Tag Archives: ecuador news

VIVA Travel Guides Photo Contests

After sharing your photos of your trip to Peru or Ecuador with family and friends, there’s one more place you can dazzle eyes: the V!VA Travel Guides’ community.

V!VA Travel Guides is having two contests for the best photo of Peru and Ecuador.

Each winner will have his or her photograph published on the cover of latest edition V!VA Travel Guides Ecuador & Galápagos and V!VA Travel Guides Peru, and each receive $100.

For complete guidelines, see the V!VA Travel Guides website. The deadline for entering photographs of Peru is Monday, October 1 and for Ecuador, the deadline is Thursday, November 1, 2012.

Winners will be chosen by the V!VA Travel Guides facebook community. To vote, like Viva Travel Guides – Peru and Viva Travel Guides – Ecuador on facebook, then choose your favorite shots.  Tell your family and friends to vote and show their pride in your photographic eye!

Voting ends the same day as the entry to the contest – So enter early, to have the best chance to receive a lot of votes.

Good luck!

 

On the Road – Peru: In Mourning

Since yesterday morning when I first heard the news, I have been in mourning — as have thousands around the world.

 

Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands have lost iconic Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island giant tortoise in the world.

 

Lonesome George. Photo by Rachel Tavel

 

Lonesome George (in Spanish, called Solitario Jorge) was found and captured on his native Pinta Island in 1972, whose landscape was devastated by goats introduced by humans. He was taken to the breeding grounds on Santa Cruz Islands, established to recuperate populations of giant tortoises whose populations were sorely diminished by centuries of hunting and destruction of habitat.

 

Solitario Jorge became a symbol of man’s devastation of the environment and the struggle to bring back species on the brink of extinction. For the next four decades, the Parque Nacional Galápagos (PNG), the Charles Darwin Research Station and scores of scientists combed Pinta Island and zoos around the globe looking for a pure-bred mate for George. Indeed, it appeared this Geochelone nigra abingdoni was alone in the world.

 

In 1993, the scientists decided to introduce Wolf Volcano (Isabela Island) females, a species closely related to the Pinta Island tortoise, into his corral, in hopes of preserving at least part of his species’ gene pool. The years rolled on with no results. Finally in 2008, the females laid eggs on several occasions. Unfortunately, the eggs proved to be infertile. Later these females were replaced with ones from Española, which species is even more closely related genetically. They remained with him until the end of his life.

 

Solitario Jorge was found dead in his corral on Sunday morning by Fausto Llerena, who took care of him for over 40 years. PNG scientists believe he died of a heart attack, but will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death. His approximate age was 100 years. George’s body will be preserved for future generations of humans to learn about this species and environmental issues involving extinctions.

 

Today, the websites of international newspapers and NGOs are awash with the sad news, commemorations and calls for further conservation work to prevent the extinction of any more species. As Godfrey Merlen so eloquently expresses: “We need to take a certain risk to make every effort to stem the tide of extinction.  Let his name live on, not as a sight to see but as a symbol of our determination.”

 

During the months I spent in Galápagos volunteering with an international NGO, I often stopped by Lonesome George’s corral to pay him a visit. Sitting in the shade of the patio, watching him lumber across the rocks beneath giant opuntia cactus, I would ponder how it must be to be the last of one’s species. Is he cognizant he is the only one left, that of all his kin that were kidnapped and killed, he is the only survivor?

 

Lonesome George was an Everyperson’s pet. In every corner of the planet, people knew him, speculated about his sexual prowess and pondered his species’ future. We all knew it was the end of the road for ­­­­ Geochelone nigra abingdoni. But we hoped against all odds a pure-blood female could be found, that he would have offspring, that the Pinta tortoise would not become extinct. Extinction is forever. And we have seen another Earth species pass to that terminal state — and we have witnessed it with our minds and in that space Lonesome George occupied in our hearts.

 

The Guardian honors Lonesome George’s life with a wonderful slideshow. His life was chronicled in Henry Nicholls’ Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of a Conservation Icon (Macmillan, 2006).

 

During July, Parque Nacional Galápagos will have a special photographic exhibit of Solitario Jorge in his corral. The PNG requests anyone who would like to submit photos, to send them to: solitario-george@dpng.gob.ec.

 

To learn more about the Galápagos Islands and prepare for your trip there, pick up a copy of V!VA Travel Guides Galápagos, authored by official Galápagos resident Christopher Minster, PhD. It is available in e-book and print formats.

 

 

Lorraine Caputo is one of V!VA’s longest-tenured writers. These days, she’s back on the road, updating our 2012 edition of  V!VA Peru. Check the blog for more of her updates from the road.

THE NEW 7 SEVEN NATURAL WONDERS OF THE WORLD

The Swiss organization, New 7 Wonders (www.new7wonders.com), announced last Saturday the preliminary results of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

 

Of the 28 finalists, two of the winners came from South America, four from Asia and one from Africa.

 

And the winners are (in alphabetical order):

 

A bird-eye's view of the mighty Amazon River.

The Amazon (South America)

Halong Bay (Vietnam)

Iguazú Falls (Argentina, Brazil)

Jeju Island (South Korea)

Komodo (Indonesia)

Puerto Princes Underground River (Philippines)

Table Mountain (South Africa)

 

 

Iguazú Falls, another of the New 7 Natural Wonders.

The online voting was open to the public-at-large and closed last Friday, November 11. The official tally will be released in early 2012, during the inauguration ceremonies.

 

Yván Vásquez Valera, president of Loreto región in Peru, was happy with the results and hopes it will bring more tourism to his area. It will be an economic boon to one of Peru’s poorest regions.

 

The big surprise to many is that Ecuador‘s Galápagos Islands were not among the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

The Votes Are In: Quito's Seven Wonders

The votes are in for Quito’s Seven Wonders.

As reported a few weeks ago in Quito’s Seven Wonders, the public was invited to choose the city’s best sites. The competition ran from April until July 31. Over 14,000 people participated in the on-line voting.

A few surprises made the list—as well as some of the most well-known churches and plazas.

And the winners are:

  1. The Chimbacalle Train Station

  2. Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús

  3. Convento de San Francisco

  4. Basílica del Voto Nacional

  5. Santuario de la Virgen de El Quinche

  6. Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza Grande)

  7. Virgen de El Panecillo

The wonderous sites will enter the list of World Heritage Treasures (Tesoros del Patrimonio Material del Mundo) and will be promoted internationally in tourism news, including the Discovery Channel.

Quito's Seven Wonders

If you are presently in Quito or visited the city in the past, you undoubtedly have visited dozens of the nominations for Quito’s Seven Wonders.

Following in the footsteps of Asunción (Paraguay), Barcelona, Brasilia, Madrid and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Quito has decided to designate seven wonders in its own historic city. Voting began four months ago and ends July 31.

Anyone can participate by voting online at: www.7maravillasdequito.com.

The nominations are:

  1. Santo Domingo
  2. San Francisco
  3. El Sagrario
  4. Santa Bárbara
  5. La Compañía de Jesús
  6. Catedral Metropolitano
  7. Convento de El Carmen Alto
  8. La Merced
  9. Convento de San Agustín
  10. La Basílica del Voto Nacional
  11. Iglesia de Guápulo
  12. Iglesia de la Virgen de El Quinche
  13. Plaza Grande
  14. Palacio Arzobispal
  15. Palacio de Carondelet
  16. Virgen del Panecillo
  17. Cima de La Libertad
  18. Antiguo Hospital Militar
  19. Teatro Bolívar
  20. Teatro Nacional Sucre
  21. Palacio de Cristal Itchimbía
  22. Centro Cultural Metropolitano
  23. Antiguo Hospital San Juan de Dios (Museo de la Ciudad)
  24. Calle la Ronda
  25. Museo del Agua Yaku
  26. Laguna de La Alameda
  27. La Capilla del Hombre
  28. Parque El Ejido
  29. Jardín Botánico de Quito
  30. Parque Metropolitano
  31. Reserva del Pululahua
  32. Ciudad Mitad del Mundo
  33. Sitio Arqueológico Rumicucho
  34. Cemeterio de San Diego
  35. Estación de Ferrocarril Chimbacalle
  36. Río Machángara El Parque Largo Machángara
  37. Volcán Pichincha

Latin America News Update: January 29th- February 4th

Thanks once again to Lorraine Caputo for compiling these links.

