Friday, February 9, 2007

Perhaps the shout out should have been for “Audax Italiano”

We’ll end this week’s posts with the following: sports blog Deadspin linked to an undated video (5-7 years ago, maybe) of a stage riot during a concert by Chilean rock group Machuca. As the concert drew to a close lead singer Giancarlo Canessa gave a shout out to soccer club Universidad de Chile which led to a mad stage rush by irate fans of rivals Colo Colo. Thankfully the concert ended peacefully and we know very well that most fans of “el Cacique” are not that crazy.

In other soccer news several international friendlies were played earlier this week with one of the most notable being Mexico’s loss to close rivals U.S. by a score of 2-0. Hugo Sanchez’ debut as Mexico’s coach was disappointed via second half goals by Jimmy Conrad and Landon Donovan. (On a personal note, as a fan of the “gringos” I am thrilled that they could beat Mexico though fans of “el Tri” should find consolation that their team played relatively well. Now let’s see if Mexican goalie Oswaldo Sanchez will be punished for this bit of unsportsmanlike conduct after the second goal).

Links- Enciclopedia del Rock Chileno, Deadspin, The Latin Americanist, USA TODAY, Bloomberg, International Herald Tribune, Guardian UK, Reuters South Africa, Miami Herald, YouTube

Image- (A Colo Colo striker enjoying a goal during last year’s Copa Sudamericana)

U.N. peacekeepers raid Haiti’s largest slum

Gun fights broke out when over 500 U.N. peacekeepers rushed a massive slum outside of Haiti’s capital earlier today. The raid in Cite Soleil may have caused at least one fatality though its aim was to curb violence by local gangs. According to a U.N. spokesman the raid in Cite Soleil was the biggest since troops were deployed there after the coup against Jean-Bertrand Aristede in 2004.

Links- Bloomberg, CNN, BBC News, Reuters AlertNet

Image- (2005 photo of a U.N. outpost in Cite Soleil)

Study: L. American gangs are stronger but not linked to U.S. gangs

A study conducted by the Washington Office on Latin America and Mexico’s Autonomous Technological Institute has shed some light on the topic of gang violence in the Americas. One of the report’s findings said that the thereat of Hispanic gangs in the Washington, D.C. area is being overblown by the media and police entities. “There's been some hypersensitivity that's contributed to and exaggerated understanding of gangs,” said one of the researchers of the report which alleges that local Hispanic gangs are not connected to their Latin American counterparts.

In addition, the report concluded that Central American gangs have become stronger and better organized due to heavy-handed police tactics. So-called “zero tolerance” tactics are not producing their desired result, which casts doubts on recent transnational efforts to quell gang violence.

Image- BBC News (Members of Salvadoran gang "Mara Salvatrucha")

Links- Washington Post, Washington Times, Reuters, Reuters AlertNet

News briefs on Cuba

* Yesterday, Venezuela’s ambassador to Cuba said that the health of aging ex-dictator Fidel Castro is “improving progressively” inasmuch as the Cuban government has kept Castro’s health secret.

* An AP/IPSOS poll released on Wednesday showed that most people in the U.S. would like to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba once Fidel Castro dies, though slightly over 1 in 4 respondents admitted to not knowing enough on Castro to form an opinion.

* A former schoolteacher from Havana was named by The Episcopal Church as its first female bishop in a developing country and she has vowed not to emulate her male predecessors.

*The Cuban government has warned against the illegal use of satellite dishes especially to pick up foreign television channels like U.S.-funded TV Marti.

* Cuba plans on deporting a dangerous drug baron to Colombia where he will most likely be extradited to the U.S.


Links- ABC News, Kansas City Star, Newsday, Reuters, Monsters & Critics

Nicaraguan man to be deported from Canada due to doubts over his homosexuality, while gay couples gain rights in Colombia

A Nicaraguan man claiming asylum in Canada due to his homosexuality had his case denied since he was allegedly deemed as not sufficiently gay. “I'm afraid to go back (to Nicaragua),” said Alvaro Orozco who may be deported next Tuesday unless a federal court can stop it.

Meanwhile, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled earlier this week that homosexual couples that have stayed together for at least 2 years have the same property rights as heterosexual couples. Though leading Colombian gay rights activist Marcela Sanchez called the ruling “a great step”, the country’s Catholic Church deemed the measure as “going against the family and matrimony.”

Links- BBC News, UK, CBC, CityNews

Image- W Radio (Gay rights supporter protesting in Colombia)

Daily headlines: February 09, 2007

* This makes lots of sense- the Jamaican government is trying to give a boost to its floundering sugar industry by using funds from an oil deal with Venezuela.

* Over 300 families fled from a shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires after their makeshift houses burned to the ground.

