Friday, November 28, 2008

Skill and Beauty Shine at FIFA U20 World Cup

USA, North Korea, Japan and Nigeria favorites to win in Chile

The first round of the U20 Football World Cup has ended and eight teams have qualified to the next phase. The first nations in the points table were Nigeria in Group A, USA in Group B, Japan in Group C and Brazil in Group D. Until now one of the most exciting matches of the event was played on Nov. 23 at the La Florida stadium in Santiago. Germany faced Japan and most experts favored the European team to get the three points. But Japan gave a big surprise as it ended up winning by 2-1. The match was very balanced with continuous chances at both goals. Japan scored the winning goal with only ten minutes remaining and the Asian players celebrated for quite a while on the pitch after the final whistle.

On November 26 at the same stadium, Argentina was knocked out of the event after losing by 3-1 to France. In the second match New Zealand faced England and a victory would send the Oceania team to the next round. New Zealand started off very well since Sarah Maclaughlin scored after 27 minutes.

In the second half England took control of the action and even more so after Hoyle of N. Zealand was sent off in the 75th minute. It seemed that N.Z would get away with the three points but Toni Duggan saved England by scoring in the final minute of injury time. Duggan and her teammate Jennifer Clarke have become crowd favorites due to their skill and graceful figure. The event has many more attractive players such as Alex Morgan of the United States, that is also one of the top scorers with 3 goals. Erika, the Brazilian captain, is also a striker and contributed with one goal to her team’s 3-0 victory over Norway on Nov 27 in Coquimbo. Le Sommer and Marie Laure Delie of France have also caught the attention of the photographers at the matches. But the player that has become the most popular has been Leah of Brazil. Leah has lived most of her life in the U.S and needs an interpreter during training sessions since she cannot speak Portuguese. She plays on the left wing and has a spectacular method of taking the throwins from the sidelines.

Next matches:
Japan versus North Korea (December 1)
Brazil versus Germany

Nigeria versus France (November 30)
USA versus England

Thursday, November 13, 2008

James Bond Prefers Chilean “Pisco”

Brazilian government issues new “Caipirinha” Law

During your next trip to South America, you will surely run into some exotic food and alcoholic spirits that may make you lose your head, not only literally speaking. This is exactly what happened to Daniel Craig, the actor plays the leading role in the latest episode of the James Bond saga. Craig had his first encounter with the local beverage while filming “Quantum of Solace” in Chile´s northern desert area. “Bond” was so delighted by Pisco that he demanded that plenty of it be served at the premier presentation of his film in London, with the attendance of guests such as Prince William and Prince Harry. Pisco Sour, a variation when the spirit is mixed with lemon juice, has especially captivated Craig. Another popular variation invented in Chile has been Piscola, when it is mixed with Coca Cola.
There has been a long-standing dispute between Chile and Peru over the ownership of the “Pisco” denomination. While the Chilean government does not contend that Pisco is the name of the Peruvian port from where it began to be exported in the 17th century, it claims that greater production and more successful marketing campaigns by local companies have made the spirit popular around the world. At present the volume of Chilean Pisco production is fifty times larger than that of Peru, where it is still made using old fashioned and traditional methods. In Chile, especially in the fertile Elqui River valley area, 400 kilometers to the north of Santiago, the Pisco production process has become highly industrialized and sophisticated in order to meet constantly increasing international demand and quality standards. The pure water of the Elqui River has also been protected in order to make sure that Pisco is produced in a clean and environmentally friendly
environment . A National Council for Clean Production has been set up to prevent Water pollution, and to increase competitiveness of the product. At Elqui, the spirit is made from grapes mostly of the Muscat variety, while some vineyards prefer Torontel or Pedro Jimenez. The taste of Chilean Pisco is quite bland , similar to a weak rum. Its odor is very sweet and woody while the color is like that of vodka ,but with a slight yellowish tinge.The regulations for pisco designations established by the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture are as follows:

• Regular, 30% to 35% (60 to 70 proof).
• Special, 35% to 40% (70 to 80 proof).
• Reserve, 40% to 43% (80 to 86 proof).
• Great, 43% or more (86 or more proof).

Meanwhile in neighboring Peru, the local Pisco industry has not been able to recover from the crisis that began in the 1880s, when the country lost large portions of its territory to Chile as a result of the War of the Pacific. At that time, Peruvian Pisco production was concentrated in the Atacama desert, that was occupied by Chile in 1883. The new authorities banned Peruvian citizens from producing any alcoholic beverages such as Pisco while Chileans began to learn the secrets of its making.
In 1960 Chile banned Peruvian Pisco imports and Peru retributed with an identical decision that initiated the current “War of Pisco” that is being fought on the international legal battleground. In July 2005, the Peruvian government presented application for international registration to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), whereby Pisco should be declared “a beverage of Peruvian origin”. However, Peru´s claim has not prospered since the WIPO has not been able to establish that "Pisco" is Peruvian, as it is not within that organization´s attributions. On the other hand, the Chilean government has proposed a combined effort with Peru to increase marketing of Pisco at an international level. In every free trade agreement signed by Chile, an opportunity has always been left open for a similar recognition of Peru's claim, and has never been against the "Pisco" appelation being granted to Peru, provided that this recognition
does not damage Chilean commercial interests.
On the last day of October, 2008, the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture published Article 4 of Instruction Rule 55 in the Official Newspaper, that clearly defines the way to prepare the country´s national spirit, known as Caipirinha. Similar in color to Pisco, Caipirinha is made from sugar cane and is also mixed with lemon juice, sugar and crushed ice. Article 4 states that “Caipirinha must be prepared with sugar cristals with no more than 150 grams per liter and no less than ten grams per liter, and that synthetic or natural substitutes cannot be used.” With regards to the lemon juice,”it can be added in dehydrated form, but there must be at least 1 percent lemon juice with 5 percent of citric acid.”.From this date Brazilian citizens and specialists ahve thirty days to make any suggestions to the law after which it will begin to be immediately inforced in local bars and restaurants.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Uruguayan Soldiers Accused of Fleeing Congo Battlefield

Desperate Hutu civilians attack United Nations headquarters and peacekeepers
In recent days hundreds of thousands of citizens of the Hutu ethnic group have panicked due to the imminent capture of Goma, the main city in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Tsutsi forces led by General Laurent Nkunda have vowed to take Goma and the United Nations (UN) fears that most of its population of 600,000 will be massacred. After capturing Goma, the invading army may take the opportunity to get revenge on the 1994 genocide when the Hutu militia entered neighboring Rwanda and slaughtered 500,000 Tsutsis. The most serious incident involving United Nations personnel occurred on October 27 when hundreds of Uruguayan soldiers retreated from the front line at Kibati on their tanks, leaving thousands of helpless Hutu civilians to their fate. Thousands of Hutus then attacked the UN headquarters with stones and demanded that the Uruguayans protect them from the Tsutsi soldiers. Three civilians were killed as the peacekeepers dispersed the crowd. According to press reports the demonstrators were angered because the South Americans had not halted the Tsutsi advance with their modern weapons. General Nkunda has constantly repeated that his goal is not only to control Goma, but also to liberate the Democratic Republic of Congo from Hutu control. The eastern province of which Goma is the capital is rich in diamonds, gold and other valuable minerals.
Nkunda has also accused the Congolese Army of fighting alongside the Hutus against his forces. Nkunda is a former Congolese army officer that resigned after suspecting that his Tsutsi ethnic group would be attacked again as in 1994. The last reports state that Nkunda´s forces are only 12 miles from Goma and the UN provincial chief Hiroute Guebre Selassie has said that its 17,000 peacekeepers are in a disfavorable strategic position and are hard pressed to face the Tsutsis. According to Guebre Selassie, the peacekeepers have only been able to fire upon the invaders from helicopters due to the difficult terrain formed by mountainous land covered by tropical forests. The UN mission to Congo issued a statement in its webpage ( explaining that “ it is in the DRC to help restore peace, and called on the population not to take out its anger on UN personnel and property”.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Santiago’s El Centro District Swings Again!

Daytime Business hub offers varied wining, dining and dancing by night

Just the facts

Getting there
As from September 3, 2008, Lan Chile departs for Santiago every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from Terminal 3 at
Pearson International Airport. There is a stop at New York in one of the brand new Boeing 767s that South America´s premier airline recently acquired as part of a US$100 million renewal plan.
El Centro is a $17 (U.S. ) cab ride from Santiago’s airport. (Ask the driver for Plaza de Armas but first buy a transfer voucher at one of the authorised cab company stands ). From there you can access the major sites either by foot or El Metro (subway ).
EL CENTRO: Start at the Plaza de Armas square from where you are four blocks away from Santa Lucia Hill (700 metre high lookout point) and three blocks from the historic La Moneda Palace. Also at the square is the subway station of the same name for fast access to other areas.

Sheraton San Cristobal. Av.Santa Maria 1742, $284-$300-$330. 56-02-2335000.
Hotel Ciudad de Vitoria, Monjitas 527 at corner of Mosqueto,56-02-6333150, $69,$79. (All prices in US$).
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Santiago gets very hot and dry during the summer months (December, January and February) so caps, tee shirts and shorts are useful. Nights are cooler so wear a light jacket and trousers. US dollars are accepted as payment for hotel stays, guided tours, to buy souvenirs such as Bluestone jewellery and for meals at some restaurants (tips at 10%).

