Saturday, December 31, 2011

Today’s Video: It's (Not) the End of the World as We Know It

We're going to usher in the New Year by taking a few days off but we will definitely return this Wednesday (January 4th) with posts on news stories around the Americas.

In the meantime, we urge you to please vote in our Headline of 2011 poll and also please fell free to contact us via e-mail at with your feedback.

It has certainly been an eventful year here at The Latin Americanist, which included an appearance on Al Jazeera English's Listening Post program. We cannot thank you enough, our esteemed readers, for your attention and opinions throughout 2011.

We will strive to do a better job in the upcoming months by providing you timely and thorough reporting on news throughout the region. Plans are in the works to improve both the quality and appearance of this blog so please stay tuned!

For now we'll leave you with the following video of what will likely be one of the most overhyped stories of 2012: the supposed end of the world based on an inaccurate interpretation of the Mayan calendar.

Video Source - YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources -, Al Jazeera English

Weekend Headlines: December 31, 2011 – January 1, 2012

* Chile: Officials announced the arrest of a tourist suspected of starting a wildfire that has consumed at least 27,000 acres of forest land in the Torres del Paine National Park.

* Latin America: The Venezuelan and Bolivian governments offered to remove for free defective breast implants made by a now-defunct French firm.

* Peru: President Ollanta Humala told a local radio station that he “can't help but show my annoyance” at a judge who allowed paroled activist Lori Berenson to return to the U.S. during the holidays.

* Ecuador: President Rafael Correa pledged to extend the deadline for protecting the Yasuni rainforest reserve from oil companies.

* Brazil: Brazilian firm Embraer won a U.S. defense contract that would allow it to sell twenty fighter jets for use by the Air Force in Afghanistan.

* South America: The 2012 Dakar Rally will begin on Sunday in Mar de Plata, Argentina and will be held during fifteen days in that country along with Chile and Peru.

Video Source – YouTube via cnnchile

Online Sources- CNN, ABC News, Expatica France, NPR, Reuters, TSN

Friday, December 30, 2011

World Watch: An Early Jump on the New Year

* World: While New Year’s Eve preparations continue in areas like New York City’s Times Square, residents on the Pacific island nation of Samoa were among the first to usher in 2012.

* Syria: Despite the presence of Arab League monitors Syrian forces continued their crackdown on anti-government protesters with security forces reportedly killing over thirty people.

* Spain: The new government announced a series of tax hikes to go along with over $11 billion in planned public spending cuts.

* India: Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare urged his supporters to march nationwide after legislators in the upper house of parliament ignored voting on a proposal to control graft.

Video Source - YouTube via Euronews

Online Sources- CBS News, ABC News, Christian Science Monitor, BBC News

Daily Headlines: December 30, 2011

* Mexico: A court ordered that five Mexico City policemen stand trial after amateur video footage caught them torturing a suspect last month.

* Argentina: Former Dirty War-era dictator Reynaldo Bignone was sentenced to another fifteen years in prison for rights abuses committed under his repressive rule.

* Puerto Rico: Gov. Luis Fortuño gave his approval to a nonbinding referendum that will be held next year on Puerto Rico’s political status.

* Chile: Universidad de Chile’s annus mirabilis included capturing the Copa Sudamericana last month and winning the Chilean soccer championship yesterday.

Video Source – YouTube user MYUH10 (The alleged abuse occurred after a shootout between police and suspects last November 19th).

Online Sources- MSNBC, Monsters and Critics, New America Media, Yahoo! Eurosport

Thursday, December 29, 2011

World Watch: Fatal Error

* Turkey: Turkish officials admitted that the military killed thirty-five civilians after mistaking them for Kurdish militants.

* North Korea: Kim Jong Un was declared as North Korea’s new “supreme leader” at a massive public memorial for his recently deceased father, Kim Jong Il.

* Egypt: Egyptian authorities raided the offices of seventeen “pro-democracy and human rights groups” including several U.S.-based organizations.

* Saudi Arabia: The U.S. government signed an agreement to sell nearly $30 billion worth of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources – CNN, Christian Monitor, Reuters, Time

Daily Headlines: December 29, 2011

Obama lands at Fort Bliss during El Paso visit [Image 2 of 3]
* U.S.: According to a new Pew Hispanic Center poll most Latinos disapprove of the Obama administration's deportation policies but would back the president in a hypothetical matchup against possible election rivals Mitt Romney or Rick Perry.

* Latin America: According to the Venezuela Violence Observatory “2011 will end as the most violent year in the nation's history” while the El Salvador murder rate spiked by an estimated 9.3% from 2009 through 2011.

* Mexico: Police captured suspected narcotics trafficker Luis Rodriguez Olivera, "El Guero", who is said to be a close associate to Sinaloa drug gang boss Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman.

* Guatemala: Prosecutors are reportedly moving to drop genocide charges against ex-dictator Oscar Mejia since the 80-year-old is “not fit to stand trial”.

Image Source – Flickr via DVIDSHUB (U.S. President Barack Obama visiting El Paso, Texas last May.) (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources- AFP, BBC News, Reuters, Christian Science Monitor, Newser

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nuestro Cine: “Fruits” of Their Labor

On Wednesday the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC) announced this year’s list of films added to the National Film Registry. Works by Latino directors Robert Rodriguez (“El Mariachi”) and Ramón Menéndez (“Stand and Deliver”) where recognized by the LOC for their historical and cultural significance.

