Friday, December 14, 2012

Today's Video: Telenovelas for Change

Several days ago Bolivian president Evo Morales blasted Facebook and telenovelas for "harming" the country's youth.

"I've recently noticed something that is harming our students: the telenovelas.  They have the right to watch them but we cannot have telenovelas air all afternoon, all night, and throughout the morning," said Morales.

It's debatable as to whether or not Morales is correct about the influence of telenovelas on young people.  But there have been occasions when these programs have led to social change such as in Argentina where one telenovela helped identify a child put up for illegal adoption during the "Dirty War" period.  In Brazil, meanwhile, televised soap operas were credited by researchers with lowering fertility rates.       

The following video is the first part of a documentary that analyzed Nicraguan telenovela "Sexto Sentido" ("Sixth Sense").  The popular hit program tackled serious issues such as domestic violence and homosexuality, and the documentary showed how the writers, actors and viewers grappled with these controversial themes:

Daily Headlines: December 14, 2012

* Latin America: Attorneys representing Chile and Peru are expected to end their arguments today in a border dispute case being heard at the International Court of Justice.

* Guatemala: Wanted software guru John McAfee admitted that he faked two heart attacks in order to “buy some time” in Guatemala before he was deported to the U.S. on Wednesday.

* Cuba: Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla, the foreign minister of Cuba, said that his country’s government supports Iran’s nuclear plans.

* Brazil: Ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was aware of bribes paid out to legislators as part of the “mensalao” corruption scandal according to new allegations.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews

Online Sources- Businessweek, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, PRESS TV

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Copa Sudamericana Ends in Controversy

“The Beautiful Game” is a synonym often associated with the beauty of soccer such as Lionel Messi’s record setting 88 goals this year or the Xolos of Tijuana winning the Mexican soccer league in only their fifth year of existence.  That saying unfortunately cannot be to the decisive game of the Copa Sudamericana soccer tournament on Wednesday night.

Officials with CONMEBOL (the Spanish abbreviation for the South American Football Confederation) announced that they would investigate allegations of violence during the match between visitors Argentina's Tigre and Sao Paulo of Brazil.  Members of Tigre refused to leave their dressing room after halftime due to an alleged attack by a gang of twenty men.

“CONMEBOL will undertake an investigation in order to apply sanctions.  In the twenty-five years under the rule of (CONMEBOL) President Nicolás Leoz it’s the first time that such actions stained the good mage of South American soccer,” said CONMEBOL spokesman Néstor Benítez to the Associated Press.

Benítez also urged Brazilian police to provide a “detailed report” of the events at the Morumbi stadium when the match was abandoned with the home side leading 2-0 and after a brawl between both teams.

“They pulled two guns on us, the rest of the match is not going to be played,” claimed Tigre coach Nestor Gorosito to Fox Sports. 

They ambushed us and one of them pulled out a revolver and put it against (goalkeeper) Damian Albil's chest. Their security and police also hit us, there were about 20 of them,” added Gorosito.

While the Tigre team stayed in their dressing room the referee signaled the end of the match.  Sao Paulo fans at the stadium celebrated the 2-0 aggregate victory while the players received the Copa Sudamericana from South American Football Confederation officials.

The jubilation may have been premature, however. Benítez claimed that Sao Paulo was “legally and irrefutably” declared the champions but he was contradicted by CONMEBOL Vice President Eugenio Figueredo.

Reports: Mexican Officials Identify Remains of Jenni Rivera

Authorities in Mexico are said to have positively identified the remains of Mexican-American musician Jenni Rivera.

According to CNN, a spokesman for the Nuevo Laredo state government claimed that Rivera’s remains were handed over to her family.  In addition, positive nitrifications were supposedly made of Rivera's publicist and co-pilot of the charter plane that crashed in the early hours of Sunday.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, reported that Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said that Rivera’s remains were identified but that DNA tests are still pending.

Rivera’s brother, fellow singer Lupillo Rivera, Tweeted today a picture of a red urn that will supposedly hold Jenni’s ashes.

