Thursday, September 16, 2010

Leaders Express Concern for Elections

A variety of leaders are meeting in Miami today to discuss elections and the environment.

The Americas Conference, sponsored by The MIami Herald and the World Bank, hosted conversations about elections in both Venezuela and Mexico, with participants divided on potential outcomes.

Caribbean leaders, like Audley Shaw, minister of finance and public service in Jamaica, also spoke about how they're receovering from the finanicail crisis. Shaw described a new cruise ship facility his country is building in Kingston.

The environment was also an important topic, Business Week reported.

Andrew Steer, the World Bank's vice president and climate change envoy, said 62 percent of their country clients see climate change as an important priority.

Read more about what Latin American leaders had to say here.

Source: Business Week

Photo: Audley Shaw,

iPad Arrives in South America

Apple's latest toy is coming to South America.

The iPad will hit stores in five South American countries tomorrow, according to Macworld.

Apple lovers in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru can grab the device.

The Mac Observer says that customers can choose between the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi plus 3G models.

Find out where to purchase, for example in Colombia, here.

Nuestro Cine: "Fence"-d out

With the midterm elections coming up in a few weeks certain hot button topics have become more prominent in the public eye. One of the most heated issues is immigration, particularly undocumented migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border. All sorts of suggestions have been made regarding immigration such as erecting a massive barrier along certain border areas. But do these ideas work or are they woefully short-sighted?

"The Fence" is a documentary that takes a critical look at the proposed border fence and argues that it has done far more harm than good. This thought-provoking film will air on HBO tonight; see for yourself if you agree with the documentary's arguments:

Daily Headlines: September 16, 2010

* Latin America: According to U.N. figures Latin American exports and imports are expected to shoot up this year and the region will end this year with a trade surplus.

* Venezuela: President Hugo Chavez urged the extradition of a man convicted of a pair of 2003 bombings in Caracas and who is currently seeking asylum in the U.S.

* Cuba: Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez criticized U.S. President Barack Obama and claimed that he “has fallen far short of the expectations created by his speeches."

* Chile: Both houses of Chile’s legislature are expected to approve an increase in mining royalties designed to pay for post-earthquake reconstruction.

Image – The Guardian (“The 'super port' in Sao Joao da Barra is the largest port investment in Brazil and will have capacity for the largest ships in the world.”)
Online Sources- Miami Herald, CNN, Reuters,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Maradona to return to the sidelines?

Diego Maradona was one of the best soccer stars of all time (“Hand of God” notwithstanding) yet his record as a coach has been disappointing. As head of the Argentine men’s national team he came under fire for selecting too many players to the squad, thus resulting in a few embarrassing losses during the World Cup qualifying process. His war with the media continued after Argentina made it into this year’s World Cup where a talented team ended with a woeful 4-0 quarterfinal loss to Germany. Shortly after the tournament ended, Maradona was fired and it seemed doubtful that any club or nation would hire such a volatile personality as a coach.

Will Portugal step forward and take the chance?
Former Argentina boss Diego Maradona is interested in taking over the Portugal job after Carlos Queiroz was sacked last week, according to reports…

"It's true [Maradona is interested],'' Alejandro Mancuso, one of Maradona's assistants during his spell as Argentina coach, told the A Bola sports daily. ''Diego and I talked about it, and it is a project that attracts us. He is willing and has availability, but has not been contacted yet."
The Portuguese soccer federation (FPF) is reportedly interested in a foreign coach for its team, which is why Maradona’s name has been floated around. Yet there are rumors that other more experienced former coaches may be in the running for the Portuguese post such as Mexican Javier Aguirre and Argentine Jose Pekerman.

With the FPF supposedly seeking a permanent replacement for Queiroz by next month, Maradona may be in a prime position to return to the sidelines and lead the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Hugo Almeida. Perhaps that would be a better birthday gift for El Diez instead of risking being arrested at his birthday bash next month in Italy.

Image- AFP
Online Sources- AFP, ESPN, Reuters, The Latin Americanist

Today’s Video: Viva Mexico!

There has been plenty of negative news occurring in Mexico from the constant drug gang-related violence to the kidnapping and murders of migrants. For today, however, we're going to be positive and celebrate the country's bicentennial independence.

Plenty of celebrations are being planned for in order to commemorate the Grito de Dolores, the call to arms against the Spanish colonizers on September 16, 1810. Several thousand spectators are estimated to attend a massive event tonight in Mexico City's main Zócalo Plaza that will include a star-studded concert and the traditional reenactment of the grito by Mexico's president.

