Friday, October 7, 2005

Get out the vote effort for Mexicans in US

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Mexican officials have stepped up their efforts to encourage Mexicans in the US to vote in their presidential election. Consulates, embassies, and other institutions are being asked to cooperate in convincing Mexicans in the US to vote due to the large number of Mexicans residing in the US. (Monterey Herald)

International migrants send $240 billion home

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. An independent international commission on global migration concluded on Wednesday that international migrants send about $240 billion per year to their home countries. The panel also concluded that countries ought to examine “the positive impact that migration has” to their respective states. (NewsDay)

Mexican president offers praise for NAFTA

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. President Vicente Fox praised NAFTA earlier today during a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade. He also encouraged Canadians to invest in Mexico by noting increased legal steps that allow foreigners to spend in Mexico. (CBC)

Twenty years jail for Peruvian guerilla leader’s acquaintance

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Maritza Garrido Lecca helped hide the whereabouts of Abimael Guzman, the former leader of Peruvian guerilla group the Shining Path. Garrido Lecca owned a Lima dance studio that acted as a hide-out for Guzman and other Shining Path rebels. (SMH)

Early release for Andres Escobar’s killer

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The killer of Colombian soccer player Andres Escobar was freed yesterday after serving eleven years of a forty-three year sentence. Escobar was assassinated in July 1994 a few days after scoring a key own-goal during the 1994 World Cup. (SoccerNet)

Bush admin quietly institutes immigration control measures

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. With little fanfare, the Department of Homeland security quietly established two initiatives over the past month to control immigration. One focuses on reinforcing the metal wall along the US-Mexico border and the other streamlines the process of deporting non-Mexican immigrants. (USNews)

Fujimori seeks return to Peru to stand in elections

-Contributed by Christy Thornton. Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, currently in self-imposed exile in Tokyo, has said he will return to Peru in time to run in April's presidential elections. Peruvian prosecutors wish to try him on human rights abuses however, and officials have said that he will be arrested upon setting foot in the country. (The Guardian)

Brazilian psychic tries to claim reward for finding Saddam

A Brazilian psychic is seeking $25 million for information he says he provided to the US government that helped locate Saddam Hussein. Brazil's Superior Court of Justice is studying the validity of the claim. (Reuters)

Brazil requests sanctions on US from WTO

Brazil has requested permission to impose $1.04 billion in sanctions on the US for the latter's continued subsidies to cotton farmers. The World Trade Organization outlawed such cotton support programs in March. (Bloomberg)

Venezuela shuts down US businesses

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered closed the local offices of IBM and Microsoft for alleged tax evasion, in a move that many suspect is political. Though Chavez has initiated a "zero tax evasion" policy the firms targeted were all western mutlinationals, according to the Financial Times. (FT)

Bolivian authorities recoup oil fields from protesters

Troops and police retook an oil field east of La Paz Thursday that had been seized by protesters demanding a paved road and increased access for peasants to land. (CNN Int.)

Chile, EU sign 'open skies' agreement

The European Union and Chile have signed an agreement that will allow any airline based in the EU access to Chilean airports. Previously, EU member countries have had to negotiate access with individual foreign governments. (DowJonesNewsWires)

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Debate: The Renewal of Plan Colombia

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe spent last week lobbying Congress for the renewal of Plan Colombia, the $3 billion drug eradication and development plan approved by President Clinton. Many have pointed out the shortfalls of the plan, including the spillover of violence into neighboring Venezuela, and the fact that the money doesn’t seem to have stemmed the flow of drugs to the United States.

Should Plan Colombia be renewed?

