Friday, April 18, 2014

Daily Headlines: April 18, 2014

* Mexico: A magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck near the resort city of Acapulco this morning and was felt throughout fourteen states in central and southern Mexico.
* Brazil: A two-day police strike ended in Brazil’s third-largest city, Salvador, but not before thirty-nine homicides were committed during that period.

* Chile: Officials with Chile’s national forestry agency claimed that firemen have “contained” a massive fire in Valparaiso that killed at least fifteen people and destroyed nearly three thousand homes.

* Cuba: Is Cuba on the verge of an “imminent health crisis” due to a reported shortage of condoms?
Video Source– YouTube user elsiglocomve (Residents in Mexico City exited their homes and places of residence Friday morning as a result of a powerful earthquake near Acapulco).

Online Sources – CNN; Reuters; The Guardian; Bernama

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Famed Author Gabriel García Márquez Dies (Updated)

One of Latin America's most famous authors, Gabriel García Márquez, has passed away on Thursday afternoon at the age of 87.

Fernanda Familiar, a spokeswoman for the García Márquez family, tweeted that the Colombian-born Nobel laureate died at his residence in Mexico City:

She wrote "Gabriel García Márquez died.  Mercedes and her sons, Rodrigo and Gonzalo have authorized me to provide the information.  What a profound sadness..."

A statement from the García Márquez family issued on Wednesday mentioned that he was in "very fragile" health following a nine-day hospitalization to treat lung and urinary tract infections.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos alluded to García Márquez' best-known novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, via his Twitter account.

"One thousand years of solitude and sadness over the death of the greatest Colombian of all time," he tweeted.  Santos claimed earlier this week that García Márquez had pneumonia and was in "delicate health which is a reality of his age."
Other message of condolences were issued by international leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico as well as artists from the Americas.

"He gave me the motivation and freedom to launch myself into writing because in his books I found my own family, my country, characters familiar to me, the color and rhythm and abundance of my continent," said Chilean novelist Isabel Allende.  

"A great writer has died.  His works helped spread and provide prestige to Latin American literature...I send my condolences to his family," said came from fellow Nobel laureate and literary great Mario Vargas Llosa.  The Peruvian author along with the likes of García Márquez, Julio Cortázar of Argentina and Mexico's Carlos Fuentes spearheaded a Latin American Boom in literature during the 1960s and 70s.
The hashtag #GraciasGabo has become a trending topic on Twitter as people worldwide have taken to social networks to express their appreciation of the renown author and novelist. 

(Update: Our biography of García Márquez can be read below the page break).   

Salsa Music Great José “Cheo” Feliciano Dies

Puerto Rican salsa legend and bolero singer José “Cheo” Feliciano died in the early morning hours of Thursday in a car crash.  He was 78 years old.

According to police officials in Puerto Rico, Feliciano was driving alone in his Jaguar auto when it hit a utility pole near the San Juan suburb of Cupey.  He reportedly lost control of his car as he was entering a curve and hit his head on the windshield. 

“It was a strong impact against a fixed object,” said Jorge Hernández Peña, the head of the police force’s traffic division.  “Feliciano was not wearing his seatbelt,” observed Hernández Peña.

Feliciano’s widow, Socorro Prieto León, said at an impromptu press conference that her husband “hated to put on his seatbelt” and that she would usually drive for him since he was diagnosed with cancer last year.

“(Please) remember him always as a family man.  A man who was always very good and a wonderful partner,” she added.  The couple would have celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary this October.

The motive for the accident is unknown though the singer’s son, José Enrique Feliciano, speculated that his father suffered from limited mobility and may have fallen asleep behind the wheel.
It was at the age of eight that José Luis Feliciano Vega created his first band in his birthplace of Ponce called "El Combo Las Latas" (“The Tin Can Band”) after the instruments they used.  From these humble beginnings, Feliciano would be a member of the Joe Cuba Sextet and later the Eddie Palmieri Orchestra and was best know for songs like "Una en un millon," "Mi promesa" and "Contigo aprendi." His main claim to fame, however, would be as part of the revered Fania All-Stars salsa music ensemble where he shared the stage with the likes of Celia Cruz, Willie Colón and Ruben Blades. 

