Friday, June 30, 2006


Probably the most famopus Salvadorean food is "pupusas". They are similar to tortillas but they are filled with all sorts of things and represent the daily lunch for a large part of the population. Here is the recipe on how to make them.

1 pound ground turkey breast
½ large onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic
minced1 medium fres green chili
seeded and minced
1 small tomato
finely chopped
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ pound low-fat white cheese grated
½ teaspoon salt
5 cups flourwater
4 cups
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1. In a large, non-stick saucepan, over high heat, cook the turkey, onion, and garlic until cooked through. If necessary, add small amounts of water to the turkey to prevent sticking. When the meat is firm, reduce heat to low and add the chili, tomato, and cumin. Let mixture cook until all liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool. Stir in the cheese and salt.
2. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and stir in enough water to make a tortilla-like dough. Divide the dough into 25 pieces and roll each into a ball. Flatten each ball between the palms of your hands to ½-inch. Put a spoonful of the meat mixture in the middle of each disk of dough and enclose it firmly. Flatten the pupusas again until they about ½-inch thick.
3. To cook, heat a flat, heavy-bottom skillet until it is very hot. Brush the skillet with a little oil. Cook the pupusas on each side for 4 to 5 minutes until nicely browned. Serve immediately.


Panama hats ironically come from Ecuador. They are one of the most representative and valuable hand craft of the country. They are hand woven out of a type of straw known as "toquilla", which is why in Spanish their name is "sombreros de paja toquilla". They are mostly woven by the indigenous communities from the high lands, such as the Otavalos. They have been incredibly successful in US and European markets, which also states the reason why they are known as Panama hats. When they realized there was a broad market in the US, they began to export their crafts, however they stoped in Panama. When they got to the US people thought they came from Panama and they began calling them "Panama hats". They have now transcended all boundaries and are easily attainable online or in several stores around the world. You can see pictures of the hats, their history, and even buy one here.

Big Les got mo!

Carnival is Rio's main event. It happens at the peak of summer, when Cariocas are at their best. Festivities attract thousands of people from all corners of the world. Carnaval, as spelled in Portuguese, is a 4-day celebration. It starts on Saturday, and ends on Fat Tuesday, or Mardi-Gras. Carnival Sunday is seven weeks before Easter Sunday

Big les

Carnival comes from the Latin "carne vale" or farewell to the flesh. It's the period before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday. This Carnival is during the same time New Orleans host’s its Mardi gras. Today Trinidad's model for public celebration is the most widely imitated festival art form in the world.

Argentina beating Germany 1-0

Right now, Argentina is trying to topple host country Germany, and leads 1-0 after scoring on a beautiful corner kick by Raquelme.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Argentina Polo

Polo is a team sport played on horseback where the aim is to score goals against your opponents. Riders score by driving a ball into the opposing team's goal using a long-handled mallet. Goals are only valid if the scoring rider is mounted. When played outdoors, each Polo team fields a team of four riders and their mounts. In the indoor variant ("Arena Polo"), each team fields only 3 players. In both versions of the sport, play occurs in seven-minute periods, called chukkers. Six chukkers is considered the norm, but depending on league rules, matches can also have four or eight chukkers. Argentina dominates this sport. To learn more about this check out their national website.


If you enjoyed reading I, Rigoberta Menchu then you will love Let Me Speak. It is a similar kind of an account about a Bolivian woman named Domitila.

Cost of Living in Latin America

"Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the most expensive cities in Latin America moving up from 119th and 124th positions to 34th and 40th place respectively. These movements are due to the strong appreciation of the Brazilian Real against the US dollar (more than 20 %), which has occurred as a result of solid economic growth and increased foreign investment over the last two years, together with reduced public debt and high interest rates. In particular, the cost of international-standard accommodation has risen significantly in these cities.

Asuncion in Paraguay remains the least expensive city globally, in 144th position with a score of 43.5. Other cheap cities include Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Caracas in 142nd place (score 54.8.), 138th (56.5) and 136th (57.2) respectively.

Puerto Rico has experienced high inflation during the last year which, together with the strength of the country's currency (US dollar), means San Juan is the costliest city in Central America and the Caribbean in 55th position (score 81.4). San Jose is the least expensive in 134th place (58.1). Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is in 126th position (65.3) and has dropped 27 places due to the depreciation of the Dominican Peso against the US dollar."


Cuban Migrants in Puerto Rico

Cuban migrants are accidently reaching shores in Puerto Rico at an increasing frequency. Cubans who reach U.S. territories are generally allowed to stay if they make it to shore. Thought this was kind of interesting.

Tomate de arbol

Going along with our Como agua para chocolate reading, I found a food recipe in a newspaper callled El Espectador. The recipe focuses on the use of tomatos. I've pasted it here along with this link to the website:

Ingredientes para la carne
4 churrascos de 350 gramos a 500 gramos, abiertos en corte mariposa.
Sal gruesa y pimienta negra partida
Para el chimichurri
4 tomates de árbol maduros pelados, cortados y picados finamente
1/4 de taza de hojas de hierbabuena cortadas en julianas muy finas
1/4 de taza de perejil liso picado finamente
1 taza de aceite de oliva
1/4 de taza de vinagre de vino tinto
Pimentón rojo picado finamente
Ají al gusto
2 dientes de ajo machacados
Jugo de un limón
Sal y pimienta
Mezcle todos los ingredientes del chimichurri y deje reposar durante una o dos horas para que los sabores se integren adecuadamente. Ase la carne, ojalá sobre una parrilla alimentada por tizones, hasta el término deseado y sirva acompañada con el chimichurri.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tourism Award for Jamaica

I found it interesting that there is a annual American Express Tourism Media Award that was given to Jamaica yesterday... Click here for article.

Planned invasion of Coca plantations

This atricle is focusing on Columbians who are fleeing to Ecuador as leftist guerrillas and right-wing parlimentary groups begin to fight over the destruction of coca plantations. Apparently, 30,0000 US-trained troops are planning to invade Putumayo and Caqueta states in Colombia in the next month. The invasion is expected to intensify violence between the FARC, which is the country's largest leftist rebel group, and the rightist United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.

World Cup Update

There is currently eight teams remaining in the World Cup of soccer, and Brazil is the favorite to take it all. The top bracket feaures Germany vs Argentina, and the winner of that game plays the winner of Italy vs Ukraine. On the other side of the bracket, we have England vs Portugal, and the winner of that game plays the winner of Brazil vs France. Ronaldo set record of 15 goals lifetime scored in the World Cup coming out of the round of sixteen.

EU summit

Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales, the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia who are leading Latin America's radical turn to the left, angrily faced down EU leaders at a trade summit in Vienna this past Tuesday. They stirred things up with their remarks, mostly speaking on the neoliberalism they are experiencing now, and their stance on oil. Full story here.

Camilo Villegas

There is a new face on the PGA tour, and Camilo Villegas is one of the leading youngsters. The 24 year old Columbian native was voted one of the "Hottest Bachelors" in People magazine, and has a unique style on the golf course. He was recently featured in GQ magazine sporting some of his golfwear, and is opening the door to the next generation of golfers.

Pedro Martinez's return

This past Tuesday night, the Red Sox hosted the Mets with ex-Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez playing for New York. He recieved a warm ovation from the Boston fans, very much unlike them, and the Dominican Republic native got a bit choked up. He will be pitching for the Mets Wednesday.

International Basketball

China defeated Venezuela this Wednesday snapping a two game losing streak in the four country tournament. They won 78-73 with China's star player, ex-NBA player Wang Zhizhi.

L.A. & Thailand unite

Thailand and Latin America has cooperated together in developing the quality of alternative energy, aiming to reduce the amount of oil inports. They are looking to exchange ideas and information, not only to find new oil sources but to also strengthen ties between the two regions.

L.A. stock market

Latin American stocks fell Tuesday as buyers stepped to the sidelines, wary of making any bets ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting later this week. Local traders said sentiment in regional markets was soured by a downturn in U.S. stocks Tuesday, which added to anxiety ahead of the Fed's meeting Wednesday and Thursday to discuss interest-rate policy. Full story here.

Garcia pitching

Freddy Garcia is starting for the Chicago White Sox tonight against the Pirates and he is looking to be the first White Sox pitcher this season to reach double digit wins. Currently, he is 9-4 with a 4.66 ERA.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In one of our readings there was an article about Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He brought fame to Latin America for being one of their most popular and influential writers. His most famous novel, 100 years of solitude, involved magical realism based on the town he grew up in, Aracataca, Columbia. They tried to have a vote to change the name of the town in honor of Marquez. He declined the honor and it did not have the support of the people. The governor thought it would bring tourism to help the economy of this very poor town. Here is the article:

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Colombia and FARC

FARC is willing to start peace talks with President Uribe if he demilitarizes certain areas. They are willing to exchange hostages (including 3 Americans) for captured guerrilla soldiers. Uribe does not plan to agree to any of the guerrilla's demands. ELN has also mentioned peace talks. Here's the article.

