Friday, November 23, 2007

De Musica Ligera

The work week is just about over.

It’s finally the weekend.

It’s time for some music!

Here are several music-based blog posts that have caught our eye:

Via Pasta Primavera:

Via Sounding Off:

Via to the dogs or whoever…:

Via motel de moka:

Via La Onda Tropical:

Via Minimal Land:


Via motel de moka:

Sources- Sounding Off, Pasta Primavera, to the dogs or whoever…, motel de moka, La Onda Tropical, Minimal Land, KROTO,

Image- (“Favela funk” trio Bonde Do Role)

Follow-up: Spaniard freed despite attacking Ecuadorian girl

Remember the Spaniard accused of verbally berating and physically assaulting an Ecuadorian girl on the Barcelona metro in early October? On Wednesday, a court from that city ruled that he can still remain free pending his upcoming trail:

The court rejected the appeals presented by prosecutors and the lawyers of the minor, according to the Spanish press yesterday.

The court’s resolution maintains that “neither the possible punishment imposed on him or his own personal circumstances…(prove that he) would risk being a fugitive from justice.” –[ed. Personal translation]

According to another report, the court acknowledged that Sergi Xavier Martin called the girl an “immigrant bitch” and “slut” yet that was insufficient to try him as a “xenophobe.”

Meanwhile, the Ecuadorian ambassador to Spain assured that they will be “alert and vigilant” to ensure that the “entire weight of the law falls” on Martin.

Below is a Spanish TV report on the attack:

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist, YouTube

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo, El Comercio, El Universo

Brazil: Teen “raped” while in police custody

Brazilian police have come under fire after a teenager claimed to have been “raped and tortured” in a jail cell by as many as 20 men for nearly a month.

The teenage girl had been allegedly arrested for stealing in Para state and was apparently the only woman in a police cell filled with nearly two dozen people. She was freed earlier this week though one report noted that she was “covered in bruises and cigarette burns.”

The governor of Para has vowed a full investigation into the girl’s allegations, though human rights groups claim that her situation is not an isolated one:

The regional human rights representative of Brazil's Lawyers Association, Mary Cohen, said she believed the girl had been subjected to "every imaginable type of physical and sexual aggression."

The revelations have unearthed a series of other cases in which women were apparently imprisoned alongside men.

On Wednesday there were reports that a 23-year-old woman had shared a cell with around 70 men in the Amazon town of Parauapebas, also in the state of Para.

Brazilian jails have been infamous for being overcrowded and squalid; a May study by Amnesty International condemned the country’s prisons, while a 2006 State Department report found that male officers “often abused and extorted the prisoners for sexual favors.”

Sources- AHN, BBC News, Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist, State Department

Image- Human Rights Watch (Overcrowded jail cell in Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Colombia: Hostages’ families want talks to resume

The families of victims currently held hostage by Colombian guerilla factions are upset and disappointed over the halt of negotiations. Approximately fifty people protested in Bogota’s main plaza yesterday over President Alvaro Uribe’s decision to remove Hugo Chavez as mediator. As the head of one hostages’ families organization said:

The lives of those held hostage by the FARC is ahead of any political reasons, which is why we ask the president to reconsider his position and allow President Chavez to return to his duties.” – [ed. Personal translation]

As we briefly mentioned yesterday, the Venezuelan government accepted Uribe’s decision though expressed its “frustration since a process is aborted that was being carried out…amidst great difficulties.”

Another government frustrated with Uribe’s edict was that of France that has supported Chavez’ mediation to free French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

Who’s to blame for the end of negotiations? Several parties according to the Center for International Policy:

The guerrillas once again deserve condemnation for precipitating the entire situation by cruelly holding hostages for so many years. They also come under fire for their continued rigidity at every stage in these initial conversations…

The Uribe government gets some of the blame too. After “authorizing” (Colombian Senator Piedad) Córdoba and President Chavez, it did little to make their difficult job any easier…President Uribe made a show of nominating the two “facilitators,” then washing his hands of the whole affair.