Mexican transportation officials said that the investigation into the plane accident that killed Rivera and six others is ongoing.  Nevertheless, they detailed that the private jet went into a very sharp dive minutes after taking off from Monterrey. The plane plummeted nose-first and 28,000 feet in thirty seconds, which left the wreckage strewn across a mountainside.

The crash has raised questions about the safety of the 1969 Learjet 25 that Rivera was allegedly interested in purchasing.  The aircraft had failed a takeoff attempt seven years ago that caused one wing to weigh more than another.  The plane’s owner, Christian Eduardo Esquino Nunez, has a criminal record that included a 2005 conviction for falsifying plane maintenance records.

Daily Headlines: December 13, 2012

* Mexico: Mexicans worldwide including millions of pilgrims who traveled to the Basilica of Tepeyac in Mexico City celebrated the annual Virgin of Guadalupe festivities on Wednesday.

* Haiti: The U.N. launched a $2.2 billion plan aimed at curbing a cholera outbreak that has killed over 7700 people since October 2010.

* Honduras: Four Supreme Court judges were dismissed in a “judicial coup” by a legislature controlled by political parties allied with President Porfirio Lobo.

* Colombia: Human rights groups blasted Congress for approving a proposal that would reportedly “give military courts greater jurisdiction over crimes committed by armed forces members.”

Video Source – YouTube via user Cadena3Noticias

Online Sources- Huffington Post, Businessweek, Bloomberg, ABC News

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Argentina: Judges in Sex Slave Trial Hit by Hackers

Argentine hackers infiltrated the personal information oof a grop of juges involved in a controversial verdict related to sex slavery.

The hackers, who claimed to have been allied with the Argentine arm of the Anonymous collective, released a statement on Wednesday with personal data belonging to magistrates Alberto Piedrabuena, Emilio Herrera Molina and Eduardo Romero Lascano.

Among the information released by the hackers were the judges’ addresses, cell phone numbers and bank account statuses.

“One by one they will fall.  We are Anonymous and we never forget.  We want a country free of corruption,” said the statement from the hackers.

On Tuesday, the court in the city of Tucumán absolved thirteen defendants accused of kidnapping and forcing into prostitution Maria de los Angeles “Marita” Veron. 

Over 130 witnesses were called to trial including a dozen women rescued from brothels by Marita’s mother, Susana Trimarco.  But the judges claimed there was no evidence linking the defendants to Marita, who has been missing for over a decade.

The court’s decision has not sat well with the Argentine public including several hundred people who participated in peaceful protests in several major cities.   In Buenos Aires demonstrators clashed with police and caused damages to the Casa de Tucumán.

The Argentine government joined the chorus of critiques against the court’s decision.  President Cristina Fernandez personally called Trimarco to express her ire with the verdict and called for a “democratization” of the judicial system.

Trimarco, who started a foundation in 2007 to combat human trafficking, was calm when the verdict was read.  Outside of the courtroom, however, she did not mince words:

Daily Headlines: December 12, 2012

* U.S.: Childhood obesity may be in decline in some parts of the U.S. but a report from the United Health Foundation found an increase in diabetes and obesity rates among Latino youth.

* Uruguay: The lower house of Congress overwhelmingly passed the Marriage Equality Law, a proposal that would legalize same-sex marriage.

* Brazil: Copa Libertadores winners Corinthians of Brazil advanced to the final of the Club World Cup where they’ll face European champions Chelsea of England or CONCACAF titleholders Monterrey of Mexico.

* Latin America: The economy of Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to grow at a strong 3.8% in 2013 according to U.N. estimates.

Video Source – YouTube via user besmartbewell

Online Sources- NBC Latino, Huffington Post, Salon,, Businessweek

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Venezuelan President Undergoes Cancer Surgery (Multiple Updated)

Update (December 13): Venezuelan Minister of Communications Ernesto Villegas admitted that there were complications during President Hugo Chavez cancer surgery on Tuesday.

He claimed that "corrective measures" were taken in order to stop internal bleeding during the six-hour operation.  

