Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bloggers of the world unite!

Here are a few recent blog entries that have caught our attention. As always, we strongly encourage you to check out the numerous blogs on our Blogroll.

Sources- Jamie Goode’s wine blog, Jaunted, Foreign Policy Blogs, Towelroad, Autoblog, Sentimine, The Latin Americanist,, Latin American Thought, Overheard in New York, The Offside

Daily Headlines: March 29, 2008

* Tejano singer Emilio Navaira is expected to remain in intensive care after miraculously surviving a terrible bus crash last Sunday.

* Argentine farmers have agreed to sit at the negotiating table after a sixteen day strike that has paralyzed the country.

* Nearly 2000 Mexican police and soldiers will be sent to the border city of Ciudad Juarez to quell rampant violence.

* Representatives to Chile’s Mapuche natives want the United Nations Human Rights Council to look into alleged government repression.

Sources- BBC News, CNN, The Latin Americanist, UNPO

Image- CNN

Friday, March 28, 2008

California on an Anti-Immigrant Bill Roll

Members of the California State Assembly have been hard at work proposing bill after bill targeting the undocumented in that state. Here's a list of the most recent:
AB 1468 (Garrick) - Would require hospitals to report on the citizenship status of their patients
AB 1882 (Garrick) - would require police to contact immigration authorities when a person suspected of being an illegal immigrant is arrested for driving under the influence.
AB 2102 (Walters) - would require state agencies to check all new employees' work eligibility through a federal electronic database called E-Verify
AB 39 (Benoit) - would require the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to tally the cost of jailing undocumented inmates each year and bill the federal government
AB 1928 ( Anderson ) - would require local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities when they arrest suspected illegal immigrants
AB 2420 (Huff) - would prohibit cities from declaring themselves "sanctuary cities" for illegal immigrants and not allowing their police to cooperate with federal immigration authorities
AB 648 (Adams) - would add 10 years to the sentence of anyone convicted of a felony who has a previous felony conviction in California for which they were deported
AB 2812 (Silva) - would allow the governor to cite illegal immigration as a cause to declare a local or state emergency
What is disturbing about these, besides the obvious, is how these proposals threaten the rights of all California residents. regardless of their immigration status, especially the one about allowing the declaration of a state of emergency.

Source : Applied Research Center

Cuba : Can You Hear Me Now? Cubans to Get Cell Service

Seems that the "new" Cuba under Raul Castro is allowing some access to technology while denying others. A week ago Cubans were allowed to buy electronic items like televisions and microwaves. Today a decree allows ordinary Cubans to have cell phones, a privilege before afforded to those who worked for foreign firms or held key posts with the communist-run state.

Before this decree, Cubans would access cell phones by having foreigners sign contracts for them.
Source : The Latin Americanist, CNN

Daily Headlines: March 28, 2008

* Bolivian president Evo Morales apparently wants to help his country’s World Cup aspirations by joining a second-division soccer team.

* Mariela Castro- daughter of the Cuban president- has been active in promoting gay and transsexual rights on the island, according to BBC News.

* Did a British reality TV crew start a flu epidemic that killed four Peruvian natives?

* The chairman of budget airline firm JetBlue said that he will launch a new Brazilian airline next year.

Sources- Associated Press, BBC News, Guardian UK, MSNBC

Image- Foreign Policy Passport

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Today’s Video: “One-hit Wonders” - ? and the Mysterians

Our focus of today’s video clip is the garage rock classic “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians. The group formed in 1962 and all the members are supposedly of Mexican descent. The organ-heavy sound and plaintive lyrics from frontman Question Mark, (formerly known as Rudy Martinez), helped “96 Tears” become the #1 single in October 1966.

(Video link):

Previous “one-hit wonder” videos this week:

Sources-, VH1,, Wikipedia, YouTube, The Latin Americanist

Opposition wants probe of Chavez’ brothers

Venezuela's National Assembly may open an investigation against the brothers of President Hugo Chavez. Opposition politico Wilmer Azuaje alleged that Argenis and Narciso Chavez have recently purchased seventeen ranches and these represent “harm (to) the image of Chavez's socialist movement.”

