Friday, April 6, 2007

Bloggers of the world unite and take over

A street bench that is part of an exhibit along Mexico City’s Avenida de la Reforma (Image via Ricardo Carreon's Flickr account)

Note: This week we’re going to preempt our usual Friday night music post and resume what will probably be a weekly feature from now on at The Latin Americanist where we take a look at what’s being said in the blogosphere. Have a great Easter weekend!

* Compare and contrast: Gothamist points out how New York health officials are promoting male circumcisions in public hospitals, while VivirLatino mentions that Brazil’s Health Ministry is trying to prevent male circumcisions.

* Foreign Policy’s blog goes into more detail over a story we published about how the U.S. reached its limit for skilled worker visas in less than a day.

* Ricardo Carreon gives his view on the lunacy at Brazil’s airports a few days ago.

* Global Voices Online looks at what Chilean bloggers have to say on the Transantiago snafu and student protests this week.

* Guess who is running for U.S .president? Anti-immigrant legislator Tom Tancredo!

* Speaking of presidential candidates, Daily Kos has a detailed interview with Bill Richardson.

* Boz published a spot-on post Hugo Chavez’ change of heart over ethanol production.

* Several news links on Mexico including a different angle on the immigration debate via Latinista.

* With the 30th anniversary of the watershed miniseries “Roots” coming up, Marisa at Latina Lista suggests that it’s definitely time for a version on Latino culture to be made.

* Thankfully, Mark in Mexico is keeping us up to date over the still precarious situation in Oaxaca, Mexico.

* Could it be the beginning of the end of Venezuela’s high oil revenues? Publius Pundit explains.

* When you got to go, you got to go!

* Heck, now I feel guilty for depriving you of this Friday’s music post. As a sign of remorse (and with the hope of attending her NYC concert in Thursday) here is Julieta Venegas’ music video for “Limón y Sal”:

Links- Gothamist. VivirLatino, Foreign Policy – Passport, Wonkette, Bloggings by Boz, Latina Lista, Global Voices Online, Mark in Mexico, Latinista, Ricardo’s Blog, Publius Pundit, Daily Kos, Brazil Offside

WaPo: Bloggers react to Gingrich’s video mea culpa

Earlier today, Jose Antonio Vargas at the Washington Post reported on the reactions by bloggers and the public to Newt Gingrich’s video message on Spanish. As we mentioned yesterday, the former House Speaker created a YouTube video where he tried to clear up remarks made several days ago equating Spanish as a “ghetto” language.

In the article, Vargas had this to say about the response from blogs like ours:

“The remarks drew a barrage of comments from the Latino community, and were quickly repudiated on popular Web sites such as Latin Americanist, Latino Pundit and Vivir Latino-- U.S. Latino life in blog form. A headline on Vivir Latino read ‘Newt -- Not Ghetto Fabulous,’ with Maegan Ortiz, the site's New York-based editor, writing: ‘Don't you love how politicos use Spanish when it works for them and when it doesn't, they trash it?’

Added Ortiz, who…watched Gingrich's mea culpa Wednesday night: ‘It's just so ironic that he'd use a video spoken in his ghetto Spanish to say sorry about a nasty, racist remark directed at the Latino community. I mean this is a guy whose own official Web site has his own biography written in Spanish. How hypocritical is that?’”

Vargas’ report adds that reactions on YouTube have been mixed and range from agreement to repudiation to humor (e.g. “Newt makes Bush sound like an expert in Spanish.”)

Links- The Latin Americanist, YouTube, Washington Post

Image- CNN

Condi Rice pledges aid to Haiti

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice vowed over $200 million in economic aid to Haiti during a visit by Haitian Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis to Washington. Rice justified the continuing aid to Haiti by observing that that “the Haitian government is making good progress on behalf of its people.” Nevertheless, Rice advised Haiti’s government to make economic reform “a front burner issue” along with counter-narcotics efforts.

Links- International Herald Tribune, Monsters & Critics, Hardbeatnews

Image- Voice of America (Condoleezza Rice meeting with Haitian Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis)

Colombian rebels deny being in cocaine trade; Peru’s prez promises to combat cocaine

Leaders of Colombia’s second-largest guerilla group denied government claims implicating them in the cocaine trade. “We do not cultivate illicit crops, operate cocaine production laboratories or traffic in drugs. This is ELN policy” said a spokesman for the National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish) against comments made by Colombian peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo.

