Sunday, April 30, 2006

Powerhouse Latino DJ

This is one of the most fascinating articles I have read in a long time. It's about a Latino radio DJ who now has more listeners in the US than any American DJ (i.e. Howard Stern & Rush Limbaugh); yet he started out as an illegal immigrant sneaking over the border in the trunk of a car. Amazing story.

Peru recalls ambassador to Venezuela

Article here.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's repeated interference in Peruvian affairs, most recently attacking presidential candidate Alan Garcia(in hopes to increase the chances of leftist front-runner Ollanta Humala), led the Peruvian government to remove it's ambassador.

This actually relates to my last post because Chavez is hoping that, if elected, Humala will sign the "Bolivian Alternative for the Americas."

Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba form economic/political alliance

Article here.

Bolivian President Evo Morales recently joined Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez by signing the "Bolivian Alternative for the Americas." Basically, these countires resent the huge role that the United States plays in Latin American economies (most notably, free trade agreements). They are attempting to reject U.S. influence and become more codependent on one another.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Mexican elections

Article here.

After many years of the PRI staging sham elections, Mexico began holding real presidential elections in 2000. Now, in 2006, the elections are characterized by voter apathy and contempt for politicians. Mexicans are complaining that the three candidates for president are too "self-interested and dishonest." Welcome to the democratic process, amigos!

Castro fires member of the Politburo...

Article here.

Juan Carlos Robinson has been faulted with "arrogance, dishonesty, and abuse of power." (I feel like all politicians but Jimmy Stewart's fictional Mr. Smith are guilty of this.) Apparently the Cuban government is restructuring, supposedly to fight corruption. According to Cuban officials, emergence from the 'Special Period' requires increased vigilence over corruption. the increased risk for corruption is certainly there.

Disturbingly, "The Secretariat, which was disbanded in 1991, is being charged with ensuring that the party line is followed throughout the country, and indiscipline is stamped out." This does not bode well for Cuba's previous quasi- to mild improvments in human rights.

Argentine wines- New Orleans

For anyone who enjoys some good Latin American wine, I recommend dropping by Sip at 3119 Magazine. They have a very knowledgeable staff, and feature affordable wines from emerging markets (7-12 dollars a bottle approximately). It's the only good Argentine wine I've been able to find in the city. Also, on Friday evenings from 6-730, they have free wine tastings!!!

Haiti's elections

Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, hailed HAITI's peaceful parliamentary elections as a crucial step on the road to stability.President Rene Preval is expected to form a coalition government. - See article this.

''Nuestro Himno"

George “the Decider” Bush decided today that the National Anthem should be in English. The New York Times reported that Bush explained to reporters why the National Anthem should be in English: “One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us.'' Indeed, Bush continued by explaining that immigrants to this country should strive to learn English. The song’s producer, Adam Kidron of Britian, claims that the Spanish version is intended to glorify U.S. immigrants. The song is set to release soon but if you want to hear it now there is a link from the story.

Nuestro Himno

A group of Latin American musicians have gotten together to perform a version of the Start Spangled Banner in English, prompting our president to respond that the anthem should be in English, so on and so forth. The article is just a short AP blurb, but with it is the mp3 of the song.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Puerto Rican government may shut down

Apparently, Puerto Rico has been running such a large debt that the government is facing a shutdown. The governor and the House never agreed on a budget for 2006 or even 2005, and have been using the 2004 budget to operate and piling up debts.

It was shocking to me that, with all their influence in the country, the U.S. would let allow something like this happen in Puerto Rico.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

US Senate boosts funding for Border Security

With immigration legislation pending, the United States Senate voted to increase the United States budget for border control. Check it out this BBC article.

Alabama and Cuba

I thought the title of this article was fairly funny considering the embargo on Cuba is more than forty years old.

"Nothing Gringo"

A boycott of U.S. businesses is being organized in Mexico on May 1st to pressure U.S. congress to legalize undocumented immigrants. The businesses call this protest misguided because they supply 25% of Mexico's formal private-sector jobs. The organizers of the boycott said they know this, but are angry that these companies pay very low wages to Mexicans.

The only lasting way to stem illegal immigration is by improving Mexico's economy so that crossing the border isn't the only way to find opportunity. How to accomplish this goal seems to be another problem altogether.

Shift in Politics

Expanding on one of Sidney's previous posts, here is an article from the New York Times on shifts in political trends taking place in Latin America. Read more here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oil in Belize

Oil was recently found in Belize. This valuable resource can bring in tremendous wealth, but there are also several dangers involved with an economy dependent on oil.
Luckily, the Prime Minister seems to be aware of these dangers and hopefully, Belize will handle the situation responsibly.

"We have to make sure not to skew the whole economy of the country by becoming dependent on oil," Prime Minister Said Musa told Reuters.

"In everything we do, environmental conservation and protection is a central concern. We can't sacrifice that for short-term gain," he said.

Gilberto Gil at Tulane on May 12

I heard today that Gilberto Gil is going to receive an honorary doctorite from Tulane on May 12, 2006 at 4pm in Freeman Auditorium. I have looked online at Tulane's calendar, but I can't find any more information.

