Friday, July 26, 2013

Daily Headlines: July 26, 2013

Note: Posting will be very light today but we hope to return on Monday and examine several recent news events from the Americas. 

* Cuba: Members of a U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee were divided in their views over whether the military prison at Guantanamo, Cuba should be shutdown or continue to be kept open.

* Latin America: During his visit this week in Brazil, Pope Francis criticized the “liberalization of drug use” proposed in parts of Latin America, while a poll found that roughly two in three Mexicans are opposed to marijuana legalization.

* Mexico: Authorities reportedly rescued ninety-four migrants crammed into the back of tractor trailer that was examined at a security checkpoint in the southern Chiapas state.

* U.S.: A Pew Hispanic Center survey found that a growing number of Latino adults are getting their news from English-language sources.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources- Fox News Latino; The Guardian; ABC News; Rolling Stone; CNN

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Latin Americans Among Dead in Spanish Train Disaster

At least four people from three Latin American countries were among the dozens of fatalities from Spain’s worst transportation accident in decades.

The Colombian Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that two nationals from that country were among the passengers of a high-speed train that derailed on a curve Wednesday night in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia.

The name of one of the deceased has yet to be published while her family gets contacted but the other Colombian fatality was reportedly identified as Sara Camila Vélez Fuenmayor. 

The 36-yer-old was allegedly riding on the train in order to pick up her eleven-year-old daughter who was vacationing with her Spanish-born father.  Vélez Fuenmayor, who had dual Colombian and Spanish citizenship, worked as a gym instructor and her own jewelry-making business.  She had been residing in Madrid for the past fifteen years and was also a mother to a three-year-old boy.

Yolanda Delfín Ortega of Mexico was also mentioned on Thursday as one of the deceased. The university student majored in law at the Universidad Anáhuac of Xalapa in her native Veracruz but had traveled to Spain as part of an academic exchange program.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy admitted, “It’s a major challenge to identify the people who have died.” Yet forensic experts were able to positively identify Delfín Ortega based on photographs published on the Internet by her family and boyfriend.  (Some of these images can be seen in the video at the top of this post).

“She sent me a message on Facebook saying that she was about to arrive at Santiago de Compostela and that we would get in touch once she got home,” Delfín Ortega’s boyfriend, Luis Ledesma said in a radio interview before her body was identified.

Thousands of messages of support have been sent to Ledesma and Delfín Ortega’s family via the social media hashtag #YolandaDelfínOrtega.  Among those expressing condolences to her family was Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte who also expressed his “solidarity” with the Spanish people.

Daily Headlines: July 25, 2013

* Brazil: More than one million people are expected to attend a mass at Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach today as Pope Francis continues his visit to Brazil.

* Venezuela: “We are open to having a positive relationship with Venezuela moving forward,” said a State Department spokesperson in response to Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro ending efforts to improve diplomatic ties with the U.S.

* U.S.: A recent study concluded that Latino housing consumers in three major cities face discrimination including hostility from housing agents and being requested to pay additional fees.

* Ecuador: The Ecuadorian government has offered thousands of jobs to Spanish teachers who are willing to leave their economically weak country.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews (“Tens of thousands of people turned out in southeastern Brazil (on Wednesday) to witness the Pope celebrate his first mass outside Italy as pontiff”).

Online Sources- Voice of America; The Latin Americanist; GlobalPost; Think Progress; LAHT

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Daily Headlines: July 24, 2013

* Argentina: Gerardo "Tata" Martino will officially be named as the new coach of the famed Barcelona soccer team weeks after guiding Argentine side Newell's Old Boys to the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores.

* U.S.: The Univision TV network will surpass its English-language counterparts to top the Nielson ratings in two key age groups for the month of July.

* South America: Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro met with Colombian leader Juan Manuel Santos and pledged to continue supporting peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC guerillas.
* Mexico: A U.S. federal judge threw out a lawsuit against ex-Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo that accused him of crimes against humanity related to the 1997 Acteal massacre.

Video Source – YouTube via user sntv

Online Sources- The Guardian; USA TODAY; Huffington Post; Reuters

Monday, July 22, 2013

Multitude Welcomes Pope to Brazil

Tens of thousands of people in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil took to the streets in order to welcome Pope Francis on his first international trip as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Argentine-born pontiff waved and smiled to the multitude as he rode in the open-air Popemobile through downtown Rio on Monday afternoon.  His security detail had their hands full attempting to control the throngs of admirers that gathered around the motorcade.  One woman even took advantage of a traffic jam to pass her baby through the window of the pontiff’s vehicle for a kiss from Francis. 

"I want to see him and feel him close to me," said Carlos Alberto Fahd regarding the ex-Archbishop of Buenos Aires.  "Francis is already changing the church with his simplicity," added the 23-year-old pilgrim who traveled from northern Brazil to catch a glimpse of the first Latin American pope. 

Prior to the procession, the Pope took part in a motorcade that was occasionally surrounded by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff led a group of dignitaries at Rio’s main international airport.  The group was then serenaded by a choir of about three dozen children; a fitting reminder that Francis’ visit occurs amidst the Church’s World Youth Day (WYD) festivities.

“The world crisis is not treating young people well,” the Holy Father told reporters on the plane travelling from Italy. “We are running the risk of having a generation that does not work. From work comes a person’s dignity.”

The Pope will attempt to use his visit to appeal to Catholic youth in a country where most young followers may not see eye-to-eye with some of the Vatican’s policies. An Ibope poll released today showed that 82% of Brazilian Catholics between the ages of sixteen and thirty years old support the use of the "morning after pill" while 56% of those surveyed back same-sex civil unions.

Colombia’s Quintana Obtains Second Place in Tour de France

Colombian cyclist Nairo Quintana finished his first-ever participation in the Tour de France with an extraordinary second place finish.

Yesterday Quintana became the first Latin American in a quarter century to reach the podium of the world’s top cycling completion. The 23-year-old’s dream debut also included winning the white jersey as the best young rider and the polka-dot jersey as the best mountain climber.

He has plenty of talent and I think he could be one of the Tour’s greats,” said race winner Chris Froome of Britain about Quintana.  “I knew he would give it his all and he achieved something very important,” added Froome who finished over five minutes ahead of Quintana.

The Boyacá-born Quintana shined in the centenary edition though when the Tour began he wasn’t among the experts’ favorites to be among the top riders.  (For BBC Sport, Quintana’s teammate on the Movistar team, Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, was seen as a “potential rival” against Froome while Quintana was not mentioned.)  Yet Quintana proved his prowess in the always difficult mountain stages, which seemed natural for someone who as a child used to make a ten mile trip to a school located high in the Andes.

The pinnacle moment for Quintana in France occurred in the penultimate stage on Saturday; a date that coincidentally was the 202nd anniversary of Colombia’s independence.  Entering stage 20 in fifth place overall, Quintana took advantage of the pace set for most of the day by his Movistar teammates and he was able to pull away with eight kilometers left in a breakaway group that included Frrome and Spaniard Joaquim Rodríguez. The group stayed together until Quintana burst forth with some 900 meters to go until the finish and captured the stage victory while his elated family back home celebrated the win.   

Daily Headlines: July 22, 2013

* Brazil: Argentine-born Pope Francis is expected to arrive today in Brazil and preside over the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day festival.

* Venezuela: Venezuela's president "ended" the possibility of improving diplomatic relations between that country and the U.S. due to recent remarks made by the White House’s nominee to serve as envoy to the U.N.   

* Chile: Labor Minister Evelyn Matthei became the candidate for the ruling conservative coalition vying to prevent Michelle Bachelet from returning to the Chilean presidency.

* Colombia: President Juan Manuel Santos said that the military would launch a strong offensive against the FARC after at least nineteen troops died in combat against the rebels this weekend.

Video Source – YouTube via AFP

Online Sources- The Guardian; Christian Science Monitor; ABC News; France 24