"This process of recovery will take time because of the complexity of the operation," Villegas said in a broadcast on Venezuelan state television. "The patient is in a progressive and favorable recovery of normal vital signs."

It's unknown if Chavez, who won reelection in October, will be fit enough to be inaugurated on January 10th.  If that cannot be done then according to the Venezuelan constitution new presidential elections must be held within thirty days.         
Update (December 12): Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said that President Hugo Chavez faces a "difficult" recovery after undergoing cancer surgery on Tuesday.

"Yesterday's operation was complex, difficult and delicate, so the post-operation process will also be a complex and tough process," said a stone-faced Maduro in a televised press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Maduro assured Venezuelans that the government is prepared to oversee this Sunday's local elections and hoped that the elections will be a "festival of participation."

Update (9:15 PM): Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' cancer surgery operation finished in a "successful manner" according to Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

"The president is in his hospital room starting special treatments with the assessment of his medical team for the post-operation period that will last several days," said Maduro this evening.  

He noted that the surgery lasted more than six hours and was very complex.  Maduro, who Chavez named as his successor, thanked those whose "immense love...dedicated through prayer so that the operation could end in a successful manner.

Tareck El Aissami, a former minister and close ally to President Hugo Chavez, previously told Venezuela state television that Chavez' operation was "going well."

Original Post: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is about to undergo surgery related to his recurring cancer according to a statement from the country’s government.

“The medical team attending our Commander Hugo Chavez…has started the pro-surgery protocol ahead of the procedure that our leader of the Bolivarian Revolution will undergo (today),” said Minister of Communications Ernesto Villegas.

In his prepared remarks that were read earlier today on Venezuelan state TV, Villegas also mentioned that the “medical team has expressed their optimism over the success of this operation” that will be Chavez’ fourth operation in 18 months.

“The government…summons the Venezuelan people to remain united in prayer and to continue sending Commander Chavez their strongest feelings of love,” added Villegas. 
The minister’s remarks came hours after Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced that Chavez was being “operated on right now.”

“My dear friend and colleague, Commander Hugo Chavez, is going through the toughest times of his life," said Correa who had visited the ailing leader in Cuba before returning to Ecuador.

Chavez arrived in Cuba in the early morning hours of Monday and just over 24 hours after he announced that his cancer had returned.

“With God's will, like on the previous occasions, we will come out of this victorious,” said Chavez in a televised speech on Saturday.  He also named Vice President and foreign minister Nicolas Maduro as his successor if he's unable to continue in the presidency.

Daily Headlines: December 11, 2012

* Puerto Rico: A “Marcha por la Paz” (March for Peace) is scheduled for December 15th to protest rampant violence on the island including the recent brutal murder of publicist Jose Enrique Gomez.

* Chile: Retried Supreme Court judge Alejandro Solis claimed that the late strongman Augusto Pinochet knew details of disappearances and assassinations committed by the secret police.

* U.S.: A new poll found that 77% of Latinos including 69% of “self-described born-again Christians” back increasing taxes on the rich as way in which to deal with the fiscal cliff.

* Haiti: President Michel Martelly tried to emphasize the “good things” of his eighteen months in power during a meeting with Haitian expats in South Florida.

Video Source – YouTube via user JOPICA19 (Individuals post their photos online as part of the “Todos somos José Enrique" ("We are all José Enrique") campaign against violence in Puerto Rico.)

Online Sources- Huffington Post, Prensa Latina, ABC News, Caribbean Journal

Monday, December 10, 2012

Daily Headlines: December 10, 2012

* Mexico: Acclaimed Mexican-American singer and songwriter Jenni Rivera is presumed dead after authorities located the remains of the crashed plane she was traveling in.

* Puerto Rico: Outgoing Governor Luis Fortuno will hold an extraordinary session to push for approval of a resolution urging the U.S. government to honor the results of a recent referendum on statehood for the island.

* Argentina: The U.S. and E.U. increased the pressure against supposedly unfair trade practices by Argentina. 

* U.S.: It took four tries but Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Márquez finally beat Philippine pugilist Manny Pacquiao.