Saturday, November 10, 2007

Video of the Day: “Mariposa (en Havana)”

There’s little I want to mention about the below video except to say that Si*Sé are really good.

Have a nice rest of the weekend everyone!

(Video link):

Sources- YouTube,

Journalist speaks out vs. union threats in Colombia

Journalist and documentarian Hollman Morris has spoken out against the abuses on labor union members in Colombia. Morris- who fled Colombia in October after receiving serious death threats- voiced his concern while the Canadian government continues the latest round of free trade negotiations with the South American country:

"I don't think they told (Prime Minister Stephen Harper) that more trade unionists are killed in Colombia than in any other country in the world," said Morris, who was to meet with officials at the Foreign Affairs Department later Friday.

"What this shows is a blind support. ... I'm not sure whether the Canadian public would accept this from Prime Minister Harper, or whether the Parliament would accept his memory loss."

Morris is currently in Canada on a speaking tour sponsored by Human Rights Watch (HRW). As we mentioned earlier this week, HRW criticized the harassment of union members in Colombia.

Image- IFEX

Sources- The Latin Americanist, Canadian Press, International Herald Tribune

Breastfeeding mom and baby separated by immigration agents

In an unusual case in Ohio, immigration agents detained a mother who had been breastfeeding her nine-month-old daughter during the moment of her arrest.

Though officials were looking for her brother-in-law, 27-year-old Sayda Umanzor was detained along with her husband and a five-year-old son. She remained under custody in a pair of local jails for three days with soreness in her breasts while her daughter did not get her mother’s milk.

The Umanzor case has led Immigration and Customs Enforcement to change the policy on breastfeeding mothers to give them more consideration and better “address caregiver issues.” For Umanzor it will be too little too late since she, her husband, and son expected to be deported to Honduras. It’s unmentioned who will take custody of the couple’s baby and a 3-year-old daughter who are U.S. citizens.

Sources-, International Herald Tribune

Image- Earth Mamas Web (The international symbol for breastfeeding)

Daily Headlines: November 10, 2007

* Baseball stars like Pedro Martinez (image), Moises Alou, and Julio Lugo have contributed to relief efforts in storm-ravaged Dominican Republic.

* Latin American countries have become “quite resilient” to a slowdown in the U.S. economy, according to the International Monetary Fund.

* Unlike some leaders in the region, Ecuador's Rafael Correa has rejected the notion of indefinite reelection for presidents.

* Peruvian labor leaders stopped a five-day national mining strike after Congress increased rights for miners.

* Follow-up: Argentina’s rugby team should joining the elite Six Nations group said the coach of the squad that led los pumas’ Cinderella run in last month’s World Cup.

Sources-, Boston Globe, Bloomberg, El Universal, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Guardian UK

Image- New York Daily News

Friday, November 9, 2007

Events tonight: Films from Chile and on Evo

If you’re a film enthusiast and are in New York City tonight there are a pair of events that you may be interested in:
  • New Chilean Cinema: An intimate conversation with 3 emerging film directors”

As part of the “Cinema Chile” film fest, New School University will host a panel discussion with a trio of up and coming Chilean directors. (Sebastián Lelio, María Elena Wood, and Matías Bize).

New School University
66 West 12th Street, Manhattan

Room 510
7pm to 9pm
Note: The event is open to the public and includes free wine and cheese.
  • “Cocalero”

Yesterday we highlighted a biopic produced in Bolivia on Evo Morales. “Cocalero” is a documentary on the Bolivian president which has been featured in several film fests such as Sundance. The movie starts a seven-night run tonight at Cinema Village.

Cinema Village

22 East 12th Street, Manhattan

Note: Click here for more info on tickets and showtimes

Image- indieWIRE (“A scene from Matias Bize's "En la Cama"”)

Sources- Cinema Chile, The Latin Americanist,,

Bloggers of the world unite!

This week’s post on blogs will briefly look at three nominees in the Best Latino, Caribbean or South American Blog category for this year’s Weblog Awards. While we commend and congratulate all the nominees, the following trio of blogs is exceptional and should be read as often as possible:

Babalu Blog

An acerbic anti-Castro blog that we commend for its views even if we don’t always agree with it’s content. Politics aside, every so often they will include posts on Cuban cuisine that easily makes one’s mouth water.


This blog provides very acute observations on Chilean culture. Topics range from the legacy of ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet to checking out which pharmacies in Santiago sell birth control pills.


The oversimplified description of this blog is a Latino version of Gawker. Yet this blog is more than that in its views of Latino life in the U.S. and “beyond the barrio” in areas such as gossip, media, and current events in the Americas.

Click here to vote for which blog from the Americas should be the crème de la crème .

