Friday, August 15, 2008

RBD is going the way of the dodo

So long, farewell, sayonara, adieu, adios:

According to a message on their official website, the pop group RBD announced that their upcoming concerts…will be the beginning of the end.

“All great projects [ed. ha!] need to transform in order to transcend and today we’re initiating that process”…

“We hope to reunite soon in each one of our individual shows and feel the magic that has been with us for the past four years” added the official message. [ed. personal translation]

RBD broke up since each member wanted to branch out on their own according to their press agent. Yet one of the group’s members- Anahí- claimed in a chat session with fans that decreased concert attendance and album sales were really the “principal factor” behind the breakup. (Are you sure?)

Despite the musical retirement of RBD, rumor has it that puppet masters producers at Televisa will try to force convince them to star in a new telenovela in 2009.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to listen to some Café Tacuba, Javier Solis, and Tigres del Norte.

(Hat tip: Vivirlatino).

Sources (English)- Vivirlatino, YouTube

Sources (Spanish)- El Universal, Milenio, Diario de Yucatan, Univision


Swan song for “El Nuevo Dia Orlando”

Central Florida’s only Spanish-language daily newspaper will cease production by the end of the month.

“El Nuevo Dia Orlando”- a local version of Puerto Rican mainstay “El Nuevo Dia”- was launched as a free daily in 2003. A spokesman for the paper’s parent company said that “the paper had consistently lost money” despite claims that ad revenue increased by 28% last year.

Though the newspaper was catered towards Central Florida’s Puerto Rican populace, the area’s growing Latino community will undoubtedly suffer:

Luis Suárez, president of Asociación Borinqueña de la Florida Central, Inc., the area's largest Puerto Rican community group, said this is a great loss for the local Hispanic community.
"El Nuevo Día Orlando emphasized what was relevant news for the Hispanic community, losing it means that we lose a spokesperson for our issues, we lose an ally in the Hispanic cause," Suárez said.

Image- Echo Media

Sources- WWSB, Editor & Publisher, Hispanic Tips, Orlando Sentinel

Paraguay : Meet Your New President!

Today, Fernando Lugo, a former Catholic Bishop, was sworn in as Paraguay's new president. Lugo's presidency is also significant because it marks the end of 60 year stretch of one party rule in the South American nation.

Lugo, who takes over from Nicanor Duarte, the outgoing president, took the oath of office in a ceremony in the capital, Asuncion.

The ceremony was attended by several Latin American leaders, including Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, and Evo Morales, the Bolivian leader.

Lugo, who has pledged to clean up corruption and transform Paraguay's impoverished society acknowledged "it won't be easy, but it's not impossible".

"Today is the end of an exclusive Paraguay, a segregationist Paraguay, a notoriously corrupt Paraguay," he said.

"Today begins the history of a Paraguay whose authorities will be implacable with thieves."

Source : Al Jazeera

Daily Headlines: August 15, 2008

* Brazil: Legislators approved a measure that would permit up to six months of paid maternity leave; more than similar benefits in countries like France and Switzerland.

* Cuba: Despite the trade embargo against Cuba, the U.S. is ranked fifth among trade partners with the island.

* Mexico: There’s no halt to the rampant violence in the country as gunmen killed nine people at a Ciudad Juarez drug rehab center.

* Venezuela: The Simon Wiesenthal Center praised Hugo Chavez and Venezuelan Jewish leaders for meeting recently.


Sources- MSNBC, Monsters & Critics, Bloomberg, Reuters

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Today’s Video: Arde Montreal

The Canadian neighborhood of Montreal Nord continues to be shaken after a Honduran teen was shot and killed by police on Saturday. Family and friends of 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva laid him to rest on Wednesday. Local police have promised to investigate the shooting as some in the community have blamed police for racial profiling.

Unfortunately, some disturbances took place after a peaceful protest over Villanueva’s death. Villanueva’s family has appealed for calm though tensions remain in the mostly immigrant neighborhood north.

Sources- YouTube,, Globe and Mail, Canadian Press

“Obesity Law” passed in Argentina

Argentina’s Senate approved a law yesterday that would allow eating disorders to be considered as diseases and, thus, covered under health care plans. Nicknamed as the “Obesity Law”, the proposal was backed unanimously by legislators and mainly is aimed at a population where about one in four are overweight.

Aside from the section on health care, the new law stipulates that:

(…) nutritional education programs are taught in all school levels and… a warning that “overeating is bad for your health” should be included for during advertisements of unhealthy food…

“The publication of diets or weight-loss methods without medical consent is prohibited” (according to the law). [ed. personal translation]

The law had been originally written to include obesity and had been inspired by a television show entailed “An Issue of Weight.” Yet legislators included bulimia and anorexia in the measure such as the banning of “extreme thinness as a symbol of beauty” by advertisers and fashion designers.

The law has had its detractors; one nutritional expert lamented that “the obesity epidemic (in Argentina) is too much for health care plans to support…Actions are needed not a new law.”

Sources (English)- ABC News, Food Standards Agency

Sources (Spanish)-, Pagina12, BBC Mundo, El Universo

Image- BBC News (Soccer legend Diego Maradona before and after his 2005 stomach stapling surgery)

Spanish tennis also does “slanty-eyed Chinese" pose

Just when you thought the controversy over the Spanish basketball’s team “slanty-eyes” photo was over the country’s tennis squad decided to join in on the act:
The latest photo to emerge shows Spanish women tennis players pulling the pose, apparently in anticipation of their Federation Cup match against China in April…

It was apparently taken after the team defeated Italy in the quarter-finals of the competition - the premier team contest for women tennis players - in February. Wine glasses are visible on the table in front of the party…

The photo is still visible on the official website of the Spanish Tennis Federation, where it was spotted.

The original is captioned “Estamos preparados para China”, which translates as “We are prepared for China”.

(The Spaniards won against China in the Fed Cup en route to the finals which have yet to take place).

Meanwhile, this article notes how several Beijing citizens reacted to the offending basquet team photo. None had previously seen the image due to local media controls and most where not offended by the photo. (The piece was via NBC who holds the broadcast rights to the Olympics. Is it any coincidence that the Chinese reaction wouldn’t be outrage in the article?)

Image- The Telegraph

Sources- The Telegraph, MSNBC, Gawker, The Latin Americanist

Colombia’s armed conflict is a “finished topic”? Oh really?

There are numerous areas in which Colombia has improved in recent years such as the military weakening of guerillas. Yet serious problems still exist in the country in areas like suspected government corruption and links to paramilitary factions.

Thus, it has been nauseating to read the overly rosy picture of the country painted by Colombian presidential advisor José Obdulio Gaviria (image). An article in newsmagazine Cambio highlighted his visit to Washington last month in order to promote the policies of his widely popular boss, Alvaro Uribe. “The speech’s contents were neither the most strategic nor the most convenient” in light of the free trade debate, said the article.

Here are several excerpts (translated by me) from Gaviria’s controversial discourse:

The (armed) conflict is practically a finished topic…What we need to say is “we did not have a civil war, what we had was a terrorist threat that wasn’t faced”…

What we have said is that Colombia doesn’t have an internal armed conflict…Therefore, when the president says that “there’s no armed conflict” he means that the elements which define armed conflict don’t exist…

In Colombia all the conditions exist so that by 2010 the guerillas will cease to be…

Paramilitaries do not exist today…That terrible night is over…

The “Black Eagles” [ed. criminal group consisting in part by ex-paramilitaries] are a political tool used against the government…created to give the appearance of threats when they are convenient.

Sadly it appears that such a close member of Uribe's administration has been afflicted with foot-in-mouth syndrome. Gaviria had previously deemed as “a nuisance” international mediators seeking a peace agreement in Colombia, while in March he suggested that an anti-violence rally had been organized by guerillas.

Image- El Espectador

Sources (English)- Wikipedia, Plan Colombia and Beyond, The Latin Americanist, Reuters

Sources (Spanish)- Cambio

Daily Headlines: August 14, 2008

* Latin America: Facebook has overcome MySpace to become the world's most popular social networking website, partly with the help of massive growth in Latin America.

(Miguel provides more information on the growth of Facebook and the Americas).

* Puerto Rico: The island’s pro-statehood political party has backed an initiative creating a bilingual ballot for November’s U.S. elections.

* South America: Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou will visit two countries who are among the 23 that recognized Taiwan- Paraguay and the Dominican Republic.

* Bolivia: Coca production continues to grow in the landlocked South American country according to a “top U.S. anti-drug official”.

Image- AFP

Sources-, Bloomberg, New York Daily News, The Economic Times

Latin America joins Facebook in droves

The web-tracking company ComScore has released a report that confirms Facebook has overtaken MySpace in global users, and that users from Latin America are the major driving force behind the social networking site's surge.

According to the ComScore data, Facebook's visitors (defined as unique hits) grew by a whopping 1055% in Latin America since June 2007. This percentage jump in Facebook use compares with a reported 33% uptick in overall social network use from witin Latin America, and is more than double the percentage change in any other world market since last year.

Other SN sites such as Friendster, Orkut, Sonico and Hi5 appear to remain popular in the region, as well; though the referenced data doesn't appear comparable, VentureBeat's Eric Eldon writes that "Sonico has claimed to be the fastest growing social networking site in Latin America," that Hi5 still has the most registered users in the region, and that Orkut (in Portuguese) continues to dominate Brazil, the largest LAC market.

As for Facebook's rise: according the National Business Review, "the incredible worldwide growth is largely attributed to Facebook’s recent decision to translate the site into other languages, with Latin America only having 1 million users per month a year previous, and all of Asia Pacific [the second fast-growing region, according to the report] only 4 million."

Sources: ComScore, VentureBeat, AFP, Washington Post, National Business Review

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Today’s Video: They forgot the gong and the chopsticks

I don’t like to sound like someone from the I-hate-Fox-News-Channel brigade, but is it any surprise that some of the network’s commentators weren’t upset at the Spanish basketball team’s infamous slant-eyed Olympics ad:

(I bet they would be singing a different tune if the Spaniards were making fun of U.S. athletes by, say, stuffing pillows under their unis and looking as if they were morbidly obese).

Members of the Spanish basketball squad defended the print ad with one of them trotting out the lame “my best friend is ____” defense. Naturally, the corrupt International Olympic Committee accepted the team’s apology.

There have been several instances if racism and sport in Spain in the past; monkey chants were made from the stands of a 2004 England-Spain soccer friendly in Madrid, while in the 1990s ex-Atletico Madrid owner Jesus Gil y Gil threatening to “slash the nigger’s throat” and “shit on the bitch mother” of Colombian player Adolfo Valencia.

This is not the first time a Spanish ad has been controversial due to tastelessness and possible racism; this 2007 commercial for Iberia Airlines was deemed “offensive” and could even have been interpreted as pedophilic:

Sources- Associated Press, YouTube, Wikipedia, New York Times, Torontoist, The Latin Americanist

U.S. officer shots Mexican across border

A U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and wounded a man on the other side of the border with Mexico. According to San Diego police, the officer reacted after being hit with rocks tossed by a small group of migrants trying to climb a border fence. Both the Border Patrol and one of the members of the group differ in their accounts as to what really happened:

Jose Maria Martinez, who was with the group, said one agent exchanged his pepper ball launcher for a rifle. The agent then fired three shots from a concrete post that marks the official border, Martinez said…

Another Border Patrol spokesman, Daryl Reed, said the agent fired his gun on U.S. soil after seeing Ortega wielding a softball-sized rock on Mexican soil. He said the group hurled rocks at agents from inside the U.S., but returned to Mexico after the Border Patrol used tear gas and pepper projectiles.

The injured man is being treated in Tijuana's General Hospital after the bullet “entered his left buttocks and exited through the pelvis.” The Border Patrol officer has not been identified to the press.

The incident on Tuesday highlights the controversy over the Border Patrol’s use of chemical agents during incidents along the border. Immigration officials claim it’s needed to control drug smugglers, though border residents say that agents are acting too aggressively against the populace.

Image- WNCT

Sources- Los Angeles Times, Xinhua, KBPS, Associated Press, The Latin Americanist, San Diego Union Tribune

Danny Glover Haiti film shelved?

Apparently actor Danny Glover’s planned film on Haitian independence hero Toussaint-Louverture is being shelved due to lack of funds.

Though the Venezuelan government has provided $18 million of the $30 million needed to shoot the epic, foreign producers are supposedly reluctant to sign on to the project:

According to Villa del Cine chairwoman Lorena Almarza there is prejudice by US and European producers, who have not contributed the money…

In statements to the Bolivarian News Agency, Almarza pointed out that the script remains unchanged, as well as production agreements in the country, with participation of 50 percent of Venezuelan professional, technical or artistic personnel…

Almarza added that big producers are not interested in producing a film dealing with an anti-slavery movement.

In an interview last month, Glover admitted that producers ask “where are the white heroes?” and claim that “a black film” would fail in the international box office.

“Toussaint” is planned to star Don Cheadle in the titular role along with Angela Bassett and Mos Def.

Image- AFP

Sources- AFP,, The Latin Americanist, Prensa Latina

Happy 82nd Birthday Fidel Castro!

Today former Cuban leader Fidel Castro celebrated his 82nd birthday. The huge cake pictured wasn't enough to lure Castro out into public, where he hasn't been seen for two years.

Source : Adventure in the Coconut Caucus

Daily Headlines: August 13, 2008

* Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’ latest idea – renaming Latin America to “Indian America.”

* Brazil: State oil company Petrobras enjoyed record profits in its latest quarter- over $5.4 billion.

* U.S.: Authorities in Arizona have charged a Mexican driver after he was behind the wheel of a deadly crash that killed nine migrants.

* Ecuador: The government is walking a tightrope by urging mediation between oil firm Chevron and indigenous peoples who are suing them for environmental damage.

Image- El Universal

Sources-, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, AFP, RIA Novosti

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Report: Cuban human rights record “very unfavorable”

The human rights situation in Cuba continues to be grim under Raul Castro, according to a report by the island's main human rights group.

The study by the Cuban Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) claimed that authorities keep taking a hard line against dissidents despite the change in leadership two years ago. The report mentioned that there has been a small drop in the number of political prisoners yet blamed the government for employing new tactics in order to intimidate any sign of dissent:

(CCHR head Elizardo) Sanchez said that instead of sentencing opponents to long prison terms, the government now employs "low intensity" repression, such as the 640 brief detentions of dissidents his group documented over the past six months.

In those cases, opponents are typically detained by police so they cannot attend scheduled meetings or protests, then released after a few hours with no charges filed.

The report also expressed worry that Castro's decision to commute the sentences of several prisoners on death row would create “false signals of change” on the island.

As Cuba’s human rights situation continues to deteriorate, dissident groups keep playing the waiting game with the Castro administration.

Image- BBC News (Members of Cuba’s “Women in White” are detained while protesting in April 2008)

Sources- Radio Netherlands Worldwide, MSNBC, Reuters, The Latin Americanist

Mukasey: Accused officials under Gonzales unlikely to be prosecuted

Attorney General Michael Mukasey said that criminal charges will probably not be brought up against several accused officials under his predecessor- Alberto Gonzales. A Justice Department report published last month blasted several aides to the Mexican-American former Attorney General for using politics as a “litmus test” in the hiring of lawyers and immigration judges:

A longtime prosecutor who drew rave reviews from his supervisors was passed over for an important counterterrorism slot because his wife was active in Democratic politics… And a Republican lawyer received high marks at his job interview because he was found to be sufficiently conservative on the core issues of “god, guns + gays.”

I’m not versed in the intricacies of the U.S. judicial system, yet Mukasey’s reasoning made little sense. His argument boiled down to claiming that illegal actions aren’t always crimes:

(…)While there was wrongdoing and "a failure of supervision by senior officials in the department," the conduct was not criminal, Mukasey said in a speech.

"Where there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we vigorously prosecute," he told the American Bar Association annual meeting in New York. "But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime. In this instance, the two joint reports found only violations of the civil service laws."

Mukasey emphasized that “much has changed since the period covered by these reports” though he neglected to give more details. Meanwhile, the inspector general is expected to issue more reports on the politicization of the Justice Department under Gonzales. Thus, Gonzales’ post-AG career may be going from bad to worse.

Image- Fox News

Sources- Bloomberg, CNN, Reuters, AHN, New York Times,

Peru quake victims grateful to Hugo Chavez

One year ago a pair of powerful earthquakes rattled coastal Peru. At least 500 people were killed, thousands were left homeless, and several cities were left in ruin. President Alan Garcia pledged to help affected areas quickly rebuild though the Peruvian government was criticized for poor organization in the delivery of much-needed supplies.

Despite claims of progress being made by Peru’s housing minister recovery efforts have been painfully slow. The bump in approval received by Garcia after the quakes disappeared as residents of the affected cities are angry at the government. Protestors in the city of Pisco plan to march on the one-year anniversary of the tremors this Friday.

While residents of affected areas are disappointed at Garcia, some have become grateful for the help from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez:

"Thanks to God and to Hugo Chavez, I have a house," said Emma Euribe, 50. She and her four children moved into their plastic-walled home two months ago, marveling that it sits in front of a new park and came fully furnished.

"Look what Hugo Chavez, who isn't our president, has done for us. The corruption here needs to stop because we're human beings in need," she said…

Chavez is spending money in Peru largely to support his ally and Garcia's rival, Ollanta Humala, an ultra-nationalist who hopes to become Peru's next president in 2011…

"Frankly, we don't have a lot of faith anymore but hopefully Humala could do more for us," (Pisco resident Berta de la Cruz Espinoza) said.

Though Chavez’ help has been welcomed it isn’t the first time that he has used earthquake aid in order to help Humala. Tuna cans with the images of Chavez and Humala were distributed to quake victims; a move deemed by Garcia as “electoral propaganda.”

Image- BBC News

Sources- Living in Peru, Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist, M SNBC, Reuters UK, Voice of America

Today’s Video: Ladies love Jorge Ramos

Earlier today we touched on Univision news anchor Maria Elena Salinas’ op/ed piece criticizing the self-deportation program touted by U.S. immigration authorities. Not to be outdone, her colleague- Jorge Ramos- appeared on The Colbert Report last night, and discussed the numerous contributions made by immigrants and Latinos to American society.

Before the interview, Colbert’s south-of-the-border alter ego explained Ramos’ appeal to viewers. Esteban Colberto explained that aside from being a seasoned journalist apparently it also helps to have ravishingly good looks:

Sources- Comedy Central,, The Latin Americanist

Richardson stumps for Obama in SoFla

New Mexico governor Bill Richardson stumped for Barack Obama during an appearance last night in Florida. The former Secretary of Energy touted Obama’s energy plans and emphasized the “important legacy” that an Obama presidency could have towards the environment.

The Mexican-American Richardson was recently endorsed by the Denver Post to be Obama’s running mate and in recent weeks he has been increasingly vocal in his support of the Illinois senator’s presidential candidacy. Take Richardson’s appearance on one of the Sunday morning political gab-fests talking about the Russia-Georgia conflict:

“(Republican presidential hopeful John McCain) takes huge amounts of money from oil companies that are profiting in the (former) Soviet Union and many parts of the world," the Democrat told ABC News, attempting to depict a conflict of interest for McCain.

Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, said the crisis vindicated Obama's pledge to rebuild US alliances in Europe that were strained under President George W. Bush.

So what are the odds that Richardson could be Obama’s pick for veep? Not too bad, it seems.

Image- (“New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, accompanied by Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., speaks at news conference in Portland, Ore., Friday, March 21, 2008, after a rally where Richardson announced his endorsement of Obama. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)”)

Sources- AFP,, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Naked Politics, KOAT, Top of the Ticket, The Australian

Daily Headlines: August 12, 2008

* U.S.: Univision news anchor Maria Elena Salinas blasts “Operation Scheduled Departure”- the self-deportation program by U.S. immigration authorities that seems to have been a failure.

* South America: Here’s a unique arrangement – Venezuela provides medical equipment to Cuba and in return gets animals to fill its “depleted zoos.”

* Colombia: The Uribe love-feast continues as election authorities consider a petition calling for Colombia’s president to serve an unprecedented third term.

* Mexico: Mexico City’s government introduced an initiative designed to provide rewards for information on kidnappings.

Sources- Reuters UK, MSNBC, Monsters & Critics,, The Latin Americanist

Image- New York Times (“María Elena Salinas on the set of the Spanish-language news program, Noticiero Univision, in Doral, Fla.”)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Today’s Video: James Carville’s Bolivian adventure

All the talk about violence regarding Bolivia’s recall referendum and division over president Evo Morales reminds me of a wonderful 2006 documentary entitled “Our Brand is Crisis”. In short, the film analyzes how James Carville and other U.S.-based consultants worked behind the scenes for the 2002 campaign of ex-president Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Lozada. Though Carville and company’s sleazy tactics helped Goni win, he would soon resign in disgrace amid widespread protests.

What does Goni have to do with Morales? His failure coincided with the rise of Morales as a key opposition figure and subsequently the presidency. Furthermore, the exiled Goni is wanted by the Morales administration for alleged genocide.

Without further ado, here’s the trailer for “Our Brand is Crisis”:

Sources- YouTube, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, BBC News,

Court rules against gays in Costa Rica

Gay inmates do not have the right to conjugal visits like heterosexual couples do according to a verdict handed down by Costa Rica’s highest court. The decision by prison officials to stop the weekly conjugal visits of a former convict “falls within the scope of their rights, duties and powers” said the country’s Constitutional Tribunal.

When all is said and done, however, the court’s ruling may be rendered moot:

The court, however, is still debating another appeal in a similar case that challenges prison rules restricting conjugal visits to heterosexual couples as violating the basic right to sexual freedom of all inmates, including homosexuals.

The high court's ruling could also be affected if Congress votes and passes a bill currently under debate that would legalize gay marriage.

Approximately 20,000 Costa Ricans marched last month in a protest organized by religious leaders against homosexual marriage. However, there is a “substantial level” of gay tourism in Costa Rica, according to one source, which could be affected over the gay marriage issue.

Image- BBC News

Sources (English)- The Australian, AFP, Pink News, Topix

Sources (Spanish)- Terra España

Competitiveness forum set for Atlanta

For those interested in the August 17-19 Atlanta conference on competitiveness in Latin America, sponsored by the US International Trade Administration (ITA):

From the ITA's web site: "The second annual Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) will be held on August 17-19, 2008, in Atlanta, Georgia. The Forum will provide an opportunity for governments, the business community, and representatives from academia and non-governmental organizations to discuss actions that can be taken to improve competitiveness and economic prosperity in the Americas."

The ACF will feature 4 presidents from the region, and diverse participants from at least 25 countries. Presentations will focus on investment opportunities, regional trade, alternative energy, public-private partnerships, and a range of other topics.

For more information on the conference and its participants:

Mexican town cracks down on gringo gas guzzlers

Remember back in June when Maegan mentioned that people from the U.S. are heading south of the border in order to buy cheap Mexican gasoline? It seems like officials of one border town aren’t too happy with the new clientele:

Authorities in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Acuña have started a program to discourage Americans from crossing the border to fill up extra drum, tanks or barrels with subsidized Mexican diesel fuel.

The city government says it has fined Americans in four cases and would impound their vehicles until they pay the fines…

The city also says it has started informing U.S. drivers that filling up the tanks of their own vehicles is fine, but carrying extra containers home with fuel is a violation of customs and export rules and in some cases is a safety violation.

Mexican provincial authorities don’t stand by Ciudad Acuña’s plan. José Eduardo Ramón Valdés- a representative of the Coahuila state government- has ordered that the four cars be returned and that the fine get dropped since it could discourage tourism from the U.S. (Since money talks, wouldn’t that really be the most important reason against Ciudad Acuña’s program?)

On a related note, Mexicans are divided over the federal government’s plan to partially privatize the operations of state-run oil firm Pemex.

Image- Noticiero Televisa

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist, Houston Chronicle, Reuters UK

Sources (Spanish)- Vanguardía

Exit polls: Bolivians back Morales on recall vote

Unofficial, partial exit polls have indicated that Bolivian President Evo Morales survived a recall referendum yesterday. Figures cited by local television network ATB claimed that Morales got nearly 57% of the vote; about 10% above the 46.3% threshold he needs to beat in order to keep his job. An earlier “quick count” of roughly 1/3 of the votes that gave Morales almost 61% of voters’ support.

According to the exit polls some local governors didn’t seem to receive Morales’ good fortunate. Three of the eight provincial prefects whose jobs were also on the line appeared to have been ousted including two representing anti-Morales factions. Yet the opposition also seemed to have made some gains in that governors of four states backing increased autonomy appeared to have won.

International observers from the OAS and EU said that there were supposedly “reports of minor irregularities.” Yet the run-up to the referendum was punctuated by protests and violence. Sadly, analysts believe that Bolivians will not set aside their political differences any time soon:

"It won't change things much either way," said Kathryn Ledebur, director of Andean Information Network, a private research institution. Ledebur said she expected Morales to win, but the deadlock would remain, she said, and "each side will use it to become more deeply entrenched in their positions"…

"He's one of us. He has brought about such change, like nationalization," said Rolando Cenabire, 42, a builder from El Alto. "If he loses, we lose our rights"…

"The government is a satellite of Hugo Chavez and wants to impose a Constitution that centralizes, destroys institutions and the economy," said former President Jorge Quiroga, who heads the rightist opposition party Podemos.

Image- BBC News

Sources- AFP, CNN, Monsters & Critics, McClatchy, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Guardian UK, IHT

Daily Headlines: August 11, 2008

* Haiti: Haitian police officials denounced United Nations troops for allegedly assaulting two policemen.

* U.S.: “So this one time in mariachi camp…”

* South America: Spanish oil firm Repsol agreed to negotiate for a new contract with Ecuador’s government, while Brazil’s Petrobras plans to buy ExxonMobil’s assets in Esso Chile.

* Puerto Rico: Was “friendly fire” the real reason why a Puerto Rican policeman was killed by the FBI over the weekend?

Image- New York Times (“Hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers raided Haiti's largest slum (in February 2007) to arrest gang members.”)

Sources- Reuters, Canadian Press,, Dominican Today