Saturday, April 7, 2012

Today’s Video: Barrio Judio

Yesterday we looked at the Holy Week celebrations in a small city located in southern El Salvador. Today we’ll take a quick look at Uruguay’s Jewish populace in honor of the Passover holiday that began on Friday night.

According to the World Jewish Congress, Jews compromise an estimated 20,000 of Uruguay’s 3.2 million total population. Despite such a low number, immigrants from countries like Germany, Hungary and Morocco over the past 140 years have helped create a very diverse Jewish community in Uruguay.

They are also a very politically active community as seen last year when numerous local Jewish institutions blasted controversial remarks made by Iran’s ambassador in Uruguay.

The following video clip comes from a documentary on the development of Montevideo’s Barrio Judio, a traditionally Jewish neighborhood that includes some residents who have lived there over several generations:

Video Source – YouTube via elapapacho

Online Sources- World Jewish Congress, JTA, The Latin Americanist

Weekend Headlines: April 7-8, 2012

* Colombia: Authorities are on high alert over the possibility that renewed activity in the Nevado de Ruiz volcano could soon lead to an eruption.

* Mexico: Three men pleaded guilty to charges related to the botched gun-smuggling operation from the U.S. to Mexico known as “Operation Fast and Furious.

* Latin America: Monsanto reported a boost in its latest quarterly profits in part due to increased sales of genetically modified seeds in Latin America.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Today’s Video: True Faith

We'll return over the weekend to highlight recent news and notes from the Americas.

This weekend marks the end of the Christian Holy Week and also the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Millions of followers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean are celebrating their respective religious holidays including in Cuba where Good Friday was recognized as an official holiday for the first time in decades.

The following video via teleSUR shows how residents of Izalco, El Salvador observed Holy Week with cultural events and remembrances of the recently deceased. The participation of indigenous communities and women was encouraged according to the report that also shows scenes of a fourteen-hour procession carried out by devoted piadosos.

Video Source - YouTube via teleSUR

Online Source - BBC News

Daily Headlines: April 6, 2012

* U.S.: Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for attempting to sell weapons to Colombia’s FARC rebels, while a separate U.S. court sentenced a “top Juarez cartel figure” to life behind bars.

* Argentina: At least fourteen people were killed after as a result of a “severe storm” that swept through the Buenos Aires area on Thursday.

* Venezuela: At a pre-Easter Mass in Barinas an emotional President Hugo Chavez called on Jesus to “give me life” and “do not take me yet.

* Honduras: Honduran officials filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Australian anti-tobacco regulations including a ban on displaying logos on cigarette packs.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources- The Guardian,, CNN, MSNBC, Bloomberg

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Daily Headlines: April 5, 2012

Marcha por Daniel Zamudio, 30 de marzo 2012
* Chile: Congress approved a new anti-discrimination law that had regained momentum after the murder of gay teen Daniel Zamudio.

* Cuba: At least forty-three dissidents, most of whom belong in the opposition group Patriotic Union of Cuba, have reportedly been arrested in areas near where Pope Benedict XVI visited last week.

* Brazil: Amnesty International denounced a Supreme Court ruling acquitting a suspected child rapist whose lawyers claimed that the three girl victims were “sex workers.”

* Haiti:
According to the U.N. the number of cholera cases have spiked in March after several months of steady decline.

Image Source – Flickr via (Young Chileans taking part in a vigil last month in memory of Daniel Zamudio). (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources- Huffington Post, Amnesty International, The Latin Americanist, France24, The Washington Post

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Feud Over the Falklands: Black Gold

As part of the thirtieth anniversary of the beginning of the Falklands War between Argentina and Britain we will examine several topics this week regarding the conflict and its aftermath.

The military hostilities that took place three decades ago have been replaced with growing diplomatic tensions. At a Falklands War memorial ceremony on Monday Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner declared that it is “an injustice that in the 21st century colonial enclaves like the one we've got a few kilometers away continue to exist.” Perhaps coincidentally, the British naval destroyer HMS Dauntless is being sent to the Southern Cone on a “pre-planned and routine” deployment.

