Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mexico’s Espinoza Misses Out on Triple Crown

The thirty-six year Triple Crown drought will continue after Mexican jockey Victor Espinoza came up short on California Chrome at the Belmont Stakes.

Despite a game effort, Espinoza guided California Chrome to a shared fourth place finish and, thus, failed to become the first Latin American jockey to ride a horse to the Triple Crown.

“I was waiting for (California Chrome) to have a little kick in the homestretch but he didn’t have it,” admitted Espinoza referring to his “tired” horse after today’s race.

“This is very important for me,” said Joel Rosario from the Dominican Republic who rode Tonalist to the victory by a nose. "I’m a little upset about California Chrome. If I was going to get beat, I wanted to just get beat by him," he added.

For the 29-year-old Rosario, today's Belmont win is the pinnacle of a career that included victories last year in the Dubai World Cup and the Kentucky Derby.

Both Rosario and Espinoza represent an influx of Latin American jockeys who in recent years have come to dominate horse racing in North America.  The last four winners of the Kentucky Derby have come from the region (Espinoza, Rosario, Mario Gutierrez from Mexico and John Velasquez from Puerto Rico) while Venezuelan Javier Castellano set the single season earnings record ($25.64 million) in 2013.

For Espinoza, the past month of racing represents a partial redemption following his inability to capture the Triple Crown with War Emblem in 2002.

"This is my second and last chance [at the Triple Crown]," he said shortly after he rode the three-year-old colt to victory in the Preakness Stakes two weeks ago.

“In a million years, I didn't think I was going to have a second chance. I was very close once. Life goes on, and over a decade, here we go — I'm here again.”

Friday, June 6, 2014

Daily Headlines: June 6, 2014

* Latin America: A recent International Labor Organization study of developing countries found that the middle class in Latin America is expanding at a very fast rate.

* Venezuela: A judge ruled that opposition activist Leopoldo Lopez should remain in jail on the same day that an International Commission of Jurists report blasted problems in the Venezuelan judicial system.

* Colombia: Colombia’s conservative President Juan Manuel Santos and his rightwing challenger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga participated in a televised debate amid an ugly and tight presidential race.

* Guatemala: The murder rate in Guatemala fell by over ten percent in the first five months this year though the country’s homicide rate is among the world’s highest.

Video Source – YouTube user BizAsiaAmerica

Online Sources – LAHT; Colombia Reports; VOXXI; Reuters; The Guardian

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Daily Headlines: June 5, 2014

* U.S.: Nearly one year after the U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, a recent poll of registered Hispanic voters found that most respondents are upset with both the Democrats and Republicans over their inaction to approve immigration reform.

* Colombia: Is Chiquita, a company that hired guerillas and paramilitaries in Colombia in the 1990s, trying to block a proposal that would “allow 9/11 victims to sue companies that fund terrorists”?

* Bolivia: The world’s highest cable car system was inaugurated last week some 12,00 feet above sea level and connecting the Bolivian capital of La Paz with a nearby city.

* Brazil: The Brazilian government announced a five-year moratorium on a type of catfish with the aim of cutting down on the killing of the Amazon pink dolphin.

Video Source – Associated Press via YouTube  (“Roman Catholic leaders made a rare visit to the border and celebrated Mass (last April) in the shadow of the fence separating the U.S. and Mexico, offering Holy Communion to people on both sides”.)

Online Sources – ABC News; The Latin Americanist; NBC News; Fox News Latino; Sydney Morning Herald

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Brazilian Bishops Issue “Red Card” Against World Cup Plans

An organization of Brazilian catholic bishops gave a “red card” to the preparations for the World Cup that will begin on June 12th.

According to a pamphlet issued by the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (known by the Portuguese acronym of CNBB), the group criticized the “inversion of priorities” in the spending of public funds to soccer’s main tournament instead of areas like “health care, education, basic sanitation, transportation and security”.  The CNBB also critiqued the Brazilian government for allowing the “misappropriation of sport” by large corporations and private entities that will likely benefit financially from the World Cup.    

“(The removal of) families and communities for the construction of stadiums is a violation of the right of property in popular neighborhoods and communities,” said part of the pamphlet that is printed in three languages and is expected to be widely distributed during the World Cup.

For the CNBB, several initiatives can be taken that represent a “winning goal” such as ensuring that the residents of poor neighborhoods and homeless have the right to stay in their localities.  In addition, the group urges the authorities not to criminalize “social movements” and respect the rights of people to participate in street demonstrations.

“As a Church, we commit ourselves to stand by players and fans…and be a prayerful presence throughout the World Cup,” according to the CNBB.

It was approximately one year ago this month that over a million people took to the streets to protest against the billions of dollars in public money being spent on the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.  Though the protests have largely died down since then, a resurgence of mass demonstrations has developed in recent weeks and is expected to last during the tournament.

Daily Headlines: June 4, 2014

* Chile: Scientists have discovered the fossils and rare soft tissue of forty-six “dolphin-like” ichthyosaurs in southern Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park.

* El Salvador: Salvador Sanchez Ceren was sworn in as Salvadoran president and vowed to tackle major problems hurting the country such as corruption and gang violence.

* Uruguay: Uruguay’s foreign minster claimed that his country is ready to possibly receive six Guantanamo detainees and some 120 Syrian child refugees.

* Colombia: Peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC rebels resumed amidst a tense and ugly presidential race between incumbent leader Juan Manuel Santos and rightwing opponent Oscar Ivan Zuluaga.

Video Source – ITN via YouTube

Online Sources – Vatican Radio; Bloomberg; MercoPress; CBC News; Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Colombian Soccer Star to Miss World Cup

Radamel Falcao, the top player for Colombia’s men’s national soccer team, will not play in the World Cup that begins on June 12th.

In a decision described by José Pekerman as “the saddest day I’ve had since becoming Colombia coach”, “El Tigre” was among the three players cut off the final list of twenty-three players heading to Brazil for soccer’s top tournament.

“The doctors have been very clear: now is not the time for Falcao to return to competition,” said the Argentine-born coach in a press conference alongside the striker on Monday evening.

“Today I am in good physical condition, but I would not want to take away a teammate’s chance to play, nor do anything against my health. I believe that this is the most sensible thing I can do,” Falcao mentioned.
The 28-year-old who triumphed with clubs like River Plate of Buenos Aires and Spain’s Atletico Madrid has not played a game since he suffered an injury in January while playing for Monaco in the French Cup.

Despite the damage he received to his anterior cruciate ligament, Falcao quickly went through surgery and put himself through a demanding rehabilitation in the hopes of recovering in time for the World Cup.  Alas, it was not to be though his exclusion from the final squad did not dampen his spirits according to a tweet he published yesterday:

(Translation: “Today I can only smile for having tried until the very end.”)

Daily Headlines: June 3, 2014

* Mexico: Representatives of numerous Latin American governments including Mexico’s foreign secretary praised King Juan Carlos I of Spain who announced yesterday that he will abdicated his throne.

* Cuba: Could the exchange of a U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan for five Guantanamo detainees serve as a precedent for a possible swap of a U.S. civilian jailed in Havana for three imprisoned Cuban spies?

* Peru: Peru’s government postponed a planned coca eradication program that would’ve been partially funded by the U.S.

* Brazil: The Foreign Minister of Brazil rejected U.S. intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden’s claims that he has formally sought asylum in the South American country.

Video Source – Associated Press via YouTube

Online Sources – USA TODAY;; LAHT; ABC News; Xinhua

Monday, June 2, 2014

Daily Headlines: June 2, 2014

* Spain: King Juan Carlos I of Spain will abdicated his throne after nearly four decades that included numerous accomplishments like promoting better political, economic and cultural ties with the Latin America.

* Colombia: 2013 Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana of Colombia became the first Latin American cyclist to win the Giro d'Italia while his compatriot, Rigoberto Uran, finished in second.

* Mexico: President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that the government would spend some $4.5 billion to modernize ports throughout Mexico.

* Latin America: Mexico’s Luis Montes and Ecuador’s Segundo Castillo will miss the upcoming World Cup after they both collided with each another during a friendly match on Saturday.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube

Online Sources – CNN; The Latin Americanist; ESPM;; LAHT