Friday, March 7, 2014

Daily Headlines: March 7, 2014

* South Africa: Brazil may have romped South Africa 5-0 in an international soccer friendly on Wednesday but the big winner was a five-year-old boy who entered the field and received a warm reception from the verdeamarela players.

* U.S.: Florida’s Supreme Court ruled against granting undocumented immigrants licenses to practice law in a case whose plaintiff entered the U.S. from Mexico at the age of nine, and later graduated from law school and passed the state bar exam.

* Colombia: Famous Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez celebrated his 87th birthday by greeting journalists and well-wishers outside of his Mexico City residence.

* Nicaragua: Senior Nicaraguan government officials denied rumors that Russia would build a military base in the Central American country.

Video Source – YouTube user Neymar Junior

Online Sources - Huffington Post; Russia & India Report;; Fox News Latino

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Venezuela: Two Dead in Violent Clashes on Thursday

The unrest that has hit Venezuela over the past month has intensified with the deaths of two more people this morning.

"We have learned that a motorcycle driver was killed by a sniper and a member of the National Guard was also killed in the same place by a sniper," said Diosdado Cabello, the head of the federal legislature, in a press conference on Thursday.

According to Venezuelan daily El Universal, the incident began when protesting residents of the Los Ruices neighborhood in eastern Caracas were confronted by armed motorcycle gangs trying to break down improvised barricades.  Both groups engaged in a standoff until firemen came into the area to put out a small fire caused by a Molotov cocktail thrown by one of the motorcyclists.  The bikers fought with the firemen and then members of the National Guard and police officers brought in to bring order to Los Ruices. The authorities shot tear gas and water cannons while the gangs threw rocks and bottles at the officers.

The armed gangs are part of the colectivos and they emerged during the era of the late President Hugo Chávez.  Over the years they have functioned in order to garner support for the government and have reputedly helped run community services. Yet the colectivos have been accused of acting as paramilitaries that have harassed opposition activists and blamed for exacerbating much of the violence that has claimed the lives of at least twenty-one people over three weeks.

Last month a statement from Human Rights Watch noted that current President Nicolás Maduro claimed that he doesn’t “accept violent groups within Chavismo and the Bolivarian Revolution,” but the regime has turned a blind eye by “not taking effective steps to disarm them.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Daily Headlines: March 5, 2014

* Vatican: Despite helping shepherd increased interest in Catholicism and being named as a finalist to the next Nobel Peace prize, Argentine-born Pope Francis insisted in an interview that he is a “normal person.”

* U.S.: The head of the National Council of La Raza Latino rights group blasted U.S. President Barack Obama over his immigration policy, while the Supreme Court declined hearing appeals in two cases regarding controversial local immigration ordinances.

* Mexico: Hundreds of members of a “self-defense group” entered the city of Apatzingan in Michoacán and ordered the mayor to resign due to his supposed ties to the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel.

* Haiti: Gustavo Gallon, the U.N.-appointed expert on human rights in Haiti, said that “full compensation” should be paid to the thousands of victims of a cholera epidemic.

Video Source – Catholic News Service via YouTube

Online Sources- The Guardian;; Reuters; BBC News; LAHT

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

U.S. to Impose Sanctions Against Venezuela?

U.S. President Barack Obama may have its hands full trying to deal with Russia’s incursion into the Ukraine yet there may be a possibility that the White House could support imposing sanctions against Venezuela.

“There should be sanctions on individuals... The administration is looking at those,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz citing an unidentified "high-level" State Department official.

The head of the Democratic National Committee also claimed that she is also speaking to the White House with the aim of having President Obama take executive action to clear up the immigration status of some Venezuelan residents in the U.S.

Wasserman Schultz blasted Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for repressing the opposition and limiting freedom of the press but warned that sanctions against Venezuela must be targeted and not broad.

“Fanning those flames through sanctions, the concern is (with) such a terrible economic situation there already, with many, many people living there in poverty... You could potentially through sanctions make things much, much worse for people on the ground,” said the legislator whose congressional district has one of the largest populations of Venezuelans living in the U.S.

Her remarks came after a closed-door “listening session” with Venezuelan expats who urged greater U.S. action against the Maduro regime.

“We don’t have a government, we have a regime of thugs, they’re stealing our money,” said one of the participants at the event.

Numerous U.S. legislators, particularly those of Cuban-American background, have backed the use of sanctions against the Venezuelan government.  One bipartisan Senate resolution was introduced last week by Bob Melendez and Marco Rubio and “urges President Obama to immediately impose targeted sanctions that are already possible under existing law and encourage a process of dialogue between Venezuela’s government and the political opposition.”

While the proposal calls out the Venezuelan government’s “chronic mismanagement of its economy”, the suggested sanctions would target those suspected of human rights violations exclude economic actions against the Venezuelan state.

Daily Headlines: March 4, 2014

* Uruguay: The U.N.’s International Narcotics Control Board blasted “misguided initiatives” to legalize marijuana use in areas like the U.S. state of Colorado and the South American nation of Uruguay.

* Colombia: Why are German guns in Colombia despite a prohibition on their export from the European country?

* Mexico: Police in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas found six Somali migrants who were lost after having been left behind by smugglers.

* Peru: Remittances to Peru have dropped by 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the previous year even though remittances via money-transfer companies increased 3.1%.
Video Source – CNN via YouTube

Online Sources- Deutsche Welle; The Guardian; GlobalPost; LAHT

Monday, March 3, 2014

Daily Headlines: March 3, 2014

* Brazil: In the latest black eye to preparations for the upcoming soccer World Cup, pieces of metal fell from the roof of the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.

* Bolivia: At least four people died and sixty were injured when a footbridge collapsed during a Carnival parade in the Bolivian city of Oruro.

* Guatemala: Residents near Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano could soon be evacuated after the volcano shot plumes of hot ash and vapor over two miles high.

* Puerto Rico: Several dozen teachers protested at Puerto Rico's largest mall against pension changes that they claim would “impoverish educators.”

Video Source – YouTube user tvbrasil

Online Sources- The Guardian; CBC News; Washington Post; Fox News Latino

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Alfonso Cuarón Captures Historic Oscar

Alfonso Cuarón of Mexico won the Academy Award for Best Director in recognition of his work for the space thriller Gravity.

Thanks to you mom; I wouldn’t be here it weren’t for you,” Cuarón said in Spanish as he made history by becoming the first Latin American to win the Oscar for top director.

Cuarón also thanked Gravity's actors and crew including his son, Jonás, who helped co-write the film that won seven Oscars tonight.

The 52-year-old also was one of the two winners of the Oscar for Best Editing for Gravity, a movie that helped him capture best director honors at the BAFTAs and Golden Globes.

Cuarón also served as director for 1995 drama A Little Princess, 2001 coming-of-age tale Y Tu Mamá También and 2004 fantasy Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban amongst others.

Earlier in the evening, Lupita Nyong'o captured the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave.

"No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid," was the inspirational message said by Nyong'o after receiving the Oscar.

"It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else's" added Nyong'o who won the Oscar one day after her thirty-first birthday.

Born in Mexico City, Nyong'o lived in Mexico and was reportedly named after the Virgin of Guadalupe.  She was nearly the age of one when her parents took her to Kenya but return to the Latin American nation when she was sixteen-years-old in order to learn Spanish.

"I've seen others fight over my nationality but I'm Kenyan and Mexican at the same time.  That's why I insist that I'm Mexican-Kenyan and I love carne asada tacos", Nyong'o said prior to tonight's ceremony.

Prior to her breakout role in the film that won the Best Picture Oscar, Nyong'o worked on the production crew of several films.  One of these movies was 2005 drama The Constant Gardner that was directed by Fernando Meirelles of Brazil.