Since Southern Chile’s Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano complex erupted on June 4, its ash cloud has accomplished a feat many travelers daydream about: Circling the globe. And it didn’t even have to buy a round-the-world ticket.
On its leisurely cruise around the Earth, the cloud first grounded flights in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. It blanketed Bariloche with ash and cinder, and closed the Cardenal Samoré border crossing. After drifting over the Atlantic Ocean, South Africa and other countries on that continent were affected. Across the Indian Ocean, then, to cause Qantas and other airlines to cancel flights in Australia and New Zealand last week.
Within two weeks, Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s ash cloud made full circle, re-entering South America near Coyhaique, Chile. Once again, South American air traffic was affected.
As if never ceasing on its enviable journey, the ashes arrived once again to Africa and Asia, causing the full moon to appear blood red during the June 15 lunar eclipse.
This past Monday, Virgin Australia, Qantas and other air lines once more canceled over 200 flights, affecting the travel plans of more than 40,000 passengers.
According to Australia’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, the ash cloud is traveling some 4,000 kilometers (2,400 mi) per 24 hours, pushed on by strong winds. Satellite images still clearly show the plume, and pilots have reported seeing it.
In the meantime, Puyehue Volcano’s eruption continued to pump out more smoke. Yesterday morning, fine ash fell upon Villarrica, Pucón and the Ranco Lake area. Northwesternly winds pushed the cloud towards Valdivia.
It appears, though, that Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s cloud will be running its course soon. Chile’s Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Sernageomin) announced yesterday that the volcano has had a significant lava flow, which should stop the volcano from pumping out more ash. Nonetheless, the Puyehue and Ranco Lake districts are still under red alert.
Hopefully as Puyehue-Cordón Caulle settles down and unpacks its bags, human travelers will be able to get one with their journeys around the globe.
As reported last week, on June 4, Southern Chile’s Cordón Caulle on Puyehue Volcano’s slopes erupted for the first time in 51 years. Across the entire Southern Hemisphere, the eruption has been causing travel nightmares not only for common journeyers, but also for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who is on a regional tour. He had to bus to Buenos Aires and boat to Uruguay.
This past week, flights were canceled in Chileand Patagonian Argentina, as well as southern Brazil. On Monday another column of ash, shooting eight kilometers (5 mi) into the atmosphere, forced the closures of airports across the Southern Cone, from Santiago to Buenos Aires to Montevideo.
But South America isn’t the only place being affected by Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s fallout. When winds shifted to the West over the weekend, the ash forced Qantas and other airlines to cancel flights in New Zealand and Australia.
Both Chile and Argentina have declared agricultural emergencies in their Lake and Patagonia regions. Lava flows have oozed down the Nilahue River valley. Over five million salmon were relocated when rising river temperatures caused fishkills.
Friday, rain and ash from the eruption caused an avalanchenear the (closed) Cardenal Samoré border crossing road, which remains closed. To handle border traffic, the Chilean government has increased the number of ferries on Lago Pirehueico at the Hua Hum pass and has reopened Paso Pino Hinchado. Snows may force the re-closure of these crossings.
Chile’s Emergency Management Agency (Onemi) maintains a red alert for the Lago Ranco and Puyehueareas. Travelers are advised to watch the news for further developments. To keep up on Volcán Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s activity, check Chile’s Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería(Sernageomin)website. Earthquake Report publishes an up-to-date chronicle of reports of Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s effects in the region.
Compiled by Jen O’Riordan, Eli Mangold and Libby Zay.
Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the stories our office talked about during the week of July 30th to August 6th. For more up-to-the minute news, follow us on Twitter!
[BRAZIL] Last Sunday, fifty-five members of a small indigenous tribe emerged from the Amazon rainforest to prove they exist and highlight the fact that their home is being mercilessly destroyed. Many of the tribe members left the rainforest for the first time in their lives to join 150 supporters in the town of Zé Doca, Maranhão, where the local Mayor’s office had previously denied the Awá people even exist. Local authorities have recently opposed a federal court ruling that ranchers, loggers and settlers who have occupied Awá lands should leave. Along with witnessing the destruction of up to 50 percent of their home, the tribe (believed to be one of Brazil’s two remaining nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes) has also been subject to massacres by settlers and have fallen victim to illnesses such as the common flu for which they have little or no immunity. [Indigenous People's Issues]
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa May Face Brother in 2014 Election
[ECUADOR] Strangely enough, the only significant opposition to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s administration is his own kin; his old ally and older brother Fabricio. The brothers worked together to get Rafael elected in 2006, but after a rather nasty corruption charge (Fabricio’s engineering business supposedly boomed just after the younger one was elected), their relationship unraveled. There has been macho posturing on both sides, and Fabricio is quoted as saying “Nobody has so far had the testicular competence to sue me.” Should be in interesting election to watch. [BBC]
Mexico City Upholds Gay Marriage Law
[MEXICO] Eight out of ten justices in Mexico’s highest court decided to uphold a law allowing same-sex marriages in the capital. The law was passed seven months ago, but federal prosecutors said it “went against the principle of protection of the family,” according to the BBC. [BBC]
Thirty Trapped in Chile Mine
[CHILE] A small mine collapsed in northern Chile late Thursday, leaving 30 miners trapped. Rescuers believe the trapped men may have taken refuge in an underground shelter that has oxygen and food “for them to last for some time,” but no further details have been released. [Reuters]
Guatemala Willing to Meet with the U.S. About Labor Dispute
[GUATEMALA] There is a possibility that the Guatemalan government is facing hefty fines for violating terms of the joint free-trade agreement with the U.S. The U.S. AFL-CIO labor federation and six Guatemalan unions first lodged the complaints in April 2008 over the violation of labor conditions, including failure to implement laws regarding the rights of workers to bargain collectively and organize, as well as the right to acceptable working conditions. According to the International Confederation of Trade Unions, Guatemala is the second most dangerous country for workers after Colombia. Sixteen workers are thought to have died in labor-related incidents in 2009 alone. [Global Post]
The Plague Surfaces in Peru
[PERU] Both the bubonic and pneumonic plagues have appeared in Peru, killing one 14-year-old boy and infecting 31 others. The disease is carried by fleas and transmitted by their bites, and Peruvian authorities are looking into sugar and fish meal imports from the Ascope province. But don’t worry about another Black Death, the plague is easily treatable with antibiotics if found early. [AP]
Troops Found $7 Million in Cash at Home of Drug Lord
[MEXICO] Troops who raided the house of drug kingpin Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel last week found $7 million in cash. They also seized jewelry, three expensive cars, and several weapons. Coronel, who died in the gunfight, was third in line in the Sinaloa drug cartel. [AP]
Fidel Castro Plans to Address Cuban Assembly on Issue of Foreign Affairs
[CUBA] After falling ill and conceding power to brother Raul, Fidel Castro is now healthy enough to address the National Assembly. Although not officially confirmed, the state media has reported that the ex-head of state plans to orate on the impending nuclear crisis between North Korea, Iran, Israel and the US. The session will be held on Saturday, August 7th. [BBC]
Prison in Brazil Found to be Run by Inmates
[BRAZIL] Police raided a prison in Rio de Janeiro to find inmates had overrun the place. The facility, which held 150 prisoners awaiting trial, had only one guard when police arrived. Police seized keys from the prisoners, as well as a pistol, ammunition, mobile phones, and records that detailed payments made by prisoners for larger cells and better conditions. [BBC]
Baby Revives Inside Coffin at Wake in Mexico
[MEXICO] A Mexican baby who was declared dead by doctors revived inside her coffin while her wake was in progress. Apparently, during the ceremony, parents heard a strange noise coming from the casket and opened it up to find their baby very much alive. The baby was born prematurely Monday, and is now in stable condition at a hospital. The doctor who pronounced her dead is being investigated for possible negligence. [AP]
Diego Forlan in Calcutta. Courtesy BBC.
