Friday, August 15, 2014

Daily Headlines: August 15, 2014

* Mexico: Several politicos allied to Mexico’s ruling National Action Party have come under fire after they were shown on video partying with alleged escorts.

* Uruguay: The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld most of the punishment against Luis Suarez for biting an opponent at the World Cup but allowed him to train and play in friendly matches with new club F.C. Barcelona.

* Brazil: The board of banana giant Chiquita rejected a $611 million takeover bid from a pair of Brazilian firms and found it to be “inadequate.”

* Haiti: U.N. peacekeepers clashed with supporters of ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide upset that the former leader could be arrested on charges of money laundering and drug trafficking,

Video Source – YouTube user Reporte Indigo

Online Sources – ABC News; SBS; The Latin Americanist; LAHT; BBC Sport

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Argentina's San Lorenzo Wins Copa Libertadores

This summer the Argentine men's national team fought their way to the World Cup championship match although they ultimately lost to a strong German side. Similarly, Argentine soccer club San Lorenzo battled their way to the final series of the Copa Libertadores. Unlike their more heralded compatriots, however, El Ciclón did not stumble at the final hurdle.

San Lorenzo captured the crown of South America's top soccer tournament following a 1-0 win at home in Buenos Aires on Wednesday night. The 2-1 aggregate win over Paraguayan minnows Nacional gave San Lorenzo it's first major title in the team's 106-year history.

Following last week's tie in Asuncion, both teams looked for the advantage to cap their surprising runs in the Libertadores.  The Paraguayan side was stronger in the first half hour and were unlucky when a shot by Derlis Orue rang off the goalpost. But the breakthrough came in the 36th minute against the run of play when Nacional defender Ramón Coronel handled the ball in the penalty box. Midfielder Néstor Ortigoza cooly converted the penalty kick past goalkeeper Ignacio Don.

Nacional subsequently pressed forward looking for the equalizer and nearly got it before halftime via a blast from Julián Benítez.  The second half saw San Lorenzo hold off wave after wave of attacks by the visiting side.  Substitute Brian Montenegro nearly leveled the score with a golden chance in the 77th minute. Yet bolstered by a boisterous and raucous crowd of 43,000 plus at El Nuevo Gasometro, San Lorenzo held on for a memorable victory.

"This is a historic triumph, we are immensely happy," San Lorenzo coach Edgardo Bauza said following the final whistle.

"The team was very nervous, we didn't play very well, especially in the first half...We had to win it and we did. We found a way," added the Argentine-born coach who previously guided Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito in 2008 to the only triumph of an Ecuadorian team at the Libertadores.

Daily Headlines: August 14, 2014

* Argentina: In the latest chapter of Argentina’s legal battle with holdout creditors, cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich defied a contempt of court threat and claimed, “The proper conditions do not exist to negotiate.”

* Latin America: A International Labor Organization report found that approximately 35 million young Latin Americans are affected by the region’s unemployment crisis including some 27 million who “work in the underground economy with no rights or benefits.”

* Venezuela: Colombia’s foreign minister contradicted claims made by the neighboring Venezuelan government regarding the nightly closing of their 1400-mile border in order to prevent smuggling of gasoline and food.

* Chile: Will a major earthquake more powerful than an 8.2-magnitude tremor that occurred in April soon strike in Chile?

Video Source – Bloomberg News via YouTube

Online Sources – The Latin Americanist; Reuters; Xinhua; Smithsonian; Xinhua

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Brazil: Presidential Hopeful Dies in Plane Crash

Eduardo Campos, a former Brazilian governor and candidate looking to unseat President Dilma Rousseff in October’s election, died today in a plane crash.

The plane Campos had been traveling in reportedly crashed in bad weather as it prepared to land in Sao Paulo state.  According to local authorities, all seven people aboard the Cessna 560XL aircraft passed away including Campos and “several campaign officials”.

“I was getting ready to open the school when I heard a loud noise of a jet approaching,” said eyewitness Vinicius Lopes.  “Then the plane hit the building.  It looked like a war scene.”

Donizete Maguila, Jr., another eyewitness who was returning back from work in the port city of Santos where the accident occurred, recalled when he found the corpse of Campos.

“I saw his clear eyes and tried to clean his face.  At the time I couldn’t believe…I saw the candidate,” he said.

The Recife-born Campos served as a federal legislator on three occasions and was the Science and Technology Minister under then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.  With the support of Lula, Campos won election as Governor of Pernambuco and held that post for two terms.  In his seven years as governor, Campos oversaw a drop in the rates of violence, improvements in education standards and pushing for major infrastructure projects.  Yet it was Pernambuco’s strong economic growth that has been his main political strong point against Rousseff who has been criticized for Brazil’s shaky economy.