The following video is a clip from the "Mexico Revealed", an episode from the "Discovery Atlas" series. This portion looks at Acapulco's cliff divers though the film itself showcases the diversity and beauty of Mexican culture:

Daily Headlines: September 15, 2010

* Ecuador: In a novel initiative the Ecuadorian government is seeking international donations in exchange for foregoing oil drilling in the Yasuni national park.

* Latin America: According to the International Press Institute, Mexico and Honduras are the top two most dangerous countries for journalists this year.

* Chile: Esperanza (Spanish for hope) was the name of the child that was born to the wife of one of the miners trapped in a Chilean mine for over a month.

* Peru: Faced with low support president Alan Garcia shook up several cabinet positions yesterday.

Image –
Online Sources- BBC News, MSNBC, Reuters, Sify, The Latin Americanist

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sour times for Peru’s Garcia

In a poll taken in late August roughly two out of three Peruvians disapproved of President Alan Garcia’s performance. This figure is unsurprising, as the leader of the Andean country has apparently made several missteps in recent weeks.

In May convicted rebel supporter Lori Berenson was released from prison after having served fifteen years behind bars. Last month, however, an appeals court overturned her parole and she was ordered to return to prison. Yet Garcia may have rubbed some of his countrymen the wrong way when he mentioned in an interview last week that he does not consider Berenson as a “threat” to Peru. "How much can Peru really fear a woman who spent 15 years in prison?... She has a little boy, and that moves me a lot," said Garcia who added that he would consider commuting her sentence so she can return to the U.S.

Yesterday Garcia suddenly backtracked from a controversial decree he emitted recently. Originally he presented Decree No. 1097 as a reform that would’ve allowed judges to dismiss charges against those “whose cases have suffered an excessively long investigation." The government claimed that the law would not affected those already sentenced for human rights violations such as ex-president Alberto Fujimori.

Critics of the move claimed that the law would’ve granted amnesty against those being investigated of human rights violations during the Peruvian civil conflict. Opposition grew against Garcia’s decree including among some members of his political party. One of Peru’s foremost literary figures even came out against the law:
Acclaimed novelist Mario Vargas Llosa tendered his “irrevocable” resignation from presiding over the commission charged with the construction of a memorial to victims of 20 years of politically motivated violence in Peru, a move he said he made to reject a controversial decree he called a “barely disguised amnesty” for rights abusers.
Garcia has also come under fire for supporting the possibility of expanding the U.S. military presence in Peru in order to combat the illegal narcotics trade. One former senior army official claimed that such a move would hurt “the moral and combative spirit of (Peru’s) troops.”

Under Peru’s constitution Garcia is not allowed to run again for the presidency; that could be a relief for some of his countrymen disappointed at his current term in office.

Image- EFE
Online Sources- Gothamist, MSNBC, EFE, BBC News, LAHT, Angus Reid Consultants

Daily Headlines: September 14, 2010 (Updated)

* Chile: Former president Michelle Bachelet could be named as the head of the U.N.’s new agency on women’s rights. (Update: On Tuesday, Bachelet was officially chosen as the chief of U.N. Women.)

* Latin America: Caribbean countries including Haiti and the Dominican Republic are under threat due to several developing tropical storms.

* Venezuela: The government will compensate cement firm Holcim $650 million for nationalizing its Venezuelan operations.

* Brazil: One of the world’s largest oil fields may have been found off the coast of Brazil and could produce about 8 billion barrels of crude.

Image – BBC News
Online Sources- BBC News, AP, Bloomberg, Reuters

TV Azteca Reporter Harassed by NY Jets Players

The above image, lest I be accused of posting inappropriately, is what TV Azteca sports reporter Inés Sainz posted on her Twitter stream as evidence of what she was wearing recently while covering the New York Jets football team.

The picture, and her outfit, are topics of conversation, because the former Miss Universe contestant claims she was subjected to harassment by Jets players and coaches.

As reported by the New York Daily News, "players and coaches seemed to intentionally overthrow passes in her direction, whistled at her, openly ogled her and blocked her path as she attempted to walk away."

Sainz's claims - which seem to be completely accurate - led to an investigation by the NFL and an immediate apology from Jets owner. But Sainz seems more than ready to put the whole incident behind her, telling Spanish-language program DeporTV, "I want to make clear that in no moment did I even feel offended, much less at risk or in danger while there."

