Saturday, March 20, 2010

Weekend World Watch: Seven and fifty

* World: Marches were held around the U.S. on Saturday in protest of the seventh anniversary of the military invasion of Iraq while South Africans are preparing to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre.

* Europe: Outrage over sex abuse scandals in countries like Ireland and Germany continue to put pressure on Pope Benedict XVI.

* Russia: Approximately fifty rallies were held nationwide as part of a "Day of Anger" against the Russian government’s economic policies.

* France: French officials have egg on their face after mistaking five Catalan firefighters on vacation for a group of ETA separatists.

Image – Guardian UK (“The day that changed the course of South African history: on 21 March 1960, police opened fire on thousands of unarmed protesters, killing 69 people. The massacre sparked decades of armed struggle and forced the world to confront apartheid Photograph: Corbis.”)
Online Sources- Washington Post, BBC News, Times Online, Reuters, New York Times

Weekend Headlines: March 20-21, 2010

* Haiti: The country’s physically disabled aren’t the only people with disabilities hurt by January’s tremor; according to the New York Times Haiti’s mental health system is at “the point of collapse.”

* Chile: The government may raise mining royalties as part of a plan to pay for post-earthquake reconstruction efforts.

* Guatemala: Local human rights groups are peeved at a judge’s decision to release the former army officer convicted of killing activist Bishop Juan Gerardi.

* Panama: An estimated 10,000 protesters marched in Panama City against the policies of President Ricardo Martinelli.

Image – Guardian UK (Some survivors of Haiti’s massive January earthquake live in makeshift tent camps).
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, New York Times, Reuters, Washington Post, LAHT

Friday, March 19, 2010

Argentina: Convicted skinheads to work at Holocaust Museum

The following sounds like a modern-day O. Henry story.

Last August a pair of Argentine skinheads were arrested for vandalizing a synagogue and other buildings with anti-Semitic graffiti. They were subsequently convicted for their crime and, in an ingenious twist, will be forced to work for fifty hours at Buenos Aires’ Holocaust Museum. Aside from janitorial duties the skinheads will also have to participate in "educational and cultural activities” held at the museum.

The prosecutor in charge of their case hopes that the pair will learn more than the axiom that crime doesn’t pay:
“The law is granting them a chance to face reality. With this probation we hope that they may be truly aware of what they did,” said…Luis Duacastella Arbizu. – [ed. Translated text]
One can easily call it a case of the punishment fitting the crime.

Image- BBC News (Please note that this image of painted swastikas are not those mentioned in the aforementioned Buenos Aires case).
Online Sources- Wikipedia,, Clarin

Prosecutors blast "beaner-jumping" teens in Marcelo Lucero trial

Opening statements were made this week in the trial against one of the teens accused of the 2008 hate crime murder of Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero.

Prosecutors started proceedings yesterday by claiming that nineteen-year-old Jeffrey Conroy and six others roamed the streets of Patchogue on Long Island seeking random Latinos to assault. "They were looking for blood, specifically Mexican blood," said one of the prosecutors about the teens that were accused of assaulting Lucero as part of a made-up sport they called "beaner-jumping." Furthermore, prosecutors claimed that Conroy admitted to police that he stabbed Lucero and had kept the murder weapon as a “trophy” when he was arrested.

Four of the defendants have already pled guilty and are expected to testify against Conroy who has declared not guilty of charges including murder and manslaughter. Aside from defending his client’s alleged innocence, Conroy’s lawyer attacked Lucero’s character by pointing out his prior drug use. Conroy faces a maximum sentence of life in jail if convicted of second-degree murder.

The second day of Lucero’s trial coincides with Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy publicly declaring his candidacy for New York Governor. As the New York Times noted in an editorial, Levy’s policies on immigration (including his dismissive reaction to Lucero’s murder) could be a major liability:
It isn’t just that he sometimes repeats xenophobic lies, as when he told a library meeting a few years ago that a flood of illegal immigrants’ babies was swamping the Southampton Hospital maternity ward. It isn’t just that he has allied himself with groups at the far-right edge of the debate. It is that his strategy of trying to make life untenable for Long Islanders he presumes to be illegal is divisive and ineffective. His reaction to tragedies like the killing of the Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero has been heartless and dismissive.
Image- CBS News (Jeffrey Conroy and six other teens have been accused of killing Marcelo Lucero in 2008).
Online Sources- New York Times, NY1, Huffington Post, New York Daily News, CNN, The Latin Americanist, NBC New York

Daily Headlines: March 19, 2010

* Brazil: While Pope Benedict XVI has been caught up in a sex abuse scandal another controversy is brewing in Brazil where a priest was allegedly caught on camera having sex with a teen.

