Friday, December 7, 2012

Daily Headlines: December 7, 2012

* Mexico: Brother-and-sister duo Jesse y Joy was nominated for Best Latino Pop Grammy weeks after capturing four Latin Grammys including record and song of the year.

* Argentina: Media giant Clarin received an extension of an injunction to prevent the implementation of a controversial government-backed media reform law.

* U.S.: The Hispanic unemployment rate remained unchanged in November at 10.0% even though the national unemployment rate continued to decrease slightly last month.

* Venezuela: “I'm happy and enthused to be back again,” declared an enthusiastic President Hugo Chavez after he returned from nine days of medical treatment in Cuba.

Video Source – YouTube via user jessejoyoficial

Online Sources- Zee News, Businessweek, ABC News, Reuters

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cuban Government Pulls Plug on “Cubatón”

The Cuban government issued a radio and television ban against depicting reggaeton, an increasingly popular style of music in Latin America.

“Neither vulgarity nor mediocrity will be able to tarnish the richness of Cuban music,” said the president of the Cultural Ministry’s music institute, Orlando Vistel Columbie, to the Cuban state media.  He added, “People can listen to what they want privately. But, that freedom doesn’t include the right to reproduce and disseminate that music.”

Vistel claimed that the prohibition of reggaeton came about due to the genre’s supposed “vulgarity” that includes sexually explicit lyrics and insulting women.

Approximately one year ago, Vistel and Minister of Culture Abel Prieto blasted the hit reggaeton song “Chupi Chupi” and pushed for the disqualification of the song from Cuba’s Lucas awards for music.  (The song’s title, according to Global Voices, is a “playful and unapologetically vulgar ‘ode’ to oral sex”.)

Aside from the ban and criticizing of Cuban reggaeton, which is also known as “Cubatón”, the government has reportedly tried to push more traditional Cuban dance rhythms like danzon towards youth.  Yet their efforts may be all for naught due to the way in which Cubatón music is generally distributed on the island:

Brazilian Architect Oscar Niemeyer Dies

Legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer died on Wednesday in a Rio de Janeiro hospital at the age of 104.  He had been hospitalized since early November due to kidney and stomach ailments, and he passed away as a result of complications from a lung infection.

A disciple of the famed French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, Niemeyer became one of the word’s best-known modern architects.  His career spanned across nine decades and included designing over 600 buildings such as the U.N. Secretariat in New York.

In 1940, then-Belo Horizonte mayor Juscelino Kubitschek commissioned Niemeyer to design an “architectural complex” for a new suburb entitled Pampulha.  This project served as a predecessor for a more ambitious plan presented to Niemeyer by President Kubitschek in 1958 to design a new capital city.

Thus was born Niemeyer’s masterpiece, which were his space-age designs for dozens of government structures that make up Brasilia.  The city, which was inaugurated in 1960, featured such bold and futuristic edifices like the National Congress, the National Museum and the Cathedral of Brasilia.  It was this last building containing its "Crown of Thorns" cupola that helped Niemeyer earn the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1988.

According to BBC News, Niemeyer’s inspiration came from a unique source:

Daily Headlines: December 6, 2012

* Cuba: The Cuban foreign ministry rejected U.S. government allegations over the deteriorating health of imprisoned contractor Alan Gross.

* Latin America: Is Syrian President Bashar Assad planning on seeking political asylum in Latin America?

* Guatemala: Wanted software company founder John McAfee was arrested in Guatemala and could be deported to Belize.

* Haiti: The Haitian government introduced a comprehensive plan to overhaul the country’s adoption system.

Video Source – YouTube via user JewishNewsOne

Online Sources- UPI, Huffington Post, CBS News, CNN

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Survey Finds HIV Misinformation Rife in Colombian Military

A few days ago we highlighted how stigmas on HIV/AIDS are one of the main factors impacting Latinos in the U.S.  Guillermo Chacón, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS, highlighted that aside from stigmas a “lack of education around sex and safe sex practices are major contributors to the epidemic”. The same can be said about other countries around the world.

According to the Colombian press, misinformation on HIV/AIDS is rampant among members of the country’s armed forces.  A survey conducted by the Ministry of Defense reportedly found that 70% of troops falsely believed that HIV can be spread via mosquito bites.  The survey also revealed that most of the 879 respondents believe that condom use is not required with “close acquaintances” though they should be used when visiting brothels.

