Friday, February 8, 2008

Exxon :1 Venezuela : 0

Exxon Mobil Corp. won a round in its bitter fight against Venezuela's state oil company Thursday as courts in several countries said they would freeze $12 billion in international assets held by Petroleos de Venezuela. This is happening after Hugo Chavez nationalized a heavy oil field in eastern Venezuela. Exxon and other multinational oil co.'s have suspended their projects in the South American nation and have been trying to recoup their money invested in said projects rather than cede majority ownership to Petroleos de Venezuela. Rumors abound that lenders invested in Petroleos de Venezuela are short on money and trying to renegotiate loan agreements, leaving Petroleos de Venezuela in more debt than it already has.

Source : LA Times

Pedro Martinez Caught With a Cock in DR

Get your mind out of the gutter. I mean rooster people. NY Mets Pitcher Pedro Martinez and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal was caught on video cock fighting while in the Dominican Republic .
Cockfighting is both legal and popular in the Dominican Republic.
The pair took part as honorary "soltadores" - the word used to describe the person who throws the animal into the ring.

When Martinez was questioned about his participation in what many consider an act of cruelty he responded by saying in a statement released by his team:
"I understand that people are upset, but this is part of our Dominican culture and is legal in the Dominican Republic. I was invited by my idol, Juan Marichal, to attend the event as a spectator, not as a participant."
The video released on You Tube is said to be at least two years old.

Source : NY Post

Ricky Martin Proving Again That He is Close to the Perfect Rican Male

He's got the look. He's got the talent and he certainly has the corazon. Ricky Martin is going to participate next week in the United Nation's Global Initiative Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking. This is an issue that Ricky has been working on through his namesake foundation. He will be in good company. Also expected at the forum are Suzanne Mubarak, the First Lady of Egypt and Emma Thompson, the Oscar-winning actress.

Source : Press Release

Daily Headlines: February 8, 2008

* Former Mexican Foreign Secretary Jorge Castaneda rejected reports that he was a Cuban spy in the 1970s.

* A recent poll showed that Chilean president Michelle Bachelet’s popularity has gone down to 43%.

* Thousand of protestors marched in Cuzco, Peru against a proposal that would make it easier to construct near ancient cultural sites.

* Follow-up: Remember the Viradouro samba school that was denied using a Brazilian carnival float depicting holocaust victims? They came in seventh while carnival judges gave Beija Flor their fifth title in six years.

Sources- BBC News, Associated Press, The Latin Americanist, Los Angeles Times, Angus Reid Global Monitor


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gene causes Hispanic pre-term problems

Scientists have found a gene that may contribute to pre-term births for Hispanic women.

Science Daily reports that the gene ENPP1 may cause these pre-term births and low birth weights. One in eight babies in the United States is born prematurely, and scientists think the gene composition of mother and child is a contributing factor.

Each ethnic group will have a different gene or genes to cause pre-term problems, but scientists say they have pinpointed the one causing problems for Hispanics, who made up 85 percent of the study.

Source: Science Daily

Explaining the Apathy

An article in the Columbia Spectator adds explanation to why Americans are apathetic about Latin America.

Thomas J. Trebat says that while other continents are more important or useful to the United States (Africa needs our aid, China is useful commercially, the Middle East provides oil), Latin America recedes into the background surrounded only by news about drug trafficking and gang violence.

Add that to the anti-immigrant (read: anti-Mexican) sentiment felt from presidential campaign rhetoric, and successes like 34 booming economies are ignored.

Read more of the analysis here.

Source: Columbia Spectator

Daily Headlines: February 7, 2008

* One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…in Nicaragua.

* Growing opposition to Salvadoran soldiers fighting in Iraq may lead to a major troop reduction according to President Tony Saca.

* Over 1450 people have been evacuated from the area around Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano after it exploded yesterday.

* Colombian singer Shakira will auction off over forty pieces of clothing worn during a 2007 tour with proceeds going to her Bare Feet Foundation.

Sources-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Reuters, AFP, The Press Association

Image- ITN

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Soccer: U.S., Mexico end in 2-2 draw

The Mexican and U.S. men’s soccer teams played to a 2-2 tie Wednesday night in a battle of CONCACAF giants. The Mexicans came back twice with goals off of set pieces in each half from Jonny Magallon. Eighteen-year-old phenom Jozy Altidore scored in his first national team start for the “Stars and Stripes” while Oguchi Onyewu opened the scoring with a deftly-placed header.

Over thirty fouls were called on what had been expected to be a physical match between the two rivals. The game was played in front of a sold-out crowd of 70,000 plus in Houston, Texas’ Reliant Stadium and marked the tenth straight match where Mexico has not won on U.S. soil.