Sources- Babalu Blog, Chileno, Guanabee, 2007 Weblog Awards

Daily Headlines: November 9, 2007

* Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expressed “more optimism than ever” for a possible humanitarian exchange in Colombia after meeting with a guerilla representative in Caracas.

* Latin American exporters should not be threatened by increased competition from China and India, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

* The U.S. House of Representatives passed a free trade pact with Peru after negotiations modified it to have stronger labor and environmental conditions.

* A recent poll revealed that most respondents would approve a law allowing a path for citizenship of some illegal immigrants in the U.S.

* Follow-up: Despite rejecting a similar bill last month, Uruguay’s senate passed a measure that would legalize certain forms of abortion.

Sources- Reuters, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Latin Americanist, Angus Reid Consultants

Image- CNN

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Video of the Day: Evo on the silver screen

Below is the trailer for “Evo Pueblo”- a biopic on Bolivian president Evo Morales. Earlier this week, he claimed as accurate a scene in the film depicting him being assaulted and beaten unconscious by police.

The movie was released in Bolivia last month.

(Video link):

Sources (English)- Associated Press,, YouTube

Sources (Spanish)-

Dems and GOP play blame game over immigration money

Democrats and Republicans in Congress are blaming each other for changes to billions of dollars destined for border security.

The GOP is upset that Democrats cut about $3 billion in immigration funds from a defense spending bill. “Democrats are sending the American people the troubling message that Congress is not serious about securing the border,” said Republican Senator Jon Kyl over the money that would’ve paid for items like the controversial U.S.-Mexico border fence.

However, Democrats say that the outcry is unnecessary since the funds were cut due to redundancy. (There were two bills that had allocated the money). Furthermore, according to the Associated Press:

The $3 billion in fence money, aimed at seizing "operational control" over the southern border, is likely to pass later in the year as part the Homeland Security Department's spending bill.

The funds had originally been part of an immigration reform bill that was defeated months ago by Democrat and Republican senators.

Image- MSNBC

Sources- The Latin Americanist, Associated Press, Arizona Republic,

Uruguay awaits “$100 laptops”

After pilot runs in countries like Brazil and Peru, Uruguay became the first country to place an official order for computers in the “One Laptop per Child” (OLPC) program. The ubiquitous lime green and white XO Laptops began mass production this week in China and have been dubbed as the “$100 laptops” due to its cheap price.

The aim of OLPC is to provide the inexpensive computers to schoolchildren in underdeveloped countries worldwide. Thus far Uruguay has been the only confirmed order with a request for 100,000 laptops including an option to buy 300,000 more.

The OLPC computers have not been without problems; production was set back by several weeks and major firms like Acer plan to produce their own cheap laptops. Nonetheless, OLPC is offering a special “Give 1 Get 1” promotion starting on Monday.

Image- BBC News

Sources- BBC News, The Latin Americanist, Associated Press, endgadget, AHN,

Prosecutors appeal Posada Carriles case

U.S. federal prosecutors have filed an appeal against the release of Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles. Posada Carriles was let go by a Texas judge in May after the U.S. government was deemed to have used “deceit and trickery” in using a citizenship interview to get evidence against him. Yet prosecutors alleged that Posada Carriles lied on an application and during an interview to become a naturalized citizen, and that does not justify “the extreme sanction of dismissal.”

Who is Luis Posada Carriles and why is he such a sought after individual? An article by the AFP explains:

A Cuba-born Venezuelan national, Posada Carriles was jailed in Venezuela in 1976 for allegedly masterminding the downing of a Cuban jet off Barbados.

He escaped in 1985, was sentenced to eight years in jail in Panama for a 2000 bomb plot to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro, and was pardoned four years later.

US authorities are reportedly investigating whether Posada Carriles was involved in a 1997 Havana hotel bombing that killed an Italian tourist.

Sources- The Latin Americanist, ABC News, AFP, Associated Press

Image- ABC News (Anti-Castro Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles, center, arrives at his wife's house in Miami, April 19, 2007, after being released from federal custody.”)

Human rights groups denounce threats in Colombia

A pair of international human rights groups denounced the murders and death threats of labor union leaders in Colombia.

A communiqué by Amnesty International (AI) called attention to harassment against the leader of a farm worker’s cooperative. According to AI, Oscar Maussa left Antioquia province after being pressured by paramilitaries. (President Alvaro Uribe used to be the governor of Antioquia where it was alleged that paramilitarism grew under his tenure).

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the dangerous climate for union members in Colombia including citing the deaths of two union leaders last week. A HRW senior official called on the Colombian government to ensure that the assassins are not impune of their crimes:

Colombia has a long and ugly history of killing trade unionists, and a dismal record when it comes to bringing their killers to justice,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “To make the country safe for unions, the authorities must ensure these cases are vigorously investigated and prosecuted.”

