Friday, August 3, 2007

Video of the Day: “We never forget…”

Earlier this week we highlighted a very simple yet stunning ad directed by Brazil’s Washington Olivetto for Folha da Sao Paulo. For our final post of the week we will revisit another award-winning work by Olivetto. This time it is a tender, heart-warming commercial for a Brazilian lingerie brand. While one would associate overt sexuality with lingerie ads (see: Victoria’s Secret) Olivetto takes a much different approach to create a highly memorable commercial (video link):

Note: The linked ads above are Not Safe for Work.

Monday’s VOTD – Al Jazeera’s take on the elections and the Latino community

Tuesday’s VOTD – Ad for Brazilian newspaper Folha da Sao Paulo

Wednesday’s VOTD – Political ad for an Argentine presidential hopeful

Thursday’s VOTD – Commercial for the Peruvian Cancer Foundation

This afternoon’s VOTD – Ad for Danone

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sources- YouTube, The Latin Americanist

Video of the Day: Silence isn’t golden

We continue our theme of this week's videos of award-winning ads from the Americas. This commercial comes from Danone and won several top honors in Mexico. It is not a very uplifting ad so don’t watch it if you’re in a sad mood (video link):

Later today we’ll end our week with a funny ad from Brazil.

Sources- La Radio en Mexico, YouTube

Colombian president jeered during public speech

Colombian president Alvaro Uribe was jeered during a speech yesterday where he defended his security policy. "I won't hand over one millimeter to the criminals" declared Uribe while part of a crowd booed and called him an “assassin” as well as a friend of right-wing paramilitary groups.

Uribe was mocked while speaking at Bogota’s main square to welcome Gustavo Moncayo- a 55-year-old teacher who spent seven weeks walking all over the Colombia in a campaign for the freeing of kidnap victims. (Moncayo’s son has been held hostage for ten years by leftist guerillas). Yet Moncayo engaged in a debate with Uribe after the president claimed that he would set aside a special zone for negotiations with guerillas:

“I don’t agree with those that claim our policy as violent” said the president. “Our policy of ‘democratic security’ is to free the country from guerillas and paramilitaries.”

“There will be kidnappings as long as there is poverty” said Moncayo to Uribe. “(The hostages) remain kidnapped and the victims are caught in the middle of a political game between the government and the FARC. This is very painful.”

Sources (English)- International Herald Tribune, BBC News, Monsters & Critics

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo, RCN

Image- BBC News (Gustavo Moncayo is comforted by a supporter after arriving in Bogota)

North Dakota to sell potato seeds to Cuba

The Cuban government accepted a proposal from the U.S. state of North Dakota to purchase 100 tons of potato seeds. “It's a very small amount but it is significant in testing the waters,” observed North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson who earlier this year advocated modifying the near fifty year embargo the U.S. has on the island:

“We have normalized trade relationships with other communist nations…yet with Cuba, our government continues with the opposite approach, seemingly convinced that continued economic isolation and diplomatic slaps in the face will effect positive change.”

Congress passed a law six years allowing for sales of U.S. agricultural goods and medicine to Cuba despite the embargo. Leaders of states like North Dakota and Idaho are hoping to use this loophole to establish closer economic ties to Cuba.

For the record, the governors of North Dakota and Idaho are from the Republican Party.

Sources- North Dakota Agriculture Commission, FOX News,, Wikipedia

Image- Treehugger

U.S. gov’t warms itself to Nicaraguan arms-for-meds “barter”

Last year while Daniel Ortega was running for Nicaraguan president several conservative columnists in the U.S. denounced his campaign. Oliver North called Ortega “an ardent Marxist” who would “create problems aplenty for the U.S. and its democratic Latin American allies,” while Bob Novak deemed an Ortega presidency as “a Nicaraguan tragedy.” Such worries seem to have been legitimized in the roughly eight months Ortega has been in power as he has been close to Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and has endeared himself to the governments of “rogue” nations like Iran and North Korea.