China and Latin American economic ties

The growing market for china represents an economic opportunity for many Latin American countries:

"The relations between China and Latin America today represent a historic opportunity, given the enormous growth in Chinese demand for commodities and fuel,"

The exploitative nature of the opportunity could be trouble for Latin American countries; many of the economists in the region realize this

"On the other hand, the current historical circumstances make it necessary for these countries to stop specializing in exports of natural resources and to enter the knowledge economy,"

Article can be found here.

Venezuelan Propoganda?

I was reading an interesting article on about Chavez' ploys to paint U.S. policy towards Venezuela as misguided and incorrect. He was saying that he would be more than willing to meet with like minded U.S. diplomats (presumably not Bush) and continued to assert that the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela is attempting to cause dissent and unrest in Caracas. Also, he invited some 60 Americans to the country who had received cheap heating oil last winter, all of whom praised Chavez and decried the U.S. policy. It was an itneresting article. Go here...

Latin Performers at the Jazz Fest

Who's excited for Jazz Fest? Time to take advantage of what will be, for many of us, the last Jazz Fest during our time spent at Tulane. Here's a list of some Latino based performers, times, and stages if you're interested in hearing any of the great Laitn music over the next couple of weekends.

Donald Harrison w/ Eddie Palmieri & George Coleman- Jazz/R&B/Caribbean mix
May 6th 5:45 pm Bell Suuth jazz Tent

Latin/Caribbean Rock Dance Rhythms
April 29th 4:05 pm Economy Hall Tent

La India "The Princess of Salsa"
Latin inspired hip hop/salsa
May 6th 3:45 pm Congo Square/Louisiana Rebirth Stage

Los Sagitarios
salsa, punta, and meringue
April 28th 11:25 pm Southern Comfort Blues Stage

Buenos Aires: New Expatriate Hotspot

Lured by high culture and low prices, many foreigners are flocking to Buenos Aires. The article can be found here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Mel Gibson Film on Mayans

Apparently Mel Gibson's latest directional feat, Apocalypto, revolves around the Mayan civilization and their idea of "El fin de los tiempos" (the end of times). Although I'm sure it will be very Hollywood-ish the trailer looks interesting. Here is some general information about the film and the Mayan calender. Here is a link to the movie's teaser trailer.

UN Report on Human Trafficking

More liberal news: CommonDreams (AP source) has an article on the forthcoming UN report on human trafficking. They name Latin America as one of the main regions of concern.

Here is the article link and I wanted to look up the actual report on the UN website but it is running abysmally slow. Perhaps later on today or afterwards it will be accessible.

Shift in Political Thought in LA

Here is an article in the NY times about the shift in latin america to a more populist alignment in the government. it helps to explain why the US and the countries in LA are having a difficult time in their trade negotiations as well as general relations.

City of God

I think someone might have mentioned the film City of God on this blog in the past, but I think since we will be watching it in class tomorrow the film is worth revisiting again. City of God is a critically acclaimed film revolving around a housing project and gangs in Rio de Janeiro from the 1960s to the 1980s. From what I've read and heard, it promises to be a great film that everyone should be excited to see -- both for its gripping storyline and its artistic merits.

If anyone is curious check out IMDB for a plot summary, viewer comments, trivia and other exciting things about the film. See everyone tomorrow!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Brazil World Cup Failure?

This is an article speculating the reasons why Brazil isn't going to win this year's World Cup in Germany. I'm very curious to see how the games will pan out now.

Nicolas Guillen

I have been reading the poetry of the great Cuban poet Nicolas Guillen, and it is really incredible, I recommend it strongly to everyone, especially if you can read it in Spanish. Here is one poem of his that I love-it's really simple and nice, and it's about how great bars on the beach are, which is something we can all relate to... You can also see how Guillen was really a poet of the people, of the "gente sencilla" as he says in the poem-he is considered the poet of the Cuban Revolution.


Amo los bares y tabernas
junto al mar,
donde la gente charla y bebe
solo por beber y charlar.
Donde Juan Nadie llega y pide
su trago elemental,
y estan Juan Bronco y Juan Navaja
y Juan Narices y hasta Juan
Simple, el solo, y simplemente

Alli la blanca ola
bate de la amistad;
una amistad de pueblo, sin retorica,
un ola de hola y como estas
Alli huele a pescado,
a mangle, a ron, a sal
y a camisa sudada puesta a secar al sol.

Buscame, hermano, y me hallaras
(en La Habana, en Oporto
en Jacmel, en Shanghai)
con la sencilla gente
que solo por beber y charlar
puebla los bares y tabernas
junto al mar.

-Nicolas Guillen

(sorry it's missing some punctuation and accents-I wasnt sure how to do that on here)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Environmental Degradation in Uruguay

Trying to look for something relevant to the discussion in class on Tuesday about environmentalism in Latin America, I stumbled upon an article that revealed to me an interesting conflict going on in the Southern Cone currently. Apparently a Finnish company named Botnia has built a cellulose factory in Uruguay on the border with Argentina. Argentina is claiming that this factory is polluting their waters, while a spokesman for E.U. business in Argentina said as his biggest supporting point, "[E]s una planta que podría ponerse en Europa, con normas de la Unión Europea. Los países europeos no están implantando sus industrias sucias en otras partes del mundo." This basically states that the factory isn't bad because it meets European standards, and European nations never install "dirty industries" in other parts of the world. I find this hard to believe, but it is interesting to see people at least pretending these days that North American and European environmental standards have a place outside their own world.

