video: From Sprinter to Senator

Last Monday we looked at the life of famed Cuban boxer Teófilo Stevenson who was only one of three pugilists to win three gold medals at the Olympics. Over the next few days we’ll look at other athletes from Latin America and the Caribbean who excelled in previous editions of the Summer Games.

It is not unusual for some athletes to enter the world of politics after retiring from the sports scene. Before his tragic death in 2009 Nicaraguan pugilist Alexis Arguello served as mayor of Managua while former Brazilian soccer superstar turned congressman Romario has been very vocal in criticizing the organization of the 2016 Rio Games.

Months before the Beijing Games in 2008, sprinter Ana Guevara retired from the track alleging that she was tired of the corruption and “dirty politics” in Mexican athletics. Since then the outspoken Guevara has not shied away from throwing her hat into the political ring.

In 2009 she attempted to run for local office in Mexico City as a candidate of a leftist alliance but lost by a slim margin. Despite the electoral reversal and having to pay a fine for tax evasion this May, Guevara aimed this year for a seat on the Mexican Congress. She received the backing of several politicos including presidential candidate Andres Manuel López Obrador. Earlier this month, Guevara won and she will be a senator as part of the opposition expected to serve as a counterweight to alleged president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto.

Daily Headlines: July 23, 2012 (Updated)

* Cuba: Oswaldo Payá, a leading Cuban dissident and supporter of the Varela Project, died in a car crash on Sunday.

Update: Representatives of several foreign governments on Monday expressed their condolences over Payá's death.

A White House statement, for example, praised the late dissident as "a tireless champion for greater civic and human rights in Cuba."

Meanwhile, anti-Castro activists in Cuba and exile groups in the U.S. have urged for a thorough investigation into the circumstances behind Payá's death.

"According to information we've obtained from people traveling with him, there was a vehicle trying to force him off the road... We don't think it was an accident," Payá's daughter reportedly claimed.

* Mexico: A rally organized by the YoSoy132 student movement in Mexico City yesterday was the latest protest against the results of the July 1st general elections.

* Puerto Rico: Will the commonwealth’s sagging economy lead to the end of legalized cockfighting?

* U.S.: Proceedings began last week in a civil lawsuit alleging that deputies under controversial anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio engaged in racial profiling against Latinos in Arizona.

Video Source – YouTube via NDI Public Affairs (Circa 2003 documentary on Oswaldo Payá and the Varela Project).

Online Sources including Update - Fox News Latino, MSNBC, Bernama, Huffington Post, The Latin Americanist, Washington Post, AFP