Saturday, May 17, 2008

Live ALAS concert webcasts!

Tonight concerts will be held in Buenos Aires and Mexico City in order to benefit Movimiento ALAS. Shakira, Miguel Bose, Calle 13, and Ricky Martin are just a few of the roughly 30 acts playing tonight in order to raise awareness of the charity.

Private sector supporters of ALAS including Warren Buffet and Carlos Slim recently pledged over $200 million to help the organization which was founded to help in the early childhood development of Latin American youth.

As of the publishing of this post Jorge Drexler is performing along with Gustavo Cerati. Please check out tonight's concerts in name of a worthy cause!

  • Click here for the ALAS concert webcast in Buenos Aires
  • Click here for the ALAS concert webcast in Mexico City

Daily Headlines: May 17, 2008

* Venezuela: Hugo Chavez apologized to German chancellor Angela Merkel for calling her the political descendant of Adolf Hitler.

* Dominican Republic: President Leonel Fernandez appears to be on his way to keeping his post after yesterday’s general elections.

* Cuba: More reforms could be coming to the island according to the state-run press.

* Argentina: Soybean futures in Chicago rose in trading over renewed protests between argentine farmers and the government.

Sources- Reuters UK, The Latin Americanist, Xinhua, Monsters & Critics, Bloomberg


Friday, May 16, 2008

Today’s Video: Orión’s oopsie

We’ll be back over the weekend to tie up a few odds and ends.

In the meanwhile, San Lorenzo goalkeeper Agustín Orión chose a pretty bad time to bungle a pass and allow it to be knocked into his own net. Orión’s error was key in his team’s 1-1 tie against LDU Quito in their first game of the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals.

(Video link):

(Hat tip: The Offside – Copa Libertadores).

Sources- The Offside – Copa Libertadores, YouTube, International Herald Tribune

LatAm-E.U. summit begins in Peru

A summit of European and Latin American leaders started today in Lima, Peru with the focus on several topics. Representatives from both sides of the Atlantic are meeting to tackle issues like rising food prices, discussions over free trade, biofuel usage, and regional poverty.

The summit has already been hampered in that several heads of government have not made the trip including those from Italy, Cuba, France, and the U.K. Worse could be that the summit could fall apart over differences between countries; chiefly, the diplomatic conflict between Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador over relations with Colombian guerillas. Yet Peruvian president Alan Garcia emphasized unity between countries and that participants should seek real solutions:

“I request as host that we need to write down and sign on to concrete goals…We cannot allow ourselves to carry the shame of not doing anything concrete and reasoned in order to avoid the hell that hovers under millions of people.” – [ed. personal translation]

Sources (English)- Guardian UK, BBC News, AFP, The Latin Americanist

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo

Image- Diario La Republica

Dems, GOP wary of “Plan Mexico”

Republican and Democratic legislators are not pleased with a multibillion dollar counternarcotics plan destined for Mexico. The White House-promoted Merida Initiative (a.k.a. “Plan Mexico”) was proposed last October with an initial payment of $500 million in this fiscal year. The House of Representatives voted yesterday to cut the payment down to $400 million with most Democrats in Congress wanting more funds to go to Mexican social institutions instead of the military.

Meanwhile, members of President Bush’s party have expressed their resistance to “Plan Mexico”. Republican Tom Tancredo proposed a failed amendment to halt the Merida Initiative while a pair of representatives have requested that the president drop the plan altogether. Even Texan GOP legislators have not been pleased with the president:

"Our first priority must be to secure our own border and equip our own personnel before we even discuss sending one nickel to the corrupt Mexican government," said Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston…

"What's most maddening to me is the answer is so easy: Help our own law enforcement officers do their job," he said. "Quit obsessing with how to placate Mexico and focus on protecting America at our border."

