Friday, August 24, 2007

MLB drops licensed gang caps

Sports blog Deuce of Davenport recently picked up a story where Major League Baseball (MLB) officially licensed ball caps with colors and symbols of gangs like the Latin Kings. As they reported from Fox News’ New York City affiliate (naturally):

"Companies involved should not profit from the promotion of gang affiliation, which leads only to gang violence," the activists, who call themselves the Coalition to Protect Our Children, said in a statement. The coalition is concerned that unsuspecting kids could buy one of the hats, wear it in the wrong turf and then be targeted for attack.
The group marched in East Harlem Thursday and pressured local shops to pull the caps from their shelves. One store operator agreed to do so.”

Despite New Era representatives claiming that “they had no idea” that the caps were being licensed, New Era and MLB agreed today to stop making the controversial headwear.

Apparently they were afraid that the following people would wear it:

  • Impressionable, albeit stupid, children
  • Hipsters looking past Von Dutch caps for the next fad
  • Journalists angling for an easy story

(Hat tip: Deadspin).

Sources- Deuce of Davenport,, Deadspin

Image- (New York Yankees cap festooned with the colors and symbols of the Latin Kings gang)

Quote of the Day: Reggaetonero + rockera = sweet music

“I love Julieta Venegas; she is so distinguished…I am hopeful that we can record a duet for my next album.”

--Puerto Rican reaggaeton star Tego Calderon (image) remarked on his desire to collaborate with Mexican singer/songwriter Julieta Venegas.

Calderon said that his wish came from Venegas’ duet with up-and-coming Spanish rapper Mala Rodriguez.

Source (English)- Kansas City Star

Source (Spanish)- Voy Music


Sarkozy: “It’s my duty” to free Ingrid Betancourt

French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to “fight” for the liberation of French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt (image) from the FARC rebel group. Sarkozy compared Betancourt’s kidnapping to the diplomacy behind the recent freeing of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor from Libya:

“The Bulgarian nurses were freed and taken to their country via a French airplane. It’s clear that we will find Ingrid Betancourt too, and I'll fight with all my strength to free this woman who has been unjustly held in terrible conditions for five years, because it's my duty to do it.”

Sarkozy echoed statements made during his presidential victory speech in May where he said that “France will not abandon Ingrid Betancourt.” She has spent over 2000 days as a hostage, and her family members have urged both the U.S. and Venezuela to play a greater role in liberating her.

Sources (English)- International Herald Tribune, The Latin Americanist, BBC News, El Universal

Source (Spanish)- RCN

Image- BBC News

Venezuela buys more arms from Russia, upsets U.S.

Q: What do you do if you’re the leader of a country seeking to buy arms but one of the world’s biggest arms dealers doesn’t want to sell to you?

A: Simple; look elsewhere for business.

That is precisely what Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has done with Russia becoming a major supplier of arms and equipment to the South American country instead of the U.S.

The latest development has been the purchase of 98 Ilyushin civilian planes from Russia today according to media reports. Previous Russian arms sales to Venezuela include submarines and Kalashnikov rifles.

U.S. arms dealers have been banned from selling arms to Venezuela despite being allowed to sell to countries with “very poor” human rights records, according to this report. Hence, Pentagon officials have denounced Venezuelan arms purchases:

"It seems as if a build up of this character doesn't really respond to the reality on the ground there," U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs Stephen Johnson told reporters during a visit Bogota.

"It has an effect of intimidating neighbors ... and democracies in the region need to be able to respond to this in a way that will help reduce this kind of threat," he said.”

Sources- El Universal, Voice of America, The Latin Americanist, World Security Institute, Reuters

Image- Pravda (Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin meeting in 2006)

Brazil: Twenty-five prisoners killed in fire

Twenty-five prisoners were burned alive by inmates of a rival gang in a Minas Gerais, Brazil jail yesterday. Though no prisoners escaped during the incident authorities are looking into how the arsonists broke out of one of the wings of the severely overcrowded the Ponte Nova detention center.

Earlier this week, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva introduced a major anti-crime program that included the construction of new prisons around the country.

Image- Al Jazeera

Sources- Reuters UK, AHN, BBC News

Video of the Day: Fracas in Bolivia’s Congress

Insults and fisticuffs broke out between lawmakers in Bolivia’s legislature on Wednesday. Tensions crossed the line after parliamentarians debated four judicial appointments made by President Evo Morales. (Video link).

Sources- BBC News, MSNBC, YouTube

Daily Headlines: August 24, 2007

* It’s a battle between transsexual prostitutes and wealthy residents in one Buenos Aires neighborhood.

* A Native American tribe is under investigation by Texan prosecutors for fraudulently selling tribal memberships to illegal immigrants.

* First it’s drug smuggling via submarine; soon enough it’ll be done via spaceship.

* Hungary and Cuba are in diplomatic quarrel over the European country granting “humanitarian” asylum to 29 Cubans.

* Chile’s economy grew at its fastest rate in two years, according to new government data.

* The E.U. will send election observers to Ecuador to oversee next month’s elections for constitutional assembly.

Sources- BBC News, Bloomberg, CNN, International Herald Tribune

Image- Bloomberg

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What to do – Music, television, film

* Music: In the New York City area and in the mood to listen to some exceptional music for free? Then head over to El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem where Venezuela’s Los Amigos Invisibles (image) will be playing their infectious mix of funk, electronic, and Latin tunes.

* Television: In the mood to stay home tonight? Check out the Travel Channel at 7 pm where chef/author Anthony Bourdain journeys to the U.S.-Mexico border area on “No Reservations”. Watch as Bourdain gives his two cents on the immigrant debate, looks to satisfy his “prescription” medicine in Tijuana and enjoys an authentic Mexican meal in Monterrey.

* Film: “Illegal Tender” with its mostly Latino cast opens tomorrow, but if you’re in SoCal try instead going to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to enjoy a free weekend festival of classic Latin American films. “Memories of Underdevelopment” (Cuba), “Rosaura at Ten O’clock” (Argentina), and “The Place Without Limits” (Mexico) are some of the top-notch movies that will be shown.

Do you have any suggestions? Leave them in the comments section to this post.

Sources-, Travel Channel, Rotten Tomatoes, LAist


Bloggers of the world unite and take over

sources- McSweeney’s, Bootstrapper, Gadling, Daniella Thompson on Brazil, Guardian UK Sport Blog,, Gizmodo, Blabbeando, Migrant Tales, Guanabee, Latin Gossip, YouTube

Daily Headlines: August 23, 2007

* Representatives for coffee chain Starbucks denied reports that they would expand into Colombia.

* Guatemalan immigration officials said that over 51,000 illegal immigrants were deported from the U.S. to the Central American country between 2004 and 2007.

* A recent poll showed that Panamanians where nearly split as to where former leader Manuel Noriega should go after he’s released in September.

* Pro- and anti-abortion groups held simultaneous protests in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic yesterday.

* Follow-up: Problems continue with the distribution of aid relief to survivors of last week’s deadly earthquakes in Peru, while Hurricane Dean was downgraded to a tropical storm after hitting Mexico for the second time.

Sources (English)- Washington Times, Taipei Times, The Latin Americanist, Dominican Today,

Source (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Image- MSNBC

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quote of the Day: A thought on the Elvira Arellano affair

“(Elvira Arellano) took the leadership that no politician- current or aspiring- would take and there are many that are in favor of her battle…but at the same time there are many undocumented immigrants who are too scared to mobilize politically.”

--Texas State University Professor Federico Subervi gives his two cents on the arrest and deportation of Elvira Arellano.

Source (English)- Chicago Tribune

Source (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Juan Luis Guerra to receive honors from recording industry

Dominican singer/songwriter Juan Luis Guerra will receive Person of the Year honors from the Latin Recording Academy (LRA). The 50-year-old musician will be recognized during the Latin Grammys on November 7th not only for his music but also for his “professional, financial, and cultural” contributions according to a statement from the LRA.

Guerra is a musical jack of all trades whose style blends different types of genres such as salsa, gospel and meringue. Last year he recorded “Bendita Luz” along with famed Mexican rockeros ManĂ¡ which we include below (video link):

Sources (English)- Los Angeles Times – The Envelope, YouTube

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Follow-up: Clinton responds to Obama’s stance on Cuba

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton responded to an editorial by Barack Obama that advocated change in the U.S. embargo towards Cuba. According to a statement by the current senator and former First Lady:

“Until it is clear what type of policies might come with a new government, we cannot talk about changes in the U.S. policies toward Cuba.”

