Friday, April 3, 2009

Today's Video: Dr. Rudy the car salesman

We're going to end the week on a lighter note with what may possibly be the best commercial ever:

(Hat tip:

Online Sources- YouTube,

Beyond Borders: Thirteen dead at N.Y. immigration center

Details continue to be a little sketchy but the latest reports say that at least thirteen people have been killed in a shooting today at a Binghamton, N.Y. immigration center.

The gunman entered the front door, blocked the back door, and firing upon occupants at the American Civic Association (ACA). The attacker held over forty hostages and may've possibly died of a self-inflected gunshot wound. At least 26 people have been reported as wounded including five taken to local hospitals.

As part of their preliminary investigation police are examining if the attacker had a possible accomplice. Furthermore, police said that suspect was a 42-year-old man who lived in upstate New York and some sources claimed that he was of Asian background.

Nothing has yet been reported in terms of possible motives for today’s action. Thus, it’s unknown if there’s a connection to the activities at the ACA. (People had been studying for their citizenship exam before today’s tragic shooting).

Image- AP (”In this photo rendered from video and released by WBNG-TV in Binghamton, N.Y., authorities remove a person on a stretcher, Friday, April 3, 2009, in Binghamton, N.Y.”)
Online Sources- New York Times, Bloomberg, ABC News, Los Angeles Times, UPI, MSNBC

The Onion: Day laborers aid Army in Afghanistan

A little bit of Friday fun courtesy of The Onion:

Online Source - The Onion

OECD: Costa Rica on tax haven blacklist (Updated)

The OECD removed Uruguay from its blacklist one day after it was placed there. Uruguay was subsequently bumped down to the "grey list" where it joined fellow South American country Chile. (Link via Economic Times.)

Original Post:
In the aftermath of the $1 trillion deal reached by G20 leaders yesterday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) placed Costa Rica and Uruguay on its tax haven blacklist.

Along with Malaysia and the Philippines, these four countries have been targeted by the OECD for not doing enough to aoid being tax havens. According to an OECD statement, Costa Rica and Uruguay are two “jurisdictions that have not committed to implement the internationally agreed tax standard(s).”

Uruguay’s president denied being blacklisted by the OECD:
"In Uruguay, we are not a tax haven," President Tabare Vazquez said.

"Uruguay may not be a monastery, but it is not a casino," he added.
Chile, meanwhile, was placed in a separate "grey list" of countries that have partially improved their tax standards.

These classifications along with a third "white list" were completed after the G20 agreed to crackdown on international tax havens. "The time of banking secrecy has passed," French President Nicholas Sarkozy said after him and Germany’s Andrea Merkel campaigned hard against tax havens during the G20 summit.

Image- (Costa Rican currency)
Online Sources- BBC News, AFP, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy Passport, the Latin Americanist, OECD

“Capitalism needs to go” says Hugo Chavez

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez had a few choice words to say about the international economy and U.S. diplomatic efforts in Iran.

“Capitalism needs to go down. It has to end. And we must take a transitional road to a new model that we call socialism" said Chavez during his state visit to Iran. Chavez also blamed the U.S. and Great Britain for imposing a financial model that exacerbated the global financial crisis.

Aside from the interview, Chavez also expressed doubts that the U.S. can seek peaceful relations with Iran. "I don't have much hope, because there is an empire behind him. He's the president of an empire," Chavez said about U.S. President Barack Obama.

Earlier today, Venezuela and Iran strengthened their economic ties:
Iran and Venezuela on Friday inaugurated a joint bank to finance their development projects, during a visit by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran, state media reported.

The Iran-Venezuela Joint Bank, based in Tehran, has an initial capital base of 200 million dollars, with each nation providing half of the funds, the state broadcaster said…

"What happened today represents a strong will to build a new world," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, attending the opening ceremony with Chavez…

Chavez, a vocal cheerleader in Latin America for Iran and its nuclear ambitions, was quoted as saying that the two countries should "further strengthen their trade cooperation."
Online Sources- AFP, PRESS TV, AP, Milenio

Daily Headlines: April 3, 2009

* Mexico: After Wednesday’s embarrassing 3-1 loss to Honduras, Sven-Groan Eriksson was fired as head coach of Mexico’s men's national soccer team.

* Latin America: President Barack Obama pledged $448 billion in food aid to developing countries such as those in Latin America.

