Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Weekender – Voices of Sao Paulo

“The Weekender” is our new feature where every weekend we hope to highlight a short film, movie or documentary pertaining to the Americas. 

For over a century, the Brazilian metropolis of Sao Paulo has grown and become highly diverse due to its constantly growing immigrant population. South America’s largest city has received traditionally received foreign migrants from countries like Japan and Portugal as well as domestically from around the country.  In recent years Sao Paulo as seen an influx of Chinese, African and Latin American immigrants that have helped gradually revitalize the area’s crime-ridden and largely crime-ridden downtown area.

Produced by Kika Nicolela and Lucas Bambozzi, “Somos São Paulo” (“We Are Sao Paulo”) was featured as part a 2011 exhibition in the Sao Paulo Museum of Art. More than sixty Paulistas of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds were interviewed and provided their experiences living in the city.  Among those featured in the film was a Polish Holocaust survivor, an Argentine escaping the repression of the “Dirty War”, a Bolivian seeking better economic opportunities and a Korean woman in love with a Brazilian.

Below the page break is the entire “Somos São Paulo” where you can view how the metropolis has impacted the lives of the film’s interviewees:

Weekend Headlines: July 26-27, 2014 (Updated)

* Venezuela: Former Venezuelan military intelligence chief Gen. Hugo Carvajal was arrested in Aruba could soon be extradited to the U.S. where he’s charged with drug trafficking and collaborating with Colombian rebels.

Update: Much to the disappointment of the U.S. State Department, Cavajal was released Sunday and returned to a "hero's welcome" in Caracas.

* Mexico: Rosa del Carmen Verduzco, the owner of a Mexican shelter recently raided by the authorities, denied allegations of sexual abuse against hundreds of residents but admitted to hitting children as a means of “correcting” them.

* Peru: The executive board of state-owned oil company Petroperu was reshuffled after it was revealed that children were employed to clean an oil spill.

* Brazil: Brazil's National Indian Foundation claimed that they made contact with an isolated indigenous group near the border with Peru that has been hurt by disease and violent attacks.

Video Source – CNN en Español via YouTube (The Venezuelan government has accused the U.S. of orchestrating the “kidnapping” of Hugo Carvajal, the head of military intelligence from 2004-2008 during late president Hugo Chavez' rule).

Online Sources including Update – Fox News Latino; Los Angeles Times; The Latin Americanist; VOXXI; Reuters; ABC News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Daily Headlines: July 25, 2014

* Mexico: Thousands of peasants and indigenous Mexicans marched in a protest against energy reforms that critics claim would lead to greater economic inequality and environmental damage to farmland.

* Central America: “If we don’t talk about the underlying causes, crises will continue to occur,” said Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina who proposed a greater emphasis on combating the drug trade and boosting economic growth in order to stem the influx of Central American migrants to the U.S.

* Colombia: A U.S. appeals court dismissed all lawsuits against Chiquita that were related to the deaths of Colombian banana plantation workers and activists by right-wing paramilitaries hired by the company.

* Cuba: Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and a prominent gay rights activist on the island, denied rumors that she died in a plane crash yesterday in Mali.

Video Source – CCTV America via YouTube

Online Sources – LAHT; Businessweek; Reuters; CBS News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Daily Headlines: July 24, 2014

* Venezuela: Proceedings began yesterday in the trial against leading opposition member Leopoldo Lopez who has been accused of inciting violence during anti-government demonstrations earlier this year.

* U.S.: According to a new report from the American Heart Association, the risks of cardiovascular disease vary among the different subpopulations within the Latino community.

* Colombia: Colombian defense officials declared that thirteen guerillas belonging to the ELN were killed in a series of military operations on Tuesday.

* Mexico: According to “preliminary” data, the 22,732 recorded homicides in Mexico last year was less than the peak of 27,213 in 2011 though homicide rates in several states have “increased markedly”.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube (Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez handed himself over to police in February and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted).

Online Sources – Yahoo News; BBC News; The Latin Americanist; GlobalPost; Newsweek

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Targeting Smugglers Won’t Stop Immigration, Says “Coyote”

A number of different proposals have been announced by politicos in order to control the recent influx of undocumented minors into the U.S. but are any of these plans effective? Probably not according to one human trafficker. 