* Guatemala: Former President Alfonso Portillo is a stone’s throw from being extradited to the U.S. to go on trial for corruption.

* Dominican Republic: Dominican police have upped the manhunt to capture the man one U.S. Marshal described as “the Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean.”

* Venezuela: Execs at Royal Dutch Shell backtracked from claims that foreign oil firms are losing interest in investing in Venezuela due to the Chavez administration’s policies.

Image – Huffington Post
Online Sources- CBS News, CNN, Time, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Today’s Video: Forgetting Romero

Earlier today we highlighted the life of the late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero including his work against government oppression and how his countrymen admire him today. “The Daily Show” (TDS) last night also looked at Romero but under the guise of a story we mentioned last Friday: the controversial curriculum changes in Texas. “That is how Oscar Romero got disappeared by rightwingers for the second time” concluded TDS host Jon Stewart at the end of the report.

Fast forward to the 2:45 mark to view how such a vital person in Latin American history was removed from future Texan textbooks:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Don't Mess With Textbooks
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Reform

Nuestro Cine: Remembering Romero

Next week marks the thirtieth anniversary of one of the darkest days in Central American history: the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Despite depth threats and pressure from El Salvador’s elite Romero fearlessly spoke out against the oppression and violence carried out by the government. "One must not love oneself so much, as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history demands of us, and those that fend off danger will lose their lives," said Romero in his March 24, 1980 mass only minutes before being gunned down by a sharpshooter.

Today Romero is viewed as a martyr who courageously defended the rights of El Salvador’s poor and most vulnerable people. His countrymen hold him in very esteem and some even tried to get him recognized as a saint by the Vatican.

In 1989 the Archbishop’s actions were portrayed on the silver screen in the film “Romero”. The late Raul Julia played the titular character in a performance Roger Ebert called “restrained and considered.” The entire film is available (illicitly?) on YouTube; for now here is the trailer to the great film:

Online Sources- Tim’s El Salvador Blog, BBC World Service, Roger Ebert’s Blog, YouTube, Wikipedia

Daily Headlines: March 18, 2010

* Cuba: Cuban police have been accused of heavy-handedness and repression after breaking up a peaceful protest yesterday by the Ladies in White.

* Mexico: According to the FBI the recent killings of three people connected to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez may have been a case of mistaken identity.

* Latin America: Agriculture ministers from thirteen countries are meeting in Ecuador in order to figure out how to eliminate malnutrition and hunger.

* Peru: The country’s justice minister was let go from his post over alleged irregularities in the 2009 pardoning of a former TV executive.

Image – Al Jazzeera English (“The wives and mothers of political prisoners marched (as the Ladies in White) to demand that they be freed.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, The Independent, Miami Herald, Living in Peru, People’s Daily Online

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Today's Video: Che's lost in translation

Today is St. Patrick's Day and in recognition of such we're featurnig a rather unique interview from Ernesto "Che" Guevara's 1965 trip to Ireland. The famed revolutionary had, shall we say, an interesting translator according to the description provided to the YouTube vid:
The lady speaking to CHE is an Air Hostess pulled from the plane he was on at the last minute,not a translator,and more so ,Che understood what she was saying in English anyway!
See for yourself what The Irish Echo claimed to be the "last time he spoke or was seen publicly outside of Cuba":

Online Source- YouTube

Is Mexico's violence overblown?

In an article posted yesterday, Foreign Affairs wonders how dangerous Mexico really is, in the wake of two U.S. Consulate members being killed and continued drug violence in the country.

Writer Allyson Benton argues that the violence is not as bad as in the past or compared to other Latin American countries.

In 1997, 17 people were murdered per 100,000, and in 2008, this number was down to 12, Benton notes.

Benton also writes that the drug wars are focused where the cartels operate, mostly in the northern and western states. "Murder rates among citizens not involved in the drug trade continue to decline," she writes.

