Saturday, October 31, 2009

Today’s Video: Don't watch this in the dark

Happy Halloween, everyone:

Online Source - YouTube

Panic in the streets of Quito…

One of the most famed anecdotes related to Halloween occurred on October 30, 1938 when an Orson Welles-directed national radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” caused panic and anger the U.S. Almost eleven years after that broadcast, however, another radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel in Ecuador led to more dire consequences.

The lesser-known incident occurred in 1949 when the drama director at Radio Quito worked out a deal allowing his station to remake a 1944 Chilean radio version of “The War of the Worlds”. Though that transmission led to “panic when it was broadcast in Santiago, Chile” Leonardo Páez went ahead with the script. Thus, on February 12, 1949 listeners to Radio Quito were interrupted from an evening of music and told that Martians landed 20 miles outside the capital city. Páez acted as a reporter and claimed that the aliens overran a military base and were on their way to Quito.

Predictably, word of mouth spread over the spoof alien landing and panicked citizens took to the streets. Quito’s mayor was fooled and called on people to “defend our city” while priests tended to flocks of repentant parishioners. Some didn’t believe that aliens had landed but instead blamed neighboring Peru who had been involved in previous border disputes.

Eventually, Radio Quito staff were informed of the panic and publicly admitted to the hoax. Mass fear quickly changed into collective anger as all hell would break loose:
El Comercio, the largest and most respected paper in the country, owned radio Quito and the station was housed in the same building as the newspaper. It was to this location that the mob advanced, and in what might have seemed an ironic act by the crowd, set fire to copies of the El Comercio newspaper and hurled these (and other objects) at the building. The main entrance was blocked and a fire swiftly broke out. Some of the besieged staff of 100 people escaped from a rear exit, but many were trapped on upper floors and were forced in some desperate cases to leap from windows. Others attempted to form human chains to the ground, but many fell. The reported figures for the eventual death toll varies between about 6 and 20, with the former considered the more realistic number, but regardless of the how many died or were injured, it was a clearly a terrifying night with some despicable acts reported.
Páez and twenty other were arrested in the days after the broadcast though Páez would be eventually exonerated. Since then, Páez’ motives for the hoax have been questioned with some arguing that he diabolically planned to create widespread panic though his daughter claimed that he merely wanted “some good reviews in the papers the following day.”

Leonardo Páez was no Orson Welles but there is no doubt that Radio Quito’s 1949 “War of the Worlds” broadcast led to greater fear, rage, and violence.

Image – BBC News
Online Sources- YouTube, Museum of Hoaxes, War of the Worlds Invasion

Friday, October 30, 2009

World Watch: What’s in a name?

* World: The tilde, Greek characters, and other non-Latin languages could be coming soon to Internet domain names.

* Iran: Negotiations over the future of Iran’s nuclear program have hit a snag after Tehran rejected a proposal brokered by several Western countries.

* U.S.: President Barack Obama said that a 22-year-old travel ban barring people with HIV and AIDS from entering the U.S. will be removed in January.

* Europe: Stocks in Europe tumbled on Friday after several regional firms like Alcatel-Lucent and Siemens AG posted losses.

Image- Guardian UK (“A Chinese internet user. Soon '.com' will not have to be added in English to a Chinese web domain.”)
Online Sources- Bloomberg, BBC News,, The Telegraph

Daily Headlines: October 30, 2009

* Mexico: In a sign of Mexico’s weakened economy remittances to that country fell by over 13% last month.

* Latin America: The Dominican Republic may’ve amended its constitution to ban same-sex marriages but Argentina could soon legalize gay marriage.

* Ecuador: The ties between Ecuador and Russia have become stronger after the presidents of both countries signed key pacts yesterday.

* Haiti: Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis might soon be looking for a new job.

Image- (A California resident sends a money transfer to Mexico in this 2007 photo).
Online Sources- LAHT, The Latin Americanist,, Xinhua, Miami Herald

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Checkered Past for Unofficial Chevron Operative

The ongoing $27 billion civil suit against Chevron in Ecuador has had enough twists and turns to be mistaken for a Tom Clancy bestseller.

In the latest development, Wayne Douglas Hansen - who used a camera hidden in a pen to record bribe offers purported to involve a judge from the case and president Rafael Corea's sister - has turned out to be a convicted felon with a long history of run-ins with the law.

