Friday, May 26, 2006

Polls help shape presidential races in Peru, Colombia, Mexico

The latest poll numbers out of Peru show ex-president Alan Garcia (image) with a 16% lead ahead of nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala. Humala comfortably won the first round last month, while Garcia edged past Lourdes Flores to claim second place. The run-off election will take place on Sunday June 4th.

Though most headlines appear to give Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe (image) an easy victory in his bid for reelection, left-wing candidate Carlos Gaviria has gained a lot of ground and a poll by Colombian newspaper El Tiempo (in Spanish) has Uribe leading with a slight majority. Pro-Uribe factions were able to garner nearly 75% of congressional seats in March’s legislative elections. The election takes place this Sunday.

In the run-up to Mexico’s presidential election, Felipe Calderon, (image) representing the governing party, has a 5% lead over ex-Mexican mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador. López Obrador held double-digit leads over Calderon and PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo as late as March, but a series of negative ads by Calderon against López Obrador has helped push him into the lead. The Mexican presidential election is scheduled for July 2nd.

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Politicos suggest using technology to help fight illegal immigration

First it was Colombian president Alvaro Uribe proposing that immigrants coming to the U.S. have microchips implanted in them. Now New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has called for the creation of an ID card for legal workers containing worker’s DNA or fingerprints.

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Brazilian government asks Google to shut down websites

Google agreed to demands by the Brazilian government to close community websites under Orkut. Brazilian officials feel that Orkut sites are illegal in that they promote child pornography and hate speech.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Anthony Bourdain’s take on Mexico and immigration

Chef and best-selling author Anthony Bourdain (image) traveled to the area around the U.S.-Mexico border during the latest installment of “No Reservations” last Monday night. Aside from enjoying drinks in a bar in Nuevo Laredo and savoring street food near Tijuana, Bourdain also talked with a Texan rancher opposed to building a wall along the border and dined with the family of a cook working illegally in the U.S. Bourdain discussed his views on immigration in one of his books, The Nasty Bits.

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On this day in Latin American history….

1925: Famed Mexican poet and feminist Rosario Castellanos (image) was born in Mexico City.

1982: 12 British men died when Argentine missiles sunk a British destroyer during the Falklands War.

2003: Nestor Kirchner defeated Carlos Menem in Argentina’s presidential elections.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mexican prez visiting U.S.

Speaking of visiting heads of state, Mexican president Vicente Fox (image) is in the midst of a four-day tour of three U.S. states. Fox will meet with state government and business leaders mainly in order to promote U.S.-Mexico trade though he did take a moment to denounce plans to erect a fence along the border.

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Bachelet outlines plan for social issues

In her first “State of the Nation” address Chilean president Michelle Bachelet announced that she would invest record profits from the copper industry to fund social programs. Nonetheless, Bachelet assured Congress that her administration would not deviate from her policy of strict fiscal control.

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French prez off to Latin America

Jacques Chirac, President of France, left today to start a four-day visit to Brazil and Chile. Trade will be one of the main topics of discussion as France wants to expand into Latin American markets.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

U.S. “prepared” to respond to hurricanes Latin America & Caribbean

In light of the ongoing controversy over the U.S. government’s handling of the effects of Hurricane Katrina, the Agency for International Development (USAID) claims that it is ready to handle hurricane-related emergencies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Heavy rains and tropical storms battered many areas of the Caribbean as well as several Central American countries. (Image shows USAID assistance in Guatemala after Hurricane Stan hit in 1998).

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Study: Caesareans increase health risks

A study conducted by the World Health Organization in Latin America has shown that caesarean births may be detrimental to mothers and newborn children. The study was done in over 100 hospitals in eight Latin American countries.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Central America headlines: Displeasure at immigration plan; migrants pretending to be Mexican

Diplomats from several Central American states publicly denounced President Bush’s plan to build a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Honduras appealed to the World Trade Organization in order to force the European Union to lower its banana tariffs.

A group of Costa Rican farmers won a lawsuit against chemical giant DuPont.

Illegal immigrants from Central America trying to cross the border are pretending to be Mexican so they may be deported there if they get captured.

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Week-in-Review: May 15 to May 21

Monday May 15: Carlos Menem vowed to run in the 2007 Argentinean presidential elections. Hugo Chavez dined with London’s mayor much to the chagrin of several Tory congressmen. President Bush unveiled his plan on immigration via a nationally televised speech.

Tuesday May 16:
National Geographic published the findings of a 1600-year old mummy found in Peru. In a televised address, Fidel Castro denied reports claiming that he was a multi-millionaire and claimed that he would “resign” if that were true. Bolivian president Evo Morales introduced a land reform program that would redistribute some publicly-owned land.

Wednesday May 17: Hundreds of Argentines protested against Uruguay’s plan to construct a paper mill near their border. Officials confirmed the arrest of one of the world’s leading drug traffickers as part of raids conducted throughout Latin America and the U.S. on Tuesday.

Thursday May 18: Chile’s Supreme Court released former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori on bail. Unemployment figures in the U.S. increased to its highest level in months partially due to Puerto Rico’s partial government shutdown.

Friday May 19: If you can read this you might be an American- the Senate voted to make English both the “official” and “common unifying” language of the United States. A Colombian Constitutional Court ruling endangered negotiations between paramilitary leaders and the government.

Saturday May 20: Ecuador’s government began implementing preventative measures against a possible financial boycott by the U.S.

Sunday May 21: Two holidays are commemorated: Afrocolombian Day celebrates the abolishment of slavery in Colombia and Naval Day in Chile remembers the 136 sailors who died during the Battle of Iquique.

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