Though some wealthy Venezuelans have left the country due to the “fear of change of daily life” under Chavez, others have seen their riches grow. Despite the rhetoric of a “Socialist revolution” in Venezuela, a recent article on the “Maletagate” scandal noted that a rich elite has prospered under Chavez:

"I wouldn't call these people Chavistas. They are only in it for the money," said Ken Rijock, a money laundering expert who lives in Key Biscayne and has written extensively about the new Venezuelan millionaires…

"It's clear that Venezuela is still a very mercantilist country," said Simon Strong, the Miami-based director of International Risk and Investigations at FTI, a business consulting firm. "I'm not sure that many of those who have benefited on the business side during the Chavez years would make much reference to socialist revolution."

Sources- MSNBC,, International Herald Tribune, Washington Post, Taipei Times

Image- BBC News (“Venezuela's golf courses are seen as havens for the rich”)

Feds indict Puerto Rican governor

Puerto Rican Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila has been charged in a federal probe over possible electoral fraud and corruption. The grand jury indictment publicized today charged Acevedo Vila with violating campaign finance laws and issuing false statements to the FBI. He faces at least ten years in jail if convicted though he has proclaimed his innocence:

Acevedo says in a statement that he did nothing wrong. Thursday's indictment charges him and 12 party associates with illegal campaign fundraising.

The governor says he wants to assure the people of Puerto Rico that he has never acted illegally.

Acevedo Vila is a Democratic Party superdelgate who has pledged to support Barack Obama’s campaign. It’s unknown what effect (if any) Acevedo Vila’s indictment will have on such a tight presidential race.

Sources- AFP, Associated Press, CNN, New York Times, First Read,

Image- CNN

Will Richardson's support sway Hispanics?

Will New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama help scoot more Hispanic votes his way?

Richardson, who is part Mexican, is well liked among Hispanics, who have voted in large numbers for Hillary Clinton.

The Christian Science Monitor ponders the mixed feelings of the potential outcome here.

Predicting an entire voting bloc is often a self-defeating task, and especially with the Hispanic vote experts are hesitant to guarantee that different nationalities will feel swayed by a Mexican governor or any Hispanic endorsement at all.

Source: CSM

Leaders mull Latin NATO

Leaders from Venezuela and Brazil are considering a Latin American version of NATO.

The project could be an "integrated defense council" to facilitate cooperation and communication after incidents like the recent diplomatic fiasco when Colombia killed rebels in Ecuador's territory.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez heads to Brazil this week to discuss the opportunity.

Source: Daily Times

Photo: Wordgeist

Daily Headlines: March 27, 2008

* Guatemalan officials charged a pair of lawyers with human trafficking over possibly illegal child adoptions.

* The jailed leader of the Colonia Dignidad- a cult-like German colony in Chile- received an extra three-year sentence on charges of torture.

* Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez proposed a new tax on oil companies due to their “unexpected earnings” in the global market.

* Will the Ecuadorian constitution be modified to permit presidential reelections?

Sources- Associated Press, People’s Daily Online, Wikipedia, International Herald Tribune, Xinhua

Image- BBC News

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Peru: Fujimori caught napping during trial

I’m not a lawyer but I think you’ll lose Brownie points with the judge if you’re caught sleeping during your own trial. (Especially if you’re accused of masterminding a “death squad").

Sources- YouTube, International Herald Tribune

Mexican “emos” need Jesus, says bishop

In recent weeks there have been attacks against the growing number of Mexican youths who have wholeheartedly embraced the “emo” culture. Several hundred “metal fans and emo fans” fought in Querétaro, while emos and punkeros exchanged some not-so-nice pleasantries in Mexico City.

Why are these dark-clothed, morose youths being targeted? One journalist explains:

Anger against the emos has come from many quarters: punks and goths who think emos are ripping off their culture, homophobes who don’t find emos masculine enough, and those who simply seem threatened by a group that is so different than the mainstream.

Mexican emos have fought back in the form of demonstrations yet there are some public figures like a local VJ and mayor who have sympathized against the emos.

The bishop of Chiapas has even lent himself to the fray by claiming that the emos lack identity and are hopeless. They should follow the example of Jesus, said the bishop, who represents light and hope…strength and enthusiasm.”

