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Americas Now

AMERICAS NOW is a unique magazine show focusing on issues of interest to anyone who follows developments in South and Central America. Hosted by anchor Elaine Reyes in Washington, the series contains one in-depth investigative story in each episode by one of a group of experienced correspondents based in Latin America. They include veterans of the BBC, NPR, and CNN International. Hard hitting reporting is complemented by stories of people working for social change. The first person "Game Changer' segment provides uplifting profiles across the region. Among the programs in the series: Gerry Hadden investigates the plight of single mothers and domestic violence in Mexico. "Game Changer" in this episode comes from Colombia. Harris Whitbeck visits some of the world's oldest people living in Costa Rica. "Game Changer" goes to Mexico. Dan Collins explores the changing lives of an isolated tribe in the Amazon rain forests of Peru. "Game Changer" goes to rural Mexico. Gerry Hadden visits Panama, described by some as the happiest place in Latin America. But is the reputation deserved? "Game Changer" goes to Colombia. Harris Whitbeck investigates the gangs of Guatemala, a nation described by some as one of the most dangerous places on earth. He explores violence against children. "Game Changer" tells an uplifting story from Brazil.

Americas Now  
  • Monday, August 26
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Argentina - Argentine Peso Crisis (Harris Whitbeck) - A year ago the future looked bright for Argentina. President Mauricio Macri had helped the country dodge a recession and the stock market was booming. But this year, as deep reforms were being implemented into the economy, fiscal disaster struck. And the nation has plunged into an economic crisis. At the center of this financial storm is the beleaguered Argentine peso, and its relationship to the US dollar. It's caused apprehension for consumers and business owners and, as Harris Whitbeck reports, it's forced the government to make some drastic decisions. Argentina - Bookstore City (Joel Richards) - Bookstores across the globe have been closing down in recent years as a result of on-line purchases and the rise of eBooks. But one city that has remained relatively untouched by this cultural shift is Buenos Aires. Hundreds of bookstores still line the streets there. In fact, many consider Argentina's capital to be one of the literary capitals of Latin America. But times may be changing for this book lover's paradise and not precisely because of the Internet. Our correspondent Joel Richards has the story.
  • Monday, September 2
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Mexico - The other Migration (Mike Kirsch) - In the last 30 years more than a million Mexican scientists, researchers and intellectuals have left Mexico to find work in other countries. That's according to the Mexican government. The exodus has been referred to as an epic "brain drain." Another 160 thousand college graduate students have also left the country with very few of them planning to return. The government is now trying to lure them back. Correspondent Mike Kirsch reports. Mexico - Ecotourism Gem (Alasdair Baverstock) - Cabo Pulmo is a small fishing village in Mexico that almost disappeared. Too much fishing led to its demise and local fishermen could no longer make a living. So the community placed a ban on fishing altogether. And that decision transformed it into a magnet for eco-tourism. Correspondent Alasdair Baverstock explains from Mexico.
  • Thursday, September 5
    6:00 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    Peru- Amazon Contamination (Dan Collyns) - Our first story is from Peru's Northern Amazon rain forest. There generations of indigenous peoples have used knowledge passed down from their ancestors to watch their territory and the well-being of their community. But that vigilance changes when a new neighbor is a multi-national oil company. Now they're using state-of-the-art technology to protect their families and their land from pollution. Correspondent Dan Collyns takes us there. NY - Latinos On Stage (Gerry Hadden) - Despite decades of trying, Latinos have only made modest gains in the world of professional acting. The most progress has been on TV shows and in movies. But the Latino presence on stage lags behind. A new effort in New York City is turning things around. It's called the Sol Project. And its bringing new energy and enthusiasm to Latino stage actors and playwrights, off Broadway. Correspondent Gerry Hadden reports. Musical -Salt Cathedral Colombia - Our final piece take us an hour outside of Colombia's capital city to a heavenly wonder. It's a series of underground chambers located beneath a mountain of salt. It's a pillar of strength for locals and one of Bogota's most popular tourist attractions
  • Monday, September 9
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Brazil - Housing Crisis (Maria Valls) - Sao Paulo is Brazil's financial capital and one of the most densely populated metropolitan areas in Latin America. The city of 12 million suffers from vast economic inequality, which drives poor families to occupy and squat in empty abandoned buildings throughout the municipality. The issue drew international attention in 2018 when a 24-story building occupied by squatters collapsed. Correspondent Maria Valls reports from Sao Paulo. Witness - Forging Peace (Jose Velazquez) - During the 20th century, Ecuador and Peru fought over territory in the Amazon rain forest three different times. Both countries went to war in 1941 then confronted each other again in 1981 and 1995. But in 1998 then Ecuador´s President Jamil Mahuad and his Peruvian colleague Alberto Fujimori decided to change their history of dispute. In a record effort, they met 10 times in 10 weeks. And with the assistance of Argentina, Chile, Brazil and the US they finally signed a peace agreement. Both countries are now solid business partners. President Mahuad remembers how they succeeded when all other diplomatic efforts had failed.
  • Thursday, September 12
    6:00 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    Mexico - Smuggled Arms (Mike Kirsch) - The gun laws in Mexico are among the toughest in the world. There's only one gun store in the entire country which is run by the military. But every year 250-thousand firearms are being sold on the black market. As Correspondent Mike Kirsch reports from Mexico City they're being smuggled into the hands of criminal organizations by an unknown third-party from the United States. Belize - Endangered Reef (John Zarrella) - One of the world's great treasures lies just off the coast of the Central America the nation of Belize. Just below the surface, a magnificent coral reef spans the entire length of the country. It was declared a World Heritage Site more than twenty years ago. But today, the reef is under attack. Coastal development, oil exploration and rising water temperatures are taking their toll on this jewel of the Caribbean. Correspondent John Zarrella went to Belize to see what's being done to save the reef from ruin. Musical - Up In the Air (Reuters 8066681) - We end our show with a story that will take you up and away. Each November hot-air balloons rise into the Mexican sky in a dazzling display of color at the Leon International Balloon Festival. Liftoff for this high-flying fiesta begins at 7 in the morning so spectators arrive early. Then, a night show takes place later in the evening.
  • Monday, September 16
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Chile - Church Scandals (Joel Richards) - When Pope Francis visited Chile in 2017 he received a lukewarm reception. Once one of the most Catholic countries in Latin America, Chileans' perception of the church has been challenged by revelations of widespread sexual abuse scandals dating back decades. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of victims. And prosecutors say the cover-up reaches the highest level of the Chilean church. The Pope is now taking action against members of the clergy in Chile. And he even invited three abuse survivors to Rome to speak with them and take their advice. Americas Now correspondent Joel Richards brings us their story. Mexico - Water Forest (Harris Whitbeck) - Just outside of Mexico's capital...you'll find Bosque de Agua, or the Water Forest. The dimensions of both the forest and the city it "neighbors" -- make it a crucial battleground in the decades-long debate between development and environmental sustainability. Much is at stake here -- including the very future of one of the largest cities in the world. Harris Whitbeck reports from Mexico City.
  • Thursday, September 19
    6:00 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    Chile - Surviving the Andes (Joe) - On October 13th, 1972 a plane carrying a rugby team from Uruguay crashed in the Andes Mountains on its way to Chile. Initially, 33 people survived (but many perished in the days that followed). For the next two months those who remained endured below freezing temperatures and high altitude waiting for help. It never came. The story became famous because the passengers resorted to cannibalism to survive. On the 45th anniversary of their rescue, Americas Now presents an interview with passenger turned life-saving doctor Roberto Canessa. He and another survivor made the treacherous trek back to civilization, to get the assistance needed to save the lives of their 14 still-stranded companions. USA - Bodegas in Peril (Gerry Hadden) - In many places across America the corner store is a fixture in local life. It's a place for last minute, late-night shopping. A warm spot where you greet neighbors. And where staff know how many creams you like in your coffee. In Latino communities in New York and Los Angeles those stores are called bodegas. Their local flavor and charm has helped them compete against big supermarkets. But now, a small device may threaten them. It's also called Bodega, but it's not exactly a store. Correspondent Gerry Hadden explains from New York City. Musical - Magical Town - For the musical/end piece this week, we take you to Mompox, an historic town along Colombia's longest river. It's been described as being trapped in time. It takes six hours to drive there from the port-city of Cartagena. But for most tourists, the long ride is worth the wait.
