Friday, August 20, 2010

Haiti: Wyclef halted from presidential run

Musician Wyclef Jean’s plans to run for the Haitian presidency were abruptly halted on Friday.

The Caribbean country’s provisional electoral council decided that Jean did not meet the constitutional requirements to be a candidate in November’s elections. The board did not specify why he along with fourteen other potential candidates was barred from running. Yet it had been rumored that Jean failed to meet the residency requirement of living five years in Haiti. (His counterargument was that he was exempt from the clause since he was appointed as “a roving ambassador” in 2007).

Jean’s run for the presidency faced opposition from several celebs including cousin and former Fugees comrade Pras who gave his support for another musician-turned candidate, Michel Martelly. It was unknown how much he would appeal to domestic Haitians, especially by running on “a diaspora agenda” designed to appeal to expats living in the U.S. Despite his lack of political experience Jean touted another type of know-how in a recent interview with CBS News:
"I have no qualifications for president; I have qualifications for a leader," he replied. "The reason why I even entertain this idea is education, job creation, agriculture, bringing security into the country" . . . a country infamous for its repressive government.
The Haitian electoral board did permit nineteen potential candidates to run for the presidency.

The winner of the November 28th elections faces many challenges that have been compounded by last January’s major earthquake.

Image- The Globe and Mail (“Musician Wyclef Jean attends Hope Help & Relief Haiti "A Night Of Humanity" at Urban Zen on February 8, 2010 in New York City.”)
Online Sources- MSNBC, BBC News, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, CBS News, CNN, Los Angeles Times

Today's Video: Ramadan in Cuba

Here in the U.S. most of the recent news regarding Islam has centered on the plans to construct a mosque/community center near Ground Zero in New York and how about 1 of 5 people in a poll erroneously believe that President Barack Obama is Muslim. Little has been said over the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which started over a week ago and is probably best known for fasting during the daylight hours.

The video below from CNN examined how Cuban followers of Islam observe their religion on the island. As you can see, worshipers sometimes run into problems with societal norms such as the use of pork.

Online Sources - ABC News, Voice of America, CNN

Daily Headlines: August 20, 2010

* Mexico: The Mexican Supreme Court’s decision this month in favor of gay marriage in Mexico City has led to a war of words between the capital’s mayor and the Archbishop of Guadalajara.

* U.S.: Latino community leaders in Denver, Colorado want answers from police officials accused of covering up the 2009 beating of a 23-year-old man.

* South America: After years of protests neighbors Uruguay and Argentina agreed to environmental monitoring of a paper mill near a shared river border between both countries.

* Bolivia: Authorities have declared a state of emergency due to forest fires that have razed millions of acres of land.

Image – Los Angeles Times
Online Sources- UPI, BBC News, LAHT, Denver Post

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Today's Video: Caw!

We'll be back on Friday with posts on stories like Brazil's latest soccer triumph and why Lori Berenson is again behind bars. For now we'll leave you with a bit of satire via The Onion:

Guatemalan Flight's Data-Recording Parrot Holds Clues To Crash

Daily Headlines: August 19, 2010

* Cuba: The Obama administration could further ease travel restrictions to Cuba for visiting academics, religious groups, and cultural organizations.

* Bolivia: South Korea and Bolivia appear to be close to an agreement over the development of the country’s vast lithium reserves.

* Argentina: Scientists concluded that a “terror bird” which lived millions of years ago in present-day Argentina used its claw-like beak to tear its victims flesh.

* El Salvador: A “revolutionary model” in funding has helped Salvadorans infected with HIV/AIDS according to this GlobalPost article.

Image – New York Daily News
Online Sources- Voice of America, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, GlobalPost

Latin American Cities vs. The World

Foreign Policy Magazine loves rankings, and so do I. They also love big, gorgeous photographs, and have some great ones in their new list of the world's top cities. So without further ado, check out the Latin American cities from "Metropolis Now" ranking.
Running through the list it's easy to note the rise of Asian cities to global prominence. Being pragmatic, the only city in the region I think that has a legitimate gripe about being left off the list is Santiago - the home of the vibrant Chilean economy and a growing hub for entrepreneurship.

Please chime in if you feel anybody else got snubbed.

Image Source: Foreign Policy ("
Known to some visitors as the "Paris of the South," Buenos Aires shares a longstanding cultural affinity with Europe. More socially progressive than its neighbors, Argentina in July became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. Here, a tourist looks at Caminito Street from a window on Aug. 18)

Online Sources: Foreign Policy, AFP, Google News, AZ Central, TechCrunch, TIME,, The Guardian, Financial Times

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Women Hitwomen Emerge in Mexico

In another twist in the vicious drug wars, women are now more in charge of murder in Mexico.

According to the AFP, Mexican drug gang La Linea is hiring "pretty young women" for the element of surprise in its killing.

Gang members have taught about 30 women, ages 18 to 30, to be hitwomen, carrying guns and carrying out murders, a suspect told federal police.

The women operate different types of weapons, and the gang has designated a specific person to hire the females.

The suspect said that women are "pretty, good-looking, to help mislead opponents."

Source: AFP

Photo: Reuters via, Soldiers patrol near where Edelmiro Cavazos, Santiago mayor, was found dead recently.

Performers Protest Brazil Satire Ban

Think twice about making a joke ahead of Brazil's presidential election.

Brazilian satirists are banned from joking about the presidential candidates, facing fines for making fun.

Performers are planning protests this weekend, saying they have a right to ridicule.

The "anti-joking law" bans people from making fun of candidates for the three months before elections, the Telegraph reports.

So far, the ban seems only to spur more speaking out.

Jokesters can be fined or have their broadcasting license suspended.

Marcelo Tas, host of a weekly television comedy show, said they've been self censoring in an effort to protect themselves.

Tas had some advice for the candidates:

"When you allow yourself to be interviewed or confronted with a critical opinion, like on my program, you may take some shots, but you can show a more human side that the voters might like," he said.

He said the law was a "very particular Brazilian type of madness," reported the AP.

Columnist Clovis Rossi called it an insult to the Brazilian people that will "permanently castrate the voters' right to information."

Governing party candidate Dilma Rousseff is already nicknamed "Iron Lady," while opponent Jose Serra lacks charisma, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, the country's eager to help with a different kind of speech -- they've set up a hotline for people having trouble with Portuguese.

Sources: AP, Telegraph, BBC

Source: Merco Press, Serra and Rousseff

U.S. Not Threatened by China-LatAm Ties

The State Department is not concerned by increased Chinese financial involvement in Latin America, one official told reporters yesterday.

"It is certainly not a threat," said Arturo Valenzuela, the State Department's top official for Latin America and the Caribbean.

China has increased their investments in the region, and its trade has grown 10-fold over the decade, the AFP reported. In 2008, trade made up 143 billion dollars.

Chinese officials are interested in more raw materials -- like iron ore in Brazil -- and Latin America has been purchasing more Chinese goods.

Also, China lent 20 billion dollars to Venezuela this year.

"China's engagement, investment and trade with the countries of the Western hemisphere... helps to strengthen the economies and provide employment for people in these countries," Valenzuela said.

Xinhua reported that Valenzuela was in Beijing for a fourth round of talks between the United States and China on Latin America.

Sources: AFP, Xinhua

Photo: State Department

World Watch: In limbo

* Canada: Detention hearings began for nearly 500 Tamil migrants seeking refuge in Canada.

* Australia: With days left to go in national elections a recent poll showed a slim lead for the ruling Labor Party and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

* South Africa: Thousands of government workers have gone on strike seeking a pay raise of about 8.5%.

* China: In the latest tragedy to hit flood-ravaged areas of China at least 67 people are missing after a landslide slid through a mountain town.

Image – CBC (“A translator and lawyers representing the federal government and Tamil migrants sit before an immigration adjudicator in Vancouver.”)
Online Sources- MSNBC, Reuters, CNN, CTV, Bloomberg

Daily Headlines: August 18, 2010

* Venezuela: A court banned the publishing of bloody and violent images in newspapers days after one daily displayed on its front page a photo of bodies. (Click here if you want to see the controversial image).

* Haiti: French authorities rejected a call to pay back about $17 billion in reparations that was extracted from Haiti as part of a “reimbursement” for the Caribbean country’s independence over two centuries ago.

