Friday, April 20, 2007

Music soothes the savage beast: A geografía lesson

Joe Vasconcellos in concert. (Image via Harbourfront Centre)

This week’s blog post on music will feature several songs with geographic locations in the title. We start with a song from Kristin Hersh, who is best known for her time as lead singer of alt rock group Throwing Muses. As NPR notes, her solo career dipped into different styles of music though her most recent incarnation is as the head of punk rock group 50 Foot Wave. Costa Rica” comes from her 1999 album Sky Motel which CNN said was “the first time she felt that she had control over her songs, rather than the other way around”.

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs are an Argentine group who is one of the biggest names in rock en español. Their heyday was in the early- to mid-1990s though the group continues to perform today. Their lead singer- Vicentico- recently released a critically acclaimed solo record. Anyway, “Arde Buenos Aires” comes from 1991 and it’s a delightful, toe-tapping blend of ska and salsa.

We’ve featured Manu Chao before and described him as an “eclectic and critically acclaimed artist” in June 2006. His French/Galician/Basque background comes through in his music which dabbles in many different genres and, therefore, makes it difficult to describe in few words. Listen to “Welcome To Tijuana” and you’ll hear what I mean.

Alfredo Gutierrez is one of the best vallenato musicians in the world, beyond a shadow of a doubt. His musical career has spanned nearly half a century, and it has been one filled with lots of recognition and success. I’m not a 100% sure if his song “Festival en Guarare” has to do with a folkloric festival in Panama, though if any of you know I would appreciate it if you could leave a comment.

The Lilys are a much underrated indie rock band based in Washington, DC who- much like most of the above-mentioned musicians- are very eclectic and varied in their musical styles. “The Night Sun Over San Juan” comes from their 2006 album Everything Wrong Is Imaginary and the song was accurately described as having a charming sloppiness to the execution” by

Lastly on our geographical jaunt through music is “La Joya Del Pacifico” by Chilean singer/songwriter Joe Vasconcellos. He is a musician that is not very well known outside of South America, though he is one of his country’s most popular performers. World Music Central describes Joe Vasconcellos as embodying “the essence of what is today's ‘world music’” and this song is his ode to the tropical beauty that is Valparaiso “de mi amor.” Thus, a fitting end to this list.

Links- Wikipedia, NPR, CNN, Fabulosos Cadillacs,, YouSendIt,, The Latin Americanist, Bonnaroo, La Vallenata, ColArte,,, Yahoo! Music,, World Music Central, Tierramérica

Messi = Maradona?

No, Argentine striker Lionel Messi is not being treated in a psychiatric hospital or afflicted by acute hepatitis. The comparisons between the 19-year-old wunderkind and soccer legend Diego Maradona have grown ever since Messi scored an amazing goal Wednesday night during a Copa del Rey semifinal that was eerily reminiscent of Maradona’s “Goal of the Century”. See for yourself how related both goals were in this handy side-by-side comparison:

(Hat tip: Who Ate All the Pies?)

Links- VivirLatino, The Latin Americanist, Wikipedia, Scotsman, Who Ate All the Pies?

Nicaragua seeks extradition of Posada Carriles

Nicaragua’s government will seek the extradition of suspected bomber Luis Posada Carriles after he was released from U.S. federal custody yesterday. “This is a completely rash action, which contradicts the United States' anti-terrorist policy,” said Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on the decision to allow Posada Carriles to post bond and fly to Miami where he will go on trial on immigration fraud charges.

The governments of Venezuela and Cuba might seek further legal action against Posada Carriles whom they accuse of masterminding the bombing of a Cuba airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people.

Links- Prensa Latina, CBS News, Monsters & Critics, CNN, Granma, Wikipedia

Image- Turkish Press (Protesters in Havana demonstrate against the release of Luis Posada Carriles)

Brazil: Protests escalate over indigenous communities and land reform

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took a break from burying the hatchet with Hugo Chavez in order to promise helping indigenous people and landless Brazilians who have increased their protests against the government.

Approximately 1500 indigenous Brazilians camped out in front of the Congress building in Brasilia in order to protests against infrastructure projects that they feel are hurting them. “How would you feel about a gas pipeline or a road through your back yard,” said one indigenous leader against the government’s policy.

Meanwhile, hundreds of activists clamoring for land reform invaded the National Agrarian Reform Institute building while others took over farms in several Brazilian provinces. According to a statement from the Landless Rural Workers' Movement:

“The movement demands the federal government meet its obligation to settle 150,000 families living under plastic sheets throughout the country in the name of the struggle for agrarian reform.”

Links- Reuters AlertNet, Guardian UK, UPI, International Herald Tribune, Monsters & Critics

Image- BBC News

Report: NYC minorities are higher cancer risks

A report released yesterday by the American Cancer Society points out that ethnic minorities in New York City have a higher risk of contracting cancer and dying from it than other New Yorkers. For instance, Hispanic women have a greater chance of getting cervical cancer than other ethnic groups.

Worse still are the numerous barriers which impede minorities from getting preventative treatment:

“Language barriers, cultural apprehensions about seeking medical care, and a fear among immigrants that their citizenship status may be called into question if they go the hospital”.

The American Cancer Society has a Spanish-language website which may be accessed here and the National Cancer Information Center has a hotline on cancer information (1-800-ACS-2345).

(Hat tip: Gothamist).

Links- amNY, American Cancer Society, Gothamist


Did Al Gore give Colombia’s president the cold shoulder?

Colombian president Alvaro Uribe claimed that he was snubbed by ex-U.S. Vice President Al Gore from appearing at an environmental conference in Miami. According to Uribe (image), Gore’s office withdrew from a panel they were supposed to appear on due to mounting accusations over Uribe’s ties with right-wing paramilitary groups. So far, Gore’s press reps have yet to respond to Uribe.

In the meantime, Uribe has not directly replied to accusations made a few days ago by opposition Senator Gustavo Petro. In a speech during a session of Congress, Petro claimed that senior paramilitary leaders worked closely with members of the Uribe’s family and blamed Uribe for mishandling a legal vigilante program when he was governor of Antioquia province.

Global Voices Online gives the reactions of Colombian bloggers to Petro's speech.

Links- Reuters AlertNet, CBS News, Bloomberg, Guardian UK, Global Voices Online

Image- Al Jazeera

Richardson on Gonzales: "It's time for him to go"

U.S. presidential hopeful Bill Richardson has called for the resignation of embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. "New leadership is needed. It's time for him to go'' declared Richardson after Gonzales was "couching his explanations'' during a Senate hearing yesterday. (Both gentlemen are of Mexican background).

Bipartisan support for Gonzales has all but disappeared over the past month as he faces accusations of political partisanship in the firings of 8 federal attorneys:

“Critics have claimed the dismissals were either motivated by desire to install attorneys more loyal to the Republican Party…or as retribution for actions or inactions damaging to the Republican Party”.

President George W. Bush has stood by Gonzales in spite of the controversy.

Image- New York Times

Links- Guardian UK, Kansas City Star, ABC News, Wikipedia, National Review Online – The Corner

Daily Headlines: April 20, 2007

* It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a dirigible recently inaugurated by Venezuelan police to fight crime in Caracas.

* Thousands of people were evacuated from the area around Colombia’s Nevado de Huila after increased warnings of a volcanic eruption.

* Protestors clashed with police in Bolivia over natural gas revenues.

* Peruvian police arrested a senior member of rebel group the Shining Path after taking part in protests by coca farmers.

* Remember our post in March on the Jamaican beauty queen who stepped down after she got pregnant? So far pageant officials have yet to name a successor.

Links- Jamaica Gleaner, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, People’s Daily Online, BBC News, ABC News, Reuters AlertNet

Image- Reuters

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reports analyze vulnerabilities

-Contributed by Alison Bowen

Experts continue to analyze the Latin American economy, always a topic for discussion.

The 13th European Union-Rio Group met April 18 in the Dominican Republican. According to the Inter Press Service News Agency, the foreign ministers of Latin America and European Union discussed the extreme poverty crises in neighboring Haiti (photo). Read much more here.

The World Economic Forum reported April 18 that Latin America’s economies are less vulnerable to the shifting patterns of other countries, but that social and economic inequalities in the region still are present and a problem.

Latin America is the “most unequal region in the world,” according to information in the 16-page report reported in the The World Bank.

The WEF report says 25 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day, in spite of economic growth in the last few years.

Strengthening commodity exports could be affected by downturns in the Chinese economy or rising United States protectionism, according to The World Bank article.

The organizers of the Davos meetings also warned about anti-globalization sentiments across the region, according to the article. The forum will be holding a two-day conference on Latin America in Santiago, Chile, beginning April 25., according to the United Press International.

