This Latino Week

Venezuela faces further U.S. sanctions, Mercedes Formula 1 team robbed at gunpoint in Brazil, Princess Nokia condemns London gentrification for Latino community, Peru qualifies for World Cup and international football update
Jim McKenna

Venezuela faces further U.S. sanctions

The embattled government of Nicolas Maduro faces another challenge to its rule this weak, with the United States imposing direct financial sanctions on 10 more of Maduro's closest allies, including his Chief of Staff and two Ministers. This comes on top of a further 30 officials who have already been sanctioned. The sanctions mean that their U.S. assests are immediately frozen, and they are also banned from travelling to the country or interacting with U.S.-based companies. This came on top of a publicized address by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who claimed that the U.S. would "not stand by" while Maduro "destroyed democratic order".

This move comes as a direct result of October's regional elections, which returned Maduro-backed candidates in striking numbers, but which has been widely alleged of electoral irregularities and fraud. These sanctions also follow an economic embargo placed upon Venezuela in August, which banned the trading of bonds issued by Maduro's government. There is now widespread pressure to step up the sanctions and look at imposing a ban on trade in oil, which would cripple the undiversified economy within Venezuela. However, a combination of the potential for severe humanitarian issues for ordinary citizens, on top of the U.S. demand for Venezuela's products, means that this option has not yet been implemented.

Mercedes Formula 1 team robbed at gunpoint in Brazil

The Brazilian Grand Prix, one of the annual sporting highlights in the nation and an important part of the culture for a F1-mad country, was unfortunately marred by the robbery of Mercedes officials in Sao Paulo, with reports suggesting that guns were fired and held to the heads of workers. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes' star driver and winner of this year's Drivers Championship, said he was "upset" and claimed that F1 needed "to do more" to keep people safe.

The news is a sad reminder of the insecurity and crime that still affects parts of Brazil, with similar actions occuring during previous Grand Prixs. Jenson Button was robbed in 2010, and other team members have reported robbery and other crimes over the past few years.

Princess Nokia condemns London gentrification for Latino community

The highly successful American rap artist Princess Nokia stopped a show this week to talk in-depth about the importance of Latino communities within London to fight against the threatened shutdown of spaces dominated by businesses and people who originate from Latin America, as part of her highly successful tour of Europe. Princess Nokia, birth name Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, described the areas as a "safe space" for vulnerable people, and claimed that the removal of such locations would massively harm such communities. She has become one of the leading lights for female hip-hop within America, with her unique musical style complimented by her outspoken beliefs on matters such as feminism, sexuality, spirituality, and now local gentrification. Frasqueri is originally of Afro-Puerto Rican descent, and has often spoke out in the past against injustices for Latino communities worldwide.

The case of gentrification and the Latin American communities within London has repeatedly been in the news lately, with most people focusing on the potential destruction of the market within Seven Sisters, which currently acts a valuable hub for social interaction for people of Latino origin, as well as providing vital assistance regarding immigration status and learning English as a second language.

A variety of groups are still campaigning to save the market, and you can support their mission by clicking on the following link:

Peru qualifies for World Cup and international football update

Peru became the 32nd and final team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup with a 2-0 aggregate victory over Oceanic side New Zealand in the last inter-continental play-off for the competition. Following a 0-0 draw in New Zealand, the Peruvians won 2-0 in Lima to launch widespread celebrations throughout the South American country, with goals from Jefferson Farfan and Christian Ramos. The victory comes after a gruelling qualification campaign for Peru, who confounded low expectations through the canny management of Argentinian-born Ricardo Gareca, and managed to edge out the highly-rated Chilean squad. The match was not without controversy however, with New Zealand complaining of underhand tactics, including fireworks set off outside their hotel and a deliberately slow bus that was guided through scores of Peruvian fans. However, the end result is unchanged and Peru will now be placed in pot 2 for the World Cup draw, alongside nations such as Spain and England.

Honduras were unable to match their achievement, with a 0-0 home draw being followed by a 3-1 defeat away to Australia, thanks to a surprise hat-trick from holding midfielder Mile Jedinak. Honduras attempted to play a defensive, counter-attacking game but were undone by a pair of penalty decisions in Australia's favour, and the Central American nation will not join their counterparts in Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico.

Argentina and Brazil continued their preparation with a series of lucrative international friendlies. Argentina were the latest guests invited to Russia, hosts of next year's event, as part of their extensive list of warm-up matches that they have held without the burden of qualification.Although dominant, with around 70% of possession over the course of the game, Argentina were only able to secure a narrow 1-0 victory, thanks to an 86th-minute winner from Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero. Brazil looked more convincing in a match in Japan, defeating their hosts 3-1 with the South American stars leading 3-0 after just 36 minutes. The matches reflected the pattern of qualification, with Brazil comfortably topping the South American group, but Argentina needing a Lionel Messi hat-trick against Ecuador in the last round of fixtures to progress.