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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 11:04
* Haiti: A "grand, dreamlike" rebuilding of areas of Port-au-Prince still in ruins from a 2010 earthquake has run into stiff opposition from survivors forced to relocate to tent camps.

* Argentina: "Life goes on for Argentina", claimed Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich hours after a U.S. court ordered the Argentine government to negotiate with holdout hedge funds and prevent a massive debt default.

* U.S.: A recent poll of 500 Latino voters found that most respondents are worried about the economy and this could factor into the upcoming midterm elections.

* Brazil: Heavy rains in southeastern Brazil could diminish the quality and reduce the quantity of the country's vital sugar and coffee harvests.
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 11:45

* Venezuela: Authorities today started to peacefully evict thousands of squatters residing in the "Tower of David", a Caracas skyscraper abandoned in 1994, to instead live in a publicly-funded housing project.

* Colombia: James Rodriguez, the Colombian player who was the top scorer in the recently finished World Cup, will reportedly join Spanish giants Real Madrid for about $100 million.

* Honduras: Police found the body of Honduran TV reporter Herlyn Espinal who was apparently kidnapped and subsequently murdered.

* Argentina: “Terrorism only knows to kill, it does not know how to build. It destroys,” said Pope Francis in a message last week commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the AMIA center bombing.
Video Source – YouTube user Vocativ

Online Sources – Reuters; Buenos Aires Herald; CBSSports.com; ABC News
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "AMIA bombing, Argentina, Colombia, Daily..."
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Date: Monday, 21 Jul 2014 23:03

* Uruguay: Officials in Uruguay claimed that the country’s harsh anti-tobacco laws, which includes banning smoking in all public enclosed spaces and prohibiting all tobacco advertising, has led to a 22% drop in the number of heart attacks nationwide.
* Mexico: A Mexican judge freed Rosa del Carmen Verduzco, the founder of a shelter where residents were reportedly abused and kept in squalid conditions, after a preliminary probe cleared her of any wrongdoing.

* Latin America: Chinese President Xi Jinping signed several economic agreements with Venezuela and Argentina as he enters the tail end of his official visit to Latin America.

* Colombia: Spanish police captured Hernán Alonso Villa, the main “enforcer” of Colombia’s Office of Envigado drug gang, who will likely be extradited to face trial on some 400 counts of murder.

Video Source – YouTube user insidermedicine

Online Sources – InSerbia News; Reuters The Latin Americanist; The Guardian; DW.de
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "China, Colombia, Daily Headlines, drugs,..."
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Date: Friday, 18 Jul 2014 11:00

* Central America: Can animated shorts, TV ads and cumbia music help deter Central American youth from joining the recent influx of undocumented minors migrating to the U.S.?

* Argentina: Argentina could fall into a massive debt default in less than two weeks unless the government can hammer out a deal with holdout capital funds.

* Brazil: According to a new poll, support for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has dropped and she’s in a near tie in a hypothetical runoff against opposition candidate Aécio Neves.

* Uruguay: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a letter to congressional leaders confirming that six detainees from the Guantanamo Bay military prison will be transferred to Uruguay.

Video Source – El Salvador Foreign Ministry via YouTube

Online Sources – Voice of America; Bloomberg; NBC News; Christian Science Monitor
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Argentina, Aécio Neves, Brazil, Central..."
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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 15:51

Mexican officials this week raided a shelter in Michoacán and rescued nearly 600 people including 458 children who received all sorts of abuse, resided in squalid conditions and were obligated to eat spoiled food.  For families of some of the residents of the “La Gran Famila” (“The Great Family”), the liberation of their loved ones couldn’t have come soon enough.

In the case of twenty-eight-year-old Veronica Gamiña, she claimed that she left her nine-year-old child at the residence four years ago but her subsequent attempts to reclaim her child were made nearly impossible by shelter founder Rosa del Carmen Verduzco.

“First they told me that I had to fill out documents explaining why I wanted to take my child back then they asked me to pay 37,000 pesos (roughly $2800).  I only earn 800 pesos a week and I cannot save enough money,” said the restaurant worker to the press outside of the raided shelter on Wednesday.