Recent polls placed the centrist hopeful from the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) in a distant third place behind the leftist Rousseff and moderate conservative candidate Aecio Neves.  Yet Campos could’ve played a key role in a potential Rousseff-Neves runoff by providing an official endorsement and support to one of the two frontrunners. (Neves said he was “immensely saddened” by news of the crash while Rousseff announced that she would suspend campaigning for the next three days).

Daily Headlines: August 13, 2014

* Ecuador: At least two people are dead and several more are trapped by a landslide caused by a 5.1-magnitude earthquake near Quito, Ecuador yesterday.
* Chile: A group of armed gunmen stole over $10 million from an armored vehicle in what has been reported as the largest robbery in the Chile's history.

* Brazil: Officials at the Sao Paulo state Education Department have come under fire after posting a job opening that requires female applicants to undergo genealogical exams.

* Colombia: According to the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights more than 400,000 Colombian refugees affected by armed conflict have fled to other countries.

Video Source – NTDTV via YouTube

Online Sources – The Guardian; BBC News; The Huffington Post; Colombia Reports

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Seeking Help

On Monday actor and comedian Robin Williams passed away at the age of 63. Authorities in California mentioned today that Williams apparently committed suicide by hanging himself at his home.

Despite Williams’ humorous contributions in films like “Aladdin” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” as well as TV sitcoms “Mork & Mindy” and “The Crazy Ones”, his publicist admitted that he had been battling severe depression and had been seeking treatment for it. (So far it’s unknown if depression played any factor at all into Williams’ death).

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, (NAMI), depression affects Latinos more than any other ethnic group in the U.S.  Within the Latino community, the organization found that Latinas along with U.S. born and long-term residents are especially vulnerable to depression.  Furthermore, a study published this year concluded that “idea of acculturation, of navigating different cultural contexts” could explain why Latinos are particularly susceptible to depression.

Many Latinos unfortunately fail to seek help due to several factors including the cultural stigma attached to mental illness and the lack of Spanish-speaking and Latino mental health care specialists.

“When Latinos think of mental illness, they just think one thing: loco,” said Clara Morato, the mother of a child who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 18.  “[Latinos] don't want to be labeled, and they don't want to be labeled as the family with a relative who's crazy,” she added.

As a young Latino who had trouble facing his own mental demons many years ago I fully understand the crushing anxiety of loneliness and believing that there was nothing that could be done.  Yet there is a light at the end of the tunnel and better days can lie ahead with the aid of friend, loved ones and mental health care professionals.

If you or anyone you know may be suffering from depression, please know that you can seek help without fear of shame or embarrassment. 

Si usted sufre de depresión o conzces alguien afectado por la depresión por favor tenga en mente que puedes solicitar ayuda sin miedo de pena o humillación.

Video Source – National Institute of Mental Health via YouTube

Online Sources – Suicide Prevention Hotline (English and Spanish); CNN; Latin Post; BBC News; National Alliance of Mental Illness

Daily Headlines: August 12, 2014 (Updated)

* Haiti: Officials vowed to capture more than 300 inmates who recently broke out of a Haitian prison including convicted kidnapping ring leader Clifford Brandt.

Update: Police recaptured Brandt near the Haiti-Dominican Republic border but most of the escaped inmates are still fugitives.
* Honduras: At least eight people died in a shootout on Saturday night reportedly caused by gang violence between the Mara 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha groups.

* U.S.: A three-judge federal panel started hearing legal arguments yesterday over the possible gerrymandering of Congressional districts that hurt Latino voters in Texas.

* Ecuador: The Ecuadorian capital city of Quito was named as “South America's Leading Destination” at an event deemed as the “Academy Awards of the tourism industry.”

Video Source – euronews via YouTube

Online Sources including Update – ABC News; Miami Herald; Latina; LAHT; Bloomberg

Monday, August 11, 2014

Daily Headlines: August 11, 2014

* Cuba: A letter from 300 U.S. rabbis sent to President Barack Obama last week urged the White House to push more strongly for the “immediate release” of U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross from a Cuban prison.

* Argentina: Judge Thomas Griesa, the U.S. magistrate overseeing the legal tug-of-war between the Argentine government and holdout creditors, threatened the South American country’s representatives with contempt of court.
* Brazil: A poll conducted roughly ten weeks before Brazil’s presidential election found that incumbent Dilma Rousseff’s strong lead over her rivals remains unchanged and she would win a possible run-off over her closest opponents.

* Bolivia: Researchers concluded that a recently discovered yellow bat in Bolivia is its own species and will receive the scientific name of Myotis midastactus.

Video Source – CCTV America via YouTube (“Former U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor Alan Gross has said goodbye to his family after being held in Cuban prison for the past five years.”)

Online Sources – ABC News; Bloomberg; CNN; National Geographic; The Latin Americanist