December 21, 2011
From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
The Top Latin American News Stories of 2011
A number of regional and international news publications take a look back at the top news stories of 2011. Brazil’s Estado de São Paulo offers an overview of the top global news stories, with a large focus on Latin America. Highlighted are the Chilean student protests, Cuba’s economic reforms, elections in Peru and Argentina, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s and former Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s battles with cancer. The paper also looks at the ups and downs of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s first year in office, during which she served as the first woman to open the UN General Assembly and battled a number of corruption scandals at home. Colombia’s El Tiempo looks at the top scandals and captured criminals around the world, including the assassination of FARC leader Alfonso Cano in November. Foreign Policy published “The Stories You Missed in 2011;” Latin America-focused stories include the southward movement of Mexico’s drug war to Central America, the U.S. immigration crackdown, and the global growth of piracy.
For AS/COA Online’s take on what to expect next year, check out “Americas Update: Looking ahead to 2012.”
What Lies behind the Chávez-Obama Fight?
The Guardian looks at the row between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and U.S. President Barack Obama, which erupted in the wake of an interview Obama gave to Venezuelan daily El Universal. In the interview, Obama criticized Chávez’s democratic record and ties with Iran and Cuba, prompting Chávez to respond that Obama is “a clown and an embarrassment.” The article claims the nasty remarks boil down to election pressures in both countries, given that Obama and Chávez are both expected to face tight races. “Chávez seizes every opportunity he can find to have a fight with the United States, but Obama’s motives for doing the interview were less predictable,” says Javier Corrales, a professor at Amherst College quoted in the article. It may, he claims, boil down to “increasing pressure by conservatives in the United States to sanction Venezuela.”
Arizona Sheriff under Fire from Department of Justice
Based on a three-year investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Arizona’s Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office, led by Joe Arpaio, is guilty of systematic civil rights violations, including unlawful racial profiling of Latinos. Arpaio is influential in the GOP presidential race because of his anti-immigration stance and has endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry. Arpaio has two months to reach a voluntary settlement with the Department, which should include reforms and training, and oversight by the Department. Arpaio rejected the offer, and claims the allegations are untrue and politically motivated.