Another parent alleged that she gave birth to two kids while she was at the shelter that had been functioning for forty years.  She was permitted by to leave the compound but forced to leave her children behind where “Mama Rosa” claimed the minors as her own according to Tomas Zeron, federal chief of criminal investigations.

"Victim No. 4 said she had been held in the group home against her will since she was 18," said Zeron about another supposed case of abuse at “La Gran Famila”. "She was sexually abused by one of the administrators, and got pregnant as a result of the abuse. The same person beat her to cause an abortion, beating her in the stomach on several occasions."

Michoacán Gov. Salvador Jara told the press that he was in the dark about the supposed horrors in the shelter until he became governor last month.  Yet that cannot excuse the apparent incompetence of local and federal authorities that may have been aware of the problems for years.  As reported in SDPnoticias.com, an August 2010 investigation by one of Mexico’s most important newspapers described the abuses at the shelter and possibly why “Mama Rosa” may have gotten away with her actions for decades:

At the time, the reporters (for “El Universal”) referred to “La Gran Famila” as a “shelter that is in reality a detention center for children where once inside they cannot leave until they reach adulthood even if their parents try to take them out”…

“The accusations against the shelter are not recent and have been made over the past twenty years but they have never been properly investigated since (Verdusco) apparently is politically well connected,” said in 2010 the former director of the Infants Rights Network (Gerardo Sauri).
Sauri’s assertion may help explain why ex-Mexican President Vicente Fox publicly defended her in a message via Twitter.

“In solidarity with Mama Rosa, I know you’re strong and that you’ve done plenty of good for thousands of children and young people,” tweeted Fox.  (It's worth noting that Fox signed an agreement with the shelter when he was governor of Guanajuato and prior to his presidency.)

Another high-profile defender of Verdusco was historian Enrique Krauze who blamed “the parents who abandoned their children” at the shelter and urged officials to prevent the “public lynching” of the 67-year-old.  For Berta Saucedo, a former resident of the shelter, Verdusco kept her unfairly separated from her family during many years.

“I went there to study and in the end she wouldn’t let me see my family and she told them that I had run away,” explained Saucedo who was not allowed to regain custody of the child she gave birth to thirteen years ago.
Video Source – Associated Press via YouTube  

Online Sources – Twitter; NBC News; ABC.es; Noticieros Televisa; The Guardian; SDPnoticias.com; 20minutos.es; El Universal
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "abuse, children, Mexico, Rosa del Carmen..."
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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 11:30

* Latin America: According to the U.N., the Caribbean has seen the biggest decline in new HIV infections while every hour ten people in Latin America are infected with the disease.

* Costa Rica: Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas, whose superb play helped guide Los Ticos to the World Cup quarterfinals, could be headed to one of soccer’s most prestigious clubs.

* Panama: imprisoned former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega is none too pleased over his depiction in the “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” video game.

* Mexico: The government of Mexico City enacted legislation approved last month banning the use of animals in circuses.

Video Source – YouTube user David Mercer (“Originally Published by Al Jazeera English on May 16, 2014.”)

Online Sources – euronews; MARCA.com; The Latin Americanist; The Guardian; LAHT
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "animal rights, Caribbean, circus, Costa ..."
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 20:14

Peru officially added femicides to the country's penal code in 2011.

Ciudad Juarez in Mexico is usually associated with the gender-based murders of women yet femicides are a problem throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  Such is the case of Peru where the government revealed alarming data on violence against women.

According to Peru’s Minister of Women and Vulnerable Populations, Carmen Omonte, at least fifty-six confirmed femicides took place during the first six months of this year.  At his pace, the number of confirmed femicides would be less than the 131 detected in 2013.  Nevertheless, the eighty-eight suspected femicides cases between January and June of this year could outpace the 151 possible instances believed to have occurred last year.

In light of theses statistics, Omonte said that her ministry was working on a protocol “across multiple sectors” to better address the “serious problem” of violence against women and femicides.  Yet the minister, who admitted last month to have been the target of sexual harassment, urged female victims of violence to speak up and not live in fear.

