Friday, February 24, 2006

Winter Olympics

After the brilliant display of athletic achievement in the 2004 Athens summer games the Argentines have little to celebrate about in Turin. In 2004 the Argentines took the gold medal in two of the four most celebrated team sports in the games; Men’s (soccer & basketball), however just two years later the Argentine people have little to celebrate over in the Olympics. Their only headlines in the games are concerning a former U.S. skier who is now in his mid-forties, and is the oldest skier ever to compete in the games. It is a great story for Argentina but the guy competed for the U.S. in Salt Lake City, and came in last in his event. Regardless, a larger problem is brewing in the Winter Olympics besides low ratings, Sasha Cohen falling and poor U.S. performances; the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America have never won a Winter Olympic medal, and actually only 39 of the 203 countries on the Olympic committee have ever won a medal. What should be done about these inequalities? Maybe some of the winter games played in Africa or Latin America should be incorporated into the truly international Olympic games? The Olympic committee does not seem to care, and they have actually suggested that countries such as Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, with their majestic ski resorts, should mimic the South Koreans who have rather recently became medal contenders when they began to put money into better facilities. Additionally, it seems that something must be done quickly because no one wants to watch another Mexican skier finish an hour behind the guy that came in second to last, or a giant stage hook coming out for an Ecuadorian figure skater.

Article here.

"Inquiring Gringos Want to Know"

This is a link to an article in the LA Times online (requires registation, but it worth it, they have great coverage of Latin American, and International, news.). The article discusses a column in an alternative paper in southern California called "Ask a Mexican." The column addresses some of the confusion and uncertainty that can come from encounters between Hispanics and non-Hispanics. It gives an interesting picture of the way Hispanic identity is defined and understood by both Hispanics and others.

Fewer US flights to Venezuela!!

Hey this is an interesting article about how there are fewer flights to Venezuela from the US as a result of the problems between the two.

Gitmo News

Recently there was a lot of coverage around the possibility of hunger strikers being force-fed in Guantanamo Bay. The military is now confirming that the force-feeding did happen and continues to happen. This Article from the New York Times includes quotes from the military personnel responsible for the decision.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Temporary Permits Extended

Yesterday, the Bush administration announced that it would extend the temporary permits that would allow over 300,000 Central Americans to legally remain in the United States under Temporary Protected Status. This move is especially relevant here in New Orleans because of the large number of those peoples residing here.

Link to The Washington Post article.

some poetry

Reading work by Latin American writers for class last week reminded me of some poetry I read in high school Spanish class. I went back and reread it and I found a particularly lovely poem by Gabriela Mistral called "El Angel Guardian" that I wanted to share on here.

Es verdad, no es un cuento;
hay un Angel Guardian
que te toma y te lleva como el viento
y con los ninos va por donde van.

Tiene cabellos suaves
que van en la venteada
ojos dulces y graves
que te sosiegan con una mirada
y matan miedos dando claridad.
(No es un cuento, es verdad.)

El tiene cuerpo, manos y pies de alas
y las seis alas vuelan o resbalan,
las seis te llevan de su aire batido
y lo mismo te llevan de dormido.

Hace mas dulce la pulpa madura
que entre tus labios golosos estruja;
rompe a la nuez su taimada envoltura
y es quien te libra de gnomos y brujas.

Es quien te ayuda a que cortes las rosas,
que estan sentadas en trampas de espinas,
el que te pasa las aguas manosas
y el que te sube las cuestas mas pinas.

(I'm sorry, it's missing the accents because I don't know how to put those in on here!)
I hope you like it as much as I do.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lula's Popularity in Brazil

Many people believe that Lula would not be re-elected in a new election because he did not stick to the plans that he originally promised in his platform. However, this article says that voter support remains high.

Erin Jones

An Extra Dosage of Chavez

Following his slightly tense remark to Condoleeza Rice, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has made another quite shocking statement this past Sunday during his weekly TV show. He announced the possiblity of calling for a referendum, which would allow him the ability to run for reelection in 2012 elections. Under the current constitution of Venezuela, Chavez is barred from running in the election of 2012. Chavez stated that the people would decide on the issue as such.

"If there is no opposition candidate, I would consider signing a decree to hold a referendum asking 'Do you agree Chavez should be allowed to seek a new term?' and let's let the people decide."

For more on this subject check out this source.

Trashing Jobs

As most of yall know, Mexico City has a large amount of trash. Many of the poorer citizens have made these landfills their home and/or a source of economic livelihood. However, a new article I just read on Planert Ark (environmental news) addresses the fact that this will soon change. A new "greener" waste management plan in Nezahualcoyotl has neighbors composting their organic matter. In addition, there are plans to replace traditional land fills with a trash separating plant that would cut down on the total amount of waste deposited at these sites. However, this plan has upset garbage pickers as they will have less recycable and compostable items to collect and the separation plants will virtually force pickers off the site. Government officials claim that this will create news jobs at the separation plant, which will be available to garbage pickers. In addition, they are considering permitting the development of plant nurseries on top of the old landfills. Read more here.

Subduction of the Nazca Plate by the South American Plate

We have been talking a lot about the different volcanoes and earthquakes that have over the years affected Latin American nations. I am an environmental geo-science major (right now anyway haha) so the geology of the region is really interesting to me. I found a great animation that shows the process of plate subduction. Subduction of the Nazca Plate by the South American Plate is what causes all of the volcanic and tectonic activity of the region. I just thought I would share it with you all...

To check it out, go here, and click on "The Process of Subduction" - it's a simple animation that will show you just what happens.

Krewe de Vieux

Here's a link to a Spanish language news article about Krewe de Vieux.


Polo is a sport enjoyed all over the world but dominated by the Argentines. I was recently at a 40-goal (the highest level polo) polo match and every single player was from Argentina. The sport is fascinating and allows people in the US and around the world to get a taste of the Argentine culture. So if anyone ever finds themselves near a polo club on a sunday afternoon drop by, have a mate, and enjoy.

Rolling Stones in Rio

** The Stones' love affair with Brazil **

The Rolling Stones, who have been visiting Brazil since the 60s, will be performing to their biggest audience so far in Rio de Janeiro this Saturday.

Click here for story.

Gi-normous telescopes, free food, and mardi gras music... oh my!

Atop a Mexican volcano is construction for a gi-normous telescope that is being funded by both the Mexican and U.S. governments. The fact that most of the U.S. funding is coming from the military makes some Mexicans skeptical of the entirety of U.S. intentions, but scientifically speaking, the telescope will let astronomers loock back 13 billion years!!!! Click here to read more.....

On a different note, Wednesday night is the next TULASO meeting at 8pm in the Patterson lounge- free food for anyone who's lookin' to get more involved in the department and give some input as to what and where to have the next Pachanga.

Lastly, one of my favorite Austin musicians is playing a few shows in town over the gras- Bob Schneider, who fuses Latin Brass Funk with his large band "The Scabs" will be playing house of blues with Better Than Ezra on Thursday, February 23 and with Rebirth at Howlin Wolf on Saturday the 25th. Definitely worth checking out, even if you've never heard his music before.

Nueve Reinas

A hollywood movie entitled Criminal with Diego Luna is based on the Argentine movie Neuve Reinas. The Argentine version is superior to the Hollywood version because it ends with the corrallito. See the movies and you will know what I am talking about (explaining anymore would give the endings away)!

