Friday, April 8, 2011

Daily Headlines: April 8, 2011

* Haiti: The debate over ethics in photojournalism was reignited after a photo similar to the above image of a Haitian child shot dead shortly after last year’s earthquake won at the Swedish Picture of the Year Awards.

* Cuba: Thirty-seven former political prisoners from Cuba arrived this morning in the Spanish capital of Madrid.

* Bolivia: Maria Cecilia Chacon was sworn in as the first woman to become Bolivia’s defense minister.

* Ecuador: In a retaliatory move the State Department ordered that Ecuadorian ambassador to the U.S. Luis Gallegos return to Quito.

Image – Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters via The Guardian (Fifteen-year-old Fabienne Cherisma died from a bullet to the head in January 2010 reportedly after taking paintings from a Port-au-Prince shop.)
Online Sources- PetaPixel, The Guardian, Inside Costa Rica, The Latin Americanist, Voice of America

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Today’s Video: Not one more!

Over 5000 people disappeared since 2006.

More than 15,000 people killed in 2010 alone.

At least 59 bodies found in a series of mass graves yesterday.

The statistics out of Mexico are grim as drug-related violence is seemingly out of control in parts of the country. Yet that didn't stop an estimated tens of thousands of protesters from marching in numerous Mexican cities on Wednesday. Participants in Mexico City chanted "No More Blood!" and "Not One More!" while others sought to put additional pressure on the government.

As seen in the video from Argentina's C5N news network, the protesters appear to come from all walks of life and were united in favor of a common cause: peace.

Online Sources - El Universal, BBC News,, MSNBC
Video Source - C5N via YouTube

World Watch: Under the surface

* Italy: While the E.U. continues to debate over immigration, rescuers keep searching the Mediterranean for survivors of a capsized boat that carried over 200 migrants from North Africa.

* Libya: Documents revealed that Moammar Gadhafi waged a PR campaign to improve his image that included favorable opinion pieces in major U.S. dailies and a failed book project on his "ideas on democracy".

* Ivory Coast: French troops and opposition forces are reportedly knocking at the presidential palace’s door yet besieged leader Laurent Gbagbo continues to bunker and not cede power.

* India: Researchers found highly resistant “superbugs” in bacteria in water supplies of the capital city of New Delhi.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube
Online Sources- AFP, Reuters, Voice of America, Monsters and Critics, CNN

Daily Headlines: April 7, 2011

* Honduras: The Honduran police must thoroughly investigate several cases of attacks against press covering recent protests according to a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

* Latin America: Could other U.S. ambassadors to Latin America come under fire after the latest controversies regarding the envoys to Mexico and Ecuador?

* U.S.: Immigration authorities have been accused of breaking their own agency rules by “stalking" Latino immigrants near schools and churches in Detroit.

* Cuba: After a near three-month hiatus the Cuban government resumed mail service of parcels weighing less than 1.1 pounds to the U.S.

Image – AP via CTV News (“A demonstrator kicks at a cloud of tear gas during a protest in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Thursday March 24, 2011.”)
Online Sources- Committee to Protect Journalists,, The Detroit News, The Latin Americanist, LAHT

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

De Musica Ligera: Lollapalooza in Chile

For the first time a version of the Lollapalooza music festival was held outside of the U.S. Kanye West, The Killers, Cypress Hill and Jane's Addition were some of the more internationally-known acts that performed at Lollapalooza Chile last weekend. There were also a variety of Ibero-American musicians present in Santiago including Spanish rapper Mala Rodriguez, groovy Colombians Bomba Estereo and up-and-coming Chilean songwriter Francisca Valenzuela.

One of the groups that performed to crowds of thousands at O'Higgins Park was local group Chico Trujillo. In his detailed and must-read review of Lollapalooza Chile, New York Times music critic Jon Pareles mentioned:
Unlike their Anglo colleagues, the Latin American bands didn’t indulge themselves in self-pity. The Chilean group Chico Trujillo, an overwhelming local favorite, revealed itself as a world-class party band.
Pareles was definitely not kidding:

Pareles concluded in his article that Lollapalooza Chile "might also spur its Anglo visitors to look beyond their own borders." Hopefully one can better appreciate not only the Spanish-speaking acts of the festival but also discover the rich plethora of musical styles and genres throughout the Americas.

Video Source - YouTube
Online Sources - New York Times, Cuaderno Latinoamericano

Daily Headlines: April 6, 2011

* Haiti: Defeated presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat rejected preliminary results indicating that Michel Martelly won last month’s runoff by a two-to-one margin.

* U.S.: What has been described as “San Francisco's biggest gang trial in years” opened this week with seven alleged Mara Salvatrucha members accused of bribery, violence, and murder.

* Argentina: Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman emphatically denied media reports claiming that the Argentine government may end investigating the 1994 AMIA bombing in exchange for improved ties with Iran.