* U.S.: “I’ve come to the United States so justice is done…They killed a human being who was important for us,” said the mother of slain Ecuadorian immigrant Marcelo Lucero in an interview.

* Honduras: The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for a full investigation into the murder of a radio journalist at the hands of gunmen.

Image- The Telegraph
Online Sources- BBC Sport, AFP, LAHT, Committee to Protect Journalists

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Today’s Video: The art of Jose Fuster

It would be easy to enter a political discussion on pro-Castro Cuban artist Jose Fuster; instead, perhaps it would be best to focus on his very colorful and stunning artwork:

Online Sources- Reuters Video

Notable Quotables: A change in the “war on drugs”?

Our nation's demand for drugs often fuels drug production and trafficking, as well as violence and corruption, within other nations. Domestic drug use directly funds the terrible drug-related crime currently wracking Mexico and fuels illegal armed groups in Colombia. Our international drug control programs help strengthen law enforcement and judicial institutions, while providing alternative livelihoods for poor farmers.

While these international supply reduction programs play a vital role in improving security, supporting the rule of law, and denying terrorist and criminal safe havens around the world, the greatest contribution we can make toward stability would be to reduce our demand for illicit drugs. – [ed. emphasis added]
---"Drug Czar" nominee Gil Kerlikowske read from a prepared statement during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

As one article noted, the choice of the Seattle Police Chief to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy may signal “part of a broader shift away from long prison sentences for drug offenders and toward an emphasis on prevention and treatment.”

Image- AP
Online Sources- ABC News, U.S. Senate

Chavez offers to take in Gitmo detainees

Forgive me for sounding cynical, yet I cannot help but wonder if the following is a late April Fools Day joke or not:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he is prepared to receive detainees held by the US military at the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba…

"We wouldn't have any problem in taking in human beings," Mr Chavez told Arabic TV channel al-Jazeera at the summit in Doha, Qatar, where he has been pushing for closer ties with the Arab world.

President Chavez also renewed his calls for Guantanamo Bay to be returned to Cuba, saying the US should finish with "this miserable prison".
Earlier today, Chavez visited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and both leaders promised “a common revolutionary front ... in the world.”

Online Sources- BBC News, AFP
Image- AFP (“Camp Delta area at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba.”)

G20 announces $1 trillion deal

Amidst a flurry of violent protests, the G20 leaders hammered out a $1 trillion deal to combat the global financial slowdown.

The arrangement would pledge $750 billion in order to strengthen the International Monetary Fund (IMF) including creating a Financial Stability Board designed to serve as “an early warning mechanism for the financial system.” The funds destined for the IMF also contains $250 billion for the purpose of lending among the IMF’s 185 members.

In addition, $250 billion will be spent in financing for global trade including $100 billion in aid to impoverished countries. The conference’s final statement pledged to "name and shame" countries that have established protectionist measures.

The deal is sure to ruffle the feathers of some Latin American countries that have recently raised tariffs and have added red tape to incoming foreign investment. The deal is likely to help one of the G20 countries- Mexico- who yesterday sought a $47 billion credit line from the IMF. Another G20 member- Brazil- will be obligated to contribute funds to the IMF for the first time in the country's history.

We finish this post with President Obama’s possible man-crush towards his Brazilian counterpart:
"That's my man right here," President Obama said this morning at the G-20 summit as Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva approached him. "Love this guy. He's the most popular politician on earth. It's because of his good looks."
Image- MSNBC
Online Sources- Guardian UK,, Xinhua, The Latin Americanist,, BBC News,, New York Times

Gabriel Garcia Marquez calls it quits?

Rumors had been swirling in recent months that Gabriel Garcia Marquez would be writing a new novel. Yet those notions have apparently been put to rest by his agent who claimed that the famed Colombian writer will put down his pen for good:
His agent, Carmen Balcells, told the Chilean newspaper La Tercera : "I don't think that García Márquez will write anything else."

Despite longstanding rumours he would never write again, hopes were raised last year when the Colombian writer Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, a friend, said Marquez was in fact working on a new novel.

But Balcell's comments seem to put paid to that, and were supported by García Márquez's biographer, Gerald Martin, who told La Tercera he too doubts anything new will be published in his lifetime.

"I also believe that Gabo won't write any more books, but I don't think this is too regrettable, because as a writer it was his destiny to have the immense satisfaction of having a totally coherent literary career many years before the end of his natural life," said Martin.
“Gabo” hasn’t written anything since the 2004 publication of his most recent novel- “Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores”. Reviews of that book were mixed though the harshest critique came from the Iranian government which banned the text.