It’s a sure bet that this season many Americans,Canadians and Europeans will enjoy a few days here at the start or end of their cruise ship adventure around the Cape Horn. In stark contrast to the Cape’s Antarctic waters it will be hot and dry in El Centro amidst its eclectic mix of Spanish colonial, Neo-Classic European and contemporary American architecture. During the day the suit and ties worn by many locals evidences the city’s daytime business character that at night is substituted by intense cultural and social interaction. A must is a visit to the Pre Columbus Art Museum located on the corner of Compañía and Bandera, only a block away from the Plaza de Armas.
Initially the private collection of a member of the local aristocracy, on display are thousands of gold and silver artefacts as well as pottery and textile pieces made by the Incas and previous civilisations. As you exit the Museum take a left turn along the gallery and stop at the El Rapido restaurant and try the empanadas. These are hot pies whose two most popular varieties include mincemeat and sliced onion or just melted cheese, that can be accompanied by a variety of wine brands.
Three blocks down from El Rapido is probably Santiago’s most famous landmark, the La Moneda Presidential Palace. Most foreign visitors recall the black and white images of four decades ago when the building was engulfed by flames after an aerial bombardment. The gloomy days of Mr. Pinochet´s brutal police state are past and at present it’s lively Madame Bachelet that runs the show. If you get to the Palace’s Moneda street entrance by 10:00 a.m you’ll be just in time to see the Carabineros police corps carry out its disciplined change of guard ceremony.

Don’t get alarmed to hear a loud explosion on weekdays, it’s not a bomb but a Spanish colonial tradition that has lingered.

To mark midday a cannon is fired from the nearby Santa Lucia Hill, its summit being another good option to visit.

With no entrance fee and a 700 metre high lookout to its view is certainly worth the climb. Near the back exit of the hill (corner of Santa Lucia and Victoria Subercaseaux) a new culinary and intellectual enclave has emerged around the Bellas Artes Museum (national art museum).

Street cafes, bookstores and restaurants abound with the surrounding vegetation of the Parque Forestal. Only ten minutes away (less than five by subway, get on at Bellas Artes station and off at Baquedano) is Bellavista, Santiago’s premier nightlife district.
“That’s the Venezia restaurant, it’s open all night, just like all the other bars and discotheques around here. See those at the end of the block? They are for gays and lesbians,” an enthusiastic waiter explains. If during the day the district´ s many restaurants such as the Venezia (a favourite with Nobel winning poet Pablo Neruda whose house-museum is only few blocks away are full of customers, it’s the nightlife that has made Bellavista famous. Countless discotheques cater to public of different ages and spending power but with similar practices. All arrive there after midnight and its only between 1 a.m to 2 a.m that the party is in full swing, fuelled by a wide assortment of legal and illegal stimulants. Among the legal substances is Pisco, Chile´s national spirit, similar in alcohol content and colour to vodka but made from grapes. A few glasses of either the Piscola (mixed with Coca Cola) or the Pisco Sour (with lemon juice) will have you soaring in a few minutes. What time does the partying end at Bellavista? It doesn’t. At semi-clandestine establishments known as After-Hours the dancing and drinking continues from 5 a.m. until noon or sometimes later. It is not easy to get into an After-Hour, usually a secret password is needed at the door, but you can inquire with our friend the waiter, he is sure to know!
But there is more to Santiago than just wining and dining, since its outskirts of offers spectacular natural attractions. Inquire at your hotel about the guided tours either by car or van that will take you for winetasting at the Concha y Toro vineyard ($30), rafting at the Maipo River Valley ($40),or to the Mountain Ski resorts($40) for 3000 metre vistas where condors glide for hours .( All prices per person and in US dollars).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Everton Leads In Chilean First Division

Blackburn Rovers Hires Midfielder Carlos Villanueva

The Chilean First Division season is divided into two competitions: the “Opening Championship” begins in the second week of February and ends in the last week of June followed by the “Closing Championship” that is held from Mid July until a few days before Christmas. The winner of this year’s “Opening Championship” was Everton from the city of Viña del Mar, Chile´s main seaside resort located 130 kilometres to the west of Santiago. Everton had last been Chilean champions in 1976 and so after five rounds the local fans are obviously very pleased with their team´s current situation. This last weekend, Everton played host to Palestino at the Sausalito Stadium and despite losing by 1-0 at are still at the top of the table with 12 points. The Sausalito Stadium was built specially for the 1962 World Cup and its most important event in history has been the quarterfinal match where Brazil defeated England by 3-1. Nineteen teams are taking part in this year’s Closing Championship after the desertion of Deportes Concepcion, a club that went broke in the first days of July. This weekend had a especially high goal average with a total of 35 goals being scored. The shock result of the fixture was the 2-3 home defeat of Chile´s most popular club Colo Colo at the hands of Rangers, from the southern town of Talca. Colo Colo´s archrival, Universidad de Chile recovered form after beating Union Espanola by 4-1 at the National Stadium in Santiago. Marcelo Salas, probably Chile´s greatest player of all time, scored Universidad de Chile´s second goal. Local fans revere Salas for his great performances with the Chilean national team such as Chile´s 1998 victory over England at Wembley Stadium, when the striker scored both goals. Carlos Villanueva, a left-footed free kick specialist recently hired by Blackburn Rovers, may have played his last match for Audax Italiano during the club’s 2-1 win over Cobresal. Villanueva is a skilful midfielder that has won a regular place in Chile´s national team but recently had an unlucky incident in Spain. Last month Villanueva travelled to join Real Sociedad of the Spanish first division, but two weeks later had to return to Chile after Sociedad went broke. Until now the Chilean press has reported that Blackburn Rovers agreed to a one-year loan for Villanueva with a salary of US$900,000 and the deal seems to have definitely been sealed. The results from the other matches and top of points table are as follows:

Osorno 2 - Universidad Catolica 4
La Serena 6 - Cobreloa 2
Meilipilla 1 - Nublense 1
Santiago Morning 2 - Antofagasta 1
Huachipato 1- Universidad Concepcion 1

1) Everton 12 pts.
2) O´Higgins 10 pts.
3) Colo Colo 10 pts.
4) Rangers 10 pts.
5) Universidad de Chile 9 pts
6) La Serena 8 pts
7) Palestino 8 pts
8) Santiago Morning 8 pts
9) Universidad Catolica 7 pts.
10) Osorno 6
11) Audax Italiano

Thursday, July 03, 2008

L.D.U Wins Final of 2008 Libertadores Cup

Ecuadorian Team beats Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro

Liga Deportiva Universitaria (LDU) from Quito, Ecuador is the new champion of the Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious South American club tournament, only equaled in importance by the UEFA Champions League. The final match of the two-way tie was played in the night of July 2 at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. LDU´s opponent was Fluminense, one of the city’s most popular clubs and there was a fever pitch atmosphere at the Maracana since the team had never been able to win the Libertadores. Fluminense had to win by a three goal difference to become champions because LDU had won the first match in Quito by 4-2. Before the match the Fluminense players declared to the local press that they would come out and put continuous pressure on LDU from the first minute. However, in front of 80,000 spectators, LDU got off to a great start since Luis Bolaños scored in the fifth minute. The goal was quite lucky since a Fluminense defender turned his back on the shot and allowed the ball to go between his legs. This confused the local goalkeeper that could not stop the ball but just as the local crowd began to get nervous, Thiago Neves set the house on fire by equalizing in the 12 minute with a low long range shot past LDU goalkeeper Jose Ceballos. Eventually both these players would become the villain and hero of the night at the end of the match.
An inspired Thiago Neves would score yet again in the 28th and 56th minute and with the aggregate score tied at 5-5 the match continued with a further 30 minutes of extra time. A legitimate goal scored by Claudio Bieler in the 116th minute could have given LDU and instant victory but it was disallowed since a linesman considered that the Argentine striker was offside. Since at the end of full time the match was with the same scoreline so a penalty shootout had to be carried out. Another Argentine, Dario Conca was the first of three Fluminense players to miss the penalty kick, such as the unfortunate Thiago Neves and Washington, a free kick expert. Campos was the only player that missed for LDU and so for the first time in history, an Ecuadorian team became champions of the Copa Libertadores. Until now, teams from countries on the Atlantic side of the continent have monopolized this tournament that has been played since 1960, the other clubs being Atletico Nacional of Colombia in 1989, Colo Colo (Chile) in 1991 and Once Caldas in 2004.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Former Secret Police Chief Gets Life Sentence

Chilean Justice Gives Verdict after 34 years
Former Secret Police Chief Gets Life Sentence