Finally, she argues that country's like Colombia and Venezuela have murder rates nearly doubling Mexico's.

Benton concludes, "Violent crime, particularly involving the drug trade, is a serious problem for Mexico and the country's people. But context is crucial for issues so easily sensationalized."

What do you think? Is the violence in Mexico the result of over-saturated news or sensationalism?

Source: Foreign Affairs


Belarus offers aid to Venezuela

Add Belarus to the list of countries offering to help Venezuela boost its military.

The country's president, Alexander Lukashenko, offered help to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday.

He said Chavez should not have to worry about foreign threats. "Together, we can counter this threat," Lukashenko said, although not specifying the threat.

According to the AP, Lukashenko told Venezuela's National Assembly that Belarus would like to "share the experience of creating an integrated defense system."

Source: LA Times, AP

Photo: Miami Herald

Daily Headlines: March 17, 2010

* U.S.: The Department of Homeland Security has ordered a halt to construction of a controversial “virtual fence” along the U.S.-Mexico border so that $50 million in funds may be directed “to other purposes.”

* Cuba: "Cuba desperately needs political and legal reform to bring the country in line with basic international human rights standards,” said a statement by Amnesty International regarding a report published on Tuesday.

* Argentina: The government rejected reports that it’s purposefully blocking beef exports due to the weakened domestic economy.

* Puerto Rico: A U.S. government report released yesterday found staff negligence and dirty equipment in Puerto Rican veterans clinics.

Image – The Gazette (“A prototype of a tower for the virtual fence along the U.S.-Mexico border at a test facility in Playas, N.M.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Washington Post, Reuters, AP, BusinessWeek

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

World Watch: Another natural disaster

* Asia: Disaster teams from several Asian countries are heading towards Fiji after an untold number of deaths due to Cyclone Tomas.

* Sri Lanka: Is Sri Lanka’s 25-year civil war finally over?

* Iraq: Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi holds a slim lead in parliamentary elections over current PM Nouri al-Maliki.

* Russia: The U.N. has blasted environmental problems in construction projects for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Image – ABC Online (“There is significant damage to schools and hospitals and dozens of homes have been destroyed” as a result of Cyclone Thomas hitting Fiji.)
Online Sources- Guardian UK, BBC News, Times Online, ABC Online

Israeli FM avoids Lula

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s “mission of peace” in the Middle East has hit a diplomatic pothole.

On Monday the Brazilian leader gave a special address at the Knesset where he called for a renewed push against violence in the region as well as “a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.” Sadly one key member of Israel’s government opted to ignore Lula:
Israel's foreign minister (Avigdor Lieberman) confirmed Tuesday that he boycotted meetings with the visiting Brazilian president, claiming he refused to visit the grave of the founder of modern Zionism...

Lieberman said he was upset at Silva's decision not to visit late Zionist leader Theodor Herzl's grave, especially while agreeing to lay a wreath at the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Wednesday.

"A person who is not prepared to visit Herzl's grave but is visiting Arafat's grave, I don't accept that," Lieberman told the Israeli news Web site YNet. He claimed the snub breached protocol.
A Brazilian government official anonymously told the AP that Lieberman’s claim was “odd” in that other heads of state recently visiting Israel skipped stopping at Herzl's grave. That explanation did not stop the World Zionist Organization treasurer to call Lula’s gesture “an insult to Israel’s citizens.”

As part of his tour Lula is expected to meet with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas before traveling later this week to the West Bank and Jordan.

Image- AP (“Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, lays a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Tuesday, March 16, 2010.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Ha’aretz, AP, Jerusalem Post, LAHT

Latinos in Trenton caught up in immigration hoax

Was somebody trying to spook Latinos in New Jersey from attending this Sunday’s immigrant’s rights rally in Washington? That’s one possibility being brought up after an immigration hoax reportedly scared Latinos in Trenton.

False word spread through e-mails and text messages that federal officials were conducting raids at a shopping mall in the New Jersey capitol. “We don’t know where this is coming from, but it was very upsetting to a lot of people. It’s just not right,” said Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund representative Maria Juega to The Trentonian newspaper. The deception led to Latinos staying away in droves from stores like a Food Bazaar supermarket whose manager reported a 20% drop in customers as a result of the hoax.

