Friday, November 22, 2013

"Vota por Kennedy" Revisted

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.  Thus, we're posting once again the following video from 1960 of Jackie Kennedy urging Latino voters to support her husband in his bid for the White House.   

This ad along with the work of Viva Kennedy clubs may have pushed the then-senator to victory in a very close presidential election.

On November 21, 1963 President Kennedy and the First Lady attended a League of United Latin American Citizens dinner in Houston reportedly "to show their appreciation for the Mexican-American votes that had helped the young president carry Texas in the 1960 election."  Much like in the above video, Jackie spoke briefly in Spanish to express her joy at attending the dinner.

Less than twenty-four hours later, the thirty-fifth U.S. president was killed by his wife's side in Dallas.

Daily Headlines: November 22, 2013

* U.S.: Legendary Cuban jazz musician Arturo Sandoval and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Mario Molina of Mexico were among the sixteen Medal of Freedom recipients honored this week.

* Latin America: Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over” but does U.S. policy reflect his declaration?

* Haiti: Haiti's Health Minister said that her country has not received the funds promised by international donors in order to combat a deadly cholera outbreak.

* Mexico: According to new government data, Mexico’s gross domestic product grew by 1.2% in the first nine months of 2013 and is expected to continue rising this year.

Video Source – YouTube via The Daily Conservation (“Arturo Sandoval's performance at the 2013 Medal of Freedom Awards Dinner at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.”)

Online Sources- Fox News Latino; UPI; LAHT; Xinhua

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Venezuela: President To Decree Economic Reforms

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced a pair of economic changes that will be set forth via controversial decree powers granted to him this week.

One of the new laws will place a limit on the profits gained by businesses to 15-30% while another law will create a new government body to help reorganize the distribution of foreign currency.

Maduro said that he will sign the decrees into law later today and claimed that public inspectors will visit businesses this weekend that he accused of grossly inflating prices.

Enough is enough, loan sharks and thieves!” exclaimed Maduro at a march of pro-government student groups in Caracas this afternoon. 

Earlier this month, Maduro launched what he deemed as an “economic offensive” against “bourgeois parasites” that included sending soldiers to occupy the Daka electronics chain.  Thousands of people flocked to the stores hoping to take advantage of reduced prices on goods though looters were seen in at least one location.

Opposition politicos have expressed their displeasure with Maduro’s recent actions and have called on Venezuelans to take part in nationwide protests this Saturday.

“Maduro, we're going to show you the power the Venzuelan people have,” declared former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.  “Milk, paper, chicken and meat won’t suddenly appear,” added Capriles in reference to shortages of basic food items in groceries and markets.

Additionally, the U.S. State Department also criticized Maduro for pushing through the Enabling Law that will permit him to pass laws without legislative approval during the next twelve months.

Daily Headlines: November 21, 2013

* Colombia: President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed his intention of running for reelection "because I am convinced we have advanced sufficiently and finally it is possible to reach that future of prosperity and peace that all Colombians deserve."

* Honduras: A senior Honduran government official claimed that wanted Mexican drug capo Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman might be hiding in that Central American country.

* Latin America: Mexico and Uruguay booked their tickets to next year's World Cup after easily overcoming New Zealand and Jordan, respectively, in a qualifying series.

* Bolivia: According to the Bolivian press, the Andean country is developing a nuclear power program that could include exporting electricity to nearby states.
Online Sources - Reuters; UPI; Latin Times

Video Source - YouTube via TIME 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Daily Headlines: November 20, 2013

* Peru: A Peruvian consulting firm found that roughly 40% of people visiting the country this year are foodies interested in gastronomic tourism.

* U.S.: A new study concluded that Latinas under the age of 65 are 1.5 times as likely to die in a hospital of a heart attack than white males.

* Mexico: According to a report by Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, 65 of the country's 101 most populated prisons were under the control of inmates instead of the authorities.

* Panama: On a visit to the Panama Canal, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden praised Panamanian officials for intercepting a shipment of Cuban arms bound for North Korea last July.

Online Sources  - Peru This Week;; AFP; FRANCE24

Video Source - YouTube via user Peter Greenberg

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mexico’s Poniatowska Wins Cervantes Literature Prize

On Tuesday Elena Poniatowska won the prestigious 2013 Cervantes Prize, which is considered as the top literary award in the Spanish-speaking world.

