Friday, April 25, 2008

Today’s Videos: Café Tacuba and Bonde do Role @ Coachella

The ninth edition of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will take place this weekend with over 120 acts participating including Portishead, M.I.A., My Morning Jacket, and Roger Waters.

Below is a pair of music videos from two Latin American groups performing Saturday at Coachella- Mexican rockeros Café Tacuba and Brazilian funksters Bonde do Role.

In case you can’t make it to Coachella, then please click here to access live webcasts of the entire festival!

Sources- Brooklyn Vegan, Café Tacuba,, Coachella, YouTube

Bloggers of the World Unite!

Note: The following links come from a few of the blogs on our Blogroll. We’ll soon be updating the list; thus, e-mail us at if you have/know a blog that should be on our Blogroll.

Sources- The Latin Americanist, Bloggings by Boz, A Year in Uruguay, Guanabee, Global Voices Online, Two Weeks Notice, VivirLatino

Image- Time Out Chicago (“Daniel Guzmán, Used Beauty, 2006. Photo: Courtesy of Kurimanzutto, Mexico City.”)

Clinton, Obama comment on immigration

The two Democratic presidential candidates touched on the issue of immigration during occasions this week.

In an interview with North Carolina’s Fayetteville Observer, Hillary Clinton pledged that her immigration plan would help legal immigrants and also local governments:

“Local officials here do not set immigration policy, but they sure pay for it,” she said. She said more federal money should be allocated to offset the cost of providing health care and education to immigrants…

She wants all immigrants to register with the federal government. Those who have committed a serious crime would be deported.

Law-abiding immigrants would have to pay a fine for coming to the United States illegally, pay back taxes and try to learn English.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama touched on the need for immigration reform during a speech to union activists:

"We know that enforcement is not enough, that we need to fix our immigration system," Obama said, and he called the existing policy "nothing but scattershot immigration raids at meatpacking plants around the country."

"This election is our chance to finally stop playing politics with an issue as important as immigration reform," he said.

A poll released today showed that both Obama and Clinton are in a statistical tie in Indiana. Also, one pollster said that Clinton’s primary victory in Pennsylvania on Tuesday did little to sway public opinion in her favor.

Sources- South Bend Tribune, Associated Press, Xinhua, Fayetteville Observer, MarketWatch

Relief for 9/11 immigrant relatives

The U.S. government has eased some of the red tape facing the families of illegal immigrants who died during the 9/11 attacks. Lawyers for approximately the relatives of 25 illegal immigrants said that they are eligible to receive monies from the federal Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund yet have had trouble collecting them due to fear of deportation. As Gothamist noted:

The legal reprieve will not be extended to illegal immigrant family members who have criminal records, ties to terrorism, or deportation orders that were already in effect at the time of the attacks…

Homeland Security's Stewart Baker said the family members will be allowed to provide biographical and personal information regarding their family situations without providing their names. The reprieve is meant to give lawmakers and lawyers an opportunity to gather information about this group of people in order to possibly grant them permanent legal status.

Sources- Gothamist, International Herald Tribune

Argentine econ minister quits

The economy minister for Argentina quit on Thursday despite being at the post for less than five months. 36-year-old Martin Lousteau was the youngest member of President Cristina's Fernandez's cabinet yet his proposal to hike taxes on soybean exports led to a crippling three-week farmers strike.

According to one economic analyst, the new economy minister will not deviate too much from Lousteau’s agenda:

Lousteau was replaced by the former head of Argentina's tax agency chief, Carlos Fernandez, who is considered close to the Argentine leader and her husband...

"In terms of decision-making, we're not going to see a change," Argentine political analyst Rosendo Fraga said. "Specific economic decisions are being taken by Kirchner."

In the meantime, argentine stock markets have taken a tumble today with benchmark dollar bonds slumping to an eight-month low.

Sources- The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Bloomberg, CNN, MSNBC

Image- BBC News

Daily Headlines: April 25, 2008

* Mexico: Congrats to Guillermo del Toro who was picked by Peter Jackson to direct a pair of future “Hobbit” prequels.

* Brazil: A Brazilian drug firm and nonprofit group have united to develop a new malaria treatment that is expected to be distributed throughout Latin America and Southeast Asia.

*Guatemala: “TV Maya” recently launched in Guatemala with the aim of promoting indigenous Mayan culture.