The rumors come on the heels of another hoax that claimed that immigration agents conducted raids a Philadelphia area Wal-Mart stores. That ruse was more detailed than the one on Saturday:
The Food Bazaar rumor followed a similar false story of a supposed agreement allowing immigration agents to enter Wal-Mart stores to arrest illegal immigrants, Juega said.

The rumor has been spread through e-mail and text messages that include photographs of agents next to handcuffed people, she said. The pictures were supposedly taken during a recent raid at a Philadelphia area Wal-Mart. Lee said the distribution of the photographs suggested the rumor was an orchestrated hoax.
Whatever the motive may be behind the hoaxes (including a supposedly “misguided” attempt at promoting immigration reform) such juvenile tricks do nothing but stoke fear and deepen divisions in our communities. They are a distraction from the important work of formulating, passing, and enacting meaningful changes to the immigration system.

Image- Illinois State Museum
Online Sources-, PR Newswire, The Trentonian, New York Daily News

Another Honduran journo slain

A northern Honduran reporter has become the latest journalist slain by the “ongoing violence” in that Central American country.

Radio and TV reporter Nahum Palacios Arteaga was killed on Sunday after unknown gunmen attacked him in his car. Police claimed that Arteaga was specifically targeted “because a total of 41 shots were fired at his car.” Two other passengers in the car including a cameraman were wounded in the brazen attack.

Arteaga has become the third journalist murdered in the past two weeks in Honduras. The killings against members of the media led dozens of journalists to protest in San Pedro Sula as well as public condemnation from the French government. None of the three murders have been solved, a sad fact that comes as no surprise to the head of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ):
"This spate of murders targeting journalists in Honduras shows the alarming level of increasing political violence in the country," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

"There is a disturbing trend of targeting of journalists in a cold-blooded series of planned assassinations"…

The IFJ says journalists are victims of organized crime as the country struggles to restore political dialogue and law and order in the wake of last year's coup d'état which sparked political unrest in the country. The Federation accused at the time the coup leaders of attacking journalists and closing media in Honduras.

"Journalists are extremely vulnerable in Honduras as impunity is taking hold in the country," added White. "Every effort must be made to protect journalists and restore the rule of law and order to the streets."
Image- New York Times (Honduras’ de facto government came under fire last year for limiting the press such as the temporary closing of Globo radio station).
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist,, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, AP, La Prensa Grafica, International Federation of Journalists

De Musica Ligera: From A to Tom Zé

Released in 2008, "Palavra (En)Cantada" is a Brazilian documentary that examines the evolution of pop music in that country. Chico Buarque, Adriana Calcanhotto, and Caetano Veloso are just a few of the musicians highlighted in this revealing film:

"Palavra (En)Cantada" will be featured at the 92nd Street Y Tribeca in New York City on March 25th. Click here for more info including buying tickets for the screening.

Online Sources - 92nd Street Y Tribeca, YouTube

Daily Headlines: March 16, 2010

* Latin America: China’s interest in Latin America for resources to power its growing economy continued when Chinese oil firm CNOOC purchased a stake in Argentina's Bridas Holdings.
* Mexico: Ranchera singer Paquita la del Barrio has come under fire after declaring days after Mexico City’s first gay marriage that she would “rather see a kid die” than be adopted by a same-sex couple.

* Bolivia: It may not be a coastline proper yet Bolivia gained access to the Atlantic Ocean via Uruguay for the exportation of natural gas.

* Venezuela: Officials denied that President Hugo Chavez’ plans to regulate the Internet would signify censoring online information.

Image – The Telegraph (“A PetroChina petrol station in Hong Kong, China.”)
Online Sources- National Post, NBC Los Angeles, Reuters, CNN,

Haitian Update

Through the Livewire blog written by Amnesty International staff, we learn that two months after the massive earthquake in Haiti, things are still worse than ever.
"People are without water, food, sanitation, or shelter."
As government institutions have collapsed, people are living under tarps and in camps outside, and there has been a growing problem of sexual violence toward women (many of the victims, minors). There is a desperate need for shelter, especially before the rainy season. Ducos blogs that even with the death and destruction surrounding them, a baby is born in the unsanitary and dangerous conditions the night before they arrive in Port-au-Prince. Born on the dirt, with no sanitary or sterilized tools or linens, no clean water, and surrounded by mosquitoes, garbage and flies.