Immortal Technique

Immortal Technique is a very outspoken hip-hop artist who raps about social (in)justice and other politically charged themes. Many of his songs are about Latin America and one of his songs, Peruvian Cocaine, is relevant to some of the issues we've been discussing. The song is about the path cocaine takes from crop to the streets of the U.S. and he does a good job of connecting the plight of peasant farmers with those of the inner city. The link is to lyrics for Peruvian Cocaine

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

This just made me laugh...

A quote from Quebec City, Canada on April 21, 2001. George W. Bush declined to answer reporters' questions at the Summit of the Americas with this response: "Neither in French nor in English nor in Mexican."

Alejo Carpentier

Alejo Carpentier was a Cuban novelist and musicologist. As a political exile in Paris between 1928 and 1939, Carpentier was strongly influenced by Antonin Artaud, Jacques Prévert, and the surrealists. Reflecting his deep commitment to revolutionary politics, his novels explore the irrational elements of the Latin American world, its rich variety of cultures, and the possibility of its magical transformation. Widely regarded as one of the greatest modern Latin American writers, Carpentier was also important as a theorist of the region's literature and historian of its music. Among his works are Ecue-Yamba-O (1933), The Lost Steps (1953; tr. 1956), The Chase (1956; tr. 1989), The Kingdom of This World (1949, tr. 1957), The War of Time (1963, tr. 1970), Reasons of State (1974; tr. 1976), and The Harp and the Shadow (1979; tr. 1990).

Aristide heading back to Haiti

As little press as it made during the 2004 election, I was personally very interest in the Bush administration's reaction to the coup occurring in Haiti. CNN has reported here about Aristide returning, and no doubt, he should have supporters in his wake upon arriving back at home.

These next couple of months should be interesting, seeing the reaction to the once-President's return...

Columbian General Reinaldo Castellanos Resigns in Abuse Scandal

"The commander of Colombia's army resigned, the government said Tuesday, after allegations that officers beat, tortured and sexually abused 21 young recruits during basic training."

Link: CNN.

Guatemalan Jewelry For Sale

I live in the JL dorm, and I suspect that other JLers got this advertisement, too. Someone slipped a little sheet under my door advertising Guatemalan jewelry for sale. It looks nice - long dangly earrings and then some pretty hefty necklaces. They also have bracelets. If you are interested in shopping for Guatemalan jewelry, you should contact Michelle at (561) 210-7820. The jewlery looks really nice and I'm thinking about calling her myself...

Political Satire

Mardi Gras is, without a doubt, one of my favorite times of the year and one of the times that I am most greatful I go to school in New Orleans. It's not just the parades, the floats, the throws, the beer (okay, maybe it is the beer to an extent), but its also because of the new orleanians ability to make fun of themselves. Even in the wake of Katrina and all the political inaction and scandals that came during the aftermath, the people of New Orleans take pride in theircapacity to score just one point against the mayor, the governor, the president, Fema, etc. I'm sure a lot of you went to Krewe de Vieux, so you know exactly what I'm talking about. Well, it appears that we're not the only ones who take delight in such little victories over the powers that be. In Rio, Carinval is in full swing and, like New Orleanians, cariocas have taken the time to vent their frustration with politicians and the scandals that have swept the country throughout the last year. In fact, over 100,000 carnival masks of Lula have been bought so far this year and in the streets revelers sing and dance sambas making fun of bald-headed corrupt politicians samuggling out thousands of dollars in their briefs. It seems some things are more universal: corruption, and peoples need to vent their frustrations with such corruption in any (little) way they can.


No this is not a post about independence from colonialism nor the United States. This is about the second (well I guess third best if you win this) soccer/futbol event in Latin America (and now the U.S. for lucky teams).
It's the Libertadores!!!!! woohoo!!!
Yes, they have begun.
and my team is in it, only the best Brazilian team ever...that's right...the Corinthians!!!!
Corinthians, corinthians minha vida...
ok I'm not going to sing the whole song for you.
I realize this is no Champions league, but for all Latin American teams Libertadores is by far the best tournament. Teams from all over Latin America, well actually South America, Mexico, and now the U.S. (I'm pretty sure Central America doesn't get to participate and it was the U.S.'s first time last year, which I find very exciting, although I don't think one is playing this year) get to battle it out in best of two matches, with the winner going to Japan for the World Club Cup, last year Sao Paulo won the cup beating Europe's best...who says Europe has better soccer...maybe its because half of Latin America plays there (at least that's what my Brazilian friends like to say).
So anyone that's interested in soccer and wants to watch the finesse of Latin America instead of the physical game of Europeans should try and see if you can catch a game...
which I highly doubt is possible unless you watch telemundo or univision, since U.S. sports channels other then Fox World Sports pays little to no attention to soccer even if it's in the U.S.

Vai Corinthians!!!!

Monday, February 20, 2006

TULASO meeting this Wednesday


Hope you're all surviving midterms and getting ready for another amazing Mardi Gras season. TULASO is going to have one last meeting before the break this Wednesday, February 22 at 8 pm in Patterson Hall's lounge. There will be FREE FOOD so if only to help us make sure it gets eaten, please come!


TULASO Exec Board

Haiti's new president = PREVAL

A follow up on last weeks post -- The country's impoverished people overwhelmingly wanted Rene Preval as their president and their wishes came true last Thursday. He won without a run-off.

The article is found here.

65 Miners Trapped in Mexico

Mexico endures a mining catastrophe reminiscent of that in US which occurred just over a month ago, except instead of a dozen men trapped, there are an estimated 65. In San Juan de las Sabanas (located in the norther state of Coahuila), miners became trapped in the tunnel at approximately 2:30 am Sunday morning after a methane gas explosion. This morning, hope was dwindling as officials reported were still unable to excavate the collapsed tunnels leading to the men.

Read the full article here.

Latin News Website

Hey guys, I found a site that has current news releases for the countries in Latin America so if any of you are interested in finding out whats going on in the region you can find it here.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Chavez tells Rice: 'Don't mess with me, girl'

Condoleezza Rice has described Venezuela as one of the "biggest problems" for the Western Hemisphere and has promised to develop regional alliances as part of an "inoculation" strategy to expose what the State Department calls anti-democratic behavior in Venezuela. In response, Chavez told Rice, "Don't mess with me, Condoleezza. Don't mess with me, girl." Diplomatic relations between the United States and Venezuela have been strained since Chavez accused the United States of plotting a coup d'etat that briefly ousted him in 2002. Since then, he has repeatedly accused Washington of trying to topple him, and says the United States will attempt to sow chaos this year as he launches a re-election bid. It wouldn't be surprising, considering the history of CIA activities in Latin America.....

Read the Article Here

Alex Rodriguez: Dominican or estadounidense?

Interesting news in the world of baseball that relates to the issue of Latin American identity. Alex Rodriguez, who was born in the U.S. to Dominican parents (he has dual citizenship), was back and forth about whether to play for the U.S. or the D.R. in the World Baseball Classic. He decided at first to just not play at all, because the decision was too hard, but has now decided to play for the U.S. (story here), and Ozzie Guillen, the White Sox' Venezuelan manager, made some nasty comments in response (which he later apologized for), as you can see in this short article. I feel like this story goes way beyond just the world of baseball, and is an amazing example of how hard it is for Latin American migrants in the U.S. to figure out their identity, especially when, as you can see in ARod's case, they are often forced to make a clear-cut choice between their different origins. Ozzie Guillen's reactions were extremely interesting and revealing also-Guillen said that, by choosing to represent the U.S., ARod showed that he is not a Dominican. Is it possible to be both an estadounidense and a Dominican (or Venezuelan, Mexican, etc.) at the same time, or must Latin American migrants choose?