Daily Headlines: April 17, 2014

* Cuba: As part of Cuba’s new labor law, the government officially declared Good Friday as a national holiday for the first time since prior to the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
* Brazil: Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff continues to handily lead in the latest presidential polls though she could face a serious challenge from ex-governor Eduardo Campos who this week teamed up with respected environmental activist Marina Silva.
* Colombia: The offices of the Sintraemcali union were firebombed days after a Colombian court ordered the state to apologize for alleging that union members were allied to the FARC guerillas.
* Argentina: Police in Argentina rescued a fifteen-year-old girl who was severely malnourished and abused by her adoptive parents who left her imprisoned for nine years in a garage.
Video Source– AFP via YouTube (Cuban officials recognized Good Friday as a holiday in 2012 following Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the island but did not celebrate Good Friday as its own holiday last year).

Online Sources – CBS Local; The Guardian; Bloomberg; Fox News Latino; RTE

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Daily Headlines: April 16, 2014

Note: The following video contains graphic images and is Not Safe for Work (NSFW).

* Caribbean: Cuba and the Dominican Republic joined three other nations including Honduras in their World Trade Organization dispute against Australia’s strong anti-tobacco laws.

* Bolivia: Bolivian President Evo Morales personally handed over documents to the International Court of Justice as part of the landlocked country’s case seeking to regain a coastline from Chile.
* Argentina: The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear a case next Monday regarding unpaid debts from the Argentine government’s massive $82 billion default in 2001.

* Haiti: According to Amnesty International, “leading human rights activist” Pierre Esperance received a threat implying that he “won’t escape” the next assassination attempt against him.
Video Source– AFP via YouTube

Online Sources – GlobalPost; Reuters; The Latin Americanist; USA TODAY; The Washington Post

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Daily Headlines: April 15, 2014

* Brazil: According to a researcher from Brazil, the obesity rate among children in that South American country is an “extremely high” 39%.
* Puerto Rico: The Puerto Rican Supreme Court struck down a teacher pension reform law that the commonwealth's government said was necessary in order to improve the island’s woeful economy.

* Venezuela: Venezuelan officials claimed that there was no political motive behind the kidnapping of TV news network Globovision journalist Nairobi Pinto who was freed eight days after she was her abducted in Caracas.

* Cuba: For the first time since 1983, France’s foreign minister visited Cuba and reportedly discussed with President Raul Castro ways to “push forward our relations in the areas of culture, education, economics and politics.”

Video Source – AFP via YouTube (“Brazil is known as home of the perfect beach body - but in reality, 48% of the population is overweight and 16% obese, a rise of 5 percentage points in just five years. At the current rate, the average Brazilian could soon be heavier than the average American.”)
Online Sources – Voice of America; GlobalPost; Fox News Latino; Reuters

Monday, April 14, 2014

Daily Headlines: April 14, 2014

* Chile: More than 10,000 people were evacuated and at least eleven were killed after a massive fire destroyed hundreds of residences in the port city of Valparaiso.
* Dominican Republic: A recent report found that “arbitrary” interpretations of a controversial 2013 Dominican high court ruling has led to increased discrimination against children of Haitian background trying to attend school.
* Argentina: In the latest chapter of the diplomatic tug-of-war over the Falkland Islands, Argentina’s government blasted Britain for holding military exercises at the disputed archipelago.
* Mexico: Thirty-six people died as a result of bus that crashed into a truck yesterday on a highway in Veracruz state.
Video Source– ITN via YouTube (The major fire that hit Valparaiso occurred nearly two weeks after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the northern coast of Chile.)

Online Sources – Voice of America; Reuters; Prensa Latina; The Latin Americanist; The Washington Post