On a related note, Peruvian president Alan Garcia warned that the country will face a civil conflict akin to Colombia’s unless drug labs and clandestine airstrips are destroyed. Garcia seems to be reacting to the increasing danger being posed by Peruvian drug dealers, as the Christian Science Monitor observes.

Links- Reuters, Reuters AlertNet, BBC News, Christian Science Monitor

Image- BBC News (Peruvian coca grower)

Census: U.S. urban centers lose without immigration

Data from the Census Bureau suggest that large urban centers like Los Angeles and San Francisco benefit from the growth caused by immigration while native-born residents leave for other areas. The information looked at the past 6 years of population statistics and showed that without immigration the populations of many cities would have faced light to moderate losses:

Immigration growth has also been a boon to small communities around the country. In the case of Arkansas, for example, Hispanic immigrant growth is among the fastest in the country and has contributed over $6 million to the state’s budget. (This according to a study separate from the one by the Census Bureau).

The U.S. is not alone to profit from immigration growth; Canadian census figures released last month illustrated that 2/3 of the country’s population growth came from immigrants and Canada is on track to become 100% dependent on immigration for growth.

Links- MSNBC, WALB,, Miami Herald, The Morning News, Cnews, CBC, The Latin Americanist, Guardian UK

Image- People’s Daily Online (Demonstrators marching across the Brooklyn Bridge for immigrant rights in April 2006)

Daily headlines: April 06, 2007

* In remarks similar to those made by Colombian church officials last year, the Archdiocese of Mexico threatened to excommunicate any legislators voting in favor of a federal bill depenalizing abortion.

* Disagreements by Brazil over a proposed Bank of the South may sink the idea before it begins.

* Ecuador’s constitutional court upheld a previous court decision to fire almost 60 legislators against a planned constitutional referendum.

* Peru’s government is getting increasingly upset over a border dispute with Chile.

Links- The Latin Americanist, USA TODAY, Prensa Latina, Voice of America, Bloomberg

Image- (Pro-abortion demonstrator in Mexico City)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

L. American states key to U.N. disabled treaty

Numerous Latin American states were among the eighty countries to sign onto the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For instance, Chile‘s government sent their Planning Minister to the treaty signing ceremony and Jamaica became the first country to ratify the treaty. In addition, disabled right activists from around the world were vital in the creation of the convention along with the governments of Ecuador and Mexico.The convention encompasses many issues relating to persons with disabilities including:

“Specifically prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all areas of life… requires that public spaces and buildings be accessible to persons with disabilities, and… recognizes that a change of attitude is vital if disabled people are to achieve equality”.

As of April 5th, a few countries in the Americas have yet to sign the treaty including Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, and the U.S.

Links- People's Daily Online, Today’s Zaman,, Xinhua, U.N. Enable

Follow-up: Gingrich tries to backtrack from "ghetto" comments

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich posted a video on YouTube relating to remarks made a few days ago equating Spanish with the “language of living in a ghetto.” Gingrich speaks in Spanish in the video and tries to clarify that Spanish is “a beautiful language” and that he has been taking lessons in Spanish “for a while now.” Yet he does not back down from his political rhetoric against bilingual education, advocates English as a “single common language,” and refrains from directly apologizing for his original insult against Spanish:

So let’s see if I get this straight- Spanish is a “beautiful language” yet it’s also equated with abject poverty? But it’s “beautiful” only if famous well-to-do politicians like Newt Gingrich speak it? Yet if it’s “ghetto” in the first place then why try to learn it? I am confused.

However, I’m not one to keep a grudge, so I would like to provide Newt with the following suggestion if he is reading this blog post: why not go teach English at a local school in a lower-class community? If you truly mean what you said in your video communiqué then do something constructive or else cynics (like myself) will interpret your words as empty rhetoric. As the cliché goes, put your money where your mouth is.

(Hat tip: Wonkette).

