Friday, October 5, 2007

Quote of the Day: What Evo’s critics really think of him

"Why are you going to go listen to that idiot? That racist Indio (Indian) can't even talk during interviews."

--Roberto Lovato wrote of Evo Morales’ visit last week to New York City for the U.N. General Assembly. The article in AlterNet began with the aforementioned comment by a “blonde-haired, green eyed Cuban friend” of Lovato.

Sources- The Latin Americanist, AlterNet

Image- MSNBC

News briefs – immigration

* The government of Irving, Texas is standing by its strong anti-immigrant measures despite criticism from the Mexican consul and the desertion of nearly 100 children of immigrant parents from area schools. “If they're not being booked into our jail, there's nothing they should be worried about,” declared Irving Mayor Herbert Gears regarding anxiety over the city’s police department cooperating with federal authorities to identify arrested illegal immigrants for subsequent deportation.

* The increase in Cubans entering the U.S. via Mexico has forced the Castro administration to seek a migratory agreement with Mexico. U.S. immigration authorities claimed that in the fiscal year 2007 twice as many Cubans (11,000) trekked across the U.S.-Mexico border rather than the Florida Straits.

* Last July we mentioned how legislators in Prince William County, Virginia passed an anti-immigrant ordinance that included barring emergency services from illegal immigrants. Local politicians voted on Tuesday to delay action on the entire ordinance until they could verify if the state government allotted sufficient funds for the plan to be carried out. (Hat tip: Hispanic Tips).

* Speaking of Prince William County, a Washington Post article published on Friday that concludes that the combination of anti-immigrant measures and excessive housing has crippled the area’s housing market. According to an except of the WaPo article:

Many real estate agents shudder at the prospects of a drop in population and more foreclosures. With little equity in their properties and adjustable-rate mortgages adjusting sharply upward, some immigrant families are gathering up their belongings and walking away from their homes in the middle of the night, several real estate agents have said.

"These people are slammed," said Mary Donaldson, a former mortgage settlement consultant..."They've lost their jobs because the construction industry has slowed or shut down, and when they get into trouble, they don't read their mail. A lot of them just don't understand the process, and they're so afraid that they can't talk to the bank."

Sources- Dallas Morning News, ImediNews, Houston Chronicle, Hispanic Tips, The Latin Americanist,, Washington Post, BusinessWeek, Reuters, MSNBC

Image- MSNBC (“Juan Alfaro, who immigrated from Honduras, recites the Pledge of Allegiance after taking the oath of citizenship at the Betsy Ross House during a Flag Day and naturalization ceremony in Philadelphia.”)

Mexico: Catholic campaign for abortion

A Mexican Catholic group plans to distribute pro-choice pamphlets after masses this Sunday. The head of the Ecclesial Observatory of Mexico (OEM) said that the pamphlet will emphasize the advantages from the decriminalizing of first trimester abortions in Mexico City:

“They’re arguments that can help churches attain the same level as society by putting aside dogmatic perspectives…People ought to take positions that put into account their social context.”

the OEM has also been behind the idea of creating “vigilance committees” that would ensure that medical clinics provide adequate resources to expecting mothers according to the law.

The OEM’s campaign will surely cause controversy, which is something they have been used to; in January, the OEM denied accusations of “politicizing” a public call to prayer in strife-ridden Oaxaca.

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa, La Opinion, CIMAC Noticias, La Jornada

Image- National Geographic (Mexico’s San Cristobal Cathedral)

U.S. Defense Secretary ending trip of Americas

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is winding down his six-day tour of several Latin American countries with a stop in Peru today. Gates will meet with senior Peruvian officials in order to “strengthen bilateral relations.” However, U.S. diplomatic sources denied that Gates’ visit has to do with the possibility of moving a U.S. military base from Ecuador to Peru.