Both sides have been battling for the upper hand in the court of public opinion, with Chevron claiming the Ecuadoran political climate makes a fair trial almost impossible and the plaintiffs claiming that original defendant Texaco (purchased by Chevron in 2001) has caused extreme suffering among residents of the Ecuadoran rain forest.

Since Chevron no longer operates in Ecuador and could simply refuse to pay any judgment against it, even a win for the plaintiffs could lead to a rather anticlimactic conclusion to this most compelling of legal thrillers.

Image source: AP
Online sources: AP, Miami Herald, NY Times,,

Marriage amendment in DR flies under the radar

With little international fanfare the Dominican Republic became the first country in the world last week to amend its constitution to explicitly bar same-sex marriages.

As reported here earler in April, recent legislation in the Dominican legislature includes the prevention of abortion in all cases (rape and incest included).

Sources: Listin Diario, DR1, IPS

Political climate in Honduras is costing its economy

The Latin Americanist has been reporting on the political turmoil in Honduras for months now. While politically, Brazil has played a role by allowing ousted President Manuel Zaleya to take refuge in its embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, the U.S. plays a much larger role in terms of economics. The United States is Honduras' chief trading partner. It purchases 70% of Honduran exports, is responsible for 2/3 of it's foreign direct investment, provides tourism, and contains most of the Honduran population living abroad who send remittances back to their home country.

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Americas.

Honduras was one of the original banana republics, dominated for years by the United Fruit Company. Even today, US multinationals Dole and Chiquita control a big share of the country's farm output.

Coffee, bananas and other crops remain big earners in a mainly agricultural economy. But these days, they are rivalled by Honduras's thriving sideline in "maquiladoras" - factories that import textiles from the US and export finished items of clothing.

With American consumers cutting back on spending, Honduran maquiladora workers who provide clothing for stores like the Gap and Walmart, have lost their jobs.

Online Sources: BBC News, U.S. Department of State

Image: Kirsten Hubbard,

For more information about bananas in Central America, worker exploitation, and the role of Dole, click here.

Narco Consulting

Jeffrey Max Jones, Mexico's Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, ruffled some feathers when he suggested that Mexico's farmers could learn some lessons in efficiency from Mexico's notorious drug cartels.

Jones told the Mexican newspaper Reforma that farmers "should follow the example of drug traffickers because they produce what the market demands."

Jones probably has a point about the cartels' mastery of their business, given that the drug trade gives a $50 billion/year boost to Mexican GDP and Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman this year made Forbes' billionaire list.

But as violence from the drug trade continues at a horrific rate, Jones would be well advised to avoid future calls to imitate the cartels' methods.

Image: News Cottage
Online Sources: AP, Google News, Reforma, Forbes, The Independent (UK)

Colombia, Ecuador continues fragile dialogue

Post submitted by Adam Siegel

Representatives from Colombia and Ecuador are forging ahead with bi-lateral talks despite recent roadblocks that have escalated tensions between the two countries. Provincial government leaders from both countries met in Colombia on Tuesday for talks focused on security and border issues, and Foreign Ministers Jaime Bermudez and Fander Falconí will meet in Ecuador on November 3 to continue a dialogue that began in September during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

Formal relations were discontinued in March of 2008 in the tense days following the Colombian military raid of a FARC camp in Ecuadoran territory, but in recent months the presidents of both countries have expressed a willingness to re-engage—but only under very specific circumstances. The result has been deliberate and cautious talks between various government officials (with the prodding of the OAS and the Carter Center) as each country seeks to secure the confidence-building measures in order to ensure that eventual negotiations result in public victories for both parties.

The conflict between Colombia and Ecuador ultimately centers around two core issues: Colombia, internally confident that the FARC has been pushed to a breaking point, is focused on security—it wants to ensure that the FARC does not gain a stronghold at the border with Ecuador as it is being uprooted from within the country. Ecuador is focused on the issue of sovereignty—it does not want to become involved in Colombia’s internal conflict, and it wants a clear repudiation of the “terror has no borders” ideology that justified Colombia’s incursion into Ecuador. The primacy of these issues domestically—security in Colombia and sovereignty in Ecuador—means that both countries are treading extra carefully to avoid any missteps that would appear as concessions or capitulations.

As if this doesn’t complicate matters enough, an Ecuadoran judge issued an arrest warrant last week for Gen. Freddy Padilla, the head of the Colombian military forces, who was supposed to meet his counterpart in Ecuador as part of the re-engagement process. Fearing arrest, Padilla cancelled, and yet another reminder of the underlying tensions between these two countries was brought center stage. The other planned meetings will continue, and this setback will be one of many. Nevertheless, a decade of fraught relations between Colombia and Ecuador means that many more obstacles will have to be cleared, and many more emotions will have to be settled, before a true degree of trust is established. For their own political reasons both Uribe and Correa seem to want reengagement; the question now is whether strategic considerations can overcome entrenched differences in national perspective and emotion.

Image- BBC Mundo
Online Sources- El Espectador, El Universo, Mercopress, CNN

Daily Headlines: October 29, 2009

* Mexico: Famed norteño group Los Tigres Del Norte said that they cancelled an upcoming concert after organizers supposedly tried to censor one of their politically-motivated songs.

* Bolivia: Bolivia and the U.S. are reportedly close to mending the fractured political ties from the past thirteen months that included the recalling of ambassadors to both states.

* El Salvador: Crime may be a major concern in El Salvador yet San Salvador Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas said that plans to add 6000 solders to the police “could lead society towards genocide.”

* U.S.: Immigration activists are peeved that President Barack Obama‘s waffled over granting Haitian migrants Temporary Protected Status.

Image- El Universal
Online Sources- AP, The Latin Americanist, Catholic News Agency, Monsters & Critics, Miami Herald

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hondurans Turn to Religious Relic for Hope

During desperate political times, Hondurans are focusing their attention towards a small religious icon.

The tiny historic figurine depicts the patron saint of Honduras, Our Lady of Suyapa, who is known for to be a miracle worker. According to New York Times, the original figurine was lost and then recovered in the men’s room of the restaurant almost a quarter-century ago. To this day people still visit the little shrine to pray at the spot where she was found. Plastic roses and carnations grace the area, along with a flutter of lempira notes (Honduran currency), left for the poor.

From a New York Times article, "Amid a Crisis, Hondurans Heap Large Hopes on a Tiny Religious Icon" :
To many Hondurans, the little saint has taken on special significance in a political crisis that has uncovered pent-up social hostility since the president was deposed nearly four months ago. To many here, it seems this country has lost its way, and they have turned to their miracle-working saint to put it back on track.

At Mass on a recent Sunday at the hilltop basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Suyapa —the patron saint not only of Honduras but of all Central America — worshipers asked God to give each side of the political divide the wisdom it needed to find an agreement.

Photo Source: New York Times, 2009

World Watch: African repression

* Guinea: According to Human Rights Watch last month’s massacre of over 150 people in the Guinean capital city of Conakry “was clearly a premeditated attempt to silence opposition voices" by the government.

* Pakistan: What has been described as “the deadliest (bombing) to hit Pakistan this year” occurred today and has claimed the lives of at least 91 people.

* South Korea: Disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk was sentenced to two years in jail for “embezzling money and illegally buying human eggs.”

* U.S.: President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a law expanding hate crime legislation to include assaults motivated by sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Image- AFP (“Soldiers unload bodies of victims shot dead by Guinea junta forces” as part of a brutal crackdown last month.)
Online Sources- MSNBC, The Latin Americanist, BBC News, NPR, CNN

Honduras Leader's Nephew Found Dead

The nephew of the interim President of Honduras Roberto Micheletti has been found dead in what the police are calling 'an execution-style killing', according to

Twenty-four-year-old Enzo Micheletti's body was discovered on Sunday two days after he had been reported missing. Soonafter, the body of another unidentified man was found nearby; both were found in woodland near Choloma, 250 km north of the capital, Tegucigalpa.

According to Honduran police officials, there is no indication that his death is connected to the coup that brought his uncle to power a few months ago.

Police have yet to establish whether or not the killing was linked to the coup that plunged the country into crisis in June, being that neither victim was involved in politics.

Officials say that the murder could very likely be related to drug trafficking. Honduras has the largest murder rate in Latin America, which is most times directly involved with the growing drugs trade.

The tragic event further pushes international players to make moves on resolving the political conflict in the region.

