This Latino Week

Colombian Music Shines at The LUKAS 2018, Haitian Prime Minister Resigns, Amnesty condemns blocking probe into missing Mexican students, Key El Chapo henchman extradited to United States

Colombian Music Shines at The LUKAS 2018

London’s plethora of Colombian music talent made its mark this year at the LUKAS by winning many of the big awards. The public voted for its first ever female vocalist of the year in Angelica Lopez, the talented Cartagena-born singer whose Papayera show is one of Europe’s most unique Colombian folk Acts. Former LUKAS winner the Dorance Lorza, returns to win another LUKAS for his latest album 'Tributo a Cali'. After winning his Musician of the Year award in 2015, the vibraphonist from Cali was invited back to his home town to become the first UK-based Colombian artist to play at the main stage in La Feria de Cali, the world biggest salsa music festival.

The Tropical DJ category was also dominated by London’s Colombian contingency, with Fernando KBson proving again to be the trailblazer in the world of salsa clubbing. Colombia’s national treasure Carlos Vives, beat all the top Latin artists now charting across the world to win International Artist of the Year, closely followed by fellow Colombian Shakira. The artists will be presented their awards at LUKAS Awards Ceremony on August the 9th at The Troxy. To make it a true Colombian celebration, The LUKAS has announced that the Lifetime Achievement Award winner Grupo Niche, celebrating almost 40 years as Colombia’s Greatest Salsa band, will play a full concert after the ceremony, where they’ll receive their award. More info and tickets here:

Haitian Prime Minister Resigns

Jack Guy Lafontant announced his resignation as Prime Minister of Haiti, after days of vocal and occasionally violent protests over a planned hike to fuel prices. In a speech to Congress, he announced that President Jovenel Moise had accepted his resignation, and the current fuel proposals have been shelved.

The issues began immediately after the announcement that fuel subsidies would be removed, as part of a planned deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF argued that freeing up money would allow for a better-balanced budget, and more money for areas such as healthcare and education. However, people were angered by prices of petrol rising by 38%, diesel by 47% and kerosene by 51%. Shops and businesses were attacked by protestors, with four people believed to have died over the past few days as a result of the protests. The government responded by suspending the reforms, and now Lafontant has announced his intention to step down, following sustained calls for a vote of no confidence.

The affair was also slightly surreal, since it could be argued that Kevin De Bruyne's winner against Brazil in the World Cup led to the departure of Lafontant. The Haitian government, aware of the unpopularity of the move (and also mindful of similar protests in 2015), elected to announce the move 10 minutes into the World Cup fixture. Haiti, who have not been to the World Cup since 1974 and are often considerd minnows in world football, have a passionate and long-standing support for Brazil, with nearly all Haitians adopting the side as their own. The government hoped that, by announcing the news at this time, a Brazilian victory would lead to widespread celebrations and bury the news about the fuel price rises. In the event, Brazil lost 2-1, and the government's decision futher inflamed an angry population. 

Amnesty condemns blocking probe into missing Mexican students

Amnesty International has called the decision by a Mexican court to not go ahead with an investigation into the disappearance of 43 students "a political decision". In June, a federal court decided an investigative commission for truth and justice could go ahead, but that decision was struck down, preventing an official inquiry into the disappearance.

"The government has filed more than a hundred different legal motions before the courts in an attempt to prevent compliance with this legal ruling. This is proof of a political decision to hide the truth about the fate of the 43 students," Amnesty Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas said in a statement, adding. "The Mexican government has gone out of its way to impede the creation of a special investigative commission to investigate the Ayotzinapa case, as ordered by a federal court, which ruled that this was the only way to salvage an investigation plagued with irregularities and evidence tampering,"

The 43 students from Iguala disappeared on 26 September 2014.

Key El Chapo henchman extradited to United States

Damaso Lopez, a senior member of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa cartel, has been extradited to the United States, where he is likely to face trial regarding a range of charges related to drug trafficking and cartel warfare. Lopez, previously one of Guzman's closest allies, was responsible for organising his escape from a Mexican jail in 2001, and is believed to have quickly rose through the ranks of the organisation by gaining the trust of the infamous leader. 

He has faced an interesting history prior to his arrest in May of last year. Following El Chapo's arrest in 2016, he started fighting Guzman's sons to try and gain control of the cartel, with the inevitable bloody results of such infighting. He is alleged to have been seeking an alliance with the rival Jalisco New Generation Cartel, who were involved in various cartel wars in the north of Mexico. He was arrested in Mexico City following a long operation by Mexican forces, and is considered a major kingpin in cartel warfare.

Lopez is nicknamed "The Graduate" because of his more cerebral background; he studied law and was previously a senior official in the Mexican prison system. His future remains unclear, but it is likely that he will receive leniency in exchange for his testimony about the Sinaola cartel and the incarcerated former leader Guzman.