Yet one cannot help but wonder what people like North and Novak would say after U.S. government officials said that they would be open to an offer from Ortega to destroy about 650 Soviet-era anti-aircraft missiles in exchange for medical aid and military helicopters from the U.S. Said State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey:

“Certainly if the Nicaraguan government wants to do so, I'm sure our officials there, as well as here, would be interested in hearing about it.”

The U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua as also warmed itself to Ortega’s proposal which he emphasized as “a barter with” the U.S. that would still allow Nicaragua to keep about 400 of the missiles should the deal come to fruition.

Sources- The Latin Americanist,, Prensa Latina, International herald Tribune, Washington Post, Al Jazeera


NASCAR looks for extra exposure in Latin America

The U.S.’ primer auto racing league is continuing its plans for additional exposure in Latin America. One of the first steps in that direction was Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya’s move from Formula 1 to NASCAR last year. Thus far Montoya (image) has an outside chance at qualifying for the pseudo-playoff Chase after placing second in last week’s Allstate 400.

Several other drivers from the Americas are racing in NASCAR’s minor series; for example, the NASCAR Busch East Series includes three Mexican-born drivers and one Mexican-American racer.

NASCAR’s expansion also included signing a major licensing deal that would allow for NASCAR products to be directly marketed in Latin America. The deal with Licensing & Promotions Latin America would open the way for notebooks, backpacks, and other products to be splashed with the images of NASCAR drivers, cars, etc.

Whether this will eventually lead to more popularity for NASCAR remains to be seen. According to their statistics only 9% of all NASCAR fans identify themselves as Hispanic.

Sources- The Latin Americanist,,, Boston Globe, Sporting News,


Daily Headlines: August 3, 2007

* Two months suspension without pay was the punishment handed down by the employer of a Spanish-language news anchor implicated in an extramarital affair with the mayor of Los Angeles.

* Did party-going and drunkenness cost Brazil its shot at winning last year’s soccer World Cup?

* Automakers are looking at Latin America as the next burgeoning car market.

* Jose Miguel Insulza- Secretary General of the Organization of American States- praised Latin America’s economy as well as the “good leaders in the region."

* It’s a small wonder Colombians get work done when their country leads the world with the most federal holidays at 18 each year.

Image- (According to the caption “Newscaster Mirthala Salinas, left, walks with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in June, 2006”)

Sources- ABC News,, People’s Daily Online, Washington Post, AHN

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Video of the Day: Magic

Today’s award-winning ad comes from Peru. It runs ninety seconds and tugs at the heartstrings. The sentimental commercial won in the 2005 Cannes Ad Awards (video link):

Monday’s VOTDAl Jazeera’s take on the elections and the Latino community

Tuesday’s VOTD – Ad from Brazilian newspaper Folha da Sao Paulo

Wednesday’s VOTD – Political ad from an Argentine presidential hopeful

Sources- YouTube, the Latin Americanist

Unsafe tap water affects one-third

More than one-third of children and teenagers aren't drinking safe water, according to a United Nations report.

The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the children's fund UNICEF said nearly 21 million children under five years of age are at risk of poor drinking water condition.

Nicaragua, Honduras and Bolivia are among the worst countries, Press TV reported. Safer drinking water could improve infant mortality and malnutrition.

Link and Photo: Press TV

Miami feeds tire supply

Hispanic has an interesting article about four tire companies in Miami keeping Latin America afloat via exports.

Latin America's rural roads make tires an important commodity, and Miami's location is convenient to supply the demand.

Read more here.

Link: Hispanicbusiness

Image: SkipperCentralTire

Argentina condemns wall

Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner criticized the U.S.'s plan to build a wall in Mexico, calling it offensive to Mexico and Latin America as the whole.

Kirchner spoke at the Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology.

Links: Prensa Latina

Daily Headlines: August 2, 2007

* Are you a gringo who wants a cheap tummy tuck or implants for your chi-chis? Then head over the border to Guadalajara, Mexico!

* A 55-year-old teacher has reached Bogota, Colombia after walking all over the country in a peaceful protest for a hostage exchange.

