Friday, August 3, 2012

London Calling: Nothing but Net

Yesterday was a very eventful day at the Olympics for several athletes from Latin America and the Caribbean who were able to gain medals. Before we get to them, however, we’re going to take a look at a wild finish in men’s basketball.

Both Russia and Brazil entered their preliminary round duel with undefeated records after two games. Late in the contest Brazil held a slim 70-65 lead but Russia mounted a quick comeback to tie the game at 72 with forty seconds left. Brazilian captain Marcelinho Huertas then knocked in a layup with 6.1 seconds to go, which set the stage for last-second heroics by Vitaliy Fridzon:

(Click here for an alternate link from Telemundo in case the above video does not work).

The 75-74 loss does not eliminate Brazil since they have two more games in group play: on Saturday against China and Monday versus Spain.

The London Games are near the halfway point but it appears that it will be one of the most successful Olympics in terms of medals for Latin American and Caribbean competitors. On Thursday, for example, three female athletes from the region reached the podium:

Daily Headlines: August 3, 2012

* Bolivia: The Bolivian government has downplayed remarks allegedly made by the Foreign Minister calling for a ban to Coca-Cola.

* Venezuela: Gen. Douglas Fraser, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, echoed recent comments made by President Barack Obama denying that Venezuela is a national security threat to the U.S.

* Colombia: A senior member of the FARC rebels believed to have been killed in 2010 reappeared in a video and claimed “we must end the war.”

* Mexico: Some activists such as poet Javier Sicilia are none too pleased that a federally funded memorial to victims of Mexican violence will be placed next to a military base.

Video Source – YouTube via user BuenosDiasPeruPTV

Online Sources- ninemsn, InSight Crime, Fox News Latino, ABC News, Washington Post

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

London Calling: Limardo's Golden Touch

For the first time in forty-four years a Venezuelan athlete has captured gold at the Olympics.

Ruben Limardo Gascon, who will celebrate his twenty-seventh birthday on Friday, captured the top prize in men’s individual épée fencing on Wednesday.

Limardo won Venezuela’s first-ever medal in fencing and first medal at the London Games after beating Norway's Bartosz Piasecki 15-10 in the final match. The twelfth-seeded combatant from Ciudad Bolivar took an early lead in the title bout and held on against his less seasoned rival.

Despite several early upsets in the competition, Limardo won a series of close matches in order to reach the gold medal combat. His trickiest test came in the semifinal when he beat Seth Kelsey of the U.S. in overtime by a score of 6-5.

“I dedicate (this medal) to all the Venezuelan people and also the children who are the country’s future,” Limardo reportedly said after the medal ceremony. He also dedicated his gold medal to his late mother who he claimed was “accompanying me from heaven.”

In other recent medal-winning results from Latino and Latin American athletes:

Daily Headlines: August 1, 2012

* Venezuela: Will Venezuela’s official entry yesterday as a full member of the Mercosur bloc help or hurt the country’s economy?

* Latin America: Spanish imports of oil from Latin America have doubled this year partly due to a European Union ban on Iranian oil that started exactly one month ago.

* Costa Rica: Fired Deputy Minister for Youth Karina Bolanos apologized but defended herself after a racy personal video made in 2007 was stolen and released on YouTube.

* Nicaragua: The criminal gang linked to the murder last year of Argentine folk singer Facundo Cabral has been accused of laundering over $1 billion.

Video Source – YouTube via Cosa Rosada (In this video from the Argentine government the leaders of Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay and Argentina posed for a photo at the Mercosur conference yesterday).

Online Sources- Bloomberg, Reuters, InSight Crime, CNN

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Today’s Video: Remembering Lupe Ontiveros

On July 24th Latina film and TV actress Lupe Ontiveros died at the age of 69 after a brief battle with liver cancer.

Born Guadalupe Moreno in Texas in 1942, Ontiveros originally worked as a social worker until the 1970s when she supposedly responded to friend's "dare" and answered a newspaper ad looking for movie extras. Her first big break came in 1979 when she and other Latino actors including Edward James Olmos were cast as members of the Broadway play "Zoot Suit." Eventually her career on both stage and screen would last nearly five decades.

As noted by The A.V. Club, Ontiveros "found it difficult to break out of the all-too-familiar ghetto of roles available to Latina performers, such as domestic help, hookers, and the occasional grandmother". Nevertheless she reportedly claimed in a 2002 interview that she had a "hell of a good time" portraying maids.

Among Ontiveros roles was her portrayal on the big screen of Yolanda Saldivar, the convicted murderer of Tejana music star Selena Qunitanilla. According to the New York Times, her performance in 1997's "Selena" was so credible that "for years the singer’s fans would hiss at her when she walked into a public place".

Daily Headlines: July 31, 2012

* Latin America: According to Mexican newspaper Excelsior, Guatemala and Mexico have the lowest military spending based as the percentage of GDP in Latin America.

* El Salvador: President Mauricio Funes is enjoying a 72% approval rating despite foreign diplomatic worries of a developing “constitutional crisis.

* U.S.: A new report found that few Latinos are likely to take out loans to pay for college, which reportedly have some experts worried that “rising college costs will eventually create a significant barrier against Hispanics seeking higher education”.

* Ecuador: At a press conference in Quito the mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claimed that her son has been “under a lot of stress”.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources- InSight Crime, Prensa Latina, Reuters, VOXXI,

Monday, July 30, 2012

London Calling: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Wembley

After an excellent first day in the 2012 London Games medal count for Latin America, days two and three have provided plenty of action for the region’s athletes. The biggest moment occurred on Sunday with one of the biggest upsets in Olympics soccer history.

An early Jerry Bengston goal for Honduras was enough to beat Spain by a score of 1-0 and eliminate them from the games.

The Spaniards, who were one of the favorites to win gold, were stymied by a physical Honduran defense at St. James' Park in Newcastle. Coach Luis Suarez’ decision to not tinker with the lineup that tied the first group match with Morocco paid off after Bengston’s powerful header beat David De Gea in the seventh minute.

Los Catrachos withheld a second-half Spanish onslaught that included a trio of shots that hit the posts and crossbar.

“Undoubtedly this triumph is a historic achievement for our players,” declared Honduran president Porfirio Lobo who also said that the team’s “toughness and unity” should serve as “an example for the Honduran people”.

After the game Spain’s Iker Muniain vociferously complained about the poor officiating of Venezuelan referee Juan Soto and accused his rivals of “being blown upon and falling down” in order to draw fouls. Yet Spain had several iffy calls in their favor including Muniain not being sent off after he angrily bumped Soto late in the match.

Daily Headlines: July 30, 2012

* Bolivia: The government started a series of consultations with numerous indigenous communities opposed to the construction of a highway in the Amazon region.

* Chile: A souvenir line was launched to pay the expenses of thirty-three miners who were trapped underground for nearly seventy days in 2010.

* Nicaragua: A pair of Dutch companies won a government contract to study the feasibility of building a transoceanic canal in Nicaragua.

* Costa Rica: Flooding caused by heavy rains have led to the disappearances of several people while over 1500 people were evacuated and placed in shelters.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources- Reuters, The Telegraph, The Latin Americanist, CBS News, CNN