Friday, March 30, 2007

Jennifer Lopez released a new all-Spanish album last week

J.Lo released her new all-Spanish album March 23 called "Como amo una mujer." The people who have bought in iTunes so far have given it 3 and half star! You should listen to a sample of some of the songs!

Argentina pushes diplomacy in new Falklands bid

Story Highlights
• The Argentine government reasserts long-standing claims to Falkland Islands
• Diplomats appeal to U.N. for help; Britain refuses to negotiate on islands' fate
• Many Argentines see '82 invasion of Falklands as mistake of military dictatorship
• President Nestor Kirchner likely will gain support for pushing hard for "Malvinas"

Read more of this article here!

More about Chilean protests...

Every year there is a left-wing demonstration on the Day of the Young Combatant, a day that commemorates the death of two students during a 1985 protest, who were killed by the police. This years demonstration was much more disruptive than normal because it happened to be on the same day as a protest against the new transportation system. Thirty-eight police officers were injured and over 800 people, most of whom were students, were arrested.

A march to support abortion in Mexico

In Mexico City several thousand women marched to support a bill legalizing abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. The bill was proposed by the Democratic Revolution Party. The Roman Catholic Church has criticized the new legislation.
To read more, please click here

Brazil to offer free internet access to Amazon tribes

Brazil is going to provide free internet access to native tribes in the Amazon to help protect the world's biggest rain forest. The goal of this project is to give the tribes a way to report illegal logging and ranching to help save the rainforest. There are areas in 13 states that were chosen to receive internet access. City and state governments will be in charge of building telecenters with computers deep inside the rainforest to allow the tribes to report illegal activities. Officials also say that it will be a chance to strengthen indigenous cultures by "by linking them and providing environmental education." To read more on this story, go here.

que gostoso era meu caipirinha

Being a novice Latinamericanist, I decided to ring in my twenty-first birthday with a Brasilian twist. I was introduced to the capirinha, a drink the International Bar Association has placed among the ranks of one of the top 50 tastiest drinks of all time. Make your own!

1 lime
cane sugar

-quarter one lime and mix in with a few teaspoons of sugar. add ice and stir in the cachaca to form a homogenous mixture. drink responsibly!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Protest in Chile

There was a student protest in Santiago, Chile on Thursday. The reason of the protest was unclear, but police used tear gas on the students and detained 159. The date is "The Day of the Young Combatant" which pays tribute to two brothers who died in 1985 during a demonstration against Pinochet's regime. For this article, go to

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bolivian Land Reform

These past few weeks in class we have been discussing the subject of land in Latin America. We have identified that land holds an extremely great importance for Latin Americans, and that there is a constant struggle for this land by landless workers. We have discussed the successes of MST in Brazil. However, I found an interesting article about a land reform law that was just passed in Bolivia this past December. The new law proclaims the 'expropriation of lands' that 'do not serve a just social-economic function.' The article explains that the public desire for a higher standard of living and more control over land was able to shape governmental policy. Therefore this article provides another example of successful land reform in Latin America. Hopefully this trend will continue in the future of Latin America.
Here is the link to the article:

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Taking back the streets of Port-Au-Prince

Like Jamaica below, Haiti has serious problems with crime and drug-related gang violence. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and has had a turbulent political past. For years gangs have been powerful political players, sometimes working alongside corrupt politicians. In a horrific show of violence at the end of last year, gang members went on a kidnapping spree, specifically targeting women and young children. In response, Hatian President René Préval has launched a campaign to rid the streets of gang violence with the support of United Nations peacekeeping forces. For article and slide show go to

Crime in Jamaica

We've talked in class recently about some of the issues affecting poor Caribbean nations such as Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Here's another example of the problems caused by poverty and the Latin American drug trade, this time in the island nation of Jamaica. Jamaica is notorious for its drug gangs and high murder rate, although in recent years officials may have made some headway in fighting the island's rampant crime. To read more, visit

Monday, March 26, 2007

Argentinian First Lady Fights Against Anti-Semitism

The Argentinian First Lady, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, gathered with many important Jewish leaders of the Argentinian Jewish community in order to reassure them that the Argentinian government supports the Jewish community in its struggle against anti-semitism.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Swimming the Amazon Update

I've been keeping up on the marathon swimmer's progress on swimming the Amazon river. He's already gone more than 4,600 km and he plans to finish in the next 2 or 3 weeks. It's getting more difficult now that the river has widened out and the wind conditions have been bad lately. And his body is worn down. If you're interested in reading more, the BBC still has a blog about his progress and here is his website.

