Posts Tagged ‘Jose Mujica’

Syrians in Uruguay: A developing story of domestic violence?

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Syrian refugees are in the news as they now invade Europe, but they made the news in Latin America earlier this year due to allegations of wife and child abuse.

The video below, which I posted in this morning’s Carnival after translating (below the fold since it starts right away), describes that, after Jose Mujica brought to the country forty-five* members of five families who arrived in October 2014, one of the priests at the Marist location housing them claimed to have witnessed one of the Syrian men repeatedly beat up his wife and children.

[*The number is not clear: While most reports refer to five families, the actual number of people varies from 42 to 45.]

The ensuing investigation was later tabled by the authorities, who decided that the matter was a misunderstanding that cleared up after the families left the Marist shelter for permanent housing (“pero que se solucionaron una vez abandonaron la casa de retiros de los Hermanos Maristas para ir a sus hogares definitivos”), while the local police did not contact directly any of the Syrians.

Ponder that for a moment.

The Syrians were promised before their arrival that no one would interfere with their customs. When the priest interrupted the beating and warned the man that domestic violence is against the law, the man demanded that he and his family be relocated to Europe.

In another instance, a Syrian boy was treated at the Pereira Rossell Hospital for an arm fracture caused by his father’s beating.

At the time Frances Martel reported

Uruguayan President Tabaré Vásquez halted the program, started by predecessor José Mujica, until the government could reassess the costs and benefits to the nation. In February, Uruguay announced that it would no longer take in male Syrian refugees due to a surge in domestic violence in the community, before halting the influx of refugees altogether in March.

Discussing the challenges facing Uruguayan society in assimilating Syrians, Human Rights Secretary Javier Miranda told the Uruguayan legislature how he had encountered child abuse among Syrians.

After the case was dismissed, Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa announced that Uruguay will welcome an additional seven Syrian families with 72 members (Mujica implies it would be an additional 80 people in the video below).

The refugees are receiving housing, health care, education and financial support from the government, but that aid is scheduled to end next year.

Now the five families are camping in protest and demand to be relocated to other countries who may take them, naming lack of economic opportunities in Uruguay,

“I am not afraid to go back to Lebanon,” said 36-year-old Aldees Maher, whose family had initially sought safety in a refugee camp across the border from Syria. “I want a place that guarantees me, my family a life.”

Interestingly (emphasis added),

Maher Aldees’s family, the one that got stranded in Istanbul, had been living in the coastal city of Piriápolis, where local officials accused the parents of not sending their daughters to school. Authorities later said the issue was resolved.

Aldees and his family tried to leave for Serbia, but after 23 days at the Istanbul airport, Turkish authorities sent them back to Uruguay. Another Syrian family, the Ashlebis, joined in the protest.

Mujica, no longer president, claims that the fiasco is due to the protesting Syrians not being used to used to heavy labor since they are of middle-class, white-collar background, and that Mujica had envisioned the program for farm laborers. However, the Ashlebis come from a rural background.

Video below the fold:


The dropping helicopters Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, February 9th, 2015

The Indian helicopters that Ecuador bought keep falling off the sky, but the bigger story is Iran’s continued presence in the region.

China to supply Argentina five “Malvinas Class” offshore patrol vessels
Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is expected to sign agreements with China to increase military co-operation, including construction of new warships for the Argentine Navy, during her current state visit to Beijing, according to media reports and Jane’s Defense Weekly.

Argentinian president to write letter to Mia Farrow over tweets
Fernández will write letters to the actress and Martina Navratilova in response to tweets about the mysterious death of a federal prosecutor

Death of prosecutor leaves Argentina’s Jewish community angry and distrustful
The mysterious death of Alberto Nisman, who was investigating a 1994 terrorist attack, has alarmed many Jews but others warn against over-simplifying the case

Stranger in a Strange Land: An Internship Gone Bad

Rio carnival downsizing and another cancelled as Brazil feels the pinch
Brazil is tightening its purse strings ahead of the 2016 Olympics and carnivals across the country are downsizing or have been cancelled

Chile’s Bachelet Renews Bid to Legalize Abortion
Religious Groups Prepare to Fight Proposed Exemptions

Colombia’s FARC rebels invite Miss Universe to attend peace talks
Newly crowned beauty queen Paulina Vega Rebels surprised after being invited to assist guerillas’ peace negotiations with the government.

