Saturday, September 6, 2008
The images speak for themselves as is shown in the following slideshow from the American Red Cross of flood-ravaged Gonaives, Haiti:
Relief efforts are underway in Haiti despite security difficulties and a weak infrastructure. Nevertheless, we strongly urge you to donate and help those who could sorely use the aid. Here’s a brief list of organizations that you can donate to:
Sources- AmeriCares, American Red Cross, Direct Relief International, Oxfam America, NPR, YouTube, AFP, Reuters, BBC News
(Brazilian energy minister, Edison Lobao) said that Brazil had declined the offer, saying his country has "other priorities"…
Mr. Lobao said that the invitation had come from Iran's ambassador to Brazil, Mohsen Shaterzadeh.
Although Brazil will not be taking up the ambassador's invitation, Mr. Lobao did not rule out joining OPEC at some point in the future.
Lobao’s comments came days after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and officials with state-run firm Petrobras viewed the first extraction of oil from the massive offshore Jubarte field.
U.S. Department of Energy figures place Brazil as the world's 13th-largest oil producer. Yet that could quickly change depending on the possible output of numerous recently discovered offshore fields.Image- New York Times (“The P-43 floating platform is near
Sources- The Latin Americanist, Canadian Press, BBC News, IHT
The head of Mexico’s meat producers association anticipated that the suspension would be lifted soon:
Meat Council President Eugenio Salinas said the Mexican government has informed the council it could start issuing export permits as of next week…
"It was a voluntary and precautionary suspension," Salinas said…
Salinas said U.S. inspectors are in Mexico to check whether the problems have been corrected.
Over the past few months numerous products exported from Mexico have come under heightened scrutiny. A salmonella scare in North America was blamed on Mexican tomatoes and jalapeño peppers. Californian health officials issued a warning against a brand of Mexican candy in August after finding high levels of lead.
Sources- The Latin Americanist, USA TODAY, The Californian, AHN, Reuters
* Nicaragua: Over 60 Latin American authors and artists have signed a letter accusing Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega of “waging a vendetta” against post Ernesto Cardenal (image).
* Argentina: The government has introduced stiffer measures to decrease the production and use of meth.
* Guatemala: Are drug gangs behind the planting of secret microphones and cameras in the home and office of Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom?
Sources- Reuters, Guardian UK, Bloomberg, CNN, TVNZ
Friday, September 5, 2008
His latest exhibition is crap and we mean it in the most literal way possible:
Now, the genial renegade is back, fulfilling his desire to do, in his words, "something that would provoke even me"—namely, shooting 66 different piles of doo-doo dumped by as many animals, blown up to eight feet high and ready to hang on the walls of the Yvon Lambert Gallery (in New York City) beginning September 4…Do you find Serrano’s work moving or nauseating? Judge for yourself with the video below showing several of his pieces.
"I always said I wouldn't work with children and sex, and I wouldn't work with shit, so when I came up with this idea [which dawned on him, to the best of his recollection, during the nude wrestling scene in Borat], I had to put myself in a special place. I had to prepare myself mentally—it was a scientific and aesthetic investigation."
Note: The following video contains several strong images. It is definitely not safe for work!
Sources- The Latin Americanist, YouTube, Village Voice, Slate
Government officials tried to blame extreme leftist political groups for sabotaging the trains and subsequently torching them. “It was premeditated” said Justice Minister Anibal Fernandez though he has yet to publicly release specific details.
Protestors have previously rebelled against Argentina’s train system; metro service in Buenos Aires was paralyzed on May 16, 2007 as “enraged commuters started to destroy and set fire to ticket offices.”
As a New Yorker I cannot help but empathize a bit with the irked Bonarense commuters. Though if substandard service is an excuse for setting trains ablaze then half the subway system would be burnt down during the morning rush.
Image- PRESS TV
Sources- The Latin Americanist, PRESS TV, Reuters, AHN, BBC News
In this country, we believe everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity to reach their God-given potential, from the boy whose descendents arrived on the Mayflower to the Latina daughter of migrant workers. We're all God's children and we're all Americans. (Cheers, applause.)