Amazon Swim

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bolivia's Navy

This article is very interesting, especially in relation to the link between national pride and land disputes that we have been discussing in class. The article discusses the Bolivian Navy, which patrols Lake Titicaca because Bolivia is a landlocked country. The navy is used as a means of political discussion between Chili and Bolivia over long-disputed areas of land. For more go to:;_ylt=AoKpgyjkSqi811zA1N.YbYRvaA8F

Friday, March 16, 2007

Fidel: The world icon

Here's an interesting article from the BBC talking about Fidel Castro's life.

"Cuba's President Fidel Castro - the world's longest-serving political leader - has not been seen in public since July and speculation is continuing about his health, with unconfirmed reports saying that he is in a serious condition.
Here, world affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds looks at the story of his life."

Here it is.

An Interview with Rigoberta Menchu

Here is a really interesting interview with Rigoberta Menchu that I found on She talks about the oppression of her peoples in Guatemala and also describes her background and family. Look into her life here.

The End of Coca in Cola-Cola?

Coca industry commissioners in Bolivia called on the Coca-Cola Company to take the word "Coca" out of its name and also asked the United Nations to decriminalize the leaf. The Coca-Cola Company has replied that their trademark is "the most valuable and recognized brand in the world."

To learn more about this story, please click here

Antigua Guatemala

We have recently been talking about Guatemala and its people in class. I found this website particularly interesting because it shows the personal photographs and descriptions of a colonial Guatemalan town. The photos show indigenous peoples in this town. It is extremely interesting to see the pictures of the indigenous women selling their textiles in the town square. This reminded my of Rigoberta Menchu's book, in which she describes her family traveling to the town to sell goods so that they could make money without being forced to go to the finca to work. The photos also show the traditional dress of the indigenous people that was also described in Rigoberta's book.
Here is the link to this website:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bush leaves Mexico without anything concrete

President Bush left Mexico yesterday without making any definate agreements on any issues with that country. The biggest concern Mexico has with the United States is immigration, and President Calderón has criticized the U.S. for its intentions of building an incredibly long wall along the border. President Bush spoke of his guest worker plan, but he has not been able to get that to pass Congress. For the article, go to

Mayans to 'cleanse' Bush site

One of Bush's stops on his Latin American tour was at an ancient Mayan site in Guatemala- the ruins at Iximche. Bush is trying to show that he is interested in the countries around the United States, I don't think it's going to well for him though. However, at this site in Guatemala, the Mayans are very angry that Bush is visiting this site. Mayan priests are saying that they will purify the sacred archaeological site to rid it of any "bad spirits" after Bush is there.

While in Latin America, Bush is also trying to explain that CAFTA is helping the lives of the poor, whereas the leaders in Latin America, where the actual agreement is taking place are insisting that the agreement only helps the United States and other countries that signed.

Bush's enemy, Chavez, is also doing a tour of Latin America at this time. Some are calling it a "shadow" tour. Chavez is going to places and giving speeches that slam Bush and say that his political career is coming to an end.

To read more on this story, go here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How to Make Guatemalan Tamales

4 pounds of banana leaves (they are also available in pre-cut packages, usually frozen.)
FOR THE FILLING: 5 pounds of tomatoes, roughly chopped
1-1/2 pounds of red bell pepers, sliced lengthwise into slivers
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 ounces squash seeds (available at Latino specialty stores)
1 quajillo chile, dried, stem removed and seeded
1 ancho chile, dried, stem removed and seeded
1 whole cinnamon stick
1-1/2 ounces sesame seeds
1/3 cup lard, about 3 ounces
3 pounds lean boneless pork (preferably from the shoulder) cut into 1-inch cubes
72 Spanish olives, about 3 cups
72 capers, about 1-1/2 cups
FOR THE MASA BATTER: 4 pounds, about 8 cups, fresh coarse-ground corn masa for tamales
3 cups water
1/2 pound (1 cup) pork lard
salt to taste

PREPARE THE BANANA LEAVES: Unfold the banana leaves and cut off the long hard sides and ends of the leaves. Check for holes and cut leaves into unbroken 12-inch segments (you will need about 36). Steam the segments for 20 minutes to make them soft and pliable.
PREPARE THE SAUCE: In a large pot, combine tomatoes, 1/2 pound of the bell peppers and 1 cup of water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 30 minutes, until tomatoes break apart.
While tomatoes simmer, toast chiles, squash seeds and cinnamon stick in a nonstick pan for approximately 5 minutes until the chiles and seeds release their aroma. Be careful not to burn the seeds or chiles because they will make the sauce bitter. When fragrant, add sesame seeds and toast for another 5 minutes, until sesame seeds are fragrant.
Add chile and seed mixture to the tomatoes. In batches, puree mixture in a blender or food processor adding water if necessary to blend into a smooth puree. Strain the mixture through a medium-mesh strainer back into pot. Bring to a simmer and add lard. Taste for salt and add if necesary.
PREPARE THE MASA: In another pot, combine masa and water, beating until water is incorporated. Add lard and bring mixture to a boil. Taste for salt and add if necessary. The mixture should have the consistency of soft (not runny) cake batter.
TAMALE ASSEMBLY: Cut 36 12-inch pieces of butcher string or thin strips of banana leaves. Lay out a square banana leaf, shiny side up, and spread about 1/3 cup of the masa into an 8x4-inch rectangle over it toward the right edge of the leaf. An ice cream scoop is a great tool for this.
Spoon 3 tablespoons of the sauce onto the masa. Place 1 cube of pork, 2 olives, 2 capers, and several strands of bell pepper into a decorative pattern on the left half of the masa. Fold over the right edge of the banana leaf, enclosing the filling in the masa. Fold over the left edge, and then the top and bottom, creating a tight square package. Loosely tie the tamales with string.
Once all tamales are assembled arrange them in layers in a large pot with about 4-6 inches of water at the bottom. Bring to a boil and steam, covered, over a constant medium heat for about 1-1/4 hours. Watch carefully to make sure that all the water doesn't boil away and, to keep the steam steady, pour boiling water into the pot when more is necessary.
Tamales are done when the leaves peel away from the masa easily. Let the tamales stand for several minutes off the heat when done so they firm up.
10 NOTE: The most important ingredient in the tamale process is the masa preparation. It's truly essential. Fresh masa is either sold prepared or unprepared. Prepared masa has been mixed with lard and salt is heavier and greasy


Monday, March 12, 2007

Bush in Brasil

As I mentioned in my last post, President Bush is on his Latin American tour. In Sao Paolo, Brazilain police had to fire tear gas on anti-Bush protesters, who had signs reading "No.1 Enemy of Humanity" and "Get out Bush!". Bush is in Brazil to discuss biofuels and their use in Latin America with Brazilain president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Read the full article at

Bush v. Chavez

As I mentioned in my last post, President Bush is on his Latin American tour. In Sao Paolo, Brazilain police had to fire tear gas on anti-Bush protesters, who had signs reading "No.1 Enemy of Humanity" and "Get out Bush!". Bush is in Brazil to discuss biofuels and their use in Latin America with Brazilain president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Read the full article at

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Trouble in Ecuador

Ecuador, the Andean country that has been no stranger to contreversy, is in the middle of a executive power struggle. In the aftermath of a court decision that will cause over 57 lawmakers their jobs, there has been widespread dissent among the citizens. The current president, Rafeal Correa, delivered a speech from the balcony of his presidential palace and claimed that the 57 lawmakers should accept the court's decision and resign from power. The court stipulates that the displaced lawmakers will be replaced by members of their own political party as to keep the body an oppositional force. However, many are still worried that this act gives Correa too much power over his rival political party. This is an interesting story because it shows another example of political turmoil in Latin America. Ecuador a country with 8 presidents in the last 10 years, may be on the verge of another political uprising. It will be interesting to see how the situation develops.

Trouble in Ecuador

Ecuador, the Andean country that has been no stranger to contreversy, is in the middle of a executive power struggle. In the aftermath of a court decision that will cause over 57 lawmakers their jobs, there has been widespread dissent among the citizens. The current president, Rafeal Correa, delivered a speech from the balcony of his presidential palace and claimed that the 57 lawmakers should accept the court's decision and resign from power. The court stipulates that the displaced lawmakers will be replaced by members of their own political party as to keep the body an oppositional force. However, many are still worried that this act gives Correa too much power over his rival political party. This is an interesting story because it shows another example of political turmoil in Latin America. Ecuador a country with 8 presidents in the last 10 years, may be on the verge of another political uprising. It will be interesting to see how the situation develops.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Swimming the Amazon

Here's an interesting little fact. As I was looking for an article on BBC's website, I found a blog of a man that is swimming the entire length of the Amazon. Yes, swimming. His name is Martin Strel and he's a Slovenian marathon swimmer. The Amazon is 3,375 miles long and he's already more than halfway there. He's been updating the blog on a regular basis. People can send him questions on the page too. He's been answering a lot of questions explaining how he avoids getting injured or even killed by the variety of creatures that live in the river. It's worth checking out.