* Latin America: U.S. Southern Command Gen. Douglas Fraser told a Senate panel that the U.S. is “watching closely” Iran’s growing influence in Latin America.

Image – The Telegraph (Former singer Michel Martelly reportedly won March’s runoff by a large margin over ex-first lady Mirlande Manigat.)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist,, BBC News, Canadian Press, CBS News

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

World Watch: Gbagbo give up?

* Ivory Coast: France and the U.N. have set out a conditions for embattled leader Laurent Gbagbo to hand over the presidency though that may not save him from possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

* Japan: India suspended food imports from Japan due to concerns over radiation while the U.S. and the E.U. are considering similar restrictions.

* Libya: Rebel commander Gen. Abdul Fattah Younis blasted NATO efforts as “not doing anything” to help civilians under attack by forces loyal to President Muammar Gaddafi.

* Italy: Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is not expected to appear in court on Wednesday when trial proceedings being in the “bunga bunga” sex scandal.

Image – Rebecca Blackwell/AP via (“New Forces soldiers loyal to Alassane Ouattara drive at a checkpoint at one of the principal entrances to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Tuesday.”)
Online Sources- Xinhua, BBC News, Times of India, Reuters

Cuba plans oil drilling projects

Cuban officials announced on Tuesday that there are plans to drill five oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico starting this summer.

"We're about to move to the drilling phase," said Ministry of Basic Industry official Manuel Marrero regarding work that will be completed with the help of unspecified foreign oil firms. He further mentioned that the wells would be done between this year and 2013, and the wells could reach a depth of 400 to 1500 meters underwater.

Cuba has demarcated 59 blocks for offshore oil exploration and seven companies including Repsol (Spain), OVL (India) and PDVSA (Venezuela) have signed on to explore twenty spaces. Last month, Brazil’s Petrobras withdrew from exploring one of the spaces since the company wants to “concentrate on our prospecting” in Brazil. (U.S. oil firms are excluded due to the decades-long embargo on Cuba).

Ex-Senator Bob Graham, who is currently serving as co-chair of panel trying to strengthen U.S. and Mexico offshore drilling standards, raised the “concern about the prospect of drilling so close to our coast with a country that has not engaged in this previously.”

The plans may also irk some U.S. legislators wary opposed to the Castro regime and others wary of possible environmental problems. As noted in the Naples Daily News in February, the issue has united several key federal Congressmen representing Florida:
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has introduced bills to deny visas and entry into the United States to executives of oil companies that want to drill in Cuba…

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, issued a statement...saying that what other countries do in their waters “is their business.”

“However, American business that supports the Castro dictatorship should not be permitted to do so,” the statement said.
Marrero tried to assure that the planned projects will be done with the utmost safety and noted, “the companies that will drill are prestigious and experienced.”

As we mentioned last May, Cuban officials expressed their worries over oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill reaching the island’s shores.

Image- PA via BBC News
Online Sources- France 24, Houston Chronicle, Reuters, Seattle Times, Naples Daily News, The Latin Americanist

Report: Drop in LatAm immigrants in Spain

A few weeks ago, the Census announced that the number of Latinos in the U.S. grew by 43% between 2000 and 2010. The expansion of the Latino population nationwide was partly attributed by one media source to legal and undocumented immigration.

Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, Spanish data suggests another major demographic shift pertaining to immigration. According to the National Statistics Institute (INE) the number of migrants from Latin America dropped between January 2010 and the first month of this year. During that time period, the number of residents from Ecuador fell by 10.1% while there was a 9.3% decrease in the number of Argentines and Brazilians.

The decrease in Latin Americans living in Spain was somewhat offset by a boost of migrants from E.U. member countries, which explains why one local official in Valencia said that the community has become “Europeanized.” Nevertheless, the number of foreign-born residents declined by 0.3% to 5.7 million; hence, the first national decrease since 1998.

The faltering Spanish economy could be to blame for the decreasing number of Latin Americans in Spain. Indeed, a Migration Policy Institute report released in March noted, “Perhaps due to the reduced economic demand, the number of new arrivals in Spain has also decreased significantly”.

With limited opportunities in Spain, a BBC Mundo article claimed that migrants have looked elsewhere including Latin American countries with healthier economies than Spain:
(According to Ecuadorian Immigration Secretary Lorena Escudero) some migrants opt for other European countries including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, and Italy.