  • Monday, September 23
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Colombia - Microfinances (Michelle Begue) - According to Colombia's National Statistics Department, 12.4 million people were living below the poverty line in Colombia in 2017. That translates into living on less than 88 dollars a month. For many of those residents dreams of having their own business seem impossible. But some industrious women, with some innovative ideas, have found support in the form of a financial service. And it's helping produce a long-term change in their lives. Correspondent Michelle Begue has the story from Bogota. Game Changer - Brisa de Angulo (Dan Collyns) - At the age of 15 our Game Changer was raped by a member of her extended family. When she finally found the courage to tell the police, she was ostracized, intimidated and had a traumatic experience in court. She decided to set up a charity which provides medical, social and legal services to young survivors and even helped create a national day against sexual abuse in her native Bolivia. Americas Now caught up with her on that day in her home town, city of Cochabamba. Our Game Changer is the founder of A Breeze of Hope ...Brisa de Angulo. Urban Voices - Guatemala - Ceci Juno (Harris Whitbeck) - An Ecuadorian singer and songwriter is wowing audiences in more way than one. She's delighting them with her interpretations of old classics and new compositions. She is also using her musical talent to help people with developmental issues.  Our Urban Voice is Music Therapist Ceci Juno.
  • Thursday, September 26
    6:00 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    Belize - Millennial Nation (John Zarrella) - When violence is a serious problem in a community, it often prevents young people from experiencing growth. It's a problem that is prevalent throughout the Caribbean, particularly in Belize. This nation that sits on the east coast of Central America only became independent thirty-six years ago. The vast majority of its citizens are under the age of thirty. In every sense Belize is a millennial nation struggling to find its footing. It is a place with two very opposite reputation, a must see tourism hotspot and a place where jobs are tough to find; and violent crime is rampant. We sent Correspondent John Zarrella to find out how the country is dealing with its internal issues and external fame. Guatemala - Guatemala Archaeology (Harris Whitbeck) - Modern technology is helping uncover an ancient city in the rainforest of Guatemala. In July 2017, archaeologists from the United States and Guatemala made a fascinating find deep in the Peten jungle. They unearthed a royal tomb. It's shedding new light on one of the most mysterious civilizations in the Americas. And the laser imagery being used to scan the jungle vegetation is providing a wealth of other information as well. Correspondent Harris Whitbeck has more from Guatemala. Musical - The Art of Filigree - Our musical/end piece this week is about a town in Colombia where craftsmen make jewelry using Arabian designs and techniques. It's an ancient art that's existed in the town of Mompox since the Spanish Conquest.
  • Monday, September 30
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Ecuador - Venezuela Exodus (Harris Whitbeck) - South America is experiencing its largest mass migration in recent history. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing the economic hardship and political instability in their country...arriving at the borders of neighboring countries each day. Peru, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil are all coping with intense pressure from the influx. Correspondent Harris Whitbeck reports from Ecuador, another country feeling the strain of the crisis -- and one that's already seen its share of mass migrations. Colombia - Crossing the Darien (Michelle Begue) - It's not just Venezuela witnessing mass migration these days. Tens of thousands of others across Latin America continue to risk their lives traveling north to the United States. Correspondent Michelle Begue takes us to a city in Colombia called Turbo where migrants from all over the world gather before embarking on a very dangerous journey to cross the Darien Gap.

 

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  • Monday, August 19
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Peru - Amazon Reforestation (Dan Collyns) - Peru's Amazon most bio-diverse ecosystem is in the Madre de Dios region. It's also one of the most under threat from deforestation. The primary culprits are illegal logging, gold mining and livestock farming. The past decade has been especially devastating for the region. Correspondent Dan Collyns visited the area to survey the damage. He also spoke to some scientists who are finding innovative ways to fight back. Mexico - Firework Town (Alasdair Baverstock) - Fireworks have been dazzling spectators at celebrations across the world for centuries. In Mexico, where pyrotechnics are extremely popular, there isn't a better way to mark a special occasion. But the industry that produces the explosives lives on a knife edge, as the lack of regulation and the quest for greater profits has left one community on the outskirts of Mexico City treading a fine line. Correspondent Alasdair Baverstock traveled to the town of Tultepec to tell us more.