The above quote was mentioned in John McCain’s speech last night after accepting the Republican presidential nomination. His discourse was peppered with quotes like the abovementioned one as he tried to emphasize a more conciliatory tone than the attack-dog speeches of Wednesday evening.
With just over 60 days left until Election Day, it will be interesting to see what direction McCain takes on immigration. Will he, much like the quote above, take the moderate approach that led him to co-author a bipartisan immigration reform bill last year? Or will he opt for a harder line on the issue and ally with those who worked against that very proposal? Are we going to see the same senator who pledged to “address the issues of the 12 million people that are here illegally”? Or will we see a candidate who backs the GOP’s strong anti-immigration platform?
For independent voters these are the types of questions McCain and the other presidential candidates must take care of.
Election Day is slightly more that two months away; we’re waiting for your answer.
Image- BBC News
Sources- The Latin Americanist, New York Daily News, newsday.com, ABC News, boston.com
* U.S.: Several New Jersey schools districts illegally ask for proof of citizenship from parents trying to register their children, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
* Argentina: Aerolineas Argentinas returned to state control 18 years after it was first privatized.
* Venezuela: The “Maletagate” trial opened on Tuesday in a U.S. federal court with four defendants accused of covering up an alleged money smuggling scheme.
* Mexico: The World Trade Organization ruled that Mexican tariffs on olive oil from several European countries are illegal.
Image- Highway Traffic Supply
Sources- Press of Atlantic City, Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Born Jose Cuauhtémoc Melendez in Hermosillo, Mexico, Melendez may be best known for his work with the “Peanuts” franchise including the voice work of Woodstock and Snoopy. His career spanned over seven decades and he was a pioneer for Latino animators when he started in Walt Disney Studios. The great quantity of his work was matched by an impeccable quality recognized by accolades like four Emmys, two Peabody Awards, and even a Clio Award for commercials.
In 1964, Melendez founded his own independent studio where he would develop numerous “Peanuts” specials as well as animation for cartoons like “Cathy” and “Garfield”. His prolific work even included directing a critically acclaimed 1979 made-for-TV version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
Melendez’ vocal style can best be demonstrated in the following clip from 1980’s Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown:
He will sorely be missed.
Sources- BBC News, Washington Post, Editor & Publisher, Los Angeles Times, Melendez Studio, YouTube, imdb.com
Only 27 countries worldwide diplomatically recognize Taiwan instead of China with about half of them from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Yet that is slowly changing as trade between China and LAC has quickly increased. Costa Rica resumed ties with China in June 2007 while it was reported on Monday that Paraguay was considering ending its backing of Taiwan.
Taiwan’s waning influence in the Americas may force them and China to declare a ceasefire in their war via “checkbook diplomacy”:
(Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou) has promised to stop the "checkbook diplomacy" that previous leaders have practiced for decades. Indeed, Taiwan's long-standing practice of wooing small, often poor, international allies with economic aid has occasionally proven embarrassing…Even if, as analysts expect, Taiwan doesn't offer Paraguay the full $71 million, by going, Ma risks being seen as continuing the practice of bribing impoverished nations in Latin America and Africa for their support.Image- North West College London (Flag of Taiwan)
According to Lin (Chong-pin, President of the Foundation on International and Cross-Strait Studies), Beijing also would like to see an end to the era of jockeying with Taiwan for allies. "Their attitude is: 'We have 172 countries recognizing us. Taiwan has 23. If we gain one or two more, it doesn't make too much difference to us, but it would cause a huge negative impact on the ruling administration in Taiwan.'"
Sources- The Latin Americanist, NPR, Bloomberg, Monsters & Critics, Taiwan Government Website, Time
The patent request for a drug made by U.S. firm Gilead was rejected as government officials deemed it “lacked technological inventiveness.” The real culprit, however, may be cost; a WHO-approved generic drug from India costs $158 per person, roughly 9% as much as the $1,387 per person cost of the Gilead drug.
International medical group Doctors Without Borders praised Brazil’s decision and claimed that it will open the door for wider global access to AIDS drugs:
The decision now means that the medicine can be produced by Brazilian generic companies or imported from other generic sources from abroad. With around 31,000 people currently receiving the drug through Brazil's universal AIDS treatment programme, and an estimated 37,000 by the end of 2008, the consequences on the sustainability of Brazil's efforts to provide AIDS treatment for all will be considerable…
"This sets an important precedent for people living with HIV/AIDS in all developing countries whose lives depend on these treatments," said Leena Menghaney, MSF's Access Campaigner in India.
Sources- The Latin Americanist, Doctors Without Borders, Reuters, News-Medical.net
After looking into the vice-presidential history of each country in the region, I was surprised to discover that in total, no less than 15 females have already served as vice presidents in Latin America (not even including the Caribbean) -- two of whom later ascended to the presidency. A total of eight women have already served as heads of state in the region (two, in Chile and Argentina, are currently in office). Isabel Peron of Argentina, in 1974, was the first democratic female head of state in the world. (Did you know that? I didn't.)
Now, it’s not necessarily the case the women’s’ movement has gone farther in Latin America than in the US (this is probably, in fact, not the case), but it seems like there is certainly something going on in their politics. 12 countries in the region have adopted minimum quota laws for fielding of female candidates in national elections, and the numbers of females in high political office are much larger than in nearly every other corner of the world.
Sources: Guide2Womenleaders.com, Wikipedia, IDB, Inter-American Dialogue
From the AP:
Many of the illegal immigrants who have been rebuilding New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina stayed behind when Gustav struck because they were afraid of being arrested if they boarded the buses and trains arranged by emergency officials.
"We know that people died during Katrina, but we had no choice but to stay here," said Carlos Mendoza, a 21-year-old illegal immigrant from Honduras who rode out the storm with seven other people. They took shelter in an apartment that is close to a street corner where day laborers congregate.
"Many stayed because of fear," Mendoza said. "I would say at least 50 percent of us."
Adding to the difficulties, Gonzalez said, were problems with the 311 service. Several day laborers complained of being on hold for more than 30 minutes before getting connected with a Spanish-speaking operator.
And when illegal immigrants realized they would be asked to register to be evacuated, the situation became even more untenable, she said. Part of the evacuation plan included giving evacuees wristbands with identifying information that could be entered into a computer database to track where people were.
The Department of Homeland Security made attempts to reassure area residents that there would be no enforcement during the evacuation, but to little avail. I can't help but think of a chronically abused stray dog who is finally offered a friendly pet on the head - and, of course, flinches.
* Puerto Rico: Researchers in Puerto Rico concluded that sexually or physically abused children have an increased risk in developing asthma.
* Ecuador: According to a recent poll 56% of Ecuadorians support a government-backed constitutional draft.
* Argentina: President Cristina Fernandez said that her country will pay back a multibillion dollar debt to the Paris Club of lending countries.
Image- AFP ("Russian soldiers stand near a burnt-down building in the ethnic-Georgian village of Avnevi.")
Sources- CNN, MSNBC, Monsters & Critics, The Latin Americanist, Reuters India
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
On September 3rd, 2005 an NYU grad student created a unique forum for the discussion of news and issues pertaining to Latin America. The first trio of posts on that day examined topics as varied as The Economist’s view on Hugo Chavez, Costa Rica’s downgraded credit rating, and protests in Argentina. Who would’ve imagined that this blog would continue strong after three years, over 3500 posts, and mentions in media outlets like the Washington Post or this month’s Latina magazine?
In the name of the entire The Latin Americanist team, thank you all who read, comment, and enjoy our blog. We always work hard to inform you, principally, but also to provide our own viewpoints. You are the reason we work hard to disseminate information and insight regarding Latin America and its impact on the world. We are grateful that you trust in us, and we will continue to strive to continue being the forum that this blog intended to be.
On a purely personal note, I would like to wholeheartedly thank Taylor Kirk whose foresight allowed this blog to be created and for permitting me to contribute to this wonderful site. I’m deeply indebted and grateful to all my fellow contributors- Maegan, Alison, and Michael- whose advice and knowledge are immeasurable. Lastly, but certainly not least, thank you to all our readers for their attention.
Hopefully this blog can continue for many years to come so let’s keep moving forward!
Image- Guardian UK (I don’t like the color pink, but that cake certainly looks savory!)
Sources- The Latin Americanist, Blogger, Washington Post, Latina
Despite her critique of Biden, Sanchez concluded that there is an opening he could take advantage of should he ascend to the vice presidency:
Interestingly, inequality is the one Latin American issue that Biden has seemed to be passionate about. He "has fought to address the root cause of the dissatisfaction and subsequent instability that has plagued the region, particularly in recent years: tremendous social inequality," according to a statement his office sent me on Monday. While this might be interpreted solely as political pandering, it is hard to imagine Dick Cheney's office ever issuing similar remarks.
Indeed, social inequality has not only been a source of conflict within the hemisphere but also of political divisiveness. If the Democrats win in November, and tackling Latin America's inequality gap becomes the basis for a new, well-financed approach to the region, many Latin Americans could start looking to Washington in a new way.
So what do you think of Sanchez’ article?
Image- BBC News
In 2004, the Republican Party’s platform emphasized a “humane” approach on immigration along with a policy that encouraged illegal immigrants to “come out of the shadows.” Four years later and the platform being considered by the GOP pulls no punches in vehemently opposing illegal immigration. “Compassionate conservatism” has been unfortunately brushed aside in favor of a tough yet unrealistic rhetoric on immigration:
The 2008 Republican platform says only those legally residing in the U.S. should be counted in the next census.
"The (2010) census should count every person legally abiding in the United States in an actual enumeration," says the platform language, which is a reinterpretation of the Constitution that could affect how congressional seats are apportioned.
According to Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution the Census would count the “number of free Persons…and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons” for apportionment of the House of Representatives. Subsequent amendments abolished slavery and the three-fifths clause and all Native Americans are taxed; thus, the Census Bureau theoretically counts all those residing in a state regardless of immigration status. (A sentiment that was confirmed by a spokesman for Census Bureau to the AP).
Is it any wonder why the GOP is having so much trouble attracting the Latino vote?
(In all fairness, it doesn’t appear that the DNC’s immigration rhetoric was that much better as Maegan pointed out in VirirLatino).
Image- HamptonRoads.com (“Chuck Smith, a delegate from Virginia Beach, speaks with media members during a recess on Monday, the first night of the GOP convention. (Steve Earley | The Virginian-Pilot).”)
Sources- Wikipedia, VirirLatino, chicagotribune.com, Library of Congress, AP, Denver Post, Philadelphia Bulletin
Kenyon Farrow writes:
...oftentimes I feel like in the US, it’s as if slavery didn’t happen in Latin America and there are no Black people there to speak of. Or that somehow or another, the Spanish speaking Caribbean and South America has “gotten beyond” racial categorization, when it was only a generation ago that people like Cuban singer La Lupe (among many others) proudly declared she was Black. And why don’t any of these Baseball players from the Dominican Republic get discussed as Black people? There’s also this thing that happens, where I have been told that I, as an African-American, don’t understand the nuances of what happens in terms of race/racialization in Latin America.
Source : Kenyon Farrow
* Colombia: “The audience with the pope was a dream for me,” noted former hostage Ingrid Betancourt after an emotional meeting with Pope Benedict on Monday (image).
* U.S.: The Justice Department's inspector general issued a report condemning ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for mishandling classified documents yet stops short of pressing charges against him.
