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,

Daily Headlines: November 30, 2011

* Latin America: At a global climate conference in South Africa, a representative of the ALBA bloc called for developed countries to take more action against increased greenhouse gas emissions.

* Guatemala: Guatemalan officials urged Canada to prosecute suspected war criminal Jorge Sosa rather than extradite him to the U.S. where he’s accused of immigration fraud.

* Peru: Construction at the proposed Conga gold mine was suspended in response to a six-day protest against the plan.

* Chile: A Chilean judge requested the extradition of a “former U.S. military attaché” suspected in the murder of a journalist days after the 1973 coup.

Image Source – Flickr user UNclimatechange (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources- Bloomberg, Reuters, BBC News, CTV News, The Latin Americanist

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

World Watch: Persona Non Grata

Bashir arrives
* Sudan: Kenya’s ambassador to Sudan was expelled as a possible retaliation for a Kenyan high court decision ordering the arrest of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.

* Africa: Thousands of Egyptians peacefully participated in parliamentary elections on Tuesday while opposition presidential candidates in Congo called for the annulment of Monday’s elections.

* Iran: Protestors allegedly “ransacked offices” at the British embassy in Tehran as part of their opposition to additional financial sanctions placed on Iran by the U.K.

* U.S.: The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus agreed to pay a $270,000 fine as part of a settlement in an animal rights case.

Image Source – Flickr user Al Jazeera English (Sudanese president Omar al Bashir, seen here in this January 2011 photo, is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for alleged war crimes in Darfur). (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources- CNN, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, BBC News

Daily Headlines: November 29, 2011

Tungurahua Eruption - 049
* Ecuador: Residents of four villages were ordered to evacuate as a result of increased ash and super-hot gas coming from the Tungurahua volcano.

* Mexico: A “vocal member” of the anti-violence Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity was shot and killed on Monday.

* South America: Venezuelan police arrested Maximiliano Bonilla, one of Colombia’s most wanted drug traffickers, and are getting ready to extradite him to the U.S.

* Chile: Workers at one of the world’s top copper mines, Collahuasi in Chile, are entering the second day of a strike on Tuesday.

Image Source – Via Flickr user marriedwithluggage (Photo of the Tungurahua volcano erupting in November 2010). (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources – Sydney Morning Herald, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, Reuters

Monday, November 28, 2011

Today’s Video: Ladies in Black

The Ladies in White are a female group of Cuban government dissenters who have called for the freeing of their relatives who have been imprisoned since 2003. The ladies dressed in black in the video below are an estimated one thousand women in Montevideo, Uruguay who participated in a silent protest on November 25th:

Similar protests where held last Friday throughout Latin America and the Caribbean in order to commemorate the International Day Against Gender-Based Violence.

Video Source - YouTube via AFP

Online Sources - Milenio, Voice of America

Daily Headlines: November 28, 2011

* Venezuela: Officials on Friday commenced the repatriating of gold reserves from European banks to Venezuela.

* Brazil: Amnesty International blasted Brazilian authorities for “failing to resolve outstanding land claims” that endanger indigenous communities.

* Guyana: Parliamentary elections are being held today with the possibility that the Alliance for Change group could break Guyana’s traditional two-party hegemony.

* Latin America: International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warned that Latin America should prepare for “possible turbulence” as a result of the European debt crisis.

Image Source – Via Flickr user digitalmoneyworld (CC BY 2.0)

Online Sources- Voice of America, NASDAQ, Mercopress, BBC News