Friday, June 28, 2013

Daily Headlines: June 28, 2013

* Puerto Rico: “Puerto Ricans don't want to be a U.S. state,” declared Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla even though a majority of the island’s voters backed statehood in a non-binding plebiscite held last November.
* Brazil: At least six people died in ongoing street protests against government corruption, misspending of public funds and public transit fare hikes.

* Venezuela: Several Venezuelan press groups are none too pleased that the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez was posthumously given a top journalism award.

* Peru: Archeologists uncovered artifacts from roughly 1200 years ago in a royal tomb that belonged to the pre-Incan Wari empire.

Video Source – YouTube via Democracy Now

Online Sources- ABC News (U.S. and Australia); BBC News; GlobalPost; The Latin Americanist

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Senate OKs Sweeping Immigration Reform Plan

By a 68-32 vote the U.S. Senate approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill that aims to strengthen border security while also potentially benefiting scores of undocumented migrants.

 “Yes we can!” chanted several of the dozens of pro-immigration activists in the gallery of the Senate after Vice President Joe Biden read the results of the vote.  

"It's landmark legislation that will secure our borders and help 11 million people get right with the law," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said shortly prior to the vote taking place.

Among the provisions in S.744, which was crafted via the “Gang of Eight” bipartisan group of Senators, is a thirteen-year “pathway to citizenship” of strict conditions for certain undocumented migrants to legalize their status. Other parts of the proposal would require businesses to check on the legal status of prospective employees, establish a temporary program for farm workers and diminish family relations as a factor within the legal immigration system.

The bill included provisions to strengthen border security, but yesterday the Senate backed adding $46 billion in funding to the plan for the hiring of 20,000 Border Patrol agents and completing a 700-mile barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Despite passing a major hurdle in the Senate, the proposal will likely face greater scrutiny in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. 

Daily Headlines: June 27, 2013

* Latin America: More than 100,000 people participated in a march calling for educational reform in Chile, while ongoing street protests continued yesterday in several Brazilian cities.

* Peru: Prosecutors have reportedly revealed a scheme alleging that $240,000 in illicit payments were made to then-President Alan Garcia's administration in exchange for the pardoning of imprisoned drug traffickers.

* U.S.: A new State Department report concluded that Iranian influence in Latin America is declining due to several factors including “a strong sanctions policy, and Iran’s poor management of its foreign relations.”

* Dominican Republic: With a fatality rate of 41.7 per hundred thousand people, the World Health Organization found that the Dominican Republic is the world’s worst country for drivers.

Video Source – YouTube via user NTDTV

Online Sources- The Guardian; GlobalPost; Peru this Week; Bloomberg; Fox News Latino

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Daily Headlines: June 26, 2013

* Cuba: A letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged him to “conduct a careful review of conditions for detainees” at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

* Latin America: Ecuador’s Foreign Minister admitted that it could take weeks to decide on the asylum request from U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, while Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro admitted his country would “consider” giving Snowden asylum.

* Haiti: A Government Accountability Office blasted U.S. efforts to help rebuild earthquake-ravaged Haiti as being beset by problems including project delays and poor planning.

* Puerto Rico: According to a new study a whopping 84% of Puerto Rican children reside in "high-poverty areas", which is seven times the comparable figure for the continental U.S.

Video Source – YouTube via user JewishNewsOne

Online Sources- Independent Catholic News; LAHT; Straits Times; The Independent; BBC News

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Brazil: Congressional Panel Backs “Gay Cure” Therapy Bill

Tensions remain high in Brazil where President Dilma Rousseff was expected to meet with organizers of protests regarding issues like public spending and transportation improvements.  While the demonstrations took place in major cities throughout the country, a congressional panel quietly gave the go ahead to a controversial proposal.

Last week the Chamber of Deputies commission on human rights approved a bill that would remove a fourteen-year-old ban on so-called “conversion therapy” for gays and lesbians.  Therefore, the “gay cure” bill would permit psychologists to “treat” homosexuality as an illness.

The panel is headed by evangelical pastor Marco Feliciano who reportedly tried to put the "gay cure" initiative before the commission but failed.  Commission members eventually approved the bill amid a low turnout. 
Feliciano has come under fire for referring to AIDS a "gay cancer" in a tweet and for claiming that John Lennon's murder in 1980 was “divine retribution” for saying the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ.

The proposal could be sunk, as other committees must debate it before going to the full Chamber of Deputies and the Senate for votes.  Nevertheless, the bill is symbolic of the growing political clout among evangelical Christians who make up approximately one-quarter of the Brazilian population.  This has not gone unnoticed by Rousseff who appointed an evangelical bishop to her cabinet though her choice could be seen as an example of the government corruption demonstrators have been criticizing about:

Daily Headlines: June 25, 2013

* Bolivia: Inmates at Bolivia’s largest prison, the San Pedro in La Paz, are protesting after rumors emerged that a twelve-year-old girl was raped by prisoners and became pregnant.

* U.S.: Is a new TV drama about five Latina housekeepers who work for wealthy Beverly Hills employers reinforcing negative stereotypes against Latinas or much ado about nothing?

* England: Mónica Puig of Puerto Rico shocked fifth seed Sara Errani of Italy in straight sets at the first round of Wimbledon tennis tournament.

* Chile: Ex-leader and current presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet and HidroAysen manager Daniel Fernandez have butted heads regarding the viability of the major hydroelectric project.

Video Source – YouTube via user ejumeridian (Bolivia’s San Pedro prison, which has been the site of several riots like this one in 2009, is scheduled to be shutdown next month).

Online Sources- Reuters; BBC News; New York Daily News; The Guardian

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ecuador Considering Asylum for Whistleblower Edward Snowden

Will Edward Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence analyst who revealed information over programs to collect telephone and Internet data, make his way to Ecuador and receive asylum?  That could be the case according to senior Ecuadorian officials.

Yesterday Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño mentioned in his Twitter account that Snowden did solicit a request for asylum in Ecuador. Patiño subsequently read Snowden’s appeal for asylum “due to the risk of persecution by the government of the United States and its agents.”

“There are some governments that act more upon their own interests, but we do not," Patiño
said at a Monday morning press conference. "We act upon our principles… We take care of the human rights of the people,” he added in remarks made to reporters in Vietnam.

Patiño’s remarks were followed up by President Rafael Correa who tweeted, “Be assured that we will responsibly look into the Snowden case and we will take with absolute sovereignty the most adequate decision.”

The sheltering of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past twelve months and the possible asylum to Snowden has divided residents of Quito.

“I'm opposed to asylum because the government is always politicizing human rights," said architect Bolivar Lupera, to Reuters while graphic designer Rodolfo Guaman observed, "I'm in agreement because the United States has spied on underdeveloped nations, and this gentleman should not be condemned."

Meanwhile, Wikileaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson defended press freedoms in Ecuador during a “heated exchange” with an Australian journalist:

Daily Headlines: June 24, 2013

* Honduras: The State Department issued a new travel warning advising, “U.S. citizens that the crime and violence levels in Honduras remain critically high,” while a group of twenty-one senators urged a review of aid to the Honduran police and military.

* Uruguay: Voters defeated a proposal to hold a national referendum aimed at overturning a 2012 law legalizing abortion.

* Canada: Quebec officials have called on the Canadian government to permit thousands of Haitian earthquake refugees to stay in the country by not lifting a moratorium on deportations.

* Brazil: Hosts Brazil will take on Copa America winners Uruguay in a Confederations Cup semifinal to be held later this week.

Video Source – YouTube via AFP (Video uploaded on April 2012).

Online Sources- U.S. State Department; ABC News;; CBC; CNN