Saturday, September 29, 2007

Iran Allies with South America

After the President of Iran spoke In New York he continued his trip on this side of the Atlantic into South America. After being highly criticized here in the States, he moved onto a region that embraces him personally and many of his policies. I think the reality of Iran is that it isn't quite as bad the US and particularly this administration try to claim, nor is he as wonderful as Chavez and his South American neighbors would like to believe. Check out the full article here:,,2179722,00.html

Gutsy Mayor Takes on Chavez

Very interesting article about Venezuelan politics and the difficulty of opposing a dictatorship, especially a popular one.

Iranian president to "multiply powers"

During his American tour Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "courts Latina American leftists." Hopefully that won't make anyone too nervous.

Friday, September 28, 2007


2 weeks ago when giving my presentation on El Salvador, I mentioned Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador in 1980 who was shot during mass resulting in the collective mourning of an entire nation and the world (minus, you know, the Salvadoran government who had him killed). And I mentioned a movie about it, that I'm sure no one remembers me saying anything about, so I'm going to bring it up again. The movie's called Romero and it stars Raul Julia (he's also in the Addams Family and Tequila Sunrise). This movie is really moving and illustrates the atrocities of the Salvadoran Civil War with whats said to be great accuracy. I would suggest everyone watch it- its an incredible movie that gets much too little attention. Its not new (it was actually released the day I was born) but don't let that stop you!

Here's the Internet Movie Database page on it:

"Hispanic" in America

CNN's website has a feature called The Hispanic Experience Today, which has lots of articles about the Hispanic and Latino population in the United States.

This one is about those very terms, "Hispanic" and "Latino," and how poorly they actually describe the very diverse Spanish-speaking and Latin American demographic.

Land Mines in Colombia

I was looking around for something to post and was shocked when I heard about how many people are killed or injured from anti-personnel land mines in Colombia. Just from January to August 15th of this year there have already been 557 victims! It is hard to imagine that even today people have to live everyday with the threat that they could step on a landmine. Read the article and think about how many lives this affects and ways to start getting rid of all of the landmines left before they create more victims.

Latin America and Globalization

I am currently taking a sociology class called Global Social Change. One of the main books that we use is Paula S. Rothenberg's "Beyond Borders," which goes into detail on the issue of Globalization, which is definitely a key issue in Latin America. Just today I was reading about the Maquilas in Guatemala, which are essentially sweat shops. These Maquilas are foreign owned, contributing positively to those that own them, but not connecting at all with the rest of the economy of Guatemala, leaving only a mass scattering of ugly factories and trapping Guatemalans in a life of poor working conditions for next to no pay. If you are interested in how Globalization is affecting Latin America, I would reccomend this book.


I just want everyone to be aware of the city of Guayaquil ( wah- yah- Keel ) , which is the largest city (2.5 million) in Ecuador. It has beautiful churches, zoos, theatres, clubs, universities, a great public transportation system, and several malls. On the "Malecon 2000", which is like a long promenade, artists display their paintings and there is a park and an IMAC. Guayaquil is a port city on the Pacific Ocean. Above is a view of the Malecon.

New Options for Mexican Women

The Mexican military is now allowing women to join the ranks, while they will not be allowed to participate in combat, it "is the the first expansion of military opportunities for women in 31 years." This is a very important moment for many women in Mexico, because many feel that the military as one of the only options to "get ahead of the poor." Many people see this decision as part of an important movement towards greater equality of the sexes. You can check the article out here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Latin America: The World's Slowest Reforming Region

According to the World Bank's annual "Doing Business" report, Latin America is the world's slowest reforming region. The report's rankings are based on the level of friendliness to business of each country in the region. Some speculate that this poor progress is a result of changes in government by 13 countries in the region, however Latin America is falling further behind the rest of the world. This is not the case with all countries, as Columbia has made significant progress in facilitating trade. However, the World Bank did indicated in the report that progress may pick up within the next 15 months as the newly elected governments of those countries settle in. Here is the story:

Hugo Chavez dishes on his world views...