As we mentioned yesterday, Senator Obama called on easing restrictions on travel and remittances from the U.S. to Cuba and also admonished the Bush administration’s policy towards the island.

Both candidates have quarreled before about Cuba when Clinton objected to Obama’s suggestion that if he was president he would meet with “rogue leaders” in countries like Cuba.

Sources- Guardian UK, The Latin Americanist, CNN

Image- CNN

Hurricane Dean hits Mexico for second straght day

After battering southeastern Mexico yesterday, Hurricane Dean regained strength and hit the Mexican coast again this afternoon. Despite being a weaker Category 2 hurricane with 100 mile per hour winds, Dean is expected to cut westward through mainland Mexico and may emerge past the Pacific coast as Typhoon Gil.

The then-Category 5 hurricane walloped the Yucatan peninsula yesterday with winds nearing 170 miles per hour. Resort areas were mostly spared and there were no fatalities reported, though low-lying residential parts suffered notable damage (image) and heavy flooding.

As we mentioned on Monday, Hurricane Dean moved through the Caribbean over the weekend causing 13 deaths and major damage to Jamaica.

Image- BBC News

Sources- Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Reuters Canada, Bloomberg, Guardian UK, Sydney Morning Herald, The Latin Americanist,

Could Hugo Chavez be the peacemaker in Colombia?

While Venezuela’s congress "initially approved" several constitutional reforms, the country’s president was in Colombia meeting with the families of hostages held by guerillas. Hugo Chavez expressed sympathy with the relatives, but more importantly he offered himself as "an observer and a guarantor" of a possible hostage exchange between the Colombian government and the rebel FARC group.

One family member expressed cautious optimism that Chavez’ intervention can help:

“‘We have always asked for a meeting zone to be established, but the important thing is for the FARC and the government to sit down face to face,’ Angela de Perez, the wife of a kidnapped lawmaker, told Colombia's Caracol television.”

In the meantime, the Colombian media have cited an article from Venezuelan newspaper El Universal claiming that the FARC’s spokesman had already contacted Chavez though the reason behind it was not revealed.

A meeting between Chavez and families of imprisoned guerillas is being set up to take place in Caracas.

Sources (English)- BBC News, International Herald Tribune, Voice of America, Reuters

Sources (Spanish)- RCN, El Tiempo

Image- RCN (From left to right, Clara Rojas and Gustavo Moncayo met with Hugo Chavez)

Daily Headlines: August 22, 2007

* The uniform for the U.S. Border Patrol will be redesigned for the first time since the 1950s and “look more like military fatigues.”

* French media and telecoms group Vivendi received $105 million in compensation for a former water concession it had in Argentina.

* The Swiss government will continue to freeze the assets held by ruthless ex-Haitian dictator Jean- Claude Duvalier.

* General Motors wants to sustain steady growth in Latin America, according to a company senior execrative.

* Follow-up: On the same day that Brazil’s president announced a major anti-crime plan, police cracked down on a major drug gang.

Image- New York Times (According to the caption “Agents in san Diego model the old Border Patrol uniform, left, and the new one.”)

Sources- ABC News, The Latin Americanist, People’s Daily Online, Reuters UK, MarketWatch

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Quote of the Day: Less violent than the news?

“‘These [bullfights] are, surely, not the best way to be educating children,’ said Joan Herrera of the communist-led United Left coalition.

‘It is obvious that watching bullfights on the television does not traumatize children,’ protested Juan Manuel Albendea, of the conservative People's Party.”

--Two differing perspectives on a recent decision made by Spain’s public television channel to not show bullfighting live.

Despite being a sure-fire ratings success, TVE will air bullfighting highlights late at night instead of showing it during “children’s viewing times.”

Sources- Guardian UK, Typically Spanish

Image- National Geographic

Road to the “Casa Blanca” – Tidbits on the U.S. presidential candidates

* In an editorial piece in the Miami Herald, Barack Obama advocated modifying the U.S. embargo towards Cuba by easing restrictions on travel and remittances. "The primary means we have of encouraging positive change in Cuba today is to help the Cuban people become less dependent on the Castro regime in fundamental ways," wrote Obama while also criticizing the Bush administration’s “posturing” towards the island.

* Mitt Romney strengthened his anti-immigration stance in a new radio ad that will air in Iowa and New Hampshire. In the ad (which can be accessed here), Romney takes aim at Rudy Giuliani by calling New York City one of several “sanctuary cities... that encourage illegal immigration and undermine secure borders.”

