Saturday, September 2, 2006

Week in review: August 28 to September 2

Listed below are several news stories on Latin America from the past few days. If you want to find out more please feel free to check out previous posts on this blog. (Image via this site.)

Monday August 28

Tuesday August 29

Wednesday August 30

Thursday August 31

Friday September 1

Saturday September 2


Friday, September 1, 2006

Afternoon briefs

* Strange bedfellows between Cuba and U.S. as they work closely together on weather forecasting.

* Guyanese electoral officials confirm Jagdeo presidential reelection victory.

* Colombia police in controversy over video showing child abuse.

* Lastly, find out the possible translations for a certain thirteen-letter curse word in this week’s “Ask a Mexican!”

(Image of Hurricane John sweeping through Acapulco on Wednesday via CBS News).

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Bachelet and Simpson Miller amongst top 100 powerful women

Chilean president Michelle Bachelet (image via this site) and Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller were part of Forbes’ list of the 100 most powerful women in the world headed by German Chancellor Andrea Merkel. Simpson Miller was ranked 89th on the list while Bachelet was ranked 17th, one spot ahead of Hillary Clinton and several places in front of Queen Elizabeth II (46th), Katie Couric (54th) and South Korean PM Han Myung-Sook (68th).

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Church can’t make up its mind on Colombian excommunications

In Thursday’s “Morning briefs” we reported how on Tuesday the Colombian Church planned to excommunicate the medics involved in Colombia’ first legal abortion, but since then there has been some confusion among Church officials. In an interview on Wednesday, Cardinal Alfonzo Lopez Trujillo (image via this site) denied that he publicly excommunicated the doctors by saying how “I have not set, nor has the Holy See, nor have I thought it.” Yet the head of Colombia’s ecclesiastical tribunal observed that it would be up to a more senior-ranking cardinal to decide on excommunications, while a top Vatican official rejected any involvement by the Holy See on the issue. Even canonical law is unclear in cases like these.

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Morning briefs

* Jamaican tourism has given a much needed boost to the island’s economy. (Image via this site).

* Constitutional rights suspended along five Guatemalan border cities by government.

* Brazil’s president proposes increasing budget spending by 9.5%.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

News stories about Uruguay

* In an op/ed piece from yesterday’s Miami Herald, the vice president of the Council of the Americas highlights Uruguay as underrated by Washington policymakers and that it would behoove the Bush administration to seek a free trade deal with that country.

* Larry Rohter in today’s New York Times shines a positive light on President Tabaré Vásquez by noting how he continues working in his original career as an oncologist in spite of his presidential duties. (Registration required).

* Uruguay’s trade deficit was over quarter billion dollars during first half of 2006, which is less than some of most of its Mercosur partners.

* Not happy with a recent International Court of Justice verdict in Uruguay’s favor, environmental activists from Argentina have traveled to Finland in the hope of halting mill construction near the Uruguay-Argentina border.

* Uruguayan officials are worried that neo-Nazis may purchase remnants of a Nazi World War II battleship being raised near Montevideo’s harbor.

(Image via this site).

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Ex-Argie prez Alfonsin testified at trial

Former Argentine president Raul Alfonsin defended an amnesty law against members of the military and passed under his administration in 1983. Alfonsin argued that the law was necessary to “consolidate democracy” in the aftermath of the “Dirty War” era during testimony (image via Houston Chronicle) at the trial of an ex-police chief accused of human rights abuses. (Previous coverage here).

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Mass evacuations as hurricane bears down on Mexico

Approximately 10,000 people were evacuated from Mexico's Pacific coast as Hurricane John unleashes torrential rains and winds of about 130 miles per hour. Reports out of Acapulco say that the beach has been battered by sea surges 10 feet high and bloggers in the “hurricane watch” area are on high alert for what could happen. (Image via EuroNews).


Morning briefs

* Infighting and division are bogging down deliberations by Bolivia’s Constitutional Assembly. (Image via Prensa Latina).

* Preliminary deals have been reached by striking miners at Chile’s Escondida mine as well as at Peru’s largest gold mine. However, Volkswagen factory workers in Sao Paulo decided to strike over massive layoffs at the plant.

* The Colombian Catholic Church excommunicated the doctors involved in Colombia’s first legal abortion last week.

* The U.N. published a report to help Latin American farmers combat avian flu.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bloomberg and Shakira sitting in a tree/ k-i-s-s-i-n-g…

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg jokingly threw his support behind Shakira as part of a video promo for this month’s MTV Video Music Awards. Unlike his “neutrality” in the race for governor and senator, Bloomberg endorsed the Colombian singer for Video of the Year. No comment as of yet from Shakira’s fiancé, Argentine Antonio de la Rua. (Image via 1010 WINS).

Update: Speaking of New York City, the Bloomberg administration suffered a setback yesterday when a judge ordered the city to stop illegally withholding aid from abused immigrants and their children.