The WEF stressed that the mood in Latin America is upbeat.

Links: United Press International, The World Bank, Inter Press Service News Agency

Image: Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Amnesty International

Nicaragua announces whale support

-Contributed by Alison Bowen

Whale hunting is officially condemned by all Latin American nations with Nicaragua’s announcement last week that it is in favor of whale protection and conservation.

According to the Santiago Times,
protests from Argentina to Australia and Spain preceded the announcement last week, including protestors outside the Nicaraguan Embassy in Chile with gravestones shaped like whale fins reading “R.I.P.” President Daniel Ortega’s administration now publicly supports the Buenos Aires Declaration that condemns whale killing.

The International Whaling Commission will vote within the month on whether to continue a moratorium on commercial whale hunting.

Some governments allow “scientific whaling,” although many of the whales caught still end up on plates, the article reported.

Greenpeace now calls Latin America “the leader in whale conservation.”


Links- The Santiago Times

Titulares de hoy: 19/04/07

Note: As a change of pace, today’s “Daily Headlines” will be from the Spanish-language press. Enjoy!

* The U.S. Senate suspended $55 million in funds to Colombia’s armed forces as controversy mounts against President Alvaro Uribe.

* A Mexico City legislator will introduce a bill that would create a taxi service solely for the use of women.

* Several proposals by Hugo Chavez did not get signed into the final declaration of an energy summit hosted by Venezuela.

* Brazil’s highest court started hearings in a trial against 11 former legislators accused of corruption.

* Peru’s foreign affairs minister expressed worry over 7 F-16 fighter jets purchased by Chile and placed at a military base near the Peru-Chile border.

* A massive drug bust in the Argentine province of Santa Fe yielded nearly a ton of marijuana.

* China’s Vice President reaffirmed his country’s ties with Cuba during a visit by senior Cuban officials to Beijing.

* Ecuador has sufficient oil for the next quarter century, according to the country’s energy minister.

* Coffee growers in Honduras warned that they would halt production unless the government passes a law in their favor.

Image- El Universal (Female taxi driver in Mexico City)

Links- El Tiempo, RCN, Clarin, El Universal, Folha Online, La Nacion, Granma, El Comercio, La Razon

Economic growth will weaken

-Contributed by Alison Bowen
Latin America’s economy could begin to decline in 2007, according to an article in the Miami Herald.

According to reports from the International Monetary Fund, the Latin American and Caribbean economies will grow by 4.9 percent this year, compared to 5.5 percent last year. The decline continues into 2008 with 4.2 percent growth.

The dismal forecast follows the region’s best financial three-year period since the 1970s, according to the IMF.

Growth in some countries, including Venezuela and Argentina, may continue, but at a less impressive pace. Economic progress in Chile and Brazil will actually increase.

Partially blamed for the slowed economy is the United State’s economic slowdown, which affects the world economy. Prices of oils and metals, an integral part of Latin American economies, also are expected to drop.

In the article, Andres Oppenheimer argues the drooping economy might be a good thing.

Links: The Miami Herald

Image: Planet Curioso

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bloggers of the world unite and take over

As a fan of Red Bull New York it is only natural that I post a photo of their latest acquisition, right? (Image via Soccer by Ives)

Links- Gothamist, The Latin Americanist, Wonkette, The Offside, Global Voices Online, Who Ate All the Pies?, Who Ate All the Cupcakes?, Hispanic Tips, Latina Lista, Latinista, Zonaindie, La Onda Tropical, Best Latino Blogs

Mexico may halt Spencer Tunick project

U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick is well-known for taking photos of hundreds of naked bodies in different locations around the world such as Buenos Aires, Dusseldorf, and Caracas. His next project is planned at the pyramids of Teotihuacan located outside of Mexico City, yet Mexican officials may not give him permission to work there:

“’The application has been filed and the National Anthropology and History Institute is evaluating it, but it looks like they won't let him. It's not the last word but they have told me it will be rejected,’ Alejandro Sarabia, who runs the Teotihuacan site, told Reuters on Monday”.

Tunick’s website is still asking for volunteers to serve as nude models for the photos which are scheduled to be taken on May 6th.

