US Virgin Islands: The American citizens battered by hurricane Maria – and forgotten

Hurricanes Irma and Maria had major impacts throughout Latin America, with the most media attention being based towards Puerto Rico due to what was seen by many as a slow response by the federal government. However, very little attention was paid towards the U.S. Virgin Islands, which had been beaten down by Hurricane Irma before taking an even bigger beating from Hurricane Maria. The islands, made up of U.S. citizens, were hit with near the same force that Puerto Rico was, yet no one is talking about it. When asked about why the President did not take a trip to the islands, the White House claimed it was due to bad logistics. One public housing building just by Irma, before being flooded by Maria. Many who lived in this building were forced to stay, as not all were relocated and given vouchers. Those who had to stay were forced to because their parts of the building were “less affected.” Along with this, those who had to stay were forced to continue to pay rent. Many say they still have not seen any FEMA agents, and with thousands of residents not having television or internet, it remains extremely difficult for those people to get the assistance they need.

No one is talking about the U.S. Virgin Islands. Yet, they not only bore the same destruction that Hurricane Maria brought to Puerto Rico, but also dealt with huge amounts of damage from Hurricane Irma two weeks earlier. It seems that because of the uproar surrounding President Trump’s slow response in Puerto Rico, little attention has been paid to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The people that are American citizens who have experienced the same horrors that Puerto Ricans experienced are calling for help, yet we cannot seem to take our attention off of playing the blame game. Lets try and get past Trump’s poor response to the Hurricanes in Puerto Rico and start talking more about the help that Puerto Ricans need, as well as those in the U.S. Virgin Islands, both of which are made up of United States citizens.


13 killed after riots in Mexican prison

Thirteen people have been killed after a riot broke out in a Mexican jail in the Northern part of Nuevo Leon. According to local media, around 250 inmates rose up and fought against the security forces. The state government also explained that lethal force was used to regain control of the prison after three guards were taken hostage.

Not only were there disturbances in the prison, but there were  many friends and relatives of prisoners outside the jail. The people outside also ended up clashing with police while waiting on news of their loved ones inside.

These fights were believed to be gang related, flaring up a little on Tuesday morning and finally fully erupting mid morning. Along with the riots, smoke was seen over the jail, resulting in one inmate dying in the fire. Many were reported to be injured and are still being treated.

This follows many other riots that occurred in prisons previous years. One example is the riot at Topo Chico prison that left 49 dead.


Mexico Warns the United States About Ending NAFTA

Today, October,11th 2017, members of the Mexican government – in conjunction with high ranking members of the United State’s government – issued concerns about the ongoing discussions on behalf of the Trump administration to end the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump claims that the current legislative framework creates an insurmountable trade deficit for the United States. However, people who are actually experts disagree, saying that scrapping NAFTA would cost both Mexican and American businesses over $1 trillion dollars. The downfall of scrapping NAFTA is not solely economic either, as a leading Mexican official stated that end the trade agreement would also “hurt relations between the US and Mexico and damage their co-operation on other issues such as fighting drug-trafficking and stopping illegal immigration across the US’s southern border.” Set to begin discussions with the United States and Canada soon, Mexico is preparing itself for all possibilities in our current atmosphere of American political volatility.

Argentine Airlines suspends flights to Venezuela

The political unrest, violence and instability in Venezuela had led Argentine Airlines, and several others, to suspend flights going to the capital city of Caracas. Peter Cerdá, vice-president of Iata, states that due to the increase in isolationism by Venezuela, he does not see any solutions occurring short term. He mentions that he has seen a seventy-five percent drop in the traffic coming to Venezuela just over the last four years. Iata is the trade body for world airlines. Other issues that have led countries to halt flights to Venezuela steam from the tight control the Venezuelan government has over the amount of foreign currency allowed into their market. Other countries and airlines that have suspended flights to Venezuela include United and Delta in the United States, and the German airline Lufthansa. Lufthansa suspended their fights back in 2016. Panamanian airline Copa, Pedro Heilbron stated that, in an effort to not abandon the Venezuelan market, they will continue to run flights into Venezuela. The crew, however does not stay the night in the city. Those that bought a ticket on Argentine Airlines will be reimbursed by the airline.

White House Makes Hard-Line Demands for Any ‘Dreamers’ Deal

In response to the attempts by congress to pass the Dream Act, President Trump has released a series of demands which may “imperil a fledgling bipartisan push to reach a legislative solution.” First, Trump is demanding that companies use and E-Verify program that would prevent illegal immigrants from getting jobs. This would also discourage parents (primarily those in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala) from sending their children in the the United States to get jobs and assimilate into the community. Second, there would be cuts to the funding of sanctuary cities in the form of denying federal grants, and finally, Trump is insistent on the construction of the infamous border wall. These reforms would greatly affect children who attempt to cross the border unaccompanied. These children would no longer be considered “unaccompanied” if the are accompanied by a parent, making it easier to deport them as it would remove many of the legal hurdles. As of now, many children who cross illegally are sent to live with relatives in the United States.

It is not readily apparent whether these are absolute demands, but Democratic leaders and immigration activists have called them “draconian.” Chuck Schumer referred to this push as “the anathema to the dreamers.” These demands may cause a full on breakdown of what little negotiation had come to fruition after the repeal of DACA earlier this year.

Peru Oil Ban

In one particular area of Peru, bordering Brazil, is in danger of consist misuse of natural resources. Companies have been logging as well as oil companies pushing for right to drill for oil on land meant for indigenous people. Since the early 2000s, Yavari-Tapiche have been pushing to get boarders for nature reserves for indigenous people and to protect the land from logging and oil companies with not much luck.

