Friday, January 15, 2016

Daily Headlines: January 15, 2016

* Brazil: Police charged officials with companies including Vale SA and BHP Billiton over a November 2015 dam collapse that caused major environmental damage in southeast Brazil.

* Mexico: Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez and U.S. Justice Department officials supposedly met on Tuesday in order to advance the possible extradition of reprehended drug capo Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

* Cuba: Cuba allegedly received over 3.5 million tourists last year including a 76% increase in visitors from the U.S.

* Colombia: World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called on the international community to guarantee greater financial assistance to Colombia as it tries to reach a peace deal and end decades of armed conflict.

YouTube Source – ODN

Online Sources – Yahoo News, Bloomberg, Reuters, The Latin Americanist, Jamaica Observer

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Latin American Films Receive Oscar Nominees

A pair of cinematic tales of discovery created by Latin American auteurs received nominations for the upcoming Academy Awards set to take place on February 28th.

Embrace of the Serpent” (“El Abrazo de la Serpiente”) became the first-ever Colombian movie selected as a finalist for Best Foreign Film. The lone Latin American entry in that category is loosely based on the diaries of scientists Theodor Koch-Grunberg and Richard Evans Schultes during their search in the early 20th-century for a sacred plant in the Amazon rainforest. The film follows the perspectives of these botanists along with indigenous and a shaman as they interact with each other and explore the jungle world surrounding them. “Embrace” also examines the clash of cultures and affects to the environment that develop between natives and visitors.

Two unique features of this movie directed by Ciro Guerra is that it jumps back and forth in time, and was filmed entirely in black and white. He justified these actions by claiming that he “wanted the film to feel like it’s a place that exists but is in another world, another time.” 

“Embrace” was a modest success in Colombia where the local film industry has grown over the past decade but has become critically acclaimed worldwide since its domestic release last May. The film won the Art Cinema Award as part of the Directors' Fortnight section at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and has garnered a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Embrace producer Cristina Gallo may have had her strong doubts over the film’s nomination but the odds are pretty good that it could become the third Latin American and first non-Argentine movie to win Best Foreign Film.

“Inside Out” is the clear favorite to capture Best Animated Feature yet history was made when a Brazilian production became the first Latin American film to be chosen in that category.

Daily Headlines: January 14, 2016

* Chile: Alejandro Aravena of Chile became the fourth Latin American to win the Pritzker Prize, which is the most prestigious honor in the architectural world.

* Central America: Mexico will grant transit visas to the first group of some 8000 Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica for several weeks, while the U.S. State Department announced an expansion of a program helping refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

* Latin America: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control could issue a travel warning for pregnant women against visiting parts of Latin American and the Caribbean due to the spread of the Zika virus.

* Colombia: The final stage of peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC commenced amid doubts by rebel negotiator Joaquin Gomez over reaching a final agreement by the March 23rd deadline.

YouTube Source – Arch Daily

Online Sources – Quartz, Reuters, National Geographic, MSNBC, Voice of America

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Daily Headlines: January 13, 2016 (Updated)

* U.S.: President Barack Obama’s call to eliminate the trade embargo against Cuba in his State of the Union speech might not sit well with Cuban-American legislators but perhaps they could agree to reform policy for migrants coming from the island.

* Puerto Rico: The Puerto Rican government will allegedly begin discussions today with creditors over the restructuring of approximately $70 million in public debt.

Update: On a related note, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday on a case that could have serious consequences for the island's future sovereignty

* Nicaragua: Indigenous and Afro-Caribbean community leaders claimed that officials are obligating them to allow for the building of a controversial interoceanic canal through their lands.

* Guatemala: In one of the latest chapters in the “FIFA-gate” corruption scandal, former Guatemala soccer federation president Brayan Jimenez was detained and accused of bribery.

YouTube Source – AFP

Online Sources including Update – The Hill, The Guardian, Al Jazeera America, Bloomberg, Reuters, ABC News

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Daily Headlines: January 12, 2016

* Venezuela: Venezuela’s new opposition-led congress has been thrown into disarray after the Supreme Court voided new legislative actions over the swearing in of three barred lawmakers.

* Mexico: Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, alleged co-leader of the Sinaloa drug gang along with Joaquin Guzmán, is reportedly Mexico’s most wanted criminal days after the recapture of “El Chapo”.

* Guatemala: A Guatemalan tribunal once again suspended the trial of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

* Europe: Lionel Messi of Argentina captured the Ballon d’or as the world’s top male soccer player for a fifth time while Brazil’s Wendell Lira won the goal of the year award.

YouTube Source – euronews

Online Sources – Reuters, The Tico Times, The Latin Americanist, BBC Sport

Monday, January 11, 2016

Daily Headlines: January 11, 2016

* U.S.: Mexicans Gael Garcia Bernal and Alejandro González Iñárritu received individual Golden Globes last night while the Pablo Larraín-directed Chilean movie “The Club” lost in the top foreign film category.

* South America: The Dakar Rally reached its halfway point on a tragic note after a spectator was run over and killed during the seventh stage between Bolivia and Argentina.

* Cuba: White House chief-of-staff Denis McDonough confirmed the Obama administration’s plans to close the U.S. military base at Guantanamo, Cuba.

* El Salvador: Gen. José Guillermo Garcia-Merino, El Salvador’s former defense minister, was deported back to his homeland over his likely role in human rights violations during the civil war era.

YouTube Source – TIFF Trailers

Online Sources – Reuters Africa, Business Standard, NBC News, Latin America Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor