Friday, September 20, 2013

Sobredosis de TV: Nuestra Historia

Below is an excerpt from the “Latino Americans,” a three-part documentary series that first aired on PBS stations this week.  The series, which the New York Times compared to “Eyes on the Prize”, examines the complex history of Latinos in the U.S. and highlights the experiences of amazing Latino individuals that are both known and unknown.  Among those profiled are Guy Gabaldon, a Marine who captured more enemy soldiers than anyone in U.S. military history but was played by a white actor in the Hollywood film about his exploits, and Macario Garcia, a man who was refused service in a Texas diner despite being named as the first Mexican national to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The following clip comes from episode four of this series and will air next Tuesday (check local PBS listings for exact times.  That episode looks at the wave of immigrants from Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican republic who moved to the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s:

Dozens Dead in Storm-Ravaged Mexico

Hurricane Manuel made landfall yesterday in northwestern Mexico while other parts of the country are trying to emerge from the death and damage caused by it and Tropical Storm Ingrid.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted that up to fifteen inches of rain are expected to fall in Sinaloa and wind gusts could reach as high as 100 miles per hour.  As a result of possible landslides and flash flooding, officials in that state closed schools and also evacuated the residents of the fishing village of Yameto.

Days of heavy rains and flooding by Ingrid and Manuel have led to the deaths of at least ninety-seven people in southwestern Mexico as well as the Yucatan peninsula.  The death toll increased Thursday night after rescue workers found the corpses of fifteen villagers in La Pintada, Guerrero who were buried by a massive mudslide.  The number of fatalities is expected to soon hit the triple digits since dozens of La Pintada residents are still missing. 

“It was like an explosion shook the mountains and in seconds the land moved and the houses looked like they were running down the mountainside,” said Amelia Saldaña Gregorio who survived the mudslide but lost four of her children along with her mother.

“I ran to see if I could save my sons and I couldn’t…Dear God, my children and mother are buried up there and I couldn’t do anything!” exclaimed the distraught Saldaña to Mexico’s El Universal.

Recovery efforts in La Pintada as well as other parts of Guerrero have been hindered by thunderstorms that keep falling over flood-hit areas.

Daily Headlines: September 20, 2013

* Vatican: In an interview released yesterday, Argentine-born Pope Francis called on Catholics to show greater acceptance towards gays, divorcees and women who have had an abortion or risk that “the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”

* Chile: Sen. Isabel Allende, the daughter of the president who was ousted in a coup over forty years ago, said that prison privileges should be halted for people convicted of human rights violations during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

* Paraguay: Recently inaugurated Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes claimed that he hoped his country would be reintegrated into the Mercosur trading bloc by “early 2014”.

* Honduras: Amnesty International urged authorities to do a better job protecting the lives of indigenous community leaders.

Video Source – YouTube via CNN

Online Sources- Amnesty International; Christian Science Monitor; Washington Post; euronews; The Latin Americanist

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Daily Headlines: September 19, 2013

* Uruguay: A report from the Uruguayan Institute of Economy found that “there is no improvement in the academic results of the students” who participated in the country’s “One Child One Laptop” program.

* Brazil: While diplomatic relations between Brazil and the U.S. have been weakened due to allegations of spying, Brazil’s Finance Minister praised the Federal Reserve's decision to leave the economic stimulus unchanged.

* Venezuela: Chinese state oil company Sinopec and its Venezuelan counterpart, PDVSA, agreed to cooperate on a $14 billion development project in the Orinoco Belt.

* Puerto Rico: According to new government data, the commonwealth’s overall deficit hit a record $39 billion in the past fiscal year.

Video Source – YouTube via NTDTV (Video uploaded in 2009).

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist; MercoPress; GlobalPost; Washington Post; Reuters

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ecuadorian President Calls for Boycott Against Chevron

The President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, called for an international boycott against U.S. oil giant Chevron.

“We will not allow to an abusive, corrupt and polluting company to fool the world,” declared Correa regarding the company that has been accused of polluting Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest region.

“Thirty years later, Chevron said it cleaned up the contamination, but what it did was to damage the jungle even more by using the worst methods. That was not a solution, but a cover-up of the contamination with layers of earth,” said Correa on Tuesday during a visit to an oil well in the province of Sucumbios.

It was in Sucumbios where a court ruled last year that Chevron was liable for environmental damage caused by Texaco when it operated from 1964 to 1990 and prior to its purchase by Chevron. 
The court fined Chevron $18 billion, which the company has yet to pay for despite losing judicial appeals in the U.S.

The plaintiffs accused Texaco of causing higher rates of illnesses like cancer among locals by dumping drilling waste in unlined pits. Chevron rejected the accusations and blamed state-run Petroecuador for causing pollution at sites after Texaco left the country.

