Friday, June 29, 2007

Contest: Win a José Conde CD!

Several weeks ago we mentioned about José Conde y la Ola Fresca - a New York-based group that plays funky, catchy Latin music. The group recently released a new CD entitled “(R)evolucion” which has received several positive reviews such as the following from the Boston Globe:

Cuban-American vocalist José Conde is both the lead singer and writer of the arrangements for his New York City-based band, Ola Fresca. That helps explain how the 14 tracks on the band's eclectic new album, "Revolucion," can at once honor the propulsive requirements of the Afro-Cuban form while displaying, in their lyrics and musical choices, a singer-songwriter's individuality and trademark whimsy.”

World Music Central highlights the musical variety in “(R)evolucion”:

Afro-Cuban vocal phrasing and conga rhythms fit naturally within funk drum, guitar, and horn accents. Cuban music, funk, and consequently Conde’s music are all in “clave.” Afro-Cuban conga, shékere, and bongo are juxtaposed with funk drums, guitar, and B-3 organ to create something new yet rooted in tradition.”

Want to hear “(R)evolucion”? Well you’re in luck because we’re holding a contest where you can win a free copy of “(R)evolucion”. All you need to do is send is an e-mail message correctly answering this question:

  • On August 9th José Conde y la Ola Fresca will be in concert in New York City. What two other bands will be playing at that concert?

Send us your reply to before July 10th. The first correct message we select randomly will be the winner. (Only one entry per e-mail address, please).

Good luck to the contestants and many thanks to José Conde for helping us out!

Quote of the Day: Africa “under attack” by Colombia

“Africa is under attack, targeted by cocaine traffickers from the West (Colombia) and heroin smugglers in the East (Afghanistan). This threat needs to be addressed quickly to stamp out organized crime, money-laundering and corruption, and to prevent the spread of drug use that could cause havoc across a continent already plagued by many other tragedies.”

--Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa in a press release discussing the U.N.’s World Drug Report.

(The report can be accessed via this link).

Source- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

U.S. free trade changes completed before Saturday deadline

The Bush administration has been very busy this past week taking care of free trade pacts with several countries before the president loses his “fast track” authority over agreements.

Several countries in the Americas have arrived to agreements this week with the U.S. government:

  • On Wednesday, Peru’s legislature overwhelmingly approved several amendments that were reached on Monday.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives agreed to an eight month extension of a free trade deal with four Andean states.
  • The U.S. and Panama signed its free trade pact yesterday.
  • The Bush administration and Colombia agreed to several amendments to their trade deal.

Democrats have been pushing the Bush administration to amend existing free trade deals rather than creating new ones.

Sources- International Herald Tribune, Guardian UK, Forbes, Bloomberg, Reuters AlertNet

Image- ABC News Online

Mexico: Police reforms include “trust test”

The Mexican government will require all its police officers to undergo a “trust test” designed to combat corruption. It is one of several reforms to law enforcement including a complete redesign of training for all law enforcement officials.

Depending on who you speak to this is either an ingenuous idea or a cheap P.R. stunt:

“"They are sending a signal that they are trying to clean house," says Ana Maria Salazar, a national-security expert in Mexico City who was the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for drug enforcement policy and support in the Clinton administration.”I think you have to make these dramatic decisions to combat corruption. What they have done is send a message to the rest below that nobody is immune; if they can cut off the heads, they can easily go after all the others."

For some experts, the judgment to cast a wide net is misguided. "They are following the same logic as the military strategy, to suspect everyone," says Irma Sandoval, head of the Laboratory of Documentation and Analysis of Corruption and Transparency at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "There is a culture of suspicion generated.... They go after everyone when what they should be doing is going after the guilty ones."

Mexico’s government is attempting to institute a myriad of reforms from law enforcement to fiscal reform, though they are facing staunch opposition.

Sources- CNN, Christian Science Monitor, Council on Foreign Relations

Image- BBC News

Copa America videos: Paraguay and Argentina win big

Unlike the first two days, last night’s Copa America action did not result in any upsets. Rather, the losing teams (which naturally happen to be the squads yours truly is a diehard fan of) were outscored 9-1. What else can be said aside that to the victors belong the spoils.

--With the game between Paraguay and Colombia scoreless, Colombia’s Alvaro Dominguez missed a penalty kick in the 28th minute. That was as close as his team would get as Paraguay whipped Colombia 5-0 including a hat trick by Roque Santa Cruz (video link):

--Soccer journalist Ives Galarcep said it best when he described the U.S.’ effort last night against Argentina as “a beautiful first half, then a bloodbath.” That pretty much summed up the 4-1 victory by los albicelestes over the U.S. (video link):

--No games tonight, but the action renews starting tomorrow:

  • Saturday June 30: Bolivia vs. Uruguay
  • Saturday June 30: Peru vs. Venezuela
  • Sunday July 1: Ecuador vs. Mexico
  • Sunday July 1: Brazil vs. Chile
  • Monday July 2: Paraguay vs. U.S.
  • Monday July 2: Argentina vs. Colombia

Sources- YouTube, Soccer by Ives, International Herald Tribune, USA TODAY, The Latin Americanist

Daily Headlines: June 29, 2007

* Legislators at a U.S. House meeting disagreed on the extent of funding by U.S. companies like Chiquita Brands to Colombian right-wing paramilitary groups.

* Is using a local sheriff’s department to detain illegal immigrants lawful? A sheriff in Panama Beach, Florida thinks so.

* Bolivia’s government is beginning proceedings to seize land an opposition leader allegedly obtained illegally.

* Follow-up #1: The governments of Chile and Peru said that Alberto Fujimori’s possible candidacy in Japan’s legislature will not affect the legal proceedings against him.

* Follow-up #2: Ecuador's Interior Minister called for the suspension of a death sentence against a businessman convicted of killing four people in the U.S.

Sources- International Herald Tribune, Guardian UK, Yahoo! News, The Latin Americanist, Bloomberg, People’s Daily Online


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quote of the Day: The elephant (not) in the room

“The Republican candidates have blown off Hispanics in Florida.”

--Florida State Representative Juan Zapata, in reaction to Republican presidential hopefuls who will not attend the country’s largest gathering of Hispanic elected officials. (The 24th annual convention by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials or NALEO).

Sources- Guardian UK, NALEO

Image- National Council of La Raza

Copa America videos: A tale of two “tris”

Wednesday’s Copa America matches involved two teams nicknamed “El Tri”; yet while one lost via a late comeback the other won in a stunning upset.

* For the second straight day, one of the top teams was upset; in this case it was Mexico who blanked Brazil 2-0 on a pair of phenomenal goals scored by Nery Castillo and Ramon Morales (video link):

* In the other match, Chile came from behind twice to overcome Ecuador 3-2. Goals in the final ten minutes of the match by Humberto Suazo and Carlos Villanueva capped a game that “lifted our spirits” according to coach Nelson Acosta (video link):

* Group C opens their matches today with Colombia facing Paraguay while the U.S. hopes for yet another upset in its game against Argentina.

Sources- International Herald Tribune, YouTube, FOX Sports

Guatemala: Menchu far behind in presidential polls

Nobel Prize winner and Guatemalan presidential candidate Rigoberta Menchu (image) has some serious catching up to do if she wants to win her country’s elections. According to one of the latest polls, she sits in a distant third place, whereas in another survey se lies in fifth with a mere 1.5% in her favor.

Despite having widespread name recognition, it seems that Menchu is being hampered by Guatemalans who view rampant crime as the country’s main problem and thus support the main right-wing candidate. At the same time, she is hurt by the leading leftist candidate who is championing social causes. Hence, Menchu is stuck behind the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Sources- Angus Reid Consultants, Guardian UK, Reuters AlertNet

Image- Prensa Libre

Mexican writer Poniatowska wins literature prize

Congrats to Mexican author Elena Poniatowska who earlier this week won the Romulo Gallegos prize for the best Spanish-language novel. "When one gets to be 75 years old like me, it is wonderful to arrive at this culmination," said Poniatowska (image) who was awarded for her book El Tren Pasa Primero.

