Tuesday, January 31, 2006

U.S. Spying in Latin America

According to the Washington Post the U.S. Navy's most advanced submarine just returned from its first sailing. Suprisingly, or perhaps not, the submarine used its cutting-edge technology to monitor phone conversations in Latin America as part of the government's effort to combat terrorism. Supposedely the Bush Administration believes the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay is the next terrorist hot spot. Does this have anything to do with Chavez's growing power and Morales' win in Bolivia? Read the article here...


I saw the preview for a new movie that will come out this summer (2006). It is Mel Gibson's new movie called Apocalypto. It is set in Guatemala around the decline of the Mayan civilization, and I heard that it was filmed in a Mayan language, although I still haven't been able to figure out which one. To see a preview of the movie, go to Apocalypto.com.

From Academy Award winning filmmaker Mel Gibson ("The Passion of the Christ," "Braveheart"), comes APOCALYPTO: a heart stopping mythic action-adventure set against the turbulent end times of the once great Mayan civilization. When his idyllic existance is brutally disrupted by a violent invading force, a man is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression where a harrowing end awaits him. Through a twist of fate and spurred by the power of his love for his woman and his family he will make a desperate break to return home and to ultimately save his way of life.

Disappearances on the Border

A little more on border problems...Mexico implemented a program last June called the System for Identifying Remains and Locating Individuals that is working to locate illegal Mexican immigrants who have crossed the border and are now missing. Mexican foreign relations offices on their soil and here in the United States have been linked to a uniform database to work together to find these people. The issue of disappearing immigrants is a growing problem for the Mexican government. Over the last decade, more than 3,000 migrants died trying to cross the border. At least 1,000 of those people have not yet been identified.

Despite Political Shifts, Export Prices on the Rise

Before now, leftist shifts in politics had been followed by economic downturn. However, this tendency in Latin America might be coming to an end, due to high commodity prices. Due to high copper, oil and grain prices, export prices for Latin American goods have been on the rise. These commodities are some of Latin America's largest exports, with higher commodity prices, come higher export prices. So, it seems while the export markets in Latin America are "booming," shifts in political ideology will not affect economic performance. This is evident in the fact that recently, despite a decrease in capital flows, economic growth has increased in the region. Thus, for now, it seems that the market will accept a leftist president if export prices continue to stay high. All of this is very interesting and one can read more on the subject by visiting this sitio.

Juan's Flying Burrito

Since the number of resteraunts in the city has lessened after Katrina, I thought I would post my blog for this week about a good resteraunt, nearby, with Latin American food. I'm sure you've heard of Juan's Flying Burrito, but maybe you haven't gone yet. Well you definitely should. Why? One because it's open (on Magazine Street) and two, because it's awesome. I highly suggest the flying burrito, it may sound like too many ingredients on the menu, but when you eat it, it's simply amazing. Secondly, I suggest margaritas, it adds to the 'latin american flavor' of the experience.

Interesting Bolivia Article

I've been very excited whenever I read about the election of Bolivia's new President. His name is Evo Morales and he's the first Indigenous President of Bolivia since the last Inca King over 500 years ago. His election is a big landmark for indigenous peoples in Latin America, but more importantly, his election may signal conflict with the United States along the lines of Castro and Chavez. Morales is a coca grower, opposes free trade, and opposes privatization of public services and Bolivia's natural resources. He is another example of the leftward tilt in Latin America which is not a bad thing in my opinion, but his anti-American stances suggest conflict. I don't think Bush is going to be too pleased when he finds out who won Bolivia's election (if he ever finds out considering how much he ignores Latin America and how retarded he is).

ANYWAY...you can read a great article from the Nation about Evo Morales, Bolivia, and a lot of the issues facing American-Bolivian relations if you follow this link.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Everybody salsa!

I personally love to go dancing if I can dance to the sweet, sweet beat of salsa and merengue. However, I didn't really know how salsa came into our lives, so I looked it up. I am a bit technologically impaired so the best I can do is copy-and-paste the link to the site I found: Click here. [NOTE: El Jefe Maximo, using his editorial privileges, helped set up the link!]

Hope you enjoy it!

Oh! and somebody was commenting on the band that performed at the Pachanga...I really liked it! It's definately worth the trip to the club! :)

More on the Border

Similar to what was posted earlier, this article from The Economist further discusses the conflict surrounding the Mexico-United States border.

Mexico-U.S. Immigration

A topic that we have yet to really explore is that of the changing relations between the United States and our southern-most neighbor. Over the past 23 months, the Bush Administration has begun to prioritize the upholding of the border along the Rio Grande, including an attempt to construct a fence along the entirety of the 2,000 mile border.

His embittered battle with California state is first introduced here .

As the Bush administration begins to gain momentum, we see Vicente Fox (about to be up for re-election) go against his longtime ally, claiming that Mexicans enjoy the lack of border control and that to "no country that is proud of itself should build walls." Article can be read here.

Is this interplay between Fox and Bush simply for politics sake? Why does Fox break from Bush now? Wouldn't the Bush administration have discussed it with Mexican officials before pursuing the fight?

Is the construction of a fence a fair move for the U.S.? So many problems to explore...

Fredy Omar con su banda, Wednesday nights at Cafe Brasil

For those of you who love latin dancing or just good live latin music, (and who might have missed the Pachanga), Fredy Omar con su banda is back in New Orleans, playing at Cafe Brasil (corner of Chartres and Frenchman) every Wednesday night from 10-2. Honduran born Fredy has been dubbed "The Latin King of Frenchman Street", and his band has been voted "Best Latin Band" in New Orleans 8 times. A fun and interactive performer, Fredy has been known to exit the stage in the middle of a song to hit the dance floor with a lucky female fan. Always a good time had by all, Cafe Brasil on Wednesday nights...see you there!