Land Reform in Bolivia

This is a Washington Post article on the newest land reforms in Bolivia by President Evo Morales. About 20 percent of the land is being redistributed among the poor and the 7 percent upper class members that hold 90 percent of Bolivian land are not precisely thrilled. The concept of private property that we discuss in class is mentioned, check it out.

Latin American Oil

Analysts are speculating that the United States will face trouble trying to get oil from countries in Latin America in the future. They have said that this might be even more of a problem than the Middle East. If countries in Latin America do suspend oil trade with the United States, it could lead to very high raises in the price per barrel of oil.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pat Robertson and Chavez

During the country presentation on Venezuela, Pat Robertson's comment that the US should assassinate Chavez came up. This is a clip from the Daily Show with Pat Robertson, as well as reactions in the US to his comment. If you like the Daily Show, it's a good one.

New Diplomat in Havana

This article is about 6 months old but it is about the new diplomat in Havana, Michael Parmly, whom seemingly has gained slight approval even from Fidel Castro, because of his new approach to diplomatic correspondence. His predecessor recieved much backlash due to his "bullying" style. I am mostly curious to see if anyone has heard of how his diplomacy approach has manifested in the last 6 months.

Mexican Absentee Ballots

This article is discussing the low turn-out for Mexicans living in the US who have turned in granted absentee ballots. The article also address the small amount of emigrants who even applied to vote in this year's election. I thought it was interesting that out of the Mexican population in the US, so few were considered eligible, and even less are even interested in voting in the first place.

Internet access in Cuba; Cuban books ban in Florida

This week's Oppenheimer report.

Gangs in Brazil

I was reading an article about the gangs in Brazil and the difficulty that they are giving to Brazilian authorities. It seems that just recently, ten gang members were shot dead in a violent exchange between authorities and members. This was right after authorities revealed a scheme of the gang members to encourage and start attacks against Brazilian Police Officers in outlying towns. These members of the First Capital Command gang were upset over the imprisonement of their leaders. With gangs being such a problem throughout Central America this same scene has happened frequently. I wonder if problems will persist in Brazil and how the government can fight these problems.

Brazil prisons

The first in a new generation of high-security prisons has opened in Brazil, in an attempt to stop gang leaders operating from behind bars.

More here.

Mexico campaign

Mexico's presidential candidates are making a final push for votes ahead of the bitterly contested 2 July election.

More here.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The town of Aracataca in Colombia decided not to rename itself in honor of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who was born there. The new name was going to be Macondo, the fictional town in his novel One Hundred Years of Solitud. Evidentally those who showed up for the voting overwhelmingly approved - 90% were in favor. Unfortunately they did not have the needed voter participation to make their vision come true. You can find the story here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Latinos are Taking over America

According to an article by US Today, latino immigrants are driving the population force at an outrageous pace.

For more info follow this link.

Ruben Dario the greatest poet of Nicaragua

Ruben Dario is the greatest poet of Nicaragua, he was the voice of the people during Nicaraguans most conflicting years. Here is a link to one of his best poems “Lo Fatal.”

Infrastructure Problems in Latin America

This article in the Economist highlights the problems with infrastructure in many Latin American countries. Millions of people do not have access to potable water, and millions more do not have access to sewerage. Government investment in infrastructure can be very beneficial to the poorest citizens. However, the national governments often do not have enough revenue to provide many needed services to their people. This explains why Chile has been so successful with privatizing roads, water, and electricity. Many governments are cautious to turn to privatization, because it often causes resentment among citizens. In countries like Bolivia, where oil, gas, and water have been nationalized, citizens may be paying less, but the government falls more and more into debt.

Ecuador ousted by England

Ecuador did the best they've ever done this year in the World Cup, advancing to the second round against England. Unfortunately, their offense, led by Tenorio, was unable to put the ball in the net. A free kick by Beckham ended their streak. Of course, teams like Brazil and Argentina are still in the running, but it's always nice to see another Latin American team doing well in the world of soccer. Article.

How to Fix Mexico City

In this BBC article, it is suggested that immigration will improve safety and that building should be done upward instead of the historical trend (outward). This article has some interesting views, such as caveats against gated communities and their place in Mexico City. No real solutions are proposed to solve the major problems, such as overcrowding and pollution.

Brazilian Music

Do you want to hear what a samba sounds like? or just read up/find other links about Brazilian music? Check out this website.

Red Stripe's A Hit

Jamaica's leading exported beer, Red Stripe, has achieved overwhelming success both domestically and abroad. At the company's recent annual meeting, the company announced the benefits from their improved growth in new markets due to improved distribution and investments in advertising and promotional activities. As for continued growth, the company's strategy is to identify new markets and to target them directly through promotion and advertising. With their goal to bring Red Stripe to locations around the world, next time you're in Bombay, London, or Chicago, be sure to check and see if Red Stripe is available. To read more about Jamaica's Red Stripe and their growth, check this Jamaica Observer article out.

More on Pinochet

I found all the new discoveries about Pinochet and his actions during his rule really interesting. I just wrote a paper on Chile and thought it was interesting to see all the recent developments in relations to Pinochet's rule that ended in 1990. Unbelievable that a world leader could get away with so many of the things he did. Check it out here!

[NOTE: Edited to correct for spelling of Pinochet's name.]


When I visited L.A., California a couple of weekends, Robert took me to a concert that was financed by the AVP. The band's name is Ozomatli; like most of Latin America, the band members and music are cultural mixtures. They have a predominately Afro-Latin sound, and the songs they played at the AVP concert were amazing! I found their Home page for you guys.

Leadership Change in Cuba

Fidel Castro's brother said the Communist Party will remain in control of Cuba if there is a leadership change. See article here.

Lula's Reelection

Brazil's president seeks re-election.

See full story here.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Schwarzenegger Denies Bush Troop Request

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (June 24) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week rejected a request from the Bush administration to send an additional 1,500 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, the governor's office confirmed Friday. He believes this is the wrong way to go about controlling illegal immigration. The picture shown here is a man who was caught illegaly entering the U.S. is processed by the border patrol on Wednesday in Nogales, Arizona.

Costa Rica and Iraq

Former supporter of the Iraqi War, Costa Rica has recently protested their appearance on the list of countries that support the war. As a member of the "coalition of the Willing" in 2004, the country has appealed its position due to government's fear of citizen's opposition of the war. As an archived document on the US Government's webpage, removal from the list was not possible, according to the US. To read more about this current situation in Latin America, please read this yahoo article.

Brazil's Varig In Trouble

If you are planning to visit Brazil anytime soon, beware! Varig, the largest international Brazilian airline, is in the middle of serious financial situation. Lacking the funding to buy fuel and unable to make lease payments on their planes, the airline has been forced to ground much of its fleet. With flights to South America, Europe, North America, and Latin America, the airline, which has cancelled 189 of its 276 daily scheduled flights, passengers are stranded around the world. Due to the enormous amount of Brazilian in Germany for the World Cup, other international airlines are attempting to find room on their over-sold flights from Europe to Brazil. The Brazilian government, fearing over 30,000 Brazilian being stranded abroad, has agreed to allow the Air Force to fly five military planes to take stranded passengers back home. The irony of this situation is that the airline already owes the government nearly $3.5 billion dollars. With critical flights from NYC and Atlanta cancelled to Brazil, business and leisure travel has been significantly decreased. Using the courts to resolve the situation, many of the flight rights that Varig has for these highly-desired routes will be awarded to other international airlines. So...If you're lucky enough to be going to Brazil anytime soon, be sure to check your tickets to see if your airline is still in business!

Lula's Re-Election

In the midst of Brazil's World Cup domination, the current President Lula recently announced his bid for re-election. Attempting to continue economic development and fight poverty, Lula hopes to use the success of the World Cup and the progress of his past presidency to win over the people of Brazil. Lula is already heavily favored over his opponent, Geraldo Alckmin, the former governor of Sao Paulo state. Stay tuned for the election in October!

Miami loses competitive edge as "gateway" to Latin America

According to this article, Miami, once the top city as the gateway and welcoming city in Latin America has fallen to fourth behind Sao Paulo, Santiago and Monterrey, mostly because of tougher immigration and banking laws and the rocketing life expenses. Check it out.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is a new U.S. marketed video game coming out next year. The controversial aspect of this game is its plot in which one must invade Venezuela and overthrow its dictator and then secure its vast oil supplies. Chavez and his supporters are outraged at the game's blatant attack on him and worry that the marketing of such a game is aimed at setting up a psychological readiness of American's for an invasion of Venezuela in the name of stabilizing democracy and in actuality to secure oil reserves. To learn more visit here.