* In Davis Cup tennis, Chile is hoping to score an upset in Santiago over Russia this weekend.

* A kidnapped Colombian army captain who had been presumed to be dead was found chained to a tree yesterday.

* Peru’s government wants the U.S. to extradite ex-president Alvaro Fujimori’s younger brother back to Peru.

Links- Reuters AlertNet, Sportingo, Newsday, BusinessWeek, People’s Daily Online

Image- Jamaica Gleaner

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Follow-up: Rigoberta Menchu to run for president

According to China’s People’s Daily Online, Guatemalan indigenous leader and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchu told local media that she will run for president. Menchu will speak with leaders from the Encounter for Guatemala Party tomorrow though she is willing to consider proposals from any political party (as we mentioned last week).

Links- People’s Daily Online, The Latin Americanist

Image- Oregon State University

President Bush to visit Latin America

President George W. Bush will visit five Latin American nations next month- Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico. Bush’s trip to Mexico- announced yesterday by their government- will be his first since Felipe Calderon was inaugurated last year. According to White House spokesman Tony Snow, Bush will cover a myriad of topics during his sojourn south of the border such as the “war on drugs” and immigration.

Links- International Herald Tribune, Houston Chronicle, The Latin Americanist, MSNBC

Image- Washington Post (President Bush speaking during a 2005 visit to Brazil)

Daily briefs: February 08, 2007

Note: Apologies for the late posting today; we were delayed by a few hours due to Blogger updates.

* The petty bickering between Washington and Caracas continues as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice deemed Hugo Chavez’ (image) policies as “destroying” democracy.

* Costa Rica deported almost 3000 illegal immigrants last month including 5 U.S. citizens.

* The Bush administration will ask Congress to give $3.9 billion in anti-drug aid to Colombia.

* Strange bedfellows as Peruvian president Alan Garcia and former rival for president Ollanta Humala agree on several constitutional reforms.

Links- Voice of America, People’s Daily Online, Reuters AlertNet, Living in Peru


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

It’s “chelada” time- Miller to introduce Mexican-style beer

Miller Brewing Company will present a new type of beer into the southwestern U.S. modeled after a popular type of Mexican beer called “chelada”. The new beer is designed to be “a modern American take on a Mexican classic” according to a Miller spokesman whose company recently began importing popular South American beers (e.g. Colombia’s Aguila and Peru’s Cristal) into several U.S. cities. (Thanks Miller, but I would much rather stick with this and this as my choice of Latin American beers).

In a somewhat related note VivirLatino reported that Guatemalan chicken establishment Pollo Campero opened its first Asian locale in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Links-, FOX News, VivirLatino

Images- AndresV.,,

Argentina: controversy over possibly inaccurate inflation figures

Argentine President Nestor Kirchner defended a shakeup at the country’s statistics agency which may lead to drastic changes for Argentina’s inflation rates. “Analysts and economists that have criticized the data are being paid by other political interests” said Kirchner as his administration struggles to control a rise in inflation which has grown into the double digits.

Links- Houston Chronicle, Bloomberg


Bolivian miners angry at tax hike

Over 20,000 Bolivian miners marched into the capital of La Paz on Tuesday (image) to demonstrate against a proposed increase in mining taxes. Though the government has tried to assure miners that the planned tax hike would only affect large private firms, miners’ cooperatives still worry that they will be adversely affected.

Links- CBS News

Image- CBS News

Ecuadorian gov’t upset at cuts in U.S. counter narcotics funds

Ecuador’s government sternly criticized the Bush administration’s plan to decrease counter narcotics aid to Ecuador by 40% over the next 2 years. “There are principles of joint responsibility and fairness, and under those principles the US must respond to the efforts Ecuador has made,” said Ecuador’s Foreign Minister in reaction to a move that will most likely be seen as retaliation against left-wing populist leaders.

In the meantime, one of the Bush administration’s closest allies in the “war on drugs”- Colombian president Alvaro Uribe- traveled to New York yesterday in order to raise support for his own counter narcotics plan.

Update: Ecuador's government plans to file a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice against Colombia's aerial fumigation of crops along its border with Ecuador. (Links via Reuters AlertNet and The Latin Americanist)

Links- MSN Money, The Latin Americanist, Monsters & Critics

Image- BBC News

Daily headlines: February 07, 2007

* The former Jamaican estate of James Bond novelist Ian Fleming (image) will be converted into a luxury retreat for tourists.

* The government of the Dominican Republic is being sued by two investment firms from the U.S. and France over electricity revenues.

* Brazilian authorities suspended a senior police official accused of moonlighting as a member of a paramilitary group.

* Officials from the U.S. and four Central American countries agreed to unite in an effort to combat rising gang violence.

