Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hispanic College Fund scholarship deadline coming soon! (Updated)

Are you or someone you know a Latino interested in attending college? If so then try applying for a Hispanic College Fund scholarship:
The Hispanic College Fund scholarship program is now accepting applications! The program is open to students of Hispanic background majoring in business, finance, accounting, computer science, computer engineering, IT, hospitality management, hotel management, culinary, food & beverage, nursing and many more! Scholarships awards are up to $10,000. Students can read more and apply at http://scholarships Deadline is February 16. [Ed. - Update: the scholarship deadline has been extended to February 25].
Applications are due soon so please apply ASAP.

If your interested in other scholarships for Hispanic and Latino students, please click here for this very comprehensive list from

Good luck!

Online Source: Personal e-mail message, Hispanic College Fund
Image: Wall Street Journal

Weekend Headlines: February 13-14, 2010

* Latin America: Apparently having solved all of his country’s problems Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli has set his sights on telenovelas from neighboring Colombia.

* U.S.: Could the successor to Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles be a Latino?

* Mexico: A sixteen-yard-long unfinished tunnel from Tijuana heading north towards the U.S. border was recently discovered.

* Costa Rica: Authorities arrested two suspected drug smugglers and confiscated over one ton of cocaine.

Image – El Espectador (Promo image from Colombian telenovela "Las Munecas de la Mafia" (Mafia Dolls).)
Online Sources- Variety, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, Reuters

Friday, February 12, 2010

Today’s Video: Mexico’s Paralympics hope

Tonight we end our video theme of Latino and Latin American athletes who will be competing at this month’s Winter Games with a look at the Paralympics.

This tenth version of the Winter Paralympics will be held next month in Vancouver and will include sports such as wheelchair curling and sledge hockey. The lone Latin American representatives come from Mexico: alpine skiers Arly Velásquez and Armando Ruiz. Both will compete in the slalom and giant slalom and, as you can see in the following video, Ruiz demonstrates his prowess on the “monoski”:

This week’s videos:
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, El Universal, Vancouver 2010 Paralympics, YouTube

World Watch: The end before the beginning

* Georgia: Roughly twelve hours before the 2010 Winter Games opening ceremonies Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died after crashing during a practice run.

* North Korea: Discussions over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions may resume soon implied a U.N. envoy on Friday.

* Kenya: An inquiry by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the Kenyan government misspent over $26 million originally designated to feed the country’s poor.

* Australia: An annual government report on Australia's natives concluded that indigenous children under five were twice as likely to die compared to non-indigenous infants.

Image – Guardian UK (“Nodar Kumaritashvili, of Georgia, died during practice for the luge at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Photograph: Elise Amendola/AP.”)
Online Sources- USA Today, Reuters, BBC News, MSNBC

Haiti’s aftermath: Immigration and repatriation

It was exactly one month ago today that a devastating earthquake shook Haiti, leaving an estimated 217,000 people dead and over one million without homes. In the upcoming days we will examine the political, social, an economic effects from the deadly tremor.

In the days after the January 12th earthquake, several nations in the Americas and Europe made critical changes to their immigration policies. France, for instance, placed holds on deportations to Haiti while Canada considered “fast-tracking” illegal Haitian migrants.

After years of advocacy by immigrants’ rights groups and Haitian expats officials would subsequently grant temporary protected status (TPS) to Haitians. According to Homeland Security (DHS) over 12,000 applicants have signed up so far for the program that would allow undocumented Haitians to stay in the U.S. for eighteen months without fear of deportation or detention. Despite the benefits that TPS provides some critics have claimed that the program would lead to “amnesty” for undocumented Haitians while others worried that the $470 fees are too high.

“Attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano last month after warning that Haitian migrants trying to enter the U.S. by sea would be sent back. This week that threat was carried out:
Nearly 80 Haitian migrants have been returned to their Caribbean homeland by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Their overloaded sail freighter was stopped about 13 miles west of Great Exhuma Island, Bahamas, last weekend. Officials in the island chain asked the U.S. for help returning the 64 men and 14 women to Haiti.
In the midst of Haiti’s humanitarian crisis the TPS decision is more than welcome. Too bad that such foresight does not extend into much-needed changes to U.S. immigration policy.