While those in Haiti continue to struggle, the U.S. government announced eligibility for Haitians living in the U.S. to apply for temporary protected status just days after the quake. However, most Haitians living here illegally have not applied for the status. One reason could be the fear and mistrust of government in the consequences, but another major problem in the cost. The fees for going the legal route surpass what many can afford. The fee to apply for temporary protected status is $500, a large amount of money for immigrants who probably do not make much money to begin with, or who need to use the money to send direct aid to their family in Haiti. There is a way to get the fee waived, but a financial paper trail must be followed, which many undocumented immigrants are not able to present.

Image Source: Pizza Fusion

Monday, March 15, 2010

Juarez Violence Keeping Spring Breakers Away

Last year fears of swine flu and concerns of violence kept tourists away from Mexico.

Now, this past weekend's attacks against several people affiliated with the US consulate in Cuidad Juarez has brought concerns of security along the US-Mexico border to the highest levels.

Highlighting the seriousness of the situation, the US State Department has advised all Americans to delay travel to the border regions of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango states.

The violence against the consular employees has raised new concerns of security, since the victims seem not to have had any connection to the drug trade that is responsible for the vast majority of violence in Juarez. Assuming the drug gangs were indeed behind the killings, they are becoming scarily effective at sending the message that they can continue to operate with impunity.

With many colleges kicking off Spring Break, it's likely that the Mexican tourism industry will once again see a drop in visitors.

Of course there may be some hidden perks, such as a reduction in cross-border idiocy and Jessica Simpson singing.

Kidding aside, any hit to the Mexican tourism industry will deal a significant blow to an industry that represents the fourth largest source of foreign exchange for Mexico.

Online Sources: Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, CNN, AFP,, Wikipedia
Image Source: Jessica Simpson at MTV Spring Break, Cancun

Today’s Video: Lilliput on Rio

Laborers working on the renovation of Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue look like a scene from “Gulliver’s Travels”:

Online Sources- YouTube

World Watch: Information Society

* China: Google may soon shutdown its Chinese site due to government censorship and strict government controls of the Internet.

* Nigeria: Violence continued today in the Niger delta area of Nigeria with the detonation of a pair of car bombs.

* Germany: Church officials suspended a German priest in the middle of a child sex abuse scandal that has affected Pope Benedict XVI.

* Thailand: Protestors backing ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra have threatened with “pouring 1,000 liters of their own blood” in front of the Thai parliament.

Image – MSNBC
Online Sources- InformationWeek, Al Jazeera English, New York Times, ABC Online

Corruption victorious in Colombian elections

One of the big winners of yesterday’s Colombian legislative elections were parties allied with President Alvaro Uribe. Sadly another victor was several corrupt politicians and their puppets.

The primary for the Conservative Party’s presidential candidate became a two-horse race between former ambassador Noemi Sanin and ex-Agriculture Minister Andres Felipe Arias. With only a few hundred votes separating both hopefuls, electoral officials will hold a recount while Sanin and Arias have each alleged voter fraud.

Arias had been involved in one of several scandals that have hampered Uribe in his eight years of presidency. Under Arias’ time as minister over $113 million in “non-repayable, tax-free subsidies” ended up in the hands of wealthy contributors to Uribe. Dubbed by some as "Uribito" (Little Uribe), Arias foolishly claimed that lands originally destined for thousands of displaced families would be better served by politically connected agribusinesses. Now he is a stone’s throw away from being the presidential candidate of one of Colombia’s main political parties.

Perhaps worse were the gains made by numerous politicians linked to the “para-politics” scandal. Despite being created last year by politicos investigated of having strong ties to right-wing paramilitary armies, the National Integration Party won at least eight Senate seats. “PIN's success in several provinces provided strong evidence that right-wing criminal bands associated with drug trafficking continue to plague Colombia's countryside,” according to the AP. The PIN won more seats than the two main leftist parties- the Greens and the Alternative Democratic Pole- on a day when six of seven former hostages held by the FARC lost their legislative bids.

Several jailed politicos convicted of their paramilitary ties even won by using their family members as proxies:
With 92.19% of the vote counted the children of “La Gata” (Enilce López) and ex-governor Hugo Aguilar won senate seats for the PIN.

