Friday, February 19, 2016
* Latin America: According to the World Bank, Latin America could lose approximately $3.5 billion due to the Zika virus outbreak with some tourism-dependent countries losing over 1% of gross domestic product.
* Peru: The Peruvian government declared a water quality emergency after a pair of oil spills contaminated water supplies in the Amazonas and Loreto regions.
* U.S.: An estimated 14,000 gathered at the Wisconsin state Capitol building as part of the “Day Without Latinos” protest against strong anti-immigrant measures.
* Puerto Rico: The untimely death of Supreme Court judge Antonin Scalia might improve the odds of the high court ruling in favor of a debt restructuring program for Puerto Rico.
YouTube Source – CCTV America
Online Sources – Peru This Week, NASDAQ, Fusion, Reuters
Thursday, February 18, 2016
* Latin America: The White House confirmed that President Barack Obama will travel to two Latin American countries next March including becoming only the second sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba.
* Honduras: The National Autonomous University of Honduras' Observatory of Violence found that the Central American state’s homicide rate fell by 12% in 2015.
* Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro announced a series of economic measures such as devaluating the national currency by 37% and raising the price of gasoline for the first time since 1997.
* Bolivia: Six public employees in the Bolivian city of El Alto were killed amid protests held days before an important constitutional referendum.
YouTube Source – EFE International
Online Sources – Reuters, CNBC, Business Insider, Voice of America
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
“Forced migration is a global crisis,” declared Pope Francis during the homily at a mass held in Ciudad Juarez near the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We cannot deny the humanitarian crisis” due to migrants traveling thousands of miles across mountains, and deserts, said the pontiff at the event held on the final day of his six-day visit to the Latin American country.
Theirs is a “journey wrought with terrible injustices: enslaved, kidnapped, blackmailed (and) our brothers” exploited by the business of human trafficking.
In his view, it is a humanitarian crisis that is measured “by names, by histories, by families” among those making the arduous trek northbound through Mexico.
“To say of the many women worse lives have been unfairly taken away,” the pontiff added seemingly in recognition of the thousands of femicides occurring in the northern border region.
The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina recognized the work of civil organizations and clergy members who defend migrants “on the front line while risking their own lives."
He noted “it is time for salvation, for mercy” and urged the tens of thousands of people attending the mass to “ask God…to open our hearts.”
“No border can prevent the mercy we share between our brothers and sisters,” said the Pope who acknowledged those following the mass in El Paso including those flowing a live telecast at the Sun Bowl Stadium.
He later thanked the Mexican people for their hospitality and admitted that there were occasions that he wanted to weep after observing “so much hope among a people who have suffered.”
Prior to the pope’s message in Juarez, migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border region held high expectations that he would acknowledge their difficulties and provide a sympathetic voice:
A letter sent to Pope Francis from the Border Network for Human Rights was read at its Monday rally. The letter, signed by about 200 families, was delivered to the pope Monday, said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network…
"We ask that you direct your voice and message to the powers that be that enact public policies that criminalizes and oppresses us; we ask that you lift the spirits of immigrants to a worthy place, for Jesus himself was an immigrant," the letter stated in part.The Pope did not shy from discussing immigration during his visit to the U.S. last year by urging political leaders “not to turn their back on our neighbors” and praised those who open their hearts towards migrants.
During his time in Mexico, the Argentine-born pontiff called on youth gathered in Michoacán to reject violence and “dare to dream” of a better future, while in Ecatepec he urged Mexicans to resist the temptations of greed and corruption. It remains to be seen how many cold hearts he may have warmed such as a former associate of imprisoned Knights Templar drug gang leader Servando Gómez Martínez who attended the Pope’s mass on Tuesday in Morelia.
YouTube Source – EFE (“The Pope stood and prayed at a cross situated near the U.S.-Mexico border…and subsequently blessed hundreds of followers on the U.S. side of the Rio Bravo.”)
Online Sources (English) – BBC News, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, The Latin Americanist, USA TODAY
Online Sources (Spanish) – Excelsior, El Universal, El Informador
* Brazil: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff affirmed that the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be held as scheduled later this year despite concerns over the impact of the Zika virus outbreak.
* Venezuela: The opposition-led legislature approved a measure that could pardon some seventy-five imprisoned political dissidents such as Leopoldo Lopez.
* Argentina: The Argentine government allegedly reached a deal with holdout creditors to repay debt from the country’s $100 billion default in 2002.
* Colombia: Police chief Rodolfo Palomino resigned over rumors of young cadets were forced to serve as male prostitutes for senior officials and politicians.
YouTube Source – CNN
Online Sources – MercoPress, ESPN, Colombia Reportd, Reuters, Yahoo News
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
* Cuba: The U.S. and Cuba will sign an aviation agreement today that would allow up to 110 commercial flights to fly to nine destinations on the Caribbean island.
* Colombia: While the Colombian government and FARC rebels seem to be close to reaching a peace deal, the country’s second-largest guerrilla army has gone on a violent offensive that has left at least three state security agents dead.
* Peru: Approximately 2000-3000 barrels of oil are estimated to have spilled in the northern Peruvian region of Amazonas and might have contaminated the Chiriaco River.
* Venezuela: Four oil-producing nations including Venezuela conditionally agreed to cap their output at January levels as part of an attempt to raise the price of crude.
YouTube Source – euronews
Online Sources – NBC News, Vice News, MercoPress, Latin American Herald Tribune, BBC News
Monday, February 15, 2016
During a mass at the southern Mexican state of Chiapas on Monday, Pope Francis criticized how Mexico’s indigenous populace has suffered from the “culture of rejection” found in our modern world. His comments could also apply to the indigenous peoples of other nations in Latin America and the Caribbean that continue to confront major obstacles for socioeconomic advancement.
A new World Bank study concluded that indigenous people make up 14% and 17% of the region’s poor and extreme poor, respectively, even though they account for 8% of the total populace. The report further claimed that indigenous people face great difficulties to obtain basic social services and access new technologies.
Amerindians in some countries fare bother than others such as in Bolivia and Brazil where poverty levels have decreased while the education gap is shrinking in Ecuador and Nicaragua. Overall, however, process has moved at a glacial pace compared to non-indigenous peoples.
"Latin America has undergone a profound social transformation that reduced poverty and expanded the middle class, but indigenous peoples benefited less than other Latin Americans," said Jorge Familiar, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, in a statement.
Nearly half of the indigenous populace reside in cities and tend to reside in neighborhoods that are “less secure, less sanitary, and more disaster-prone” than those typically inhabited by residents of other groups. The labor outlook for indigenous urban residents does not fare much better as the World Bank found that it is more likely for them to work in the informal sector.
* Cuba: Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill met with ex-Cuban President Fidel Castro days after the religious figure held historic discussions with Pope Francis in Havana.
* Haiti: Ex-legislative leader Jocelerme Privert was selected as interim president, while elections delayed since last December have once again been rescheduled for April 24th.
* U.S.: Dominican pitcher Jenrry Mejia became the first player to receive a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball following a third positive test for performance enhancing drugs.
* Colombia: Colombian flower growers are hoping to reap profits from the high Valentine’s Day demand abroad coupled with a weakened peso.
YouTube Source – Rome Reports (Pope Francis met for the first time with the chief of the Russian Orthodox Church last Friday prior to the Argentine-born pontiff’s trip to Mexico).
Online Sources – teleSUR English, Reuters, Fox News Latino, USA Today, CNN