Not all is dour news in the world of “Gabo”; Salma Hayek is rumored to play the lead role in the upcoming film adaptation of "News of a Kidnapping".

Image- The Telegraph
Online Sources- Guardian UK,, Xinhua, The Latin Americanist

Argentine anguish after 6-1 upset

It all seemed to be going so well for Diego Maradona. Maradona was given the reins to Argentina’s men’s national soccer team in November despite having little coaching experience. Since then he had “hit the ground running” with a pair of exhibition wins over Scotland and France and a 4-0 thumping of Venezuela in qualifiers on Saturday. Things had been looking rosy for los albiceletes ahead of their Wednesday match against an underperforming Bolivian squad.

Fate had a much different tale in store, however:

FIFA and several South American countries including Bolivia argued last year over playing international matches at altitudes above 8200 feet. Yet the high altitude of La Paz was a minor factor in a game that was thoroughly dominated by the Bolivians.

Argentina’s defeat was the first since 1958 where that were hit with six goals against them and their worse loss since the historical “cinco a cero” loss to Colombia in 1993.

The shocking result leaves Argentina in the fourth and final South American World Cup qualification place behind Paraguay, Brazil, and Chile, respectively.

Online Sources- YouTube, Latin Americanist, Bloomberg, CNN, Reuters

Daily Headlines: April 2, 2009

* Puerto Rico: Prosecutors believe that over 12,000 Puerto Ricans were the victims of an unscrupulous identity theft ring.

* U.S.: Coming soon with a late-night television talk shows – George Lopez.

* Latin America: According to U.N. prognostications Latin America’s economy will decrease by 0.3% this year.

* Venezuela: Weeks after an indictment was issued against him, chief opposition figure Manuel Rosales claimed that he will go into hiding “from police persecution”.

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist,, LAHT, CNN

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Today’s Video: Remembering Pedro

We hope you enjoyed our slate of fake posts in honor of April Fools Day. Now we want to change gears and discuss a very serious film airing tonight.

According to a press release we recently received:
MTV, mtvU, LOGO and MTV Tr3s, with subtitles in Spanish, will present the world television premiere of Pedro, a movie based on the remarkable life of The Real World’s Pedro Zamora, on Wednesday, April 1 at 8:00 PM ET/PT. BMP Films, in association with MTV, produced this biopic written by Academy Award-winner Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”).

In 1994, Zamora captured the hearts of millions as the first-ever openly gay, HIV-positive main character on TV—on MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco. Zamora’s time in the house on Lombard Street brought a face to the AIDS crisis. President Bill Clinton has long credited Zamora with personalizing and humanizing the epidemic, and he will introduce Pedro when it makes its world television premiere April 1st.

“To this day, Pedro Zamora remains an extraordinary example of what a huge impact one young person can make in our world,” President Clinton said. “I’m glad to have known him, and I’m grateful his life has been able to inspire and enrich so many others.”
Below is a brief clip from the film which is being shown as part of STD Awareness Month:
Embed code:
Online Sources-

Evo Morales denounces U.S. time ploy

Bolivian President Evo Morales accused U.S. diplomats of secretly plotting to coordinate Bolivian time to that of the U.S.

As reported by The Democracy Center, Morales denounced several “conspirators…(who) have their sights set on changing our clocks.” He went on to blame a secretary at the U.S. Embassy in La Paz for trying to change Bolivian clocks to adopt Daylight Savings Time.

A State Department spokesperson rejected Morales’ claims and said that he was distracting from Bolivia’s “potential loss” to Argentina in tonight’s World Cup qualifier. Nevertheless, Morales has support from a very close regional ally:
In Caracas, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced his country's solidarity against "the conspiracy by the empire to manipulate the comings and goings of our Bolivian brothers and sisters." Chavez then issued an executive decree setting all of the nation's clocks forward by 37 minutes, "to demonstrate our refusal to be a party to the U.S. government's iron-handed attempt to force other nations to synchronize themselves to U.S. time and U.S. policies."
Online Sources- The Democracy Center,

Gitmo to become casino says Pentagon

Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza may’ve had "a loooot of fun!" during her recent visit to the controversial detention center at Guantánamo Bay but she’ll likely go crazy over possibly visiting a casino there.

