Friday, November 2, 2007

Video of the Day: “Me voy! Me voy! Me voy!”

The weekend is here! And to usher it in on a strong not we’re linking to a performance of “Isla de Encanta” by the Pixies. The song is in Spanish and an escapist ode to lead singer Frank Black’s brief six-month stay in Puerto Rico before forming the seminal alt-rock band.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to vote for the finalists in our “fifty greatest songs of the 1990s in the Americas” survey!

(Video link):

Sources- The Latin Americanist,, Wikipedia, YouTube

Daily Headlines: November 2, 2007 (PM Edition)

With the weekend around the corner here are a few more news stories that have caught out attention:

* The Mexican navy seized over 23 tons of cocaine in a ship traveling from Colombia.

* Hundreds of Latinos in Oklahoma rallied against a recently passed state law with measures like stopping government subsidies like health care for illegal immigrants.

* Emerging-market bonds worldwide including in Latin America tumbled today.

* Thousands of anti-Chavez protestors clashed with police yesterday in Caracas while the legislators proposed a two-part vote for 69 constitutional changes.

* Is Haiti about to enter into a deep political crisis?

* Follow-up: At the behest of the Spanish government, Uruguayan officials have delayed the opening of a controversial Finnish-owned paper mill.

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist, BBC News, Bloomberg, Associated Press,, Pryor Daily Times

Sources (Spanish)- El Diario/La Prensa

Image- BBC News

Colombia: President may opt for third term

Colombian president Alvaro Uribe said that he would consider running for a third straight term in case of a “catastrophe.” Though he refused to detail what sort of circumstances would lead him to run again, one presidential advisor said that the “catastrophe” would be if Uribe’s supporters cannot find a suitable successor to him.

Uribe’s remarks came days after opposition candidates scored big wins in local elections. A few of them spoke out against the possibility of Uribe running in 2010:

"It's not a good idea for someone to perpetuate themselves eternally in power," said Jose Gregorio Hernandez, a former member of Colombia's Constitutional Court.

It is unconstitutional for presidents to run for a third term though that has not stopped several legislators from trying to amend it.

Sources (English)- Reuters, International Herald Tribune, Plan Colombia and Beyond, The Latin Americanist

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo, RCN

Image- BBC Mundo

Honduras: Brother of soccer star kidnapped

Soccer player Wilson Palacios (image) has been given permission by his English club to return to his native Honduras as he tries to cope with the kidnapping of his 15-year-old brother. So far the 23-year-old midfielder has decided to stay in England while Honduran police investigate the abduction of Edwin René Palacios:

According to Public Safety Department spokesman Hector Ivan Mejia, the kidnappers forced a door of the family's home open, leaving the boy's parents bound and locked up in a room. He did not know if the kidnappers had demanded a ransom. "The family has asked us not to get involved, but the police are going to investigate the kidnapping," said Mejia.

Birmingham City F.C. manager Steve Bruce has expressed his team’s support for Palacios and requested the Honduras Embassy in London to keep them updated of any developments.

There have been 33 kidnappings in Honduras this year. One of the most famous abductions involving a Honduran soccer star was the 2002 kidnapping of Henry Suazo- brother of striker David Suazo. Henry was released after two weeks.

Sources- Guardian UK, Canadian Press, MSNBC, Times Online, AFP

Image- BBC News

Mexico: Tabasco floods trap thousands

Approximately 300,000 people are trapped in the Mexican state of Tabasco after floods have inundated an estimated 80% of the area. The flooding has been the worse in a half century as more rain is expected to fall over the next few days. Meanwhile, shelters have been filled to capacity while refugees have evacuated to neighboring states.

The governor of Tabasco did not mince words when comparing the situation there to another recent disaster caused by flooding:

"New Orleans was small compared to this," said state Governor Andres Granier, in reference to the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which killed about 1,000 people in the southern US city alone.