Warm reception not expected for Bush in Argentina

Protesters spread anti-Bush leaflets around Buenos Aires suburbs over a month before U.S. President George Bush is expected to come to the country for a regional summit. (CNN)

Venezuela transfers half its reserves out of US Treasuries

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez indicated last week that the central bank had tranferred about half of its reserves out of US Treasuries into banks in Europe, in a move that many analysts have attributed to political motives. (Financial Times)

Chilean economic expansion higher than expected

Data released yesterday show that Chile's economy grew by 5.9% from the same month a year earlier, higher than the 5.6% that was expected after polling by Reuters. (Reuters)

Hurricane Stan casualties total 162

A total of 162 have died from mudslides, storms, and flooding due to Hurricane Stan in Mexico and Central America. Guatemala was the hardest hit, with 79 casualties. (Reuters)

Bush to visit Latin America in November

US President George W. Bush announced yesterday that he will be making a trip to the region in November to attend a summit in Argentina, before touring other parts of Latin America. (Reuters)

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Rumsfeld to meet with Central American ministers

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is scheduled to meet with the Defense Ministers of 7 Central American nations next week in Miami, to discuss prospects for increasing security in the region. (Reuters)

Lima hosts extra-terrestrial conference

A week-long conference on extra-terrestrials organized by Alfa y Omega will be held in Peru this week, drawing visitors from all over the globe. (Reuters)

Cocaine stolen from Rio police station

Forty-four pounds of cocaine was stolen from a police station in Rio de Janeiro, in an act Police Superintendent Jose Milton Rodrigues said was almost certainly carried out by police agents. (CNN)

Nicaraguans react to US threats to withhold aid

The Nicaraguan press reacted negatively to US demands that President Enrique Bolanos' tenure be completed as scheduled until next year, threatening to withhold a $175 million grant to thecountry. (CNN)

Chavez hands out food for trash

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has initiated a program to clean up slums by offering food vouchers for bags of trash and junk locals bring in. (CNN)

Juarez killings subject of upcoming movie

The homocides in Ciudad Juarez are the subject of a movie being filmed in Nogales, NM, starring Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas. "Bordertown", which started production in July, will also be partly filmed in California. (SignonSanDiego)

Colombian court to decide legality of abortion

Colombia's Constitutional Court is set to rule on a challenge brought by lawyer Monica Roa against the nation's strict anti-abortion laws. Over 2 million Colombians signed a petition asking that the laws stay in place. (Mercury News)

Uruguay's President presses on in search for disappeared

Uruguayan President Tabare Vasquez has threatened the military with political repercussions if it does not recover the remains of those killed during the military regime from 1973-85. Vasquez won election last year with a promise to uncover the facts from that period of Uruguay's history. (Pravda)

Costa Rica/Nicaragua spar over river

Costa Rica has appealed to The Hague to solve a dispute with Nicaragua over control of the San Juan river, which forms the border between the two countries. Though the two signed a treaty in 1858 regulating access to the river, Nicaragua has tried to assert full sovereignty over it since 1998. (BBC)

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Former minister leads presidential polls in Chile

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Ex-defense minister Michelle Bachelet has a twenty-seven percent advantage over her nearest rival, according to the latest presidential polls in Chile. Still, it may not be enough to hold off a run-off election by Election Day in Chile on December 11. (Angus Reid)

UN Report: Women work more than men

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. According to a report released last week by the United Nations Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. This report notes how women from the region with full-time jobs toil more time at home than men, and how women have longer working days than men. (MercoPress)

Mexican prostitutes use eyedrop ruse to kill clients

Five men have died in an apparent scheme by Mexico City prostitutes to kill their clients using an eydrop solution that knocked the men unconcious. (Reuters)

Ecuador to enforce visas on visiting Mexicans

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Starting this Saturday, Ecuador will require visas for all Mexican nationals and citizens visiting Ecuador. This move is in retaliation for Mexico’s decision last month to enforce existing visa laws against Ecuadorians. *Article in Spanish* (El Universo)

Peru: Birthplace of the potato

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. By analyzing the DNA of nearly four hundred types of potatoes, U.S. scientists have deduced that the first potato emerged from Peru seven thousand years ago. (BBC)

Granma: Forty years old

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Cuban government daily Granma celebrates its fortieth anniversary today through this self-congratulatory article from today’s edition. (Granma)

Debate over post-Katrina immigrant labor

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Post-Katrina reconstruction plans have inflamed the debate over immigration amongst politicians in the U.S. Two competing bills are currently under consideration in the Senate, while experts have mixed reactions over President Bush’s plan for immigrant labor in the hurricane reconstruction area. (CSMonitor)

