Friday, May 16, 2014

Daily Headlines: May 16, 2014

* Brazil: With less than one month to go until the start of the World Cup, anti-government protests were held in several major Brazilian cities including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

* Venezuela: Venezuelan opposition members are expected to meet this weekend with foreign ministers of the UNASUR bloc days after they suspended talks with the Maduro regime.

* Argentina: The Argentine government is expected to appeal a federal tribunal’s ruling that a pact between the South American country and Iran to investigate the 1994 AMIA bombing was unconstitutional.

* Colombia: Several recent polls indicated that staunch Uribista presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga is in a statistical tie or leading President Juan Manuel Santos ahead of the May 25th election.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube (Brazil “is in the grip of unrest with teachers, civil servants, police officers, bus drivers and the homeless furious at the cost of hosting the upcoming football World Cup.”)

Online Sources –; The Economist; Reuters; Bloomberg

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Four Years of Silence for Cerati

On March 14, 2010, Argentine rocker Gustavo Cerati suffered from a stroke following a concert in Caracas, Venezuela.  Sadly, that was the last time the former Soda Stereo front man would grace the stage and four years later he remains hospitalized unconscious and in a coma.

According to statement from Cerati’s family via his website, doctors overseeing the 54-year-old in Buenos Aires believe that he is “clinically stable…maintaining a health nutritional state and without injuries” due to his bedridden state.”  Nevertheless, doctors noted that there have been “no significant improvements” to his condition and he continues to be connected to an “assistive respiratory device.”

Despite the grim prognosis, members of Cerati’s family remain hopeful that he can successfully emerge from his coma and recover.

“He has been bed ridden for four years, but he is doing very well,” said Cerati’s mother, Lillian Clark. 

“If Gustavo was suffering, he would be intolerable, but in reality he is like sleeping. We haven’t seen him get worse,” she added.

“There are days when I wish I could slap him so he can wake up and there other days where all I do is cry,” observed Charly Alberti, one of Cerati’s band mates on the legendary Soda Stereo rock group.

“Gustavo is one of the best musicians ever to come from Argentina, and that is fantastic,” Alberti also noted.

Cerati’s fans worldwide also remembered him via social networking where the hashtag #CeratiDespierta (#WakeUpCerati, in English) reportedly became a trending topic on Twitter on Thursday.

Among the numerous gestures of love and affection by Cerati’s family on his birthday last August was a video from Clark. Created by Gustavo Masó, Conexión intrauterina (Intrauterine Connection) was a tribute to Cerati that can be seen below the page break:

Daily Headlines: May 15, 2014

* Honduras: Military police clashed with supporters of ex-president Manuel Zelaya outside of the Honduran legislative chambers as political tensions related to the controversial 2009 ouster of Zelaya remain high.
* Caribbean: Researchers have reportedly located the “looted” remains of the Santa Maria, one of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage to the Americas, off the coast of Haiti.

* Brazil: Cruzeiro’s elimination from the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores meant that for the first time since 1991 no Brazilian teams would be among the final four of South America’s top soccer club tournament.

* U.S.: Is the Eva Longoria-led Latino Victory Project a front for the Democrats or is the Republican National Committee guilty of sour grapes?

Video Source– YouTube user latribunatvhn

Online Sources – ABC News; The Latin Americanist; The Wire; The Huffington Post; Soccrway

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mujica Promotes “Fashionable” Uruguay to U.S. Business Group

Uruguayan President José Mujica attempted to woo foreign investment to his country in a speech given on Tuesday to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“It seems like Uruguay is a fashionable country…this is thanks to the people, not the government” he said as part of his address entitled “Uruguay: A New Age of Global Dynamism”.

Mujica emphasized to the crowd of U.S. businessmen and Uruguayan expats that his country has overcome the “vicious cycle” of anxiety towards foreign investment and Uruguay has enjoyed steady economic growth over the past decade.  As a result, Uruguay’s leader since 2010 observed that his country has “the mechanisms for investment and this will lead to a multiplication of productivity and competitiveness.”

The 78-year-old former guerrilla fighter turned president also defended economic policies that have not been seen favorably by local business interests such as raising the minimum wage to one of the highest in Latin America.

“Uruguay grows due to (income) distribution…We have achieved growth while distributing wealth. I acknowledge that we’ve had problems but they’re related to (economic) expansion,” Mujica claimed.

Mujica’s visit to the U.S. continues today when he meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and an address to students at American University. On Monday he visited the White House where he met his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, and reportedly did not talk about controversial issues such as Uruguay’s legalization of marijuana and the transfer of a handful of Guantanamo detainees to the South American country.  Nevertheless, Mujica criticized tobacco use and advised Americans to learn to speak Spanish:
The Uruguayan president spoke about his country's tough restrictions on tobacco smoking, which have led to it being sued by the US tobacco giant Philip Morris.
"In the world, eight million people die each year from smoking tobacco," he said.

"This is mass murder. We are in an arduous fight, very arduous, and we must fight against very strong [corporate] interests."

Mr Mujica also said that, as people were learning English in his country out of necessity, Americans also had to learn Spanish because of an increase in the Latino population.
"The strength of Latin women is admirable, and they will fill this continent with people who speak Spanish and also Portuguese."
Aside from backing the plan for the legalized distribution and production of marijuana, Mujica has become a “cult hero to droves of young progressives around the world” due to other policy chances including legalizing gay marriage and the decriminalization of certain types of abortion.  He cannot run for immediate reelection though polls indicate that the ruling Broad Front of leftist parties is expected to continue in power following the October 26th presidential elections.

Video Source – YouTube user teleSURenglishtv

Online Sources – El Observador; Buenos Aires Herald; BBC News; MercoPress; VICE News; Prensa Latina; Caracol Radio

Daily Headlines: May 13, 2014

* Venezuela: Dr. Jacinto Convit, a Venezuelan researcher who helped develop vaccines against leprosy and leishmaniasis, passed away at the age of 100 in Caracas.

* Panama: No major damage or casualties have been reported from a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit off the Pacific coast of Panama on Tuesday morning.

* Mexico: Mexican officials claimed on Monday that the co-founder of the Zetas drug gang was killed in a shootout along with five other people.

* Latin America: Job security, the economy and crime are the "top three concerns" for Latin Americans according to a new Nielson survey.

Video Source – Noticiero Venevision via YouTube 

Online Sources – Reuters; NBC News; ABC News; Nielson

Monday, May 12, 2014

Daily Headlines: May 12, 2014

* Britain: Manuel Pellegrini of Chile became the first non-European coach to head a team to an English Premier League title after he helped guide Manchester City to a crown in his rookie season with the club.

* Peru: Scientists recently discovered rock lines in Peru that are believed to be approximately 2300 years old and pre-date the well-known Nazca Lines.

* Brazil: An estimated 7000 people have occupied land near the site of the opening match of the upcoming World Cup as part of a protest to call for affordable housing in Brazil.

* Mexico: The Mexican government began to demobilize vigilante "self-defense" groups in Michoacan and convert them into a rural police force.

Online Sources - Discovery News; Los Angeles Times; The Huffington Post; Sydney Morning Herald

Video Source - YouTube user ChileNews