Thursday, May 22, 2014

Daily Headlines: May 22, 2014

* Brazil: Uruguay striker Luis Suarez could join Matias Fernandez of Chile and (possibly) Radamel Falcao of Colombia on the list of South American soccer stars that will miss the World Cup due to injury.

* Argentina: Joaquín Salvador Lavado, known by the pen name of “Quino” and creator of the Mafalda comic character, was named as this year’s recipient of Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities.

* Cuba: The Cuban government is believed to be behind the hacking of the new website launched yesterday by dissident blogger and activist Yoani Sanchez.

* Venezuela: The diplomatic tug-of-war between the U.S. and Venezuela hasn’t stopped state-run oil firm PDVSA from receiving a “$2 billion credit line” from several companies including Halliburton and Schlumberger.

Video Source – YouTube user David Peradze

Online Sources – BBC News;; LAHT; ABC News

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Colombia: Twitter Twit Nearly Lynched

In 2007, the term “¿Por qué no te callas?” (“Why don’t you shut up?”) entered the Spanish-language lexicon when King Juan Carlos of Spain ordered then-Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to be quiet during a summit.  The saying could be applied to a Colombian man who could be imprisoned for his Twitter comments on a recent tragedy that claimed the lives of thirty-two children returning from a church event.

In light of Saturday’s deadly bus fire in the town of Fundación, Jorge Alejandro Pérez made remarks via his Twitter account that at best can be described as a failed attempt at dark humor and at worse the heartless ramblings of a sociopath.

“With the high price of gasoline and for it to be wasted on 32 costeñitos? That’s stupid,” said the law school student. (Costeñitos refers to residents in Colombia’s coastal communities).

Pérez mentioned, “Lets gather funds and buy a gallon of gasoline to get rid of the costeños” along with the hashtag #MePrendoComoNiñoEnBus (roughly translated as #ICatchOnFireLikeAChildOnABus).

He also referred to the death of a homeless Bogota man nicknamed “Calidoso” who was attacked and set ablaze by unknown assailants earlier this month.

“The 32 kids went to feed Calidoso…and they ended up burning in hell,” Pérez said.

The reaction from social media included criticizing his remarks along with the hashtag #RepudioContraJorgeAlejandroPerez (#RepudiationAgainstJorgeAlejandroPerez). Pérez was quickly identified since his Twitter account didn’t mention his name but did include his photo.  As a result, several hundred people Wednesday night gathered at the campus where he goes to school with the reported intent of lynching him.  A police SWAT team prevented that from happening and he was escorted to a local precinct for the rest of the evening. A police spokesman claimed that he had left his home city of Ibague but did not specify exactly where.

“I recognize that I made a mistake and I offended all Colombians with my thoughtless comments,” said Pérez in a letter purportedly written by him.  In an interview with local TV, he also asked “the Colombian people and the residents of Fundación to forgive him.”

It’s unknown if he’ll return to Ibague to his family’s residence that has been under police protection due to online threats to burn it down.  What is certain, however, is that he won't be returning to the university where he studied since administrators on Wednesday announced that he will be expelled.

Daily Headlines: May 21, 2014

* Central America: The U.S. Agency for International Development will work with university researchers as part of a $5 million partnership in order to combat a crippling Central American coffee fungus.

* Venezuela: The U.S. Senate could soon vote on a bill that would raise sanctions against Venezuelan officials accused of human rights violations stemming from protests and political unrest since February.  

* Cuba: Cuban dissident blogger and activist Yoani Sanchez launched a new website today that will reportedly “provide daily news about the communist-run country, but insisted it would not be a platform against the government”.

* Uruguay: The plan to legalize the sale and distribution of marijuana in Uruguay will allegedly be exempted from taxation with the goal of “undercutting the black market.”

Video Source – YouTube user CBS Evening News

Online Sources – Reuters; Tico Times; LAHT; BBC News

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Daily Headlines: May 20, 2014

* Mexico: Scientists will reportedly attempt to extract the skeletal remains of a girl who died around 13,000 years ago in Mexico and whose discovery has strengthened “the long-held theory that humans arrived in the Americas by way of a land bridge from Asia”.

* Latin America: The Israeli government approved a foreign aid package "to strengthen its economic ties with at least five Latin American countries," and days after Palestine Authority president Mahmoud Abbas signed an oil deal with Venezuela.

* Cuba: Ex-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, former NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis and several former senior State Department officials were among the over forty signatories to an open letter using the White House to drop the trade embargo on Cuba.

* Colombia: “We couldn't do anything but hold our heads and watch the children burn,” said one of the eyewitnesses of a tragic bus fire that claimed the lives of at least 33 minors in northern Colombia.

Video Source –YouTube user NewsyScience

Online Sources – CBC News; BBC News; The Jerusalem Post; Jewish Telegraphic Agency; Miami Herald

Monday, May 19, 2014

Daily Headlines: May 19, 2014

* Colombia: In news that could boost the chances of President Juan Manuel Santos winning next Sunday's presidential election, opposition candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga was videotaped meeting with suspected hacker Andrés Sepulveda while the Colombian government reached a partial agreement with the FARC rebels.

* Argentina: Paleontologists in the Patagonia region of Argentina believed they have found the remains of what may have been the biggest dinosaur in history.

* U.S.: Victor Espinoza of Mexico is two-thirds of the way through to becoming the first Latin American jockey to guide a horse to the Triple Crown.

* Brazil: Inmates at a maximum security prison in northeastern Brazil freed 127 people held hostage following a riot over the weekend.

Online Sources - New York Daily News; Reuters; ABC News; GlobalPost; The Epoch Times

Video Source - euronews via YouTube