* Over 1000 international activists converged in Guatemala to seek justice for victims of the county’s civil war.

* Newly arrived immigrants to the U.S. are on average 20% poorer than second generation Americans, according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

* A federal judge ruled against the U.S. government by continuing special protections for Salvadoran immigrants.

* Follow-up #1: Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled that RCTV could remain on cable television despite government pressure.

* Follow-up #2: "Go! Go! Turn! Turn! Turn!" where the last words uttered by the co-pilot in Brazil’s deadliest airline crash as investigators revealed that mechanical failures may have been behind the accident.

Sources (English)- Christian Science Monitor, BBC News, Forbes, ABC News, International herald Tribune, The Latin Americanist, CNN

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Video of the Day: Flipping the message

Yesterday we looked at an award-winning ad from Brazil’s Folha da Sao Paulo. Today we take a glimpse into politics.

Some would describe this video from the 1964 reelection campaign of U.S. president Lyndon Johnson or the infamous “Willie Horton” ad as the most memorable political videos ever. Yet the following is a political ad from Argentine presidential candidate Ricardo Lopez Murphy that is simple yet speaks volume in its message of hope for Argentina. No wonder it won a Silver Lion at last year’s Cannes Ad Festival (video link):

Sources- YouTube, The Latin Americanist

Bloggers of the world unite and take over – Reflections on Raul Castro’s Cuba

Note: For this week’s retrospective on the blogosphere, we’ll examine what several bloggers have said on the one year anniversary of the transfer of power in Cuba from Fidel Castro to his brother, Raul.

  • Child of the Revolution – “Has anything really changed in Cuba in the past year? Here are two separate assessments.
    The first is a report by David Usborne of the British daily The Independent, who is of the view that Cuba is still “languishing” in Fidel Castro’s shadow. Then there is this somewhat more up-beat assessment from Anthony Boadle, the Reuters correspondent in Havana. Make up your own mind”.
  • Cuba Journal “Contrary to earlier predictions by Castro foes, the transfer of power to the younger Castro did not lead to a popular clamor within Cuba for swift reforms, and business has continued as usual.
    Many analysts say Cuba successfully passed a key test in the transfer of power orchestrated by Fidel Castro and planned long before his operation.
    Political analysts in Havana and Miami say there is little likelihood of any major political changes being introduced soon.”
  • Green Corner – “Many Cubans and Western observers believe this to be a signal that Chinese-style reforms are finally on the way; an opening up of the economy while maintaining political control.
    As caretaker president, Raul has also offered to sit down at the negotiating table with the United States. That's been rejected and under US law, there can be no lifting of the embargo against Cuba as long as either brother is in power.
    Most Western observers believe Raul is running day-to-day government. What is less clear is who is setting the political agenda.”
  • Kateshomeblog – “Before I visited, I held the usual Western leftie yes-it's-not-perfect-but-the-blame-lies-with-the USA point of view.
    After spending a month there, however, my opinions have radically changed. I still think that America's handling of Cuba has been completely counter-productive, and its embargo has condemned many to suffer needlessly. But the Cuban leadership can't escape responsibility for the horrendous conditions in which many people live.”
  • VivirLatino “The Cuban exile community partied in the streets thinking el barbudo to be dead or near dead and the U.S. made plans on what to do with a post-Fidel Cuba. But the parties and speculation didn't last long as Fidel recovered from a still mysterious intestinal operation (yes yes we know commenter- you think its Crohn's) Fidel has been representing more than ever, even if not publicly.”
  • Working Towards a Free Cuba (On Fidel Castro) So what is it?? Is he or is he not running the government from his rocking chair in the nursing home?? I thought he was making phones calls and delegating duties from his hospital bed??"
  • You and Those Like You“Fidel Castro, despite his lack of public appearances, claims that he is still consulted on "every important government decision". flash Raul is the new boss of Cuba. There must be something very wrong with the health of Fidel to keep him sidelined for more than a year now. His days must be numbered.”