In Brazil they're building a new highway through the Amazon rainforest. This time, though, the Brazilian government has decided to try to be friendly to the surrounding forest. They are taking measures to conserve and sustainably use the rainforest. Sustainable forestry is good because it produces jobs and money while having the least amount of impact possible on the rainforest overall. For more, see this.

Also, more on sustainable development of the rainforests is here.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Latin American Film Festival

I love movies, so I decided to investigate the Latin American cinema. I found the Latin American Film Festival website, and I checked out the films that were featured at last year's festival. The plot summaries sound interesting, and with internet movie rental services, you should not have a problem renting some of them if you desire to do so. Check it out.


Chile experienced years of oppression, torture, murders, and exiles under Pinchot, a military dictator. During this time, many human rights violations occured and Chile is now making a move to punish those responsible for the oppressions. This is one of the stories.

Immigration Bill in Congress

Click here.

NY Times world cup article

Click here.

Mexico's Border Crisis

While we north of the border are freaking out over illegal immigration, Mexico is having its own problems with its Southern border. In question is immigration from Guatemala. You can read about it here.

Venezuela wants Security Council Membership

With the U.S. vehemently opposed, Venezuela is trying to get a spot on the U.N. Security council. You can read about it here.


This article is interesting. It is about ethanol, an alternative fuel and its raise in popularity in Latin Americal. It seems as thought the rise in the price of oil per barrel is really motivating people there to look at alternative fuel sources.


I did a little research on telenovelas after we read that article the other day and I found out that they are bringing Latin American telenovelas to America and translating them. They're going to be on CBS, NBC and ABC, major networks! Looks like Latin American culture is really starting to penetrate into the U.S. Here's the link to the article if anyone is interested.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Jamaica's Violence Against Women

I thought this was interesting since we just had a country profile report on Jamaica. Amnesty International urged Jamaica's government on Thursday to confront "widespread" discrimination and sexual violence against women and girls, including better protection for witnesses in rape cases.

US Congress Continues Funding Intervention in Latin America

The title is all you need to know. While Latin America is slowly becoming more and more leftist and pulling away from US influence, Congress continues to cling to the Monroe Doctrine. Link.

Mexico pays its external debt

In order to improve its situation in the global market Mexico has decided to pay part of its debt ahead of schedule. The Mexican government will pay $7 billion dollars of its external debt to the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank of Development. This is one of the steps it is taking to boost its economy that right now is going through times of prosperity. You can see the entire report by going to the following link.

Clemens Returns to face Dominican star Liriano

Roger Clemens will make his triumphant return to the good guys (the Houston Astros), but he'll be faced by Francisco Liriano, one of the best young pitchers in the World and maybe the best Dominican pitcher not named Pedro Martinez. The Dominican Republic is known mostly for its hitting prowess (Pujols, David Ortiz, Tejada, Manny Ramirez to name a few), so Liriano is sort of a rarity in Dominican baseball. Should be an interesting game - here's some video and stats on Liriano


Oswaldo Guayasamin is one of the most representative painters of the indigenismo movement in Ecuador. His paintings trespassed national forntiers and he was able to exhibit them in the world's most important museums such as L'Hermitage. He also became very well known for his murals. His most famous murals include that of the Madrid Barajas Airport, the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and the Government and Legislative Palace in Quito. He was able to transmit the pain and suffering the indigenous communities in Ecuador are going through which is depicted through his hand paintings and also the happiness and family values through his paintings of mother and son. Here are some pictures of his work.

Guillen Apologizes

Ozzie Guillen made a public apology saying his slang term for a homosexual directed at Jay Mariotti at the Chicago Sun-Times has a different meaning in Venezuela. He says it means a man without courage. Ozzie is well known for being outspoken, and I think he should continue to speak his mind, but maybe use cleaner language with the press.


This is a good recipe for tequenos, which are little cheese filled fried pastries made in Venezuela. Great poolside.


2 lb all-purpose flour
4 x egg yolks
1/2 lb butter room temperature
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 lb farmer's cheese
12 servings
2 hours 30 minutes 30 mins prep

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. Mix all ingredients except the cheese together. Knead to form a dough. Let rest. Meanwhile, cut cheese into sticks about 2" x 1/2" x 1/2". Stretch the dough with a rolling pin, as thin as possible. Cut in strips about 1" x 6" . Wrap each strip around a cheese stick, going around the stick in a spiral, overlapping each turn so that the cheese is completely covered. Pinch the ends so that the cheese is fully covered and can't run out when fried. Roll each tequeno in flour, to keep them from sticking. Deep fry the tequenos in very hot oil, until golden in color. After you have wrapped the cheese in dough, dust the uncooked"tequeños" with flour and fry them in oil. These should fry on med heat. Once they begin to lightly golden one one side turn to the other. I usually do not always deep fry these but rather use a large frying pan and enough oil to fill the bottom of the pan and enough to see that they are half way covered while frying. That's why you have to turn them over to fry. Less oil is better. Also when they are done place on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Cooking time depends more on how many can you fit in a large pan. ;) These are (obviously) fattening, but they are delicious! Serve right away. Should be eaten piping hot, so that the cheese runs out when bitten.

recipe by Daniel Aguilar source: Click here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Three recent suicides at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba have prompted outcries against the United States. Around 460 prisoners have been held at the prison for years, without being charged with crimes, and with little hope for a trial. Their names were not even released until this past March. The US has been having trouble with the prison because of torture scandals, and the suicides have only increased criticism of the prison. Both the UN and EU have urged the United States to close the prison. At a summit with the EU earlier today, President Bush replied to attacks on Gitmo by saying he would like to close it, "But we're going to solve it." I guess we'll see what that means.

Castro Fights Corruption

Several prominent officials in Cuba have been removed from office for charges of corruption. Castro has appealed to young Cubans, especially social wokers in the university, to join his cause and carry on his legacy. I find it interesting that Castro is often portrayed as a ruthless dictator, while his main goal is to uphold the Communist ideal rather than simply remain in power, which has characterized many past leaders of Latin American nations. Many leaders have been in power for power's sake, not caring about the fate of their country once they step down from office. However, you've got to give Castro credit; he really believes in what he's doing. He wants to ensure that Communist Cuba works, even after his death. Unfortunately, this system has also been prone to various political and social oppression. If Cuba continues its Communist system, hopefully such abuses will be rooted out along with the corruption.

Rivera frescos at the DIA

Since we're on the topic of Latin American artists, I thought it would be neat to bring up that a very famous fresco sequence was painted in the Detroit Institute of Arts by Diego Rivera. The work was commissioned by Edsel Ford (son of auto tycoon Henry Ford) in 1932. The themes of the mural are the four races that comprise Detroit's working population, and Detroit's main industries; the automotive plants as well as medical, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries. Rivera's work does anything but glorify North American industry; the images reveal broken down, hunched-backed, sooty workers exiting the soulless metal plant, as well as ominous visions of workers cloaked in gas masks manufacturing deadly chlorine gas. This stands in contrast to the angry raised fists on the desert hills above the plant scenes and the fertile Latin American fruit and vegetable growth. Rivera portrayed the white race as surrounded by broken ruins, symbolizing the decline of Western society. Various subversive details can be found- such as the presence of a sickle and a red star on the gloves of one worker. (Rivera's cunning becomes evident when one learns that there was actually a glove-making factory in Michigan at the time whose logo was a red star.) Upon viewing the mural, Henry Ford wanted to have it painted over; but Edsel (who was a great lover of art) had the final word and emerged victorious in his fight to preserve it. Rivera also considered it the most successful work of his career. Pretty cool. Check it out at the DIA website:

Venezuela Criticizes the U.S.

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela condemned what it called U.S. diplomatic pressure against its bid for a U.N. Security Council seat, saying Washington is trying to lobby Latin American nations to keep Venezuela off the council because it would stand up to the Bush administration. Maripili Hernandez, Venezuela's deputy foreign minister for North America, said in a statement Tuesday that the United States "is worried that a small country like Venezuela can stand up to the empire with dignity and strength."Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government, which has close ties with Iran and Cuba and has opposed the war in Iraq, is competing with U.S. ally Guatemala for a regional seat. The dueling bids are expected to be a test of support for the leftist Chavez in Latin America.

World Refugee Day 2006

Yesterday, 6/20/06, was World Refugee Day. Watching a report last night, it was pointed out that one of the worst (if not the worst) refugee cases in the Western Hemisphere is that of Colombians displaced to Ecuador throughout the over 40-year old war. Here are a couple of websites I found on the topic:
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
BBC News
Amnesty International

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Chavez's dying influence?

This article is about the defeat of Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, who was openly supported by Venezuela's controversial president. Many attribute Humala's loss to the fact that Chavez approved of him in the first place. Furthermore, Chavez plans to endorse a Sandanista candidate in Nicaragua's upcoming presidential election. I wonder if this plan will backfire as well - if Nicaraguans are as fed up with him as many other Latin Americans. However, despite this animosity, it looks like major countries in Latin America, including Brazil and Chile, are planning on voting for Venezuela as a representative for the UN security council, despite pressures from the US to vote for Guatemala for the position. With the US and Chile currently cooperating under a free-trade agreement, what will happen when Chile's policy goes against Washington's wishes?

Sinking Mexico City

Every year, Mexico City sinks about 10 inches.


Dr. Joel Poinsett, the 1st US ambassador to Mexico, brought the poinsettia to US in 1828. The plant, called "flower of the blessed night" in Mexico was renamed in Poinsett's honor.


Dominica, Mexico, Zambia, Kiribati, Fiji and Egypt all have birds on their flags.

Greater Antilles

Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico are all a part of the Greater Antilles.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Spain emerges with 3-1 Win against Tunsia

STUTTGART, Germany -- The substitutes saved the day for Spain, carrying it into the next round of the World Cup.
Trailing Tunisia by a goal at halftime, coach Luis Aragones brought in Spain's all-time leading scorer, Raul Gonzalez, and Cesc Fabregas. And it paid off bigtime in a 3-1 win Monday night.

More on Mexico's border

Here's another article on illegal immigration across the border. A car driving from Tijuana was found with 8 people pushed in the trunk. There have been increased attempts at getting across along the California border. For more info click here.

Mexico's Southern Border

I came across this article in Sunday's New York Times which addressed Mexico's own problem with immigration. Along its southern border, hundreds of Central Americans travel through every year in hopes of finding work in Mexico, and in many cases, the United States. One landowner in Chiapas said that nearly all of his workers were from Central America, but eventually they will migrate north. In cooperation with US pressures, the Mexican government has attempted to regulate this flow, although the terrain between Mexico and Guatemala has made this task very difficult. One man interviewed had the plan to come work in New Orleans once he made it across the border. I wonder if this immigration into Mexico is really a concern for the Mexican government, of if it's all just a product of US influence. From here in New Orleans, I find it hard to argue that we don't need more workers when there is still so much work to be done.

Jamaica's teams win championship

In Basketball, Jamaica's men and female teams cruised to regional supremacy following extensive victories over the United States Virgin Islands and Bahamas on the final day of the Caribbean Basketball Champion-ships on Saturday night at the National Indoor Sports Centre.The Bahamas proved no match for the Jamaican women, who justified their status as favourites, when they easily dispatched them 90-46 to win the female championship for the very first time. In truth, the team never faced any serious challenge.They had a comfortable lead by half-time at 38-26 and with 5:52 left to go in the final quarter they had totally drowned any far-fetched chance of a Bahamas comeback, leading 72-39.

Work in Latin America!

Having those post-graduation blues because you see yourself following the traditional lifestyle of working for 30 years starting in a base position of a US company post Tulane? Want to try a different future, or at least postpone reality? Go work in Latin America. Here is a site that can help. Its ENLACE, the Electronic Network for Latin AmericanCareers and Employment. It is the self-proclaimed "premier job and internship site dedicated exclusively to Latin Americanists." Check it out here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Venezuealan Militaristic Expansion.

It seems that Venezuelan leader Chavez is determined and announced that he is going to buy brand new Russian Fighter Jets. Ironically this fleet is being bought to replace the US made F-16's that the US now refuses to sell parts to Venezuela to fix. This is amidst other defense contracts supported by Venezuela's oil reserves that total over 2.1 billion dollars and include buying new attack helicopters and 100,000 AK 103 assault rifles. Chavez has always been worried of the possibility of US invasion and take over and is not actively encouraging Venezuelans abroad to support this militarization. I find this to be a risky move, yet a humorous one, considering the aforementioned fact about the F-16 parts. It will be interesting to see how Washington reacts to this deal due to the proximity of Venezuela.

Mexican War of Indep. BIG LES

The Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) was Mexico's struggle for independence from Spanish colonial rule. It started as an idealistic peasants' rebellion against their colonial masters but finally ended as an unlikely alliance between liberales (liberals) and conservadores (conservatives).

World Cup Big Les

Brazil looks to be primed for it's second consecutive world cup with a 2-0 win over Australia. For the second straight game, Brazil's Ronaldinho did not score but they were able to get two goals from Adriano Leite and Fred Chaves.

[Editor's Note: Original post edited to correct name word order and spelling.]

The New paradise of drug trafficking

Interesting article declares that " The businness is so sucessful that it is already compared with the power that it had in the 80s on the Andean zone"
For more info go here.

The End of Mercasur

The end of Mercasur may be a bad idea. According to an article in "Tiempos del Mundo" it is better to reframe objectives from its foundation.

Can you even imagine?

I cannot even begin to think about what it would be like to grow up in a country where the history of your country is taught in a censored fashion. Even though various countries have bad parts of their past, I found it interesting that Uruguay censored this past to make the children believe certain things. Rather interesting....

Migrant Money Sent Home

After discussing in class briefly, I found this article on MSNBC about the flow of money from migrant workers in the US back home to their families in Mexico. With the flow of money, which exceeded $20 billion dollars last year, increasing each year, more people are being impacted by this trend. To read personal accounts of Mexican families or to find out more, please click here.

Tulane Involvement

Hey guys. There's a tulane Graduate/medical student named Catherin Jones who started a project to provide healthcare for Latin American immagrants in New Orleans. She and other graduates who speak Spanish are working as a mobile group throughout New Orleans. I thought it was pretty cool.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Enrique Krauze Profiles Mexico's Lopez Obrador

Mexican historian Enrique Krauze has an intriguing profile of Mexico's left-of-center Presidential aspirant, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Krauze's piece is more of a cautionary tale than a laudatory tribute. Krauze seems to be worried that Lopez Obrador has a bit of the messianic authoritarian in him that bodes an ill-wind for Mexican democracy. Personally, I think that a bit of populist demagoguery in a political campaign (and even in post-election governing) is a rather normal characteristic of Latin American politics and society, even in the "most" democratic among them. I'm not so worried about the possibility of a Lopez Obrador victory as Krauze seems to be for two reasons: First, Lopez Obrador, for all his populist authoritarian inclinations, is a pragmatist. He would not be the Mayor of Mexico City if he weren't inclined to some patterns of pragmatic accommodation. Secondly, and more importantly in my eyes, he represents a breakaway, "democracy-oriented" movement from the entrenched authoritarianism of the PRI. By running as the PRD candidate, he cannot escape from the movement's appeal to liberal democracy. Krauze notes that even some PRDistas (prominent among them is Cuauhtehmoc Cardenas) are nervous about Lopez Obrador, but I think that if Lopez Obrador really breaks the trust of the PRD's platform of democratic reform with any effort to seek to perpetuate himself in power, he'll become as much of a lame duck as Fox is now. And, frankly, should he be elected, Lopez Obrador, in my estimation, is not likely to break that trust.

NY Times article about Mexico's presidential race

Click here.

World Cup news

Yesterday Kaka clinched Brazil's advance to the next round in the World Cup. Their win extends their win streak in the tournament to 7 games (continuing from last time when they won the entire tournament). Their chances are likely again this year that they could go all the way.
I'll be watching and rooting

Friday, June 16, 2006

Latin American Seat on Security Council

The expiration of Argentina's term on the UN security council has led to debate over which Latin American country should occupy the non-permanent seat for the next two years. Venezuela and Guatemala are the current contenders for this position and President Chavez's wishes to see Venezuela win the seat are being deterred by American efforts as well as debates by Jamaican Opposition Leader Bruce Golding. To read more about the ongoing debate, visit here.

Ford in Mexico

This was an interesting article. It is interesting that American car companies are further developing their car plants in Mexico. At the same time, it brings up the point of whether these large scale American businesses are helping out Mexico by being there or just lowering the cost of manufacturing.

Venezuela to Get Russian Aircraft

Chavez turned to Russia for aircrafts after the U.S. banned the sale of arms to Venezuela. Chavez is building up his military in case of a U.S. invasion. This article is really interesting.

Urban Living

This article is very interesting - tying in with what we've been talking about in class about the urban lifestyle in Latin America and how it's growing at a substantial rate. The UN is saying that at a point in the year 2007 over half of the world will be living in urban areas, and one third of those people will be in slums.

World Cup

Two of the games on the 15th featured Latin American nations...
Sweden beat Paraguay 1-0 with a goal in the 89th minute while Ecuador beat Costa Rica 3-0 ending Costa Rica's chance to move on to the second round.

Interesting Interview with Jorge Castaneda

The Washington Post has a very cool interview with former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda. In the interview he discusses the Mexican presidential race and notes the fact that the PRI, who dominated Mexico for over 50 years, are not in the race anymore. The two big horses left in it are Lopez Obrador of the PRD and Calderon (who leads) of the PAN.

Nacho Libre

A movie about a Mexican monk turned wrestler or "luchador" premiers tomorrow. It's called Nacho Libre and stars Jack Black (pictured left). Does the movie seem funny? Sure it does. But it also seems like it portrays hispanics in a goofy way. I haven't seen the film, but with the recent immigration debate taking on a racist tone, I'm wondering if a comedy of this nature will have a negative impact on Americans' views of Mexicans and hispanics in general. Please let me know what you think in the comments section.

Cuba Book Banned

It seems the Miami exile community is at it again with the usual anti-Castro obsession. Under pressure from the Cuban community, the school board in Miami-Dade county has banned a book on Cuban geography because it supposedly portrays an "idealized" view of life in Cuba. Does the book really portray an unrealistic view of Cuba, and if so should it be banned just because of one group's political agenda?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Communism in Cuba

Fidel Castro's brother, Raul Castro, assures Cuba that Communism will remain even if there is a leadership change. Raul is designated to take Fidel's place if he were to die or fall ill. Rumors that politics would change greatly in Cuba if Fidel Castro died are said to be false. Here is the CNN report.

Wikipedia is God

For those of you who did not know, Wikipedia is the most amazing website online right now. After studying The Storyteller by Mario Vargas Llosa, I decided to see what Wikipedia had to say about the author. I found a great article on Vargas Llosa that discusses his political involvement in Peru. The man ran for president! Check it out.

In Mexico, Migration Issue Gets No Traction

Check out this article in the Washington Post regarding the upcoming Mexican presidential elections. The controversial US-Mexico immigration disputes seem to be of lessened attention as the election comes close. It seems that domestic issues are much more pressing than foreign policy affairs, not allowing the candidates to add much weight depending on their immigration views.

Mas Venezuela...

Here's just more on our last Venezuela discussion in class. In this week's report Andres Oppenheimer speaks of December's presidential elections in Venezuela. Though still early to make any calls, this article shows the "openness" (or lack, thereof) of the government towards opposition.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Controversial Gold Mining in Chile

I heard about this when I got a chain letter about a U.S. based company, Barrick Gold Corp., that is planning to excavate gold beneath two Chilean glaciers. Many people are upset because of the very harmful nature of gold mining. The mining process processes large amounts of earth for a relatively small amount of gold. Cyanide is used in the mining process. This is another cause for worry considering any sort of runoff will leave these sources of water and their rivers undrinkable. Here's the article.

Ford and Mexico

It looks like Ford is trying to recoup its losses over the past decade by "investing" in Mexico. [sarcasm] I'm sure they'll pay the workers exactly the same amount they paid American workers [/sarcasm]

In cased anyone cared...

...what president Lula thought about Brazil's performance in the world cup, here you go. Oh Lula

Daryl Hannah Arrested

You may remember Daryl Hannah from the movie LAST-102 recently watched, "At Play in the Fields of the Lord." She played Andy Huben, one of the missionaries. She was arrested along with 16 other protestors in Los Angeles's South Central Urban Garden on Tuesday. The actress and about 25 immigrant farmers and their supporters were campaigning to save the 14-acre fruit and vegetable garden from planned demolition. "I spent the last 23 days down at the South Central farm, which is the largest urban farm in the nation and provides food for hundreds of families," Hannah says. "The subsistence farmers are from one of the poorest communities. This farm should be a model for sustainable urban agriculture. It needs to be replicated, not eradicated." Leonardo DiCaprio and Willie Nelson had also stopped by the garden in the past weeks to show their support. Perhaps Hannah's participation in the movie, "At Play in the Fields of the Lord" influened her to be more aware of land management in the US. She was charged with a misdemeaner.


This is a great resource for facts and figures related not only to Latin American economies, but also demographic and social trends, regional interaction, projections, and development goals. The name of the UN organization is (in English) Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, and CEPAL is the same but is the acronym in Spanish. There is a wealth of other publications/links as well.

Latin America's year of elections

Many Latin American countries are facing national elections before the end of 2006. One of the key issues is whether there is a regional left-wing trend, and if so, will it continue with the newly elected governments. BBC News has an interesting take on this issue; here is the link if you're interested in reading further.

Top-Rated Cigars

Ever wanted to know more about the best puros in the world? Most are made in Latin America, and are particularly great in Cuba and the D.R. Here is a list (I don't know how legit) of top rated cigars from 2005.

Huipiles: A way of life

Huipiles, Guatemalan textiles, are one of the most beautiful and significant parts of indigenous culture in this country. They have a MAyan legacies and represent one of the few things that are still significantly kept by almost every member of these communities. The process is very long and complex, it takes around six months to weave a huipil. Most are made out of white cotton and the colors are obtained through vegetal, animal or mineral oringin tinctures. There are 3 basic steps to completing them: preparation (threading and dying the cloth), weaving it, and finally embroidiring it. They are of great importance because it holds a great part of their identity and it is also a method of expression. By seeing a huipil we can tell where it comes from since every tribe has its own style. This dates from colonial times since the Spaniards forced them to weave this way in order to be able to recognize the tribe each person belongs to. They are incredibly beautiful and unique. The only problem now is that, now many of them have been forced to stop making what they feel and just started to do what sells the most. However there are several intents to try to avoid this by training the communities and teaching them how to produce more profitable crafts without giving up doing what they like and feel.

The Chicano Movement

The Chicano Movement of several local outbursts of Mexican American activists throughout the United States. Although it is now all seen as a single movement, it was never unified because there were many groups within the movement that had their own goals and ideals that often did not coincide with those of other groups. Some of these were the United Farm Workers Union led by César Chavez, the Land Grant in New Mexico led by Ruiz Tijerana and La Raza Unida Party in Texas led by José Angel Gutierrez.

Part of the movement was the beginning of the militant identity: “Brown and Proud”, in a way imitating the “Black Pride” of African American movements, and also calling themselves Chicanos, a derogatory word previously used to describe those born north of Rio Grande.

Some of the general political goals of the Chicano movement were to eliminate the discrimination and economic disadvantages, to recognize a kinship with Mexico as well as a validity of Mexican American culture, to improve the lives of farm workers, to end segregation of Chicanos and police repression, and the struggle for political representation and self-determination.

Those who were part of the Chicano movement insisted on the inclusion of Chicano students, teachers and studies in the schools and universities. They also fomented a lot of research for Chicano History.

U.S. Says Cuba shut off amenities to Mission

Cuba has been denying that it shut off the water and power to the American Mission in Havana. Link.

Brazil Beats Croatia

Brazil won the world Cup in 2002 and is trying to defend its title this year in Germany. They opened up play against Croatia on Tuesday. The Brazilians were victorious 1-0 in their opener. The game exposed some of the Brazilian teams weaknesses and possibly opened the door for an upset. Link .

High School students return to school in Chile

Students in Chile returned after 3 weeks of strike. The goal of the strike was to receive more money for education to improve schools in disrepair. $200 million was conceded by President Michelle Bachelet. Link

Venezuala Using civilians in military reserves

Venezuela is training civilians to participate in the army. Hugo Chavez is implementing the creation of civilian reserve units all over the country. Possible reasons behind this are the fear of ivasion.
Link .

Interesting fact about Caracas, Venezuela

I thought this was neat since we just learned about Venezuela today... I have been talking to the exchange student my family had in high school tonight and told him we learned about Venezuela and about the barros around Caracas, and he told me something very ironic. According to him, the barros areas are the second most dangerous municipality in the world, in the same city where his area is the richest municipality in Latin America. The west part of the city, the barros, is very poor with a lot of corruption, informal jobs, while the east is very rich with a good life and good cars.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Latinos & Latinas in WWII

World War II was a major turning point for U.S. Latinos, changing the worldviews of an entire generation. Many Latino soldiers returned home to find the same discrimination they had left behind; they began questioning a system that held Latinos to a lower status. Many veterans used the G.I. Bill to earn a college education. Latinas who worked in military installations and in other jobs previously denied them also questioned the status quo. Some Mexican citizens were brought in to fill jobs left vacant by departing soldiers. Few lives were left untouched--even those men who were unable to join the fighting forces would never be the same. In the following years, these men and women made astounding civil rights advancements for their people--in school desegregation, in voting rights, in basic civil rights. Powerful organizations grew out of this era, including the G.I. Forum and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Sadly, the stories of these men and women have been virtually untold, either in the mass media or in scholarly writing. The main problem has been the small numbers of U.S. Latino journalists, scholars and other writers who would document the stories of this generation. This project seeks to capture the stories of these men and women. This project is being organized by the University of Texas at Austin Department of Journalism. Check their stories here.

