Friday, October 4, 2013

Daily Headlines: October 4, 2013

* Mexico: Mexico City police clashed with several of the thousands of people who marched on the 45th anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre to protest against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s economic plans.

* Ecuador: The Ecuadorian legislature overwhelming approved a controversial proposal made in August by President Rafael Correa to allow oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park.

* Brazil: Ten members of a Brazilian police unit aimed at addressing crime before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games have been accused of torturing and killing a construction worker.

* Colombia: Representatives of the FARC rebels claimed that peace talks with the Colombian government have achieved “modest progress.

Video Source – YouTube via Univision Noticias

Online Sources- Deutsche Welle; CNN; The Latin Americanist; Bloomberg; The Guardian

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nuestro Cine: Picking the Right Nominee

To be eligible for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, films must fulfill several requirements such as the "one-country-one-film" rule that stipulates that each country can only pick a single nominee per year.  This rule is designed to help countries with minor film industries with major releases from established filmmaking nations.  Yet the rule has come under fire in instances where worthwhile films are ignored in lieu of a country’s one nominee.

Last month, “Bad Hair” (“Pelo Malo”) received the Golden Shell as the top film at Spain’s San Sebastian Film Festival.  The selection jury unanimously backed the Venezuelan-Peruvian and German production that depicts a “modern day cultural complexity and a young boy’s emerging identity guided by his single mother”.

“I made this film to liberate myself from the angst of so much intolerance.  Being different isn’t a problem. Just the opposite. It is beautiful,” said Mariana Rondon, the Venezuelan director of “Bad Hair.”

Even though “Bad Hair” was eligible for nomination to the upcoming Oscars, “Breach in the Silence” ("Brecha en el silencio") was picked to represent Venezuela.  The drama directed by brothers Andres and Luis Rodriguez spotlights domestic violence and its negative effects on families. 

The movie has played at a number of festivals around the world though it has not garnered the same critical acclaim as “Bad Hair.”  (As noted by the Latinos Post, one critic said that “'Breach in the Silence' is perhaps most notable for creating a lot of flash and noise, but providing little substance.”)

Was “Bad Hair” overlooked due to Rondon’s supposedly controversial remarks on “intolerance in a polarized country”?  Or did the selection committee opt for a superior film with a better chance of being reaching the Academy’s shortlist?  Judge for yourselves by viewing excepts from both films below the page break.

Radio and TV Marti On the Air Despite Gov’t Shutdown

Broadcasts to Cuba via Radio and TV Martí (RTVM) have continued despite a U.S. government shutdown that started on Tuesday.

According to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), U.S.-funded news that the organization oversees such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and RTVM are “necessary for conducting foreign relations essential to the national security.”  Hence, BBG operations are exempt from being suspended during the government shutdown period.

BBG activities have been slimmed down to encourage the use of “pre-recorded material” and bars starting any “new programs or projects.”  Nevertheless, breaking news and high-priority live news programs will continue and RTVM’s website has been kept updated with news stories.  (Ironically, one of the website’s most recently headlines was the “failure” of negotiations yesterday between U.S. President Barack and Congressional leaders to end the shutdown.)

The fact that the Office of Management and Budget signed off on this indicates how high a priority our broadcasting activities are,” said BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil to Foreign Policy’s The Cable website.  “The mission of the agency is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy”.

Broadcasts from Radio Martí (founded in 1983) and TV Martí (started in 1990) are based out of Miami and is rand are beamed into Cuba with the aim of overcoming the tight media controls under the Castro regime.

Daily Headlines: October 3, 2013

* Brazil: Brazilian “industry executives and analysts” are supposedly worried over the government’s plans to protect Internet privacy in the wake of spying allegations by the U.S. National Security Agency.

* U.S.: A U.S. appeals court found that the an unknown number of people eligible for citizenship have been denied due to a nonexistent article of the Mexican constitution.

* Latin America:  Will a Colombian-made version of “Breaking Bad” that will air on Univision be as successful as the recently finished original version?

* Venezuela: The U.S. ordered the expulsion of three Venezuelan diplomats as a retaliatory move that has heightened tensions between the governments of both countries.

Video Source – YouTube via user NewsyWorld

Online Sources- USA Today; Voice of America; The A.V. Club; NPR; The Latin Americanist

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Daily Headlines: October 2, 2013

* Haiti: Police in Port-au-Prince clashed with some of the thousands of backers of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide who protested against the government led by Michel Martelly.

