Venezuela: opposition press rallies against Chávez
The Block of Venezuelan Press, an organisation that represents most of the opposition press, including the main newspapers of the country, has accused President Hugo Chávez of wanting to “silence” freedom of expression.
In a statement, the organisation says that the laws that force the media to broadcast or publish official material infringe the constitution and are aimed at “justifying the attacks of his regime (Chávez’s) against (…) freedom, private property, ethical principles and the dignity of the Venezuelans”.
The Block refers to the decision by the government to temporarily cancel the licence of six cable television networks that refused to broadcast a speech by President Hugo Chávez in January.
El Nacional (Venezuela, Spanish)
El País (Spanish)
Haiti: primer minister criticises charity workers
The Haitian Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, said that the members of the charitable organisations that have tried to take out of the country children who were supposed orphaned by the earthquake were “kidnappers”.
Ten US workers from the Idaho-based New Life Children’s Refuge, a Christian charity, were arrested a few days ago when they tried to take 33 children out of Haiti via the Dominican Republic, claiming that they had lost their parents in the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince.
Laura Silsby, a representative of the organisation, said that they are the victims of a red tape misunderstanding.
“We believe we have been charged very falsely with trafficking. We all gave up everything we had… to come here to help these children and by no means are we any part of that horrendous practice,” she said.
However, Prime Minister Bellerive said that they knew that “what they were doing was wrong”. A Haitian judge must decide now if there is enough evidence for the group to face trial for kidnapping.
Brazil: film about Lula, a “flop”
It was supposed to be a film that would tell the endearing story of a poor child who moved to the big city to become a great leader. And yet, despite the US$12 million invested in Lula, o filho do Brasil (Lula, the Son of Brazil), it is not doing well in the box office.
The film tells the story of Luis Ignácio Lula da Silva, who as a child saw domestic violence, moved to Sao Paulo in search for work, became a trade union leader, was harassed by the military dictatorship and was elected president in a remarkable political career.
But the film started in the fifth place of the box office statistics, but has since lost its place and is languishing at the bottom of the preference of cinema goers.
According to Juan Arias, the correspondent of the Spanish daily El País in Rio de Janeiro, there is nothing wrong with the film. The thing is, says Arias, that people prefer the real Lula, the man who “makes grammatical mistakes when he speaks, the Lula who is dressed by famous designers, looking smart in Davos or wearing the Petrobras cap and the fire fighter’s shirt”.
Not a happy ending for the producers of Lula, o filho do Brasil.
Argentina: former President “benefited” of privileged information
The Argentinean opposition accused former President Nestor Kirchner, of having used privileged information to buy US$2 million in October 2008 at favourable exchange rates. Two former ministers denied the accusation and said that Kirchner bought the foreign currency legally.
Both Néstor Kirchner and his wife, President Cristina Fernández (pictured) submitted the information to judges, as part of an investigation for alleged embezzlement. The information does not say if Mr. Kirchner bought the money taking advantage of information related exchange rates that only the government had.
According the documents submitted by the “first couple”, between 2005 and 2008, they bought foreign currency making a profit of more than a million dollars. Economy Minister, Amado Boudou, said that any purchases made in the open market are legal and that nothing suggests that Mr. Kirchner had the unfair advantage of privileged information.
Clarín (Argentina, Spanish)
La Nación (Argentina, Spanish)
Brazil: controversial dam to be built
The Brazilian Government will allow the building of a dam in the northern Amazon region of Para, (map) despite protests from indigenous peoples and environmental organisations.
The hydroelectric dam, on the river Xingu, will provide electricity to 23 million homes, but indigenous people say that the lives of 40,000 indians will be severely affected because their houses will have to be flooded.
The government argues that it issued the environmental licence, on condition that whoever constructs the dam spends US$800 million protecting nature. Critics say, however, that the project is inefficient, especially during the dry season and that huge areas of rainforest will be destroyed and fish stocks will dwindle as a result of the use of the river waters.