Sources- Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, UPI, The Sports Network,

Image- Houston Chronicle (“Mexico midfielder Gerardo Torrado, right, tries to steal the ball from United States midfielder Ricardo Clark during the first half.”)

U.S. Rep. calls Puerto Ricans “foreigners”

U.S. congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite (image) is under some controversy after she referred to Puerto Ricans as “foreign citizens.” The Floridian legislator made the remark in a press release protesting the tax breaks given to the commonwealth as part of President Bush's economic stimulus package.

Brown-Waite’s claim has upset Puerto Ricans and even led to a resolution from the Puerto Rico House of Representatives demanding that she apologize. So far she has remained defiant though a spokesman admitted that her statement made a poor choice of words:

Charlie Keller, Brown-Waite's spokesman, acknowledged that a press release sent last week used the wrong word when it called Puerto Ricans "foreign citizens" but said Monday that Brown-Waite does not intend to apologize.

"The clarification I issued about the word choice was appropriate and plenty enough," Keller said.

For the record, Puerto Ricans do pay Social Security, Medicaid and other payroll taxes despite not paying federal income taxes. Also, despite Brown-Waite’s misgivings over tax breaks she “reluctantly” voted in favor of the economic stimulus package.

Sources- Orlando Sentinel, St. Petersburg Times, Hernando Today

Image- Orlando Sentinel

Video of the Day: "El Chupacabra" is Ron Paul's Uncle?

A segment of Tuesday night's edition of The Colbert Report examined the importance of the Latino vote and included an insightful interview with the director of the National Institute for Latino Politics, Angelo Falcon.

Host Stephen Colbert also looked at how the candidates' Spanish-language ads emphasized family, and decided to create a silly hypothetical commercial for Ron Paul.

(Video link):

Comedy Central, Columbia University

Super Tuesday Results on Wednesday : Latinos Help Boost Clinton

Well finally it's Wednesday after super Tuesday and if you're a Democrat then you are no more closer to knowing who is going to be your party's nominee. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pretty much divided up the 22-state nominating frenzy that was yesterday.
Clinton took the big states of California and New York with many crediting that win to that oh so important Latino vote. In California, CNN said that Latinos were backing Clinton by a two-to-one margin.

Source : NYT, CNN

Daily Headlines: February 6, 2008

* Latin American tech firms have “failed to remain competitive” and are likely to suffer from Chinese competition, according to a study released yesterday.

* The always resourceful tackles a misleading anti-immigrant e-mail directed at college students.

* U.S. Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell blasted the Venezuelan government for allegedly undermining antidrug efforts.

* Tensions have increased between Haiti and the Dominican Republic after a cross-border market was shutdown.

Sources- AFP,, Associated Press, Bloomberg

Image- BBC News

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bush aid boost focuses on drugs, violence

The LA Times explains where President Bush's proposed $2.7 billion in aid for Latin America, a 25 percent increase, will go.

Most of the allotted money will go to military and police aid, not economic development, because the focus is on combating gangs and drug traffickers.

Check out the article.

Source: LA Times

Photo: Associated Press, drug trafficking arrests in Mexico

Hispanics wield voting power on Super Tuesday

A large article in today's New York Times about the Hispanic voting bloc. Although it's not entirely new that Hispanics will play an unprecedented part in this year's election, it is noteworthy that today's 24 states make up about 60 percent of eligible Hispanic voters. Especially in the tight races with Barack Obama and HIllary Clinton, if they vote, they will have an impact.

Here are several other articles about Hispanics' influence on Super Tuesday from New American Media, The Wall Street Journal and The Denver Post.

In related articles, here's one about the 2008 candidates and where they stand on free trade with Latin America

Sources: New York Times, Latin Business Chronicle, New American Media, The Wall Street Journal, The Denver Post

Photo: Bloomberg

Daily Headlines: February 5, 2008

* Rest in piece Tata Guines; Cuba’s "King of the Congas" died yesterday at the age of 77 years.

* U.S. aid to Latin America is expected to go up by 25% according to President Bush's proposed budget for 2009.

* Are U.S. ports ill-prepared for the upcoming Panama Canal expansion?

* Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said that his country is willing to increase cooperation with U.S. antidrug efforts.

Sources- Dallas Morning News, Reuters, La Plaza, Bloomberg

Image- BBC News

Monday, February 4, 2008

Brazil blasts beef ban

The Brazilian government is none too happy over a ban on its beef to be exported to the European Union (E.U.). Acting foreign minister Ruy Nogueira claimed that E.U.’s decision was “unjustified and discriminatory regarding perfectly qualified farms,” while Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva claimed hypocrisy:

"They have the (mad) cow disease there and are making complaints here," the president told a meeting of press and cattle breeders. The gathering was also attended by Andre Puricelli, governor of Mato Grosso do Sul state, one of the biggest beef producing states in the country.

