Friday, November 2, 2012

Observing the Day of the Dead (Revisited)

Note: This post was submitted by guest writer

In Mexico and in Mexican expat communities, November 1st and 2nd mark "Día de Muertos," or Day of the Dead. The two days are a chance for families to remember their lost ones, combining ancient Aztec, Mayan, Náhuatl, Purépecha and Totonocao traditions with Spanish Christianity. In the days prior, many Mexicans put up an altar in their house. Usually adorned with flowers (cempasúchil, or marigolds), a candle for and photo of each loved one, sugar or chocolate skulls, fruits, the sugary "bread of the dead" (pan de muerto), pumpkins, candied squash, religious symbols and paper decorations, the altar is said to be an offering for the departed.

On the first day of celebrations, families that have lost children will go to the graves where they are buried, clean and paint the site and spend the night telling anecdotes and stories. Usually, they leave toys at the grave.

The second day commemorates adults who have passed away and the tradition is similar to that of children, but it is common to take to the grave typical Mexican drinks such as tequila, mezcal, pulque or atole.

What´s uniquely Mexican about these days is the attitude. Ancient indigenous views took a more natural view toward death: the spirit of the departed was determined more by the way the person died rather than their behavior during their time on earth. Death was an accepted, not feared, part of life. These perspectives, with infusions of Christianiaty, are present today, not only on Día de Muertos but in Mexican culture in general.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Today’s Video: Cleaning Up

Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on The Latin Americanist headquarters in New York City with the worst conditions expected to hit later today.  Due to the strong possibility of power outages we may be unfortunately offline for several days.  If that does happen then we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. 

Sandy’s heavy winds and rains caused immense material and human damage for several parts of the Caribbean last week.  At least sixty-nine deaths have been attributed to the storm including fifty-two in Haiti and eleven in Cuba.  The death toll could increase after a group of six or seven French citizens have gone missing somewhere near the islands of Martinique and Dominica.

"This is a disaster of major proportions," Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told the Associated Press. His statement certainly seemed very accurate especially after watching the following video via ITN News of post-Sandy destruction in Cuba:

Pablo Sandoval Named World Series MVP

Pablo Sandoval of Venezuela was named the World Series MVP after the San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers to win this year’s edition of the Fall Classic.

The infielder nicknamed the “Kung Fu Panda” made World Series history when he became the fourth player to hit three home runs in one game.  His offensive prowess did not end with Game 1, however, as he averaged .500 and hit four RBIs in his sixteen Series at-bats.

“It's just an incredible moment you're never going to forget,” said Sandoval to ESPN after Sunday night’s 4-3 Series clinching victory.  “Have fun, like a little kid, fight for everything, never lose faith. It's important when you have teammates thinking that way, you are that guy,” he added.

Sandoval’s MVP is certainly well deserved though it could have easily gone to any one of his teammates who played spectacularly during the World Series. NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro drove in the championship clinching run in extra innings while Sergio Romo struck out the side in the tenth inning to record his third save in the Series.

While the Giants captured their second crown in three years, the Tigers were left reeling and without a title since 1984. 

"It's very sad, what we're feeling right now, " said Miguel Cabrera to the Detroit Free Press.  "I feel embarrassed. I struck out. I made the last out in the World Series," added the slugger whose bat was largely silent throughout the Series despite becoming the first Triple Crown hitting champion since 1967.

A record twenty-two Latino players participated in this year’s World Series including nine each from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.  In remarks to Fox News Latino, baseball historian Rob Ruck praised the Latino presence in the World Series as well as the emergence of star players from Venezuela:

Daily Headlines: October 29, 2012

* Panama: The legislature repealed a law that would’ve allowed the sale of public land in in the Colon Free Zone and that was vehemently opposed by protesting locals.

* U.S.: The Guatemalan consul in McAllen, Texas called for a “serious and big investigation” into the deaths of two of her countrymen by police sharpshooters riding in a helicopter.

* Mexico: Legislators will allegedly refuse to fast track a controversial bill aimed at reforming the Mexican labor system.

* Dominican Republic: Will a series of new tax breaks and the almost-finished Pinewood Indomina Studios lead to a filmmaking boom in the Dominican Republic?

Video Source – YouTube via euronews

Online Sources- Houston Chronicle, BBC News, Fox News Latino, Variety