The week at a glance ... Americas
Dire Straits song banned: Canada has banned radio stations from playing the 1985 Dire Straits hit “Money for Nothing” because the lyrics include the word “faggot.” The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, the agency that regulates private broadcasters, said it instituted the ban after receiving a complaint from a single listener. Radio listeners and DJs have reacted with outrage, and several stations protested by playing the song continuously for an hour. DJs said that in the song’s context, the word casts aspersion not on gay people but on the singer’s persona—a bigoted deliveryman jealous of rock stars. The regulator rejected that argument, saying that the word, “even if entirely or marginally accepted in earlier days, is no longer so.”
Baby Doc charged: Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was questioned on corruption and embezzlement charges two days after his surprise return this week from 25 years in exile. Duvalier, 59, was just 19 when he became Haiti’s ruler in 1971, upon the death of his father, François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. As many as 30,000 people were killed and many more tortured under his corrupt and brutal rule, which ended in a 1986 popular revolt. Duvalier’s mysterious return from exile in France comes amid ongoing political turmoil in Haiti. The Organization of American States last week issued a report disputing the results of the first round of Haiti’s presidential election last November, but a new election hasn’t been scheduled.
Political soap opera: The Venezuelan government has banned a private TV company from broadcasting a Colombian soap opera that it says mocks Venezuela and President Hugo Chávez. The show, Chepe Fortuna, features a protagonist named Colombia and her sister, Venezuela, who is portrayed as vulgar and criminal. In one episode, Venezuela loses her dog, Little Hugo, and a friend tells her that it’s for the best. “You will be free, Venezuela,” the friend says. “Hugo is messing up everything in the house and making you look bad.” Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission said the Colombian show was intended to “demoralize” Venezuelans. “After careful analysis, we found that these contents promoted political and racial intolerance, xenophobia, and incitement of crime,” the agency said. Chávez himself said only: “That soap is horrible.”
Teresópolis and Nova Friburgo, Brazil
Deadly mudslides: Mudslides dumped tons of rock and mud on shantytowns in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro last week, burying entire neighborhoods and killing at least 700 people. Thousands of people lost their homes in the towns of Nova Friburgo and Teresópolis. “It’s like a tsunami,” said Teresópolis resident Mauricio Berlim. “It’s like a big wave came and destroyed everyone and everything.” As the rains continued to deluge the region, rescuers struggled to dig survivors out. Several communities were cut off for nearly a week without water or power.