Photo Source: The Independant 2009

Miercoles Musical: Bala de Canhão

We've already shown our appreciation for alt-rock group The Breeders whose latest album dabbled in some Spanish. This time, we're giving the Deal sisters and co. their proper due by featuring a cover of one of their best-known songs. Here's Brazilian sextet CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy) with their version of "Cannonball":

Online Sources- CSS' Official Website, The Latin Americanist, YouTube

U.N. rejects Cuba embargo...again (Updated)

Update (4:00pm):

For the eighteenth straight year, the U.N. General Assembly passed a nonbinding resolution condemning the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

Much like last year's measure, the body voted 185-3 against the embargo with the same trio of states opposing the resolution (Israel, Palau, and the U.S.)

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice criticized the decision and urged the U.N. to "move beyond the rhetorical posturing of the past." Conversely, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called the blockade "an uncultured act of arrogance" that is "ethically unacceptable."

Original Post:

The U.N.’s General Assembly (UNGA) is expected to vote later today against the decades-long U.S. trade blockade against Cuba.

Today’s vote would make it the eighteenth straight year that the UNGA condemns the embargo on Cuba; in 2008, the body voted 185-3 against the embargo. The nonbinding resolution to be considered today would call for a stop to "the economic, commercial and financial embargo" that has been placed against Cuba since 1962.

In the last few months there has been a slight thawing in the traditionally frigid relations between both countries. For instance, travel restrictions have been relaxed and bilateral migration talks were renewed. Nevertheless, U.S. president Barack Obama insisted in September that the embargo needed to be continued for “the national interest of the United States."

While the White House wants to continue the embargo the Director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas recently wrote that the U.S. faces stiff opposition among its regional and global allies:
They are plain-spoken in their opposition. Australia reminds us it votes "consistently" against the embargo. Brazil says it is the "Cuban people who suffer the most from the blockade." China says the embargo "serves no purpose other than to keep tensions high between two neighboring countries and inflict tremendous hardship and suffering on the people of Cuba, especially women and children." Egypt and India condemn the extra-territorial reach of our sanctions, which Japan says run "counter to the provisions of international law." Mexico calls these measures coercive. Russia "rejects" the embargo. Nations across the planet have enacted laws making it illegal for their companies to comply.
For now, there may be little Obama can do to ease the embargo beyond outright banning it. “Unless Cuba takes steps [toward democracy] the ball is in Congress' court,'' said an unnamed “government official” to the Miami Herald regarding a report published weeks ago by the Government Accountability Office on the embargo.

Image- Al Jazeera English
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Xinhua, Miami Herald

Hispanics have lower cancer rates

Hispanic-Americans are less susceptible to cancer, according to a report from the American Cancer Society.

The report, which those in the field hope will give doctors a better understanding of how to treat Hispanic patients, was cited in this story from a Florida television station.

For example, incidences of cancer among Hispanic men declined about 1.3 percent each year from 1997 to 2006. This number was 0.8 percent for non-Hispanic men.

With Hispanic women, incidences declined 1.2 percent, compared to 0.9 percent among non-Hispanics.

Cancer still is the second leading cause of death among Hispanics and will be responsible for 18,000 deaths this year. The most common cancers among men are prostate, colorectal and lunch, while Hispanic women are more likely to get breast, colorectal or lung cancer.

All these cancers occur at lower rates in Hispanics.

Source: Central Florida News

South American economies leading rebound

As the recession ebbs (knock on wood), those who are following countries' rebounds are puzzled by a region doing particularly well: Latin America.

Countries there are rebounding quicker than the United States, reports the Christian Science Monitor, positioning the regional GDP for a return to 2.9 percent growth next year after shrinking 2.5 percent this year.

So why the improvement?

The Monitor posits that more trade with China has boosted Brazil and other countries that export commodities -- Brazil exports soy and copper to Asia -- particularly as Mexico and Central America are hurting from less demand in the United States.

Brazil is leading the recovery, whose gross domestic product is expected to grow to 3.5 percent by next year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The country's tax breaks for ordinary items like freezers and fridges also helped consumers. This contributed to an improvement in the middle class, which is estimate to comprise 53 percent of the population and now be doing 2.5 percent better than last year.

In other business and economic news:

Movil is improving in Latin America, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Miami Media LLC, which ownes Latin Trade magazine, bought the Latin Business Chronicle, which focuses on Latin American business.

