Friday, December 6, 2013

Brazil: “Bridesmaid” Protest During World Cup Draw

While the pomp and circumstance of the 2014 World Cup draw took place in the Brazilian coastal resort town of Costa do Sauipe, a group of activists protested several hundred miles away in Brasilia.

The unique demonstration depicted a young woman in a bridesmaid dress walking along a red carpet laid out in front of the Brazilian Congress building and flanked by activists holding signs calling for improvements of social services.

The protest occurred days after Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo tried to downplay problems with the organization of next year’s World Cup by noting, “In every wedding that I attended the bride was late... But I've never seen a wedding not happen because of that.”

“The minster symbolizes the culture of delays in the Brazilian state,” claimed Antonio Costa, a member of the “Rio da Paz” nongovernment organization (NGO) that organized Friday’s protest.

“These delays are in the government’s policies such as health care and education which are priorities for our society,” added Costa.

Other demonstrations were held in Rio de Janeiro where several NGOs held an “anti-draw” protest near the Maracaná Stadium where the World Cup final will be played.

“This is a counterpoint to what is going on Bahia: a raffle for bigwigs at a totally isolated resort,” said Mario Campagnani, one of the protest’s coordinators.

“Let us do a draw for the people where we don’t forget the irregularities of the privatization of the Maracaná,” he added.

The attendance of today’s protests paled in comparison to the mass demonstrations that took place nationwide during the Confederations Cup in June.  Nevertheless, there is plenty of anger in Brazil over the billions of dollars in public funds being spent in venues and infrastructural improvements for the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.  This ire has likely intensified after world soccer governing body FIFA announced that construction on at least three stadiums expected to be completed this month could be completed as late as March.

As a result of the problems with organizing of the World Cup, Brazilian security authorities and FIFA officials are anticipating expect major protests during the tournament in June and July:

Daily Headlines: December 6, 2013

* Paraguay: A version of Facebook with settings in the Paraguayan indigenous language of Guarani was launched this week and will run for at least three months.

* U.S.: The unemployment rate among Latinos dropped to 8.7% last month, which represents a decrease of 0.4% compared to October and 1.2% less than November 2012.

* Ecuador: “We consider it an act of violence,” said the head of the Pachamama Foundation, an Ecuadorian environmental group that is critical of the country’s present and was abruptly shut down on Wednesday.

* Peru: A forensic team is investing a recently uncovered mass grave with forty-eight bodies of women and children likely killed during Peru’s armed conflict.

Video Source – YouTube user LDS Mission Stories (Prepare to Serve!)

Online Sources- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sacramento Bee, BBC News, ABC News

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Latin American Leaders Pay Tribute to Mandela

Former South African president, anti-apartheid activist and humanitarian Nelson Mandela died on Thursday at the age of 95.

“Our nation has lost its greatest son,” current South African leader Jacob Zuma said in a televised speech announcing the death of the man his followers referred to as Madiba.

Numerous Latin American heads of state joined in the countless number of tribunes to Mandela who passed away after a lengthy illness.
“Humanity has lost a tireless fighter for peace, liberty and equality.  Rest in peace Nelson Mandela,” declared Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto via Twitter.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff praised Mandela as the “greatest figure of the twentieth century” and “a warrior who transformed the paradigm not only for the African continent” but for the entire world.
“Nine months after the death of our commander (former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez) another Giant of the Global Community has left us,” tweeted Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro who also declared three days of mourning.  (A statement from the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable praised Mandela as “an example, guide and inspiration for all those who want to live in freedom and peace.”)  

Maduro’s Nicaraguan counterpart, Daniel Ortega, also declared three days of mourning and added, “We know that his legacy will prevail, and that his life will continue to inspire those who believe that a better world is possible.”  Juan Orlando Hernández, the recent president-elect of neighboring Honduras, said that he was “highly moved by the death of Nelson Mandela.”

“We deeply regret the death of Nelson Mandela.  His legacy serves as our guide to attain peace,” tweeted Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in reference to his government’s negotiations with the FARC guerillas.  (Santos’ predecessor Álvaro Uribe also referred to the discussions when he tweeted “Mandela vindicated democratic rights in contrast to the narcoterrorists who destroy them.”)

Daily Headlines: December 5, 2013

* Latin America: According to the U.N., the percentage of people in Latin America and the Caribbean living in poverty this year has gone unchanged compared to 2012.

* El Salvador: A lawsuit was filed against the Salvadoran government on behalf of a woman who sought a therapeutic abortion but was barred from doing so by the country’s Supreme Court last May.

* South America: Brazil’s Ponte Preta and Lanus of Argentina shared the spoils and tied 1-1 in the first match of the two-legged Copa Sudamericana soccer tournament final.

* Mexico: Police in Mexico located a stolen truck carrying radioactive cargo and believe that the missing robbers require “immediate” medical attention.

Video Source – YouTube user Erin Sidmore

Online Sources-; The Latin Americanist; ABC News; Socerway; CNN

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Daily Headlines: December 4, 2013

* Argentina: Rioting and looting took place in Cordoba after the police in Argentina’s second-largest city went on strike and demanded higher pay.

* Mexico: According to the International Atomic Energy Agency a truck carrying “extremely dangerous” isotope cobalt-60 was stolen on Monday at a Mexican gas station.

* Latin America: A new report from Transparency International found that Chile and Uruguay are the least corrupt countries in Latin American and the Caribbean while Haiti and Venezuela are the region’s most corrupt.

* Brazil: Brazil’s gross domestic product fell by 0.5% in the third quarter this year, which marks the first time since early 2009 the Brazilian economy did not undergo quarterly growth.

Video Source – YouTube user Interneteros (Video purportedly of looters breaking into a retail store in Cordoba, Argentina on December 3, 2013).

Online Sources- Reuters; International Business Times; NBC News; Bloomberg

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Daily Headlines: December 3, 2013

* Venezuela: For the second time in the last three months a major blackout affected most of Venezuela including major cities like Caracas where people had to be evacuated from stores and offices.

* Cuba: The U.S. State Department called on the Cuban authorities to free Alan Gross, a former U.S. government contractor Alan Gross detained on this date for years ago and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. 

* Haiti: Bahamian officials are expected today to return the 111 Haitian migrants who survived a deadly ship accident last week that killed thirty of their compatriots.

* Mexico: Miguel Herrera was permanently hired as coach of the Mexican men’s national soccer team after he helped guide El Tri to qualify for next year’s World Cup.

Video Source – YouTube via Univision Noticias

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist; BBC News; Voice of America;; Miami Herald

Monday, December 2, 2013

Daily Headlines: December 2, 2013

* Latin America: According to the U.N., Latin America is the region that provides the highest proportion of AIDS treatment coverage though several countries have seen an increase in HIV infection in seniors over 60 years old.

* Mexico: A poll released days before the one year anniversary of the inauguration of President Enrique Peña Nieto found that his popularity has fallen and more Mexicans disapprove him than back him.

* Costa Rica: Costa Rica, which is a country labeled by the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation as a tax haven, signed a deal with the U.S. to comply with a new anti-tax evasion law starting next year.

* Honduras: Thousands of supporters of defeated opposition presidential candidate Xiomara Castro protested the results of the November 24th election that she claimed where "fraudulent."

Video Source - YouTube via Metro Guatemala (Dozens of Guatemalans held a vigil in order to commemorate World AIDS Day, which was observed on December 1st).

Online Sources - GlobalPost; Reuters; The Guardian