Sources- Child of the Revolution, Cuba Journal, Green Corner, Kateshomeblog, VivirLatino, Working Towards a Free Cuba, You and Those Like You

Image- TIME

Follow-up: Belgian police peeved over Cajamarca affair

Police and immigration authorities in Belgium have expressed their displeasure after a judge stopped the deportation of an Ecuadorian mother and daughter. "The Federal Police have never used any means of constraint or use of violence against these two," said a police spokesman since the judge found evidence of police abuse in the month-long detention of Ana Cajamarca and her 11-year-old daughter Angelica (image).

Belgian police union chairman Philip Van Hamme was more energetic in his disappointment over the Cajamarca case:

“If that court upholds the decision from Monday, then we're through. Then we might as well just forget about picking up and repatriating illegal aliens. It will become a circus…Our personnel are really wondering what they are supposed to be doing here.”

The judge’s decision does not guarantee that the Cajamarcas will be allowed to stay in Belgium despite protests in their favor there and in Ecuador.

Image- The Peninsula On-line

Sources- The Peninsula On-line, BBC News, International Herald Tribune, Belgium Expatica, The Latin Americanist

Argentina’s Kirchner “insulted” by border barrier plan

Argentine president Nestor Kirchner criticized U.S. plans to erect a 700-mile barrier along its southern border with Mexico. Said Kirchner yesterday during a speech in front of Mexican federal legislators:

“We ask those building this wall of shame to think over and understand that the world has to walk other ways… It's not just an insult to our sister nation of Mexico, but to all the nations of Latin America and all the nations of the world.”

With his remarks, Kirchner joins a growing list of people against the U.S. border fence plan:

Image- Yahoo! News (“Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner talks with the President of Mexico's Senate Manlio Beltrones during his visit to the Mexican Senate in Mexico City, Monday, July 31, 2007”)

Sources- People’s Daily Online, ABC News, USA TODAY, The Latin Americanist

Brazil submits World Cup bid

Brazil’s soccer federation formally presented its bid for the 2014 World Cup. The 900 page dossier was submitted to FIFA president Sepp Blatter yesterday who reminded Brazilian officials that their plan would be carefully scrutinized and would be rejected if it were not good enough:

“If something should happen to the Brazil bid, then we still have time to start again as we are a year in advance of the decision-making process for previous World Cups."

FIFA had assigned the 2014 tournament to South America and Brazil is the lone candidate after Colombia’s controversial bid fell through last month.

The Brazilian soccer team amongst the world’s best; this was proven during this year’s Copa America tournament which they won.

Last month, FIFA caved in to pressure from Andean countries and partially rescinded on a ban against playing games at very high altitudes.

Sources- People’s Daily Online, Reuters UK, USA TODAY, The Latin Americanist

Image- World Cup Blog

Daily Headlines: August 1, 2007

* A U.N. report concluded that the lack of potable water is damaging the health of youngsters throughout Latin America, particularly these that are poor and of indigenous or African backgrounds.

* Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled against the publishing of “bloody photos” depicting crime victims in two newspapers.

* Multinational brewer SABMiller sales rose by 13% over the past quarter partly due to more demand in Latin America.

* Workers at Chile’s Codelco copper mine voted to end a strike that has lasted for over a month.

* Follow-up: Human rights group Amnesty International joined calls by Human Rights Watch to investigate possible police abuse during confrontations in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Image- BBC News (Water is delivered via tankers to rural areas of Peru)

Sources- BBC News, International Herald Tribune, Bloomberg, Reuters AlertNet, MSNBC, The Latin Americanist

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Video of the Day: Understanding the whole picture

For the rest of the week our daily video post will spotlight award-winning advertisements from the Americas.

Our first installment won at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in 1988 and was from famed Brazilian commercial director Washington Olivetto. Watch and learn of the importance of going beyond facts to truly understand the whole story (video link):

Source- YouTube

Argentina: Cell phone glow saves patient’s life

Sometimes we are incredibly resourceful when faced with life or death decisions. This was the case several days ago in Argentina.