Soccer Star Diego Forlan Visits Calcutta
[URUGUAY] Diego Forlan’s visit to one of India’s few football-crazy cities has caused much excitement in recent days. The 31-year-old Uruguayan player was named player of the 2010 World Cup after scoring no less than 5 goals for his country in the tournament. Forlan’s visit was part of a football talent hunt where many of the participants come from underprivileged backgrounds. “I’ve had the opportunity to see them playing, and I’m surprised how organized the young players are. You can see real talent,” he said. A large number of followers greeted the Atletico Madrid forward on his arrival in Calcutta, and his visit to the headquarters of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity also drew large crowds of well-wishers. Forlan became a hero in his home country after his performance in South Africa and joins a list of football favorites that have visited Calcutta in recent years, including Diego Maradona, Branco, Romario, Oliver Kahn, and Gerd Muller. [BBC]
Former Chilean Secret Police Chief Blames CIA for 1974 Murders
[CHILE] General Manuel Contreras, the former chief of Chile’s feared secret police, said the CIA is to blame for the assassination of General Carlos Prats. At the time, Prats was the biggest enemy of General Augusto Pinochet, who proceeded him as head of Chile’s army. Contreras is serving combined sentences of 100 years for murders and kidnappings that took place while Pinochet headed the army. [AP]
No Oil Drilling in Ecuadorian Amazon Reserve
[ECUADOR] Ecuador decided the value of an Amazon Reserve was worth more than the oil money it would receive, and ruled against drilling in the area. It is estimated there are 846 million barrels of crude oil under the reserve, which is home to several indigenous tribes, as well as tons of flora and fauna. Under Ecuador’s new agreement with the UN, the reserve will remain untapped for at least 10 years. [V!VA]
[MEXICO] Mayan Indians in the Mexican state of Yucatan have signed a petition calling for the removal of two life-sized bronze statues from the state capital. The statues were erected in June in honor of the conquistador Francisco de Montejo and his son. In the mid-16th century, both Montejo and his son were responsible for many vicious battles and the deaths of thousands of indigenous during their quest for control of the area. The local council agreed to consider the petition on Wednesday which was signed by over 100 Mayan groups and many more individual Yucatan citizens. Over the years, Mexicans have avoided any attempt to praise or commemorate those that invaded the country and statues in their honor are rare. [AP]
Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the Latin American news stories our office talked about during the week of July 24th to July 29th. For more up-to-the minute news, follow us on Twitter!
Cristina Calcieta’s mystery has been solved. Photo courtesy AFP.
34 Years Later, Argentine Students Crack Murder Mystery
[ARGENTINA] The families of a young couple who disappeared in 1976 can finally lay the remains of their loved ones to rest after their bodies were identified by a group of students and community members in the small town of Melincue. The students linked the timing of the couple’s disappearance with a discovery of two brutalized bodies a rural farmer had made in 1976, and DNA tests proved their suspicions. Under the Argentine military dictatorship that ruled at the time, tens of thousands of suspected left-wing activists were murdered or disappeared. [AP]
Other South American Countries Attempt to Diffuse Venezuela/Columbia Feud
[COLOMBIA / VENEZUELA] After Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez severed ties with Colombia last Thursday, South American foreign ministers failed to bring the two countries back together at a meeting in Quito, Ecuador Thursday. Brazil President Lula da Silva plans to speak with Chavez on August 6th. Venezuela and Colombia have a long history of mixed feeling toward each other, and on Thursday Colombia accused Venezuela of harboring around 1,500 leftist guerrillas and closed the consulate. [Colombia Reports / Reuters]
Troops Kill Mexican Drug Kingpin
[MEXICO] Soldiers gunned down Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, a leader of the Sinaloa cartel during a raid of his hideout in the western city of Guadalajara. In an attempted to escape, Coronel fired on soldiers as helicopters hovered overhead. One soldier was killed and another wounded. “The scope of [his] influence and operations penetrate throughout the United States, Mexico, and several other European, Central American, and South American countries,” said the FBI in a statement. [AP]
Ancestors of Australian Marsupials Arrived from the Americas
[GERMANY] According to genetic research from Germany, well known Australian species such as kangaroos, possums, koalas and wombats share a common ancestor that must have traveled to the region from the Americas. “I think this is pretty strong evidence now for the hypothesis of a single migration [to Australia] and a common ancestor,” said Juergen Schmitz, of the University of Muenster research team. The DNA analysis unfortunately does not tell us when this migration to Australia occurred, but researchers speculate that it may have taken place some 30-40 million years ago. [Discovery News]
Catalan Bullfight Ban Raises Debate in Latin America
[LATIN AMERICA] After Catalonia, Spain banned bullfighting last Wednesday, many bullfighting enthusiasts and animal rights groups throughout Latin America are having heated debates about the support. The tradition of bullfighting dates back to Spanish colonization in countries like Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Mexico, which is home to the world’s largest bullring. Michel Lagravere, father of Franco-Mexican child bullfighting star Michelito, said the Catalan parliament vote was “more anti-Spanish than anti-bullfight.” [Montreal Gazette]
Diego Maradona’s Tenure Ends as Argentina’s Coach
[ARGENTINA] Diego Maradona confirmed the end of his time as Argentina’s coach on Wednesday. Maradona accused Julio Grondona, president of the Argentinian Football Association, of lying to him and Carlos Bilardo, the national team’s general manager, of betraying him. Although many are blaming Maradona for Argentina’s loss in the World Cup, Maradona pointed out: “Not since 1990 has Argentina made it past the quarter finals.” [guardian.co.uk]
Argentina and Uruguay Reach Agreement on Pollution Monitoring
[ARGENTINA / URUGUAY] An agreement has finally been reached in the 7-year dispute between Argentina and Uruguay regarding pollution of the shared Uruguay River. The controversy began when Argentina raised concerns about contamination of the river from a Finnish paper mill on the Uruguayan side. The agreement was signed at the presidential palace and calls for a joint-scientific committee to monitor and identify pollution from all farming, industrial and urban centers that spill their waste into the Uruguay River and its tributaries. Argentina hopes the agreement will please environmentalists who have been blocking a bridge linking Gualeguaychu to Fray Bentos in Uruguay for the past three years. The UPM mill was built there seven years ago despite Argentina’s objections that it would pollute the river. [Global Times]
UNESCO Takes Galapagos Islands Off the Threatened List
[ECUADOR] After a 14-5 vote, the United Nations has voted to remove the Galapagos Islands from its list of endangered sites. The committee believes Ecuador has made significant progress in protecting and preserving the Islands. The Galapagos Islands had been on the list since 2007 after threatened by tourism, over-fishing and the introduction of invasive species. The Galapagos Islands has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. [Voice of America]
United States Closes Consulate in Ciudad Juarez
[U.S. / MEXICO] The United States announced closure of its consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico indefinitely. A U.S. official said the consulate was closed due to a “credible threat.” Last year, more than 2,600 people were killed in drug-related violence in the city. In March, the consulate closed for several days after a U.S. employee, her husband, and the husband of another staff member were killed. [BBC]
Watch a news report on the situation in Arizona. Video courtesy MSNBC.
