Friday, December 9, 2005

Guatemalan police under scrutiny due to corruption

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Approximately three thousand of the nineteen thousand members of Guatemala’s police force are under investigation for corruption, according to the country’s Interior Minister. The accusations range from demanding bribes to theft. (CNN)

Brazil sells military aircraft to Colombia

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. In a deal valued at $235 million, Brazilian airplane manufacturer Embraer sold 25 military planes to the Colombian Air Force. (Xinhua)

Trial of slain nun about to begin in Brazil

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The trial of the murder of U.S.-born nun and environmentalist Dorothy Stang will begin this week in Belem, Brazil. Two men are accused of being hired hitmen and killing Stang last February in a dispute over land. The trial will decide whether Stang’s death was a premeditated plan by ranchers or a lesser degree of murder.

Bachelet still leads as campaigning in Chile ends

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Ex-defense minister and socialist Michelle Bachelet continues to lead polls before presidential elections this weekend in Chile. (Reuters) However, it seems like she will not have enough support to avoid a runoff against businessman Sebastian Pinera or former Santiago mayor Joaquin Lavin. (BBC)

Colombian court refuses to rule on abortions case

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Colombia’s Constitutional Court decided not to rule on a lawsuit advocating abortion in extreme cases. Colombia, Chile and El Salvador are the only countries in Latin America that ban abortion under all circumstances. (Mainichi)

Survey: Most Salvadorans against CAFTA

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A poll by Universidad Centroamericana showed nearly half of those surveyed believe that the Central American Free Trade Agreement will be bad for El Salvador.

Jamaican gay rights activist killed the night before World AIDS Day

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Steve Harvey, a prominent Jamaican gay rights advocate, was kidnapped and killed last week. Even though homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica, Harvey worked with sex workers and homosexual individuals to combat the high rates of HIV in Jamaica. (Guardian)

Update: UN admits to Haitian police shooting; kidnapped politician freed

To update a recent entry, a UN spokesman admitted that peacekeepers did shoot and injure two Haitian police officers last week. Also, a kidnapped senior member of ex-president Jean Bertrand Aristede’s party was freed on Tuesday after his family paid a ransom of about $25,000. (NewsFromRussia)

Pro-Chavez politicos accuse U.S. of assassination plot

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Several Venezuelan politicians, including the National Assembly President, have accused the CIA of creating a plot to kill Hugo Chavez shortly before last weekend’s legislative elections. The CIA and Venezuelan opposition members have denied such rumors. (AlertNet)

The free market vs regional integration

By Raúl Zibechi. The difficulties regional integration faces come from distortions caused by the free market--asymmetries, inequalities, and contradictions--that are virtually insurmountable. Free trade policies prevent regional integration that would benefit Latin America and permit the implementation of policies to overcome poverty and the systematic degradation of the continent’s quality of life and environment. Instead, these policies generate severe regional inequalities--both between countries and within them--and polarization between islands of strong growth with cutting-edge technology and pockets of poverty and environmental plunder. (IRC)

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Bronx residents happy to receive Veneuelan oil

Residents of the South Bronx began receiving shipments of heating oil today, a move by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that the Washington Post said 'may be nothing more than a chance to tweak the nose of the Bush administration.' (WAPO)

NJ to have first Hispanic Senator

Former New Jersey Senator and Governor-elect Jon Corzine is expected to announce fellow Democrat Robert Menendez as the replacement for his post, making Menendez the state's first Hispanic Senator. (WAPO)

Passenger arriving from Colombia killed by air marshal- update

An air marshal shot a man on an American Airlines jetway today after he arrived from Medellin, Colombia. Authorities said the man claimed to have been carrying a bomb, though a woman accompaning him said he was mentally ill. (WAPO)

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

U.S. immigration policy on the table at the WTO

By Sarah Anderson. In the contentious negotiations leading up to the December 13-18 World Trade Organization (WTO) summit, the big drama has centered around agricultural trade and whether the richer countries will grant expanded market access to commodities from the Global South. However, there has also been a battle brewing between developing countries and the U.S. government over immigration. Led by India, several countries are demanding expansion of U.S. visa programs for temporary professional workers. How did immigration wind up on the table at the WTO? (More)

Peru & U.S. reach free trade agreement

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Peru and the U.S. signed a free trade agreement on Wednesday after approximately a year-and-a-half of intense negotiations. Under the agreement, Peruvian tariffs on U.S. goods and other barriers will be eliminated.

Debate: Evo Morales; a threat or a hero for indigenous rights?

