Saturday, June 21, 2008

Daily Headlines: June 21, 2008

* Mexico: At least 12 people are dead from a stampede caused in a Mexico City nightclub after a police raid.

* Nicaragua: Marcela Sanchez’ latest column contends that President Daniel Ortega's government has been “dismantling…democracy” in Nicaragua.

* El Salvador: Relatives of deceased diplomat José Castellanos want him to be honored posthumously by Israel for saving the lives of 25,000 Jews during World War II.

* Chile: The future of the world’s whaling industry could be decided during a conference next week in the Chilean capital of Santiago.

Image- AFP (“Local officials remove dead bodies from the nightclub.”)

Sources- BBC News, Reuters,, Guardian UK

Friday, June 20, 2008

Today’s Video: Junot Diaz humbles Stephen Colbert

We’ll continue posting a few items this weekend. Why? Because we care! (The real reason: I have no life).

In the meantime, the below video is of author Junot Diaz’s appearance on “The Colbert Report” earlier this week. In the interview, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Diaz explains his family roots, looks at immigration, and “outgeeks” Colbert by mentioning about triffids.

(Video link):

According to Wikipedia, triffids are “a highly venomous plant species” first mentioned in the fictional 1951 novel “The Day of the Triffids.”

Sources- The Latin Americanist, Comedy Central, YouTube

Venezuela denies Hezbollah links

The Venezuelan government rejected charges made on Wednesday by the U.S. Treasury Department (USTD) regarding links with Hezbollah. The USTD accused the Chavez administration of “employing and providing safe harbor” to two people who reside in Venezuela and allegedly aided Hezbollah.

The Venezuelan government denied any wrongdoing:

In response to Treasury's action, the Venezuelan government issued a statement saying that "Hezbollah is a political party legally operating in Lebanon".

"We do not have any formal complaint from Lebanon regarding this or other issues," said Andres Izarra, the Minister of People's Power for Communication and Information. "If they had any problem requiring investigations, they would have informed our country about it, and they have not."

U.S. officials have previously blamed Venezuela with ties to Hezbollah vis-à-vis Iran.

Image- BBC News

Sources- ABC News, CNN, Reuters, The Latin Americanist

Cuban exiles, Bush admin upset at E.U. sanction move

Yesterday, E.U. officials announced that they will drop its sanctions against Cuba which had been suspended in 2005. The hope is that doing so would help promote democratic reforms on the island including creating closer relations with dissident groups.

Unlike the E.U.’s optimism the reaction by some in the U.S. was one of disappointment and criticism. “We would not be supportive of the EU or anyone else easing those restrictions at this time” said U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey who added that it was too soon to lift any sanctions against the Castro administration. Meanwhile, one Florida-based Cuban exile group disagreed with the E.U.’s decision:

The EU's action is tantamount to the EU giving the Cuban government its seal of approval, according to the Miami-based Cuban Democratic Directorate…

"We regret this decision and think this is a sad moment for us and for the opposition movement back in Cuba," said Janisset Rivero, the group's adjunct national secretary. The organization has spent years supporting and advocating for dissidents in Cuba.

One key portion of the E.U.’s move is that officials have the leverage to review the situation in one year and could possibly resume placing sanctions on Cuba.

Image- Al Jazeera English

Sources- AFP, Bloomberg, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Reuters UK, Guardian UK

Daily Headlines: June 20, 2008

* Mexico: The government has appealed to the World Court to intercede in the cases of five Mexicans who face execution in the U.S.

* Venezuela: Cement firms have 60 days to negotiate a deal with the government or face being expropriated according to a decree issued yesterday.

* Peru: Federal and local officials reached a deal to stop a 10-day protest over taxing mining income.

* Guatemala: Chemical giant Monsanto will purchase a Guatemalan-based corn seed company.

Image- Javno

Sources- AFP, Bloomberg,, Reuters UK

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chavez threat to E.U.: No more oil for you

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared today that his country would suspend oil exports to the E.U. if the region’s new immigration law goes into effect. The so-called “return directive”- which was approved on Wednesday- set limits for holding illegal immigrants in detention centers and set guidelines for reentry.

