Thursday, December 15, 2005

Debate: Who will triumph in Mexico's presidential elections?

As Mexicans at home (and now abroad!) prepare for next July's presidential elections, the contest has consolidated around three main candidates: Roberto Madrazo (PRI), Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (PRD), and Felipe Calderon (PAN). None of the candidates has more that 36% of the vote according to recent polls, so the outcome is far from certain. What are your predictions for the election, and who would you like to see as the next President of Mexico?

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Marcela Sanchez

Washington Post's Marcela Sanchez on the Immigrant Spirit of Giving, in English and Spanish.
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Juarez killings remain unsolved

Human rights organizations have blamed inept authorities for bungling many of the unsolved cases in Ciudad Juarez. (WAPO)

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hablas español, eh? Spanish-speaking people third-largest minority in Canada

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Oakland Ross reports in the Toronto Star on the growth of Hispanics in Canada and the benefits and problems they have in assimilating to Canadian life. Approximately 700,000 people of Hispanic background reside in Canada, mostly in Ontario, and they represent 20 different nationalities. (The Star)

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Venezuelan union leader convicted for treason

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Carlos Ortega, the head of the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for his role in leading a two-month strike in 2002 to try to topple President Hugo Chavez. An outspoken anti-Chavista, Ortega maintains his innocence and vows that “from prison…I'll keep fighting to preserve the freedom, democracy and unity of the people.” (ABC)

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Slight decrease in illegal immigration from Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Though illegal immigration from Dominican Republic into Puerto Rico has gone down by 10%, Dominicans still make up 70% of illegals that immigrate into Puerto Rico. (DominicanToday)

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Flores continues leading polls in Peru

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Lourdes Flores continues as the top contender in Peru’s presidential race according to a poll by the Universidad de Lima. Flores has 25.6% support and leads ex-president Alan Garcia by nearly 10%, and the poll also showed Flores would easily win against Garcia and other contenders if a run-off is needed. (AngusReid)

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GDP growth diminishes in Mexico

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Mexico’s GDP growth for this year will be of 3% according to their finance minister which is 1.5% less than 2004. Though 750,000 jobs were created this year, finance minster Francisco Gil Diaz noted that economic growth "isn't what we would have wanted, and could have been higher if reforms had been carried out." (CNN)

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Ecuador: EU banana tariff unfair

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Ecuador will demand a lowering of the European Union’s tariff on bananas during an IMF conference later this week. Ecuador joins a growing chorus of Latin American states that are upset at the EU for raising tariffs on bananas.

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Cuba second-highest jailer of reporters

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A journalism watchdog group identified Cuba as the second-highest country that jails reporters with 24 reporters in jail, and most of them imprisoned after a 2003 government crackdown on dissidents. (MetroNews)

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Colombian paramilitaries want Congressional seats

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Right-wing paramilitary groups demanded the Colombian government to grant them congressional seats in exchange for laying down arms. "I have been a politician all my life, and…there isn't any law against having ideas or beliefs,” said Ivan Roberto Duque, the political chief for the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. (AlertNet)

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Brazil to pay back multibillion dollar debt to IMF earlier than anticipated

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A surplus in foreign reserves has allowed the Brazilian government to pay back a $15.5 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund about two years ahead of schedule. (Bloomberg)

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Drought in Brazilian Amazon spreads to other countries

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A strong drought that had battered areas in the Brazilian Amazon in October and November, has now spread to areas in Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia. “We've never experienced drops in the water levels of rivers like those we have seen in 2005," admitted a meteorologist from Manaus, Brazil. (TimesofIndia)

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Cuba to give free eye care to Barbados with help from Venezuela

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The Minister of Health for Barbados announced that their government accepted an offer from Cuba to provide free eye care to Barbados wherein the Venezuelan government would transport without cost citizens of Barbados to Cuba where they will get free treatment. (BarbadosAdvocate)

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New science research center launched by Brazil and Argentina

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The Argentinean-Brazilian Nanotechnology Center was recently launched as a joint project to advance scientific research for both of those countries. (Nanotechnology is the scientific field of making diminutive forms of technology and may help in various areas such as more efficient water filtration systems).(SciDev)

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Chavez and his oily public relations

Newsweek profiles Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' recent efforts to snub the Bush administration by sending cheap oil and gas to low-income areas in the United States. (Newsweek)

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Mayan mural discovered in Guatemala

Archaelogists have discovered a Mayan mural dating from 150 BC below a pyramid in the Guatemalan jungle near San Bartolo. First discovered by accident in 2001, the mural is now the oldest known Mayan royal tomb. (WAPO)

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Republicans split further on immigration

The US Republican party has become divided over immigration issues, as business interests support loose restrictions on hiring undocumented workers and the administration seeks tougher penalties for violations of immigration law. (WAPO)

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TSA expanding duties for air marshals

The US Transportation Security Administration is broadening the areas air marshals will be covering, to include bus, train, and other modes of public transporation. Some question the wisdom of spreading the scarce human resources in the administration too thin, especially after an air marshal shot and killed an innocent man last week who claimed to have a bomb. (WAPO)

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Brazil: Trading away industrial development?

