Friday, August 10, 2007

Video of the Day: The weekend is here!

It seemed like forever but finally the weekend is right around the corner. Admittedly, several important news stories fell between the cracks (e.g. Peru-U.S. free trade negotiations, Bill Richardson’s new faux pas, Lula and Chavez’ trips around the Americas). But to be absolutely frank with you all, I’m relieved the weekend is here and hopeful that we will leave no stone unturned next week.

Thus, we leave for the weekend with a mellow song - legendary rockeros Soda Stereo singing “Tratame Suavemente” live in concert. It seems like forever since they broke up a decade ago, but thankfully fans in Mexico, Argentina, and Los Angeles will be fortunate enough to see them this autumn on their reunion tour.

(Video link):

Sources- MSNBC First Read, Christian Science Monitor, International Herald Tribune,, YouTube

Follow-up: Argie government goes after corrupt officials

Argentina's Cabinet Chief remarked that the government will not hesitate to fire any officials suspected of corruption. “This government will dismiss any officials accused or implicated and they will have to respond just as any ordinary citizen would” said Alberto Fernandez in a radio interview earlier today.

Fernandez’ words came only a day after the head of a regulatory body for Argentine toll roads was forced to quit over allowing a Venezuelan businessman citizen to fly on a government-chartered plane. The businessman- Antonini Wilson- was caught by Argentine customs agents with a suitcase filled with $800,000 in cash.

Yesterday, Argentine president Nestor Kirchner defended his administration in light of having a minister quit over stashing $60,000 in the bathroom of her office as well as the Wilson affair:

“I don't cover up anything. When something happens the people find out about it and we take the appropriate measures. For the first time, Argentina is seriously fighting corruption ... whoever is involved.”

The corruption allegations may seriously hurt the chances Kirchner’s wife has in winning this year’s presidential elections.

Sources- Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist,, The Economist


Latin American finances hit hard by global letdown

Stocks worldwide have plummeted for the second consecutive day as investors are increasingly anxious over a crisis in the U.S. mortgage market. European stocks hit their lowest point in 4 years while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost almost 1% today after falling nearly 400 points yesterday.

Latin American finances were certainly not exempt from the global stumble. Dollar bonds in Venezuela and Ecuador suffered notable losses in value while the cost of the Brazilian Real has sunk between 1-2% in trading today.

What does this all mean? This BBC News analysis could shed some light on the situation:

“There are fears that the worries about bad debts could turn into a financial panic.

Because no one knows which banks are sound, investors may rush to withdraw their money from a large number of institutions, which would otherwise be solvent.

This so-called liquidity crisis could destabilize the economy: forcing interest rates up sharply, causing some banks to collapse, and preventing lending to legitimate companies who want to invest.”

Last February Latin American stocks suffered heavy losses due to a global slump triggered by China.

Sources- BBC News, MSNBC, CNN Money, Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist

Image- BBC News

Mexico: Sorry for booing Miss USA

Mexican tourism officials formally apologized for the Mexico City audience’s booing of Miss USA during the Miss Universe pageant. Said the chief of staff for Mexico's tourism department:

“‘We understand the concern of the people of the United States about the incorrect behavior of a small group that attended the event,’ (Gabriel) Szekely wrote. ‘We apologize for the inconvenience and be sure that Miss Rachel Smith will always be welcome in Mexico.’”

Miss USA Rachel Smith took a tumble during the evening gown portion of the pageant, and was subsequently jeered while answering to a question from one of the judges (video link):

Sources- YouTube, International Herald Tribune, MSNBC

Daily Headlines: August 10, 2007

* More heavy snow is expected in areas of Chile after the capital, Santiago, received its first snowfall in eight years on Wednesday (image).

* A team of Mexican teens upset the U.S. and Canada by winning the National Geographic World Championship.

* Political violence in Guatemala nearly ended the lives of the daughters of 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu.

* Cuba’s government rejected accusations that they impede the U.S. from distributing visas to Cubans.

* Follow-up: The lawyer for recently arrested Colombian drug trafficker Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia wants his client to be extradited to the U.S.

Sources- Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist, CNN, Voice of America, International Herald Tribune

Image- La Nacion

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Quote of the Day: Votes via “futbol”

"I'm not sure soccer and politics mix, but I guess it will be up to Nevada Latinos as to whether they appreciate this outreach or decide to issue Dems a red card in the primaries for this bizarre gimmick."

--Julia Hoppock of ABC News’ Exclusiva blog commented on the initiative by the Nevada State Democratic Party to sponsor a local soccer team with the goal (pun intended) of convincing Latinos “to register and vote Democrat in the 2008 presidential election”.

(Hat tip: This is American Soccer).

Image- Los Angeles Times (According to the caption: “Carlos Quezada plays in the team’s first game as Los Democratas. All but two Democratas are Latino”.)

Sources- ABC News Exclusiva, This is American Soccer

Argentine official fired over cash-filled suitcase

Claudio Uberti- the head of a regulatory body for Argentine toll roads- was forced to resign in the midst of a controversy surrounding a Venezuelan businessman who carried $800,000 in undeclared cash. Antonini Wilson had taken a government-chartered flight and was detained early Saturday by customs authorities.

Last month, Felisa Miceli quit from her post as Argentine Economy Minister after officials found $64,000 stashed in the bathroom of her office.

According to Reuters, the Miceli and Wilson cases have been a boon for opposition candidates running for Argentina’s presidency:

“‘This is from God, I'm super happy. The truth has come out, and it is proof of corruption in this government,’ leftist presidential candidate Elisa Carrio told La Nacion newspaper.

‘This reminds me of the (corruption scandals of the) '90s,’ Esteban Bullrich, a lawmaker with the center-right PRO party, said of the new cash scandal.”

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s ambassador to Argentina denied that Wilson is a Venezuelan government official and said that the Wilson affair is part of an anti-Hugo Chavez “smear campaign.”

Sources- International Herald Tribune, Reuters, Guardian UK, El Universal, The Latin Americanist

Image- The Spoof!

Mexican cardinal questioned over abuse case

Cardinal Norberto Rivera was questioned by U.S. lawyers after having been accused of knowing sending a priest blamed for child abuse to Los Angles. The once leading candidate for Pope was under deposition for about nine hours from the headquarters of the Mexico City archdiocese.

Earlier this year, Cardinal Rivera’s attorney said that he ought to be tried in Mexico since that was where the alleged abuse was committed by fugitive priest Nicolas Aguilar. Yet as one of the lawyers for plaintiff Joaquin Aguilar Mendez mentioned last month:

"We want to get the information out of Rivera about what he knew about this predator," (Jeffrey) Anderson said. "We're going to try to get answers from Cardinal Rivera about why he covered this up."

Not only is Rivera the leading roman Catholic clergyman in Mexico, but he has been one of the most vocal conservative voices in issues like decriminalizing abortion and in favor of increased Church involvement in politics.

Sources- BBC News, TVNZ, The Latin Americanist, Reuters

Image- Noticieros Televisa

The adventures of Curious “Jorge” and the flight from Peru

A passenger who took a flight from Peru to New York while hiding a small monkey under his hat has been detained for questioning by immigration authorities. The primate- a marmoset, to be exact- had somehow avoided being detected in Peru, by passengers on the Sprit Airlines flight, and even during a layover Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Centers for Disease Control said that the monkey (image) is of little risk to public health, and plans are underway for the monkey to be transferred to a zoo.

Image- BBC News

Sources- Xinhua, Pravda, NY1

Fidel hints at Cuban boxing boycott

In an article published in Granma, Fidel Castro alluded to the possibility of boycotting Cuba’s boxing team from October’s world championships in Chicago. In the aftermath of the possible defection of a pair of Cuban pugilists, Castro mentioned that:

Cuba will not sacrifice one bit of honor or ideas for Olympic gold medals; the morale and patriotism of its athletes shall prevail above all else.

Sport authorities are analyzing all possible alternatives, including changing the list of boxers or not sending a delegation at all, despite the penalties that follow.”

Castro saved his harshest criticism for “the mercenaries” who try to convince Cuban boxers to defect and turn professional:

“It is now time to put together the list of Cuban boxers who will participate in the Beijing Olympics, about one year in advance. First, they must travel to the United States to participate in the World Championship…Just imagine the mafia sharks demanding fresh meat.”

Guillermo Rigondeaux and Erislandy Lara went missing for eleven days after they left their team during the Pan American Games. The circumstances of their disappearance are still not clear; both claim that they left voluntarily due to weight concerns, yet Brazilian opposition legislators are calling for an investigation of the boxers’ return to Cuba.

Image- Press TV

Sources- BBC News, Granma,, Reuters India

Bloggers of the world unite and take over

  • Hugo Chavez is behind a secret plot to bring a leftist “revolution” to Colombia. Que?
  • DeadspinOh great, more cannon fodder for soccer haters: a Brazilian judge suggested that gay players with their “existential problems” ought to form their own league.
  • Foreign Policy PassportMeet the South African version of the Minutemen.
  • Gothamist- Using Santeria rituals to “cleanse” a New York City school is just not a good idea.
  • Guanabee Check out this interview with Michelle Herrera Mulligan, author of “the world’s first ‘English-language Latina erotic fiction’”.
  • La Onda Tropical A return from summer break brings news on Jarabe de Palo and “fan of La Onda” Daddy Yankee.
  • Michelle Malkin, VivirLatinoOpposites on the ideological spectrum but an almost shared opinion of the DREAM Act being circulated through Congress.
  • The Daily Dish Could the immigration issue drive the traditionally black voting bloc towards the Republicans?
  • The Offside, The Postmen Apparently Reggie Miller may be taking notes from Colombian goalie Rene Higuita who is making a comeback at the age of 41 years in Venezuela.
  • Thighs Wide Shut“El Cantante”: Good film with a great performance by Marc Anthony and a disappointing role by Jennifer Lopez.
  • Tim’s El Salvador BlogSex stats between the U.S. and El Salvador.
  • Two Weeks NoticeSo how is Fidel Castro doing?

Sources- See above links
Image- Leal Consulting

Daily Headlines: August 9, 2007

* Brazilian police arrested Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia (image), one of the world's most wanted drug traffickers.

* Rockera Julieta Venegas may be the opening act for Spaniard Miguel Bose’s tour in Mexico after both recorded a duet for Bose’s latest album.

* Several Central American leaders held a “mini-summit” yesterday to observe the twentieth anniversary of the Esquipulas II Accord for peace.

* “Secret negotiations” have been going on that would provide a boost in anti-drug assistance from the U.S. to Mexico.

* Ecuador and Colombia made up almost one-third of all the remittances sent out of Spain, according to recent data.

* Puerto Rico’s First BanCorp agreed to a multimillion dollar settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over fraud allegations.

Sources (English)- Reuters, VOY Music, Monsters & Critics, Wikipedia, Christian Science Monitor

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Image- BBC News

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Photo of the Day: Where are Vicente’s mouse ears?

--Photo of ex-Mexican president Vicente Fox and his family vacationing in Disneyland.

Source and Image- Nuevo Excelsior

R.I.P. – Ernesto Alonso

Famed Mexican telenovela actor and producer Ernesto Alonso died yesterday at the age of 90 years. He was a well-known film actor during Mexico’s “golden age” of films in the mid-20th century and even made three movies with Spaniard Luis Buñuel. Yet Alonso distinguished himself in nearly 50 years of work in telenovelas and his work boosted Mexican television network Televisa into a leader of telenovelas not only in the Americas but also worldwide.

As friend and theater producer Tina Galindo said to The Los Angeles Times:

"Mexican television lost one of the best producers it has had, but he left us a great legacy as a producer, as an actor and as a friend. He brought to success many actors and stamped a phase in Mexican television."

Several actors and close friends such as Sylvia Pinal and Angelica Maria visited Alonso in his home shortly before he died. He leaves behind a daughter, a son, and eight grandchildren.

Sources (English)-, International herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times

Sources (Spanish)- Milenio, El Universal, Cronica, El Diario/La Prensa

Image- Esto

Bill could force disclosure of recent ex-SOA grads

A section of a bill being considered by the U.S. Congress could force the institute formerly known as the School of the Americas to divulge the names and courses of its graduates and instructors. The Pentagon has concealed the records of students and teachers at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC) since 2005 but a provision attached to the 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill by Representative James McGovern would change that.

The WHISC has come under scrutiny for having trained former Latin American leaders accused of serious human rights abuses such as Augusto Pinochet and Efrain Rios Montt.

In May, Costa Rica’s government said that it would become the fourth Latin American in three years to withdraw from the WHISC, while the House of Representatives recently rejected a proposal to shutdown the school.