Article at:

Bush PR Campaign

Interesting article from the San Jose Mercury News about a new Bush policy in regards to Latin America. Basically they're trying to promote themselves and are using the media to do so. The Bush administrationg has increased aide to the region and is attempting to make it more noticeable. An interesting story as I know PR is important in the Middle East and with the war in Iraq. Seems like they're trying to use the same concept in Latin America. At least an attemp to bridge the hate/distrust gap between the U.S. and Latin America. Here's the article


So basically I've been craving tamales lately for some unknown reason. So what did I do? Googled tamales, of course. And I found the Wikipedia page about tamales which is actually quite good. It has a brief history of the tamale (or tamal), describes the possible tamale variation in different countries, and there is a link to a tamale recipe! So if you love tamales, you should check it out.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Constructores Para Cristo

Here is the link to the homepage of a mission organization I've worked with each summer for the last seven years. They work in the poor neighboorhoods of Piedras Negras across the border at Eagle Pass, TX. The basic idea is you go with a church group and build a cinder block house from start to finish in 5 days (seriously). It's a great experience, and you really provide exactly what the people need down there. It's not one of those slappy mission trips where nothing useful to the community actually gets done. It's kind of a stretch, but if anybody is looking for this kind of work, I'm sure they would be happy to hear from you about working on the CPC staff for the summer or part of the summer.

Rundown of LA Elections & Politics

The Washington Post has a great interactive map that discusses the political climate and upcoming national elections in each Latin American country.

Mexico isn't too happy with Georgia...

And I don't really blame them. Georgia now has the most stringent law against illegal immigrants/undocumented workers in the United States, thanks to our state legislature. The state legislature is full of morons who understand very little, so the fact that this will end up being an enormous blow to Georgia's economy seems to have escaped their attention.

Here is the article from the BBC where Mexico responds to the new law.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Well, this is kind of random but I was trying to come up with something light-hearted to get my mind off of my finals for a minute and I thought, "what's more fun than a piñata?" So I proceeded to Google piñatas and I found a website with a really cool write-up on the history of the piñata and I thought I would share it with y'all.

Indigenous Latin Americans take main stage

Lately, there has been an increase in the amount of publicity the indigenous Latin American have received. In Peru, a presidential candidate in a Inca warrior garb and won the primary round of presidential voting. In Bolivia, flags celebrating indigenous culture are becoming more popular than the national flag. Indigenous populations are uniting across Latin America, and demanding representation in their respective regions. It is refreshing to hear of such news,indigenous people of Latin America are taking a stand and remaining close knit.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Latin American Populism

There is an interesting article in this weeks Economist about the recent shift to the left in Latin American politics. The article talks about numerous aspects of populism (even in Louisiana with Huey Long). It is very interesting to read. Go to:

First Saint in Latin America

Santa Rosa de Lima was the first person from the Americas to become a saint. She was born in Lima, Peru, on April 20, 1568 and died on August 30, 1617. She is considered the patron saint of the Americas by the Catholic church. You can read more about her by going to this website:

Double Standard?

Here's an interesting article describing the demands Mexico has made to the US regarding illegal Mexican immigrants in the US, and the harsh position Mexico takes towards undocumented Central American immigrants in Mexico. Check it out here

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mexico City Earthquake of 1985

In 1985, a monstrous 8.1 quake struck Mexico City and killed about 9,500 people. With images of Hurricane Katrina damage flashing across the news, Mexicans remember the danger they presently live in. Here is an interesting article about the dangers of living in Mexico City with the looming threat of the next big earthquake:

Border Violence from Mexicans

This is a very interesting article discussing border violence on the Guatemala-Mexico border. I find it especially relevant in light of the recent controversy about the US-Mexico border. In the US we always think of our borders being the only ones breached and in constant struggle against illegal entry. This article shows that Mexicans also have illegal migration problems; however, they are much more violent and intolerant about the situation.

Immigration Woes

This is sorta germane to the discussion from class today. This article deals with Mexican migration to America. It discusses the population boom that created an influx of workers and the conditions in the job market after the enactment of NAFTA, when work was scarce, that forced people to seek their fortunes elsewhere. The article is focused on highlighting the immigration issue that is so important today.

Cuba trips by Academics being called into Question

As the Bush administration tightens the U.S. trade embargo on the communist-run nation, students, academics, religious groups and even Cuban-Americans with family on the Caribbean island are finding their travel to Cuba increasingly restricted.

This has much relation to our own university's policies -- in the past, Tulane has sent a number of kids to Cuba for six weeks (me included!), and they are no longer allowed to do this trip. Is this the right protectionary measure?

Related article here.

Venezuela to buy Spanish military boats, planes

Venezuela will buy 10 military transport planes and eight patrol boats from Spain despite the United States' attempts to block the deal, a top navy official said.

Why is Chavez making moves to increase his country's military support? Why was the US overlooked in the happenings of such a deal? What about the Roosevelt Corollary asserting the US control?

Interesting stuff...

Read more at this link.

More found dead in Colombian landslide

The death toll from mudslides that cut off the highway to Colombia's main Pacific port rose to 15 on Saturday, with as many as 37 people still missing and 1,000 left homeless.

Landslides seem to be quite the issue in the northern part of South America. When I visited Venezuela a couple of years ago, the road connecting Caracas to the airport was completely shut down because of a landslide that killed many -- and received no press in the U.S.

It's good to hear that these landslides are finally being covered.

Link can be seen here.

Galapagos Tourists overstay welcome

Some 5,000 Ecuadoreans illegally residing in the ecologically fragile Galapagos Islands will face deportation to the mainland, Ecuador's Environment Minister Ana Alban said Wednesday.

The Galapagos are, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating tourist spots on the continent -- it is no surprise that many people enjoy refuge there!

Check out the link here.

Fiesta Time in San Antonio

There is a huge party starting in a couple days in San Antonio for the Mexican community. It is kind of like Mardi Gras but generally less vomiting oriented and more just general partying. It is a really good time if anyone has the urge to go down to SA this weekend. Here is the official site for it:

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mexican Bus Crash

When I did my country profile report and my Service Learning project on Mexico, I put a huge emphasis on geography. At the time it may have seemed sort of pointless and boring, but I think it was well founded. Check out this article from CNN about a bus crash in Mexico.

First Brazilian in Space

I was reading over the Times-Picayune from a couple weeks ago (April 2nd), and noticed an article about the first Brazilian astronaut in space. His name is Marcos Pontes, and he "floated into the international space station with his country's flag and a beaming smile" on Saturday, April 1st. "Applause and tears broke out at Mission Control"-pretty heartwarming.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

William Brownfield

On April 12, 2006, the United States carrier fleet, USS George Washington Group, entered the Caribbean in what the Bush administration claims as a commitment to the region. (Article here.) The strategic Southern Command based in Miami reported that the task force was reassigned to the area to help with immigration and drugs while having the “opportunity for us to touch base with our partner countries.” Others regard the move as a show of force toward Venezuelan President Hugo Chaves, who has consistently come under fire from the Bush administration for his different style of governing.

This other article is particularly interesting because it reports on the current U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield. The Texas native, Brownfield was previously assigned to both Chile and Argentina, and he has served on several commissions regarding human rights to drug trafficking. Regardless, in the 1980s Brownfield played a crucial role at the U.S.embassy in El Salvador which was infamous for its aid of the right-wing government in its war with the FMLN. Many believe the embassy directed military engagements, and was responsible for political assassinations.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Remember, Nothing Gringo

In keeping with my interest in the U.S. legislation concerning immigration that will, hopefully, be passed shortly, I came across an article about opinions in Mexico on the issue. Many know that May 1st is heralded as a day without immigrants in which supporters of legalzing many illegal immigrants already living in the city are banning all U.S. businesses and stores. Interestingly, though, the movement has spread south of the border and many activists are calling for Mexicans to do the same. The hope is that it will show Congress the strenght and importance of the group to the American economy. However, as the article noted, "ironically, the protest targets the U.S. business community, which is one of the strongest supporters of legalization or guest-worker programs." Nevertheless, I think it shows how important of an issue this is and it underscores long standing animosity between Mexico and their neighbor to the north.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Will Castro EVER die?!

One of the reasons I did my country profile report on Cuba was because I find the whole Castro-Communism story of Cuba and the title that Castro earned of being the longest-serving political leader still in office very intriguing.

I found a very interesting article on the different angles and opinions of what could happen to Cuba if Castro ever croaks. Interesting points:

1. Castro has a younger brother, Raul, who is head of the Cuban armed forces. Many Cubans expect him to take power.

2. The opposition (Christian Liberation Movement) hopes to have a peaceful transition after Castro dies. Sadly for them I don't see this happening, especially since they are a tiny group and Castro has many connections (and his brother who controls the military).

3. The US is spending "$59m to "hasten the transition" and to ensure that neither Raul Castro nor any of the other "pretenders", from Vice President Carlos Lage to Foreign Minister Perez Roque, automatically continue the current system." Funny. I can find many better ways of spending the tax-payers money, since Cuba is hardly a threat and will never really be (since we're the US. We have the biggest military and like to randomly overthrow oppressive governments and hhave also secretly helped build up oppressive governments). I say we fix post Katrina New Orleans with the 60 million(yup, no hidden biases here)!

In my humble opinion I feel that this will be one of the more fun/interesting events to watch happen in my lifetime. Until it does, I can just read the article and make my own predictions on what could happen.

Iguazu Falls

My brother recently got back from a four month backpacking trip around South America. He raved about the breath-taking Iguazu Falls, between Brazil and Argentina. I found a great website with information about the falls, along with some stunning photographs and a video link. To see what the big deal is, go to this link.

U.S. and China Talk About Influence

Latin America has been within the sphere of influence of the United States for ages, but China is now taking an interest in Latin America's resources. Here's an article about talks between China and the U.S. about the matter. Not a very in depth article, but it gives some insight into the relationship between the United States and China concerning Latin America and how the future could bring rivalry and conflict in the area.

Peru's first round of presidential elections...

Peru's just held its first round of voting for presidential candidates. Like most of Latin America, its a multi-party system, and since no candidate is likely to recieve more than 50% of the vote, there will be a second round between the top two candidates. What's interesting in Peru's case is that the previous forerunners have moved closer and closer to the candidate in third place, making the outcome more uncertain than the usual situation of knowing who will be in first and deciding between two for the second slot. BBC Article Here.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Iraq & El Salvador

This article is from a couple of months ago, but is incredibly interesting.

The war in Iraq is being compared to the war in El Salvador both were U.S. backed invasions.

What is interesting is that Rumsfeld seems to think that El Salvador was a success, and were looking at an option for the struggling Iraq called "the Salvadoran option". The operation could include U.S. backed movements such as death squads that were used in El Salvador against guerrilla insurgency.

The ambassador to Iraq was also an administrative official during the 80s as ambassador to Honduras under Reagan...conspiracy theory I think not.

This article is a very interesting example of how one event can have so many interpretations...and how history seems to be repeating itself.


For those of you that missed the conference in Birmingham I feel very sorry for you. Not only did we get to dance our booties at Sabor Latina, a hopping night club/bar in the middle of Birmingham, but more importantly we ate Mexican food!!!

Laurel, Mississippi home to your normal mississipiian and La Veracruzana...only the best Mexican tacos and tortas on this side of the Mississippi. And, it's only 2 hours outside of New Orleans. With so much immigration, here in Laurel it's really fun to see how this latin influx is affecting small towns in the middle of nowhere, well nowhere no longer.

so if you're craving a good taco, and I mean good taco...or some boing's the place to go.

Colombian Mudslide Kills Eight

After the readings I had for Latin American Studies on environmental degradation in Latin America and its effects, I immediately ran across an article talking about how a mudslide (presumably caused by deforestation) killed eight and hundreds or even thousands are left homeless. Another problem is complicating the rescue effort - action by the FARC rebel army against rescuers. An interesting combination of problems common to Latin America causing grief for the average unfortunate citizen.

Article found here.

Re-nationalization of Industry in LA

After realizing how much privatization has sucked for Latin America, many of the region's countries are moving to rescind this disastrous decision. Countries like Argentina are moving back towards the nationalization of many formerly nationalized industries such as water utilities. Does this trend support the idea of the back and forth nature of Latin American politics?

Article here.

Marketing Music Tours in Latin America

In light of the coming music excitement of Jazz Fest, I was looking at various tour reviews and stumbled across this article: "The Rolling Stones and U2 had not been to Latin America in nearly eight years. And as the massive success of both tours confirm, the region's touring market has matured a lot in that time." Read on to hear more about potential music tour marketability of the region and which of the several veunues and countries the band found most successful.

Peru Presidential Election Update

The Peruvian presidential elections have resulted in a runoff that is to be held in late May or early June. Scarily, leftist, autocratic-leaning, former military commander Ollanta Humala has easily secured one of two spots in the second election. The other spot is still up for grabs as the vote count continues. However, former president Alan Garcia appears to be leading the race for second place. He's also a scary candidate based on his former disastrous presidency that led to severe economic crisis and the rise of Sendero Luminoso. He claims to have learned from his past mistakes but between he and Humala, Peru's prospects aren't looking too good these days...

Article here.

Mexican Immigration

Just found a pretty interesting article about the current immigration crisis. I know a lot of people were pretty upset about immigrants flying the Mexican flag at their protests to be able to stay in the U.S. I think Siddarth might have even mentioned this in our class. In this article they describe this as a symbolic action, a way to remember history. I think that this is a good way of looking at it. This article also says that the debate over immigration should have taken place years ago. I agree with this statement since it's not like it can be reversed. Altogether a good article. Discusses increasing role of Catholic church in the argument. You should definately check it out.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Youth Organizer Driven to Suicide

This made me so sad, #1. because of the existence of co-school-principals who would threaten so irresponsibly any student learning about their rights as citizens, and
mostly #2. because teens consider suicide such a viable option nowadays. The article is about a student who participated in the immigration walkouts.

Latin Roots Concert Series

The CubaNola Collective is presenting the Latin Roots Concert Series this weekend. It is a "celebration in the afro-cuban roots of New Orleans jazz". You can check out Arturo O'Farrill (with his quartet) and NoLa saxophonist Yosvany Terry. They will be playing four shows at 8 & 10 on Thursday April 13 and Friday April 14. You can find them at Snug Harbor (626 Frenchmen St.). For more info call (504) 671-8130 and

Brazil and logging in the amazon

In past class discussions, we have talked a lot about the detrimental effects of logging in the Brazilian Amazon. Here is an article about Brazil shutting down logging.

USS George Washington Moves into Caribbean

Check out this article I found.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fujimori Weds

Ex-Peruvian President got married to his long time girlfriend. Check it out here.

Ernesto Tamayo

This past Saturday, I attended a concert by Ernesto Tamayo, a classical guitarist from Cuba. He was great, and played several Cuban, Venezuelan, and Chilean songs. I definitely recommend him to you all. He has a website here.

Immigrants Rights

Yesterday, Monday April 10th, was a 'national pro immigration day'. Throughout the country tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, immigrants, legal and illegal, protested on the streets of some of the nations largest and most important cities to persuade congress to legalize the millions of illegal citizens living in this country. In addition, across many college campuses, students took up the cause and staged walk-outs from classes, as well as organized other various demonstrations of their own (interestingly, I did not recall seeing a single thing going on at Tulane, which is sorta of dissapointing, because immigrants, both legal and illegal i'm sure, are rebuilding our city). While I don't want to comment on my particular opinion on this topic (o.k., i'll just say I think immigrants are beneficial to this country and as such their rights should be respected), but I think it is a really important and pressing topic that needs to have more national discussion, as a solution to the problem needs to be found. Also, I think people should be educated on the impact immigrants have on our economy, both positively and negatively, as well as on the economies of their home countries. It will be interesting to see how May 1st, the "day without the immigrants" plays out and whether or not anyone really takes notice. There's a good/funny/ironic movie sorta about the same topic, it's called "a day without the meixcans" and its a day when all the mexicans disappear from Los Angeles and the wealthy people have to take out their own trash and make their own food. I reccomend watching it if you get the chance

The Leftist Mirage

This is an interesting article that examines current government standing in Latin America. Enjoy!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Doha Round talks

Just building on our discussion this week here are some developments from the lates WTO talks in Doha, Qatar, with respect to Mercosur and Latin America.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Cuban News or Propaganda?

This week I decided to look for news out of Cuba to see its similarities to that published in the U.S. I found this article incredibly interesting and recommend that everone read it. It is an article discussing some of the people that were involved in teh Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The article is from 2004. I find it interesting that so many years later this event is still being propagated in the media. Espiecally because the article has little information that is new but is more a historical account. Their account describes the system under the Batista rule. It is highly anti-democratic and anti-Americna. You should definately check out the article Cuban News Agency

Senator's Car 'Attacked' in Caracas

This is really funny, lots of Venezuelan officials handed out snacks to people who threw vegetables and fruit at U.S. ambassador William Brownfield's car.

" I think Hitler would be like a suckling baby next to George W Bush "

....according to Chavez. Relations between the US and Venezuela continue to become increasingly strained, as both countries expelled one another's diplomats after Caracas accused the US embassy of spying. And perhaps even more concerning for the US, Chavez told a huge rally of supporters that he wants to buy more weapons to defend his country from invasion. According to Chavez, 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles already on order from Russia are not enough, and Venezuela needs million well-armed men and women, he said. In the rally, Chavez also likened Bush to Adolf Hitler. No wonder he feels he needs a lot more guns. It will be interesting to see how the US responds to these recent actions/accusations of Chavez.
Here's the Article

Brutal Crime in Venezuela

As a country that had almost 10,000 homicides reported last year, Venezuela is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous countries. From what I have read, a lot of these are gang related. This article stuck out to me because it is about three young boys who were brothers that were kidnapped at the airport by who men dressed up as policeman who feigned a "police checkpoint." The kidnappers demanded 4. 5 million and when they did not receive it, killed the boys and left them to be found. This caused a protest because people believed it showcased the government's lack of willingness to crack down on police corruption and brutal crime in general. They do have five suspects so hopefully the killers will have to face what they did and some semblance of some justice can be served...

Here's the article.

Luis Puenzo: Director of "The Official Story"

In class we are in the middle of watching "The Official Story", a film describing the horrors of the tortures which occured in Argentina. I was interested in this topic and found more on the director and the film. Says the New York Times:

"Argentine filmmaker Luiz Puenzo is best known internationally for making The Official Story (1985), a provocative portrait of a middle-class woman who gradually realizes that by remaining complacent in the face of social injustice she is as guilty as the government she derides. The film earned an Academy award for Best Foreign Film the following year and was nominated for Best Screenplay. A former director of television commercials, Puenzo made his feature-film directorial debut in 1973 with Lights of My Shoes. Most of Puenzo's films offer probing, metaphorical portraits of characters and relationships in the face of larger sociopolitical issues."

If you like his films, Puenzo has also directed "La Puta y La Ballena", "La Peste", and "The Old Gringo".

Trade of Mayans from the Yucatan to Cuba

Interesting article ("Juárez y el comercio de indígenas mayas a Cuba") about the trade of Mayans from the Yucatan to Cuba, which I had never known about...I didn't know that native Latin Americans were traded within Latin America.

Friday, April 07, 2006


This week I attended the Samba dance class that Amanda emailed us about... It was so incredible! I'm not that coordinated, but just participating and watching the other dancers was unbelievably fun. I definitely would recommend trying Samba out if you haven't already. There will be Samba performers at the Celebracion Latina tomorrow. Everyone should check it out. I think they start at 3:30. For an overview about Samba, go here.

Ancient pyramid found in Mexico (underground)

Very cool archaelogical find.

It was "carved out on a natural hillside around 500 AD. It was abandoned in about 800 AD, when the Teotihuacan culture collapsed for unknown reasons."

New tourist spot for Mexico... in "Iztapalapa hillside, known as Hill of the Star" that "overlooks one of Mexico City's poorest and most dangerous neighbourhoods." Wonder what kind of effects this will have...

Celebracion Latina!

Hey everyone! Just thought I would put in one last plug for the Celebracion Latina! It's tomorrow from 11:00-6:00 at the corner of Napoleon and Magazine (there will be signs and things). Everyone should stop by to hear the fabulous live music, eat some authentic Latin American cuisine (bring money...$10 should cover you), make crafts (like my sweet mobiles inspired by the Honduran "rain of fish"), listen to stories, get your taxes done for FREE, and much much more! I hope to see you all there and I hope you all come and make mobiles!

Oil in Venezuela

The Venezuelan government, under Hugo Chavez, has been taking measures to roll back the privatization that took place under his predecessor a decade ago. Although many feared this would cause the multinational oil firms to leave the country, according to an Economist article every last company drilling in Venezuela has stayed, despite the new, tightened restrictions and taxes. I guess this shows that Venezuela, and other parts of Latin America as a whole, are beginning to get the idea that they can bargain on their own terms because of the resources and political strength they now enjoy.

Article here.


Since we are celebrating the Hispanic Carnival this weekend, and we also happen to live in one of the most famous carnival cities in the world, I thought it would be appropriate to find out a little about the history of carnival celebrations. This is a short article that gives some basic background on various worldwide celebrations.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Colombian ambassador has claimed Farc presence

Jesús Vallejo Mejía, the Colombian Ambassador in Chile, claims that a revolutionary group "Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia" have set up shop in Chile. The claim is an ongoing trend of the colombian governement to spread its struggles with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, so the claims could be false. The cry for attention is somewhat suspect, as many other claims along the same line have been made in the past.

Article can be found here.

Immigration Breakthrough

The Senate is proposing legislation that would allow the more than 11 million illeglal immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship and Bush is in support of it. It woud require immigrants to return to their home countries and then re-enter as temporary workers, after which they could then apply for citizenship. Not all the kinks are worked out yet, but a lot of people are in support of this plan. Read more here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Argentina's military

We have been focusing a lot on Argentina's military, both in our weekly readings and in "Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number." This link will catch everyone up on where the military stands today if interested. Enjoy as usual!!

Giants of Patagonia

The other night, The History Channel aired an episode of "Digging for the Truth" entitled "Giants of Patagonia". I don't know when it will be on again, but it is worth looking for. The show travels around Patagonia, stopping at important sites (including the Perito Moreno glacier). This is a description from the website:

Many explorers throughout the centuries, including the great Ferdinand Magellan, visited the region in South America now known as Patagonia and reported sighting giants. From these accounts we get the name "Patagonia"--Land of the Big Feet. But what exactly did these explorers see? Now, some experts suggest that the giant, upright-walking ground sloth, once widespread throughout Patagonia, could have been the source of these stories. Josh Bernstein accompanies paleontologists, naturalists, and crypto-zoologists on a search to determine whether the ground sloth could have lived into the era of human habitation. He treks across the glaciers of Patagonia, descends deep in the mountain caves, accompanies a band of gauchos on horseback, and joins a modern-day paleontology dig to try to discover evidence that the ground sloth still exists today.

Social Justice, Encounters, and the Indigenous in Colombia

I thought this article ties in with the "social justice" and "encounters" themes of our Latin American Studies class. This article from the BBC discusses the threat to and the displacement of indigenous tribes in Colombia.

Gringo Immigrants Swarm Mexico!!!!

We all know illegal Mexican immigration into the U.S. has been a hot topic lately but what about the immigration of Americans into Mexico? Here is an article ("Invading Mexico with Boomer Retirees") about the growing phenomenon of American retirees moving to Mexico to live out their golden years.

Ollanta in Peru and Celebracion Latina

"A would-be caudillo and an election that is a parable of the dangers in the unfulfilled agenda of Latin American democracy" ...Ollanta in Peru, read full story here.

Also, make sure you come out and support Stone Center, Service Learning, and the Hispanic Apostolate this Saturday at Celebracion Latina. Read more here.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Safe Haven for Immigrants

With all the heated debates recently regarding immigration legislation, I thought this was an interesting and different aspect of the immigration issue....A Latino suburb of Los Angeles, Maywood, actually welcomes illegal immigrants. Maywood is 97% Latino, and the city council has officially declared Maywood a safe haven for illegal immigrants!
Read the Article

Overview of Peru's 2006 Presidential Election

The Washington Post recently ran an article that provides a thorough summary of the 2006 presidential elections in Peru. It covers the three major candidates--the incongruous, leftist, autocratic-leaning, former military commander Ollanta Humala; elitist, pro-business, potential first woman president in Peru Lourdes Flores; and former disastrous president Alan Garcia (Sendero Luminoso, economic crisis, and opening the way for Alberto Fujimori are his hallmarks)--as well as their parties and how they might fare in the legislative elections.

The Post also ran a second article analyzing Ollanta Humala in greater depth. One interesting fact brought up in the article is that Peru has compulsory voter laws. With indigenous and rural Peruvians being heavily wooed by Humala and the fact that these groups are often excluded from pre-election polls, their votes are going to have a huge impact on this election.

Venezuelan foreign aid and investment

An article in the New York Times discusses dramatic increases in Venezuela's foreign aid and investment under Hugo Chavez.

Monday, April 03, 2006

On Immigration

April 3rd 44 illegal immigrants from El Salvador were flown home. This article, "More Immigrants Getting Free Flights Home," describes the debate as to how to deal with illegal immigrants in the US and the $56 million annual cost current methods are producing.

