Friday, October 6, 2006

Music headlines on the Americas

* The newest wave in rock en español coming out of Mexico is more reminiscent of English language pop-rock groups like Blink-182 and Green Day instead of rock en español mainstays like Café Tacuba and Mana.

* National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” recently looked at four Cuban musicians that represent a new generation of music from the island that incorporate traditional and international sounds.

*Brazilian funker/tropicalista Curumin is finishing a tour of the U.S. this week; blogger Brooklyn Vegan includes an MP3 file in his post on Curumin.

* By now perhaps you’ve heard that Shakira heads the nominations for the Latin Grammys with 6 selections, but did you also know that four nominations were handed to Ricardo Arjona, Gustavo Cerati, and (personal favorite) Julieta Venegas?

* Speaking of personal favorites, Colombian rockeros Aterciopledos will embark on a brief tour of the U.S. later this month in order to support their first new album in 5 years.

* If you’re in a children’s music group nominated for a Latin Grammy then it would be wise to avoid being caught on your tour bus hiding over 500 pounds of cocaine.

* Cuban jazz + hip-hop + Afrobeat + salsa + Colombian cumbia = Yerba Buena

* “Latin American and Spanish music had a profound affect on me," said Marta Topferova- a rising star in Latin music who acquired her passion for it while growing up in her native Czech Republic.

* Over a decade after tragic death, Tejana music legend Selena will be honored with her own set of commemorative postage stamps.

* The press in the Dominican Republic ripped Venezuelan crooner Ricardo Monataner for being overly talkative and not singing enough at a pair of concerts last month in Santo Domingo.

Haven’t heard the music of any of the artists mentioned above? Don’t fret as here is a list of links to videos by some of the abovementioned artists, via YouTube:

* Aterciopledos “Bolero Falaz”
* Curumin performing live in Chicago last month.
* Gustavo Cerati“Te Llevo Para Que Me Quieres”
* Habana Abierta (see second item above) – “Corazón Boomerang”
* Julieta Venegas“De Mis Pasos” (Live, 2006)
* Ricardo Arjona“Desnuda”
* Ricardo Montaner“Tan Enamorados”
* Selena - “I Could Fall in Love”
* Shakira“Hips Don’t Lie” (Live, 2006)
* Yerba Buena“Guajira”
* Zoé (see first item above) – “Via Lactea”

Update (7 October): I forgot to mention this before, but on Saturday (today) El Museo del Barrio will host a symposium on the social and cultural aspects of meringue music in the Caribbean. Several ethnomusicologists will speak during the symposium as part of a current exhibition on Dominican art at El Museo.

What…“Pan-Caribbean Perspectives on Merengue”

Where… El Museo del Barrio, 1230 5th Avenue (at 104th Street), Manhattan, New York City

When…2:00pm to 4:00pm

Admission…Free to the public


Links- Dominican Today,, National Public Radio, Vivirlatino, Christian Science Monitor, Brooklyn Vegan, Reuters, New York Press, The Monitor (U.S.), BBC News, Hispanic PR Wire, YouTube

Image- Purdue University Latino Cultural Center (Mural entitled “Latin Dance, Music, Art and Rhythm").

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Bolivian president on U.S. no-fly list

What do Saddam Hussein, 14 of the 9/11 hijackers and Evo Morales have in common? They are a few of the notable names on the U.S. no-fly list written to stop potential terrorists from air travel. CBS news program “60 Minutes” obtained a March 2006 copy of the list which includes over 44,000 names on it. Morales' government has yet to respond to the allegations, most likely since he's got plenty to worry about at home such as civil unrest and strengthened opposition.

Image- (Airplane affiliated to Bolivia’s national airline).

Links- Reuters, CBS News, BBC News, Pravda

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Morning briefs

* Argentinian prisoners upset at overcrowding and the lack of speedy trials reached a deal with authorities to end a 2-week hunger strike (image).

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez thanked his Colombian counterpart for not taking sides in an arms dispute between Venezuela and the U.S.

* A pair of U.S. pilots denied causing a Brazilian air disaster that killed 155 people.

* Injured Uruguayan soccer player Dario Silva was allowed to leave the hospital nearly two weeks after a car crash amputated his lower right leg.

Links- Independent Online (South Africa), Forbes (U.S.), BBC News, International Herald Tribune

Image- Voice of America

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Thursday, October 5, 2006

Mexican police covered-up rapes, says Amnesty Int’l

Human rights group Amnesty International claimed today that the Mexican police covered up the rapes and abuse of 23 women during land rights demonstrations (image) in May. “The state authorities have placed the burden of proof on the victims, while seeking to discredit their allegations” according to an investigator with Amnesty International. The women were among over 200 people arrested during protests in the town of San Salvador Atenco located 15 miles northeast of Mexico City.

Image- BBC News

Links- BBC News, Amnesty International, International Herald Tribune

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Follow-up: Minutemen lecture runs amok

Yesterday we mentioned that the Jim Gilchrest- founder of anti-immigrant group the Minutemen- was supposed to lecture at New York’s Columbia University. Gilchrist never got the opportunity to give his lecture as a group of angry students mobbed the stage and fought with Minutemen supporters. According to the Columbia Spectator some of those students may have been part of the Chicano Caucus, who organized a peaceful protest attended by about 200 demonstrators outside the auditorium where Gilchrist was supposed to speak.

Links- Gothamist (blog), The Latin Americanist (blog), Columbia (University) Spectator

Image- Gothamist

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Families of torture victims seek justice in Panama

Families of victims of human rights abuses during Panama’s dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s try to find justice though that is difficult since the current president is the son of former strongman Omar Torrijos. Though ex-dictators Torrijos and Manuel Noriega (image) were not as “brutal” as their Southern Cone counterparts, “impunity reigns” confessed the daughter of a torture victim.

Image- BBC News

Link- Miami Herald, The Latin Americanist (blog)

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Colombia: President willing to talk with rebels

Colombian president Alvaro Uribe softened his usual hard-line stance against leftist rebels and said that he would be willing to engage in discussions with the FARC- Colombia’s biggest rebel group. Earlier in the week, the FARC (image) opened the doors to possible peace negotiations on the condition that the government agree to create a demilitarized zone for a prisoner exchange program.

Links- Reuters AlertNet, Monsters & Critics


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Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Nicaragua plans to build canal and give Panama run for its money

It would cost $20 billion and take approximately 10 to 12 years to construct. Yet Nicaragua’s government proposed constructing a canal connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Though Nicaragua is one of the poorest nations in the Americas, president Enrique Bolaños views the canal as “necessary” regardless of whatever plans Panama has to expand its canal.

Ironically, the U.S. considered Nicaragua several times as the original site of a canal connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans before deciding on the Panamanian isthmus.

Image- Yahoo! Travel(Map of Nicargua).

Links- Voice of America, Guardian UK, Wikipedia,

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Events today: lecture on Cuban Revolution; protest against Minutemen founder

1) University of Southampton (U.K.) professor and senior lecturer Elizabeth Dore will speak tonight at NYU on the Cuban Revolution. Her lecture, entitled “Memories of the Cuban Revolution,” will focus on narratives of Cubans during that country’s revolution from 1953 to 1959.
What…”Memories of the Cuban Revolution” 
When…Tonight at 6:15pm
WhereKing Juan Carlos Center, New York University, 53 Washington
Square South
, Manhattan
2)  Jim Gilchrist- founder of anti-immigrant organization, the Minutemen-
will be speaking tonight at Columbia University. In response to Gilchrist’s
presence in New York, there will be a protest outside the building where
he's supposed to speak. (I don’t know anything else about either the
lecture or protest since I found out about it via a brief e-mail).
What…Jim Gilchrist lecture (indoors) and protest (outdoors)
When…Tonight at around 7:30pm
Where… Roone Arledge Auditorium, Columbia University
115th St. and Broadway, Manhattan 

Note: If you know of any lecture, film screening, discussion, etc. on Latin
coming up please e-mail us at
Image- New York State Archives (Fidel Castro speaking to followers in Havana in 1961).

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Opposition mounts against Bolivian leader

The popularity of Evo Morales (image)has nosedived over the past three months as problems mount against him such as tension with coca growers and nationalizing energy resources. Though Morales has emerged as a leader of indigenous peoples he has been pulled in various directions and unable to adequately fulfill all the demands against him.