Image- BBC News (“Sen. Cordoba (right) was involved in a series of talks with rebels”)

Sources (English)- Associated Press, Reuters, The Latin Americanist, Xinhua, Plan Colombia and Beyond

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo, RCN

Daily Headlines: November 23, 2007

* First it was Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Now it’s fellow Colombian Shakira who has caught the overly critical eye of Iran’s government.

* The U.S. will create a special program for Cubans trying to obtain visas to enter the U.S.

* Brazilian health programs may help “reverse” the AIDS epidemic there, according to government health officials.

* Follow-up: Remember Sayda Umanzor- the breastfeeding mother who was separated for three days from her child by U.S. immigration authorities? She was deported back to her native Honduras on Wednesday.

Sources- Sydney Morning Herald, The Latin Americanist,, Reuters, New York Times

Image- MTV

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Daily Headlines: November 22, 2007 (PM Edition)

With the tryptophan slowly making its way through my body here’s a quick rundown of some recent headlines:

* Venezuela’s government begrudgingly accepted Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s decision to remove Hugo Chavez as mediator for negotiations with Colombia's largest guerilla army.

* Yet another reason why immigration reform in the U.S. is necessary: a backlog of citizenship applications may bar hundreds of thousands of people from voting in next year’s elections.

* Costa Rica’s free trade pact with the U.S. became law yesterday.

* Will Mexico soon ban all public smoking?

* José Feliciano y Andy Montañez are the latest celebs that have joined protestors against construction in a historic area of San Juan.

* Good news: Chile’s Congress voted to fund Santiago’s problematic transit system. Bad news: Congress allotted a mere $2.

Sources (English)-, BBC News, Associated Press, Reuters, The Latin Americanist

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

Image- BBC News

Enjoy your bean soup!

“The first Thanksgiving was held in Massachusetts between Native Americans and protestant English settlers who ate a great feast of turkey and cranberries.”

That’s the nugget of wisdom pervasive in our popular culture and taught to schoolchildren. If you’ve heard enough times then it must be the truth, right?

Well, not exactly:

Robyn Gioia, 53, has written a children's book, and just the title is enough to peeve any Pilgrim: America's REAL First Thanksgiving…

What does REAL mean? Well, she's not talking turkey and cranberry sauce. She's talking a Spanish explorer who landed here on Sept. 8, 1565, and celebrated a feast of thanksgiving with Timucua Indians. They dined on bean soup.

If you do the math, it is 56 years before the Pilgrims sat down and shared a meal with natives at Plymouth Rock.

Giola goes on to mention in the USA TODAY article that she hoped that the influx of Latinos into the U.S. would help spread the idea of the first Thanksgiving took place 442 years ago in St. Augustine, Florida.

(For that matter, the meal at Plymouth Rock was probably the third Thanksgiving according to some researchers).

While some of us enjoy time with family and a nice meal, let us show our gratitude to the important things in life as well as the history behind true first Thanksgiving nearly five centuries ago.

Sources- USA TODAY, Christian Science Monitor

Image- Seriously Good

Daily Headlines: November 22, 2007

* A twelve ton whale that made its way up several Amazon River tributaries died this week.

* Bonds in emerging markets like Latin America tumbled during trading on Wednesday.

* An article in the Christian Science Monitor ponders if “(Hugo) Chavez, with or without Iran's help, has the power to push oil to $200 a barrel?”

* Follow-up: The starting date of the trial of recently extradited ex-Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori two weeks to December 10th.

Sources- Bloomberg, Christian Science Monitor, Reuters UK, The Latin Americanist, Xinhua

Image- BBC News

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Video of the Day (again!): Fracas on Venezuelan TV

Normally we don’t put up two VOTDs in one day, but we couldn’t resist making note of this.

A Venezuelan congresswoman broke onto the set of a television show and fought with a journalist. Iris Varela accused Gustavo Azócar of using his local program in the state of Táchira to repeatedly slander her and her family. The confrontation occurred yesterday and was captured on-air.