Diego Rivera

We're going to talk about art soon, so here's a gallery of Diego Rivera's work. It's pretty cool. Check it out.

Madeira dam proposal

Brazilian officials are proposing the construction of a new dam on the largest tributary of the Amazon river. The eight-hundred and fifty people who would be flooded out of their homes are protesting and have formed the Movement of Dam-Affected people. One member of the group says that he was ousted from his last home due to the erection of a new dam and was never compensated. One Bolivian hydrologist has stated that building a dam on these heavily silt-laden waters is ridiculous. And though the government has tantalized environmentalists with promises of special fish spillways, the inroads and dam construction would surely attract new settlers and gas dillers, which would only exacerbate the problem of deforestation. But small group uprisings such as the MDA are promising; I believe it is likely that only through popular uprising will Latin American environmental reform take place.

Here's the link from 'THE ECONOMIST.'

Extractive Reserve of the Lower Rio Branco-Rio Jauaperi

Here's a cool link to the Amazonian Association (Associacao Amazonia) webpage, which is seeking to establish a protected area on the Xixuau-Xiparina rivers in Acre, Brazil. The group has been mapping biodiversity and seeking to preserve the indigenous way of life through promoting ecotourism.

Cuba and the US

What will become of the relation between cuba and the united states?

And how will they continue to torture, becuase of politics, the people of cuba and the people that fled to the US that have not been able to return?

The Cuban government cut off electricity to the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana a week ago, and U.S. requests for power to be restored have gone unanswered. These small actions just make me wonder of the future of this relation between these two countries.

The full story is here.


San Andres y Providencia is a small Island which counts towards a part of Colombian territory.

It is located 480 miles North-West of the Colombian mainland in the Caribbean Sea, in close ecological and archaeological contact with the northern part of Colombia, Central America and other islands in the Caribbean. It is made up of the islands of San Andrés, Providence and St. Catherine; Bolívar and Albuquerque islets; Cotton, Haynes, Johnny, Roncador, Serrana, Serranilla, Quitasueño, Rocky, and Crab cays and Alicia and Bajo Nuevo sand banks.

It is a beautiful island that clearly expresses the fusion of various cultures: indigineous, African, Spanish, british and french. They speak a fusion of french, english and Spanish, creating a "Creolle English."

It has an "acuarium," that is actually the ocean itself, where the tourist only uses gogles to discover what is underneath the sea. It is known for its peacful atmosphere and its multicolored ocean.

Kindly Uncle Sam


Some people espouse the opinion that it is alright for the US to advise Latin America on environmental matters. They relate the situation to that of a parent who is advising his children not to make the same mistakes they themselves have. But let’s play the hypothetical situation game. Pay attention to my words here. Let’s say you are walking down the street one day when a rich man with a scalpel runs up to you, knocks you over, and steals your right lung. You survive. Somehow. Then, when you recover, you take up smoking because you are really depressed and probably still in shock that some wacko with a scalpel attacked you on the street. Anyway, many years later, you’re walking down the same street, casually smoking, when the SAME MAN WHO ATTACKED YOU happens to pass by. To your amazement, he shakes your hand, greets you, and then politely asks you not to smoke because your second-hand smoke might give him lung cancer. Isn’t your first impression to tell this guy to bugger off- or maybe do worse? You’re the Latin American nation, your lung was a large part of your natural ecosystem and environmental well-being, and the rich man was US big neoliberal business. Now, reader, can you understand how incredible it is that Latin American countries even listen to what the US has to say regarding environmental conservation?

Look- I’m an environmentalist. I realize that the protection of our Earth is crucial to the survival and happiness of not only humans, but more importantly the astounding biodiversity of our planet. I want the forests to be spared from cutting and the endangered animals to be able to thrive as they always have. I don’t want cyanide in the water supply or pesticide vapor in the air. But I can understand how ignorant it is of the US to give paternal advice to a region it has screwed over repeatedly. Kindly paternal advice is not a proper metaphor here. Instead, it’s more like a father trying to give pacifist advice to the children he has beaten all their lives. Plus, Americans should spend a little more time being active in the conservation of their own homeland before trying to advise other nations in theirs. If and when Latin American countries choose to conserve their invaluable ecosystems, it will be because they will have risen above US hypocrisy and soared valiantly into a better world future.

FARC at war with ELN

Apparently FARC has declared war against the ELN. Both are leftist guerilla groups who have been at war with the government and right wing paramilitaries in Colombia. Here is the article that explains the conflict:


Monday, June 12, 2006

COHA on WHINSEC: "Torture is Un-American"

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs comments on the legacy of the U.S.'s training of Latin American military officers at the WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly the SOA or School of the Americas). Combining the current anti-terrorist fears in the U.S. public, an administration policy that tends to ignore or dismiss torture as legitimate interrogation techniques, and border security concerns, one wonders if WHINSEC might not just stay open, but might also ramp up its old ways again.

Ortega's troubles

It seems that an Independent Commission on human rights in Nicaragua filed suits against Sandanista supporter and presidential candidate Daniel Ortega claiming that he was responsible for human rights violations during the Somoza overthrow in 1979. The group has claimed that Ortega, in negotiating with English speaking coastal Indians, murdered, tortured, or kidnapped over 100 people. The group claims that the number affected is probably much higher, however, they only have confirmed reports of these numbers. In the months before an upcoming election, Ortega maintains that this is a political stunt meant to take votes away from him and his party. I think it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out and if further investigations can be done before elections take place.

Chavez's Travel Plans Alarms U.S. Government

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced on his weekly radio address that he plans to visit both North Korea and Iran, two of America's top enemies. Issues arising over nuclear development in these two countries has alarmed the US government. After already building alliances with Iran and Cuba, some US officials are concerned that Chavez is trying to further himself and his country from the US. Using money from the country's vast oil supply, the impact of Chavez's actions could prove to be problematic in foreign diplomacy, including Chavez's proposed military agreements with China and Russia. To read more, check this out.

Ubinas Volcano In Peru

Yesterday, Sunday June 11th, over 400 villagers in a small Peruvian town 470 miles southeast of Lima were forced to evacuate the region due to the predicted eruption of the Ubinas volcano. High winds have taken some of the smoke, ash, and debris and moved it into the highland region of Puno. Although the volcano has yet to erupt, the increase in seismic activity has alarmed scientists enough to clear the surrounding village. To learn more, please click here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Mexico earned 3 points in the World Cup tournament by defeating Iran. Iran managed to tie the score at 1-1, but Mexico persisted to win 3-1.

Chilean Female President Visits US

The first Female president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, is visiting the US for the first time since elected office. She is a socialist who was defense minister before running for president and spent time as a political prisoner. She is also a pediatrician who lived in the US as a child and again as an adult. She wants to improve relations with the US, especially to increase trading. Here's the article.

Argentinean Tension

President Kirchner of Argentina and the wider government seem to be at odds with the military establishment. Military leadership remains relatively unchanged ideologically since the end of state sponsored terrorism and then military rule in the 1970's. Kirchner has subsequently fought to rid the military of old leadership and will begin trying retired officers for human rights abuses later this month. The full article can be found here.

Peruvian Election

I thought that it was interesting to see that this ex-President has just been put back into power. It seems to reflect the struggle that has plagued this country to get itself out of the economic depression. I just also thought it was interesting to see how he was able to get himself back into a position to become President again when he left in such disgrace and hatred...rather interesting to look at how the government works in such a different way than I traditionally think. Here's the link...

Hurricane Season

New Orleans isn't the only place in danger of hurricanes this summer. The first caribbean storm, tropical storm Alberto, hit Cuba with heavy rains yesterday. As much as 20 inches fell on western areas of the country- severely threatening the tobacco crops and triggereing possible flash floods and mudslides. With the hurricane season lasting until November 30, we are sure to see many more storms hitting the caribbean region.

The Real President of Brazil

Brazilian President Lula in a video conference with the Brazilian National futbol team on Thursday asked the team if Ronaldo was "fat." Ronaldo was not present but he later heard from his teammates about the comment. Lula realizing that he was approaching someone potentially more powerful than himself quickly apologized. It's an interesting story, which would never happen anywhere else.


Chipa is a traditional bread from Paraguay. They are versatile to prepare and very economical. Chipas are cooked in mud ovens on banana leaves. They are eaten all over Paraguay and in other South American countries like Argentina.
Ingredients: 100 gms of grated cheese, 4 eggs, 1 cup of full milk, 500 gms of Tapioca flour (special vegetable flour), Salt as desired
Pre-heat oven at 160 degrees
Beat eggs in a bowl, add cheese and blend.
Add sifted flour blend and mix with milk until all dissolved, add salt and its ready to go.
Place mixture in muffin tray and bake for 15 to 20 mins, until golden brown

World Cup!!!!

