Saturday, July 21, 2007

Quote of the Day: Bolivia and raggedy old t-shirts you don't wear

“It's impossible to think that we can be dignified if, in the name of poverty, we wear clothing that has been thrown out in another country.”

--Ramiro Uchani, Bolivia’s deputy minister of small business.

Bolivia’s government has campaigned against its citizens buying and wearing used clothing donated from industrialized nations.

Image- Earth Island Institute (Bolivian president Evo Morales wears a trademark striped sweater has become increasingly popular in the country)

Source- Newsday

Daily Headlines: July 21, 2007

* Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised a full investigation of Tuesday’s deadly accident of TAM Flight 3054 while criticism grows against the government.

* Big congrats to “Ugly Betty” who was the top comedy series by receiving eleven Primetime Emmy nominations.

* Immigrants in the U.S. anxiously await a massive increase in fees for most services which is set to begin on July 30th.

* Hundreds of thousands of protestors marched in La Paz, Bolivia to demonstrate against plans to move the country’s capital from La Paz to Sucre.

* Despite U.S. swimmers leading the country’s medal surge at the Pan American Games, all eyes have been on Brazil’s Thiago Pereira who earlier today broke Mark Spitz's 40-year-old record for most gold medals at a single Games.

Sources- The Scotsman, Reuters, The Latin Americanist, E! Online, MSNBC, CNN, Taipei Times, International Herald Tribune

Image- BBC News

Friday, July 20, 2007

Del Toro to play Ché Guevara on the silver screen

Actor Benicio del Toro (image) will play famed revolutionary Ernesto “Ché” Guevara in an upcoming movie directed by Steven Soderbergh. Soderbergh previously directed Del Toro in the 2000 movie “Traffic” which led to an Academy Award for the Puerto Rican-born actor.

The film has been tentatively titled “Guerilla” and will also star Julia Ormond and Catalina Sandino Moreno. According to the movie’s IMDB entry, the plot involves Ché Guevara’s 1964 visit to speak at the United Nations in New York and the film itself is currently in pre-production.

Sources- Monsters & Critics, International Herald Tribune, IMDB

Image- Sydney Morning Herald

Chilean “futbolistas” and Toronto police clash in brawl

Chile’s elimination last night from the under-20 World Cup semifinal against Argentina took a back seat after an altercation with Canadian cops.

The Chilean government will file a formal complaint with Canada after a post-match brawl between police and players that included the use of electric tasers:

“‘We looked over and there was a big brawl that breaks out, between four or five people,’ (eyewitness Nathan) Denette said. ‘Next thing you know, the bus just unloads and there's eight, 10 players come off the bus and there's just fists flying everywhere, between the cops, the security guards, a couple of ladies were involved that were security.

‘It looked like a big dogfight. People throwing fists and cops with their billy clubs out and then all of a sudden it got out of control and a police officer grabbed his taser gun and tasered someone - I don't know if he was a player or if he was part of the team - as soon as that happened, it got even worse.’”

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said earlier today that officers tried to “end a dispute” that got out of hand, but one Chilean team member denounced being “treated like animals” after receiving two electric shocks to his ribs.

Image- Metro Canada

Sources- International herald Tribune, Edmonton Sun, USA TODAY,, Guardian UK

Texas mayor proposes border weir instead of wall

The mayor of Brownsville, Texas encouraged building a weir and reservoir along the Rio Grande rather than a 700-mile barrier. Mayor Pat M. Ahumada Jr. said that the alternative to the barrier would provide a new water source to Brownsville as well as a more effective and cheaper deterrent for immigrants to cross the river. He also claimed that the idea has received the support of both of Texas’ federal senators.

As we have noted in previous posts, opposition has increased in border communities to the planner border wall despite plans to start its construction this autumn. Though U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff promised that the government would be open to feedback from local communities, he did not “rule out” the possibility of using powers of eminent domain to seize land for the barrier’s construction.

Image- Otley Community Council (2004 photo of a weir in the town of Otley, England)

Sources- Brownsville Herald, The Latin Americanist, KTLV, Reuters

Thruster blaimed in Brazil crash

Investigators say one of three thrusters was turned off on the Brazil airplane that crashed earlier this week, killing all 186 passengers.

They are still trying to find out why the plane did not slow down on the runway.