Only one fatality was recorded so far in Tabasco, but the floods have caused widespread devastation.

Serious flooding has also affected the neighboring state of Chiapas, which borders Tabasco to the south.

Long lines for water and gas gave formed in the few dry areas of Tabasco. The situation has led the Mexican Red Cross to ask for donations of numerous items to the southern state including bottled water, quilts, canned food, and sanitary supplies.

Donations can be made to the American Red Cross via this link.

Sources (English)- BBC News, Guardian UK, Monsters & critics, AFP, Associated Press, American Red Cross

Sources (Spanish)- Tabasco Hoy, Milenio, Cruz Roja Mexicana, El Universal

Image- BBC News

Bloggers of the world unite!

* So what do you think of the above Miami Beach campaign ad? Satire, racism, or upset that Speedy Gonzales wasn’t chosen?

* A few thoughts on the Day of the Dead celebrations today.

* Dominican Republic Cardinal Jesus Lopez Rodriguez got caught with the dreaded foot-in-mouth disease.

* Not all is what it seems for young Cubans wearing Lance Armstrong-type bracelets.

* Mmmm…Venezuelan hamburgers. (ed. note: Dammit, I miss El Corral)!

* Is a fundraiser to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign really linked to a pair of cocaine-laden jets found in Mexico?

* Click here for a fantastic interview with author Veronica Gonzalez.

* Polls indicate that undecided voters may be the key to deciding who wins this Sunday’s Guatemalan presidential election.

* Off topic: this is terribly lame, stupid, and hipster-rific.

Sources- Critical Miami, Guanabee, A Hamburger Today, Annors Development, Wonkette, Largehearted Boy, Bloggings by Boz, Two Weeks Notice, Brooklyn Vegan

Image- Critical Miami

Daily Headlines: November 2, 2007

* Follow-up: The Council on Foreign Relations delves into a subject we discussed last month: the close relationship between the presidents of Venezuela and Colombia.

* A study released this week confirmed the obvious: U.S. immigration raids have resulted in mental health problems for children of illegal immigrants.

* Buenos Aires took another step forward in attracting gay tourism by opening Latin America’s first luxury gay hotel.

* Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim rejected claims that his country was starting an arms race with Venezuela.

* Racism is a "profound and entrenched" problem in the Dominican Republic according to the U.N.

Sources- Council on Foreign Relations, The Latin Americanist, AFP, Xinhua,

Image- New York Times

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Does Cuba have Its Own Gay Rights Organization?

According to a few anti-Casto websites a new gay rights organization was launched in Cuba. The organization is called Cuban Movement for Homosexual Liberation (MCLH) in Havana's Arroyo Naranjo neighborhood and involved twenty or so participants . The first meeting began with the singing of the Cuban national anthem, as a symbol that gays and lesbians are also part of the Cuban society. According to the president of the org, identified as Leanes Imbert Acosta, the purpose of the organization is to...
denounce the cases of repression and human rights violations to which [gays] are subjected by the government of this island.

Source : Blabbeando

Video of the Day: From gaucho pants to a "presidenta"?

Last night's The Colbert Report touched briefly on the election of Cristina Kirchner on Sunday as Argentina's first female elected president. Colbert did not drag out his Latino alter ego "Esteban Colberto" for the segment though he naturally expressed worry over the Kirchner-Clinton similarities.

Did I mention that "Dirty War" ex-dictator Jorge Videla may have been a hermaphrodite according to Colbert?

(Video link):

Nicaragua Sick from Rain

The storms in Central America are creating the perfect breeding ground for illness, especially in Nicaragua. A waterborne disease, leptospirosis, spread through animal urine has killed nine people

As of midday Monday, nine people had died of the disease and 1,606 people had fallen ill. The highest number of cases, 745, appeared in the northwestern city of Somotillo.

The infectious disease is usually contracted through cuts in the skin. It is spread because the urine of rats, cows and pigs ends up in pools of standing water during stormy weather. and sickened more than 1,600 in storm-stricken Nicaragua, health officials said earlier this week.