Links- Huffington Post, Wonkette, YouTube, The Latin Americanist

Latin America’s economy still a mixed bag

-Contributed by Alison Bowen

Everyone has something to say about the economic state of Latin America. A few examples:

Latin America’s economic growth rose overall by 4.8 percent this year, according to the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Reuters reports that more retailers are interested in the region after a boom in consumer spending. Chilean retailers lead the wave of expansion, and although they want to keep foreign retailers out, British and French businesses are looking for ways to get in the Latin American retail market.

Meanwhile, the Inter-American Development Bank cancelled $4.4 billion worth of debt March 29, according to the Free Market News Network. Bolivia, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua will benefit from the reprieve, led by Honduras’ $1.4 billion and Bolivia’s $1 billion owned. Nicaragua owed $984 million, followed by $525 million from Haiti and $467 from Guyana. The cancellation, along with providing funding to Ecuador, Paraguay and El Salvador, is part of IDB’s plan to cut poverty levels to 50 percent by 2015.

Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge had some recommendations for Latin America’s monetary woes, The Globe and Mail reported March 29.

After explaining that the International Monetary Fund is not the right organization to fix Latin America’s fiscal problems, Dodge recommended creating an alternative organization that could work with the various nations to promote free trade and liberal markets.

Speaking to the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas in New York, he pinpointed Argentina as the most fiscally irresponsible nation in the region.

Argentina has consistently failed to live up to its potential, and bad policy choices are largely to blame,” Dodge said, citing high inflation as a major problem.

Dodge said Chile, Mexico and Brazil have all improved on controlling inflation.

Canada helped Argentina with its monetary problems in 2001, and Dodge is a frequent visitor to Latin America with a daughter in Brazil, according to the article.

Links- The Globe and Mail, Free Market News Network, Reuters

Image- PC World

Jamaica: PM adds cricket to politics

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller is the latest Caribbean politician to go “cricket-crazy” and is trying to take advantage of the hoopla surrounding the Cricket World Cup. The tournament is being hosted in the Caribbean and Simpson-Miller’s political speeches are scattered with numerous references to cricket:
  • We have many wickets to take
  • I have the strength to swing the bat
  • Your captain is ready

So far the tournament has had its share of exciting moments such as Ireland’s upset of Pakistan on St. Patrick’s Day. Unfortunately, this tournament may be most remembered for its setbacks including the possible murder of Pakistan team coach Bob Wolmer and the lack of strong attendance due to overpriced seats. Not to mention the disappointing performance by the West Indies (i.e. Caribbean) squad who have gone 0-3 in the Super Eights stage.

Image- BBC Sport (Sri Lankan cricket team celebrating their latest victory over England)

Links- BBC Sport, International Herald Tribune, Guardian UK, Jamaica Observer, Scotsman

Demand for high-skilled U.S. visas met in a single day

Dear readers, I present to you the zillionth reason why immigration reform should be more than just a mere political “hot potato”:

“The U.S. immigration authorities on Wednesday were to start rejecting applications from skilled foreign workers seeking visas to work in America during the 2008 fiscal year (since) the country had reached its limit for 2008 H-1B visa petitions in a single day and would not accept any more.”

Is it me, or shouldn’t we all be peeved about this; the massive backlog at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Agency and the inability to reward sufficient skilled laborers, for instance.

When will the politicos get together and work out meaningful immigration reform? I mean, what the hell are they waiting for? Oh, wait! How silly of me. I forgot that 2007 is not an “election year” and that politicians won’t touch the subject with a ten-foot pole! We'll have to wait until next year when the topic's inserted into some meaningless rhetoric by the presidential candidates before being tossed aside again after Election Day in November. Why worry?!

Before I get too angered about this, I’ll defer the last word to William Morin- director of government affairs for the world's biggest supplier of equipment for making microchips:

“These are people who are going to develop the next big thing, and you're driving people offshore. It boggles the mind that we would come to this point.”

Links- International Herald Tribune, Reuters

Image- CBS News

Daily headlines: April 05, 2007

* Did you know that nearly 30% major league baseball players were born outside of the U.S. with the vast majority of them coming from Latin America and the Caribbean?

* Brazil’s airports could face a worse crisis during Easter weekend than last weekend when air traffic controllers went on strike.

* Recovery of over 60 workers killed in a Mexican mine blast in February 2006 was stopped on Wednesday due to “many risks”.