Image Source: Twitter/Twitpic
Online Sources: New York Daily News

Monday, September 13, 2010

What on Earth is Going on in Cuba?

First Fidel Castro told Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic that the Cuban economic model didn't work, not even for Cuba. Then he said he didn't say that, instead that capitalism didn't work and the whole episode didn't really make any sense at all. I mean, if that was a translation error that's a pretty huge translation error...

José Cárdenas (former a Latin American policy official in the Bush administration) tried to explain it on Foreign Policy by suggesting Raul Castro had failed and Fidel was stepping back up to the plate to right the ship:
The hapless Raul also displayed a marked incapacity to institute any meaningful economic reforms to save the Cuban economy from its current tailspin. In addition, the hoped-for salvation -- that the Obama administration would open the gates to U.S. tourist travel to Cuba -- shows no sign of happening anytime soon.
But then today, Cuba announced it would cut one million public sector jobs and that "those laid off will be encouraged to become self-employed or join new private enterprises, on which some of the current restrictions will be eased."


There are around 11 million Cubans in total and the state employs 85% of the workforce. So this is what you might call a major shift.

I have no insight into who makes decisions in Cuba, but assuming that Fidel is indeed more front and center and in charge now that he's healthy again, this strikes me as an attempt to shore up his legacy before he dies. Potentially, the father of the Cuban Revolution could now also go down as the one who opened the doors to a second fundamental change in the Cuban state.

There had been rumblings previously that Cuba, inspired by the success of China, would look to move towards more market-based reforms. The Obama admin will reaction shortly, but the most interesting changes will happen organically by Cubans moving into the private economy. The next few years in Cuba will likely be very interesting indeed.

Image Source:
Online Sources: BBC News, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, CNN

Today’s Video: Viva Argentina!

This month two Latin American countries, Chile and Mexico, will celebrate two hundred years of independence from Spanish colonial rule. 2010 is a banner year for Latin America as bicentennial independence festivities have been observed already in two other countries, Argentina and Colombia. In this week's "Today's Video" series we will commemorate the bicentennials of the aforementioned states by briefly taking a look at their respective histories.

Decades of immigration to Argentina, especially from Europe, have contributed to the country's unique national identity. One of the groups are the Jews whose migration to Argentina occurred primarily in two waves before the country's independence and during the late 19th-century. Argentina's Jewish population has thrived and is reportedly the third-largest in the Americas.

The following video clip looks at the Argentine town of Villa Dominguez, which became the site of "Jewish colonization" from eastern Europe in the 1890s and extending into the early 1900s:

Online Sources - YouTube, Wikipedia

Daily Headlines: September 13, 2010

* Brazil: One of Latin America’s top architects, Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer, received Spain's Arts and Letters medal last Friday.

* Uruguay: Soccer matches nationwide were suspended over the weekend due to the tragic death of defender Diego Rodriguez.

* Chile: Four legislators have joined 34 Mapuche inmates in a hunger strike against alleged government repression.

* U.S.: A federal appeals court voided an anti-immigration law in the Pennsylvania town of Hazelton that was opposed by local Latino activists.

Image – EFE (Spanish culture minister Ángeles González-Sinde gave Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer one of her country’s top arts awards).
Online Sources- Yahoo! Eurosport, Reuters, MSNBC, USA TODAY

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nuestro Cine: The other 9/11

This past Saturday was the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. Several events were held nationwide including in New York where over 3000 people died when the World Trade Center towers collapsed.

While most people in the States associate September 11th with the tragedies in 2001, that date has a different significance for some Chileans. On that day in 1973 the Chilean military carried out a coup d'etat against the government led by Salavdor Allende. Over 3000 people marched in Santiago on Saturday in order to "pay homage to the victims of the military dictatorship" under Augusto Pinochet Others, however, view Pinochet's legacy in a more positive light and defended the coup. Opinions differ in Chile over whether the coup was justified but September 11,1973 was a key date in that nation's history.

"The Battle of Chile" was a critically acclaimed documentary filmed in three parts by Patricio Guzman. Filmed in 1975, 1976, and 1979, the movie examined the conditions that led to the coup against Allende as well as the deep social and political divisions before and after the golpe. The following clip from Guzman's film shows the military onslaught against the Chilean presidential residence, the military junta's first post-coup televised address, and the start of the infamous crackdown against government dissidents.

Online Sources - BBC News, Press TV, NPR, Icarus Films, YouTube