Thursday, December 31, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 31, 2015

* Chile: Education reform activists including those participating in protests since 2011 won a key victory when Congress approved a law last week dropping tuition for most state universities.

* Venezuela: Venezuelan opposition leaders blasted a high court ruling blocking the election of four legislators to the National Assembly and, thus, preventing a critical two-thirds supermajority for anti-government forces.

* Puerto Rico: 2016 will not start of well for Puerto Rico’s finances after Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla admitted that the commonwealth will default on $37 million of its $72 billion in public debt.

* Mexico: According to the Los Angeles Times, the relaxing of marijuana laws in several U.S. states has led to reduced earnings for Mexican drug gangs.

YouTube Source – AFP (Video uploaded in June 2015).

Online Sources – ABC News, Latin American Herald Tribune, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bolivia: The Evo Strikes Back in Viral Video

In Latin American countries, the themes of political campaign ads may vary between the inventive, the edgy and the downright silly. But what type of ads is most effective? It’s a question that comes to mind after watching a recently released spot from Bolivia that has become a viral video.

“Bolivian Wars: El Despertar del Sí” (“Bolivian Wars: The Awakening of Yes”) was done for the campaign in favor of constitution reforms allowing President Evo Morales to run again in 2019. The video shows scenes from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and superimposes Morales’ face on several characters representing the Resistance such as Finn. The Dark Side is depicted by faces of former leaders prior to Morales getting into power in 1998 like ex-president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada as the villainous Emperor. In order to hammer the good versus evil point home, the video shows real life images of deep unrest and violence during the “gas wars” of 2003. The video ends mentioning that its “premier” will be on February 21st, which is the date of the constitutional referendum next year.

Published seven days following the world premiere of the latest “Star Wars” entry, the official video on the Sí Bolivia Facebook account has received at least 139,000 views and has been shared over 3000 times.

Daily Headlines: December 30, 2015

* Cuba: President Raul Castro said that plummeting earnings from key exports like sugar and nickel led the Cuban government to slash its 2016 economic growth estimate from 4% to 2%.

* Central America: The foreign ministries of Guatemala and El Salvador expressed serious reservations over the rumored plan in January to raid and deport thousands of recently arrived Central American migrants from the U.S.

* Paraguay: The head of the Paraguayan disaster response agency said that water levels of the heavily flooded the Paraguay River should lower in the next two months but could rise again this March.
* Venezuela: The opposition could lose its supermajority in the next federal legislature after the ruling PSUV filed legal motions to dispute the election of eight congressmen.

YouTube Source – Vox

Online Sources – Reuters, Independent Online, Vox, BBC News

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 29, 2015 (Updated)

* Colombia: Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said that the removal of landmines in Colombia “will take a generation, tens of thousands of specialists and lots of international aid.”

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan Violence Observatory claimed that Venezuela’s murder rate increased to 27,985 killings in 2015 or approximately ninety per 100,000 residents.

Update: On a related note, El Salvador's homicide rate jumped by a whopping 70% in 2015 with nearly 104 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

* Puerto Rico: Time is running out for Puerto Rico to make a $1 billion payment and prevent default by next Monday.

* Mexico: The bullet-ridden bodies of four people including that of Carlos Rosales Mendoza, co-founder of Mexico’s La Familia Michoacana drug gang, were abandoned near a highway in Morelia.

YouTube Source – CCTV America

Online Sources including Update– BBC News, ABC News,, Fox News Latino, Voice of America

Monday, December 28, 2015

Daily Headlines: December 28, 2015 (Updated)

* South America: The El Niño weather phenomenon has been blamed for massive flooding in Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina as well as an elevated alert of forest fires in Colombia.

* Central America: Pope Francis called on Central American leaders to bring about a “timely solution to (the) humanitarian drama” of an estimated 5000 Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica.

Update: The SICA bloc of Central American states agreed to start a pilot program next month to help the stranded migrants travel legally northward to Mexico. (Link in Spanish).

* Haiti: The United Nations Security Council pushed Haitian officials to quickly reschedule a presidential runoff that was supposed to take place yesterday but has been indefinitely postponed.

* Chile: The Chilean government proposed eliminating a law enacted under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet that provides the military with 10% of the country’s yearly copper exports.

YouTube Source – euronews

Online Sources including Update – UPI, NDTV, The Tico Times, teleSUR English, Jamaica Observe, Agencia EFE