Airport officials said the thruster was turned off as part of routine maintenance as prosecutors asked a federal judge to paralyze the airport.

Links: USA Today, ABC News

Photo: USA Today

Peruvians protest for wages, free trade

Read about the protests shaking up Peru as the public demands better wages and revisions to the country's free trade agreement with the U.S.

Three people are dead and several wounded after the uprising that began a few days ago.

Protestors in sourthern Peru also held nine police officers hostage for six hours.

Link: Toward Freedom

Photo: Toward Freedom

Latin America dominates World Wonders

Three of the seven new Wonders of the World are in Latin America: Mexico's Chichen Itza, Peru's Machu Picchu (pictured) and Brazil's Christ Redeemer.

Read more about the new Wonders of the World and the vote to choose them here.

Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber, who began the campaign, said Latin America might be overrepresented but attributed it to the Incan and Mayan civilizations.

Link: Opodo

Image:, Seattle Times

Bloggers of the world unite and take over

Sources- The Galloping Beaver, Latina Viva, Two Weeks Notice, Migrant Tales, Global Voices Online,, Publius Pundit, The Washington Note, Lion In Oil, BellaSugar, VivirLatino

Daily Headlines: July 20, 2007

* And this is a news headline because…? (Hat tip:

* Investigators in the deadly Brazilian air crash of TAM Flight 3054 are wondering why the plane sped up while trying to land.

* Government-owned Petroleos de Venezuela – it’s more than just oil.

* Costa Rican President Oscar Arias signed a new law that would increase the penalties against child pornography.

* A Colombian drug boss will be extradited to face charges in the U.S. nearly six months after being deported from Cuba.

* Ex-Peruvian army major Telmo Hurtado is one of two defendants in a U.S. lawsuit over the 1985 Accomarca massacre.

Image- (Chilean sea bass (see first headline))

Sources- The Telegraph,, CNN, Guardian UK, Bloomberg, People’s Daily online,

Thursday, July 19, 2007

U.S. no longer "Satan"

Ecuador has cleared the United States of it's "Satan" stigma, but said the country's World Bank and International Monetary Fund still must be neutralized, according to Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa.

Correa said leftist countries in Latin America are part of a new style of socialism that emphasizes labor over capital.

Link: Straffor

Article mines connection between politics and natural resources

A mining journal has an interesting article about the effect of rising nationalism amid the "leftword drift" of the continent.

Read more about how Latin American politics and mining interact here.


Source: Mining Journal

Canadian PM on four-country tour

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is making a round of visits in Colombia, Chile, Barbados and Haiti.

Harper is expressing the country's desire to have more of a role in the region. Canada has recently increased free trade agreements and wants to increase investments in the area.

More info available here.

Links: The Star

Brazil crash raises safety concerns

In the wake of the Brazil airplane tragedy, Reuters has compiled a list of Latin American air crashes here.

Meanwhile, Brazil's Federal Public Prosecutor's Office wants to shut the airport down, believing the accident that killed more than 200 people was caused by poor runway conditions that went unrenovated, and the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Associations said Brazil is in a "deep crisis," questioning whether the government can competently secure the airways.

A top aviation said the crash was not caused by the runway.

Links: Seattle Times, Brazzil Magazine, Reuters, Sky News

Photo: Sky News

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Daily Headlines (bulldog edition): July 19, 2007

Note: Sorry for the lack of posts on Wednesday; today’s heavy thunderstorms around The Latin Americanist HQ wreaked havoc on our internet connection.

In the meantime, here’s an expanded bulldog edition of tomorrow’s “Daily Headlines” while fellow contributor Alison takes over most blogging duties for Thursday and Friday.

* Obviously, the lede story in the Americas has to do with Tuesday night’s deadly crash of TAM Airlines flight 3054 in Sao Paulo, Brazil which may have killed an estimated 200 people. The airliner- which carried 170 people- skidded on the runway upon landing at Congonhas National Airport before crashing into a warehouse and gas station (image).

While investigators look over the wreckage, blame is spreading as to who is at fault for the crash:

  • The pilot of the ill-fated flight may have tried to abort the landing before eventually going through with it.
  • Folha Online has audio clips of the confused and chaotic scenes surrounding the first responders to the crash.
  • On Monday (one day before the crash) another airliner nearly skidded off the same runway at Congonhas and a civil defense official dismissed any blame on the supposedly short runway.

