Saturday, August 1, 2009

Today’s Video: “Which Way Home” & “The Fania All Stars: Live in Africa”

The 10th edition of the New York International Latino Film Festival (NYILFF) ends tomorrow but there are several great flicks you can catch tonight.

Which Way Home” is a documentary that looks at Central American migrants who ride on top of Mexico’s freight trains to travel northward to the U.S. A few of these travelers include children such as the boy in the clip below who dreams of seeing the “big cities…like those on TV and the movies”:

The 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” fight between Muhammad Al and George Foreman was an epic bout but it was the centerpiece of a 3-day entertainment festival that took place in Kinshasa, Zaire. Celia Cruz & The Fania All Stars performed at that festival and the film “The Fania All Stars: Live in Africa” features some of their performances like this beauty from Hector Lavoe:

Online Sources- New York International Latino Film Festival, YouTube

Weekend Headlines: August 1-2, 2009

* Puerto Rico: Rest in peace Olga Mendez; the pioneering Puerto Rican legislator passed away at the age of 84 due to cancer.

* Cuba: An important Cuban Communist Party conference was cancelled by the government in order to urgently tackle the country’s weakened economy.

* U.S.: Lamar Alexander- the third-highest ranking Senate Republican- said that he would approve the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

* Brazil: Felipe Massa’s personal doctor said that the Brazilian Formula 1 driver would return to his native country in order to continue his recovery from a terrible crash last week.

Image- New York Daily News
Online Sources- Guardian UK, CNN, LAHT, Washington Post, The Latin Americanist

Friday, July 31, 2009

Are you there God? It’s me, Mel/Roberto

As the political impasse in Honduras continues, which side would God be on? If you listen to the two gentlemen claiming to be president they’ll each insist to have the Almighty backing their cause.

While speaking in Nicaraguan border territory last Sunday, ousted president Manuel Zelaya asked his followers if they believed in God and, thus, if they believed that Zelaya should be allowed to return to his post. On Friday, Zelaya warned of the possible civil conflict by saying “God forbid the violence that will come” to Honduras.

Appointed president Roberto Micheletti went further than Zelaya this week and appeared on televise in gratitude to what he claims was the Almighty helping him. “I am here not because men put me here, I am here because God put me here,” claimed Micheletti who also asked that God show his opponents “the light.”

As if the invocation of God for petty political purposes were not enough, Honduras’ Catholic Church has taken sides:
The Honduran Catholic Church — once a natural, national mediator — is at odds with the international community in backing the country’s recent overthrow of President Zelaya.

The Church claims that the unseen hand of Venezuela’s Chavez has shocked it into taking sides.
If there is a God, I’m sure he’s in the heavens above shaking his head and wondering why such buffoons in Honduras claimed to have received His divine intervention.

Image- Milenio (Manuel Zelaya in apparently silent prayer)
Online Sources- Milenio, Russia Today, Reuters, The Latin Americanist

US Actors Visit Cuba

In Havana on Thursday, Cuban writers and artists presented an award to actor Benicio del Toro for his work as the title role in the movie "Che". Bill Murray, Robert Duvall and James Caan were also in attendance.

A spokesman stated that all of the actors traveled on a license granted by the United States Treasury. Del Toro was in Cuba to receive his award and the others were there to work on a research project. Their visit is seen as a sign of the thawing relationship between the two countries.

Del Toro remarked that winning the International Tomas Gutierrez Alea Prize "makes me feel small and proud at the same time. It's an honor to win this award." When asked if he or the other actors might make a film in Cuba, del Toro responded, "That depends on the governments, on the American government."

Online sources-Reuters, BBC, Associated Press

Daily Headlines: July 31, 2009

* Haiti: The U.S. Coast Guard ended its search mission for up to 79 Haitian migrants missing from a capsized ship off the Turks and Caicos Islands.

* Brazil: A Brazilian court ordered the release of the widow of the late boxer Arturo Gatti after investigators ruled his death as a suicide.

* U.S.: A group of 97 illegal immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala including children were found by Arizonan authorities crammed into a refrigeration trailer.

* Bolivia: Iran penned a deal with Bolivia providing the Andean country with a $280 million energy loan.

Image- AP (“A rescue boat from the Coast Guard Cutter Bear approaches a 50-foot, green wooden Haitian vessel to begin ferrying migrants to safety on board the Coast Guard cutter, some 28 miles southwest of Great Inagua, Bahamas, in this Sept. 16, 2004 file photo.”)
Online Sources- CNN, BBC News, LAHT, MercoPress

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's 8 am in Honduras; do you know where your teacher is?