Note also Guillen's comments about Nomar Garciaparra playing for Mexico-"he only knows Mexico because he went to visit"...

More on the Olympics...

To add to the earlier posting on the Winter Olympics and Latin America's lack of participation, I wanted to add my comments and another article I found on Lexis-Nexis: Though more nations enter, Winter Games medals remain dominated by exclusive club. The article talks about how the Winter Olympics are still dominated by wealthy Northern nations with colder climates, while "no medals have ever gone to Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia or the Middle East". Only a handful of Latin American athletes are even at the Olympics, and none have even a remote prospect of winning a medal in Torino. I saw a report on a Costa Rican cross country skiier who was fifty years old and fell several times during the race-it was an achievement that he finished the race at all, supposedly. I think it is partly because most Latin American countries' climates are warmer, but I think it also a lack of resources...there certainly are mountains in Latin America where athletes could train, but no one is that interested (see Bolivian comment in the article), and even if they were, they couldn't afford the fancy training facilities and coaching that you need for most winter olympic sports. So the Winter Olympics appear to be another example of the inequality between developed and developing regions.

Rolling Stones in Brazil

Here is an article from yahoo news about the free concert the Rolling Stones gave in Rio in front of a crowd of at least 1,000,000 and probably upwards of 2,000,000 people! What is wild are the photos provided. The concert was staged right on Copacabana Beach and the crowds surged all the way down the beach, the photos are really amazing.

Los Desaparecidos

I recently did a Spanish research project about Los Desaparecidos of Argentina and found an interesting connection between this week's readings about artistic forms arising from turmoil and the expressions that arose after the militaristic era of los desaparecidos ended. Upwards of 30,000 people were "disappeared" between 1975 and 1983, most were probably tortured and killed. The turmoil of this era in Argentina sparked decades of backlash and a forceful movement to assure that nothing like this happens again. Since this week's readings revolved around art, I wanted to find one of the many poems that expresses the feelings of the Argentinians about the torture and hardships of the disappeared time. But unfortunately, I couldn't find any English translations. Instead, this is an article about a movement for a torture free society focused on ending torture around the world. It doesn't explicitly focus on Latin America, but this gathering represents one of many that have arisen about worldwide injustice, and Argentina's experience provides an unfortunate example of how far inhumanity can go.

The Olympics in Latin America?

I am just going to start off by saying that I am cool and that I stayed home on a Saturday night to do homework. Inevitably, since the Winter Olympics in Torino are going on now I procrastinated and ended up watching them for a few hours before actually getting anything done. I did not see a very many Latin American nations involved in any of the proceedings. This might makes sense because the tropical weather of Latin America makes Winter Olympics faily incompatible with Latin America (except for maybe in the Andes Mountain region). This made me wonder about the Olympics and what the prospects are about Latin America hosting a future festival. I found this article and decided to reproduce it here because it is really short. This was published in a Chinese news publication during the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens. Here you go:

MEXICO CITY, Aug. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Mario Vazquez, president of the Pan-American Sports Organization (ODEPA), said in Athens on Saturday that he hopes the Olympics will return to to Latin America after 36 years.
"Eight or nine Latin American countries have the potential" to host an Olympics, the Mexican was quoted as saying by Mexican newspapers.
"Brazil is ready to organize them any day now," said Vazquez, also president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
Vazquez reminded Argentina "had been a candidate" and that Mexico "already had the Olympics" in 1968.
"Hopefully one day we'll see the Olympic Games return to Latin America," said Vazquez, who has headed the Mexican Olympic Committee for 18 years. He admitted Latin America's chance would be increased on an Olympic host-rotation system. Enditem

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Velazquez, master artist

In the spirit of addressing some of the culture and art of Latin America, I have included here a link to a biography of Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Valazquez, one of the greatest artists of all time and one of my personal favorites. The bio includes links to view some of his works--I hope you find it as grand as I do! Here's the link.

Perhaps a Slight Role Reversal?

In a definite change in roles, Chavez is now trying to exert pressure on the United States by the threat of withholding oil. He says that the United States is attempting to destabilize his government, after a comment made by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stating that Venezuela's ties with Cuba were dangerous for democracy in Latin America. Although I have to agree with Secretary of State Rice's assessment that Chavez's rule is a threat to democracy, it still seems interesting that, for one, a Latin American country can levy a serious threat against the U.S. that we have to pay mind to. Although it would make terrible financial sense for Venezuela, Chavez is just crazy enough that he might do it, and the Administration seems to think this as well.

Article found here.

Chavez v. the US

This is a very interesting article about Hugo Chavez and discusses the relationship between the United States and Venezuela and SPIES!!
Since it is the Economist, there is a bit of opinion mixed in with the facts, which makes for an even more intriguing of a read.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Machiguenga Indians

After reading The Storyteller I was interested in how the Machiguenga Indians were doing today, considering this book was written in 1989. Apparantly, one of the Machiguenga tribes has opened up an ecotourism resort in the Peruvian jungle. This resort is entirely Indian owned and operated. It is almost unique in the world. They offer great tours through the rainforest and descriptions of their culture. Most importantly, they display their unique brand of storytelling. I thought this was awesome considering that it protects their culture, traditions, the environment and even gives them a livelihood. Here's the website if you want to check it out.

Yerba Mate

Interesting South American tea-like beverage. Being a tea drinker I am definitely curious to try yerba mate. The cool part about this is the drink is consumed from a special gourd. Drinking yerba mate can either be a solitary, contemplate life kind of experience or it can be shared very socially. I'd be curious to hear if anybody has partaken and how is it? Here's some info if anybody's more curious:


Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Robinho, and Cafu are just six of the international all-stars that make up the Brazilian national team which have won five world cups and are favored to win number six (if they can get through the powerhouse U.S. team) in Germany this summer. Riquelme, Messi, Cambiasso, Sorian, Crespo and Zanetti are just a few of the Argentine superstars that are ranked fourth in the futbol world, and are considered a threat to win there third world cup this summer in Germany. But how did this all happen? Many historians and social scientists claim that the “modernization” of Latin America in the 19th century, by mainly the British, hurt Latin American society, and is one of the many reasons that Latin American economies are not significantly stronger today. Regardless, the most important cultural attribute to Latin America arrived directly out of European modernization. According to Dr. Richard Walter, Latin Americans were introduced to futbol while British mechanics and engineers built the railroads that zigzag from natural resources to ports throughout Latin America. When railroad workers took breaks they frequently attempted to teach the native workers the sport, and the Latin Americans caught on quite quickly. Ironically, the Brazilians and the Argentines have foiled British hopes of advancing in the World Cup four times.

More Alternative Fuels from Latin America

Earlier someone posted about Argentina's windmill/turbine energy in Patagonia.

Here's an article (also from the BBC) about ethanol in Brazil. Using Brazilian sugar can to make the ethanol, they don't have to deal with complicated trade politics. Over 80% of the new cars sold in Brazil are made to use both gasoline and ethanol, and most pump stations offer both.

Seems cool to me, though I'm sure there are environmental and labor concerns. And the Big 3 in Michigan would go nuts if we tried to do that in the US, but maybe it could happen.