“Pérez Rubio calls the indigenous people in “isolation” in the proposed reserve “gravely threatened” – and potentially more so if an oil company operated there.”

The AIDESEP with the assistance of IDL have been resulting to legal action and pushing the government to section off land as nature reserves and land for Indigenous people. The government has been skirting around this decision for months but the AIDESEP is confident that their demands and wishes will be met within the next few months.

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Che Guevara: The Most Famous Revolutionary, Remembered in Cuba

One of the most famous revolutionaries, Che Guevara, a true cult of personality, was recognized and honored at a memorial service earlier today in Cuba. On October 9th, 1967, at the age of 39, Ernesto “Che” Guevara died while captured by Bolivian government officials. Today, he is one of the biggest influences in Cuba and well respected and liked by nearly everyone in the country. Monuments are dedicated to the work he did during the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Although Che was of Argentine descent, the Cubans adopted him as if he was their own.

One man was questioned at the rally of his opinion of Che and he stated, “We hold him very close, we have him near us always. We know what Che represents to Cubans, to Latin Americans and to the world. For us it’s a great honor to have his image on our chests and in our hearts.” A snippet of the speech Fidel Castro gave in 1967 announcing the death of Che to the Cuban people was played, in which he famously urged Cuban children “to be like Che”, a slogan that still held within the hearts and minds of the Cuban people.  It cannot be expressed enough of how important Ernesto Guevara’s legacy is to the people of Cuba.

Whatever one’s opinion of him is, it cannot be denied that Che was one of the most influential Latin Americans of the 20th century, possible of all time. However, the generation that brought forth the revolution with Che are slowly dying out. Many of whom came to the memorial service in their late 80s, Raul Castro is planning to step down sometime next year as we, placing someone outside of the Castro linage in charge of Cuba for more than 50 years. We can only see whether or not time will change the perception of Che from the Cuban mind but he will always be apart of it.

Cubans remember Che Guevara 50 years after his death

Controversial video released by Chilean UDI candidate

Andrés Peralta, who is currently a candidate for the UDI (Independent Democratic Union of Chile), is under fire for a controversial political campaign video released on October 7th. The candidate, who is running for the position of regional advisor in the Arica and Parinacota region, offered an apology through Facebook after his video enraged hundreds of people.

The content of the video included a group of women, titled the “satisfaction girls,” who had the job of guaranteeing people “satisfaction” should they vote for their candidate. Within his apology, he declared how that was not the intention of the video and that it had only turned out that way as a mistake.

Claiming the video’s true purpose was to entertain people, Peralta and his communications team clearly missed the mark. The original video was taken down once it became clear that the reaction would not be a positive one, but the damage had already been done. Among those with the strongest reactions to the video was Jacqueline Castillo, Director of the National Service for Women and Gender Equality, who operates in the same region Peralta was advertising for his candidacy.

Castillo, among hundreds of others on Facebook and other social media, came together to announce the video and the candidate as sexist, misogynistic, and a reinforcement of those negative attitudes so often seen towards women in Latin American countries.

In his apology, Peralta claimed that he has always been “for women,” but many responded by saying this was a false apology with no meaning. Even within his own video it is clear to see he did not take any of it too seriously, as he jokes about how he needed to re-film the video due to being interrupted by a phone call.

By joking about this behavior, it only reinforces what hundreds have been saying about the candidate: he is not taking seriously the scope of what he released on Facebook, and needs to take ownership of the damage he caused to his own base and the community he is hoping to serve, as well as the Chilean community at large.

The party he is running for, a self-proclaimed right-wing Conservative party has not released any comment about the content of this video, but it will be interesting to see how the rest of his campaign continues.

IOC Suspends Brazilian Arm

Amidst the growing correction charges against the brazilian government as of lately, it seems as if such allegations have yet to cease. As of Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, the International Olympic Committee has reportedly suspended the head of Brazil’s Olympic committee, Carlos Nuzman under charges of corruption from his cash-for-votes probe, which was linked to the bid of the 2016 Rio games. Nuzman, who up until now was consider an honorary member of the Olympic Committee, has denied all charges but the IOC has not taking such charges lightly. Freezing all assets being sent to Nuzman and the brazilian body, the only aspect to which would not be affected is the Brazilian athletes, who will continue to get paid as investigation proceed.

Brazilian prosecutors believe that Nuzman acted under an intermediary in an alleged $2m (£1.5m) payment to Papa Massata Diack, the son of an influential Senegalese member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in attempts to secure the vote of Lamine Diack, who was then serving as the head of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF).

A statement from Mr Nuzman’s lawyer, released last month, states that, “the entire journey of the Rio Olympics, from the bid to the closing ceremony, was conducted within the law.” However it is also worth noting that in June, former Rio State Governor Sergio Cabral was jailed for 14 years after participating in the embezzlement of $64m from construction contracts, including the renovation of Rio’s Maracana stadium, where the 2016 opening and closing ceremonies were held.

It will be very interesting seeing how these charges play out in the coming months.

Corruption within the Olympic Committee

The Olympic Committee is an international organization filled with volunteer workers. These people are considered the supreme authority on topics which are related to the Olympic games. Unfortunately, like most large scale organizations, there is always a threat of corruption. In this case, the threat may be real.

Carlos Nuzman, the man who spearheaded the Rio 2016 games, has been suspended from the Olympic Committee, as has all of the other Brazilian delegates. The charge? Embezzlement.

Nuzman and his team have already released statements saying that everything that happened during Rio 2016 was “done within the law,” and that there was no corruption taking place.

Hopefully the corruption charges turn out to be false, as Latin America has been facing an increasing amount of corruption charges.