Saturday, April 24, 2010

Latino GOPers peeved over Arizona immigration law

Republican legislators helped push through Arizona's controversial immigration proposal that was signed into law on Friday by Gov. Jan Brewer. But not everyone from the GOP was pleased with the law that is supposed to take effect in roughly 90 days.

According to the New York Times Carolyn Allen was the lone Republican Senator who voted against the bill though she didn't publicly state why. Additionally, some Latino GOPers are none too pleased about the proposal such as a group called Somos Republicans (SR). In a press release issued yesterday the organization- which is trying to increase Latino voter registration for the Republicans- blasted both Brewer and the GOP congressman who helped push the law:

It is unfortunate that our own members of the Republican Party believe that we have to trample on our Constitution in order to “enforce our laws.” We believe that (Congressman Russell) Pearce is easing the requirements for “probable causeand his attempt in expanding our government. What Pearce’s bill proves is that he does not have the answer for illegal immigration within the confines of the American Constitution, and in fact he is not solving the problem by creating more problems.

We believe United States Hispanic citizens have a right to be safe in their person from illegal searches and seizures, and we believe Pearce’s efforts are violating that. SB 1070 is a direct slap in the face to Hispanic Americans who have fought and died for several American wars because this new law can be abused by authorities to pull us over with mere “reasonable suspicion”.

Despite criticizing Pearce and Brewer SR would place the "ultimate" blame on President Barack Obama for his passivity towards pushing for federal immigration reform.

It remains to be seen if the law will help or hurt Brewer's reelection bid among a packed Republican field. At an appearance last week at the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Black and White ball the group's president urged her to veto the proposal. According to a discussion on NPR 17% of Arizona's eligible voters are Hispanic, which could be critical in upcoming elections if they head to the polls.

Online Sources -, New York Times, Somos Republicans, The Latin Americanist, NPR
Image - Kansas City Star (Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Today’s Video: A "chilena" built for two

We'll return over the weekend with a number of posts on news stories from around the Americas. In the meantime please enjoy the following unique "tandem" goal scored in last Sunday's Argentine soccer league encounter between Gimnasia La Plata and Boca Juniors:

(Hat tip: Dirty Tackle).

Online Sources - YouTube, Dirty Tackle

Arizona anti-immigration bill signed into law (Updated)

Update (9:00 pm):
For the last word on Arizona's immigration brouhaha here is quasi-conservative Stephen Colbert who gave his two cents on the topic:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - No Problemo
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Update (6:00 pm):

Staffers for Rep. Raúl Grijalva (who is of Mexican background) abruptly closed his Arizona district offices after reportedly receiving death threats by phone. Grijalva was adamantly opposed to the new immigration law and has called on President Obama to end law enforcement pacts with Arizona police departments.

Update (5:00 pm):

As expected Arizonan Gov. Jan Brewer signed the controversial anti-immigration legislature into law. "Decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation," said Brewer over the law that will take effect in 90 days.

According to Reuters the law is expected to be challenged in court and has become a "hot issue" ahead of Congressional midterm elections this November.

Original Post:

Could Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration bill turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for its supporters? A growing backlash could lead to much-needed federal reform and has even caught the attention of the White House.

At a naturalization ceremony today President Obama critiqued the plan as “misguided” and one that will harm relations between police and the Arizonans. He warned that a lack of national immigration reform “will only open the door to irresponsibility by others” and urged legislators on both sides of the aisle to push for meaningful bipartisan reform.

The bill would obligate immigrants to carry papers showing they are citizens and punish those who hire undocumented immigrant day workers. Opposition against the bill has grown with some claiming that the possible law could lead to increased discrimination and racial profiling against Latinos. Protests have been held throughout Arizona including hundreds of high school students walking out of classes today. The controversy over the proposal has even been criticized abroad:
In Mexico, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution urging (Arizona Governor Jan) Brewer to veto the bill because lawmakers there say it will result in unfair harassment and racial profiling of Hispanics.
Gov. Brewer is expected to announce later today if she will sign the legislation. The bill will likely become law since she’s seeking support for her reelection bid before the state’s Republican primary. She has until Saturday to sign the bill, veto it, or do nothing and allow the proposal to rollover into law.

