Friday, September 22, 2006

Event: Venezuelan Film Festival @ NYU

This weekend New York University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies will host “100% Venezuela, a film festival of movies from Venezuela. 14 films will be shown from Thursday to Sunday as well as a Saturday morning symposium by 3 filmmakers on their experiences shooting in Venezuela. (The symposium will be in Spanish can be RSVPd by e-mailing

What…. “100% Venezuela” film festival

Where…King Juan Carlos Center, 53 Washington Square South, First Floor Auditorium, Greenwich Village, Manhattan

When…. Friday and Sunday from 2:00pm to 10:00pm, Saturday 11:00 am to 10:00pm

More info… and

Image - Blog for "100% Venezuela"

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Michelle Bachelet on “The Charlie Rose Show”

I just finished viewing a re-airing of the interview between Chilean president Michelle Bachelet and U.S. talk show host Charlie Rose and here are some the comments that were made:

On Latin America and Chavez’ speech to the U.N. General Assembly:

Bachelet emphasized the importance of Latin America in the world by noting the problems shared between Latin American countries and other regions of the world. Her role in the region is “how to resolve problems for the Latin American people.” She thought that the “words” in Chavez’ speech detracted from important topics like the need to eradicate poverty and inequality.

On democracy:

“I don’t think anybody could have imagined a women president for Chile” and this is an example of how Chile has developed into a democracy. Still, democracy in Chile “is a process that we have to deal with everyday… (with) the most important challenge…is to guarantee security” for all Chileans.

On Augusto Pinochet and Chile’s past:

Bachelet said that “we have learned from our history…when we unite for a common cause.” She dismissed the perceived political influence of ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet (“nobody is thinking of Pinochet today”). Yet she acknowledged that she has learned to channel whatever “rage and anger” from her father’s death at the hands of the Pinochet regime into doing whatever she can to insure that “never again” will Chile go through such a dark period.

On the U.S.:

Bachelet admitted that the bilateral free trade agreement with the U.S. is “positive” for Chile and feels that both counries are working “in the right direction.” Also, she noted that “there is a view of Latin America (in the U.S. media) that does not reflect the reality in Latin America” as a result of “Cold War language” that oversimplifies complex issues into mere black-and-white topics.

On globalization

Bachelet observed the fallacy of neoliberalism (via the Washington Consensus) when economic development takes precedent over social development. However, she did not condemn globalization as a “threat” in that it must be used as “benefit” via economic, social, and political development.

On terrorism:

“Terrorism is something we all have to fight…but we need to fight terrorism with legal means” such as denouncing torture. One of the “better remedies” to combat terrorism would be to have “a truly democratic state” that provides “opportunities and possibilities” for all its citizens.

Links- PBS, The Latin Americanist (blog), Wikipedia

Image- Der Spiegel Online (Germany)

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Ecuador: Roldós and Correa running neck-and-neck for president

León Roldós once comfortable lead in the race for Ecuador’s president has shrunk to a statistical tie with his closest rival, Rafael Correa. Ex-vice president Roldós (image) lost ground according to a poll released on Tuesday and is only 1% ahead of Correa, an economist, with Election Day coming up on October 15.

Update (24 September): What a difference a few days make- the latest poll numbers show Correa, a supposed "friend of firebrand Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez", leads Roldós by 8%!

Links-Voice of America, Angus Reid Consultants, Reuters

Image- Cronica (Argentina)

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UNGA: Uribe asks for international aid while Gonsalves blasts Europe

In yesterday’s session of the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA), Colombian president Alvaro Uribe defended his policies on domestic security and against drugs, and urged the global community to help him in these efforts. “I ask the United Nations for additional efforts to help us find the path to effectiveness,” said Uribe who also touched on a topic he placed on the back burner during his first term- the need to resolve social issues as a way to strengthen democracy.

Ralph Gonsalves (image), the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, also spoke yesterday and condemned Europe for not apologizing or issuing reparations to its former colonies in the Caribbean. “Historical wrongs not righted remain scars on the soul of the oppressor and oppressed alike,” said Gonsalves who also criticized several countries for emphasizing U.N. reform in lieu of helping impoverished people.

The representative from Nicaragua will be the lone speaker from the Americas today and can be followed via this link to the UNGA.

Links- U.N. News Centre, Prensa Latina (Cuba), United Nations

Image- U.N. News Centre

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Boeing wins border security contract

The U.S. government awarded Boeing with a $2.5 billion contract for security on both the northern and southern borders. As part of the three-year deal, Boeing will help improve and modify security equipment such as tracking sensors and communications equipment for Border Patrol agents.

Ironically, Boeing aircraft are used in the deportation of illegal immigrants; hence, the company will be involved in removing illegal immigrants that have already crossed the border as well as keeping migrants from entering illegally in the first place.

Links- Bloomberg, BBC News, Washington Post

Image- Washington Post (A Border Patrol officer stands outside a mobile surveillance unit).

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chilean president on PBS tonight

I just found out about this: Chilean president Michelle Bachelet will be interviewed on “The Charlie Rose Show” tonight. In New York City, the program airs at 11pm on channel 13; for other areas please check local listings.

Update (22 September) #1: If anybody viewed Bachelet's interview and have any quotes and/or comments about it please mention it in the comments to this post. In the meantime, this post from author Dave Cullen and this message board post from "The Charlie Rose Show" will have to suffice.

Update (22 September) #2: Fire up those TiVos and VCRs- if you are in the New York City area the interview will re-air today at 1:30pm on channel 13. Otherwise please check local listings.

Links- PBS

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Colombia: Families of kidnapped upset at government intervention in Afghanistan

The families of Colombians kidnapped by domestic guerillas are angry at the Uribe administration (article in Spanish) for the government's active role in the case of a Colombian man kidnapped in Afghanistan. “We hope the government has the same generosity for those kidnapped in Colombia” said the daughter of a kidnapped ex-legislator in response to the government’s original offer of paying the ransom directly to Afghani kidnappers.

In the meantime, a spokesman for Colombia’s second largest guerilla group suggested a prisoner amnesty as a proposal for talks with the government.

Image- BBC News

Links- International Herald Tribune, El Tiempo (Colombia), Reuters AlertNet

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Life sentence for “dirty war” defendant

A former Argentine police commissioner was sentenced to life imprisonment for murders, kidnappings, and torture during the “dirty war” period. Human rights activists and victims’’ families applauded the sentencing of Miguel Etchecolatz who helped run secret detention centers during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.

Link- Reuters

Image- mixeye (The Argentine military junta during the “dirty war”).

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UNGA: Chavez steals show by insulting Bush

8 Latin American leaders spoke at the U.N. General Assembly yesterday. Here is what some of them had to say.

Only 2 heads of state from Latin America and the Caribbean are slated to speak today: Colombia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Their speeches can be followed via this link.

Image- Time (Chavez pretends to pray for salvation at the U.N.)

Links- The Latin Americanist (blog), Irish Examiner, Newshounds (blog), U.S. State Department, U.N. News Centre, Prensa Latina (Cuba), United Nations, MercoPress (Uruguay)

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Morning briefs

* Blockades in the major Bolivian city of Santa Cruz were gradually being lifted as protestors demanded the passage of land reform acts that were being stalled in Congress.

* 56 people died in Chile during the five days of Independence Day celebrations earlier this week.

* Separate polls in Venezuela coincide on Chavez’ lead in his bid for reelection but differ on the margin of the lead.

* Mexico decides to back Guatemala in their attempt for a U.N. Security Council seat, while Chile remains undecided.

Image- BBC News (Road blockade against Bolivia’s government in 2003).

Links- International Herald Tribune, Herald Sun (Australia), Reuters, El Universal (Venezuela)

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mexican cardinal sued over abuse allegations

A U.S. - based sexual abuse survivors group filed a lawsuit against Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera yesterday. Rivera, who had once been a candidate to replace Pope John Paul II, allegedly helped cover up abuse by a reverend who may have molested as many as 60 people. In 2002, Cardinal Rivera accused the media of orchestrating a “campaign” against the U.S. Catholic Church.

Image- The Boston Globe

Links- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Boston Globe

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Election was rigged, says Zapatista leader

Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos said that the presidential election was stolen from left-wing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Though Marcos had been a staunch critic of Obrador, he remarked on Tuesday that Obrador’s lead was “clear and resounding” and that electoral fraud had not been “a thing of the past.”

Link- Reuters AlertNet

Image- AlterNet

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UNGA: Chavez calls Bush “the devil”

Apparently hosting Iran’s president in Caracas over the weekend was a mere appetizer to today’s main course at the U.N. as Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez lashed out against the U.S. and called George W. Bush “the devil.” Chavez’ insults were met with some giggling as well as a bit of applause. A few choice quotes from Chavez’ speech earlier today:
  • “The devil came here yesterday. He came here as if he were owner of the world.”
  • “In this very spot it still smells like sulfur.”
  • “The hegemonistic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very existence of the human species.”
  • “The U.N. system born after World War II collapsed. It is worthless.”

Though a White House spokesman said Chavez’ words were “not worthy of reaction” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton noted that “serious people can listen to what he had to say and…reject it.”

And thus the sad state of affairs between Bush and Chavez continues.

Links- BBC News, Reuters, International Herald Tribune, The Latin Americanist (blog)

Image- Asia Burning (blog)

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Latin American leaders speak at General Assembly meeting

While yesterday's speeches by George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) stole much of the spotlight several Latin American leaders spoke in front of the world body. Here is a brief synopsis of what some of them said:

  • Bolivian president Evo Morales (image) used a coca leaf as a prop during his speech which harshly criticized the “war on drugs” led by the U.S. “I invite the government of the United States to form a real alliance to combat drug trafficking and not just have excuses and pretexts to dominate us” said Morales who also spoke against neoliberal economic policies.
  • Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva emphasized “hunger” as the real threat to world security. He also criticized the U.S. military incursion into Iraq and touched on the need for the U.N. Security Council to be reformed.
  • Vicente Fox, president of Mexico, mentioned the perils of terrorism and emphasized the progress of democracy in Mexico (PDF document) without alluding to this year’s presidential debacle. Fox also urged countries to adopt international conventions on indigenous people and people with disabilities.
  • Costa Rican president Oscar Arias suggested an end to spending on arms since military spending fosters instability and also criticized the increase in military spending throughout Latin America. Arias also urged the need to uphold international law and trade liberalization by warning that without them “we condemn ourselves to walk on the edge of a cliff…descending like Sisyphus after every peak reached.”
  • Other Latin American leaders who spoke yesterday where the presidents of Honduras, Paraguay, and El Salvador (Spanish text, PDF document).

On today’s schedule, 8 Latin American leaders will address the UNGA floor. Live video and copies of their speeches can be found via the U.N.’s website on the 61st UNGA Session.

  • Morning session (starting at 10am): Panama, Chile, Venezuela, Cuba.
  • Afternoon session (starting at 3pm): Guatemala, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Ecuador.

Links- Reuters AlertNet, Prensa Latina, U.N. News Centre, BBC News, ABC News (U.S.)

Image- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Lula headed for easy, though somewhat tainted, reelection

Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva appears to be on the road for victory in the country’s presidential elections though it has not been without several obstacles. Last year, a major corruption scandal rocked Congress (see bottom of the article) which implicated the ruling Workers Party and led to some serious division within the Party. In July Lula had been accused of taking his opponents too lightly by skipping out on a televised presidential debate. And now with less then two weeks left until Election Day the Workers Party has been accused of mudslinging by paying for an anti-opposition dossier. These actions have placed Lula on the defensive and have cast some doubt over him avoiding a runoff (though a second round victory would be all but guaranteed).

Links- Christian Science Monitor, Reuters, MercoPress, The Scotsman, The Latin Americanist (blog)

Image- Washington Post

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Aussie controversy over immigrant family deportation

Over 2000 citizens of the Australian state of Tasmania have signed a petition urging the federal government to not deport a Salvadoran family. The Ceren family has lived for two years in Tasmania after fleeing “political persecution” in their native land. It is unknown how the federal government will react though it is interesting to note that Prime Minister John Howard was reelected to a third term in 2001 based on a campaign against asylum seekers.

Links- ABC News (Australia), Wikipedia

Image- (Australia)

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Follow-ups on Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Chile

Links – Guardian UK, People’s Daily Online, Hindustan Times, Bloomberg, Houston Chronicle

Image – Bitacora (Caricature of chilean president Michelle Bachelet)

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Event: Discussion with the OAS’ Secretary General

As part of the “Voices of Latin American Leaders” series at NYU, Mexican politician and NYU professor Jorge Castañeda will interview the José Miguel Insulza, the Secretary General for the Organization of American States. The pair will delve into Latin America’s role in the world and it promises to be a very insightful conversation.

Castañeda’s discussions tend to sell out pretty fast so RSVP as soon as you can if you’re interested in attending.

What…. “A Conversation with José Miguel Insulza”

When….Thursday September 21st from 5:00pm to 6:00pm

Where…Kimmel Center for University Life, Rosenthal Pavilion, 60 Washington Square South, Greenwich Village, Manhattan


Image - State Department (U.S.)

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Best friends forever? Ahmadinejad visited Chavez

The alliance between the presidents of Iran and Venezuela became stronger as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Venezuela. Officials from both countries signed several agreements designed to boost bilateral trade, develop oil fields, and help Venezuela’s attempt at a U.N. Security Council seat. Both Ahmadinejad and Chavez used the opportunity to spread anti-U.S. vitriol including Chavez supporting Iran’s plans to expand its nuclear capacities.

Links- NDTV (India), International Herald Tribune, Bloomberg

Image- Al Jazeera

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Morning briefs

* Newsweek discussed the new “proxy war” between Washington versus Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (image on a mural with Chè Guevara and Emiliano Zapata).

* The ruling party in Uruguay proposed legalizing all civil unions regardless of sexual preference.

* Chile hopes to be independent of natural gas from Argentina by 2008.

Links- ABC News (Australia), People’s Online Daily (China), Newsweek

Image – Flickr

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Event: “Telenovelas and the Media”

Apologies for the late timing of this, but tonight the New York Theatre Workshop will be hosting a panel discussion on issues relating to telenovelas such as its overwhelming popularity in Latin America and its transnationalization into other markets. The panel will include journalist Hanna Rosen who wrote this June 2006 article on telenovelas and Colombian actor Victor Mallarino.

What…. “Telenovelas and the Media” panel discussion

Where…New York Theatre Workshop, 79 East 4th street, (between 2nd and 3rd avenues) East Village, Manhattan

When….Tonight from 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Tickets…$10- General; $5- Students with I.D.

Image – (America Ferrara as “Ugly Betty”).

Links - New York Theatre Workshop,

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Politicians mixed towards U.S. plan for Cuban referendum

Last week the Bush administration proposed a referendum for Cuba where Cubans would decide if their island should adopt a democratic government. Politicians in the U.S. and Latin America are split on the idea, including some from the president's own political party.

Links – Seattle Press-Intelligencer, Miami Herald

Image – BBC

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Brazilian government reversed position on India’s nuclear plans

Brazil and South Africa backed India’s push towards expanding its civilian nuclear technology during a meeting of the heads of state from those countries. President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva hosted the summit last week in Brasilia where issues relating to international trade were also discussed.

Several months ago, Brazil quietly expanded its nuclear technology program while the rest of the world was preoccupied with Iran's nuclear plans.

Links- Times of India, Hindustan Times

Image - SABC News

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Week in review & weekly blog review

2 for the price of 1! First, we present news stories that occurred during the past week including some that we did not cover.

Monday September 11

Tuesday September 12

Wednesday September 13

Thursday September 14

  • A deaf mute girl made history by nearly winning the Ms. Venezuela beauty pageant.

Friday September 15

Saturday September 16

Sunday September 17

As an added bonus here are several blog posts from the past week.

Image – TVE

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