"Solidary Integration": Latin American Development Plans

Last Thursday in Caracas, Venezuela a variety of Latin American countries gathered to discuss the "solidary integration" and future development plans for the region. Marco Aurélio Garcia, Brazil's Presidental Advisor on Inernational Affairs, discussed the necessity for increased amounts of infrastructure (such as roads, bridges, and faster air routes) to connect Latin American nations. In addition, financal integration was discussed through the creation of Southern Bank. Admiral Cabrera Aguirre with the Bolivarian Civic-Military Front of Venezuela stressed territorial defense. He suggested better co-operation between the military and civilians by creating civilian "territorial guards". Finally, Rafael Correa Flores, the Secretary General of the Latin American Parliament addressed the proposal for a Latin American Constitution and an Inter-American Social Charter, which is being negotiated by the Organization of American States (OAS).

The article can be found here.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sheehan & Chavez

Back in the news.

Leftist Shift in Latin American Politics

An article here talks about the political shift currently going on in Latin America. Left-wing, more populist politicians are gaing a hold of Latin American politics, in large part due to a sense by the masses that they are losing out in the exploitation of their natural resources. I have to say I'm in support of the Latin American people reaping greater benefits from their natural resources, but let's hope that none of these new political leaders turns out to be another Huge Chavez. Dictatorship wrapped up in populist rhetoric is definately not what Latin America needs right now.

The IMF and Nicaraguan Doctors

Nicaraguan doctors have been on strike since mid-November, performing only "emergency operations." They are the lowest-paid of any Central American country and are demanding a 70% increase in salary. Meanwhile, those patients with non-immediately-life-threatening illnesses wait outside hospitals until they are ill enough to be considered near-death. The article describes a woman who contracted gangrene and had to have her leg amputated because the doctors would not treat her until her sister managed to sneak her in, posing as someone's aunt.

This article places the blame for the strike on the International Monetary Fund, which recently stated that it would cancel public debt for Nicaragua, while at the same time reactivating an economic program for the country that will require Nicaragua to take another loan package (this one for $100 million, versus the $201 million they cleared). According to the article, because of economic burden placed on the state due to debt repayments, there is little money for public health programs, such as doctors' salaries.

Here is a link to the article, from the news source CommonDreams, which I read but with an entire box of salt, as they are extremely liberal (note the anti-US commentary).

Justice may Stand

From Miami Herald Wire Services

Daughter of Pinochet detained back in Chile

SANTIAGO - The oldest daughter of former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet returned to Chile Saturday and was detained on tax evasion charges, after dropping a surprise bid for political asylum in the United States, where she said she lived ``a nightmare.''

Lucía Pinochet, 60, was met in Santiago by a judge who served her notice of tax evasion and false passport charges against her.

The daughter of the former dictator told a reporter for Chile's state television who was on her flight, which flew from Washington to Argentina and on to Chile, that she was ''very badly treated'' in the United States.

March 3, World Baseball Classic Begins

This March 3rd, the first ever World Baseball Classic will take place and Cuba will be there. Cuba was finally allowed to play after agreeing to donate all earnings from the classic to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Now, it will be a legitimate tournament...the absence of Cuba definitely would have undermined the strength of the tournament and actually very likely would have brought the idea of a classic to a quick end since the International Baseball Confederation would have pulled the plug. Besides, look at the numbers, Cuba has won Olympic gold in 1992, 1996, and 2004 (lost in 2000, to the US). Recently the island as been forgotten in the shadow of its neighbor, the Dominican Republic, whose star products now control the MLB. So this Classic will really give the world the chance to gauge where Cuban baseball is at as it plays fully loaded teams that are usually missing in the Olympics. Has the machine decayed? What a statement Cuba would make if it sweeps the Classic: a baseball system that is as isolated and closed off as Cuba itself managed to rise above teams whose players were brought to stardom through financially deep developmental programs, most of which are backed by MLB teams. The pressure certainly will be on the Cuban national team to bring home a victory, because the forfeited prize money would be forgotten by the political and ideological currency it would give Castro.

Latino Immigrants in NOLA post-Katrina

As everyone in NOLA knows, there has been a massive migration/immigration of Latinos to the NOLA area since Hurricane Katrina. If you are like me, you are interested in learning more about this new population and finding out what part of the U.S. or from which other countries they have come from, what kind of work they are doing in NOLA, what their impressions are of NOLA and its people, and whether or not they intend on staying here, etc. I am in a sociology class at Tulane right now in which we will be conducting interviews of recent Latino migrants/immigrants to NOLA. If you would like to help, we need Spanish speakers to conduct interviews and non-Spanish speakers to do data input and analysis, among other things. If you are interesting in helping out or learning more about the research email me at whedden@tulane.edu.

A "Movement on Fire"

Article in the Washington Post about the recent World Social Forum held in Caracas: Click here.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bold Move by Evo

According to this article, President Evo Morales cut his salary in half and declared no Cabinet minister can collect a higher wage than his own. According to Morales, Bolivia needs 6,000 more teachers, but there are only funds to pay 2,200, so the savings are to be used to hire more public school teachers. This is a bold step, and supporters see this as a sign that Morales is committed to reducing poverty and corruption in Bolivia. Critics, however, say the salary cuts were a superficial gesture that would not begin to address Bolivia's deep-seated poverty. It will be interesting to see if Morlaes can follow through with these reforms, especially in the face of resistance by some officials, who complained they might not be able to maintain homes in far-flung districts while working in La Paz. Will these cuts possibly backfire and fuel more corruption, as not-so-idealistic officials seek other sources of income to maintain their current lifestyles?

Diego Luna

One of my favorite young actors is Diego Luna, a native of Mexico City. I highly recommend "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Dirty Dancing Havanna Nights." You can read a biography of Diego Luna at the following site: Click here.

[NOTE: This post is from Louisa Gleichman.]

Friday, January 27, 2006

Amensty International

If you are interested in Amenesty, their is some unfortunate human rights concern for the region of Chile and many others i am sure. Click here for some more information.

Evo Morales vs. Bolivian Military Elites

Numerous posts on this site have discussed the new Bolivian president Evo
Morales because he is their first full-blooded indigenous president. This
discusses his conflict with former military elites in appointing new
military leaders. This shows the conflict between military leaders and those who were democratically elected in Latin America.

[NOTE: This post is from Greg Zissel.]


I was watching a movie called "The Three Amigos" (one of my fav's) and they make mention of a group of South American cowboys called "gauchos." I decided to see if this group really did/does exist and it turns out they have a very expansive history and much folklore has been written about them. I found it to be very interesting. Here is a site that gives you an overview of who they are, how they lived, and where they are now. Click here to check it out.


This last year, I discovered the band, "Mana." I actually found them through facebook. They are a Mexican rock band, and they are awesome! I definitely recommend checking them out at http://www.mana.com.mx/.

Indian President and Elections

This article first caught my eye because of the readings we did about the Spanish and Portuguese conquests against the Indians and their oppression on the native people. The article begins by speaking of Bolivia's election of its first Indian president ever. I found it interesting that a full-blooded native had never before served as elected president in the country. The article also spoke of a general leftist swing in Latin American politics. It described the rising popularity of a political party somewhere between complete capitalism and socialism. It gave the appearance that Latin American politics are slowly stabilizing themselves and the people have a common desire for certain political movements.

It was encouraging to see the recent trend of officially elected people coming to office and remaining in office in many of the countries.

Argentinian Wine

Last week I wrote about Chilean wine and neglected their friendly wine-growing neighbor Argentina. Argentina started producing wines in the Mendoza and San Juan areas for domestic consumption but similarly to Chile experienced real growth in the latter half of the twentieth century, and decided to expand their markets beyond domestic consumption. As the North Atlantic people looked to leave behind the passé wines of Australia and South Africa, Argentina had a wine surplus because domestic wine consumption fell from 70 liters a year in the 1970s to presently 41 liters a year. Thus, Argentina continued to produce wine from their 350,000 hectares of grape vine, and have successfully filled foreign markets with their surpluses. However, with a struggling economy and lackluster wine production methods, the Argentines needed to adapt new methods, and employ new technology in order to remain competitive with a good product. Fortunately for Argentina, Italy and France have invested heavily in wine production infrastructure, ignoring Argentine economic distress, and wine production has become a solid industry in a difficult economy.

Brazilian cotton

I was in the shower the other day and my robe was hanging across from me. The tag was sticking out and I noticed that it read "100% algodon, hecho en brasil." It caught my eye because I had never noticed any clothing made in Brazil before. So, when I was dressed, I Googled cotton production in Brazil and apparently Brazil has become a major comepetitior with the US in worldwide cotton production in recent years. You can read more about it here if this interests you at all.


We all know about outsourcing. I'm sure everyone has had the experience of calling to get your computer fixed and speakign to someone in India. This article suggests that Latin America may be able to challenge India fo outsourcing jobs. Since Latin America is closer to the U.S. even though the labor is more expensive the costs would be cheaper. Also, since many Latin American countries have trade agreements with the U.S. certain technological aspects would be easier to have in Latin American countries. Also, there are many restrictions on what can be sent to India because they have nuclear weapons. Currently, Chile, Argentina and Mexico are most likely to capitalize on this idea. However, surprisingly Nicaragua (a poorer and much smaller Central American country) believes that it can tap into the market. India currently holds about 90% of the outsourced IT jobs. However, many American countries already have IT interests in Latin America. Dell has phone IT help in Panama. My cousin who works there told me that the first words many callers said was "please tell me I'm not in India." Maybe soon they won't be.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Interesting Drug Article

Click here for article.

Apparently some U.S. troops are suspected for helping marijuana smugglers near the Texas-Mexico border. They say it isn't the first time either; some U.S. troops pled guilty to smuggling cocaine before and are being tried this week. That must send a pretty bad message if we're so anti-Latin American drug smuggling. - Andy

how do they actually get in?

Since we've all been pretty interested in the changing face of New Orleans I thought this article would be an interesting look at how illegal immigrants actually make it into the United States. This article from the New York Times discusses the new border policies along the Mexico/U.S. border and how that is effecting attempts by immigrants to enter the country.

I'm not sure if i made this link right... so sorry if I didn't. If it doesn't work and you're interested in the article, you can find it online under the international section Americas.


This is just to build on what we touched on in class on Tuesday on the FTAA (or ALCA). This is the main site maintained and presented by the governments involved: http://www.ftaa-alca.org/. This of course should be taken as a somewhate skewed website so here are some other sites, both pro and con, talking about the implications of the policies presented in the FTAA: Public Citizen, International Food Policy Research Institute paper, and Wikipedia

The Current Political State of Bolivia

I just read the article about the Aymara Indians reasserting their control on the Bolivian government in our Global Studies book. I was curious how the situation has progressed since the article was publised. I found this on BBC that explains what has currently been going on.

Hopefully the new president, Evo Morales, and the Foreign Minister, who are both of indigenous descent will pay more attention to the needs of the Amyara people and be successful in arbitrating between Bolivia's factions.

Impact of Latinos in New Orleans

I was doing some research for another class when I found this article. It is in Spanish, so I apologize to those of y'all that don't speak or read Spanish. It is an interesting look at the clean up crews in New Orleans (mostly from Latin American countries) and their outlook on their situation. They are quoted in the article as saying they would rather be in the middle of everything in New Orleans than in south Texas because of the new Miuntemen that are patrolling the borders. Anyway, it is a pretty good article that I think hits close to home. Sorry for the late post, but I am computer ignorant...

Latin American Undergrad Conference

Hey Everyone,
I am posting a link to the 14th annual Latin American Studies Symposium at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. The dates of the conference are April 7 & 8 2006. The deadline to register your one page abstract (either online or through mail) is February 6th. It is a great opportunity to gain presentation experience in a conference setting and have a publication under your belt. Besides, everyone has at least one paper from past courses that they might consider presenting. Click on this link to take a look at last year's program and some of the students' research topics. Through the blog or in class, let us know if you plan on attending. Perhaps, we can get some transportation through the University.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I just found this article about how the eldest daughter of tried to enter the United States through Dulles Airport (my home airport!) and was denied entry due to charges of tax evasion and using a false passport in Chile.

"Chile's interior minister, Francisco Vidal, said he believed her claim would be rejected because "asylum was for cases where there was no state of law". "

"She was taken into custody on Wednesday after being denied entry at Washington Dulles airport because of the warrant for her arrest.
Chilean and US officials said she was being transferred to an immigration service detention centre while her position was assessed. "

The story is quite interesting and worth checking out!