I also find it interesting that making sugar cane into ethanol is a putrid process, since I only think of extremely pleasant smells when I think of sugar. : )

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Vivir Latino

The Cuaderno Latinoamericano received a nice visit from an excellent blog that also comments on Latin American Affairs. This blog, called Vivir Latino, is another fine resource for news, information, and opinions on things Latin American. Cuaderno Latinoamericano blog members should check it out.

Bolivian Herbal Remedies

Since I'm sick and so is everyone else at Tulane (and also because I don't really like medicines and am fascinated by homeopathics) I though that a posing on some Latin American herbal remedies would be apropos. I found a really good site that talked about traditional medicinals in Bolivia. It's really cool because it first gives a brief history of the Kallawayas (means 'carriers of medicinal herbs' in Aymara), who were basically the medicine men of the Incan empire and who practice to this day (there are currently about 50 active Kallawayas). The site then gives detailed descriptions of some of the more commonly used herbs, what they are used for, and how to make the various concoctions. I found it particularly interesting that basil, a pretty common herb in most homes, is used for treating headaches, heart disease, depression, anxiety, and a whole host of other afflictions! There is also information on the site as to where one could order these herbs if interested. So, if you're sick (and I know some of you are!) you should really check out this site and find out how to cure what ails you the traditional Bolivian way.

Edwidge Danticat

I am taking a TIDES class about the immigrant's story. We read a short story called "Children of the Sea" by Edwidge Danticat. It is so poetical and well-written it is really worth reading. It is a story of a romance between a Haitian woman and man who are split up by the dangers present in Haiti. The man has to escape by boat because he had worked for a radio station that criticized the government. Meanwhile, the woman stays with her family in Haiti where they are severely abused by the Haitian soldiers. The story is comprised of letters written, but never sent, the man and woman write while separated. I may not be articulating the storyline very well, but it really is a very moving piece of fiction. I recommend reading it if you ever get the chance. It's only about ten pages long but it made me cry, and it will probably make you cry, too!

Brazilian Chaos Continues

Interesting article involving slum violence in Rio. Check it out here.

This kind of involves what we were talking about in class the other day -- can anything be done to stop the violence? And why is this getting press now? Only because the Stones will be in concert in a couple of days? Interesting how the world works...

Class War in Haiti exemplified by election confusion...

The majority of impoverished citizens of Haiti throw their support to apparent winner of their presidential election, Rene Preval. Over 50% of the citizens voted marking a successful election thus far. The winner has yet to be announced but the elite class calls Preval a fool, and stand by the claim that they will not allow him to stand in office. He has issued an investigation to prove that he had held 54% of the vote, but the results are still not told until further notice.

"The lack of organized violence and absence of widespread fraud signal a widespread commitment among Haitians to transform their political landscape."

the article can be found here.

Haiti's New Pres

So the results have come in from Haiti's election and the new President Rene Preval has been announced the winner. Rene was declared winner after he received 51% of the vote. Preval was previously an ally of exiled President Aristide. For more info, here is a link.

A Bright Future for Haiti or More of the Same?

This week after a disputed election that resembled Florida in 2000, Haiti elected a new President. I'm sure you're all aware of the revolution in Haiti that I believe took place two years ago now, which ousted President Aristide. The new President is Rene Preval, an agronomist and former President. But there were some concerns about foul play at the ballot box and only after intense negotiations with international groups was a deal reached on who would become President. While Preval is popular among the lower classes, the election dispute and the fact that he is a former President returning to power (just like Aristide before he was ousted) hints that perhaps this may not signal change for Haiti. I found out about the election from the NY Times online, and you can find out about it here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Latin Night at Ampersand

On Friday nights, there is a Latin Night at Club Ampersand (they call it "Rumbao", it used to be at Twiropa), featuring DJ Mambo and DJ Flaco, woooo! Starts at 10, free salsa lessons from 10 to 11. Here's the website for the club:

Venezuela's attempts to fly Brazilian don't fly with the U.S.

If anyone has flown with United Airlines lately you may have been flying, not in a Boeing or Airbus aircraft, but Embraer – the Brazilian Aeronautics Company S.A. Apparently these airplanes must be worthwhile deals as the Venezuelan state (military) wants to add itself to the list of buyers that includes the second largest airline. Well, the Venezuelans want to buy and the Brazilians apparently want to sell, but there is a problem... U.S. intervention. The U.S. is not allowing it “on the grounds that the sale could destabilize Latin America.” So the U.S. is pushing for hemispheric free trade, but is violating two fellow American states’ autonomies by... restricting trade. Apparently the Brazilian government has negotiated with Secretary Rice over the matter.. much like a time long ago when I negotiated with my mother over extra servings of ice-cream.. We are both still waiting for a response. Related Article


Juanes is playing in Houston tomorrow if anyone's interested. :)

More Border Issues

I recently read a brief article in an environmental newsletter regarding paper mills in Argentina. Residents in the town of Gualeguaychú, along the border between Argentina and Uruguay are blocking roads there in protest of the construction of two Uruguayan paper mills. Residents feel that the paper mills, which are being built along a river in Fray Bentos, Uruguay, will cause high amounts of river pollution. In addition, they accuse Uruguay of breaking a treaty that sanctions uses for the river. Interestingly, the paper mills are one of the largest investments in Uruguay's history at $1.9 billion.

No to Cocaine but yes to coca?

Does anyone else find the fact that Morales is allowing coca cultivation but saying he has zero tolarance for cocaine and drug trafficking contradictory? See the article here:

Chavez the "Spycatcher"

Chavez claims to have caught U.S. spies and says he can spy on U.S. diplomats in Venezuela at ease, seems to just be more rhetoric. Story here.

Stones in Rio

The Rolling Stones are going to play a concert free to the public in Rio de Janeiro this weekend. The city is paying $750,000 for the concert and it is expected to draw the largest crowds for any concert in Rio's history- yes, it might even be larger than Rod Stewart's performance in '94 that attracted 3.5 million people. The concert is a week before Carnival begins (as I am sure we are all aware of) and seems like it would be a lot of fun. Field trip to Rio anyone????

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Immigration to the United States

Since I am taking a course on Latin American migration to the United States, this interested me. I thought this article would also be interesting to share with the rest of you. Enjoy!

Here is the link.

Oh Brazil...

CNN reported that a Brazilian bobsledder, Armando dos Santos, was the first athlete to be sent home from the Torino Olympics for doping (he used the anabolic steroid Nandrolone). Brazil will replace the athlete and continue in the event.

Did anyone else notice the small Latin American showing in the Olympics? I understand it is the Winter Olympics, but still... Mexico isn't even there!!!!

Suspect in Dirty War

Studying Argentina's Dirty War is sometimes pretty eerie. Recently a police officer (who is living in Spain) was arrested as a suspected kidnapper and murderer during the DirtyWar. "He is allegedly connected to 161 cases of kidnapping and torture, authorities said." The stories from the Dirty War are pretty unbelievable and because we are so far removed, they are sometimes difficult to really grasp. Knowing a torturer is being proscecuted and seeing his picture in present day makes the history of the Dirty War more tangible. Read the full story here.