Costa Rica put forth a valiant effort, but they couldn't quite get past Germany last Friday. The final score was 4 to 2. Germany moves on to play Poland on June 14th.

World Cup Update

Mexico defeated Iran today in the first round of the World Cup, 3-1. Omar Bravo had two of the three for Mexico. Argentina defeated the Ivory Coast 2-1, while England beat Paraguay 1-0. Germany defeated Costa Rica 4-2, and Poland dropped to Ecuador 2-0.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Miguel Vinuesa's "Weekend Update"

Miguel Vinuesa, a Spanish student located in Madrid and a regular reader of the Cuaderno Latinoamericano, sent us a nice email complimenting us on our blog. Miguel also edits a blog called the Weekend Update. It has very good information and updates on many subjects from all over the world. Please check out the Weekend Update blog; and while you're there, post a comment telling Miguel that you're visiting via the Cuaderno Latinoamericano.

Chavez to the rescue?

Check out the last Oppenheimer Report on Ecuador's struggling relationship with the United States. Will Venezuelan Chavez provide Ecuador with enough leverage for it to dissolve free trade talks with the US?

Mis 15

A new Spanish-language TV program "Mis 15" has gained immense popularity on MTV Latin America. It mirrors the MTV show "Super Sweet Sixteen" and both shows follow the life of young wealthy girls celebrating extravagant parties for the girl's either 15th or 16th birthday. The celebration in Latin America is often so elaborate it is compared to a wedding and provides ample drama for a successful reality show. To learn more about this developing trend visit the Miami Herald article here.

Oscar de la Renta

Dominican born fashion designer Oscar de la Renta looks to his roots for inspiration in his Spring 2006 collection.

Check it out his stunning collection at

Cachapas - YUMMY!

Here's the recipe to one of my favorite dishes ever! They're from Venezuela.

Corn pancakes (Cachapas)
4 cups of tender corn kernels (canned corn may be used)1 teaspoon of salt1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk (depending on how tender the corn is)1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. The mix should become thick and weighty . If not, add more corn or some yellow corn flour . Shape the mix into small pancakes approximately 1/2 inch (1.25cm) thick and about 5 inches (12.5cm) in diameter. Let them cook on medium heat for about one minute on each side, or until small bubbles form on the top. Cachapas should be served hot, and normally is accompanied with cheese (feta cheese is one of the favorite option).

Salto Angel

Literally 'the angel's jump,' this waterfall is the longest in the world. It is located on the Auyan Tepui river in Venezuela, and measures 979 meters (807 meters uninterrupted). The indigenous name for the falls translates to 'the devil's mouth'. Interesting difference in perspective there.

Llaneros y Gauchos

I always thought it was cool that cowboys are folk heroes in Latin America as much as in North America. They are known as llaneros in Colombia and Venezuela and as gauchos in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. (Martin Fierro is the name of an Argentine saga of a gaucho by Jose Hernandez which became an Argentine folkloric legend.) Each group has a distinct culture, but all are cowboys.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The delicious "Arequipe"

Here is a recipe for Arequipe, or Dulce de Leche:

3 quarts milk
2 lbs. sugarpinch of salt
1/4 t. baking soda
2 egg yolks
cinnamon stick

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until thickened. Stir constantly, preferably with a wooden spoon, until you see the saucepan while stirring (4-5 hours). Add the egg yolks and let cook 2 or 3 minutes longer. Remove cinnamon stick. Let cool. This recipe must be watched constantly.

There is also a shortcut for preparing Arequipe. Put a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of boiling water. The water should fully cover the can which must not be opened. Boil it for about 5 hours adding water constantly to compensate evaporation. Let it cool down for 30 min before opening the can and you'll get a pretty good Arequipe


Colombian singer Shakira will perform her new hit “My Hips Don’t Lie” along with Wyclef Jean on July 9th at this year’s world cup on the Berlin’s Olympic stadium in Germany before the final game.

Que triste!

Costa Rica falls to Home Team Germany in the 1st game. The score: 4 - 2, Germany. El partido continua...

FIFA World Cup History

Since the FIFA World Cup is all the hype in Latin America right now, I decided to investigate its history online. I came across the FIFA World Cup history site at the National Soccer Hall of Fame website. It explains who formed the tournament and how the tournament was formed. It also has a list of records held in the tournament. Check it out.

Ecuador upsets Poland

Although they didn't get the four goals their coach predicted, Ecuador pulled off a 2-0 win against Poland today. Many were unsure about Ecuador's chances in the world cup, considering its wins in the qualifying rounds were all in Quito, whose mile high elevation gave them an advantage against other teams. Ecuador has proven that it can do well away from its home turf.

Iguazu Falls

The Iguazu Falls are one of the most popular destinations in Latin America. They are situated in the border between Brazil and Argentina. It is the site of unimaginable natural beauty. Iguazú Falls are the result of a volcanic eruption which left yet another hole in the earth. They are four times wider than the Niagara Falls. These are divided by various islands into separate waterfalls. In addition to the beautiful waterfalls it is surrounded by an amazing jungle landscape. It is definetely worth visiting this place were you will see unique flora and fauna. You may visit them through helicopter or boat. The most famous spot is the Devil's Throat where fourteen falls drop 350 feet with such force that there is always a 100 foot cloud of spray up.

Check this site to see some incredible pictures of this wonderful place.


Here is the recipe of one of the best desserts in Latin America: Alfajores.These are typical from the southern cone. They are special soft cookies filled with Dulce de Leche (somewhat like caramel but thicker).

12 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cognac
2 1/2 cups cornstarch (corn flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Dulce de Leche
Grated coconut
To make cookie dough: Cream the butter and sugar together, then mix in the remaining ingredients except the dulce de leche and coconut until well blended. Knead on a floured work surface until the dough is smooth and let rest for 15 minutes.
Make the cookies: Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch and cut into 2-inch rounds. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 300°F oven for 20 minutes. When cool, spread some dulce de leche on the bottom of half the cookies and press another cookie on top, allowing some of the dulce de leche to squeeze from the sides. Roll the sides in the coconut until the sides are covered. Makes about 12 delicious, definitely non low calorie cookies!
To make dulce de leche: Method 1: Pour 1 can sweetened condensed milk into 9-inch pie plate. Cover with aluminum foil. Place the pie plate in a in larger shallow pan filled with hot water. Do not allow the water to cover the smaller pan. Bake at 425 degrees F for 1 hour or until thick and caramel-colored. Beat until smooth. Method 2: Place unopened can sweetened condensed milk in a pot with enough water to cover the can. Bring slowly to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and let cook for 4-5 hours until the milk is caramelized. Be careful! Keep the can covered and simmering slowly to avoid the risk of the can exploding. Cool the can before opening.

Brazil by Big Les

Brazil declared its independence in 1822! Gangsta

Big Les Bets on Brazil

I got my money on Brazil and the Michael Jordan of soccer in the World Cup!

world's widest road

Brazil is the location of the world's widest road. 160 cars can drive side by side.

Goajiro ceremonial dance

In Colombia, if a Goajiro woman is successful in tripping a man during a ceremonial dance, he's required to have intercourse with her. (7-16-01)

coca leaf

In the Andes, time is sometimes measured by how long it takes to chew a quid of coca leaf.

Ex-Paraguayan President Faces Prison Time

Luis Gonzalez Macchi, the former president of Paraguay, has been sentenced to six years in prison for setting up a scheme to embezzle $16 million of state funds. It relates to the corruption in the governments in Latin America that we discussed in class. Here is the link.

Brazilian Farmers

This article relates well to what we were talking about in class. It's about how landless farmers in Brazil are demanding agrarian reforms.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world (behind Russia, Canada, China and the United States). It’s only 300,000 square miles smaller than the United States. Australia, India, Argentina, Kazakhstan and the Sudan round out the Top 10

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Ecuador in the World Cup

I forgot to mention in my presentation the other day that Ecuador will be playing this friday in the world cup. Although they are third among the four South American countries competing -Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay - the coach is very optimistic about Ecuador's chances. In this Friday's game against Poland, he claims that his team will score five times. It seems pretty unlikely, but we'll have to see. The game will be aired Friday at 3 pm on ESPN 2 and Univision. Article.

Mexican Election

I thought this article was interesting. It is about the elction in mexico.

Big les, HOLLA

Why isn't there more Latin American athletes playing basketball?

Joining the "Modern World"

Somewhat relating to the film we're watching in class, i found this NYTimes article and accompanying presentation about a native tribe of Nukak-Maku indigens in Colombia who have gone to the closest town in search for help to join the "modern world". They want their children to attend school and join the "civilized" society of the town. Distraught by this voluntary desire to change their lifestyle, townspeople fear this group of about 80 people will become increasingly dependent on the aid provided and on the sole translator that they have.

