Friday, October 26, 2012

Cuban Dissident Eloy Gutierrez-Menoyo Dies

Cuban revolutionary turned opposition activist Eloy Gutierrez-Menoyo died on Friday at the age of 77 in a Havana hospital.
"Cuba cannot continue to corner itself, trying to convince the world that there is democracy here when a one-party system will never be a democracy," said the Spanish-born Gutierrez-Menoyo to BBC News after he grew disappointed with the Castro regime.

Though he fought as a rebel against then-dictator Fulgencio Batista, Gutierrez-Menoyo led a failed uprising five years after the 1959 Cuban Revolution.  This would lead to his imprisonment for 22 years before being freed by request of the government of Spain.     

While exiled in south Florida, Gutierrez-Menoyo subsequently created the "Cambio Cubano" movement aimed at promoting change in Cuba via dialogue.  Numerous Cuban exile community leaders interviewed by EFE praised Gutierrez-Menoyo's convictions yet disagreed with his methods:

Daily Headlines: October 26, 2012

* Brazil: Members of the Guarani-Kaiowa indigenous group have allegedly threatened with committing mass suicide in order to stop being evicted from their ancestral lands.

* Cuba: The government continued its immigration reforms by easing restrictions on Cubans who fled from the island in the early 1990s.

* Mexico: The U.S. returned 4000 pre-Columbian artifacts that had been either stolen or looted from Mexico.

* Argentina: At least five people died in Neuquen after a supermarket roof caved in on Thursday night.

Video Source – YouTube via Survival International

Online Sources- Deutsche Welle, Reuters, The Australian, AFP

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Today’s Video: Windy

Hurricane Sandy has thus far left plenty of death and destruction in its path through the Caribbean.  At least eleven people died in Cuba according to state media reports despite over the evacuation of over 15,000 individuals.  Nine deaths were reported in Haiti while the storm knocked out approximately 70% of electricity in Jamaica.

Wild weather has also hit parts of the Southern Cone such as Uruguay where a red alert was raised after hurricane-force winds whipped through the country on Tuesday:

At least one fatality was caused by the ciclón that also led to disruptions in the Port of Montevideo and material damages in other parts of Uruguay.

In neighboring Argentina, meanwhile, heavy seasonal rains in the Pampas region have led to the delayed planning of soy and corn.  These problems in Argentina, the world’s third-largest soybean exporter, could impact global food prices.  According to Reuters food prices worldwide have “surged this year due to the worst U.S. drought in decades combined with dry crop weather in Russia and Australia.”

Video Source – YouTube via teleSUR

Online Sources – CBC News, Washington Post, Reuters, El Universal

Panda Power! Sandoval Pushes Giants to World Series Game 1 Win

Venezuelan slugger Pablo Sandoval became the fourth player to hit three home runs in a World Series game, a feat he accomplished in last night’s 8-3 victory by the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the World Series.

The man nicknamed the “Kung Fu Panda” hit his round-trippers in the first, third and fifth innings as part of a dominant performance by the Giants over the Detroit Tigers.  Two of the homers came over Tigers ace Justin Verlander who was outpitched by the duo of Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum.

"Man, I still can't believe it," Sandoval said to the press after a game that electrified the hometown San Francisco crowd. "When you're a little kid, you dream of being in the World Series. But I [wasn't] thinking of being in this situation, three homers in one game," Sandoval added.

Sandoval thus joins Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only men to hit three homers in a World Series game.  He also made it to the Venezuelan baseball record books by hitting as many World Series home runs as all the other major league players from his homeland had ever hit in all their previous World Series appearances.

Sandoval is one of a record nine Venezuelans participating in this year’s World Series, which includes teammate Marco Scutaro and Triple Crown champion Miguel Cabrera.  As a result, Sandoval and company have become an immense source of pride among their countrymen:

Daily Headlines: October 25, 2012

* Caribbean: At least one person died in Haiti due to Hurricane Sandy, which strengthened to a Category 2 storm as it passed over Cuba this morning.

* U.S.: The centennial edition of the prestigious Copa America soccer tournament in 2016 will be held outside of South America for the first time and in the U.S.

* Guatemala: Police will be tracked with microchips and be provided new uniforms “so they can be considered friends of the population,” claimed Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez.

* Colombia: The Archbishop of Bogota, Colombia was among the six nominees chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to become cardinals.

Video Source – YouTube via ITN News

Online Sources- IOL News, ninemsn, ESPN, Voice of America

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Daily Headlines: October 24, 2012 (Update)

* Latin America: At least three people are dead in Panama after police clashed with protesters opposed to the selling of state-owned land in a duty-free zone, while thousands of Paraguayans took to the streets to demonstrate against the government.

Update: "If the people of Colon don't want the land in the duty-free zone to be sold, the sale will be cancelled," tweeted Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli after days of violent protests.