* Speaking of anti-immigration rhetoric, Tom Tancredo encouraged the families of three teens killed on August 4th to sue the government of Newark, New Jersey. Much like Romney’s ad, Tancredo blamed Newark as a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants after at least one of the suspects in the slayings was without papers.

* So far only one of the Republican candidates has confirmed his presence to a Spanish-language debate next month: Senator John McCain. As we mentioned in June, the televised debate will air on Univision on September 16th for Republicans and one week before that for Democratic candidates.

* An aid for Bill Richardson quit last week after it was revealed that she used to work for a Nevada brothel. "We did not know about all of this," admitted a spokesman for the Latino governor of New Mexico.

Sources- AHN, USA TODAY – On Politics, CNN, Asbury Park Press,, USA TODAY, The Latin Americanist, Modesto Bee

Image- Destination360

“No Latin American left behind” - U.S. education head tours Chile, Brazil

U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is on a tour of Chile and Brazil in an effort to attract Latin Americans to study in the U.S. “American higher education is open for business to students from our neighbors” said Spellings yesterday despite increased immigration restrictions and strong academic opportunities in countries like Canada and Britain.

While Spellings efforts are welcome, perhaps it would be more beneficial for her to worry about the education crisis in the Latino community in the U.S. As attorney Raul Reyes wrote last week in USA TODAY:

According to a study by the Center for Community Development and Civil Rights at Arizona State University, out of 100 Latinos males who start elementary school, 49 leave before high school graduation. Of those who finish high school, only 10 complete college. Our high school dropout rate (29%) surpasses that of white males (7%) and African-American males (14%).

The report didn't blame Latino males for this failing. Rather, it suggested that underperforming school systems were failing them. While also citing cultural, economic and institutional barriers to success, the report warned of the dangers of such a large segment of the population being consigned to the underclass.”

Sources- The Santiago Times, Guardian UK, USA TODAY, Arizona State University

Image- CNN (Education Secretary Margaret Spellings met with Chile’s Foreign Minister yesterday)

Brazil: Lula introduces multi-billion dollar anti-crime plan

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva unveiled a major anti-crime program last night. The “National Program for Public Security” will cost over $3 billion in the next five years and will be invested in measures like building more jails, better equipment for police, and education.

As BBC News pointed out, the leader of one community group was cautiously optimistic with Lula’s initiative:

“Viva Rio, an organization which works to combat violence in Rio de Janeiro, has given a cautious welcome to the government's proposals.

"This is the right path, for sure," said Viva Rio's director Rubem Cesar Fernandes.

But he added a note of caution: "The question is whether they can actually implement it."

Brazil has one of the world’s highest murder rates with high levels of crime in major cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Crime was one of the country’s most pressing issues during the last presidential election, and earlier this year human rights group Amnesty International called for the government to step up.

Sources- Bloomberg, Monsters & Critics, BBC News, Overseas Security Advisory Council, The Latin Americanist

Image- Guardian UK

Daily Headlines: August 21, 2007

* Ex-Argentine president Carlos Menem’s political comeback was cut embarassingly short after getting trounced in a provincial election.

* In El Salvador, scientists discovered the Mayan version of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

* Mexico’s peso fell to its lowest point since July 2006.

* Follow-up: A silver lining amidst the great tragedy and suffering from last week’s deadly earthquakes in Peru is the creation of at least 8000 reconstruction jobs.

Sources- Bloomberg, Reuters UK, Wikipedia, Newsday

Image- (2003 photo of Carlos Menem)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Video of the Day: Maradona’s real nightmare

Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona claimed that he hates the U.S. while appearing on Hugo Chavez’ weekly television show in Venezuela. “I hate everything that comes from the United States. I hate it with all my strength,” said Maradona while also affirming that he is a loyal “Chavista.”

Thus, one would assume that Maradona’s nightmare would be for the neocons to run Latin America. Perhaps he changed his mind from this 2006 commercial for a Brazilian beverage (video link):

Chavez made several remarks during his program last night including:

  • Reversing a 1965 government edict by proposing that all clocks move forward by thirty minutes.
  • Denying rumors that Cuba’s Fidel Castro had died and said that Castro is "writing, and producing."
  • Confirming that Venezuela is buying arms from Russia in preparation for an alleged U.S. military attack.

