Friday, October 16, 2015

Daily Headlines: October 16, 2015

* Chile: Thousands of students took to the streets of Santiago in a protest against President Michelle Bachelet’s planned educational reforms.

* Venezuela: Opposition politician Manuel Rosales was arrested after returning from exile, while a bipartisan group of U.S. Congressmen from Florida have proposed granting immigration relief to Venezuelan expats.

* Latin America: An investigation in the GlobalPost news website followed three U.S. priests accused of sexual abuse who fled to Latin America and continued practicing their faith.

* Mexico: Mexican TV network Televisa revealed unauthorized footage of the escape of fugitive drug capo Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman that casts doubts on the official government version of events.

YouTube Source – Reuters

Online Sources – teleSUR English, Deutsche Welle, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fox News Latino, InSight Crime

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Daily Headlines: October 15, 2015

* Argentina: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner called for a full investigation into the death of local LGBT activist Diana Sacayan who became the third transgendered woman killed in Argentina during the past month.

* Brazil: “I will rise up against coup plotters and their conspiratorial actions, I’m not scared of them,” proclaimed President Dilma Rousseff as she has her back against the wall from a faltering economy and a push to impeach her.

* Ecuador: British officials warned that police would arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he leaves the Ecuadoran embassy on London to undergo medical tests.

* South America: Uruguay, Ecuador and Chile are a perfect two wins in two matches in the early stages of qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup.

YouTube Source – teleSUR English (“Trans rights activist Diana Sacayan was found dead in her home on Tuesday under suspicious circumstances.”)

Online Sources – Mashable, The Guardian, ESPN FC, France 24

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Daily Headlines: October 14, 2015

* Mexico: A recently released report from the Mexican Attorney General ‘s office on the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students has shown numerous contradictions with the results of the official probe.

* Latin America: Three people died and fourteen inmates escaped from a Brazilian prison during a riot, while four suspected gang members died during an uprising in a Salvadoran correctional facility.

* Colombia: U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker said that his country will not push for the extradition of FARC rebel commanders though Washington will seek alleged criminals.

* U.S: A new Nielsen study found that Latinos over the age of fifty are growing in numbers, represent a burgeoning consumer base and are healthier than initially believed.

YouTube Source – teleSUR English (Thousands of marchers took to the streets of Mexico city last month on the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa students.)

Online Sources – Tico Times, oneindia, Fox News Latino, BBC News, Latina Lista

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Daily Headlines: October 13, 2015

* Chile: Five years after the rescue of thirty-three Chilean miners, most of them have reportedly suffered from health problems and difficulties finding employment.

* Honduras: Clients of Banco Continental worry that their savings could be wiped out after the U.S. Treasury Department accused the bank’s owners of laundering drug money.

* Cuba: Cuban dissident groups claimed that authorities over the weekend detained about 300 activists calling for the liberation of political prisoners on the island.

* South America: Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz said that his country would be willing to negotiate with landlocked Bolivia’s access to the sea but refused to “discuss sovereignty” claims.

YouTube Source – Journeyman Pictures (“In 2010 the story of the 33 Chilean miners trapped in a collapsed mine caught the imagination of people around the world. Despite the excitement and emotion, the impoverished mine workers who were not trapped are being easily forgotten by the international media.”)

Online Sources – Fox News Latino, BBC News, Reuters, teleSUR English

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Lighthouse in the Dark

It was meant to be a beacon in the Dominican Republic, a shining monument to commemorate the voyage of explorer Christopher Columbus to the Caribbean in 1492. Ultimately, the Columbus Lighthouse (“Faro a Colón”) is a financial boondoggle that has been largely overlooked.

Dominican historian Don Antonio del Monte y Tejada in 1852 first suggested building a monument akin to the mythical Colossus of Rhodes though designs weren’t finalized until Scottish architect J.L. Gleave submitted a winning design in 1931. Construction of what would become the 680 foot long concrete crucifix would be delayed due to decades of domestic political instability and a lack of expected donations from other countries. Then-President Joaquín Balaguer in 1986 decided to go ahead with the state footing the bill plans even though the World Bank estimated that 37.3% of Dominicans lived in poverty. The Lighthouse would be completed in 1992 for the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus’ voyage and prior to a visit by the Pope yet with a price tag of $70 million (or roughly 5% of the country’s GDP). 

The monument was meant to be a major tourist attraction that included the regular lighting of 251 strong beams of light into the night sky. In the almost twenty-four years of its existence, however, the beacons have been rarely lit due to high energy costs and constant blackouts. The neighborhood near the structure is riddled with crime and residents derisively refer to the area as an “Apache zone”. Weeds, garbage and tall grass grow on the vast grounds of around the Lighthouse. The mausoleum is said to house the remains of Columbus though it has yet to be definitely proven if the remains belong to the famed explorer. An average of 100 tourists visit the structure daily despite some efforts by the government to improve the site.

Special events were held on Monday at the Lighthouse to commemorate what one local daily called “the 523rd anniversary of the discovery and evangelizing of América.” For critics of Columbus’ impact on the continent, it may seem fitting that such a massive monument in his honor is slowly becoming akin to the sculpture buried beneath the sands of time in the famous Shelley poem Ozymandias.

YouTube Source – Ciudad Digital (Efforts to clean up overgrown vegetation near the Columbus Lighthouse in 2014).

Online Sources (English) – Atlas Obscura, World Bank, Academy of American Poets

Online Sources (Spanish) –, Listin Diario, Hoy Digital, Diario Digital

Daily Headlines: October 12, 2015

* Brazil: Finance Minister Joaquim Levy declared his intent to stay in his post despite a political and popular backlash against President Dilma Rousseff’s austerity plans for the economy.

* Haiti: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reportedly requested a one-year extension to what could be the final peacekeeping mission for the organization in Haiti.

* Argentina: The Argentine government once again railed against “illegal” offshore oil and gas exploration by foreign firms near the disputed Falkland Islands.

* Mexico: The Mexican men’s national soccer team will head to the 2017 Confederations Cup following a thrilling 3-2 win over bitter rivals, the U.S.

YouTube Source – AFP (“Unions and social movements, traditional allies of Brazil's ruling Workers' Party, march (last September) to protest planned budget cuts by President Dilma Rousseff's government.”)

Online Sources – NBC News, CTV News, Latin American Herald Tribune, NPR