As the operatic Honduran presidential standoff roils on, the side stories of the economic impact on ordinary Hondurans have begun to develop. To date, little has been mentioned however, of the ongoing education crisis in Honduras that has brought the entire sector to a very troubling standstill.

The major teachers unions, to which the vast majority of the country's 60,000 + teachers belong, have held strikes since before the June 28 ouster of President Zelaya (originally in support of his referendum, among other rationales) and now continue to leave the schools vacant until, union leaders claim, President Zelaya is rightfully and fully restored. Some schools reopened on July 13, but most others have stayed closed, making it difficult to gauge the scope of the ongoing national strike."The union has been, and will continue to be, a bastion in the restoration of democratic order," explained one union leader recently, who also claimed that the strike has not slowed.

Having followed education in Honduras for the past several years, it is hard to take he teachers' unions rationale at face value, given that they have held work stoppages against Zelaya and his string of hapless education ministers so often (I would estimate that over the past 2 years, nearly 30% of the school year has fallen under massive teacher strikes). The strikes don't help the cause for a productive 2009 school year after the nearly month-long closing of some schools earlier this summer due to H1N1 containment strategies.

To make matters worse for the cash-strapped Honduran government (interim or otherwise), the striking teachers are now demanding that they receive all salaries and benefits for the 30+ days that they have been on strike and in the streets. The education minister, was appointed vice-minister under Zelaya, has even called the demands preposterous. The measure of how this effects Honduran youth - in the inevitable increase in youth delinquency in the short term and stunted educational progress in the long term -- will likely be severe.

Sources: La Prensa, El Heraldo, Reuters,

Daily Headlines: July 30, 2009

* Cuba: Ireland agreed yesterday to take in a pair of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

* Mexico: Gunmen murdered the Veracruz police commander and his family before setting fire to the remains in his home.

* Ecuador: Chevron hired the former of Department of Justice antitrust chief during the Bush administration as a new general counsel to oversee cases like a controversial environmental trial in Ecuador.

* Brazil: Five-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher will come out of retirement in order to fill in for the badly injured Felipe Massa.

Image- BBC News
Online Sources- MSNBC, Reuters, RTE, Guardian UK

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Today’s Video: “Spoken Word"

We continue this week’s look at the 10th edition of the New York International Latino Film Festival (NYILFF) with a peek at “Spoken Word.”

The film stars Kuno Becker as Cruz Montoya, a West Coast-based spoken word star who suddenly returns to New Mexico when he learns that his father (Rubén Blades) is dying. When Cruz falls into the trap of his old vices, he must somehow pick himself up and heal the relationships he had broken including that with his ailing father.

Check out the trailer below or go see the movie for yourself on Thursday night at the NYILFF:

Online Sources- New York International Latino Film Festival, YouTube

Mexico offers tourists free insurance

2009 has not been a banner year so far for Mexico’s tourism industry. The global economic crisis, outbursts of violence and the swine flu hysteria have combined to seriously hamper Mexican tourism.

As a way of trying to coax visitors in to the country, the government of Mexico City will experiment with a novel idea: free medical insurance for tourists.
Mayor Marcelo Ebrard says the program was proposed during the April swine-flu outbreak that battered the tourism industry in the city, which is visited by about seven million tourists each year.

Anyone checking into a hotel in the capital will receive an insurance card, good for coverage of any illness, accident or hospitalization. The city government stressed that the program will cover treatment for swine flu. The card also has some coverage for lost or stolen luggage. Visitors who don't stay in a hotel can also register by providing proof of a return ticket.
The head of the Mexican Hotel Association estimated that hotel occupancy rates could rise up to 70% in August due to the proposal.

Do you think the new program will work? Should other Latin American countries hit hard by the swine flu (Argentina, for instance) implement the measure? What do you think?

Image- The Telegraph (Tourists coming from countries affected by the swine flu were often forced to wear masks while they traveled).
Online Sources- CBC, Xinhua, The Latin Americanist

Row could hurt Colombia, Venezuelan economies

The diplomatic spat between neighboring Colombia and Venezuela may end up hurting political relations between both countries. More crucially, however, is the economic damage that the crisis could cause.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was peeved over plans by the U.S. to expand its military presence in Colombia and even more displeased over the alleged selling of arms from Sweden to Colombian rebels via Venezuela. Thus, he ordered on Tuesday the withdrawal of his diplomatic team stationed in Bogota and warned that he might “freeze (economic) relations with Colombia".