When the lights went out during a blackout in the middle of a vital operation, the family member of a patient under the knife for a critical appendix operation grabbed several cell phones and used them as an emergency light source. "The generator, which should have been working correctly, didn't work," said the spokesman for the hospital in Villa Mercedes though the bright screens from the cell phones were adequate for surgeons to use during the 60 minute blackout.

Believe it or not this is not the first time that such resourcefulness has been applied; several months ago, the glow from cell phones were used in a darkened Vietnamese clinic while a mother was giving birth.

Sources- New Zealand Herald, Sydney Morning Herald, Switched

Image- The Raw Feed

Colombia: Gov’t confesses to army corruption

Colombian defense minister Juan Manuel Santos admitted that “high levels” of the country’s armed forces have been infiltrated by drug traffickers and rebels. Santos’ comments were corroborated by the spokesman one of Colombia’s main guerilla groups- the ELN- who told the local media that corrupt officers would sell them information in order to avoid being captured.

Last week, allegations of corruption intensified when three people were arrested for recruiting retired army personnel to work for drug capo “Don Diego” Montoya. In response to the government’s confession, opposition lawmakers have issued subpoenas for Santos and senior army personnel to attend congressional hearings.

Meanwhile, demobilized paramilitary leaders promised to return to confessing their crimes to a special judicial commission. Yet it is not know how far they will cooperate with the government after breaking off negotiations with them last week.

Sources (English)- International Herald Tribune, BBC News, Al Jazeera, The Latin Americanist

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo, RCN


Mexican ecologists denounce border fence

Mexico's Environment Department has called on the U.S. to change plans on constructing a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to a report released on Monday, ecological officials said that a border wall would threaten several migratory species and that nocturnal animals would be hurt by strong lights radar around the border.

As an alterative, the report suggested the possibility of using "live" fences of cactuses and other plants along the border as well as permeable barriers to allow the flow of water. This sounds similar to a story we covered recently where the mayor of Brownsville, Texas called for the building of a border reservoir and weir instead of fencing.

Sources- BBC News, USA TODAY, The Latin Americanist

Image- BBC News

Daily Headlines: July 31, 2007

* It was exactly one year ago today in Cuba that Fidel Castro ceded power to his brother Raul. More on that later today (tomorrow; I promise).

* Follow-up: Peruvian president Alan Garcia criticized his own mandate as protests continue throughout the country.

* Latin American stocks rallied during trading on Monday as investors were advised to buy in growing firms.

* Canada and Argentina have agreed to start discussions on a new nuclear power plant in the South American nation.

* Spain’s government is encouraging the Guatemalan legislature to pass a measure creating special anti-gang commission.

* Investigators are looking into the cause of a subway accident in Caracas, Venezuela that killed one person.

Sources (English)- Bloomberg, International Herald Tribune, El Universal, Reuters Canada, The Latin Americanist

Sources (Spanish)- El Diairo/La Prensa

Image- Toward Freedom (Violence and unrest in Peru have escalated over the past few weeks)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Video of the Day: The importance of the Latino vote via Al Jazeera

The following video is a recent news report from Al Jazeera on the growing importance of the Latino community to the U.S. presidential race. Check it out (video link):

What do you think about the video?

Last minute deportation reprieve for Ecuadorian mother and daughter

Ana Cajamarca and her 11-year-old daughter Angelica were expected to be deported from Belgium to Ecuador today after being detained for over a month due to their illegal immigrant status. Yet a Belgian judge threw out the case citing a medical report stating that Ana was abused by immigration authorities during her detainment.

For the time being the Cajamarcas are free though Ana vowed to take advantage of the reprieve to normalize her and Angelica’s immigration status.

Protests in Belgium and Ecuador took place on behalf of the Cajamarcas including a visit to the detention facility by Ecuadorian First Lady Anne Malherbe who is of Belgian decent.

Image- El Comercio (Angelica Cajamarca is embraced by her father shortly after getting a reprieve from her deportation)

Sources (English)- Expatica Belgium, BBC News, International Herald Tribune

Sources (Spanish)- El Comercio, La Hora

Poll: Argentine first lady favorite for presidency

According to a poll conducted earlier this month, Argentine first lady Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is the overwhelming favorite to succeed her husband and become the country’s next president. Cristina received 47% of support while ex-economy minister Roberto Lavagna placed a distant second with 12%. (Elections will take place in October).