A Tally of What Cuba Owes the World

FPI Bulletin: More Questions than Answers at Cuba Hearings

Jorge Zabala presenta denuncia ante Consejo de la Judicatura
Posibilidad de fraude procesal, alerta defensor de los hermanos Isaías

Ecuador Grapples With Grounded Freighter
Ecuador has declared a 180-day state of emergency in the protected Galápagos Islands, while it continues to unload and work toward refloating a freighter that ran aground last week.

Guatemala volcano eruption forces evacuations
Fuego volcano belches black ash, forcing 100 residents to be moved out and closing the capital’s international airport

Obama administration issues 5.5M work permits to non-citizens; critics call it ‘shadow’ immigration system


Experts question Mexican investigation of 43 students’ disappearance
Argentinian forensic team hired on behalf of students’ parents says government presented biased analyses of the scientific evidence

Two US Army Vets Missing In Mexican Border City With Raging Cartel War

Conflict of interest in Mexico
A false start
Mixed messages in a new anti-corruption campaign

The five most miserable countries in the world at the end of 2014 are, in order: Venezuela, Argentina, Syria, Ukraine, and Iran.

Can a Chinese billionaire build a canal across Nicaragua? Depends on who else is backing him up.

Panama Becomes First Latin American Nation to Join Coalition Against ISIS

Peru’s no-convictions politician
A failed labour reform exposes the limits of pragmatism

It’s called “rule of law”: Puerto Rico Restructuring Law Thrown Out in Bondholder Win

Investment funds of Franklin Resources Inc. and OppenheimerFunds Inc., which hold more than $1.5 billion in bonds issued by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, convinced a federal judge in San Juan that bankruptcy law and the U.S. Constitution trump the commonwealth’s legislation.

The law, passed under threat of a fiscal emergency, would have allowed public utilities such as the power authority, or Prepa, to negotiate with bondholders to reduce their debt loads, potentially forcing investors to accept unfavorable terms, according to the funds’ complaint.

Uruguay questioned Iranian diplomat over fake bomb near Israeli embassy
Convincing-looking dummy bomb detonated outside Montevideo offices
Iranian ambassador summoned to Uruguayan foreign office in December
Diplomat denied any connection but has now left country

Jose Mujica Was Every Liberal’s Dream President. He Was Too Good to Be True.
He spoke truth to power, and legalized marijuana and abortion. So why are Uruguay’s progressives so disappointed?

Venezuela accuses UK of smuggling ‘spy glasses’ into trial of opposition leader
Leopoldo Lopez’s father says it was he, not a British diplomat, who brought in the video glasses, but prosecutor claims there was collusion with the family

Nelson Mandela’s Lawyer on a Mission for Leopoldo’s Release
Irwin Cotler Joins Imprisoned Opponent’s Defense Team amid Human-Rights Row

Running Out of Time: Dimming Prospects for Reform in Venezuela

Venezuela Maduro: State seizes supermarket chain

The week’s posts and podcast:
Separated at birth?

Sunday evening tango: Mario Bournissen & Laura Rusconi

Uruguay: Iranian diplomat expelled after bomb explosion near Israeli embassy

Argentina: And now the spy is missing

Moral equivalence strikes again

Cuba: Next, O will give away Gitmo

Colombia: Is that a Russian RPG in your pocket?

China: Cristina’s twit UPDATED

Argentina: #Nisman is front-page news at the NYT

Argentina: Nisman wanted Cristina’s arrest UPDATE

50 Shades of meh

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
A few thoughts about Bruce Jenner

Univision plays the world’s smallest violin

On Silvio Canto‘s

[Post corrected for html errors]

Uruguay: Send more Gitmo alumni!

Monday, December 15th, 2014

While the world looks at the terrorist holding people hostage in Sydney,

Uruguay Tries to SetPattern on Guantanamo Detainees
President José Mujica’s Government Expressed Hope That His Nation’s Gesture Would Lead Other Countries to Resettle Prisoners From at the U.S.-Run Facility

Mujica didn’t say “send Uruguay more Giltmo alumni,” though.

Last week I was asking under what country’s passports would the six terrorists travel. It looks like there’s an answer (emphasis added):

Approved for release from a military hospital and given Uruguayan identity documents, the men moved into a small-three bedroom house in Montevideo provided by a labor confederation. “These men have gone through an extremely difficult situation,” said Fernando Pereira, a union official, “so we’re going to give them psychological support and care.”

Empathy, indeed.

Mr. Mujica’s government has signaled that it wants to help the Obama administration in its goal of closing the detention center, which cannot take place until countries take in prisoners the U.S. have cleared for transfers.

So far in Latin America and the Caribbean, 12 former inmates have been resettled, including two in El Salvador in 2012 and four in Bermuda in 2009. The six who came to Montevideo—four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian—are the first detainees to be resettled in South America.