Illegal Immigrants Prepare to Leave Arizona as New Law Takes Effect
[U.S. / MEXICO] A controversial immigration law, which could see an influx of deportees returning to Mexico, took effect in Arizona yesterday. Shelters across the border in Mexico are gathering supplies and preparing for a 20-25% increase in occupancy in the coming months. However, some say that many illegal immigrants will simply move from Arizona to another American state rather than return to Mexico. Mexico already extended its annual voluntary repatriation program in anticipation of the Arizona law, beginning the initiative earlier than usual in June. Other Mexican states such as Guanajuato and Chihuahua have also announced employment programs for possible returnees. [ABC News]
Chilean President Rejects Calls to Pardon Officials
[CHILE] In a televised address to the nation last Sunday, Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera stated the sweeping pardons requested by the Catholic Church for military prisoners would not be granted under his government. The 60 military prisoners were convicted of humans rights abuses during the ear now known as the “Dirty War.” The majority of the prisoners live in a comfortable, well-equipped prison build especially from them. Standing up to the Catholic Church was a bold move, however, recent scandal and sexual abuse claims against Chilean priests have tarnished the Church’s reputation in recent years. Despite the rejection, the Church reacted positively saying that at least now the issue of overcrowding and conditions in Argentina’s prisons had been put on the national agenda. [NY Times]
Cuban Hunger Striker Departs Hospital
[CUBA] Guillerrno Farinas, an opposition activist who went on a 134-day hunger strike, has departed the hospital after three weeks of treatment. The 48-year-old psychologist and journalist began accepting food and water on July 8 after an agreement was reached between the Catholic Church and President Raul Castro to release 52 political prisoners. Twenty prisoners have so far been flown in exile to Spain with their families. [AP]
Compiled by Jen O’Riordan, Eli Mangold and Libby Zay.
Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the Latin American news stories our office talked about during the week of July 11th to July 23rd. For more up-to-the minute news, follow us on Twitter!
News footage of the monkeys that were smuggled.
Man in Airport Found with 18 Endangered Monkeys Under His Clothes
[ Mexico / Peru ] A Mexican national was detained at Mexico City’s airport by customs officials after he was seen acting suspiciously in security. When officials pulled the 38-year-old aside they found 18 Titi monkeys hidden underneath his clothing in a girdle.
The man, who had arrived on a flight from Lima, Peru had previously kept the monkeys in his luggage but had later attached them to his person because he didn’t want the baggage x-ray machines to damage them. Two of the 18 monkeys had already died during the journey from Peru.
Titi monkeys, found in South and Central America, are regarded as an endangered species and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The man had paid $30 per monkey in Peru and expected to sell them in Mexico for between $775 and $1,550 each. In Mexico, having a wild animal as a household pet is a deep-rooted tradition, and animals smuggled to the US from Central or South America often come through Mexico. [Huffington Post]
1,600-year-old Royal Tomb Discovered in Guatemala
[ Guatemala ] Last week, Scientists in Guatemala revealed the discovery of an ancient, Mayan tomb that could have been the final resting place of a Mayan king. The discovery was made on the 29th of May, under the El Diablo pyramid in the city of El Zotz.
The archaeological team thought that ‘something odd’ was happening during the dig and eventually discovered the 6 feet high, 12 feet long, and four feet wide tomb after they lowered a light bulb through a small hole. The tomb was filled with carvings, ceramics, textiles, and the bones of six children, who might have been sacrificed at the time of the king’s death.
Scientists say they have a lot more work to do before they can confirm their suspicions, but findings such as an elaborate headdress and a sacrificial blade with what appears to be blood on it indicate that it may be the tomb of a king, only previously mentioned in hieroglyphic texts. [National Geographic]
A shortage of resources in Argentina means only two of 15 prison guard towers could be staffed. Photo courtesy AP.
Two Argentine Inmates Bust Out of Jail Right Under a Mannequin’s Nose
[ Argentina ] Due to budget shortages in the Nequén Province of Argentina, the local jail has had to substitute mannequins made of a football and an officer’s hat for actual guards. Two prisoners, Walter Pozo and Cesar Andres, must have noticed the shortcoming and climbed over the fence unopposed. Officials are hoping that this embarrassment will bring much-needed resources to the province. [Independent]
Honduras Returns to OAS, SICA
[ Honduras ] At a summit in El Salvador, Central America leaders decided to allow Honduras to continue participating in two major regional groups. Honduras had been expelled from both the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Central American Integration System (SICA) after President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in June 2009. [PeopleDaily]
Penguins Mysteriously Washing Up Dead on Brazilian Shores
[ Brazil ] Over 500 penguins have washed up on the beaches of Brazil, and scientists are trying to figure out why. Autopsies strongly suggest starvation, but they are still unsure why there is such scarcity in fish and squid. Some hypotheses include changing ocean currents, overfishing and colder water, which affect the penguins’ primary sources of food. [CBS News]
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Courtesy AP
Hugo Chavez Opens Remains of Simon Bolivar, Announces it to the World on Twitter
[ Venezuela ] On Friday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tweeted that he was opening his idol’s remains to look for proof of foul play in his death. The eccentric head-of-state believes that Bolivar was murdered, and did not die of tuberculosis as history claims. He briefly displayed the remains on national television and passionately orated, “that glorious skeleton has to be Bolivar, because his flame can be felt. My God…it’s not a skeleton. It’s the Great Bolivar, who has returned!” [ AP ]
Venezuela Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Colombia
[ Venezuela ] In a bold move, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez severed ties with Colombia on Thursday just before the Colombian Ambassador, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, presented evidence to the Organization of American States (OAS) that Venezuela is currently harboring about 1,500 leftist guerrillas behind their borders. Colombia’s accusations against Venezuela caused Chavez to force the closure of Colombia’s embassy in Bogotá within 72 hours. The OAS stated that it could not investigate the sites without Venezuela’s consent. [BBC]
Cold Front Causes Death Across South America
[ Argentina / Bolivia / Chile / Paraguay / Peru / Uruguay ] South America is having a particularly hard winter, with some parts reporting the lowest temperatures in 29 years. In several countries, the mercury has dropped below freezing. Fatalities due to the cold have been reported in Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. Livestock is threatened in all of these areas, as well as in Chile and Peru. [CNN.com].
Watch a news report on the Mexican gun battle.
Border Clashes Along the Mexican / U.S. Border
[ Mexico / U.S. ] A gun battle went down in the rural town of Madera, about 230 kilometers (145 miles) south of the U.S. border. As the story goes, gunmen reportedly opened fire on an army patrol and eight men were killed—however, the U.S. Defense Department is not offering any information. On Wednesday, late-night gun battles broke out in the border town of Nuevo Laredo, which could be heard across the border in the U.S. In Nuevo Laredo, a gang forced people from their cars and buses to use the vehicles as barricades along the roads. Witness reports said several gunmen were killed, but no official number has been tallied by Nuevo Laredo officials. [AP]
Seventeen Die in Birthday Party Massacre
[ Mexico ] The bodies of 12 males and 5 females were found in a bloodstained party hall, along with at least a dozen injured, after a tragic gun attack on a birthday party in Torreon, Northern Mexico. More than 200 bullets were fired indiscriminately into the bar full of young party goers enjoying some birthday celebrations.
The massacre is the third such attack this year on bars in Torreon, an industrial city in Coahuila state. Coahuila Attorney General, Jesus Torres says the perpetrators, a prominent drug cartel, have been identified but he refused to identify the group publicly.
Mexico’s northern border has been the worst hit by the recent drug wars that have seen almost 25,000 killed since President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on organized crime three and a half years ago. [LA Times]
US to Send Troops to Mexican Border
[ Mexico / U.S. ] 1,200 troops will be sent to the border next month in an effort to tackle illegal immigration and drug-trafficking in the four border states. Arizona will receive 524 troops; Texas 250, California 224 and New Mexico 72, while 130 will be part of a national liaison office.
In May, President Obama announced that he wanted to assign $500m (£350m) to new funding for the initiative and deploy US troops to help secure the border.
The soldiers will be armed but only permitted to fire in self defense and their main task will be to observe suspicious movement along the border and report it to Border Patrol agents.
A controversial new state law is due to come into effect in Arizona on 29 July making it a crime to be in the state without immigration papers.