Sources (English)- Sierra Vista Herald, Idolator, L.A. Daily, Uncovering Mexico

Sources (Spanish)- El Universal, La Jornada, Milenio

Image- Milenio

Chavez Doesn't Think Betancourt Release Will Happen

Yesterday, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who helped mediate a hostage exchange with the Colombian rebel group FARC, said that he didn't think that FARC was going to release their prize hostage, Ingrid Betancourt. Chavez blamed the recent incident between Ecuador and Colombia .
"Before the attack on Ecuador, we were giving a high probability of the liberation of Ingrid," Chavez said during a news conference at his palace in Caracas. "After that, the probability fell," Chavez told reporters.

Source : CNN , The Latin Americanist

Argentina Farm Strike Continues After Presidenta Speaks

The unthinkable is happening in Argentina. Shops and restaurants in cities are running out of meat and not because their is a shortage but because of two weeks of blockades by Argentine farmers in protest of tax increases on agricultural exports.
Protesters have been stopping lorries carrying farm produce and either turning them back or dumping their goods on the road.
Speaking on national television, President Fernandez said the agricultural sector was one of the country's most profitable with global demand growing for Argentine beef, corn, wheat and soybeans.
President Fernandez is facing her biggest test since taking office
"I'm not going to submit to extortion. I understand the industry's interests but I want them to know that I'm the president for all Argentines," she said, making it clear there would be no talks while the farmers' strike continued.
Soon after her address, demonstrators in Buenos Aires and other cities gathered on the streets to stage pot-banging protests.
The protests are impacting more than farmers and their wares. In a report on CNN en Español
last night, students and workers reported delays in getting to school and work. Another worry for city restaurants is the fact that the Copa Libertadores is playing and nothing goes as well with futbol and beer as a good Argentine parillada.

Sources : BBC, Confederacion Sudamericana de Futbol, CNN en Español (tv)

Daily Headlines: March 26, 2008

* A filmmaker alleged that her documentary on the abuses of Haitian sugar workers in the Dominican Republic is being “blackballed” by a major sugar firm.

* “(I hope to have) better relations with whoever is elected the next U.S. President” said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday.

* The Archbishop of Montevideo, Uruguay expressed his resistance to a bill that would allow gay couples to adopt children.

* Mexico’s government has promised to invest $21 billion so that nearly all the population can have access to clean water.

Sources-, Bloomberg, BBC News, Catholic News Agency

Image- New York Times (Scene from “The Price of Sugar.”)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Today’s Video: “One-hit Wonders” - Morris Albert

We continue our video theme this week of “one-hit wonders” with a song from Morris Albert. In 1975, the Brazilian scored a major hit with the soft-rock ballad “Feelings.” The song’s Wikipedia entry notes that it “frequently appears on lists of ‘the worst songs ever’”. In my opinion, it’s hard not to see why as it is a terribly bland and coma-inducing tune. Anyway, listen for yourself.

(Video link):

“Feelings” has since been covered by numerous artists like Frank Sinatra and Shirley Bassey. Certainly the most unique cover is this one by Beaker on “The Muppet Show.”

Sources- Wikipedia, YouTube,, The Latin Americanist

Supreme Court rules against death row Mexicans

The U.S. Supreme Court (USSC) has ruled that states do not have to provide hearings to Mexican nationals who are on death row. By a 6-3 vote, the court’s verdict found that U.S. President George W. Bush overstepped his authority by trying to force Texas to abide by a 2004 International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision.

As the New York Times noted:

Writing for the majority, (USSC) Chief Justice John Roberts said that neither the defendant nor his supporters “have identified a single nation that treats I.C.J. judgments as binding in domestic courts”… (and that) “the president’s authority to act, as with the exercise of any governmental power, ‘must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself.’ ”

Mexico’s government had previously advocated in favor of the ICJ’s decision since Mexico is opposed to capital punishment.

Sources- Bloomberg, New York Times, Associated Press, BBC News

Image- Gizmodo

Argentines remember “Dirty War” anniversary

Yesterday was the 32nd anniversary of the military coup which led to the seven-year “Dirty War” dictatorship in Argentina. The anniversary was marked by marches throughout the country including an estimated 10,000 protestors in Buenos Aires who repudiated the human rights abuses of the era and calling for ex-junta members to stand trial.