Chavez’ remarks adamantly opposed the E.U.’s new policy:

"Our petroleum should not go to these European countries" that apply the new laws, Chavez said at a press conference here alongside Paraguay's president-elect, Fernando Lugo…

Chavez said that his government would "review the investments that they (the Europeans) have here to see if we can also apply a 'return directive'".

During the aforementioned press conference, Lugo supported Chavez’ claims and added that European right-wing extremists were behind the new laws.

Aside from Lugo and Chavez, Bolivian president Evo Morales also slammed the E.U.’s measure in an op/ed piece published on Monday.

Sources (English)-, The Latin Americanist, Xinhua

Sources (Spanish)- Prensa Latina

Image- Christian Science Monitor (“No: Members of the European Parliament hold placards opposing new EU deportation rules.”)

Obama meets with Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Barack Obama, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for president, met on Tuesday with legislators of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). The CHC has tried to convince Obama of pledging a comprehensive immigration reform as a way of appealing to Latino voters, while a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign said that the meeting was designed to give "an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and provide input.”

Perhaps more importantly, the reunion with the CHC gave Obama a prime opportunity to drum up the support of previously staunch supporters of Hillary Clinton’s campaign:

"What I emphasized was how important it's going to be for me to be able to mobilize the Hispanic vote," Obama said. "I'm looking forward to (the caucus members') counsel and advice, and I think we're going to be unified going forward."

Obama called (Rep. Joe) Baca's office in the first days after Clinton dropped out of the race.

"He realizes the importance of reaching out to the Hispanic community. He's reaching out to a lot of us," Baca said after the meeting concluded at Democratic National Headquarters on Capitol Hill.

As part of his attempt to woo Latino politicos who backed Clinton’s bid for the presidency, ex-Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle was hired recently to join Obama’s campaign.

Image- CNN

Sources- Guardian UK,,,

Today’s Video: An upset in La Paz

This week the latest round of World Cup qualifiers in South America were played with the top spots on the line. Of the three games which were played yesterday, the upset occurred when last place Bolivia beat undefeated leaders Paraguay 4-2. The game was played in the high altitude of La Paz, a factor which was taken advantage of by the locals in dominating the Paraguayans.

(Video link):

In other round six matches:

* The hype surrounding the Brazil-Argentina match was huge; two of the world’s best teams squaring off and trying to rebound after disappointing results over the weekend. In the end, both teams played to a dull 0-0 tie as the crowd in Belo Horizonte jeered Brazilian coach Dunga.

* Colombia remains the only unbeaten team in the region after their scoreless draw at Ecuador.

* Uruguay’s drive for the top spots improved with a 6-0 drubbing of Peru on Tuesday. Diego Forlan led all scorers with a hat trick.

* Chile plays Venezuela later today with both teams in spitting distance of fifth place play-in spot.

* With nearly one-third of South American qualifiers played Paraguay, Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil lead the standings while Uruguay provisionally sits in fifth place.

Sources- Soccernet, YouTube,, Canadian Press, Reuters UK

Bloggers of the World Unite Against Associated Press

Cross-posted at VivirLatino

Political bloggers of all sizes and political leanings are organizing to boycott AP after AP decided to attack a mid-size blog claiming that publishing fragments of their syndicated news articles and reports violates copyright. Bloggers are saying that using snippets and links to stories falls under Fair Use but AP apparently feels otherwise.

From Culture Kitchen:
Here's one of the six disputed blog entries:

Clinton Expects Race to End Next Week

Hillary Rodham Clinton says she expects her marathon Democratic race against Barack Obama to be resolved next week, as superdelegates decide who is the stronger candidate in the fall. "I think that after the final primaries, people are going to start making up their minds," she said. "I think that is the natural progression that one would expect."

If you follow the link, you'll see that the blog entry reproduces 18 words from the story and a 32-word quote by Hillary Clinton under a user-written headline. The blog entry drew 108 comments in the ensuing discussion.