Among the twenty-five selections made by the LOC is “Fake Fruit Factory”, a documentary on focused on Mexican laborers constructing paper mache fruits and vegetables. According to the LOC, the 1986 film directed by Chick Strand deftly combined “documentary, avant-garde and ethnographic techniques.” Furthermore:
In "Fake Fruit Factory," Strand employs a moving camera at close range to create colorfully vivid images often verging on abstraction, while her soundtrack picks up snatches of conversation to evoke, in her words, "the spirit of the people." "I want to know," Strand wrote, "really what it is like to be a breathing, talking, moving, emotional, relating individual in the society."
See for yourself why “Fake Fruit Factory” was deservedly added to the National Film Registry:

Video Source - YouTube via mdfdoyle

Online Sources- Reuters, Library of Congress

Daily Headlines: December 28, 2011

Buenos Aires - Argentina
* Argentina: President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is scheduled to undergo surgery on January 4th in order to treat a thyroid cancer detected by doctors last week.

* Latin America: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to visit four Latin American countries next month including Venezuela and Cuba.

* Colombia: The FARC will reportedly release six hostages including three police officers kidnapped since 1999.

* Uruguay: The Uruguayan Senate approved a bill that would decriminalize abortions in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

Image Source – Flickr via Dilma Rousseff (Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (second from left) received the visit of her Brazilian counterpart, President Dilma Rousseff, in Buenos Aires last October). (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources- AFP, CNN, BBC News, Bloomberg

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Today’s Video: Up and Down

We'll be back on Wednesday with our daily headlines from the Americas and the world, and the posting of our headline of 2011 poll.

For the time being we'll leave you with the following video of a novel escalator project that was inaugurated this week and designed to help the residents of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Medellin, Colombia:

Video Source - YouTube via ITN News

Daily Headlines: December 27, 2011

* Mexico: Mexican actor Pedro Armendariz Jr., who appeared in over 180 films and several telenovelas, died on Monday at the age of 71.

* South America: Bolivian President Evo Morales said that he and his Peruvian counterpart, President Ollanta Humala, discussed the possibility of building a railroad that would link landlocked Bolivia to a Peruvian port.

* Colombia: Authorities released over two hundred members of a criminal gang that voluntarily turned themselves in to police.

* Latin America: One person died in Argentina after being burned by fireworks on Christmas Eve, while fireworks in El Salvador injured at least 16 children on that day.

Video Source – YouTube via oncenoticiasipn

Online Sources- Monsters and Critics, Huffington Post, CBS News, Buenos Aires Herald, LAHT

Monday, December 26, 2011

World Watch: The Start of Reconciliation?

* North Korea: A pair of South Korean delegation were allowed to visit their northern neighbor in order to pay condolences for the death of Kim Jong Il.

* Nigeria: Hundreds of mourners attended a memorial service outside a Catholic church where at least 39 people were killed by a bomb attack on Sunday.

* Egypt: Egyptian authorities charged three people with smuggling “a machine gun and ammunition” from Israel.

* Yemen: U.S. officials could allow Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to enter the country for medical treatment.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources – CNN, Reuters, CBS News, Xinhua

Daily Headlines: December 26, 2011

* Mexico: Police arrested the head of security for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the fugitive leader of the Sinaloa drug gang.

* Caribbean: Forty Haitian migrants died over the weekend when the ship they were traveling in sunk off the Cuban coast.

* South America: Bolivian authorities arrested and will extradite to Argentina a former military officer accused of human rights violations during the “Dirty War” period.

* Brazil: According to the Center for Economics and Business Research, Brazil has overtaken Britain in order to become the world’s sixth-largest economy.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources- AFP, BBC News, UPI, Xinhua

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weekend World Watch: Holiday Spirit

* Israel: Over 120,000 pilgrims and tourists are estimated to have gathered in Bethlehem in order to celebrate Christmas.

* Libya: For the first time since 1969 Libya will publicly celebrate its day of independence, which was sixty years ago on this date.

* Russia: Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in several Russian cities calling for new parliamentary elections and the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

* North Korea: Kim Jong Un was named as the "supreme leader of the revolutionary armed forces" days after the death of his father, former ruler Kim Jong Il.

* India: A court ordered that 22 Internet companies, including Google and Facebook, remove “objectionable content” from their websites.

* Nigeria: At least 68 people were killed as a result of clashes between police and “Islamic militant group Boko Haram.”

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources – Voice of America, BBC News, ABC Online, USA TODAY, PC World, The Guardian

Weekend Headlines: December 24-25, 2011

* Cuba: The U.S. State Department is “deeply disappointed” that jailed contractor Alan Gross will not be among the 2900 prisoners to be reportedly released by the Cuban government.

* Central America: Nicaragua filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice against plans by neighboring Costa Rica to build a road along the banks of the San Juan River.

* U.S.: A federal judge ruled in favor of expanding a class action lawsuit against Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio to include every Latino questioned or detained by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office since January 2007.

* Brazil: Brazilian officials placed an additional $5.4 million fine on Chevron as a result of environmental damage from an offshore oil spill last month.

* Mexico: Authorities at the port of Lazaro Cardenas seized over 229 metric tons of chemicals that are used to make methamphetamine.

* South America: Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that he would deploy 10,000 troops along the border with Colombia due to security concerns.