Sources- Reuters, The Border Line, La Plaza, The Latin Americanist, Houston Chronicle

Image- TIME

95 Members Urge Mexican Authorities to Investigate the Abuses against Women during Police Operation

It's been over two years since the attacks on community members in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico, attacks that specifically targeted women, exemplified by the police rape of at least 23 women. The violence was sparked by a combination of land rights and the right to make a living. It's only taken two years for the U.S. government to say something. On Monday, Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (D-CA), Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA) and 94 other members of Congress sent a letter to Mexican government officials expressing concerns and urging resolution to allegations of widespread physical and sexual abuse of women detained by police in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico, in May, 2006.
In the letter, congressional members urge that jurisdiction over the investigation into the crimes committed against Ms. Méndez and the 25 other women assaulted in San Salvador Atenco be transferred to the federal attorney general and that any evidence gathered by any federal investigation undertaken so far is used to identify and file charges against those responsible.
The members also encourage the Mexican officials to implement the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission which call for effective and impartial investigations into the sexual and physical violence suffered by these women.
Sources : The Latin Americanist, The Narco News Bulletin, Adventures in the Coconut Caucus
Image Source : (MARIO VAZQUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Pro Puerto Rican Independence Activist Subpoenaed to NY Grand Jury on May 23rd

The harassment against Puerto Rican independence supporters seems to be continuing. On Wednesday, the FBI seached and served a Grand Jury subpoena on the compañero attorney and educator Elliot Monteverde Torres. The subpoena orders the activist to appear in the federal court of New York on May 23, 2008. Elliot lives with his wife and daughter in Texas. He was a student leader in the U.S. and a distinguished leader of the movement in solidarity with Vieques in New York.

Source : Personal Email

Daily Headlines: May 16, 2008

* Venezuela: Hugo Chavez accused Interpol of providing a “clown show” regarding the police organization’s “authentication” of computer files belonging to a slain FARC guerilla commander.

* Honduras: Approximately 30,000 people marched in San Pedro Sula and called for an end to violence caused by drug gangs.

* Ecuador: Oil and gas industry services firm Willbros Group agreed to pay $32.3 million as a settlement over accusations of bribing Nigerian and Ecuadorian officials.

* Haiti: Ericq Pierre accused the Haitian legislature of corruption after his nomination to be prime minister was rejected.

Sources- Reuters UK, CNN, The Latin Americanist, MSNBC


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Today’s video: Cartoon Contras

So is this what really happened with Oliver North during the Iran-Contra affair?

(Hat tip:

Sources-, YouTube

Navy says “no” to Clinton campaigning on Vieques

Part of the heated Democratic presidential race headed to Puerto Rico this week where campaign activities where held by close relatives of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. For instance, Michelle Obama spoke to followers in San Juan and emphasized “self-determination” by islanders over Puerto Rico’s political status.

Meanwhile, Chelsea Clinton wanted to campaign on the former U.S. Navy firing range on the island of Vieques. Naval officials denied her request:

The Navy rejected the request because U.S. law forbids campaigning on federal property and because the Navy allows only people clearing the Vieques range of ordinance to enter the area, the officials said. They said they did not know what Clinton planned to do there.

Vieques had been the site of several heated protests years ago after a bombing exercise accidently killed a security guard. Though the Naval base closed in 2003, opinions remain heated over the island’s relations with the U.S.

Sources- Reuters, Bloomberg, Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist

Image- BBC News (1999 image of protestors demonstrating against the U.S. Naval base on Vieques)

How much are those tortillas in the window?

The price of tortillas in Mexico could jump by as much as 40% according to the country’s “tortilla chamber”. The price of the Mexican food staple could spike next month to 12 pesos ($1.14) per kilo compared to the current 8.5 pesos per kilo according to the president of the National Association of the Dough and Corn Tortilla Industry:

Mexico's annual inflation accelerated at the fastest pace in almost three years last month, led by costs for housing and food…

Higher costs from rising gasoline prices and the hoarding of corn by producers are also behind the expected surge in tortilla prices, Milenio cited Martinez as saying. Tortillas need to be more costly to keep 10,000 tortilla shops open and prevent 50,000 job losses, said Martinez, according to Milenio.

The Mexican government has tried to downplay worries over a spike in tortilla prices by emphasizing that any increase will “not (be) by the exaggerated sums mentioned.”