As we mentioned last week, Cristina tried to downplay comparisons between her and former Argentine leader Eva Peron as well as current U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

President Nestor Kirchner is currently on an official visit to Mexico where he asked his Mexican counterpart to join the Mercosur trade bloc.

Sources- Angus Reid Consultants, The Latin Americanist, Prensa Latina, Bloomberg


Peacekeepers in Haiti need to be better trained, says U.N. official

For over three years a U.N. peacekeeping mission has been in Haiti in order to help combat crime and maintain order. However, the mission has not been without controversy as soldiers have been accused of child abuse and killing innocent civilians.

In an article published today special U.N. rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak called for the world body to raise the standards of soldiers hired for peacekeeping operations. “The UN must apply stricter criteria when recruiting soldiers” said Nowak as he also proposed that the global body create its own army.

Nowak did not specify past abuses by U.N. troops in Haiti, though he did acknowledge abuses by Moroccan troops in the Ivory Coast. Approximately 7500 U.N. peacekeepers are in Haiti for the time being.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Haiti this week and meet with President Rene Preval.

Sources- Wikipedia, BBC News, Haiti Action, ABC Online, Monsters & Critics, BBC News, Guardian UK, MINUSTAH: United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, People’s Daily Online

Image- BBC News

Brazil: 5000+ march over deadly air crash

While the Pan American Games came to a close in Rio de Janeiro, several thousand protestors marched in Sao Paulo (image) to commemorate the deadly TAM Flight 3054 that killed nearly 200 people. Some of those marchers blamed government incompetence for widespread air traffic problems over the past few years:

“President, leave your presidential sash on my husband's grave," read one banner. Another black banner had "Misgoverning kills" emblazoned on it in white letters.

Renata Oliveira, wearing a shirt with a picture of her father who was killed in the crash, said: "It is very sad to know that someone you loved a lot died here because of someone's irresponsible actions."

Over the weekend, newly appointed Defense Minister and head of aviation Neslon Jobim pledged to emphasize passenger safety over secondary concerns such as comfort. In addition, a Brazilian news magazine alleged that pilot error was to blame for the accident.

Sources- BBC News, CNN, The Latin Americanist, Malaysia Star, USA TODAY,

Image- BBC News

Mexico: Gay prisoners gain rights

Mexico City officials have started to allow conjugal visits for homosexual prisoners in the city’s Santa Martha Acatitla prison. The change was based on a recommendation made by the city’s human rights commission:

“The Mexico City department of prisons and rehabilitation has allowed the first conjugal visit to an inmate with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual…(It was) an important step in terms of non-discrimination regarding sexual preference.”

Though a 2003 federal law bans discrimination based on sexual preference, the commission hopes that the decision can be expanded to the rest of Mexico City’s jails.

Over the past few months, Mexico City’s leftist government has been behind the following measures:

Sources- BBC News, International Herald Tribune, The Latin Americanist

Image- MSNBC (Masked protestor at a Mexico City pro-gay rights rally)

Daily Headlines: July 30, 2007

* Follow-up #1: Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori lost his bid for election in Japan’s legislature while he remains in house arrest in Chile.

* Follow-up #2: The same Mexican rebel faction involved in a series of pipeline bombings earlier this month claimed to have attacked a federal jail in Chiapas.

* Looking for greater autonomy, Puerto Rico's ruling party approved a measure asking for the U.N. to review the island’s political status.

* Did you know that over 3700 Venezuelans have received political asylum in the U.S. since 1999?

* A U.S. jury acquitted coal firm Drummond of liability in the deaths of three Colombian labor leaders.

Sources- The Latin Americanist, Bloomberg, Reuters AlertNet,, Yahoo! News, Reuters

Image- Andina (Protestors seeks Alberto Fujimori’s extradition to Peru)