The E.U.’s edict came due to anxiety over recent problems with foot-and-mouth in Brazilian cattle. European farmers such as those in Ireland were pleased with the E.U.’S decision to bar all Brazilian meat.

Sources- The Latin Americanist, AFP,, Xinhua

Image- BBC News

“Hate speech” over immigration must stop, says La Raza

Latino civil rights group the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) has called on cable TV news channels to stop the “hate speech” that has infiltrated the public debate over immigration. “Hate groups and extremists have taken over the immigration debate,” said NCLR president Janet Murguía who also called for presidential candidates to sever their ties with ... hate groups.”

Murguía singled out Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, and Glenn Beck for their rhetoric on the airwaves. Regarding Beck, for instance, Media Matters noted this 2006 diatribe from his Headline News program:

On his second night as a CNN Headline News host, nationally syndicated radio host Glenn Beck devoted the opening monologue and first guest interview of the May 9 edition of Glenn Beck to an attack on illegal immigrants, suggesting that they are "try[ing] to conquer our culture." Then, comparing the United States to a "big living room," Beck said of illegal immigrants: "I want you to hang out with me. You know what I mean? But don't come in and then just pee all over the carpet and say, 'Hey, this place is mine. This is my couch.' I mean, I invited you in. Now come on, be a part of the family." Beck also said a Spanish-language version of the national anthem "sounded like Enrique Iglesias was throwing up on a mariachi band and then recorded it."

Image- BBC News

Sources- New York Times, Dallas Morning News, Media Matters, Associated Press

Daily Headlines: February 4, 2008

* Millions of Colombians around the world are expected to participate in marches against the violence perpetrated by the country’s largest rebel faction- the FARC.

* Paraguay is on a health alert over a recent outbreak of dengue fever.

* Could a possible Puerto Rican teachers’ strike overwhelm public schools in central Florida?

* Canadian officials are increasing the pressure on Mexico to decide on the status of a Canadian imprisoned there.

sources- Bloomberg, BBC News, Orlando Sentinel,

Image- BBC News (“Families have pressed to keep attention on the hostages' plight”)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Weekend blogging (was something of a bust)

The original plan had been to post about ten posts Saturday and Sunday, and take Monday off to go to this. Yet between a terrible Internet connection yesterday (as I said here) and contracting a bad cold today there weren't too many posts published. Sorry about that and hopefully I can make up for it on Monday while I'm in bed.

(Thankfully, the weekend was not a total bust!)

See you all on Monday.

La Opinión endorses Obama

With the Super Tuesday primaries less than 48 hours away, one of the U.S.’ main Spanish-language newspapers endorsed Barack Obama as Democratic presidential candidate.

Los Angeles-based La Opinión backed the Illinois senator in a column published yesterday. The editorial reservedly praised fellow frontrunner Hillary Clinton, though the column was more impressed with his rhetoric and message filled with positivity:

“…there are not huge differences between the two Democratic candidates on most of the major issues. Thus, vision makes the difference! Obama offers an inclusive message of hope that addresses our country's historic moment. He has a conciliatory style that can reverse the vicious cycle of rancor which has dominated Washington over these past decades and has paralyzed its ability to come together on major decisions.

We need a leader today that can inspire and unite America again around its greatest possibilities. Barack Obama is the right leader for the time. We know that he is not as well known among our community and while he has the support of Maria Elena Durazo, Senator Gil Cedillo and others he comes to the Latino community with less name recognition. Nevertheless, it is Obama who deserves our support.

La Opinión- which is the largest Spanish language newspaper in the U.S. according to Wikipedia- also endorsed John McCain for the Republican presidential candidate.

Clinton has led comfortably over Obama in several polls of Latino voters in the Super Tuesday states. Nevertheless, both candidates have been aggressively courting the Latino community and nothing is guaranteed until the polls close.

Image- New York Daily News

Sources- Editor & Publisher, La Opinión, Guardian UK, Christian Science Monitor, Wikipedia, USA TODAY

Daily Headlines: February 3, 2008

Note: Apologies for the lack of posts on Saturday; we had problems with the internet connection here at Latin Americanist HQ.

* The massacre of eleven people in Guyana last weekend highlights the problem of crime in the Caribbean according to the

* A defense witness in the case against ex-Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori claimed that the country engaged in a “dirty war” years before Fujimori came to power in 1990.

* A former torture center during Argentina’s brutal military dictatorship has been transformed into a cultural center by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

* Follow-up: Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said he will sign an anti-immigrant pledge promoted by an Alabama senator. This comes over two weeks since he endorsed a similar oath.

Sources-, CBS News, the Latin Americanist, AFP, BBC News

Image- BBC News (“Residents (in Guyana) demanded greater protection from security forces.”)