  • Monday, August 12
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Colombia - Fragile X Syndrome (Michelle Begue) - For decades a small rural town in Colombia developed a reputation for having offbeat citizens who exhibited strange behavior. They became the focus of a scientific study that revealed they were actually victims of a gene mutation. It's called Fragile X. And it's a leading cause of physical, social and intellectual abnormalities. Correspondent Michelle Begue travelled to the town of Ricaurte to bring us this report. Game Changer - Lorena Nieva Teaching Dance to Disable (Anne Laurent) - In Mexico, a dance instructor is giving people with disabilities an opportunity to shine. Lorena Nieva is a ballerina and student of psychology. She combined her two passions to push them and rethink their limitations, by breaking with the strictness of ballet and focusing more on her students' needs. She's achieved great results both "in and out" of the studio. Lorena is this week's Game Changer. Urban Voices - NY - The Architect (Joe) - According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were more than 55 million Latinos living in the United States as of 2016. Back in 1980, that number was under 15 million. Our Urban Voice was born in Latin America and has lived in the U.S. for decades. He re-located to New York City to seek success in a profession the town is famous for - architecture. Today he's the head of a leading firm in the city and helping enhance the skyline with his sleek and often slender structures. Our Urban Voice is architect Ismael Leyva.
  • Monday, August 5
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    El Salvador -Border Separation (Mike Kirsch) - The heartbreaking story of Alexa Ramos of El Salvador made headlines around the world. The infant was taken from her mother's arms by US Border Patrol agents after the two crossed illegally into the United States. Her mother was deported. Alexa was sent to live with a foster family in the US state of Michigan. The story symbolizes the pain and anguish hundreds of children like her are facing in the United States. They're separated from parents who in some cases they may never see again. For the first time Alexa's mother Araceli Ramos is telling their story. Correspondent Mike Kirsch reports. Guatemala - Coffee Crisis (Harris Whitbeck) - Immigration from countries in Central America's northern triangle to the United States has occurred for decades. Political instability, violence, and economic hardship are just some of the many reasons behind the exodus. But a recent surge from Guatemala to the U.S. has been linked to an economic phenomenon happening globally, the price of the coffee in your cup. Correspondent Harris Whitbeck reports.
  • Monday, July 29
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Colombia - Competitiveness (Michelle Begue) - Colombia has been trying to alter its identity. For decades its reputation was tarnished by narco-trafficking and armed conflict. Now it's working to change its image to a Latin American nation with great potential for international investment. Recent global rankings like the World Bank's "Doing Business Report" and the Global Competitiveness Index, named Colombia one of the top-5 Latin American economies. But business owners and economists both say Colombia still has a lot of challenges ahead to remain competitive. Correspondent Michelle Begue reports. Ecuador - Organ Donation (Harris Whitbeck) - Ecuador is one of only two countries in Latin America that permits organ transplants to be performed by the public health system. The procedure is one of the most aggressive forms of medical treatment available. The country has adopted a law that makes everyone who lives in Ecuador an automatic organ donor unless they specify otherwise. Correspondent Harris Whitbeck reports from Guayaquil. Urban Voices - Pedro Aznar (Joel Richards) - Heavily influenced by British rock music, Argentina developed a new music scene in the 1960s. It became known as Rock Nacional and was popular not only in Argentina but across Latin America. Singing in Spanish, dozens of popular bands provided the soundtrack for turbulent decades in the region which are still heard on the radio today. One of the most influential and respected musicians of that generation is singer, bassist, composer and producer, Pedro Aznar. He is our Urban Voice.
  • Monday, July 22
    3:31 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Ecuador - Corruption Scandals (Dan Collyns) - Latin America has experienced a wave of corruption scandals over the past decade. It's resulted in continued backlash led by citizens and governments in several nations. While great strides have been made to strengthen institutions, establish accountability and root out fraud, allegations of graft continue to emerge. In Ecuador a series of corruption scandals have prompted a clampdown from the top down. As Correspondent Dan Collyns reports it's unclear how tangled the web of deception is. Argentina - Female Power (Joel Richards) - In 2018 Argentina saw a historic debate over abortion. The Senate blocked the bill that would loosen one of the region's strictest abortion laws and millions including women and young people took to the streets to protest. It was the latest chapter in a movement that put women's rights at the top of the public agenda. As Correspondent Joel Richards reports Argentina has started a new narrative about the role of women in society. Urban Voices - Bossa Nova (Lucrecia Franco) - Bossa Nova, one of Brazil's most famous musical genres, is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Its name, which translates into new fad has proven its longevity by continuing to seduce audiences with its dreamy, syncopated melodies. To discover the Brazilian beat's secrets we talked to some of its creators, singers, and historians of this beloved musical style. Our Urban Voice is the Bossa Nova.
