Friday, July 18, 2014

Daily Headlines: July 18, 2014

* Central America: Can animated shorts, TV ads and cumbia music help deter Central American youth from joining the recent influx of undocumented minors migrating to the U.S.?

* Argentina: Argentina could fall into a massive debt default in less than two weeks unless the government can hammer out a deal with holdout capital funds.

* Brazil: According to a new poll, support for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has dropped and she’s in a near tie in a hypothetical runoff against opposition candidate Aécio Neves.

* Uruguay: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a letter to congressional leaders confirming that six detainees from the Guantanamo Bay military prison will be transferred to Uruguay.

Video Source – El Salvador Foreign Ministry via YouTube

Online Sources – Voice of America; Bloomberg; NBC News; Christian Science Monitor

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mexico: Families Denounced Shelter Abuses for Years

Mexican officials this week raided a shelter in Michoacán and rescued nearly 600 people including 458 children who received all sorts of abuse, resided in squalid conditions and were obligated to eat spoiled food.  For families of some of the residents of the “La Gran Famila” (“The Great Family”), the liberation of their loved ones couldn’t have come soon enough.

In the case of twenty-eight-year-old Veronica Gamiña, she claimed that she left her nine-year-old child at the residence four years ago but her subsequent attempts to reclaim her child were made nearly impossible by shelter founder Rosa del Carmen Verduzco.

“First they told me that I had to fill out documents explaining why I wanted to take my child back then they asked me to pay 37,000 pesos (roughly $2800).  I only earn 800 pesos a week and I cannot save enough money,” said the restaurant worker to the press outside of the raided shelter on Wednesday.

Another parent alleged that she gave birth to two kids while she was at the shelter that had been functioning for forty years.  She was permitted by to leave the compound but forced to leave her children behind where “Mama Rosa” claimed the minors as her own according to Tomas Zeron, federal chief of criminal investigations.

"Victim No. 4 said she had been held in the group home against her will since she was 18," said Zeron about another supposed case of abuse at “La Gran Famila”. "She was sexually abused by one of the administrators, and got pregnant as a result of the abuse. The same person beat her to cause an abortion, beating her in the stomach on several occasions."

Michoacán Gov. Salvador Jara told the press that he was in the dark about the supposed horrors in the shelter until he became governor last month.  Yet that cannot excuse the apparent incompetence of local and federal authorities that may have been aware of the problems for years.  As reported in, an August 2010 investigation by one of Mexico’s most important newspapers described the abuses at the shelter and possibly why “Mama Rosa” may have gotten away with her actions for decades:

Daily Headlines: July 17, 2014

* Latin America: According to the U.N., the Caribbean has seen the biggest decline in new HIV infections while every hour ten people in Latin America are infected with the disease.

* Costa Rica: Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas, whose superb play helped guide Los Ticos to the World Cup quarterfinals, could be headed to one of soccer’s most prestigious clubs.

* Panama: imprisoned former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega is none too pleased over his depiction in the “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” video game.

* Mexico: The government of Mexico City enacted legislation approved last month banning the use of animals in circuses.

Video Source – YouTube user David Mercer (“Originally Published by Al Jazeera English on May 16, 2014.”)

Online Sources – euronews;; The Latin Americanist; The Guardian; LAHT

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Peru: Fifty-Six Femicides in 2014

Peru officially added femicides to the country's penal code in 2011.

Ciudad Juarez in Mexico is usually associated with the gender-based murders of women yet femicides are a problem throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  Such is the case of Peru where the government revealed alarming data on violence against women.

According to Peru’s Minister of Women and Vulnerable Populations, Carmen Omonte, at least fifty-six confirmed femicides took place during the first six months of this year.  At his pace, the number of confirmed femicides would be less than the 131 detected in 2013.  Nevertheless, the eighty-eight suspected femicides cases between January and June of this year could outpace the 151 possible instances believed to have occurred last year.

In light of theses statistics, Omonte said that her ministry was working on a protocol “across multiple sectors” to better address the “serious problem” of violence against women and femicides.  Yet the minister, who admitted last month to have been the target of sexual harassment, urged female victims of violence to speak up and not live in fear.

“It’s still an uphill battle in getting women to report that they’ve been assaulted, and to stop [women] from assuming it’s a natural thing to just suffer in silence… However, I believe that little by little, society and the government, working together, are helping more women to take heart and go to the authorities,” Omonte said.

Earlier this month, Omonte joined former Olympian and revered figure Natalia Malaga in launching a public campaign aimed at encouraging women to stand up for their rights.  The program could help combat feelings of machismo still prevalent in Peru:

Daily Headlines: July 16, 2014

* Argentina: “Lobbyists” acting on behalf of investment funds seeking repayment of debts from Argentina paid for a newspaper ad today claiming “Time is running out for Argentina.”

* Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro announced that he would soon provide details of a “fiscal revolution” though it remains to be seen if that will fix problems like Venezuela’s high inflation, overvalued currency and food shortages.

* Haiti: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Haitian victims of a cholera outbreak that may have been caused by visiting peacekeepers.

* Central America: Costa Rica’s government has urged neighboring Nicaragua to conduct environmental impact studies on a planned interoceanic canal project.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube

Online Sources – Tico Times; Reuters; ABC News; Miami Herald

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Daily Headlines: July 15, 2014

* Cuba: Cuban authorities arrested at least ninety members of the Ladies in White protest movement over the weekend who were commemorating the deaths of thirty-seven migrants who died a sea in 1994.
* U.S.: Germany’s World Cup final win over Argentina was the most watched soccer match in U.S. television history with an estimated 26.5 million people viewing ABC and Univision.