BRAZIL

Photos of an uncontacted indigenous group living on the border between Brazil and Peru have been released in an effort to protect their traditional lands.

Brazilian lawmakers are looking to enshrine the right to pursue happiness in the country’s constitution.  In other (possibly related) news, a clown was seated in Congress after having been found to be literate.

CHILE

Despite the earthquake last year, Chile is still at risk for a major quake.

COLOMBIA

Afro-Colombian hip hop group ChocQuibTown is in the running for a Grammy and has already brought attention to life in the impoverished Chocó region. Check out the single here.

CUBA

A Cuban woman has turned 126 years old, though the Guinness Book of World Records refuses to recognize her as the world’s oldest person. Capitalist pigs!

ECUADOR

The Devil’s Nose train route, a popular tourist destination in Ecuador’s central sierra, has reopened today. Trust us, that’s what this article says.

MEXICO

A rare snowfall has caused major disruptions in northern Mexico.

Mexico will launch a new PR campaign to woo tourists back to the violence-plagued country.

Latin American News Briefs: Protesting Tribes, Prison Takeovers, and the Plague

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!

Awá child. Photo courtesy Twilight Earth.

Awá Tribe Emerges from Amazon to Show They Exist

[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]

Indigenous Mexicans Want Conquistador Monument Removed

[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]

Need to catch up on the news? Check out our archive of Latin American News Briefs.

Latin American News Briefs: Murder Mysteries, Marsupials, and Maradona

Compiled by Jen O’Riordan 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 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]

A marsupial. Photo courtesy www.animalspix.com.

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]

The Finnish paper mill. Photo courtesy www.elrevolucionario.org.

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]

Latin America News Briefs: Same-Sex Marriage, Snow in Salta and Sea Monsters

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.

Read more about the legalization of gay marriage in Argentina on www.VivaTravelGuides.com.

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.

Read more about the drug smuggling submarine in Guatemala on www.Yahoo.com.

Photo by Lorraine Caputo

Big Day in Salta

[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.

Read more about the earthquake on Earthquake.USGS.gov.

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.

Read more about the homecoming party on BBC.co.uk.

Venezuela Extradites “Drug Boss” to U.S.

[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.

Read more about the extradited drug boss on BBC.co.uk.

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.

Read more about the sea monster on www.CNN.com.

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.

Read more about Casa Ceibo Boutique and Spa on www.NileGuide.com.

Sugar Minott, Courtesy www.SugarMinott.com.

Reggae Icon Sugar Minott Passes Away

[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.

Learn more about Sugar Minott on his website, www.SugarMinott.com.

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.

Read more about the Mexican border clash on www.CBSNews.com.

Did you miss last weeks news? Click here to read the last edition of Latin America News Briefs.

Latin America News Briefs: Eagle Attacks, Banana Uprisings, and Paul the Octopus

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.

Read more about the Solar Eclipse on www.timeanddate.com.

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.

Read more about Harpy Eagle on www.asylum.com.

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.”

Read more about the Puerto Rico drug bust on news.yahoo.com.

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.

Read more about Tungurahua Volcano at www.hoy.com (in Spanish).

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.

Read more about the hunger strike at www.bbc.co.uk.

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.

Read more the submarine bust on www.foxnews.com.

Panama Strikers Seize Four Cops in Labor Clash

[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.

Read more about the labor clash over Bananas on www.alertnet.org.

12 Inmates Die in Uruguay Prison Fire

[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.

Read more about the prison fire on www.comcast.net.

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.

Read more about Paul the Octopus on www.sify.com.