“It’s still an uphill battle in getting women to report that they’ve been assaulted, and to stop [women] from assuming it’s a natural thing to just suffer in silence… However, I believe that little by little, society and the government, working together, are helping more women to take heart and go to the authorities,” Omonte said.

Earlier this month, Omonte joined former Olympian and revered figure Natalia Malaga in launching a public campaign aimed at encouraging women to stand up for their rights.  The program could help combat feelings of machismo still prevalent in Peru:

“In many homes in Peru and other countries, girls are still brought up to assume a role in society that is secondary to a man, accepting whatever he has in mind,” said Angelica Fuentes, the Mexican director of a foundation aimed at empowering Latin American women.
“As women, we need to understand that all change starts with education. In many cases, we generate machismo ourselves through the differences between our children at home.”
Machismo runs strong in Peru, where 65 percent of men think that if women wear provocative clothing they open themselves up to disrespect, according to a June survey by polling firm Ipsos.
The data on femicides comes following two high-profile cases of violence and intolerance against women in Peru.  Last March, popular cumbia musician Edita Guerrero died of an aneurism that may have been caused when her husband assaulted her.  Magaly Solier, the actress best known for starring in the film “The Milk of Sorrow” (“La Teta Asustada”), alleged nearly two months ago that a man rubbed up against her and masturbated on a public bus Lima.

“It’s shameful and disgusting to have to face these actions. It’s horrible,” said Solier after she formally denounced the incident took place in front of dozens of passengers who did nothing to defend her.

“There are is too much violence, too much harassment, too many rapes in Peru. This has got to stop,” an angry Solier added.

Video Sources – YouTube users MIMP TV, 24HorasPTV and teleSUR

Online Sources – CIP Americas Program; The Latin Americanist; Peru.com; Peru This Week; BBC Mundo; The Raw Story
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "femicides, Peru, violence against women"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 12:02

* Argentina: “Lobbyists” acting on behalf of investment funds seeking repayment of debts from Argentina paid for a newspaper ad today claiming “Time is running out for Argentina.”

* Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro announced that he would soon provide details of a “fiscal revolution” though it remains to be seen if that will fix problems like Venezuela’s high inflation, overvalued currency and food shortages.

* Haiti: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Haitian victims of a cholera outbreak that may have been caused by visiting peacekeepers.

* Central America: Costa Rica’s government has urged neighboring Nicaragua to conduct environmental impact studies on a planned interoceanic canal project.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube

Online Sources – Tico Times; Reuters; ABC News; Miami Herald
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Argentina, canal, cholera, Costa Rica, D..."
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 12:21

* Cuba: Cuban authorities arrested at least ninety members of the Ladies in White protest movement over the weekend who were commemorating the deaths of thirty-seven migrants who died a sea in 1994.
* U.S.: Germany’s World Cup final win over Argentina was the most watched soccer match in U.S. television history with an estimated 26.5 million people viewing ABC and Univision.

* Mexico: President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law a major telecommunications reform that he claimed, “will promote greater competition, more and better conditions, better coverage and service quality, as well as lower prices and costs.”

* Argentina: Argentine companies and provinces are reportedly hopeful that an agreement can be reached between debtors and the government before the end of the month.

Video Source – Reuters via YouTube (Cuba’s Ladies in White protesters participating in a 2010 march).

Online Sources – UPI; Fox News Latino; The Latin Americanist; Businessweek; Reuters
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Monday, 14 Jul 2014 21:48
The German men’s national team steamrolled past host country Brazil en route to the fourth World Cup title in the squad’s history.  Their next matchup in Brazil might not be against Neymar and company but could be against a side with plenty of heart and determination.

The TECHO Latin American nongovernment organization has organized a social media campaign seeking a match between the World Cup champions and a team from Sao Paulo’s Anita Garibaldi slum.

The goal behind supporting a match between the Anita Fútbol Club and this year's World Cup titleholder is to call attention to the extreme poverty experienced by millions of people throughout Latin America. As a result, the organization has allegedly sent a letter to the head of the German soccer federation inviting Die Mannschaft to play against the Anita favela side.

“(Germany) was the team that played the best in the World Cup and they helped Brazil by building their own training center,” said Anita player and community leader Elvis Vieira.