* Cuba: The island’s state-run telephone firm said that over 7400 new cell phone accounts were established in the first 10 days Cubans were allowed access to the service.

Image- Los Angeles Times (“Guillermo del Toro will take on the future "Hobbit' prequels, while Peter Jackson is still basking in the success of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Jackson and New Line handpicked Del Toro.”)

Sources-, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Voice of America

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Today’s Video: Abortion in Mexico

A year ago today Mexico City’s legislature passed a plan to legalize first trimester abortions. Since then the decision has been met with approval by pro-choice advocates and derision by those on the pro-life side.

The following video is a clip from a March 2007 edition of “Aristegui” on CNN en Español. The discussion is civil, and analyzes the pros and cons of abortion in Mexico.

Sources- CNN, Google Video, The Latin Americanist

News Briefs: Justice

* Argentina: Three people were convicted for illegally adopting a baby during the “Dirty War” period.

* Mexico: Canadian Brenda Martin was found guilty in a Mexican court after she was imprisoned for two years without trial.

* Colombia: Pension and health benefits are to be extended to same-sex couples according to a verdict by the country’s Constitutional Court.

* Brazil: Police in Rio de Janeiro arrested a Credit Suisse executive and charged him with laundering money for wealthy Brazilians.

Image- Times Online (“Maria Eugenia Sampallo leaves the Buenos Aires court. Children of the enemies of the junta were given to its backers”)

Sources- JURIST, Reuters Africa, National Post, AFP

Che Guevara film early favorite for Cannes

A four-hour movie on famed revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara is among the early favorites to win top honors at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film- directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benecio del Toro- was one of twenty movies selected in the main competition at Cannes.

Aside from the Guevara flick, other Latin Americans have made their presence known at the world-famous film fest:

The Latin American theme is strongly borne out in the rest of the main competition, in which there are two Argentinean films and a Brazilian one. The Brazilian director is Walter Salles, whose Motorcycle Diaries - about Che's youthful journey round Latin America by motorbike - was a contender in 2004. This year's offering is called Linha de Passe, about the lives of four brothers from a tough background in Sao Paulo who struggle to overcome their circumstances.

Films by Argentineans Pablo Trapero and Lucretia Martel complete the South American contingent; while Mexican Alfonso Cuarón (director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) will sit on the competition jury.

The 61st edition of the Cannes Film Festival runs next month. If you’re a film buff in New York City this week, then try attending either the Tribeca Film Festival or “100% Venezuela” at NYU.

Image- BBC News (“The poster for this year's festival is adapted from a David Lynch photo.”)

Sources- Guardian UK. AFP, New York Times, The Latin Americanist

Think tank honors Venezuelan student leader

Conservative think tank the Cato Institute awarded a Venezuelan univeristy student best known for leading the campaign against last year’s constitutional referendum. Venezuelan student movement leader Yon Goicoechea was very grateful for winning the $500,000 prize from the Washington-based think tank:

“It’s a great support and not only a recognition to Yon Goicoechea but also to hundreds of thousands of young Venezuelans who want to keep fighting for Venezuelan freedom” said Goicoechea…

“It’s an inspiration for me that such an important institute gazed their eyes at what is happening n Venezuela…it’s an inspiration to keep moving forward.” -[ed. personal translation]

Thus far, the Venezuelan government has yet to issue a public response on Goicoechea’s award.

Image- Globovision

Sources (English)- Cato Institute, MSNBC, The Latin Americanist

Sources (Spanish)- El Universal

Indian president wraps up visit

Indian President Pratibha Patil ended her three-day visit to Latin America, her first to the region, after signing nine agreements with three countries.

Chile, Brazil and Mexico all signed on to various extradition, agriculture, civil defense, humanitarian assistance, oil and natural gas agreements with India.

The Hindu reports that she had a few bumps along the way: Few Senate members showed up to hear her speak in Brazil and she forgot to bow according to tradition in Mexico.

Read the story here.

Photo: Calcutta telegraph

High food prices infect Latin America

Leaders of Bolivia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba gathered yesterday to launch a $100 million fund for food including rice, beans and corn in the shadow of rising global food prices.

The leaders blamed capitalism for the soaring prices.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez suggested a regional food distribution system and speeding up other food delivery systems that are already implemented.

Read the Reuters story here.

Source: Reuters, Photo:

Daily Headlines: April 24, 2008

* Puerto Rico: Earlier this week, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama unveiled his plan to stimulate Puerto Rico’s economy.

