Friday, February 28, 2014

Daily Headlines: February 28, 2014

* Argentina: Two gay men from Russia legally married in Argentina as part of a campaign by some LGBT activists “who want Argentina to become a refuge for Russians and other nationalities who fear persecution at home because of their sexual orientation”.

* Cuba: “The struggle continues, long live a free Cuba” were allegedly the last words of Cuban revolutionary turned anti-Castro activist Huber Matos before he died yesterday.

* U.S.: President Barack Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper program aimed at preventing black and Latino youth from falling into social problems in adulthood like drug use and incarceration.

* Brazil: According to new government data the Brazilian economy grew by 2.3% last year, which represents a 1.3% increase compared to 2012.

Video Source – Reuters via YouTube

Online Sources- Miami Herald; Reuters; Sydney Morning Herald; LAHT

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Daily Headlines: February 27, 2014

* Latin America: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that his country plans to install military bases in several nations including Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

* Mexico: Hundreds of supporters of recently apprehended drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman marched in Culiacan yesterday, and insisted that he was innocent and a benefactor for the poor in Sinaloa.
* Cuba: Fernando Gonzalez, one of the “Cuban Five” men convicted in 2001 of spying in the U.S., is expected to be released from prison today after having completed his fifteen year sentence.

* Brazil: Military police in Rio de Janeiro simulated a riot in anticipation of possible street protests during the upcoming soccer World Cup. 

Video Source – Prensa Latina via YouTube (Video uploaded in May 2013).

Online Sources- CNN; ABC News; MercoPress; The Latin Americanist; BBC News

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Daily Headlines: February 26, 2014

* Mexico: Spanish flamenco guitar master Paco de Lucia died in Cancun, Mexico today at the age of 66.

* Argentina: Repsol’s executive board approved a plan that would permit the Argentine government to pay the Spanish firm $5 billion in compensation for the 2012 nationalization of energy company YPF.

* Chile: Scientists believe that whale fossils in Chile‘s Atacama desert and dating back millions of years might be the first example of repeated mass strandings of marine mammals.

* Brazil: The Brazilian tourism board asked Adidas to stop selling World Cup t-shirts with double entendre phrases and sexualized images on them.

Video Source – YouTube user slowhand44dz

Online Sources- Businessweek; LAHT; The Latin Americanist; The Independent; Reuters

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

U.S. to Expel Venezuelan Diplomats

The U.S. State Department announced that it will expel a trio of Venezuelan diplomats in a retaliatory measure after three U.S. consular officers were given the heave ho from Caracas.

The Vienna Convention “permits the United States to declare any member of a diplomatic mission persona non grata at any time and without the necessity to state a reason,” according to a statement reportedly from the State Department.

The agency named Venezuelan First Secretary Ignacio Luis Cajal Avalos, First Secretary Victor Manuel Pisani Azpurua, and Second Secretary Marcos Jose Garcia Figueredo as the diplomats who must leave the U.S. within the next forty-eight hours.

On February 17th, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro expelled three U.S. consular officials who he alleged met student protesters intent on ousting him.  State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki replied by calling the accusations “baseless and false,” and urged the government and opposition to engage in peaceful dialogue. 

So far the Venezuelan government has not publicly responded to the State Department’s actions.  But this afternoon, Maximilian Arveláez was appointed as Venezuela’s next Ambassador in a move Vice President Elias Jaua said was proof of the need to establish “honest and frank” diplomatic ties between both countries.

Venezuela and the U.S. have not had ambassadors in each other's countries since 2010 and relations between the two countries have been weak under Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez.

Daily Headlines: February 25, 2014

* U.S.: According to a recently released U.S. government study, health habits within the Latino population reflect the diversity of cultural backgrounds among Latinos.

* Brazil: European and Brazilian officials announced the creation of a new interoceanic telecommunications cable that could prevent U.S. intelligence surveillance.

* Central America: Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said that her country will file a complaint with the International Court of Justice in order to resolve a border dispute with Nicaragua.

* Honduras: At least thirty-nine people died over the weekend in Honduras including eight fatalities in San Pedro Sula, which is one of the most violent cities in the world.

Video Source – YouTube user VoiceofOCvideo

Online Sources- National Insitutes of Health; LAHT; Reuters; Deutsche Welle; The Latin Americanist

Monday, February 24, 2014

U.S. to Seek Extradition of Drug Capo “El Chapo”

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán is behind bars in a Mexican prison days after he was apprehended in a predawn raid.  How long he will remain in his native homeland is unknown as U.S. prosecutors and politicians have expressed their desire to see the Sinaloa drug cartel leader extradited north of the border.

“We plan to seek his extradition,” said Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the US attorney's office in Brooklyn.

“This guy, he ran a global enterprise, so he’s big. He’s as big as Pablo Escobar,” Nardoza said to TIME magazine. “He may wind up being charged in Mexico first. We don’t know what the time line is and how exactly this is going to proceed … He’s facing a lot of time in prison based on the charges we’ve brought against him.”

Prosecutors in New York may have to compete with their counterparts in Chicago where investigators in 2013 named Guzmán as “Public Enemy No. 1.”

“I think we have the strongest case,” Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration n Chicago, said on Saturday. “I fully intend for us to have him tried here.”

In addition, Rep. Mike McCaul also advocated for the extradition of Guzmán, which he claims as necessary due to corruption in Mexico and Guzmán’s successful prison escape in 2001.

“This is the largest, biggest drug lord we’ve ever seen in the world,” the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said yesterday.  “I would ask that the Mexicans consider extraditing him to the United States, where he would be put into a super-max prison under tight security, where he cannot escape”.

An obstacle to a possible extradition of Guzmán is that he faces indictments from at least seven U.S. federal district courts on charges related to his leadership of the violent Sinaloa cartel. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder highlighted how “(we) were able to work effectively with Mexico through the cooperative relationship that U.S. law-enforcement agencies have with their Mexican counterparts.”  Yet it’s unknown if Holder would press for extradition to San Diego, Texas, Brooklyn or other areas where “El Chapo” could stand trial.

In addition, Mexican law enforcement officials might be reluctant to extradite Guzmán since he faces charges in Mexico.  Thus far, the Mexican government has yet to respond to any request for extradition though Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Eduardo Medina Mora mentioned, “it is important that (Guzmán) first face the charges against him in Mexico’s courts.”

Daily Headlines: February 24, 2014 (Updated)

* Venezuela: Will a planned meeting today between President Nicolás Maduro and opposition figure Henrique Capriles help quell some of the unrest in major Venezuelan cities?

Update: "I will not attend the Federal Council meeting and wash Maduro's face while he's repressing (the people)", declared Capriles regarding his decision on Monday afternoon to skip the meeting with Maduro.  

* Bolivia: At least fifty-nine people have died and tens of thousands of families are homeless due to heavy rains and flooding that have affected Bolivia over the last few weeks.

* Mexico: Mexico is expected to surpass Japan and Canada in order to become the largest exporter of cars to the U.S. by the end of this year.

* Haiti: A Haitian appeals court reversed a 2012 ruling and found that ex-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier can be tried on charges of crimes against humanity.

Video Source – AFP via YouTube

Online Sources including Update - El Universal; Bloomberg; The Latin Americanist; Reuters; LAHT; USA TODAY