It’s unknown of Germany will accept the invitation but Vieira and his teammates have undergone extra workouts with the hope that they could perhaps lineup against the likes of Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm.

“We used to train only on Saturdays and Sundays.  The community has always supported us and now even more so,” added Vieira.

In the following video via TECHO, sixteen-year-old Anita player Lucas observes how soccer serves as a welcome diversion from the difficulties he faces residing in the favela:

Some 3000 families reside in Anita Garibaldi, which is located close to Sao Paulo's international airport.  They have reportedly survived around half a dozen attempts by the authorities to remove them from land that Vieira claimed was “dotted with eucalyptus trees” before the first residents move there in 2001.

(Hat tip: Global Voices Online).

Video Source – YouTube user TECHO

Online Sources – enca.com; Twitter; El País – Brasil; The Latin Americanist; Global Voices Online
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Brazil, favelas, Sao Paulo, World Cup"
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Date: Monday, 14 Jul 2014 12:12

* Colombia: Colombian James Rodriguez became the third South American player since 1978 to win the Golden Boot Award as top scorer at the World Cup.

* Argentina: Visiting Russian president Vladimir Putin backed Argentina’s claim to the Falklands and also signed a nuclear energy cooperation pact with his counterpart, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
* Peru: Peruvian officials claimed that their country could double their copper production by 2016 and surpass China as the world’s second-largest producer of the metal.

* Brazil: The BRICS group of developing countries that includes Brazil will reportedly launch its own development bank that could curb the influence of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Video Source – Richard Swarbrick via YouTube

Online Sources – USA TODAY; euronews; The West Australian; mining.com
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Argentina, Brazil, BRIC, China, Colombia..."
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Date: Monday, 14 Jul 2014 01:33

Chris Wondolowski’s shot above the crossbar against Belgium. Mauricio Pinilla’s attempt ringing the goalpost in extra time against Brazil. Michael Arroyo not pulling the trigger late versus the Swiss. There were numerous missed opportunities at this year’s World Cup though none may have been bigger than the squandered chances by Argentina in their narrow 1-0 loss to Germany in the title match.

In the 29th minute, Gonzalo Higuain received the ball in space following a defensive lapse by the German backline but he mishit and his shot rolled woefully wide of the goal.  Minutes later, Higuain found the back of the net yet his celebration was cut short as the goal was called back for a clear offsides.

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi also wasted several opportunities in the final match played at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium.  In the early minutes of the second half, La Pulga was alone in front of goal with only German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to beat however he dragged a poor shot low and wide.  Messi’s teammate, Rodrigo Palacio, was also alone in front of Neuer in extra time but has chip ended harmless to the right of the German netminder.

It took until the 113th minute for the scoreless deadlock to be broken when Mario Götze scored from a sharp angle past Sergio Romero’s net.

Messi, who netted a late game-winner in group play against Iran and assisted Ángel di María’s gamewinner in the second round versus Switzerland, was fouled in injury time of the second extra period.  He took it upon himself to try for the equalizer from about thirty years away from goal but his shot sailed high and wide. Two minuets later the final whistle blew and Germany won the World Cup for the fourth time in team history.

Following the match numerous Argentine players such as Messi, who was named as the best player of the World Cup, couldn’t hide their dejection.

“I don’t care about the (Golden Ball) award at this time.  We wanted to win the World Cup and share it with the Argentine public,” declared Messi.

“Unfortunately the pain I feel will last the rest of my life,” said Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano.

“We gave all that we could and we’re sorry for ourselves and the fans who came to the stadium as well as the Argentine people,” noted Mascherano.

“We’re very sad not to have won the tournament but I’m very proud of this team.  I’m the leader of a great group, a great team,” a forlorn Argentine team coach Alejandro Sabella mentioned.

“Sorry #ARG for not winning the Cup.  Thanks to everyone for the MASSIVE support given to us at every match,” noted Martín Demichelis via his twitter account.