According to several leaked Pentagon papers the jail will be converted into a 1940s style casino called. The plans call for the gaming venue to be built in 2011 after the military prison is closed and after the possible dropping of travel restrictions to the island. The leaked documents also claim that a “full-fledged” resort may be built in the area if the casino becomes a hit with tourists.

Ex-leader Fidel Castro responded today via an article printed in the Cuban press. Castro seemed to be unusually speechless in his brief reply:
“You’ve got to be joking.”
Image- BBC News
Online Sources- BBC News, The Latin Americanist

U.S. plans large maze for southern border

Last week the White House announced plans to stem the overflow of violence from Mexico. Hidden in the proposal’s small print is a unique idea for entry into the U.S.

The secret clause in the plan calls for the building of a fifty acre shrubbery maze several miles away from the San Diego-Tijuana border crossing. Though Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano admitted recently that she’s not too keen on a lengthy barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border she appears to be okay with the shrubbery maze.

As a DHS spokesman admitted today:
“The maze adds an element of fun for those who wish to cross our border by foot. Migrants who are smart and strong enough to make it to the center will be allowed to enter the country legally. We hope they enjoy the challenge”.
The maze plan is expected to peeve off groups on both sides of the immigration debate. Immigrants rights’ activists worry that the maze is too big and the walls will be too high. Meanwhile, some border vigilantes are worried that they’ll have no webcams to look at and that they may have to do something better with their time.

Image- Guardian UK (Artistic rendition of the planned border shrubbery maze)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Al Jazeera English

Lionel Messi off to MLS?

Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi is beloved by the millions of aficionados behind FC Barcelona who are in awe of his amazing skills. Yet they are likely to be shocked after Messi reportedly said that he will bolt Spain for the U.S.

According to several “sources”, Messi is rumored to leave Barca and join a Major League Soccer (MLS) team. During practice for tonight’s World Cup Qualifier against Bolivia, Messi allegedly told teammates that “if el mellizo can do it then why can’t I?” (This remark would be in reference to countryman Guillermo Barros Schelotto who played a key role in the Columbus Crew’s championship last season).

MLS commissioner Don Garber was unavailable for comment though some eyewitnesses said that he made drunken, disparaging remarks about David Beckham during an impromptu party yesterday. In addition, Barcelona president Joan Laporta has yet to speak out on the rumors despite his insistence last month that "Messi is not for sale and that's it.”

Messi’s transfer will likely fall under the Designated Player Rule where MLS teams are allowed to sign one player outside the approximately $2.3 million salary cap. Thus, Messi could join Barros Schelotto in Columbus or his fellow Argentine Claudio Lopez in Kansas City. Bookmakers in England placed their best odds on Messi joining Beckham at the Los Angeles Galaxy. Apparently, the bookies have anticipated that MLS execs will bend the rules and favor a star-studded squad in L.A.

Image- Daily Mail (The sight of Lio Messi in a Barca jersey may soon come to an end).
Online Sources- Times Online,, MLS, Wikipedia,

Lula and Bachelet sitting in a tree…

Latin America will soon have a new power couple after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet announced plans to get married.

Citizens from Santiago to Sao Paulo are stunned after last night’s press conference from the Chilean resort city of Viña del Mar where both leaders appeared jointly and hand-in-hand. “I just love twirling my fingers through his beard” cooed Bachelet as Lula chuckled heartily. The soon-to-be newlyweds declared their amorous intentions shortly before Lula left for the G20 summit in Britain.

The Brazilian leader was effusive in his praise of the woman who will soon be his third wife:
“What can I say? My Achilles heel has always been bright women in positions of power. Besides, she has the cutest little smile which brings out a quaint twinkle in her eyes… I’ve never been happier!”
Bachelet is currently a separated mother of three and her divorce is expected to be relatively swift. Lula’s divorce will likely be a more tempestuous affair after his wife was seen throwing his clothes out of the presidential residence in Brasilia. “I wonder of Evo is single?” she was heard muttering in reference to Bolivia’s president.

Image- (Lula can’t help but gaze adoringly at Michelle Bachelet as she talked politics during the 2008 UNASUR summit).
Online Sources- Wikipedia, Bloomberg

Daily Headlines: April 1, 2009

* Argentina: Rest in peace Raul Alfonsin. Argentina’s first post-“Dirty War” president passed away yesterday at the age of 82.

* U.S.: Immigration officials vowed to change their policy to focus more on employers who hire illegal workers but didn’t pledge to end controversial workplace raids.