This may possibly be occurring with migrants from Argentina and Brazil. Though in the case of the latter many Brazilians may be convince tor return home due to the good progress of Brazil’s economy.
Image- Getty Images via BBC News (“Spain's unemployment rate is double the average for the Eurozone.”)
Online Sources-, La Republica, El Mundo, Migration Policy Institute,, BBC Mundo

Ecuador to U.S. ambassador: Leave ASAP

Last month, Carlos Pascal resigned from being U.S. Ambassador to Mexico after Wikileaks unearthed several diplomatic cables where he blasted Mexican antidrug efforts. Today another U.S. ambassador in the Americas could meet a similar fate.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino government claimed that U.S. envoy Heather Hodges is a “persona non grata” and requested that she leave the country. He accused her of not providing a satisfactory answer regarding how she obtained “restricted information” on the Ecuadorian police.

The main gripe against Hodges has to do with a cable uncovered by Wikileaks where she alleged that corruption was entrenched in Ecuador’s national police. She raised a number of accusations against ex-police chief Jaime Aquilino Hurtado including widespread bribery, protecting certain companies, and human trafficking. She also claimed that President Rafael Correa was aware of corruption allegations against several senior police officials.

Patino emphasized that Hodges’ expulsion was meant as a gesture against her and would not lead to a severing of U.S.-Ecuador relations. Nevertheless, State Department officials deemed the Ecuadorian government’s move as “unjustified” and defended her as one of the most “experienced and talented” members of the U.S. diplomatic corps.

Approximately six months ago Correa declared that he would purge “bad elements” in the Ecuadorian police for participating in an alleged coup attempt against him.

Today’s action comes a week after Mexico’s foreign relations office criticized Correa for remarking that drug gangs control all of Mexican territory.

Image- AP/Getty Images/File via CNN (“Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa talks with U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges in Quito in October 2008.”)
Online Sources- Reuters, The Guardian,, El Universal (Venezuela), BBC News, El Universal (Mexico)

Daily Headlines: April 5, 2011

* Cuba: The U.S. Justice Department reversed its previous stance and said that the alleged plotters of the 9/11 attacks will be tried in military courts at the Guantanamo Bay facility.

* Chile: The prices of copper have risen in part due to decreasing supplies at some of Chile’s main copper mines.

* Colombia: Over 150 soldiers sentenced for the “worst human-rights violations” are in a prison with “privileges and comforts worthy of a hotel,” according to Semana magazine.

* Brazil: French officials said that it could take weeks to recover over 200 bodies from the wreckage of an Air France plane that crashed off the Brazilian coast in 2009.

Image – Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press/AP/File via (“The entrance to Camp Delta at Guantánamo Bay is seen on Oct. 24, 2010.”)
Online Sources- Xinhua, Bloomberg, LAHT, BBC News

Monday, April 4, 2011

World Watch: Fighting in Abidjan

* Ivory Coast: Forces loyal to internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara have supposedly taken over the presidential palace while U.N. and French troops have fired against soldiers loyal to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.

* China: Contemporary artist Ai Weiwei has reportedly “disappeared” as part of a “massive” crackdown by Chinese authorities “on lawyers, writers and activists.”

* Yemen: At least 12 protesters were killed by “Yemeni security forces and gunmen in civilian clothes” in the city of Taiz.

* U.S.: Could the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan soon become the next head of the Central Intelligence Agency?

Image – Luc Gnago/Reuters via The Guardian (“Civilians pass a pro-Gbagbo soldier near the presidential palace in Abidjan.”)
Online Sources- The Guardian, BBC News, NPR, Voice of America, MSNBC

Japan drops out of Copa America

The destruction and devastation from last month’s major earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast affected numerous facets of the Asian country's society. The world of sport has not been immune from the consequences of the twin natural disasters including postponing the world figure skating championships that were to take place in Tokyo and delaying the start of Japan’s professional baseball league.

Japan’s top soccer league was also forced to put off the start of this season and no night games will be played due to the problems at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. An even tougher decision was made on Monday by the Japanese Football Association, which withdrew the country’s invitation to play in the Copa America hosted by Argentina. According to the BBC:
Japanese Football Association president Junji Ogura said: "The priority at this moment is to continue saving lives and rebuilding the country after the earthquake and tsunami.

"We are sorry to be pulling out because we recognize that we have advanced in football by being close to South American [teams]," Ogura added.
Speculation abounded over that would be the twelfth team to replace Japan in this year’s edition of South America’s premier soccer nation tournament. Julio Grondona, head of the Argentine soccer association (AFA) reportedly offered World Cup champions Spain the vacant spot. Yet Eduardo Deluca, secretary general of South America’s ruling soccer body (CONMEBOL), said that Spain was never under consideration and that “Costa Rica is the strongest option”.

Deluca added that a meeting would be held on Tuesday between representatives of CONMEBOL, AFA, and the firm that owns television rights to the tournament in order to decide who will take Japan’s place.

This year’s Copa America will take place in July and will be made up of the ten CONMEBOL countries and two invitees (Mexico and Japan’s replacement).

