¡Gracias Diego! (Nov. 26, 2020)
Soccer legend Diego Maradona died yesterday and the world paused for a second. In Argentina outpourings of grief and appreciation for Maradona filled streets and social media. The government declared three days of mourning, and fans are lined up in Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo to pay final respects to Maradona whose casket is in the Casa Rosada. The line currently stretches over seven blocks, and more than a million people are expected -- a challenge for social distancing measures that remain in place due to the coronavirus. (Infobae) The wake is reminiscent of former president Nestor Kirchner's funeral in 2010, he was laid in state in the same Sala de los Patriotas Argentinos in the Casa Rosada, as well as those of Juan Perón in 1974 y and Eva Perón in 1953.
The outpouring of grief was not limited to Argentina however. The Guardian has photographs of homages from around the world, and Infobae of Argentine fans saying goodbye.
Maradona is revered for is soccer skills, but also for his larger than life personality off the pitch. For Argentines and others abroad, he has come to symbolize "Argentineness" itself, as any Argentine who has ever taken a taxi in another country can attest to. "Diego Maradona was a passport ... that opened worlds, a noun that never needed translation, a country's definitive surname," writes Alejandro Wall in the Post Opinión. "His story is the story of inequality in Argentina and Latin America."
He was an iconic figure whose excesses rivaled his talents. "No other player has ever inspired such fierce devotion," writes Rory Smith in the New York Times. "He was, in Argentina and beyond, simply “D10S,” a mixture of the number he wore and the word for God in Spanish," notes the Washington Post.
Marcela Mora y Araujo's obituary in the Guardian is eloquent: "Diego Maradona was one of the most intelligent and astute beings to have graced the game. He was a perfect embodiment of the human ability to be contradictory, to do and convey ugly and beautiful at once, good and evil in the same stroke. His celebrity was not separate from his private self – he was achingly human in every way, yet a superstar at all times."
Many of his pithy frases have entered the quotidian Argentine lexicon. (BBC)
A lot of articles: Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, pretty much the entirety of Argentine media.
What has been billed as Peru's "awakening" is under threat from police abuses -- backed in many cases by politicians, writes Gabriela Wiener in a New York Times Español op-ed.
Peru's nascent youth movement has no plans to return home after successfully pushing back against the ouster of former president Martín Vizcarra. Peru's current president, Francisco Sagasti, announced an overhaul of the police force, appointing a new police chief and firing more than a dozen high-level officers. The move responds to heavy-handed repression of protesters earlier this month, reports the Guardian.
Sagasti has the unenviable task of leading a country hobbled by a pandemic and economic crisis, and saddled with a Congress where nearly 70 of its 130 members are under investigation for bribery, money laundering and other crimes, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The case of former Mexican defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos, who is accused by the U.S. of collaborating with a drug cartel, represents "a momentous opportunity for Mexico's national prosecutor's office to prove itself as operating above corruption and the political dynamics of Mexican justice," write Maureen Meyer and Moses Ngong at WOLA. The case will be a major test for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's government in terms of demonstrating its commitment to anti-corruption efforts and justice reforms, particularly in light of Mexican officials’ push to have more officials investigated and prosecuted at home and not the United States.
U.S. authorities shut down a Texas warehouse where chain-link enclosures for migrants were deplored as “cages." The chain-link partitions will be removed, and the warehouse will be redesigned to provide detained migrants with more humane conditions, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (Washington Post)
More than a week after the second storm, vast areas of Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala remain flooded. Some areas are accessible only by boat. Remote communities are relying on food dropped by Honduran and U.S. military helicopters, reports the Washington Post. Honduras, the hardest hit country, could take years to recover: at least 3.7 million people, or more than a third of the population, have been affected. (See yesterday's post.)
Nicaragua suffered more than $740 million in damage from Hurricanes Eta and Iota, the government said this week. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) promised $1.7 billion in aid for millions of people affected across Central America, reports Reuters.
The incoming U.S. Biden administration will have to balance its desire to re-thaw relations with Cuba against the danger of ceding Florida to the Republicans in 2024, reports the Washington Post.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó is hoping to maintain bipartisan support in the U.S. as Biden prepares to take office. (Reuters)
Brazil's Cerrado savannah has become an agricultural powerhouse, but environmentalists and local communities say the advances came at the price of roaring deforestation, land grabbing, violence and the loss of traditional lands. Nearly half of the Cerrado’s native vegetation, which includes scrubland, grasslands and forests, is already used for agriculture, and clearing is fast advancing, reports the Guardian.
Major U.K. supermarkets and fast food outlets are selling chicken fed on soya imported from the Cerrado savannah, reports the Guardian separately.
Brazilian volleyball star Carol Solberg has become a powerful symbol of opposition to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and an unlikely champion of free speech, reports the Guardian. She spoke out against what she considers "a nightmare – a government that shows such contempt for its people and for human life." In retaliation the Brazilian Volleyball Confederation accused her of “staining the sport” with her “thoughtless act” and threatened action. Solberg was cleared of all wrongdoing last week after a public outcry.
A group of Chilean lawmakers has proposed moving up presidential and legislative elections scheduled for November of next year, reports Telesur.
A “one size fits all” aid approach around the world leaves out older people, according to a joint report published on Thursday by HelpAge International and Age International. The problem for vulnerable older adults has only been made worst by Covid-19, with women bearing the brunt of the failures, reports the Guardian. In Venezuela 89 percent of the nation’s 2.1 million over 64s live below the poverty line.