By Kevin P. Gallagher. Although official estimates of developing country benefits of the current world trade talks are strikingly small, Brazil’s agricultural sector stands to be a winner. Yet Brazil seems to be willing to swap just about anything for those gains, even its ability to foster industrial development. (IRC)

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Transitioning Venezuela

By Tom Barry. Although Venezuela has a history of democratic governance since 1958, the U.S. government has since 1998 made the country a major focus of its democratization strategy. According to the U.S. government, Venezuela is undergoing a political transition that is leading the country away from democracy and toward dictatorship. (IRC)

Black TV channel debuts in Brazil

TV da Gente, a new television channel owned and produced by Afro-Brazilians, debuted in Sao Paulo, founded by singer/businessman Jose de Paulo Neto and three Angolese investors. (Forbes) Mais informação aqui.

Brazil stays strong in trade negotiations

Brazil has refused to finalize a trade agreement with the European Union unless the Union is able to lessen its substancial agricultural subsidies for local producers. The Doha cycle of trade talks, scheduled to end next year, were supposed to have negotiated the opening up of world markets to agricultural products. (Forbes)

Kirchner's 'tilt to the left' unnerves the Bush administration

The Miami Herald reports on Argentine President Nestor Kirchner's 'apparent leftward tilt' in the last several weeks and the US reaction, prompting Kirchner to send a special envoy to the White House with an explanation. (Herald)

Christian activists protest at Guantanamo

Nearly two dozen Christian activists demonstrated this weekend outside the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to protest the detention of foreign terrorist suspects, the Baltimore Sun reports. (Sun)

Maine Governor supports trade with Cuba

Maine Governor John Baldacci recently became the third US governor this year to travel to Cuba to strengthen agricultural trade. The Governors of Nebraska and Louisiana each met with Cuban President Fidel Castro earlier in theyear. (Reuters)

Marcela Sanchez on sending cash back home

Washington Post's Marcela Sanchez discusses the problems with sending money to loved ones back home in English and Spanish. (WAPO)

US Navy helicopter crashes off Colombia

A U.S. Navy helicopter crashed in the Pacific Ocean off Colombia with three aboard Tuesday, and the Colombian navy joined a search for the missing crew members, U.S. and Colombian officials said. (WAPO)

Millions of Mexicans travel to pay their respects to the Virgin of Guadalupe

Contributed by Joe Burgan. Wearing long feather headdresses, Aztec-style dancers spun in circles to beating drums Monday as millions of worshippers converged on Mexico's Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe to honor Latin America's patron saint. (AP)

What’s at play at the WTO

By Laura Carlsen. In Hong Kong once again, the proposals on the table fail to benefit poor countries. In this context, it is necessary to change the rules of the game. If that is not possible, the logical reply is not to play a game where so few win and so many lose. That was the response in Seattle in 1999 and Cancun in 2003. It continues to be the only response in defense of the poor for Hong Kong in 2005. (IRC)

Report: Last 5 years highest immigration in history

Submitted by Joe Burgan. As the nation considers immigration proposals from Congress and the President, a Center for Immigration Studies analysis of new Census Bureau data shows that the immigrant population (legal and illegal) reached a new high in 2005. The data, which the Bureau has not yet analyzed, also show that 2000-2005 is the highest five-year period of new immigration (legal and illegal) in American history. Almost half of new arrivals are estimated to be illegal aliens. (CIS)


...for the messed up website! I have been trying to tinker with the HTML, something that I am clearly not qualified to do. Also, we have had more visitors than ever this week. Tell me how you guys found out about this site!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Kansas City student suspended for speaking Spanish

Contributed by Dennis Kim-Prieto. A Kansas City high-school student was suspended from school for 1 1/2 days for speaking with another student in Spanish. Though the official who made the decision will not comment, the school district has officially rescinded the punishment and has stated that speaking Spanish is not an offense that merits suspension. (WAPO)

Ex-cop convicted of Mexican Cardinal’s death

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A Mexican court sentenced a hitman that murdered a Roman Catholic cardinal in Guadalajara in 1993. The supposed motive of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo’s death was that the killers confused Ocampo’s car with that of a rival drug lord, though church figures allege that Ocampo was killed since he knew about possible links between drug dealers and government officials. (TheLedger)

Family sues for 1973 slaying

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The family of Leonardo Henrichsen, an Argentine cameraman slain in 1973, is suing the Chilean government after they identified the Chilean officer who led the army patrol that killed Henrichsen. "I don't seek vengeance…We want justice” said Henrichsen’s widow at a news conference. (MyrtleBeach)

