Saturday, August 31, 2013

Weekend Headlines: August 31, 2013 to September 2, 2013

* Peru: Drones may be associated primarily with use for military purposes but archeologists in Peru are using them in order to help with mapmaking and the protection of digging sites.

* Argentina: Are British oil firms that recently received a twenty-year ban from operating in Argentina linked to an energy project with Chevron in that South American country?

* Latin America: The escalating tensions in Syria have reportedly worried some of the millions of people of Syrian descent residing in Latin America.

* U.S.: A group of Cuban migrants that traveled to the U.S. claimed that they were beaten and sexually abused by guards at a Bahamian detention center.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Paraguay Protestors Resort to Crucifixion

We’ll be back this Labor Day weekend in order to examine several news stories from around the Americas including different protests in the region.

As seen in the flowing video, an unusual demonstration has taken place in Paraguay where at least nine people have crucified themselves:

Among those who are taking part in the unique protest that entered its twenty-second day on Friday are eight bus drivers upset at having been laid off from their posts.  They were reportedly laid off after asking for overtime pay, medical insurance and state pension contributions.

The head of the Vanguardia bus company that employed the dismissed workers claimed that five of them would be rehired while the other three will receive legal separation payments.  Yet the group said they would not give up their protest until all are reinstated to the Asuncion-based firm.

“I’m joining them today, tomorrow will be an extra mother and the next day another because we have to defend our rights,” declared the wife of one of the protestors who joined her husband and was also nailed to a wooden cross.

“I would like to urge the president to please come here and observe the inhumane situation we are facing,” she added.

Daily Headlines: August 30, 2013

* Guatemala: According to new Guatemalan government data at least 62 children under the age of 5 have died thus far this year due to malnutrition while some 9800 kids have been diagnosed with chronic malnutrition.

* Latin America: Latin American and Caribbean members of the U.N. such as Argentina and Brazil are advocating that military intervention in Syria should only occur with approval from the Security Council.

* Brazil: The population in Brazil is expected to pass the 200 million mark for the first time by the end of this year instead of 2015 as was originally estimated.

* Dominican Republic: The country’s first legal non-Catholic marriage took place was held on Wednesday when an evangelical couple tied the knot.

Video Source – YouTube via The Pulitzer Center (Video uploaded in 2009).

Online Sources- Bloomberg; Washington Post; GlobalPost; Miami Herald

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Daily Headlines: August 29, 2013

Note: Much like on Wednesday blogging will be very light today. We will be back on Friday with a look at news from around the Americas, especially several protests occurring across the region.

* Panama: A U.N. investigation concluded that a shipment of weapons from Cuba to North Korea and was confiscated in Panama last June was in violation of a U.N arms embargo.

* El Salvador: Inocente Orlando Montano, a former El Salvadoran military commander accused of planning the killing of six Jesuit priests in 1989, could soon be extradited to Spain and stand trial for that massacre.

* Brazil: President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil admitted that her government’s “top priority” is to maintain strong ties to other Latin American countries.

* Colombia: The Colombian constitutional court ratified a law passed this year that provides a legal framework for a potential peace deal with the FARC rebels.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews

Online Sources- Voice of America; Los Angeles Times; Reuters; GlobalPost

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Daily Headlines: August 28, 2013

* Caribbean: Cuba officials reported 163 new cholera cases on the island this year while there has been a recent spike in the number of people infected by cholera in the Dominican Republic.

* Brazil: Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota resigned from his post after he admitted that he helped smuggle a Bolivian opposition figure into Brazil.

* U.S.: According to a new Gallup poll Latinos have shifted their approval of U.S. President Barack Obama more than non-Hispanic whites and blacks.

* Mexico: President Enrique Peña Nieto introduced a new security plan that includes creating a militarized police force with thousands of officers.

Video Source – YouTube via CNN

Online Sources- Miami Herald; Prensa Latina; Fox News Latino; Businessweek; Reuters

Monday, August 26, 2013

Own Goal Downs Snakebitten Peruvian Soccer Team

Peru's Union Comercio could be described as Latin America’s unluckiest soccer team after going through a comedy of errors in their three league matches this month.

First there was the blunder committed earlier this month by goalkeeper Juan Flores against Sporting Cristal.  While trying to waste time in early in the scoreless match he coughed up the ball to a rival player for the opening goal in what ended up as a 2-0 loss.

One week later, the San Martin-based side played a home match against Universitario when defender Renzo Reanos kicked the ball in anger at a referee’s decision.  Unfortunately for him, his shot ended up in hs own team’s net for an own goal that ended up being the lone goal of the match.