Image- CBC (“A woman stands in a makeshift tent camp for earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press).”
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Voice of America, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, New York Times, Miami Herald, Christian Science Monitor,

Arte Para Todos: Oscar Niemeyer

Oscar Niemeyer is undoubtedly Brazil’s most famous architect and one of the premier architects from Latin America.

The 102-year-old is the mind behind some awe-inspiring, modernist edifices including several futuristic-looking buildings in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia and the unique U.N. Headquarters in New York. One of his latest projects will be on display at Carnaval this weekend: the central avenue of Rio’s Sambodromo. He has received global recognition for his work including the 1988 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

In the video below, Niemeyer discusses the inspiration behind the designs of Brasilia and how his innovations were not always smiled upon:

Online Sources- YouTube, Arcspace, AFP

Daily Headlines: February 12, 2010

* U.S.: Is the resignation of Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart along with the planned departures of other Republican congressmen an ominous sign for the GOP?

* Central America: According to a Los Angeles Times investigation police often retracted promises of residency to undocumented immigrants who served as valuable informants.

* Mexico: Western Union reached a $94 million settlement with four U.S. border states in a dispute over laundering money to Mexico.

* Argentina: Beef farmers and the Argentine government are butting heads again, this time over who’s to blame for high meat prices.

Image – South Florida Sun-Sentinel (“Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart”)l
Online Sources- Washington Post, The Latin Americanist, Los Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle, UPI

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today’s Video: "Miami Ice"

Over the past three days we’ve highlighted athletes from Mexico, Brazil, and Jamaica who will be competing at this year’s Winter Games. Tonight we’re going to take a quick look at U.S. speed skater Jennifer Rodriguez.

The Cuban-American speed skater reportedly nicknamed "Miami Ice" won several titles and two gold medals before retiring in 2006. Yet the 33-year-old returned to the sport in 2008 and she’s a favorite to reach the medal stand in Vancouver.

In the following interview, Rodriguez discusses how she became a speed skater despite being raised in Miami as well as her impact on the Latino community:

Online Sources- Wikipedia, YouTube, U.S. Speedskating, The Latin Americanist

World Watch: 20 years later

* South Africa: Celebrations including a reenactment walk through the gates of Drakenstein prison were held on the twentieth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s freeing from jail.

* U.S.: Ex-Bill Clinton was reported to be “in good spirits” after being hospitalized in New York to undergo a heart procedure.

* Iran: The country’s Revolution Day was commemorated by the government but also condemned by detractors including a few hundred protestors in Tehran.

* U.K.: British fashion designer Alexander McQueen died of an apparent suicide at the age of 40.

Image – Sky News (“Nelson and Winnie Mandela, on his first day of freedom” twenty years ago.)
Online Sources- Al Jazeera English, CNN, Times Online, BBC News

Lincoln Diaz-Balart Will Not Seek Re-election

Lincoln Diaz-Balart, the Cuban-American representative of the heavily Cuban 21st district in South Florida, announced today that he will not seek re-election later this year.

Diaz-Balart, a stalwart of the anti-Castro resistance and father of the legislated Cuban embargo said in a statement:

"I am convinced that in the upcoming chapter of the struggle, I can be more useful to the inevitable change that will soon come to Cuba, to Cuba's freedom, as a private citizen."

Generally this means that he's either really passionate about what he can do in post-Castro Cuba (and probably thinks post-Castro Cuba is a very near-term proposition), or there's an impending scandal.

Although I live in D.C., I'm an eternal optimist, so I reckon it's the former.

The video below, although of a Cuban-American, has nothing at all to do with Rep. Diaz-Balart or his decision to not seek re-election. It certainly is funny though.