Source : MSNBC
Image : Queens University at Belfast

Daily Headlines: November 1, 2007

* Follow-up: The death toll caused by Tropical Storm Noel’s rampage through the Caribbean has risen to over 80, while floods have swamped most of the Mexican state of Tabasco (image).

* Despite one commentator’s harsh criticism of John Edwards opposition to a U.S.-Peru free trade pact, isn’t having an opinion better than no opinion at all?

* On Tuesday, Brazil was officially selected as the site of the 2014 soccer World Cup.

* During a speech at a B'nai Brith conference, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff blasted the growing relationship between the governments of Iran and Venezuela.

* Colombian police seized two homemade submarines which were being used to ship illegal drugs.

Sources- AFP, BBC News, FOX News, International Herald Tribune, Reuters, Foreign Policy - Passport

Image- BBC News

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Video of the Day: Guillermo del Toro

We end today with Halloween in mind; more specifically, the work of Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro. His horror films are difficult to describe except to say that they are very striking visually as well as psycholgcally.

Below is the trailer for one of del Toro's films- 2001's The Devil's Backbone (not The Devil's Advocate as had originally been written in this post).

You can get a flavor of del Toro's style from the trailer but I highly recommend that you watch the movie itslf.

(Video link):

Sources- Wikipedia, YouTube

59 killed by tropical storm in Caribbean

Tropical Storm Noel has thus far claimed the lives of at least 59 people in the Caribbean as the downpour barrels towards the Floridian coast. Flash flooding and mudslides killed about 50 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic while over 9000 Cubans were evacuated from flood-prone areas.

Though Noel has passed the island of Hispaniola the danger continues, according to on emergency official:

"The situation is still dangerous and the number of deaths could rise," said Luis Luna Palino, a spokesman for the Dominican Republic's National Emergencies Centre told local radio.

"Rescuing people is becoming difficult because the rains are continuing."

Sources- Bloomberg, BBC News, AFP, Forbes

Image- BBC News

U.N. to U.S.: Drop the embargo against Cuba

184 of the 192 members of the U.N. General Assembly voted Tuesday to end the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. Though the proposal was non-binding, yesterday’s vote marked the 16th consecutive year that the global body called for the U.S. to drop the embargo.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque did not mince words when denouncing the embargo yesterday:

The blockade "has never been applied with as much ferocity as in the past year," he said, noting that Washington even barred US companies from providing Internet services to Cuba and was denying Cuban children access to needed medication.

And he later told AFP that the vote was "the expression of the virtual universal rejection of the policy of blockade and aggression which Bush, like no other US president, has applied toward Cuba."

Aside for the issue of Cuba, the resolution also called for countries to “repeal or invalidate” measures similar to the U.S. embargo on the island.

The U.N.’s vote came nearly a week after a speech by U.S. President George W. Bush denounced the Castro regime and called for countries worldwide to back democratic change in Cuba.

Sources-, Reuters, Xinhua, AFP, The Latin Americanist

Image- RTE News

Trick or treat? Not for some in Mexico and Ecuador

Halloween is not typically celebrated in Latin America with several countries preferring to commemorate All Souls’ Day starting today. Yet lately Halloween has become increasingly popular in the region much to the chagrin of certain groups.

In Mexico, the Catholic Church criticized the celebration of Halloween as "damaging and against the faith." In a statement released on Monday, the Archdiocese of Mexico had called on drastic measures to shun Halloween and embrace the Dia de los Muertos:

The archdiocese urged parents not to let their children wear Halloween costumes or go trick-or-treating — instead suggesting Sunday school classes to "teach them the negative things about Halloween," costume parties where children can dress up as Biblical characters, and candy bags complete with instructions to give friends a piece while telling them "God loves you."