As this very brief clip from euronews shows, one of the issues affecting the tug-of-war over the Falklands is the possibility of billions of barrels of oil in offshore fields:

Daily Headlines: April 4, 2012

Huaconada de Mito Patrimonio Cultural y Material de la Humanidad
* Peru: The federal government approved a new law aimed at improving consultation with indigenous communities before the development of mining and oil projects.

* Brazil: A Brazilian federal prosecutor launched a second multibillion-dollar lawsuit against Chevron and Transocean regarding a recent offshore oil leak.

* Guatemala: Police captured Horst Walter Overdick, an suspected drug trafficker accused of working as the Guatemala contact for Mexico’s Zetas drug gang.

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan foreign ministry rejected an E.U. safety ban on state-run airline Conviasa.

Image Source – Flickr via destacadoshuancayo (Peruvian indigenous dancers). (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources- Reuters, LAHT, BBC News

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Global Pressure for Release of All FARC Hostages

On Monday ten Colombian uniformed personnel – six policeman and four soldiers – were freed by the country’s FARC rebels. The now ex-hostages arrived via a Brazilian army helicopter to the city of Villavicencio, and were accompanied by Red Cross personnel and several civilian liaisons who helped secure their release:

The freeing of the ten men, including some held for since 1998, could be a sign that Latin America’s oldest guerilla army might seek a peace process with the Colombian government. (A communiqué from the FARC last February claimed that they “banned the practice” of kidnapping). But for several international actors, it is necessary that the guerillas free several hundred civilian hostages.

Daily Headlines: April 3, 2012

Stephen Harper Felipe Calderon Barack Obama
* Mexico: At the “Three Amigos” summit yesterday Mexican President Felipe Calderon called on the U.S. to revive an assault weapons ban while Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to boost trade with his North American partners.

* Ecuador: President Rafael Correa said that he would skip this month’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia since Cuba was not invited.

* U.S.: Over 3100 undocumented immigrants, most of whom are convicted criminals, were apprehended as part of a federal immigration sweep last week.

* Nicaragua: The head of the Nicaragua Sunflowers sex workers’ organization claimed that seven prostitutes have been murdered over the past twelve months.

Image Source – Flickr via Oldmaison (The heads of government of the U.S., Mexico and Canada met at the 2009 edition of the “Three Amigos” summit in Guadalajara). (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Online Sources- Voice of America, Huffington Post, LAHT, Bloomberg

Monday, April 2, 2012

Daily Headlines: April 2, 2012

* Brazil: Several hundred people protested in Rio de Janeiro last week against a private event commemorating the anniversary of the 1964 military coup d'état.

* Mexico: Former President Miguel de la Madrid, who was in power from 1982 to 1988, died on Sunday at the age of 77.

* Haiti: Did Haitian President Michel Martelly receive “at least $2.5 million in kickbacks” as alleged by a Dominican investigative journalist?

* Latin America: The heads of government from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are expected to meet today at the White House for a conference nicknamed the “Three Amigos summit.

Video Source – YouTube via arunturtle7

Online Sources- National Post, Defend Haiti, IPS, Voice of America

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mexican Car Breaks Land Speed Record

A Mexican auto manufacturer may be having the last laugh over a year after presenters of the British TV program “Top Gear” came under fire for  making disparaging remarks about Mexicans.

On Sunday the Mexican-made Mastretta MXT became the world’s fastest production car with a top speed of exactly 268 miles per hour. The Mastretta thus beat by nearly 0.2 miles per hour the previous record set by the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport in 2010.

Argentine Maradona “Church” Followers Defect to Messi

It may not be a schism as profound as the Protestant Reformation but followers of one Argentine “church” are debating over whether to stay or join a breakaway “sect”.

The loyalty of members of the Maradonian Church (named after World Cup-winning soccer legend Diego Maradona) is facing a serious challenge from a group of dissidents. A statement was issued in the name of two hundred former Maradona followers who announced that they have seen the light in the form of Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi.