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Date: Friday, 10 Oct 2014 06:00

* Mexico: Federal authorities captured suspected Juarez drug cartel chief Vicente Carrillo Fuentes days after the detention of Hector Beltran Leyva, boss of the Beltran Leyva Cartel. 

* Bolivia: Polls indicated that Bolivian president Evo Morales is expected to easily triumph in Sunday’s general election and will be reelected to a third straight term in office.

* Venezuela: A World Bank arbitration board ruled that the Venezuelan government must pay ExxonMobil around $1.6 billion in compensation for a 2007 nationalization.

* Ecuador: Did the European Union “bully” Ecuador in order to sign on to a free trade agreement?

Video Source  – Noticieros Televisa via YouTube (Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, seen here after he was arrested on Thursday, was one of Mexico's most wanted criminals and he faced a number of charges in the U.S. including drug trafficking and money laundering).

Online Sources – CNN; The Latin Americanist; LAHT; Voice of America; teleSUR English
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Bolivia, Daily Headlines, drugs, Ecuador..."
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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 19:16

A series of marches are taking place today in several cities to repudiate the disappearance of forty-three students in Mexico’s Guerrero state.

With the theme of “Por Ayotzinapa, tod@s a la calle” (“Everyone take to the streets for Ayotzinapa”) a coalition of civil organizations behind the rallies urged protesters to carry candles and dress in black as signs of solidarity with the recent victims  of violence in Guerrero.

An estimated 20,000 marchers have shut down one of the main highways in Guerrero as they make their way to the governor’s residence in the state capital city of Chilpancingo.  The protesters include students from the region, professors and family members of the forty-three students from a teacher training college that have been missing since the evening of September 26th. 

Scores of marchers are gathering near Mexico City’s iconic Angel of Independence monument as part of their peaceful protest today.

Other rallies took place around the world including Barcelona where some 100 people demonstrated while wore masks of the disappeared students and held signs calling for an end to perceived impunity in the investigation.  Demonstrates in Los Angeles presented a letter to the Mexican consul in that city urging officials to punish those responsible for the killings in Guerrero two weeks ago.

On September 26th, armed men from the town of Iguala fired upon some 120 students while they were riding local buses back to their school in Ayotzinapa.  Local police chased those students who were able to escape the attack and are believed to have fired at them.

“They were hitting the students as they took them. People were also scared about being shot so they gave themselves up. They thought they would just be arrested. But something else awaited them,” said Eusebio, one of the survivors of the attack in Iguala.  

Eusebio claimed that police officers and men in plainclothes with rifles ambushed them while none of the students were armed. The next day, he alleged to have encountered the faceless corpse of one of the students who was allegedly detained by the attacking mob.

Shortly after the initial attack, six people were killed when armed men opened fire on four buses including one containing members of a lower division soccer team.

Little information has been known about the whereabouts of the missing students though some of the suspects arrested following the attack informed investigators of six shallow graves containing the remains of at least twenty-eight people.  In addition, security camera footage taken near Iguala apparently shows police vehicles carrying individuals that may have been some of the missing students.

It’s also unknown exactly what motivated the Iguala police to fire on the students yet prosecutors believe that the officers were working for the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) local drug gang. Federal authorities have taken over local police duties while the mayor and the police chief of Iguala have fled after being subpoenaed in the case.

On Monday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto pledged to “make sure the law is applied to those responsible for these outrageous, painful and unacceptable acts.”  Yet according to Human Rights Watch, the Mexican government has done a woeful job in investigating cases of people missing due to violence:
“The disappearances are a human rights crisis of major proportions for Mexico,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “But the Peña Nieto administration has fallen woefully short of its commitment to find out what happened to these thousands of missing people, and is now even slashing the budget of the special prosecutors’ unit it created to handle these cases”…

“Rather than clarify the problem, the Peña Nieto administration has issued a series of contradictory statements that have raised more questions than they’ve answered,” Vivanco said. “The administration claims that 30,000 missing people have turned up, but it has not revealed who these people are or what happened to them.”   
In the meantime, international scrutiny over the incidents in Iguala could force Mexican officials to thoroughly investigate and find answers regarding the disappeared students.  “The perpetrators must be brought to justice,” declared U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki while Organization of American States chief José Miguel Insulza called on countries in the region to “fight against the powers of narcotrafficking.”

Video Source – Reuters via YouTube (“As Mexican authorities investigate mass graves that may contain the remains of some four dozen students missing following a recent rash of violence, activists take to the street to demand justice”).
 

Online Sources – Reuters; Al Jazeera; El Universal; NBC News; Milenio; El Informador; Human Rights Watch; La Jornada
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 11:45

* Brazil: Aécio Neves' bid to win in the upcoming presidential runoff against current leader Dilma Rousseff received a boost from several allies of defeated candidate Marina Silva.

* El Salvador: A Spanish court ruled that Spain has the jurisdiction to investigate the 1989 Jesuit Massacre of eight people in El Salvador.

* Latin America: A new World Bank report concluded that economic growth for Latin America and the Caribbean this year will be less than initially estimated.  

* Mexico: Ten Mexican states were ranked as the worst places to live in among the thirty-four member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube

Online Sources – JURIST; LAHT; World Bank; The Latin Americanist; BBC News
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 13:18

* Ecuador: As many as 2500 “micro-traffickers” of drugs could be freed from prisons in Ecuador as part of a new crime law that took effect in August.

* Argentina: U.S. federal judge Thomas Griesa continues to put pressure on the Argentine government in its legal battle against paying millions of dollars to bondholders.

* Colombia: At least eleven residents of a Colombian indigenous village died due to a lighting strike yesterday.

* Haiti: Researchers examining a shipwreck near Cap-Haitien, Haiti concluded that it did not belong to the Santa Maria, one of the three vessels used by Christopher Columbus in his 1492 voyage to the Americas.

Video Source – The Washington Office on Latin America via YouTube

Online Sources – NBC News; CNN; MercoPress; The Latin Americanist; The Guardian
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 08:30

* Mexico: Investigators in southern Mexico are examining a mass grave that could contain the remains of some of the forty-three student protesters missing since police reportedly attacked them last month.

* Brazil: Defeated presidential candidate Marina Silva said that she will not publicly back Dilma Rousseff or Aécio Neves in an upcoming runoff to decide Brazil’s next president.

* U.S.: Will President Barack Obama’s pledge last week to push for immigration reform attract potential Latino voters to next month’s midterm elections?

* Cuba: “I’m happy I made it alive, but it was something no one should have to go through,” said one of the fifteen Cuban migrants who survived for three weeks without food or water while adrift in the Caribbean.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube

Online Sources – NBC News; Xinhua; The Latin Americanist; The Guardian; CNN
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Aécio Neves, Barack Obama, Brazil, Cuba..."
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Date: Monday, 06 Oct 2014 06:56

About 142 million registered voters in Brazil head to the voting booths on Sunday in order to decide who could be the South American country’s next president.

Recent polls have shown that incumbent leader Dilma Rousseff is the odds-on favorite to win today’s election though she might not obtain the majority of voted to prevent a runoff on October 26th against the runner-up of today’s election. 

“We took Brazil off the U.N.’s hunger map and helped thirteen million Brazilians attend university,” tweeted Rousseff regarding public social programs under her rule. She also referred to her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, for their efforts to push through a “peaceful social revolution” during the past twelve years.

Of the ten other presidential candidates on the ballot, former environment minister Marina Silva appeared to be Rousseff’s strongest rival.  Silva, who took over for Eduardo Campos when he died in a plane crash nearly two months ago, has positioned herself as an alternative to Brazil’s traditional politics by appealing to disenchanted youth while also promoting pro-business and socially conservative policies. 

“She’s not a messiah… she’s a human with flaws like everyone else. But she’s a person of integrity and ethics and we need that desperately,” said Camargo Cesar, the author of a biography on Silva.

A series of negative ads from the Rousseff campaign and accusations of flip-flopping have apparently affected support for Silva.  According to two polls released on Saturday, Silva is in a statistical tie for second place with senator Aécio Neves.  Neves enjoyed a recent surge in the polls as he has hammered away at several corruption scandals including alleged bribery by execs at state-run oil giant Petrobras.

“He is the most capable and knowledgeable of the three candidates – the safest pair of hands.  Dilma is just an agitator and Marina is too unreliable,” noted one Rio de Janeiro resident.

(UPDATE BELOW THE PAGE BREAK)
Update: As expected, Rousseff won in Sunday's election but will have to face Neves in a runoff in three weeks time.

With 96% of the vote counted, the incumbent received 41% followed by the former governor of Minas Gerais with 34%.

Silva finished a somewhat distant third with only 21% of the vote.

Silva may have positioned herself as an outside choice but in the end the two traditional political party candidates will go through to the decisive round.  While the Rousseff campaign effectively launched attack ads against the ex-environment minister, Neves can thank his party's support for helping him get into the second round:
Neves, however, had the backing of the well-organized Social Democracy Party, which held the presidency from 1994 until 2002, a period when Brazil tamed its hyperinflation and turned its economy around.
"Aecio's performance has been extraordinary and one of the reasons for this is the very strong party structure behind him; a party with a strong nationwide presence and which has been in the presidency," said Carlos Pereira, a political analyst with the Gertulio Vargas Foundation, Brazil's leading think tank. "It is now a new election where everything is wide open. Aecio, who until recently no one believed had a chance, has emerged as a very strong candidate."
Both candidates in the runoff agree in the need to enact reforms against corruption, leaving the current limits on abortion and are opposed to gay marriage.  Yet Rousseff favors expanding public social programs in health and education, and is also against legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.  If elected, Neves promises to streamline the federal government and would be open to reexamine policies on marijuana such as the drug's legalization in Uruguay.
  
Despite the peaceful nature of today’s election, some voting locations have reported delays due to the electronic voting system being used. Though some voters have had to wait as long as three hours to cast their ballot, the head of Brazil’s electoral tribunal assured that registered voters on line prior to the 5:00 PM deadline will be permitted to vote.

In the end, whoever emerges, as Brazil’s next president will have numerous challenges to tackle, chief of which is the country’s struggling economy.  Brazil may still be in the BRIC alliance of emerging economic countries, but Brazil officially fell into recession last August as growth fell from a peak of over 7% in 2010 to less than 2% under Rousseff.

Though economic problems was one of the main reasons behind mass street protests last year, it remains to be seen if the Brazilian electorate this month will largely blame or back Rousseff.

“Dilma is the public face of this government, so it is unavoidable people will blame her for most of what is happening in the country, regardless of her actual responsibility. I think this is natural in any presidential democracy,” observed Brazilian economist and blogger Luciano Sobral.

Aside from the presidency, voters will also be choosing most of the seats in Congress, governors in twenty-seven states and other regional posts.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube

Online Sources – Twitter; Fortune; The Latin Americanist; The Guardian; BBC News; The Globe and Mail; Reuters; Newsweek; O Globo
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Aécio Neves, Brazil, corruption, Dilma ..."
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Date: Friday, 03 Oct 2014 12:35

* Latin America: 63 doctors and 102 nurses from Cuba reportedly left for Sierra Leone to help combat the African country’s Ebola outbreak while Salvadoran authorities placed under quarantine two nuns suspected of being infected with Ebola.

* Brazil: The head of the International Olympic Committee’s inspection team claimed that plans for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are “on track” though “the schedule was tight.”

* Venezuela: Was ruling party legislator Robert Serra and his partner killed days ago as part of a planned assassination?

* Argentina: A Spanish judge ruled that Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi must stand trial for allegedly evading more than four million euros in taxes.

Video Source – Voice of America via YouTube

Online Sources – Fox News Latino; Tico Times; BBC News; The Independent; Businessweek
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Daily Headlines..."
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Date: Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 12:10

* Haiti: Police in Port-au-Prince fired tear gas and water cannons at some of the thousands of demonstrators commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the military coup against then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

* Venezuela: Authorities vowed to thoroughly investigate the murder of Robert Serra, a ruling party legislator who was one of Venezuela’s youngest congressmen, and his partner on Wednesday night.

* Peru: A Spanish researcher was hospitalized after he was rescued from a cave in Peru where he was trapped more than 1200 feet underground for twelve days.
  
* Latin America: Organization of American States Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza urged Latin American countries to take in detainees from the U.S.-run Guantanamo military prison.

Video Source – YouTube user No Comment TV

Online Sources – Al Jazeera; Reuters; Mercopress; euronews
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "coup d’état, Daily Headlines, Guantan..."
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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 23:36

Mexican officials claimed one of the country's most wanted drug lords, Hector Beltran Leyva, was apprehended on Wednesday.

The chief of Mexico's criminal investigations bureau, Tomás Zerón de Lucio, said at a news conference that the suspected head of the Beltran Levya drug gang was nabbed while eating at a seafood restaurant in Guanajuato state.  Hector was allegedly nabbed in a rapid operation where not even a single shot was fired and at the end of an eleven-month law enforcement investigation.
 
Zerón noted that the man nicknamed "El H" maintained a low profile by pretending to be a local businessmen involved in real estate and the buying and selling of art.
Hector was believed to have lead the Beltran Levya drug cartel since the death of his brother Arturo in a 2009 shootout with Mexican troops. (Two other Beltran Levya brothers are currently in prison over their respective roles with the drug gang). 

Two U.S. federal courts have indicted Hector while U.S. officials placed a $5 million bounty on top of the $3.7 million reward offered by Mexican authorities for his capture.

The Beltran Leyva cartel, which was originally part of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa drug gang, has been blamed for trafficking cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine.
  
According to the Associated Press, Hector presided over a cartel that had been weakened but supposedly trying to regain strength:


The gang terrorized parts of central Mexico for years, including Morelos state to the south of Mexico City, although it declined somewhat after the brothers' arrests and killing. Last November, the U.S. Treasury Department said the cartel appeared to be reorganizing and regaining some power.

"Obviously this is not the Beltran Leyvas' organization in its strongest moment ... but it continues to be a criminal organization capable of generating localized violence in some states," Mexican security expert Jorge Chabat said.
Hector Beltran Leyva thus becomes the third major Mexican drug gang leader captured under the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto. ("El Chapo" was apprehended earlier this year while the head of the Zetas cartel was nabbed in 2013).  It also occurred days in the same week that a member of the Knights Templar drug gang wanted for killing ten policemen was captured by Mexican troops.
 
The capture of Hector serves as a "credit to the police and federal prosecutors who seek to bring the peace we need (in Mexico)" tweeted Peña Nieto on Wednesday night.
 
Despite the captures and a decline in Mexico's high murder rates in recent years, drug cartels have increasingly opted to base their activities out of neighboring Central American countries.  (This in turn has helped fuel the influx of Central American migrants including more and more minors).  Furthermore, the drug gangs have branched out into other criminal activities while also adapting to the increased pressure against cartel bosses.
"They aren't strictly hierarchical, but consist of relatively autonomous sub-organizations which are able to find new partners relatively quickly, if one falls away," said Humboldt Institute instructor Günther Maihold.
 
Online Sources - Deutsche Welle; The Huffington Post; El Universal; Milenio; SDP Noticias

Video Source - YouTube user Excélsior Tv
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "drugs, Enrique Pena Nieto, Hector Beltra..."
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 07:14
Guatemala: Former Guatemalan Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz claimed that a "smear campaign" forced her to leave her post after she prosecuted ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity.


* Puerto Rico: Economic activity in Puerto Rico reportedly slumped to its lowest point in twenty years while the average household income on the commonwealth declined at a greater rate than any of the fifty U.S. states.

* Brazil: Brazil's main Ibovespa stock index tumbled by 4.5% on Monday and the national currency hit a thirteen-month low as investors were apparently jittery over increased support in election polls for President Dilma Rousseff.

* Dominican Republic: The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization honored the government of the Dominican Republic for significantly reducing the number of people suffering from inadequate nutrition this year.

Online Sources - Fox News Latino; Bloomberg; Reuters; Latin Post
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 12:00
* Mexico: Some 25 students protesting poor school conditions in Mexico's Guerrero state are missing after local police reportedly fired at the demonstrators.

* Brazil: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has tried to downplay allegations of corruption in Petrobras that have emerged in the weeks leading to the October 5th presidential election.

* Colombia: In what Colombian one activist called a "black September," more than 150 human rights defenders, journalists and politicians have been the targets of threats in this month alone.

* Peru: At least eight people died after an earthquake shook the southern Peruvian region of Cuzco on Saturday night.
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Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 14:07

* Brazil: Researchers in Brazil released yesterday mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria in order to curb the spread of the deadly dengue disease.

* Chile: One man was killed reportedly while handling an explosive artifact in an incident that occurred over two weeks after a bomb detonated at a Santiago subway station.

* Guatemala: Five people were arrested over their suspected role in the killings of eleven people including six from a single family in the Guatemalan indigenous village of San Juan Sacatepequez.

* El Salvador: Human rights group Amnesty International criticized El Salvador’s ban on all abortion as causing “discrimination against and criminalization of women.”

Video Source – Reuters via YouTube

Online Sources – Fox News Latino; Zee News; The Latin Americanist; SBS; NBC News
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Friday, 26 Sep 2014 14:07

* Latin America: The outbreak of the mosquito-borrne chikungunya disease continues to spread through the Americas and the Caribbean.

* Venezuela: Approximately one-third of Venezuelan states were affected by a blackout yesterday allegedly caused by "problems at generating plants."

* Argentina: Is Argentina's recession truly over or is the government's data inaccurate?

* Mexico: Seven Mexican soldiers and their commander were charged with military disobedience and breach of duty over reportedly killing twenty-two suspected gang members "in cold blood."

Online Sources - Businessweek; Reuters; Buenos Aires Herald; Business Insider; Latin Post 

Video Source - Newsy Science via YouTube
* Latin America: The outbreak of the mosquito-carried chikungunya disease continues to spread through the Americas and the Caribbean.

* Venezuela: Approximately one-third of Venezuelan states were affected by a blackout yesterday allegedly caused by "problems at generating plants."

* Argentina: Is Argentina's recession truly over or is the government's data inaccurate?

* Mexico: Seven Mexican soldiers and their commander were charged with military disobedience and breach of duty over reportedly killing twenty-two suspected gang members "in cold blood."

Online Sources - BBC News; Fox News Latino; Voice of America; Reuters
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 18:05

U.S. President Barack Obama urged Venezuelan authorities to liberate imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo López as soon as possible.

“From Russia to China to Venezuela, you are seeing relentless crackdowns vilifying legitimate dissent as subversive…we stand in solidarity with those detained at this very moment.  In Venezuela, Leopoldo López,” said Obama during a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday night. 

Aside from López, Obama mentioned other jailed activists from countries like Vietnam, Burundi and Russia who “deserve to be freed.  They should be freed.”

López has been detained for the past seven months, and charged with inciting vandalism and violence during anti-government demonstrations in February. Shortly after López turned himself in to authorities, Obama denounced the “unacceptable violence” in Venezuela and criticized officials for not “focusing on the legitimate demands of the Venezuelan people.”

Detractors of the Popular Will Party leader claimed that he must be punished for instigating politically charged violence that eventually cost the lives of more than forty people.  Last month, President Nicolás Maduro referred to López as a “pawn of the gringos” who “has to pay and he will pay,” for his alleged crimes.

Yet supporters of López believe the charges against the ex-mayor of the Chacao district of Caracas were politically motivated by a government seeking to quash dissent.

“Leopoldo is a prisoner of conscience and is in jail because Maduro is scared,” said López’ wife, Lillian Tintori, last week during a visit to the U.N.


López’ trial has been delayed on at least five occasions with the most recent postponement taking place this week.

Maduro has thus far not replied to Obama’s remarks on López though he could get his chance when he speaks at the U.N. General Assembly later today.  

Earlier this week, former Venezuelan police commander Ivan Simonovis was granted a “humanitarian” house arrest “so he can be cured of his illnesses and can receive medical treatment.”

Obama also praised Cuban dissident activist Berta Soler who has had to “endure harassment and arrest in order to win freedom for their loved ones and for the Cuban people”.

Soler has led the Ladies in White protest group that since 2003 has called on the freeing of all of Cuba’s political prisoners.  Authorities have accused the group of being funded by the U.S and police have occasionally detained members of the Ladies. 

Though the Ladies have created greater awareness of the abuses committed under the Castro regime, they have faced their own troubles including thirty members who abandoned the campaign this month due to “serious indiscipline.”

Video Source – euronews via YouTube (Venezuelan opposition activist Leopoldo López gave himself in to police last February).
 

Online Sources – Stuff.co.nz; The Latin Americanist; LAHT; allAfrica.com; Voz de America; infobae.com
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Barack Obama, Berta Soler, Cuba, disside..."
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 11:45

* U.S.: Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 led the list of Latin Grammy nominations with ten while artists Carlos Vives, Jorge Drexler and Enrique Iglesias also received multiple nominations.

* Brazil: Three polls released this week showed that Brazil’s presidential race is still up for grabs though support has increased for incumbent Dilma Rousseff.

* Dominican Republic: Vatican officials placed under house arrest the former papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic over allegations of sexually abusing children.

* Mexico: How has Mexico’s crackdown on drug cartels damaged the country’s iron industry?

Video Source – YouTube user elvecindariocalle13 (Short film created by Calle 13 and released last week).

Online Sources – Billboard; Bloomberg; The Huffington Post; CNBC
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 12:08

* Brazil: The Brazilian government will reportedly not endorse an international deforestation plan to be presented at the U.N. climate summit today.

* Venezuela: Judges once again postponed the trial of Leopoldo Lopez, the imprisoned opposition leader facing numerous charges related to politically charged violence last February.

* Bolivia: “I want you to know that my greatest wish is that October 12 will be a winning day,” declared President Evo Morales who will likely win reelection next month.

* Panama: Activision Blizzard, the company behind the popular "Call of Duty" video game series, filed a motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit from ex-Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.