I have all the expertise in intellectual property law of somebody who's never been sued, so standard disclaimers apply. But I have difficulty seeing how it violates copyright law for a blogger to link to a news story with a short snippet of the story in furtherance of public discussion.

AP feels otherwise. In a June 3 letter, AP's Intellectual Property Governance Coordinator Irene Keselman told me:

... you purport that the Drudge Retort's users reproduce and display AP headlines and leads under a fair use defense. Please note that contrary to your assertion, AP considers that the Drudge Retort users' use of AP content does not fall within the parameters of fair use. The use is not fair use simply because the work copied happened to be a news article and that the use is of the headline and the first few sentences only. This is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of "fair use." AP considers taking the headline and lede of a story without a proper license to be an infringement of its copyrights, and additionally constitutes "hot news" misappropriation.

Keselman reverses the definition of fair use and claims in the take down that citizens only have the right to fair use if they pay for it : AP considers taking the headline and lede of a story without a proper license to be an infringement of its copyrights.

Read details of the accusations here.

Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine reminds us that AP doesn't always follow what they preach in terms of attribution:
This complaint comes from an organization that leaches off original reporting and kills links and credit to the source of that journalism. Yes, it has a right to reproduce reporting from member news organizations. But as I point out here, the AP is hurting original reporting by not crediting and linking to the journalism at its source. We should be operating under an ethic of the link to original reporting; this is an ethic that the AP systematically violates.
Hmm why does this remind me of the whole Amanda Marcotte thing. Seems like some bloggers and AP have the same problem.

To sign onto the boycott visit the Unassociated Press

Daily Headlines: June 19, 2008

* Mexico: The government has placed price caps on 150 food items in an attempt to control rising prices.

* Venezuela: So does this piece in The New Yorker truly make Hugo Chavez a celebrity?

* Brazil: A look at a century of Japanese immigrants living in Brazil.

* Uruguay: Uruguayan prosecutors are putting “the final touches” to its legal case at the International Court of Justice over the controversial Botnia paper mill.


Sources- Bloomberg, The New Yorker, Xinhua, BBC News, The Latin Americanist

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Today’s Video: Mexicans love Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

Back in April, the lead singer of seminal rock en español group Los Fabulosos Cadillacs said that the band would reunite later this year and tour. Details for the tour (including possible stops in the U.S.) will be released in July as shown by a countdown on the band’s site. However, box offices in Mexico were swamped with requests for the only confirmed date in Mexico City this November:

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs have already sold 30,000 seats for their Mexico City concert…in only 48 hours the Argentine group caused a box office boom and confirmed their popularity in Mexico. –[ed. personal translation]

If Soda Stereo was the reunion tour du jour in 2007, then will that be the case this year for Los Fabulosos Cadillacs?

(Video link):

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

Sources (Spanish)-, La Bata

Follow-up: E.U. ignores Evo’s immigration appeal

As we mentioned on Monday, an op/ed piece by Bolivian president Evo Morales on immigration was published in the Guardian UK. Morales criticized a strong anti-immigration proposal by the European Union (EU) and instead called for the region to adopt “a migration policy that respects human rights.”

Ultimately, however, Morales’ appeal fell on deaf ears:

European Union lawmakers voted Wednesday to allow countries in the bloc to hold undocumented migrants in detention centers for up to 18 months and ban them from EU territory for five years….

Described by critics like Amnesty International as "severely flawed" and an erosion of human rights standards, but by supporters as a balanced approach, the so-called return directive passed in the European Parliament by a vote of 369 to 197, with 106 deputies abstaining.

The E.U. legislature blocked ten amendments to the proposal including granting detainees the right to legal counsel, while the approved plan is said to be part of a regionwide “immigration pact” to be introduced next month.

According to the E.U. an estimated 8 million illegal immigrants live in the bloc, compared to about 11 million in the U.S.

Image- BBC News (“The Canary Islands are struggling with an influx of migrants.”)

Sources- Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist, Sydney Morning Herald, Southern Ledger, International Herald Tribune

Report: More coca grown in Colombia

A report from the United Nations’ office on drugs and crime (UNODC) found that coca growth in Colombia grew by 27% last year. Though the country’s coca output has been slightly reduced, the head of the UNODC was “surprised and shocked” that coca growth had gone up.

Hybrid coca varieties and increased resistance to herbicides are factors in the spike of Colombian coca growth, according to the report. Despite setbacks in recent years to Colombian guerillas, the chief of the country’s police acknowledged that most of the coca has been grown in “areas controlled by insurgents.”

Other South American countries did not fare too well in the UNODC report; coca growth in Bolivia and Peru grew by 5% and 4%, respectively.
Image- BBC News

Sources- Bloomberg, Reuters, BBC News, The Latin Americanist, Al Jazeera

Another gringo shamed in Nicaraguan Surf town

Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey was reported to be drunken and inappropriate during his recent weekend visit to San Juan del Sur, a small resort town in Nicaragua. Some online gossip journals report that the actor made a general public nuissance of himself, while others suggest he was oggling local women at the popular Iguana bar.

The New York Daily News reports:

Never mind that his Brazilian model girlfriend, Camila Alves, is due to give birth next month. A mighty thirsty McConaughey had to be helped out of a Nicaraguan bar the other night after dancing with an assortment of babes, says a witness.

The "Sahara" star headed there to surf, but ended up on June 6 at a cantina called the Iguana in
San Juan del Sur. Perhaps his wave-riding left him exhausted. McConaughey was said to have been seen later resting in a ditch.

Innocent or othwerwise, the embarrassing incident is eerily reminiscent of what made headlines last year in the same tiny surfing town: the conviction and prison sentence of American enrepreneur Eric Volz (which was overturned in late December). The violent rape and murder of Volz's Nicaraguan ex-girlfriend, Doris Jimenez - the first in many years in San Juan del Sur - remains unsolved, and despite mounting evidence to the contrary, most residents there still believe that Volz was guilty and freed because of mounting US embassy pressure.

Sources: NY Daily News, FameTastic, IMDB, Time, Wikipedia

Why Does a Peruvian Copper Mine Belong to China?

What could be the biggest copper mine on the planet will displace local residents in a Peruvian town. Some residents of the impoverished Toromocho region are happy to take the few thousand dollars and relocation that the Chinese mining company is offering. But the real deal isn't for the people or even for the entire country of Peru, whose government ok'ed the project but for Chinalco.
The Peruvian government is happy with the $3bn (£1.53bn) that Chinalco will invest in the Toromocho mines.
The Chinese will be even happier. They have got themselves a bargain.
The copper Chinalco extracts from Toromocho will cost something like US$410 (£210) per ton. Today, the price for copper on the London Metal Exchange was $8,255 (£4,220) - 20 times more.
Chinalco stands to make a 2,000% profit on its investment.
Source : BBC
Be Sure to check out the link for a video to go with the story.

Daily Headlines: June 18, 2008

* Caribbean: Tourism throughout the Caribbean has been hurt as airline fares increase and flights to the region have been slashed.

* U.S.: The New York-based consulates of nine Latin American countries have united in a coalition designed to “improve services for their immigrant communities”.

* Mexico: U.S. food officials cleared Guatemala and a part of Mexico from being the source of tainted tomatoes that have spread salmonella.

* Cuba: The first public images of Fidel Castro in roughly six months were revealed Tuesday night as Castro met with his brother, (Cuban President Raul Castro), and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Sources- Canadian Press,, Reuters, YouTube, Bloomberg

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chavez toasts Cuba

Cuba's Granma International reports today that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said nothing can stop his country and Cuba.

Specifically, the countries' triumph will not be imperiled by Yankee imperialism, Chavez said.

Chavez spoke in Havana, where the Cuban Revolution is nearing its 50th anniversary. Chavez said the Bolivarian Revolution would not be nearing its 10th revolution without the Cuban revolutionaries. His country, Chavez said, benefited from the Cubans and Fidel Castro.

Read the long Granma article here.

