Friday, May 6, 2016

Daily Headlines: May 6, 2016

* El Salvador: Salvadoran authorities claimed that homicides declined last April by 15.8% but some analysts worry the government’s “zero tolerance approach” could lead to increased gang violence.

* Venezuela: At an Organization of American States meeting, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez accused the U.S. of orchestrating a campaign of “ongoing and relentless aggression” against her country.

* Colombia: Colombian police arrested Nidal Waked, a man named by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as “one of the world's most significant drug money launderers and criminal facilitators.”

* Haiti: Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Port-au-Prince to demonstrate over the political crisis stemming from delayed presidential elections.

YouTube Source – CCTV America (“In El Salvador, it's estimated someone is murdered every hour.  It could become the world's most violent country if not already.”)

Online Sources – Reuters, The Miami Herald, BBC News, SBS

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Daily Headlines: May 5, 2016 (Updated)

* Brazil: A Brazilian top court judge ordered Eduardo Cunha, the chief of the Chamber of Deputies chief and strong advocate for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, to step down from his post over corruption charges.

Update: The Supreme Court subsequently issued a unanimous ruling suspending Cunha as lower House leader.
* Argentina: President Mauricio Macri, who was one of the figures named in the recent “Panama Papers” leak, claimed that he is willing to collaborate with investigators regarding his alleged links to two offshore firms.

* Guatemala: The genocide retrial of ex-strongman Efrain Rios Montt was suspended indefinitely after attorneys for indigenous victims succeeded in separating his case from that of former intelligence head Jose Rodriguez.

* South America: For the fifteenth straight year the Copa Libertadores will not have a repeat champion after reigning titleholders River Plate of Argentina were ousted in the round of 16 by modest Ecuadoran side Independiente del Valle.

YouTube Source – AFP (“Street artist Luiz Bueno paints a mural on Paulista Avenue, in the financial heart of Sao Paulo, depicting Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Vice President Michel Temer, the lower house Speaker Eduardo Cunha and the head of the opposition PSDB party Aécio Neves "conspiring" with each other, to bring awareness to the current political crisis.”)

Online Sources including Update – Time, The Latin Americanist, Buenos Aires Herald, Business Standard, ESPN FC, ABC News

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Daily Headlines: May 4, 2016

* Argentina: Ex-Argentine Air Force chief Omar Graffigna is the latest former authority from the “Dirty War” period to go on trial for human rights abuses including the kidnapping and “disappearing” of dissidents.

* Venezuela: The probability that PDVSA could fall into default by the end of the year grew after the Venezuelan state-oil firm allegedly issued $310 million in debt to its suppliers.

* Honduras: Four people including two men purportedly linked to a controversial dam project were arrested for the murder of Honduran environmentalist and indigenous leader Berta Caceres.

* Colombia: The Colombian government once again refused to commence formal peace talks with the ELN unless the guerillas free all their hostages.

YouTube Source – AFP (Former “Dirty War” era political leaders and military officers accused of human rights abuses have gone on trial in recent years but one Argentine newspaper last November controversially called for an end to such proceedings).

Online Sources – Business Insider, Colombia Reports, NPR, BBC News

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Everybody Hates Michel

As shown in the above video, Brazilians reacting to the lower chamber vote in April to continue the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff were either jubilant or heartbroken. Yet despite this sharp division, polls last month showed that those for and against the process are united in at least one aspect: disgust against Vice President Michel Temer.

According to a mid-April poll of street protesters in Sao Paulo both for and against Rousseff’s impeachment, 79% of her supporters would like to see Temer out of office. 88% of these demonstrators gathered in the downtown Vale do Anhangabaú area also feel either neutral or pessimistic towards a Temer regime. Among Rousseff detractors on the Avenida Paulista, meanwhile, only 32% favorably viewed an administration led by the potential successor to Rousseff. Compared to anti-impeachment activists, a slimmer majority (54%) would favor the ouster of the former ally to Rousseff.

Another survey published last week, meanwhile, noted that 62% of Brazilians want Rousseff and Temer to resign from their respective posts though that option is unconstitutional. One out of four respondents to the Ibope poll favored Rousseff to stay in power on the remote possibility that she can form a coalition with the opposition eager to see her gone. Even then it’s a bit over triple the support compared to the 8% who feel that a Temer presidency would resolve the country’s deep political mess. 

The negativity towards a Temer regime even extends itself to a hypothetical race for the presidency in 2018.  Respondents to a Datafolha poll conducted from April 7-8 were “deeply divided” on backing Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, though he received a plurality of support. Temer was only able to muster a microscopic 1-2% in favor of him winning in two years time.

Daily Headlines: May 3, 2016 (Updated)

* Mexico: Some 40% of drivers in Mexico City are barred from using their vehicles today after smog levels of the already polluted air of the metropolis spiked yesterday.

* Brazil: A 72-hour ban on the use of WhatsApp in Brazil affecting some 100 million users has reportedly led to a surge in registration for rival messaging app Telegram.

Update: A Brazilian appellate judge on Tuesday lifted the restrictions against using WhatsApp. 

* U.S.: Broadway musical “Hamilton”, created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, received a record sixteen Tony Award nominations.

* Cuba: For the first time in decades a U.S. cruise ship docked in Havana though not without controversy over a former ban on Cubans barred from returning to the island by sea.
YouTube Source – DW (English) (Video uploaded on July 2014).

Online Sources including Update – ABC News, USA TODAY, Quartz, CBS News,
Ars Technica

Monday, May 2, 2016

Daily Headlines: May 2, 2016 (Updated)

* Vatican: During his Sunday Angelus prayer from the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis condemned pedophilia by Catholic priests, called on a peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria, and suggested a “model of development that takes into account human dignity.”

* Puerto Rico: Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla affirmed that Puerto Rico will fall into default today by being unable to make a $422 million payment on its approximately $70 billion public debt.

Update: Padilla and White House officials have urged the U.S. Congress to promptly approve a debt restructuring plan, especially prior to a July 1st deadline for payment of some $2 billion.
* Peru: Suspected Peruvian drug cartel leader Gerson “Caracol” Galvez was deported back to his home country following his arrest in Medellin, Colombia on Saturday.

* Nicaragua: The first twenty of fifty military tanks sold by Russia to Nicaragua were sent to the Central American country last week.
YouTube Source – teleSUR English (May Day rallies to honor workers were held worldwide last Sunday and Latin America was no exception). 

Online Sources including Update – Buenos Aires Herald, The Tico Times, Business Insider, Deutsche Welle, ABC News