Would you strip down to your “birthday suit” for the sake of art? Perhaps this Not Safe for Work YouTube video of Tunick’s 2002 photo shoot in Santiago, Chile may influence your decision:

Links- Wikipedia, International Herald Tribune, The Scotsman, Spencer Tunick - Mexico, YouTube

Uruguay and Argentina still at odds over border mill

The paper mill dispute between Argentina and Uruguay that has been going on for over a year continues as representatives for both countries take part in negotiations mediated by Spain. Neither side is willing to budge too much as evidenced by remarks made several days ago by Uruguayan president Tabare Vasquez.

The debate centers on a paper mill owned by Finnish firm Botnia that is being built in Uruguay near their river border with Argentina. Argentina wants the mill to be moved away from the border while Uruguay is steadfast in wanting the mill to be fully operational by September.

Links- Mercopress, The Latin Americanist, MSNBC, NewsRoom Finland

Image- Mercopress (Argentine protestors of the Botnia paper mill block roads leading to the facility)

Senior E.U. official condemns U.S.-Mexico fence

While visiting Mexico City yesterday, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana criticized plans to erect additional fencing along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Said Solana (image):

“A wall that separates one country from another is not something that I like or that the European Union members like. The EU believes immigrants should be treated like people, not like criminals.”

Solana also expressed his deepest sympathies with the victims of Monday’s shootings at Virginia Tech University. He is accompanied by several other E.U. officials during a tour this week of five Latin American countries.

Solana’s comments come in light of an ABC News/Washington Post poll that shows how most Americans do not approve of the way President George W. Bush and Congress are handling the issue of immigration.

Links- CNN, Monsters & Critics, Prensa Latina, ABC News

Image- Al Jazeera

Daily headlines: April 18, 2007

* A slightly belated RIP to the 32 people killed at Virginia Tech University on Monday including a 26-year-old student from Puerto Rico and a 21-year-old student from Peru. (Hat tip- VivirLatino).

* Paraguayan president Nicanor Duarte had to apologize after joking that a female member of his Cabinet needed a romantic partner.

* While China eagerly turns to Brazil for its soybeans, farmers in Argentina are reeling from losing over 2 million tons of soybeans due to flooding.

* Peru’s currency reached an 8-year high yesterday after a big boost from the mining sector.

Links- VivirLatino, El Diario/La Prensa, Bloomberg, Malaysia Star, Guardian UK

Image- Malaysia Star (Memorial on the campus of Virginia Tech University to the victims of Monday’s massacre)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

RIP: Nair Bello

Brazilian actress and humorist Nair Bello died earlier today as she was convalescing in hospital after suffering three straight cardiac arrests last November. Bello’s work spanned nearly six decades from radio to telenovelas where she may have been best known as the character of “Pierina” in “Uga Uga.” Her funeral is scheduled for this Thursday near Sao Paolo. Below is a YouTube clip of Bello appearing on a Brazilian talk show with Lolita Rodrigues and Hebe Camargo:

Links- Wikipedia, Milenio, Folha Online, YouTube

Beauty pageant officials strip off Miss Mexico’s controversial dress

Widespread anger forced Mexican beauty pageant officials to abandon plans to have Miss Mexico wear a dress with bullet belts and images of hangings (image) during the Miss Universe pageant. Though the debate over abortion has split Mexico, members on both sides of the political spectrum repudiated the dress as not only a glorification of violence but also that it was meant as a tribute to the Cristero War of the 1920s. The three-year conflict arose between catholic and anti-catholic factions and cost approximately 90,000 lives.

La Jornada columnist Jorge Camil observed the absurdness of having Miss Mexico wear a cristero dress:

"It would be like Miss USA wearing a dress showing images of the Ku Klux Klan in the Deep South, with their hoods, their burning crosses and beer cans. A beauty contest is very far from being the right place to vent political and religious ideologies."

Could you imagine having Miss Colombia dress up as a drug mule or Miss Puerto Rico have a costume of a massacred Taino "indian"? Though the notion of a cristero dress is silly, at least pageant officials came to their senses before it was displayed on the world stage.

Links- Milenio, International Herald Tribune, Wikipedia, The Latin Americanist

Image- Milenio (Miss Mexico wearing the infamous cristero dress earlier this year)

Oppenheimer: L. America tourism needs to improve

Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer is surprised to note that tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean is weak compared to the rest of the world. He cites the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2007 which ranks countries like Costa Rica, Mexico, and Brazil in 41st, 49th, and 59th places respectively and wonders how Latin American states can be outranked by countries like Malta and Estonia. Oppenheimer estimates that the tourism sector is largely ignored by Latin American governments even though tourism can be a great resource for the region:

“While Latin American and Caribbean countries are attracting growing numbers of foreign tourists -- not just because of their natural beauties, but because they can also offer some of the world's best music, food and soccer -- the region could get a much bigger share of world tourism.

When it comes to tourism, Latin America is sitting on a gold mine, and could do much better”.

Links- Miami Herald, World Economic Forum

Image- CNN (Floods inundated the Mexican tourist resort of Cancun after Hurricane Wilma in 2005)

On this day: Bay of Pigs invasion

Forty-six years ago today was the start of the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion where U.S.-trained Cuban exiles failed to overthrow the government led by Fidel Castro. According to Wikipedia, the invasion lasted four days and over one hundred members of the invading force were killed compared to between 1600 and 5000 Cuban soldiers.

Several bloggers, especially those of Cuban background, have posted their thoughts on the events of April 1961. Several events in Cuba are being held to commemorate the anniversary as a time when “men and women defended the justice, the truth and the ideas of new system in the Americas in the Bay of Pigs.” However, the dissidence movement in Cuba itself is not taking things quietly; several key members have called for unity within the movement and may create a “unitary bloc.”

Image- BBC News

Links- Politico, Wikipedia, Babalu Blog, Review of Cuban American Blogs, Cuba Data, Granma, Radio Cadena Agramonte, Monsters & Critics

Pesticide company agrees to settlement with Nicaraguans

A Southern California pesticide firm agreed to a $300,000 settlement with 13 Nicaraguan workers who claimed that they were sterilized while working on banana plantations in the 1970s. The settlement absolves Amvac Chemical Company from any wrongdoing though the plaintiffs were pleased after “fighting this fight for so long.” Court records showed that the pesticide- DBCP- had been banned for most uses in the U.S. by 1977 although it was made and sold in Nicaragua for only two years.

Earlier this month, a Los Angeles Times investigation showed that chemical companies like Amvac purchase the rights to older, more harmful pesticides in order to keep them in the global market.

Links- Los Angeles Times, Xinhua,

Image- Newsday (2004 photo of a barrel of DBCP found in Nicaragua)

Daily Headlines: April 17, 2007

* Hugo Chavez overconfidence may be getting the best of him. Case in point: he’s boasting that Venezuela’s soccer team will upset Brazil in this year’s Copa America!

* Price controls are causing meat and milk shortages in Argentina according to Bloomberg.

* Over 100 members of the Mexican police were arrested after being accused of corruption.

* Colombia and Venezuela may build a joint pipeline that would pump natural gas into Venezuela.

Links- Bloomberg, Reuters UK, Reuters AlertNet

Image- Egg Blog (Venezuelan boy celebrating the national team’s win over Uruguay in 2004)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Weekly Debate: Free trade in the Americas

Last week, Washington Post columnist Marcela Sanchez wondered if the changes to U.S. global trade policy proposed by the Democrats will be as positive as they claim. Since the Democrats took control of Congress after elections last November they have been eager to change future trade deals and released a report detailing their plan. Sanchez sees a mixed bag in the Democrats’ plan entitled “A New Trade Policy for America:

“The Democratic proposal has elements that are welcome and attractive, including a commitment to boost trade and increase aid to poor nations. One can only hope that such aid represents at least a significant fraction of the estimated $20 billion that Democrats want to spend annually to create a safety net for U.S. workers hurt by globalization.

Yet it is not very clear that the Democrats are committed to the fundamental aspect of trade that benefits poorer nations -- free and fair access to the U.S. market. The Democratic proposal also lacks any mention of ending protections for U.S. producers, particularly the multibillion-dollar agricultural subsidies that have historically obtained congressional passage with broad Democratic support”.

Nonetheless, Sanchez concludes her article by applauding the Democrats’ effort “that finds a broad middle ground and does not need to appeal to the extremes”.

Will Congress leverage its influence on the Bush administration to change free trade agreements or is it really just empty rhetoric? Should U.S. free trade deals be changed or are they fine as is? Will the Americas continue to be divided over whether to support or reject free trade?

What do you think?

Links- The Latin Americanist, Washington Post, House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee

Image- Washington Post (Brazilian coffee picker gathering seeds for "fair trade" coffee)

Déjà vu: the return of border volleyball

Way back in September we told you of how Californians and Mexicans played impromptu matches of border volleyball on a beach with a 20-foot-tall fence that stretches along a usually deserted beach.