Though the Argentine squad came short of capturing the brass ring, tens of thousands of fans gathered at the Obelisk of Buenos Aires to celebrate the team’s efforts in reaching the final.  Some supporters took comfort in the fourth-place finish of World Cup host country and bitter rivals Brazil:
“Brazil is a lie.  It’s a shame that they allow ten goals in two games while playing at home,” said Sergio Vázquez…

“Brazil doesn’t know how to play.  Argentina performed very well.  They weren’t lucky but we have to be proud anyway,” said María Pía Realli, another Argentine fan who was part of the festivities at the Obelisk.
Unfortunately the celebration in several Argentine cities was marred by the arrests of at least sixty people who allegedly committed acts of vandalism.
Video Source – TV Publica Argentina via YouTube (Some disturbances occurred as tens of thousands of Argentine fans celebrated at the Obelisk of Buenos Aires on Sunday night).

Online Sources - BBC Sport; SI.com; The Huffington Post; vivelohoy.com; Clarin; El Universal; La Nacion; El Tiempo; Associated Press
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Lionel Messi..."
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Date: Monday, 14 Jul 2014 01:09

An estimated 200 people are taking part in a protest hours before Sunday’s World Cup final match in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

According to the Brazilian press, the anti-World Cup rally is taking place in Rio’s Tijuca neighborhood near the Maracana Stadium where the German and Argentine teams are currently facing off.

Some participants carried banners in Portuguese and English with insignias like “Blood Cup” in the demonstration that is reportedly part of the local “Our Cup is On the Street” protest movement organized by labor unions and leftist opposition political parties.

Update (4:15 PM): Police shot tear gas and rubber bullets at several hundred demonstrators roughly a mile near the Maracana.   At least two people are injured from the actions that occurred as the World Cup title match was held. It's not clear if these actions are related to the aforementioned protest in Tijuca.

Update (5:35 PM): Via New York Times journalist Simon Romero's Twitter - six people were injured in a "FIFA Go Home" protest near Maracana as police clashed with some 300 demonstrators.  

Update (11:55 PM): We've added a video of the protest including the police shooting tear gas at demonstrators.

Over 26,000 military police personnel have been deployed throughout Rio today as part of a massive security operation aimed at maintaining order today.

Throughout the month that soccer’s premier tournament has taken place, demonstrations were held in several cities hosting matches. Nonetheless, attendance for these rallies has been far smaller than an estimated one million people participated in demonstrations last summer while support for protests among Brazilians has fallen in the past year.

One of the factors behind the decreased support of anti-World Cup protests in Brazil may have to do with a police crackdown on suspected demonstration organizers.  Rio police yesterday arrested nineteen people accused of committing violent actions and vandalism during anti-World Cup protests.  Among those detained was lawyer Eloisa Samy whose arrest was denounced by the Brazilian Bar association as an attack on an “attorney defending arrested protesters.”

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International’s Brazilian division critiqued the crackdown and possibly excessive actions by law enforcement during the last few weeks of protests. Yet despite criticism of the police and controversy over the massive public spending for the World Cup, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has declared the tournament a complete success:

"We showed that our people know how to have good interaction not only among ourselves but with the foreigners that we received," she said Friday night at the presidential residence during a meeting with foreign journalists. "We competently maintained peace and order, as well as having good airport administration among other successes."
Video Source– YouTube user Ben Tavener

Online Sources including Updates – Folha.com; O Globo; Amnesty International Brazil; The Latin Americanist; Los Angeles Times; Buenos Aires Herald; Twitter
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, protest, Rio de ..."
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Date: Friday, 11 Jul 2014 23:42

Brazil has been shockingly eliminated from soccer's World Cup after suffering a 7-1 loss against Germany in a semifinal match.

Five different goalscorers tallied for Germany as they handed their rivals their first home loss since 1975 and the biggest defeat for a country hosting the World Cup. Among those who beat Brazilian goalkeeper Julio César was Miroslav Klose who surpassed Ronaldo to become the top goalscorer in World Cup history.

The memory of Brazilian striker Neymar, who suffered a tournament-ending injury in the previous match versus Colombia, was strong as fans donned masks of the infirm player and his jersey was displayed by the team following the national anthems.  Yet the lack of defensive stalwart Thiago Silva, who was suspended for receiving too many yellow cards, seemed to be a greater absence than Neymar.