Online Source: Washington Post
Video Sources: YouTube

Major car recall in Brazil

While Toyota has undergone a global recall of over four million vehicles, another major auto firm is starting a recall in Brazil.

Approximately 200,000 Volkswagen Novo Gol and Novo Voyage models in Brazil are being pulled back. A statement from the company said that rear wheel bearings are possibly defective due to insufficient lubrication. This could cause the wheels to lock up and, in some circumstances, make the wheels fall off the axle.

Volkswagen- which is the second largest carmaker in Brazil- has undergone previous recalls in recent years:
In April 2008, it recalled 477,000 of its Brazilian-made Fox compact models to fix a fault with the rear seat.

Eight Fox owners had their fingers mutilated and 14 suffered lesser hand injuries as they tried to fold the seat down to enlarge trunk space.

In December of that same year, 120,000 late-model Fox, Novo Gol and Voyage cars were recalled because of a brake fault.
Image- The Globe and Mail
Online Sources- Reuters, BBC News, AFP

New rules for H-2A visa program

U.S. immigration officials expanded a key guest worker program that affects laborers that have come from several Latin America countries.

The H-2A visa program facilitates the hiring of temporary foreign agriculture workers and was recently expanded to include migrants from Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Uruguay. The new rules would obligate companies to “make a greater effort” to fill those jobs with U.S. workers but also permit higher wages and greater protection for immigrant employees. The new regulations- which roll back restrictions implemented during the Bush administration- include providing employees with a copy of their contract as well as ensure that worker housing is not substandard.

The changes come after a January study highlighted the abuses against foreign sheepherders in Colorado who worked under the H-2A program:
“There are close to 300 sheepherders who are confined to their place of work, receive salaries far below the minimum established by law and are housed in precarious trailers, without electricity or running water,” Jennifer Lee, managing attorney of Colorado Legal Services’ migrant farm worker division and one of the authors of the report, told Efe.

She said the shepherds “are a practically unknown and unrecognized labor force that works in solitude, (enduring both) cold and hot weather, for an average wage of less than $2 an hour”…

The interviews revealed that 66 percent of these workers are from Peru, 12 percent from Mexico, 10 percent from Bolivia, 10 percent from Chile and the remainder from Nepal.
On a related note, a report released this week analyzed Census data and concluded that the number of illegal/undocumented immigrants dropped by about one million between 2008 and 2009.

Image- CBS News
Online Sources- Migration Expert, ABC news, la Opinion, LAHT, CBS News

Argentina's Disappeared: 30 Years Later

I'm sure there are people today that have never heard of Argentina's Dirty War, perhaps there are even some Argentine's today that don't really know who the Disappeared are. They just know what they might have seen- a group of aging grandmothers placing themselves in front of the Casa Rosada (the presidential palace) demanding that the government answer the one question they've been trying to get answered for over three decades: where is my grandchild?

The military war machine of the 70s launched a sweeping campaign to 'disappear' anyone who spoke in opposition against the standing government. While many of those people were killed, the question remained for many, what happened to the children born to the women held in captivity?

The Washington Post provided a bit of insight into this today with a story highlighting the plight of Alejandro Rei. The dedication of the group of aging grandmothers helped bring to light that Alejandro Rei, a well-adjusted man in his 30s, was not in fact the son of the parents he'd known all his life- Victor and Alicia Rei- but rather that of Liliana Fontana, one of the disappeared who was never seen again.

The Post story does an amazing job of tracing the life of Alejandro Rei, who's own stand-in father, Victor, confessed the truth to him after decades of secrecy. Alejandro knew the police and the grandmothers were closing in on him and he wanted to appeal to Alejandro's heart strings to help him evade prosecution. But more importantly, the article raises to light some more pressing- and not so obvious- questions. Do these children want to be found? Is it in their best interest to have the truth revealed? Who does the truth hunt actually benefit?

