Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Weekender – Water

“The Weekender” is our new feature where every weekend we hope to highlight a short film, movie or documentary pertaining to Latin American and the Caribbean.  
March 22nd is the U.N.-sponsored World Water Day, which helps to examine the importance of water in our daily lives and the challenges communities face globally in order to gain access to such a vital substance.  This year’s theme focuses on the “closely linked an interdependent” relation between water and energy including how they affect economic development and wealth worldwide.

The 2009 documentary Water Which Makes Us Alive looks at how residents of the Peruvian community of Andamarca manage the limited supplies of water that are in their area.  Their system of self-regulation aims to ensure that they can all have a fair access to water for all and helps in the survival of the Andamarca area. 

According to a synopsis of the documentary from Culture Unplugged Studios, “This spiritual, social and political system of water management is an example for managing water resources for irrigation in a participatory, democratic way that respects the ecosystem…Without the sense of unity that underlies this collective management, the inhabitants would break their roots and the community would be transformed into a dead place.

Unfortunately Water Which Makes Us Alive cannot be embedded though we have included a link to the very insightful and interesting film.  This link is available under the page break as well as a short embedded video on an innovative billboard in Peru that converts air into potable water. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Daily Headlines: March 21, 2014

* Uruguay: President Jose Mujica said that Uruguay would be willing to take in five detainees of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba though no definitive agreement has been reached.

* Dominican Republic: Dominican officials are reportedly working “urgently” on a nationalization bill that could help some of the thousands of residents of Haitian background whose citizenship was stripped in a controversial high court ruling.
* U.S.: The National Hispanic University, which is the only Latino-oriented four year college in the U.S., will be shutdown next year due to “significant ongoing regulatory and financial challenges.”

* Mexico: Hipolito Mora, the leader of one of the “self-defense” vigilante groups in Michoacán, will face trial over his suspected involvement in the murders of two men.

Video Source – NTN24 via YouTube

Online Sources- Fox News Latino; Dominican Today; The Latin Americanist; GlobalPost; LAHT

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Daily Headlines: March 20, 2014

* U.S.: Officials in Texas found 109 migrants mostly from Central America and Mexico crammed into a dilapidated house and who may have been victims of a human smuggling operation.

* South America: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos gave final approval to the dismissal of Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro while Venezuelan authorities arrested San Cristobal Mayor Daniel Ceballos and charged him with inciting “civil rebellion.”

* Argentina: Argentine President Cristina Fernandez blasted last week’s referendum in Crimea as “worthless” and compared it to a March 2013 vote where most residents of the disputed Falklands Islands opted to remain under British rule.

* Brazil: Lawmakers dropped a controversial provision from a major Internet bill that would’ve permitted online data to be locally collected in order to bypass U.S. intelligence surveillance.

Video Source – Associated Press via YouTube

Online Sources- The Guardian; Reuters; ZDNet; Bloomberg

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

”Extreme Emergency” in Drought-Hit Haitian Region

When referring to the affects of weather on Haiti one probably thinks of hurricanes and other tropical storms ravaging the Caribbean nation.  Yet northeastern Haiti has been hit by a doughty so severe that one government official called the situation an “extreme emergency.”

According to Pierre Gary Mathieu, representative of Haiti’s National Coordination of Food Security (CNSA), the drought has lasted eight months and has led to the loss of two harvest seasons. As a result, farmers have been forced to travel farther in order to obtain water while some schools where meals are provided to impoverished students do not have water or food.

“People need jobs immediately but they also need food,” Mathieu said to the Associated Press (AP) in an article published on Wednesday.

Even though some rain has fallen recently in the affected area, Mathieu believes that it will take at least six months for a recovery to occur.  Nevertheless, government officials are expected to meet tomorrow with international aid workers in order to plan out a proper response to the drought affected area.  (A World Food Program spokesman told the AP that the organization would send food kits containing rice, beans and cooking oil to some 120,000 people in northwestern Haiti).

The latest CNSA outlook for the first six months of this year concluded that the drought may not affect national food production and availability yet could cause a “deterioration” in food security in dry areas.  For example, Haiti has imported thousands of tons of rice from Vietnam to satisfy local demand yet rice farmers in areas like Maribaroux and Fort Liberté have experienced difficulties due to “the lack of water in irrigation systems.”

Daily Headlines: March 19, 2014

* Venezuela: Federal legislators called for an investigation against opposition congresswoman Maria Corina Machado while anti-government demonstrators rallied on the one-month anniversary of the arrest of protest leader Leopoldo Lopez.

* Central America: A new study concluded that state recognition of indigenous land rights could serve as a vital deterrent for drug trafficking in Central America. 

* Mexico: Jorge Arvizu, the veteran Mexican voice actor who was the Spanish-speaking world’s Mel Blanc, died yesterday at the age of 81.

* Colombia: President Juan Manuel Santos will likely finalize the dismissal and fifteen-year suspension of Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro sometime this week.

Video Source – AFP via YouTube

Online Sources- The Guardian; Tico Times; LAHT; Al Jazeera English

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Daily Headlines: March 18, 2014

Note: Before getting to today’s headlines, we would like to wholeheartedly apologize for publishing this post so late in the day.  This delay is inexcusable and a major error that we hope not to commit again.

* Brazil: U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who is undergoing his first Latin American trip since taking office over a year ago, traveled to Brazil where he’s hoping to repair weak relations resulting from denunciations made by intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden.

* U.S.: A group of twenty-four living and deceased U.S. Army veterans including several born in Puerto Rico and Mexico will receive the Medal of Honor.

* Venezuela: Flights to and from Venezuela with Air Canada were cancelled due to “ongoing civil unrest” jeopardizing the safety of the airline carrier's operation.

* Guatemala: Former Guatemalan resident Alfonso Portillo pled guilty in a U.S. federal court and admitted that he accepted $2.5 million in bribes in order to continue recognizing Taiwan diplomatically.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube

Online Sources- Bloomberg; The Latin Americanist; CBC News; ABC News

Monday, March 17, 2014

Daily Headlines: March 17, 2014

* Chile: More than 100,000 people were briefly evacuated from coastal areas in Chile after a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean near the northern tip of the country yesterday.

* Venezuela: Tensions remain high between the Venezuelan government and opposition demonstrators after police fired tear gas at student protesters in Caracas.

* El Salvador: The Salvadoran Supreme Electoral Court tossed out a request to annul the March 8th presidential election and declared ruling party candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren as the country’s president-elect.
* Peru: Former president Alberto Fujimori was discharged from hospital following a small stroke on Friday and returned to prison where he’s serving time on charges of human rights abuses and corruption.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube (No immediate reports of damages or injuries resulted from Sunday’s tremor off the Chilean coast that also led to a tsunami warning for several hours).

Online Sources- CNN; The Guardian; Voice of America; The Latin Americanist; Reuters