As Evo Morales moves ahead in opinion polls for the Bolivian presidential elections, a debate rages as to the impact he is expected make in the region. Some claim that he has been a successful advocate of indigenous rights in a country where they make up 70% of the population, while others believe he is nothing more than a populist who would send the economy down the tube. If he is elected, will he have a positive or negative net effect on Bolivia?

Border Patrol to add 1700 agents

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The US Border Patrol will add 1700 agents to the US-Mexico border including 640 agents in Arizona and 452 agents in Texas.

Concession gives presidency to Zelaya

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Nearly two weeks after Honduran presidential elections took placePorfirio Lobo conceded to opposition candidate Manuel Zelaya. Zelaya leads Lobo by four percent with about ninety percent of votes counted.

Irish national denies terrorist links with Colombian guerrillas

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Frank Connolly, the director of Ireland’s Centre for Public Inquiry, vehemently denied accusations that he was part of an Irish Republican Army plan to help Colombian guerillas build bombs in exchange for cash. Connolly claims that he’s part of a “witch hunt” by the Irish government against him and his organization. (IOL)

Castro met with CARICOM leaders

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Cuban dictator Fidel Castro met with several heads of state from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) including the leaders of Barbados and Jamaica. Members discussed various issues including the strengthening of economic ties and the endorsement of multilateral agreements between Cuba and certain Caribbean countries.

New case of foot-and-mouth disease in Brazil

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Foot-and-mouth disease was found in the Brazilian province of Parana, supposedly spread from Mato Grosso do Sul, a neighboring province. The outbreak in Mato Grosso do Sul started in October, and led to the ban of Brazilian beef in several countries.

Morales increases lead in Bolivia

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Bolivian presidential candidate Evo Morales has increased his lead over his closest rivals including a former head of state. What was once a statistical tie between Morales and ex-president Jaime Quiroga less than one month ago, is now a five-point lead by Morales over Quiroga. Don’t forget this week’s debate on Our Latin America on Evo Morales! (Debate)

Roberto Madrazo changes parties

Andre Pineda discusses Mexican Presidential candidate Roberto Madrazo's change in US political allies. (Pineda Consulting)

Salon: Halliburton stiffed undocumented workers

This Salon article details Halliburton's practice of hiring undocumented workers to help clean up after Hurricane Katrina, only to renege on compensation. (Salon)

'Epitafios' moving to HBO Latino, Signature

The popular Argentine series 'Epitafios' will be broadcast soon on HBO Signature and HBO Latino, after successfully airing in 20 Latin American countries on the Spanish-language version of HBO. (WAPO)

County development group reaches out to Mexico

Fairfax, Virginia's County Economic Development Authority is reaching out to Mexican businesses in order to increase investment in the area. (WAPO)

Montesinos shares prison with Maoist insurgents

Monte Reel from The Washington Post notes the irony of former Peruvian spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos' cohabitation in the Callao military prison with the insurgent rebels he helped capture. (WAPO)

Another defeat for Pinochet

A Chilean court struck down former General Augusto Pinochet's attempts to free himself from house arrest, voting 3-0 to reject the motion file by his lawyer, Pablo Rodriguez. (WAPO)

Desde Washington: Marcela Sanchez

Washington Post's Marcela Sanchez details a crackdown on international crime in Miami, in English and in Spanish.

The fallout from Lavagna's ouster

Newsweek ponders the global implications of former Argentine Finance minister Roberto Lavagna's ouster, and discusses his successor, Felisa Miceli. (Newsweek)

Satire of illegal immigrants in the White House

Newsweek satirist Andy Borowitz writes a humorous piece on the Bush administration allowing illegal immigrants to work in the White House itself, as 'professional classified-intelligence leakers'. (Newsweek)

Venezuelan oil arrives in New York City

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Two weeks after Venezuela made a deal to export cheap heating oil to Massachusetts, discounted oil arrived to help poor neighborhoods in New York City. Eight million gallons of heating oil at forty percent less than the normal price will be delivered to three non-profit housing developments in New York City through April 2006. (Newsday) More information on Venezuela subsidizing the United States' heat bill from WAPO.

Studies: Mexicans come to U.S. due to family and better jobs, while few approve Bush’s position on immigration

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A survey by the Pew Hispanic Center showed that most Mexicans that immigrate to the U.S. do so because of the influences of family and better job opportunities, not due to abject poverty or unemployment. In the meantime, a Gallup Poll showed only twenty-six percent of U.S. residents approved of the way President Bush is handling the issue of immigration. (Science Daily) Washington Post's Darryl Fears also comments on the matter.