* U.S.: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus blasted Democratic leaders as “spineless” and no better than Republicans over the issue of immigration reform.

*Paraguay: Will Vatican officials strip president-elect Fernando Lugo of his position as Catholic bishop?

* Chile: Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman reports in the following video on contraception and the controversy over “morning-after” pills:

Sources- Seattle Times, USA TODAY, MSNBC, YouTube

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Today’s Video/Event: “100% Venezuela”

The Tribeca Film Festival starts tonight in lower Manhattan and will run until May 4th. Although it will feature several Latin American films, there’s a better option for those that want to avoid the large crowds and don’t want to fork over up to $15 per screening.

The second edition of the NYU-Venezuelan film festival opens tonight and runs until Sunday. Entitled 100% Venezuela," the event will not only feature free screenings of Venezuelan movies like “Postcards from Leningrad” and “Francisco de Miranda”. Symposiums will also be held including one tonight on “Perspectives and Leadership of Bolivarian Venezuela” featuring speakers like Teodoro Petkoff.

The final film to be presented in “100% Venezuela” will be 2005’s “Secuestro Express.” Below is the trailer for that movie:

(Disclaimer: I’m an NYU student; thus, I’m biased in this post!)

Sources- NYRemezcla, Tribeca Film Festival, New York University, The Latin Americanist, YouTube

Haitian migrants drowned near Bahamas

Up to twenty Haitian migrants are alleged to have drowned off the Bahamian coast after their boat capsized. A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said that only three people survived- two Haitians and a Honduran.

The two Haitians who made out alive may be deported according to a Bahamian immigration official. One news report alleged that recent food riots have served as an impetus for Haitians to leave their country by any means necessary:

"I will leave with the next boat going to Miami because I can no longer resist this hunger," Marcel Jonassaint, 34, told Reuters on Tuesday as he sat barefoot near the dock in Montrouis, throwing a handful of small rocks into the ocean.

"I have four children and I don't have a job and everything is expensive, even for those who are working," Jonassaint said. "So what do you want me to do?"…

"I left earlier this year. Our boat was intercepted in the high seas, but I will try again," said 29-year-old Rachel Chavanne. "I know some people, like a cousin of mine, who had a successful trip there.

Sources- Associated Press, The Latin Americanist, Reuters, Xinhua, CNN

Image- MSNBC (“Hundreds of Haitians wait for food at a U.N. distribution center in Port-au-Prince on April 18 in the wake of rioting in the country.”)

Cuba, U.S. speak out over “Women in White”

Statements from the Cuban and U.S. government have been issued over the breakup of a protest by members of the “Women in White” on Monday. As Reuters reported:

A government statement carried by Cuba's official media attacked the women's protest for being a "provocation ... ordered by their Yankee masters".

State-run television showed photos of the women meeting with Michael Parmly, the head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, which a commentator called "the headquarters of the Cuban counterrevolution."

Meanwhile, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana denounced the actions taken against the protesters and noted that the women have the right to free assembly based on human rights treaties signed by Cuba.

Sources- BBC News, Reuters, UPI

Image- BBC News

Evo Morales honored by NYC politicos

Bolivian president Evo Morales received a proclamation from several New York City Council members yesterday. The honor was given to Morales by legislators of the council's Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus in recognition of his efforts on behalf of indigenous peoples.

Morales was in the “Big Apple” in order to attend a U.N. forum on the global impact of climate change on indigenous peoples. Much like his Peruvian counterpart Alan Garcia, Morales expressed worry over the priority given by some countries to the use of biofuels:

"This is very serious," he said. "Cars come first, not human beings. But, for us, how important is life and how important are cars? So I say life first and cars second."

In his U.N. speech earlier, Morales called on the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to develop policies to curb the use of biofuels "in order to avoid hunger and misery among our people."

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been one of the leading proponents of biofuel usage and has rejected claims that they are causing spikes in global food prices.

Sources- Reuters UK, Reuters, New York Sun, The Latin Americanist

Image- BBC News

So Much for That Virtual Border Fence : Again

If you can't keep up with the virtual border fence along the Arizona- Mexico border, don't feel bad. The Department of Homeland Security can't seem to make up it's mind on the issue either. First, the virtual border fence was going to be delayed,
then Michael Chertoff, approved the fence. Now, it looks like the whole plan is going to be tossed in the trash. But don't you worry. Homeland Security is going to get those illegals yet (and spend millions more in the process). Now Boeing, who won an $860 million contract to provide the technology, physical fences and vehicle barriers, is to replace the so-called Project 28 prototype with a series of towers equipped with communications systems, new cameras and new radar capability, officials said.