Study: Katrina rebuilding exploits illegal immigrants

Link to CNN article...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Upcoming Mexican elections still a dead heat

Here's some more info on the upcoming elections. Right now, it's still a dead heat. Obrador had been leading for a while, but Calderon has gained popularity making it a dead heat.

Angered peasants storm Congress

We were talking about Brazil in class the other day. Apparently, the protesters from the Landless Peasants' Liberation Movement, an organization that advocates redistribution of farms, broke into Congress and interrupted a session. Security eventually got things under control, but an interesting story to say the least. link

Las Farc Websites

Here you can find the website for one of the guerilla groups in colombia.
They have there own website, full of articles that support there actions...
It quite interesting. unfortunately its in Spanish.. but with just looking at it you can see
how well done it is.. and how scary it is to think that they have gotten into technology and
have established themselves so strongly....

666 and the devil attacks

this is the image drawn by a taxi driver, in Pereira Colombia, of a devil that presumably attacked him when he got into his cab. he was found with both doors open, grabbing the wheel. He had to be given trnquilizers to calm down so he could speak and say what he had seen.
women ran to baptize their children so they could be protected form evil spirits and the devil on this day also.
There was a suicide reported of a young man, who was found with a bag full of images of the devil.
Some people are taking this day very seriously.
The leyend says that on this day, 06.06.06, the world will end.

Latin American Nations Make Strides Against AIDS

This is from a recent posting on the PAHO website (Pan American Health Organization). It looks as though Latin America has made "notable" progress in its fight against the epidemic. Reasons include better regional/international cooperation and the breaking down of cultural taboos/gender roles. See it here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Dulce De Leche Cookies

Have an extra hour to burn or wanting to try something new? Check out this sweet little treat:

First of all, you'll need the following ingredients:

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened 1/3 cup cornstarch 3/4 to 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup granulated sugar 2 large egg yolks 1 tablespoon Pisco or regular brandy 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. About 1/4 cup dulce de leche (found in many Latin American grocery stores or larger grocery stores). Confectioners sugar for dusting.

You will also need a round cookie cutter, approx. 1.5 inches in diameter.

With all of the ingredients, its time to cook!

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a large baking sheet.

Whisk together cornstarch, 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then beat in egg yolks, Pisco, and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until combined, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons flour if dough is sticky. (Dough should be soft.)

Form dough into a disk and roll out into an 11-inch round (1/8 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Cut out 32 rounds with cutter (reroll scraps if necessary) and transfer to sheet, arranging rounds 1/2 inch apart.

Bake until firm and pale golden around edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes.

Sandwich cookies with about 1/2 teaspoon dulce de leche. Dust with confectioners sugar.

...and now its time to eat! Enjoy!

Politics In Latin America

With many Latin American governments shifter further and further to the left, it is sometimes hard to know exactly what is going on in each country. While on MSNBC, I found this interactive map. This map covers many of the major countries we have discussed in class, such as Brazil and Mexico, as well as many others. There is a small blurb about each government, including the next election date and the current leader. Check it out!

Latino Health in NOLA

So I got this article in the NewWave newsletter this morning and thought it was very interesting and inspiring. The Latino Health Outreach Project Clinic was a program started my a Tulane med student and focuses on providing services to the rising Latino population in post-Katrina New Orleans. Check it out.

Chilean Promised a New Deal; Now Striking Youth Demand It

Click here for the article.

Ex-President Wins in Peru in Stunning Comeback

Click here for the article.

EZLN site

Check out the Zapatista web site. Particularly interesting is the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lacandona. (And you can get it in English!) It gives one a good idea of the position the Zapatistas are taking, and the simple reasons why. Of note is the simple language and humble attitude of the article, which is designed to appeal to the average layperson. One finds it easy to empathize with their position. I think it's great that their 'encuentros' are called intergalactic, "just to be silly." Check it out!

Interview with Raul Reyes

Check out this link to the FARC web site. There is an interesting interview with Comandante Raul Reyes, arguably the most important leader in the FARC. It is in Spanish, but you can probably copy and paste paragraphs into to get the basic idea. It is worth noting that the website contains a "University Page," and there is a strong call to action for young adults. Important to Reyes is the idea that this is not a Colombian resistance, so much as a global struggle.

FARC deplores election of Uribe

Not suprisingly, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have declared that Uribe's reelection to the Colombian presidency is illegitimate due to low voter turnout. The group, which states that it is fighting for socialism, has also criticized the US strategy of domination. Here's the link.

Uribe wins in Colombia

Alvaro Uribe's reelection to the Colombian presidency on May 31st is being highly supported by the United States, as Uribe is not as left-leaning as many current South American leaders. It should be noted that he does have a close partnership with Chavez and Castro. Here's the link.

Agrarian Reform

Peasants have reason to rejoice with the land reform Evo Morales has passed in Bolivia.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

New Orleans migrant workers

So everyone knows that a lot of latino migrants have come to New Orleans post Katrina. Here is one article that describes the movement. It appears that the majority of latino laborers have come from other parts of the United States, and are making a comparatively high wage. There are many questions surrounding this new 30,000+ population in NO. Probably the most important is, will they stay? The Stone Center will most likely sponsor a forum on migrant issues by the end of June. I'll let everyone know when.

cfda awards tomorrow night

Does Francisco Costa stand a chance at the cfda awards? He completely revitalized Calvin Klein but he is up against Marc Jacobs and the boys of Proenza Schuler (Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough). I guess we'll find out tomorrow night. If you don't know about the CFDA (council of fashion designers of America) go to their website and find out.

Francisco Costa

Great Article in the New York Times today about Francisco Costa. Check it out here.


Matisyahu is musical artist with gaining popularity. His band is yet another example of Latin American influences being diffused into other cultures. He is a practicing Hasidc jew who utilizes the influences of Jamaican raggae and adds lyrics inspired by the jewish teachings. His band has a unique sound, mixing reggae, traditional rap, and guitar solos typical of rock music. He sometimes performs with Kenny Muhammad, a Muslim beatboxer. His reggae vocal style is along the lines of traditional Rasta Roots stylings mixed with dub sound. Most of his songs are almost entirely in English with just a few words of Hebrew and Yiddish sprinkled in. You can check out his website.


Biblioworks is a group which believes in empowering the community through literacy and education. They are currently working on building libraries throughout Bolivia. It's amazing to think how these towns are going to change by just adding a library!!!


Biblioworks is a group which believes in empowering the community through literacy and education. They are currently working on building libraries throughout Bolivia. It's amazing to think how these towns are going to change by just adding a library!!!

Elections in Peru

The presidential elections today will not only determine the next president but will also determine this region’s international politics. According to an article by the University of British Columbia, the success of Alan Garcia will influence Peru and Chilean’s relations to be based on competition while Peru will be closer to Brazil favoring Lula; on the other side if Ollanta Umalalla wins Venezuela will be favor and thus alliances with Chavez but Peru and Chilean’s relation will be based in Rivalry.

Big Les on Sammy

Should Sammy big given more respect that what he has gotten? Yes he should! Sammy Sosa is 5th all-time on the career homerun list but in this summer, Sammy was not offered over $500,000. You tell me a guy of his talents, though he is not the 26 year old Albert Pujols but at 38, Sosa can still go yard with the best of em!

Peru's Presidential Runoff Election

In Peru there was a runoff election for president between Allan Garcia and Ollanta Humala. Garcia was in office in the 1980's and was responsible for weakening Peru's economy. Humala is a nationalist and wants to redistribute the country's power and wealth to the poor whose needs have been neglected. The polls show that the election is very close and a clear winner hasn't been determined yet. See the story here.


The cultural exchange we have been talking about lately continues to exist increasingly with globalization. One can see an example of this through the Otavalos. Otavalos are one of the most representative Ecuadorian indigenous communities. They posses a unique identity and believe in progress, in the possibility of better standards of living. In their quest to find this they have had to search more possibilities aborad due to the difficult situation in Ecuador. It is really impressive to see them all over the world. They are all over Europe, Asia and the United States. Their tapestries and hand crafts have been of great success and have provided them with the financial means to expand their businesses and continue to seek for more opportunities around the globe. They have allowed the world to see part of the Ecuadorian culture and also helped immensely to the development of the small towns in the highlands. Currently the "remesas" (the money they send to their families in Ecuador) are the second source of income of the country.

Recipe "Arroz con Coco"

ARROZ CON COCO : Rice With Coco
2 cups of rice.
3 1/2 cupes of coco milk.
1 spoon of sugar.

first you fry a small amount of onion in a pot with salt and a table spoon or two of oil. when the onion has fried you add a cup of rice( it depends on the amount desired) and two cups of coco milk and 1 spoon of sugar ( for every cup of rice it is two cups of water to prepare regular rice). you let it dry with the lid on.
and your done!