  • Monday, July 15
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Honduras - Child Marriage Ban - According to The World Bank, 15 million girls marry before the age of 18 globally. It's a phenomenon that's common in many poor nations around the world. One of the countries with the highest rates of underage marriage has been Honduras. But in 2017 lawmakers passed a landmark ruling which raised the marital age from 16 to 18. The new law is a big adjustment for Honduras where marrying very young has always been part of the culture. Correspondent Harris Whitbeck takes a look at how difficult banning a practice can be when it's so steeped in tradition. A conversation with President of Panama Juan Carlos Varela - In June of 2017 Panama and China made history by establishing diplomatic relations. Fast forward a year and a lot has happened. President Varela made an official state visit to Beijing to sign a series of agreements. During this time, the two nations implemented more than 20 deals and a free trade agreement is also a part of the political sphere. "Americas Now" anchor Elaine Reyes had the opportunity to sit down with President Varela. They discussed Panama-China relations and Latin America's current political and economic situation. Urban Voices - Argentina Artisan Knife Maker (Joel Richards) - Damascus steel is made by an ancient technique of welding patterns onto swords and knives. It is a craft -- only a handful of artisans still use. One of them is a man from Argentina. He works alone in his workshop on the outskirts of Buenos Aires and sells his creations around the world. Our "Urban Voice" is knife master and bladesmith ... Guillermo Mendoza. Musical - Magic Tree - South America is home to a highly-coveted tree that used to be plentiful -- but almost became extinct from deforestation. It's being nurtured back to life on Colombia's Caribbean coast. Nicknamed "The Magic Tree"...its nutritious fruit has many uses. And its sap possesses medicinal qualities. We leave you with these images of the Guaimaro tree.
  • Monday, July 8
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Witness - Chasing Pablo Escobar ( CP) - In the late 1980's, two DEA agents volunteered to work on a top-secret mission. It ended up taking down the world's wealthiest criminal empire at the time, the Medellin Drug Cartel in Colombia and its leader Pablo Escobar. The story of Javier Pena and Steve Murphy inspired the hit "Netflix" drama "Narcos." Americas Now had the opportunity to sit down with the intrepid investigators to hear their incredible tale. Game Changer - German Mendez Underwater Mission (Lisa Hagen) - The beautiful coral reef with plants of all colors may soon be history in Cozumel, Mexico. Over-development, mass tourism and irresponsible diving practices have all led to the demise of the island's underwater landscape. But there's one man who has devoted himself to protecting the reef. He started the "Cozumel Coral Reef Restoration Program". Meet our Game Changer marine biologist German Mendez. Musical - Aging Pandas - Mexico is home to two of the oldest living pandas outside of China. While most pandas in captivity have a lifespan of 20 years, they have so far lived to be 27 and 30. Our musical/ending piece have images of these elderly pandas, Shaun Shaun and Xin Xin.
  • Monday, July 1
    3:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Belize - Millennial Nation (John Zarrella) - When violence is a serious problem in a community, it often prevents young people from experiencing growth. It's a problem that is prevalent throughout the Caribbean, particularly in Belize. This nation that sits on the east coast of Central America only became independent thirty-six years ago. The vast majority of its citizens are under the age of thirty. In every sense Belize is a millennial nation struggling to find its footing. It is a place with two very opposite reputation, a must see tourism hotspot and a place where jobs are tough to find; and violent crime is rampant. We sent Correspondent John Zarrella to find out how the country is dealing with its internal issues and external fame. Guatemala - Guatemala Archaeology (Harris Whitbeck) - Modern technology is helping uncover an ancient city in the rainforest of Guatemala. In July 2017, archaeologists from the United States and Guatemala made a fascinating find deep in the Peten jungle. They unearthed a royal tomb. It's shedding new light on one of the most mysterious civilizations in the Americas. And the laser imagery being used to scan the jungle vegetation is providing a wealth of other information as well. Correspondent Harris Whitbeck has more from Guatemala. Musical - The Art of Filigree - Our musical/end piece this week is about a town in Colombia where craftsmen make jewelry using Arabian designs and techniques. It's an ancient art that's existed in the town of Mompox since the Spanish Conquest.