Video Source –YouTube via euronews

Online Sources- Reuters, Voice of America, Huffington Post, Xinhua, MSNBC, AFP

Friday, December 23, 2011

Today’s Video: Tamales 101

We'll be back on the weekend with headlines from around the Americas and the world as well as posting our final poll of 2011.

For now we'll leave you with the following video from YouTube user xcookage on how to make Christmas tamales, a traditional holiday dish in several Latin American countries.

Buen provecho y felices fiestas!

Video Source - YouTube via xcookage

World Watch: The Mind is Sharper than the Beak

* World: According to a study published in the latest issue of the journal Science pigeons posses basic math knowledge on par with certain primates like rhesus monkeys.

* Czech Republic: Mourners gathered at Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral for the state funeral of recently deceased playwright, activist, and ex-president Vaclav Havel.

* Syria: The U.S. State Department condemned a series of car bombings in Syria that left over forty people dead and dozens injured.

* Europe: Turkey froze political and military ties with France in response to the French parliament's approval of a bill criminalizing denials of the Turkish genocide against Armenians over a century ago.

Image Source – Flickr via Aurelijus Valeiša (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources – Discovery News, New York Times, Voice of America, CNN

Daily Headlines: December 23, 2011

La condena a Alberto Fujimori: un día histórico
* Peru: Defeated presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori admitted that her family is seeking a pardon for her father, disgraced and imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori.

* U.S.: A judge blocked several provisions of South Carolina’s staunch anti-immigration law that had been opposed to be over a dozen Latin American governments.

* Cuba: Over 180,00 Cubans could obtain Spanish citizenship via a “grandchildren’s law” though that number could spike ahead of the December 27th deadline to apply for benefits.

* Brazil: The country’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% in November; thus making it the lowest mark since records began in 2002.

* Central America: Citing “security concerns” the U.S. Peace Corps program will pull out of Honduras and have cancelled training classes for El Salvador and Guatemala.

Image Source – Flickr via Pedro Rivas Ugaz (“The headlines of Lima-based newspapers one day after ex-president Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison” in 2009.) (CC BY 2.0).

Online Sources- MSNBC, Peru this Week, Bloomberg, LAHT, Fox News Latino

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Daily Headlines: December 22, 2011

Chevron & Cefco
* Ecuador: A statement from oil giant Chevron called for Ecuadorian authorities to investigate a judge that handed down a multibillion-dollar verdict against the oil giant last February.

* Latin America: The U.N.'s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said that the region’s economic growth is expected to slow down to 3.7% in 2012.

* U.S.: Attorneys representing fourteen Latin American countries filed an amicus brief criticizing a Utah anti-immigration law that “dangerously contributes to a patchwork of laws that impede effective and consistent diplomatic relations.”

* Haiti: The number of cholera cases reportedly continues to decline one year after an outbreak of the disease killed over 7000 people.

Image Source – Flickr via Steve Snodgrass (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources- NPR, The Latin Americanist, Monsters & Critics, Deseret News, Huffington Post

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ads Nauseam: Toy Soldiers

Toys: innocent, fun and entertaining. Yet they are sometimes used in ads in order to effectively make a serious political statement. For instance, a 1972 ad for the campaign to reelect U.S. President Richard Nixon used toy warships and troops in order to attack rival candidate George McGovern's pledge to cut defense spending.

The following video was commissioned by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in order to call attention to human rights violations caused by Colombia's armed conflict. The use of toys along with jarring piano music and a twist in the end creates a very moving ad that highlights the horrors of war:

(Hat tip: Copyranter).

Online Sources - The Museum of the Moving Image, Copyranter

Video Source - YouTube via TheAdvertisingFan

Daily Headlines: December 21, 2011

Uruguay 4 - Chile 0 | 111111-3529-jikatu
* Uruguay: The English Football Association suspended striker Luis Suarez over alleged racial abuse against an opposing player during a match last October.

* Peru: Julio Galindo, Peru’s “anti-terrorist attorney general”, was none too pleased that paroled activist Lori Berenson was allowed to leave the country in order to spend the holidays with her family.

* U.S.: The number of National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico will be reduced starting next month in order to put a greater emphasis on “aerial surveillance missions.”

* Argentina: The political tensions between the government and the Clarin media group are expected to worsen after police raided the offices of a Clarin-owned cable TV firm.

Image Source – Flickr via jikatu (#9 Luis Suarez celebrates with his teammates after scoring all four goals in Uruguay’s victory over Chile in World Cup qualifiers last month). (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources- USA TODAY, Reuters, Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Daily Headlines: December 20, 2011

Old San Juan
* Puerto Rico: Though the murder rate this year will top a record 1100 homicides, the local government rejected a newspaper report claiming that Puerto Rico shows signs of being a ”narco-state.”

* Brazil: A judge ordered Joe Sharkey, the New York Times' business-travel columnist, to pay a fine of over $26,000 regarding a blog post he wrote on a 2006 plane crash.

* Honduras: The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a letter to Honduran President Porfirio Lobo expressing “deep concern” over violence against members of the media.

* South America: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is expected to attend the Mercosur summit today in Uruguay and back his country’s full membership in the bloc.

Image Source – Flickr via Jason Sturner 72 (Torn poster in San Juan, Puerto Rico reading “Violence – coming to a corner near you.”)