Gates was originally supposed to visit the Americas in July but canceled it in order to face increased domestic criticism over policy in Iraq. Yet throughout his trip he has fielded many concerns over the U.S. occupation of Iraq including the role of private contractors and arms sales to the Iraqi military.

Yesterday Gates met with Chilean counterpart José Goñi Carrasco and praised Chilean peacekeeping efforts in countries like Haiti.

Earlier in the week, Gates visited El Salvador where he praised the country’s deployment of troops to combat in Iraq. He also observed training exercises of the Colombian military though he warned the country’s government to avoid hostage rescue attempts.

Image- Al Jazeera

Sources (English)- Bloomberg, AHN, AFP, Associated Press, Voice of America

Sources (Spanish)- Milenio, La Republica

Pachuca, Colo Colo ousted from Copa Sudamericana

Last year’s Copa Sudamericana finalists- Mexico’s Pachuca and Chile’s Colo Colo- were surprisingly eliminated from this year’s version of the tournament in the second round.

Pachuca’s run in this year’s tournament was halted by Mexico City club America by a 4-3 aggregate score. The first match was an absolute humiliation for the defending champs after having lost 4-1 at home last week. Goals in the second leg from Damian Alvarez and Christian Gimenez in three minutes gave los tuzos hope, but in the end it was not to be and America will play Brazil’s Vasco de Gama in the quarters.

Colo Colo lost the Copa final at home last year and were intent on winning this year’s tourney but Colombian team Millionarios upset the Chileans in Santiago. Both teams went to a penalty shootout after having played a pair of 1-1 ties yet a miss by cacique midfielder Arturo Sanhueza in the 13th round gave the Bogota squad a 7-6 shootout win. Much like America, Millos will play a Brazilian team- Sao Paulo- in the quarters.

Sources (English)- Vivirlatino, International Herald Tribune,, Reuters Africa

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo, La Nacion

Image- La Tercera (Millionarios players celebrate after last night’s win over Colo Colo)

Daily Headlines: October 5, 2007

* Once again, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe compared the conditions of hostages held by rebels to “Hitler’s concentration camps.”

* Congrats to actress America Ferrara who will receive the Hispanic Woman of the Year award from the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard. (Hat tip: Hispanic Tips).

* Accurate observation or Chicken Little mentality? – the head of Nicaragua’s largest foreign business group said that the government is “scaring away U.S. investors.”

* According to U.S. immigration authorities about 1100 of the more than 1300 illegal immigrants arrested in the last two weeks of raids came from Mexico.

* Nearly one in four three in five [ed. sorry for the typo] Bolivians backs president Evo Morales, concludes a recent poll.

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist, International Herald Tribune, Hispanic Tips, Bloomberg, Wikipedia, Angus Reid Consultants

Sources (Spanish)- Milenio, El Tiempo

Image- Digger History (World War II-era propaganda poster)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Video of the Day: Ouch?!

The following video is of Brazilian goalkeeper Dida who will surely win an Academy Award after his gripping performance in Wednesday's Champions League match. The netminder for AC Milan seemed to be acting a little too much in pain after being lightly slapped by a fan from rivals Celtic.

Perhaps Dida can take some comfort in knowing that the aggressor has received a lifetime ban from all Celtic matches.

(video link):

(Hat tip: Deadspin).

Sources- Deadspin, YouTube, Times Online, Reuters Soccer Blog

Mexico rejects U.S., Colombian undercover activity

Earlier this week, Mexican and U.S. anti-drug officials praised Mexican law enforcement efforts for an implied decrease in cocaine entering the U.S. Yet Mexican counternaroctics have come under recent scrutiny over its cooperation with other countries.

Earlier today Mexico’s foreign affairs office denied that U.S. “agents (or) troops” are involved in Mexican anti-crime operations. The office did acknowledge in a statement that an “interchange of intelligence…as well as transferring of technical and material resources” does take place between both countries.

In addition, officials rejected claims that Colombian police served in undercover missions in Mexico. The controversy arose after Colombian attorney general Mario Iguaran alluded to Colombian undercover work in Mexico in remarks made on Monday. However, the Mexican prosecutor’s office said in a report that any cooperation between both countries is done “legally”, while Colombian vice president Francisco Santos tried to downplay the controversy in an interview to be aired on CNN en Español:

(Mexico and Colombia) can “work together quietly under the law and this should not cause any controversy”.

“We have to break the barrier…of traditional sovereignty if we want to win this battle and have many positive results” affirmed Santos, alluding to the supposed controversy…over comments made by Mario Iguaran.

Sources (English)- International Herald Tribune, AFP

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa, Sol de Mexico, Milenio


Tancredo blasts N.Y. license plan

To label presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo as “anti-immigrant” is too easy. He has consistently criticized President Bush over his immigration policy, called members of the Minutemen Project “real heroes” and has used immigration as the main topic on the campaign trail.

Thus it should come as no surprise that Tancredo used an appearance in New York City to speak out against Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to provide driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Said Tancredo at a forum for local Republican legislators:

"I'm here today because the governor's proposals, if implemented, will affect not only the citizens of New York, but the citizens of all 50 states," he said.

"It also is an affront to the Congress of the United States, because he has declared war on the Real ID Act," Tancredo said, referring to the legislation passed in 2005 that set national standards for state driver's licenses.

"He is basically thumbing his nose at the universal acknowledgement of the need for more secure ID documents."

Despite the vitriol in the forum (i.e. equating illegal immigration with “terrorism”) not all the politicians present were pleased with Tancredo’s remarks:

“(New York Assemblyman James) Tedisco wants the whole world to know that this is a security problem and he supports legal immigration. He is a son of (Italian) immigrants and his ideas are not the same as Tancredo’s” said Juan Carlos Polanco- director of Tedisco’s New York City office.

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist, New York Post, American Free Press, Nashua Telegraph

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Image- MSNBC

Daily Headlines: October 4, 2007

* The latest U.S. industry to be outsourced to Mexicohorse slaughtering.

* Augusto Pinochet may be dead and buried, but that hasn’t stopped Chilean authorities from arresting his widow and five children on charges of embezzlement.

* Remember the controversy over the construction of a paper mill along the Uruguay-Argentina border? In the latest development the Finnish firm that owns the mill has delayed its opening by several weeks, if not months.

* The Salvadoran government levied $852,000 fines against Esso and Shell after accusing the firms of price fixing.

* Follow-up: The U.S. will not renegotiate a free trade deal with Costa Rica in case its voted down on Sunday, said U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab today.

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

Image- Weird Meat (Pieces of horse meat)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Quote of the Day: “Another Brick in the Wall?” take two

If Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff “is determined to build a wall. I wish Mr. Chertoff would build a wall around his house,” Ahumada said. “We don’t want this wall.”

--Brownsville, Texas Mayor Pat Ahumada gives his opinion on the “virtual fence” to be built along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ahumada is one of many border politicians unhappy with plans to build the fence; McAllen, Texas Chamber of Commerce president Steve Ahlenius gave a similarly-worded opinion a few months ago.

Image- MSNBC (“California National Guard soldiers water down areas excavated for construction of a border fence in May in the Russian Hill area adjacent to the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego”)

Sources- MSNBC, The Latin Americanist

Green light for Wal-Mart’s Mexican banks

Wal-Mart’s Mexican division has been cleared to open banks in that country and will most likely do so starting next month. Wal-Mart said it won approval to run bank branches from the Mexican Banking Commission yesterday and company executives are eagerly looking forward to operating banks:

"With Banco Wal-Mart we will be able to complement the services we provide to the segment of the population that currently lacks the benefits of having accessible banking services," said Wal-Mart de Mexico's chief executive Eduardo Solorzano.