Several lawsuits, including one by the federal government, have been filed against the legislation. The US justice department is challenging the law, arguing that it undermines the federal administration’s authority to set immigration policy. [BBC]
Compiled by Jen O’Riordan, Eli Mangold and Libby Zay, with help from Lorraine Caputo.
Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the Latin American news stories our office talked about during the week of July 10th to July 16th. For more up-to-the minute news, follow us on Twitter!
Demonstrators wave a gay pride flag outside of the Argentine Congress, courtesy AP.
Argentina Becomes First Country in Latin America to Allow Gay Marriage
[Argentina] After a marathon debate, the Argentine Senate legalized gay marriage in a a 33-27 vote. The landmark victory gives same-sex couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexuals gain when they tie the knot. The decision will likely draw a number of tourists to gay-friendly Buenos Aires, but non-resident foreigners are not allowed to marry in Argentina.
Guatemala Catches Cocaine-Filled Submarine in Pacific
[Guatemala] Last week Ecuadorian authorities snagged a drug-smuggling submarine, and this week a similar vessel was stopped off Guatemala’s Pacific coast. The Guatemalan makeshift submarine—bound for the United States—had five metric tons of the white stuff inside.
[Argentina] Salteños awoke to sight they haven’t seen in almost 10 years: huge clusters of flakes falling. Slowly the city is being covered with snow, which is expected to continue through Saturday. Tucumán, La Rioja, San Juan and other northern cities are also being blanketed. The Jama Pass to Chile is closed.
6.2 Quake Strikes Chile
[Chile] Last Sunday evening, a medium strength quake measuring 6.2 on the richter scale struck Chile’s Antofagasta region. The core of the quake was located 50 miles east-northeast of Calama in the Atacama desert, believed to be one of the driest places on earth. There were no fatalities or injuries, but phone lines were saturated during the quake. The extent of the damage is tiny compared with the $30 billion worth of damage caused during the country’s February earthquake, which measured a severe 8.8.
The Uruguay Futbol Team takes pictures of their adoring fans, courtesy of the BBC.
Uruguay Futbol Team Welcomed Home as Heroes
[Uruguay] Uruguay may have finished fourth in the World Cup, but the team was given a homecoming party fit for a hero when they arrived home to Montevideo. “Thank you, champions! You gave us our pride back!” read one of hundred of banners during the massive celebration.
[Venezuela] Venezuelan authorities handed over Colombian drug baron, Carlos Alberto Renteria, also known as Beto, to U.S. DEA officials this week. Renteria, who stands accused of heading the infamous Norte del Valle drug cartel, kept his head bowed, denying the media photos of his face during the exchange at Caracas airport. The hand over of Mr. Renteria and two other accused smugglers was shown live on state television. It is believed the Norte del Valle cartel was responsible for smuggling over 500 tonnes of cocaine into the U.S. during the 1990′s. Renteria has been on America’s most wanted list since 2004.
Watch a news clip on a Sea Monster fossil in Peru, Courtesy YouTube.com and BBC.co.uk.
Sea Monster Fossil Discovered in Peru
[Peru] A team of European and Peruvian palaeontologists have revealed their discovery of what could have been the biggest sea predator that ever lived. The fossil of a giant whale was discovered in South Peru’s Ocucaje desert back in 2008. Since then, scientists have been studying the remains of Leviathan (named after the biblical sea monster), which include a skull, its lower jaw bone and ten well-preserved teeth. With teeth measuring a huge 14 inches long, he had the largest teeth ever recorded. An ancestor of the modern day sperm whale, Leviathan is thought to have lived more than 12 million years ago.
Ecuadorian Eco-lodge Gets Five Stars for Being Green
[Ecuador] The Casa Ceibo Boutique and Spa has just been awarded the American Academy of Hospitality Services’ Five Star Green Award. Located in seaside Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador, the hotel has supported numerous local green initiatives, such as clean water programs for the local population and reforesting mangrove swamps around the area. It should be noted that this is not your typical eco-lodge; it offers all the luxurious amenities, including a spa, pool and wetland excursions.