The French-born Poniatowska fled to Mexico during World War II and began her career as a journalist for Jornada. Her best known work was 1971’s Massacre in Mexico which focused on the infamous 1968 Tlateloco massacre in Mexico City.

Sources (English)- Miami Herald, Monsters & Critics,, Wikipedia

Source (Spanish)- Jornada


Colombian gov’t and guerillas disagree over hostages' deaths

The government of Colombia and leftist guerillas of the FARC have given distinct causes over the deaths of 11 legislators killed held captive by the FARC. A communiqué issued by the FARC yesterday said that the hostages were killed on June 18 in the crossfire of a battle between the rebels and an “unidentified military group”. Yet in a news conference this afternoon President Alvaro Uribe denied that an official military campaign took place on that date and accused the FARC trying to hide a “crime against humanity that it committed."

According to the Colombian press, the congressmen’s deaths have been condemned by the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia as well as Human Rights Watch.

In addition, RCN reports that a source close to the investigation alluded to the possibility of former paramilitaries involved (as of time of publishing only this message appeared on RCN’s front page):

“Una fuente cercana a la investigación de los hechos dijo a Radiosucesos RCN que el grupo emergente 'Águilas Negras' habría provocado el combate con las Farc en el que murieron los ex diputados del Valle."

(Translation: “A source close to the investigation told RCN that the emerging ‘Black Eagles” group could have provoked an attack that the FARC claimed killed the parliamentarians from Valle del Cauca province.”)

Sources (English)- Guardian UK, Yahoo! News

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo, Canal RCN, RCN

Image- BBC News

Senate votes to delay immigration reform bill

In a near repeat of a vote exactly three weeks ago today, the U.S. Senate voted 46-53 against subjecting a bipartisan immigration reform bill to a yes-and-no vote. In doing so, the status quo remains on the immigration debate, and it appears that the proposal will be delayed several months into autumn or even into next year.

Yesterday the Senate voted down several amendments to the bill such as one that would’ve barred illegal immigrants from obtaining green cards. Yet it was a bipartisan effort that led to today’s defeat:

“While (New Jersey Senator) Menendez and a few other Democrats oppose the bill, the main opponents have been Bush's fellow sunbelt Republicans. GOP Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Jeff Sessions of Alabama led the charge, often backed by Texan John Cornyn.”

Ultimately, the continuation of the status quo based on today’s vote will have serious repercussions:

“‘The price of failure will be hundreds of more people dying in the desert,’ said Eliseo Medina, an executive vice president of the service employees union. ‘The price of failure will be more workplace raids and families separated as breadwinners are arrested and deported. The price of failure will be more public anger at the broken immigration system.’”

Image- The Stanford Review

Sources- The Latin Americanist, Yahoo! News, MSNBC, New York Times

Daily Headlines: June 28, 2007

* Increased tourism and immigration led the U.N. to place the Galapagos Islands on a list of endangered locations.

* The U.S. Senate turned down two amendments to a bipartisan bill on immigration reform.

* Researchers analyzing fossils fund in 2005 believe that a prehistoric “giant penguin” may have lived n present-day Peru and Argentina.

* Three plotters in a 1983 coup against Grenada’s head of state were freed from prison amidst cheers and protests.

* Follow-up: A Brazilian man has been accused in the alleged attempt to murder Colombian songwriter Estefano.

Sources (English)- Sydney Morning Herald, Yahoo! News, CNN, ABC News

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo

Image- BBC News

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Quote of the Day: Cuy, the other white meat

"Guinea pig meat is very nourishing and contains lots of vitamins and other things."

--Juan Rojas, a visitor to the annual guinea pig (or cuy) festival in the town of Churin, Peru.

(Previous post on guinea pig cuisine can be read here).

Sources- ITN, The Latin Americanist

Image- Pink Tentacle

Copa America videos: An upset, a tie, and an inaugural first kick

Rather than go through all the nitty-gritty of last night’s first two Copa America matches, here’s several YouTube vids where you can checkout the mach highlights.

--Peru’s 3-0 upset of Uruguay (video link):

--Venezuela’s 2-2 tie with Bolivia (video link):

--As an added bonus, the ceremonial first kick by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez along with Bolivian head of state Evo Morales and Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona (video link):

Tonight, Group B opens with Ecuador vs. Chile followed by Mexico vs. Brazil.

Sources- YouTube, International Herald Tribune, ESPN Soccernet

Fujimori to run in Japanese election?

Japanese press said earlier today that ex-Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori will run for election in Japan’s legislature next month. “I have accepted the request by the People's New Party to be a proportional representation candidate,” alleged Fujimori according to a report by Japan’s NTV.

Meanwhile, former members of a Peruvian death squad active in the 1990s accused the former president masterminding the group’s missions including several massacres. The four former agents of the Grupo Colina were convicted yesterday of their role in the 1991 Barrios Altos massacre where agents killed fifteen people while looking for leftist guerillas.

Fujimori is currently under house arrest in Chile where he is expected to be extradited to Peru and face trial for allegations of corruption and human rights abuses during his rule from 1990 to 2000.

Sources (English)- Xinhua, CNN, Wikipedia, The Latin Americanist

Sources (Spanish)- La Republica

Image- China Daily (November 2005 photo of supporters of Alberto Fujimori protesting in Chile)

Oil giants Exxon and ConocoPhillips leave Venezuela

ConocoPhillips and Exxon decided to leave their operations in Venezuela rather than sign deals with the Chavez administration. Spokesmen for the firms were “disappointed” with the resolution and ConocoPhillips believes that it will lose nearly $5 billion, yet energy analysts feel that the move will not result in major changes to world oil supplies or prices:

“‘It's not going to result in any less crude coming out of there,’ said Kevin Saville, managing editor for the Americas energy desk at Platts, the energy research arm of the McGraw-Hill Companies.”

Four other multinational oil companies- Total, Chevron, BP, and Statoil- did agree to nationalization deals with Venezuela’s government that would grant them a minority stake to work along the oil-rich Orinoco Belt.

In other news related to oil, Bolivian president Evo Morales will travel to Russia and the Middle East in August to work on energy agreements and Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa refused to enter arbitration to settle a dispute brought up by Occidental Petroleum.

Sources- Bloomberg, BBC News, CBS News, People’s Daily Online, BusinessWeek

Image- Al Jazeera (Hugo Chavez on the (far right of the photo) visited several oil refineries earlier this year)

Follow-up: FIFA partly rescinds on high altitude ban

Note: Later today we’ll review last night’s Copa America action.

After weeks of campaigning by several Andean states, the world’s governing body on soccer retracted part of their ban on hosting matches at high altitudes. FIFA’s new edict now prohibits games from being played at more than 9800 feet above sea level (not 8200 feet plus) and only applies to World Cup qualifying matches.

The ban will help several the protesting countries such as Colombia and Ecuador, but it will not apply to Bolivia’s capital. Bolivian president Evo Morales has been one of the most notable protesters against the ban and according to Reuters it has helped unite the politically divided country:

“While critics say his approach smacks of populism, it is going down well with many ordinary Bolivians, who acknowledge their country's natural advantage in high-altitude matches with unabashed delight. ‘His position in defense of altitude is very admirable and it's meant he's won greater acceptance, even among the middle class,’ said Bolivian military retiree Robin Johns.”

Image- BBC News (Bolivian poster that says “United countrymen, high-altitude nation”)

Sources- BBC News, The Latin Americanist, CNN,

Brazil to provide subsidized contraceptives

Brazilian Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao said yesterday that the government will provide discounted morning-after pills as part of an expanded medical program. Temporao argued that doing so would help reduce unplanned pregnancies amongst the country’s poor and, hence, would diminish the amount of illegal abortions.

Temporao’s tenure has been praised by some groups such as social activists and Brazil's poor. Yet at the same time he has alienated more conservative elements such as the Catholic Church and has even drawn the ire of the Pope.

Sources- CBS News, AHN, Reuters AlertNet, The Latin Americanist


Daily Headlines: June 27, 2007

* Newly released CIA documents detail several intricate yet failed plots in the 1960s to assassinate Fidel Castro.

* Brazil may renew construction of what would be the country’s third nuclear reactor.

* U.S. presidential hopeful Fred Thompson defended his record as a lobbyist which included representing ex-Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

* The president of copper firm Codelco said that operations in Chile are running at a normal pace despite a strike by its contract workers.

* Honduran striker David Suazo finalized a transfer deal to Italian soccer giants Inter Milan.

Sources- Guardian UK, ESPN Soccernet, Reuters UK, BBC News, Forbes

Image- RIA Novotsi (Fidel Castro is not looking out for plots to kill him in this early 2006 photo of him)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Video of the Day: Soccer riot in Argentina

It’s never pleasant when ugly incidents occur during the “beautiful game.” In this case, here’s a brief Portuguese news report from of a riot that occurred after the second leg of an Argentine promotion/relegation playoff between Tigre and Nueva Chicago. One person was killed due to the disturbances in Buenos Aires on Monday.

Sources- YouTube, AHN

Follow-up: Immigration reform bill revived by Senate

Almost three weeks ago, the U.S. Senate voted against ending debate on a bipartisan immigration reform bill; thus endangering the possibility it would ever be considered. Yet earlier today, the Senate voted 64-35 to resume debate on the bill which contains the following provisions:

  • creating a guest-worker program
  • permit certain illegal immigrants to apply for a new visa
  • increased border security

The proposal is expected to run into strong opposition though congressional chiefs like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have worked hard in support of the proposal:

"We have an immigration system that is broken and needs to be fixed," he said. "That is what we are trying to do, is fix this. We would be derelict in our duties if we did not make every effort to get the legislation passed."

Aside from the possibility that the bill may be defeated, another danger comes from several amendments that could dilute the compromise; they include barring illegal immigrants from obtaining green cards and stronger penalties against those who overstay their visas.

Sources- The Latin Americanist, BBC News, Monsters & Critics, Voice of America, Guardian UK

Image- ABC News (According to the photo’s caption “Immigration reform stalled in the Senate but remains a heated subject on the 2008 presidential campaign trail”)

CFR tracks U.S. presidential candidates

Recently a tipster e-mailed us to the Council on Foreign Relations’ page tracking the U.S. presidential candidates and their views on different issues. Two sections of note regarding the Americas have to do with U.S. policy on Cuba and immigration.

The following are some excerpts from a few of the candidates on those two sections.

-On Cuba:

“(Senator Hillary) Clinton ‘is going with the status quo’ on Cuba policy, said Sergio Bendixen, an expert in Hispanic public opinion research, in the Washington Post in 2007. In a recent Senate vote, Clinton supported maintaining funding for TV Marti, television programming that the U.S. attempts to broadcast in Cuba.

(Rudy) Giuliani is critical of Castro, which he made clear during the debate over whether or not to return Cuban child Elian Gonzales to Cuba in 2000…His views of the embargo or on other U.S. policy toward Cuba are unknown, however.”

-On immigration:

“Sen. (Barack) Obama proposed three amendments that were included in the Senate Immigration Reform Bill last year, including one that mandates that jobs be offered to American workers at a “prevailing wage” before they are offered to guest workers…Obama opposed an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill of June 2007 that would prevent immigrants with a criminal record from gaining legal status (AP).

Sen. (John) McCain (R-AZ) has been a moderate voice who supports both increased border security and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. McCain was the only GOP candidate (FOX) to support the recent immigration reform bill.”

Please feel free to examine these and the other “issue trackers” for the U.S. presidential hopefuls.

Sources- Council on Foreign Relations

Images- (Hillary Clinton speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in October 2006)

Governor under investigation may influence Puerto Rico's status

Puerto Rican Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila (image) admitted yesterday that he is under investigation by a U.S. grand jury. Despite repeatedly denying the allegations, Acevedo’s campaign finances are being looked into, and if the inquiry takes a long time then his possible reelection bid could be sunk.

Yet more importantly, it could bring in a governor that would try to push away from commonwealth status. Opposition politicos on the island would surely love for that to occur aside from campaigning for a referendum on Puerto Rico’s political status.

Stay tuned.

Sources- CBS News, The Latin Americanist

Image- BBC News

Ecuadorian faces death penalty in Florida

Nelson Ivan Serrano (image)- a former businessman from Ecuador- was sentenced to death earlier today in the murders of four people. “We feel that was an appropriate sentence,” said one of the prosecutors in the case against Serrano despite complaints from the Ecuadorian government over Serrano’s arrest:

“In February, Ecuador's Foreign Ministry requested Serrano be returned to that country because he was ``illegally'' taken to the United States to face charges.

Ecuador will not extradite fugitives who are facing the death penalty in other countries, but U.S. authorities were able to use Serrano's status as a U.S. citizen to get him deported in 2002. Serrano had U.S. and Ecuadorian passports when he was arrested. “

Only a simple majority was required to sentence Serrano and the 9-3 vote by the jury sealed his fate.

Sources (English)- Monsters& Critics, Guardian UK

Source (Spanish)- El Universo

Image- Prada

Daily Headlines: June 26, 2007

* Could former Uruguayan Juan Bordaberry’s ailing health save him from being jailed while on trial for murders during his nine years in power?

* In Argentina, the debate is intensifying between indigenous people and U.S. energy firms over land ownership.

* By a slim margin the House of Representatives voted not to close the military institution formerly known as the School of the Americas.

* Colombia, Haiti, and Chile will be some of the countries that will be visited by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in July.

Sources- International herald Tribune, Indian Country Today, Canada East

Image- BBC News

Weekly Debate: Copa America 2007

Tuesday night will be the start of this year’s Copa America- the top regional soccer tournament for South American states. For the first time, Venezuela will host the 42nd edition of the tourney and the Chavez administration has spent about $1 billion on construction and infrastructural improvements in an effort to showcase the country. (Hopefully, neither government plans to “to neutralize any effort aimed at disrupting the Copa America” nor any political protests will get out of hand.)

When all is said and done, the important factor is not politics but the game itself. The ten members of South America’s futbol confederation plus two invitees will play with the hope of becoming champion on July 15th. Of the twelve teams vying for the title who has the best chance of winning? Here’s my very brief, not-so-expert analysis:

Crème de la Crème

  • ArgentinaBy far the team to beat with a very strong squad that would usually be more appropriate for a World Cup match. Juan Roman Riquelme’s Copa Libertadores resurgence should compliment up-and-coming star Lionel Messi who’s been working wonders with world giants FC Barcelona.
  • BrazilThe defending champions will look to keep the title that they captured after beating Argentina in penalties. Despite the loss of four key players from last year’s World Cup team (Ronaldo, Adriano, Ronaldinho, Kaka), players like Robinho and Wagner Love are expected to guide the team at least to a finals appearance.

Strong Contenders

  • Mexico - Simply put, if “el Tri” performs as well as they did in their Gold Cup finals loss then they can definitely reach the semifinals. Several holdovers from that Gold Cup squad- such as Andres Guardado and Nery Castillo- will appear in a difficult yet manageable Group B.
  • United States The other invited team from CONCACAF is coming off a thrilling comeback win in the Gold Cup finals on Sunday. Nine players from that team along with a roster full of domestic players will be in the very difficult Group C. The team could crash and burn after playing the Gold Cup, but they have the talent to repeat their best Copa America performance (1995- fourth place).
  • Uruguay - Despite losing star striker Diego Forlan for the opener against Peru, Uruguay should have no problems in making it to the quarters. Their team is very well-balanced throughout all positions and they definitely have the potential to repeat, if not surpass, their 3rd place finish in the previous Copa America.