Alejandro Rei struggled with the news that he was adopted and that his mother was a disappeared (and probably tortured and killed). He had a wonderful childhood full of happy memories and all the opportunities of a well-to-do child. He loved his parents and thought fondly of them. His initial reaction was to protect his father but was then launched into an emotional turmoil, as can only be imagined after learning ones life was a complete lie. In the end, Alejandro helped put the father he knew in jail, disowned his mother Alicia and reconnected with his biological family. But at what emotional cost to him?

He was lucky to have enjoyed such a good upbringing and even luckier to have reconnected well with his family. But after thirty years of being disappeared, one has to question whether the truth is always a good thing. What are your thoughts? Alejandro's story brought happiness and closure to his long lost family, but will this always be the case? And is the emotional cost worth bearing for the truth?
Online Source: Washington Post

Daily Headlines: February 11, 2010

* Costa Rica: China and Costa Rica reached a free trade deal that is expected to be signed before President Oscar Arias hands the reins over to Laura Chinchilla.

* Paraguay: The country is facing its own energy emergency as a result of a heat wave that has disrupted hydroelectric output.

* Bolivia: Bolivia may start a national space program with the aim of launching a communications satellite.

* Argentina: Diego Maradona’s coaching woes continued as a pair of late goals were needed to avoid a humiliating loss to Jamaica last night.

Image – AFP (“A man collects coffee beans 20 kilometers from the Costa Rica capital of San José.")
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Bloomberg, USA TODAY, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Reuters

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Today’s Video: Jamaica’s skiing sensation

We continue our look at Latin American and Caribbean athletes participating at this month’s Winter Olympics with Errol Kerr.

You’ve probably heard of the Jamaican bobsled team that debuted in the 1988 winter games in Calgary and which served as inspiration for a corny Disney film. With Jamaica’s bobsledders failing to qualify for the Olympics, the country’s best chance of a medal falls on the shoulders of Errol Kerr.

The 23-year-old has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Jamaica but will represent the latter in the new Olympic sport of ski cross. As he told the Kansas City Star, Kerr will ski in honor of his late father and to bring joy to his countrymen:
"This is something I set out to do a long time ago," Kerr said recently. "This is the land of my father. This is in my DNA."

Kerr talks about feeding off the good vibes he gets from seeing Jamaicans embrace and help each other.

"I want to help them succeed," he said. "We're all going in debt right now trying to make this happen. God willing, we'll come away with a medal and people will get behind us and we'll be able to continue to do this for a number of years.
The men’s ski cross event will be held on the 21st; good luck Errol!

Online Sources- FIS, IMDB, New York Times, Kansas City Star

Former Uruguayan Dictator Bordaberry is Sentenced

Former Uruguayan dictator Juan Maria Bordaberry was sentenced to 30 years in prison for violating the Uruguayan constitution by leading a coup in 1973. Bordaberry was democratically elected in 1971 and later led a coup that lasted 12 years, though he was ousted in 1976 by the military. The 81-year-old is the second former dictator from Uruguay to be sentenced to prison, the first being Gregorio Alvarez, who was sentenced to 25 years. Alvarez was convicted in connection with 37 homicides.

The 12 yr. dictatorship included torture, disappearances, exile of dissidents, repression, economic downturn, and accumulated the largest number of political prisoners per capita in the world. Bordaberry also faces charges for 11 homicides, though the elderly former dictator is being allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest because of medical reasons.

Online Sources: BBC, Associated Press
Image Source: BBC News

World Watch: Revelations

* U.K.: A British court ordered the release of intelligence information related to a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who claimed that he was tortured.

* Iraq: Officials have ordered the expulsion of 250 people linked to security firm Blackwater.

* Ukraine: Former Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich appears to have won Ukraine’s presidential election.

* Afghanistan: At least 165 people died as a result of a series of avalanches.

Image – MSNBC ("Former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed in a picture taken in London in 2000, prior to his detention.")
Online Sources- Reuters, Guardian UK, CNN, BBC News

De Musica Ligera: Cuba’s musical wealth

Last week we looked at the great Cuban band Los Van Van and their recent concert in Miami.