Latin American bond markets are attractive because of its domestic debt, Bloomberg writes.

Bloomberg adds that an improvement in the U.S. dollar would be a risk for Latin American stocks just as they're beginning to rally.

Source: Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters

Photo: Brazil stock market, WSJ

Daily Headlines: October 28, 2009

* Honduras: A trio of senior U.S. diplomats are expected to travel to Honduras today in order to restart deadlocked negotiations between ousted President Manuel Zelaya and de facto head Roberto Micheletti.

* Uruguay: The country’s presidential election will head to a runoff yet the governing Broad Front coalition secured a new legislative majority.

* Brazil: A Massachusetts man claimed that U.S. officials denied the asylum claim of his gay Brazilian husband partly due to his sexual orientation.

* Mexico: Fourteen adults were arrested and accused of running a child prostitution ring in Mexico City.

Image- New York Times (“President Manuel Zelaya has been holed up in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.”)
Online Sources- AP, The Latin Americanist, LAHT, BBC News

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Today’s Video: On a bicycle scored by two

Three words: only in Brazil.

(Hat tip: The Offside).

Online Sources - The Offside, YouTube

Ticos top in regional prosperity

Finland is the world’s most prosperous country according to an annual report released by the Legatum Institute. Would you care to guess which Latin American country is the wealthiest according to the London-based think tank? Could it be the emerging global player in Brazil or the oil-rich state of Venezuela? What about the regional powerhouse that is Mexico?

The answer is Costa Rica.

The Central American state ranked 32nd on the list ahead of countries like India, South Africa, and Russia. Costa Rica has been called the “Switzerland of Central America” and the country lived true to that adage with high marks in the categories of personal freedom and democratic institutions.

Regarding the rest of Latin America, the Southern Cone states faired very well with Uruguay, Chile and Argentina ranking slightly below the Ticos. Most Latin American countries hovered around mid-table including Brazil (41st), the Dominican Republic (54th), and El Salvador (60th). Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela (72-74) rounded off the regional bottom three though they were placed in front of countries like China and Saudi Arabia.

The definition of “prosperity” is certainly up for interpretation but how does the Legatum Prosperity Index define it? According to Reuters:
The index is based on a definition of prosperity that combines economic growth with the level of personal freedoms and democracy in a country as well as measures of happiness and quality of life.

With the exception of Switzerland, which came in at number 2, Nordic countries dominated the top 5 slots, with Sweden in third place followed by Denmark and Norway.

The top 10 were all also Western nations, with Australia (6th place) and Canada (7th place) both beating the United States, ranked 9th. Britain came in at number 12.
Based on the index, Latin America has some ways to go in order to reach more advanced industrialized nations yet as a region it has done better than other areas.

Image – CIA World Factbook
Online Sources- Legatum Prosperity Index, Reuters, New Internationalist

Dobbs v. Geraldo in immigration debate

To use a saying from boxing, Lou Dobbs seems to be on the ropes.

Last week’s CNN “Latinos in America” special provided a thought-provoking look into Latino culture in the U.S. Nevertheless, the network has drawn intense criticism over the rhetoric of political commentator Lou Dobbs. (Perhaps this is why any mention of him was excluded from the “Latinos in America” program).

Latino groups have been especially critical of Dobbs yet he has also been recently blasted by a pair of commentators from the rival Fox networks. Rumor has it that Dobbs is a “potential hire for the Fox Business Network”, yet one of the channel’s reporters- John Stossel- said that he would not “subscribe to the ‘Lou Dobbs-kind of rants about immigrants wrecking America.’” (Dobbs’ reply was to deny the allegations and call Stossel a “self-important ass”).

The latest missive came from Fox News host Geraldo Rivera who criticed Dobbs and the “inflammatory” rhetoric of anti-immigration pundits:

Dobbs retaliated yesterday against Rivera’s words but he also appears to be cracking under the increased pressure and lashed out against all his detractors:
I’m just still fuming over something that Geraldo Rivera said. I shouldn’t let — This guy is nothing but a fiction of his own imagination and a figment of whatever he sees in the mirror. But, I gotta tell you — the guy is so annoying. I should not let people get to me like this, but you know what? I’m starting to get short of patience with them. [ed. Emphasis mine]
Dobbs’ supporters may claim that he’s being unfairly targeted but he has often fallen in the trap of exaggeration, misinformation, and distortions that other commentators on both sides of the political spectrum have also done. Regardless of one’s ideological and political perspectives, should those aspects be allowed in a commentator as prominent as Dobbs?