Sources : Reuters, Yahoo

If An Immigration Prison Looks Pretty, Is It Still A Prison?

A recent article from AP highlights how "unprisonlike" the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center is. Hutto opened in May 2006 by the Department of Homeland Security and it is the first prison for immigrant families. ICE gave the press a tour of the changes the facility is undergoing as a way to counter the negative press it has been receiving after it was ordered to change inhumane practices.
Pastel-colored walls adorned with cartoon characters, ceramic instead of steel toilets in cells and other upgrades have softened the inside of a former prison where dozens of immigrant children and their families are detained.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials conducted a media tour Tuesday at the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center in Taylor say the facility has become more family friendly thanks to more than 100 modifications. The changes were required under a settlement reached in a lawsuit alleging children were held in prison-like conditions.
But the fact remains that this is a detention center aka a jail and a model that Homeland Security wants to replicate.
Immigration officials have described the nearly 500-bed Hutto as a residential environment that keeps families together while they seek asylum, await deportation or seek other outcomes to their immigration cases.
Officials say Hutto — operated by Corrections Corporation of America under a contract with Williamson County — is meant to end the "catch and release" practice that in the past permitted families in the U.S. illegally to remain free while awaiting a court hearing. Many never showed up in court; some borrowed other people's children and posed as families to avoid detention, ICE officials have said.
ICE is considering opening more facilities to detain families around the country, making Hutto a sort of prototype, Mead said. Currently, the Berks Family Residential Center in Leesport, Pa., a former nursing home about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia, is the only other facility in the country that holds related adults and children.
Sources : The Houston Chronicle, VivirLatino, T. Don Hutto

Daily Headlines: April 23, 2008

* Peru: “We believe there are alternative energies that do not put the world's food in danger," said President Alan Garcia regarding the debate over biofuels.

* Colombia: A cousin of President Alvaro Uribe wanted on suspicions of ties to paramilitaries turned himself in yesterday.

* Chile: A group of 25 Palestinian refugees arrived in Chile as part of a special U.N. program.

*Dominican Republic: A series of tornadoes over the weekend led roughly 700 people to seek temporary shelter.

Sources- USA TODAY, Reuters UK, International Herald Tribune, The Latin Americanist, AFP

Image- ABC News

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Today’s Video: “Rio’s Roots”

Recently, the associate editor of the Utne Reader magazine’s website informed us of an article written on Brazil’s oral folkloric culture. You can read the article on Brazil’s jongo music by clicking here or check out the video featuring songs and photos:

Sources-, YouTube

Argentina: Skinheads stage Hitler birthday concert

Argentine authorities are investigating a secret concert organized by neo-Nazi groups in honor of Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Several fascist groups- including one which celebrates “Dirty War” disappearances- masterminded the gig according to government officials.

Prominent members of Latin America’s Jewish community were disgusted over the pro-Hitler concert:

The president of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation and the Latin American representative for the Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed their “repudiation” at a recital to “commemorate” Adolf Hitler’s birthday by Nazi organizations… - [ed. personal translation]

Argentine human rights groups have worked diligently to try to bring Nazi criminals hiding in the country to justice. A 2002 Christian Science Monitor piece said that neo-Nazi and other far-right political groups have increased their online presence in Argentina.

Sources (English)-, ABC News, Christian Science Monitor

Sources (Spanish)- Clarin


On the Pope: Tancredo critical, Castro praising

No, I assure you the title to this post is not a typo.

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the U.S. last week caught the attention of many people domestically and abroad. One of those was former Cuban president Fidel Castro; in an article published on Sunday, Castro praised the pope’s speeches as “the antithesis of the politics of brutality and force” carried out by the U.S. government. Castro added:

Although it is not easy to decipher the Vatican’s thinking on the thorny issues approached in a world where the president of the United States and his rich and developed allies have imposed a bloody war on the culture and religion of more than one billion persons in the name of the fight against terrorism, and where torture, pillage and conquest by force of hydrocarbons and raw materials reigns supreme, what the Pope stated is the antithesis of the policy of brutality and force applied by the singer of Happy Birthday.

