Friday, November 17, 2006

Art from the Americas on display around the U.S.

Abu Ghraib 67 by Fernando Botero
Did you know that several museums around the U.S. are prominently displaying art from Latin American artists? With the weekend upon us it may be a good idea to check out some of the following exhibits before they close:

* This Saturday is the last day to see the U.S. debut of Colombian artist Fernando Botero’s exhibit of art inspired by the scandal in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. New York City’s Marlborough Gallery is displaying the collection of over 45 paintings and drawings that can be considered as “his strongest statement of outrage against human violence.” Certainly Botero’s works in this exhibit are powerful and arresting regardless of your opinions regarding the conflict in Iraq.

  • The Marlborough Gallery is located at 40 West 57th Street in Manhattan. For more information please check out their website.

* The Philadelphia Museum of Art gathered works from museums in Mexico City and Los Angeles in order to present “Tesoros,” a major exhibit of art from the Spanish and Portuguese colonial period in the Americas. One art critic praised how the art in shown in the exhibit “represents a distinctive amalgam of ingredients that includes indigenous media and techniques as well as prominent influences from Asia (primarily China, Japan and the Philippines)”. “Tesoros” brilliantly demonstrates the multi-faceted nature of Latin American art even if it’s from a period lacking mass appeal.

* Last week, the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California opened their feature exhibition on contemporary Cuban art entitled “Unbroken Ties: Dialogues in Cuban Art.” “Unbroken Ties” covers various different forms of art from nearly 40 Cuban artists including several living in exile. As Guest Curator Jorge Santis observed, the exhibition “demonstrates that neither time nor distance can erase the spiritual, behavioral and cultural linkage that exists between compatriots.”

  • “Unbroken Ties: Dialogues in Cuban Art” will be shown until March 4, 2007 at the Museum of Latin American Art at 628 Alamitos Avenue in Long Beach

* ‘Good things come in small packages’ would be the best way to describe the “Mapping Nativity” exhibit at Denver’s Museo de las Américas. The exhibit recreates over 130 versions of the nativity scene from 18 Latin American countries using a myriad of items. Much like snowflakes no two nativity scenes are the same and they aptly represent the originality of Latin American art.

  • “Mapping Nativity” is located at the Museo de las Américas (861 Santa Fe Drive in Denver) and the exhibit runs until December 31st

*Though the Day of the Dead was commemorated a few weeks ago, Chicago’s Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum is running an exhibit on art related to that day. Local as well as Mexican artists display their works documenting different ways of observing the Day of the Dead and how important it is to Latin American culture. Vaya con Dios.

* In a city well-known for galleries on South Beach and art deco architecture it’s quite a surprise to see note that one of the best kept collections of art is at a public university. Such was the case at Miami Dade College which hosted an exhibit of over 1200 pieces of art called “A Well-Kept Secret: 40 Years of Collecting at MDC”. Included among works by Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg was Latin American art collected in the 1970s from the likes of Mexico’s José Luis Cuevas and Venezuelan sculptor Jesús Soto.

None of the above-mentioned museums are near you? No need to worry as LANIC’s website on art has dozens of links of galleries and museums from around the Hemisphere that showcase art from the Americas.

Image- Marlborough Gallery


20 years later - CSM looks at impact of 1986 amnesty

Twenty years ago, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was enacted which gave a partial amnesty to illegal immigrants who lived and worked in the U.S. With the present-day debate surrounding immigration reform, the Christian Science Monitor examined the impact the IRCA had on seven immigrants. One of them is Jose Ortiz who fled war torn El Salvador and was able to go to college in the field of medicine after receiving his green card in 1986. Then there is the case of Mary Vega, a Colombian who became a citizen and brought her now-grown daughters into the U.S. after IRCA was passed. All-in-all the series from the Christian Science Monitor provides insight into the consequences of immigration reform and the success stories that could come out of it.


Links- Wikipedia, Christian Science Monitor

Tags- ,

News headlines on Venezuela

* Venezuela’s Minister of Energy and Oil said that the country’s oil reserves have grown by 7,600 million barrels this year and now total almost 88,000 million barrels.

* Businessman and popular comedian Benjamin Rausseo quit from running for president after being an official candidate for four months.

* The second-highest ranking official in the U.S. State Department predicted that Hugo Chavez is losing influence globally and that Chavez is someone “who divides, who throws little bombs…and he seeks to tear people down.”

* Although Venezuela’s GDP has grown by more than 10% for the sixth consecutive quarter, the value of the country’s currency has nosedived to its lowest point in 2.5 years.

* This is a socialist revolution? – An article from the Guardian UK claims that Venezuela’s elite are getting richer and prospering from a growing economy.

Links- International Herald Tribune, The Latin Americanist (blog), Washington Post, Zee News, Guardian UK, Bloomberg

Image- BBC News

Tags- , , ,

Eating disorder kills another Latin American model

The ongoing debate over ‘how thin is too thin’ in the fashion world has been reignited with the death of Brazilian model Ana Maria Reston on Tuesday. The 21-year-old Reston weighed only 88 pounds, a weight more suitable for girls nearly a foot shorter and 9 years younger. In an interview to the Brazilian press, Reston’s mother pleaded to other parents to “take care of your children ... no money in the world is worth the life of your child.”

Reston’s death from anorexia (she supposedly subsisted on a diet of apples and tomatoes) come on the heels of the death of Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos in August who passed away when she had a heart attack while on the catwalk of a fashion show.

Links- Toronto Star, Metro (UK), CBC , Vivirlatino (blog)

Image- Zaman Online (Turkey)

Tags- , ,

Daily headlines: November 17th

* Support for Uruguayan president Tabaré Vásquez (image) has dropped nearly 20% since October 2005, according to figures from Angus Reid.

* U.S. investors in Nicaragua have mixed feelings toward the election of Daniel Ortega as the next president; some have fled as soon as they heard the results while others are willing to wait

* The daughter of ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet said in an interview that her father would be willing to meet with “Dirty War” survivors but would not publicly ask his countrymen for forgiveness.

* The former general manager of one of Mexico’s oldest and most respected newspapers was killed on Thursday in what may have been a homicide.

* Former Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala has gone from populist leader to political pariah as charges of human rights abuses hound him.

* A group of students from Brigham Young University have traveled to the Dominican Republic to figure out what types of wheelchairs are best for disabled people in underdeveloped areas.

Image- Adital (Brazil)

Links- Angus Reid Global Consultants,, Time, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, International Herald Tribune, Forbes

Tags- ,, , , ,

Thursday, November 16, 2006

“Fuera! Fuera!” shout protestors against Mexican Wal-Marts

Around 250 demonstrators stormed a Wal-Mart store outside Mexico City on Tuesday alleging that Wal-Mart’s low prices have come at the cost of hurting local farmers and markets. In addition, anti-Wal-Mart activists say that the company’s plans to open its own banking unit would cause a monopoly on Mexican remittances. In response, Wal-Mart de Mexico is rolling out a major ad campaign designed to convince Mexicans that their stores are beneficial for the country’s economy.

Links- El Universal (Mexico), The Latin Americanist (blog), Reuters

Image- (Wal-Mart store in Playa del Carmen, Mexico)

Tags- ,

Major female authors ask readers to reexamine the roles of conquistadors’ companions

Female literary giants Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel have recently released books that paint colonial female figures in a more positive light. Mexican author Esquivel, for example, wrote a book arguing that conquistador Hernan Cortes’ companion La Malinche was “a freedom fighter against the Aztecs” instead of the harlot and traitor that some consider her to be.

However, some critics believe that the novels by Allende and Esquivel ignore the violence and genocide committed against indigenous peoples by the Spaniards. In its review of Isabel Allende’s Inés of My Soul, the Miami Herald noted that “there is not much from the other side of the conquista story beyond the Spaniards' view of them as savages”.

Image- Translator Hall of Fame (1992 painting by Rosario Marquardt entitled “La Malinche”)

Links- Guardian UK, Wikipedia, Miami Herald

Tags- , , ,

Misuse of funds destined for Cuban dissidents, according to GAO

A report published on Wednesday by the General Accounting Office (GAO) found the misuse of millions of dollars of funds provided by the U.S. government to promote democracy in Cuba. The report found that some funds were used to purchase goods like medicines, books, and sweaters to then have illicitly smuggled into Cuba. The executive director of one Miami-based anti-Castro group tried to justify sending Godiva chocolates to Cuba by observing that “these people are going hungry. They never get any chocolate there.” A few U.S. congressmen have called for an overhaul of the fund distribution program and a change in U.S. policy to Cuba based on the “disturbing” conclusions from the GAO’s report.

Links- Reuters AlertNet, San Jose Mercury News

Image- (Cubans buying imported clothes at a dollar store)

Tags- , ,

Daily briefs: November 16th

* After being down in the polls by as much as 10 points left-wing candidate Rafael Correa (image) leads Alvaro Noboa 40%-37% in the latest voter survey on who should be Ecuador’s next president.