* Brazil: Critics claim that the move by Rio de Janiero’s government to build walls around slums is discriminatory and a pitiful attempt to separate the extremely wealthy from the very poor.

* Mexico: Did Hillary Clinton really commit a silly faux pas during her visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe last week?

Image- BBC News
Online Sources- Reuters, Gawker, MSNBC, AHN

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today’s Video: Feliz cumpleaños Cesar Chavez!

As a pair of our favorite blogs observed, Tuesday would’ve been Cesar Chavez’s 82nd birthday.

The Mexican-American labor activist and environmentalist devoted his life to improving the conditions of farm workers by campaigning for equal pay and fair working conditions. His slogan of “Si se puede” (“Yes we can”) was co-opted by a certain U.S. president who you've probably heard of.

Chavez co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW); it’s this organization that made the below video highlighting Chavez’ noble efforts:

Online Sources- Vivirlatino, Guanabee,,, YouTube

Anyone interested in free chicken?

I hate to sound like a fast-food shill, but the offer of free food it is too difficult to pass up:
To promote the launch of its new sandwich line, Pollo Campero, the popular Latin American chicken chain, will give away free fried and grilled chicken sandwiches on Thursday.

The chain, which specializes in marinated and breaded chicken, was founded in Guatemala in 1971...

The sandwiches will be given out, one per customer, until supplies run out.
Click here to find Pollo Campero’s U.S. locations including several in Texas, California, and New York.

Online Sources- Pollo Campero, Dallas Morning News

Bipartisan backing for dropping Cuba restrictions

Nearly three weeks ago, President Barack Obama signed off on a spending bill backed by Congress that included the easing of travel restrictions to Cuba. Today a bipartisan group of Senators will introduce a proposal which would go further.

The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2009 was presented today at a news conference attended by leading Republican and Democratic senators. "Seems to me when you have a policy that has failed for five decades, you ought to take a look at it again and see if you should modify it," said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) who is one of the initiative’s co-sponsors. Another of the bill’s co-sponsors- Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN)- said last month that the U.S. must deal with the Castro regime "in a way that enhances U.S. interest."

The Senate bill is backed by several business groups looking to tap into the Cuban market such as the American Farm Bureau and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Backers of the proposal claim that they have sufficient support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives where a similar bill is making the rounds.

Cuban-American lawmakers are expected to be adamant in their opposition to the bills and this could lead to some lively debate:
(…) Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the son of Cuban immigrants, slowed confirmation of several administration officials and passage of a major spending bill because that bill contained the changes in rules on Cuban-American travel.

Cuban-born Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., said he would continue to oppose the legislation. "This is the time to support pro-democracy activists in Cuba, not provide the Castro regime with a resource windfall."
During his successful run to the presidency, Obama pledged to ease travel and remittance restrictions to Cuba yet he didn’t back dropping the U.S. trade embargo to the island. The latter point was reinforced last week by Vice President Joe Biden.

Image- AFP (“A local passes by a portrait of Cuban former President Fidel Castro in Santiago de Cuba”).
Online Sources- BBC News, The Latin Americanist, LAHT, AHN, CNN, AP

Irony thy name is Gonzales

Ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales penned an op/ed article in the Houston Chronicle last week discussing the increasingly violent situation in Mexico. He described his support for the White House’s border plan for Mexico though not without spinning that the “Bush Administration worked hard to provide the government of Mexico with law enforcement assets, training, and intelligence.”

The latter half of his article highlighted the need to control the flow of illegal arms across the border into Mexico. Yet it’s his views on “correctional reforms” which should raise some eyebrows:
He also said Mexico should have oral, public trials of major organized crime figures rather than having trials consist of written testimony read by a judge behind closed doors.

Doing things in private breeds corruption, he said.
That coming from one of the main backers of the controversial procedures at the Guantanamo Bay jail and who reportedly called the Geneva Conventions "obsolete.”

As we mentioned yesterday, Gonzales and five others have been named by Spanish officials in a criminal investigation regarding human rights abuses at Gitmo.

Image- BBC News (circa 2007 photo of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales)
Online Sources- Houston Chronicle,, The Latin Americanist, ABC News

“An American doing an American job”

In “The Daily Show” report below, correspondent Aasif Mandvi wonders which border vigilante is the “Mexican”: the Minuteman volunteeer who patrols part of the Rio Grande for free or the gentleman hundreds of miles away who uses a series of webcams to patrol part of the border for free.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Borderline Cops
Daily Show Full EpisodesEconomic CrisisPolitical Humor

As you can see at the end of the video, the correct answer is neither one!