What could possibly go wrong?

Uruguay: Gitmo alumni go free

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

They can travel out of the country, too,
Guantanamo Inmates Get Rights in Uruguay
Six former prisoners in the Guantanamo detention center in Cuba were set to begin their lives as free men in Uruguay on Monday, as President José Mujica said they could travel in and out of the country.

Six former prisoners in the Guantanamo detention center in Cuba were set to begin their lives as free men in Uruguay on Monday, as President José Mujica said they could travel in and out of the country.

Under what country’s passports?, you would ask. Once they get (Uruguayan?) passports, where will they go?

Most of the men—a Palestinian, four Syrians and a Tunisian—were likely to leave the hospital on Tuesday once they cleared extensive physical and mental tests and move into temporary housing, officials said.

“They will be able to bring their families here if they want,” Uruguay’s defense minister, Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro, told a local news station. “They will be accompanied by people to help them adjust to the language and other things. They will have to find jobs.”


It’s all about the empathy,

In a televised interview on Friday, Mr. Mujica—a former guerrilla who was imprisoned for 14 years—said that while he had long criticized the U.S. for its “interventions and abuses,” he couldn’t decline a request by Mr. Obama to accept the men.

in other empathy news,

He can have my Volvo for US$500,000

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Soon-to-be-former Uruguayan president Pepe Mujica claims that an unnamed Arab sheik (who must have been smoking the Uruguayan government’s most famous crop) has offered to buy Mujica’s VW Beetle for US$1million:
Uruguayan president Jose Mujica receives $1m offer for his blue Beetle
The leader says that an Arab sheikh wanted to buy the car which has become a symbol of his humble style

he joked that he did not sell it because of his dog Manuela, famous for only having three legs.

Yeah, right.

The Love Bug

Elections: No change in Brazil, Uruguay

Monday, October 27th, 2014

First Uruguay: Same old, same old, in age and in politics,
Since Pepe Mujica could not run for a second term according to the Uruguayan Constitution, an election took place yesterday, which now goes to a runoff

Leftist ruling coalition candidate Tabare Vazquez led Uruguay’s presidential election on Sunday but he fell short of a first-round victory and will go to a runoff vote next month with the country’s pioneering marijuana bill hanging in the balance.

Vazquez of the Broad Front coalition said as results trickled in that the race would go to a second round and he is likely to face a nerve-jangling contest against young center-right opposition candidate, Luis Lacalle Pou.

Exit polls showed Vazquez winning 44-46 percent of the vote compared with 31-33 percent for Lacalle Pou of the National Party.

The 74 year old Vazquez first was president in 2005, and it looks like he’s going for a rerun. Lacalle Pou is 41.

Also going for a rerun, Brazilians choose to remain “the country of the future”:
Brazil Sticks With Statism
Odds are that the country’s reputation for economic mediocrity is safe for another four years.

Neither Lula nor Ms. Rousseff seem to care about development. According to Goldman Sachs , from 2004-13 government spending grew at almost 8% a year, in real terms, which was more than twice the rate of GDP growth. Inflation is now 7% year-over-year on prices for goods and services not regulated by price controls and 8.6% for services alone. Inflationary expectations are rising.

More worrying is the damage the PT might do to institutions and the rule of law over another 48 months. Civil society here jealously guards civil liberties and pluralism. But as one astute businessman told me, “We are noticing, bit by bit, a trend toward copying Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. The tendency is to reduce democracy.” One example is Ms. Rousseff’s May decree empowering “popular councils,” which would move the country away from representative democracy à la Venezuela. Congress has so far refused to approve the measure but if the usual vote-buying goes on, that may change.

To celebrate, Dilma wore a suit that matched the drapes and her politics,

The really, really big field trip Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

LatinAmerAll of Latin America is absorbed in the World Cup; all, that is, except for the tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children arriving in the United States. This invasion, which until recently the White House ignored – as if it was a really, really big field trip – but now blames on the drug cartels, will not end because the federal government has no intention of stopping this influx, other that throw $250million at it – while doing nothing to secure the border.

Argentina’s bonds
A good week for some investors
Vulture funds win a legal victory over Argentina’s government
; The Economist ought to do a little less editorializing on its headlines.

Uh-oh: China backs Argentina’s position on Falkland Islands
Chinese support calls at two-day G77 summit for the governments of Argentina and the UK to resume negotiations on ‘the Malvinas Islands question’

Industrialization is Bolivia’s Biggest Challenge, Economy Chief Says

World Cup 2014: Protests and anger, in pictures

Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff endorsed to run for re-election
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has been officially endorsed by the governing Workers Party to run for re-election in October.