For the first few minutes of the match Brazil looked solid yet the hope of heading to the championship match quickly disappeared into thin air.  What is being called the "Mineirazo" began when Thomas Müeller opened the scoring in the eleventh minute and the German offense broke the floodgates open with four more goals before the half-hour mark.  The result left most of the 60,000 plus in attendance stunned in silence while others sang a chorus of insults upon visiting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

(After the match, Rousseff tweeted "Like every Brazilian I'm very, very sad about this defeat.")        

Though Brazil was much more organized and forceful in the attack in the second half but could not beat the fast reflexes of German netminder Manuel Neuer.  The Brazilian defense continued their woeful performance, however, as Germany scored twice before Oscar tallied Brazil's lone goal late in the match.

"I just wanted to bring some happiness to my fellow countrymen," said a tearful team captain David Luiz following the final whistle.  "I apologize to all the Brazilian people," Luiz added.

"Who is responsible when the team plays? I am. It's me," said Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.  "If I were to think of my life as a player, as a coach, as a teacher, this was the worst day of my life. I'll be remembered probably because I lost 7-1, the worst defeat Brazil have ever had," noted Felipao who lead Brazil to its latest World Cup crown in 2002.  (Ironically, Brazil won the championship match 2-0 over Germany). 

César, meanwhile, was "stunned" at the result and admitted that he would've "preferred losing 1-0 based on my mistake." He also noted that the team "will left its head up" following the drubbing but his optimism doesn't seem to be shared by Brazilian fans who left the Mineirao Stadium before the end of the match.

"We are part of one of the greatest shames in the country's history.  The team is dead.  I don't want to witness this anymore," 54-year-old Marcelo Stefani said.

"Scolari is to blame.  Brazil reached the semifinals because the other teams are weak," observed Frederick Turner who apparently forgot that the Verde-Amarela faced stiff challenges from the likes of Mexico, Colombia and Chile.
A few Brazil supporters did not take the news of their team's elimination lightly and torched buses in Sao Paulo while police fired tear gas at attendees of the Recife Fan Fest.  A stampede occurred when "dozens of youth snatched bags, phones and jewelry" at a public viewing of the match on Copacabana Beach in Rio when    Other fans were more blase:
Bruno Dana, a travel agent from Rio, was more nuanced, saying the result would not have a long-term effect. He said: "The bottom line is that everything's a party here. You can't stay sad. Sports are just like this."

Others expressed sympathy. "I think Brazil got too stressed with the first goal because they weren't expecting it," said Rafaela Bueno, a visitor from Belo Horizonte "The team wasn't as well prepared as the Germans. The Brazilian team has a low average age. They're just not so balanced."

But such was the scale of defeat that it also inspired black humour. One internet wag posted a doctored picture of the Christ the Redeemer statue with Uzi machine guns in each outstretched arm with the slogan: The Cup Stays.
Brazil can obtain a measure of redemption in the third-place match on Saturday against the loser of Wednesday's semifinal between the Netherlands or Argentina.

Video Sources - YouTube user Associated Press and RadioBAYERN3

Online Sources - BBC Sport; Forbes.com; The Latin Americanist; El Observador; Bloomberg; Folha.com; The Guardian; infonews.com; Twitter
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, soccer, World Cu..."
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Date: Friday, 11 Jul 2014 11:45

* Cuba: Cuban lawyer Ernesto Vera claimed that he worked for the state security agency and pretended to be an opposition activist in order to “discredit the dissidents.”

* Uruguay: Luis Suárez may be serving a harsh suspension for biting an Italian player at a World Cup match but that hasn’t stopped the Uruguayan from reportedly being transferred from to F.C. Barcelona as part of a $129 million deal.
* Latin America: A new U.N. report found that Mexico City and Sao Paulo, Brazil are in the top five of the world’s most populated cities though their ranking is expected to fall by 2030.

* Chile: President Michelle Bachelet of Chile criticized landlocked Bolivia’s appeal to the International Court of Justice seeking access to the sea.