* Ecuador: Officials plan to renegotiate contracts with foreign oil firms in the hope that the state can earn at least 85% of revenue.

* Argentina: According to the local press the government predicts 8.4% growth in the gross domestic product this year.

Image – AFP (“An elderly man reads a newspaper in Caracas.”)
Online Sources- Bloomberg, El Universal, LAHT, Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nuestro Cine: Meat is murder

"La Soga" (The Butcher's Son) is a gritty crime-drama film from the Dominican Republic that focuses on Luisito, a vegetarian butcher/assassin for the government. The film has been praised for its frenetic pace and performances by the likes of Paul Calderon yet most critics have panned the movie for its "banal narrative" and violent butchering scenes. For Manny Perez, the film’s screenwriter and the actor who portrayed Luisito, "La Soga" is based on several of his experiences. As he told the New York Daily News, it's no coincidence that Luisito is butcher who doesn't eat meat:

The pig story. On a trip [I took] to the Dominican Republic, my aunt had a little pet pig running around. I fell in love with it. Pigs are very smart animals, and they tend to hang around your legs and sit on your lap. The day before I was leaving, I hear screaming. I go outside and I see my uncle stabbing the pig and I'm like, "What are you doing?!"

He said, "We're doing a goodbye feast for you, and the pig is the feast." I've never eaten pig since.

"La Soga" is currently playing in theaters in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. In addition, please check out the trailer below:

Online Sources- New York Daily News, New York Times, NPR, "La Soga" official website

World Watch: Pakistan needs help!

* Pakistan: Relief for flood-ravaged Pakistan has been slow to arrive and the humanitarian situation could worsen according to several aid agencies.

* Iraq: At least sixty people were killed when a suicide bomber exploded near a military installation in Baghdad.

* Japan: The government could consider an additional stimulus that “is likely to involve reallocating funds rather than new spending.”

* Russia: A Romanian diplomat detained and charged with spying on Russia has been ordered to leave for his native country.

Image – The Guardian
Online Sources- MSNBC, Reuters, CNN, Bloomberg,

Daily Headlines: August 17, 2010

* Colombia: An elderly man who suffered a heart attack was the lone fatality of a plane crash on San Andres Island yesterday.

* Cuba: Six more jailed dissidents are expected to be freed though its unknown if they will be allowed to stay in Cuba or travel to Spain.

* Argentina: Eleven countries have thus far launched satellites into space; Argentina could be the twelfth.

* Dominican Republic: Will Leonel Fernandez the latest regional leader to seek a third presidential term?

Image – ABC News (“An Aires airlines 737 lies in pieces after crashing on landing at the airport on San Andres island in Colombia, Monday Aug. 16, 2010.”)
Online Sources- CNN, LAHT, UPI, Voice of America

Monday, August 16, 2010

Today's Video: Preparing in Rio

Last month we mentioned how some officials for soccer governing body FIFA are disappointed with what they feel is a lack of preparation for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Though local officials such as sports minister Orlando Silva claimed that such criticisms come from people "who ignore the reality of the country," there is much that still needs to be done ahead of the World Cup as well as the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Al Jazeera's English-language channel recently examined one of Rio's most pressing issues ahead of the upcoming competitions: crime.

Online Sources - The Latin Americanist, Canadian Press

Daily Headlines: August 16, 2010

* Latin America: The region’s largest airline company could be formed with the planned merger between Brazil’s TAM and Chile’s LAN.

* South America: The next step in the reconciliation between the leaders of Venezuela and Colombia could be hammering out a bilateral free trade pact.

* Honduras: An outbreak of hemorrhagic dengue has led to the deaths of at least 56 people this year.

* Chile: President Sebastián Piñera’s approval rating fell below 50% for the first time since he was inaugurated last March.

Image – The Globe and Mail (“A TAM airlines plane is parked on the runway at Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janeiro August 13, 2010. Brazil's largest airline TAM Linhas Aereas plans to merge with Chilean rival LAN, a deal that would create the biggest carrier in Latin America.”)
Online Sources- Angus Reid Consultants, LAHT, The Latin Americanist, Buenos Aires Herald,