Free Fiesta

Just incase any of ya'll didn't know, this Thursday, the 26th of January, TULASO is hosting it's first pachanga of the year in the jones courtyard. There will be lots of free food and beverages as well as live music by Fredy Omar, a New Orleans Latin Jazz legend. Feel free to bring friends and come and go as you please.

los fabulosos cadillacs

I am always looking for latin bands of all types to listen to. I just thought I would recommend one which I enjoy that isn't as well known as the usuals ( stepping outside the Shakira and Juanes realm). They are called Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, an Argentine rock band and besides the cool name they have some really good music. They were created in 1985 and they have a number of albums but Rey Azucar is probably their best and maybe most famous. They are really well respected and their sound is an interesting mix of rock with latin beats. You can find some of their songs on Limewire and stuff and their albums are sold all over the place if you look.

Madres de la Plaza to stop marching... kind of

Click here for story link.

Madres de la Plaza is a group of Argentine women whose loved ones disappeared during Argentina's dirty war. While they'll still hold their weekly vigils, their no longer going to continue their protest marches.
The group of mothers of the disappeared in Argentina is due to hold its final 24-hour protest march after 25 years.

Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed or disappeared during military governments in the 1970s and 80s.

The leader of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo said they would still hold weekly silent vigils to demand information on their children's whereabouts.

She said their "resistance protests" were over because they no longer had an enemy in the presidential palace.

Hebe de Bonafini was referring to the good relations the group enjoys with President Nestor Kirchner who has done much to revoke the immunity from prosecution of former military leaders.

"First we had dictatorship, then those who sold the country, who negotiated," she told Clarin newspaper.

"Now, we are now experiencing a very interesting political moment in the country and also at Latin American level. Those who can't see it are blind."

Wednesday's day-long protest is due to begin at 1800 (2100 GMT), 25 years after the first one began."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Gustavo Santaolalla

I don't know how Gustavo Santaolalla came into my life but he has become my stand-by for Latin classical guitar (okay, the only name I know in classical guitar). His work is featured on The Motorcycle Diaries, the song that plays during the DVD menu (and, obviously, during the film). His melodies are complex and intriguing and oddly relaxing. I recommended the CD Ron Roco and for anyone in the class, I'd be happy to loan it out.

Here is an article about him from Time magazine.

looking for work

If anyone happens to be crazy enough to be up around 7 A.M. in the morning, I advise them to drive down Claiborne street near the winn dixie. There is a hotel there where many migrant (mostly Mexican) workers are staying and around this time in the morning you can see them waiting outside along the street hoping for jobs. While this is a common phenomenon in many American cities, as far as I know, the whole migrant day laborer thing is new to the city of new orleans. In general, I think it is interesting how Katrina has changed part of the social dynamic of the city of new orleans. I know you all have been to the boot, and you've probably noticed that the menu is now bi-lingual. It'll be interesting to see how many of these workers end up staying in the city long-term and how that will alter the political and social structure of the city.


I generally don't follow Mexico as much as I would the Southern Cone, but there is an interesting radio story on NPR about Subcomandante Marcos resurfacing and attempting to rally support around Mexico.

Bolivia adding to the problems of Bush?

As many of you have noted, drastic changes are being seen on the gubernatorial fronts of many S.A. nations -- from the first woman being elected president in Chile to the Indian president, Evo Morales, recently elected in Bolivia. I want to focus on Morales' election, however, and what it signifies for the state of Bolivia, its growth potential, and its future relations with other countries of the Americas.

It seems as if Hugo Chavez has an influence in South America greater than we, as Americans, can begin to realize. Bolivians, in their election of Morales, have assisted in the move of South American states to the left, and President Bush is seemingly unaware of the dilemma. Morales had a meeting with President Chavez on Monday, 1/23/06, after Chavez attended his innauguration, and Morales expressed his desire to maintain in close relations with Chavez. Bush was unavailable to join the 11 other head-of-states in the welcoming of Morales to his post; what does this symbolize to the people of South America? The United States, unfortunately, is watching as the powers-that-be surge further and further to the left, affecting not only the economical free market system that Americans have grown accustomed to, but also affecting the political tension between the regions.

Morales takes office under the guise that he will "not submit to any outside powers," maintains that he will work to open relations with Cuba's Castro and Chavez, and has no contact with Bush.
Should be interesting to see how it pans out.

You can check out the story of Morales' election here.

Increased Violence in Haiti

Here is a New York Times article about recent, increased violence in Haiti.

For me, this article is sort of an eye-opener to how little I know about Latin America. I think that K-12 history classes in the US do a fairly good job of covering the history of the US, select European nations, Russia, some Asian countries, the Middle East, and even Africa. But, I realized after reading it that I know almost nothing about the history of Haiti. To better understand some of the key events and people that are referred to in the article, I skimmed Wikipedia, but I couldn’t exactly make out every detail. All I could get was that there was a major split after Aristide. Now the interim government is trying to setup elections, trying to promote democracy, but the elite have raised guerilla troops to delay the elections. UN “peacekeepers” seem to be having little success.

I encourage people who are more familiar with Haiti history to post comments and give a more detailed account of what’s going on right now.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Want to dress like Evo?

Found this great, short article on yahoo about how Evo's stylish sweaters are catching on...hey, you can even buy them through ebay!

Pisco sour

Here is a link to a pisco sour recipe. It's quite a delicious trago...if made correctly. :)

A Leftist President for Mexico??

Recent polls seem to suggest that Mexico could follow in the footsteps of other Latin American countries who have elected leftist presidents in recent years. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist frontrunner, was shown in three recent opinion polls to have a clear lead over his two main opponents, Felipe Calderon of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, and Roberto Madrazo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI (which ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century). With the July 2nd election creeping closer, candidates have broken a month long truce to begin a rough election campaign.

Read the full article here.

Changing face of Latin American Presidents

In Bolivia, an indigenous leader named Evo Morales was recently elected president. In Chile, Miclelle Bachelet became the first woman elected to the office of president. It seems that many Latin American nations are shifting away from the traditional "grey-suited, middle-aged man" political figure and opting for someone more representative of the people. Despite this preferance for new political figures, newly elected presidents will still contend with higly fragmented political party systems and austere ecomomic situations (I am referencing the Bolivian case in particular). My point is, whether a preseident is wearing an indigenous woven sweater or an armani suit, the challenges that they face will be the same and the expectations will possibly be higher. In sum, it is exciting to see more representative figures in political power positions, but it is also important to realize the limitations that these leaders will have. Please click here to read the article.