Swimming the Amazon

Colombia wants more aid

President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia is begging the United States public to continue a $700 million annual aid package. He says the aid is helping to make the country more peaceful and less corrupt. The Bush administration wants to continue the package as is, however many Democrats are skeptical about Colombia's human rights record and want more emphasis on social programs.

To read more, please click here

the restavek system

This is an opinion article that discusses the restavek system in Haiti. It is very interesting, I recommend checking it out.

Nicaragua-Honduras border dispute

Nicaragua and Honduras called on the highest court of the United Nations to hear their case of a maritime dispute that almost started a war in 1999. The land being disputed is a Carribbean area that is rich in fish and could possibly have oil and natural gas reserves. Nicaragua maintains that its maritime border extends to 17 degrees north latitude, while Honduras claims its maritime border begins at 15 degrees north latitude. The two countries have been enemies for a long time, especially since the 1980s when the United States offered assistance to the Honduras military to help fight Nicaragua's Marxist government. While relations are still strained between the two countries, the hope is that at the end of this case the two countries will both come out with some kind of gain.

To read the whole story, go here.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Controversy about Rigoberta Menchu

Anthropologist David Stoll presented many allegations against Rigoberta Menchu's biography. He claimed that she falsified many of her stories to further her cause. She claimed her father founded the Committee for Campesino Unity and fought for land against the ladinos. However, Stoll claimed that her father was relatively well off by Mayan standards. Her family was also less poor than she claimed and didn't have to work in the fincas like she said. Menchu also said her father wouldn't allow her to go to school so she wouldn't be "ladinized." In reality, she was educated by many Catholic nuns. Her brother wasn't burned to death, but shot by security forces. Even though Menchu exaggerated many of her stories, Stoll concluded that her story was not made up--she lost most of her family to the Guatemalan army. Her nobel peace prize wasn't taken away as well.

Anti-Bush protests in Latin America

Demonstrations are going on in Latin America to protest Bush's visit. Tear gas was fired on many of the protesters in Sao Paulo despite it being mostly peaceful gathering. There were also some conflicts in Colombia, where President Bush is scheduled to come on Sunday. For more, go to

My Mexican Dentist: A medical tourist gets her teeth fixed in Nogales.

This is a humorous story about a New Yorkan who doesn't want to pay ~$6,000 for 4 new porcelain veneers for her teeth, so some acquaintances recommend going to Mexico. She is obviously wary of it, but the price tag is only $300, so she decides to go for it. Read the rest of Molly McCloy's story here!
On Wednesday in class we watched the film Men With Guns. I found this film very interesting and wanted to learn more about its production. I discovered that Men With Guns, was based on true stories of the disappearances of doctors and agronomists in rural towns. I also discovered that this movie in which the story is set in Guatemala City and its rural lands, was actually not filmed in Guatemala. The Movie was filmed in Mexico City, Chiapas, as well as other rural and jungle areas in Mexico. I also discovered that the film's director, John Sayles, is an American film director born in New York. In 1996, he directed Lonestar about the border between Mexico and Texas. I find both of these facts very interesting, because as I was watching the movie, I almost assumed that it was filmed in Guatemala by a Guatemalan director who was very passionate about his home. Therefore I was quite surprised to realize that this was an American-made film because in my opinion it represented the Guatemalan point of view very well. Especially with the allegorical "American tourist" characters that kept reappearing throughout the films. One other interesting fact I learned about this movie is that a key question John Sayles wanted to impose on the audience is, are we ignorant because we are not truly aware of the actual situation, or are we ignorant because we have to be to live our lives? This is the same question that the main character Dr. Fuentes faces throughout the film. And I believe it is the very same question that many Americans ask themselves with regards to Latin America in general.
Here is a website about the production of Men With Guns:

Flooding in Bolivia

An area of Bolivia twice the size of Switzerland has flooded, affecting 400,000 people. Exteme weather started in Bolivia a couple of months ago as part of the "el nino" weather phenomenon. Economic growth projections for the country have been reduced, and damages exceed hundreds of millions of dollars. See the rest at

Chavez takes over hospital

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the source of much controversy during in his term, just nationalized a nonprofit hospital, saying it was operating inefficiently and not fulfilling its role to the community. Chavez has been criticized for a nationalization agenda that he has been implementing since his re-election in December. Chavez denies plans to nationalize all public healthcare. Read more at

Women In Latin America

This is an interesting article on women in Latin America that are involved in politics; it reminded me about a few points made in our discussion about the roles of women in Latin American society two weeks ago. Visit this link to read the article:

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bush in L.A.