* Argentines solemnly recalled today as the 13th anniversary of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. 85 people were killed in the explosion which has been blamed on Hezbollah and the Iranian government.

* Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani focused on Latin America during a speech in South Florida. He saved his most harsh remarks for Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez despite former ties by Giuliani’s law firm to Chavez-controlled Citgo Petroleum.

* One of the negative consequences of the lack of immigration reform is the large pool of underemployed immigrants working in the U.S. That is, highly skilled immigrants working in menial jobs.

* Lawyers for a former altar boy are preparing their case against Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera who has been accused of covering up abuse allegations. Also named in the lawsuit is Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney who agreed to a $660 million settlement with abuse victims.

* The Vatican continues its criticism of Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo’s candidacy for president of Paraguay. However the so-called “Bishop of the Poor” easily leads all the other candidates according to recent poll numbers.

* Mexico’s government wants the U.S. to take a more active role in preventing gun smuggling across the border. This includes arms such as a semiautomatic weapons colloquially called “police killers.”

Sources (English)- Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist, Gothamist, International Herald Tribune, ABC News, Reuters, Guardian UK, Yahoo! News, Catholic World News, Monsters & Critics, MSNBC, Latina Viva, CNN, Wikipedia, Christian Science Monitor

Sources (Portuguese)- Folha Online

Image- BBC News

Daily Headlines: July 18, 2007

* Peruvian police said that they caught seven Iraqis trying to enter the country illegally with fake passports and en route to the U.S.

* We’ll discuss in more detail later today the tragic airline accident in Sao Paulo that may have killed approximately 200 people. Almost coincidentally, a Colombian airliner overshot its runway last night and landed nose first into the sea.

* Did you know that Uruguay is the country with the most suicides in all of Latin America?

* U.S. prosecutors want the soon-to-be-released Manuel Noriega to be sent to France rather than his home country of Panama.

* Spain’s government will forgive over $36 million in debt from Nicaragua.

* Follow-up: The same cold front that brought Buenos Aires’ first snowfall in nearly 90 years has also damaged millions of dollars worth of crops in Chile.

Sources (English)- International Herald Tribune, Al Jazeera, Prensa Latina, The Latin Americanist, CNN

Sources (Spanish)- RCN, El Diario/La Prensa

Image- Fayrouz in Beaumont (Fake Iraqi passport obtained by an Australian journalist)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Quote of the Day: The Wall

“I think it's the stupidest idea I've ever heard of. If the river doesn't keep them out, why do you think a wall will?"

--Texan oilman Brian O’Brien gives his two cents on the proposed fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

O’Brien is one of a growing contingent of wealthy landowners living in Border States who are opposed to the barrier.

Source- Seattle Times

Image- ABC News (According to the caption: “Activists opposed to the U.S.- Mexico border fence paddle to the bridge between Roma, Texas, and Ciudad Miguel Aleman, Mexico, as part of a rally Saturday, July 14, 2007, in Roma, Texas")

Pollsters blamed for Colombian president’s falling approval

Poll results showing a major dip in the approval of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is “a trick” according to domestic media outlet RCN. They reported today that a government spokesman claimed that pollsters deliberately inflated Uribe’s approval rating in previous surveys so that any decrease would “appear like a fall in the president’s image.”

A poll released on Saturday by Gallup had Uribe’s popularity fall from 75% to 66% and his disapproval rating increase to 27%. One pollster blamed the decrease in popularity to the growing “para-politics” scandal that has shown ties between Uribe’s political allies (e.g. his brother, Mario) and right-wing paramilitary groups.

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist, Reuters, International Herald Tribune,

Sources (Spanish)- RCN

Image- Vancouver Sun (“Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (left) talks to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the end of their meeting at the presidential palace in Bogota on Monday)

Are migrants to blame for rising HIV cases in Mexico?

An article originally published today in the New York Times brought up the possibility that migrants returning from the U.S. are causing a spike in HIV/AIDS cases in Mexico. The article by Mark Lacey cites several recent studies that have said that:

“AIDS is spreading quickly in rural Mexican states with the highest migration rates to the United States, researchers say. The greatest risk of contracting AIDS that rural Mexican women face is in having sex with their migrant husbands, a new study found, a problem that is compounded by their husbands’ refusal to use condoms.