The selection jury praised the Mexican writer and journalist for “her brilliant literary trajectory over numerous genres, her unique narrative and exemplary dedication to journalism.”  The panel also complemented her many works for showing a “firm commitment to contemporary history.”

Jose Ignacio Wert, Spain’s Education Minister, called Poniatowska “one of the most powerful voices in Spanish-language literature today” and commended the eighty-one-year-old for her “admirable activeness for someone of her age.”

I did not expect this and it has been a huge surprise,” Poniatowska said to the Mexican press earlier today. 

“Long ago (Colombian author Gabriel) García Márquez said .I write so that they like me.’  I think that I write because it justifies my existence on Earth,” added the person who became the first Mexican woman to win the distinguished literary honor.

Born in Paris in 1932 to a Polish-French father and a Mexican mother, Poniatowska began her writing career at the age of eighteen as a reporter for Mexican newspaper Excélsior.  Over thee past five decades she has penned more than forty books that primarily focus on social and political issues.

Perhaps her most famous work is “Massacre in Mexico,” which examines the infamous Tlateloco Massacre of 1968 and the government’s repression against student protestors days before the Summer Olympics in Mexico City.  In a recent interview, she claimed that the anniversary of the killings should be “commemorated as a national holiday.”  Yet the event in Mexican history that most moved her was the inspirational response to a tragedy nearly three decades ago:

Daily Headlines: November 19, 2013

* U.S.: A new study published in the journal Neurology found that being bilingual could delay the onset of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia by several years.

* Latin America: Uruguay’s senate is expected to pass a “far-reaching” marijuana decriminalization proposal this week while Puerto Rican legislators delayed until next a year a bill that would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

* Haiti: Police in Port-au-Prince clashed with demonstrators opposed to President Michel Martelly and to call attention to “complaints ranging from the cost of living to high levels of corruption”.

* Cuba: The Cuban government may have inadvertently received information from the U.S. pertaining to a $6 million grant program for dissidents on the island.

Video Source – YouTube via user DNews

Online Sources- UPI; USA TODAY; Fox News Latino; The Huffington Post; The Guardian

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chilean Expats Opt for Bachelet in “Virtual” Election

Chilean expats who do not have the right to vote gave their support to former President Michelle Bachelet in a “virtual” election for the South American country’s presidency.

Much like the real vote that took place on Sunday, the country’s first female president won easily over her eight opponents with 34.9% support among the thousands of registered participants living in more than 100 countries. The 4249 votes in her favor were more than twice that of second-place candidate Marcel Claude but not enough to avoid a runoff according to the “symbolic” election results.

Ruling party candidate Evelyn Matthei ended in fourth among expats though she will participate in a second round against Bachelet in Chile next month.  The conservative ex-minister was one of two candidates that did not publicly back the “virtual” election that was held via Internet between November 10th and 16th. 

“Nearly 12,500 Chileans living abroad took part and their enthusiasm showed that they want to be a part of the Chilean electoral process,” reportedly said a statement from Voto Ciudadano, a group sponsoring the online plebiscite.  “We are still Chileans (despite living abroad) and its time that we are granted the right to vote,” added the group via its Facebook page.

The Chilean Senate in September approved a constitutional amendment that would grant eligible Chilean expats the right to vote in presidential elections and national referendums.   The proposal has been opposed to mainly by conservative politicians such as senator Carlos Larraín who claimed that Chileans living abroad “don’t pay taxes, are absent from the effects of political policies and are unaware of the occurrences of Chilean life”.  (According to one article, the real reason for the opposition may be since some expats are exiles that left Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship).

Conversely, the amendment has received support among leftist politicians such as Bachelet who yesterday lamented that Chilean expats “cannot exercise a right (to vote) that is allowed in many other nations.”

Daily Headlines: November 18, 2013

* Mexico: Mexican legislators are expected to renew the debate this week over the proposed privatization of parts of the country's state-run oil industry.

* Colombia: Representatives for the Colombian government and FARC rebels postponed the next round of negotiations though progress has been made in the year-long peace talks between both sides.

* Brazil: The former chief of staff of ex-president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and the former chairman of the ruling Workers' Party were both sent to prison for their roles in the "mensalao" vote-buying scandal.

* Latin America: A strong storm is expected to hit southern Brazil and Argentina today and, thus, increases the risk of mudslides and flooding in those areas.

Online Sources - MercoPress; GlobalPost; Reuters; USA TODAY;

Video Source - YouTube via The Economist (Video uploaded in August 2013).