Cuban music itself is diverse with different styles that anyone can enjoy. The following video comes from a documentary on Afro-Cuban culture and how it has indelibly influenced the wonderful sounds coming from the island:

Online Sources- YouTube, The Latin Americanist

Latino activists gear up for census

Latino advocacy groups want to make sure all Latinos in the United States, including those who are undocumented, are counted in the 2010 census.

The Latino Action Network is partnering with the National Institute for Latino Policy in New Jersey to help immigrants understand the importance of the census.

“The vast majority of immigrants have come to build this great nation,” said Frank Argote-Freyre, LAN interim chairman. "They are proud of the United States and want it to reach even greater heights. They want to participate and be recognized for their contributions."

Because the census is how the government appropriates funds and congressional representation, the News Transcript reports that undercounting immigrants could make the difference between 13 or 12 congressional districts.

Source: News Transcript


Chinchilla reflects rise of women

The Christian Science Monitor writes that the election of Laura Chinchilla, the newly elected president of Costa Rica, reflects the increasing likelihood of women's chances in Latin American politics.

In Brazil, Dilma Rousseff of the Worker's Party -- she's now chief of staff to president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva -- is running against another female candidate, Marina Silva.

The article also points out that in the last four years, two women in South America have been president: Michelle Bachelet in Chile and Cristina Elizabet Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina.

The representation of women in Latin American legislatures increased by 35 percent from 2000 to 2008.

In other Chinchilla news, the World Jewish Congress reports that Chinchilla's vice president will be Luis Liberman Ginsberg, a Jewish former banker whose parents immigrated to Costa Rica from Poland.

Read more here.

Source and Photo: CSM

Daily Headlines: February 10, 2010

* Central America: Last year it was Honduras. Could the next Central American coup occur this year in Nicaragua?

* U.S.: New York State Sen. Hiram Monserrate will be expelled from office roughly three months since being convicted of assaulting his girlfriend.

* Chile: The country’s future finance minister has pledged the daunting task of doubling Chile’s annual growth rate.

* Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez declared a 60-day electricity emergency that will include rewards to individuals and businesses that conserve energy.

Image – El Espectador (2007 image of Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, Bloomberg, CNN

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

MTV is Worried About Their Use of the Mexican Flag in a South Park Episode

Mexicans are pretty serious when it comes to respect for their flag. Twice a day the Mexican Army holds an extravagant flag ceremony in the center of the Zocalo in Mexico City. The enormous flag is raised at 6:00 a.m. and lowered at 6:00 p.m. It is certainly a sight to see.

MTV has decided to pull an episode of South Park which shows a caricature of Mexican President Felipe Calderon in front of the flag. There are laws in Mexico regarding the display of respect for the flag and other national symbols. MTV needs to get permission to use the flag in the South Park episode and decided to postpone the episode in fear of facing a fine of almost $5,000 U.S. dollars. MTV explained to its Mexican fans that the South Park episode "Pinewood Derby" would not run.

Online Source: Associated Press
Image Source: Jill R. Seymour

Today’s Video: Isabel Clark Ribeiro

We continue our look this week at Latin American athletes expected to participate at this month’s Winter Olympics with Isabel Clark Ribeiro.

The 34-year-old Brazilian snowboarder will be making her second straight Olympics appearance after recording a ninth place finish four years ago. Though she has an outside chance of winning a medal Ribeiro will surely do her best to continue as Brazil’s current best winter sports athlete.

The following is the only video I could find of Ribeiro in action; a quarterfinal run from the 2007 Snowboarding World Cup stop in Chile:

Online Sources- YouTube, Isabel Clark Ribeiro’s website

UNSAUR pledges $300 million in Haitian aid

Approximately two weeks after Latin America’s ALBA bloc started a $100 million “special fund” for earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the region’s leaders met today to provide more assistance to the Caribbean nation.

