Friday, June 10, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 10, 2016

* Brazil: Prosecutors in Brazil might press criminal charges against eight employees of Samarco, Vale, and VogBR in relation to a dam collapse that killed at least seventeen people last November.

* Puerto Rico: The Supreme Court in a 6-2 decision ruled that charging a suspect with a crime in the U.S. and Puerto Rico is “double jeopardy” and, thus, unconstitutional.

* Colombia: Colombian health officials are expected to break Novartis’ monopoly over popular leukemia drug Gleevec by forcing the firm to lower prices but might stop short of permitting generic production.

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan government’s new food distribution program is not settling well with some consumers seeking basic items and critics who believe the plan is unfairly rewarding ruling party loyalists.

YouTube Source – Associated Press

Online Sources – Fox News Latino, The Washington Post, The Hill, Reuters

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 9, 2016

* Brazil: Hundreds of pairs of underwear were laid on Copacabana beach last Monday as part of a protest calling attention to violence against women including the recent suspected gang rape of a sixteen-year-old girl.

* Panama: Shell companies purportedly used by the Cuban government to circumvent the U.S. trade embargo against the island join Argentina’s president and a Chilean anti-corruption activist as some of the entities mentioned in the “Panama Papers”.

* Haiti: U.S. and European Union officials are none too pleased with the decision to rerun Haiti’s disputed presidential elections twelve months after they were first held.

* Guatemala: A UNICEF study found poverty, sexual abuse and machismo have fueled a “shocking” amount of child sex trafficking in Guatemala.

YouTube Source – AFP

Online Sources – The Huffington Post, The Latin Americanist, Quartz, euronews, The Miami Herald

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 8, 2016

* Brazil: A Brazilian Supreme Court justice could allow for the arrest of four members of interim President Michel Temer’s political party over their alleged obstruction in the “Lava Jato” corruption probe.

* Venezuela: Venezuelan electoral officials approved a petition with 1.3 million signatures seeking a referendum for the possible removal of President Nicolás Maduro, while police and National Guard troops fired tear gas at anti-government protesters yesterday.

* Mexico: A new report by the Open Society Justice Initiative and Mexican human rights groups admitted that an “immense majority of violent crimes have been committed by criminal organizations” but accused government security forces of purportedly committing crimes against humanity.

* Peru: Pedro Pablo Kuczynski leads with tens of thousands of votes ahead of Keiko Fujimori in the presidential runoff that continues to be much too close to call.

YouTube Source – France 24 English

Online Sources – BBC News, Al Jazeera English, Voice of America, ABC News, Bloomberg

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Today's Video: Sowing the Seeds

Note: This post was originally published on March 2014. We are repeating it today in recognition of Helen Chavez, the widow of iconic Mexican-American civil rights and labor activist Cesar Chavez, who passed away on June 6th at the age of 88. 

March 31st would have been the 84h birthday of the late civil rights activist and labor leader Cesar Chavez.  His life has received renewed attention with the new release of a Hollywood biopic that was directed by Diego Luna and stars Michael Peña, America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson.

The Mexican-American Chavez devoted his life to improving the conditions of farm workers by campaigning for equal pay and fair working conditions.  He championed nonviolent efforts to promote the rights of farmworkers who generally suffered from abusive labor conditions as well as low pay for their work.  Along with Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW), which helped organize strikes and other actions such as a boycott in the 1980s to protest the use of toxic pesticides on grapes.

Chavez’s views on immigration varied; on the one hand, he was opposed to undocumented immigrants who he viewed as “scabs” that would potentially undermine his efforts to campaign for farmworkers.  Yet he also successfully campaigned to end the Bracero guest worker program that he believed had exploited migrant laborers and unfairly displaced domestic farmworkers.

Below the page break is the first part of a documentary depicting the Delano grape strike of the mid-1960s where Chavez and his allies fought for union recognition for farmworkers.  The film includes footage of the poor working conditions faced by laborers, picketing protesters in front of a California supermarket, and an interview with one of the grape owners who admitted to have never met Chavez but still labeled his tactics as “distasteful.”

Daily Headlines: June 7, 2016

* Panama: Suez Canal operators are offering discounts to container lines in an attempt to stem an expected increase of traffic on the soon to be reopened and expanded Panama Canal.

* Puerto Rico: A bill to provide relief for Puerto Rico’s $70 billion public debt moves gradually through the U.S. House of Representatives but that didn’t stop Boricuas from selecting an opponent of the proposal as the gubernatorial candidate representing the pro-statehood party.

* South America: In the latest chapter of the decades-long dispute between Chile and Bolivia over coastal access, the former sued the landlocked state over rights to the Silala River.

* Ecuador: The U.S. Supreme Court rejected hearing an appeal by the Ecuadoran government to avoid paying $96 million in arbitration to Chevron.

YouTube Source – Financial Times (Video uploaded in March 2015).

Online Sources – GlobalPost, The Street, Reuters,, NBC News

Monday, June 6, 2016

Daily Headlines: June 6, 2016

* Peru: As hinted it by several exit polls, the presidential runoff in Peru is much too close to call as Pedro Pablo Kuczynski holds a less than 1% advantage over Keiko Fujimori with at least 90% of votes officially counted.

* Haiti: Haitian interim president Jocelerme Privert claimed that the country’s presidential elections will be rerun this October, which is nearly one year since the apparently fraudulent first round was held.

* Venezuela: Spain’s foreign minister called on the Venezuelan government and opposition to engage in dialogue one day after it was reported that ex-President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero met with jailed dissident leader Leopoldo Lopez.

* Mexico: Mexico’s ruling political party is expected to lose in seven of the twelve gubernatorial elections held yesterday including traditional strongholds Veracruz, Tamaulipas, and Quintana Roo.

YouTube Source – CCTV News

Online Sources – euronews, Fox News Latino, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, teleSUR English

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Exit Polls Show Dead Heat in Peru’s Presidential Election

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Keiko Fujimori are locked in a neck-and-neck battle to decide who will be Peru’s next president according to exit polls taken during today’s runoff election.

Two of the three exit polls revealed a slight lead but within the margin of error for the ex-economics minister ahead of the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori. GfK gave Kuczynski a 51.2% to 48.8% advantage, while Ipsos Perú reveled a tighter margin of 50.4% versus 49.6%. In contrast, pollster CPI claimed that Keiko would be ahead by a slim 2.3% margin with 51.1% support against 48.8% for Kuczynski.

Keiko easily won the first round of elections on April 10th with nearly double the percentage of the second-place Kuczynski. Neither candidate established a significant advantage in the polls in the nearly two months of additional campaigning. Although a CPI survey carried out on May 23rd and 24th gave her 7.1% lead, polls taken over the past week showed a virtual draw between the two. 

In the run up to today’s runoff, Keiko has been the target of accusations alleging her campaign and Fuerza Popular political party has been tainted by corruption. For example, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has allegedly investigated Fuerza Popular chairman Joaquin Ramirez for purportedly laundering $15 million and for possible ties to suspected drug trafficker Miguel Arévalo Ramírez. Keiko defended Ramirez and accused her detractors of mounting a “dirty war” against him, which may not have been seen so favorably by Peruvians wary of corruption.