Online Sources- Wikipedia, The Latin Americanist, Guardian UK, CNN, Xinhua, KOLD, CBS News, Phoenix New Times

Daily Headlines: April 23, 2010

* Haiti: 125,000 tons of counterfeit clothing confiscated in New York City will be donated to Haitian earthquake victims.

* Venezuela: Police confiscated over four tons of cocaine from a series of drug labs near the border with Colombia.

* Brazil: Toyota’s auto safety problems have extended into Brazil where the state of Minas Gerais suspended sales of all Corolla sedans.

* Chile: According to Chilean police a teen was arrested in an alleged hate crime assault of an Afro-Cuban man.

Image – The Telegraph (“Earthquake survivors unload food from a UN helicopter.”)
Sources- Bloomberg, LAHT, CNN, MSNBC

Thursday, April 22, 2010

World Watch: Terra

* World: The fortieth anniversary of Earth Day was celebrated worldwide on Thursday as organizers claimed that one billion people participated in diverse activities.

* U.S.: Eleven workers are missing after an oil rig exploded and sunk in the Gulf of Mexico.

* Africa: According to UNICEF sixteen African countries are facing a measles outbreak that has so far killed 185 people.

* Thailand: Tensions remain high between anti-government protestors and police after several grenade attacks led to the deaths of at least three people.

Image – CBC
Online Sources- AP, BBC News, ABC News, MSNBC

Arte Para la Gente: Peru's powerful poet

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? Therefore please enjoy the following reading of "The Black Heralds", a brief but absolutely stirring poem by famed Peruvian wordsmith Cesar Vallejo:

Even though he only published three books of poetry in his lifetime Vallejo is critically recognized as one of Latin America's greatest poets along with the likes of Pablo Neruda and Alfonsina Storni.

Online Sources- YouTube, Wikipedia

Daily Headlines: April 22, 2010

* Puerto Rico: The University of Puerto Rico will close for at least 48 hours after thousands of students went on strike to protest against academic changes and major budget cuts.

* U.S.: While one hate crime murder trial of an Ecuadorian immigrant ended on Long Island another one started in nearby Brooklyn.

* Brazil: The government awarded building rights to the construction of the controversial Belo Monte dam, which has been vehemently opposed by environmentalists and indigenous groups.

* Guatemala: The head of a U.N. commission on Guatemala has called on authorities to do more to combat widespread impunity.

Image – Claridad
Sources- BusinessWeek, New York Times, The Latin Americanist, United Nations, BBC News

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Democrats Prioritize Immigration

Democratic leaders plan to prioritize the immigration bill ahead of the energy bill, reported the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with the help of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is sill intent on passing climate legislation but believes both are important bills.

Also, according to a new poll from Ipsos and Telemundo, four out of five Hispanics believe the economy has already stabilized or has already started to improve.

In the House, Hispanic leaders have asked President Barack Obama to block a recently passed law in Arizona that would allow police to check immigration status for people simply for suspecting they're illegal immigrants.

Sources: WSJ, the Hill, Brandweek, Miami Herald


Chavez Coordinates Summit

Russian-made jets flew overhead at a summit hosted by Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, in Caracas this week.

Marking the 200th anniversary of his country's independence movement, he invited Cuba's Raul Castro and Bolivia's Evo Morales to celebrate.

The leaders visited the tomb of Simon Bolivar and enjoyed a fireworks display.

Chavez invoked familiar themes, praising his country's "democratic socialism."

Cuba news reported that Chavez added that Venezuela is attacked and threatened by the U.S.

Monday night, members of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Nations of Our America, or ALBA, met.


Sources: AP, Cuba News

Abimael Guzman starves for matrimony

Cuban prisoner Guillermo Farinas is close to death after being on a hunger strike for nearly two months. His fasting has been done in order to call attention to 26 very ill political prisoners who he feels deserve to be liberated.