(Video link):

The YouTube video comes via El Universal.

Sources- CNN, YouTube, El Universal, ITN

Video of the Day: Bustos, the sniper

Apologies for the lack of posts so far today; to be frank with you all, I’m still quite hungover after celebrating Colombia’s victory in World Cup qualifiers last night.

The battle of undefeated teams was won by the home side as Argentina fell 2-1 to Colombia in Bogotá. Carlos Tevez was sent off in the 25th minute yet it was wunderkind Lionel Messi who tallied the first goal with this fantastic effort in the 36th minute.

Messi nearly doubled the lead for los albicelestes shortly after the restart, yet it was Ruben Bustos who scored his magical right leg with this sublime golazo in the 63rd minute:

Dayro Moreno’s game winner seven minutes from full time gave Colombia the three points and pushed them up to second place after having played four games.

In Tuesday’s other qualifier, Venezuela scored three times in the last ten minutes to beat Bolivia 5-3.

Sources-, Bloomberg, YouTube, Bangkok Post, ESPN Soccernet

Daily Headlines: November 21, 2007

* Follow-up: A painting by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo which was found in the trash years ago was sold at auction yesterday for over $1 million.

* Shorter work days = more jobs says Venezuela's Labor Ministry.

* A U.S. immigration agent was fired after being accused of raping a Jamaican woman while she was in custody.

* Ex- U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales didn’t get the red carpet treatment during an appearance at the University of Florida.

Sources- Reuters, The Latin Americanist, VivirLatino, Bloomberg, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Image- BBC News

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Video of the Day: Coming soon to Caracas' nightclubs

First it was the reggaeton version.

Now there’s a trance interpretation of the recent squabble between King Juan Carlos of Spain and Hugo Chavez.

(Video link):

So who do you think will be behind the next adaptation of “¿Por qué no te callas?” – Alejandro Sanz or Miguel Bosé?

Sources (Spanish)-, El

Sources (English)- YouTube, The Latin Americanist, Wonkette

Titulares de las Americas

It’s been nearly a half-year since we’ve taken a look at various headlines that have been highlighted by the Latin American press. Here are stories that have recently made the rounds:

  • Over 100,000 people in Latin America became infected with HIV so far this year, according to a report to be released on Wednesday.
  • One survey showed that unemployment is the most pressing concern on the minds of most young Chileans, while a separate poll concluded that only 2 in 5 Salvadorans believe that democracy is the ideal government system.
  • During a speech commemorating Afro-Brazilian Conscience Day, Brazilian President Inacio Lula da Silva reproached politicians who “pretend” to help the poor.
  • The press in Argentina and Uruguay each looked at the one-year anniversary of activists opposed to the Botnia mill.
  • Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral may reopen this weekend roughly a week after it was stormed by 150 protestors.
  • The Colombian government would permit a meeting between a top guerilla leader and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez but only under certain conditions.
  • Cuba’s Fidel Castro ruminated on oil and biofuels in his latest article published on Monday, while Raul Castro announced January 20 as the date for elections to the country’s parliament.

Sources (Spanish)-, La Nacion, Diario El Pais,,, El Tiempo,,, El Universal

Sources (Portuguese)- O Globo Online

Image- Guardian UK

Website enriches minds and empty stomachs

The following bit of news is not Latin America-related per se, but still worth mentioning.

Does anyone remember The Hunger Site- a website created in 1999 where one could click on a tab every day and help donate a cup of food to people in undeveloped countries? The brain behind that website has come up with a novel approach to provide food to the needy.

Dubbed, the site allows users to play an English-language vocabulary game in order to help donate rice.

The rice is distributed via the U.N.’s World Food Program and paid for by advertisers to the site:

When you play the game, advertisements appear on the bottom of your screen. The money generated by these advertisements is then used to buy the rice. So by playing, you generate the money that pays for the rice donated to hungry people.

The website is addictive to play, and a worthy charitable effort. Click here to check it out.

