Friday, August 2, 2013

Daily Headlines: August 2, 2013

* Chile: Some of the 33 workers rescued from the collapse of the San Jose mine in 2010 students are unhappy that prosecutors will not press charges against regulators or the mine's owners.

* Ecuador: The body of recently deceased soccer star Christian Benitez arrived in his native Ecuador this morning several hours before his funeral in Quito.

* Uruguay: Which Latin American country could soon follow Uruguay's lead and legalize the use of marijuana?

* U.S.: Several legislators have reintroduced proposals in both houses of Congress aimed at creating a Smithsonian American Latino Museum in Washington, D.C.

Online Sources - BBC News; The Latin Americanist; ABC News; CBS News; CNN

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

De Musica Ligera: Ignacio Cervantes and the Sounds of Cuba

We won't be posting any articles on Wednesday though we hope to return on Thursday.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

July 31st marks the birthday of Cuban composer and musician Ignacio Cervantes.  Born in 1847, Cervantes was famed for combining traditional Cuban sounds within classical music.  He was also a figure in the struggle for Cuban independence from Spain by performing concerts in the U.S. and Mexico to raise funds for the rebel cause.

Perhaps his best known work was his series of Danzas Cubanas including six of them that are featured in the following video from pianist Silvia Navarrete:

Cervantes died in 1905, which was nearly seven years after Cuba became its own independent country.

"De Musica Ligera" is our occasional series that examines music from the Americas.  It's also the title of a song from Argentine rock group Soda Stereo.
Video Source - YouTube via user silvianavarretepiano

Online Source - Wikipedia

Border Agents Identified in 2010 Mexican Immigrant Death

Note: This video may Not Be Safe for Work.

A U.S. federal court revealed the names of a dozen border agents involved in the death of Mexican migrant over three years ago.

The judge’s order to lift the protective order was issued as part of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Anastasio Hernández Rojas.

In May 2010, the 42-year-old was in the process of being deported via the San Ysidro-Tijuana border post when he was beaten by agents with batons and was fired upon with Taser electronic guns.  Hernández subsequently suffered a heart attack and loss of oxygen to the brain, which led to his death five days after the incident.

Two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, six Border Patrol agents, and four Customs and Border Protection officers were identified as being involved in the altercation with Hernández.   An attorney for one of the men named in the lawsuit, Customs and Border Protection officer Jerry Vales, said that his client reacted after Hernández resisted detention.

"Hernandez's violence escalated after the initial five-second tase, as he kicked at officers as many as a dozen times and landed kicks to Officer (Vales') upper body," according to a motion filed in the lawsuit.

Yet an eyewitness who videotaped the altercation with a cell phone and said that Hernández was cooperating with officers despite being assaulted upon.  (Portions of that recording can be viewed in the YouTube video at the top of this post).

Other points of contention include whether Hernández tried to escape from custody and if the traces of meth coroners found in his body may have contributed to his death.

For one of the lawyers involved in the civil case, the judge’s actions are an important step forward in the case:

Daily Headlines: July 30, 2013

* Peru: President Ollanta Humala tried to calm the discontent of recent anti-government protests by claiming that the Peruvian economy will continue to be strong.

* Colombia: The latest round of peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels resumed this week in Cuba while the ELN guerillas could soon release a kidnapped Canadian geologist. 

* Latin America: At least twenty-six people have died so far this year as a result of a dengue outbreak affecting several Latin American countries.

* Puerto Rico: Why are two of the most prominent Congressmen of Puerto Rican background opposed to a bill that could help grant statehood to the island?

Video Source – YouTube via user JewishNewsOne

Online Sources- Reuters; MercoPress; Prensa Latina; Huffington Post; Hispanically Speaking News

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ecuadorian Soccer Star Christian Benitez Dies

In the past week, the U.S. continued its eleven-match winning streak by capturing the Gold Cup while Atletico Mineiro of Brazil overcame a two-goal deficit to earn its first ever Copa Libertadores title.  Off the field, however, the soccer world is mourning the sudden death of one of Ecuador’s top players.

Twenty-seven-year-old Christian Benitez passed away on Monday in Qatar only one day after playing his first game for new side El Jaish.

The cause of death has yet to be established though a statement issued by El Jaish noted that Benitez “participated in yesterday's match against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheikh Jassem Cup without complaining of any health problems.”  Nevertheless, Benitez’ agent, Jose Chamorro, told an Ecuadorian TV station that the striker may have died due to a possible heart attack.

The player affectionately nicknamed “Chucho” is being mourned in his native Ecuador where the country’s president, Rafael Correa, who mourned the “tragedy that has hit us all”.

“You will always be my brother,” tweeted Ecuadorian soccer star Antonio Valencia along with a photo of Benitez during his time with El Nacional of Ecuador.

He is also being remembered in Mexico where he tallied over 100 goals in a four-year period for Santos Laguna and Club America.
"Olé, olé, olé Chucho, Chucho" chanted dozens of Club America fans who gathered this morning at the club’s training ground with photos, posters and replica jerseys of Benitez.

“RIP ‘Chucho’ Benitez…you will live forever in the hearts of your fans,” tweeted ex-Mexican international and Santos Laguna legend Jared Borgetti.

”Who Am I to Judge Gays?” Asks Pope Francis

Argentine-born Pope Francis said that he wouldn’t judge priests for their sexual orientation at press conference held as he was returning to the Vatican from Brazil.

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?” said the pontiff to members of the media accompanying him onboard the papal flight earlier today.  “We shouldn’t marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society,” he added.

Francis also advocated for an increased role for women within the Church beyond limiting them to “altar girls or the president of a charity” though he rejected the notion of allowing female priests.
The Pope’s comments might not represent a change in Vatican policy on gays or women, but for some analysts his words are a major shift in tone compared to his predecessors.

"For so long the rhetoric coming out of the Vatican -- about gay and lesbian people and same sex marriage -- has been horrifically damaging. For the first time we're seeing a pope who says: 'Who am I to judge,'" Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, a group that advocates for gay Catholics, to ABC News.

Meanwhile, Italy’s first openly gay governor, Nichi Vendola, told the Associated Press “I believe that if politics had one-millionth of the capacity to ... listen that the pope does, it would be better able to help people who suffer.”

The Pope’s remarks also tied into one of the major themes he discussed during his six-day-long visit to Brazil: the need for Church officials to be more open to those who are socially and economically marginalized.  This theme was especially emphasized at a mass held in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday:

Daily Headlines: July 29, 2013

* Chile: The main cathedral in the Chilean capital of Santiago was temporarily closed after a small group of abortion rights protesters clashed with police last week.

* Mexico: Mexican Vice Admiral Carlos Salazar Ramonet was ambushed and killed in one of the latest acts of violence in the state of Michoacán.

* Cuba: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro at a public event commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the start of the Cuban Revolution. 

* Colombia: A recent report concluded that at least 220,000 people died in Colombia’s armed conflict since 1958 and that roughly four out of every five victims were civilian noncombatants.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources- The Guardian; UPI; BBC News; Al Jazeera English; CNN