For the Liberals one of the winners was the wife of Juan Manuel López Cabrales, convicted to seven years in jail. The cousin of former Senator Juan Carlos Martínez won a seat in the House of Representatives. – [ed. Translated text]
Image- Al Jazeera English (Colombian president Alvaro Uribe voted in Sunday’s local elections).
Online Sources- Colombia Reports, Plan Colombia and Beyond, IPS News, Canal Caracol, MSNBC, RCN Radio, El Tiempo

State Dept. issues extra Mexico travel warnings

The weekend murders of three people linked to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez have alarmed officials north of the border. Part of the U.S. response has been to send FBI agents to collaborate with Mexican investigators as well as issuing several State Department travel warnings.

Yesterday the State Department gave the approval for family members of employees in six northern Mexican cities to be sent elsewhere. A spokesman for the agency said that that decision was made before the weekend shootings yet coincided with a renewed travel warning cautioning prospective visitors to areas like Juarez and Tijuana.

These advisories come as Spring Break revelers have been warned of violence and crime in popular destinations such as Cancun. “Drug-related violence has been increasing in Acapulco,” reads part of the State Department travel warning for Spring Breakers. A particularly ugly example of such violence occurred over the weekend:
To the south, along the Pacific in the popular tourist resort of Acapulco, an even more gruesome weekend. Early on Saturday, 13 people were killed, including five police officers. Four of the victims were beheaded. All, undoubtedly, the dirty work of Mexico's ruthless drug cartels.
According to the Mexican press 7600 Mexicans died in 2009 as a result of drug-related violence, a figure expected to be topped this year.

Image- CBC (“Soldiers stand guard at a crime scene where the crashed car of a U.S. Consulate employee sits in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on Sunday.”)
Online Sources- National Post, U.S. State Department, AP, CBS News, Seattle Times, CNN

Lula on Middle Eastern "mission of peace"

While the Israeli government and the White House are at each other’s throats Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva started a crucial tour of the Middle East.

Lula became the first Brazilian leader to visit Israel earlier today with a vow "to talk about peace" for the region. Shortly before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Lula added that he would back Israeli inclusion into the South American Mersocur trading bloc. With Brazil already serving as “Israel's largest trading partner in Latin America”, the Brazilian government has expressed optimism at the possible benefits of a recently signed bilateral free trade deal.

Lula will also meet with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and travel to Jordan as part of his tour. One of the subjects likely to be brought up will be his relation with Iran that some analysts and leaders view as a little too close. Yet Lula hopes that his “soft approach” towards Iran may break the impasse between leaders in Tehran and Western countries. Lula seemed to play down criticisms against him when speaking at the Knesset:
"Brazil is proud that there are no nuclear weapons in Latin America and we want this to be an example for other regions in the world," he said.

Lula also spoke of his vision for peace between Israel and its neighbors.

"In Brazil, 10 million Arabs live in harmony with thousands of Jews," he said. "We hope for this to be used as a metaphor for seeking deep understanding in the Middle East."
Whether Lula’s “mission of peace” is successful remains to be seen though it’s a welcome diplomatic step in a region fragmented by distrust and violence.

Image- PRESS TV (“Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is welcomed by Shimon Peres.‎”)
Online Sources- BBC News, BusinessWeek,, Reuters, The Citizen, Ha’aretz

Daily Headlines: March 15, 2010

* Chile: Parts of Chile continue to be without electricity after a massive blackout on Sunday night plunged most of the country into darkness. (Update: Electricity is expected to be restored to all of Chile by today. Yet as the video above shows, Chileans had their nerves tested by the blackout that occurred weeks after a deadly major tremor).

* U.S.: If the Republican Party wants to appeal to Latino voters then they should lay off the staunch anti-immigration rhetoric such as “(reviving) the thrust of Proposition 187” in California.

* Venezuela: Officials claimed that police seized over two tons of cocaine originally bound for Europe.

* Argentina: Did the Vatican help the late Nazi Adolf Eichmann flee Germany for Argentina?

Image – Reuters (“A man rides his bike along a street during a blackout in Santiago, March 14, 2010.”)
Online Sources- UPI, MSNBC, The Latin Americanist, San Francisco Gate, The Telegraph