[Jamaica] One of the most influential figures in Reggae has passed away this past Saturday in Kingston, Jamaica at the age of 54. The cause of his death has not been released, but the singer had cancelled concerts due to chest pains a few months ago. Minott’s career began as a member of the African Brothers Trio, and then in 1970 launched on his own solo career, putting out such hits as “Vanity” and a cover of the Jackson Five’s “You Got a Good Thing Going.” Aside from singing, Minott also helped younger acts make it big through his record label, Black Roots.
Clash in Mexican Border State Leaves Four Gunmen Killed, Bystanders Wounded
[Mexico] In the border state of Coahuila, more violence between the police and the drug cartels has erupted, leaving four gunmen slain and five bystanders wounded. While police where carrying out an investigation on a highway near Torreon, they were attacked by four gunmen brandishing assault weapons and pistols. The bystanders were traveling along the highway and got caught up in the violence. Two are in serious condition, and three are stable.
Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the Latin American news stories our office talked about during the week of July 3rd to July 9th.
Total Solar Eclipse to Occur on Sunday
[Chile, Argentina] A total solar eclipse will track across the South Pacific on Sunday, and will be visible in Chile and Argentina during sunset. The eclipse can be seen during the day on Easter Island, the Cook Islands, and Wellington Island, among others.
Watch a video of a harpy eagle attacking a film crew, Courtesy YouTube.com
Harpy Eagle Attacks BBC Film Crew
[Venezuela] When documentary filmmakers attempted to install a camera near a giant harpy eagle nest, a female bird repeatedly dive bombed the crew. Although the crew left unscathed saved for tears in their protective layers, they have now requested riot gear from local police for the rest of filming.
More than 150 Sought in Puerto Rico Drug Operation
[Puerto Rico] What is being described as the largest drug bust on American territory went down this morning on the west coast of Puerto Rico. According to AP, police “planned to arrest about 170 people and seize more than $1 million in property.”
Tungurahua Volcano in 2004, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Tungurahua Volcano Continues to Erupt
[Ecuador] After two weeks of silence, Tungurahua Volcano is again spewing gas and ash. Activity began on Wednesday, and in the last 24 hours there have been eight emissions that have risen up to three miles high. The Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School has classified the explosions as “moderate” in intensity.
52 Political Prisoners Freed, Dissident Ends Hunger Strike
[Cuba] After 135 days, a Cuban dissident named Guillermo Farinas agreed to end his hunger strike when Havana agreed to free 52 ill political prisoners. Farinas has conducted 23 hunger strikes as protests to different elements of the Cuban regime. The strike was mediated by the Catholic Church.
Ecuadorian Drug Submarine, Courtesy the DEA via Fox News
Drug Submarine Seized in Ecuador
[Ecuador] With help from the U.S. DEA, authorities in Ecuador seized a 30-foot submarine intended to carry multiple tons of cocaine. The submarine had been constructed in the remote jungle near the Ecuador-Columbia border.
[Panama] Four police officers are being held hostage by striking banana workers in Panama. Workers have been upset since the Panamanian President signed a law last month that lessens the power of unions and gives companies power to suspend the contracts of striking workers to hire replacements. On Friday, one man was killed and 102 people were treated for injuries after police fired tear gas and buckshot at strikers who had blocked roads with trees.
[Uruguay] A short-circuiting heater is believed to be the cause of a prison fire in Uruguay that left twelve inmates dead and eight hospitalized with serious burns. The overcrowded prison built for 60 houses twice as many inmates.
Paul (or Pablo?) the Octopus, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Spaniards Wish to Rechristen Paul the Octopus as Pablo
After a psychic sea creature predicted Spain as the winner of the World Cup, the Spanish team declared their love for the octopus and wants to rechristen him “Pablo.” All the predictions Paul the Octopus has made in the World Cup have come true.