(Hat tip:

Sources- The Hunger Site,,,

Image- BBC News

Giuliani repeats call to end illegal immigration

Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani reiterated his promise to halt all illegal immigration in the U.S. According the former New York City mayor during a visit near the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday:

“If we had the national will, we could end illegal immigration and expand legal immigration,” he said.

Giuliani’s remarks were very similar to those made in August at a campaign appearance in Iowa.

While in Texas, the Republican candidate also expressed his support for building a “virtual fence” along the U.S.’ southern border which would be “open to people who come in, who have identified themselves and want to participate in building America.” He also hit back at allegations that he has taken a hypocritical stance on immigration in that the Big Apple was a “sanctuary city” during his tenure as mayor.

As we’ve noted previously, numerous political and business leaders in border towns have opposed the construction of a border fence and believe that there are more feasible alternatives.

Sources- Brownsville Herald, The Latin Americanist, New York Daily News, AHN, KGBT, International Herald Tribune

Image- KVEO

Regional alliance could lessen energy woes

Representatives of five South American countries are in Chile for negotiations over a possible energy alliance. A feasibility study will be conducted next year in order to see if Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia could unite to form a regional electricity grid.

The potential benefits of such a union could be great according to one official:

Peruvian Deputy Energy Minister Pedro Gamio explained, "When it's raining in one country, it could be very dry in another."

He added Peru's potential for its water resources to produce 60,000 megawatts of energy is untapped since it could only develop 5 percent of the hydro resources. By having an interconnection, it could expand their potential market and attract more investors on the power venture.

Sources- Business News Americas, Reuters UK, AHN

Image- The Berkeley Lab View

Daily Headlines: November 20, 2007

* Coming soon to Mexican TV network TV Azteca’s U.S. affiliates: English lessons for immigrants.

* A U.S. federal court dismissed a case against oil giant Chevron regarding health damage to Ecuadorians.

* Quit appeasing hard-line anti-Castro dissidents, says a commentary in today’s Christian Science Monitor.

* Chile’s Mapuche community appeals to the U.N. over environmental damages.

Sources-, Reuters UK, Christian Science Monitor, The Santiago Times

Image- (“The National Autonomous University of Mexico's campus in Mexico City is working with Azteca America to produce English classes”)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Video of the Day: The return of “El Matador” Salas

South American teams played their third round of World Cup qualifiers this past weekend with one of the most interesting themes being the rebirth of two veterans: Argentine Juan Roman Riquelme and Chile’s Marcelo Salas. Riquelme continued his marvelous comeback with a pair of wonderful goals (including this beauty) in a 3-0 win over Bolivia.

However, it is Salas who we want to focus on in today’s VOTD; the 32-year-old striker returned from a two year absence with the national side to score twice and help Chile obtain a 2-2 draw away at Uruguay. Below is video from Chilean TV of Salas’ palomita goal which came after a pinpoint accurate cross from teammate Carlos Villanueva.

(Video link):

In other matches over the weekend:

  • Luis Fernando Suarez resigned as coach of Ecuador after suffering an embarrassing 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Paraguay.
  • Brazil has not won away to Peru since 2000; that streak continued after Sunday’s 1-1 tie in Lima.
  • Ruben Dario Bustos’ free kick blast with eight minutes left was enough for Colombia to beat Venezuela by 1-0.

Sources- Wikipedia, The Latin Americanist, CNN, YouTube, Xinhua, International Herald Tribune, FOX Sports,

State Dep’t to Evo: “Knock it off”

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack responded harshly to accusations by the Bolivian government against that country's U.S. ambassador. “The basic message is, just stop it. Knock it off,” said McCormack against the allegations of conspiracy against Ambassador Philip Goldberg.

Last week, Spanish news agency EFE released a photo which Bolivian president Evo Morales said proved Goldberg’s conspiracy against him:

The U.S. ambassador Philip Goldberg "aimed to be a counterweight to this government and erode its legitimacy," Morales told reporters Sunday, calling on the U.S. government to practice diplomacy instead of politics.

