Friday, October 7, 2011

Daily Headlines: October 7, 2011

Universidade de São Paulo
* Brazil: Brazil’s Sao Paulo University, Chile's Catholic University, and Brazil's Campinas State University topped the first ever QS list ranking Latin American universities.

* Latin America: A U.N. report blamed organized crime for a surge in violence in Central America while the International Press Institute denounced death threats against twelve Latin American journalists.

* Mexico: Authorities rescued thirty-eight U.S.-bound migrants who were reportedly abandoned in the desert near the Mexican border with Arizona.

* Venezuela: Ex-President Carlos Andres Perez was buried in Venezuela after a bitter legal battle among his family members since he died last December.

Image – Flickr via user Jefferson.Rodrigues

Online Sources- Bernama, MercoPress, NPR, MSNBC, BBC News

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sony to Nicaraguan president: “Stand” away from copycat song

The use of music in presidential campaigns can sometimes be a tricky situation pitting musicians against politicos. The likes of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty have butted heads with U.S. presidential hopefuls while last year Colombian artist Juanes denounced the use of one of his hit songs for the reelection campaign of president Juan Manuel Santos.

According to the latest polls incumbent Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega has a solid chance of winning in the first round of elections on November 6th. Nevertheless Ortega and his main rivals have been running very intense campaigns seeking any advantage possible including catchy jingles. Music fans will surely be familiar with the song copied in Ortega’s jingle entitled “Nicaragua Will Triumph”:

The use of “Stand by Me” in Ortega’s campaign song did not sit well with Sony Music, which reportedly sent a cease and desist letter to the head of Ortega’s party in the legislature. “We don’t allow our songs to be used by political campaigns,” said Sony/ATV Music spokesman Jimmy Asci to Bloomberg. The statement also claimed that the use of the classic Ben E. King song was a “serious infringement” of Sony’s copyright and that the company could take legal action to prevent its future use.

Thus far there has been no response from Ortega or any of his campaign organizers to Sony’s letter. In addition, King has yet to make a public declaration on the song controversy.

Video Source - YouTube
Online Sources – The Latin Americanist,, El Nuevo Herald AFP, ABC News, Bloomberg

Daily Headlines: October 6, 2011

Nazca Lines , Nazca , peru
* Peru: The Nazca lines in the desert of southern Peru are under risk due to “poorly managed tourism” according to a report released yesterday.

* Puerto Rico: Gov. Luis Fortuno submitted a proposal outlining a two-part referendum that could help decide the island’s political status.

* Britain: British Home Secretary Theresa May has come under fire after mistakenly claiming that a Bolivian man avoided deportation from England due to his pet cat.

* El Salvador: Archeologists found an ancient Mayan road in El Salvador similar to those previously uncovered on Mexico’s Yucatan area.

Image – Flickr via user ikerender

Online Sources- Reuters, ABC News, BBC News, UPI

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

World Watch: Speculating

* Sweden: Russian human rights figure Svetlana Gannushkina, the Wikileaks website and several “Arab Spring” activists are among the nominees that could win the Nobel Peace Prize that will be announced on Friday.

* World: Greece’s public sector was practically shutdown as a result of a general strike while more people joined demonstrators near Wall Street in New York City.

* U.S.: According to a Pew Research Center study one-third of post-9/11 veterans don’t believe that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were “worth fighting for.

* Somalia: President Sharif Ahmed declared three days of mourning as a result of a suicide truck bomb that killed seventy-two people in Mogadishu.

Image – Flickr via user openDemocracy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources- CNN, The Guardian, Monsters & Critics, CBS News, NPR

Nuestro Cine: Churrasco western

Argentine films “La Historia Oficial (“The Official Story”) and "El Secreto de sus Ojos" ("The Secret In Their Eyes") have been the only Latin American movies to win the best foreign film prize at the Academy Awards. Could an atypical western become the third Argentine movie to win the coveted statuette?

On first glance “Aballay, El Hombre Sin Miedo” (Aballay, The Man Without Fear”) appears to be an average western though much like “El Secreto…” it may be interpreted as a psychological drama. The titular character is a gaucho, or typical Argentine cowboy, who first met a child named Julian who he met as a boy hiding from the attackers of a stagecoach raid. Ten years later, Julian plots for revenge against those who killed his parents in the raid and only Aballay, the saint-like protector of a town Julian stumbles upon, can help him. But Julian may’ve bargained for more than he can handle with Aballay who was haunted by his chance meeting with Julian as a child.

“Aballay…” was a surprise choice to represent Argentina for the top foreign film Oscar and was picked ahead of the comedy “Un cuento Chino” (“Chinese Takeaway”). Despite only 20,000 people seeing “Aballay…” during its first month in the theaters, the film received plenty of critical praise as well as recognition in local film festivals. “Aballay…” may be a long shot to be nominated for the Oscar but that should not detract from a well-acted and shot film set in the mountains and deserts of Tucuman province:

Video Source – Via YouTube user ChamameSoldierVideos

Online Sources – IMDB,

Daily Headlines: October 5, 2011

* Haiti: Over 700,000 children will reportedly attend school for free as part of a new national education fund partially subsidized by fees on phone calls and remittances to Haiti.

* Nicaragua: Dole settled a multibillion-dollar lawsuit from Nicaraguan farm laborers who claimed that they were injured from working with poisoned chemicals.