Favorable press in Argentina

It recently realized the extent of political control over newspapers in Latin America, while reading The Economist (Jan 14-20, 2006). I was aware of the complete control that Fidel has over the Granma in Cuba, but I didn't realize the subtler manipulations that Kirshner has been using in Argentina. Through a series of favors the government has been able to secure favorable press.
For a more detailed explanation go to www.economist.com

Nun murdered in Brazil

I spent last semester in Dayton, Ohio and this news story repeatedly made front page news. Dorothy Stang, a nun from Dayton, Ohio was murdered in Anapu, Brazil on February 12. The trial for her murder took place last fall in Belem, Brazil. Parts of the story read kind of like a Brazilian novela: a nun fighting to save the rainforest and help the poor, wealthy but evil loggers and ranchers who order an execution, two pistoleiros who mistake the nun's bible for a gun, all set in a tropical paradise (known for its corruption). Watching the progress of the case through last semester was interesting.

For more information, or to read the letter Dorothy's family wrote to Lula, or the letter signed by 24 members of Congress to Lula, go to the Dayton Daily News website.

Chile's New President

Chile has just elected Michele Bachelet as thier first woman president. This win for Bachelet is a win for women all over Latin America who for the most part feel are treated as inferiors to men. With her term comes a hope for increased women's rights in a region that has such a machismo attitude. While there have been a few female presidents in Latin America, she is the first to win with out the help of a politically active husband. I am attatching an article from the Miami Herald, which I consider to be a great source for Latin American affairs.

Click here for the article.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Bolivia's new president

I found an article on BBC about the newly elected president of Bolivia. I think it is remarkable and such a big step in equality for the indigenous people of Bolivia. His idea to nationalize is a very ambitious one and it will be interesting to see if Bolivia's economic condition improves. I personally think that governments are slow and inefficient and he should work on subsidizing the private industries and exercising more control over them instead of trying to fix it using the government's workers. The move to try to save the natural resources is a good long-term decision but might hurt the economy of Bolivia in the near future.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Cubans Allowed to Participate in World Baseball Classic

As stated in an article here, the American government has finally decided to allow Cuba to participate in the World Baseball Classic, largely forced by the threat of withdrawl by other Latin American nations. If the United States government had remained insistant in this manner, it appears that relations with Latin America as a whole would deteriorate

Fish Tacos

Coming from a city like Chicago with such a large Mexican population, New Orleans has been a great disappointment in terms of Latin influenced restaurants however as I drove down Clearview Parkway the other day and starvation overtook, I stopped at Serranos Salsa Company right by Target in Metarie. I now know where to find an authentic fish taco in the area and suggest others go there to fulfill such any cravings.

The World according to the United States


This link is to a silly map that I stumbled on last semester called "The World According to the United States." I think it's pretty funny, but it is not exactly politically correct, so I hope no one is offended. Despite its silliness, I think there is some value to it-it reminds us that many people in the U.S. really do think of the rest of the world the way this map shows-they just know the simple stereotypes and not much else. This definitely applies to Latin America-many estadounidenses only know about Mexico's tequila and illegal immigrants, Colombia's coffee and drug trade, Cuban communism, and they probably also have lots of misconceptions (for instance, the makers of this map think the Patagonia is a jungle). I think it's important that we LAST majors remember that not everyone understands the region as well as we do, especially when we're thinking about U.S.-Latin American relations.

Latin America and the United States

Article available here.

The article above speaks of issues dealing with Cuba, Neo-liberalism and anti-American resentment in Latin American. With all the recent elections of liberal leaders in Latin America (Morales-Bolivia, Néstor Kirchner-Argentina, Michelle Bachelet-Chile), whom have anti-American feelings, what is to come of the future relations between the US and Latin America- Particularly if we have another Republican President??

Another article in the New York Times, brings up the issue of energy taken from Latin American countries, i did not even realize that the US was so dependent on Latin America for so much of its energy.

"The United States imports nearly 50 percent of its oil from Latin America and Canada, whether it's from Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, or natural gas from Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Bolivia or Peru."

article available here.

No where to go

Here is an article from the New York Times that details how efforts have been made by human rights advocates and lawyers to stop the deportations of Haitians from US soil because of the awful and dangerous situation that they would face upon returning to Haiti. What they are seeking is to grant Haitians temporary protected status, the same protection that is offered to several Central American and African immigrant communities, basically they wonder how bad does Haiti have to be, how depressing to due the numbers have to be before Homeland Security decides that they deserve protection? Haitians are simply unwanted and have no place to seek refuge from an economic and political nightmare whether they flee to the east to the Dominican Republic or to the north to the US.

New Orleans workers

Since I have returned, I have noticed a significant change in the demography of New Orleans, namely in the presence of many Hispanic workers to help clean up the city. However, I am wondering if these workers are actually legal or not, and if they are not, are they receiving any sort of legal support while they are here?

For example, I went to the bank today to make a deposit, and in line in front of me were three Mexican workers by the looks of them, trying to make a deposit or receive cash for a check they had. However, as the situation progressed, it seemed like they could not cash their check because they did not have the proper identification (or perhaps they didn't have the required amount of legal documentation). I am not sure that I understood the situation correctly, but I am assuming I did because they were standing outside of the bank in a sullen, depressed manner. I wonder if anybody has heard anything about this. Did I just misunderstand the situation or are Mexicans being brought up to clean up New Orleans illegally? Does the city have any sort of support system for these workers who have some form of pay but no real way to collect it?

Before, I heard that Tulane actually employed undocumented workers, although they technically avoided this because they contracted through the cleaning service Unnico. I wonder if this is the same case, just on a larger scale.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Morales' New Coke Deal

Interesting article in the Washington Post about Bolivian president elect Evo Morales' possible withdrawal from a $100 million US-funded coca eradication program.

Link here.

Nice article, Gracie!

I read the article Gracie posted--I am a soccer player myself and it caught my eye. I really enjoyed the fun little read and I think everyone should read it!