* The world's largest iron-ore producer promised to stop selling to companies that employ slave labor or illegally cut wood in the Amazon.

Links-, BBC News, The Latin Americanist, CNN, Bloomberg (New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Chile: students fight with police (again)

In a near repeat of incidents last week, over ninety protestors were arrested in Chile’s capital city after demonstrations over the Transantiago public transit system got ugly. According to the local press, a few dozen people fought with police today after splitting away from a march (image) where more than 2000 students walked to the nation’s Department of Transportation.

Support for Chilean president Michelle Bachelet continues to gradually decrease despite promises to fix problems in the recently inaugurated Transantiago network. Justin Vogler in Upside Down World provides a great analysis of how Chile has changed under Bachelet’s rule.

Links- International Herald Tribune, La Tercera, Upside Down World, The Latin Americanist, BBC News, Angus Reid Consultants

Image- La Tercera

Poll: Brazilians want Lula to play nice with Chavez & Bush

An opinion poll released yesterday showed that a majority of Brazilians want president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to have cordial relations with Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush. However, the poll conducted by Instituto Datafolha showed that nearly 1 in 5 respondents support Lula keeping a distance relationship from the leaders of Venezuela and the U.S.

Since being elected as Brazil’s president in October 2002, Lula has conducted close relations with both Chavez and Bush. It’s no wonder that Lula is one of the most popular leaders when compared to others.

Links- Monsters & Critics, BBC News, The Latin Americanist

Image- The Epoch Times

Fidel speaks out again on biofuels as well as Brits captured in Iran

Cuban newspaper Granma published another article today by former dictator Fidel Castro where he reiterated criticisms of U.S. biofuel usage. Under the headline “The Internationalization of Genocide” Fidel asks if the desire by industrialized countries to use corn and other foodstuffs as biofuels comes at a severe cost to underdeveloped nations. Fidel also accused British navy personnel currently being held in Iran of invading Iranian maritime territory and compared it to “provocations" by Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue.

Much like last week’s article, Granma has only published it in Spanish; hence, here are a few key translated quotes:
  • Nobody in Camp David [during the meeting of the U.S. and Brazil presidents] has answered the fundamental question: where and who will administer…corn and other cereals that the U.S., Europe, and other rich countries want to produce…as ethanol for large corporations?
  • The colossal waste of cereal to produce fuel…will only serve to save 15% of the fuel used by automobiles in rich countries. President Bush…declared his intention to apply this formula on a global scale which means nothing else than an internationalization of genocide.
  • The capture of British soldiers in Iranian waters is similar to the provocations by the so-called “Brothers to the Rescue” when they ignored President Clinton’s orders to incur into Cuban waters. (Editor’s note: Castro is referring to this 1996 incident where the Cuban air force shot down two civilian planes).
  • [In response to comments made by the Bush administration on hunger in Cuba] I am obligated to remind them that infant mortality in Cuba is less than in the U.S. I can assure that there is not a single Cuban without free health care. Everyone has an education and an offer for a job despite nearly half a century of economic embargo and the intent of the U.S. government to starve and economically choke the Cuban people.
  • The U.S. completely ignores world opinion against all forms of nuclear weapons.
  • The worse is yet to come; a new war to assure the production of gas and oil which places the human species on the border of a holocaust.

Links- CNN, BBC News, Granma, The Latin Americanist, Miami Herald

Image- CNN

Mexico City public servants trade in cars for bikes

Mexico City is notorious for the high amounts of air pollution caused by massive automobile usage and lax environmental laws on factories. Now the metropolis’ government is trying to raise awareness of the problem by passing a new rule for public employees obligating them to commute without private automobiles once a month. Mayor Marcelo Ebrard wants employees to commute with bicycles or public transportation and he put his idea into practice by cycling to work on Monday (image).

Ebard is not the only mayor that has encouraged alternatives to private auto use; the Colombian capital of Bogota has instituted a car-free day at least once a year since 2000.

Links- Energy Information Administration, BBC News, Common Dreams, El Universal

Image- Yahoo! News

Daily headlines: April 04, 2007

* Spain’s foreign minister is currently on a diplomatic tour of Cuba (image) in order to establish closer ties between the island and the European Union.