Until August 1973, the Commander in Chief of the Chilean Armed Forces was General Carlos Prats. Due to the tense internal situation Prats resigned and President Salvador Allende appointed the highest-ranking officer, General Augusto Pinochet to replace Prats. This proved a fatal mistake since Pinochet led the military action that ended with Allende being killed at the La Moneda Palace on September 11, 1973. A few days later Pinochet sent General Carlos Prats into forced exile in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Also at the same time Pinochet created a secret police called National Directorate of Intelligence (DINA in the Spanish acronym) and appointed Coronel Manuel Contreras at its head. Contreras was only accountable to Pinochet, so it seems very unlikely that the Chilean dictator did not know that DINA agents were keeping track of General Prat´s activities in Buenos Aires. According to the daughters of Prats, a former colleague warned the Chilean general that that he should leave Buenos Aires immediately since Pinochet was planning to kill him. On September 30, 1974, a car bomb set off by remote control killed Prats and his wife as they arrived at their apartment. The Chilean press of the time stated that left wing guerrillas were responsible for Prats death and due to the military coup that occurred in Argentina a few months later the investigation was interrupted. Even so the three daughters of General Prats began a long legal action in the Chilean justice system to punish those responsible for the death of their parents. Thirty-four years later, on June 30, Judge Isidro Solis finally ended the investigation and sentenced Manuel Contreras to two counts of life imprisonment. This sentence must be added to his 26 other convictions that total 289 years in jail. Contreras is already in a special prison for military officers on the outskirts of Santiago after being found guilty of hundreds of counts of murder, torture and kidnapping. Also convicted were a group of his subordinates such as Brigadier Pedro Espinoza (sentenced to 20 years in prison), General Raul Iturriaga (15 years), Jorge Iturriaga (brother of Raul, 5 years) and Emilio Zara (10 years). Also sentenced to 20 years in prison was Mariana Callejas, a female civilian agent that according to Judge Solis set off the explosive device that was prepared by a U.S-Chilean citizen called Michael Vernon Townley. On the same day the verdict was given, during a South American Presidential summit being held in Argentina, President Michelle Bachelet informed the other Heads of State about the Contreras conviction, that was welcomed with hand clapping by Hugo Chavez , President of Venezuela.
At the time of the assassination, Mariana Callejas was married to Townley, that in 1980 defected to the United States and went into the Witness Protection Program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I). The evidence given by Townley was crucial to solving not only the murder of Carlos Prats and his wife but also the 1976 assassination of Orlando Letelier, (a leader of the anti-Pinochet movement) and a U.S citizen, Ronni Moffit. Both were killed in a similar car explosion that occurred at the Sheridan Circle in Washington D.C. According to Townley, after killing the Prats couple, the DINA sent him and Callejas into the United States under fake identities. Their mission was to prepare the murder of Letelier by following the former Chilean politician and learn his daily routine at Washington D.C. According to some versions, after weeks of undercover surveillance, one night Townley entered the garage in Letelier´s home and stuck the explosive device under the car. The next morning Townley and Callejas followed Letelier, Ronni Moffit and her husband in another car as they went to a meeting. It is not yet clear who activated the remote control device that killed Letelier and Moffit, but in the 90s, F.B.I bomb experts traveled to Chile and gave a practical demonstration to Chilean authorities. Using an identical car and bomb device, the F.B.I agents proved that Michael Townley was responsible for the killings since the car suffered almost the same damages as the model in 1976. On the same day the verdict was given, President Michelle Bachelet during a South American Presidential summit informed the other Heads of State about Contreras conviction, that was welcomed by hand clapping by Hugo Chavez , President of Venezuela.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Chile Fans Inspired after Victory over Venezuela

National football team in third place of 2010 W.Cup qualifiers

If the qualifying tournament for the next World Cup was to end today then Chile would be one of the four South American teams classified to play in that event. However, Chile still has to score enough points in the remaining twelve matches, (the last of which must be played in December 2009), in order to book tickets to the world’s biggest sporting event.
After defeating Bolivia four days earlier by 2-0 in the altitude and cold of La Paz, on June 19 the Chilean national team had to play in the intense tropical heat of Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, against the local team. There was a full house of 40,000 spectators at the modern General Anzoategui Stadium that was inaugurated last year for the 2007 Copa America, (S.American nations tournament). The local fans were in a confident mood due to the good form shown by its national team that in the previous match drew with Uruguay in Montevideo and had also beaten Brazil two weeks ago. As the match began, a rainstorm began that made the pitch very slippery and many players had to change boots to cling to the surface. Even so Chile began to control the actions and in the 18th minute Alexis Sanchez (River Plate, Argentina) could have scored but his shot rebounded off the left post. Venezuela then reacted and leveled the play but the first half ended without any goals being scored.
In the 58th minute of the second half the local fans went into ecstasy as a free kick taken by Giancarlo Maldonado was deflected by a Chilean defender into the goal defended by Claudio Bravo. Chile struck back quickly as only four minutes later Alexis Sanchez was fouled in the area by a Venezuelan defender. It was Humberto Suazo, currently playing for Monterrey and leading goalscorer of the Mexican league that equalized by scoring the penalty.
The local fans reacted angrily by throwing beer bottles at the Chilean players and coaching staff but their spirits died down as in the 71st minute Chile scored yet again as Gonzalo Jara connected a free kick cross from the left wing taken by Marco Estrada.
It seemed that Chile´s 100th World Cup qualifying match would end in a 2-2 draw since in the 80th minute Juan Arango scored for Venezuela after a fast counterattack, but the match would have a spectacular ending. In the 92nd minute Suazo received a good pass from Sanchez and scored with a hard low shot from outside the area. After the end of the sixth round, Chile has ten points and shares third place with Colombia, while Paraguay is first still with 13 points after a surprise defeat to Bolivia by 4-2. Second is Argentina with 11 points that drew 0-0 with Brazil that is now in fifth place with 9 points. The outsiders are Uruguay with 8 points, Venezuela (7 points), Ecuador (5 points), Bolivia and Peru with 4 and 3 points respectively.

Starting Lineups:

Chile: C.Bravo, G.Medel,C.Carmona, G.Jara, R.Cereceda, J.Beausejour, I.Fuentes,M.Estrada, P.Morales,A.Sanchez,H.Suazo.

Venezuela: R.Vega,G.Chacon,L.Vielma, J.Rey,J.Hernandez,M.Mea Vitali, J.Rojas,R.Vargas,A.Rondon,J.Arango,R.Vargas.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Chile Gets Breathtaking Win Over Bolivia in La Paz

Results of S.American 2010 World Cup Qualifiers

On June 15, the Chilean national football team took a positive step forward in its attempt to qualify for the FIFA World Cup to be held in 2010 in South Africa. The preparation process designed by coach Marcelo Bielsa (that includes banning all press reporters from training sessions) paid off as Chile scored another three points with a 2-0 victory over Bolivia. Due to the altitude of La Paz, (the world’s highest capital city at 3600 meters), Bielsa traveled two-weeks ago with the team of young players with an average age of 23 to the city of Calama in Chile´s northern desert area. Calama is located at an altitude of 2.500 meters and helped the players get used to running with less oxygen and also to the longer distances covered by the ball due to the lighter atmosphere. The Chilean delegation took the flight to La Paz only four hours before the match in order to reduce the effects of “La Puna” (a local term used for the side effects of the altitude such as dizziness and difficulties in breathing). As the match began, the Chilean team surprised fans from both countries at the Hernando Siles Stadium by immediately taking the initiative and had its first clear chances of scoring in the 15th and 17th minutes by means of striker Alexis Sanchez (River Plate, Argentina).
Ten minutes later it would be a defender, Gary “Pitbull” Medel that would open up the scoreboard with a spectacular overhead kick after a shot by Pedro Morales hit the crossbar. By now many Chilean players were showing the effects of the altitude but were able to end the first half with the one goal lead. In the second half Bolivia reacted and took control of the match but was unable to equalize. Gary Medel became the hero of the evening since during a counterattack in the 75th minute the defender scored yet again with a close range low shot after connecting with the ball from a corner on the right wing.
After the match the Chilean players celebrated on the pitch and captain Claudio Bravo sent a televised message to some teammates that had not shown much interest in playing for the national team due to Bielsa´s harsh discipline. “Instead of going to discotheques or being at home with your family you guys should be here playing for your country,” said Bravo. Will Chile will be able to repeat this performance next Thursday in Puerto la Cruz against Venezuela?. The local team has improved tremendously and is not the pushover team it once used to be and also got a good result as it managed to draw 1-1 with Uruguay on June 14 at the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo. Apart from this result, Venezuela defeated Brazil for the first time in its history during a friendly match played two weeks ago in Boston, U.S.A, so the local players are in a confident mood and have promised to defeat Chile.

In the other matches played on June 15, Ecuador was only seconds from getting a historic result in Buenos Aires against two time world champions Argentina. With only three minutes remaining Ecuador was winning one nil when local coach Alfio Basile made a desperate move and put on striker Rodrigo Palacio that managed to equalize with only seconds of the match remaining. Meanwhile in Asuncion, Paraguay, the home team proved that its good form is no lucky streak as it defeated Brazil by 2-0. Paraguay is now the leader in the points table with 13, followed by Argentina with 10 points, Colombia 9, Brazil 8,Venezuela and Chile with 7, while Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia are out of the race with 5, 4, 3 and 1 points respectively.

The next fixtures are as follows:

June 17-18, 2008






Thursday, June 05, 2008

S.America Gears Up for 2010 World Cup Qualifiers

Brazil will play Argentina and Chile coach nominates players

The excitement increases among the local fans as the Brazilian national team prepares to face its archrival, Argentina on June 18. The qualifying match for the 2010 World Cup will be played at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte and there will surely be a full house of approximately 60,000 spectators. However Brazil, will first have to travel to Asuncion, Paraguay to play the local team on June 14. Paraguay has an unbeaten record in a difficult qualifying tournament, (where each team must play eighteen matches in a two year period) including a win against Chile by 3-0 in Santiago and will prove a hard rival for the Brazilians. Even so, some players of the “Green and Yellow” team (the nickname given by its fans to the Brazilian national team) have declared that they are more interested in beating Argentina. “Due to the rivalry between Brazil and Argentina, this match has a unique importance. We respect Argentina,but Brazil must also be respected,” said Diego, an attacking midfielder currently playing for Werder Bremen in the German Bundesliga.
With regards to the absence of two key players, Kaka (A.C.Milan) and Ronaldino Gaucho (Barcelona) , Diego stated that he was sure that those players replacing them would perform well.

The other fixtures are as follows :

June 14-15, 2008






June 17-18, 2008






Copa Libertadores (S. American Club Champions League)

On June 4, at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Fluminense qualified for the finals of the Libertadores Cup after defeating Boca Juniors of Argentina by 3-1. Boca Juniors (last year´s champions) started off well after Martin Palermo scored in the 57th minute but Fluminense struck back immediately with a spectacular free kick goal by Washington only five minutes later. Goals by Dario Conca (70th minute) and Dodo (92nd min.), secured Fluminense´s victory over Boca Juniors. The match ended on a sour note as yet again Argentine players were involved in a brawl with local police and rival players. Fluminense is one of Rio´s most popular clubs but had never qualified for the final of the Libertadores, the most prestigious club tournament in South America. Next week Fluminense will have to play a relatively unknown team,Liga Deportiva Universitaria of Quito,Ecuador in a two way final.

