This Latino Week

Nicaragua arson attacks mars ceasefire, Argentina moves closer to legalizing abortion, World Cup update

Nicaragua arson attacks mars ceasefire

At least six people died in an arson attack in Nicaragua this week, as political instability and violence raged on, despite the agreement of a ceasefire earlier this week. All those who died in the fire were members of the same family, and the attack was blamed on pro-governmet forces, who also allegedly attempted to intimidate anyone who tried to help. Unfortunately, violence was widespread throughout Nicaragua this weekend, with Managua the epicentre of violence, seeing not just the fire, but two separate issues where security forces were linked to murders of protestors; although government figures denied any role.

This comes after a few days that seemed to be incredibly productive. Talks resumed on Friday between government and opposition representatives, with the sudden and surprising announcement of an agreed ceasefire between the two sides. There was also an agreement that a "Truth Commission" would be set up, and that international investigators would be allowed inside the country to examine the violence and deaths that have rocked the country in recent months.

However, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has reaffirmed his commitment to remain in power until the 2021 elections, and has steadfastly refused to hold early elections. But the agreement of a ceasefire still represents a positve move forward, arguably the first major step towards peace since the start of the violence, which came after President Ortega announced cuts to social security and pensions in April. 

Argentina moves closer to legalizing abortion

In a major boost for advocates, the Lower House of Argentina has backed a bill making it legal to have an abortion in the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy, in a close vote after a debate that lasted over 22 hours.

The vote saw 129 members of the Chamber of Deputies vote in favour, with 125 voting against, and one other abstaining. Abortion is currently illegal in Argentina, except in cases of rape or when a woman's life is in danger. Activists have long campaigned for changes to the law, but opposition from conservative figures has often stopped it from becoming law. It looked for a long time as if this vote would also end in failure, with advocates of the move despondent by the end of the debate. However, a handful of members changed their mind at the last minute, which was enough to swing the vote. 

The bill will now go to the Senate, where it could move towards becoming enshrined in law. It is currently pencilled in for a vote in September. It will face an equally close vote in the Upper House, with many Senators publicly expressing concerns and opposition to abortion. President Mauricio Macri has also stated he is strongly against attempts to legalise abortion, but has also pledged not to veto or block the change if it was agreed by both Houses. 

World Cup update

The start of the 2018 World Cup has seen a mixed bag for Latin America's representatives, with all sides struggling against packed defences and deep-lying opponents. The first game involving a South American team saw Uruguay play Egypt, who were without talismanic forward Mohamed Salah. Uruguay were frustrated for long periods of the game, with star forwards Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani having surprisingly poor games, but an 89th-minute header from a free kick by defender Jose Gimenez was enough to secure a narrow 1-0 victory, which puts the Uruguayans on 3 points alongside hosts Russia, who beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the tournament opener. 

After this, Argentina were only able to draw 1-1 against World Cup newcomers Iceland, who are famous for their exploits at the 2016 Europeaan Championship, where they defeated England. Despite enjoying 78% of the ball, manager Jorge Sampaoli was left irritated by rigid defending and a host of last-gasp blocks. Captain Lionel Messi had 11 shots, his highest tally in a World Cup game, but he was unable to score and had a second-half penalty saved. Peru played immediately afterwards and became the first Latin American nation to lose at this tournament, losing 1-0 to Denmark despite having 17 shots at goal, and a first-half penalty, which was missed by Christian Cueva. Peru are now up against it in a group that also contains France and Australia, and now probably need to at least beat Australia to have any chance of qualifying out of the group.