As to be anticipated, the financial response in Colombia on Wednesday was not good. The peso fell by over 3% as Colombian investors worry over what will happen to business with their second-biggest trade partner. Exporters have plenty to lose if the spat worsens should there be a cut in trade. Colombia's Trade Minister said that finding suitable alternative export markets is difficult and it could take years to replace a partner as major as Venezuela.

Venezuelan Vice President Ramon Carrizalez said that the government has yet to order a shutdown of trade with Colombia. Perhaps it might be since a possible trade embargo on Colombia would also be very damaging to Venezuela:
Venezuela is Colombia's second-largest market for exports, after the U.S. But a rupture in trade flows would likely be far more problematic for Venezuela - which imports manufactured goods and about two-thirds of the food that it consumes - than for Colombia…

Venezuela depends on Colombia for basic goods such as dairy, meat, clothing and, more strategically, imports 300 million cubic feet of natural gas a day, twice as much as originally agreed upon.

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state-owned oil firm, needs natural gas for its oil reservoirs to increase pressure and boost production, and as raw material for its petrochemical industry.
Image- Christian Science Monitor (“Trucks loaded with Colombian merchandise wait at customs for permission to enter Venezuela near the border city of La Raya, Venezuela.”)
Online Sources- Colombia Reports, NASDAQ, The Latin Americanist,, Bloomberg, BBC News

Did the GOP snub La Raza conference?

Yesterday marked the final day for this year’s conference of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), one of the main Latino civil rights organizations in the U.S. The four-day event centered on issues such as the economy and education, and several business and political leaders spoke at the event. Unfortunately there was one vital group that skipped the event: the Republican Party.

The GOP is in dire need of regaining credibility with the Latino electorate, especially regarding the party’s strong anti-immigration stance. Several moderate Republicans have beseeched party elders to make a stronger effort to reach out to the Latino community. Sadly, there are those within the party whose rhetoric has been (shall we say) out-of-bounds. In perhaps the ugliest critique, ex-congressman Tom Tancredo maligned the NCLR by calling it a "Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses."

In the sake of fairness, most major GOP members do respect the NCLR and “praise the organization as a mainstream civil-rights group.” Yet the lack of a national Republican figure at the NCLR’s conference was a conspicuous omission:
Republicans’ dilemma in connecting with the growing Hispanic electorate will be on vivid display Tuesday: GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote overwhelmingly against confirming Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latino nominee to the Supreme Court. And the Democratic Party chairman will address the nation’s largest Latino political group — partly in Spanish. No national GOP official is speaking…

The Republican National Committee says no national party official will be speaking at the convention. The RNC’s four-day summer meeting starts Wednesday in San Diego.
Image- Houston Chronicle (Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John McCain spoke at the 2008 National Council of La Raza Convention).
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Politico, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times,

Daily Headlines: July 29, 2009

* Argentina: The personal wealth of Argentina’s power couple has come under increased scrutiny as the country’s economic woes worsen.

* Nicaragua: Nicaraguan Ernesto Cardenal won the Pablo Neruda Ibero-American Poetry Prize and used his award speech to blast President Daniel Ortega.

* Mexico: Mexicans could soon be obligated to carry a national ID card which will include fingerprints and a retina scan.

* U.S.: Health authorities in New York warned against the use of certain beauty products imported from the Dominican Republic that contain dangerous chemicals but are popular in Latino neighborhoods.

Image- BBC News (Argentina’s president and First Husband in happier times).
Online Sources- Guardian UK, Xinhua, LAHT, UPI

Today’s Video: "The Least of These"

The 10th edition of the New York International Latino Film Festival takes place this week featuring dozens of exceptional movies from Latin America as well as films on the Latino life in the U.S. This week’s video theme will highlight several of those films.

“The Least of These” is a documentary that covers illegal immigrant families under detention. The shortcomings of the fractured immigration system are clearly shown in the film and lend credence to the need for compressive reform to be enacted ASAP

The 2009 documentary will by screened Wednesday night; click here for more details.

Online Sources- New York International Latino Film Festival,, YouTube

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jury backs hospital in deportation case

Earlier this month we mentioned the trial of Luis Alberto Jimenez, a brain damaged man who had been deported privately by a Florida hospital where he was a patient. His family sued Martin Memorial Medical Center (MMMC) on the grounds that he was unlawfully deported against their wishes and that he has been unable to get the specialized care he needs in Guatemala. On the other hand, attorneys for the hospital argued that MMMC had the right to arrange for the deportation since the hospital was paying too much money for Jimenez’ stay.