Chile National Team:
Marcelo Bielsa (S.America´s highest paid national team coach) recently published in the football federation webpage the list of players that will take part in the next two qualifying matches against Bolivia (June 15) and Venezuela (June 19). Until now Chile has only beaten Peru, lost to Argentina and Paraguay and drawn with Uruguay.
The match against Bolivia will be played in La Paz, the world’s highest capital city, at an altitude of 3,600 meters (11,811 feet) while Puerto La Cruz, in the intense heat of Venezuela’s amazon jungle area will host the second game against the local team. Bielsa´s list caused a controversy among the Chilean press and fans since many key players were left out for different reasons. Jorge Valdivia, recently voted best player of the Brazilian league was left out by Bielsa since the coach believes that “ it´s not the right moment for Valdivia to play”. Bielsa also showed that he privileges discipline over playing capacity by rejecting Arturo Vidal (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Claudio Maldonado (Fenehrbace, Turkey) and Luis Jimenez (Inter Milan, Italy). Vidal was not included in the squad after refusing to take part in a preparation tournament in France. Instead, Vidal declared that he needed a rest and traveled from Germany to Santiago where was seen on many occasions partying in exclusive discoteques. Maldonado angered Bielsa by stating in a Turkish newspaper that “to play in La Paz at such an altitude is dangerous for players.” The absence of Luis Jimenez was the most expected since the Inter Milan player just does not get along with Bielsa. The coach has left Jimenez as a replacement on several matches and since then the player has shown little interest in playing for Chile.
The full list of players published in the ANFP(Chile federation) webpage is as follows:

Christopher Toselli (GK) U. Católica (Chile)
Claudio Bravo (GK) Real Sociedad (Spain)
Miguel Pinto (GK) U. de Chile
Osvaldo Gonzalez U. de Concepción (Chile)
Waldo Ponce Velez Sarsfield (Argentina)
Rafael Caroca Colo Colo (Chile)
Gonzalo Jara Colo Colo
Cristian Álvarez Beitar Jerusalén (Israel)
Ismael Fuentes Jaguares de Chiapas
Hugo Droguett Tecos (Mexico)
Roberto Cereceda Colo Colo
Gary Medel U. Católica (Chile)
José P. Fuenzalida Colo Colo
Manuel Iturra U. de Chile
Carlos Carmona O'Higgins (Chile)
Pedro Morales U. de Chile
Carlos Villanueva Real Sociedad (Spain)
Fabián Orellana Audax Italiano (Chile)
Alexis Sánchez River Plate (Argentina)
Mark González Betis (Spain)
Jean Beausejour O'Higgins
Daud Gazale D. Concepción
Humberto Suazo Monterrey (Mexico)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Chile Police Chief Dies in Helicopter Crash

General Jose Bernales (1949-2008)

General Jose Bernales was on official visit to Panama

A Bell UH-1N helicopter crashed on May 29 at 2.00 p.m. local time in downtown Panama City, the capital of that Central American country. On board was a delegation of the Chilean military police (Carabineros) that included its director Gral. Jose Bernales (59), Lieut.Coronel Oscar Tapia, Lieut.Coronel Ricardo Orozco, Captain Mauricio Fuenzalida and Commander Maria De Felix of the Panama police. The helicopter crashed against a shopping mall called “Banana Price” and until now 12 people have been confirmed dead including Teresa Bianchini, wife of General Bernales. According to eyewitnesses of the accident the pilot of the helicopter fell onto the roof of the store and declared that “one of the motors had failed”. Another survivor was Sargeant Jose Munoz of the Carabineros and it seems that he may have been the man that bystanders said had jumped off the helicopter seconds before it hit the Banana Price building. TVN, Panama´s state television network reported that only a few days ago an advertisement had appeared on the Panamanian government website announcing the need to buy spare parts for a UH-1N helicopter. A few hours after the crash, the President of Panama, Martin Torrijos phoned his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet to inform her of the death of the four police officers. Bachelet decreed three days of national mourning and appointed General Eduardo Gordon as the new Director of Carabineros. The father of President Torrijos, General Omar Torrijos was responsible for signing the Torrijos-Carter Accord whereby the United States returned control of the Panama Canal to the local government was also killed in a suspicious helicopter crash in 1981. It is expected that the remains of all the Chilean citizens that were killed in the crash will return by airplane in the evening of May 30. General Bernales joined the force in 1970 and had been appointed Director in 2005. Many Chilean citizens acknowledge that Bernales was able to improve the reputation of the Carabineros police force that was seriously affected during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet that lasted from 1973 to 1989. In 2006 General Bernales fired the head of the anti-riot squad after the officers under his command had brutally beaten up several press reporters and photographers during a street protest in downtown Santiago.
The Carabineros (riflemen in Spanish) police corps was formed in 1927 and its initial mission was to patrol the 4,000 kilometers of border that Chile shares with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. At present it force is of approximately 30,000 and its activities include patrolling in urban areas, investigating traffic accidents and maintaining order during public events such as football matches and cultural events.
You may listen to the anthem of Carabineros at

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Manchester United Wins 2008 UEFA Champions League

Defeats Chelsea in Final played Moscow after penalty shootout

May 21, Moscow Olympic Stadium.
Referee: Lubos Michel (Eslovakia)
Starting Lineups:
Chelsea: P.Cech,J.Terry,M.Ballack,F.Lampard,M.Essien,R.Carvalho.A.Cole,J.Cole,C.Makelele,F.Malouda, D.Drogba. Coach: Avram Grant

Manchester United:
E.Van der Sar, Rio Ferdinand, P.Scholes, W.Rooney, O.Hargreaves, W.Brown, P.Evra, N.Vidic, M.Carrick,C.Tevez, C.Ronaldo.

Manchester United won its third European club championship in front of 85,000 spectators after defeating Chelsea in a thrilling match that could also have been won by the London club. Man Utd. came onto the pitch as the favorite after winning the English Premier League two weeks ago and immediately took control of play. It was Cristiano Ronaldo, considered to be the world’s best footballer of the moment that scored for Man.Utd in the 26th minute. Ronaldo headed in an excellent cross from the right by Wes Brown. Ronaldo´s Argentine teammate Carlos Estevez could have increased the scoreboard twice in the next ten minutes.
However, Chelsea equalized in the 44th minute after Frank Lampard finished off a fast counterattack with close range shot.
If Man.Utd had been in control during the first half, it was Chelsea that took over in the second half and could have won the match in the 77th minute after Didier Drogba´s shot hit the right post of Erwin van der Sar´s goal. As the action progressed the fans sensed that an extra thirty minutes would have to be played and also many players began to fall on the pitch with cramps. In the 86th minute Ryan Giggs replaced Paul Scholes and as extra time began Nicholas Anelka and Juliano Belletti came on for Chelsea.
Extra Time :
In the third minute Frank Lampard could have scored yet again but his shot hit the crossbar.
With only five minutes of play left an argument began between all the players that ended with Didier Drogba being sent off after the Chelsea striker slapped a Manchester United player.
Then came the dramatic penalty shootout that would decide which team would become this years champion.
First to score was Carlos Tevez for Man. Utd as did Michael Ballack, Michael Carrick and Juliano Belletti. Then came the first surprise of the evening as Cristiano Ronaldo´s penalty was blocked by Peter Cech, the Chelsea goalkeeper. Frank Lampard, Owen Hargreaves, Ashley Cole and Nani scored alternatively and the last to take a penalty would have to be John Terry, the Chelsea Captain. If Terry had scored, Chelsea would have been the first London club to win the Champions League, but due to the slippery surface caused by the rain, Terry slipped in the precise moment as he kicked the ball sending it wide of Van Der Sar´s left post. The penalty shootout continued with Anderson and Ryan Giggs scoring for United, but Nicholas Anelka missed the last penalty for Chelsea and so the 2008 champion is the team coached by Sir Alex Ferguson.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Colombian Army Captures Commander Karina

FARC suffers several setbacks in less than a year

During a recent public speech President Alvaro Uribe surprised his audience when he declared that “If Karina wants to surrender her life will be spared.” It seems that Uribe knew that one of the main leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was already negotiating with the authorities as to when and where she would turn herself over. It is not clear exactly how Karina was finally arrested after more than twenty years of activity with FARC but the rebel leader was shown to the local press as she entered the headquarters of the IV Army Brigade in Medellin. President Uribe had a personal grudge against Karina since she was involved in the 1993 murder of Uribe´s father.

Karina was shown handcuffed and wearing a black bulletproof vest with the initials D.A.S on the back. The D.A.S is Colombia’s main intelligence agency and played a fundamental role in Karina´s arrest that occurred on May 14 in a small town called La Soledad in western Colombia.
According to the D.A.S, Karina stated that the army had cornered her for several weeks and that her comrades of the 47th front had nothing to eat. Karina has lost an eye during earlier shootouts with the Army and many more scars suffered during her long struggle in the Colombian jungle. Before Karina´s arrest, three other FARC commanders had been killed in separate incidents:

March 7, 2008: Ivan Rios was shot as he was sleeping in a jungle base by Pedro Montoya, his chief bodyguard, that afterwards cut off Rio’s right hand with a machete and surrendered himself to a nearby Army patrol. Montoya presented Rios´ hand as proof that he had killed his superior officer and claimed the US$2.5 million reward offered by the Colombian government.