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa banned government offices from celebrating Halloween. Correa justified the edict by claiming that Halloween ran against the Ecuador’s national values and people should observe the country’s own “charming festivals”.

Sources-,, International Herald Tribune, The Times

Image- Fly Away Café

Daily Headlines: October 31, 2007

* Some couples get married in an ornate church. Others opt to be wed in a pastoral outdoor setting. Yet those that are futbol-crazy exchange vows in Argentina’s Church of Maradona.

* Mexico's attorney general emphasized the need for the U.S. to curb arms sales and money laundering in order to lower crime related to the drug trade.

* U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon plans to stress environmental issues during his visit to Argentina, Chile, and Brazil next week.

* Russia will double or triple its arms sales to Venezuela, according to a Russian arms official.

* Follow-up: $119,500 was the price paid by a Texan rare books dealer for an alleged lock of Ché Guevara’s hair auctioned off last week.

Sources- The Offside, BBC News, AFP, El Universal, Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist

Image- The Offside

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Video of the Day: “Granadaaaaaa!”

Let’s sing the chorus together:


Granada, Cadiz, Sevilla.

Red butter is called mantequilla.

You’re treated so fine

When you come here and dine

I’m already lucky to see ya.

Olé! Olé! Olé! Olé!”

(Video link):

By the way, I prefer the uno with tostones and congri, thanks.

Source- YouTube

Daily Headlines: October 30, 2007

* Mexican antitrust authorities will begin an investigation against the telephone companies owned by billionaire Carlos Slim (image).

* Opposition has come from several groups- including immigrants rights organizations- against New York governor Eliot Spitzer's plan to provide licenses to illegal immigrants.

* Archeologists encountered a vital find in Puerto Rico: a large space possibly used for ceremonial rites by pre-Columbian peoples.

* Brazil’s government plans to increase defense spending by over 50% in 2008.

* Venezuela’s Attorney General admitted in an interview that corrupt officers have helped drug traffickers from neighboring Colombia.

* Follow-up: From one current presidenta to a future presidentaChile’s Michelle Bachelet congratulated Argentine Cristina Kirchner for her victory on Sunday.

Sources- International Herald Tribune,,,, New York Times

Image- Sydney Morning Herald

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quote of the Day: A notion of progress

“Our politicians are always talking about how migrants are treated in the US, but no one focuses on how they live in their own communities…Something is missing in our country. We need people to say, 'This is my country, this is my home, this is my land.' Tamaula can be a model.”

--Adriana Cortes- the director of the not-for-profit Bajio Community Foundation- emphasized how some community groups are promoting small businesses in Mexican rural towns. The aim is to develop villages and make them more self-sustainable, thus prevent immigration to the U.S.

Source- Christian Science Monitor

Image- Food and Agriculture Organization

Putin compares U.S. missile plan to Cuban missile crisis

Russian president Vladimir Putin compared a U.S. plan to create a missile defense system in Europe to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Said Putin at a press conference on Friday following a summit between the European Union and Russia:

"Analogous actions by the Soviet Union, when it deployed missiles in Cuba, prompted the 'Caribbean crisis,'" Putin said, using the Russian term for the Cuban missile crisis.

"For us the situation is technologically very similar. We have withdrawn the remains of our bases from Vietnam, from Cuba, and have liquidated everything there, while at our borders, such threats against our country are being created," he said.

Putin’s comments came two days after U.S. president George W. Bush spoke out on Cuban policy. In a speech at the State Department, Bush emphasized the urgency of supporting dissident movements and called on other countries to back democratic change on the island.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque replied to Bush’s speech by saying that it indicated his “personal hatred toward Cuba and dismissed a domestic uprising on Cuba as a “fantasy”.

Image- BBC News

Sources- Associated Press, Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian UK

Study: Haiti “stepping stone” for HIV into Americas

A study released today by U.S. researchers claims that the HIV virus spread from Africa to the Americas via Haiti in the 1960s.