Haitian Elections First Hand From a Different Perspective

One of the counselors I work with in the Admissions office came to college from Haiti, where her family still lives. It was really interesting these past few days to hear her reactions to the elections and what she says her family has seen. Having come to a private university from the poorest country in all of the Americas it's not surprising she grew up a part of the less than 3% Bourgeouise class of Haiti. But her outlook on the future of the country is not good. From her first hand perspective she feels the country will never progress because of how uneducated and poor the masses are which makes them incapable of understanding any political reasoning without instintaneous gratification. For the past few days her parents have not been able to go to work for fear of being kidnapped or killed in the street. For any of you that have seen hotel Rwanda, she said the scene where they invaded the hotel was basically recreated yesterday in the hotel where they were trying to count the votes. Because of this the winner of the elections is unclear, but Preval claims there is no contest. Preval demands he has already won has apparently threatened the people of Haiti that any other outcome of the election will be met with a response his people are prepared to make- he will "isolate his adversareis." More than 900 people have been killed for political reasons in the past year. Pascale's (my friend in the admissions office) cousin, Charles Henry Baker, was actually a candidate in the race but came in third place and is now out. Pascale also commented on how big of an issue the racism within Haiti is between black people and mulattos or anyone of fairer skin. I know it's definitely a biased perspective coming from one of the few privledged people in Haiti, but I thought it was an interesting point of view that probably doesn't get spoken of very often.

Hadrian's Wall

The United States House of Representatives has recently passed a bill that would allow for the construction of a 700 mile fence along the US-Mexican border in addition to increasing funding to troops and police in order to halt the flow if illegal migrants in to the United States. In reaction to this, a group of 11 Latin American countries (Mexico, Central American nations, Colombia, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic) met in Cartagena this week and agreed to send a delegation to lobby Congress (specifically, the Senate) to modify or defeat this bill, noting how greatly hispanic workers contribute to the American economy. If you want to read the article in its entirety go here.

Democracy in Latin America

I found this article and interestingly it began:

"Only 28 percent of people polled in 17 Latin American countries said they were satisfied with democracy."

With the recent swing of Latin American politics to the left, I think democracy will be better received. For all those in Dr. Huck's class i suppose a lot of my comments are class are unfounded :(

the article can be found here.

Haitian elections

I found this article about the recent Haitian elections to be somewhat saddening, but mainly very uplifting. The fact that people are risking bodily harm and sacrificing so much just to cast their ballot is very inspiring. It shows a true interest and desire in the people to control their own future through personal involvlement and a democratic system. Despite major kinks in this election such as violence and malpreparation, I think that this round of voting will set a positive precident for the political future of Haiti.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Mario Vargas Llosa

I just finisihed reading Mario Vargas Llosa's The Storyteller for class and was thinking about it. I remember it being mentioned in passing in one of our classes that the Peruvian author had much fame in the Latin American world for more than just his writing. I was curious about his political activities and career and decided to do a little online searching to find out more information about him. If anyone else was curious, here are a few links I came up with:
Mario Vargas Llosa official website (in Spanish) and this other site.

And of course there is always wikipedia.

Chicago's Southside

The Mexican population in the city of Chicago has a vast influence primarily on the city's south side. 26th St. in the city's Little Village community has the 2nd highest gross income second only to Michigan Ave. Magnificent Mile. The other Mexican community is Pilsen. The communities border one another allowing the scents of their restaurants, the sounds of music, and the murals on the sides of buildings give color to these communities. However, recently these communities, Pilsen more so than Little Village have been experiencing heightened gentrification. So my recommendation to those who have never been, is get there quick before the local color is lost forever

Lord Pacal Sarcophagus

I drew this on my hall's wall with a dry-erase marker. Come check it out on Butler 8. I think there are pictures of it in our conference room also.

Mardi Gras or Carnaval?

Well with Mardi gras coming up and all the carnival festivities I bet you're all wondering how can I combine my love of Latin America with my love of partying in New Orleans.

Well here's how...

On Sunday the 26th the Blue Nile (which is opening for the first time since the hurricane during mardi gras) will be hosting a Brazilian extravaganza. The show is called Hot Brazil, and really what is Brazil if not hot.

There will be live music by Black Amos and Saudade which I hear are very good, and Samba Axe dancers (if you don't know what axe is you should go and check it out in two sundays).

So as an alternative for those of you who are now claustrophobic because of one night on bourbon during mardi gras/ should all try and make it out to what looks like a fun sunday gras!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Maria Full of Grace

The past few years have produced interesting movies. One of my top three movies I have recently seen is "Maria Full of Grace." If you haven't seen it, you need to. It is an incredible story of a deparate, young, Colombian girl who resorts to smuggling drugs in order to support her family. The actress who plays Maria, Catalina Sandino Moreno, is absolutley amazing. This movie truly opened my eyes to issues I'd never really been exposed to in such an honest, graphic manner. It focuses on the lives of drug mules and the horrors they have to endure in their line of business. The story is realistic and interesting. I think this is a movie everyone needs to see. For a professional review, check this out.

yerba matte

One Summer, I met some people from South America (mostly Argentina) and they introduced me to Yerba Matte. It's a deliciously strong tea-like drink which will really jump-start your day. It is also, apparently, a very healthy drink. To read more about it visit this link.

Wind Power in Patagonia

I read this BBC story about a project installing a series of wind turbines in rural Patagonia, a region in Argentina. Serving largely indigenous people, this project has been run by the local government and helps out the people of the region, giving many power for the first time. It has also had the effect of bringing together a traditionally disparate, spread out group of people into something resembling a community, as they help each other set up these turbines on their property. It seems to show that modernization does not always have to be an evil for indigenous people, and when handled right actually benefits them rather than exploiting them.

Article located here.

Most Interesting "General" Latin American Studies Book I've Read

would have to be Alma Guillermoprieto's The Heart That Bleeds: Latin America Now.

As a journalist and not necessarily an anthropologist or political scientist, Guillermoprieto manages to describe Latin America in a way that we normally do not see as academics -- she presents interviews but also examinations of the media from the various countries she has personally covered.

Anyone interested in Latin American events from the early nineties (she covers nine cities through various social/political upheavals) should check out this book. It's actually a page-turner.

(Random House, 1994)

Props to Maureen Long, who assigned this book when I was in her Intro to Latin American Studies class.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

From the Mailbox

As the moderator for this blog site, I also manage the site's email account. I probably should check the email account more regularly, since comments to postings get forwarded to this email account which alerts me when someone comments on an older posting; but sometimes the pace of the world around me gets the better of my intentions to do so.

In any event, I received a very nice comment from Taylor Kirk out of New York a couple of weeks back, who has a blogsite very similar to the Cuaderno Latinoamericano that she manages out of NYU.

It's actually a fine blog and I'd like to point it out to all of this blog's readers. Its called The Latin Americanist and I encourage you to check it out. I'll also be adding Taylor's blogsite to our own blogroll in the right column for continued reference.

Haiti back in Caricom?

It looks like Haiti will be allowed to rejoin Caricom, the 15-member Caribbean Community, if the recent presidential and parliamentary elections are deemed free and fair by election workers. Haiti's membership in Caricom was suspended after former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in February 2004. Caricom refused to recognize Haiti's interim government, and Caribbean leaders accused the United States and France of being accomplices in Aristide's ouster. So far, foreign leaders have generally praised the recent elections, but votes are still being tallied. Currently, former President Rene Preval appears to be in the lead. Read the article here.

Gotta love dessert

I don't know about all of you but I love dessert. That's why I searched for a website with some good Latin American dessert recipes and I found one! If you're interested, click here. Need a recommendation? Flan is always a great choice and three-milk cake is also fabulous. Enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2006


You guys should definitely check this out! It'll really get you in the mood for Mardi Gras - I had heard about Carnaval before but never actually researched it! It makes me want to go to Brazil.