Morales cited a photo of Goldberg with John Jairo Venegas, a Colombian citizen accused of crimes, and a leading opposition figure from the southern Bolivia department of Santa Cruz, during a business expo.

The photo in question- which the U.S. says is a fake- can be seen above; Goldberg is in the middle and Venegas is on the right.

Image- teleSUR

Sources (English)- Reuters, Xinhua

Sources (Spanish)- teleSUR

Kucinich joins anti-SOA protest

President hopeful Dennis Kucinich was one of the thousand of protestors who marched against the military institute formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA). Kucinich spoke on Sunday during the annual vigil against the school:

Kucinich was speaking at the 18th annual protest of the school at Fort Benning that trains Latin American soldiers, police and government officials. One of his first acts as president if elected would be to close the school, he said.

"The type of thinking that produced this school is the same type of thinking that produced the war in Iraq and is producing a war against Iran," Kucinich said. The Ohio congressman and former Cleveland mayor was addressing a crowd estimated by local police to number roughly 10,000.

A spokesman for the school- now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation- said that criticism of the institute is “absurd” partly since “we operate as an open institution that anybody can see and with congressional oversight.” Nevertheless, one Salvadorian torture survivor who participated in the weekend march claimed that the ex-SOA trains human rights abusers who are “sent…back to their countries to torture people.”

Since 2004 at least four countries- Costa Rica, Venezuela, Argentina, and Uruguay- have withdrawn their officers from attending the ex-SOA. According to Wikipedia, several infamous Latin American figures graduated from the institute including Roberto D’Abuisson, Vladimiro Montesinos, and Luis Posada Carriles.

Sources- Wikipedia, Associated Press, Reuters, The Latin Americanist,, WTVM

Image- PRESS TV (“Dem. presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich (r) joined the protest.”)

Katrina cars land in Bolivia

Apparently one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

According to an article from the Associated Press, some cars which were ruined by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina have been repaired and resold to undeveloped countries such as Bolivia:

Suspected Katrina cars — with their jittery wiring, sand in the cracks and the telltale mildewed stink — have cropped up in a number of countries, but Bolivia has become a particular target. One local environmental agency believes 10,000 or more flooded U.S. cars may have ended up in the landlocked nation, drawn by loose import rules, a thriving smugglers' economy and an insatiable hunger for cheap wheels.

I suppose those cars would go great with those discarded “Buffalo Bills Super Bowl Champions” caps and shirts.

Image- Radio Netherlands

Sources- Digg, Associated Press

U.S. legislators upset with Chavez nuclear plan

A pair of Floridian congressmen has expressed their worry over Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's plans to develop a nuclear energy program. According to an article from the Associated Press:

(Representative Connie) Mack, a Republican, said Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's “dangerous alliance, and their desire to develop nuclear technology, should cause great alarm for the United States and its allies in the region.” He added: “It's imperative that our allies around the world unite to prevent Chavez from gaining access to new nuclear technology.”

“This new development of cooperation between Iran and Venezuela is too close to home,” said (Representative Ron) Klein, a Democrat.

Chavez remarked that his country will develop a nuclear energy program during an interview with French television last week. Venezuela will also begin developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as Brazil and Argentina are doing” added Chavez during the interview which aired last Thursday.


Sources- International Herald Tribune, ABC Online,

Daily Headlines: November 19, 2007

* Follow-up: Some people are trying to make a quick buck from Spanish King Juan Carlos’ reproach of Hugo Chavez.

* Over one hundred people in Puerto Rico have been indicted by federal authorities after supposedly obtaining fraudulent medical licenses.

* Colombian President Alvaro Uribe accused leftist opposition politicos of having “clandestine relations” with guerilla groups.

* Cuban tourist officials said that they expect to receive more than 2 million tourists this year alone.

Sources-, AFP, Xinhua, The Latin Americanist, Guardian UK

Image- Typically Spanish