Online Sources- The Committee to Protect Journalists, Fox News Latin, Brazzil Magazine, Mercopress

Monday, December 19, 2011

World Watch: Death

* North Korea: Could the death of Kim Jong-Il lead to the resumption of international nuclear negotiations that have been suspended since 2009?

* Czech Republic: Thousands of mourners in Prague paid their final respects to former president and activist Vaclav Havel who died on Sunday.

* Cape Verde: Grammy-award winning singer Cesária Évora passed away on Saturday at the age of 70.

* Philippines: Over 900 people have died in the Philippines as a result of flooding and heavy rains from tropical storm Washi.

Image Source – Flickr via jdxyw (“North Korean lawmakers, army and state officials attended a national meeting in 2010) at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium to honor North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.”) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources – Sky News Australia, Huffington Post, CBC News, The Guardian

Daily Headlines: December 19, 2011

* Peru: Federal authorities have yet to explain why Lori Berenson was barred from leaving Peru despite a court allowing her to spend the holidays with her family in the U.S.

* Mexico: Senior officials issued an apology to an indigenous woman who was raped and tortured by the military in 2002.

* Cuba: Restrictions on travel and remittances from the U.S. to Cuba were dropped by Congress from a $1 trillion spending bill.

* Brazil: The environmental secretary for Rio de Janeiro state claimed that thousands of barrels of oil from a leak reached the shore.

Video Source – YouTube via larepublicaweb1 (The above video from Peruvian TV claimed that paroled activist Lori Berenson arrived late to the airport and subsequently missed her flight to the U.S. But according to Gothamist “witnesses claim that Berenson was ‘at the airport hours before the flight was to leave.’”)

Online Sources- Gothamist, Houston Chronicle, UPI, MSNBC, ABC News

Friday, December 16, 2011

Daily Headlines: December 16, 2011

Navy Mechanics School and images of the Disappeared
* Argentina: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights gave an Argentine judge more than 100 photos with images of alleged victims during the Dirty War regime.

* Mexico: Three officials in the Mexican state of Guerrero were dismissed over the deaths of two student protesters during clashes with police.

* Honduras: Honduran police have come under fire after firing tear gas and swinging batons at anti-violence demonstrators.

* Venezuela: A French court sentenced Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos the Jackal, to life in prison for a second time.

Image Source – Flickr via longhorndave (Art installation with pictures of “disappeared” Argentines placed in front of the infamous Navy Mechanics School). (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources – ABC News, LAHT, Fox News Latino, Huffington Post

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Daily Headlines: December 15, 2011

Camila Vallejo en Die Zeit
* Chile: Student protest leader Camila Vallejo was named by a nationwide poll as Chile’s Person of the Year.

* Brazil: Federal prosecutors in Brazil are seeking the suspension of operations of Transocean and Chevron as well as $10.6 billion in environmental and social damages.

* Cuba: The National Endowment for Democracy gave their annual humanitarian award to the late Cuban dissident Laura Pollan.

* Colombia: According to the Vatican Radio, Pope Benedict XVI called for the freeing of all the hostages held against their will by Colombian guerillas.

Image Source – Flickr via gpoo

Online Sources – Santiago Times, MSNBC, UPI, Bloomberg

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Daily Headlines: December 14, 2011

area fumigado
* Central America: Are pesticides and herbicides causing a “major epidemic” of chronic kidney disease throughout Central America?

* Haiti: Politicians and human rights activists in Brazil expressed their concern over a possible “humanitarian crisis” due to an influx of Haitian migrants.

* Venezuela: Citgo, which is owned by the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s PDVSA, will resume a program providing heating oil to low-income U.S. families.

* Argentina: Prosecutors in the U.S. accused eight former Siemens executives of paying over $100 million in bribes to the Argentine government during a ten-year period.

Image Source – Flickr via JoePhoto (“Taken on the outskirts of Chichicastenango” in Guatemala.) (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources – PRI’s The World, El Universal, Sydney Morning Herald, Reuters

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

World Watch: Cameron’s Crow?

* Europe: British Prime Minister David Cameron defended his decision to veto an E.U. treaty aimed at preventing a worsening of the region's debt crisis.

* Canada: The country’s immigration minister announced the prohibition of the wearing of the burka during the citizenship ceremony.

* Syria: According to U.N. estimates nearly 5000 people including about 300 children have been killed as part of a brutal crackdown by the state.

* Democratic Republic of Congo: Electoral observers and opposition figures accused the government of vote rigging during recent elections.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews

Online Sources – The Guardian, CNN, BBC News

Daily Headlines: December 13, 2011

* Mexico: According to the Mexican archdiocese over 5.6 million people visited the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City this year.

* U.S.: The Supreme Court agreed to listen to a case next year involving Arizona's controversial anti-immigration S.B. 1070 law.

* Colombia: Human Rights Watch blasted a proposed judicial reform that could “virtually guarantee impunity for human rights violations committed by the security forces.”

* Caribbean: Representatives of several countries including the U.S. and Cuba reportedly met last week in order to discuss potential problems with increased Cuban offshore oil drilling.

Image Source – Flickr via Joaquin Martinez (Mexicans domestically and worldwide commemorated the annual celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe yesterday).

Online Sources – Miami Herald, MSNBC, Bloomberg, AFP

Monday, December 12, 2011

Today’s Video: The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

Note: In honor of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities celebrated earlier this month, some of our some of our daily video segments this week will focus on the disabled community throughout Latin America.