* Colombia: Gen. Flavio Buitrago became the second chief of security for former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to have been arrested over the past year due to alleged ties to drug traffickers.

* U.S.: Could Latino consumers play a decisive role in the potential success of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare?

* Argentina: The U.S. Supreme Court opted not to listen to an appeal from the Argentine government to avoid possibly paying the holders of billions of dollars of defaulted bonds.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews

Online Sources- LAHT; CNN; The Guardian; Bloomberg; Fox News Latino

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nuestro Cine: Cleaning Up

We begin our look this week at some of the Latin American nominees for the upcoming Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

“The Cleaner” (“El Limpiador”) was chosen last week as Peru’s pick for top foreign language film at the Oscars. 

According to the Peruvian Ministry of Culture, “The Cleaner” was selected “for its original proposal of an apocalyptic Lima, where loneliness and strain are shown through an effective use of cinematographic elements, expressing a city that slowly fades out.”  This can be seen in the film’s trailer that shows gray colors, hushed vocals and slow movements by the protagonists:

The sci-fi drama focuses on the ties between a forensic cleaner and an orphaned boy he takes care of.  Both of them develop a friendship despite the devastation caused by a mysterious epidemic in Lima.

U.N. “Concerned” over Controversial Dominican Citizenship Ruling

The United Nations (UN) is “extremely concerned” over a recent Dominican court decision that could strip the citizenship of thousands of citizens with a Haitian background.

“We are extremely concerned that a ruling of the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court may deprive tens of thousands of people of nationality, virtually all of them of Haitian descent, and have a very negative impact on their other rights,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Monday.

Shamdasani added that last week’s court decision could lead to “disastrous” implications for people of Haitian descent residing in the Dominican Republic.  Among the potential consequences are leaving tens of thousands of people stateless and without access to basic services.

Meanwhile, U.N. resident commissioner Lorenzo Jimenez said yesterday that the UN will conduct an "exhaustive study" to see if the court’s ruling violates international agreements. He also mentioned that the findings of such a study would be presented several weeks from now.

The decision, which was handed down on September 25th, was based on Article 11 of the Dominican Constitution that was ratified in 2010 and exempts children of diplomats and people in transit from becoming citizens if they were born on Dominican soil.  The high court judges concluded that migrants who came to work in the Dominican Republic after 1929 were “in transit”; hence, voiding automatic citizenship to their descendants.

Haiti recalled its Ambassador to the Dominican Republic yesterday in response to the measure that could reignite diplomatic tensions between the countries that share the island of Hispaniola. 

The ruling could also lead to the mass deportations of some of the estimated 500,000 migrants born in Haiti now live in the Dominican Republic.  (Approximately 47,700 undocumented Haitian migrants were deported from the Dominican Republic between August 2012 and September 2013 as part of a government crackdown).

The possibility of becoming denationalized has worried some of the thousands of Dominicans citizens with a Haitian background:

Daily Headlines: October 1, 2013 (Updated)

* Brazil: A Brazilian court dismissed a lawsuit against Chevron and Transocean seeking about $18 billion in damages for a November 2011 offshore oil spill.

* Latin America: According to the International Monetary Fund, Latin America is the region that would be the most hurt if U.S. interest rates rise faster than that country’s economic recovery.

* Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro expelled three senior U.S. Embassy officials from Venezuela and accused them of plotting to sabotage the economy.

Update: The U.S. Embassy in Venezuela claimed today that the expelled officials "were in Bolivar state conducting normal diplomatic engagement" and "completely rejected the Venezuelan government's allegations of U.S. government involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuelan government."  

* Argentina: Representatives of Argentina and Iran will meet in Geneva next month in order to continue discussions related to the deadly 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires cultural center.

Video Source – YouTube via user WSJDigitalNetwork

Online Sources including Update- NBC News; Mercopress; BBC News; Reuters

Monday, September 30, 2013

Daily Headlines: September 30, 2013

* U.S.: On Sunday, Venezuelan pitcher Henderson Alvarez hurled the first no-hitter in Major League history to end on a wild pitch.

* Mexico: Why is Laura Bozzo, the Latin American version of talk show host Jerry Springer, engaged in a feud with well-known Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui?

* Colombia: Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos rejected the mediation of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson in the release of a former U.S. Marine kidnapped by the FARC guerillas since June.

* Argentina: A six-year-old girl has become the first transgendered person in Argentina to officially change her identity after her mother petitioned the country’s president and the governor of Buenos Aires.

Video Source –
Online Sources- USA Today; Reuters; The Telegraph; Latin Times