“There still exists a perception of low risk of infection.  Approximately half or less (of the respondents) believe that using protection with casual partners prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis or herpes,” said military researcher Coronel Nohora Rodríguez to

Ironically none of the respondents was infected with HIV/AIDS though fifty of them admitted that they were infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Colombian military brass is disappointed with the survey’s results and, thus, is launching a campaign designed to stop the spread of misinformation:

Remittances to Mexico Keep Dropping

Remittances sent to Mexico dropped for the fourth month in row according to new data revealed by that country’s central bank. 

The Banco de México revealed yesterday that money transfers into Mexico totaled almost $1.78 billion in October, which was a decrease of 7.1% in comparison to the same month in 2011.  $19.04 billion in remittances were sent between January 2012 and last October and this represents a 0.9% decline compared to the first ten months of 2011. 

The new figures also revealed that the average amount of money sent per remittance in October 2012 ($299.78) is 5.8% less than in October 2011.

The decline in remittances can best be explained the old adage “when the U.S. sneezes, Mexico catches a cold”:

Daily Headlines: December 5, 2012

* Brazil: At least sixty-one police officers were arrested in Rio de Janeiro state and accused of taking bribes from drug traffickers in exchange for turning a blind eye to illicit activity.

* Latin America: Venezuela and Haiti are tied as the most corrupt countries in Latin America and the Caribbean according to an analysis by Transparency International.

* Argentina: Attorneys for Spanish oil firm Repsol filed a lawsuit in a U.S. federal court against Chevron regarding that company’s dealings with Argentina's YPF.

* Guatemala: A lawyer for software company founder John McAfee said that his client will seek political asylum in Guatemala despite being wanted on murder charges in the U.S.

Video Source – YouTube via user tvbrasil

Online Sources- CNN, Reuters, Transparency International, Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Report: Major Abuses Committed at Guatemala Hospital

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observance this past Monday with this year’s theme calling for the “removal of barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.”  Sadly many barriers continue to exist against the disabled around the world such as the recent allegations of abuse in Guatemala.

An investigation by the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala and Disability Rights International (DRI) concluded that abuse was rampant against patients at the Federico Mora psychiatric hospital.  The joint study claimed that approximately 300 children were kept in isolation cells, and that hospital staff and convicts of a nearby prison often abused patients. 

The report also noted that patients lack proper treatment and die from curable illnesses. As a result, there is a high risk of HIV infection and this is made worse since the hospital allegedly lacks the resources to treat those exposed to the virus.

“We found a climate of terror. Even authorities at the hospital are afraid of their own staff.  Authorities told us they cannot remove known abusers because they fear they will be killed or threatened by gang members due to the links between staff and the Mara Salvatrucha (street gang),” observed DRI attorney Sofía Galván via a statement on the organization’s website.

Ecuador: Police Free Presidential Password Infiltrator

Police in Ecuador freed a blogger who was able to infiltrate into “secure data” belonging to President Rafael Correa.

“I’m free.  Many thanks to everyone,” Paul Moreno mentioned via his Twitter account on Monday after he was released from approximately three days of police custody.  He subsequently tweeted a photo of him accompanied by his parents outside of the jail where he was held.

Moreno “did not commit any 'hacking' activity or intrusion into global information” of the DatoSeguro national dignity database said a statement from Ecuador’s Public Information Registry.

The forty-two-year-old professor gained access to Correa’s personal information by creating a fake account under the president’s name in the DatoSeguro database.  He reportedly used online searches in order to obtain two key pieces of information: Correa’s date of birth and a national identification number.  Moreno got passed the third safeguard, a set of two numbers from an identity card, in order to read Correa’s private data such as bank account numbers and criminal infractions.

According to’s Gadget Lab blog, Delgado posted on his website screenshots from the DatoSeguro site proving his claims and wrote how shockingly easy it was to gain access to Correa’s confidential information:

Daily Headlines: December 4, 2012 (Updated)

* Honduras: At least 149 people were murdered by Honduras’ National Police over the past 23 months according to a report presented yesterday.

Update: Police spokesman Héctor Iván Mejía criticized the report as inaccurately "generalizing" the police as "criminals".  But in his remarks to the website of Honduran daily La Tribuna, Mejía did not touch on the data presented in the report blaming the police for 149 murders in nearly two years.   