* Great headline versus crappy headline from a slow news day.

* Let’s see how Colombian president Alvaro Uribe is going to spin this bit of information: Colombia leads the world in land mine victims.

* The British head of a massive drug network that extended into Mexico, Venezuela, and the Caribbean was sentenced to 30 years of prison.

Links- Upside Down World, CNN, International Herald Tribune, Guardian UK, China Post


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Titulares de las Americas: Argentina & las Malvinas

Today we will look at a few headlines in newspapers from Argentina discussing the silver anniversary of the Falklands War.
  • Controversy is surrounding president Nestor Kirchner’s absence from an official ceremony in Ushuaia. The local organizer of the ceremony confirmed that Kirchner’s absence was made at the last moment inasmuch as the Argentine government has yet to produce an official statement. “It would have been the ideal occasion for him to be with us…and prove the state’s view (on the Falklands) to an international audience,” said one Argentina army veteran.
  • Despite Kirchner’s nonappearance in Ushuaia, Vice President Daniel Scioli did show up and spoke about the legitimacy of Argentina’s claims to the Falklands. Scioli proclaimed that:

“We will never give up our legitimate rights (to the islands). Neither war not the passage of time will change the conditions. The Malvinas were and always will belong to Argentina. We shall recover what belongs to us.”

  • Ceremonies took place all over Argentina to commemorate the hundreds of soldiers killed during the Falklands War. In Comodoro Rivadivia governor Mario Das Neves affirmed that “our children and grandchildren will live another part of history; one where we will regain the islands…with dialogue and diplomacy.” Meanwhile in Bariloche a small military procession took place followed by the placing of flowers at a war hero’s memorial.
  • Perhaps the most touching ceremony took place on the Falklands themselves where the British government granted permission for Argentine families of dead soldiers to visit and mourn at a cemetery for them in the capital town of Darwin. Several Argentine war veterans who made the visit to Darwin observed that the 1982 invasion was made “without desire to provoke or act with aggression.”

Links- Clarin, Diario El Chubut, El Cordillerano, El Dia, Jornada, La Nacion

Image- Diario El Chubut (Argentine war veterans honoring their fallen comrades by raising a national flag inscribed with the words “we will return”)

RIP: Maria Julia Hernandez

Salvadoran human rights activist Maria Julia Hernandez (image) passed away last Friday due to a heart attack. The 68-year-old Hernandez was director of Tutela Legal- a human rights group sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church- that worked to denounce abuses during El Salvador’s civil war between 1980 and 1992. Hernandez also worked closely with the late Archbishop Oscar Romero before his cold hearted assassination in 1980.

Links- Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, The Latin Americanist, Wikipedia

Image- University of California Berkeley

Ecuador: Econ plan to undo “failure” of the dollar

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa presented major economic policy changes which he claimed are in response to the “failure” of pegging the country’s currency to the U.S. dollar. “Since we don't have monetary policy, we have to rely on a combination of other measures” said Correa yesterday when he announced that the government will boost spending on oil production and make social investment a top priority.

Links- Bloomberg, Prensa Latina

Image- AOL

Doubts raised over relationship between Chiquita and Colombian paramilitaries

According to an article in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle, the relationship between the Colombian division of Chiquita Brands International and right-wing paramilitaries hired for security may have been more cordial than at first thought. Colombian Attorney General Mario Iguaran said that the link was more of a “bloody pacification” where Chiquita willingly and gladly paid paramilitary leaders to provide security against leftwing guerilla groups.

Often the security provided was brutal and banana workers continue to live in fear:

“Even though some 31,000 paramilitaries have disarmed under a government peace process, banana workers in Uraba speak about them in hushed tones because small bands of the gunmen continue to patrol the area. One field hand who asked not to be otherwise identified cut short an interview with a reporter at a restaurant in Apartado, the main town in the region, when a stocky man approached the table and looked him in the eye.

‘I saw him kill three people,’ the worker whispered before slipping out of the restaurant”.

The Houston Chronicle article comes days after a former paramilitary chief admitted to receiving nearly $2 million in payments from Chiquita and predicting that the Chiquita case is “news today and will be forgotten tomorrow.”