This week a federal jury rendered their verdict in favor of the medical clinic:
A hospital that sent a seriously brain injured illegal immigrant back to Guatemala - over the objections of his family and legal guardian - did not act unreasonably, a jury found Monday…

Health care and immigration experts across the country have closely watched the court case in the sleepy, coastal town of Stuart. The hospital had cared for Jimenez, who was uninsured, for three years. But it was unable to find any nursing home to take him permanently because his immigration status meant the government would not reimburse his care.
The Jimenez case highlighted the shortcomings of both the immigration and health care systems in the U.S. Jimenez was stuck between a rock and a hard place since his family couldn’t afford to pay for his long-term upkeep and he wasn’t eligible for public health care due to his undocumented status. MMMC was also in a bind since they helped pay for most of Jimenez’ three-year stay there though the $1.5 million in bills was too much for the small hospital.

Despite the jury’s verdict the trial had no clear winners. Sadly, the one most hurt by the decision was Jimenez himself who is said to be living in a remote Guatemalan village with almost no medical care.

Image-AP (“In this July 13, 2003 file photo, Luis Alberto (Jimenez), rests in the Orthopedic General Hospital following his deportation from Florida to Guatemala, in Guatemala City.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Washington Post, Miami Herald

Amnesty Int’l blast Nicaraguan abortion ban

Human rights group Amnesty International pulled no punches in criticizing Nicaragua’s total ban on abortions.

Amnesty's report called the prohibition on abortions even cases of incest or rape a "cruel, inhuman disgrace" that has caused an increase in maternal deaths. "There is only one way to describe what we have seen in Nicaragua sheer horror," said Amnesty’s Executive Deputy Secretary General Kate Gilmore at a press conference presenting the study.

Last year, Nicaragua revised their penal code to criminalize all forms of abortion; thus, women who seek an abortion and medical staff who provide services ties with abortion face prison sentences. According to Amnesty, the situation has deteriorated to such a point that doctors are scared to treat a pregnant woman for illnesses such as cancer, or HIV/AIDS.

The issue of abortion helped current president Daniel Ortega win his post in 2006; as a candidate, he backed the ban on abortions despite promoting them when he lead the Sandinista regime in the 1980s. Ortega’s collusion with some of Nicaragua’s conservative factions in order to consolidate power has some activists criticizing his “betrayal” of Sandinismo:
To grasp power, Ortega formed an unlikely alliance with the conservative Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, notably with Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, who had been one of the Sandinistas' fiercest critics in the '80s.

To win Obando's support, Ortega came out in favor of tightening Nicaragua's already tough abortion law: It is now illegal in Nicaragua even if the woman's health is threatened. In the '80s, Ortega had been a champion of women's rights and abortion rights.

"We have gone backward," said Ana Quiros, a public health advocate and longtime Sandinista.

"They are taking away rights and liberties, and we have gone full circle, back to dictatorship," (veteran Sandinista activist Sofia) Montenegro agreed. "We are fighting for the same things we were fighting for 30 years ago."
Image- BBC News
Online Sources- BBC News, AHN, Guardian UK, Amnesty International, CNN, Los Angeles Times

Senate committee backs Sotomayor

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in a partisan vote this afternoon.

Sotomayor was backed by 13 of the panel’s 20 Senators yet only one of those legislators was a Republican. Alluding to the “wise Latina” remark Sotomayor made in a speech, Sen. Orrin Hatch claimed that she seemed “to conflict with the impartiality that I believe is essential” for the Supreme Court. Sen. Charles Grassley said he was “not convinced that Judge Sotomayor will be able to set aside her personal preferences and prejudices."

The committee’s Democrats all voted in Sotomayor’s favor and some defended her record as a “moderate” justice. Sen. Al Franken disagreed with Republican criticism and suggested that the GOP has labeled her as an “activist judge” merely because they disagreed with her decisions.

Sotomayor’s nomination will be sent to the Democrat-controlled Senate where she’s expected to be confirmed next week. She already has the support of several GOP legislators though some special interest groups are lobbying hard against her:
The powerful National Rifle Association has come out against Ms Sotomayor over her record on gun rights, although some commentators suggest she has made few definitive statements on the issue.

Observers suggest other Republicans may give her nomination cautious support, aware of the growing power of the Hispanic vote.
Image- Guardian UK
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, BBC News, Voice of America, Hurricane Valley Journal

Sweden Demands an Explanation from Venezuela

Over the weekend Colombia announced that it had found Swedish arms among those captured from the FARC, the New York Times reported. Then Sweden confirmed that it had sold those arms to Venezuela. And now Sweden wants answers.