Research has shown that migrants have more sexual partners than those who stay at home…For many migrants, being displaced from their homes and families is a lonely experience, one that prompts them to form new relationships in the United States.”

One of the studies cited in the article was from 2006 that concluded that a health crisis could emerge in the border town of Tijuana. Another report (which was not explicitly mentioned by Lacey) said that the increase in travel between both countries could cause an increase in HIV/AIDS cases in Mexico.

Keep in mind that blaming migrants for the rise in HIV/AIDS in Mexico has not been a recent phenomenon; take this Los Angeles Times article from 2000:

“Once a stranger in many parts of rural Mexico, HIV has infected between 4,300 and 16,000 villagers, and the number is rising rapidly. Mexican health officials believe that at least 30% of those infected got the disease in the United States--then spread it to many others back in the Mexican countryside.

Away from their families, immigrants get infected when they experiment with hard drugs or have sex with prostitutes or multiple partners. “

Sources- International Herald Tribune,, National Library of Medicine, Aegis

Image- University of Toronto

Peru: One dead as protestors, police clash

Clashes between protesting farmers and anti-riot police turned violent yesterday in Peru as an activist was killed. Jorge Altamirano Roman died while marching along with about 200 people upset with the lack of government assistance to rural farmers.

In the meantime, a national’s teachers strike has entered its second week with teachers angry over educational reforms proposed by President Alan Garcia. Supporting the educators are approximately 1000 peasants and natives who are blocking roads in the highland areas of Peru.

Minister Jorge Del Castillo warned that the government will not negotiate unless the strikes are lifted.

Sources (English)- Living in Peru, Voice of America, BBC News, CNews,

Sources (Spanish)- La Republica

Image- Living in Peru

Sports briefs

* Now that David Beckham officially arrived in the U.S. (image) his success will partially rely on the Latino community, according to soccer journalist Grant Wahl.

* With the Pan American Games taking place in Rio de Janeiro some news articles are highlighting the stereotype of sex and Brazil. Exhibit A - this article from Bloomberg on the “benefits” the Games will have on local prostitutes. (More on the Games below).

* Earlier today Colombian cyclist Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez won the 9th stage of the Tour de France.

* Latin American players are dominating in Major League Baseball, according to this Spanish-language article.

* South American soccer bodies allowed an exemption for international games to be played in the high attitude of La Paz, Bolivia.

* FIFA will choose the site of the 2014 World Cup in October; Brazil is the lone candidate.

* More news on the events from the Pan American Games:

  • As of Monday night, the U.S. leads the medal count with 30 medals, nearly double that of second-place Canada.
  • For the first time ever, Puerto Rico won a men’s team gymnastics competition.
  • Argentine dentist Juan Carlos Dasque won gold at the men’s trap shooting event and thus qualified for the 2008 Olympics.
  • Despite the suspension of several baseball games on Saturday due to lighting problems, Panama upset perennial favorites Cuba 4-3.
  • In a heartwarming story, Brazilian taekwando competitor Diego Silva opted before the games to compete rather than buy his mother a car for her to get to work. Yet after winning the gold medal on Sunday he has earned enough new sponsorship deals to get the car she desires.

Sources (English)-, Bloomberg, BBC News, International Herald tribune, USA TODAY, Reuters, People’s Daily Online, New York Times,

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Image- ESPN Soccernet

Daily Headlines: July 17, 2007

* Follow-up #1: Felisa Miceli (image) quit from her post as Argentine Economy Minister in the aftermath of her hiding over $64,000 in her office’s bathroom.

* Follow-up #2: Problems have emerged with the legal team representing Central American plaintiffs in a landmark pesticide case.

* The director of acclaimed documentary Bus 174- Brazil’s Jose Padilha- is behind the lens of an upcoming film on police corruption and gang violence in Rio de Janeiro.

* Bolivia’s government plans to nationalize the country’s railroads.

* Honduran President Manuel Zelaya called for a moratorium on the “massive and selective” deportations of his countrymen from the U.S.

Sources- Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist, San Jose Mercury News, Reuters, Bloomberg, MSNBC

Image- BBC News

Monday, July 16, 2007

Quote of the Day: Clinton numero uno!