Joe Biden Discusses Immigration Reform With Central American Leaders

Ending a six-year winning streak, Spain upset after World Cup ouster

Support From the Left Helps Keep a Right-Wing President in Power in Colombia

Andres Oppenheimer: Colombian leader starts new term with a great idea

5 Things to know about Costa Rica

Now under house arrest, Antunez says he wasn’t beaten in jail but Cuban guards did torture his wife

Internet Foils Disinformation Operation Regarding Funeral For Mother of Alan Gross

Cuba Crackdown
Human rights advocates see increased threats against press in Cuba

Castro limos reborn as Havana taxis
Some of Fidel Castro’s old Soviet-built limousines have been decommissioned and are being used as Havana taxis for foreign tourists.

Cuba ends censorship — NOT
For a brief and shinning moment, it seemed that Cuba had unblocked access to several websites censored for years because of their criticisms of the government, including the U.S. government’s Radio/TV Marti.

New US-Caribbean energy initiative


Ecuador to Take Legal Action Against Using Indian Blood for Research

In Guatemala, US VP Biden Promises Hundreds of Millions of Dollars to Stem Child Immigrants Flooding US Border


U.N. Chief Served Papers in Suit by Haitian Victims, Lawyers Say

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman denied that the official had been served.

Honduras’ First Lady Says She Will Collect Her Country’s Child Immigrants

With murder common, Jamaica morgue plans stall

Lawmakers visit Marine held in Mexico, say sergeant ‘needs to come’

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., visited Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi at the El Hongo II prison in Tecate, Mexico.

As far as I could find, VP Joe Biden didn’t mention Sgt. Tahmooressi when visiting with Peña Nieto.

Mexico’s Breakout Moment?


Panama police say remains may be missing Dutch women

Exclusive: UBS faces criminal probe for Puerto Rico bond fund sales – lawyers

Puerto Rico: Is this any way to run an island?

Unesco grants Inca Qhapaq Nan road system World Heritage status
A road system built by the Inca Empire has been granted World Heritage status by the United Nations cultural agency, Unesco.

The Qhapaq Nan roads go through six South American countries

It covers some 30,000 km (18,600 miles), from modern-day Colombia in the north to Argentina and Chile in the south, via Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia.

From The White House: On Mujica and Castro

It’s already out of toilet paper and flour, but now Venezuela Is Running Out of Cookies and Coffins
Thanks to an economic crisis, the list of things you actually can buy in Venezuela seems to be getting shorter every day

As World Oil Prices Rocket on Iraq Strife, Venezuela Oil Price Jumps above $100

The week’s posts and podcast:
WH blames cartels for immigration surge

Argentina: Cristina can’t pay up . . .

Cubazuela: Free healthcare for all

Central American media actively promoting illegal immigration into US

Mexican meth kingpin busted at World Cup

Today’s Google doodle: Boca

The plan

Colombia: The view from Venezuela

Argentina: SCOTUS rules for the creditors

At Da Tech Guy Blog:
The new twist in illegal immigration: Children as human shields for the cartels

5 lessons Hillary could learn from Isabel

Uruguay: High hopes

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Uruguay Has Big Hopes for Pot Industry
Uruguay hopes that its status as the only country to fully regulate the cannabis industry will turn it into a magnet for investment in medical and other applications of the plant

No word as to whether Uruguay hopes that its status as the only country to fully regulate the cannabis industry will turn it into a magnet for investment in the snack food industry.

Cheetos, anyone?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .

President Mujica makes a sartorial statement.

Uruguay: Gitmo releases will be free to leave

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

He probably doesn’t want to upset the folks in the tri-border area:

Mujica: Guantánamo detainees could leave Uruguay 

President José Mujica said in an interview Monday that any Guantánamo detainees his country takes will be treated as refugees and will be free to travel wherever they wish, even if they have promised the United States that they’ll stay in the South American country for at least two years.

Mujica told El Espectador radio that Uruguay has tentatively agreed to take four Syrians and a Palestinian who have been held at the military detention center in the U.S.-held corner of Cuba.

Mujica denied that the five are dangerous and said that “in no way” would Uruguay prevent them from traveling.

While he was at it, Mujica also said he’ll skip meeting Pres. Obama in Washington, thank you.

Uruguay: What not to wear

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

President José “Pepe” Mujica, attending a presentation at the Finance and Economics Ministry, decides to go casual:

Looks like Pepe’s had the munchies.