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Mixed results for Latin America’s economy

Two separate articles from the Jamaica Observer highlight the ups and downs of Latin America’s economy. On the one hand, the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said that economic growth in the region will increase for the fourth consecutive year. On the other hand, data from the World Bank, U.N. and International Monetary Fund shows that foreign direct investment in the region has plummeted by over one-third since 1999. (Image via this site).

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Evo on the other side of the fence of protests and strikes

Numerous protests and strikes have occurred in Bolivia and are posing a challenge to the government headed by Evo Morales (image via Al Jazeera) who rose to power through social protests. Teachers and transportation workers are currently on strike around the country while the government has been negotiating with indigenous Guarani who are trying to shut down a vital gas pipeline.

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Shocking gang-rape described in case against ex-Haitian strongman

“The only thing that kept me alive was God” recounted a sobbing and distraught witness who was gang-raped by paramilitaries loyal to Emmanuel Constant in 1994. Former death squad head Constant (image via this site) is on trial for mortgage fraud in New York and has been accused of murdering loyalists to former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristede in the early-1990s.

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Chavez received “red-carpet treatment” in Syria; USAID actions in Venezuela revealed

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez went off to tour at yet another foreign country; this time it was Syria, where he was greeted with open arms by thousands of Syrians and the country’s government. Chavez took the time to denounce U.S. “imperialist aggression” against the Middle East and will sign off on several energy deals with Syria before traveling to Angola. (Image of Chavez embracing Syria’s president via Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

In the meantime, the Guardian UK goes into further detail to a link we mentioned a few days ago on accusations against the U.S. government based on recently released Agency for International Development documents. These papers detailed the millions of dollars being spent on “pro-democracy” activities in Venezuela that are allegedly undermining the Chavez regime.

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Morning briefs

* Venezuela’s state-owned oil company will take a majority share of four crude projects along the Orinoco River as part of their strategy to control all of Venezuela’s oil production.

* Olympic men’s basketball champs Argentina continue their unbeaten run in the world basketball championships and will face Spain in the semi-finals. (Image of Andres Nocioni in the quarterfinal match aginst Turkey via TSN).

* Ecuador’s Defense Minister unexpectedly resigned and gave no public explanation as to why.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Afternoon headlines: AMLO rejects court ruling; U.S. oil companies fined by Chavez gov’t

Sorry for the lack of posts today (I’ve been ill). In the meantime here are some headlines from around Latin America:

* Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called yesterday’s court decision rejecting complaints by his supporters “offensive and unacceptable.” Meanwhile, virtual president-elect Felipe Calderon has kept a very low profile over the past few weeks though he did speak briefly publicly yesterday to praise the Federal Electoral Tribunal’s decision.

* Tropical Storm Ernesto hit Cuba on Monday (image via ABC News) after briefly reaching hurricane force winds while going through Haiti.

* Venezuela’s government fined two U.S. oil companies for “bookkeeping irregularities” while Brazil’s state-owned oil company wants to ally with their Mexican counterpart.

* Red Cross data show the number of displaced persons in Colombia continues to rise.

* Raul Castro is stepping up his role as leader of Cuba in anticipation of next month’s summit of nonaligned countries.

* Argentina’ presidential elections will remain on October 2007 as planned.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Afternoon headlines: Montesinos convicted; border state governors irate at Bush admin

* Vlademiro Montesinos, the man behind the rise and fall of Peruvian ex-president Alberto Fujimori, was convicted for illegally using government money to pay for Fujimori’s 2000 reelection campaign.

* Jamaican importers are losing revenue on cargo ships that bypass Kingston’s port for the much cheaper Cascado Port in the Dominican Republic.

* President Bush is pushing Congress to ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia.

* Not content with going after “Vamos a Cuba, Miami-Dade public school officials want to remove another children’s book on Cuba from school libraries.

*U.S. governors of states along the border with Mexico accused the Bush administration and Congress of being lax in not passing immigration reform.

* “We are all very ashamed” says coach of Argentina soccer club San Lorenzo after losing 7-1 at home against Boca Juniors.

* Last but certainly not least, rest in piece to the Ecuadorian woman who had been the world’s oldest person; Maria Esther de Capovilla (image via The Age) passed away over the weekend in Guayaquil at the age 116 years.

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Jagdeo expected to win reelection in Guyana

In spite of heavy rains, thousands of Guyanese went to vote for president today and current President Bharrat Jagdeo (image via Jamaica Gleaner) is expected to win re-election. International observers have noted that the elections have been relatively clean so far as Jagdeo’s party attempts to lead the country for a fourth straight term.


Mexican court commences deliberations over presidential election, while leftist wins Chiapas elections

Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal (image via CTV) discarded complaints by supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as hearings began this morning in order to decide once and for all who was the victor in July’s presidential lections. The Tribunal has yet to declare Felipe Calderon as the winner though they did acknowledge small, changes in the vote tally after a recount of 9% of the ballot boxes. According to Mexican law, all electoral complaints must be resolved by August 31st and a winner has to be certified by September 6th.

In the meantime, leftist candidate Juan Sabines was declared the winner of the election for governor of Chiapas by approximately 6300 votes. It is unknown if Sabines’ victory will be contested by any of the other candidates.