Anxiety over increased tortilla prices last year led to government intervention including the capping of prices. Nevertheless, thousands took to the streets in protest as more Mexican corn is being used for biofuels.

Sources- Reuters, Bloomberg, Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist

Image- BBC News

Interpol: FARC comp docs are “authentic”

International police organization Interpol authenticated the files found on the laptops of a slain Colombian guerilla commander. The information- including parts which were leaked to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post– appears to seriously implicate Venezuela’s government with aiding and abetting the FARC rebel army.

Interpol’s finding will surely be used by the Colombian government to increase international pressure on Venezuela. Though the information refutes Venezuelan claims that the files were faked and doctored, Interpol head Ronald Noble warned that they did not analyze the content:

Mr. Noble said that deep forensic analysis showed Colombia did not modify, delete or create any files, although it did not always follow internationally accepted methods when handling the computers.

But he was quick to stress that the fact that the files had not been tampered with did not prove that the information contained within them was totally accurate.

Sources- Washington Post, Bloomberg, MSNBC, BBC News, The Latin Americanist

Image- Al Jazeera English (“[Raul] Reyes, Farc's second-in-command, was killed in March in Ecuador during a Colombian military raid [AFP]”)

Daily Headlines: May 15, 2008

* Brazil: Environment minister Marina Silva resigned on Tuesday in a move decried by environmentalists.

* Latin America: Did economic pressure from the World Bank at underdeveloped countries fuel the global food crisis?

* Venezuela: The Venezuelan and Portuguese heads of state signed an oil-for-food deal in anticipation of this weekend’s European Union-Latin America summit.

* Chile: The evacuated town of Chaiten will be shutdown for three months due to the eruptions of a nearby volcano.

Sources- Monsters & Critics, Bloomberg, MSNBC, BBC News

Image- MSNBC (“Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula of Silva, right, speaks with his Environment Minister Marina Silva at an Amazon conservation program in Brasilia on May 8. The minister resigned Tuesday.”)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Immigration Destroying Families On Both Sides of the Border

With the recent ICE raids across the U.S. there is much talk about how families are being torn apart without a deeper analysis of the how and the why immigrants are coming to the United States and how on the Mexican side of the border, families are being torn apart as well as breadwinners are forces to look for work outside their national borders.
So single women go north. And increasingly grandparents are being left
behind with grandchildren to take care of. The elders do what elders
do: they grow older, they start to lose their hearing, they need
someone to take care of them. But that generation is up north. Women
like Floriberta are left to take care of the elders…to the degree that
they can.
The people who spoke to us are clear that the forced migrations have
brought their towns economic benefits but a devastating disintegration
of families.
In Boqueron, I was struck by how empty the town is of traditional
families. There are elders of both genders and younger women with
their babies but very few men and women in their twenties and
Source : Racewire

Ecuador's President Rafeal Correa: "Even the U.S. Can't Control Outside Infiltration"

In an interview with BBC Mundo, Ecuador's President Rafeal Correa said from Paris that he feels no responsibility for the FARC camps found inside his country that sparked an international incident.
First, the FARC didn't have permanent camps [inside Ecuador]. They were temporary, about two or three months.
Second, what self critique should I have? Even the United States can't prevent immigration, that's why they are building a wall along the Mexican border.
Accusing us of allowing the FARC to infiltrate means accusing Colombia allowing the FARC to leave Colombia. That's Colombia's responsibility. We control our own territory.
In the interview (which is really interesting and should be read in my opinion), Correa also said that while he has no confidence in Uribe he is willing to talk with him in the upcoming conference in Lime because they are neighbors.

Source : BBC Mundo

Daily Headlines: May 14, 2008

* Brazil: A government study concluded that there are more blacks than whites in Brazil for the first time since slavery was abolished 120 years ago.

* Bolivia: Will voters oust President Evo Morales on an August 10th recall referendum?

* Latin America: Corruption is the main obstacle to trade and investment between Latin America and the European Union according to a survey released yesterday.