* Follow-up: ex-Brazilian beauty queen Taiza Thomsen contacted Brazilian police from London to assure them that she was not kidnapped as feared but instead is living there and did not wish to be bothered.

Links- International Herald Tribune, Reuters AlertNet, UPI, The Latin Americanist, FOX News,

Image- The Age

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Venezuela: Environmentalism priority in the “Bolivarian Revolution”

Hugo Chavez has recently taken up the charge in favor of environmental causes such as conservation of natural resources inasmuch as Venezuela is one of the top oil exporters to the U.S. “We want to give an example and be at the vanguard,” said Chavez last week, though taking such a position is a double-edged sword according to Nikolas Kozloff at

Links- San Jose Mercury News,

Image- Global Exchange

Ahh the Chileans! – Chile wine exports grew in ‘06

Business was very good for the Chilean wine industry in 2006 as exports jumped by almost 10% even though sales were somewhat hurt by a weak U.S. dollar. Yet that has not hampered plans of a possible expansion into the U.S. market where Chilean wines- famed for being inexpensive yet delicious- account for only 2%.

The title of this post was inspired by this infamous clip of a botched wine advert from the 1980s.

Links-, The Wine News, Reuters, YouTube

Image- Crooked Trails

Cubans and Guantanamo Bay- hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

Cubans that live around the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay are oblivious to what goes on there, according to Reuters. “Things are so quiet in Guantanamo that we didn't even realize the Americans had brought Talibans to the base,” said one Cuban over the controversial base which imprisons hundreds of terrorism suspects.

Links- Reuters, ABC News, The Latin Americanist,

Image- RTE

Daily headlines: February 06, 2007

* Could global warming endanger Brazilian coffee? One study claims that is possible.

* Yet another editorial making the all too common mistake of equating the Latin American left with the Chavez-Morales axis.

* 32 Colombian miners were killed due to an explosion this weekend.

* Here’s an interesting stat- exports from South Florida to Venezuela have tripled since 2003.

* Police in New York arrested a suspect in the 1999 assassination of an Ecuadorian presidential candidate.

Links- Staten Island Advance, Miami Herald, Reuters, Latin Business Chronicle, Reuters AlertNet

Image- The Hindu

Monday, February 5, 2007

Guatemalan political asylum seekers in danger of being deported

Immigration activists estimate that up to 250,000 Guatemalans who escaped their country’s civil war in the 1990s and sought asylum in the U.S. will be deported back to their homelands. The Guatemalans’ asylum cases should have been decided shortly after that country's civil war ended in 1996 but that was prevented by an enormous backlog of asylum cases at the offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In the meantime, asylum seekers that have established themselves in the U.S. for as long as 20 years are scared of possible reprisals if they are deported back to Guatemala.

Links- South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Wikipedia, Guardian UK

Image- BBC Mundo

Falkland Islands prepare for silver anniversary of its “invasion”

With the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War coming up next month, British security forces on the Falklands are getting ready for any actions taken by Argentines. “The Argentine government is very different from the one in 1982 but is pressing its sovereignty claim and has reduced co-operation,” said Falklands governor Alan Huckle on recent rhetoric from the Kirchner administration.

Links- Daily Mirror, The Australian, The Latin Americanist, Wikipedia

Image- TIME (1982 cover focusing on the Falklands War)

Colombia: controversy grows over paramilitary peace process

The Colombian public’s ire has grown with the government-led demobilization strategy of the country’s largest right-wing paramilitary group (image). The latest incident that has shaken the country was the assassination of an activist representing victims of paramilitary violence; a killing that has brought condemnation from human rights organizations. Though President Alvaro Uribe has vowed to crack down on newly-formed paramilitary groups, Colombia’s political and military elite are worried that they will be implicated by confessions former senior paramilitary members.

Links- Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, San Jose Mercury News, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Christian Science Monitor, Guardian UK

Image- Deutsche Welle

Daily headlines: February 05, 2007

* Rest in peace Pedro Knight (image, from 2003)- salsero and widower of Celia Cruz- who passed away on Saturday at the age of 85 years.

* President Nestor Kirchner and his wife are Argentina’s version of the Clintons? Oh really?

* Peruvian President Alan Garcia’s promises to cut “bureaucratic fat” are coming true as he called for the reduction of 82 social programs.

* Bolivia’s government introduced a strategy to promote tourism that will place special focus on indigenous communities.

* The Vatican suspended from an active duty a Paraguayan Roman Catholic bishop who is the leading candidate for the country’s presidency.

* An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale hit the Caribbean yesterday but without reports of injuries or damage.

Links- USA TODAY, Living in Peru, Catholic Online, The Irish Times, CNN, Dominican Today

Image- Washington Post