This wouldn’t be the first time that a Copa America team needed to be replaced post-haste; in 2001, Argentina dropped out with less than a week to go before the tournament’s start and was replaced by Honduras. The Central American team went on to surprisingly finish in third place including upsetting Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Image- Reuters
Online Sources- Reuters, BBC Sport, Who Ate All the Pies, El Espectador, Clarin, El Tiempo,, Bloomberg

And the winner of Haiti's presidential election is…

allegedly Michel Martelly.

According to several news reports, an unnamed “senior official” representing the Provisional Electoral Council claimed that the musician easily won last month’s runoff vote. The anonymous source supposedly cited preliminary results that were supposed to be announced last Thursday. According to those results, roughly three out of four voters selected Martelly over former first lady Mirlande Manigat.

The final count and the confirmation of the person who will replace current President Rene Preval are expected to be announced on April 16th.

Even though there was very little turmoil on Election Day last month, security forces worry that violence could erupt with the announcement of the next president-elect. One prominent Martelly backer may’ve helped stoke those fears:
Pras Michel, a Martelly supporter and a Haitian-American rapper formerly of the Grammy-award winning hip hop group The Fugees, was accused of followers on his Twitter account of inciting violence when at 9 p.m. Sunday, he tweeted: Machete + gasoline + matches = the will of the people.

Followers responded by asking why was he preaching violence, while Martelly supporters quickly denounced him, saying he doesn’t speak on behalf of the presidential candidate. Michel, who was seen in Haiti Saturday night at the bar at the upscale Karibe hotel in Petionville, later removed the tweet.
Haiti’s next president will have to face a myriad of problems including expanding education opportunities for youth, reconstruction after a major earthquake over a year ago and crushing poverty. The next leader will also have to tackle a legislature controlled by Preval’s party and whose presidential candidate was disqualified after an apparently rigged first round of elections.

Image- AP/Nicolas Garcia via CTV News (“Electoral workers count the votes after the closing of polling stations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010.”)
Online Sources- MSNBC, UPI, The Latin Americanist, Miami Herald, NPR, New York Daily News

Puerto Rico, adultery, and Ley 54

Puerto Rico’s Law for the Prevention and Intervention of Domestic Violence (also known as Ley 54) has been in the books since 1989. A recent court decision pertaining to Ley 54 has led to a firestorm of controversy and reignited the debate on domestic violence on the island.

Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that found that Ley 54 does not apply to couples in an adulterous relationship. Judge Erick Kolthoff Caraballo acknowledged that domestic violence is a “serious problem” yet in his verdict claimed that the law’s intent was to protect family unity and relationships out of marriage fall outside of this aim. For instance, the commonwealth’s high court concluded that Ley 54’s use of the term “consensual relationships” excludes adulterous couples.

Global Voices mentioned the harsh criticism to Kolthoff’s decision in an article first published yesterday. One blogger opined that the ruling “betrays the intention of the law and sends an incorrect and twisted message about its applicability” while another believes that the decision s an affront to female victims of domestic violence. (It’s worth noting that a third blogger is cited for trying to “dispel” several conclusions reached by critics of the ruling).

The verdict has caused some legislators to scramble and try to pass a bill that would amend Ley 54 to include couples regardless of their civil status. Victims of domestic violence “should feel like they have the right to aspire for a life of peace, respect, and protection from the state” irrespective of their civil status, said Puerto Rican House of Representatives chief Jenniffer González yesterday. Nevertheless, she rejected a push from groups like Puerto Rico Para Todos (Puerto Rico for All) to include same-sex couples in the changes to Ley 54.

Gov. Luis Fortuño reportedly nominated Kolthoff to the Puerto Rican high court though Fortuño said that he would support modifying Ley 54 to include protection for adulterous couples. Yet Fortuño’s support for the amendment has not extended to legalizing adultery, which is a crime under the Puerto Rican Penal Code.

Online Sources- Global Voices, El Nuevo Dia, Primera Hora,, Ley Juris

Daily Headlines: April 4, 2011

* Colombia: The Obama administration implied that a subpoena should not be issued against former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in a lawsuit accusing Drummond mining company of hiring paramilitaries.

* Brazil: In potentially bombshell allegations made by Veja magazine, militants linked to Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas are supposedly hiding out in Brazil.

* Cuba: Ex-U.S. President Jimmy Carter ended his three-day visit to Cuba last week by criticizing the U.S. embargo on the island as well as calling for greater freedom of expression for anti-Castro dissidents.

* Nicaragua: Former U.N. General Assembly Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua rejected rumors of becoming Libya’s envoy to the U.N.

Image – Zoe Selsky/AP via The Guardian (“Salvatore Mancuso (left) with paramilitary soldiers near Turbo, Colombia.” The former head of the AUC paramilitary umbrella group currently sits in a U.S. prison accused of drug trafficking).
Online Sources- MSNBC, Xinhua, Reuters