Friday, November 30, 2012

Today's Video: A Sibling's Search for Justice

We'll be back over the weekend with more headlines from around the Americas including news on violence against women.

"Justice for My Sister" is a documentary released this year that focuses on Rebeca Eunice Pérez, an impoverished Guatemalan woman who sought retribution for her murdered sister, Adela Chacón Tax.  The film shows the many hardships faced by Pérez over three years including the trial against her Tax's ex-boyfriend who was accused of beating her to death.

"Breaking the silence helps other women do the same and this serves as a chain for healing," said the film's director, Kimberly Bautista, to the EFE news agency.

Creating the documentary took its toll on Bautista who was attacked by a group of robbers while filming in Guatemala.  Nevertheless she soldiered on and the documentary was completed and reportedly screened this week in Los Angeles.

 The following video is the trailer to "Justice for My Sister" that also notes how only 1% of the 580 femicide cases in Guatemala in 2007 were solved:

Online Sources - Official Website for "Justice for My Sister",

Video Source - Vimeo

Report: Fourteen Women Murdered per Day in Mexico

In a televised farewell speech broadcast this week, Mexican president Felipe Calderon expressed his satisfaction with the path his country took during his six years in the presidency.  Yet while he patted himself on the back for having “worked to leave a stronger country with a better justice system and a healthier and stronger economy,” there are numerous goals that went unfulfilled during the Calderon regime.  One of them is the plight of violence against women.

Fourteen Mexican women day each day as a result of violence according to a report published by the Fundación Origen women’s’ rights group.  Between November 2011 and 2012 the organization claimed that 4112 women were victims of femicides while nearly 4000 females “disappeared” during that period of time.

“One of the worst things is that most of them stayed quiet and only two of the femicides registered over the past year were denounced,” alleged Fundación Origen president Mariana Baños to Mexican daily Milenio.

A survey conducted by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH, in Spanish) found that 30% of women do not denounce violence against them since they believe that “if there is domestic violence it’s a family issue and nothing more.”  Yet the CNDH also concluded that problem with women speaking out against being the targets of violence also occurs due to a lack of help from the government.

“There are laws for the protection of female victims of violence in most of the 31 states and Mexico City but they are not respected,” claimed attorney José Luiz Zamora to Xinhua.  “There is also a lack of political will behind funding and creating the necessary mechanisms for these laws to be applied,” added Zamora.

Daily Headlines: November 30, 2012

* Panama: Only nine countries including Panama voted against a U.N. General Assembly proposal that granted nonmember observer status to Palestine.

* U.S.: A new report concluded that a sharp decrease in births among immigrant women led the U.S. birth rate to fall to its lowest level on record.

* Venezuela: Vice President Nicolas Maduro said that President Hugo Chavez is doing "very good" while seeking "hyperbaric oxygenation" therapy in Cuba.

* Brazil: Luis Felipe Scolari was rehired as the Brazilian men's soccer team coach ten years after he helped guide the squad to a World Cup title.

Online Sources: Huffington Post, NPR, Reuters,

Video Source: YouTube via euronews

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Daily Headlines: November 29, 2012

* Colombia: A recent International Court of Justice on Colombian territory and public doubts over peace talks with the FARC have caused the approval rating of President Juan Manuel Santos to plummet by fifteen points in two months.

* Latin America: A U.N. report concluded that poverty levels in Latin America and the Caribbean decreased to its lowest levels in three decades due to an increase in wages and more jobs.

* Brazil: According to new government data deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has hit a record low yet the deforested area is still three times the size of Sao Paulo.

* Argentina: A U.S. appeals court froze a ruling made last week that would’ve obligated Argentina to pay about $1.3 billion in debt to foreign creditors.

Video Source – YouTube via teleSUR English (“The Minister of Foreign Relations of Colombia, Maria Angela Holguín, was summoned by the Senate of her country to explain the scope of the judgment of the International Court of The Hague that subtracts maritime possessions from this country in favor of Nicaragua”).

Online Sources- Bernama, Colombia Reports, CNN, Huffington Post

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Remembering the Mirabal Sisters

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was commemorated this past November 25th in order to raise awareness of the abuse faced by women worldwide.  Thus, Friday’s posts will examine several instances of aggression and exploitation against women in the Americas.  

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was created via a resolution approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999.  The draft resolution for the date was introduced by the representative of the Dominican Republic, which was no coincidence since November 25th represents a dark day against women’s rights in that Caribbean country.

The Mirabal sisters (Patria, Dedé, Minerva and Maria Teresa) were four political dissidents opposed to the authoritarian rule of strongman Rafael Trujillo. They were known as Las Mariposas (The Butterfly Sisters), a nickname that came about due to their efforts for freedom and democracy in their country.  Despite dangers such as harassment from the police and the imprisonment of three of their husbands the sisters forged ahead and became symbols of the Dominican resistance movement.   

The Trujillo regime’s campaign to silence the Mirabal sisters came to a climax on November 25, 1960.  On their way home after visiting their incarcerated husbands, three of the sisters were intercepted by a group of soldiers. Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa and their driver were choked and beaten to death.  The assassins brazenly tried to cover up the murder as an auto accident.

The plan to murder the Mirabal sisters backfired for the government and became a rallying cry against the Trujillo dictatorship.  Support for Trujillo decreased as more people defied the repression and spoke out in opposition to his rule.   Approximately six months after the Mirabal sisters were murdered Trujillo was ambushed and killed.

The spirit of the Mirabal sisters has lived on in popular culture through novels such as In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Álvarez and films like 2010’s Trópico de Sangre.  The surviving Mirabal sister, Dedé, helped create a museum in memory of her slain sisters and has campaigned for the rights of Dominican women.  This week, for instance, Dedé and Álvarez lent their names to a petition criticizing a proposed Penal Code reform that will allegedly infringe the rights of women and children.

The video after the page break examines the legacy of the Mirabal Sisters and includes comments from Dedé on her courageous siblings:

Daily Headlines: November 28, 2012

* Mexico: A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development concluded that Mexico’s economy growth is expected to diminish by 0.5% to 3.3% next year but will then rebound in 2014.

* Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez, who has been largely out of the public spotlight since winning reelection nearly two months ago, traveled to Cuba to seek medical treatment related to his cancer.

* U.S.: A new study found that Latinos lag behind other racial groups in the use of technology such as the Internet and cell phones.

* Cuba: Cuban government officials claimed that imprisoned U.S. contactor Alan Gross does not have a cancerous tumor and that his “general health condition…is normal.”

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English (Video uploaded in February 2012).

Online Sources- Reuters, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Fox News Latino, ABC News

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Daily Headlines: November 27, 2012

* Panama: At least five people are dead and parts of Panama are under a state of emergency as a result of damage from torrential rainfall.

* Puerto Rico: The murder of former champion boxer Hector “Macho” Camacho has shined a light on the rampant violence in Puerto Rico that includes at least 858 homicides this year.

* U.S.: Could “undocumented immigrants” be named as Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2012?

* Colombia: One of the FARC negotiators involved in peace talks between the guerillas and the Colombian government claimed that both sides are “on the same wavelength.”