Former Peruvian guerilla leader Abimael Guzman started his own hunger strike on Tuesday. Rather than an unselfish cause like Farinas is doing, the imprisoned Shining Path founder has a more personal reason for his protest:
The jailed leaders of Peru's brutal Shining Path insurgency, Abimael Guzman and his fiancée, started a hunger strike on Tuesday to demand the government let them hold a wedding ceremony.

Guzman, 75, wants to marry his partner of the past two decades, Elena Yparraguirre. Both are serving life terms at different prisons near Peru's capital, having been convicted of commanding one of Latin America's most violent guerrilla movements.

"Abimael Guzman and I went on a hunger strike at midnight," Yparraguirre said on RPP radio. "The government must stop putting up obstacles to prevent us from marrying -- it doesn't let us go to the public registry, to the notary, to get medical exams for the wedding, nothing."
The couple registered to marry lat year but apparently bureaucratic red tape has held up the planned nuptials. Despite being labeled by BBC News as “the most reviled couple in Peru” President Alan Garcia said months ago that the couple has the right to wed.

According to Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission the Shining Path was responsible for nearly half of the country’s 70,000 murders during a bloody struggle against the state between 1980 and 2000.

Image- CPN Radio
Online Sources- EPA, Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist, Reuters AlertNet, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC News

Yet another Honduran reporter killed

Earlier this month several media groups denounced the spike in murdered Honduran journalists. Sadly the trend seems to have worsened:
The Committee to Protect Journalists voiced deep concern today at the killing of Honduran television anchor Jorge Alberto Orellana, the sixth journalist killed in the country since March…

“We urge Honduran authorities to fully investigate the murder of journalist Jorge Orellana, establish if he was killed for his work, and bring those responsible to justice,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “The authorities must take swift and decisive action to stop this wave of deadly violence that is seriously limiting the media’s ability to report the news”.
Orellana becomes the seventh Honduran journalist to be slain in 2010 though the motive behind his murder was unclear.

The murders come as several countries are pushing for the normalizing of political relations with Honduras and that had been broken since the last year's ouster of then-president Manuel Zelaya. Despite being very critical of Zelaya’s removal, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said earlier today that he may renew ties with Honduras and may also recognize the government of current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo.

Image- Washington Post (“Hondurans in Tegucigalpa listen to a news conference by President Manuel Zelaya from Costa Rica” in June 2009.)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, The Committee to Protect Journalists, AP, BusinessWeek, Voice of America

Today’s Video: Combating and coping with cancer

April is National Minority Health Awareness Month in the U.S. and, hence, today we’re going to briefly examine breast cancer and Latinas.

According to “Latinas who get cancer are more likely to die from it, even those types with promising survival rates.” Thus it should come as no surprise that cancer itself is the second-greatest killer of Hispanics based on an American Cancer Society report. Immigrant women face great difficulties:
Lucy Murrieta, an outreach community relations manager for the Sunset Community Health Center in (Arizona’s) Yuma County said, “We are able to screen them, but there’s not much we can do after that.” The center gives primary health services to over 6,000 agricultural workers and about 60 percent of them are women. The center doesn’t ask women’s immigration status, said Murrieta.

Murrieta said that in some cases the women have migrated legally, but if they have been in the country for less than five years they are ineligible for Medicaid coverage. When the women lose work after the farming season, they lose their health insurance, and this makes it difficult to get breast cancer treatment.
The Comadre a Comadre program in New Mexico helps create awareness of breast cancer among the local community. The support network of breast cancer survivors, doctors, and others are a welcome tool for Latinas coping with the illness:

Online Sources- YouTube, Department of Health and Human Services,, EPA,

Senate drops block on “radical lesbian” Latina

What should have been an easy route to a confirmation vote was anything but for Marisa Demeo.

Demeo’s judicial resume includes a brief period as staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Adjunct Professor at Howard University School of Law, and magistrate judge in DC. She received a presidential nomination to be a judge on the DC Superior Court yet her nomination had been postponed. Sen. Jim DeMint was credited with holding up her nomination due to her "history of very leftist activism” apart from MALDEF.

Did we mention that Demeo is a lesbian? Hence, why the Traditional Values Coalition reportedly sent the following letter to its members:
As an open, radical lesbian, Demeo has openly condemned the effort to amend our Constitution to protect marriage as a one-man, one-woman union. Demeo supports gay marriage, claiming it is a constitutional right. She also claims that LGBT individuals are equal to racial minorities and can claim protection as minorities under our civil rights laws…

Demeo’s radical lesbianism, anti-marriage, anti-national security views are dangerous to our nation. She should not be confirmed to the DC Superior Court.
Whether one agrees with her previous work or whatever her sexual orientation is are both moot points. At the very least she deserves the chance for a confirmation vote rather than permit petty politics to interfere. Mercifully cooler heads have prevailed and the hold on Demeo’s nomination was dropped. Too bad it took an eleven-month delay to reach such a point.

Image- Queerty
Online Sources- Charleston City Paper, Think Progress, The Hill

Argentina’s “madres” for Nobel Prize?

Could one of Latin America’s most famous human rights groups be a favorite to win the next Nobel Peace Prize?

The Nobel Prize committee has officially accepted the candidacy of the iconic "Madres de la Plaza Mayo" for the prestigious international prize. “They deserve it for numerous reasons, aside from historical, including fighting against state-sponsored terrorism” said Argentine senator Daniel Filmus in explaining how the group served as a powerful symbol of opposition against Argentina’s “Dirty War” regime. If the campaign were successful then the Madres would join human rights activist Adolfo Pérez Esquivel as the only Argentines to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The “Madres”- a mostly female humanitarian organization- have accepted the Nobel candidacy but without keeping their eyes off their main goal:
The president of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, considered that the group’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is a “recognition of our efforts over many years.”

Nonetheless she admitted that just being nominated is an honor in itself and “our Nobel Prize will be the recuperating of our (disappeared) grandchildren.” – [ed. Translated text]
De Carlotto’s remarks came as she listened in to the guilty verdict issued against former military ruler Reynaldo Bignone. A judge sentenced Bignone to 25 years in jail for “Dirty War” human rights abuses including helping run Argentina’s largest torture center.

Image- Russia Today
Online Sources- El Financiero, EPA, BBC News, El Patagonico

Daily Headlines: April 21, 2010

* Dominican Republic: On the one hand Colorado Rockies player Ubaldo Jimenez won the National League Player of the Week honors after becoming the fourth Dominican hurler to pitch a no-hit game.

* U.S.: On the other hand Cincinnati Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez was suspended for fifty games after taking banned substances.

* Brazil: In the latest case of child abuse in the Americas police arrested an 83-year-old Brazilian priest allegedly videotaped in bed with a former altar boy.

* Mexico: According to government data the number of reported kidnappings shot up by 90% during the first three years of Felipe Calderon’s presidency.

Image – Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Online Sources- TSN,, The Latin Americanist, MSNBC, LAHT

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

World Watch: Eyes on the prize

* U.S.: Rest in peace Dorothy Height; the civil rights pioneer whose world spanned about seven decades died Tuesday at the age 98.

* Spain: Ex-International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch is in a Barcelona hospital and in “very serious” condition.

* Iran: A Pentagon report claimed that Iranian officials sold weapons to Hezbollah and views the rebels as “an essential partner for advancing its regional policy objectives''.

* World: The havoc wrecked on European travel by the erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano has had effects around the world including tourism in South Asia.

Image – Washington Post
Online Sources- NPR, NBC Sports, The Age, BBC News

Lorena Ochoa calls it quits

One of the greatest female golfers and Mexican athletes of all time has surprisingly decided to retire from the game.

"Lorena Ochoa has confirmed her retirement from LPGA... more details will be released on Friday at a press conference," according to the golf star’s management group. The shocking announcement comes as the 28-year-old as at the peak of the women’s golf game having won 27 tournaments and earned $14 million. Though the communiqué did not explain why Ochoa is to quit she has previously expressed departing from professional golf in order to raise a family. (She admitted last year that the “things that I do outside the golf course” served as her “main focus.”)

