Friday, August 29, 2014
* Brazil: Federal police thwarted “the largest deforestation gang in Brazil's Amazon rain forest” responsible for destroying 38,000 acres of land worth an estimated $222 million.
* Mexico: Mexico’s crackdown on undocumented migrants may have reportedly led to a decreased flow of Central Americans trying to reach the U.S. but it could lead to an increase of migrants opting to stay in Mexico.
* Nicaragua: At least twenty-five workers are trapped after heavy rains caused the landslide of a gold mine located in a “remote” part of northern Nicaragua.
* Ecuador: President Rafael Correa rejected claims that plans to create the world's first government-issued digital currency will replace Ecuador’s current currency, which is the U.S. dollar.
Video Source – YouTube user The Daily Conversation
Online Sources – teleSUR English; NBC News; The Guardian; ABC News
Thursday, August 28, 2014
* Nicaragua: Residents along the planned route of Nicaragua’s interoceanic canal are worried that a survey of the area could lead to them losing their homes and receiving unfair compensation.
* Brazil: Several polls released this week indicated that last-minute presidential candidate Marina Silva would upset incumbent Dilma Rousseff in the likely event of a runoff election.
* Argentina: Thousands of workers including state employees, truckers and waiters are expected to participate today in the second general strike to hit Argentina in less than five months.
* Colombia: Is the hospitalization of approximately 200 girls living in a northern Colombian town caused by vaccinations or is it merely a case of mass hysteria?
Video Source – YouTube user Newsy World
Online Sources – The Guardian; Reuters; The Latin Americanist; Bloomberg
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
“Latintronica” is a musical genre that can succinctly be described as electronica fused with traditional Latin music. Perhaps one of the most known exponents in recent years of “latintronica” is the Tijuana-based group Nortec Collective. For the past fifteen years, the members of Nortec have earned critical praise for their unique mixing of electronic and techno sounds with elements of Mexico’s Tambora and Norteño musical traditions. Yet as the cliché goes, “All good things must come to an end” and that is the case with Nortec who will disband this year.
Prior to retiring Nortec will release one final album on September 16th, which possibly not coincidentally is Mexico’s Independence Day. Entitled Motel Baja, the album is the final entry in Nortec duo’s Bostich + Fussible Border Trilogy and includes collaborators like the Tom Tom Club and Wolfgang Flur of Kraftwerk.
"We really enjoyed working with Nortec Collective. Their sound is filled with freshness and vigor," observed Tom Tom Club's Chris Frantz.
The first single from Motel Baja, “Camino Verde” was released earlier this month and you can listen to it in the embedded video at the top of this post. On Wednesday another single from the album was released. “Room Service” was described by Fussible (real name: Pepe Mogt) as “one of those romantic songs that you’d hear in a Tijuana hotel room” that blends the “classic norteño sound of Mexican music from old times, but still has the electronic edge characteristic of the Nortec sound.”
“Room Service” can be heard by clicking this link to The Onion’s A.V. Club.
Motel Baja can be pre-ordered via iTunes.
* Argentina: Angel Di Maria of Argentina broke the British transfer record when he officially signed for Manchester United on Tuesday as part of a $95 million deal.
* Venezuela: The governments of U.S. and Venezuela usually don’t see eye-to-eye but nearly two out of three Venezuelans view the U.S. favorably according to a Pew Research Center survey.
* Dominican Republic: Ex-Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski could be extradited to the Dominican Republic where he’s accused of child sexual abuse.
* Latin America: A United Nations study found that roughly 200 million residents of Latin America and the Caribbean are “vulnerable” to falling into poverty even though poverty rates in the region decreased between 2000 and 2012.
Video Source – YouTube user ScoutNationHD
Online Sources – BBC Sport; The Latin Americanist; UPI; BBC News; Pew Research Center
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
One of the worst killers in Colombia’s modern history could be freed from prison as soon as today despite committing hundreds of homicides.
Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez is expected to be paroled today after having spent twenty-three years behind bars for the crimes he committed as the security chief of the Medellin drug cartel. As a result, the former hitman for the late capo Pablo Escobar will have only served three-fifths of the near four-decade sentence handed down against him.
Update: Velásquez was officially placed on parole by a Colombian judge on Tuesday evening.
Nicknamed “Popeye”, his prison sentence has been whittled down a result of his cooperation with the authorities and good behavior while behind bars at the tough Combita prison. He is expected to be put on parole after meeting a series of conditions including paying an approximately $4600 fine and ensuring that there are no further judicial processes against him. As a part of his potential parole, he is reportedly prohibited from leaving Colombia and will be placed on probation for almost five years.
Since receiving his prison sentence in 1992, “Popeye” has voluntarily admitted to killing some 300 people, arranging an additional 3000 murders under Escobar’s orders and planning the kidnappings of high-profile politicians and even a former beauty queen. Hundreds of Colombians died as a result of over 150 car bombings planned by Velásquez and he confessed to participating in the 1989 bombing of Avianca Flight 203 that killed 110 people. (In contrast to Velásquez’ fate, one of his cohorts is currently in a U.S. maximum security prison serving ten life sentences plus forty-five years for crimes like planting the explosive device in the Avianca bombing.)
Mixed reactions have been shown by those most affected by Velásquez' actions: families of the victims of violence caused by the now-defunct Medellin Cartel.
* Caribbean: At least five people died in the Caribbean due to storm conditions caused by Hurricane Cristobal while an estimated 10,000 families in Mexico were affected by Hurricane Marie.
* Cuba: Guatemalan authorities will determine the fate of thirty-six Cuban migrants who traveled on a single raft by sea to Honduras’ Swan Islands.
* Puerto Rico: According to the U.S. the Justice Department sixteen former Puerto Rican police officers pled guilty to “commit robbery and extortion, to manipulate court records in exchange for bribes, and to sell illegal narcotics.”
* Mexico: Mexican officials announced that satellite imagery would be use to monitor freight train lines used by undocumented migrants heading north such as "La Bestia".
Video Source – YouTube user ExcélsiorTV Noticias (“Hurricane Marie has weakened but rain continues” to fall in southern Mexico.)
Online Sources – LAHT; NBC News; Miami Herald; CBS News
Monday, August 25, 2014
* Colombia: Members of the Colombian military met for the first time with FARC representatives in Cuba days after the rebels met with a group of victims of the South American country’s decades-long armed conflict.
* South America: Two strong earthquakes of magnitude 6.4 and 6.9 struck in Chile and Peru, respectively, over the weekend.
* Mexico: Mexican officials claimed that at least 22,322 people have “disappeared” since 2006 as a result of drug-related violence including nearly 9800 since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office almost two years ago.
* Costa Rica: A spokesman with Sweden’s TV4 television network apologized for the use of the Costa Rican national anthem to promote a comedy program.
Video Source – TeleSUR English via YouTube (“Negotiators in the Colombian peace talks said the negotiations entered a "decisive phase" on Friday.”)
Online Sources – USA TODAY; ABC News; The Guardian; Fox News Latino; Al Jazeera