Daily Headlines: September 18, 2013

* Latin America: Dozens of people have died in Mexico after several tropical storms hit the country while about six hundred people in Uruguay were evacuated from their homes due to heavy rains and flooding.
* Central America: A new market study found that despite low levels of inflation in some Central America countries most individuals in the region believe that prices of basic goods are constantly rising.

* Venezuela: Clashes between rival gangs may be to blame for a riot in a Maracaibo prison that ended with at least sixteen inmates dead. 

* Nicaragua: Nicaragua filed a new lawsuit against Colombia with the International Court of Justice in order to settle a long-standing maritime border dispute.

Video Source – YouTube via AFP

Online Sources- LAHT; Reuters;; CNN; GlobalPost

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Brazilian President Postpones State Visit to U.S.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff postponed a planned state visit to the U.S. amid allegations of surveillance by U.S. intelligence.

“Given the proximity of the scheduled state visit to Washington and in the absence of a timely investigation … there aren't conditions for this trip to be made,” according to a statement issued by Rousseff's office today.

“Illegal surveillance practices intercepting the communication and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government constitute a serious affront to national sovereignty and individual rights, and are incompatible with democratic cooperation between friendly nations,” the letter also mentioned.

White House spokesman Jay Carney replied by claiming that the postponement was a move mutually agreed upon by Rousseff and her U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama.  

The decision was reportedly reached despite a twenty-minute phone call from Obama to Rousseff on Monday night in an attempt to salvage the trip that was scheduled for October 23rd.

“As the President previously stated, he has directed a broad review of U.S. intelligence posture, but the process will take several months to complete,” Carney said. 

Brazilian officials have not masked their ire over the accusations of spying, which were supposedly obtained from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.  The allegations that have been reported by Brazilian TV over the past two months included:
  • a “data-collection base” run by the National Security Agency (NSA) that gathered information from telephone calls and e-mails of Brazilian residents and companies.
  • NSA monitoring of communications between Rousseff’s aides and employing software to access all Internet content that Rousseff visited online.
  • NSA infiltration of the private networks of several firms including Brazil’s state-run Petrobras oil company.

Daily Headlines: September 17, 2013

Note: This video might Not Be Safe for Work

* Honduras: The Honduran government filed a dispute at the World Trade Organization against Australia’s anti-tobacco laws that include selling cigarettes in plain packaging.

* Venezuela: Officials in Venezuela strongly rejected a recent White House report claiming that the Latin American country had "failed demonstrably" to combat the illegal drug trade for a fifth consecutive year.
* Haiti: Forty-one recruits will be working alongside Ecuadorean military engineers and could possibly become the first members of a potential new Haitian army.

* Mexico: The death toll from inclement weather caused by two converging tropical storms has increased to a minimum of forty-one fatalities.

Video Source – YouTube via Associated Press (Video uploaded in August 2012).

Online Sources-; ABC News; The Guardian; NBC News

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cuban Bishops Back Reconciliation, Greater Political Freedoms

Days after Chilean Catholic bishops urged for a national reconciliation on the fortieth anniversary of the military coup d’état that ousted President Salvador Allende, their Cuban counterparts issued their own call for unity.

A letter issued by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba (CCBC) to reporters earlier today advocated for dialogue between Cubans of differing opinions.

“The geographic proximity and family ties between the two peoples are unavoidable realities that should be taken into account in order to encourage an inclusive policy, through respect for differences”, read part of the CCBC’s communiqué that was entitled “Hope Does Not Disappoint.”

The letter included quoted remarks made by Pope John Paul II during a 1998 visit to support the CCBC’s view against the decades-old U.S. embargo against Cuba.  

“The forced isolation impacts the population indiscriminately … the measures imposed from outside on the country are unjust and ethically unacceptable,” the letter quoted the late pontiff as stating.

The document praised economic reforms enacted under President Raul Castro but noted that more needs to be done to remedy problems such as the low salaries of professional and government workers in health and education.

The group also criticized the lack of political liberalization that would allow for greater freedom of expression on the island.

“Cuba is called upon to be a plural society … there must be a right to diversity in terms of thought, creativity and the search for truth,” the letter mentioned.

CCBC secretary Jose Felix Perez said that copies of the letter to government authorities though an official response was not immediately provided.

Daily Headlines: September 16, 2013

* South America: Public discontent and a summer of protests have contributed to plummeting approval ratings for Peruvian President Ollanta Humala (27%) and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (21%).

* Puerto Rico: Health secretary Francisco Joglar resigned after the controversial deaths of ten people at a public hospital due to a bacterial infection.

* Argentina: “Gaucho priest” Jose Gabriel Brochero was beatified in an open air mass on Saturday that was attended by an estimated 150,000 individuals.

* Mexico: At least tweenty-three people have died as a result of landslides, flooding and heavy rains caused by Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel.

Video Source – YouTube via NTDTV (Video uploaded on August 20, 2013).

Online Sources- NBC News; ABC News; USA TODAY; GlobalPost;