* Caribbean: As much as twelve inches of rain could fall on Cuba and Jamaica today as Tropical Storm Sandy strengthens into a hurricane.

* Puerto Rico: The race for Puerto Rican governor could be affected by a U.S. appeals court’s verdict removing about 330,000 potential voters from next month’s electoral rolls.

* Peru: Is a self-portrait by imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori a genuine plea for forgiveness or a shameless media tactic?

Video Source – YouTube via ITN News

Online Sources (including Update)- BBC News, Prensa Latina, MSNBC, Fox News Latino, Peruvian Times, Al Jazeera English

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Daily Headlines: October 23, 2012

* Latin America: Aside from a brief mention on trade, the third and final U.S. presidential debate on Monday ignored issues pertaining to Latin America such as immigration, so-called "war on drugs" and the embargo on Cuba.

* Argentina: President Cristina Fernandez condemned the seizure of an Argentine naval vessel at the request of private creditors as a form of “blackmail by vulture funds.”

* Cuba: Lawyers for a Guantanamo prison detainee argued that their client shouldn’t have to face war crimes charges since they were approved by a Pentagon-appointed legal official.

* Colombia: Officials with the UN Human Rights Council blasted a proposed constitutional reform that would “undermine justice” by “expanding the jurisdiction of military or police tribunals.”

Video Source – YouTube via PBS

Online Sources- VOXXI, BBC News, Houston Chronicle, Colombia Reports

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mexican Drug Gangs on "Verge of Collapse"?

Tonight's U.S. presidential debate will focus on foreign policy with likely topics including political instability in the MIddle East and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. It remains to be seen if any discussion will be given to issues relating to Latin America and the Caribbean such as Mexico's offensive against drug gangs.

Last week William Brownfield, the US state department's top drug policy officials, claimed that Mexico's violent drug cartels are on the "verge of collapse".

"Four years ago we began a multinational effort led by the Mexican government and what do we see today? In my opinion we're looking at the beginning of the end with a decapitation of the cartels and a decrease in their operations", asserted Brownfield in an interview with Colombian daily El Tiempo.

He added "this is what we had seen in Colombia during the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s when the cartels felt the pressure of the authorities and their response was with violence." Much like Colombia during that period, Brownfield said that the violence by Mexican drug gangs is a "sign that they're on the verge of collapse."

Brownfield's comments come weeks after Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, leader of the Zetas drug cartel, was reportedly killed in a gunfight by members of Mexico's navy.

Officially Mexico's drug violence claimed over 34,000 lives in 2010 alone though some estimates claim that the number could be as high as 47,500.

Online Sources - ABC News, Univision, CNN, The Guardian

Polls Show Latino Problem Spots for Obama and Romney

Heading into the homestretch of the neck-and-neck race for the White House, President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are both seeking any advantage they can get.  While the Latino electorate could be decisive on November 6th, a pair of recently released polls showed that both candidates have some serious problems to overcome if they wish to capture the so-called “Latino vote.”

A poll from the Pew Hispanic Center published last Thursday found that most Latinos with religious affiliations back the president over the former Massachusetts governor.

The poll found that 50% of Latino evangelicals support Obama compared to 39% for Romney. For Latinos who identify themselves as Protestants 55% back Obama while 33% favor Romney. The gap between both candidates is noticeably larger among Catholic Latinos (73% Obama vs. 19% Romney) and religiously unaffiliated Latinos (82% Obama vs. 7% Romney).

Numerous evangelical organizations and prominent activists such as Ralph Reed have mobilized “massive” registration and get-out-the-vote efforts in favor of the Romney campaign.  Furthermore, the Pew poll showed that Latino evangelicals share the position of most evangelicals opposed to same sex marriage.  Yet it appears as if the GOP’s stance on immigration (especially during the presidential primaries) have discouraged some evangelical Latinos.

According to a May article from The Economist:

Daily Headlines: October 22, 2012

* Cuba: A former Venezuelan vice president and a Havana hotel manager tried to refute rumors alleging that 86-year-old ex-Cuban leader Fidel Castro is on his deathbed.
* Central America: A nine-year-old boy in Panama died during violent protests over the selling of state-owned land in a duty-free zone, while Honduras’ Supreme Court blocked plans for the creation of privately-run cities.
* Colombia: At least five soldiers were killed in an attack by the FARC that took place days after the Colombian government and the rebels formally began peace talks in Norway.

* Peru: A 33-day strike by thousands of Peruvian doctors came to an end after the government pledged to increase pay.

Video Source – YouTube via AFP Videos – Español (Former Venezuelan vice president Elias Jaua showed a photo of him taken over the weekend reportedly with Fidel Castro and several members of his family).

Online Sources- CNN, TVNZ, BBC News, Huffington Post, Edmonton Journal