The argentine government recognized March 24th as an official holiday called the “Day of Memory and Justice.” Human rights secretary Eduardo Luis Duhalde spoke at a ceremony held at one of the main torture sites during the “Dirty War” (the former Navy Mechanics' School):

“The complaints are fair. Thirty years have been lost and what we must do now is find paths which accelerate the trials. (We do this) knowing that it is better for justice to be served late rather than an eternal injustice.” - [ed. personal translation]

Sources (English)- Voice of America, UPI, Associated Press

Sources (Spanish)- Clarin

Image- BBC News (Members of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo face the façade of the former Navy Mechanics' School)

Former hostage wants to meet with Pres. Bush

A Colombian politician who was freed last month from his guerilla captors has requested to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush. Luis Eladio Perez has traveled to the U.S. in order to gather support for a “humanitarian exchange” between captives and jailed guerillas. According to one source, Perez’ plan would free high-profile hostages like Ingrid Betancourt as well as three U.S. contractors:

The new plan involves the release of 39 hostages for some 500 members of FARC, which stands for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The exchange would be made in French territories overseas such as Martinique or French Guiana, according to Argentinian newspaper Clarin…

The deal would involve France removing FARC from its list of terrorist organizations, while Washington would have to free two rebels imprisoned in the US: Ricardo Palmera - alias Simon Trinidad - and Anayibe Rojas, known as Sonia. The two would be granted asylum in France under the proposal.

FARC would in turn release three US contractors - Keith Stansell, Thomas Howes and Mark Gonsalves - who were kidnapped in February 2003.

After being freed, Perez said that the three kidnapped contractors were in bad health and they had requested prompt help from the U.S. government.

Sources (English)- Monsters & Critics, The Latin Americanist, Associated Press

Sources (Spanish)- RCN

Image- Caracol Radio

Cuban blogger: Government censored me

Yoani Sanchez- the author of popular Cuban-based Generacion Y blog- alleged that the island's government has restricted access to her website. In a post written on Monday, Sanchez claimed that “anonymous censors of our famished cyberspace” conspired to deny Cubans that chance to read her blog. (For those not in Cuba, the blog can be accessed via this link.)

So far, the Cuban government has not responded to Sanchez’ accusations though in an interview with Reuters she has promised to continue blogging:

"This breath of fresh air has disheveled the hair of bureaucrats and censors," she said by telephone, vowing to continue her blog. "Anyone with a bit of computer skills knows how to get around them."

The aim of government censors is to block readership in Cuba, where people have limited access to Internet, she said.

"They are admitting that no alternative way of thinking can exist in Cuba, but people will continue reading us somehow," she said. "There is no censorship that can stop people who are determined to access the Internet."

Sources (English)- Reuters UK, On Deadline, Wall Street Journal

Sources (Spanish)- Generacion Y


Daily Headlines: March 25, 2008

* Mexico has become the second-fattest nation in the world, according to several national surveys on obesity.

* A pair of Cuban-American Democrats are challenging the GOP’s stronghold on South Florida’s Cuban exile vote.

* Canadian immigration officials have observed a surge in Haitian migrants crossing from the U.S.

* Human rights groups have found an increase in “extrajudicial killings” by Colombia’s military.

Sources-, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, UPI

Image- New York Times (“Lunch at a taco stand outside a Mexico City metro station”)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Today’s Video: “One-hit Wonders” - Martika

This week’s video theme will look at Hispanic musicians that can be classified as “one-hit wonders.” These types of artists enjoyed mainstream success with a high-charting tune yet most of them were unable to sustain such success. Being a “one-hit wonder” is usually seen in a negative light, though keep in mind that such acclaimed musicians as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Iggy Pop have only had one song break the Billboard Top 40 chart.

Today we’re showing “Toy Soldiers” from pop musician Martika. That song from the Cuban-American musician was from her eponymous 1989 album and it reached the #1 spot on the Top 40 Singles chart. In 2004, the song was sampled by rapper Eminem for his tune “Like Toy Soldiers.”

Honduran prez blasts U.S melon warning

The president of Honduras expressed his displeasure at a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall of Honduran cantaloupes infected with salmonella. As reported by the Associated Press:

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya called the move "extreme and imprudent," noting that the melons were contaminated on their peel, not inside, meaning they may have come in contact with salmonella bacteria after they were shipped.

"It's unjust that the (U.S.) has declared a unilateral health alert without any laboratory or clinical tests," he told reporters.