“It’s a lie to believe that capturing the ‘coyotes’ will stop immigration” into the U.S., claimed a Honduran migrant smuggler who was recently interviewed in that country’s El Heraldo newspaper.  According to the “coyote”, strengthening border operations in countries such as the U.S. or Mexico wouldn’t work since some migrants allegedly opt to make the trek northward alone or in groups without the help of traffickers like him.

Nevertheless, he admitted that migrants who rely on “coyotes” as part of their journeys benefit from having a guide that knows different routes to take and has contacts who could help them out along the trek from sympathetic motel owners to bribed police officers.  Migrants going alone, according to the interviewee, run the risk of being assaulted by criminals or drug gangs and using unreliable modes of transportation such as riding on the dangerous northbound Mexican freight train network known as “La Bestia.” (The “coyote” instead opts for travelling through Mexico with his clients on the ground via bus).

He also confessed that he and his cohorts sometimes have to abandon adult migrants when, for example, they emerge from hiding in safe houses or are unable to endure the four-day trek through desert conditions. Children are carried in shifts by the group and are not left behind, the “coyote” said, though some of them opt for capture by the Border Patrol and are interrogated.

Nearly 192 “coyotes” and their associates were captured as part of an ongoing U.S. government operation aimed at disrupting smuggling operations in Texas.  Yet the trafficker interviewed in El Heraldo mentioned that there is a better solution to stem the influx of undocumented immigrants from Central America:

Daily Headlines: July 23, 2014

* Haiti: A "grand, dreamlike" rebuilding of areas of Port-au-Prince still in ruins from a 2010 earthquake has run into stiff opposition from survivors forced to relocate to tent camps.

* Argentina: "Life goes on for Argentina", claimed Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich hours after a U.S. court ordered the Argentine government to negotiate with holdout hedge funds and prevent a massive debt default.

* U.S.: A recent poll of 500 Latino voters found that most respondents are worried about the economy and this could factor into the upcoming midterm elections.

* Brazil: Heavy rains in southeastern Brazil could diminish the quality and reduce the quantity of the country's vital sugar and coffee harvests.

Online Sources - Businessweek; Reuters; Buenos Aires Herald; Business Insider; Latin Post 

Video Source - The Guardian via YouTube (Video recorded days after a major earthquake hit Haiti and caused the deaths of at least 100,000 people).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Daily Headlines: July 22, 2014

* Venezuela: Authorities today started to peacefully evict thousands of squatters residing in the "Tower of David", a Caracas skyscraper abandoned in 1994, to instead live in a publicly-funded housing project.

* Colombia: James Rodriguez, the Colombian player who was the top scorer in the recently finished World Cup, will reportedly join Spanish giants Real Madrid for about $100 million.

* Honduras: Police found the body of Honduran TV reporter Herlyn Espinal who was apparently kidnapped and subsequently murdered.

* Argentina: “Terrorism only knows to kill, it does not know how to build. It destroys,” said Pope Francis in a message last week commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the AMIA center bombing.
Video Source – YouTube user Vocativ

Online Sources – Reuters; Buenos Aires Herald;; ABC News

Monday, July 21, 2014

Daily Headlines: July 21, 2014

* Uruguay: Officials in Uruguay claimed that the country’s harsh anti-tobacco laws, which includes banning smoking in all public enclosed spaces and prohibiting all tobacco advertising, has led to a 22% drop in the number of heart attacks nationwide.
* Mexico: A Mexican judge freed Rosa del Carmen Verduzco, the founder of a shelter where residents were reportedly abused and kept in squalid conditions, after a preliminary probe cleared her of any wrongdoing.

* Latin America: Chinese President Xi Jinping signed several economic agreements with Venezuela and Argentina as he enters the tail end of his official visit to Latin America.

* Colombia: Spanish police captured Hernán Alonso Villa, the main “enforcer” of Colombia’s Office of Envigado drug gang, who will likely be extradited to face trial on some 400 counts of murder.

Video Source – YouTube user insidermedicine

Online Sources – InSerbia News; Reuters The Latin Americanist; The Guardian;