Dark Horses

  • ChileStuck in a tricky group, Chile could easily end up either winless or in second place behind Brazil. The attack is bolstered by speedy ex-Colo Colo star Matias Fernandez, but their spotty defense may be their undoing.
  • Colombia- Colombia would ideally like to return to the finals after winning the tournament at home in 2001. The team consists of a good mix of foreign-based veterans and youngsters, but making it past Brazil or Mexico into the semis could be very difficult.
  • EcuadorIt’s been a year since Ecuador was eliminated from the World Cup. Since then, their record has been a lackluster 3-2-4 and they are perennial underachievers in the Copa America.
  • ParaguayThough one of the best teams in South America, their lack of offensive power (aside from Roque Santa Cruz) may do them in. They are stuck in the tourney’s “group of death” and may have to rely on goal difference to make it past the group stage.

No Chance Whatsoever

  • BoliviaAside from leading the South American contingent against FIFA’s asinine high altitude ban, Bolivia tends to have a poor record away from La Paz. The team will rely mostly on players from established domestic clubs.
  • Peru It’s been a quarter-century since Peru made it to the World Cup and since then it has not gone very well for them. The speedy Jefferson Farfan may be the lone reason to watch this team.
  • VenezuelaThe host country has improved somewhat since being South America’s perennial doormat and they could make it out of a very weak Group A. In an interesting political twist, they could meet the U.S. in the quarterfinals.

So what are your thoughts on this year’s Copa America? Who do you feel are the main teams to watch? Could an upset winner occur? How much will politics influence the tournament? Will the tournament be a success not only for Venezuela but for the res of South America?

Give us your opinion via commenting to this post and/or voting on the poll located at the sidebar.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Quote of the Day: “Ask a Mexican” won’t go Hollywood

“A movie director told me, ‘You can be the next Cantinflas,’ ” he said, referring to Mario Moreno, a revered Mexican comic actor who died in 1993. “I just said ‘No, no, you’re missing the point. This is satire. Outrageousness mixed in with jarring truth.’ ”

--Author Gustavo Arellano (best known for his weekly “Ask a Mexican” column) via a New York Times article.

(Hat tip: Hispanic Tips).


Sources- New York Times, Wikipedia, Hispanic Tips, OC Weekly

News briefs on immigration

* The Senate is gearing up to vote again on a bipartisan compromise bill on immigration reform nearly a month after it was “defeated.”

* Texas Baptists are bucking the trend of some conservative groups campaigning against the compromise proposal.

* U.S. immigration officials acknowledged that while the number of deportations has increased they are not via “random sweeps” such as during immigrants’ rights protests.

* Let’s see if I get this straight- woman emigrates from Cuba to the U.S. at the age on one year, becomes a naturalized citizen, grows up and raises a family, becomes a local legislator, and is threatened to be deported over illegal voting?

* An immigrant Ecuadorian mother defied threats against her children’s lives and was able to legally bring her children to the U.S. and away from her overly abusive husband.

Sources- Yahoo! News, El Paso Times,, Guardian UK, CBS News, New York Daily News, The Latin Americanist


Trade impasse continues after G8 summit

Earlier this month, there was hope that the G8 summit would renew global trade negotiations between wealthy and underdeveloped states. Yet by the end of the summit last Friday no compromise was found and this has seemed to have caused a division in the Americas.

Despite Brazil representing undeveloped countries during the talks in Germany, a group of eight countries from Asia and the Americas will present a proposal that would call for finding a “middle ground” involving major concessions from rich and poor countries. The plan appears to agree with the viewpoint of most economic experts in that something is far better than nothing:

“‘The losses and missed gains associated with a failure or freezing of the (Doha round) far outweigh the costs of a less than perfect agreement,’ said the proposal of the eight WTO members. ‘The time has come for all WTO members to show the flexibility needed to conclude the negotiations by early 2008 at the latest.’”

The break from Brazil and India may represent a turnaround in trade talks since the Doha Round first started in 2001.

Image- Turkish Press

Sources- Christian Science monitor, Monsters & Critics, Forbes, Reuters UK, Wikipedia