Wal-Mart has enjoyed astonishing success in Mexico over the past few years as they are the largest private-sector employer and continue to expand into the country. Nevertheless, some Mexicans are not pleased with Wal-Mart; one of the latest controversies is that the company does not pay teens that bag groceries in stores.

Image- Foreign Policy Passport

Sources- AFP, BBC News, Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist

Argentina: Soccer takes back seat to resurgent rugby squad

Argentina’s most popular club soccer game has been moved to a different time in order to avoid clashing with the country’s do-or-die rugby match on Sunday. The start time of the superclasico between bitter rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate was moved up by two hours so that fans could watch los Pumas play their Rugby World Cup (RWC) quarterfinal against Scotland.

The Argentine rugby team has been the revelation at the RWC ever since their opening match upset of tournament hosts France. Despite being in the “group of death”, the Argies have gone undefeated so far and have outscored opponents 143-33.

It is this phenomenal playing by los Pumas that has captured the attention of Argentina despite rugby status as a secondary sport in a soccer-mad nation. More than that, however, is the cultural impact rugby has had in Argentina according to assistant coach Diego Cash:

“Cash said people find in rugby and the example set by the Pumas a sport with values that have disappeared from everyday life.

"Rugby as it is experienced in Argentina is clearly a formative which tangible, serious values are transmitted that are representative and the effect of what the national team is doing today in Argentina, from what I'm told and the articles I read, is clearly to spark a resurgence of lost values.

"What catches people's attention when they approach this sport is the commitment, solidarity, camaraderie, team work, the fact that no one shines above another, but rather it's the team that shines."

Despite the possibility of missing top goalscorer Felipe Contempomi due to the flu, Argentina is the odds-on favorite to win Sunday’s match.

Sources- Bloomberg, BBC Sport, Bangkok Post, Reuters UK, International Herald Tribune

Image- Sporting Life

Is the Spanish monarchy in danger?

Spain’s King Juan Carlos defended his country’s system of parliamentary democracy in a rare public speech given on Monday. In spite of growing protests in Catalonia and an official inquiry into the monarch’s expenses, the king backed the role of Spain's royalty:

Speaking in Oviedo, northern Spain, the king insisted his 31-year reign has seen the country "live its longest period of stability and prosperity in a democracy" since the death of military ruler General Francisco Franco in 1975.

Juan Carlos, 69, also urged all Spaniards to stand up for "democratic harmony, understanding, mutual respect, tolerance and freedom".

He also pointed out that the Spanish constitution of 1978 justifies their "parliamentary monarchy".

The center-right opposition Popular Party criticized the government for failing to quickly and strongly defend the monarchy during the protests against him. However, one of the most prominent critics of the king is a popular conservative radio talk show host who wants the king to abdicate in favor of the prince.

Sources- Voice of America, Foreign Policy Passport, Monsters & Critics, International Herald Tribune, Independent Online

Image- BBC News

Puerto Rican cop sings back at Calle 13

Some of Puerto Rican reggaeton group Calle 13’s songs are political in nature with one prominent example being a tune released over the summer against police brutality on the island. As a September article from the New York Daily News observed:

“Tributo a la Policía” refers to the brutality of the Aug. 10 shooting of Miguel Cáceres, which was videotaped by a bystander [ed. blog post link], but also to the killings and beatings of other unarmed civilians over the last decades.

“I wanted to leave a testimony about the killing of all these people,” Calle 13’s René (Residente) Pérez said on the phone from Puerto Rico. “I wanted the song to be part of the case files.”

Now the police are fighting back (pun unintended) against the perceived negative image from Calle 13’s music. According to an article from Voy Music, Puerto Rican radio stations are catching on to a song allegedly written and performed by a police officer against Calle 13:

“The theme by the supposed officer criticizes the way in which (Calle 13) sings against the work of the Puerto Rican police by pointing to recent cases of police brutality…

The new song insults Calle 13 lead singer Residente for “Tributo a la Policía”; Calle 13’s public relations representative said that the group “will not comment (on the song).”

