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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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Date: Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 07:23

Mum was the word for a former leading executive of Brazilian state-owned energy firm Petrobras at a legislative hearing related to the latest major scandal to rock the South American country.

“I think it should be an open session but because it isn’t I have nothing to declare,” said Paulo Roberto Costa during testimony he provided to congressional investigators on Wednesday afternoon.

The ex-head of Petrobras' refining and supply unit also reportedly uttered the phrase “I reserve the right to remain silent” (or similar wording) dozens of times from questions by parliamentarians related to his allegations against numerous senior politicians who received bribes in exchange for votes favoring Petrobras.  Costa, who has been imprisoned since March and accused of money laundering, was allowed by the Supreme Court to provide evasive responses to the questions during the three hours of testimony.

In an interview given earlier this month to Brazilian newsmagazine Veja, Costa accused Energy Minister Edison Lobão, both heads of Congress, and some thirty legislators mostly from the ruling Workers Party (PT) for supposedly participating in the kickback scheme.  

Costa’s silence on Thursday did not sit well several legislators during the closed-door session, especially those opposed to President Dilma Rousseff and her attempt to win reelection next month.

"We have not had any progress here, absolutely nothing," said Vanessa Grazziotin while Mendonça Filho decried that “the state is being robbed.”  Yet PT Sen. Humberto Costa accused his opposition colleagues of engaging in “radical speeches for political use".

Costa remarks in Veja became one of the most heated topics in the homestretch of the Brazilian presidential race.  Rousseff pledged to “take the necessary action” but warned that she “will not act based on speculation.”  Her main opponent, environmentalist Marina Silva, observed that “Petrobras is being destroyed through political interference, patronage and corruption” even though Costa named the candidate she replaced last month, Eduardo Campos, as one of the figures who received bribes.

Conservative politician Aecio Neves criticized both Rousseff and Silva, and deemed the latest scandal as “mensalao 2.”  (The original “mensalao” uproar emerged from a vote-buying corruption scandal that tainted Rousseff’s predecessor and close ally, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, while he was in office).

Petrobras produces 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, employs some 87,000 people and is a major source of funding for government social programs.  Yet the company's value has fallen in recent years and the chief of Brazil's oil industry association warned that energy policies under Rousseff are causing a decline in private sector investment.

Two polls published this week found that despite the scandal at Petrobras, Rousseff is expected to battle Silva in a likely second round next month.  An Ibope poll found that Rousseff has lost support and Silva would narrowly win in a runoff while both women are in a statistical dead heat according to a Vox Populi poll.

A series of Rousseff attack ads may have helped her close ranks with Silva in the polls though Brazil’s recent economic problems have provided Silva with a major advantage.

Costa’s testimony in Brazil wasn’t the only tense-filled legislative hearing in South America on Wednesday. In Colombia, a debate over the influence of right-wing paramilitaries in Colombian politics was filled with a flurry of serious accusations:
Leftist opposition senator Ivan Cepeda on Wednesday claimed that Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe worked with the Medellin Cartel’s top finance man, among several other accusations of ties to criminal and politically violent activities over the last three decades…
Uribe claimed he has never had ties to paramilitaries or narco-traffickers, while also going on the offensive and throwing various accusations at a number of officials. He alleged that President Santos had wanted to ally with paramilitaries to remove former President Ernesto Samper from power.
Video Source – teleSUR English via YouTube

Online Sources – The Guardian; O Globo; Reuters; BBC News; Business Insider; Bloomberg; Colombia Reports; Brasil Post; The Economist
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Alvaro Uribe, Brazil, Colombia, corrupti..."
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 12:00

* Venezuela: Standard & Poor's lowered Venezuela’s credit rating “based on continued economic deterioration, including rising inflation and falling external liquidity.”

* Puerto Rico: Reggaeton star Don Omar was arrested this morning in Puerto Rico and charged with domestic violence against his partner.

* Mexico: Thousands in Mexico’s Baja California Sur are without electricity, water or phone service due to Hurricane Odile though no fatalities have been reported.

* Colombia: President Juan Manuel Santos blamed an alliance of the FARC rebels and neo-paramilitary fighters for being behind the killing of seven policemen on Tuesday.

Video Source – CCTV America via YouTube

Online Sources – Bloomberg; CBS News; La Prensa; The Guardian
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Colombia, credit, Daily Headlines, domes..."
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Date: Tuesday, 16 Sep 2014 09:15

* Mexico: A Mexican politician has come under fire after posting a Facebook message referring to Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho as an “ape.”

* Brazil: The warden of a Brazilian prison where an inmate was recently beheaded was arrested and charged with helping prisoners escape.

* U.S.: A coalition of fifty groups commenced a campaign yesterday aimed at boosting the number of Latino voters participating in the November midterm elections.

* Puerto Rico: Approximately $900 million in tax and revenue anticipation notes is expected to be sold in order to raise revenues on the cash-strapped commonwealth.

Video Source – AFP via YouTube
 

Online Sources – The Guardian; The Latin Americanist; Fox News Latino; The Huffington Post; Reuters
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Brazil, corruption, Daily Headlines, eco..."
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 13:04

* Mexico: Hurricane Odile swept through parts of the Baja California peninsula early this morning with 125 mile per hour winds and dumping a “mind-boggling” eleven inches of rain in the span of an hour.

* Cuba: Some 165 Cuban medical professionals will be sent to parts of Africa ravaged by a deadly Ebola outbreak.

* Brazil: FIFA admitted that senior officials with the world soccer governing body illegally received Swiss watches worth $25,000 after arriving in Brazil for this year’s World Cup.

* Colombia: The extradition process between Colombia and the U.S. has been called into question when a recently released “humble carpenter” was mistaken for a drug smuggler and held in prison for six months.

Video Source – euronews via YouTube 

Online Sources – NBC News; Associated Press; GlobalPost; InSight Crime
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Friday, 12 Sep 2014 08:00

* Argentina: Argentine legislators approved a debt restructuring plan that could be at odds with a U.S. court ruling that led the country into default.

* Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro announced a three-month extension to the closing of traffic across the Venezuelan border into Colombia during the late night hours.

* U.S.: A Floridian man was charged with allegedly helping to smuggle Yasiel Puig from Cuba in exchange of a percentage of the superstar ballplayer's Major League contract.

* Ecuador: “People are dying from bad food, not a lack of food,” said President Rafael Correa who proposed a new tax against fast food with the aim of lowering Ecuador's growing obesity rates.

Video Source - YouTube via AFP

Online Sources - Reuters; The Latin Americanist; The Globe and Mail; The Independent
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Daily Headlin..."
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 18:42

* Brazil: New government data indicated that deforestation in the Amazon rainforest increased for the second consecutive year due to illegal logging and the expansion of major infrastructure projects.

* Central America: Panama’s president claimed that a major expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to be completed in December 2015 while construction of a planned interoceanic waterway in Nicaragua will reportedly commence later this year.

* U.S.: Homeland Security senior officials denied rumors of ISIS terrorists trying to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S.

* Haiti: Over one million doses of a treatment for the chikungunya virus as authorities worry that the rainy season could worsen the outbreak of the disease.

Video Source – YouTube user EarthOutreach

Online Sources – BBC News; ABC News; Inside Costa Rica; TVNZ; New York Daily News
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Amazon, Brazil, canal, chikungunya, Dail..."
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 18:10

Chile’s government will reportedly propose overturning an amnesty law protecting former senior members of the country’s authoritarian military regime.

According to the Chilean media, the plan will be presented later today on the forty-first anniversary of the military coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet against the democratically elected government headed by President Salvador Allende.

The amnesty law has been in the books since Pinochet decreed it nearly five years following the September 11, 1973 coup that brought him into power.  Although some judicial decisions have circumvented the law and helped convict 260 people to prison for human rights abuses, only sixty have been sentenced due to protections offered by the amnesty law.

An estimated 1300 disappearances and 30,000 tortures took place during the seventeen years under Pinochet’s rule.  Most of them are believed to have taken place prior to the now-late ruler’s 1978 amnesty decree.

“Enough with the painful waiting and unjust silence...It is time to come together for the truth,” declared President Michelle Bachelet at an event this morning to as part of the commemorations of the 1973 golpe.

“Forty-one years have passed and the survivors and victims who saved their lives…are elderly people.  Most of them have died waiting for justice while others have kept silence,” added the president who was tortured at imprisoned and tortured at the infamous Villa Grimaldi detention center in 1975 and before fleeing into exile.


Bachelet previously suggested invalidating the amnesty law during her first term in office eight years ago.  Although Chile is theoretically bound by provisions of international law that prohibit any amnesty for crimes against humanity, any major changes to the amnesty law have been defeated by Congress.

Chileans are divided over the legacy of the 1973 military coup and the subsequent Pinochet regime.  Those like Bachelet remember the cruel abuses of power including repression, state-sponsored torture of dissidents and the deaths of tens of thousands of people.  Others believe the coup was necessary to halt the spread of communism into Chile and helped turnaround a country in economic chaos.

Thursday’s commemoration events were somewhat marred by vandals who clashed with Santiago police during the overnight hours.  Officers have been on high alert due to the coup anniversary but also as a result of a “terrorist” bombing that took place on Monday.

Video Source – YouTube user HuntleyFilmArchives

Online Sources – La Tercera; The New York Times; The Latin Americanist; La Nacion; Freedom House; ABC News; The Santiago Times
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Augusto Pinochet, Chile, coup d’état,..."
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Date: Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 08:45

* Guatemala: The Guatemalan Constitutional Court recently suspended the “Monsanto Law,” which would have forced farmers to obtain permission from firms like Monsanto, DuPont or Bayer in order to grow certain crops.

* Chile: President Michelle Bachelet announced a series of legal reforms including strengthening a Pinochet-era anti-terrorism law in response to a bombing in Santiago, Chile on Monday.

* Peru: Four indigenous environmental activists were murdered in a remote area of Peru allegedly at the hands of illegal loggers.

* Haiti: At least twenty-three people died and thirty-two were injured when a bus fell into a ravine in southern Haiti yesterday.

Video Source – teleSUR English via YouTube

Online Sources –VOXXI; Fox News Latino; The Latin Americanist; Voice of America; Reuters
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "accident, agriculture, Chile, Daily Head..."
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 11:15

* Mexico: Drought conditions on both sides of the border over the past few years could explain why Mexico allegedly owes some 380,000 acre-feet of water to the U.S.

* Latin America: A recent UNICEF report found that Latin America and the Caribbean has the worst homicide rate among children and youth, and at roughly three times the global average.

* Venezuela: Has Venezuela unofficially fallen into a recession due to a decrease of goods coming into the country?

* Honduras: According to Honduras’ human rights commissioner the number of deaths caused by firearms had more than doubled between 2005 and 2013.

Video Source – Reuters via YouTube (Areas of northern Mexico were devastated in 2011 due to the worst drought conditions in about seventy years).
 

Online Sources – The Washington Post; MercoPress; LAHT; Reuters
Author: "Erwin C. (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Caribbean, Daily Headlines, economy, gun..."
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