Though Ochoa never reached the star power of Annika Sorenstam (who retired for personal reasons in 2008) her departure will leave a big void in the economically struggling LPGA Tour. Much like Ana Guevara in track and field, Ochoa was a superstar in Mexico on a level comparable to the country’s elite soccer players. Her legacy will hopefully continue via her numerous charitable efforts:
Earlier this month, Ochoa disclosed plans to open a golf academy in Mira Loma, California, targeting the area’s Latino population. Ochoa’s foundation also runs a similar school in Mexico and has plans to open academies in the U.S. and other countries.
Online Sources- AP, Reuters, New York Times, Bloomberg

Shakira Releases New Song for World Cup 2010

A song by Colombiana popstar Shakira and African-based group Freshlyground has been selected as the official World Cup Anthem.

"Esto es Africa" will be released to radio stations globally sometime next week and will be downloadable April 26.

Shakira and Freshlyground will perform the song live at the World Cup kickoff concert in Soweto on June 10, as well as at the tournament's opening ceremony and before the final on July 11.

Source: 1, 2

Nuestro Cine: We still miss you Andres

One of the most difficult days I've had as a sports fan occurred on June 22, 1994. Not only had the Knicks lost the pivotal final game of the NBA Finals but Colombia lost its must-win World Cup duel against the U.S. Since then that crucial soccer match has helped me not only greatly appreciation soccer in the U.S. but also become a fervent fan of the "Stars and Stripes." Back then however my psyche was shattered after seeing Andres Escobar sit grimly on the grass of the Rose Bowl and contemplated the own-goal he had inadvertently scored. That grief would worsen weeks later when he was senselessly shot dead.

Nearly sixteen years since that fateful day ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary series will shine a light on the Escobar incident and Colombian soccer itself at the time. The Two Escobars will examine Andres' career as one of the country's best defenders but also of his namesake Pablo, the infamous drug capo whose influence extended onto the soccer pitch. The trailer for the film is below and it will surely be a can't-miss documentary:

The Two Escobars Teaser from Two Escobars on Vimeo.

(Hat tip: The Offside Rules.)

Online Sources - Huevos Pericos, Vimeo, The Offside Rules,

U.S. troops to leave Haiti

One of the most controversial aspects of the international response to last January’s massive earthquake in Haiti was the deployment of U.S. troops to the country. Such a criticism not only emerged from political commentators but also from officials such as French minister Bernard Kouchnet. Worries of the alleged U.S. occupation may soon come to an end after a key announcement by Pentagon authorities yesterday:
The senior officer who has been leading the U.S. military earthquake relief effort in Haiti says the formal operation will end around June 1. But Army Lieutenant General Ken Keen says American efforts to help Haiti recover from the quake will continue beyond that date…

The general says the $400-million U.S. military relief operation mostly went well. But he adds that the military needs to be able to assess needs in a disaster more quickly, and should improve its logistics and coordination abilities in such chaotic and unexpected situations.
Do you agree with Keen’s assessment?

Image- BBC News
Online Sources- Voice of America, The Latin Americanist, The Telegraph

Arizonan Senate OKs anti-immigration proposal

The legislature of Arizona seems to have given the following message to illegal immigrants: get out.

Yesterday the state’s Senate approved what may be the harshest measures against undocumented migrants. The bill, which was backed last week by the House, permits local police to check if a person has their immigration papers. The proposal also “targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.”

The controversial bill is expected to be signed soon by Gov. Jan Brewer though she has yet to speak out publicly on it. Proponents of the measure contend that it will help curb crime; bill author Russell Pearce claimed that the proposal would obligate police to “get (handcuffs) on the bad guys.” Opponents, meanwhile, said that the proposal would encourage “racial profiling” by police and unfairly targets Arizona’s Latino populace. The measure has even been criticized in neighboring New Mexico where some legislators worry that “a wave of illegal immigrants” could come to their state.
The bill received the backing of Sen. John McCain who called it “a good tool” on the same day he unveiled his security-heavy immigration proposal with Sen. John Kyl.

