Friday, October 25, 2013

Chile: Man Convicted in Zamudio Trial on Hunger Strike

Patricio Ahumada Garay, one of the four Chilean men recently convicted in the homophobic murder of Daniel Zamudio, has been on a partial hunger strike for at least seven days.

Ahumada’s hunger strike began on October 18th, which was one day after he and his cohorts were found guilty of the 2012 murder of Zamudio.  At first he refused to ingest any liquids though on Tuesday he changed his fast to eat only solids.

He has reportedly lost five kilos (roughly eleven pounds) though a medical report from prison doctors said that his vital signs are stable.

In a pair of letters to prison authorities, Ahumada claimed that his legal rights were “violated” and that he protested the ruling handed down against him. 

During the Zamudio murder trial, prosecutors argued that the gang of self-described neo-Nazis attacked the 24-year-old in a Santiago park due to his homosexuality.  The defendants, who were between the ages of 19 and 25 at the time, burnt Zamudio with cigarettes, beat him with beer bottles and broke one of his legs.  Defendant Fabian Mora said at the witness stand that Ahumada used a broken liquor bottle to draw a swastika on Zamudio's unconscious body and then urinated on him.

Zamudio died in hospital on March 28, 2012, three weeks after he was assaulted and left for dead.
A judge is expected to hand down prison sentences to Zamudio’s killers on this Monday.  Ahumada, who was identified as the ringleader and did not testify during the trial, could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

For Rolando Jiménez, president of Chile’s Gay Liberation and Integration Movement, Hamada’s hunger strike is reprehensible and the actions of a coward:

Daily Headlines: October 25, 2013

* Puerto Rico: Is Puerto Rico safe and creditworthy for investors in the U.S. or is the commonwealth in risk for “a Greek-style bust”?

* Guatemala: Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt could be granted an amnesty from charges of genocide and crimes against humanity connected to his brief but bloody rule in the middle of Guatemala’s civil war.

* Mexico: Police in Monterrey arrested a man who admitted to killing 45 people and could be behind the murders of an additional 34 individuals.

* Peru: Archeologists discovered a pre-Incan tomb near Lima that is over 1000-years-old and containing two wrapped corpses.

Video Source – YouTube via the Nightly Business Report

Online Sources- Xinhua; GlobalPost; Reuters; CNBC; The Economist

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Daily Headlines: October 24, 2013

* Argentina: A spokesman for Monsanto denied allegations made in an Associated Press published Monday claiming that the firm’s Roundup line of pesticides is harming the health of Argentinians.

* Latin America: The Inter-American Press Association denounced numerous dangers against media freedoms in Latin America including the killing of journalists, a new censorship law in Ecuador and restrictions on advertising in Argentina.

* Haiti: Protests took place in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince in order to support recently arrested lawyer and government critic André Michel.

* Mexico: 26-year-old Mexican boxer Francisco "Frankie" Leal died of brain trauma three days after he was knocked out by countryman Raul Hirales in a televised bout.

Video Source – YouTube via user Latinoamerica Teamo (In September 2012, protesters gathered in the Argentine city of Cordoba to march against Monsanto).

Online Sources- ESPN; Huffington Post; Miami Herald; MercoPress

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Colombia: U.N. Group Denounces Sexual Violence Against Women

The U.N.’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) warned that women and girls have become targets of sexual violence in areas of Colombia ravaged by armed conflict.

“There is a high level of impunity.  Victimized women often denounce the attacks against them though not always through the court system,” said CEDAW member Olinda Bareiro at a conference this month of the committee.

At a recent CEDAW conference, a Colombian government representative praised laws “on victims and the land reform (that) included both material and symbolic measures, as well as measures to combat impunity and increase prosecutions, and gave the burden of proof to the State”. Yet Bareiro claimed that neither of these laws covers victims of bandas criminales, which are criminal groups that are mostly made up of demobilized right-wing paramilitary factions.  Furthermore, she said that the system for reclaiming land seized by armed groups such as the leftist FARC and ELN rebels is “a very difficult process for women”.

Ultimately, the CEDAW recommended that violence against women should be a topic incorporated in peace talks between the FARC and Colombian government that have been held in Cuba.