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist, New York Daily News, Voy Music

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa, El Vocero de Puerto Rico

Image- batanga

Daily Headlines: October 3, 2007

* Three Mexican soldiers were found guilty of rape in a landmark trial presided by a civilian court.

* Follow-up: New York governor Eliot Spitzer deemed Republican politicos as “out of touch with reality” in claiming that terrorists would be aided by his plan to provide driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

* Brazil’s president was stuck at home for a few hours yesterday as homeless activists surrounded his home in protest.

* Venezuelan opposition leader Manuel Rosales called on Hugo Chavez to intervene for “kidnapped Venezuelans” while Chavez serves as facilitator in Colombia’s armed conflict.

* Cuba’s telecommunications board claimed that the U.S. blockade cost them over $21 million in lost revenue between May 2006 and April 2007.

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist, New York Daily News, Prensa Latina, Monsters & Critics, CNN

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Image- MSNBC

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Video of the Day: I love to Singa

Hugo Chavez released a CD of Venezuelan folkloric music this week which includes several tunes where he is singing.

With that in mind here's a brief impromptu clip of him performing during his weekly television show (video link):

Perhaps he has a future as a troubadour should he ever quit day job.

Sources- YouTube, AFP

Report: Nicaragua abortion ban deadly

Nicaragua’s total ban on abortions has killed at least eighty women since last November, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch. The study cites decreased health care for women over the eleven months since Nicaragua’s legislature passed the prohibition of all forms of abortion:

"Nicaraguan doctors are now afraid of going to trial or jail and losing their license," Dr. Leonel Arguello, president of the Nicaraguan Society of General Medicine, told The Associated Press. "Many are thinking that instead of taking the risk, it is better to let a woman die."

The ban was supported by then-presidential candidate Daniel Ortega in order to get backing from conservative elements during his campaign. Ortega continues to back the measure despite defending certain forms of abortion during his first term in office after the Sandinista revolution.

Sources- International Herald Tribune, Human Rights Watch, Reuters UK, The Latin Americanist

Image- BBC News (Pro-life activists march in Nicaragua circa 2006)

Israel may limit relations with Venezuela

Israel may decrease its political ties to Venezuela partially due to the strengthening relationship between Hugo Chavez and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to an article in Haaretz. According to the piece in the Israeli newspaper, a “highly-placed” source said that the Olmert administration is considering not naming a new ambassador to Venezuela once his term ends next June.

In addition, the article cites worries by Venezuela’s Jewish community over government plans to “centralize education,” thus affecting private religious-based schools.

Tensions between Venezuela’s Jewish community and Chavez were exacerbated by supposedly anti-Semitic remarks made last year:

“In his speech, Chavez lamented that while the world had enough resources for all, ‘some minorities, the descendants of the same ones who crucified Christ, the descendants of the same ones who threw out (South American liberator Simon) Bolivar from here and also crucified him in a way in Santa Marta - a minority took possession of all the planet's gold, of the silver, the minerals, the waters, the good land, the oil, the riches, and they have concentrated the riches in a few hands.’”

During a diplomatic visit several months ago Argentine president Nestor Kirchner agreed to serve as a mediator between Venezuelan Jews and Chavez.

Sources- Haaretz, El Universal, Associated Press, Venezuela Newsletter, The Latin Americanist


Javier Bardem to portray Pablo Escobar?

According to Variety Spanish actor Javier Bardem has been tapped to play infamous drug capo Pablo Escobar in an upcoming film. Bardem (image) is best known for his role as Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas in the 2000 film “Before Night Falls” which led to an Academy Awards nomination.

The movie- “Killing Pablo”- will be based on the Mark Bowden book of the same name, and is scheduled to star Christian Bale and begin shooting next June according to the producers.