A silver lining to the controversial proposal may be that this forces federal officials content to brush off immigration to tackle the urgent need for reform. An editorial in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle succinctly said it best:
Members of the U.S. House and Senate should take Arizona's actions as a cue to get to work on immigration reform. This nation cannot have 50 immigration policies.
Image- New York Times (“Immigration advocates (in Arizona) want the governor to block the bill (that was passed on Monday).”)
Online Sources- New York Times, The Latin Americanist, CNN, Reuters, YouTube, San Francisco Chronicle

Daily Headlines: April 20, 2010

* Nicaragua: The country’s Supreme Court and President Daniel Ortega (image) are butting heads in what one journalist described as the “worst crisis to hit Nicaragua's wobbly judicial system in years.”

* Cuba: Rest in peace Carlos Franqui; the former revolutionary turned writer died last week at the age of 69.

* Argentina: Argentina is close to completing a historic swap of over $20 billion in defaulted bonds.

* U.S.: Approximately 600 mourners attended the funeral of the late teacher and mentor Jaime Escalante.

Image – France24
Online Sources- Miami Herald, LAHT, ABC News, Wall Street Journal

Obama's Soft Power Surge, And Other Statistical Novelties

A quick review of a new global perception poll published by the BBC World Service shows that the "Obama-effect" is indeed real and that the world has pretty much forgiven Germany for World War II. From the BBC story:

"For the first time since the annual poll began in 2005, America's influence in the world is now seen as more positive than negative."

Boz provides a nice round-up of the shift of perceptions in Latin America.

Chile saw the region's biggest positive growth in pro-American sentiment (55% up from 42% last year). Mexicans, however...ouch: just 13% view US influence as favorable.

Ripping from the BBC report, the only two countries that have seen a fall in positive sentiment towards the US are Turkey and India.
The only countries where perceptions of the United States became more negative overall were Turkey (where the proportion with positive perceptions of the United States fell from 21 per cent to 13 per cent and negative perceptions increased from 63 to 70 per cent), and in India (where positive perceptions dipped from 43 per cent to 39 per cent and negative views increased from 20 to 28 per cent).

The Turks are upset about the fact that California Congressman keep pushing (against Foggy Bottom's wishes) for legislative recognition up the 1918 Armenian Genocide (or "Genocide" as they would have it).

India is either miffed about how we're now in bed with Pakistan or perhaps the whole White House party crashers incident at the State Dinner for the Indian PM.

Back to Latin America, some stats on Brazil that will require someone with more knowledge than me to dissect (opinions please!):
Egypt has changed from leaning positive to leaning negative, as favourable evaluations have dropped by 15 points (to 18%, down from 33%).
Indians have moved from favourable to divided, as negative views have risen by eight points (to 23%, up from 15%).
Positive opinions of Brazil have also declined in each of the following countries: China by ten points (now 55%, down from 65%), Ghana by nine points (now 41%, down from 50%), Italy by nine points (now 40%, down from 49%), Canada by eight points (now 38%, down from 46%) and Nigeria by nine points (now 38%, down from 47%).

Online Sources: BBC, Bloggings by Boz, Guardian, Hindustan Times, Ghana Web, MSNBC
Image Source: via (Blue represents countries that have never burned American flag)

Monday, April 19, 2010

World Watch: Fly me away

* Europe: Restrictions on air travel in Europe will be gradually lifted starting on Tuesday though massive ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano continues to be up in the sky.

* Iraq: The Iraqi army has been credited with killing two senior Al-Qaeda leaders over the weekend.

* U.K.: Could Liberal Democrat candidate Nick Clegg provide an upset in upcoming elections for British Prime Minister?

* Zimbabwe: On the thirtieth anniversary of Zimbabwean independence President Robert Mugabe tossed aside irony and called for his countrymen to refrain from violence.

Image – The Telegraph (“The departures board at Heathrow Airport.”)
Online Sources- Xinhua, Christian Science Monitor, Guardian UK, CNN

Jaime Bayly in Hugo Chavez’ crosshairs?

Imagine if Keith Olbermann were running for president and he accused the Mossad of conspiring to assassinate him. Such is the case in Peru where political commentator and possible candidate Jaime Bayly made such a claim on Monday.