Sources- Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Wikipedia, Reuters

Image- BBC News (“Trade unionists ‘attacked by both right-wing and left-wing militants’”)

Daily Headlines: November 9, 2007

* Gunmen fired into a crowd of several thousand anti-Chavez protesters in Caracas, officially injuring at least eight people.

* The Iranian government rejected an Interpol detention order issued against five of its citizens accused of a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires.

* Expletive. Expletive. Expletive.

* U.S. president George W. Bush continues to push Congress to back free trade pacts with several Latin American countries.

Sources (English)- Monsters & Critics, MSNBC, Reuters

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

Image- CNN

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Quote of the Day: What's in a name?

Black teen: So, what you say your name was?
Hispanic teen: Irving.
Black teen: Irving? How you be Puerto Rican and have a name like 'Irving'? Hi, my name's Irving... That's fucked up.
Hispanic teen: Yeah, Puerto Ricans name their kids some crazy shit.

--A conversation between "
two yutes" via Overheard in New York.

Image- DCist
Overheard in New York,

Cuba credited for feeding people

A U.N. investigator lauded Cuba yesterday, complimenting the country's ability to keep its citizens fed.

Jean Ziegler, United Nations independent investigator, was in Cuba for 11 days and said "We haven't seen even one malnourished person. The right to being fed is the priority, without a doubt."

Cuba includes a "right to food" in its constitution.

Read more about Ziegler's report here.

Source: AP

Photo: Miami Herald, Raul Castro

Central America bears brunt of HIV/AIDS

A United Nations report revealed that Central America suffers the brunt of HIV/AIDS in Latin America.

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) reported that 1.7 million people have HIV, including 208,6000 also with AIDS, in Central America. The report included Belize and Panama in the regional report.

UNAIDS is part of the fifth Central American People With HIV/AIDS Encounter, a conference in Managua, Nicaragua, to assist people with HIV/AIDS.

Read more here. Also, check out this organization that heps AIDS victims specifically in Latin America.

Source: ChinaView

Next Chilean vacation: Fort Worth?

Representatives from Texas tourism bureaus are in Argentina this week and will later travel to Chile in an effort to drum up interest among South Americans travelers to visit Dallas and Fort Worth.

The Texans are from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and the cities are working together to kick off a $6 million tourism campaign.

Airport officials gave a presentation to 100 travel agents Tuesday in Buenos Aires and next travel to Santiago, Chile.

If you're interested in traveling from South America to Texas, click here.

Source: Star-Telegram


Carstens' Crisis Control

Latin Business Chronicle has an interesting article about Agustin Carstens, "the man who is helping President Calderon steer Latin America's second-largest economy."

Carstens is Mexico's Finance Minister, a job that seems to blend crisis control and explaining complicated numbers.

If you're a business junkie, get your fix here.

Source: Latin Business Chronicle

Photo: LBC, Calderon and Carstens

Norway commits to research project

Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is funding research on Latin American history for the first time. The government allocated funding for more than 100 people to work on Latin America-related themes and also promised to increase funding in the next few years.

The plan is to spend seven to ten years researching, boosted by a corresponding increase in funding.

Read more about Norway's interest in Latin America here.

Source: Nettavis for Universitetet i Bergen

Photo: Kjersti Fløttum, vice-rector for international relations

Daily Headlines: November 7, 2007

* Sixteen people are feared dead after mudslides swept away areas of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

* Seventy percent of Mexicans living in California are U.S. citizens according to data released by the Census Bureau.

* Brazilian oil firm Petrobras may make significant inroads in Bolivia according to the company’s CEO.

* U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama flew to Puerto Rico on Monday and met with the commonwealth’s governor before heading to a fundraiser in San Juan.

* Follow-up: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez teased U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney for erroneously calling Chavez the leader of Peru.

Sources- AHN, Monsters & Critics, UPI, KGBT, Associated Press, Reuters, The Latin Americanist

Image- New York Times

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Quote of the Day: Trying to stay in Canada

“It is a constant reminder of my plight in Colombia as it repeats themes of my disappearance in Colombia: . . . being a victim of slander or evidence I am not allowed access to . . . having a life I am trying to establish wrecked; being powerless compared to state actors who act with complete impunity.”

--Former Colombian trade unionist Amparo Torres described to the Toronto Star her plight in trying to remain as a permanent resident in Canada for nearly a decade.

Despite being recognized as a “high-profile political refugee” who is currently married with two sons, Torres may be deported back to Colombia by Canadian immigration officials by the end of the year.


