Friday, December 19, 2014

Daily Headlines: December 19, 2014

* Brazil: According to new government data nearly one in four Brazilians “experienced food insecurity despite advances in the fight against poverty.”

* Haiti: Several hundred anti-government marchers protested yesterday in Port-au-Prince as pressure continues to mount against President Michel Martelly. 

* Colombia: Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s president, warned that he wouldn’t fully accept an indefinite ceasefire from the FARC due to the rebels’ demands for independent verification.

* Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro blasted his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, for signing into law sanctions against Venezuelan officials accused of human rights abuses.

Video Source – YouTube user CCTV America

Online Sources – Fox News Latino; The Guardian; Latin American Herald Tribune; Reuters

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Daily Headlines: December 18, 2014

* Costa Rica: Costa Rica legislators began debating a bill this week that could place a moratorium on the production of genetically modified crops.

* U.S.: A new poll indicated that U.S. President Barack Obama's approval rating among Latinos rose since he announced an executive action that could benefit millions of undocumented immigrants.

* Central America: The U.N. recently warned that Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador face “a creeping humanitarian crisis” due to severe drought conditions.
* Colombia: Images of the late Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez could soon appear on Colombian currency.

Video Source – YouTube user Scientific American

Online Sources – NBC News; BBC News; Christian Science Monitor; Tico Times

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FARC Announce Indefinite Ceasefire

Colombia's FARC will start a unilateral ceasefire on December 20th in a move that could help lead to a peace deal between the rebels and the government.

"We have resolved to declare a unilateral ceasefire and an end of hostilities for an indefinite period,"
according to a statement issued by the FARC on Wednesday and read by chief guerilla negotiator alias "Ivan Marquez." The militants called on Pope Francis, the UNASUR bloc, the Red Cross and other international organizations to monitor compliance with the ceasefire.

The FARC expressed their hope that the ceasefire could lead to "an armistice" in Colombia's decades-long armed conflict but warned that they would resume hostilities if the rebels are attacked by the military. 

Negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government began in November 2012, and both sides have reached partial pacts in areas like land reform and political participation. Discussions were suspended for a few weeks over the kidnapping of a Colombian army general but were renewed following his liberation.

More than 200,000 people have died in the past fifty years of conflict in Colombia.

Online Sources - FARC-EP; MercoPress 

Alan Gross Freed Amid Historic U.S.-Cuba Rapprochement

Cuban authorities freed imprisoned U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross on a day when the leaders of both countries vowed to improve bilateral relations.
The sixty-five-year old was released on humanitarian grounds as part of a prisoner exchange that also included an unnamed U.S. intel agent. Three convicted Cuban spies were let out of prison as part of a purported deal between the U.S. and Cuba. 

Gross was detained in 2009 on charges of spying and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. His detention served as one of the main points of diplomatic tension in recent years between Washington and Havana. 

"What a blessing it is to be a citizen of this country," exclaimed a relieved Gross in a press conference from Andres Air Force Base.

"Today is the first day of Hanukkah, and so far it's the best Hanukkah that I’ll be celebrating for a long time," added Gross who also thanked all those who helped secure his release.
Cuban-American Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio heavily criticized the prisoner swap as well as the Obama administration's push to reestablish diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba.  For Gross, however, the White House's actions were the correct actions to take:

Daily Headlines: December 17, 2014

* Brazil: The presidents of Guatemala and Costa Rica could be implicated in a multibillion-dollar bribery scheme allegedly carried out at Brazilian state-run energy giant Petrobras.

* Haiti: Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe may have resigned but that didn’t stop thousands of Haitians from participating in anti-government protests on Tuesday.

* Mexico: At least eleven people died in clashes between rival “self-defense” groups in Michoacán state.

* Panama: The World Bank’s International Finance Corp will provide $300 million in financing for construction of a Panama wind farm that will be the largest in Central America.

Video Source – YouTube user AFP

Online Sources – Reuters; Al Jazeera; Tico Times; euronews

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Daily Headlines: December 16, 2014

* Honduras: Julian Pacheco Tinoco will become the first serving general to act as security minister in a country with the world’s highest murder rate.

* Latin America: A new report from the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization found that the number of babies born with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean dropped by 78% between 2001 and 2013.

* Colombia: Armed groups illegally recruited at least 110 minors this year according to new data from the Colombian government.

* Venezuela: “They can shove their U.S. visas where they should be shoved,” thundered an angry President Nicolás Maduro over planned sanctions against Venezuelan officials accused of human rights abuses.

Video Source – YouTube user Associated Press

Online Sources – Reuters; Fox News Latino; euronews; Jamaica Observer

Monday, December 15, 2014

Daily Headlines: December 15, 2014

* Haiti: Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned amid growing anti-government sentiment and calls for President Michel Martelly to also step down.

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan government has yet to officially respond to the asylum request of Arturo Pierre Martinez, a U.S. man who illegally crossed into North Korea.

* Ecuador: At least thirteen people including ten of Chinese origin died at a construction accident in an Ecuadoran hydroelectric station.

* Brazil: The former head of Petrobras' distribution subsidiary, a Brazilian lobbyist and two others were charged today for their alleged roles in a multibillion-dollar bribery scheme.

Video Source – YouTube user euronews

Online Sources – CNN; SBS; The Guardian; NBC News