In November the legislature in the Argentine province of Mendoza backed an initiative to comply with national law on the disabled. The measure protects the rights of the disabled in Mendoza and also expands public health coverage for disabled individuals. (For example, disabled individuals where previously excluded from the local public health system once they reached the age of twenty-one years regardless of the seriousness of their condition).

For over a decade the families of disabled individuals attempted to push through the plan though they were unable to gain much headway. Their efforts received a much-needed boost from “Caiga Quien Caiga” (“Whoever May Fall” in English), an Argentine TV news show that is presented in an irrelevant manner.

The following video from “Caiga Quien Caiga” shows how Mendoza’s disabled community, with help from the program, helped bring about necessary and long overdue changes:

Video Source – YouTube via LATVARG

Online Sources – United Nations Enable, Diario Uno, Wikipedia

Daily Headlines: December 12, 2011

* Panama: Former dictator Manuel Noriega was extradited to Panama and is expected to start serving a twenty-year prison sentence for crimes committed during his rule.

* El Salvador: The government issued a formal apology for the over 1000 people killed at the El Mozote massacre of 1981.

* Mexico: At least two people were killed after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck in the state of Guerrero.

* Cuba: Dissidents claimed that “some 200 detentions for political motives” were made by police in the days leading up to Human Rights Day this past Saturday.

Video Source – YouTube via BBC News

Online Sources – Voice of America, Reuters, The Guardian, BBC News

Friday, December 9, 2011

Daily Headlines: December 9, 2011

Cathédrale de La Havane
* Cuba: A senior Cuban Catholic Church official said that Pope Benedict XVI will visit the island in early 2012.

* Mexico: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was grilled by some members of the House Judiciary Committee over “Operation Fast and Furious”, a gun trafficking sting that led to weapons being obtained by Mexican drug gangs.

* Brazil: The government proposed a $2.2 billion initiative aimed at putting a stop to the country’s “crack epidemic.

* Dominican Republic: Protesters demonstrated in Santo Domingo against government polices that allegedly discriminate against residents of Haitian descent.

Image Source – Flickr user mickou (The Cathedral of Havana). (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources – BBC News, ABC News, Reuters

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Today’s Video: Rolling for Peace

Note: In honor of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, which was held on December 3rd, this week's daily video segment will focus on the disabled community throughout Latin America.

On December 6th tens of thousands of people marched in a series of rallies against Colombia’s FARC guerillas. The demonstrations took place in Colombia as well as several major international cities and sought to call for an end to violence perpetrated by one of the world’s oldest existing rebel groups.

One of the organizations that helped organize the anti-FARC march in Bogota was the Fraternity of Disabled Police Officers (Fraternidad de Policías Discapacitados in Spanish or FRAPON). Members of the FRAPON include policemen injured in combat who have marched in numerous occasions across Colombia calling for the liberation of kidnap victims. “We will continue rolling through the country until all the hostages are freed,” said FRAPON president Luis Alberto Ninco Sanchez.

The following video comes from a FRAPON march in 2009 during a stop in the Colombian town of Cajica. Several local politicos gave their recognition to the FRAPON’s efforts for peace and a prompt end to the country’s decades-old armed conflict.

Video Source – YouTube via Nocitcentrocolombia

Online Sources – BBC News, El Colombiano, Colombia Soy Yo

Daily Headlines: December 8, 2011

* Peru: The head of Peru’s Shining Path rebels, known by the nickname of “Comrade Artemio”, admitted defeat and said he was willing to negotiate with the government.

* U.S.: Three-time Most Valuable Player and free agent Albert Pujols will reportedly sign a 10-year, $250 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

* Panama: Ex-strongman Manuel Noriega could arrive in the Central American country on Sunday after being extradited from France.

* Argentina: British plans to create a nature preserve on one of the Falkland Islands could lead to increased diplomatic tensions with Argentina.

Video Source – The Guardian (Peru’s Shining Path is classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and E.U.)

Online Sources – CNN, Voice of America,, The Telegraph

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Daily Headlines: December 7, 2011

* Brazil: According to Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research deforestation in the Amazon rainforest dropped to its lowest level since record-keeping began in 1988.

* Honduras: Luz Marina Paz became the seventeenth Honduran journalist killed since 2010 after she was gunned down and murdered yesterday.

* Venezuela: Plans for a government-backed housing initiative have slowed down due to labor unrest at Venezuela’s largest steelmaker.

* Chile: Colo Colo, one of Chile’s most popular soccer teams, was the fifth-most popular sports topic on Twitter in 2011 according to the social networking service.

Image Source – Flickr via CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources – MarketWatch, Fox News Latino, Twitter, CNN

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

World Watch: #2011

Twitter Bird Sketch
* World: #egypt, #japan, and #superbowl were some of the top Twitter hashtags of 2011 according to data from the social networking service.

* Afghanistan: At least fifty-nine people were killed by two bomb attacks aimed at Shi'ite Muslim followers.

* Russia: Moscow police arrested hundreds of protesters denouncing possible fraud by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his ruling United Russia party in recent parliamentary elections.

* Democratic Republic of the Congo: Officials announced that “technical difficulties” would delay the results of the country’s tense-filled presidential elections.