March 1, 2008: Raul Reyes, FARC´s spokesman, was killed along with 19 other rebels when his base in neighboring Ecuador was destroyed by cluster bombs fired from Colombian Air Force jets. Reyes was the man in charge of negotiating the release of many prisoners and civilian hostages held by FARC in bases deep inside the jungle. This attack also caused a major diplomatic incident between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, with the last two countries closing their embassies in Bogota, the Colombian capital.

Sept 3, 2007: In a similar operation as that of Raul Reyes, Tomas Medina (a.k.a Negro Acacio) was also killed during a bomb attack by the Colombian Air Force. According to the Colombian government, Negro Acacio was in charge of collecting taxes from well-known drug traffickers such as Fernandinho Beira Mar, the main trafficker in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Chilean Founder of IC-USTA Dies as Murder Suspect

Gerardo Rocha presided of a worldwide network of 33 universities

Gerardo Rocha (55), founder of the International Council of Universities of Saint Thomas Aquinas (IC-USTA) died on May 5, 2008 at the Indisa Clinic in Santiago, Chile. Rocha had been interned at this clinic in coma since February 21 of this year after an incident that occurred at the seaside resort of El Quisco, located 120 kilometers to the west of Santiago. According to the Chilean police, that day Rocha and two associates identified as Cesar Osores (a 33-year-old former police officer expelled from the force after killing an innocent civilian) and Marcelo Morales (39) broke into the home of Jaime Oliva in El Quisco. The three men began to beat up the 79 year old auctioneer and torture him with a tazer (an electronic device that sends 50,000 volt electroshocks into the body) after which Oliva passed out. Thinking that Oliva was dead, Rocha and Osores dragged the unconscious man to a room on the second floor and poured gasoline over his body. According to Morales, that was in the first floor, it was Gerardo Rocha that ignited the fuel causing a massive explosion. According to Morales, Rocha came running down the stairs with his body covered in flames and said, “I didn’t know that gasoline was so volatile”. Morales and Osores took Rocha in a car to a nearby hospital while the fire destroyed Jaime Oliva’s wooden holiday home. Forensic experts later declared that Oliva died from inhalation of carbon monoxide and that no traces of bullets were found in his body. Days later the police arrested Osores, Morales and Dante Yutronic, owner of a well-known store known as “La Casa del Espia” (the House of the Spy), that sells surveillance and self defense equipment. Yutronic is also a private investigator that Rocha had hired for US$100,000 to tail and investigate the life of Jaime Oliva, whom Rocha believed to be having an affair with his current wife, Veronica Espinoza. It seems that what finally triggered Rocha´s criminal impulse was a video given to him by Yutronic where a woman similar to Espinoza is seen entering Oliva´s house. Later the police proved that it was another woman that had gone to see Oliva at El Quisco. At present Yutronic is still in detention accused of selling Rocha the tazer and other weapons as well as the illegal surveillance carried out on Jaime Oliva and his family.
Why did the multimillionaire founder of a chain of 33 Universities with 500,000 students located in places as varied as Australia, Japan, Morocco and Mozambique and also a member of Mensa, (an organization formed in 1946 at Oxford University that only accepts individuals with high IQs) get involved in such a murder? According to the Chilean police, Gerardo Rocha already had a long history of psychopathic behavior. As a child, Rocha declared to his family that he had frequent conversations with the Virgin Mary and that he was destined to continue with the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Another trait of Rocha´s personality appeared at the age of 19 when he married his first wife Carla Haardt, whom he met while studying medicine at the Roman Catholic University, Chile´s most exclusive. According to Haardt, Rocha had constant fits of jealous anger and imagined that she was having an affair with another man.
In 1980, Rocha was charged in court after beating up a man that had given Carla Haardt a handbag as a present. Rocha was also physically abusive with Haardt and burnt the handbag in front of her. Rocha then tried to improve his relationship with his wife by seeking advice from a priest that belonged to the fundamentalist Roman Catholic “Opus Dei” organization that is extremely powerful in Chile.
Meanwhile, due to his influential contacts within the Pinochet regime, Gerardo Rocha´s educational project begins to prosper and in 1988 he is allowed to create the “Universidad Santo Tomas (UST)”. In the 1990s, Rocha takes a step further and creates the IC-USTA whose latest member country is China that allowed the University to set up a campus in November of 2007. Apart from the negative publicity created by the Rocha incident, the Universidad Santo Tomas (UST) is not in a very good legal situation in Chile since Dante Yutronic has also been accused of spying on the professors and employees of the university. The academic board and administrative employees union have filed a legal action against the UST for “illegal tapping of telephone conversations and undercover surveillance of UST employees”. Gerado Rocha´s personal fortune has been inherited by his daughter Karla Rocha that must face a compensation claim filed by the Oliva family for a total of US$5 million.

Brazil´s Best Footballer is from Chile

Jorge Valdivia Leads Palmeiras to win Sao Paulo State Championship
It was a week-end of exciting football all over Brazil as most state championships in this nation of 190 million people came to an end.

In Sao Paulo, the industrial capital of Brazil, all attention was focused on the Palestra Italia Stadium, home ground of the Palmeiras F.C that represents the Italian community but also has millions of fans all over the country.

The Palmeiras fans were anxious to see their team defeat Ponte Preta and end the 12 year dry spell of not having won any tournament, except for 1999, when Palmeiras won the Libertadores Cup (South American Champions league). The Palestra Italia was full to its 30,000 capacity and many thousands were left out since the day before the police had reported that many tickets had been forged by a gang that stole the printing machine from the stadium.
Fundamental in helping Palmeiras win its 22nd Sao Paulo State Championship (known by the locals as Paulista) has been Jorge Valdivia, a 24 year old attacking midfielder that was transferred in 2006 from Chilean club Colo Colo. At first Valdivia had a hard time winning a permanent place in the Palmeiras squad but after six months he had become the favorite of the fans not only in Sao Paulo but also in the rest of Brazil that nicknamed him “The Magician”.

The green Palmeiras shirt with Valdivia´s name on the back has become the most sold in Sao Paulo sports stores. In 2007 Valdivia was voted “Best Attacking Midfielder” by the Brazilian press and during this year’s championship his goals were crucial to get Palmeiras into the final after defeating archrivals Corinthians (1-0) and Sao Paulo F.C. (2-0). During the first half against Ponte Preta on Sunday, Palmeiras were already 2 goals up but it was Valdivia that wrapped up the match in the 70th minute as he scored a spectacular goal (his ninth in the tournament) with a long range shot after dribbling four rival players. The Palmeiras fans went into ecstasy as they sensed they were well on the way to reaching their objective and began to shout “We are the Champions” while setting off fireworks, green flares and smoke bombs as play continued. Alex Mineiro scored two more goals and also became leading goalscorer of this year’s Paulista championship with 15 goals. After the match Brazilian TV highlighted Valdivia´s goal and statements where he declared that along with the birth of his daughter, this was the most important moment in his life. Now Palmeiras fans are worried since the club has received offers of up to US$ 40 million from several European clubs that want to hire Valdivia. The “torcida” (organized supporters club) has begun a fundraising campaign in order to raise Valdivia´s salary and allow the Chilean player to continue at Palmeiras and help the team win this year’s “Brasileirao” (Brazilian National Championship) that will begin in a few weeks. What will decide the fate of Brazil’s most popular footballer? The devotion of the Palmeiras fans or the club’s financial needs due to a debt of several million dollars?

Results from other State Championship finals:

Rio de Janeiro: Flamengo 3 - Botafogo 1
Rio Grande do Sul: Internacional 8 - Juventude 1
Minas Gerais: Cruzeiro 1- Atletico Mineiro 0
Parana : Atletico Parana 2 - Coritiba 1
Bahia: Vitoria 5 – Itabuna 1

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Paraguayans Elect Left Wing Bishop as President

Fernando Lugo plans to meet Hugo Chavez soon
Fernando Lugo, a 57-year-old Roman Catholic bishop will begin his term of office as president of Paraguay on august 15, 2008. Lugo obtained the first majority during the elections held on April 20 as candidate of a left wing coalition called “Patriotic Alliance for Change”. Lugo was able to break the 60 year monopoly exerted by the “Colorado Party” on Paraguayan politics by obtaining 40% of the votes while his nearest competitor, Blanca Ovelar of the Colorado Party got 21%. The third candidate, a former Army general called Lino Oviedo got a little more than 10 % of the votes. In 2007 Lugo formally submitted his resignation as Bishop to Pope Benedict XVI, that instead suspended him “ad divinis”. This means that Lugo continues to belong to the Roman Catholic Church but is not allowed to carry out ecclesiastical activities and be President of Paraguay at the same time.

During his first interview given to local press on April 22, Lugo stated that his priority will be to get a fair deal with Paraguay’s two powerful neighbors, Brazil and Argentina regarding the distribution of electricity generated by two hydroelectric dams. Together with those countries Paraguay has built the Itaipu hydroelectric dam (Brazil) and Yacyreta dam (Argentina). At present Paraguay sells US$100 million per year to Electrobras (the Brazilian Electricity Company) that in turns resells the energy for US$2 billion within Brazil. The case of Yacireta is similar, where Paraguay sells electricity to Argentina at only US$8 per megawatt.
“The hydroelectric dams are binational. We want a fair price for the energy, at the real market price, not the cost price, so that the Paraguayan economy can improve substantially,” said Lugo.