"I'm a Republican. But for me, Bill Clinton was the best president in U.S. history. The economy was strong. They threw Monica Lewinsky at him, and he just kept going. That will help his wife."

--Havana, Cuba resident who goes by the name of “Lorenzo.”

Guys like Lorenzo gather at a part of Havana’s Central Park deemed as the “Hot Corner” where they rant and rave on topics like politics, women, and water shortages.

Source- Yahoo! News

Image- MSNBC (According to the caption: “Fans debate baseball all-year around at Parque Central in Havana. Here men discuss the baseball team's win over Australia during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games in August”)

Next IMF head should be “based on merit” says L. America econ ministers

Underdeveloped countries-including several from the Americas- want merit to be the deciding factor in choosing the International Monetary Fund’s next managing director. “The election must be open, transparent and based on merit, without restrictions of nationality,” said Colombia’s central bank president as he emphasized how developing nations are eager to enact favorable changes at the IMF. This has worried some wealthy nations like France whose nominee may visit Brazil.

Despite Venezuela’s pull out from the IMF and World Bank, most of the Americas are members of the IMF.

Sources- Guardian UK, Bloomberg, Reuters South Africa, The Latin Americanist, Wikipedia


Explosions near embassies in Chilean capital

Investigators are looking into a pair of explosions which hit downtown Santiago, Chile in the past 24 hours. The first blast was last night at around 10:15pm local time outside a building that houses the British and Israeli embassies as well as Chile’s main tobacco firm. Only minor damage was resulted from the explosion which, according to one news report, was caused by "a small cylinder with exploding powder and a timer".

The second explosion as reported by the local press occurred today at dawn in front of the headquarters of the Partido por la Democracia political party. Much like the first incident only minor damage was caused without any injuries.

At this time it is unknown who is responsible for the blasts nor if they are connected to each other.

Image- La Tercera (A member of the Chilean police is examining the site of one of two explosions in downtown Santiago)

Sources (English)- Guardian UK, CNN, BBC News

Sources (Spanish)- La Tercera

“Fake braids” cost Bolivian beauty queen her title

Last April we discussed the emphasis on physical beauty in Bolivia; more specifically, how the notion of being “beautiful” means looking as lithe and light-skinned as possible. But over the weekend, an unusual case occurred involving Bolivian “beauty”.

Officials of a pageant emphasizing indigenous looks disqualified the winner due to cheating. The original winner- Mariela Molinedo- wore “fake braids”, a vital part of the look of Aymara women from the capital of La Paz (see image). Molinedo’s replacement- who one assumed had real braids under her bowler- was selected yesterday.

Sources-, Reuters, The Latin Americanist,

Image- Al Jazeera

Copa America vids: Brasil campeão!

On paper Argentina was by far the team to beat at this year’s Copa America. During the tournament they dominated with a perfect record, three shutouts and beating their opponents by a combined score of 17-3. Yet in the final los albicelestes were outplayed and outmatched by an old foe dressed in yellow and green.

--Brazil had little trouble in their easy 3-0 win of Argentina last night in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Scoring opened in the fourth minute via Julio Baptista and things only got better for the Brazilians with an own goal near halftime by Roberto Ayala. Despite not playing its best stars and some lackluster play in the group stage (e.g. shock upset to Mexico), Brazil shined brightly during the final especially after Daniel Alves sealed the deal with his goal in the 69th minute. Brazil thus earned its second consecutive Copa America title and its fourth in the past ten years (video link):

--On Saturday Mexico sealed its exceptional Copa America campaign by winning the third-place game over Uruguay by a score of 3-1 (video link):

Sources (English)- Reuters UK, Epoch Times Ireland, BBC News, The Latin Americanist, International Herald Tribune, YouTube

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Daily Headlines: July 16, 2007

* Michelle Rodriguez – from actress to fashion designer.

* El Salvador will send a reduced number of troops to Iraq next month.

* Democratic candidates assailed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during a forum yesterday.

* Speaking of presidential candidates, could Keiko Fujimori be the next president of Peru?

* Mexican immigration officials rescued 81 Central American migrants trapped inside a freight truck.

Sources- Monsters & Critics, International Herald Tribune, Guardian UK, Reuters

Image- E! Online