The latest defensive lapse by “El Poderoso del Alto Mayo” occurred last Sunday against Leon de Huanuco.  As you can see in the video below, the Union backline misplayed a low cross to concede an own goal from close range:

Joaquin Lencinas’s error led to another 1-0 defeat for Union and left the team in the penultimate position among the sixteen top division teams.

Argentina Bars British Firms Over Falklands Oil Exploration

While Britain and Spain continue their diplomatic brouhaha over Gibraltar, the government of Argentina took actions last week regarding their sovereignty claim on the Falkland Islands.

The Argentine government barred four British companies (Borders & Southern Petroleum, Desire Petroleum, Argos Resources and Falkland Oil and Gas) from operating in the South American country since the firms have been drilling for oil near the disputed Falklands.

According to a statement issued on Friday, the twenty-year penalty against the four companies came about since they were operating under an “illegitimate license to explore for oil and gas in areas near the Malvinas that was granted by the illegitimate government that controls those islands.” (The Malvinas is the name given to the Falklands by Argentina).

The statement also said that companies were notified of their situation in March 2012 and were warned at the time that the Argentine officials would take all legal and administrative action at its disposal to “defend its rights.”

Meanwhile, the British Home Office blasted Argentina’s decision and rejected their accusations against the four oil companies.

“Hydrocarbon exploration in the Falklands is a legitimate commercial venture, and the British Government strongly supports the right of the Falkland Islanders to develop their own natural resources for their own economic benefit,” according to a Home Office spokesperson.  “Argentina’s efforts to intimidate the Falklands are illegal, irresponsible and wholly counterproductive.”

None of the four firms reportedly had business interests in Argentina prior to last week’s actions.  Furthermore, the price of shares for two British oil companies not included in the Argentine ban (Rockhopper Exploration and Premier Oil) fell after both firms decided to significantly delay their offshore oil drilling plans near the Falklands.

Daily Headlines: August 26, 2013

* Mexico: Local officials claimed that missing railroad nails and ties led to the deadly derailment yesterday of “La Bestia”, a Mexican freight train that tens of thousands of mostly Central American migrants ride on each year as part of a perilous journey northward.

* Venezuela: According to the Iranian press, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro strongly “condemned” any possible foreign intervention in Syria despite alleged chemical attacks perpretrated by the Syrian military.

* Argentina: A U.S. court rejected an appeal from the Argentine government and ordered them to pay approximately $1.3 billion in debts that have gone unpaid since the country's massive 2001 default.

* Bolivia: At least thirty-one inmates died and roughly thirty-seven are injured after a prison riot took place at a Santa Cruz facility on Friday.

Video Source – YouTube via Reuters 

Online Sources- FARS; New York Times; Fox News Latino; BBC News

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Missing Mexican Bar Patrons Found in Mass Grave (Updated)

Mexican authorities positively identified on Friday five of the thirteen corpses in a mass grave as belonging to a group of young bar patrons missing since May 26th.

Update (08/26/13): Officials on Sunday afternoon allegedly identified ten of the bodies in the mass grave as belonging to the missing patrons.      

According to the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, (PGR in Spanish) the badly decomposed bodies were located at a site roughly thirty miles away from the “Heaven” bar in Mexico City where twelve people were possibly kidnapped nearly three months ago.

“Various scientific techniques were used to identify the bodies including examining dental records and previous x-rays since some of the bodies had prosthetic devices,” said senior PGR investigator Sara Mónica Medina Alegría at a press conference on Friday.

Thus far it’s unknown who might be behind the mass grave at a ranch that was first found by police on Thursday, yet coincidentally four corpses were reportedly found at the same ranch in 2011.

The disappearances of the “Heaven” patrons have been shrouded in mystery since the incident occurred in broad daylight and with no obvious sign of force on the surveillance footage.

In addition, there is strong disagreement behind the possible motive behind the disappearances.  Local prosecutors last June claimed that the incident was linked to a rivalry between two street gangs based in the rough and violent Tepito neighborhood.  (Update (08/27/13): Mexico City's top prosecutor said on Monday that the missing patrons were kidnapped as part of a "reprisal" for the murder of a local drug dealer).

Yet relatives of the disappeared rejected the gang voilence hypothesis and accused investigators of scapegoating the missing since they were all Tepito residents.  For them, the entire “Heaven” ordeal has been a living hell with more questions than answers: