Friday, January 22, 2010

Please help Haiti! – Charities (version 2.0)

Though there have been some difficulties in the distribution of aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti that should not deter you from adding your grain of sand to the relief efforts. Whether you have yet to give or already have it is not too late to assist those in great need on that Caribbean country.

The following is an updated list of organizations you can donate to including some groups we mentioned last week:
We cannot personally vouch for the authenticity of the above groups and we advise that you please do your research before making any donation. Whether you select one of the aforementioned groups or another charity, have hope that your donation will be greatly appreciated and will hopefully help Haiti rebuild.

(Big thanks to these articles from CBS News and USA TODAY for providing links to some of the above charities).

Image- Sydney Morning Herald (“Earthquake victims wait to receive food aid. Photo: Reuters.”)
Online Sources- Too many to individually mention

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Today's Video: Metallica Rocks Out in Peru

The universal language of Metallica/America's finest cultural export.

Video Source: YouTube
Online Source: CBS News

World Watch: Hair today, gone tomorrow

* Spain: Radios in hair salons across Spain have gone silent in a protest against music industry demands for a radio tax.

* Middle East: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s declaration of keeping a future presence in the West Bank could further complicate Middle Eastern peace talks.

* China: China may soon become the world’s second largest economy after the government said that 2009 GDP grew by 8.7% to $4.9 trillion.

* Australia: The Williams sisters were among those who moved into the third round of the first Grand Slam of the year – The Australian Open.

Image – BBC News (“"Don't forget to bring your own music from home!," Fedcat's poster says.”)
Online Sources- Guardian UK, Canadian Press, BBC News, Reuters

LatAm Red Cross played big role in Haiti

A quick response with assistance in Haiti is largely due to Latin American Red Cross societies, says officials from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Latin American Red Cross societies immediately deployed about 180 people to Haiti, which made up most of the initial emergency response.

In the past, the Red Cross had utilized more North American and Western European countries for aid.

Source: Earth Times

Photo: Ammado, Haitian Red Cross workers

Region emerges from recession without new debt

After the global financial crisis throughout the last few years, Business Week predicts that Latin America will come out of the recession without having increased its debt level.

The lack of new debt leaves "the region in a good position at the start of 2010," according to Moody's Investors Services.

“For the first time in years, if not decades, a major crisis has passed without substantial increases in the regional debt burden or a fall in international reserves.”

In the same period, debt ballooned to 41 percent of GDP in Eastern Europe, while climbing just 3 percentage points to 37 percent in Latin America since 2007.

Read more here.

Daily Headlines: January 21, 2010

* Ecuador: In the latest development in Ecuador’s lawsuit against Chevron, lawyers for the oil giant have requested the dismissal of an international arbitration board.

* Panama: Two of president Ricardo Martinelli’s bodyguards where among those arrested over an alleged kidnapping plot against Martinelli.

* Cuba: According to a leading Cuban dissident group the human rights situation on the island is not expected to improve this year.

* Brazil: The country ‘s Bovespa index fell the most in two months yesterday partly due to Chinese credit restructuring.

Image – Salon (Still taken from “Crude”, a documentary examining Ecuador environmental damage lawsuit against Chevron).
Online Sources -The Latin Americanist, Bloomberg, AHN, LAHT

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Today's Video: Hope in Haiti

No comment needed:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Online Source - MSNBC

Zelaya given okay to leave Honduras

Honduran president-elect Porifirio Lobo and Dominican president Leonel Fernandez worked out a deal allowing the exit of ousted leader Manuel Zelaya. The pact would permit Zelaya safe passage out of the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa and to the Dominican Republic after Lobo takes office next Tuesday.

"We must all forgive,” said Lobo earlier today while adding his hope that the agreement would quell Honduras’ political crisis. Zelaya, meanwhile, told local radio that the accord “is a goodwill gesture by Porfirio Lobo” and is also evidence that Lobo is "distancing himself from the dictatorship" of de facto president Roberto Micheletti.

Why hasn’t Zelaya left the Brazilian embassy and how did Honduras’ political crisis develop? BBC News gave a helpful summary of events:
Honduras' interim government has so far refused to allow Mr. Zelaya to travel without fear of arrest.

He has taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Honduras since his return to the country in September.

Mr. Zelaya was forced into exile on 28 June after trying to hold a vote on whether a constituent assembly should be set up to look at rewriting the constitution.

His critics said the vote, which was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, aimed to remove the current one-term limit on serving as president and pave the way for his possible re-election.

Mr. Zelaya has repeatedly denied this and pointed out that it would have been impossible to change the constitution before his term in office was up.
Image- The Independent (Ousted Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya has been holed up at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since last September).
Online Sources- New York Times, MSNBC, BBC News, AFP

Texan textbook proposals downplay Latino history

There’s a cliché that goes that “children are our future.” Yet if the Texas State Board of Education (TSBE) has their way another cliché would be more appropriate – tapando el sol con un dedo” (“blocking the sun by holding up one finger”).

The TSBE debated last week the content of history textbooks that will soon be used in Texan public schools. After days of sometimes heated discussion and public hearings the TSBE tentatively adopted to incorporate conservative elements such as the National Rifle Association, Moral Majority and the Heritage Foundation into the required curriculum.

The above recommendations are fine since it’s useful for children to learn about different perspectives. The problem, however, is the TSBE’s planned whitewashing of certain aspects of history including those with Latinos. Textbooks would no longer be obligated to discuss Latino civil rights groups such as LULAC and MALDEF. Despite becoming the first Latina to the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor could be a persona non grata in textbooks.

The politically divided TSBE passed other controversial amendments that one board member claimed were needed to balance out the history standards allegedly “rife with leftist political periods and events.” The TSBE’s decision could’ve been worse; the panel rejected suggestions to remove labor leader Cesar Chavez from textbooks as well as replacing hip-hop music with country music in the required curriculum.

The final vote on changing the curriculum has been delayed until March and will have large implications across the country. (Other states could adopt similar curriculums since Texas is one of the largest buyers of textbooks). It’s a detail that has alarmed one critic of the TSBE’s recommendations:
(Texas Freedom Network spokesman Dan) Quinn said the network is concerned that the education board will attempt to downplay the role of minorities — particularly Latinos — in Texas history, emphasize the role of faith and religion in American history and government and add or remove certain historical figures to or from Texas history.

“We call on the state board to listen to teachers and other educators who have crafted these standards instead of pushing their own political agendas,” Quinn said.
Image- College Candy
Online Sources- USA TODAY, Daily Texan, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle

The wrong views on Haiti

The aftermath of last week’s earthquake in Haiti has brought out the best in people who have been generous in their compassion and unselfishness. Unfortunately it has brought out the worst in a few public figures that have exploited the tragedy to advance their respective political agendas. From Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on the left to the revisionist history of Pat Robertson, these individuals have needlessly politicized the terrible situation in Haiti.

One of these cold-hearted souls is U.S. Representative Steve King when he decried the granting of temporary protected status (TPS) to undocumented Haitians. Instead of using a thoughtful and rational analysis he foolishly claimed that that Haitian migrants “have no reason to fear deportation” because they would fill the “great need of relief workers.” As the liberal blog Think Progress noted, King appeared to backtrack from his comments while on talk radio on Tuesday. Yet he could not help but take an unnecessary potshot as his political opponents:
Well, the first thing that happened was we hadn’t even gotten through the after shocks and people were still crying out from under the rubble and the open borders amnesty crowd jumped on that and used the Rahm Emanuel axiom, which is never let a crisis go to waste. And it began to call for Temporary Protective Status for the illegal Haitians that are in the United States, which about thirty, thirty thousand of them have been processed for deportation but not sent.
Sorry to burst your bubble Rep. King yet as we’ve written about several times before immigrants’ right groups, lawmakers, and activists have long advocated granting TPS for Haitians. Last week’s earthquake was one of the latest in a string of natural disasters including hurricanes and flooding to hit Haiti in recent years. Such nasty comments discredit the hard work that groups such as Haitian community organizations have done for years as well as a few politicos within your own party.

It may seem contradictory to bring attention to the remarks by the likes of Rep. King but they deserve to be mentioned as examples of crass selfishness that brings no benefit to the victims of Haiti’s tremors.

Image- CNN (“Haitians line up to receive food and water Wednesday at a U.S. Army distribution point in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.”)
Online Sources-, The Latin Americanist, Think Progress, Wonkette, Reuters, BBC News

Miercoles Musical: Regreso Julieta!

With a new year comes new music from some of our favorite artists including Mexican Julieta Venegas. One of my favorite concerts was seeing her at SummerStage in 2008 (thanks again Maegan!) so you can imagine how thrilled I am to listen to her latest tune. This song is very catchy, features some accordion and is (dare I say) poppy without being too saccharine.

Naturally, I enjoy the new song very much but how do you feel about it?

(Hat tip: Guanabee via Vivirlatino).

Online Sources- Guanabee, The Latin Americanist, Vivirlatino, YouTube

Daily Headlines: January 20, 2010

* Dominican Republic: Former Major Leaguer Jose Offerman got a lifetime ban from the Dominican winter league after taking a swipe at an umpire during a game.

* Brazil: The world's first ethanol-fueled power plant was inaugurated yesterday in the state of Minas Gerais.

* Guatemala: The Guatemalan has protested what they believe was the violating of “basic diplomatic protocols” in the arrests of three illegal immigrants in Florida.

* U.S.: A new study found that over half of Latinos in Arkansas lack health insurance while one in five claimed that they were discriminated against while getting health care.

Image – Los Angeles Times
Online Sources- NPR, Reuters, New York Times,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

World Watch: Grounded

* Japan: Major Asian air carrier Japan Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection and a third of their workforce is expected to be laid off.

* Nigeria: At least seventy people are reported dead as a result of religious violence in the capital city of Lagos.

* U.K.: Management at candy giant Cadbury accepted a $19.5 billion takeover bid from U.S. firm Kraft.

* Middle East: A Vatican report blamed “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the ‘occupying’ of lands” as the main causes of Middle Eastern conflict.

Image –
Online Sources- BBC News, CNN, Al Jazeera English, MSNBC

Cubans May Seek A Free Sex-Change

If you are seeking a sex-change, Cuba just might be your place to go! Under the country's universal health care system, sex-changes are being performed for free. Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro and therefore niece of Fidel, runs the National Center for Sex Education in Cuba. The sexologist and gay-rights advocate successfully fought to have sex-change operations accessible to Cuban citizens, all free of charge, as part of the wave of new policies implemented by Raul Castro after assuming leadership. Mariela has been a voice for the LGBT community and has worked to educate on issues of HIV/AIDS. She has also been a major contributor to the discussion of homosexuals being barred from the Communist Party, and is working to fight the issue.

A number of sex change operations have been performed since 2008, but the issue is controversial to some because of the high cost of the operation for a struggling developing country. Because of financial constraints, operations are only available to Cuban citizens, not foreigners/tourists.

Online Image: Despertando a Lilith

Russians to build Nicaraguan canal?

Before the Panama Canal was completed in 1914, U.S. and European interests were intrigued with the notion of constructing a canal across Nicaragua that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. That notion fell by the wayside; most famously in 1902 a stamp depicting the eruption of Nicaragua’s Momotombo volcano swayed Congressional opinion towards the then-Colombian province of Panama.

Discussion of a Nicaragua Canal has been few and far between though in 2004 then-president Enrique Bolaños declared that the “galloping increase in world business demands another canal in addition to a widened Panama Canal.”

The latest talk of an inter-oceanic canal comes from the Russian media, which has claimed that Nicaragua’s government has requested that Russia help build the waterway. The project would cost at least $18 billion and would be able to accommodate ships bigger than those that pass through the Panama Canal. Yet the warning of one Russian official was reminiscent of so many failed pledges of the past:
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accepted over a year ago his Nicaraguan counterpart's proposal to study the possibilities of participation by Russia's state and private sectors in an enterprise to build a canal through Nicaragua.

However, Sergei Aristov, a Russian deputy transportation minister, gave on Monday a less optimistic remark on the proposal, saying that Russia must first review its foreign financial ambitions in the light of the ongoing global financial crisis.

"Considering the financial situation in the world, as well as the beginning of the Panama Canal reconstruction, the given issue needs additional elaboration taking into account the altered economic conditions," Aristov said at a meeting with Nicaraguan Deputy Foreign Minister Coronel Kautz.
Plans have been underway for a Panama Canal expansion that is supposed to be done by 2014 and that will add an extra channel for ships to travel through.

Image- BBC News (2006 illustration of a proposed route for an inter-oceanic Nicaragua Canal).
Online Sources- Wikipedia, The Register, ITAR-TASS, RIA Novotsi, LAHT

Study: Latino unemployment hit hard by recession

Congressional Democrats (who may lose their majority come November) have vowed to make job creation their number one priority this year. The challenge is daunting for all those in the U.S. but more so, according to one study, for racial minorities.

The report released last week by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that African-American and Latino unemployment would lag worse than whites this year. (17.2% and 13.9% versus 9.0%).

"The gap between white and minority unemployment rates has already grown dramatically during this recession and it is expected to continue growing," said Kai Filion- the study’s author- to AFP. Thus, the report concluded that from the beginning of the recession in December 2007 to the third quarter of 2010 Latino unemployment is expected to increase by nearly 8%.

Another report released days ago painted a starker economic picture for Latinos:
The economic devastation for blacks and Hispanics is underscored in another study issued this week by a Boston-based nonprofit research organization called United for a Fair Economy. "State of the Dream," its annual report issued in connection with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, asserted that blacks and Hispanics are three times as likely to be poor as whites; that blacks earn 62 cents for every dollar whites earn; and that the family median net worth of whites in 2007 was $170,400, compared with $27,800 for blacks and Hispanics.

"We have a long history of discriminatory policies and practices, including outright segregation, redlining, misguided urban renewal plans and predatory lending, that have prevented people of color from building up personal wealth," said Brian Miller, executive director of United for a Fair Economy and co-author of the report.
The EPI study said that Latinos have been especially hurt due to the severely weakened construction and manufacturing sectors. Whatever the reasons may be, those in power (in both private and public sectors) have their work cut out for them to help Americans get jobs.

Image- TIME (“A line of job applicants snakes through a ropeline to attend the CUNY Big Apple Job Fair in New York. Mark Lennihan/AP.”)
Online Sources- AFP, Reuters, Washington Post

Daily Headlines: January 19, 2010

* Latin America: Spaniard Carlos Sainz won the prestigious Dakar Rally that was held for the second straight year in Chile and Argentina.

* Central America: No major damages or casualties have been reported after a magnitude 6.0 earthquake shook El Salvador and Guatemala yesterday.

* Colombia: A Colombian worker and three British contractors were freed after they spent six days kidnapped in Nigeria.

* Mexico: Carlos Slim is reportedly trying to integrate the three-telecom firms he owns into one mega-company.

Image – CNN
Online Sources- BBC News, New York Times,, Canadian Press

Monday, January 18, 2010

#avoid la reforma guey

Drunk drivers in Mexico City have found a clever way to avoid getting busted.

Twitter users in Mexico's capital city have been keeping others posted on the whereabouts of rotating police checkpoints. Turns out this is a no-no, and Mexico City police are threatening the "twitteros" with prosecution that could lead to heavy fines and jail time.

Of course technology can also help people follow the law. In fact, there's an app for it.

Online Sources: Miami Herald, ABC News, Apple App Store
Image Source: Osnapz

Clinton Goes to Haiti to Show Support

US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, landed in Port Au Prince, Haiti on Saturday by invitation of the Haitian President, René Préval.

Clinton met with Preval for an hour to discuss the United States' role in support.

"I know of the great resilience and strength of the Haitian people,” said Mrs. Clinton, who in the past visited the country with her husband when they were newlyweds. “You have been severely tested, but I believe that Haiti can come back even stronger and better in the future.”

Along with showing Haiti suport, Mrs. Clinton brought with her supplies, her C-130 plane evacuated 50 Haitian Americans who were stranded here, and to deliver some goods to American diplomats.

US President Obama has pledged to donate 100 million dollars in American aid to the country of Haiti.

Photo Source: NY Times

World Watch: Why did Mehmet do it?

* Turkey: Mehmet Ali Agca- the man who shot Pope John Paul II in a failed 1981 assassination attempt- was released from prison earlier today.

* Ukraine: Opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich won Sunday’s presidential election but will have to face Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a February runoff.

* North Korea: The government said it would refuse to return to stalled nuclear disarmament negotiations until international sanctions are lifted.

* Afghanistan: Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers assaulted Kabul in what one news source described as “the worst attack on the city in nearly a year.”

Image – Guardian UK (“Mehmet Ali Agca waits in a military hospital in Ankara. Photograph: Reuters.”)
Online Sources- Guardian UK, AHN, BBC News, Reuters

Today's Video: Dr. King and Immigration

Today we remember the sacrifices of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders in order to break the barriers of injustice and discrimination in the Americas. Their work cannot be in vain, however, and there remains much bigotry and prejudice in our modern society.

In the often-heated debate over immigration, immigrants’ rights groups have invoked Dr. King’s name for their cause. It is no coincidence, for example, that a naturalization ceremony was held on what would’ve been King’s 81st birthday in Atlanta.

Below is video of a speech given by Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar in honor of Dr. King. In his discourse, Huizar observes the parallels between King’s work and immigration:

Do you agree with Huizar? Are there ties between King’s legacy and the current immigrants’ rights movement? Is there a major disconnect between African-Americans and Latinos over immigration?

What do you think?

Online Sources- Los Angeles Times, YouTube

Daily Headlines: January 18, 2010

* Honduras: While six military commanders await trial for last June’s ouster of President Manuel Zelaya, the Honduran Congress granted an amnesty to Roberto Micheletti and other senior de facto officials.

* Venezuela: Authorities admitted that they plan to deport to the U.S. a suspected Colombian drug capo arrested several days ago.

* El Salvador: President Mauricio Funes publicly apologized for human rights abuses committed by the government during the 1980-1992 civil war.

* Brazil: Ronaldinho’s best days may be behind him but that didn’t stop the Brazilian from scoring a hat trick in Milan’s 4-0 romp over Siena.

Image – CNN
Online Sources- BBC News, Xinhua, CBC, The Latin Americanist, Washington Post,

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Conservative tycoon wins Chilean presidency

For the first time in the post-Augusto Pinochet era a conservative president will rule Chile.

Billionaire business magnate Sebastián Piñera won Sunday’s runoff election by a very tight margin over Concertacion candidate and former president Eduardo Frei. Frei conceded after 99% of polling places found that he received 48.3% of the vote while Piñera got 51.6% of the vote.

Though Chile benefits from political stability, economic growth, and a very popular president in leftist Michelle Bachelet, most voters were swayed away by Piñera’s promises:
Chile’s third-richest citizen, Mr. Piñera has a financial empire that includes a controlling interest in the country’s largest airline, Lan; a major television channel; and a stake in Chile’s most popular soccer team. He has said he would divest his holdings in Lan if elected.

During the campaign, Mr. Piñera boasted that he would create one million new jobs and crack down on delinquency and drug trafficking. He also said he would seek to privatize a part of Codelco, Chile’s state-owned copper company and the world’s largest copper producer.

Like Mr. Frei, he vowed to carry on some of the social programs that Ms. Bachelet put in place, including an expansion of early-childhood care and social assistance for nonworking mothers.
The election proved to be disastrous for the center-left Concertacion alliance; not only did their candidate lose but Frei was hurt by the surprise showing in the first round by independent candidate Marco Enríquez-Ominami. Frei failed tried to convince most voters of Piñera’s supposedly shady dealings as well as his indirect ties to Pinochet. (His brother Jose served under the late dictator’s cabinet, for instance).

Whether Piñera’s “New Right” serves as a template to stem Latin America’s “pink tide” remains to be seen. What is fact, however, is that in March he will become Chile’s first democratically elected rightist president in 52 years.

Image- BBC News
Online Sources- BBC News, Reuters, New York Times, The Latin Americanist, Wall Street Journal

Undocumented Haitian migrants granted TPS

A few days ago we wondered if undocumented Haitian migrants would receive temporary protected status (TPS) in the aftermath of Tuesday’s massive earthquake. On Friday, the White House answered that question:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Haitians would be granted Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, that would allow undocumented individuals living in the United States to remain for 18 months. That would allow them to renew or obtain drivers licenses, and work legally.

"Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals... whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this administration's continuing efforts to support Haiti's recovery," Napolitano said.
Though having TPS would protect Haitians from being deported having such a status requires paying a $340 fee and denies them the chance to become permanent U.S. residents or citizens. TPS would not help Haitians trying to depart their devastated homeland; Napolitano warned that those “attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation.” (Nevertheless, immigration officials in South Florida are preparing for a “mass exodus” from Haiti).

Several prominent Democratic and Republican politicos backed the TPS decision though one GOP lawmaker cold-heartedly claimed that Haitian migrants “have no reason to fear deportation but if they are deported, Haiti is in great need of relief workers.” The move also received partial support from some anti-immigration groups but the head of the Center for Immigration Studies cautioned that “all previous grants of TPS in actual fact ended up being permanent.”

Issuing TPS to Haitians has been a move long advocated by Haitian expats as well as immigration activists. According to Napolitano, an “estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Haitians ‘not legally in the United States’ as of Jan. 12” would receive TPS.

The Pan American Health Organization estimated that the death toll from Tuesday’s tremor is 50,000 to 100,000 while over a dozen aftershocks have shaken Haiti over the past five days.

(Hat tip: Global Voices Online).

Image- The Globe and Mail (“Children from an orphanage destroyed during the earthquake in Fontamara close to Port au Prince.”)
Online Sources- Globs Voices Online, The Latin Americanist, Miami Herald, AFP,,, New York Times, Wonkette, YouTube, NPR, Xinhua