Friday, December 11, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 11, 2015

* Brazil: The International Monetary Fund’s Director of the Western Hemisphere noted that “political crises and corruption scandals” have prevented Brazil from emerging out of its recent economic slowdown.

* U.S.: New Census data showed that while Latinos are generally earning more income since 2010 but wealth inequality has become worse.

* Latin America: Security researchers at Citizen Lab uncovered a “large-scale hacking campaign” targeting journalists, activists and public figures in Latin America over the past seven years.

* El Salvador: David Morales, El Salvador's human rights ombudsman, claimed that security forces are behind 90% of abuses reported to the authorities.

YouTube Source – EIU Media

Online Sources – InSight Crime, Fox News Latino, Latin America Herald Tribune, The Register

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 10, 2015

* Mexico: Mexican health officials approved the world’s first vaccine against the dengue fever, which would be applied to individuals “between ages 9 and 45 who live in areas where dengue is endemic.”

* South America: Colombia’s Independiente Santa Fe captured the Copa Sudamericana crown and, thus, broke the recent hegemony of Argentine teams in South American soccer club tournaments.

* Cuba: Some 4500 Cuban migrants continue to be stuck in limbo in Costa Rica while Central American countries continue to figure out what to do with them.

* Brazil: Stronger public pressure has reportedly led to greater scrutiny of cases of alleged abuse and extrajudicial killings by military police in Brazil.

YouTube Source – Journeyman Pictures

Online Sources – NPR, ESPN FC, Fox News Latino, GlobalPost, The Latin Americanist

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 9, 2015

* Guatemala: The Guatemalan Constitutional Court tossed out an appeal by the attorneys representing Efrain Rios Montt and stated that the ex-dictator’s genocide trial will go on as scheduled for next month.

* U.S.: A new report found that Latino neighborhoods need greater access to healthier food options sold in markets while Latino youth are more likely to be bombarded by ads promoting unhealthy snacks and drinks.

* Cuba: As part of the diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the U.S., envoys from both countries discussed competing claims of billions of dollars in owed assets.

* Mexico: Investigators with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said that they found another inconsistency in the Mexican government probe over 43 students from Ayotzinapa missing since September 2014.

YouTube Source – NTDTV (Guatemalan high court judges are expected to resume the genocide and crimes against humanity trial of former strongman Efrain Rios Montt more than two years after the original verdict was overturned).

Online Sources – ABC News, The Guardian, USA TODAY, NBC News

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 8, 2015

* Mexico: Coca-Cola has come under fire after airing a Christmas-themed ad depicting a “group of young, white Mexicans traveling to an indigenous town…to ‘help‘ wide-eyed locals by giving them bottles of Coke and a giant Christmas tree.”

* Venezuela: Nearly three out of four Venezuelans eligible to vote participated in Sunday’s legislative elections won by the opposition coalition with a potential “supermajority.”

* Colombia: Representatives of the FARC traveled to the Colombian town of Bojaya to ask for forgiveness for the massacre of some eighty residents in 2002.

* Cuba: The Cuban government is reportedly close to reaching a deal with the Paris Club of creditors to restructure a $16 billion debt.

YouTube Source – Diario de Mexico TV (Parody video poking fun at a Mexican Coca-Cola commercial criticized as racially insensitive and offensive against indigenous people).

Online Sources – Fusion, Xinhua, Colombia Reports, Voice of America

Monday, December 7, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 7, 2015

* Colombia: The Colombian government claimed to have found the world’s largest sunken treasure, a 300-year-old vessel carrying an estimated $17 billion, though the question of who owns the spoils could become a costly legal battle.

* Mexico: Seven countries including the U.S., Canada and France issued travel warnings to visitors journeying to Mexico after authorities believed that two missing Australian surfers were killed in Sonora.

* Nicaragua: “We do not want to be accomplices to the death, damages and destruction that a 3C or 4C world will represent,” declared Nicaragua’s representative to the COP21 summit after the Central American state became the first to publicly reject a global blueprint to combat climate change.

* Chile: President Michelle Bachelet reportedly signed a decree eliminating marijuana from a list of hard drugs in anticipation of an expected Congressional debate to reform Chile’s narcotics laws.

YouTube Source – euronews (“Colombia claims to have discovered what's been described as the 'holy grail' of shipwrecks of the coast of Cartagena”.)

Online Sources – teleSUR English, Financial Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor

Sunday, December 6, 2015

OPEC Rejects Venezuelan Call for Oil Production Drop (Updated)

Venezuelan voters headed to the polls on Sunday in local elections that are expected to flip the National Assembly to opposition control for the first time since 1999. (Update: The opposition did indeed retake majority control of the legislature and could even reach a "supermajority" that would give them greater say in economic policy).

The ruling party's loss of the legislature would be the second major setback in less than a week for President Nicolás Maduro following disappointment at the latest OPEC talks.

Last Friday, members of the global oil cartel could not reach an agreement over how to boost plunging prices of crude. Venezuelan led a group of countries including Russia, Nigeria and Ecuador calling for a 5% cut in oil production despite the possibility of decreased revenue. Oil minister Eulogio del Pino advocated the move that he believed was preferable to allowing oil prices to continue tumbling.

“The overproduction we have from OPEC is going to produce a catastrophe in the price,” del Pino mentioned prior to a closed-door meeting of the group in the Austrian city of Vienna.

Ultimately, however, del Pino and his cohorts were allegedly rebuffed by nations who believe that allowing prices to fall will hurt non-OPEC entities such as U.S. shale oil firms.

Following OPEC's decision the price of Venezuelan oil slid down to $34.93 per barrel, which is the lowest price since 2009. The average price in 2014 for Venezuela's mix of heavy and medium crude was $88.42. One year later it has been reduced by almost 50% to $45.87.

Oil is the main export of Venezuela and accounts for 95% of the country's export earnings.  Its plunging value has exacerbated the country's economic difficulties including shortages of basic goods like food and medicine as well as deepening poverty rates. This has in turn led to greater pessimism with the government including 85% of Venezuelans dissatisfied with the Maduro regime based on a recent Pew Research Center study.