Friday, January 31, 2014

Daily Headlines: January 31, 2014

* Central America: Presidential elections are set to take place this Sunday in El Salvador and Costa Rica yet recent polls indicated that a runoff is likely in both countries.

* Argentina: In the latest sign of Argentina’s financial woes, the government reported yesterday that the countries foreign reserves fell by $2.1 billion in January alone.

* U.S.: A new poll found that most Latinos believe diabetes as the most serious health risk to their families even though cancer is the primary killer of Latinos. 

* Panama: Authorities in Panama released thirty-two members of a ship bound for North Korea that was intercepted last July with a hidden cargo of Cuban weapons.

Video Source – teleSUR via YouTube

Online Sources- Reuters; Bloomberg; GlobalPost; Al Jazeera; Huffington Post

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Accident Seriously Injures Brazilian Olympic Hopeful

The Olympic dream came to an unfortunate end for a Brazilian skier who could’ve been one of the few Latin American athletes to participate in the upcoming Winter Games.

Lais Souza underwent spine surgery on Wednesday after suffering an accident while training in Salt Lake City on Monday.  She was in an intensive care unit at a University of Utah hospital, awake and breathing with the help of a ventilation machine.

Souza entered the hospital with minimal sensation from her neck down, and was only able to communicate using her eyes and by moving her head.  She reportedly moved her shoulders slightly yesterday, which is a positive sign prior to the additional surgeries she will have to undergo this week.

”Lais has a long recovery process in front of her,” Team Brasil doctor Antonio Marttos said, according to a statement from the Brazilian Olympic Committee. ”A long-term prognostic cannot be predicted at this time. Her medical team is doing everything possible to allow her to have the best recovery possible.”

Souza participated as a gymnast in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics yet took up aerial skiing roughly six months ago.  Before that neither she or training partner Joselane Rodrigues dos Santos had ever skied and Souza had only seen snow once in her life.

This was the worst thing that could’ve happened to her,” said Ryan Snow, Souza’s Canadian-born coach who discovered her and Santos during a trial last May.  Snow said in a Brazilian TV interview that he was observing the technique of the two women during a training exercise when he suddenly “heard a noise” and saw that Souza had crashed into a tree.

Daily Headlines: January 30, 2014

* Venezuela: Exports of Venezuelan oil to the U.S. are expected to reach its lowest level in twenty-eight years partly due to decreased production and increased demand from China.

* Central America: Nicaraguan legislators backed a constitutional reform that could permit President Daniel Ortega to seek a third straight term, while Panamanian first lady Marta Linares was chosen by the country’s ruling party to run for vice president.

* Argentina: A pair of new studies concluded that climate change is hindering the growth of penguin populations in Antarctica and Argentina.

* Ecuador: Edgar Vaca, the former police chief of Ecuador who was recently arrested in the U.S., will be extradited to his native land and formally charged with crimes against humanity.

Video Source – Press TV via YouTube

Online Sources- Bloomberg; The Guardian; Voice of America; Reuters; GlobalPost

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

UNESCO Report Highlight LatAm Education Woes

A new report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) found that millions of children in Latin America and the Caribbean are not receiving an adequate education.

According to the UNESCO’s 2013/4 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, more than 2.5 million children do not go to school even though the primary school matriculation rate in the region is about 95%.  One of the reasons for this is that many students at an early age drop out such as in Guatemala where 98% of kids are enrolled in elementary school yet 79% complete that level.

Additionally, the report found that roughly one out of every ten children of elementary school age have not been learning basic reading skills.  The scale of this problem varies from country to country; for instance, at least 95% of primary school age children in Argentina, Cuba and Mexico have basic reading skills compared to less than 80% in Nicaragua, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic.

According to the UNESCO study, youth from poorer households are more likely to be illiterate than those from wealthier backgrounds.  In Haiti, for example, 58% of the poorest young people are illiterate against a scant 8% among those from rich families. Meanwhile 10% of the poorest Colombian fifteen-year-old students obtained the minimum standards in math versus 55% of their wealthiest peers.

Other barriers affecting learning include residing in rural areas that often suffer due to a lack of teachers and resources as well as belonging to an indigenous or ethnic minority where the language used in the classroom may not be one that they speak.

Despite the income gap, the UNESCO study noted that children in several countries throughout the region also lack basic skills in mathematics.  In the case of Chile, 20% of elementary school age children did not reach the minimum standard in math even though nearly all kids have acquired basic reading skills.

Daily Headlines: January 29, 2014

* Argentina: President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil said that her country will not help neighbors Argentina, which is going through financial difficulties that could affect the economies of both countries.

* U.S.: Could a proposal aimed at attracting migrants to work in bankrupt Detroit help push the impasse over much needed federal immigration reform?

* Latin America: State-oil Indian firms could become major beneficiaries of a boom in Latin American shale oil output.

* Venezuela: Venezuelan journalists have urged swift action from the government in order to help  newspapers that could shut down in the next few weeks due to a shortage of paper.

Video Source – AFP via YouTube

Online Sources- Wall Street Journal; Christian Science Monitor; Reuters; Politico; Washington Post

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Daily Headlines: January 28, 2014

* Brazil: Few strong safety measures have reportedly been taken in Brazil in order to prevent fires like a deadly nightclub blaze that occurred on January 27, 2013

* Venezuela: Thousands of Venezuelans in favor and opposed to the government participated in different protests calling for an end to rampant violence.

* Latin America: The weather phenomena known as El Niño is expected to occur later this year and bring heavy rains to Latin America’s Pacific coast.

* Colombia: A fight among inmates is believed to have been the cause of a Barranquilla prison fire last night that killed at least ten people.

Video Source – Associated Press via YouTube

Online Sources- Christian Science Monitor; The Latin Americanist; AFP; Bloomberg; GlobalPost

Monday, January 27, 2014

International Court Verdict in Peru-Chile Border Dispute

Neither Peru nor Chile got entirely what they wanted in a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding a bilateral border dispute.

The ICJ agreed on Monday to expand Peru’s maritime boundary to cover some 10,800 square miles of ocean currently in international waters.  Thus, the tribunal partially agreed to Peru’s original claim of nearly 15,000 square miles of ocean.

Even though Chile may have to cede some of its territory in the Pacific Ocean, disagreed with Peru’s argument on how to redraw the maritime boundary.  By ruling that the maritime border should start from the same point on the coastline as it does now, the ICJ may have preserved valuable coastal fishing areas currently controlled by Chile.

Although the ICJ’s ruling is nonbinding the presidents of Chile and Peru have agreed to abide by the decision.

Peru is pleased with the outcome,” said the Andean country’s president Ollanta Humala. “With this controversy resolved, the court affirmed our rights,” added Humala.

Humala’s Chilean counterpart, Sebastián Piñera, said, “he strongly disagreed” with the part of the verdict that expands Peru’s maritime claims.  Yet he noted that both he and President-elect Michelle Bachelet will ensure that the court’s ruling would be applied “gradually and based on future agreements between both countries.”

The ICJ’s ruling was reminiscent of the court’s compromise decision made in a 2012 ruling between Nicaragua and Colombia over disputed oceanic claims.  Unlike the diplomatic tensions in the aftermath of that verdict, the strong economic ties between Chile and Peru mean that neither country would benefit from their leaders harshly criticizing the ruling.

Daily Headlines: January 27, 2014

* Mexico: Acclaimed Mexican poet and novelist Jose Emilio Pacheco died on Sunday at the age of 74.

* U.S.: Puerto Rican Robi Draco Rosa, Los Angeles-based group La Santa Cecilia and jazz collaboration Paquito D'Rivera and Trio Corrente were among the Latino winners at yesterday’s Grammys.

* Peru: A court cleared several former senior Peruvian officials including ex-President Alberto Fujimori of planning the forced sterilizations of some 2000 women in the 1990s.

* Honduras: High levels of violence, economic inequality and political divisions are some of the challenges to be faced by Juan Orlando Hernandez who will be inaugurated today as the next president of Honduras.

Video Source – Europa Press via YouTube

Online Sources- Bloomberg; CNN; GlobalPost; Huffington Post