Video Source – AFP via YouTube (Ernesto Vera alleged that he infiltrated the Ladies in White protest movement, seen here during a 2010 march, as part of his work as a Cuban state security agent).

Online Sources – Fox News Latino; Bernama; The Latin Americanist; The Guardian
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Barcelona, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Daily H..."
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Date: Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 22:37

According to a United Nations (U.N.) independent investigator, cases of violence against women in Honduras have skyrocketed in recent years while a majority of femicides are in impunity.

“In Honduras, violence against women is widespread and systematic and it impacts women and girls in numerous ways,” Rashida Manjoo, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on violence against women, said this week.

“The climate of fear, in both the public and private spheres, and the lack of accountability for violations of human rights of women, is the norm rather than the exception,” added Manjoo following an eight-day mission to the Central American country.
Manjoo observed that violent deaths of women between 2005 and 2013 increased by a whopping 263.4%.  The number could be greater, however, since she admitted that data from Honduras is often not “accurate, reliable and uncontested.”  Nevertheless, Manjoo noted “scores of concerns as regards the high levels of domestic violence, femicides and sexual violence” during her visit to major cities including Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba.

Manjoo also claimed that human trafficking for sexual purposes has been underreported due to the influence of criminal gangs and “hidden nature” of these occurrences.

One bright spot she praised was the push for government police’s aimed at helping women such as the incorporation of femicides into the Penal Code.  Nevertheless, Manjoo criticized the 95% impunity rate for sexual violence and femicides as part of a lack of accountability by he authorities towards women.

“The importance of accountability as the norm for acts of violence against women cannot be over-emphasized, more especially within a context of generalized impunity for violence in the public and private spheres,” said Manjoo.

Manjoo’s research, which will be presented as a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council next year, comes as the Department of Homeland Security identified high violence rates as one of the reasons behind a recent influx of thousands of unaccompanied and undocumented Central American minors into the U.S.  Fear is also a motivating factor pushing Honduran women to make the roughly 1500-mile trek northward.  Such was the case with Karla who tried to escape gang violence and the threat of being killed but failed: 
When the grueling journey eventually brought them to the banks of the Rio Bravo, Karla thought the family’s nightmare was finally over. But after putting themselves in the care of a US customs agent, a new one began.
Instead of being taken to a detention centre in Texas for processing, they were sent straight back to Mexican immigration control to be sent home.

“They didn’t even let us speak,” said Karla, who is now staying at a spartan facility in San Pedro Sula, the coastal city that is receiving floods of migrants deported from Mexico. “We are back where we started and I don’t know what to do. We haven’t got a dollar between us”…
“For many people the choice is to flee or to die,” says Carlos Paz, director of the San Pedro Sula office of the church organization Cáritas.
Video Source – TeleSUR English via YouTube (Video uploaded in June 2013).

Online Sources – UN News Centre; Pew Research Center; The Guardian
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Honduras, immigration, violence against ..."
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Date: Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 10:45

* Uruguay: President Jose Mujica announced that Uruguay’s plan to legalize the selling and distribution of marijuana would be delayed until 2015 because of “practical difficulties.

* Cuba: Aero Marti, “an airborne broadcasting platform that sent radio and television signals to Cuba,” was cancelled by U.S. authorities allegedly due to its cost and ineffectiveness.

* Mexico: The Mayan ruins of Calakmul became Mexico’s first site to receive the “mixed” World Heritage status from the U.N.

* Argentina: Vice-President Amado Boudou may be indicted on charges of corruption but that didn’t stop him from presiding over the Argentine government’s official Independence Day celebration.

Video Source – Fusion via YouTube

Online Sources – LAHT; ABC News; The Straits Times; Buenos Aires Herald
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Amado Boudou, Argentina, Calakmul, Cuba,..."
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Date: Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 09:01

* Mexico: Mexican legislators passed a major telecommunications reform package that could diminish the control of America Movil and Televisa over the phone and TV industries, respectively.

* Brazil: A record 35.6 million tweets on Twitter were sent during the humiliating elimination of Brazil from the World Cup by Germany on Tuesday.

* Argentina: Former Finance Minister Domingo Cavallo claimed that Argentina’s current debt repayment crisis could be worse than the country’s economic collapse that he presided over in 2001.