* U.S.: A statement from Univision denied allegations of blackmail against Rep. Marco Rubio though it remains to be seen if three Republican presidential hopefuls will rescind plans to boycott an upcoming televised debate.

* Argentina: The country’s top court rejected a French extradition request for an ex-navy captain convicted in absentia for two “Dirty War” era murders.

Image – Al Jazeera English via YouTube

Online Sources- AP, Reuters, CBS News

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

World Watch: Visa denied

* South Africa: Much to the chagrin of Bishop Desmond Tutu the Dalai Lama cancelled his planned trip to South Africa due to visa problems.

* Saudi Arabia: Officials blamed a “foreign country” for provoking unrest amid growing protests in eastern Saudi Arabia.

* Syria: Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would’ve placed sanctions against Syria.

* Italy: In the latest blow to the European economy Moody’s slashed the Italian government’s credit rating.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube (“Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has had to cancel a trip to South Africa because his visa didn't arrive in time.”)

Online Sources- Voice of America, CNN, MSNBC, BBC News

Nuestro Cine: Friends to the end

Yesterday was the deadline for countries to submit their entries for the best foreign film at the Academy Awards. Thus far the prize has been won by a pair of Argentine films, most recently "El Secreto de sus Ojos" ("The Secret In Their Eyes") in 2010. Could a Latin American movie take advantage of several surprise picks from Europe and win the top foreign film Oscar? This week we’ll take a look at some of the entries from the region that could win the coveted gold statuette next February.

“Habanastation” is a film from Cuba that examines the strong friendship between two boys, Mayito and Carlos, despite their differing social backgrounds and economic status. The movie’s title is inspired by how the protagonists bond while playing video games such as those on the PlayStation console. (The different ways they pronounce “PlayStation” is one of the ways where the film shows the socioeconomic distinctions between the boys).

Director Ian Padrón acknowledged that discussing social distinctions in Cuba is a very sensitive topic according to this article via the EFE news agency:
Padron doesn’t believe that the film has led to an “institutional” debate or raises new issues. “This is found in our daily lives, the whole world is in either one of those two poles.”

He underlines that social differences are common in all countries but “in Cuba, with all that has occurred over the past fifty years, it’s much more controversial because we’ve always struggled to prevent them.”
“Habanastation”, which is Padron’s first feature film, won the best-of-the-fest award at the Traverse City Film Festival this year. The film can be seen (illegally?) in its entirety via online video sites; but for the purposes of this post we’re only going to link to and embed the movie’s trailer:

Video Source – YouTube via user wii63r

Online Sources – Variety,, IMDB, Los Angeles Times, The Latin Americanist

Daily Headlines: October 4, 2011

* Peru: Nearly three hundred women including at least five minors were rescued after having been forced into prostitution in the Amazon state of Madre de Dios.

* Puerto Rico: The commonwealth joined a lawsuit with seven states and the Department of Justice seeking to prevent the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile.

* Latin America: U.S. President Barack Obama formally submitted free trade pacts with Colombia and Panama to Congress for approval.

* Cuba: Officials claimed that U.S.-government-run Radio/TV Marti is breaking Cuban law by sending SMS messages to the island’s cell phone users.

Video Source – NTN24 via YouTube (Five people were arrested and charged with human trafficking due to there suspected role behind a Peruvian prostitution ring).

Online Sources - MSNBC,, Reuters, PC Magazine

Monday, October 3, 2011

Today’s Video: Silence is golden

On Sunday several events where held throughout Mexico in order to honor the victims of the Tlatelolco massacre forty-three years ago. Perhaps the most poignant and appropriate commemoration was a silent march held at the site of the shootings at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Mexico City.

Estimates range from dozens to hundreds of people killed on October 1, 1968 after student marchers, passersby and residents were fired upon by troops. It was unclear who fired the first shot, yet once the initial shots rang out a military cordon surrounded the panicked multitude and prevented their escape from the plaza. The shooting lasted for two hours and occurred days before the start of the Summer Games.

As we mentioned three years ago in a post on the massacre, "justice has been far from served" in the decades since the infamous incident. Other then the brief house arrest of then-interior minister Luis Echeverria no former senior government or military officials have been tried for their possible roles in the massacre. Despite the impunity, Mexicans continue to remember and reflect upon one of the grimmest days in the country's history.
Video Source - RT via YouTube

Online Sources - Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC News, NPR, The Latin Americanist

Daily Headlines: October 3, 2011

* Cuba: According to the Miami Herald’s website the first member of a group of convicted spies known as the “Cuban Five” will be released from prison on Friday.

* Latin America: U.S. President Barack Obama could send stalled free trade pacts with Colombia and Panama to Congress today, while Human Rights Watch warned that Colombia has made "virtually no progress" in getting convictions against killers of labor activists.

* Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez claimed that he prayed to “God to protect the life of our brother Muammar Gaddafi” and also expressed solidarity with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

* Argentina: Los Pumas qualified to the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup but they will face the daunting task of trying to beat host country and heavy favorites New Zealand.

Online Sources - NPR,, Reuters, CBC News

Image –BBC News (Supporters of the “Cuban Five” claim that they were wrongly convicted of spying on the U.S. government and have been mistreated while imprisoned).