* Mexico: President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law a major telecommunications reform that he claimed, “will promote greater competition, more and better conditions, better coverage and service quality, as well as lower prices and costs.”

* Argentina: Argentine companies and provinces are reportedly hopeful that an agreement can be reached between debtors and the government before the end of the month.

Video Source – Reuters via YouTube (Cuba’s Ladies in White protesters participating in a 2010 march).

Online Sources – UPI; Fox News Latino; The Latin Americanist; Businessweek; Reuters

Monday, July 14, 2014

Today’s Video – Challenging the Champs

The German men’s national team steamrolled past host country Brazil en route to the fourth World Cup title in the squad’s history.  Their next matchup in Brazil might not be against Neymar and company but could be against a side with plenty of heart and determination.

The TECHO Latin American nongovernment organization has organized a social media campaign seeking a match between the World Cup champions and a team from Sao Paulo’s Anita Garibaldi slum.

The goal behind supporting a match between the Anita Fútbol Club and this year's World Cup titleholder is to call attention to the extreme poverty experienced by millions of people throughout Latin America. As a result, the organization has allegedly sent a letter to the head of the German soccer federation inviting Die Mannschaft to play against the Anita favela side.

“(Germany) was the team that played the best in the World Cup and they helped Brazil by building their own training center,” said Anita player and community leader Elvis Vieira.

It’s unknown of Germany will accept the invitation but Vieira and his teammates have undergone extra workouts with the hope that they could perhaps lineup against the likes of Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm.

“We used to train only on Saturdays and Sundays.  The community has always supported us and now even more so,” added Vieira.

In the following video via TECHO, sixteen-year-old Anita player Lucas observes how soccer serves as a welcome diversion from the difficulties he faces residing in the favela:

Daily Headlines: July 14, 2014

* Colombia: Colombian James Rodriguez became the third South American player since 1978 to win the Golden Boot Award as top scorer at the World Cup.

* Argentina: Visiting Russian president Vladimir Putin backed Argentina’s claim to the Falklands and also signed a nuclear energy cooperation pact with his counterpart, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
* Peru: Peruvian officials claimed that their country could double their copper production by 2016 and surpass China as the world’s second-largest producer of the metal.

* Brazil: The BRICS group of developing countries that includes Brazil will reportedly launch its own development bank that could curb the influence of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Video Source – Richard Swarbrick via YouTube

Online Sources – USA TODAY; euronews; The West Australian;

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Argentina Falls in World Cup Final Match

Chris Wondolowski’s shot above the crossbar against Belgium. Mauricio Pinilla’s attempt ringing the goalpost in extra time against Brazil. Michael Arroyo not pulling the trigger late versus the Swiss. There were numerous missed opportunities at this year’s World Cup though none may have been bigger than the squandered chances by Argentina in their narrow 1-0 loss to Germany in the title match.

In the 29th minute, Gonzalo Higuain received the ball in space following a defensive lapse by the German backline but he mishit and his shot rolled woefully wide of the goal.  Minutes later, Higuain found the back of the net yet his celebration was cut short as the goal was called back for a clear offsides.

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi also wasted several opportunities in the final match played at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium.  In the early minutes of the second half, La Pulga was alone in front of goal with only German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to beat however he dragged a poor shot low and wide.  Messi’s teammate, Rodrigo Palacio, was also alone in front of Neuer in extra time but has chip ended harmless to the right of the German netminder.

It took until the 113th minute for the scoreless deadlock to be broken when Mario Götze scored from a sharp angle past Sergio Romero’s net.

Messi, who netted a late game-winner in group play against Iran and assisted Ángel di María’s gamewinner in the second round versus Switzerland, was fouled in injury time of the second extra period.  He took it upon himself to try for the equalizer from about thirty years away from goal but his shot sailed high and wide. Two minuets later the final whistle blew and Germany won the World Cup for the fourth time in team history.

Following the match numerous Argentine players such as Messi, who was named as the best player of the World Cup, couldn’t hide their dejection.

Protest in Rio Prior to World Cup Final (Updated)

An estimated 200 people are taking part in a protest hours before Sunday’s World Cup final match in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

According to the Brazilian press, the anti-World Cup rally is taking place in Rio’s Tijuca neighborhood near the Maracana Stadium where the German and Argentine teams are currently facing off.

Some participants carried banners in Portuguese and English with insignias like “Blood Cup” in the demonstration that is reportedly part of the local “Our Cup is On the Street” protest movement organized by labor unions and leftist opposition political parties.

Update (4:15 PM): Police shot tear gas and rubber bullets at several hundred demonstrators roughly a mile near the Maracana.   At least two people are injured from the actions that occurred as the World Cup title match was held. It's not clear if these actions are related to the aforementioned protest in Tijuca.

Update (5:35 PM): Via New York Times journalist Simon Romero's Twitter - six people were injured in a "FIFA Go Home" protest near Maracana as police clashed with some 300 demonstrators.  

Update (11:55 PM): We've added a video of the protest including the police shooting tear gas at demonstrators.

Over 26,000 military police personnel have been deployed throughout Rio today as part of a massive security operation aimed at maintaining order today.