Border Crossings

Living in Houston, which has a large number of illegal immigrants from many Latin American countries, I have always been interested in immigration issues. During high school, I worked in a restaurant where the majority of workers were illegal immigrants, and I often heard many of their stories about coming to Texas as "wetbacks." When Bush was first elected, there was a lot of hope and excitement related to immigration policy. However, as attention was turned from Mexico and immigration to Iraq and other security issues, this hope faded pretty quickly. I recently came across some articles describing the deteriorating conditions at the border, and the new policies implemented by the government to curb the influx of illegal immigrants. These articles present an interesting picture of the deteriorating conditions at border crossings, and the not-so-successful attempts to deter illegal crossings. From my experiences and past studies, it seems that no matter what policies are implemented, or what challenges many Latin Americans face when attempting to enter the country illegally, they will continue to do so as long as the hope of higher wages and a better life is associated with getting work in the United States. Maybe the government should take a different approach to the problem.....Let me know what you all think.

A Border Killing Inflames Mexican Anger at U.S. Policy
Tight Immigration Policy Hits Roadblock of Reality

No need to eat a corpse...

In reading the introduction to our Global Studies book, "Latin America: Myth and Reality" I am reminded of an anecdote from Herodotus’ Histories. If I recall properly, Darius, the Persian King, calls a group of Greeks before his court and asks them what it would take for them to eat the dead bodies of their fathers. They refuse, stating that there is no amount of money in the world which would cause them to do such a blasphemous act. With the Greeks standing aside, Darius then asks a group of Indians (whose custom it was to consume the corpses of their fathers) if they were willing to cremate the remains of their fathers (a practice done by the Greeks). The Indians responded in a horror identical to their Greek peers.

This tale points out the great cultural disparities that can arise between people from different backgrounds and how the customs of one culture can be viewed with disgust by another. The introduction to our book points out that when analyzing a culture different from our own, it is easy to judge it based on what our own culture deems "normal." This is an unfair and ignorant practice which has pervaded human thought throughout history. As scholars it is our responsibility to approach cultures that are different from our own as objectively as possible. I’m not suggesting that you should sacrifice your own beliefs, but instead, try to understand where the other culture is coming from before falling into the stereotype trap.

Approaching a different culture objectively and trying to avoid stereotyping will not only prevent the genocide and imperialism which has stained humankind’s historical record but also bring us a greater understanding of Latin America.


I know that, like me, you are all hopelessly addicted to Facebook. So, I have to inform you guys about the Tulane Latin American Studies Organization (TULASO) group. I know we're all just starting out in the field, but right now the group only has 3 people. I'm sure they'd be happy to have a few more members.

Here's the link:


World Cup

While surfing around in search of interesting sites on Latin American culture, I came across this funny little article about Ecuador's appearance in the upcoming World Cup (soccer, or "futball"). As an athlete, it got me thinking about how cool it would be to have an entire country rallying behind you. In America, our national sport is probably Football (American-style) and while everyone enjoys watching the Superbowl, I imagine that it simply does not compare to the patriotic intensity with which Latin American fans enjoy watching their nation compete in the World Cup. Just some food for thought...
You can find the article at www.latinamericanews.net. It's the first headline listed.

Empty promises

As I was reading from the Global Studies book, I constantly found myself smiling and nodding as I realized I felt identified with many of the descriptions it provided of Latin society. However, one of the statements that struck me the most was not one that made me smile: "Ideology has never been a decisive factor in the historical and social reality of Latin America. But charisma and the ability to lead are crucial ingredients. José Velasco Ibarra, five times the president of Ecuador in the twentieth century, once boasted: 'Give me a balcony and I will be president!' He saw his personality, not his ideology, as the key to power." Being American or living in the U.S., this might seem as a pretty crazy, even funny, way to handle politics. But, growing up in Ecuador, this is what I lived every time presidential campaigns started.
Sadly, I must admit that in my country ignorance and lack of interest in political affairs prevail. Most people, especially those who live in rural areas, aren't worried about whether the candidate will try to pay the (huge) foreign debt, or whether he (we have yet to have a female candidate for the presidency) plans on building a new petroleum refinery in order to export less raw petroleum and import less petroleum-derived products. Suffrage is mandatory in Ecuador and seen by many as a burden rather than a privilege. Most people only listen to the candidates to see who will give them the best and most numerous gifts during their campaign and to see who makes the most promises. Often these are great promises backed up by nothing more than the candidate’s words. There are no plans, or at least no plausible plans. Candidates take advantage of people’s trust and hope, which never die no matter how many times they get let down. Unfortunately, in Ecuador, and I believe it is the case of many Latin American countries, we have fallen into a routine of constant offerings and disappointments.

Comic strip by Quino.

Chilean wine

The wine industry is a very important aspect of Latin American culture that has been continuously overlooked, especially in Chile, where the progress made in the wine industry has not received its due accolades. As I peruse the aisles of the local wine merchant I realize that Latin American wine is becoming more and more popular, and the wine is relatively inexpensive compared to the its North American or European competitors. Chilean wine is the product of wealthy French land owners who migrated to Chile after its independence from Spain, and began to plant the right grapes to produce good European style wine. However, during the years of agrarian reforms the grape crops lost land to other crops, and the industry fell apart. In the late 1980s, the economy of Chile began to rebound from years of repression, and the wine industry went through a period of rebirth. Today, the Chilean wine industry is exporting 600 million dollars a year of wine to the North Atlantic, and the industry continues to expand its markets.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

South American Natural Gas Network

From CNN.

"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that Brazil, Argentina and his country would move forward on a proposed natural gas network spanning much of South America, adding that the agreement heralded a new era of regional cooperation with less U.S. influence."

A 5,000 mile pipeline, which cost just a little... Chavez suggests, according to the article, that if countries, particularly Brazil and Venezuela switch from gasoline- to natural gas-powered cars...

"This is the end of the Washington consensus," Chavez said, referring to a set of U.S.-backed free market policies meant to solve South America's economic woes. "It is the beginning of the South American consensus."

Since the Washington Consensus can be considered responsible for calming inflation while worsening income/social inequality, what will the South American consensus (represented by this pipeline) be marked by?

