Friday, May 29, 2015

Daily Headlines: May 29, 2015

* Mexico: Human Rights Watch has called on Mexican authorities to fully and impartially investigate a May 22nd shootout between security forces and alleged gang members that left 42 people dead.

* South America: Teams from four different Latin American countries including Tigres UANL from Mexico and Argentine side River Plate qualified for the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores.

* Argentina: The discovery of a new offshore oil field near the Falklands could lead to increased drama in the diplomatic battle between the U.K. and Argentina over the disputed archipelago.

* Peru: Bolivian authorities captured Martin Belaunde, the fugitive former adviser to Peru’s president who has been accused of corruption.

YouTube Source – ODN

Online Sources – Al Jazeera America, ESPN FC, SBS, The Telegraph, Reuters

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Daily Headlines: May 28, 2015

* Latin America: The presidents of Brazil and Mexico signed a series of trade and investment agreements in order to strengthen Latin America's two biggest economies.

* Argentina: An Argentine judge issued arrest warrants for the apprehension of three sports marketing execs named yesterday in a U.S. Department of Justice soccer corruption probe.

* Chile: Spanish investigators found no conclusive evidence indicating that renowned Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was poisoned to death in 1973.

* Venezuela: Rosneft, Russia’s top oil producer, will spend $14 billion as part of its increased investment in the Venezuelan energy sector.

YouTube Source – AFP

Online Sources – Buenos Aires Herald, RTT News, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, euronews

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Latin Americans Named in Soccer Corruption Probe (Updated)

At least thirteen soccer officials and marketing executives from the Americas including some of the most powerful regional figures in the sport were named in a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) probe.

According to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, more than $150 million was spent in bribes over a 24-year period involving the awarding of media and marketing rights of soccer tournaments as well as seeking favors for choosing the sites of events like the 2010 World Cup.  Other charges against the accused include wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

In one example, Lynch described how $110 million in bribes were spent alone on the 2016 Copa America Centenario, a special edition of the traditional South American regional tournament that will involve sides from around the continent and set in the U.S.  She also mentioned that bribes made in connection with a "major U.S. sportswear company" who sponsored the Brazilian national team.

 “As charged in the indictment, the defendants fostered a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for the biggest sport in the world,” said FBI Director James Comey at a DOJ press conference.

“Undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks, and bribes became a way of doing business at FIFA,” added Comey.

The DOJ is actively seeking the extradition of those figures named in the indictment though Paraguayan authorities admitted that the possible extradition of ex-South American soccer governing body chief Nicolás Leoz could take months or even years.

Those found guilty of racketeering could face up to twenty years in prison.

Six of those facing criminal charges were arrested in Switzerland this morning and await extradition to the U.S.  They include:

Daily Headlines: May 27, 2015

* Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro quashed speculation of dollarizing the Venezuelan economy in light of a rapidly depreciating national currency and rumors of local divisions of foreign car companies considering making transactions in U.S. dollars.

* Colombia: The International Crisis Group warned that the recent suspension of the FARC’s unilateral ceasefire could lead to an escalation of Colombia’s armed conflict and “fresh humanitarian damage.”

* Brazil: Brazil has accepted nearly 2000 Syrian refuges, which is more than any other nation in Latin America.

* Mexico: At least fourteen people died in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Acuña following a tornado that occurred on Monday.

Online Sources – NBC News, ABC News, Fox News Latino, International Crisis Group

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Daily Headlines: May 26, 2015

* Cuba: Tourism in Cuba grew by 14% between January and May including a 36% boost from U.S. visitors traveling to the island despite restrictions.

* South America: Police are looking into alleged e-mail threat made last month by the Islamic State against the presidents of Argentina and Chile.

* Puerto Rico: Legislators in Puerto Rico continue to hammer out the final details of a $1.2 billon tax proposal that could be signed into law as early as next week.

* Brazil: At least eight people died following a riot at a Brazilian prison built for 644 inmates but housing over 1400 prisoners.

YouTube Source – Bloomberg Business (Video uploaded in March 2015).

Online Sources – International Business Times, Reuters, ABC News, The Guardian

Monday, May 25, 2015

Today's Video: Military Pride

In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II and the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S., we present to you the following documentary. Valentía: Mexican Americans in World War II features interviews with Latino veterans who described their experiences both on the battle lines and back at home. 

Video Source - KVIE 

Daily Headlines: May 25, 2015

* Peru: Authorities declared a 60-day state of emergency in two Peruvian provinces over an escalation of violence between police and protesters against construction of the $1.4 billion Tia Maria copper mine project.

* Mexico: Family members of some of the forty-two alleged criminals killed in a shootout on Friday alleged that the victims were massacred by Mexican troops.

* Argentina: The recent death of a 14-year-old girl reportedly murdered by her boyfriend has shined a light on femicides in Argentina.

* U.S.: Juan Pablo Montoya overcame being in last place and pit stop problems to win his second Indianapolis 500 title fifteen years after his initial victory.

YouTube Source – euronews (At least four people have died in clashes over the proposed Tia Maria project in southern Peru).

Online Sources – GlobalPost, The Daily Beast, CNN, CBS Sports

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Weekender: Martyrs of El Salvador

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

On March 23rd the late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was beatified during an official ceremony attended by some 260,000 people in San Salvador. The outspoken human rights defender was murdered in March 1980 while officiating mass at a military hospital. Sadly, Romero wasn’t the only religious figure killed on the cusp of El Salvador’s civil war.

Nearly six months after Romero’s death four U.S. churchwomen – nuns Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan – were brutally raped, tortured and murdered by National Guard soldiers allegedly on orders from their superiors. Much like the aftermath of the death of Romero, the killed women were slandered and labeled as communist sympathizers and revolutionaries.  They also shared another unfortunate parallel in that the masterminds behind their deaths have yet to be brought to justice.  Yet while a strong campaign has advocated sainthood for Romero no such push for canonization is behind the murdered nuns and lay worker. National Catholic Reporter columnist Heidi Schlumpf wrote last February that this should not be the case:
The Catholic Church's process for declaring someone is a saint can be costly and requires support from an organized group, most often a religious order -- which explains why so many founders and foundresses have been canonized over the centuries. It also explains why the church has so few lay saints.
But the lack of an official stamp of sainthood has not stopped Catholics from honoring the four churchwomen of El Salvador. Books have been written about them, those involved in justice work pray for their intercession, and young Catholics already choose their names as their confirmation names.
Below the page break is a November 2014 video from The New York Times’ Retro Report series that looked at the horrible murderers of Ford, Clarke, Kazel and Donovan. The analysis provides more details behind their deaths, the role played by the U.S. government to defend the Salvadoran military and the cover-up by officials from the Central American country.

(Note: the video may be Not Safe for Work due to several strong scenes of victims of violence).