Friday, May 30, 2014

Daily Headlines: May 30, 2014

* Honduras: More than one hundred U.S. legislators have called on the State Department to “evaluate Washington’s support and training for the Honduran police and military” due to widespread human rights abuses.

* Cuba: At a speech in Havana today, U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Thomas J. Donohue urged the Cuban officials to do more to curb government controls over the economy.

* Colombia: Colombian cyclists Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Uran are both close to an unprecedented 1-2 finish in the Giro d’Italia final standings.

* Ecuador: Ex-President Jamil Mahuad was sentenced in absentia to twelve years in prison for the embezzlement of public funds during a major financial crisis in 1999.

Video Source – YouTube user Las Noticias De Colon (Mourners paid their respects to Aníbal Duarte, the mayor of the Honduran municipality of Iriona who was murdered in front of his family last week).

Online Sources – ABC News; NBC News; The New York Times; Cycling Weekly

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Venezuelan “Political Prisoner” on Hunger Strike

A Venezuelan ex-police chief whose imprisonment has been denounced by the country's opposition commenced a hunger strike this week.

“Every day in this military prison has turned into an anxious roller coaster ride because I don't know if tonight, or early in the morning, as happened before, I'll end up in the emergency room,” said Iván Simonovis in a letter released on Tuesday via his attorneys. 

The 53-year-old claimed that he has “become tired” of the slow pace of his appeal within the Venezuelan justice system and, hence, decided to take up a hunger strike in order to obtain a conditional release.

“All the legal and political efforts to receive a response to the demands (for an appeal) I made ten months ago have been exhausted… I'm tired of acting in accordance to the law, yet no one listens to me,” said Simonovis in his message.

The former commander of the Caracas Metropolitan Police was sentenced in 2009 to thirty year in prison for aggravated murder related to the deaths of four demonstrators in an unsuccessful 2002 coup against then-President Hugo Chávez. Lawyers for Simonovis claimed that he has suffered from nineteen different ailments like osteoporosis and severe dehydration; thus, he should be released on humanitarian grounds.

“What options does Simonovis have?” exclaimed attorney José Luis Tamayo who added that his client is well aware that he could end up like Franklin Brito, a farmer who died in 2010 following a five-month hunger strike against the Chávez regime.

Simonovis is seen by the Venezuelan opposition as a “political prisoner” unfairly targeted by an authoritarian government and is being kept under unfair conditions despite suffering from scores of ailments.  His imprisonment was one of the main topics in failed negotiations between the opposition and government aimed at ending three months of deep political unrest.

Daily Headlines: May 29, 2014

Note: Before getting to today’s headlines, I would like to sincerely apologize for the lack of posts over the past to weeks including the inexcusable absence of posts on Wednesday.

* Brazil: Indigenous groups have joined the growing number of protests opposed to the massive public spending on venues and other preparations for the upcoming World Cup.

* Colombia: Thousands of people lined the streets of Barranquilla and the nearby town of Fundacion as part of the funeral procession for twenty-eight children who died in a recent bus fire.

* Mexico: Leaders of the vigilante movement in Michoacán called for the creation of “self-defense” groups across Mexico in order to combat violence.

* Argentina: The Argentine government reached a deal with the Paris Club of creditors to repay nearly $10 billion dollars in debts.

Video Source – AFP via YouTube

Online Sources – GlobalPost; euronews; TIME; The Guardian

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Daily Headlines: May 27, 2014

* Dominican Republic: The president of the Dominican Republic signed into law a proposal that would grant citizenship to children of immigrants including tens of thousands of residents of Haiti descent whose status was controversially put into limbo last year.

* Brazil: The Brazilian World Cup team was jeered at by protesters in Rio de Janeiro who were demonstrating against the billions of dollars in public funds that are being spent to prepare for the tournament.

* Mexico: Zapatista guerilla leader Subcomandante Marcos made his first public appearance in over five years to announce that he would step down from the mostly indigenous rebel group.

* Vatican: Argentine-born Pope Francis is back in the Vatican following a brief Middle Eastern trip where he invited Israeli and Palestinian leaders to a “meeting of prayer.

Video Source – Deutsche Welle via YouTube (“A change to the Dominican Republic's constitution has revoked citizenship from hundreds of thousands of people. Many were born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents, and now find themselves stateless. The politics reflect a growing sense of xenophobia in the country.”)

Online Sources – GlobalPost; The Latin Americanist; Bloomberg; LAHT; Voice of America