* Chile: Wild weather has hit Chile where over 12,000 people have been displaced due to torrential rains.* Cuba: Pentagon officials admitted that three detainees were “transferred” from the Guantanamo Bay prison to their home countries.
Image- Times Online
Sources- Monsters & Critics, New York Times, IHT, AFP, Reuters
Monday, September 1, 2008
We leave you with “Policia”- a music video from Latino “alt-folklorico” group Pistolera. The NYC- based band released their sophomore album “En Este Camino” in August and are currently touring. Go see them if you can; they’re incredible live!
Sources- YouTube, myspace.com
I, like many of you, have been reading about the crisis in Mexico, but it was this recent NYT article by Marc Lacey that brought home for me how dangerous and urgent the issue has now become.
Over the weekend, the issue hit a new climax as 200,000 demonstrators took to the Zocalo in Mexico City and beyond in a national march called "Illuminemos Mexico."
Since the Calderon government has begun to crack down on crime and the drug trade, reports of both massive arrests and seizures as well as criminal responses through increased kidnappings and assasinations have risen dramatically.
According to an editorial today by The Times of London: "...in all, 2,700 people have been killed this year in drug-related violence, a rise of 50 per cent in a year. Barely 5 per cent of crimes are solved," and it added that "the corrosive effects cannot be overstated."
A clearly frustrated President Caldreon, who already deployed some 30,000 soldiers to the key areas nationwide, has called on citizens' groups to form committees that will denounce the violence.
It will take a lot more than neighborhood watch groups to curtail the violence; reported kidnappings for 2008 have nearly surpassed those reported in 2007, and the nearly 3000 murders as of mid-August are already more than those reported last year.
Sources: Reuters, BBC, NYTimes, AFP, El Universal, Times of London
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Environmentalists erected a 28-foot-tall coffin on Saturday to protest against plans to build a thermoelectric power plant they say will pollute Chile's southern coastline…
The protesters say the plant, which will be fired by coal shipped from Australia, will foul the air, pollute artisan fishing waters and poison groundwater in an area of forests…
"Madame President: You choose who to kill," activists wrote on the wooden coffin that is so tall organizers have sent in a record-breaking claim to the Guinness Book of Records.
I have no further comment to make.
Image- MSNBC (Note: not the casket used in the Chilean protest)
Sources- Reuters UK
A dearth of Latinos through the day at a train and bus depot dubbed "The Gate" because it is the New Orleans staging spot for evacuees worried volunteer Lucas Diaz.
"Latinos are fearful that by being taken to shelters they will be turned over to immigration officials," said Diaz, a member of a nonprofit group that works with the Latino community in New Orleans.
"They don't trust," Diaz told AFP. "Often people along the way, like shelter workers, take to being ICE agents and turn people in."
New Orleans has received an influx of Latino laborers and businesses that have assisted in the post-Katrina reconstruction. Their presence has not always been welcomed, however, and recent mass raids in Iowa and Mississippi have provoked fears in the community.
The category 3 hurricane with possible 130 mile-per-hour winds is expected to hit the Gulf coast around midday on Monday. Analysts believe that Gustav will cause as much or more damage than Katrina did three years ago.
Image- Newsweek.com (“Residents of New Orleans carry their belongings while evacuating at the city's Greyhound Bus and Amtrak station.”)
Sources- AFP, sunherald.com, Associated Press, The Latin Americanist, ABC News, Reuters, China Daily, IHT
* Puerto Rico: After almost fifty years of service, one of Puerto Rico’s main English-language dailies- The San Juan Star- closed on Friday.
* Venezuela: “The only thing we aspire to in a new government in the United States is that it respects the dignity of the peoples of our Americas,” remarked Venezuela president Hugo Chavez over the weekend.
* Brazil: Deforestation in Brazil shot up by 64% over the last twelve months, according to official government data.
Image- CNN (“Musician Gorki Aguila leaves a Havana courtroom on Friday”).
Sources- The Latin Americanist, BBC News, Monsters & Critics, Associated Press, Guardian UK