Online Sources- The Daily Show

Arab-South American summit starts today

While the Arab League summit in Doha takes place another important conference will commence today in the capital of Qatar.

Some Latin American leaders including Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner are expected to appear at the second Arab-South American summit. The conference is likely to lead to stronger political ties between both regions. A draft declaration prepared recently mentions “mutual political support” in global conferences as well as backing the creation of an "independent, sovereign Palestinian state".

Building greater economic ties will also be a prime goal during the summit; Qatar businessmen’s association head Faisal bin Qassem al-Thani acknowledged the potential markets between both regions which hold over 10% of the world’s population. Furthermore, each region houses two major oil-producing nations in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Speaking of Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez will attend the summit as part of an international tour abroad:
Chavez says he's leaving for Qatar, where he'll attend a summit of Arab and South American countries before traveling to Iran to inaugurate a joint development bank.

The socialist leader said in a Sunday newspaper column that he then plans to visit Japan to sign a bilateral energy agreement.
Image- Gulf Times (“Billboards about the upcoming 21st Arab League Summit and second Arab-South American Countries Summit in Doha.”)
Online Sources- Voice of America, IPS, The Peninsula Qatar, Khaleej Times,

Daily Headlines: March 31, 2009

* Mexico: President Felipe Calderon ruled out the possibility of collaborating in joint border patrol ops with the U.S. though he did back the sharing of intelligence info.

* Brazil: Countries around the world should resist the "drug" of protectionism wrote Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in French newspaper Le Monde.

* Cuba: Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said that Cuba should be readmitted to the regional body since it was booted out in 1962.

* Bolivia: Police made their biggest drug bust in a decade after crashing a major cocaine processing lab.

Image- New York Times (“Mexican Army soldiers on patrol in Reynosa, a border town.”)
Online Sources- Reuters, Bloomberg, LAHT

Monday, March 30, 2009

Today’s Video: Food, glorious food

You will have to forgive me if I sound provincial but I’m pretty damned proud of being born, raised, and still living in New York City. One of the main advantages of living in the Big Apple is the rich diversity in many areas such as food.

Case in point: for years the neighborhood of Jackson Heights was best-known as a Colombian enclave. Over the past decade or so that has changed with the growth of migrants from Latin American countries like Ecuador, Peru, and Mexico. The result has been a plethora of street vendors all within walking distance selling fantastic food:

(My personal fave: Tacos Guicho as they’re perfect for a snack or after a late-night on the town).

(Hat tip: Serious Eats: New York).

Online Sources- Serious Eats: New York,

Central Am asks for easing ejections

Central American leaders plan to use their meeting with Vice President Joe Biden to urge him to slow deportations from the country, according to an AP article.

Proposed measures include allowing Guatemalans in a temporary visa program already used by Salvadorans, Hondurans and Nicaraguans.

The U.S. sent 80,000 people back to the region last year.

"These meetings are a first and important step toward a new day for relations and the development of a partnership between the countries and peoples of the hemisphere," Biden said in Costa Rica's La Nacion.

The leaders of Nicaragua and Honduras, Daniel Ortega and Manuel Zelaya respectively, will not attend the meeting.

Watch Biden speaking about Cuba here.

Source: AP


Brazilian bishop caught in Holocaust faux pas

Brazil’s Catholic Church is still trying to recover from the intolerance and lack of understanding by some leaders over an abortion done by a raped minor. Some local priests, to their credit, have tried to show more compassion at the nine-year-old girl who was systematically abused by her stepfather.

Another firestorm has developed after a Brazilian archbishop made several eye-raising remarks over the Holocaust:
"The Jews talk about six million people killed. But how many Catholics were victims of the Holocaust? They were 22 million in all," Archbishop Dadeus Grings, from Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, told advertising magazine Press & Advertising.

The archbishop also contended that while "Jews say they were the main victims of the Holocaust, the biggest victims were the gypsies, because they were exterminated."
Grings’ comments were quickly criticized by local Jewish groups. "To diminish the Holocaust is an attack against the millions of people killed in a war unleashed by fanaticism and intolerance," said a statement from the Jewish federation of Rio Grande do Sul.(Porto Alegre is home to Brazil's third largest Jewish community, with approximately 12,000 Jews.)

Grings’ diatribe also blasted stem-cell research and defended the Crusades against the Muslims several centuries ago.