U.S. asparagus growers displeased with U.S.-Peru free trade agreement

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Asparagus growers in Michigan, California, and Washington State are unhappy with a free trade agreement signed earlier this week between the U.S. and Peru since it removes obstacles formerly placed on Peruvian farmers. (WLNS)

IMF debt relief to benefit several Latin American countries

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Bolivia, Guyana, and Nicaragua are amongst several countries from around the globe that will be helped by an International Monetary Fund debt relief plan costing nearly $5 billion. (BBC)

Argentine ranchers may stop all sales of beef

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Argentine cattle ranchers are planning to halt all beef sales in protest of a government measure hiking taxes on exported beef. Already increasing domestic beef prices may keep going up if ranchers go through with their protest. (CattleNetwork)

Costa Rica demands US explanation of slain airline passenger

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The Costa Rican government has taken various steps to find out why US air marshals killed a man of Costa Rican background in Miami on Thursday. Measures have been done by Costa Rica’s president, legislature, and Foreign Ministry demanding the US explain the circumstances around the shooting. (Plenglish)

Ecuadorian woman certified as oldest person on earth

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Guinness World Records validated an Ecuadorian woman as the world’s oldest living person. Maria Esther Capovilla is 116-years-old and is “in very good health” according to a Guinness World Records official. (CNN)

Congressional committee okays anti-immigration bill

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The House of Representatives’ Judicial Committee approved a bill that would strongly clamp down on illegal immigration. The bill, sponsored by Republican James Sensenbrenner, would allow the military to help in patrolling the border, would make illegal immigration a federal offense, and would obligate employers to verify that all their workers have legal status. The bill will go up for vote in front of the entire House of Representatives next week. (FreeNewMexican)

Court bars Fujimori from running for public office

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A Peruvian electoral tribunal voted to prohibit jailed former president Alberto Fujimori from running for public office, including next year’s presidential election. The political alliance led by Fujimori may appeal the decision or replace Fujimori as their representative. (BBC)

World Cup Draw: Costa Rica to open against Germany; Argentina in “group of death”

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. The drawing to decide the groups from next summer’s soccer World Cup were held on Friday. Costa Rica faces the unenviable task of playing the inaugural match against the host country Germany, while Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago both were placed in Group B. Argentina heads the “group of death” as they must face the Netherlands, Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro, though the US was placed in a difficult group led by Italy. Defending champions Brazil drew into a slightly difficult group, and Mexico heads one of the tournament’s easiest groups. (TSN)

Haitian Supreme Court fired

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. For unknown reasons, Haiti’s interim government dismissed all Supreme Court justices on Friday. Some of the justices had been appointed by ex-president Jean Betrand Aristide. (Reuters)

Uruguay prez met with Chinese envoy to promote better relations

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Several officials from China’s government met with Uruguay’s president Tabare Vasquez met on Friday. The purpose of their meeting was to improve ties between China and Uruguay as well as relations between China and the Mercosur alliance. (XinhuaNet)

Jamaica pleased with WTO decision on generic drugs

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A recent decision by the World Trade Organization allowing underdeveloped countries to buy generic drugs has the Jamaican government hopeful that it can continue helping citizens infected by HIV. Over one thousand adults are part of a government program that buys generic antiretroviral drugs. (JamaicaGleaner)

Commentary: Guest worker program “unrealistic”

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. President Bush’s imitative to create a large guest worker program does “not reflect likely realities” according to an editorial in today’s Christian Science Monitor. The editorial adds that temporary-worker programs exacerbate illegal immigration and do not lead to significant long-term gains. (CSMonitor)

Chile: Bachelet wins, but must face Pinera in run-off

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Socialist Michele Bachelet leads Chile’s presidential election, though she did not receive enough votes to avoid a run-off next month against right-wing candidate Sebastian Pinera. Bachelet held about a 20 point lead ahead of Pinera, though she fell approximately 5% short of the majority vote needed to avoid a run-off. The conservative vote was almost split equally between millionaire Pinera and the former mayor of Santiago, Joaquin Lavin, yet conservative unity in the next few weeks may provide a very hard battle for Bachelet to win the run-off. (TheAge)

Defenders convicted in killing of nun

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. A Brazilian court found two men guilty of killing nun and environmentalist Dorothy Stang. They each received sentences of 17 and 27 years in jail. (Reuters)

Venezuela admitted to Mercosur

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Venezuela was allowed to be a formal member of the Mercosur trading bloc according to El Universal. Venezuela joins Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, and Uruguay as member states of Mercosur. (UPI)

Peru Posible” candidate quits

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Jeanette Enmanuel quit as presidential candidate for Peru’s ruling party less than a week she was named to the position. Enmanuel’s lack of political experience was heavily scrutinized after her nomination even by members of her own party.

Death penalty abolished in Mexico

-Contributed by Erwin Cifuentes. Mexico formally prohibited the death penalty last Friday with the approval of Mexico’s president, legislature, and most of the provinces. (JPost)