Now border volleyball made its triumphant return several days ago when residents of Naco, Arizona and Naco, Mexico played as part of a goodwill festival between both towns. The fence along the border between both towns served as the net for the games which were enjoyed with the intermittent presence of the Border Patrol.

Jose Lorenzo Villegas- the mayor of Naco, Mexico- made a very astute observation which highlights the camaraderie between both “teams”:

"What's unusual is that both the Mexican and U.S. teams are playing at home, with the fence as the net."

The area around Naco is infamous for being a popular area of crossing across the border as well as the location where a Border Patrol agent killed a migrant in March.

Links- The Latin Americanist,, International Herald Tribune

Image- Palm Beach Post (Fence between Naco, Arizona and Naco, Mexico)

NYC students face massive fine for going to Cuba; Kerik decides not to advise Carib countries

A group of New York City public high school students and their teacher were detained by U.S. customs officials after taking a trip to Cuba during spring break. Though the Beacon School had planned a trip to Cuba since last year, the U.S government forbids granting high schools educational licenses for travel abroad. Each student risks being fined $65,000 (!) for going to Cuba if U.S. government officials deemed their trip as “illegal.”

In the meantime, troubled ex-New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik withdrew his contracts to advise the governments of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Mounting opposition against Kerik in those countries over Kerik’s scandal-plagued past may have been a key factor in his decision.

Links- Newsday, Strabroek News, Gothamist

Image- Georgia State University (Georgia State University students visiting Havana, Cuba in 2002)

Chavez tells Chilean gov’t “I’m sorry”

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez used his television program on Sunday to apologize to Chile’s government for having called it’s legislature a “bunch of fascists.” Chilean president Michelle Bachelet will still lodge a formal complaint with Chavez when both leaders meet at an energy summit on Wednesday.

Chavez’ insult came after opposition politicians in Chile criticized his decision to shut down a Venezuelan television network allied to anti-Chavez factions.

Links- Mercopress, La Nacion, Voice of America, BBC News

Image- HispaLibertas (Hugo Chavez and Michelle Bachelet meeting in May 2006)

Landslide victory for Correa in Ecuadorian constitutional referendum

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa (image) will not have to quit after approximately 4 out of every 5 voters chose to back a government-led initiative to rewrite the country’s constitution. Correa boasted that the overwhelming approval of a constitutional assembly that would curb the power of traditional political parties was a “historical…triumph for the homeland” He also took advantage of the victory to announce that Ecuador will pay back its debt with the International Monetary Fund and sever ties with the organization.

Why did the referendum result in such a clear victory for a constitutional assembly? In an interview with the local media, historian Juan Paz y Miño gave three primary reasons:

“The first is that in the past 25 years Ecuador has used an economic model benefiting…an elite, thus creating one of the world’s most economically imbalanced countries.

Institutions, such as Congress, have been questioned and had its legitimacy diminished through much of their activities.

The final reason is that…political democracy over the past 25 years has excluded the general populace and did not crate a social democracy.”

According to Prensa Latina a constitutional assembly should be elected by this October and a new constitution for Ecuador may be approved via another national referendum in about a year from now.

Update: Hugh Collins writes in Foreign Policy magazine's blog over the possibility that Rafael Correa could become "another Hugo Chavez." Collins doesn't believe that will be the case:

"A lot of people are worried about Correa's victory, fearing that the leftist firebrand is a Chavista dictator in the making. These people don't know Ecuador".

Links- The Latin Americanist, Tribunal Supremo Electoral, El Telegrafo, Newsday, La Hora, Prensa Latina

Image- CBC

Daily Headlines: April 16, 2007

* Will nationalization of foreign oil operations in Venezuela help or hurt the country? The Council on Foreign Relations investigates.

* Here’s a fun little nugget of knowledge: the profits of Britain’s largest supermarket chain surpass the gross domestic product of Peru.

* Two Guatemalan indigenous leaders had to cancel their tour of the U.S. after immigration officials rejected their visa requests due to lack of “sufficiently strong” ties to their home country.

* A correspondent for a New York-based newspaper on Haiti- Haiti Progres- was shot to death over the weekend.

* No deaths or major damage were caused when an earthquake which registered 6.3 on the Richter scale hit Mexico on Friday.

* Brazil’s Felipe Massa won the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday.

Links- Tucson Citizen, ABC News, Council on Foreign Relations, Newsday, Guardian UK, MSNBC

Image- Submerging Markets