Sources- Ledger-Enquirer, San Jose Mercury News, Wikipedia, The Latin Americanist, International Herald Tribune

Image- Metroactive (Protestors against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation hold a vigil in 2004)

Follow-up: Wrongly deported disabled man found

A mentally disabled U.S. citizen who was reported missing after being deported to Mexico has been found. "He is at home, beginning what will be a long recuperation process," said a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Pedro Guzman (image from April 2007) was found wandering along the U.S.-Mexico border nearly three months after his family reported him as missing.

As Reuters noted, Guzman’s mother was glad to be reunited with her son, but displeased with his condition:

“Guzman's mother Maria Carbajal, choking back sobs at a news conference, said her son was not the same as when she last saw him in jail, where he was serving time on charges of trespassing.

‘They took him whole, but only returned half of him to me,’ she said.”

Guzman’s family and the ACLU are suing the U.S. government over his deportation, though government officials claimed that they acted properly and that Guzman is not mentally disabled.

Sources- FOX News, the Latin Americanist, Reuters, Los Angeles Times

Image- KNSD

Daily Headlines: August 8, 2007

* Biofuel production has caused an increase in the prices of wheat and bread according to a Peruvian industry official.

* Bolivia’s envoy to Chile was forced to return home after he claimed that both countries were close to renewing diplomatic relations for the first time in 29 years.

* In a country where frequent blackouts are a part of life, the president of the Dominican Republic just signed a law criminalizing electricity theft.

* Salvadoran president Tony Saca confirmed that his country will send a reduced contingent of 280 troops to Iraq.

* Follow-up: In the aftermath of the near-deportation of a mother and daughter from Belgium, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa criticized Belgian immigration policy.

Sources- Dominican Today, The Latin Americanist, Expatica Belgium, Prensa Latina, Reuters AlertNet, CNN

Image- The Age (Wheat field in an unknown locale)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Video of the Day: Is the "War on Drugs" BS?

Note: Apologies for the severe lack of posts yesterday and today. Regular posting should resume on Wednesday.

In the meantime, U.S. drug czar John Walters criticized Congressional Democrats who supposedly want to cut the multi-billion dollar counternarcotics aid program known as Plan Colombia. "It's hard to explain what they're thinking," said Walters in this interview with The Washington Times.

Hence, our VOTD is the first part of the "War on Drugs" episode of TV show Bullshit!, hosted by Penn and Teller. The program argues that the "War on Drugs" is farcical and needs to be scrapped.

What do you think? (Video link)

Sources- The Washington Times, YouTube, Wikipedia

Daily Headlines: August 7, 2007

* Congrats to Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa (image) who won her first major title at the Women’s British Open.

* U.S. FDA busts BSing P.R. Drs. (Try saying that five times fast).

* Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered to negotiate with Colombian guerrilla leaders.

* Ecologists are worried over the deaths of hundreds of sharks off the Ecuadorian coast after the government lifted a ban on the sale of shark fins.

* A Washington State hiker died after falling off a Chilean cliff.

* Did Mexican television channel Televisa edit out the climactic scene of “Y Tú Mama, También”?

Sources- FOX Sports, AHN, Bloomberg, Forbes, Guardian UK, Guanabee

Image- CNN

Monday, August 6, 2007

Daily Headlines: August 6, 2007

* Lake Titicaca- located over 10,000 feet up in the Bolivian Andes- is suffering from increased pollution by nearby cities.

* Could a radio DJ accused of racism against Hispanic immigrants be hired to take over the radio show once hosted by Don Imus?

* Archeologists in Mexico City think that they made a landmark discovery in finding the ancient tomb of Aztec king Ahuizotl.

* English club West Ham United agreed on terms that would allow Argentine striker Carlos Tevez to be transferred to soccer giants Manchester United.

* Follow-up #1: An ex-Colombian soldier arrested for corruption confessed that a drug kingpin tried to hire former troops that served in Iraq.

Follow-up #2: First it was Brazil’s defense minister, now it’s the country’s head of airports who was forced out of his post in the wake of the deadly TAM Flight 3054 accident.

Sources- IOL, Vivirlatino,, Guardian UK, BBC Sport, The Latin Americanist, Monsters & Critics

Image- (According to the photo’s caption: “A woman steps through rubbish on the shoreline of Lake Titicaca)