Friday, February 2, 2007

Tunes for the weekend

With the weekend upon us we’re going to give you a small treat for your musical pleasure. Here are a few blogs listing mp3s of several Latin American musicians from around the region. Enjoy and we’ll be back on Monday!

* Here’s an interesting blend- 70s-style salsa along with reggaeton. La Onda Tropical clues us in to the music of Los Cocorocos.

* The Smudge of Ashen Fluff provides an mp3 of REM’s live 1991 cover of Latin jazz legend Cal Tjader’s “Spooky” as well as the original itself.

* Tito Puente and Ray Baretto were two kings of salsa that were the focus of this recent Audiversity post.

* José González is a Swedish-born folk singer-songwriter yet his parents were from Argentina. His instrument of choice is classical guitar and his music does have a touch of Latin America in songs like “Storm” which Thepunkguy has linked to.

* Sand is Overrated links to an mp3 and video of Rodrigo y Gabriela’s (image) appearance earlier this week on “The Tonight Show.” (Don’t know who they are? Check out this post from Brooklyn Vegan that we mentioned in September.)

* Finally, it wouldn’t be an article in this blog on music without mentioning personal favorites Aterciopelados! So thanks to blogger the napk!n is an mp3 of “Complemento” from their latest album released late last year. (The song is located along the margin about 1/3 of the way down).

Links- La Onda Tropical, The Smudge of Ashen Fluff, Audiversity, Sand is Overrated, Brooklyn Vegan, The Latin Americanist, the napk!n, Thepunkguy

Image- Guardian UK

Tags- ,

WaPo columnist Sanchez wonders if celebs’ charitable work is effective

Washington Post columnist Marcela Sanchez’ column today delved into the effects of private charities to combat poverty and inequality in Latin America. Sanchez described the problems surrounding government sending against inequality, and praised the efforts of notables such as Shakira, Alejandro Sanz, and Carlos Slim in forming ALAS- a private charity designed to help the poor with a special emphasis on children and education.

Links- Washington Post,, ALAS Foundation

Image- YaleGlobal (Poor children at a Buenos Aires garbage dump)

Tags- , ,

Mexico: first same-sex civil union legally recognized

Karina Almaguer and Karla Lopez became the first couple to form a legally-compromised homosexual civil union in Mexico on Wednesday. Almaguer and Lopez traveled to Coahuila which earlier this month became the first Mexican state to grant recognition to same-sex unions. Coahuila becomes the second Mexican area to allow gay civil unions after Mexico City’s legislature approved a similar measure last November.

In a similar note, Global Voices Online links to a blog post on the fight to recognize same-sex civil unions in Colombia.

Links- Monsters & Critics,, The Latin Americanist, Global Voices Online

Image- (2003 Mexico City protest in favor of gay civil unions)

Tags- ,

Cuban-American legislators back McCain for president

Three prominent Cuban-American legislators representing Florida- Representatives Lincoln and Mario Díaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen- have backed Republican John McCain’s (image) bid to become the next U.S. president. “Senator McCain is a strong supporter of the U.S. embargo on Cuba…(and) has been working with us to help bring freedom and democracy to the enslaved island,” said Representative Ros-Lehtinen.

Links- Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post- Q: The Florida Politics Blog

Image- Guardian UK (McCain at the 2004 Republican Presidential Convention)

Tags- ,

Ecuadorian prez selects another female Defense Minister

President Rafael Correa chose Lorena Escudero- a 41-year-old university professor with a doctorate in Latin American Studies- as Ecuador’s next Defense Minister. Escudero is set to replace Guadalupe Larriva who died along with her teenage daughter a week ago in a helicopter accident that is undergoing thorough investigation.

In the meantime, Reuters AlertNet looked at the effects of the recent trend of naming women as defense ministers in Latin American countries like Ecuador, Chile, and Colombia.

Update: President Correa fired the head of the army after partially blaming him for the crash that killed Larriva. (Link via Reuters AlertNet).

Links- TV New Zealand, VivirLatino, Xinhua, Reuters AlertNet

Image- 1010 WINS

Tags- , ,

Daily headlines: February 02, 2007

* The Economist takes a look at the measures taken by El Salvador’s government to combat rampant gang violence.

* Businesses in Trinidad and Tobago are turning up the pressure against the government to fight growing crime in the country.

* Over 1100 Colombians have been killed by the country’s largest paramilitary group including kidnap victims, according to figures released by a Colombian NGO.

* Via Global Voices Online: Blogger Tinta Digital wonders if the mainstreaming of blogs in Puerto Rico has trivialized its meaning.

* 53 people were arrested and deported to Mexico, Central America, and other countries on Wednesday as part of an immigration raid of a Texas trash collection plant.

* A group of 105 Guatemalan soldiers are slated to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission.

* Quick follow-up: Argentine protestors upset at plans to build paper mills near the border with Uruguay have blocked several key roads between both countries.

Links- The Economist, Caribbean Net News, Tinta Digital, Global Voices Online, The Latin Americanist, NewsRoom Finland, Prensa Latina, Guardian UK, People’s Daily Online

Image- (El Salvadoran gang member in jail)

Tags- , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Follow-up: Chavez lambastes Bush over “democracy” remarks

Yesterday we mentioned how one should expect “at any moment now” a response by Hugo Chavez (image) to remarks made by John Negroponte over the threat to democracy posed by Chavez. The Venezuelan leader made true on our prediction by blasting both Negroponte and President George W. Bush by calling them “criminals” who deserve to be on trial for war crimes. Chavez also said that Bush should “quit” as president and that Bush is running a “dictatorship” that threatens the world.

(Apparently, Chavez “forgot” how the National Assembly approved a bill on Wednesday strengthening his ability to rule by decree. Then again this is yet another round in the juvenile verbal sparring between Chavez and the Bush administration).

Links- The Latin Americanist, ABC News, Guardian UK, Globe and Mail

Image- Washington Post

Tags- , , ,

L. America home to some of 2006’ most underrepresented stories

Yes, 2007 is one month old but two interesting lists from Foreign Policy (FP) magazine and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) highlighted topics on Latin America that have been largely ignored in the press. Though this blog has focused a lot on China’s expansion into Latin America, FP’s “The Top Ten Stories You Missed in 2006” mentioned how the region is becoming increasingly militarized via Russian arms deals with several key countries like Venezuela and Mexico. Meanwhile, the uncontrollable violence in Haiti’s capital (image) and the victims of Colombia’s armed conflict were cited by MSF in its list of “The 10 Most Underreported Humanitarian Crises of 2006.”

Image- Doctors Without Borders

Links- The Latin Americanist, Foreign Policy, International Herald Tribune, Doctors Without Borders

Tags- , , , , , , , ,

Guatemala: Rigoberta for presidenta!

According to Prensa Latina, a political group is seriously considering nominating 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu for Guatemala’s presidency. Menchu- an indigenous leader and social activist- has said that she would consider proposals from any political faction that approaches her to run in September’s elections.

Over the past year several women in Latin America have played key roles in elections for heads-of-state in countries like Chile, Jamaica, and Peru.

Image- CUNY- Brooklyn College

Links- Prensa Latina, Wikipedia, The Latin Americanist

Tags- , ,

Daily headlines: February 01, 2007

* Former Mexican president Vicente Fox (image, celebrating during the 2006 soccer World Cup) committed yet another verbal gaffe by confusing the nationality of famed Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa.

* The battle for news in Nicaragua- Voice of America vs. Telesur

* Recent spates of violence in the Jamaican tourist haven of Montego Bay have been putting authorities on high alert.

* Argentina is about to sign a repayment plan with Spain that would cancel a near $1 billion debt over the next 6 years.

* Ouch! Rabid bats have killed 11 people in southern Peru over the past month.

Links- BusinessWeek, Reuters AlertNet, International Herald Tribune, VivirLatino


Tags- , , , ,

Felicidades Maegan!

Before posting today’s “Daily headlines” I would like to extend a very warm congratulations to good friend and guest blogger Maegan “la Mala” Ortiz for giving birth to her second child. As VivirLatino reported on Tuesday:

“La ChileRican #2, Gabriela Paula Paredes Ortiz was born on January 16th at 1:07 pm in NYC, weighing in at an adorable 6 lbs. 12 oz. and measuring a charming 20 inches”.

Best wishes to both mother and daughter, and in the words of famed violinist Yehudi Menuhin:

“What guides us is children's response, their joy in learning to dance, to sing, to live together. It should be a guide to the whole world”.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tortilla protesters tell AMLO to please step aside

Organizers of a Mexican march against rising tortilla prices have asked former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to please refrain from appearing at their protest. “The idea is that we concentrate on the general objectives of the march and not on personalities,” said one of the demonstration’s leaders.

The price of tortillas- a staple in the diets of Mexico’s poor- has more than doubled over the past year and government measures to cap the price have been unsuccessful.

Links- CNN, The Telegraph, Marketplace

Image- Marketplace

Tags- , , ,

Best friends forever- Fidel appears on TV along with Hugo Chavez

Yesterday Cuban television showed images of ex-dictator Fidel Castro for the first time in three months (see above image). The images revealed a frail Fidel talking with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez with one image showing a copy of last Saturday’s Clarin newspaper as proof of the date the video was taped. Over the past few days there have been numerous articles on Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. Here are some of them:

Fidel Castro

* Some anti-Castro Cubans exiled in South Florida yearn for a free and democratic Cuba, and are “not rejoicing over the health problems that forced the long-time Cuban president to temporarily cede power.”

* Meanwhile, Miami government officials denied rumors that they were planning an official celebration with t-shirts and music to celebrate Castro’s death.

* Either way it’s doubtful that they would have attended a “Mass for Fidel’s Health” which took place over the weekend in Bogota, Colombia.

* At least Fidel can take solace in that he was granted the highest civilian award of the African country of Guinea Bissau. I suppose that means a lot, right?

Hugo Chavez

* Ex-U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte said that Chavez’ form of “radical populism” is “threatening to democracies around the region (of Latin America).” Expect a half-silly, half-insulting reply by Chavez at any moment now.

* Then again there are those like Calvin Tucker who view Chavez’ “social revolution” as “the way forward, not a step back into the past.”

* Still, it would be nice if the real Hugo Chavez could please stand up- will he protect the rights of the wealthy while the economy continues growing or has his “revolution” gone too far in centralizing power and controlling the opposition?

Links- Guardian UK, CNN, TV New Zealand, Voice of America, Monsters & Critics, Foreign Policy- Passport, Global Voices Online, Granma International, ABC News, Guardian UK- Comment is Free, Guardian UK, Bloomberg, VivirLatino, El Universal (Venezuela)

Image- CNN

Tags- , , ,

Daily headlines: January 31, 2007

* Photos like the ones on the left are provided via a BBC News pictorial on the popular fairs in Bolivia. Absolutely breathtaking.

* Veteran Brazilian soccer striker Ronaldo completed an almost $10 million transfer from Spain’s Real Madrid to AC Milan.

* French Socialist presidential candidate Ségolène Royal wrapped up a tour of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the hopes that voters there could give her the advantage in this April’s elections.

* A study from the U.N. said that global tourism set record highs in 2006, yet the Americas posted the weakest growth of any region.

* Wanted by Peru: a close advisor to Bolivian president Evo Morales who is accused of helping left-wing guerillas.

* Quick follow-up: extradition of ex-Argentina president Isabel Peron to Spain could take at least a year to complete. (Original blog post on Peron’s arrest can be read here).

Links- Jamaica Gleaner, ESPN Soccernet, BBC News, CBS News, International Herald Tribune, Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist

Image- BBC News

Tags- , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Follow-up: Chilean government plans to resume controversial contraception plan

Earlier today, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet signed a decree authorizing the resumption of a contraception program that would include providing free “morning-after” pills to girls as young as 14-years-old. The measure- which had been deemed unconstitutional several times- was modified to allow for special counseling by physicians. Still, conservatives were up in arms over Bachelet’s plan with one mayor calling it a black day for our country, a slap to the institution of family.”

