Friday, August 16, 2013

Daily Headlines: August 16, 2013

* Paraguay: Conservative business tycoon Horacio Cartes was sworn in yesterday as Paraguay’s first democratically-elected president since the controversial June 2012 ouster of Fernando Lugo.

* Mexico: A Mexican judge issued an arrest warrant for Rafael Caro Quintero, a former drug capo who was unexpectedly freed last week while serving a prison sentence for the 1985 murder of DEA agent Enrique "Kike" Camarena. 

* U.S.: Valentin de Vargas, a “veteran character actor” of Spanish and Austrian background who was active in the Nosotros organization for Latinos in show business, was buried on Tuesday in New Mexico.

* Haiti: The U.S. Department of State issued a new Haiti travel advisory that includes warning visitors of “violent crimes and lack of emergency response infrastructure.”

Video Source – YouTube via user telesurenglish

Online Sources- Defend Haiti; The AV Club; The Guardian; France24; The Latin Americanist

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Colombia’s Ibargüen Wins World Triple Jump Title

Over three weeks after Colombian cyclist Nairo Quintana captured second place in the Tour de France, one of his compatriots secured another sporting triumph for the South American nation.

Caterine Ibargüen won the women's triple jump at the world track and field championships on Thursday in Moscow. 

The silver medalist at last year’s Summer Games on London triumphed earlier today with a leap of 48-3 ¼ feet (14.85 meters).  Despite faulting on three of her six jumps, her second attempt earned her the gold ahead of hometown favorite Yekaterina Koneva and reigning Olympic champion Olha Saladuha of the Ukraine.

“I felt all of Colombia jump with me!” exclaimed Ibargüen who also thanked her supporters in Puerto Rico where she went to university as well as her Cuban-born coach Ubaldo Duany.

After winning the gold medal, Ibargüen received congratulations from many of her compatriots including President Juan Manuel Santos and the governor of the Antioquia province where her family resides.

“Her father told me ‘you are the chief of all of this since you helped her accomplish this.  I want you to be happy with the victories she obtains’”, exclaimed Ibargüen’ grandmother, Ayola Rivas, who was joined by friends, family and well-wishers of the current Diamond League points leader in the women's triple jump.

Ibargüen’s gold wasn’t the only accomplishment by athletes from Latin America and the Caribbean at the world championships.  Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce confirmed their gold medals last year in London by winning in the 100-meter dash for men and women, respectively.  Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, for his part, took bronze in the men's 800-meter race.

Daily Headlines: August 15, 2013

* Ecuador: Edwin Johnson, Ecuador’s ambassador to Egypt, was recalled back to his homeland as a wave of political violence throughout the Northern African country has left at least 525 people dead.

* Guatemala: An international delegation of labor union members warned that Guatemala could lose its preferential trade status with the U.S. and E.U. due to violence against workers’ rights activists.

* Bolivia: Is Bolivian goat herder Carmelo Flores really 123-years-old and, therefore, the world’s oldest person?

* Cuba: Immigration officials reportedly refused to allow entry into Cuba of Blanca Reyes, the European representative of the political dissident group the Ladies in White.

Video Source – YouTube via Associated Press

Online Sources- Bernama; Reuters; GlobalPost; Irish Times; The Guardian

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Daily Headlines: August 14, 2013

* Latin America: At a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota blasted a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program monitoring Latin America that “runs the risk of casting a shadow of distrust over our work.”

* Ecuador: Human Rights Watch urged President Rafael Correa to revoke a decree that “grants far-reaching powers to the government to oversee and dissolve nongovernmental organizations.”

* Cuba: Numerous Cuban media outlets commemorated former leader, Fidel Castro’s 87th birthday yesterday though he continues to keep a low profile since stepping down in 2006.

* Chile: Researchers believe that the deaths of twenty condors can be blamed on “poisoning after they were exposed to insecticides used for agriculture.”

Video Source – YouTube via user telesurenglish (“The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (on Monday)…and defended the U.S. spying program as defense against attacks like that which happened on September 11th.”)

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist; Bloomberg; GlobalPost; Huffington Post; The Guardian

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Remembering Jaime Garzon

The following post reflecting on the assassination of Colombian comedian and satirist Jaime Garzon was first published on August 15, 2011.

We are reprinting it today since it's the fourteenth anniversary of Garzon's untimely death.

Imagine the public reaction in the U.S. if Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert were to be gunned down in cold blood. Now picture that in the subsequent years impunity surrounds the murder and investigations into the crime have yielded few results. Such is the case of Jaime Garzon, Colombia’s top political humorist who was assassinated just over twelve years ago.

Garzon was best known for his sharp satire against the Colombian political establishment in TV programs such as “Zoociedad” and "Quac, El Noticiero". (In this clip, for instance, Garzon pokes fun at then-Governor and eventual president Alvaro Uribe as “the dictator Colombia needs!”) His most famous character was Heriberto de la Calle (roughly translated as “Heriberto of the streets”), a shoeshine man who grilled celebrities and political leaders. (In this clip, Heriberto asks ex-U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Myles Frechette if it’s true that the U.S. “doesn’t pursue guerillas since the rebels send cocaine to the U.S. and they receive arms in return?”)

Aside from his humor, Garzon was also a lawyer and peace activist who involved himself in the liberating of hostages from the FARC as well as the failed peace negotiations with the rebels. Paramilitary leaders allegedly viewed him not as an intermediary but instead as a guerilla collaborator and he reportedly received death threats from them. It’s believed that paramilitary chief Carlos Castaño ordered Garzon to be killed, a tragedy that would occur in Bogota on August 13, 1999.

In 2000, Castaño was convicted in absentia of the murder of Garzon and sentenced to 38 years in prison. The purported mastermind behind the assassination never spent a day behind bars for his crime and he himself would be killed under mysterious circumstances in 2004.

2013 “Year of the Dengue Plague” Says LatAm Health Officials

According to the Pan American Health Organization, (PAHO), 2013 is shaping up to be the “year of the dengue plague” in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In a presentation made yesterday at a conference in Cuba, PAHO health expert Luis Castellanos claimed that there have been nearly 1.4 million cases reported of the tropical disease throughout the Americas in this year alone.
Castellanos noted that the high numbers may be partly due to stronger efforts by countries to accurately report dengue cases. In the case of Brazil, the Latin American country with the most dengue cases, he said that there’s a major push by health officials to “register and report” instances of the disease.

Despite the large number of dengue cases, Castellanos observed that the death toll from dengue has declined throughout the region.  Nevertheless, he warned that combating dengue is a “very complex public health problem” that requires the participation of other sectors outside the health care field such as civil society.

Though dengue is endemic to Central America, the disease has hit the area especially hard this year.  Some 120,000 suspected cases of dengue have been reported so far in the region while the 2013 death toll of at least 39 has already surpassed the death toll of all of last year.

Daily Headlines: August 13, 2013

* Mexico: Foreign investors and members of the political opposition are apparently doubtful over major energy reforms that were proposed yesterday by President Enrique Peña Nieto.

* Guatemala: Three of the judges who convicted ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt on charges of genocide will reportedly receive protection from an “intense campaign to discredit and stigmatize them”.

* Colombia: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave his strong support for peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, and referred to Colombia as one of the world’s “very few success stories.”

* U.S.: Some of the Latino inmates who make up about 35% of the federal prison population could benefit from plans by Attorney General Eric Holder to alleviate severe overcrowding of U.S. correctional facilities.

Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English

Online Sources- Reuters; ABC News; The Latin Americanist; Fox News Latino

Monday, August 12, 2013

Top Peruvian Shining Path Rebels Killed

Two senior members of Peru’s Shining Path guerillas were reportedly killed in a military operation carried out late Sunday night.

Alejandro Borda Casafranca, who was the rebels’ second-in-command and nicknamed "Comrade Alipio", and Marco Antonio Quispe Palomino ("Comrade Gabriel") were slain along with at lest one other suspected rebel in the Ayacucho region according to President Ollanta Humala.

"Intelligence sources that took part in this operation confirm ... they would be the number one and number two in control of Shining Path's military structure," Humala said on television on Monday morning.

Authorities are performing autopsies to confirm identities though armed forces chief Adm. Jose Cueto claimed "(Comrade) Alipio for certain. Still to be determined is (Comrade) Gabriel but it is nearly certain that it is him as well."

At its peak in the 1980s when the group seriously threatened the Peruvian state with terrorist activities in the capital city of Lima, massacres of hundreds of rural residents and the disappearances of thousands of people.  Since the capture of then-rebel leader and cult figure Abimael Guzman in 1992, however, the Shining Path has become severely debilitated militarily and politically.  One of the most recent blows against the guerillas was the capture in February of 2012 of their chief, “Comrade Artemio,” who was subsequently convicted on charges of terrorism and drug trafficking.

While the Shining Path may be a shell of what it one was some three decades ago, the rebels have not been completely defeated and they continue battling against the Peruvian military.  In April 2012, a group led by Borda and Quispe briefly kidnapped and then released thirty-six workers on the Camisea gas pipeline.  The rebels have also allied themselves to illegal drug trade and finances itself by growing and smuggling coca out of the Apurimac and Ene river valley region (VREAM).

Daily Headlines: August 12, 2013

* Mexico: The White House is reportedly working with Mexican officials to bring new charges against Rafael Caro Quintero, a former top drug gang leader who was released from prison last Friday.
* Argentina: The odds of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner running for reelection became slimmer after the opposition made several key gains in Sunday’s midterm primary elections.

* Chile: Tensions between Chilean authorities and the local Mapuche community have intensified over accusations of police involvement in the recent killing of a Mapuche land rights activist.

* El Salvador: The U.S. State Department issued a new travel advisory to citizens visiting El Salvador where “crime and violence levels remain critically high”.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews

Online Sources- Bloomberg; CBS News; Department of State; MercoPress