Friday, August 17, 2007

Quote of the Day: Work, work, work

“So want to save America from the Aztlanistas, gabachos? Head for the fields and groves, wrap a bandanna around your face to fend off the pesticides, and start picking. And make sure there are no bruises on the fruit, lest the foreman dock you an hour's pay.”

--A small nugget of wisdom via Gustavo Arellano’s “Ask a Mexican!”

Source- Village Voice


Latin American stocks try to rebound

Stocks and finances in Latin America improved today after over a week of downturns and big losses:

Today’s global rebound was triggered by the Federal Reserve cutting the discount rate by 0.5%. Still, it remains to be seen if today’s actions will push the market away from a crisis triggered by sub-prime mortgages in the U.S.

Image- MSNBC (2006 photo of the Tokyo Stock Exchange)

Sources- Bloomberg,, The Latin Americanist

Border states considering Mexican migrant health plans

The governor of Nevada said that the Mexican government would be interested in providing health care to Mexican nationals in that state. After speaking with Mexico’s Health Minister, Governor Jim Gibbons remarked that such an arrangement would be highly beneficial:

"The cost that is normally borne by taxpayers in Nevada for the health care costs would be shared by the Mexican government for these individuals," he said. "That's a win for Nevada. It's a win for the people who are going without health care because they don't have insurance."

Earlier this year health officials from the U.S. and Mexico met to discuss the possibility of trans-border health insurance. In addition, Nevada is not the only border state that could allow Mexicans to get insurance; Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is seriously considering such an similar arrangement.

Image- Expat Financial

Sources- The Latin Americanist,, International Herald Tribune, Tucson Citizen

Chavez’ changes more than just term limits

Several days ago Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez introduced a number of constitutional changes. Headlines like “Chavez eyes power for life as he rips up constitution” and Chavez Seeks New Constitution to Abolish Term Limitswere indicative of how the foreign media focused squarely on Chavez suggestion to remove presidential term limits.

Even Venezuelan opposition politicians zeroed in mostly on that aspect of Chavez’ speech:

“Justice First opposition party leader Julio Borges dismissed Chavez's reforms as a thinly veiled attempt to advance his "continuous re-election, re-election for life, permanent re-election."

However, Chavez’ other planned reforms may be more controversial and more significant for the country than the term limits proposal. They affect the lives of everyday Venezuelans and could have serious socioeconomic consequences to the country;

It will up to the Venezuelans themselves to approve the constitutional reforms via a planned national referendum.

Sources- Scotsman, Bloomberg, Reuters Canada, Reuters, BBC News, USA TODAY


Daily Headlines: August 17, 2007

* Follow-up: Remember the “incident” we mentioned in Daily Headlines on Wednesday regarding Rigoberta Menchu being ejected from a Cancun hotel? Turns out it never really happened. (Hat tip: Guanabee).

* Researchers concluded that the infamously dirty air above Mexico City causes more health damage to children than tobacco smoke.

* This is a peace process? – Colombia’s government found that new criminal gangs were forming in areas that had been controlled by paramilitary groups.

* Caribbean countries are bracing themselves for the season’s first hurricane.

Sources- The Latin Americanist,, Guanabee, Reuters, International Herald Tribune, BBC News

Image- UCLA

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Peru: 300+ killed in earthquake

Update (3:00pm): According to U.N. officials the death toll is approximately 450 though Peruvian rescue workers estimate that it will be much higher in the upcoming hours. (Link via Yahoo! News).

Over 300 people have been declared dead
after a powerful earthquake shook throughout Peru last night. The tremor- which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale- toppled buildings and sent residents of the Peruvian capital of Lima scrambling for safety:

"I was playing soccer when the quake hit and I had to run back to my office because I am the chief of security. Now I am going to check on my family," said Juan Francisco Acevedo, 29, who works for an Internet company in Lima.