Image Source – Flickr via shawncampbell (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources – CBS News, PC Magazine, Voice of America, BBC News

Today’s Video: Empowerment Through Employment

Note: In honor of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, which was held on December 3rd, this week's daily video segment will focus on the disabled community throughout Latin America.

Telethons were recently held in several Latin American countries including Chile where over $40 million was raised for the medical treatment and rehabilitation of thousands of disabled children.

The 27–hour event was presented by "Sabado Gigante" host Don Francisco and included appearances by musicians such as Diego Torres and Juanes as well as President Sebastián Piñera. (Piñera’s speech was briefly interrupted by a group of student protesters calling for educational reforms and a greater role by the state in caring for the disabled).

It’s up for debate whether the “Teletón” serves a useful purpose or is degrading towards the disabled. Yet an appearance by the head of one Chile’s National Disabled Service called much-needed attention to a problem facing millions of disabled individuals throughout the Americas: the lack of employment opportunities.

According to María Ximena Rivas, over two-thirds of employable disabled Chileans (nearly 1.4 million people) are without work. Rivas urged the government to make changes to existing labor laws in order to prevent discrimination and mistreatment against disabled individuals.

The following video shows the benefits that come from giving disabled individuals the opportunity to work. This 2006 clip from a report on Chile’s TVN shows how a blind impresario hired 25 mentally disabled individuals to work at his small factory:

Video Source – YouTube via jfvslice

Online Sources – El Mundo,, La Republica

Daily Headlines: December 6, 2011

Las Islas Malvinas
* Argentina: Members of the newly formed Community of Latin American and Caribbean States unanimously approved a resolution supporting Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands.

* Mexico: The number of migrants crossing the U.S. border from Mexico reportedly dropped to its lowest point in decades possibly due to fewer people attempting such a crossing.

* Brazil: Rest in peace Socrates; the captain of one of the greatest teams never to win the World Cup (Brazil in 1982) died over the weekend.

* Uruguay: The Uruguayan army chief pledged that he will not "tolerate nor cover for" any crimes committed by the military during its rule from 1975 to 1983.

Image Source – Flickr via magical-world (Graffiti in Cordoba, Argentina reading that the Falklands “was, is and will always be Argentine.”) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources – Mercopress, BBC News, ESPN, UPI

Monday, December 5, 2011

World Watch: Fickle Finger-pointing

Trial Chamber 31 January 2011
* Cambodia: Nuon Chea, a deputy to the late despot Pol Pot, alleged that the Vietnamese and not the brutal Khmer Rouge regime committed “crimes against humanity” in Cambodia.

* Space: Researchers at NASA discovered Kepler-22b, a planet 600 light years away and a “possible Earth twin” that could support life.

* Ivory Coast: At his first appearance in front of the International Criminal Court, ex-President Laurent Gbagbo claimed that he would “challenge” the evidence against him.

* World: According to a new study published in the journal “Nature Climate Change” global carbon dioxide emissions spiked in 2010 and reached a record 9.1 billion tons.

Image Source – Flickr via Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. (“Nuon Chea during a Trial Chamber hearing on 31 Jan 2011.”) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources – BBC News, National Geographic, CBC News, UPI

Today’s Video: Protesting for Disabled Rights in Bolivia

Note: In honor of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, which was held on December 3rd, this week's daily video segment will focus on the disabled community throughout Latin America.

The theme of this year's International Day for Persons with Disabilities, was “Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development.” Across the world disabled individuals strive for inclusion within society including promoting mainstreaming and accessibility for all.

Last month a group of 55 disabled Bolivians and their caretakers marched along roads in order to call attention to discrimination and the lack of opportunities in the disabled community. Despite laws made to protect the rights of the disabled the protesters claimed that they are marginalized and treated like second-class citizens. Some marchers, like the one in the video below, blamed President Evo Morales for failing to follow through with his pledges to help disabled Bolivians.

Daily Headlines: December 5, 2011

Journalists Protest against rising violence during march in Mexi
* Mexico: President Felipe Calderon defended his anti-crime policies despite an estimated 43,000 deaths related to drug violence since he took office.

* Peru: President Ollanta Humala declared a state of emergency in areas of northern Peru where police have clashed with protesters opposed to a controversial mining project.

* Haiti: Rest in peace Sonia Pierre; the human rights activist who defended the rights of Dominican-born Haitians died yesterday at the age of 48.

* Brazil: Brazil’s chief ambassador at global climate talks in South Africa defended a government-backed proposal that would overhaul the country’s forest laws.

* Nicaragua: Thousands of people marched in Managua on Saturday to call attention to alleged “massive electoral fraud” in the reelection of President Daniel Ortega.

* Argentina: For the third time since 2006, Argentina lost in the finals of the Davis Cup tennis competition.

Image Source – Flickr via Knight Foundation (“Hundreds of Mexican journalists silently marched in downtown Mexico City (last year) in protest of the kidnappings, murder and violence against their peers throughout the country.”) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources - Bloomberg, Miami Herald, Reuters,, ABC News, BBC Sport

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Weekend Headlines: December 3-4, 2011

* Latin America: The global economy and drug trafficking where some of the topics focused on during this weekend’s summit of the newly formed Community of Latin American and Caribbean States bloc.

* Argentina: The duo of David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank kept alive Argentina’s chances against Spain in the Davis Cup finals.

* Mexico: Women’s rights activist Norma Andrade is in stable condition after she was shot twice outside her home in Ciudad Juarez.