However, an article on Rotten Tomatoes points out that another film on Escobar is set to begin production almost simultaneously as “Killing Pablo.” In fact, the director chosen for “Killing Pablo” passed on the script to the other biopic, creatively titled “Escobar.”

In August of 2006 it was reported that rapper Timbaland had planned to produce a film on the deceased kingpin. Who knows what happened to that idea?

Sources- Variety,, Cinematical, Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes, The Latin Americanist


Giuliani at Geno’s to denounce illegal immigration

Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani visited Philadelphia cheesesteak stand Geno’s yesterday as part of a campaign stop. While at Geno’s the former New York City mayor condemned illegal immigration while defending ongoing accusations of flip-flopping on the issue.

Yet Giuliani’s appearance at Geno’s was far from coincidental; in June 2006, stand owner Joey Vento controversially entered the immigration debate:

“A sign in a landmark Philadelphia restaurant asking customers to order in English is sparking controversy in the metropolis known as the "City of Brotherly Love."

The owner of Geno's Steaks said...that the sign, "This is America -- when ordering speak English," is intended to encourage immigrants to learn the language and assimilate into U.S. society.”

A discrimination case by Philly's human relations commission is pending against Geno's, though Vento has claimed that no customers have been turned away on the basis of language. In the meantime, the stand has turned into a “right-wing rallying ground” attracting the likes of former Senator Rick Santorum.

Geno’s is located in the South Philadelphia area which has had a rapidly growing Mexican population over the past decade.

During a speech in Iowa in August, Giuliani promised to “end illegal immigration” should he win the presidency.

Sources- New York Daily News, CBS News, VivirLatino, Associated Press, Philadelphia Daily News, The Latin Americanist,

Image- Philadelphia Daily News (Joey Vento and Rudy Giuliani engage in a warm embrace at Geno’s)

Daily Headlines: October 2, 2007

* New rules for traveling out of the U.S. started yesterday; air travelers flying to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean now need a passport to reenter the U.S.

* Peeved over the “arrogant treatment” received during last week’s U.N. General Assembly session, Bolivian president Evo Morales proposed moving the U.N. headquarters elsewhere.

* The Dominican Republic is preparing for a 24-hour-strike today in several industries.

* Cuba and Spain signed an agreement that would continue strengthening political and economic relations between the two countries.

* Follow-up: A Miami judge ruled in favor of the biological father in the custody case of a girl who fled Cuba only to be adopted after the mother was declared unfit to overlook her.

Sources (English)- Reuters UK, Voice of America, Associated Press, The Latin Americanist, Dominican Today

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Image- Marketplace

Monday, October 1, 2007

Quote of the Day: Dangerous liaisons

“I was never friend of Pablo Escobar even when it used to be a fad.”

--Colombian president Alvaro Uribe issued a statement today denying allegations made in a recently published book by a former lover of Pablo Escobar (image).

In her book “Loving Pablo, hating Escobar,” Virginia Vallejo claimed that Uribe permitted the construction of runaways used by drug traffickers during the early 1980s. (Uribe was head of Colombia’s civil aeronautics board between 1980-1982).

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo, RCN

Image- BBC Mundo

Costa Rica: Opposition grows vs. free trade pact

Controversy over an alleged “dirty” campaign has led to a surge in anti-free trade sentiment in Costa Rica which included a march yesterday attended by about 100,000 people (image).

The anti-free trade forces have been strengthened by a memo leaked to the press last month that revealed a detailed campaign to smear free trade opponents as friends of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, and to ''stimulate fear'' amongst Costa Ricans. The leaked communiqué has hurt senior politicians and government officials, and even led to the resignation of one of the country’s vice presidents.

After once holding a comfortable lead in the polls the pro-free trade factions have seen their lead shrink only days before the populace is to vote on Sunday over joining a multilateral free trade agreement with the U.S. and several Central American states.