In an article in Perú 21 the columnist said that he hired bodyguards and rides in a bulletproof car after he received “precise” information from the “head of Colombia’s secret police.” And who is the mastermind of the alleged complot? One of his favorite targets of criticism:
“The plan will be executed if your candidacy become more popular in the polls except that it will be delayed so that it seems like you were killed by Peruvian terrorists instead of orders from Caracas…(Venezuelan president Hugo) Chavez will not allow you to win the elections,” said the informant to Bayly. – [ed. Translated text].
Dead or alive Bayly will have his work cut out for him in next year's presidential elections. One of the favorites to win is the daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori, Keiko, who claimed that she would grant her dad a presidential pardon if elected.

Image- El Mundo
Online Sources- Americas Quarterly, Peru 21, El Tiempo

Estafans target Obama over Cuban human rights

Cuba’s deplorable human rights situation was one of the main topics expressed by singer Gloria Estefan and husband Emilio to President Barack Obama last week. “Hope and freedom are a part of (Cuban) history,” said Gloria at a Democratic Party fundraiser hosted at the couple’s Miami Beach mansion. The couple showed the president pictures of the repression suffered by the Ladies in White and also gave him a letter from the mother of recently deceased dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo.

The Estefans have subsequently come under fire from some in the Cuban exile community who have accused the couple of shilling for the Democratic Party. A recent post on Babalu Blog asked what would the reaction be had the event been “a Tea Party event with Sarah Palin as the guest of honor.” (Actually the better comparison would be if it was a Republican fundraiser with Mitch McConnell or John Boehner as the guest of honor but that’s beside the point).

In response Gloria said on a TV interview that she found the chance to talk directly to the president too hard to resist:
"The bottom line is that if the White House calls and says, 'We're coming to Miami', what more of an honor for a Cuban-American immigrant that came here when I was two years old, than to have the president of the United States in my home and to be able to speak to him about some of the things we have been doing?" Estefan said on Larry King Live.
Back in Cuba, meanwhile, police continued harassing the Ladies in White and broke up their march on Sunday. In an article published today Fidel Castro echoed the recent rants of his brother and claimed that Cuba will never give in to the alleged “media blackmail and terror” from the U.S. and Europe.

Image- Reuters (“Recording artist Gloria Estefan (front) and her husband, record producer Emilio Estefan look towards the crowd as they lead a protest in support of Cuba's Las Damas de Blanco, or the Ladies in White, on Calle Ocho in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida March 25, 2010.”)
Online Sources- Reuters, Sydney Morning Herald, Miami Herald, Babalu Blog,, MSNBC, Milenio

McCain, Kyl: Send troops to border

While Arizona is at the cusp of passing one of the country’s strongest anti-immigration bills the state’s federal senators have introduced their own tough proposal on immigration.

Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain proposed deploying 3000 National Guard soldiers along the U.S.-Mexico border. "The situation has spiraled out of control," McCain said at a press conference today as he claimed that illegal immigrants crossing the border has supposedly led to a spike in crime in Arizona.

The proposal made part of a ten-point immigration plan that focused primarily on security and included suggestions such as erecting “double- and triple- layer fencing” along the border and increasing funds for the Border Patrol.

McCain has long been a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform and had championed a failed 2006 reform proposal that was supported by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Yet McCain has faced strong conservative opposition in his bid for reelection that has been critical of his immigration stance. "It is unconscionable that nearly a decade after 9/11 the backdoor of the United States remains open," declared McCain’s main opponent- former Congressman J.D. Hayworth- at a recent Arizona Tea Party rally.

The push for stronger legislation against immigrants in Arizona could lead to one of the staunchest opponents of immigration to run for governor:
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been raising fistfuls of money for months now, but the question is: for what?

If Arpaio knows what office he will run for next, he isn't saying yet. But he promises to let voters know by May 1 whether he will hang onto his sheriff's badge or toss his hat into the ring for governor.