"It is correct that they have found these weapons to be Swedish-made," said Jens Eriksson, a top political adviser at the Foreign Ministry to Trade Minister Ewa Bjorling."We are working together with Colombian authorities to investigate the matter further and we have contacted Venezuelan authorities to clear up how these arms ended up in Colombia."
Venezuelan Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami denied that the weapons had come from his country.

Online sources: NYT, Reuters
Image credit: Mercopress

Daily Headlines: July 28, 2009

* Peru: Warm wishes to all our Peruvian readers as they celebrate their country’s 188th year of independence.

* Haiti: Two people are dead and 85 have gone missing after a boat filled with Haitian migrants sank off the Turks and Caicos Islands.

* Mexico: Remittances continue to fall throughout the Americas; in the latest example, money transfers to Mexico dropped by 14.8% between 2006 and 2008 according to BBVA Bamcomer.

* Cuba: In another signal of changing relations between the two countries, the electronic news ticker at the U.S. mission in Havana was taken down.

Image- The Telegraph
Online Sources- Living in Peru, Voice of America, LAHT, Reuters

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mexico thumps U.S. in Gold Cup final

In an inspired, brilliant, and splendid 45 minutes of soccer, Mexico overturned over a decade of demons in the U.S.

“El Tri” beat the “Stars and Stripes” for the first time on U.S. soil in 124 months with a convincing 5-0 thumping in the Gold Cup final. A pro-Mexico crowd of over 79,000 at Giants Stadium saw five different players score to give Mexico its record fifth Gold Cup title.

Mexico and the U.S. will meet in a rematch August 12 in Mexico City in a crucial World Cup qualifying game. Knowing that the U.S. has never won at the Estadio Azteca, Mexican fans vociferously celebrated Sunday’s victory like the thousands at Mexico City’s Independence Monument:
Many of the chants were original, like this one shouted by several hundred fans bounding up and down to celebrate the win: "El que no brinca es Gringo."

Translated, that means: "Those who aren't jumping are Gringos."
The following are highlights from Sunday’s game:

Congrats and kudos to Mexico for a fine effort against an outmatched U.S. side. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to quell my dejection by watching this a few times.

Online Sources- YouTube, New York Times, USA TODAY, AP, AHN

Castro warns Cubans of faltering economy

Earlier this month the International Monetary Fund prognosticated that Latin America’s economy has yet to hit rock bottom. The communist country of Cuba is no exception to that assessment.

Yesterday President Raul Castro told his countrymen at a public speech that the Cuban economy will not grow at the rate initially estimated by the government. He addressed the country’s agriculture shortages and implored people to take more advantage of farmland reforms enacted last year. "It is not a question of yelling 'Fatherland or death! Down with imperialism! The blockade hurts us… The land is there waiting for our efforts" said Castro who emphasized that agrarian production was an issue of national security.

Adding to Cuba’s woes was the multibillion dollar damage caused by several storms that hit the island last year. The government has already enacted several austerity measures designed to heal the ailing economy:
The government has already taken measures ranging from scheduled power blackouts to limiting the use of air conditioners at state offices, schools and shops to just three hours a day (from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.). Public transportation has been cut back and selective factory and workplace closedowns are being implemented. Foreign businesses operating on the island have found their bank accounts frozen (a policy that apparently has been slightly tempered in recent days), and some individuals say they have had trouble cashing checks or making hard currency withdrawals from their private bank accounts.
Castro is set to meet with senior officials tomorrow in order to discuss revising the Cuban budget due to “the effects of the world economic crisis on our economy."

Image- BBC News (Circa 1999 photo of a Cuban farmer tending his land)
Online Sources- Reuters, CBS News, The Latin Americanist, CNN, AP

Obama to Haitians: Patience on immigration

U.S. President Barack Obama’s actions on immigration reform have been few and far between. While some changes by Homeland Security are welcome far more needs to be done in order to a broken immigration system in dire need of being fixed. Just ask the Haitian community.

Despite being one of the poorest countries in the Americas and a rash of tropical storms last year, Haiti has had to endure tighter immigration policies under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Attempts to get temporary protection status for Haitian migrants have been repeatedly rejected while delays have caused a backlog in deportations to Haiti. A bipartisan group of senators traveled to Haiti last month and urged the White House to take prompt and decisive action regarding migrants from that Caribbean country.