Earlier today, former Costa Rican minister Alberto Trejos warned that the U.S. government and Congress would not renegotiate with the Central American country should a “no” vote win on Sunday.

Sources (English)- Reuters,, Latinamerica Press,, Angus Reid Consultants

Sources (Spanish)-


Chile: Conjoined twins separated

Doctors in a Chilean hospital are relieved after separating a pair of conjoined twins yesterday. “There have been no reverses and everything has come out as planned,” said Dr. Fernando Betanzo after a sixteen-hour-surgery separated the six-month-old twins who were attached at the chest and had shred some vital organs.

The twins will remain under close supervision for the next two weeks by doctors at Santiago’s Sotero del Rio Hospital.

On an interesting side note, the approximately $300,000 in medical care is being covered by the state.

Sources (English)- Xinhua

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


Brazilian women earn respect, adulation at World Cup

The Brazilian women’s soccer team fell to a 2-0 defeat against Germany in the World Cup final yesterday. Star striker Marta missed a 67th-minute penalty kick while a potential game-tying free kick by Daniela hit the post later in the match.

Yesterday’s win secured Germany as the first repeat champion of the tournament as the team played solidly and did not concede a single goal.

Nevertheless, the Brazilian team leaves with the heads held high after playing extraordinarily throughout the World Cup including a phenomenal effort in their semifinal upset over the U.S. Marta (image) was awarded with the tourney’s best player and top scorer honors as the squad made it to their first ever final.

The team’s impressive performance is even more so since the Brazilian soccer body provides them with minuscule financial and popular support compared to their male counterparts. Marta hoped that her team’s accomplishments could change that:

I think that if there were more incentives and support available then Brazil could go even further.

Now more than ever the Brazilian authorities need to do something for us in return, so we can take on the big teams like Germany and the USA on an equal footing.

Women's football can be a struggle, but us Brazilians are here fighting to open up more opportunities and smooth the path for them.”

Sources- AFP, IOL, Xinhua, BBC Sport, Bloomberg, Guardian UK

Image- CBC

Ecuador: Correa claims victory in vital elections

“The people of Ecuador have won the mother of all battles,” declared that country’s president- Rafael Correa- after unofficial results showed that his party won majority of seats in the constituent assembly. The poll by Santiago Perez indicated that members of Correa’s Alianza Pais (AP) faction won at least 79 of 130 seats. A fast count by Participación Ciudadana and published in El Comercio showed that AP candidates won a whopping 87% of the vote with most of the opposition groups earning less than 3%.

What does this mean for Ecuador? The bottom line is that President Cornea would have a mandate to change the constitution much like previous constituent assemblies in Bolivia and Venezuela. Thus, critics worry that he will exploit the assembly in order to transform the country into a socialist state.

Yet Correa’s allies claim that the assembly will increase the political clout of the poor over corrupt, established parties. Moreover, according to Diario La Hora, Correa remarked that the opposition’s worries were unfounded:

“Correa assured that he would not pursue a ‘totalitarian project or, worse still, a foreign plan’; thus, he rejected criticism from the opposition linking him to the socialist project of his colleague and Venezuelan friend Hugo Chavez.

‘We are good people. There are no hidden agendas and the international community knows that.’”

Sources (English)- Bloomberg, Reuters UK, BBC News

Sources (Spanish)- El Comercio, Diario La Hora,

Image- Xinhua

Daily Headlines: October 1, 2007

* After hosting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week (image), Bolivian president Evo Morales will apparently return the favor in November.

* Brazilian officials granted refugee status to a pair of Cuban athletes who defected during the Pan American Games in July.

* During his weekly radio show, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez announced plans to construct fifteen hospitals across the country.

* Peruvian miners plan to go on strike next week over the lack of rights to thousands of subcontracted laborers.

* The campus of Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM) was named a UNESCO cultural heritage site last week.

Sources (English)- Bloomberg, BBC News, Monsters & Critics, AFP

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Image- BBC News