Video Source – NTDTV via YouTube (Video uploaded in November 2013).
 

Online Sources – Xinhua; ABC News; LAHT; The Latin Americanist; CNN
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 09:00

* Cuba: Officials in Cuba announced that approximately 9000 state-run restaurants have permission to be privatized though the government will still own the land under these establishments.

* Mexico: At least 42 children were freed from a pair of Mexican drug treatment facilities where abuses may have taken place in a scandal that occurred over two months after some 600 people were rescued from suffering mistreatment in another shelter. 

* Venezuela: Ivan Simonovis, an ex-Venezuelan police commander the opposition claims is a political prisoner, was granted a “humanitarian” house arrest “so he can be cured of his illnesses and can receive medical treatment.”

* Argentina: Argentine President Cristina Fernandez alleged that she receive threats from the Islamic State extremist militants due to her friendship with compatriot Pope Francis.

Video Source – NTN24 News via YouTube (Video uploaded in 2011).

Online Sources – CNN; The Latin Americanist; LAHT; Fox News Latino; Reuters
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "abuse, Argentina, children, Cristina Fer..."
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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 12:10

* Brazil: A new poll published this morning found that President Dilma Rousseff and main opposition rival Marina Silva are statistical tied in a likely runoff to decide Brazil’s next president in October.

* Argentina: An attorney for Citibank called for the suspension of a U.S. court decision that pushed Argentina into default and claimed that the Argentine government has placed a metaphorical “gun to our head.”

* Ecuador: Environmentalists, indigenous activists and others joined Ecuador’s largest labor union in anti-government protests in Quito yesterday.

* Latin America: Argentina (2nd) and Colombia (3rd) are the top South American countries in the latest FIFA soccer rankings while Costa Rica (15th) was the highest-placed entry from CONCACAF.

Video Source – CCTV America via YouTube
 

Online Sources – Blooomberg; LAHT; Businessweek; The Latin Americanist; Goal.com
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 10:00

With Scotland’s independence referendum taking place today, which may not have taken place where it not for a failed colonization in Panama centuries ago.  The following is text from a post we first published in 2007:
The annals of history serve as a rich tapestry of events that may seem far-fetched but are actually true. Take the case with the push for Scottish independence that was hindered by a disastrous attempt to colonize in Panama.

By the late 1600s, the Scottish economy was doing poorly from constant warfare, lack of a sustainable market outside its borders, and widespread famine. As a solution, the Bank of Scotland established a colonization company, which then decided to create an outpost in Panama. It was a huge gamble in that half of Scotland's liquidity was invested in the project despite the raising of private funds.

What did the colonists find in Panama? Certainly not the welcome wagon:
“The conditions were horrible. It was unsuited for agriculture and the Indians they met were uninterested in the trinkets they brought them. This is probably because they only brought useless things like wigs, combs, and mirrors. During the spring of 1699, torrential rain brought disease to the colony and many died from malaria and yellow fever. About 10 colonists were dying each day and the rest had to live on a pound of nasty, moldy flour per week”.
With the economy in absolute ruin the Scottish government would soon sign the 1707 Acts of Union, which politically incorporated Scotland into the United Kingdom.

Over three centuries later all is not lost in the campaign of Scotland’s independence. Recent polls have indicated that it’s a toss-up between the pro- and anti-independence options.

Should Scotland gain its own independence, it remains to be seen how this would affect members of the British Commonwealth such as numerous Caribbean countries.

Video Source – YouTube user CGP Grey (Video uploaded in 2011).

Online Sources – Wikipedia; The First Post; Scotland’s Past; The Panama Report; Global Voices Online; The Guardian; The Latin Americanist
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "colonization, history, independence, Pan..."
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Date: Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 07:30

* Argentina: Three medical staff and two former commanders of a secret military hospital have gone on trial over their alleged roles in the illegal adoption of babies from political dissidents during the Dirty War era.

* U.S.: New Census Bureau data found that the poverty rate for Latinos dropped by 2.1% in 2013 while median income grew last year for the first time since 2000.

* Panama: Is the Central American nation of Panama really the world’s happiest country?

* Brazil: The U.N. removed Brazil from the World Hunger Map after concluding that the number of undernourished residents decreased by more than 80% in ten years.

Video Source – CCTV America via YouTube (Estela de Carlotto, leader of Argentina’s Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, reconnected last month with her long-lost grandson).

Online Sources – BBC News; Los Angeles Times; The Guardian; ABC News
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "adoptions, Argentina, Brazil, Census Bur..."
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