Links- International Herald Tribune, The Mercury News, Prensa Latina, Angus Reid Consultants

Image- Le Monde

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Follow-up: Newspaper publisher resigned over Cuba allegations

Jesus Diaz- the publisher of the Miami Herald- quit on Tuesday amidst possible unethical conduct by several journalists under his tutelage. As we reported about a month ago, 10 reporters for El Nuevo Herald were fired since they received payments from the U.S. government to broadcast on Radio and TV Martí. Yet in a surprising twist to the story, Diaz (image) reinstated the fired journalists shortly before handing in his resignation based on the findings of an internal investigation.

Links- UPI, Guardian UK, CBS News Public Eye (blog), The Latin Americanist (blog)

Image- Voice of America

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Morning briefs on Nicaragua, Mexico, and the environment

*Representatives from the world's top polluting countries are meeting in Monterrey, Mexico in order to discuss viable ways to reduce pollution.

* U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that he would not comment on Daniel Ortega’s possible return to the Nicaraguan presidency.

* Violence in the Mexican state of Oaxaca continued as protestors launched explosives against two banks.

Links- CNN, ABC News (U.S.), Ottawa Recorder

Image- Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (Smog hovering above Sao Paulo, Brazil).

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Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Lula looking to shake off Alckmin in Brazilian presidential runoff

"Victory will just take a little longer, that's all," said Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday after he was surprisingly unable to avoid a runoff against ex-Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin. It is expected that both candidates will run negative campaigns against each other over the next 3 weeks and will also try to court the support of two candidates who garnered nearly 10% of the ballots in the first round: Heloisa Helena from the extreme-left and ex-minister Cristovam Baurque.

Links- BBC, Monsters and Critics, Globe and Mail (Canada)

Image- SABC News (South Africa) (Alckmin on the left and Lula on the right, so to speak).

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Tensions rise over Falklands debate

British officials are worried over Argentina’s aggressive stance regarding the ownership of the Falklands Islands. With the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War coming up next year, Argentina’s government has intensified their claims to the islands via rhetoric from president Nestor Kirchner and the establishment of a parliamentary council on Falklands sovereignty.

Links-, Wikipedia, MercoPress, Prensa Latina

Image- (Sign that proclaims "The Falklands Islands belong to Argentina!")

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U.S. Senate okays new fencing along border with Mexico

By a vote of 80-19 the U.S. Senate approved a bill that would permit the construction of a 700-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Though the Mexican government protested the Senate’s decision, the bill did not include reforms sought after by the president or stiff anti-immigrant measures in a bill passed several months ago by the House of Representatives.

Links- BBC News,, Al Jazeera

Image- Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Morning briefs

* Supporters of ex-Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo (image) denounced a “smear attempt” by legislators who want to investigate Toledo for alleged corruption.

* The U.N. estimates that nearly a quarter of a million displaced Colombians are in Ecuador without proper documentation.

* Illegal street commerce has grown in Chile, much to the chagrin of the authorities.

Links- International Herald Tribune, Reuters AlertNet, The Globe and Mail (Canada)


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Monday, October 2, 2006

Week in review: September 25 to September 30

Over the past week we posted on several topics such as the growth of Hispanics worshipping Islam, diplomatic efforts by China towards Costa Rica, MTV’s latest grab at Hispanic youth, and the positive reviews of “Ugly Betty.” However some stories from news sources and blogs fall between the cracks and it would behoove us to list them. Here they are:

Monday September 25

Tuesday September 26

Wednesday September 27

Thursday September 28

Friday September 29

Saturday September 30



Regular posting resumes on Tuesday

Sorry for the lack of posts today. My Internet connection has been down almost all day so hopefully I'll make up for it in the week ahead.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Brazil: Lula to face suprise runoff

Brazil’s presidential election may require a runoff as president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is less than 1% short of winning outright after today’s voting. With about 90% of the votes counted, Lula leads with 49.3% of the vote while his nearest rival- former Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin- garnered 40.9% of the vote. Even a senior party official of Lula’s Workers party has conceded that a runoff will be the “most probable” outcome.

Update (2 October): With 99% of the votes counted, Lula's lead shrunk to 48.8%; thus he will be forced into a runoff election on October 29th against Geraldo Alckmin. Allegations of corruption and malfeasance by Lula and his Workers Party shrunk his seemingly insurmountable lead. (Links via CNN and Times Online (U.K.)).

Links- BBC News, Guardian UK, Reuters

Image- Houston Chronicle (president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaking to the media shortly after placing his own ballot)