Links- BBC News, ABC News, The Latin Americanist

Image- Center for Reproductive Rights

Tags- , ,

Message from Mexico & Spain to the Americas: “Say ‘no’ to socialism”

The heads of state of Mexico and Spain urged their Latin American counterparts to embrace open economies instead of increased nationalization and state control. “Latin America must integrate, the more the better for its people,” said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at a news conference in Madrid with Mexican President Felipe Calderon (image). Calderon- who is ending a 6-day tour of Europe - remarked today that “plurality and diversity” exists in Latin America despite the surge of leftist leaders.

Links- The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Forbes, CNN

Image- CNN

Tags- , , , ,

Health crisis hits Paraguay

Public hospitals in Paraguay have reported over 1400 cases of dengue fever that have led authorities to increase their efforts against the Aedes Aegypti mosquito (image)- the career of the disease. Nevertheless, one doctor who worked closely with government health authorities said that it is “impossible” to control the spread of the dengue fever, and even officials from neighboring Argentina are worried over recent cases of dengue by visitors crossing the border.

Links- Xinhua, Prensa Latina, Mercopress

Image- BBC Mundo

Tags- ,

Study: racial discrimination found within immigrant community

This is not about Latin Americans or Hispanics per se, but still very eye-opening: a researcher at Vanderbilt University concluded that light-skinned immigrants in the U.S. tend to earn more than darker-skinned counterparts. Professor Joni Hersch observed that “even with people from the same country, the same race — skin color really matters,” and her findings will be presented at an international science conference next month.

Link- CBS News


Tags- ,

Daily headlines: January 30, 2007

* Hundreds of youths in the Madrid suburb of Alcorcon that were “fed up of some of the things the Latin Americans do” rioted for the second straight weekend against anti-riot police.

Update: Commenter and "Madrileña" Katie Smith gives her insightful views of the incidents in Alacorcon via her blog.

* Are National Guard troops obligated to defend the U.S.-Mexico border or is that the duty of the Border Patrol? Arizona state legislators are trying to figure that out in light of an incident earlier this month along the border.
* The only road connecting Bolivia to neighboring Paraguay and Argentina is being blocked by protestors calling for more nationalizing of the private sector.
* Good news for Argentine president Nestor Kirchner- recent polls say that he would win reelection by a landslide should he choose to run.
* El Salvador continues being the only Latin American country with troops in Iraq as their latest contingent of 380 troops left on Monday for the war-torn country.
* Renewal of the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in Haiti is being jeopardized by the threat of a veto by China.

Links- ABC News, Monsters & Critics, BBC News, New Zealand Herald, International Herald Tribune, Angus Reid Consultants

Image- 20 Minutos (Spain) (Police in Alcorcon, Spain trying to keep things under control on January 21, 2007)

Tags- , , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 29, 2007

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered”

Skyline of Bogota, Colombia

Hello everyone! It’s great to be back in the States though my 6 weeks in Colombia were magnificent. The humanity of the people is without equal, the culture was spectacular, and the country contains a wealth of natural beauty. Yes, shit happens there (as mentioned a few times in this blog) but the reality of the country is much more than violence, corruption, and drugs. I already miss it there very much and thankfully I learned a lot from the many things I observed there.

With that said here are several recent blog and news stories that caught my eye and will hopefully whet your appetite for now. Regularly-scheduled posting will resume mañana (Tuesday).

p.s. #1 I would be remiss without wholeheartedly thanking Maegan “la Mala” Ortiz for guest blogging over the past few weeks. Gracias for an exceptional job Maegan!

p.s. #2 Here is the origin of the quote at the top of this post.

p.s. #3 Please feel free to check out my personal blog- Huevos Pericos- where I’ll be posting this week on my trip to Colombia. (Sorry for the shameless plug!)

Links- The Latin Americanist, International Herald Tribune, International Relations Center, Metafilter, Gothamist, Taipei Times, USA TODAY, Global Voices Online, FOX News, New York Times, NY1 News, CNN, ESPN, FOX Sports, Foreign Policy- Passport, San Jose Mercury News, Wonkette, BBC News, IMDB, Reuters, VivirLatino, 2007 Weblog Awards, Minnesota Public Radio, MSNBC, Overheard in New York, Huevos Pericos,