Religious groups commemorate silver anniversary of missionaries killed in El Salvador

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Over one hundred delegates from North America traveled to El Salvador to commemorate the murder of four missionaries in 1980. “Their lives and their deaths are a reminder, so badly needed in our turbulent times, that a witness for truth and justice cannot be crushed” said one of the delegates.

OAS worried over deep political divisions in Venezuela

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. In the aftermath of this weekend’s Venezuelan congressional elections, the Organization of American States expressed worry over the split between pro- and anti-Chavez factions. "Democratic political co-existence in Venezuela can only be achieved through the regaining of trust," mentioned a statement by the OAS. Meanwhile, observers from the EU declared the elections as clean and transparent. (CNN)

Napoleon killed over 100,000 Caribbean slaves, says controversial French book

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A recently released French book accused Napoleon Bonaparte of ordering the killing of over 100,000 slaves in Haiti and Guadeloupe.

Mercosur summit to discuss creating inter-state parliament

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The Mercosur countries plan to discuss creating a common parliament during their meeting later this week in Uruguay. Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay are the four members of Mercosur, though Venezuela may soon become a member. (People's Daily)

Jamaican daily will not headline crime

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The Jamaica Gleaner will not place stories on violence or crime on its front page during this month in an attempt to reduce possible glorification of gangs and other criminal entities. (Jamaica Gleaner)

Haiti: Police supposedly fired upon by UN peacekeepers; major politician kidnapped

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Haiti’s national police accused UN peacekeepers of shooting and injuring two police officers in a dangerous slum outside Port-au-Prince. Nearly eight thousand UN peacekeepers have been in Haiti since the removal of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide in June 2004. Meanwhile, a senior official from Aristide's Lavalas Family party was kidnapped earlier this week. (Reuters)

Guyanese sugar plantations will not shut down, says President

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. President Bharrat Jagdeo vowed that no sugar estate will close although the EU will cut the prices of sugar by thirty-six percent. Sugar makes up seventeen percent of Guyana’s GDP. (Caribbean News)

Ecuador’s government abandons plan for constitutional reform

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A court ruling against Ecuador’s government forced the government to drop its plans for a referendum to change the constitution. The proposal had little support amongst the public and opposition parties. (BBC)

Brazil: GDP Growth less than anticipated

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The raising of interest rates to slow inflation was signaled as the main factor that will cause Brazil’s economy to grow less than expected this year. ``The fight against inflation demanded bigger sacrifices than originally expected,'' admitted Brazilian central bank President Henrique Meirelles. (Bloomberg)

Pirelli fired from UN post

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Amidst rumors of sexual harassment and abuse of authority, Uruguayan Carina Pirelli was fired from her job on Wednesday as a senior election official with the UN. (BBC) More from WAPO.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

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Old name stirs dispute

Submitted by Joe Burgan. According to legend, Aztlan was the ancestral homeland of the Aztec people, a place believed by many to be located somewhere in the southwestern United States. In Chicano folklore, the name was used to describe the part of Mexico taken over by the U.S. after the Mexican-American War of 1846. During the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s and '70s, Aztlan became a symbol of political nationalism and ethnic pride. But immigration reformers, both moderate and extreme, see a much darker meaning in the term. To them, Aztlan represents an insidious movement of radical Chicano nationalists and Mexicans seeking to reclaim much of the Southwest, including Colorado, for Mexico. (Rocky Mountain News)

Top ranking UN official from Uruguay about to be fired

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Carina Perilli, the highest ranking UN election official, is about to be fired due to rumors of harassment and management problems, according to anonymous sources. If Perilli does get fired, she may appeal the decision. (Guardian)

Colombia named as site for WTO summit

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The World Trade Organization selected Colombia as the site for the international body’s 17th General Assembly meeting to be held in 2007.

Mixed results out of Argentina’s economy

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Exports out of Argentina rose nearly twenty percent over the first ten months of 2005 compared with the same period last year according to the Argentine government. Meanwhile, inflation is expected to reach its highest mark since 2003. (Bloomberg)

Mexican immigration to reach 400K per year

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Immigration out of Mexico is estimated to reach four hundred thousand according to an official from the Mexican National Population Council. "The effort to increase control of the (U.S.) border has not reduced migratory flows one little bit," Council Secretary General Elena Zuniga said at a U.N. Population Fund conference last week. (SignonSanDiego)

Mexican ejido paid for by conservation group

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. In order to protect a whale sanctuary, an international conservation group has paid an ejido $25,000 per year. The deal, which was signed in October, marked the first time a private land trust has been negotiated for the entire territory of an ejido. (CSMonitor)