"People here hugging and crying in fear on the streets," said Cristyane Marusiak, a 31-year-old resident. "

A tsunami warning that had been issued for Western Hemispheric countries bordering the Pacific Ocean was called off this morning.

The following is video of footage taken last night by Argentine news as the earthquake was hitting in Lima (video link):

Tags- Guardian UK, Malaysia Star, Forbes, YouTube

Daily Headlines: August 16, 2007

* A recently released poll showed that most people in the U.S. feel that their country should negotiate with Cuba’s government and only 25% approve of the Bush administration’s policies towards Latin America.

* Mexico’s government agreed to extend a price freeze on tortillas- a culinary staple of the country’s poor.

* Argentine first lady and presidential candidate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner picked an opposition politician as her running mate.

* The governor of Ecuador's Galapagos Islands wants to expel 6000 residents living illegally there.

* Follow-up: Radio executives confirmed speculation that a DJ accused of racism against Latino immigrants will co-host Don Imus’ previous radio show.

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist, International Herald Tribune, People’s Daily Online, Reuters

Image- World Council of Credit Unions

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Quote of the Day: The wrong “perra”

“The Guatemalan military bugged the bedroom of the US ambassador in 1994 and caught her cooing to someone who was not her husband but did share her female secretary's name.

The CIA passed on this juicy tidbit to Washington DC, where it became the buzz of the capital during a period of difficult relations with Guatemala. And who did the recipient of these sweet-nothings turn out to be?

The ambassador's 2-year-old poodle.”

--Excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor’s review of “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA”.

Source- Christian Science Monitor

Image- MSNBC

Travelocity fined over trips to Cuba

Here’s a new rule for the next advert with the Travelocity Roaming Gnome: “Don’t use Travelocity to schedule trips to Cuba.”

The popular online travel site was hit with an $183,000 fine due to users that booked nearly 1500 trips from the U.S. to Cuba. The Treasury Department levied the fine against Travelocity since the site was found to violate the terms of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

According to one expert, Cuban commerce via the Internet is a grey area that can be complicated:

“Jorge Piñon, a senior research associate at the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, said the issue of online Cuban commerce can get complicated when dealing with U.S. websites.

‘There's a lot of other things you can do with Cuba vis-à-vis the Internet,’ he said. ‘I could be buying Cuban cigars in Spain [but] using an Internet service provider which is owned by a U.S. corporation.’”

Sources- AHN, KVIA, Miami Herald,

Image- Travelocity Business

“Not gay enough” Nicaraguan faces deportation from Canada

Way back in February we told you about the case of Alvaro Orozco- a Nicaraguan living in Canada who had his asylum case denied since he was deemed as “not gay enough.” Still, the Canadian government interceded and prevented Orozco’s deportation.

Yet Orozco (image) is now in hiding after a federal court ruled that he should be deported to Nicaragua. According to the CBC, he has been hiding at “a friend’s place” in fear of being harassed or possibly killed upon returning to Nicaragua:

“‘Most of the time, I'm hiding because I'm not supposed to be anywhere. I feel like a fugitive. It's really bad,’ said Orozco.”

Orozco’s chances of staying in Canada are very slim and he could be deported as early as tomorrow morning.

Image- CTV

Sources- The Latin Americanist, CBC, The Globe and Mail, Chronicle Journal

Giuliani vows to “end illegal immigration”

During a campaign appearance yesterday in Iowa, presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani promised to “end illegal immigration.” The former New York City mayor made the statement as he unveiled his plan to control illegal immigration that would include expanding on Congress’ plans to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border and creating a national database of all noncitizens.

Giuliani’s stance on immigration has attracted criticism, particularly from fellow candidate Mitt Romney who accused Giuliani of leading a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants during his time as mayor. While Romney has his own issues with flip-flopping over abortion he may be on to something with Giuliani’s immigration position:

“‘Some of the hardest-working and most productive people in this city are undocumented aliens,’ Giuliani said in 1994. ‘If you come here and you work hard and you happen to be in an undocumented status, you're one of the people who we want in this city.’

Two years later, when asked his view of a Suffolk County bill to make English the official language, he responded, ‘There's no reason to pass a bill like this, except maybe to exclude people, insult people or offend people.’”

Giuliani was opposed to a bipartisan Congressional compromise bill over immigration that has so far been defeated.

Sources- ABC News, Newsday, Guardian UK, Washington Blade, New York Daily News, The Latin Americanist

Image- El Diario/La Prensa

Puerto Rico: Outrage over murder by police

Puerto Ricans are enraged over a case of police brutality committed over the weekend. Javier Pagan Cruz was fired from the police force and arrested yesterday in the shooting death of Miguel Caceres Cruz in the coastal town of Humacao. Pagan Cruz currently sits in a Bayamon jail as an FBI investigation has recreated the incident where Caceres Cruz was shot several times despite being unarmed and showing little resistance.

An amateur video showed what happened on Saturday and we include it below.

(Please note that the video is graphic and NSFW!)

Neighbors and family members of Caceres Cruz continue grieving and have expressed outrage at the police’s conduct:

“‘I see the police and my body shakes’ said one neighbor.

‘I don’t know why the police have failed to do their job right. They’re losing their credibility and the people’s confidence,’ said the widow of Caceres Cruz.”

The death of Caceres Cruz highlights a steady increase in reports of police brutality in Puerto Rico with over 1000 complaints received over the past five years according to the head of the island’s police.

Sources (Spanish)- El Vocero, El Nuevo Dia, Primera Hora

Sources (English)- International Herald Tribune, YouTube

Daily Headlines: August 15, 2007

* Was 1992 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchu discriminated against by Cancun hotel personnel?

* Yale University promised to give back artifacts from Peru’s Machu Picchu that were taken by U.S. explorer Hiram Bingham nearly a century ago.

* Amazon rainforest deforestation has gone down by 25% according to figures from the Brazilian government.

* Colombian ambassador to the U.S. Carolina Barco claimed that the U.S. will cut aid to the Andean country by about 10%.

* The Cuban-born daughter of “Che” Guevara became a nationalized Argentine citizen over the weekend.

* Follow-up: Actor Mel Gibson dined with Guatemalan president Oscar Berger approximately one month after meeting with Costa Rica’s head of state.

Sources- Monsters & Critics, Newsday, ABC Online, People’s Daily Online, Melbourne Herald Sun, TIME, The Latin Americanist

Image- Cambio Sonora

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Quote of the Day: El “chamo” Chao

Manu Chao: It's funny, because in the Latin world, nobody knows where I'm from. A lot of people think I'm Argentine. A lot of people think I'm from Mexico. It's more the accent and some expressions that change. Grammatically it's really the same, but of course there are some words that you can say in Venezuela but no one will understand in Spain. There's one on the next album. There's a word that only Venezuelan people can understand.

Pitchfork: What does it mean?

Manu Chao: It means, it's like a...what is the symbol of America?

Pitchfork: The bald eagle?

Manu Chao: It's like an eagle.”

--Excerpt from an interview by indie music site Pitchfork Media with Manu Chao.

(Hat tip: Largehearted Boy).

Sources- Largehearted Boy, Pitchfork Media

Image- Coachella

Fugitive Colombian paramilitary head killed says ex-Venezuela V.P.

Former Venezuelan vice-president Jose Vicente Rangel stood by remarks made yesterday over the alleged death of former Colombian paramilitary leader Vicente Castaño. Rangel said that Castaño was killed during “a raid” in the Venezuela state of Zulia, and Rangel supported his sources in comments made this morning:

“My information comes from a reliable source. The Colombian government believes it is false…I have links to very good informers that could confirm what I claimed.”