What do you think?

Online Sources- CBS News, Think Progress, YouTube, New York Times, Fox Business Network, LAHT

Daily Headlines: October 27, 2009

* Puerto Rico: Was last weekend’s massive fire at an oil storage facility an “act of sabotage” or an unfortunate accident?

* Brazil: French investigators will publish in December their next interim report on Air France Flight 447 which crashed off the Brazilian coast nearly five months ago.

* Mexico: Mexicans are divided over a recent video that revealed five accused thieves being harassed and abused by vigilantes.

* Chile: Members of the Mapuche indigenous community protested in Chile for their ancestral lands and “against police repression.”

Image- BBC News
Online Sources- Los Angeles Times, Reuters, The Latin Americanist, UNPO, UPI

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ecuador asks Europe for billions to help preserve the Amazon

The Amazon Rainforest, the largest on earth, covers 40% of South America and encompasses parts of nine countries. It is rich in biodiversity, and includes hundreds of indigenous groups. One of these indigenous groups, the Tageri, are especially threatened by the oil drilling and development in Ecuador. Ecuador's president Rafael Correa is proposing that Europe pay Ecuador 3 billion to halt drilling in the oil-rich Yasuni National Park in the Amazon region of Ecuador.
"This is the first time the government of a major oil-producing country has voluntarily offered to forego lucrative oil extraction in order to help combat climate change," said Dr. Matt Finer, staff scientist for Save America's Forests and author of a study on Correa's initiative.
Drilling would be blocked in three oil fields in Yasuni National Park, which was declared a biosphere reserve by the United Nations and is home to many indigenous groups. In Ecuador, drilling is allowed in national parks if the president gives approval because of national interests. Ecuador depends on oil for a third of its national budget and the three oil fields in Yasuni represent 20 percent of its crude oil reserves.

Correa is asking the international community to come forward and also take responsibility for preserving the world's natural resources by covering the cost of income that Ecuador would lose for not going forward with drilling. Companies like Repsol and Texaco (Chevron) are keys players in drilling for oil in the Ecuadorian region of the Amazon.

Online Sources: Associated Press,, The Wall Street Journal, Amnesty International USA

World Watch: The filth and the fury

* South Africa: A judge postponed the trial of four white ex-university students who filmed a shocking video of five black workers eating food that had been urinated upon.

* Iraq: At least 155 people died as a result of a series of bombings on Sunday which have been blamed by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki on Al-Qaeda militants.

* Europe: The war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karodic at The Hague is expected to start on Tuesday “with or without” his presence.

* World: According to a U.N. human rights official, women and gays worldwide tend to be unfairly “caught between being victims of extremist groups and victims of counter-terrorism measures.”

Image- AFP (“The video drew massive anger after it was leaked last year.”)
Online Sources- MSNBC,, BBC News, Reuters

Michael Moore, the 'Unfortunate Coward'?

Given his history of scathing critiques of US political and economic policy, Michael Moore probably expected to find a receptive audience among supporters of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

But after recent remarks on Jimmy Kimmel Live in which Moore joked about drinking tequila with Chavez and helping the Venezuelan leader with his speeches, the US filmmaker has found himself on the receiving end of some suprisingly harsh criticism.

Eva Golinger, an American lawyer who lives in Venezuela and who is among Chavez's most vocal supporters, called Moore "a most unfortunate coward" and went on the record to say that Chavez doesn't need any help with his speechwriting.

Since the original exchange, Golinger went out of her way to clarify her stance on Moore's comments.

Whether Hugo will entertain us with his personal take on the matter remains TBD.

Image Source:
Sources: New York Times, Foreign Policy Passport,,

Argentina Makes Deal With Andorra To Track Down Hidden Funds

First Argentina with Monaco, now Andorra counts themselves in.

According to Dow Jones, Argentina has signed an agreement with Andorra to exchange banking information to track down Argentines with cash hidden in overseas tax havens.

The agreement between Argentina and Andorra followed a similar deal signed earlier this month with Monaco. These deals are a part of a drive to catch tax cheats after the Aug. 31 end of an amnesty program for Argentine companies and individuals with hidden funds and unpaid taxes.