Sources-, MSNBC, Monsters & Critics, YouTube,, International Herald Tribune

Hurricane en route to Mexico; aid needed for quake survivors in Peru

Hurricane Dean is heading towards Mexico after ravaging through the Caribbean. So far, six deaths have been attributed to the Category 4 hurricane and damage from it caused Jamaica to declare a state of emergency.

Nearly 100,000 people were evacuated from the state of Quintana Roo while hundreds packed Cancun’s airport in an effort to leave before the hurricane is expected to land early Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, rescue efforts were called off earlier today in Peru as there is little chance in finding any survivors of last week's deadly earthquakes. Now the main focus has been to deliver assistance to survivors though that as been a challenge for inland areas whose infrastructure was decimated by the tremors as well as some who have criticized the Peruvian government for lack of organization.

Nevertheless, we continue our appeal for you to please provide donations for Peruvian earthquake relief. There are several ways in which you can do so, and they are listed in this post we published yesterday.

Sources- Guardian UK, Bloomberg, CNN, Christian Science Monitor, BBC News, Voice of America, Reuters UK, The Latin Americanist

Image- BBC News (Hurricane Dean’s 150 mile-per-hour winds gushed through Kingston, Jamaica over the weekend)

Brazil: Government to pay for sex change operations

Brazil’s Health Ministry announced last Friday that the government will provide free sex change operations. The decision was based on a federal court verdict that concluded that gender-change operations are a constitutional right.

According to the AP, Brazilian gay rights activists supported the ministry’s choice:

"Transsexuals represent about 0.001 percent of the Brazilian population, but for this minority, sexual reassignment surgery is a question of life and death," said Luiz Mott, founder of the Bahia Gay Group. "It is unjust and cruel to argue that the health system should concern itself with other priorities."

Brazil's public health system has been at the forefront of AIDS treatment and very vocal on providing free contraception and decriminalizing abortion. Such measures have not been without controversy; for example, Catholic Church officials were deeply opposed to the government giving away free condoms during Carnaval.

Sources-, The Latin Americanist, Monsters & Critics, International Herald Tribune


Daily Headlines: August 20, 2007

* Follow-up #1: Puerto Rican reggaeton musicians Calle 13 (image) and Voltio released a song last week condemning the death of an unarmed man at the hands of police on the island.

* Follow-up #2: New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg refused to comment on ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani’s recent remarks to “end illegal immigration” if elected president.

* Which is the better form of ethanol: that which is derived from sugar or corn?

* Trade, sovereignty claims, and drugs are some of the main topics that will be discussed during a two-day mini-summit starting today between the heads of state of Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.

* Financial difficulties have led to the shutdown of Puerto Rico’s prestigious winter baseball league.

* Delegates at an Amnesty International conference in Mexico support changing the human rights group’s neutral stance on abortion.

* Chinese officials confirmed that a summit between business leaders from China and Latin America will take place this November in Chile.

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

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

Image- Batanga

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Please help Peruvian earthquake victims!

Despite the best efforts to give relief to earthquake victims in Peru, problems with looting and the infrastructure have made things very difficult. Still, any help that can provided to those affected by last week’s tremors is sorely needed.

You can help provide assistance to Peruvians in several ways:

  • For those in the New York City area a fundraiser called "Marathon for Peru" will run until 8 pm in Queens today. (29-28 Northern Boulevard, Long Island City).
  • Several Peruvian Consulates in the U.S. have appealed for aid to quake victims. For instance, the Consulate in Miami has issued a comprehensive list of items for donation including clothes, medical equipment, batteries, cots, and medicine. Other consulates in areas such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Atlanta have their own suggestions on how to help and that information can be accessed here.
  • A special bank account has been established for direct deposit donations for the recovery effort: “HSBC Bank, USA
    Account Name: Embassy of Peru - Sismo Peru 2007
    Account Number: 389060178
    Routing Number: 021001088”
  • Lastly, several well-known international charities have also set up donation funds including the American Red Cross, Oxfam America, and CARE. (More charities donating to rescue efforts can be seen via the Charity Navigator site.)

Any little bit helps so please give what you can and donate!

Sources- NY1, Consulado de Peru, American Red Cross, Oxfam America, CARE, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, The Latin Americanist, Charity Navigator

Image- New York Daily News