* Cuba: The U.S. State Department urged Cuban officials to release ill, imprisoned contractor Alan Gross and “return him to his family where he belongs.”

* Mexico: Doctors in Mexico confirmed that retired Colombian soccer goalkeeper Miguel Calero is brain dead and on life support machines.

Update: Miguel Calero was declared clinically dead by doctors overseeing him according to a statement from Mexican soccer club Pachuca.  The forty-one-year-old Calero appeared in fifty games for the Colombian national team, and won three CONCACAF Champions Cup and a Copa Sudamericana in his eleven years as Pachuca goalkeeper. 

* U.S.: Two suspected Mexican drug smugglers were accused of killing a U.S. Coast Guard officer on California's seas.

Video Source – YouTube via user Vox Populi (Honduran police officers were accused of abuse while trying to break up a teachers’ occupation of a Tegucigalpa school in 2010).

Online Sources including Updates - CNN, The Huffington Post, ESPN Soccernet, Fox News Latino,, RCN Radio

Monday, December 3, 2012

Today's Video: Shattering Taboos on AIDS

In the upcoming days several of our posts will focus on HIV/AIDS throughout the Americas in commemoration of World AIDS Day that was observed last Saturday.

Guillermo Chacón, President of the Latino Commission on AIDS, mentioned recently to The Huffington Post that stigmas on HIV/AIDS are one of the main factors that "disproportionately impact" the Latino populace.

"Talking about HIV and safe sex is still very difficult, and we need to promote more education around both of these subjects so that people are aware of how HIV is transmitted and what they can do to have safer sex," said Chacón.  He also observed that "homophobia and transphobia are also major obstacles to address HIV/AIDS" and, thus, he recommends that "we also advocate for LGBT rights and acceptance in all of our families".

One of the efforts aimed at removing the unfortunate stigma on HIV/AIDS among Latinos comes via new webseries that commenced last week.  Sin Vergüenza (translated as Shameless), according to the description provided with the initial episode, aims to "encourages people to get tested as a routine part of their medical care and to seek HIV medical care should they test positive".

The first chapter of this dramatic, telenovela-like webseries can be viewed below:

Daily Headlines: December 3, 2012

* Peru: A ten-year ban on the import, production and use of genetically modified foods went into effect in Peru last week.

* Colombia: At least twenty guerillas were killed in a military raid reported as the “biggest military operation against FARC since peace talks began in October”.

* Argentina: Former navy captain Alfredo Astiz, known as the "Blonde Angel of Death," is among the sixty-eight defendants involved in the biggest “Dirty War”-related trial in Argentine history.

* U.S.: A recently released report found that domestic workers in the U.S., most of whom are undocumented immigrants, suffer from all forms of abuse at the hands of their employers. 

Video Source – YouTube via user FirstscienceTV

Online Sources-, France24, BBC News, LAHT

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Today's Video: Psychopath

Over the past few days we've focused on several instances of abuse against women in Latin America in commemoration of the recent International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  On Monday we will discuss several news stories from the Americas focusing on HIV/AIDS in observance of World AIDS Day this past Saturday.  The following story from Colombia is a tragic confluence of these two subjects.

Police in Bogotá this weekend arrested a 57-year-old truck driver accused of infecting approximately fifty of women with HIV.  According to the EFE news agency police believe that José Libardo Rojas "seduced" dozens of women in five states even though he knew he was infected with HIV.

Rojas, who had an arrest warrant issued against him for alleged child abuse, was detained in very ill health and subsequently sent to a hospital while under police custody.

Over 7000 new cases of AIDS have been reported in Colombia in 2011 based on government data released on World AIDS Day.

Video Source - YouTube via user InfoColombia

Online Sources -, Vivelo Hoy

Weekend Headlines: December 1-2, 2012

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* Mexico: Police clashed with protesters opposed to Enrique Peña Nieto while he was being inaugurated on Saturday as president of Mexico.

* Latin America: The presidents of Colombia and Nicaragua agreed to use dialogue to resolve a territorial dispute while the Peruvian and Chilean presidents said that they would respect an upcoming international court ruling on maritime boundaries.

* Paraguay: At least 69 people have died this year in Paraguay as a result of the dengue fever that has also killed over 400 people throughout Latin America.

* Brazil: President Dilma Rousseff vetoed portions of a controversial bill that would redistribute oil royalties amongst Brazilian states.