* Chile: The government will give a minimum of $1070 to families who were forced to evacuate due to the erupting Chaiten volcano.

Sources- Guardian UK, Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist, BBC News

Image- PBS

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today’s Video: Lucky 13 for “In the Heights”

Earlier today the nominations were announced for this year’s Tony Awards with “In the Heights” receiving thirteen of them. Best Musical and Leading Actor in a Musical are two of the categories with nods for the musical described by one source as “a look at Latino life in upper Manhattan.”

Below is a commercial for “In the Heights” which gives an idea of what the musical is all about:

(Hat tip: Guanabee, Vivirlatino).

Sources- Guanabee, Vivirlatino, NY1, New York Daily News, YouTube

Mexico: Drug cartel blamed for police chief killing

Mexican authorities have blamed a “powerful drug cartel” for masterminding the killing last week of the country’s acting federal police chief. Six suspects were arrested in connection with the murder of Edgar Millán Gomez including the suspected assassin.

The recent spate of violence against Mexican law enforcement officials has led to op/ed pieces in papers like the Miami Herald and the Arizona Republic. They all call for something to be done and warn that inaction will have serious consequences for the U.S.:

Mexican president Felipe Calderon has been brave enough to try to wrestle back control of his country from the vicious drug cartels that have been terrorizing border areas and, increasingly, major Mexican cities for years…

It's time for America to show a little courage, too, and not just because the true source of all the violence - drug demand - lies on our side of the border. Apart from the fact that the violence in Mexico makes a mockery of America's own spectacularly unsuccessful "war on drugs," it should go without saying that instability there has repercussions here.

Sources- BBC News, Miami Herald, Arizona Republic, MSNBC, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Latin Americanist

Image- PRESS TV (“Mexican officials with President Felipe Calderon at the funeral of Edgar Millan Gomez.”)

Colombia: Ex-paramilitary heads extradited to U.S.

Fourteen former paramilitary leaders were extradited from Colombia to the U.S. this morning. The men had been jailed after they gave themselves up under a 2003 peace agreement and includes Salvatore Mancuso (image) who alleged that several U.S. fruit companies hired paramilitaries for “security” on plantations.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe claimed that the former para leaders were extradited since they didn’t abide by the pact and continued to mastermind crimes from behind bars. They will go up for trial in several U.S. federal courts to face charges of money laundering and drug trafficking.

The extradition has raised the ire of several groups such as opposition politicos who claim that it was done so that the government could lessen the blow of the “para-politics” corruption scandal. More importantly, is the worry by hundreds of families of those “disappeared” by the paramilitaries that they will never find out what really happened to their loved ones.

Sources- CBS News, Voice of America, AFP, The Latin Americanist, International Herald Tribune, Reuters

Image- BBC News

Pentagon adviser chimes in on Iran

Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis, a Pentagon adviser, said today he is glad the Pentagon has "woken up" to the threat Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his alignment with Iran poses.

Tehran is working to militarize Venezuela, Maginnis wrote in an op-ed. He also expressed concern that Venezuela was allowing Hezbollah or other terrorist groups to operate in the country.

Maginnis also raised an alarming claim that the Iranians are helping Chavez to construct nuclear weapons 1,000 miles from Florida, according to this article.

Source: OneNewsNow, Photo: Happyarabnews.blogspot

Peru's mobility lags

A new report shows that Peru has the lowest "mobile number portability" in all of Latin America, which means their mobile service ability is about 36 percent lower than the region's average.

However, in 2007, Peru had the third highest mobile growth rate in South Ameica.

Reasons might include the sharp contrasts between service in rocky rural areas and cities.

The report, “2008 Latin America - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in the Andean Bloc” is available at the end of this press release.

Daily Headlines: May 13, 2008

* Venezuela: Hugo Chavez seemed to have godwinated German Chancellor Angela Merkel in comparing her to the “German right” which descended from Adolf Hitler.

* U.S.: Presidential hopeful John McCain quiere su voto.