Image- BBC News

Hacker hits Chilean government website

Apparently turnabout is fair play.

In July, a Chilean hacker broke into the Peruvian president’s website and defaced it. Alan Garcia’s image was replaced with that of Chilean independence hero Bernardo O’Higgins and wrote the phrase “Viva Chile, mierda”! (Viva Chile, shit!”)

On Sunday a hacker infiltrated the official Chilean government’s website and displayed the Peruvian flag. In addition, a pro-Peru message similar to the one in the July incident was written. The site was down for 18 hours and was back to normal yesterday.

One Chilean newspaper mentioned the obvious:

The Santiago daily El Mercurio on Monday reported that officials believe the hacker was a Peruvian.

Sources (English)- The Latin Americanist, Associated Press

Sources (Spanish)- Gobierno de Chile

Image- CNN

U.S. immigration chief: Sorry for blackface costume

The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement apologized for the “inappropriate and offensive” costumes worn be several partygoers at a Halloween party she hosted. Julie Myers “deeply regretted” the incidents at the fundraising soiree at her residence which included:

“One employee, whom she declined to identify, was wearing a black-and-white striped prison outfit, dreadlocks and a skin "bronzer" intended "to make him look African-American.”

Myers was on a panel that judged the aforementioned costume as “most original” and also posed for photos with the “winner”. A spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza told the Associated Press that Myers’ mea culpa was “completely appropriate.”

Sources- TIME – Swampland, CNN,, Associated Press

Image- PBS (Broadway actor Bert Williams in blackface)

Courts rule on Dow pesticide and De Menezes cases

Courts in the U.S. and Britain arrived at their respective verdicts in two cases we’ve covered this year.

First, a Los Angeles court ruled that Dow Chemicals and Dole Fruit were both liable in a claim brought up by former Nicaraguan plantation workers. The plaintiffs said that they became sterile after having worked with a now-banned pesticide in the 1970s. In addition to the guilty verdict, the jury awarded six who were “substantially harmed” $3.3 million.

Meanwhile, a London court found the city’s Metropolitan Police guilty of breaking health and safety laws in the 2005 murder of Jean Charles de Menezes. De Menezes was a Brazilian electrician slain by officers who mistook him for a suspected terrorist. The verdict was met by an increased public outcry for Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair to resign and indignation from some of de Menezes’ family:

"I think true justice would be for them to go to prison, at least for some time so that they could think about what they did," Maria Beatriz Figueiredo told The Associated Press on Friday at her home in the remote village of Gonzaga in southeastern Brazil…

"They can't just go out into the middle of the street shooting someone in the middle of all those people," she said. "It cannot be right. And the real terrorist is still alive, it is revolting."

Image- Wired – Listening Post

Sources- BBC News, AFP, The Latin Americanist, CNN, Guardian UK, Canadian Press

Daily Headlines: November 6, 2007

* Alan Greenspan eat your heart out - Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen supposedly wants to be paid in Euros, not U.S. dollars.

* At a news conference yesterday, a former Venezuelan defense minister called Hugo Chavez’ proposed constitutional changes a “nondemocratic imposition” akin to a coup.

* Over 100 U.N. Sri Lankan peacekeepers patrolling Haiti have been ordered to return home after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced.

* Peruvian prosecutors want a 30-year prison sentence for ex-President Alberto Fujimori.

* At least 30 prisoners were killed in an Argentine jail after a fire swept through a cellblock.

Sources- BBC News, Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, MSNBC, International Herald Tribune

Image- Sydney Morning Herald

Monday, November 5, 2007

Posts return on Tuesday

Apologies to all of you for the lack of posts today.

Please be assured that regularly scheduled posting will resume on Tuesday.

In the meantime, here is the trailer to the upcoming film adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez' book "Love in the Time of Cholera".

The movie stars Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, and Catalina Sandino Moreno. It will be released in Colombia and limited in the U.S. on the 16 of this month.

(Video link):

(Hat tip: VivirLatino).

Video of the Day: Cheney's geographical gaffe

See Dick speak.

See Dick talk about Hugo Chavez.

See Dick erroneously calling Hugo Chavez the leader of Peru.

(Video link):

Sources- YouTube, BBC News

Daily Headlines: November 5, 2007

* Center-leftist Alvaro Colom appears to be the next president of Guatemala with 97% of the ballots officially counted.

* Wild weather continues to devastate Mexico, Colombia, Central America and the Caribbean.

* Thousands of pro-government supporters marched through the streets of Caracas yesterday.

* Congrats to Argentine David Nalbandian who beat Spaniard Rafael Nadal to win the Paris Masters Series tennis tournament.

Sources- BBC News, Xinhua, CNN, Guardian UK

Image- CNN