* El Salvador: According to police data the murder rate is expected to increase this year by 8% in comparison to 2010.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources- InSight, Fox News Latino, CNN, BBC News

Friday, December 2, 2011

Today’s Video: Labor of Love

We hope to be back over the weekend with a few posts on topics that may include the latest honor to Chile’s rich literary tradition and an unusual “memorial” commemorating the late Argentine president Nestor Kirchner.

In Thursday’s World Watch we looked at several news stories on HIV/AIDS in order to observe World AIDS Day. The following video via The Pulitzer Center shows the work of Joel Sainton, a Haitian preacher who helps AIDS victims in his homeland. Sainton founded a grassroots agency for people with AIDS shortly after he found out that he was infected with the disease. His work has been valuable for the nearly 400 people helped by his agency including survivors of 2010’s major earthquake.

Video Source – YouTube via The Pulitzer Center

Online Sources – The Latin Americanist

World Watch: Syrian Nightmare

Bashar al-Assad propaganda
* Syria: The U.N.’s human rights body overwhelming passed a resolution blasting Syria’s government for a myriad of human rights abuses including “crimes against humanity.

* World: A boost from the private sector helped the U.S. unemployment rate drop to its lowest point in over two years, while unemployment in Spain hit its highest mark since 1996.

* Egypt: Electoral officials claimed that 62% of eligible voters participated in parliamentary elections that are expected to be won by Islamist political groups.

* Europe: According to the World Health Organization there has been a spike in new measles cases across Europe this year and this could spread across the Atlantic.

Image Source – Flickr via watchsmart (“Typical propaganda poster featuring Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. His image is all over the country.”) (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources- CBS News, BBC News, AFP, The Telegraph, CNN

Daily Headlines: December 2, 2011

* Nicaragua: The White House may soon provide an official reaction discussing suspected voting irregularities in the Nicaragua’s presidential election held last month.

* Mexico: Controversial Peruvian talk show host Laura Bozzo has come fire after calling a guest a “little bitch” who should be “in jail as a prostitute.”

* Cuba: The wife of imprisoned contractor Alan Gross urged U.S. and Cuban authorities to "work something out" for his prompt release.

* Uruguay: Officials identified a corpse found at a military base in October as that of a labor union activist missing since 1977.

Image Source – Flickr via jorgemejia (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources- Miami Herald, LAHT, Voice of America, BBC News

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World Watch: Commemorating World AIDS Day

* World: A United Nations report released on the eve of World AIDS Day concluded that the world is "finally in a position to end the epidemic" but more funding is needed from global donors.

* U.S.: The results of a new HIV treatment on lab mice could be key in developing a vaccine against the disease.

* South Africa: President Jacob Zuma launched a National Strategic Plan to promote AIDS prevention and slash the number of new HIV infections at least by half.

* China: According to the state press, about 780,000 people in China will be infected by AIDS by the end of 2011 including approximately 48,000 new cases in this year alone.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews

Online Sources- Voice of America, CBS News, Reuters, NPR

Today’s Video: Milk, Eggs, Blood

What would happen if you where shopping at your local grocery store and suddenly stumbled upon several rows of blood bags placed in one of the refrigerators? The following ad created for Hospital Albert Einstein captures the reactions of shoppers at several Sao Paulo convenience stores.

See for yourself how the video was part of a campaign to raise awareness for blood donations:

(Hat tip: MetaFilter).

Video Source - YouTube via bloguerilla

Online Source - MetaFilter

Chilean Student Protesters Vow to Continue Marches

Note: This post originally appeared in the Latin American News Dispatch on November 30, 2011.

The leaders of Chile’s main student protest group promised that they will continue their campaign despite the approval of the country’s controversial education budget.

At a press conference held on Tuesday, student leaders of Chile’s student protest group (known by the Spanish-language acronym CONFECH) vowed that they would hold a mass demonstration this Thursday in the coastal city of Valparaiso. “We will go out in order to inform the citizens of the treason committed by the ruling political class,” declared CONFECH spokesman Alexis González in response to the federal education budget passed last Friday by the Chilean legislature.

Education Minister Felipe Bulnes claimed that the new budget improves high education in several ways, including offering more scholarships to poorer Chileans. Yet CONFECH president Camila Vallejo noted that the state “needs to take charge to regulate the private higher education system and that is not contemplated in the approved budget.”

For over six months Chilean students have campaigned for educational reforms including free tuition and an increased state role in the area of education. At times the protests became tense and violent though the students have earned the support of several sectors such as the country’s labor unions.

Student protests leaders also suffered another setback on Tuesday when Congress on Tuesday approved the federal budget but left out the establishing of a public education fund. Thus, one of CONFECH’s key demands will have to be debated in a bill separate from the approved budget plans.

Several student protest movements through Latin America have emerged from the original protesters from Chile. In Colombia, for instance, over ten thousand people participated in marches held last Thursday in several major cities. One student protester in Bogota claimed, “We’re here to defend a just and high quality education.”

Earlier this month Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos backed away from a proposed reform to the educational system that would’ve included increased privatization. This concession to one of the main demands by the main student protest movement (known by the Spanish-language acronym MANE) helped facilitate the return of thousands of striking university students to their classes. Nevertheless, MANE chief Paola Galindo observed that last Thursday’s “successful” protests helped “back the sovereignty and autonomy of the Colombian populace.”