* Puerto Rico: Will the U.S. Congress provide a lifeline to the financially troubled Puerto Rican island?

Video Source – CCTV America via YouTube

Online Sources – Bloomberg; LatinFinance; USA TODAY; Reuters; The Latin Americanist
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Argentina, Brazil, Congress, Daily Headl..."
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Date: Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 00:06

Argentina will head to the title match of the World Cup for the fifth time in team history after outlasting the Netherlands in a semifinal duel.

A penalty kick shootout was needed in order to break a scoreless deadlock between two teams that had been undefeated throughout the tournament.  Los Albicelstes converted all four of their spot kicks while goalkeeper Sergio "El Chiquito" Romero emerged as man of the match by blocking attempts by Ron Vlaar and Wesley Snejder.

Prior to the penalties both sides had few offensive chances during the 120 minutes of play amid rainy conditions in Sao Paulo. Lionel Messi was largely quiet throughout the semifinal aside from a free kick bullet straight into the arms of Oranje goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.  The Argentine defense smothered what few opportunities the Netherlands could conjure up especially Javier Mascherano who ruined a pair of dangerous runs in the penalty area by Arjen Robben.      

The two-time champions generated very little on the attack but could’ve won the match in the second extra time period when Cillessen blocked Rodrigo Palacio’s close range header and a weak volley from Maxi Rodriguez. Unlike their quarterfinal match against the overachieving Costa Ricans, the Dutch faltered in the penalty shootout much to the delight of the scores of Argentine fans at the Arena Corinthians.   

Argentina will face Germany in the final match for the third time in World Cup history. (Los Albicelstes captured the crown in 1986 though Germany gained revenge four years later).

It’s an immense joy.  In reality it’s luck,” admitted a relived Romero following the match.  “To the forty million Argentines a message: Enjoy this moment,” he added.

“We came into the game of our lives and now we will enjoy it because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” noted Mascherano.  The defender played the entire match even though he may have suffered a concussion similar to that of Uruguay’s Alvaro Periera in the group stage.  

“We’re going home defeated,” said Dutch coach Louis van Gaal at a press conference following the semifinal.  He even referred to Brazil’s humiliating elimination in Tuesday’s semifinal by observing, “Losing via penalties is the same as losing 7-1.”  (The Netherlands will face the host country Brazil in the third-place match on Saturday).
As to be expected, Argentinians celebrated in the streets nationwide after Romero’s final save including tens of thousands at iconic Obelisk of Buenos Aires.

“We deserve to live this moment,” noted Luciano Martínez, one of those that took part in the festivities at the Argentine capital city.

“After the era of (Argentine soccer superstar Diego) Maradona we are finally shining bright at the World Cup,” he added amid the joy that coincidentally occurred on Argentina's Independence Day.

The Netherlands-Argentina clash was preceded by a moment of silence for Argentine soccer legend Alfredo Di Stefano who passed away on Monday.  Los Albicelste players wore black armbands in honor of the soccer great that never got the chance to play in a World Cup.

Video Source – YouTube user ezewer88

Online Sources – Globo.com; Buenos Aires Herald; El Universal; Folha.com; Goal.com; The Latin Americanist; La Nacion; CNN; FIFA
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Alfredo Di Stefano, Argentina, Brazil, N..."
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Date: Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 11:50

* Nicaragua: The Nicaraguan government and officials with Hong Kong-based HKND Group revealed details of a $40 billion, 173 mile interoceanic canal project that might rival the expanded Panama Canal.

* Venezuela: Delta Airlines became the latest air carrier to significantly reduce flights to and from Venezuela as part of a dispute over the grossly overvalued Venezuelan currency.

* Brazil: Some ticket packages for the World Cup semifinal and final matches have been blocked amid an investigation into the possible illegal reselling of tickets on the black market.

* Latin America: At least five people died after a 6.9 magnitude quake struck on Monday in the Mexican southern border area near Guatemala.

Video Source – El Nuevo Diario via YouTube

Online Sources – Fox News Latino; USA TODAY; Bloomberg; El Universal; euronews
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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