Several presidents of the UNASUR alliance met today in Quito, Ecuador and pledged $100 million in funds along with a $200 million “preferential” credit from the Inter-American Development Bank. “Latin America has stood up… The time has come to create a new kind of south-south aid,” declared Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa as regional leaders of the twelve-country bloc worked out the reconstruction plan.

Today’s pledge is a big help affirmed Haitian president, Rene Preval who was present at the UNASUR conference. With the raining season coming up, Preval detailed one form of aid that he hoped the region would provide:
Preval has asked his South American counterparts… to support his country by sending tents as soon as possible aside from the short and long-term help proposed by UNASUR…

In Haiti, said Preval, there are millions of homeless people and their difficult situation could cause protests. Yet he pointed out that the Haitian people are grateful for any concrete help that could be provided. – [Ed. Translated text]
Several other proposals for Haitian reconstruction were also brought up in Quito; Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro proposed creating a food reserve bank while Peruvian President Alan Garcia proposed helping rebuild Haiti’s roads. Colombian president Alvaro Uribe (on his first official visit to Ecuador since the Raul Reyes incident) brought up the possibility of building houses in Haiti.

Thus far regional differences have taken a back seat compared to the need to help in Haitian reconstruction. Let’s hope it stays that way for the good of the millions of Haitians hit by the earthquake that struck nearly a month ago.

Image- BBC News
Online Sources- LAHT, Bloomberg,, EPA, Clarin, El Universal

Nuestro Cine: “Zona Sur”

Are Latin American films finally gaining the mainstream appeal they deserve? The nomination last week of Argentina’s “El Secreto de Sus Ojos " and Peru’s “La Teta Asustada” to the Foreign Oscar may be a step in that direction. Surely a victory by one of those films would help shine a light on regional filmmakers. The recognition of several Latin American movies at last month’s Sundance Film Festival may also help garner increased attention:
‘Undertow,' a Peruvian ghost story written and directed by Javier Fuentes-León, won the World Cinema Audience Award for a drama. ‘Southern District,' a drama about social classes in Bolivia written and directed by Juan Carlos Valdivia, won the World Cinema Screenwriting Award and a new award this year, the Best of Next honors in the World Cinema Directing category.

The festival's World Cinema Cinematography Award for a drama went to ‘The Man Next Door,' by Argentine cinematographers and directors Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat. Spanish filmmaker Álex Montoya's ‘How I Met Your Father' won an honorable mention award in the short film category.
The following is the English-language trailer to “Southern District” (“Zona Sur” in Spanish); a film that may help usher in a golden era of Latin American movies for a larger audience:

Online Sources- YouTube,, The Latin Americanist

Daily Headlines: February 9, 2010

* Spain: A recent study found that about 1.6 million Latin Americans made part of Spain’s immigration boost over the past decade though the economic slowdown has lightened that influx.

* Mexico: Is Mexico’s weak economy on the rebound? Senior central bank officials hope so.

* Cuba: A deal has been signed that will allow increased flights between Canada and Cuba.

* Colombia: Chiquita Brands International faces a civil lawsuit filed by the families of 19 missionaries slain by Colombia’s FARC guerillas.

Image – El Tiempo (A group of Ecuadorian and Colombian migrants protested anti-immigration sentiment in Spain).
Online Sources- Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist, Bloomberg, Canadian Press,

Monday, February 8, 2010

Today’s Video: Mexico’s skiing prince

The latest edition of the Winter Olympics will start this Friday in Vancouver, Canada. Though some indigenous groups from the Americas have protested the upcoming games, athletes from several Latin American states will be participating in Vancouver this month. We will highlight a few of those competitors this week.

After skipping over the 2006 games, Mexico will have a very unique lone representative at this year’s games. At the age of fifty-one Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe will represent Mexico in the men's slalom. The descendent of Austrian royalty, von Hohenlohe is also a photographer, musician and founder of the Mexican Ski Federation.