The House of the Spirits

I happened to get this book by Isabel Allende for Christmas from a cousin who spent a lot of time in Chile. After buying a few of the books for class I was surprised to find that Open Veins of Latin America has a foreword by the same author. Though I'm only a quarter of the way through the book I can already tell it's going to be one of my favorites, and it is a great example of the kind of magical or mythical realism that is popular in Latin American literature. I'm really glad I started it going into LAST, and I thought I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fun read that might pique their interest in Latin America. Here are some book reviews on Amazon if anybody is interested.

- Andy

Latin Music in New Orleans

For anyone that enjoys live music, better yet live latin music, and misses the scene from before the hurricane. Fredy Omar con su banda is playing every Wednesday at Cafe Brasil, plus they have free salsa lessons from 9:30 till 10:30.

Maria Full of Grace

I watched this movie a couple of months ago and was actually very shocked about the drug smuggling world that I had always heard of but never thought much about. The images of girls swallowing 20-60 large heroin-filled capsules, flying to the United States, sneaking through customs and hoping to make it alive were difficult to watch to say the least. The movie showed a scary reality of girls having to choose between their own safety and risking their lives to make a little money for their families. I never realized what little control and how few options young women in some Latin American towns have.

This is an interesting website about the drug smuggling problem that exists between Latin America and the United States.

Little Brazil

I was reading the New York Times on the internet, and there was this interesting clip I found pertaining to Latin American Studies. I always wondered how small immigrant communities like Little Italies or Chinatowns started up. This is just a short movie describing a small Brazilian community in New York. It seems like a lot of fun. I was especially interested in the food and restaurants they showed because I always like to try new foods. I hope you enjoy the movie.

To get there:
1. go to http://www.nytimes.com/
2. if you scroll down, as of January 19, 2006, there is a thumbnail about a third of the page down which is several guys playing drums and has a caption "Brazil in Astoria, Queens"

I didn't know how to put the direct link on the blog. sorry.

"Latin" Identity

An issue that has always interested me about Latin America is the issue of identity. This probably stems from my personal experience. I never thought much about race/ethnicity until one day when I was about 13 and one of my friends turned to me and said you're not white. Over the years I have come to view myself, at least in a small part, as Hispanic. What is more interesting to me though is that my brother who has the exact same heritage I do (my Dad was born in Panama) doesen't consider himself to be Hispanic at all. This issue of ethnicity is highly confusing in the United States. Can I be Hispanic while my brother is not? Is it an issue of lineage or identity? If it is only identity can a person become another ethnicity? If you are incredibly interested in Latin America and begin identifying with that culture can you become Latin?

Along with any ethnic identity questions racism is bound to come up as an issue. My Aunt is a native New Orleanian - she has lived here her entire life. During our conversations it has come up many times about the issues of racism here in the city. She discussed that as children racist comments were rarely directed at African Americans. The issue was so heated that racial slurs were nonexistent in schools. However, this did not extend to Latin Americans. Since my Aunt spoke Spanish she told me that she was often ridiculed and taunted in school. After my Aunt's divorce a few years ago she also told me that it was important for her to change her name back to her maiden name of Benitez. Interestingly enough I'm not sure my Aunt considers herself Hispanic, although lineage wise she is half Mexican half Panamanian. During discussions with her last week about the hurricane she talked to me about the "hispanics" that she encountered. She even used slurs about Mexicans when I told her about this and other Latin American classes I was in this semester. What I think we often forget in the United States is that racism is prevalant in the majority of societies around the world. Latin America is no exception. Many Latin Americans continue to be prejudiced against blacks and even in many cases other cultures in the Spanish-speaking world.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Some maps

Hey all, I was just Googling Latim America to see what I could see and I found this site with links to a bunch of maps of Latin America. I thought they might come in handy for some of y'all (especially with the country profiles) so here's the site!

Evita's Che

I have loved the musical "Evita" since I saw the Madonna/Antonio Banderas version of it. I was always curious about who Antonio's character was supposed to be, so I did a little research. I discovered that his character, Che, is based on Che Guevara. Guevara was a student in Buenos Aires during Peron's presidency and he formed many of his political views during this time period. This is why Che is so antagonistic toward Eva Peron throughout "Evita."

Volunteer with Phoenix of New Orleans

Hello Bloggers,

I graduated from Tulane last year, but I am back with news of how you can help with the rebuilding effort in New Orleans. As a student (okay, and also now as a poor college graduate) I was always frustrated when people ask me to help the community by simply donating money; as students we often have time, not money to contribute. Right now I'm working with the Phoenix of New Orleans (PNOLA). While PNOLA is attracting funding from around the country, there is volunteer work to be done on the ground in New Orleans, and your volunteer time would be invaluable to us. Full time, part-time, once, group or alone, you can volunteer with us and make a difference. Read more to find out what you can do to help us....Oh, and I added a little bit about monetary donations at the end...don't be afraid to send that info along to your parents.

The Phoenix of New Orleans, or PNOLA, is a block-by-block rebuilding project with the mission of rebuilding a hurricane damaged neighborhood in Mid-City. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, this neighborhood was a slightly run down mixed income, mixed race New Orleans neighborhood; today we plan to rebuild this neighborhood as a symbol of national unity. With the support of national donors and local volunteers we can together help the residents of this damaged New Orleans neighborhood be reborn as “America’s Quarter,” a neighborhood unified by the direct support of Americans nationwide.

PNOLA has a strict “no red tape” policy with regard to its rebuilding strategies. With this mentality, PNOLA believes that a small but strong and diligent executive staff, a Council to manage local cooperative organizations and contractors, volunteers, neighbors, and an interactive progress tracking center for our donors to see the changes being made will together successfully rebuild this neighborhood.