Latin America often seems to go unnoticed in mainstream press in the U.S., which seems to be a reflection of U.S. foriegn policy concerning the region. This is especially pertinent for we living in New Orleans, but it would seem changes are coming, at least on the surface. Following his New Orleans trip, President Bush plans on taking a five country tour of Latin America. Read more here:

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bush talks with Brazil about fuel

An article in the Houston Chronicle reports that President Bush is negotiating a deal with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva about internationally trading ethanol fuel, and stimulating more production. Brazil is a huge producer of ethanol, where it fuels 8 out of 10 cars. The full article is at:

Cuban foreign minister says Castro could be back

• Official says Fidel Castro "is recovering noticeably" from a stomach illness
• Castro, 80, gave power to his brother in July after emergency surgery
• He's not been seen in public since, leading some to think he's dying of cancer

Read the full article here.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

"Peru stiffens penalties for attacks"

Recently the peruvian congress voted unanimously to approve a new harsher law, that makes murdering or severly injuring a tourist punishable by life imprisonment. It also lengthens the punishment for drugging or assaulting tourist. This demonstrates the importance of tourism in the Peruvian economy, especially since previously only terrorism and rape of a minor were punishable by life imprisonment. For more information go to;_ylt=AlhxqZLzU1qa7lwJwXMpIbBvaA8F

Friday, March 02, 2007

Rigoberta Menchu

I was looking up Rigoberta Menchu online to find out a little bit about her in light of our assignment to read her book, I, Rigoberta Menchu, An Indian Woman in Guatemala. Apparently, there was some controversy over the accuracy of her autobiography which prompted the publishing of another book in 1999 called Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans. But the controversy wasn't substantial enough to revoke her 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. In my opinion, most stories that make an impact are often somewhat altered. When anyone tells a story, they alter small details, simplify facts and add what is necessary to the story so that the listener gets the impact of it, and so the listener can feel somewhat like how the narrator felt. The purpose of a story is to get people to realize something they didn't know before, move them to action or inspire emotions within them that they have not had before. I would say that Rigoberta has succeeded in shedding light on some very tragic circumstances. You can read more here.

Wikipedia Article on Rigoberta Menchu

Nobel Peace Prize Biography

Chivas in CONCACAF

Mexico's most popular soccer team, the Chivas from Guadalajara, Mexico defeated Trinidad and Tobago's W Connection this past Wednesday 3-0. With this win, Chivas advance to the CONCACAF semi finals. I found this interesting, because I didn't know that the CONCACAF cup even existed. It is a league encompassing all North America and the Caribbean, including Central American countries such as Honduras. Chivas will play DC United, a team from the United States in the semi finals. This was so striking to me, because I had no idea that this CONCACAF soccer cup even existed and that teams from the U.S. are participants. I think this shows the contrast between the popularity of soccer in Latin American countries and the lesser importance soccer has in the United States. This forces me to pose this question: why is soccer not as popular in the United States as in all the other countries of the World, including Latin American countries? What circumstances caused its lesser significance?

Here are some articles for further information on CONCACAF and Chivas' win last Wednesday:'_Cup

Dias de la Selva

In my ongoing revolution based Latin American literary quest, I started Mario Payeras' short novel Dias de la Selva. Thus far, a group of renegades from all walks of life are traveling through the Guatemalan jungles recruiting and setting up camp for a revolutionary effort against the government in the 1970's. Little information is given about the groups ideals, outside of the want to rebel in the name of socialism, and in the preface and introduction it is noted that the book is intentionally spotty and full of holes. Written from an anynomous first person perspective, it reads like a journal of one of the revolutionaries. As I progress, hopefull more will be made clear as to how and why these revolutionaries are fighting.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sinkhole in Guatemala

A giant sinkhole opened before dawn last Friday, leaving two teenagers and their father missing and officials have found 3 bodies so far. 1,000 homes have been evacuated in vicinity of 330-foot-deep hole. There are loud noises and sewage smells coming from the hole, and officials are saying that it was most likely caused by heavy rains and a sewer leak.

To learn more about this disaster, go here.

La Hora sin Demora

At noon on Thursday, bells rang in Lima as part of the nationally televised ceremony "La Hora sin Demora," or "Time without Delay." It was part of an effort to get Peruvians to synchronize their watches to end their customary traditional lateness or "hora peruna" (Peruvian time)

To read more about this campaign, please click here

Bolivia's flooding now a natural disaster

Evo Morales has declared a natural disaster after flooding throughout the country has killed 35 people and affected tens of thousands more. Flooding was heaviest in the states of Beni and Santa Cruz, where Morales has his most outspoken opposition and where Morales is planning to redistribute much of the land as part of his reforms. However, there is a clause in Bolivia's law exempting natural disaster areas from expropriation from the government. You can find an article on this at