* Raúl Zibechi of the International Relations Center provides his take on how the U.S. government has been ineffective in handling recent disputes with countries of South America's Southern Cone.

* DNA exams have failed to prove that a 72-year-old woman is related to ex-Argentine dictator Juan Peron.

* Nicaragua’s top electoral court certified Daniel Ortega’s victory as the country’s next president as well as a Sandinista plurality (not majority) in Congress.

Links- International Relations Center, Prensa Latina, Reuters, International Herald Tribune

Image- Noticias RCN (Colombia)

Tags- , , ,

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Food vs. fuel – Mexico’s corn dilemma

Last week we posted on how Brazil’s sugar industry is trying to keep up with skyrocketing demand caused by the use of biofuels like ethanol domestically and abroad. Blogger kottke provided his slant on biofuels by looking at the future of corn in Mexico. Small Mexican corn farmers who had been hurt in recent years by ceding most of the market to cheap U.S. corn now faces a lifeline with the increased demand for ethanol north of the border. Yet corn remains a staple of the Mexican diet and traditional customs; hence the dilemma arises over what is more important for corn farmers: “Americans who want to fill their gas tanks and Mexicans who want to feed their children”. Kottke believes that in the end farmers will opt to quench the demand for biofuels. What do you think?

Image- BBC News

Links- (blog), The Latin Americanist (blog)

Tags- , , , ,

Lula publicly supports Chavez reelection bid

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gave his public support to Hugo Chavez reelection bid during a visit by Lula to Venezuela (image). “We are the victims of misunderstandings and preconceptions of people…who do not accept that someone thinks different,” said Lula, whose remarks were condemned by Brazilian opposition politicians and Venezuela’s electoral board.

Links- Monsters & Critics, United Press International,

Image- BBC News

Tags- , ,

Daily briefs: November 15th

* Environmental experts severely criticized the Brazilian government’s plan to build a network of dams in the Amazon rain forest.

* Prosecutors flew in relatives from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Honduras in the case of a truck driver accused of negligence in the deaths of 19 people smuggled into the U.S.

* The Miami Herald looked at the lives of poor Honduran children that live in the country’s major dumps just to survive.

* Switzerland’s two largest banks halted all transactions with Cuba as they consider the island to be a “sensitive” country.

Links- Finance 24 (South Africa), CNN, Miami Herald, International Herald Tribune

Tags- , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Don’t let U.S. deport my mom says boy to Mexican Congress

Elvira Arellano is an illegal immigrant and community activist who barricaded herself in a Chicago church for nearly 3 months in order to avoid being deported back to Mexico and being split from her 7-year-old U.S.-born son, Saul. Earlier today, Saul (image) spoke to Mexico’s Congress and they passed a resolution condemning the dividing of families in the U.S. due to deportations.

Critics like Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg allege that Elvira Arellano is exploiting her son as a political pawn for her own benefit. Yet supporters of Arellano argue that dividing families via deportation is inhumane and causes serious psychological damage to children of split families.

Image- Houston Chronicle

Links- Vivirlatino (blog), CNN, Chicago Sun-Times, Bloomington Pantograph,

Tags- , , ,

IADB: Kudos to L. America’s economic growth

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) praised current growth in Latin America yet anticipates slightly slower growth in 2007. The remarks made by senior IADB official Guillermo Calvo were similar to a report published recently by the International Monetary Fund, though Calvo warned that lack of reform and strong dependence on raw materials may hurt Latin America’s economy next year.

In a related bit of news, sources tell Reuters that China’s attempt to join the IADB has slowed since the U.S. is cautious over China’s bid.

Links- Reuters, The Latin Americanist (blog)


Tags- , ,

The embodiment of irony: Ross Perot’s business outsourcing to Mexico

In the 1990s, billionaire Texas businessman Ross Perot ran twice for president with one of his main campaign points being that free trade would destroy America, especially through the North American Free Trade Agreement. Fast forward to the present day where Perot Systems announced last week that they would open a technology center south of the border in Guadalajara. Mexico is a very important strategic location for us,” said a spokesman for Perot Systems who also admitted that the company’s expansion to Mexico was influenced by lower pay for engineers.

Links-Wikipedia, International Herald Tribune

Image- New York Times

Tags- , ,

Daily briefs: November 14th

* A Chilean appeals court upheld the government’s plan to provide birth control pills to young girls without parental consent.

* Police and protestors clashed in Guatemala over property owned by a Canadian nickel mining firm.

* A close advisor to Brazil’s president quit amidst strong corruption allegations.

* Senior government officials from Peru and Colombia have gone to Washington to lobby for support of free trade deals between their countries and the U.S.

Links- Reuters, International Herald Tribune, CNN, The Latin Americanist (blog),

Tags- , ,, , , , ,

Monday, November 13, 2006

Colombian courts investigate links between paras and politicos

What may be Colombia’s biggest political sandal since president Ernesto Samper was nearly toppled a decade ago is developing as the Colombian courts are investigating the connections between several politicians and right-wing paramilitaries. Three congressmen were given orders of arrest on Friday and proceedings opened against five other politicians all representing the same province and all strong supporters of President Alvaro Uribe.

Links- Time, International Herald Tribune, United Press International, BBC News

Image- BBC News

Tags- , ,

“Bus 174” revisited – Rio de Janeiro bus hijacked

In an eerie similarity to the movie “Bus 174”, an armed man hijacked a bus in Rio de Janeiro on Friday. The man held police at bay for nearly 11 hours and hijacked the bus since he was angry at his ex-wife (who was a passenger on the bus) for ending their relationship was supposedly cheating on him. Unlike “Bus 174” [SPOILER ALERT] the incident on Friday ended peacefully as police and clergymen successfully convinced the gunman into giving up without harming anyone onboard the bus.

Links-, The Latin Americanist (blog), CNN

Image- CNN

Tags- , ,

China and Latin America: match made in heaven or dangerous liaisons?

China’s rapidly expanding economy and need for resources have led to its economic expansion into Latin America. Since 2000 trade between Latin America and China has grown to the tune of $40 billion, and includes debt forgiveness and buying oil fields. Last month, Chinese media outlet People’s Daily Online investigated the numerous benefits of contact between Latin America and China including Beijing residents enjoying bread from Mexico and how Latin Americans are learning more about Chinese culture. However, critics point out that Chinese economic expansion into Latin America is moving too fast, and that China will ultimately exploit Latin America and leave it in a bad state.

So what do you think? Are relations between China and the Americas mutually beneficial or dangerously one-sided? Is there a legitimate security concern with increased Chinese activity in Latin America or is that an overreaction? Are U.S. interests in the Americas in danger of being supplanted by china or do they have nothing to worry about?

Go ahead and express your opinions via the comments section of this post. What do you think?

Links- The Latin Americanist (blog), People’s Daily Online, Voice of America, San Francisco Chronicle

Image- the Globalist

Tags- , , ,

Argie rugby scores major upset over world champs

Argentina’s national rugby squad secured a historic victory on Saturday by upsetting England 25-18 at London's historic Twickenham Stadium (image). “Puma” flyhalf Federico Todeschini came off the bench in the first half and scored 22 of Argentina’s points as the English press dubbed their team’s loss as “humiliating.”

Links-, Guardian UK, The Australian


Tags- ,

U.S. gov’t: Fidel has months to live

Rumors have resurfaced over the health of ex-Cuban strongman Fidel Castro with U.S. government officials claiming that he has terminal cancer. U.S. officials say that Fidel has only months to live and base their observations on video and pictures of Fidel’s physical changes.

This is not the first time that the U.S. government speculated on Fidel’s health; in early October, a U.S. official told Time that Fidel had cancer.

Links- San Jose Mercury News, CBS News, The Latin Americanist (blog)

Image- Monsters and Critics

Tags- ,

Daily headlines: October 13th

* Two U.N. peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Saturday while protestors (image) demanded troops to withdraw from the country.

* The F.B.I. denied it had acted irresponsibly in destroying documents in 1997 related to exiled Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles.

* Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona advised Mexican soccer officials to hire ex-player Hugo Sanchez to coach the men’s national soccer team.

* Hugo Chavez announced that he would open a Caracas military base used in a failed coup against him for a concert appearance by Colombian pop star Shakira.

* “The resolution inaccurately blames the U.S. trade embargo for the hardships of the Cuban people, while exonerating the Cuban government's own policies” said U.S. Deputy Ambassador Ronald Godard in response to the overwhelming approval by the U.N. of a resolution condemning the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

Links- Guardian UK, BBC News, Miami Herald, CBS News, Al Jazeera, Xinhua

Image- Houston Chronicle

Tags- , , , , , , , ,