According to the FDA, fifty people in sixteen states have become ill from the tainted cantaloupes grown by Agropecuaria Montelibano. Canadian health officials are considering their own recall after nine people got sick with salmonella.

(Hat tip: Gothamist).

Sources- International Herald Tribune, MarketWatch, AHN, Associated Press, Gothamist


Colombia: Ecuadorian killed in raid on FARC

Colombia’s defense minister confirmed that an Ecuadorian was killed in a military strike which led to a regional diplomatic crisis. Juan Manuel Santos said yesterday that one of those killed in the March 1st Colombian military attack against guerillas in Ecuadorian territory was a man named “Lucho”. Santos further claimed that “Lucho” was romantically involved with the “public ambassador in Ecuador” for the FARC.

Santos’ admission may lead to renewed friction between Ecuador and Colombia; on Saturday, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa mentioned that:

"It would be extremely grave if it is proven that a Ecuadorean died," the left-wing president said on a radio program. "We will not let this murder go unpunished."

He did not specify what type of action he might take.

In the meantime, Mexico’s government repeated how it “deplored and rejected” the raid which killed four Mexican students.

Sources- The Latin Americanist, International Herald Tribune, Voice of America, Associated Press, Reuters

Image- BBC News

Rio de Janeiro on alert over dengue

Health officials have mobilized to combat an outbreak of dengue fever in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro after 49 people have been confirmed dead from the disease. Approximately 36,000 citizens of the city of Rio de Janeiro have been infected so far this year, while it has been reported that several hospitals have been “overwhelmed” with sick patients. The metropolis’ Health Secretary has even gone as far as to describe the outbreak as “an epidemic”.

In response to the growing public outcry for help, Brazil’s government has offered military assistance:

The defense minister has said the plans could involve setting up military hospitals in the areas which have been worst affected.

There has been growing criticism of the authorities for their handling of the crisis, with the local doctors' union urging prosecutors to charge officials with criminal negligence.

Although [Defense Minister Nelson] Jobim did not apportion blame to any specific authority, he said there had been what he called a "leniency in the campaign against dengue" and because of this, "we are now paying the price", he added.

Earlier this year, a dengue outbreak in Paraguay killed three while the disease infected over 35,000 Costa Ricans in 2005.

Sources- The Latin Americanist, Xinhua, Reuters, BBC News

Image- AFP (“A doctor and people coming for a clinic test walk inside the Lourenço Jorge Hospital.”)

Follow-up: “Super Mojado” tackled “INS Man”

Last week, a new wrestler named the Super Mojado introduced himself as a socially conscious grappler who would fight for Southern California’s immigrant community. On Saturday, he fought in a charity bout where proceeds would go to over 100 immigrants detained in a February raid. Super Mojado fought “INS Man”- a white rudo who yelled “You're going back to Mexico!” at the crowd. (INS was the former acronym of the U.S. Immigration Service).

The bout’s promoter claimed that the event raised approximately $4000, though a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman wasn’t too happy with Super Mojado’s entry into the ring:

"When we went into that factory we sought to group workers according to their status — we segregated U.S. citizens, people who had green cards and then people who did not have any appropriate authorization," [ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice] said.

"But we would not refer to anybody in that vernacular — that's not an appropriate term," she continued. "It's like so many things associated with professional wrestling — it's all hyperbole and myth."

Super Mojado and INS sound like "a tasteless exploitive publicity stunt," she said.

Sources- The Latin Americanist, Los Angeles Times,

Image- Excelsior

Daily Headlines: March 24, 2008

* Rest in peace Israel “Cachao” Lopez; the Cuban musician seen by some as the pioneer of mambo passed away on Saturday at the age of 89.

* “An act of betrayal” was how Clinton adviser, James Carville, reacted to Bill Richardson’s endorsement of Barack Obama for the U.S. presidency.

* The Bush administration threatened countries like Chile and Mexico with “trade reprisals” if they opposed the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, according to a forthcoming book .

* Cuba’s government has rejected criticism of the Chinese crackdown on opponents in Tibet including “any attempt to meddle in the internal affairs of China.”

Sources- The Latin Americanist, New York Times, Associated Press, soul sides, Washington Post, BBC News

Image- BBC News