Despite the growing clamor from politicos and the Haitian community, Obama’s reply was disappointing: keep waiting.
Obama said his administration is still reviewing U.S. policy on deporting undocumented Haitians and would not commit to whether he supports allowing undocumented Haitian migrants to stay and work in the United States temporarily…

Obama said Friday the review is not yet done, ``so I'm not prepared to make news here today.''

But he said he was ``very sympathetic to the fact that Haiti has gone through very difficult times, that a sudden influx of people from Florida back into Haiti would be a potential humanitarian problem.''

He noted that many Haitians have ``put down roots'' in the United States and suggested that a resolution to the situation in Haiti was ``going to be part of a broader conversation about immigration.''
Time is ticking, Mr. President. Act soon before it’s too late.

Image- CBS News
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times

Ex-Attorney General Gonzales backs Sotomayor

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has received both support and opposition from Republican figures. One of her latest (and perhaps most eye-raising) GOP backers comes from a chief legal eagle during the Bush White House.

In an interview with NPR, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales backed Sotomayor’s confirmation to the top tribunal. “Based on the answers to the (confirmation) questions, I think that yes, she should be confirmed,” said Gonzales who also opined that questions made about her supposed “empathy” while judging were fair game.

Gonzales-who quit his post two years ago amid several scandals- will soon start teaching a political science course at Texas Tech University. His hiring to head the “contemporary issues in the executive branch” course has upset some members of the Texas Tech faculty:
As of (July 24th) 45 Texas Tech faculty members have signed a petition objecting to Gonzalez. In the petition it states his hiring is objectionable because the Chancellor should not be involved in the hiring of faculty. It also states the hiring is against the University's statement of ethical principles.
Image- CBS News
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, NPR, Think Progress, AP, KCBD

Micheletti's WSJ piece

Interim President Roberto Micheletti published this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, and I for one am not all together sure what to make of it. As far as I can tell, it represents to the most direct appeal from Micheletti to international public opinion since June 28, and at the same time, ably manages to say nothing new at all. Most importantly, he gives no mention whatsoever to his heretofore ardent stance against the possibility of Zelaya returning to limited power, the most controversial aspect of the so-called San Jose accord which Micheletti himself has repeatedly refused to endorse.

The article, most likely edited, if not written, by Lanny Davis' team, may serve mostly to further stoke conservative US support (which has a short attention span for non-drug related Central American drama) for the legality of the interim regime and the continuation of major US aid programs to Honduras, of which over $150 million hangs in the balance:

"Regardless of what happens, the worst thing the U.S. can do is to impose economic sanctions that would primarily hurt the poorest people in Honduras. Rather than impose sanctions, the U.S. should continue the wise policies of Mrs. Clinton. She is supporting President Arias’s efforts to mediate the issues. The goal is a peaceful solution that is consistent with Honduran law in a civil society where even the president is not above the law. "

The appeals to Clinton's and Arias' roles and rationales struck me as odd, since I was under the impression that Micheletti has been among the most strident voices to date against Arias' plan and his "meddling" in Honduran affairs, and even received a phone call from Clinton last week which supposedly called him to task for not being more productive in the talks. Lastly, I know it was a busy weekend on the Nicaragua-Honduras border, but I have to admit I was a bit surprised to see a real dearth of analysis on this letter -- both in analyst circles and on related blogs, but it suggests to me that either a) The letter's content was so insubstantial that it simply simply slipped through the cracks, b) People no longer care what Micheletti has to say (evidence of his 15 minutes coming to an end shortly, or c) a combination of both.

I've been pretty hard on Zelaya for both his pre- and post-June 28 behavior, but I have also thought that Micheletti and his damage control team hass been anything but. To date, they've done little service to Hondurans towards resolving what they had refused to acknowledge was a crisis until recently, and as far as I can read, this letter doesn't help much.

Thanks for posting any good commentary on this letter that pops up.

Daily Headlines: July 27, 2009

* Spain: Congrats to Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador who won comfortably won the Tour de France over Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck and teammate Lance Armstrong.

* Mexico: Four men were arrested by Mexican police as suspects in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent last week.

* Colombia: Military officials said that at least 16 FARC guerillas were killed during weekend attacks on rebel camps.

* Cuba: The Florida-based relatives of a man executed in Cuba in 1960 are suing several U.S. telecom firms who have ties to Cuba’s state-run phone company.

Image- New York Times
Online Sources- BBC Sport, ABC News, Xinhua, UPI