While Castro praised the pope’s message, former Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo blasted his holiness. According to an article in The Denver Post:

Tancredo, a Littleton Republican, accused the pope of welcoming illegal immigrants to the U.S. in order to build membership in the church…

"I suspect the pope's immigration comments may have less to do with spreading the gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the church," Tancredo said. "This isn't preaching; it is faith-based marketing."

(Hat tip on the Tancredo bit: Guanabee).

Image- International Herald Tribune

Sources- The Denver Post, The Latin Americanist, Guanabee, Reuters, Granma, AGI

Colombia: President’s cousin wanted over “para-politics”

Prosecutors issued an arrest warrant against a former senator and cousin of Colombia’s president for his possible role in the “para-politics” corruption scandal. Last year, former paramilitary leaders claimed that Mario Uribe met and pledged allegiance to them, and a statement from the prosecutor’s office seems to confirm those suspicions.

Attorneys for ex-senator Uribe claim that he’s innocent though he has sought political asylum in Costa Rica. One former judge criticized the move:

Former Colombian magistrate Jose Gregorio Hernandez criticized the move to seek political asylum, and stressed it would not apply for someone who is not being persecuted in their home country for political reasons…

'Nobody is saying that he is guilty,' the former official said. 'It sounds unpleasant that he may avoid Colombian Justice just for being the president's cousin.'

The past week has seen a flurry of allegations claiming of widespread corruption in Colombia’s government; a former senior intelligence official testified that paramilitaries have influenced numerous state agencies. Meanwhile, an ex-legislator said that President Alvaro Uribe (image) offered illegal favors in exchange for amending the constitution to allow for his reelection.

Sources- Bloomberg, Associated Press, The Latin Americanist, BBC News, Monsters & Critics

Image- CNN

Press analyzes Lugo's win

Following Fernando Lugo's confirmation as the new president of Paraguay, some U.S. newspapers are updating the right-left divide in the region.

The Los Angeles Times says this election "signals the latest advance of the left in Latin America."

The Associated Press offers a "glance at politics in Latin America," detailing the political shelves of countries and leaders. The AP also says Lugo's win expands a wave of leftist leadership in Latin America.

The Latin Business Chronicle offers advice to Lugo.

Sources and Photo: LAT, AP, LBC

Chile offers business platform for India

Chile offered to be a "platform" for India's entrance into Latin American markets.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said her country has the infrastructure for "operating business into the entire Latin America."

The offer came is Indian President Pratibha Patil made a three-day visit to Chile. Bachelet also mentioned that a partnership with Chile would be fruitful.

The two countries also may enter an airline agreement.

Read more about the potential partnership here.

Source: The Hindu, domain-b, Photo:, Michelle Bachelet

Daily Headlines: April 22, 2008

* Cuba: Several members of Cuban human rights group the “Women in White” were detained and arrested after protesting in Havana.

* Bolivia: “If we want to save our planet earth, we have a duty to put an end to the capitalist system,” said President Evo Morales during a U.N. conference yesterday.

* Chile: President Michelle Bachelet backed India’s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

* Latin America: “Demand strength in the Middle East and Latin America” helped contracting firm Halliburton post a 5.8% increase in their latest quarterly profit.

Sources- The Economic Times, Reuters, BBC News, Bloomberg

Image- BBC News

Monday, April 21, 2008

Today’s Video: Lopez Obrador = Hitler?!

Godwin’s Law seems to have occurred during the already ugly debate in Mexico over oil reform.

Mexico’s Congress has been shut down for over a week by opposition politicos against President Felipe Calderon’s plans for PEMEX. In response, “a conservative civic group called Better Society, Better Government” issued an attack ad comparing leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, and Pinochet.

Is the ad appropriate or tasteless? See for yourself:

Sources-, Reuters UK, Houston Chronicle, YouTube

Daily Headlines: April 21, 2008

* Mexico: Can anyone stop Lorena Ochoa? The Mexican golfer became the first person in 45 years to win four LPGA tournaments in consecutive weeks.

* Honduras: Sixteen Cuban migrants are “in good health” after landing on the Honduran island of Guanaja last week.

* Peru: $450 million is the price tag placed by government officials for the reconstruction of areas devastated by earthquakes last August.

* Venezuela: Why was the Venezuelan government interested in being a minority shareholder of a firm that owns a pair of spy satellites?

Sources- BBC Sport, New York Times, Associated Press, The Latin Americanist,

Image- New York Times