Links- Houston Chronicle, Taipei Times, The Latin Americanist

Image- CNN Money

Survey reveals more moderate views on Cuba by Cuban Americans

A study conducted by Florida International University (FIU) showed that a diminishing number of Cuban Americans support the embargo against Cuba and other sanctions place by the bush administration. The 2007 FIU Cuba Poll showed that a majority of respondents back the U.S. embargo on Cuba but support for it has reached its lowest point since 1991. According to one of the poll’s authors:

“Cuban-Americans are ‘willing to try to precipitate that change by instituting new policies that they think will break the isolation,’ said Guillermo Grenier, a sociology professor at FIU who wrote the poll. ‘To isolate a country and then expect it to change according to your norms is counterintuitive and I think the people in the community reflect that view.’”

Not everyone in the Cuban exile community is convinced of the poll's findings as Ana Carbonell- the chief of staff of Miami Representative Lincoln Díaz-Balart- shows:

“This is another one of those annual `push polls' done by those who want to unilaterally ease sanctions to benefit the Castro regime, with a business interest.”

Here are some of the key findings of the 2007 FIU Cuba Poll:
  • Only 17.7% said that they feel that the Bush administration has done a better job dealing with Cuba.
  • Approximately 1 in 4 of those surveyed feel that the embargo is working either “very well” or “well”, though 57.5% support keeping the embargo.
  • 49.1% of responders “strongly agree” with having U.S. companies sell food to Cuba, and 55.2% support unrestricted travel between the U.S. and Cuba. Yet over half of responders admitted that the restrictions have had no effect on them or their family.
  • Support for a U.S.-led military overthrow is nearly split 50-50, as well as preference between a “sudden and violent” transition of power versus one that is “gradual and peaceful.”
  • 54.1% admitted that they would not return to live in Cuba if it were to become a democracy.

Links- Reuters, Kansas City Star, Miami Herald, 2007 FIU Cuba Poll

Image- CBS 4

Daily headlines: April 03, 2007

* 150 Guatemalan refugees who fled their homeland for Bolivia in the midst of civil war returned to their native soil for the first time in over a quarter century.

* Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez warned that private hospitals may be nationalized in order to control the rising costs of health care.

* Paraguay isn’t the only country with a dengue outbreak; cases in Mexico have skyrocketed over the past few years. (Update: Can't forget about Brazil, either).

* A California condor laid in egg in Mexico for the first time in approximately 75 years according to scientists.

Links-, The Latin Americanist, Casper Star-Tribune, CNN, Xinhua

Image- The Age

Monday, April 2, 2007

Weekly debate: U.S. hegemony and the Americas

Since the era of the Monroe Doctrine, U.S. influence over the Americas has reigned supreme. Though other countries have at times made inroads into Latin America they have been insufficient to knock the U.S. off its lofty pedestal.

However, with the advent of the era of globalization an increased number of countries have made significant steps in their relations with the Americas. Here is a brief look at some of the main players:


Hugo Chavez is deadest on becoming the antithesis of George W. Bush: attentive to Latin America’s concerns and more than willing to create pan-American unity as a counterweight to the U.S. (Case in point- Chavez’ shadow tour during Bush’s visit last month to Latin America). Chavez surplus in petrodollars is working well to his advantage, leading to anxiety by officials in the U.S.


China’s rapid economic expansion has relied on Latin America for help. It’s in the region where raw commodities are obtained and where China has been slowly expanding markets for their goods. China has quickly established stronger relationships with just about every Latin American country and has even exerted political pressure to defend their interests.


Russia lacks the political power of Venezuela and the economic clout of china, yet its key to Latin America revolves around arms sales. Russia is, for all intents and purposes, helping to militarize the region whether it is selling rifles for Venezuela’s army or fighter jets to Colombia. Foreign Policy magazine mentioned in January “more guns and less butter is the last thing the troubled region needs” though Russia is content to displace the U.S. from a vital piece of the arms market.


The dark horse in this new era of Latin American relations is Iran. Don’t be fooled thinking that Iran’s lone interest is in the relations between Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmenijad; Iran is keen on establishing closer ties to the region. For example, Brazil recently rejected U.S. requests to stop investing in Iranian oil projects and Mexico has gradually opened its market to Iranian goods.