Woman charged with smuggling skull

Found this interesting little article. Apparently some of the old religions are still being practiced. It doesen't seem like the customs agents are too appreciative though.

The New Look NBA

Argentine athletes with their thick Latin accents and long hair would typically be found at a tennis court or soccer pitch but something remarkable has taken place since the 2004 Athens Olympics. Argentina is sending basketball players to the U.S. to play professionally, though this seems odd because there is no history behind this phenomena, the players are excellent. It all started with Manu Ginobili, the scrappy 6’6’’ forward on the Spurs who has aided in the Spurs winning the NBA championship several times in the previous few years. However, Latin American basketball players were not a hot commodity like Eastern Europeans until the 2004 games when Argentina led by one NBA star, Ginobili, and a full team of amateurs, to a gold metal victory. When the NBA season picked up again in the fall, rosters were changed, and now Ginobili look-alikes such as Carlos Delfino, and Fabricio Oberto have made significant impacts on championship caliber teams. Though Argentina has benefited most by their own success, teams have picked up Brazilian and Puerto Rican players to add to the growing list of Latin American talent in the NBA.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Some More Hot Words from Chavez

Quibbles in the international political world. This is a bit funny to me, kind of an elementary school playground. I don't know much about Chavez at all, but I kind of like hearing somebody poke at Bush and Blair from time to time.

Article here.

Argentine law breaker caught in Spain

BBC has an interesting article on the capture of a former Argentine police officer accused of human rights violations in Spain. I think it is amazing that international warrants do actually catch wrong-doers and this shows the extent to which international law is working and shows that human rights violators can't hide out.

Bush and Che

I found this really interesting article while searching for materials to use for my paper. The article sort of ponders the ideas of Che and how they affect modern Argentina in the context of Bush's recent visit for the Summit of the Americas. You should be able to read it here.

Looks certain that Preval will be President of Haiti

Though the results are far from final, it appears as if Rene Preval will be declared the winner later today. It looks as if there may be no need of a run-off. This will be Preval's second time in office, first elected in 1996. It seems that his popularity is due to, one, his ties with Aristide and, two, his first term's achievement of a relative sense of normalcy. He certainly is making it known to the public that he will do what he can, but that expectations should be coupled with patience.


After hearing that Fidel (aka "El Comandante" aka "El Caballo" aka - my personal favorite - "El Jefe Maximo") no longer smokes cigars, I became curious about when and why he stopped.

As it turns out, not only did he quit smoking cigars in 1986, but he has since spoken out against the perils of smoking. In 2005, laws were enacted to limit smoking in Cuba. The restrictions on smoking announced by the Cuban government (aka Fidel) in 2005 are detailed in this article from the BBC.

So, Fidel really isn't the chimney we all thought he was. It's just like Will Smith said:
Right from Cuba-Cuba
I just bite it
It's for the look
I don't light it"

Latin Jazz takes over NOLA

For those of you looking to meet some Brazilians I've got a good place to try. My two good friends that also go to Tulane were hired to play every Saturday at the Gypsy Cafe with a Latin Jazz band. I went last Saturday, which was their first go at it and the turn out and music were great. The Gypsy Cafe is located 2 blocks from Lee Circle at 709 St. Charles st. They play Latin Jazz from 9 pm to 12:00am every Saturday. There is also Flamenco every Wednesday from 7:30pm to to 10:00pm. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Coretta Scott King Dies in a Mexican Hospital

Here's the link to an interesting article from Time Magazine about the recent death of Coretta Scott King in a Mexican hospital.

It talks about the frequency of hospitals "run by Americans, for Americans" across the border that offer alternative medical options not allowed in the US. If any of you saw the cover of the Times Picayune today, there was also an article covering this.

Cali Cartel

Here is a great article from the Miami Herald about the founders of the Cali Cartel. Very interesting -- enjoy!

Puerto Rico, part of Latin America?

So I was going around reading some articles from back home (Puerto Rico), and I came across an interesting one in the Newspaper Claridad. I found a similar one in English so y'all can read:


If you wanna know more about Filiberto, then you can go to Wikipedia and they'll point you to all the correct sources. His assasination happened while I was on the island and it was pretty interesting to see how everything unfolded. The reason I posted this is not to discuss Filiberto; it is because of what his widow says. She says that puertoricans identify more with Latin America, than the United States. On the other hand, many people don't consider Puerto Rico as part of Latin America at all, and this includes the Tulane LAS dept from what I've been told :) But even many puertoricans don't consider themselves latin americans. I guess I'm wondering how you guys view Puerto Rico or puertoricans, do you think they would fall under Latin Americans, Americans or do we have a special class all by ourselves? I'd like to hear your opinion on this too Jimmy if you have a chance.

New Hispanic Workers in New Orleans

Last night on the 10 pm newscast, WDSU (whatever channel NBC is here, I can never remember) aired a segment on the new population of Hispanic laborers resulting from Hurricane Katrina. It focused on the abuses the population is experiencing with local employers: disproportionately low wages, not getting paid at all, etc. They also covered local efforts to protect these laborers as well as to aid in their transition to a new community. It was pretty interesting especially since I haven't heard much about the impact that moving has had on themselves. It seems everyone focuses on the "job-stealer" aspects of their arrival and not on their welfare.

Latin American Art in New Orleans

The New Orleans Museum of Art will be reopening its doors on March 3rd, and as an added benefit they will be offering free admission to Louisiana residents. As part of its permanent collection, NOMA has developed a unique Arts of the Americas collection, which is especially rich in objects from the great Mayan culture of Mexico and Central America, and in painting and sculpture from Cuzco.

Check out their website here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Border violence in the town of Nuevo Laredo, Mex

Armed men throw grenades through the window of a newspaper that has been covering ongoing violence related to cross-border drug trade. Link.

Samba in New Orleans

As Jimmy pointed out in class a couple weeks ago there has been an influx of Brazilians in New Orleans. Yet, with that said I still find it hard to find anything Brazilian in this city. Fortunately for us there is one family who through the years has provided New Orleans with their services and helping us explore Brazilian culture.

Casa Samba, run by Curtis Pierre, has classes in samba, capoeira and Brazilian music throughout the week, they have also paraded in the past during mardi gras although I can't remember with whom.

For those of you that remember we used to have a Afro-Brazilian and samba dance class at Tulane, which actually became one of the influencing reasons I went to Brazil for JYA and was taught by Curtis' wife a faculty member of Tulane. The samba class is so much fun, I recommend it to anyone that has interest in Brazil or its dances.

If you're interested and want more information go to:

Tourismo en Costa Rica

I have heard many people (casi todo el mundo) say that they are headed to Costa Rica for spring break. If you are one of those people and have many different places that you would like to visit and only have a short amount of time, travel by Nature Air. Nature Air is a fantastic little airliner that flies to many destinations in Costa Rica, Nic and Panama. Flights are reasonable and you can book ahead at

Where are all the Latins at the Grammy's

Since everybody beat me to posting about the Haiti election, I'll take this time to fill you in on something interesting I found about latin music in the United States. Apparently, record sales were down overall last year (no big suprise there) but latin music sales were up over 12 percent in the U.S., yet latin music still remains conspicuously absent from the grammy's. In fact, one of the only categories for latin music,the best latin rock, alternative album category, includes pretty much everything from rap to rock to reggaeton. If anyone is interested in reading more about this lack of attention being paid to such an important musical genre by the grammy's go here.

A Follow-Up from Haiti

To follow up on the post from earlier this week, here is a report of the Haitian presidential election. It will be interesting to see how the results of the election will dictate future U.S. foreign policy.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Killing two birds with one stone - Erradication of coca plantations in Colombia

I recommend reading this article, not so much because of the report of the death of (yet more) Colombian officers, but because I think Uribe's plan is quite ingenious: he is clearing coca plantations by employing 900 farmers that have probably been displaced by Farc itself.

Haiti's Election

Haiti is preparing for an election tomorrow. This will be the first election since their last president was ousted 2 years ago by rebel forces. Since then the country has fallen into a state of chaos, much like post-Katrina New Orleans. To find out more click here.

Chavez + Castro = U.N. Prize??!!

Crazy to imagine, the two have indeed combined once again on an international forum to highlight the giving of the Jose Marti International prize to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

With so much news as of late, the Bush administration comparing Chavez with Hitler, is trouble brewing south of the border?

Combined with Morales' election in Bolivia, major action is happening...what will the next step be?

Take a look at the story here.

Strong Feelings from Cuba ...

An article from CNN about how Cuba will be hosting anti-United States protests, read it here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


I'm not sure if anyone else grew up with the "Coke used to have cocaine in it" rumor, but being from Georgia Coke was fairly omnipresent in my childhood, and myths abounded (I just looked it up and a mildly reputable source, "The Unauthorized History of Coca-Cola," says that it is true.).

Well, the Nasa (one of the indigenous groups in Colombia) are following in Coke's footsteps (and coke was unwittingly following in theirs when it was first made), with coca-based or -infused tea, cookies, ointments, wine, and soda.

"Nasa leaders hope that, by offering a safe and legal alternative market [for coca leaves sold to narcotraffickers], they can divert coca leaf from becoming cocaine."

The article goes on to describe the various obstacles the products (under the brand 'Coca Sek') are facing, as well as describing some of the traditional uses of the coca leaf. Click here for the article

US and Mexico Soccer

The United States Men's National Soccer Team plays a friendly against Guatemala on Feb. 19. Also, Mexico's Men's National Team plays South Korea on Feb. 15 and Ghana on Mar. 1. I don't know how good Guatemala is, but Mexico has been pretty good recently. For any of you that don't follow soccer too much, these are probably warm-ups to the World Cup in Germany which will be held this summer.

Obscure jobs in Mexico City

One of my favorite things about the BBC as a news source is its "In Pictures" section. This week one of the sections showcases five "dying trades" in Mexico City, with interviews and pictures. The trades are: organ grinder, street typist, religious sculptor, street photographer, and traditional pharmicist (chemist in British English). The link for the page is here.

Also, here is the link to the BBC's "In Pictures" feature on Evo Morales sweaters, which someone else has already mentioned.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

US "Tit-For-Tat" with Chavez

After expelling a US official based on allegations of spying, the US retaliates by expelling a Venezuelan official.

Click here for story.

Stereotyping Rant

I was thinking about some of the worst Latin American stereotypes, and one that I've run into annoyingly often is that everyone in Latin America speaks Spanish. Why are people so quick to make such a generalization about such a huge area? America is supposed to be the multi-cultural place to be, yet we are often the most narrowminded and discriminatory. Many people don't even realize that Latin America has a native Indian population. I've met individuals who think the entire region is filled only with Mexicans.

I never realized how rampant this problem was until I spoke with a Guatamalan family about how often and badly they are stereotyped. They are almost always called Mexican, and even though their daughter spoke perfect English, she was often assumed to speak only Spanish. I live in the south and am really surprised at how little people know about Latin America and its culture.

Americans (and it seems southerners especially) are the worst about making sweeping generalizations about topics that they know little to nothing about and don't bother learning actual facts. This topic has been bugging me for a couple of weeks, so I feel a little better now getting it out there. I just wish there was some way to get people to learn the facts!

Migrant Workers Sue Belfor

I read a really interesting article in the Times Picayune about migrants on disaster clean up crews in New Orleans who are alleging unfair work practices and suing three companies, including Belfor USA. According to two lawsuits filed in fedreal court, the companies exploited workers, many who don't speak English, by failing to pay them overtime or, in many cases, failing to pay them at all. The Belfor suit represents more than 1,000 workers, and it is the first complaint of its kind filed in the city in response to the influx of migrant workers arriving to clean, gut and restore buildings. The other lawsuit, against LVI and D&L, represents at least 700 workers. Interestingly, the workers have said that they haven't had any problems with residents of New Orleans, and have actually felt welcomed. Rather, the problem is with companies from other states who have come to New Orleans to help with the clean up. Read the Article Here

Costa Rica

Two years ago, I went with my dad and my sister to a beautiful remote town in Costa Rica for a week. The beauty of it all was the undisturbed nature of the town, Montezuma, that we were staying in. Getting there involved taking a small four person plane to an airstrip on the ocean and then driving an hour on unmarked, pothole-filled roads. Only about five hundred people live in the town, and the only hotel was a set of cabanas that were a half-mile's walk down the beach. So to my dismay I saw an article in the New York Times today about how the region of Costa Rica this town was in, the Guanacaste province, is being exploited by American real estate promoters and being interrupted by multi-million dollar developments. It would be one thing if the money being made from this was benefiting the area in general, but all the names of the developers are obviously of Anglo origin.

The article can be found here.

Colombians in Ecuador's airpace

In this article, Colombia "accidentally" entered the airspace of Ecuador and caused massive political conflict between the two. Ecuador has apparently destroyed the largest rebel group from Colombia. Colombia keeps trying to infract on Ecuador in an attempt against leftist guerrillas. I think it will be interesting to see this play out and see if Ecuador stays patient with Colombia or instead gets even more angry and make political moves against them.

Spanish National Holidays

In thinking about how close we are to Mardi Gras break, I got curious about how other cultures celebrate their national holidays:
In Spain there are public national holidays. Apart from these, each city/region has its own local holidays:
1st January - New Year’s day
6th January - Epiphany
14th April - Easter
1st May - Labor day
15th August - Asuncion de la Virgen
12th October - Spanish National Holiday
1st November - All Saints day
6th December - Constitution Day
8th December - Inmaculada Concepción
25th December - Christmas

Friday, February 03, 2006

Integration of Latin America

A new view on integration of Latin America, talks about the need to encourage economic growth, possible downfalls and current issues that need to be overcome before integration is possible. Thought this would be relevant to this weeks discussion board.

Click here for link.

"Earliest physical evidence of slavery in North America" discovered in Mexico

The remains of African slaves were recently discovered in a Mexican graveyard from the 16th century. This confirms that slaves were being brought in shortly after Europeans had conquered Mexico. The remains are said to be the "earliest physical evidence of slavery in North America."

An interesting aspect of the story relates directly to our discussion about the differences between slavery in different regions.
"...African slaves were given Christian burials on hallowed ground within the city walls but separate from the Spaniards.

Such practices contrasted sharply with the way slaves were treated on plantations farther north."

Here's the link to the article.

El Nino

Many people are familiar with the phenomenon, El Nino, but don't know it's causes or all of it's effects. I live on the West Coast, and we always attracted tropical fish during El Nino. Once I found a barracuda on the beach - after getting out of the water. It was not a good feeling. El Nino affects communities around the world, notably the coastal regions of Latin America. For information on this wild and crazy phenomenon, check this out.