* Mexico: Mother’s Day was a day of remembrance for mothers in Ciudad Juarez over the disappearances of hundreds of young women.

* U.S.: According to the Associated Press, over half of the 504 people who became new citizens at a ceremony last weekend were from the Dominican Republic.

Sources- CBS News, Center for International Policy,, Urban Dictionary, Reuters

Image- MSNBC

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Today's Video: Happy Mother's Day!

We would like to wish a very happy and heartfelt Mother's Day to all the madres out there. In honor of this day (and for that matter, all the sacrifice and determination set forth by mothers everyday) a classic from Bill Withers:

Source- YouTube

Colombia trying to “provoke” war says Chavez

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez accused his Colombian counterpart of wanting to provoke war with Venezuela in order to justify a U.S. intervention there. In remarks made today on his radio talk show, Chavez urged Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to “think closely about how far you can go” regarding a supposed invasion:

"I issue an alert to the continent, the Venezuelan people, the armed forces over the Colombian government's intention to provoke a war against us," Chavez said.

"This has been planned and (the war) would come by way of the (western) states of Zulia and Tachira. They've been playing for time and making their plans.

"It would be a war in which the paramilitaries would play a role of penetration and intelligence," Chavez said, allegedly referring to Colombia's right-wing paramilitary forces.

Chavez’ remarks come after days after media reports from the Wall Street Journal and Spain’s El Pais accused his government of deep ties with Colombia’s FARC guerillas. Chavez has denied the allegations made by those sources.

Image- MWC News (The president of Colombian and Venezuelan chat during a conference earlier this year)

Sources- The Latin Americanist, Reuters UK, Bloomberg, France24, AFP

Poll: Dominican president favorite in election

With general election coming up on Friday Dominican President Leonel Fernandez has a comfortable lead over his closest rivals based on a recent poll. 56% of respondents to a poll by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates selected Fernandez to continue in the presidency; this is compared to 37% and 5% to the rivals from the country’s two other major parties.

If the poll numbers reflect the voters’ choices on Friday then Fernandez will win without a runoff round. Several experts observed that Fernandez has some serious challenges ahead of him if he goes on to a third non-consecutive term:

"He is going to be trying to complete the unfinished business from the term that he is concluding now," said Dan Erikson, a Caribbean expert at Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank.

"The Dominican Republic still has to deal with facing ongoing social problems, inadequate education and health care for many people and also just the basic element of job creation," Erikson said…

"To me the main challenge will be economic and just managing the economy in times of crisis," (said Eduardo Gamarra, a Latin American expert at Florida International University who has worked as a consultant for Fernandez.)

Image- BBC News (Dominican President Leonel Fernandez along with his Colombian and Venezuelan counterparts earlier this year)

Sources- Reuters, Angus Reid Consultants

Chile: Hacker posts personal data of millions

Chilean police are investigating the hacking of personal information of over six million people on a tech website on Saturday. As mentioned today by Chilean daily El Mercurio the data published on the FayerWayer blog included names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mails, and identification numbers.

Meanwhile, a post on FayerWayer by the site’s administrator urged Chilean officials to concentrate on fixing the problem of private records being hacked:

Unfortunately, (the government) is misunderstanding the situation based on the words of (presidential spokesman Francisco) Vidal:

“I don’t know anything about computers much less that there’s such a thing as hacking…We have to catch mister hacker.”

No Mr. Vidal, the hacker only works to inform you of the vulnerabilities he found. The investigation that needs to be focus on how somebody could have access and publish the personal data of nearly half the population.

Image- The Raw Story

Sources (English)- International Herald Tribune

Sources (Spanish)- FayerWayer, El Mercurio

Daily Headlines: May 11, 2008

* Brazil: Congrats to Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa who won for the third straight year.

* Peru: Prosecutors are upset with a “lack of respect” by former president Alberto Fujimori during his trial for human rights abuses.

* Mexico: Controversy has erupted over a judge who fined a writer $5 for “desecrating the country's flag” in a poem.

Image- Sky Sports

Sources- AFP, People’s Daily Online, MSNBC