The neighborhood to be rebuilt as “America’s Quarter” covers the expanse of blocks within the bounds of the Broad Ave.-Canal St.- Claiborne Ave-Tulane Ave, a total of 36 blocks. This Mid-City area is close to the downtown medical centers, the Superdome, and residents would have close access to the Canal Street Streetcar. Within this space there are 260 homes and 100 local businesses and several empty lots. The neighborhood received 3 to 5 feet of flood water after Hurricane Katrina, and FEMA reported a 30% to 40% damage assessment for the entire neighborhood. The streets have always been underfinanced, but after the hurricane, every car was destroyed, electrical lines were strewn across streets, and a layer of toxic residue covered the flooded surfaces. This neighborhood will not be bulldozed, but it also will not receive much FEMA money. Without your help, this neighborhood will be an expanse of uninhabitatable brownfields. This neighborhood was seriously damaged, but has the unique potential to be rebuilt now.

PNOLA has formed a Coalition of Property Owners and is creating a Neighborhood Registry to determine who is returning to New Orleans, who the local landlords and renters are, and who is planning to sell or purchase property in the neighborhood. With this information, PNOLA intends to arrange sustainable rebuilding project block-by-block.


PNOLA has set a tentative date of February 11 (Saturday) through February 13 (Monday) at 9:00am to put our first group of volunteers, neighbors and contractors on the ground in mid-city New Orleans to construct 36 block management stations, as well of the primary staging area at 1927 Tulane Ave. The primary staging area will consist of a main supply depot, a rebuilding coalition headquarters, a service city for contract laborers, a communication station, and a volunteer support counter.

Infrastructure to be constructed on Feb 11- Feb 13

I. Block management stations (36); 1 per block
a. Ideally these will be trailers, but they may be 10x10 footprint canopies or tents
b. When building begins, each of these stations will be equipped with digital camera, generator + fuel, CB radio, food and water, (hopefully) wireless internet

II. Primary staging area (Block B8, 1927 Tulane Ave.)
a. Main supply depot: storage warehouse for tools, housing fixtures, wood, drywall, etc.
b. Rebuilding coalition headquarters: Provide a physical location for interaction between homeowners, engineers and architects that would aid neighborhood in being rebuilt in such a way that it is historically preserved, flood proof, and reflects American unity
c. Service city: provide services for hurricane victims in the neighborhood, to help them transition back to New Orleans
d. Communication station: radio communication between primary staging area for supply requests, internet access for posting data online, compiling spending reports, activity reports and donor reports
e. Volunteer support center: place where neighborhood members and volunteers can be assigned daily jobs, sign in/sign out

We are also looking for organizations that would be interested in forming a long-term partnership with PNOLA.

Volunteer Groups/Individuals
PNOLA is in need of volunteers who can assist with:
1. Construction, yard work, debris removal, etc. (any skill level)
2. Food supply/distribution to neighbors, contractors or volunteers
3. Volunteer check-in/assignments
4. Block manager assistance

Volunteers are always useful…whether you can commit to providing people for a month or a day, feel free to contact PNOLA.

PNOLA Council
The council will be made up of those organizations, businesses, officials and community leaders that have been or want to be highly involved in the process of rebuilding this neighborhood. Each member institution will be represented on the council by one individual who will act as the spokesperson for that institution, and vote on behalf of the institution during council meetings. Member organizations originating outside New Orleans should either have, or plan to have an on-location field office in the affected area.

Each member institution must select a spokesperson that is able to commit to this representative position for at least one month. The spokesperson must reside in New Orleans for his/her term of service. If the spokesperson is from a local displaced institution and cannot have a physical field presence:

1. The local institution must have an established work history within the city of New Orleans, or be represented by an established spokesperson


2. The institution must make a commitment to serve on the Council for more than one year; if this is the case, council contributions can be made online until a physical council member arrives in New Orleans.

Block managers (10)
Block managers will oversee a four (4) neighborhood blocks and will keep the project manager abreast of rebuilding progress. They will also be reporting this progress directly to the PNOLA website for donors, neighbors and council members to view.

Block managers will be responsible for taking pictures and videos of construction and other improvements taking place on their assigned blocks. They will also submit spending reports, activity reports, neighbor issue reports, and contractor sign-in/sign-out sheets.

Block managers will help with quality control of construction and ensure that contractors are performing their duties in a timely and complete manner.

Block managers must also be available to help neighbors with any issues: problem reports, service needs. Block managers will trouble-shoot these issues themselves, or bring them to the attention of those who can trouble-shoot them.

There are many jobs to be done as PNOLA and I encourage all of you to explore the PNOLA website, accessed online at www.pnola.org. I especially enjoy the virtual walking tour of the neighborhood. As the blocks become repaired, photos of the improvements will be posted.

Go to www.pnola.org.
Click on “sponsor a block.”
Click on any block in the interactive map picture. (Ex: Block C2)
A block profile will pop-up, which describes the street boundaries, donation goals, number of homes and business, status of the neighborhood, flood damage, etc.

At the bottom of the page take a virtual walking tour of the neighborhood by clicking on photos.

All donors or donor groups will have their name inscribed in the Phoenix of New Orleans Donor Book which will be on permanent display in the neighborhood upon completion. Donations greater then $1000 will entitle the donor to receive a special commemoration plate embedded into the neighborhood design.

Within the new sidewalks of each block, commemoration plates will be embedded around the edges to show visitors who supported the development of the block. Different plates will be associated with different levels of sponsorship and major donors will have an option of a commemoration plate embedded in landmarks throughout the neighborhood including lampposts, street signs, park benches, etc.

All commemoration plates will be subtly integrated into the neighborhood landscape and donor names may be combined on plates to keep an aesthetic, natural look throughout the neighborhood. Too many plates may make the neighborhood look overly "purchased".


The rebuilding phase needs as much money or more money than the emergency/urgent phase, but many of donors have spent their charity funds on other organizations immediately after Hurricane Katrina.

To insure that these funds are used for the rebuilding phase as well as the emergency phase, we need you to send a message to the recipient organization(s)to let them know that PNOLA is an important part of rebuilding New Orleans and that you, a donor, would approve of their decision to sponsor a block using a part of your donation.

Call (877) 895-1841 for questions regarding the petition process. A web petition can be submitted from the PNOLA website, just click on “Already donated elsewhere.”

Thank you for your time. If you have any questions for me about the UPC housing program, feel free to contact me. If you have any questions about PNOLA you can contact me or Paul Ikemire.

Director: Paul Ikemire
Phone: 877-895-1841

I hope to hear back from you soon.

Meghan H. Greeley