Arpaio has raised $2 million to date, money he cannot touch until he starts campaigning for sheriff or shifts gears to run for governor. He has been soliciting contributions for nearly a year, and the response has been striking even for someone with his name recognition.
(Hat tip on the final link: Gawker).

Image- CBS News
Online Sources- CNN, Washington Independent, The Hill, Fox News,, Gawker

Mixed verdict in Marcelo Lucero case

An eighteen-year-old Long Island teen was found guilty in the 2008 slaying of an Ecuadorian immigrant yet he was absolved of the harshest charge.

Jeffrey Conroy was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime in the death of Marcelo Lucero and could be sentenced next month to between 8 and 25 years in jail. Conroy was also found guilty on lesser charges of going “beaner-jumping” with other teens in order to assault other Latinos. Nevertheless Conroy escaped being convicted for the most serious charge of second-degree murder as a hate crime, which would’ve carried a maximum punishment of life in prison.

Conroy was the only one of seven implicated in the Lucero case to be charged with murder and manslaughter. Though he originally confessed to police that he killed Lucero he took back his admission and proclaimed his innocence at the trial. Conroy’s attorney argued that he took the rap for a teen he met hours before attacking Lucero but prosecutors said that Conroy showed an intent to kill and tried to pin the blame on someone he barely knew.

Suffolk County prosecutors declared the verdict as fair and Conroy’s attorney said that he would appeal the verdict. Yet local Latino activists and members of the Ecuadorian exile community feel that that the conviction was insufficient. “There are no winners”, said one Ecuadorian official according to while Lucero’s brother Joselo was disappointed over the verdict in remarks he made to Ecuadorian radio.

Lucero’s death helped galvanize Long Island’s growing Latino community against what they claimed was an attitude of intolerance even among officials. Such an attitude has changed somewhat though not enough to dissuade fears among Latinos:
Many Hispanics attacked in the days before Lucero's killing were afraid to report the crimes to police, fearing questions about their immigration status, prosecutors said...

After the Lucero killing, Suffolk Police assigned an Ecuadorean born officer to work as a liaison between police and the Hispanic community in Patchogue. Some Hispanics in the community say conditions have improved, but advocates have held several press conferences during the trial, contending much work still needs to be done to ease fears.
While one trial nears its close another one involving a slain Ecuadorian immigrant is in its initial stages. Jury selection continued today in the 2008 murder of Jose Sucuzhuñay in Brooklyn.

Image- New York Times (“A vigil in Patchogue, N.Y., in 2008 for Marcelo Lucero, six days after he was killed.”)
Online Sources-, New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, AP, NY1

Today’s Video: Simon Bolivar

Today Venezuela celebrates the 200th anniversary of its initial independence, an occasion celebrated by the country's population. Several Latin American countries including Mexico and Colombia will also be commemorating their bicentennials this year.

Undoubtedly the most important figure in numerous Latin American independence movements was Simon Bolivar. Bolivar has reached a mythical status throughout the Americas including in Venezuela where the country's name was changed to reflect his importance. Below is part of a documentary narrated by Mexican author Carlos Fuentes that explains Bolivar's indelible impact throughout the region:

Online Sources - Reuters, BBC News, YouTube

Daily Headlines: April 19, 2010 (Updated)

* U.S.: A declassified cable showed that in 1976 then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger cancelled warning South American diplomats of the risk of being targeted in political assassinations.

* Latin America: No damage or injuries have been reported as a result of a pair of “moderate” earthquakes that shook parts of the Caribbean and Central America yesterday.

* Ecuador: President Rafael Correa threatened to introduce plans for oil nationalization unless foreign firms work out favorable deals with the government.

* Venezuela: Former champion boxer Edwin Valero was arrested yesterday after he confessed to killing his wife. (Update: This morning Valero was found dead in a police jail after an apparent suicide.)

Image- Daily Kos (1970s era photo of Henry Kissinger with former Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet. The recently declassified cable from Kissinger halting warnings over diplomats being targeted for murder came five days before the infamous killing of Chilean exile Orlando Letelier).
Online Sources- New York Daily News, AFP, The Telegraph, AP, Xinhua