Argentina also has other countries in mind to follow, with hopes to sign similar agreements with Costa Rica, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Dutch Antilles, Aruba, Barbados and Jersey, the national tax agency AFIP recently stated.

According to varied estimates, Argentines have well over $100 billion in funds invested overseas.

Being so, Argentinian officials have made it a priority in their agenda to investigate.

Photo Source

Ex-Guerrilla Most Likely to Win Uruguayan Vote

Uruguayan José Mujica, a Socialist senator has shown to be the most popular candidate for the Uruguayan Presidential election. Mujica had spent 14 years in prison for waging an urban guerilla war against the former military dictatorship.

Mujica is a candidate of the governing Broad Front coalition, whose tenure has improved economic conditions in Uruguay- (as proven from the former President, Tabaré Vázquez, who was also part of the BFC).

Broad Front was the first leftist movement in Uruguay to break away from its domination of two-parties (the National or the Colorado party) either of which held power for more than 150 years. Under President Vázquez, the Broad Front coalition led Uruguay out of a deep economic crisis earlier in the decade.

Despite polls however, Mujica did not gain enough votes to avoid a November runoff, in what analysts said was a referendum on the current leftist government.

With nearly all of the votes counted, the Broad Front had 47.5 percent of the votes; the National Party trailing with 28.6 percent and the Colorado Party had 16.7 percent, according to Uruguayan officials.

In order to avoid a runoff election, Mujica needed more then 50 percent of the vote in order to gain the presidency. Unfortunately, Mujica fell short, so the run-off election is to be held on Nov. 29.

Photo Source: The New York Times, Ex-Guerrilla Ahead in Uruguay Vote, 2009

Honduran Economy is Hurt by Recent Coup

The political crisis is costing Honduras an estimated $50 million a day, which the third poorest country in the Americas cannot afford.

While negotiators for overthrown President Manuel Zelaya and interim leader Roberto Micheletti decide on what to do next, the outside world, (particularly the US) has made its displeasure quite clear.

Economically, the US buys more than 70% of Honduras' exports and provides more than two-thirds of its foreign direct investment.

Further, the US provides the most tourism to Honduras, however the rate of tourism has decreased by 40% in the past three months.

US aid to Honduras has also been compromised since the coup. In 2005, Honduras signed a five-year deal with a US government agency called the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which invested $215m in improving its infrastructure.

But $15m of funding for this remodeling of infrastructure has been withheld since Mr Zelaya was overthrown. US officials justify that Mr Micheletti's actions are "inconsistent with a commitment to democratic governance".

Seemingly, the political turmoil within the country is negatively affecting its economic ties.

Photo Source: BBC Americas Honduras turmoil bears bitter fruit 2009

Castro's Sister Worked With CIA

Jaunita Castro, younger sister of Fidel and Raúl, has added another twist to the ongoing saga that is the Castro reign in Cuba. In a shocking revelation, Juanita has admitted that she collaborated with the CIA both before leaving the island in 1964 and while living in exile in Miami. During those years the CIA plotted a series of unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro.

In her new book "Fidel and Raúl, My Brothers: The Secret History" and in an interview (in Spanish) with Univision 23 in Miami, Juanita says she lost faith in her brothers' movement after Castro opponents were executed on Raul and Fidel's orders.

For years Juanita kept a low profile and ran a Miami pharmacy. Her book, released today, also details previously untold accounts of the early life of Fidel and Raúl.

Image: Palm Beach Post
Online Sources: Miami Herald, New York Times, Univision 23 Miami

Daily Headlines: October 26, 2009

* Haiti: Tensions have risen in Hispaniola after four Haitians were killed in a Dominican border town.

* Venezuela: Police are investigating why ten Colombian soccer players were kidnapped and slain across the border in Venezuela.

* Guatemala: U.S. and Guatemalan authorities captured a sub carrying ten tons of cocaine off the Central American country’s coast.

* Mexico: Local animal rights protested in Guanajuato against the inclusion of bullfights for the first time in Mexico’s largest cultural event.

Image- New York Times (“Dajabón, a Dominican border town, opens its gated bridge twice a week to allow Haitians to buy goods unavailable in their country.”)
Online Sources- Xinhua, Reuters,, LAHT