Diplomatic Tensions Between Chavez and the United States

Interesting diplomatic squabble between the United States and Venezuela.
Click here for story.

The Fall of Fujimori

A documentary movie comes out today, it is called "The Fall of Fujimori." It is about the Peruvian President who came out of nowhere and became president until 2000.

School of the Americas

I'm not sure if everyone has heard of the School of the Americas but it is definately something that is important to know about. Here is a brief description: About the SOA/ WHINSEC

The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American security personnel in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. SOA graduates are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians. (See Grads in the News.)

In an attempt to deflect public criticism and disassociate the school from its dubious reputation, the SOA was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001. The name change was a result of a Department of Defense proposal included in the Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal 2001, at a time when SOA opponents were poised to win a congressional vote on legislation that would have dismantled the school. The name-change measure passed when the House of Representatives defeated a bi-partisan amendment to close the SOA and conduct a congressional investigation by a narrow ten-vote margin. (See Talking Points, Critique of New School, Vote Roll Call.)

In a media interview, Georgia Senator and SOA supporter the late Paul Coverdell characterized the DOD proposal as a "cosmetic" change that would ensure that the SOA could continue its mission and operation. Critics of the SOA concur.

If you'd like more information about current news with the SOA you can go to: SOA Watch

Really gorgeous pictures

So as usual I was just perusing "la red" and I came across a site that has lots of albums on it with some really gorgeous pictures of Latin America. If you want to check them out, go to and then click on "view image galleries by subject" in the menu off to the left. The Day of the Dead and Mexico Destinations albums were two of my favorites (if you want to be jealous of all the people that are on vacation right now click on The Caribbean). There are also some really awesome pictures of Mexican architecture that you can get to by clicking on "Pictures" at the bottom of the screen followed by "virtual gallery" when the menu pops up. These pictures are really beautiful and worth peeking at.

Rumsfeld makin' us proud

Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, is known for saying things that are usually unsubstantiated, and almost never correct. Moreover, Rumsfeld seems to enjoy telling people stories to get some sort of reaction but they are usually about Middle Eastern affairs. Earlier today Rumsfeld became an expert on yet another topic, Latin American President Hugo Chavez. In a press conference at the National Press Club, Rumsfeld compared the Venezuelan elected President with Hitler, and his evidence was that he shows animosity towards U.S. foreign policy and that he is populist. Though the article seems to blow up something dismal, it was still insane for Rumsfeld, a high-ranking U.S. official to compare Chavez to Hitler. Link to the story here.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tango in Buenos Aires

I was watching ABC Primetime news and they did a special report on Tango in Buenos Aires. If you go to you can watch a video and have access to other info. When I was in Buenos Aires I took a bunch of Tango classes, and it is still a unique part of their culture.

US-L.A. Relations

I found this article on entitled; "Is Washington Losing Latin America?," which says that the United States' relationship with Latin America is at its lowest point since the cold. I don't know how to create links but this is the site: Click here. [NOTE: El Jefe Maximo gave a little editorial assistance in setting up the link.]

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


For anybody who is interested and may not have gotten the word last week, there is a Capoeira class at Riley. Capoeira is an Afro-Brasilian martial art/ dance/ game/ what have you and is particularly relevant right now because it originated from the slave culture - you can tell a lot of the style comes from having bound hands. Here's a short history if this stuff grabs you at all.

Anybody can show up to the class just to check it out without actually signing up or whatever. Classes are Wednesday 8-10, Thursday 8-10, Friday 6-8, and Sunday 7-9. Also, here are some videos to hopefully wow you.


I notice several posts are related to the cinema – a worthwhile topic. Specifically I’d like to talk about Steven Seagal and his film “Submerged” (this has to do with Latin America). I’ve not seen this film, but I am confident of having enough Seagal experience to comment. This film is set in Uruguay and apparently has an interesting depiction of the country. Here is a description I found: “In this gem, Uruguay is ruled by a cruel dictator, who is opposed by angry citizens wielding English-written banners. There's a street battle in Independence Plaza, which, oddly enough, looks like Bulgaria….Hey, wait a minute! They actually filmed this thing in Bulgaria. No wonder the street signs are in Cyrillic! At some point in the movie, you discover that cow beef is no longer Uruguay's main export, as it turns out that we are full of goats. I guess we'll probably have to replace the cow in our national coat of arms with a goat. Or Steven Seagal's chubby face, maybe….By the way, let me point out that the goats are herded by beautiful blond women. Come to think about it, that would't be a bad idea after all ...As you can see, this Bulgarian Uruguay is completely identical to the real one ... ... Except for the Mayan ruins, of course.”

As ridiculous as this may be it may be even more ridiculous that the government of Uruguay was threatening legal action (I could not find out if they actually ever got around to it). Kazakhstan perhaps is justified in doing so against Sasha Cohen (Ali G, Borat, etc…) as the British comic is fairly popular… but Steven Seagal straight to DVD??? By the way, Mr. Seagal wants to come here next.

Link to related article.

Hurricane Chasers

Last night I had a lengthy conversation with a recent Mexican immigrant to New Orleans. Among a number of interesting things that he told me, the most interesting what he said about "hurricane chasers." Apparently, hurricane chasers are people who work in different construction and repair jobs that spend the hurricane season traveling between Florida and the Gulf Coast states finding work after hurricanes and tropical storms damage an area. This particular hurricane chaser is in the roofing industry and works in Dallas when its not hurricane season.

Speaking of US-Mexican Borders

Did any of you hear about the tunnel that was discovered this past week between Mexico and California? It was five feet wide and tall enough to walk through with lighting and ventilation and had approximately two tons of marijuanna sitting in it. Apparently it had been in existence and used for drug and people smuggling for many years. Here are some links to a few articles on the topic. Depending on which you read, a few of the details can vary.

Yahoo News
Political Gateway News
BBC News


This article is brief but interesting ... It talks about the topic of respect and insitutions in Latin America. I think it touches on some of the themes we discussed in last class and what some are speculating the next big trend in the region politically and socially will be.

Ladino, also a language!

In class yesterday we talked some about the Ladino people in Guatemala. I mentioned that Ladino is also a language that Sephardic Jews, or Jews of Spanish descent, speak. That is, in fact what many in my family speak (in addition to English). I've included a link that explains a little about the language--both regarding the origins of the Language and also what makes up the language itself. I hope you all find it as interesting a language as I think it is!

Mi mejor enemigo

I recently saw a very good movie about the almost war between Argentina and Chile at the end of the 70's. While the subject matter was very interesting I found that it portrayed the differences between the Argentine and Chilean people perfectly. So, if anyone is interested it is called Mi Mejor Enemigo.

Mexican Election

Here's an article about the upcoming presidential election in Mexico. Natalie posted an article last week that talked about how Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist candidate, is the frontrunner, and how thus it seems possible that Mexico is going to follow the leftist trend in Latin American governments. This article has a different focus-it talks about the right-of-center candidate, Felipe Calderon, who is from Vicente Fox's party and would maintain Fox's neoliberal economic policies. Calderon says he's running for president because, as the article quotes him saying, "I don't want Mexico to go backward." Although Lopez Obrador is the frontrunner and the article notes that one in five Mexicans don't even know who Calderon is, the article also suggests that he has a chance of winning in July. We have been hearing so much about the rise of the left in Latin America, it is interesting to see an article talking about the opposition.
Mexican Candidate Tries to Emerge from Fox's Shadow