Meanwhile, the National Summit of Women and Peace began today in Bogotá with a call for greater participation of women in the dialogue between Colombian officials and the rebels.

Daily Headlines: October 23, 2013

* Cuba: The Cuban government will phase out its “unpopular” dual-currency system that has been in place since 1994 in favor of a new single currency.

* Mexico: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto might launch an official investigation into the alleged hacking of then-President Felipe Calderon’s public e-mail by the U.S. National Security Agency.

* Honduras: Recant polls indicated that Xiomara Castro, the wife of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, and Congressional chief Juan Hernandez are in a statistical dead heat ahead of next month's presidential election.

* Haiti: U.S. immigration officials released from custody four Haitian migrants who were found last week holding on to the hull of a capsized boat near the coast of Miami.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews

Online Sources- Reuters;; The Latin Americanist; Huffington Post; ABC News

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Daily Headlines: October 22, 2013

* Uruguay: Government drug chief Julio Calzada said that the Uruguay plans to sell marijuana legally for $1 per gram, or roughly an eighth what it costs at legal medical dispensaries in some U.S. states, in order to combat drug trafficking.

* Haiti: According to the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs about the number of survivors of a major 2010 earthquake living in camps has dropped by 89% since its peak of 1.5 million people over three years ago.

* Cuba: Cuban officials reported an increase in visitors from the U.S. traveling to the island though its still below the number of tourists from countries like Canada, Germany and Britain.

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan stock market is one of the world’s “best performing” despite domestic economic problems such as high inflation and food shortages.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews (Video uploaded last August).

Online Sources- LAHT; The Guardian; Los Angeles Times; ABC News;

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ex-Mexican President Protests NSA "Spying" on Him

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón issued an “energetic protest” with his country’s government regarding alleged espionage against him by the National Security Agency (NSA).

“I spoke with the Secretary of Foreign Relations and asked that he send an energetic protest against the spying against me,” tweeted Calderón on Monday.

Calderón further criticized the “attacks against Mexico’s public institutions” after German magazine Der Spiegel claimed the NSA reportedly hacked his public email account while he was president.

“I’ll be attentive to the actions by the Foreign Relations office in seeking explanations from the U.S.,” tweeted the man who was Mexico’s president between 2006 and 2012, and who is now a fellow at Harvard University.

“This practice is unacceptable, illegal and against Mexican and international law,” said Mexico’s foreign affairs office in a statement issued yesterday over the “possible spying”. “In a relationship between neighbors there is no room for these practices to occur,” the communiqué mentioned without specifically naming Der Spiegel’s report.

According a 2010 NSA classified report cited by Der Spiegel, U.S. intelligence was able to tap into an “email domain” used by then-President Calderón as well as members of his cabinet.  As a result, the agency had access to “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications which continue to provide insight into Mexico's political system and internal stability”.  For the NSA, Calderon’s office thus became “a lucrative source.”

The NSA report was the latest document leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and comes weeks after he helped reveal the agency’s supposed surveillance of Enrique Peña Nieto during his successful presidential campaign last year. In response to last month’s report, Mexico’s government summoned the U.S. ambassador in Mexico City, Anthony Wayne, for consultations.

Daily Headlines: October 21, 2013 (Updated)

* Latin America: Antonia Brenner, a U.S. nun who counseled inmates in a Tijuana prison for over three decades, died last Thursday while acclaimed Cuban-American author Oscar Hijuelos passed away earlier this month.
* Brazil: The Brazilian government will move forward with the auctioning of several offshore oil deposits despite opposition from Petrobras workers and local labor unions.

Update: Police clashed with protesters in Rio de Janeiro while the first auctions for the Libra offshore oil field were being held today.  

* Panama: The 23rd Ibero-American summit in Panama City ended on Saturday with the absence of fourteen heads of state and agreement to hold the conference less often.

* Peru: Peruvian officials announced that they would investigate the “out-of-control slaughter” of thousands of dolphins each year.

Video Source – YouTube via user KPBSSanDiego

Online Sources including Update- Huffington Post; CNN; Business Recorder; Los Angeles Times; ninemsn; Time