Source: Granma International


Argentina unveils Guevara tribute

This is partly a selfish post, because I found the article in my hometown Kansas City Star. :)

But isn't an article about Che Guevara always fascinating? (Perhaps not.)

Guevara is finally getting a statue tribute in his home country of Argentina.

Specifically, the town where he was born, Rosario, Argentina, unveiled a 13-foot statue of the famous revolutionary.

The country has mixed feelings about producing such a controversial figure, but the unveiling of the statue, which shows a beret-clad Guevara, attracted three of his children and veterans of the Cuban Revolution.

Source and Photo: McClatchy

Today's Video: "Calle Santa Fe"

The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival is going on this week and it includes several flicks from Latin America. The following is the trailer from a movie that will be screened tomorrow: Chile's "Calle Santa Fe".

(Video link):

McCain ups campaign rhetoric on Brazil, Colombia

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain has recently increased his rhetoric on Latin America; more specifically, he has made remarks designed to appeal to Brazilians and Colombians.

In an interview with a Brazilian newspaper, McCain said that he would back Brazil’s entry onto the U.N. Security Council as well as an expanded G8. Aside from backing an increased international political and economic role for Brazil, McCain told the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper that he would halt subsidies for U.S. ethanol production. (A possible nod towards Brazil’s burgeoning biofuel industry).

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has yet to make a U.S. presidential endorsement though he did call a possible Barack Obama presidency “a huge step forward.”

Earlier this month, McCain’s campaign announced that he would be visiting Colombia next month and would meet with President Alvaro Uribe. El Tiempo said that McCain would only fly out for a day but would use his time to defend a possible free trade pact between both countries.

Sources (English)- AFP, PRESS TV, Reuters UK, The Latin Americanist,

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo

Image- New York Daily News

Daily Headlines: June 17, 2008

* Cuba: “Fidel (Castro) is sitting there, alive and well,” said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as he continues his visit of Havana.

* Brazil: Authorities arrested eleven soldiers accused of cooperating with a Rio de Janeiro gang.

* Argentina: Anti-government protestors banged on pots and pans and called for the Kirchner administration to drop its plan to raise export taxes.

* Bolivia: The U.S. ambassador to Bolivia was ordered to return to Washington in the aftermath of protests last week in La Paz.

Sources- Voice of America, Bloomberg, Reuters, The Age

Image- Guardian UK (“Hugo Chavez visits Fidel Castro in hospital, August 2006.”)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Today’s Video: “In the (Washington) Heights”

Earlier today we mentioned how “In the Heights” won four Tony Awards including honors as best musical. The musical’s creator- Lin Manuel Miranda- was inspired by his surroundings in the upper Manhattan to create a theater piece which may soon go on a nationwide tour.

The following video is an excerpt from a Tony Awards special where Miranda tours around the Latino enclaves in Washington Heights and also discusses the impact the musical has had on the community.

Sources-, The Latin Americanist, YouTube

Weekly Debate: Evo’s immigration op/ed

In an article written in Monday’s Guardian UK, Bolivian president Evo Morales advocated that the European Union (EU) refrain from enacting harsh anti-immigration laws. In the piece, Morales gives several of the usual immigrants’ rights arguments including that immigrants do the jobs Europeans don’t and that billions of Euros in remittances are sent to Latin America. However, he also invokes a historical lesson to back his perspective:

European citizens arrived in Latin and North America en masse, without visas or conditions imposed on them by the authorities. They were simply welcomed, and continue to be in Latin America. They came to exploit the natural wealth and to transfer it to Europe, with a high cost for the native population. Yet the people, property and rights of the migrants were always respected.

Contrast the European "return directive", to be voted on in the European parliament this week. It imposes harsh terms for detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants, regardless of the time they have spent in European countries, their work situation, their family ties or their achievements in integrating themselves into local society.

  • So what do you think about Morales’ argument?
  • Does his perspective make sense or is he clutching at straws?
  • Is the EU acting hypocritically or justly towards immigrants?
  • Should the EU follow Italy’s lead in cracking down on immigrants or are those measures too harsh?
  • Is immigration policy in Europe better or worse than the U.S.?

If you want to participate in this debate please leave a comment to this post and/or vote in our poll.

Let your voice be heard!

Sources- Guardian UK, Bloomberg,

Image- BBC News (Thousands of illegal immigrants line up in an attempt to take advantage of an amnesty in Spain in 2005).

Bloggers of the world unite!

Sources- Inside South America, Two Weeks Notice, The Latin Americanist,, Gothamist, Tim’s El Salvador Blog, Global Voices Online, The Plainsman Politico, Freakanomics

Image- CNN (“People on Saturday wave flags at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires backing the government's decisions.”)

Make a Run for the Border (for Cheap Gas)

People from the U.S. are heading to the Mexico side of the border. No there isn't a reverse immigration crisis (although the thought makes me laugh), rather they are crossing the border for the a cheap fix of the current drug of choice, gas.
Mexican service stations all along the border report brisk sales in recent weeks as fuel prices in Texas continue to climb. Even Ciudad Juárez has seen a notable increase in customers from the United States, despite escalating drug violence that includes gunbattles in the streets and several decapitations.
Ah, the lengths that people will go to to save some pesos at the pump, even facing scary Mexicans!!!!

Source : Hispanic Tips
Image Source : Boing Boing

“In the Heights” honored at Tonys

A hip-hop musical inspired by Latino life in New York City neighborhood earned four Tony Awards last night. “In the Heights” had been nominated for 13 awards and in the end was given nods as the year’s top musical along with best original score for the theater, best choreography and best orchestrations.

The musical struggled off-Broadway and took a big gamble to be produced on the Great White Way against “heavily marketed mega-musicals”. Yet the risk paid off as “In the Heights” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda accepted several honors:

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music and lyrics for "In the Heights," rapped his way through his acceptance speech for best score, saying: "I know I wrote a little show about home. Mr. Sondheim, look, I made a hat. (a reference to a lyric in Sondheim's 'Sunday in the Park with George') But there never was a hat — it's a Latin hat at that!"

Also recognized at the Tonys was Brazilian opera star and Broadway newcomer Paulo Szot; he received best musical leading actor for his role in the revival of “South Pacific”.

Sources-, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Guardian UK, BBC News, Bloomberg,

Image-New York Times

Daily Headlines: June 16, 2008

* U.S.: Dominican-born Boston Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz became a U.S. citizen during a ceremony last week.

* Mexico: The country’s tomato sector has been seriously hurt by a salmonella scare hitting the U.S.

* Ecuador: Was there really a plan to assassinate Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa?

* Cuba: Cuban runner Dayron Robles set a new world record on Thursday by running the 110-meter hurdles in 12.87 seconds.

Sources-, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, CNN


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Last Stand for Montezuma's Revenge?

Traveler’s diarrhea, known by many names, has long been considered a rite of passage for visitors to places like Mexico and Central America. Yet a new vaccine being developed by Iomai Vaccines, of Gaithersburg, MD, may prove to be the best prophylaxis yet for the painful malady – if not the cure.

From WebMD, as reported by CBS News:

Researchers testing the experimental diarrhea vaccine found it reduced the likelihood of contracting traveler's diarrhea among people going to high-risk areas like Mexico. In addition, travelers treated with the vaccine who did develop diarrhea had shorter and less severe episodes than

Researchers say 27 million travelers and 210 million children each year are stricken with diarrhea, often from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated beverages. Traveler's diarrhea usually lasts about four to five days; symptoms include loose stools, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dehydration.

According to the drug company, the vaccine is delivered through a patch worn in advance of exposure to the various forms of e-coli, the bacteria which most commonly causes the symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea. WebMD notes that the patch is used to mitigate the dosis, in part because “the compound is too toxic to be delivered by traditional vaccination methods, such as by mouth, injections, or nasal sprays.”

The successful phase II study was recently published in the UK medical journal, The Lancet. While the patch is not yet available for purchase, Iomai reports that phase III is planned for early 2009.

Sources: WebMD, CBS News, The Lancet,