Officially, the Colombian government maintains that domestic intelligence information shows that Castaño (image) is alive and continues as a fugitive. Meanwhile, Manuel Rosales- former presidential candidate and governor of Zulia- put down Rangel’s remarks and said that it was part of a government campaign to smear him.

On a related note, jailed ex-paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso alleged in an interview with Reuters that “veiled interests” in Colombia and abroad benefit from the country’s armed conflict and would not want the civil conflict to end.

Sources (Spanish)- RCN, El Diario/La Prensa, Caracol

Sources (English)- Reuters, The Latin Americanist

Image- Caracol

Chile and Peru dispute over cartography

Chile’s ambassador to Peru was ordered to return home yesterday after the renewal of a maritime dispute between both countries. The Bachelet administration told Ambassador Cristian Barros to return “for consultations” one day after the Peruvian government’s newspaper issued a map claiming a prime fishing territory.

Peru and Chile have quarreled over terrain for over a century and this has even led to some unique protests such as pro-Chile hackers attacking the Peruvian government website.

Sources- CNN, The Latin Americanist, International Herald Tribune, Xinhua

Image- Living in Peru

Guatemala: Illegal adoption home found

Police in Guatemala raided a home on Saturday and found 46 children who may have been kidnapped to be used in international adoptions. Authorities believe a Floridian couple ran the shelter located in the resort city of Antigua.

As we mentioned in March, the U.S. government had seriously considered banning adoptions from Guatemala which has the highest per-capita adoption rate in the world. Despite the Guatemalan government signing an international treaty on adoptions last May, child rights groups and other entities worry over cases of fraud and extortion.

Despite the problems facing adoptions in Guatemala, some believe that they are exaggerated. As one U.S. couple mentioned to BBC News:

“As with any adoption process, in the US or Russia or China or anywhere, there are always going to be cases of fraud or illegal activity. It's not just Guatemala that has problems - and they do have problems - but I do not believe that is the norm.

It's frustrating that Guatemalan adoptions get painted in such a negative fashion - and that parents who go to Guatemala for adoption are often painted as unscrupulous people who want children in the cheapest and quickest way - because that is not the case.”

Sources- WFTV, BBC News, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Guardian UK


Daily Headlines: August 14, 2007

* Anti-immigrant sentiment has grown after the execution-style killings of three Newark, New Jersey youths allegedly by a group of illegal immigrants from South America.

* Yesterday was Fidel Castro’s birthday. Have you seen him lately?

* Political violence in Guatemala has not slowed down as a local mayor was gunned down as he left his home.

* “Financial problems” torpedoed a much anticipated exhibition soccer game next month between bitter rivals U.S. and Mexico.

* Follow-up: The president of Dow Chemical testified that his company’s products did not cause health problems despite the claims of severe illness by former Nicaraguan laborers.

Sources- International Herald Tribune, Monsters & Critics, BBC News, USA TODAY, The Latin Americanist

Image- The Age

Monday, August 13, 2007

Video of the day: “Que viva Kennedy!”

One might assume that Barack Obama singing in Spanish during a radio show is a recent development by presidential candidates pandering for the Latino vote.

Yet take a look at the following 1960 video for the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy where his wife speaks en Español (video link):

(Earlier video on Al Jazeera’s take on the Latino vote here).

Sources- VivirLatino, YouTube, The Latin Americanist

Daily Headlines: August 13, 2007

* Look out craigslist: the late ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet’s clothing is begin sold by his son.

* Mexico’s government has called for an investigating into the shooting death of a migrant trying to cross into the U.S.

* Colombian television at its finest. (*sarcasm*)

* Argentine Marcelo Bielsa has been chosen as coach of Chile’s national soccer team.

* Follow-up: Less than a month since a deadly air accident in Sao Paulo, TAM Airlines posted its first quarterly loss in nearly two years.

Sources- BBC News, Voice of America, Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist, Reuters UK

Image- BBC News (Photo of Augusto Pinochet circa 2000)