Is the era of U.S. hegemony over Latin America waning or will it continue stronger than ever? Are there any other actors we are forgetting bout in our analysis such as Europe? Would it be premature to say that U.S. influence will decrease for good or are is it a small dent?

What do you think?

Links- The Latin Americanist, Bloomberg, Taipei Times, RIA Novotsi, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Foreign Policy, Bend Weekly,, Guardian UK, Voice of America, Fars News Agency, Bloomberg, Mehr News


Spanish is “ghetto” language, says Gingrich

First it was a Long island legislator saying that he would “load a gun” and shoot at day laborers that dared stand in front of his home.

Then it was presidential candidate Mitt Romney misinterpreting a popular quote by Fidel Castro during a speech to Cuban exile leaders.

Now it’s former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s turn to be afflicted by verbal diarrhea after he called Spanish "the language of living in a ghetto" during a speech on Saturday (image). Gingrich’s comment came during a discourse against bilingual education and multi-lingual voting ballots. (Hat tip: Hispanic Tips).

It absolutely amazes me when someone’s level of political discourse lowers itself to the level of juvenile and irresponsible remarks. You would think people ought to know better, but perhaps their hubris gets in the way of clear, rational judgment.

Maybe Puck was right all along:

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

Links- The Latin Americanist, Wonkette, WSB-TV, Hispanic Tips, eNotes,

Image- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

New NYC laws to promote deliverymen safety

As anyone who lives in New York City can attest to local food delivery is a great convenience for those too busy or apathetic to cook. Those who perform the often thankless task of local food delivery are immigrants of Hispanic or Asian descent who get little more than the tips they earn. It is difficult to get by only on tips (ask almost any waiter/waitress), which makes services like health care become a premium.

It is with this in mind that New York City’s government last week passed several safety laws mandating bicycle delivery workers wear safety gear and raise awareness of secure cycling practices by delivery personnel. Deliverymen support the laws according to the president of the Latino Restaurant Association:

“’We surveyed our members and they have all agreed it’s a good bill’ and are willing to pay for the helmets.”

Let’s hope that this is a small step in the larger issue of treating delivery workers with some more respect and dignity (unlike, say, the Saigon Grill).

Links- New York Times, WNYC

Image- Columbia University

Recently arrived Haitian migrants to Florida risk being deported

Activists are fighting to prevent the deportation of over one hundred Haitian migrants who reached Florida last Wednesday (image). Community leaders, local politicians, and clergymen are trying to prevent the Haitian migrants from being split up to holding facilities across the country before being deported out of the U.S. According to one immigration advocate:

“We have agencies here used to working with Haitian refugees. When people have good representation, they have a better chance of presenting their cases appropriately.”

The “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy that has helped thousand of Cuban migrants gain asylum in the U.S. has long been a lightening rod of controversy in the Haitian community; Haitians are resentful of a perceived double standard that helps Cuban migrants at the expense of those from Haiti.

Links-, International Herald Tribune, New York Sun, Miami Herald, BBC News

Image- CBS News

Where in the world is Eduardo Lapi?

Venezuelan authorities are investigating if prison officials were involved in the escape of ex-governor Eduardo Lapi (image). Lapi- who was accused of embezzlement and corruption- fled jail over the weekend while awaiting trial and becomes the second high-profile jail break since dissident labor leader Carlos Ortega escaped a military facility last August.

Links- Bloomberg, International Herald Tribune, VCrisis

Image- Union Radio

Trade and travel make up Lula’s busy weekend

This past weekend has been an especially busy one for Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. On Saturday Lula traveled to Camp David in order to talk trade with U.S. President George W. Bush. Both leaders expressed the desire to help jump start stalled global trade negotiations and followed up on “a memorandum of understanding” to promote ethanol which was signed during Bush’s March visit to Brazil.

Lula was one of the very few people to fly into and out of Brazil since most of the country’s airports were paralyzed in the aftermath of an air traffic controllers’’ strike. Lula accused the strikers of being “irresponsible” in causing massive delays and huge losses for domestic airlines.

So how was your weekend?

Links-, Carnegie Endowment, The Latin Americanist, BBC News, CNN, Finance 24

Image- CNN (Lula and Bush at Camp David, not Lula trying to maneuver through a busy Brazilian airport)