President Lugo has also stated that he plans to meet with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as soon as possible and denied that the Venezuelan leader supported his election campaign with financial donations.
During Spanish colonial rule Paraguay was one of the most advanced countries in the region, mainly due to the work of the Jesuit religious order that established a peaceful relation with the native Guarani ethnic group. However, after independence from Spain in the first decade of the 19th century, Paraguay lost large portions of its territory in a war waged against an alliance formed by Brazil and Argentina, and since then has become a landlocked country with a population near to five million.
After World War II, Paraguay was condemned worldwide after its then head of state, General Alfredo Stroessner granted refuge to many Nazi war criminals, including Josef Mengele, that became Stroessner´s personal doctor.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Manchester United Holds Barcelona to Goalless Draw at Nou Camp

English club near to playing final of UEFA Champions League

Barcelona and Manchester United played the second semifinal of the UEFA Champions league on April 23 at the Nou Camp Stadium in front of 98,700 spectators. The other was played the day before in Liverpool where the home team drew 1-1 with Chelsea. Manchester United had not played at this stadium since 1999 when it won that year’s edition of the UEFA Champions League after defeating Bayern Munich of Germany. This was the English club’s second time to win the European competition, the first being in 1968. Barcelona have also won this trophy twice (1992 and 2006) and the local fans are certainly eager to win it a third time. The match could have begun disastrously for Barcelona if Cristiano Ronaldo had scored the penalty that was awarded to him in the second minute of play. The Portuguese national team player and currently the player with the highest transfer fee in world football headed the ball towards the Barcelona goal but Gabriel Milito blocked it with his hands and referee Massimo Bussaca pointed to the penalty spot. Amazingly, Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot missed the goal completely and also squandered a great opportunity for his team to go ahead in the scoreboard. This missed chance lifted the spirits of the Barcelona players that headed by Argentine star Lionel Messi began to constantly attack the Man.Utd goal. However, Messi and his teammates were unable to finalize the many chances they created for themselves, while Man.Utd were satisfied to stay in its own half and prevent Barcelona from scoring. Apart from Messi, there were two other Argentineans on the field, Carlos Tevez (Man. Utd) and the before mentioned Milito. There were no goals scored in the first half and the only clear chance for Barcelona occurred in the 51st minute when Messi and Samuel Etoo made a good combination of passes that the Cameroon striker was unable to convert from close range. In the 61st minute the Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard realized that Messi had tried all his tricks against Man.Utd and so substituted him with Bojan Krcic. The final twenty minutes continued that usual trend as Manchester United´s disciplined defenders kept the locals at bay and obtained its objective of getting a goalless draw. After this result, Man.Utd has to beat Barcelona by a one-goal difference at Old Trafford in order to advance to the final. In theory that match will be played on May 21 in Moscow but the Russian Football Federation has declared that if two English teams qualify, it will renounce to staging the final of the 2008 UEFA Champions league.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Colo Colo Stuns Boca Juniors in Libertadores Cup

Chile´s top team defeats Argentine counterpart by 2-0

On March 20, Chile´s most popular team, Colo Colo gave an inspired performance and once again beat Boca Juniors, also the most revered team in Argentina during a match of the “Copa Libertadores” , the South American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League. Boca Juniors is last year’s champions of the event and plans to repeat in 2008 but it seems that it will not be so easy after last night’s defeat in the Chilean capital. The local police had described the match as “high risk” due to the rivalry between the two teams that goes back to 1991 when Colo Colo defeated Boca Juniors 3-1 in the semifinal of that year`s edition of the Libertadores . That match is well remembered by fans in both countries since it ended in one of the most brutal brawls in football history. Several Argentine players ended arrested after assaulting the local police, and the Boca Juniors coach suffered serious injuries after being hit with a photographic camera in the face.After defeating Boca, Colo Colo went on to win the Libertadores and became the first Chilean club to do so.
Thursday night’s match began could not have begun better for the local team since Cristobal Jorquera scored after only three minutes with a low long range shot from outside the area. Colo Colo continued attacking and were further rewarded in the 34th minute as Gustavo Bizcayzacu headed in a second goal in the 34th minute.
During the second half Boca attempted to equalize the scoreboard but time and time again their star strikers, Martin Palermo and Juan Riquelme were denied from scoring.
Colo Colo could have further increased the scoreboard in the 73rd minute but Gozalo Fierro missed the penalty that had been awarded. Now, along with Atlas of Mexico, Colo Colo is in first place of Group 3 of the Libertadores, followed by Boca Juniors and Atletico Marcaibo of Venezuela. Colo Colo will have to play the return match next Thursday in Buenos Aires against Boca Juniors, and its coach Claudio Borghi has declared it will try to get a historic victory in the Argentine capital.

Monumental Stadium,Santiago,Chile.
Crowd: 50,000
Referee: Martin Vasquez (Uruguay)
Starting Lineups:
Colo Colo (2) :C.Munoz (gk), L.Mena, J.Carrasco, R.Rojas, G.Fierro, C.Jorquera, A.Sanhueza, G.Bizcayzacu, M,Villarroel,L.Barrios, J.Salcedo,

Boca Juniors (0) : M.Caranta (gk), J.Maidana,J.Caceres,G.Paletta,C.Rodriguez, P.Ledesma, F.Vargas.S.Battaglia, J.R Riquelme, M.Palermo,R.Palacio.

Other results:
Flamengo (Brazil) 2 – Nacional (Uruguay) 0
Libertad (Paraguay) 1 – Fluminenese (Brazil) (2)
Audax (Chile) 1- Atletico Nacional (Colombia) 0

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Roma F.C Stuns Real Madrid in UEFA Champions League

Italian Club reaches quarterfinals of European football tournament

Roma F.C achieved its most important result in history after defeating Real Madrid in its own stadium, and progressing to the quarterfinals of the Champions League, a tournament it has never won. Will this be the year that Roma finally wins it? Like Real Madrid, its squad is full of South American players such as David Pizarro (Chile) , Doni, Juan, Cicinho and Taddei, all from Brazil. The match was played on March 5 at the mythical Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and as well as the before mentioned players also included two Argentines (Gabriel Heinze and Fernando Gago) and three Brazilians (Robinho, Pepe and Julio Baptista). It was Baptista that became the most dangerous player for Real Madrid as he nearly opened up the score board in the 16th minute with a free kick that was well saved by Doni. Two minutes later Alberto Aquilani replied for Roma as his long-range shot struck the right post of the goal defended by Iker Casillas.
After three minutes of the second half Baptista yet again nearly scored from a free kick but this time the ball hit the right top angle of Doni´s goalpost.
Real Madrid’s coach Berndt Schuster tried to reinforce his team’s attack trying to get the goal that would equalize the aggregate score since Roma had won the first match by 2-1. Schuster replaced Mohammed Diarra with Rayston Drenthe and Michel Salgado with Miguel Torres while Mirko Vucinic replaced Mancini in Roma F.C. Only five minutes later Vucinic would be another player that would send the ball crashing against the crossbar and back onto the pitch to be cleared by a Real madrid defender.
The match became even more difficult for Real since in the 70th minute Pepe was sent off after fouling a Roma player.
Roma began to attack and its reward came only two minutes later as Taddei headed in the ball after a cross from the left wing.
Raul raised the hopes of the Real fans as he equalized in the 74th minute. In the 75th minute Chilean midfielder David Pizarro replaced Simone Perrotta and Roma began to have even more ball possession. The final score would increase in the 92nd minute as Vucinic finishes off a Roma counterattack with a good header.

Starting Lineups:

Real Madrid (1) : Iker Casillas (gk),M.Salgado, G.Heinze, F.Gago, Cannavaro, Pepe, M.Diarra, Guti, J.Baptista, Robinho.

Roma F.C. (2) : Doni (gk), Mexes, M.Tonetto, Juan, De Rossi, Cicinho, Taddei, S.Perrotta, A.Aquilani, Totti, Mancini,

Other results: Chelsea 3 - Olimpiakos 0
Porto 1- Schalke 0 (Schalke advances after penalties)

Venezuela Ready for War Against U.S - Colombia Pact

During an interview given in mid 2007, a member of the Venezuelan Central Command, General Alberto Muller, explained part of his country’s defense strategy in case of an invasion by the United States that may be carried out through neighboring Colombia. “The only way we can repel a U.S invasion is by a full scale guerilla war on our home ground. Like in Iraq, we will need to create a citizens army to fight the Yankee invaders,” said Muller. After the recent incursion by the Colombian Army into Ecuadorian territory on March 2, the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez made a gesture of solidarity with Ecuador and closed all border posts with Colombia, sent ten battalions to patrol the area and expelled that country’s ambassador from Caracas, the Venezuelan capital. At present Venezuela’s regular army has a total of 80,000 soldiers, but for the past three years a total of 2 million volunteers have been receiving military instruction in order to prepare for an invasion that is more certain than ever. Like in Iraq, George Bush may try to reach two objectives at the same time: eliminate a hostile political adversary such as Chavez and most important, take control of Venezuela’s rich oil fields to avoid further deterioration of the American economy. After all, Venezuela is not as far away as Iraq and the U.S armed forces have been collaborating with the Colombian army for nearly fifty years. In 1964, the United States Army declared that it had trained and equipped a force of approximately 5,000 Colombian soldiers in order to wipe out a smaller contingent of left wing rebels that had formed an autonomous region in the jungle called “The Republic of Marquetalia”. However this operation failed and the rebels went on to form the “Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)”, that according to the Colombian Army may have up to 30,000 members, and will surely team up with Venezuela in case of a U.S-Colombian invasion.
As follows is a summary of the present state of these two South American Armed Forces that it includes their most advanced weaponry:
1) Colombia: (country population: 38 million)
Due to “Plan Colombia” approved by President Bill Clinton in 1999, this country receives US$7 billion in military aid each year that includes weapons and training in U.S Army bases.
Army: 145,000 soldiers armed mostly with standard issue M -16 rifles and ammunition and have all other U.S weapons available.
Military Police: 105,000 soldiers.
Equipment: An undisclosed number of Blackhawk combat helicopters (capacity of 25 passengers).
27 UH60L multipurpose helicopters.
200 Brazilian EE Cascavel armored cars
Air Force:
20 Israeli Kfir combat jets frequently used to bomb rebel bases in the jungle.
Dozens of Embraer A-27 Tucano light combat aircraft.
Navy :
Submarines: 4
Destroyers : 3
Frigates : 12
Patrol Boats : 12
Supply Ships : 2