Nearly two months ago a British bishop was ousted from his post as head of an Argentine seminary after he publicly denied the Holocaust from ever occurring.

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, LAHT, JTA, AFP, PRESS TV

Baltasar Garzon aims at ex-Bush officials

The Spanish judge famous for trying to prosecute the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has now set his sights on six former Bush era officials.

Judge Baltasar Garzon has requested that prosecutors examine a complaint filed last year against former attorney general Alberto Gonzales and five others. The criminal case corresponds to allegations over human rights abuses at the controversial prison camp at the Guantanamo Bay military base. Spanish officials will decide if the case has merit; “if the case is opened, an investigation would be required, testimony and so on. There is a long way to go," said one senior Spanish official over the weekend.

There has been little comment from Gonzales and the others accused under an international law doctrine known as the principle of universal justice:
"The charges as related to me make no sense," (ex-undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas) Feith said Saturday. "They criticize me for promoting a controversial position that I never advocated"…

Spanish law allows courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes under a doctrine of universal justice, though the government has recently said it hopes to limit the scope of the legal process.

Garzon became famous for bringing charges against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, and he and other Spanish judges have agreed to investigate alleged abuses everywhere from Tibet to Argentina's "dirty war," El Salvador and Rwanda.

Still, the country's record in prosecuting such cases has been spotty at best, with only one suspect extradited to Spain so far.
(Hat tip:

Image- (“Former-Attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales testifies during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2005.”)
Online Sources-, Los Angeles Times,, New York Times

Soccer's Prodigal Son Returns

Contributed by Sir Jorge Orduna

You know countries are desperate for national Soccer glory when they erase the past on their controversial past and allow them a chance at redemption, even if it is not exactly a 180 in regards to moral issues. But when you're not on top of the Latin American soccer world, desperate times call for desperate measures. So it is no surprise to this psuedo-reporter that Argentina has flip flopped in favor of putting soccer legend Diego Maradona as head coach of the National soccer team.

Argentina has a long history of great soccer, but with the recent World Cup performances lacking that impressive swagger that Argentina fans used to brag about, maybe this move was one that was a long time coming. It seems a bit awkward considering that similar moves to get former stars into the coaching arena hasn't really panned out for other countries. For instance, Mexico's former coach Hugo Sanchez, failed to bring his skills from the field off the field and bring home a World Cup birth. So what makes Argentina think that Maradona could make a miracle happen? One might argue that comparing the two former icons of Latin American soccer is like comparing apples to oranges, but there are similarities in the coaching style that former players often exhibit right into the losers corner.

While Mexico battles drug cartels, Peru sees increasing violence, Honduras battles cult uprisings, and so much more going on at the same time around the world, maybe Argentina is banking on distractions to help them cruise into a world cup victory in 2010. Reactions have been mixed in regards to this announcement and the media is awash in praise or backhanded compliments over this somewhat familiar move for American news readers.

Maradona has hit the ground running so far, with a great win over Venezuela, in a World Cup qualifying match on Saturday. The 4-0 victory is the first one under the prodigal's helm. With Diego's sordid past in front of the minds of many soccer fans, it is not too outlandish to think that Venezuela might not have taken the Argentina squad seriously, but then again, this whole thing is somewhat of a shock to a more conservative and outspoken Latin American soccer world.

Everyone loves a rags to riches story, but who doesn't love a rags to riches to rags to riches story? Afterall, if our hero's fail for a long time, isn't the triumph so much greater? It seems that Hollywood has a good time structuring stories like this into sordid dramas of loss and triumph to millions of dollars. Maybe this is just Argentina's million dollar movie; in real life.

Online Sources-,,

Daily Headlines: March 30, 2009

* Peru: A verdict could be presented next week in the human rights trial against ex-president Alberto Fujimori.

* Guatemala: Guatemalan authorities uncovered what they claim was a camp run by Mexico’s the Zetas drug gang.

* Venezuela: U.S. officials have arrested a broker in a money laundering case that has affected Venezuela’s unofficial foreign exchange market.

* Colombia: The bodies of three indigenous people presumably killed by the FARC rebels were found in southwestern Colombia.

Image- AP (“In this Dec. 10, 2007 file photo, journalists watch an image of Former Peru's President Alberto Fujimori shouting, through a screen, during Fujimori's trial at a police base in Lima.”)
Online Sources- Reuters, Living in Peru, LAHT