Last week young people throughout the region participated in solidarity marches with student protesters in Chile and Colombia. In Montevideo, hundreds of university students marched from the campus of the Universidad de la República to the Colombian embassy. Protesters in Buenos Aires demonstrated through the streets and held banners with insignias such as “the student struggle is walking through Latin America.’’

Not all of the recent student marches in the Americas have had to do with seeking a quality education. On November 18, a few hundred demonstrators in Caracas participated in protests against rising crime rates.

Image Source – Flickr via Simenon (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources - Correo del Orinoco,, La Tercera, EFE, teleSur, Europa Press, El Pais,,, Latin America News Dispatch

Daily Headlines: December 1, 2011

On patrol..
* Honduras: The Honduran legislature voted in favor of deploying troops in order to combat organized crime and drug traffickers.

* Latin America: Haiti and Venezuela are among the world’s most corrupt countries according to a report released by Transparency International.

* Mexico: The Interior Department reprimanded officials in Sonora for publicly discussing the criminal record of a recently killed anti-crime activist.

* Chile: A Chilean court convicted a police officer and sentenced him to five years in prison for the shooting death of an indigenous Mapuche man.

Image Source – Flickr via madmack66 (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources - Reuters, MSNBC, The Guardian, UNPO

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

World Watch: The Long Arm of the Law

* Ivory Coast: Ex-president Laurent Gbagbo was arrested and flown to the Netherlands where he awaits trial in front of the International Criminal Court.

* Britain: Hundreds of thousands of public employees took to the streets to protest against government-backed austerity measures.

* Pakistan: The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff “publicly and categorically” rejected accusations that NATO purposely killed 24 Pakistani soldiers over the weekend.

* Palestine: Iceland became the first western European country to recognize Palestine as an independent state.

Image Source – Flickr via Alkan de Beaumont Chaglar (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources- Reuters, USA TODAY, MSNBC, Herald Sun

International condemnation against Colombian hostage killings

La vida es sagrada, cada víctima es hermana
On Friday four hostages held against their will by Colombia’s FARC rebels for over ten years were gunned down during a failed rescue attempt. Over the past few days, members Colombians blasted the guerillas for their cruel and senseless actions, while families of the victims grieve and lament their loss.

Numerous public figures from around the world also expressed their condemnation of the massacre by the FARC. Pope Benedict XVI said that he was in “pain” over the deaths of the hostages and urged for an end to violence in Colombia. "The Holy Father received this tragic news with sorrow and sends his prayers to the families of the victims and the beloved people of Colombia at this time of suffering," read a letter from the Pontiff.

Organization for American States chief José Miguel Insulza claimed that the deaths were a “crime against humanity” and a serious violation of “international humanitarian rights.” Insulza also called for the immediate release of all prisoners held by the FARC and said that freeing them is a “necessary precondition for peace (talks).”

The United Nations human rights representative in Colombia, Christian Salazar, said that “the
atrocious assassinations reflect a terrible lack of humanity and complete disrespect for life.”

José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, labeled the deaths as a “war crime,” while a statement from the U.S. embassy in Colombia deemed the incident as a “terrorist act.”

Catherine Ashton, the head of the European Union’s diplomatic division, said on Tuesday that the FARC should “lay down their arms” and join the “process of political reform and modernization in Colombia.” That doesn’t seem like it will be the case according to Andrés Mejía Vergnaud in the Americas Quarterly blog:
Peace with a group that commits such acts will be hard to swallow in Colombia and abroad, especially if, as FARC leaders have made it clear, they will not accept convictions or prison terms. Growing international demands for the prosecution of crimes against humanity and war crimes make blanket pardons impossible; something that Colombians would hardly accept, in any case.
A police sergeant held by the FARC for nearly twelve years narrowly escaped being executed by the rebels on Friday. “I felt the impact on my face and neck, the shots were at me, the only thing I could do was run,” said Luis Erazo to the local press over the weekend.

Image Source – Flickr user equinoXio (“Every life is sacred” reads this banner at a 2008 anti-FARC protest in Medellin, Colombia). (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources – AFP, Colombia Reports, Noticias Caracol, Radio Santa Fe, EFE, Human Rights Watch, Voz de America, Reuters, Americas Quarterly blog

Today’s Video: No Way Out

Eighteen-year-old high school senior Joaquin Luna had stellar grades, spoke fluent English and dreamed of going to university. Yet his frustration over his illegal immigrant status where to much to bear and he committed suicide last Friday:

As seen in the above video, Luna claimed in his suicide note that his undocumented status would prevent him from completing his career ambitions in the field of computer graphics. Furthermore, he allegedly feared being deported to Mexico, a country he left from when he was only six months old.

According to his older brother, Carlos Mendoza, Luna became “angry” at the passing of strong anti-immigration laws in several states and also upset over repeated Congressional rejection of the DREAM Act.

Though Luna was reportedly accepted into several postsecondary schools including Rice University and Texas A & M, he apparently felt like there was no way out:
“He thought that even if he was going to go to college he was probably still not going to be able to get a job,” Mendoza, Luna’s brother, says. “To him everything that he was doing was just going to be for nothing because at the end of the road he was never going to be given the chance to work."
Luna’s funeral is taking place today until 9:00 pm. His family is accepting donations to pay for the funeral and his burial.

Video Source - CNN

Online Sources – Fox News Latino, The Guardian, CNN,