2) Venezuela (country population 26 million)
Since Hugo Chavez became President in 1998, Venezuela has spent billions of dollars to renew its military equipment, mostly with Russian assault rifles, fighter jets and helicopters.
Army :
80.000 soldiers.
Civilian reserve force: 2 million.
100,000 Kalashnikov AK-103 and AK-104 assault rifles were bought in 2007 at a cost of US$54 million.
40 Russian MI-17 combat helicopters
Air Force :
50 Russian MIG-29 SMT jet fighters
30 Russian Sukhoi Flanker jet fighters.
Flanker: Max Speed 1320 miles per hour. Maximum Range 1864 miles (3000 kilometers)

15 Brazilian Super Tucano light combat aircraft
6 Spanish C-295 transport aircraft
Early Warning radar systems for Air Space control.
4 Spanish Frigates (2007)
6 Italian Lupo frigates (1979)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Killing of FARC Leader Causes Colombia-Ecuador Tension

Hugo Chavez Warns of possible war in region

The Colombian Army announced on March 1 that during an attack on a rebel base near the southern border with Ecuador, its forces had killed Raul Reyes, the vice-commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The aerial attack carried out by Air Force jets armed with cluster bombs began approximately half an hour after midnight in a jungle area near the Putumayo River. According to President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, informants gave the exact coordinates of where Raul Reyes and his escort had camped 1800 meters within Ecuadorian territory.

photo of Raul Reyes dead by

“I take full responsibility for this action and also thank those informants that with the valuable information given have contributed to rid Colombia of bloodthirsty terrorists. We will pay their rewards immediately.” said Uribe during a televised press conference.
After being informed that Reyes was dead, Uribe phoned his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafael Correa that later expressed his indignation with the way the Colombian Army had acted inside his country’s territory. While President Uribe declared that his troops did not violate Ecuadorian territory, President Correa ordered Ecuador’s embassy in Bogota to be closed and that the Ambassador leaves Colombia.
“There was no combat, the FARC guerrillas were massacred as they were sleeping, we found 16 corpses. Colombian army soldiers entered our territory illegally and took away the bodies of Reyes,Julian Conrado and other rebels,” said Correa to TV reporters.

Photo of Julian Conrado by

The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez also ordered his Ambassador to return from Colombia and increased tension in the area by sending Venezuelan troops to the border with that country and sent a stern warning to Alvaro Uribe.
“Until when will Uribe continue with his madness? All that man wants is to continue with the war. Listen to me Mr. Uribe, if you try to do something like that in Venezuelan territory, you will create a causus bellis, in other words, a cause for war,” said Chavez in a televised press conference.
For the past year Chavez has continuously criticized Uribe whom he describes as “ a pawn of U.S imperialism, that carries out all the orders given to him by George Bush”. After Israel, Colombia is the world’s second highest recipient of U.S military aid with an estimated total of US$7 billion per year. During 2006 and 2007, the Venezuelan government headed by Chavez acquired Russian military equipment that included Mig fighter planes, combat helicopters and thousands of AK-47 assault rifles at a total estimated cost of between US$2 to US$3 billion.
Raul Reyes was an extremely important element for FARC since he was in charge of carrying out all international and peace negotiations. According to the Colombian Army, Reyes may even have been the current leader of the Colombian rebels since there are some unconfirmed rumors that Manuel Marulanda a.k.a “Tirofijo” (The Sureshot in Spanish),the man that founded FARC in 1964 may have died some years ago. Raul Reyes had been a member of FARC for the past thirty years after beginning his political career as a trade union representative while working at the Colombian branch of Nestle, the famous Swiss multinational company. In the past ten years he had become even more important to Marulanda since Reyes had married his daughter. FARC has not yet announced who will be the successor of Raul Reyes, but there are many candidates in its Central Command that is formed by some twenty individuals.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brazil Leads Inception of Digital TV in S.America

Chile still undecided on what format to adopt

While the Chilean government must decide this year on what Digital TV format (American, European or Japanese) will be implemented, in 2007 Brazil already began using the ISDB-T system developed in Japan. With a population of 190 million that accounts for nearly half of the South American total, Chile cannot overlook the decision taken by Brazil. The minister of Science and Technology, Sergio Resende declared recently that after Sao Paulo, the next cities to implement digital TV in 2008 will be Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Curitiba. Resende has invited Chilean scientists to work at the Center for Digital Studies that will be opened in Brasilia. Maybe this step will help to convince the Chilean authorities to adopt the Japanese ISDB-T format, that according to Roberto Franco, head of the Brazilian Digital TV Forum is superior to the other two systems. In a recent interview with El Mercurio, a Chilean newspaper, Franco explained why Brazil adopted ISDB-T. “The main advantage of ISDB-T is that it transmits TV signals to mobile phones immediately. The American (ATSC) and European (DVB-T) formats need to add further infrastructure and plug-ins to receive TV signals in mobiles. “ said Franco.
Also Brazil made a wise decision and implemented the Japanese system with an important variation: the MPEG-4 image compression system was added instead of the normal MPEG-2 used in Japan which is less efficient. With Digital TV, up to four channels can be transmitted where previously one existed, but with MPEG-4 this number increases to eight channels.
In Chile the debate still continues since the National Television Association (an organization that groups six open TV stations) is in favor of adopting the American ATSC format, while the government has declared its preference for the DVB-T system from Europe. However, Chilean citizens must not get alarmed since analogic TV signals will continue to be transmitted for another ten years and to receive digital TV the users will only have to implement a “set top box” decoder that at present costs US$ 40.
At present ATSC is being used in North America (U.S.A, Canada and Mexico) in Honduras (Central America) and in the Republic of Korea ( Asia). Europe’s DVB-T format has been adopted in 50 countries and in South America, Uruguay has been the only country to implement it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Brazil Goes Easy on Ireland in Dublin

Five time World Champions beat locals by 1-0

Another FIFA match day was held on February 6 in different parts of the world that serve as preparation for forthcoming 2010 World Cup qualifiers. In Dublin, Ireland the home team played host to Brazil, one of the superpowers in the history of soccer. It was a typical cold and rainy evening at Rourke Park but even so nearly 50,000 fans showed up to see whether Ireland could change statistics and defeat the South Americans for the first time ever. Most of Ireland’s players are with teams of the English Premier League such as Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur) and Damien Duff, while Brazil has Gilberto Silva (Arsenal), and Anderson (Manchester United) that came on in the second half.
There were not too many goalscoring chances in the first half, and Brazil was content to play at half pace and contain Ireland. The match became more interesting in the second half as Brazil came out to win the match as expected. The first chance for the South Americans occurred in the 61st minute as Luis Fabiano struck a hard shot from close range that was well blocked by Shay Given, the Ireland goalkeeper. Only Damian Duff could create any chances for Ireland in the opposing area, but the visitors finally wrapped up the match in the 66th minute. In a fast counterattack Diego made a good pass to Robinho on the left wing that ran into the area and scored with a low and well placed shot in to the corner of the net.


Starting Line Ups:

Republic of Ireland: Shay Given(gk), S. Kelly, K.Kilbane, D.Duff, R.Keane. K. Doyle, R. Dunn, L.Miller. Coach: Donald Givens

Brazil: Julio Cesar (gk), Alex, Gilberto Silva, Richarlyson, Leo Moura, Luis Fabiano, Luisao, Josue,Diego, Julio Baptista, Robinho.

Other FIFA Match Day results:

Italy 3 - Portugal 1
England 2 _ Switzerland 1
Spain 1 - France 0

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chile Gets Morale Boosting Win over ROK

South Americans defeat locals by 1-0 in Seoul

The preparation match played on Jan. 30 at the Seoul National Stadium was a clash between similar forces in World football. On one side was the Republic of Korea, a country whose national team has improved tremendously and at present can stand its own ground against any other, while its opponent was Chile, whose team is always overshadowed by neighboring superpowers such as Brazil and Argentina. Both teams are preparing for its next 2010 World Cup qualifying matches, Korea will play Turkmenistan in a weeks time, while Chile has more time since its next rival will be Bolivia in July. Also both teams did not show its strongest lineup, as the Korean coach decided to sideline Park Ji Sung (Manchester United) and Lee Young Pyo (Tottenham Hotspur), while Marcelo Bielsa of Chile had the chance to try out many players that had not previously been in the national team.
The match was broadcasted by TV live at 8:00 a.m. in Chile, while in Seoul did not draw such a large crowd at the National Stadium, probably due to the low temperatures that were near to -8 degrees Celsius.
In the first half, ROK had many chances to score but all were blocked due to a fine performance by Chile´s reserve goalkeeper Miguel Pinto.
Gonzalo Fierro broke the deadlock in the scoreboard in the 55TH minute of the second half, and Chile was lucky to be able to end up with the victory, mainly due to the ineffective shooting shown by the Korean players and Pinto’s inspired play.
This was the eighth time that Chile had played Korea, the first being in the 1966 World Cup when the South Americans drew 1-1 with North Korea. In 1984 a Chilean U-21 team traveled to Seoul and lost by 3-1 against the locals, while two further matches were played in 1985 during the Independence Cup played in Indonesia. Chile won on both occasions by 4-0 and 1-0 and the next two results were a 0-0 draw in 1987 and a 1-0 victory by the ROK during the 2000 Sydney Olympic games.