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“Can’t we all just get along?” – Venezuela and U.S. involved in yet another spat

Venezuela’s government is none too pleased by claims from the Drug Enforcement Administration that most Venezuelan small aircraft act as drug carriers via the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, U.S. officials are upset at Venezuelan customs authorities seizing diplomatic baggage from a U.S. diplomat last week. (Image of a Venezuelan stamp via this site).

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Week in review: August 21 to August 27

The following are several news stories from the past week. If you want to find out more please feel free to check out previous posts on this blog. (Image via this site.)

Monday August 21:

* The week-long controversy over Pat Buchanan’s new book begins as he appears on the “Today” show to espouse his views.

* Violence in Oaxaca escalates as buses get torched and striking teachers urge students not to go to school.

* Raids against illegal immigrants in Houston, Texas ended with over 300 people arrested and up for deportation.

Tuesday August 22:

* Venezuela president Hugo Chavez arrived in China where he would later sign a deal that would boost oil exports to China.

* The U.S. ambassador to Brazil admitted that the country may not qualify for special trade preferences due to their strong economy.

* Approximately 35 Colombian ex-soldiers and policemen hired to perform private security in Iraq denounced that they were “tricked” into receiving lower pay by their contractor.

Wednesday August 23:

* Reuters interviewed famed Chilean author Isabel Allende who is about to release a new book on Ines de Suarez, the strong-willed and little-know mistress of Chilean conquistador Pedro Valdivia.

* Leaders of the Navajo tribe left Cuba after discussing “cultural and trade issues” with the government.

* Chilean police arrest over 200 student protestors.

Thursday August 24:

* Doctors perform Colombia’s first ever legal abortion on an 11-year-old girl raped by her stepfather.

* A Brazilian court convicted a police officer for massacring 29 people last year while he served as a member of a “death squad.”

* Argentina’s government announced plans to expand its “peaceful” nuclear energy program.

Friday August 25:

* Bolivian president Evo Morales helped inaugurate the Quechua-language version of Windows XP.

* A former Colombian right-wing paramilitary troop confessed to killing the main paramilitary leader in 2003.

* Three Mexican fishermen rescued after being lost at sea for 9 months denied resorting to cannibalism during their ordeal or engaging in drug trafficking.

* A Russian teenager was convicted of the murder of a Peruvian student in southwestern Russia.

Saturday August 26:

* Documents showing the millions of dollars spent by the U.S. government for “democracy in Venezuela” have raised suspicions from the Chavez administration.

* Management at Chile’s Escondida mine have started hiring replacement workers as the strike there enters its third week.

Sunday August 27:

* Tropical Storm Ernesto dumped heavy rainfall on Haiti and forced Cuban authorities to issue a hurricane warning for the eastern part of the island.

* Polls show Brazil’s president has increased his lead over the past week.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Pretty blogs make graves

Here are some posts from different blogs on Latin America. Don’t forget that we have a page on Latin American blogs which will be updated soon. Please feel free to reply in the comments section of this post if you have a specific blog or blog article that we should know about.

* The Mexicans are coming! The Mexicans are coming! Sound the alarm! Aztlan! Invasion! Sound the alarm! The Mexicans are coming! (Left image via this site).

* What a shock #1- Colombia’s new head of armed forces has a poor human rights record.

* What a shock #2- The new U.S. ambassador to El Salvador was a major contributor to the Bush reelection campaign. (In the sake of all fairness the appointment of U.S. ambassadorships to major campaign contributors is endemic in both Democrat and Republican parties.)

* Brief but detailed post on the recent surge in violence in Oaxaca, Mexico.

* Great, as if Cuba didn’t have enough to worry about.

* Metafilter looks at Fordlandia, a failed plan by Henry Ford to expand into the Brazilian Amazon in the early 20th century.

* The San Francisco Chronicle’s foreign affairs blog provides a comprehensive view of the controversy surrounding Mexico’s presidential election including pointing out how “George W. Bush has completely ignored democracy's struggle for survival right next door, in Mexico. Meanwhile, Ricardo’s Blog observes that “Andrés Manuel (Lopez Obrador) seems to have got into an alley with no much opportunities to exit.

* In an earlier post on blogs we linked to a Council on Hemispheric Affairs report on the Panama Canal expansion. A representative from the Panama Canal Authority replied to refute the report via this comment.

* Chilean bloggers are pushing for expanded broadband usage in their country, according to Global Voices.

* Former Peruvian first lady Elaine Karp dined with Peru’s ambassador to Israel last week even though Interpol is looking for her.

* “Survivor” truly jumps the shark with its plan to divide tribes based on race. How about next season they divide tribes into religion or immigration status? Or how about red states versus blue states? The possibilities for exploitation in the name of high ratings are endless!

* Caracas Chronicles compares Venezuela’s economy to the description of an article from The Economist on Trinidad and Tobago’s economy.

* La Onda Tropical reviews the latest album from legendary Argentine rockero Andres Calamaro. (Right image via this site).

* Lastly, a quick lesson in slurs via Overheard in New York.

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