For years scientists believed the claim made by journalist Randy Shilts in “And the Band Played On”. Shilts’ theory said that AIDS had been spread by a gay Canadian flight attendant who died in 1984. Yet the conclusions of the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences posits otherwise:

"Our results show that the strain of virus that spawned the U.S. AIDS epidemic probably arrived in or around 1969. That is earlier than a lot of people had imagined," said senior author Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona, Tuscon…

In fact "Haiti was the stepping stone the virus took when it left central Africa," said Worobey. "Once the virus got to the US then it just moved explosively around the world."

On a related note, pharmaceutical firm Merck has advised that the volunteers of an experimental AIDS vaccine get further tests since the vaccine may increase the risk of infection. Over 2000 people from several countries in the Americas including Haiti, Jamaica, and Brazil had volunteered for the trial in 2004.

Sources (English)- Reuters, The Telegraph, Wikipedia

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo

Image- the Money Times

Colombia: Uribe allies biggest losers in elections

Opposition politicians were the big winners in local elections held in Colombia yesterday. One of the most notable victories was by Samuel Moreno for the mayor of Bogota (image); the former legislator ensured that the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) would continue its hold on the Bogota mayoralty by easily beating ex-mayor Enrique Peñalosa. In addition, several independent candidates won key mayoral positions including the son of impoverished campesinos in Medellin and a woman in Cartagena.

The head of the PDA- Carlos Gaviria emphasized the “convincing victory” in Bogota served as a “massive defeat” to President Alvaro Uribe. The Uribe administration took the claims with their usual humility and good nature:

“Those in charge with responding…where (Interior Minister) Carlos Holguin and (Vice President) Francisco Santos. The former accused Gaviria of being one of the intellectual heads behind the website of the FARC (guerilla organization). Santos assured that nobody with high ethical principals can be defeated.”

The build-up to yesterday’s elections was punctuated by violence against candidates, especially those from rural areas. Yet the vote transpired calmly and with little violence except for a few isolated incidents.

Sources (English)- Reuters, BBC News, PRESS TV, International Herald Tribune

Sources (Spanish)- El Tiempo, RCN

Image- BBC News

Argentina: Say hello to "Presidenta" Kirchner

Current First Lady and Senator Cristina Kirchner will be the next president of Argentina after winning comfortably in the first round of election yesterday. Kirchner became the first woman elected to the argentine presidency after earning nearly double the amount of votes as second-place finisher Elisa Carrio.

Despite some worries over the economy, Kirchner’s victory speech emphasized her campaign message of continuing the progress enjoyed during her husband’s administration:

“Since 2003 we've fought poverty, unemployment and the things that did so much damage and brought so much tragedy to the Argentine people,” Fernandez said with her husband by her side. “We're going to construct a different history.”

Throughout the elections Kirchner’s victory appeared to be a foregone conclusion; for months most polls had placed her as the clear favorite in the run-up to Sunday and one political analyst told BBC News that “the vote was one of the most disorganized in recent Argentine history.”

In addition, Kirchner tried to shake off comparisons between her and other notable female political leaders like Eva Peron and Hillary Clinton. Some political commentators had even gone as far as to compare the jewelry worn between Kirchner and Clinton.

Sources- BBC News, Forbes, Voice of America, Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist,

Image- BBC News

Daily Headlines: October 29, 2007

* Democratic presidential contender John Edwards spoke out against a U.S. free trade agreement with Peru that’s up for approval in the Senate.

* Venezuela’s space agency was officially established last week and hopes to launch a satellite by August 2008.

* Eleven Mexican migrants that crossed into Southern California are being treated for burns from massive wildfires.

* Peru’s government wants the extradition of a former aide to Bolivian president Evo Morales on charges of terrorism.

* The former president and three serving senior executives of Cisco in Brazil continue to be under custody due to accusations of tax fraud.

Sources- International Herald Tribune, MSNBC, Prensa Latina, Guardian UK

Image- ABC News