Brazilian soccer ref confesses to match-fixing

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. In an interview aired on Brazilian television this weekend, Edilson Periera de Carvalho confessed to accepting bribes in order to predetermine several Brazilian soccer matches. Carvalho had been suspended since September 24 due to his role in match-fixing, while Brazil’s sporting tribunal cancelled the results of the eleven games Carvalho officiated. (SoccerNet)

Venezuelan police raid newspaper’s offices

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Venezuelan police raided the office of a newspaper columnist this past weekend. The lawyer representing Venezuelan daily La Razòn alleges that the police broke the terms of the warrant that allowed them to conduct the raid. (El Universal)

McDonald’s to shutdown in Jamaica

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. McDonald’s plans to close all of its restaurants in Jamaica by the end of this year. While foreign multi-national companies have expanded in most of Latin America and the Caribbean, foreign fast-food companies have had very little success in Jamaica. (Jamaica Observer)

US to cancel Nicaraguan politicians' visas

US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick announced that the Department plans to cancel the visas of those politicians in Nicaragua that he says are involved in corruption and undermining democracy. The cancellations are part of a US strategy to place pressure on the Sandinistas and some right-wing groups in Nicaragua's Assembly who have threatened the power of US ally President Enrique Bolanos. (CNN)

Hurricane Stan kills 38 in El Salvador

Landslides caused by Category One Hurricane Stan have led to the deaths of 38 people in El Salvador. Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua are also threatened and have implemented emergency measures. (CNN)

Proposed measure to protect Guatemalan military from civilian courts

Lawmakers backed by the Guatemalan Republican Front have proposed a law that would shield military personnel from prosecution by civilian courts. Human rights activists decry what they call a "law of impunity". (Mercury News)

Will Ortega rule Nicaragua again?

Editorial from The Washington Post on Nicaragua's 'Creeping Coup'. (WAPO)

Monday, October 3, 2005

UN to examine impact of economic blockade of Cuba

Prensa Latina reports that the UN is beginning to compile data in order to examine the impact the 40 yr US economic blockade of the country has had. (NewKerala)

Nicaraguan President Bolanos reacts to 'rolling coup-d'etat'

Nicaragua's President Enrique Bolanos has initiated an investigation into human rights abuses by an alliance of legislative and judicial members of the government. The action is presumed to be in retaliation for the National Assembly's attempts to constrain Bolanos' presidential authority. (USNewsWire)

Record deaths on U.S./Mexico border

The U.S. Border Patrol has announced that 460 migrants died in the last year while trying to cross the border, breaking the previous record of 393 in 2000. The Patrol said the passage was made more threatening by the higher temperatures and the new routes through arid deserts that migrants are now taking after other points of entry had been closed off. (ScienceDaily)

Haiti elections may be postposed

A member of Haiti's election council has indicated that his country's presidential elections may be postponed, ostensibly to allow more time for preparation. The council has approved 30 candidates in the presidential race, and says it needs time to prepare ballots and set up polling locations. (VOA)

World Bank to focus on post-conflict assistance in Colombia

The World Bank on Friday extended an aid program to Colombia, which it said would focus more on post-conflict assistance and helping victims of violence. Programs to date have placed more emphasis on infrastructure. (Reuters)

Mexico's PAN holds second round of primaries

Mexico's National Action Party held its second round of three primary elections yesterday, to determine the party's presidential candidate. While the results were not immediately known, former interior minister Santiago Creel and former energy secretary Felipe Calderon are likely to be in the top two places. The winner will go up against D.F. mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is leading all polls., and the PRI candiadate, also to be determined by a primary election. (SignonSanDiego)

Ilamatepec volcano erupts

As experts have been predicting for weeks, El Salvador's Ilamatepec volcano erupted Saturday for the first time in a century. The event prompted a landslide killing two people and destroying thousands of homes. (CBC News)

Brazil considers a national ban on guns

Brazil's high crime rate and proliferation of weapons has prompted the government to consider a nation-wide ban on guns. The option will be put to the people in a referendum on October 23rd. (Washington Post)

Brazilian Bishop's hunger strike goes on

- Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Bishop Luiz Flavio Cappio continues his week-long hunger strike against an environmental project even though Brazil's President has urged Cappio to stop it. (BBC)