Don’t believe me? Then watch this:

Online Sources- Hubertus von Hohenlohe’s website,, Canadian Press, YouTube

¿Por qué no te callas? – Anonymous Jose Feliciano harasser

It has been a while since we last bestowed our “¿Por qué no te callas?” nomination in recognition of idiotic and out-of-bounds remarks by public figures. Previous honoree (so to speak) Tom Tancredo nearly became a second-time “winner” after his remarks at last week’s Tea Party Convention. However, we’re going to tweak the rules a bit and highlight a moron who decided to pick on Jose Feliciano:
Grammy-winner Jose Feliciano has filed a report with authorities in southwest Florida stating he and a caregiver have received a series of harassing phone calls.

Feliciano, who composed the popular Christmas song "Feliz Navidad," met with a deputy from the Lee County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday. According to an incident report, Feliciano said he had received two calls on his cell phone in which a muffled male voice told the singer he had to "get out"…

No arrest has been made and the investigation is ongoing.
Feliciano made headlines in December after a pair of right-wing humorists skewered Yuletide classic "Feliz Navidad” into an anti-immigration satire. Feliciano consequently condemned the “highly offensive recording” that was done in order to push a “bigoted political agenda.”

Image- CBS News
Online Sources- Miami Herald, Latina, The Latin Americanist, CNN

Brazil: Free condoms for Carnival participants

Carnival festivities will start in a few days throughout the Americas including the world famous celebrations Rio de Janeiro. The global press has focused primarily on a seven-year-old girl being selected girl drum corps queen for one of Rio’s top samba groups. For instance, the following was CNN’s take on Julia Lira:

Whether one finds Lira’s actions reprehensible or not is up to you, yet the focus on this post is on the press. While they’ve targeted Lira in reports at times bordering on sensationalism, (i.e. the AP referring to Lira as the “Shirley Temple of samba”) a more important Carnival-related story has been largely overlooked. Brazil’s government will handout over several million free condoms at Carnival celebrations around the country as part of an AIDS prevention campaign:
A new television ad features a talking condom that loudly reminds young people to take him along when they go out to party.

Health Minister Jose Temporao said Saturday that this year's campaign is focusing on educating young women and young gay men to use protection.

The slogan is: "The condom. For love, passion or just sex. Always use it."
The free birth control distribution will be similar to those promoted by Brazilian health officials over the past two years and that have been opposed by Catholic Church officials.

It’s a pity that the press has put the condom giveaway on the back burner compared to the gyrations of a little girl. Anything for a buck, I guess.

Online Sources- Washington Post, CNN, Canadian Press, The Latin Americanist

New Presidenta for Costa Rica

Kudos to Costa Rica and president-elect Laura Chinchilla. Chinchilla pulled 47% of the vote Sunday to become the first female in Costa Rican history to be elected president.

Chinchilla fought off claims (and an amusing attack ad) that suggested she would be a puppet for outgoing president Oscar Arias.

Chinchilla will join Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in the club of currently-serving female heads of state in the region, but Chincilla probably hopes her time in office more closely resembles that of outgoing Chilean president Michelle Bachelet instead of her Argentine counterpart.

Image Source: KPA/Zuma/Rex Features
Online Sources: NY Times, CNN, The Guardian

Daily Headlines: February 8, 2010

* Mexico: First it was a bill to police Twitter and other social networks. Now Mexico’s legislature wants to combat violence by regulating narcocorrido music.

* Cuba: A groups of Republican congressmen want to deep six upcoming Cuba-U.S. migration talks due to last year’s arrest of a U.S. subcontractor.

* Latin America: Will Colombia and Ecuador bury the diplomatic hatchet nearly two years since a Colombian military incursion into Ecuadorian territory?

* Brazil: A rancher accused of murdering nun and environmental activist Dorothy Stang went back to jail on Saturday.

Image – BBC Mundo (“Since the 90s, Los Tucanes de Tijuana have made songs dedicated to narcotrafficking and illegal immigration.”)
Online Sources- Mashable, Miami Herald, The Latin Americanist, NASDAQ, Sydney Morning herald