World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum on Latin America begins tomorrow April 4 in Brazil. It will be interesting to see if the issues of U.S. citizenship policy will be on the agenda.

Salsa Power

I enjoyed reading the cultural posts below- everybody loves a good cheap wine (mine is Screw Kappa Napa). Anyway, there is a really good website I saw about the Salsa music found in New Orleans. It lists the venues available to hear all Latin American music and, most importantly, it has a listing of Latin American live music opportunities in the city. I have been doing some research for a Latin American culture class to determine if there has been an influx of cultural gatherings and opportunities for the new Latino population in New Orleans. This site lists some informal gatherings as offshoots of soccer games and small festivals, but it is unclear as to whether or not these gatherings and performances are open to the new workers that are in the city.

Here's the site: SalsaPower

Concha y Toro

By posting about Concha y Toro I'm giving away a little piece of my soul but no matter. Concha y Toro came into my life by way of Sav-a-Center. It was (and to my knowledge still is) the cheapest red wine on the shelf. It happens to be a Chilean wine and is actually pretty tasty.

A quick, random visit to the website the other day offered quite a view into the world of Concha y Toro. While I might have believed it to be a shoddy enterprise full of scandal and half-assed winemaking, Concha y Toro is actually a very old company (since 1883) and they own quite a scattering of vineyards and wineries throughout Chile.

Here is a little of their own promotion from the site: "In 2003 Concha y Toro celebrated a 120-year-long history of exporting Chilean wine worldwide and of producing wines of the highest quality. Its solid portfolio targets all markets segments and the wines are exported to over 100 countries. All of its wine ranges have been awarded top scores in their category. The winery's icon wine, Don Melchor 2000, achieved 94 points in Wine Spectator, the highest score for a Cabernet Sauvignon from that vintage."

My favourite is the Cabernet/Merlot mix (85/15). I highly recommend eating cookies with this wine.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Hispanic cheeses

Apparently Hispanic cheeses are in...who woulda thunk?!!

The most popular cheese in Latin America are fresh, lighter colored cheeses with names such as "Queso Blanco", "Panela", "Queso Fresco", "Queso Del Pais", and "Queso Para Freir".

Here are the different types:

Queso Blanco
This mild tasting cheese is the most popular cheese South of the Border--both for snacking and cooking. It is wonderful to cook with because unlike American-type cheeses, it will become soft and creamy when heated, but will not melt!

Queso Blanco con FrutasTM --Pina y Mango--
The name of this cheese means "White Cheese with Fruit--Pineapple and Mango". This cheese is 25% lower in fat than common cheddar cheese because its loaded with fruit pieces.

The most popular fresh cheeses in Mexico. This cheese is mild, white, and crumbly. Like Queso Blanco it will not run when heated--it will get soft and creamy but will not lose its shape. The cheese is used in Mexico for many cooked dishes and is commonly crumbled over salads, tacos, chili and burritos.

Queso Para Freir
Very popular among people from the Caribbean. This cheese is used frequently for frying because it resists melting even more than Queso Blanco. In fact it is a variation of Queso Blanco that is similarly white and crumbly, but saltier.

Queso Fresco
Very popular among many people of Mexican descent due to its fine-grained texture. It is often used to crumble over salads or put in refried beans.

The cool thing about the "fresh" cheeses is the fact that they don't melt (yeah, weird, i know)

The second type of cheese are the types that melt. These include: "Queso Quesadilla", "Asadero", "Queso de Papa", "Oaxaca", and "Queso Para Derritier". These Hispanic cheeses melt without seperating into solids and oil.

Other types include hard cheeses and creams. Here's the link if you want to read up more about these cheeses.

Argentine pears...who knew?

So I'm preparing to eat a pear. I wash it, peel off the sticker, look at the sticker and realize that my pear is from Argentina. I don't think I've ever seen a pear from Argentina fact, I didn't even know that they grew them there. So, in typical fashion, I Googled Argentine pears and happened to discover just why I've never had one before. Apparently Medflies (if you don't know what a Medfly is - I didn't - you can find out here) have been a big problem in Argentina in the past and so the USDA put strict regulations on produce importation from Argentina to the US. The pear used to have to go through some sort of deep chilling process that made the pears less delicious so it was basically pointless to import to the US because no one would buy the inferior pears. However, the Medfly problem has gotten under control in recent years and the USDA just waived the need for the deep chilling treatment. Argentine pears were made avilable on the West Coast last February and have been rapidly shipping across America. The whole article is here if you want to read it.

Bush-Fox talks about Mexican immigrants

This is interesting - it's the actual transcript of the talks between Vicente Fox and George Bush about various issues between the U.S. and Mexico (mostly illegal immigration). There's also a lot of diplomatic fluff that is kind of funny.

Guatemala-- The Next Colombia?

The Washington Post recently ran an article about the growing drug trafficking problem in Guatemala. The head of the SAIA (their DEA equivalent) was recently arrested in the US along with two other top officials for their involvement. Because of their human rights abuses, the US has restricted aid to the country and combined with Mexico's increasingly successful fight against the narcotraficantes, Guatemala is quickly becoming the new route for importation into the US. I think that this trend highlights yet another problem in the US anti-drug strategy: you can't just focus efforts in one area because the drug dealers just move to another.