Starting lineups:

Republic of Korea : Kim Byung-Ji (46' Jung Sung-Ryong); Cho Sung-Hwan, Cho Won-Hee, Cho Yong-Hyung, Kim Chi-Woo; Hwang Ji-Soo (70' Lee Jong Min), Lee Kwan Woo (46' Hwang Jae-Won), Yeom Ki-Hun, Kim Nam-Il; Kwak Tae-Hwi y Jung Jo-Gook (34' Cho Jin-Soo. 77' Park Chu-Young).

Chile : Miguel Pinto; Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara, Hans Martínez; Roberto Cereceda, Manuel Iturra, Marco Estrada, Pedro Morales (90' Pedro Morales); Gonzalo Fierro, Eduardo Rubio (92' Osvaldo González), Jean Beausejour.

Friday, January 18, 2008

S.Americans Face Biased Trials in European Courts

Recently three cases of abuse against citizens of South American countries that are jailed in Europe have caused the indignation of many in the continent. The first case is that of Ilich Ramirez from Venezuela, that became famous during the 70s and 80s due to his involvement in urban guerrilla operations alongside Palestinian fighters. Ramirez was then known as “Carlos” and became France’s number 1 public enemy due to an incident that occurred in Paris in 1975. The French authorities accuse Ilich Ramirez of being responsible for the death of two Secret Service agents and one Lebanese citizen during a shootout in the apartment where Ramirez was living. In 1994 the French Secret Service tracked down Ramirez to Khartoum, Sudan, and in a questionable covert operation abducted Ramirez from that African country and transferred the Venezuelan in an executive jet to Paris. It was only at his arrival in France that Ramirez was shown the “national arrest warrant” in order to justify that the Venezuelan had been arrested in French territory. From then on Ramirez has been submitted to constant physical and psychological abuse by French police and prison guards, as well as several aggressions by other inmates that most likely are protected by the guards. The latest aggression occurred on December 26,2006 at Clairvaux Prison while Ramirez was speaking by telephone to his lawyer, Isabelle Coutant. Another inmate called Nabil Soltane was allowed to attack Ramirez from behind and caused several cuts and bruises on the Venezuelan’s face with a sharp edged ring. Coutant has declared that this latest incident is just another attempt to murder Ramirez. By some strange coincidence, on January 8, 2007, the French authorities allowed Ramirez to give a phone interview with several news reporters that were in Caracas, and for the first time in decades Ramirez was actually able to answer questions and give his opinion about his situation. Ramirez has declared to the “Venezuelan Repatriation Committee” that is headed by his brother Vladimir, that his release must be obtained by political pressure, and there is hope in many South Americans that “Carlos” will be released in the near future, especially after President Hugo Chavez expressed his support for the Venezuelans citizen’s return.

Another case involving a South American is that of Tito Beltran (42), a Chilean opera singer that moved to Sweden twenty years ago. Such was Beltran´s success in that country that he acquired a considerable fortune and earned the friendship of many Swedes, including the King of that Scandinavian country. At present Beltran is jailed in Ystad accused of having raped a babysitter in 1999. Beltran´s defense lawyer has declared that Beltran´s case is part of xenophobic plot and an attempt by the singer’s former wife to obtain money. It is alleged that Beltran sexually abused the 18 year old after a show in the southern town of Notesjo. In court Beltran did admit that he caressed and kissed the young woman in the hotel bedroom , but that he never had sexual intercourse with her.
According to the prosecutor Anna Hakansson, there is plenty of evidence to convict Tito Beltran.
.“Even if the supposed rape occurred in 1999, this doesn’t mean that we don’t have any evidence, we do have many testimonies that support the version given by the victim,” said Hakansson to La Tercera, a Chilean newspaper. On January 18, Beltran suffered a nervous breakdown in the courtroom as he listened to the declaration by Robert Wells the director of the show in 1999, that denied having been informed about a the sexual abuse that Beltran may have committed against the 18 year old babysitter.

The last case concerns two Chilean students, Rodrigo Ianza and Alex Cisternas and also an Argentinean, Juan Pintos, that are accused of having severely injured a policeman in the City of Barcelona, Spain. On the night of February 4, 2006, a riot occurred in a suburb of that city that ended with a violent clash between local police and several hundred members of the “Okupa”, a youth organization that occupies rundown and vacant houses and use them to carry out cultural activities. Many youngsters were arrested, but it was finally only the South Americans that have remained in jail since then and have been accused by the local court of having attacked the policeman with a rock or a flower pot. Since then the Spanish police officer has been in critical condition in hospital and could either die or remain in permanent coma for the rest of his life. The relatives of the three students have denounced that they have suffered constant physical abuse by the prison guards and have been insulted and discriminated due to their South American origin. The latest court proceeding were also irregular since Spanish police officers entered the courtroom and attacked the relatives of the youngsters, while the Argentine and Chilean consuls could not assist the trail due to the large number of people that were present. After local forensic experts gave evidence that the youths did not have enough physical strength to carry out the damage suffered by the police officer, Alex Cisternas and Juan Pintos were released on January 15, 2008, while Rodrigo Ianza´s fate will be decided during the next days.

The relatives have created a blog to support the “4F prisoners” as they have been called:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chile TV Joins Media War Against Hugo Chavez

Chilean journalists repeat version given by Pro-US news agencies

No one can deny that throughout its history, the printed press in Chile has been controlled by the right wing oligarchy, and recent events prove that this situation also affects all television stations.

For those not familiar with it, as follows is a brief description of how the Chilean television system is organized at present. A considerable percentage of the population has access to international cable television, but the majority must still choose between “open” TV stations, that in general show programs dubbed in Mexico such as “America’s Next Top Model”, a large variety of oriental martial arts films or reality shows.

The most important are Channel 13 (UCTV) run by the Roman Catholic Church’s university, Channel 9 (Megavision) owned by Ricardo Claro, one of Chile´s wealthiest businessmen, Channel 11 (Chilevision) (also owned by another local tycoon and former presidential candidate Sebastian Piñera. Channel 4 (La Red) is linked to another of the country’s main “economic groups”, (the Matte family) and finally there is Channel 7 (Television Nacional), the state owned channel that in theory should be plural and give the opinion of all sectors of Chilean society left, right and center. It was surprising to see during how similar the coverage given by TVN of the recent release of prisoners made by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was to the other TV stations that clearly have a pro U.S and right wing opinion, and whose main enemy at present is Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela.

On Christmas day 2007, all the before mentioned stations gave extensive coverage of how FARC had failed to deliver Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez to a delegation of Venezuelan government officials, Red Cross volunteers and well known figures such as film director Oliver Stone. The original plan was that FARC would hand over the two women in a jungle area near the border between both countries, but the rebels issued a statement explaining that due to constant patrolling by the Colombian Army, the operation would have to be postponed until a later date. However Chilean news commentators rarely mentioned this statement and gave the “CNN” version: FARC had lied to Hugo Chavez and were never going to release any of the prisoners. On January 10,2008, TVN and all the other TV stations gave very brief coverage when Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez were finally released by FARC. President Hugo Chavez announced at approximately 3 p.m. local time that the two women were ready to board a helicopter that would take them from the border area to Caracas, the Venezuelan capital. At the 6 p.m. edition of its daily newscast, La Red gave a brief five minute segment to inform that the “hostages had been rescued” but did not mention how or by whom.

At the 9 p.m. edition of “24 horas”, TVN´s news program, a young reporter named Jose Antonio Neme (probably a relative of Antonio Neme, a well-known journalist at Channel 13 during General Pinochet´s 17 year dictatorship), spent nearly 20 minutes analyzing the situation in Venezuela. With a photo of President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia in the background, Neme hardly mentioned that it was in fact Hugo Chavez that had convinced FARC to release the two women. Neme declared that among the many prisoners held by FARC are some “American diplomats”. There are indeed three U.S citizens that FARC has recognized to be holding as prisoners: Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howes. The U.S government has described the three men as “civilian contractors”, but most probably their real occupation is that of “military advisers”, as they were known during the Reagan era.

The three men were in a Colombian Army helicopter that was shot down by FARC rebels in February 2003 as they flew over a jungle area. In an interview given in 2006, one of the leaders of FARC, Raul Reyes, declared that the three Americans “are spies that were trying to find out the locations of our bases, so it is very difficult that they will go free in the near future.”

Megavision has a Colombian news commentator called Libardo Buitrago that is obviously not sympathetic to Chavez or FARC, while at Chilevision (Channel 11), Monica Sanhueza described FARC as “definitely a terrorist organization”. FARC has been battling the Colombian army many years before Monica was even born, so how can she be so “definitely” sure that FARC is a terrorist organization? At Channel 13 (UCTV), the main international news commentator is Constanza Santa Maria, a graduate of Chile´s most right wing and posh university, and has continued voicing this channel’s traditional anti-left wing opinion, identical to that it had in the seventies, when it played a crucial role in destabilizing the government of Salvador Allende. In those days UCTV´s main commentator was a priest called Raul Hasbun, that is now making comments against FARC at “Megavision”. With regards to Constanza, she described how Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez had suffered “terrible hardships and constant torture” during their five years as prisoners of FARC. Maybe Constanza did not see the moment the two women were handed over to the Venezuelan authorities, both were in perfect condition. While a prisoner, Rojas even gave birth to a baby in a FARC base, unlike the many pregnant left wing militants in Argentina, Chile Uruguay and Paraguay, whose babies were snatched from them before being murdered by U.S trained soldiers and thrown into the sea from planes and helicopters. Most of these children were given in adoption to the same people that had murdered their mothers, and until today the relatives are searching for them.