Two years ago when Hugo Chavez came to the United States for the U.N. summit, he sat for an interview with democracy now! a notoriously leftist radio show. During this interview, Chavez shared all about what he was doing in Venezuela as part of their democratic reform. He also denied allegations that freedom of speech was a problem in Venezuela, saying that few countries in the world have a greater respect for freedom of speech than Venezuela. Chavez also spoke a little about some of the people he really admired, among them JFK and Noam Chomsky.
I found it really interesting that he picked a former US President as someone whose viewpoints he looked up to; he said that when Kennedy said to look to the Southern Hemisphere way back in the 60's he was right on. The interview was kind of biased as Chavez seems to have some very leftist views and was being interviewed by democracy now!. read all about it...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Guantanamo Bay

While Guantanamo Bay has existed for almost a century, I never really did research on it or understood exactly what the terms of the prison were. Though I was aware of the human rights issues involved with the base, after thinking about it, I can't understand how the United States has the nerve to continue to use that space in Cuba when we maintain such poor relations with the country otherwise. I feel as though not only is that illogical, and detrimental to our image, but it is also asking for trouble. I am surprised there hasn't been more danger for the military personnel there already. I did my research in the NYT - Americas section, they have a pretty nice concise history.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bolivia, Aymara, and hip-hop: Wayna Tambo

Wayna Tambo is a principally an Aymara hip-hop station run out of El Alto, in La Paz. I visited and was a translator for the two linguists as the station interviewed them both live and recorded on why they were in Bolivia and what they thought of the Aymara language movement. Its important to note that the linguists I was with didn't even want to do this interview because they focus almost solely on languages that have fewer than 5,000 speakers (Aymara has I think around 1.5 million). The film crew we were with thought it would be good footage for the storyline.

The Bolivian hip-hop scene is, as one might expect, pretty small, but I think this station speaks a lot to the nature of the Aymara movement and how it has been picked up in recent years by a younger crowd. Unfortunately this younger crowd has made it more of a militant, anti-establishment movement as opposed to a cultural fight (necessary? i dont know). They tend to blame government policy and the white, spanish-speaking oligarchy instead of teaching the language to their children which is what really keeps a language alive. The decision to speak a language is made by childre ages 5-7 when they first start going to school. If the parents are insistent at that age that they continue to speak the language even if just at home, the child will remain bilingual even when schools are only in spanish (or any other dominant language) Anyways, the site is interesting to look at.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ronaldinho's troubles

The Brazilian soccer star has taken heat recently for possibly being out of shape. read what his coach and teammates have to say about his benching in a match this week here.

Latin American Music

Look here ( to find, not only a description of some Latin American music and dances, but the history as well. The site goes into the influences behind the music, Amerindian, Iberian, and African. Also included is the impact of Latin American music on the world as a whole. Very interesting site.


There is a currently a divide among Costa Ricans regarding the proposal of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Members of the opposition gathered to form a human "NO" to express their view on the topic. Supporters claim it will allow farmers much greater access to huge consumer markets, while the opposition feels their market will be flooded by US products. Find out more here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

sorry, im still trying to figure out this web blog thing. i cant figure out the hyper link, but heres the web address:

Financial Incentive?

In Mexico last week the leftist government announced that it will set aside millions of dollars to give to the top students in its school systems ages four to twelve. Each child that is qualified will receive about 300 dollars a year, 180 in savings bonds and 15 a week for transportation to and from after school extended learning programs. I thought it was interesting 1) that the government is trying so hard to increase the educational standards of mexican youth and 2) that they found monetary incentives to be the best way to go about incouraging it, especially in young children and pre-teens. Click for the full article.

Fujimori Extradited

Alberto Fujimori, former President of Peru, is being extradited from Chile. According to the article, his government was "allegedly responsible for killing civilians in the fight against Shining Path Maoist guerrillas" (that's Guzman, right?).

I don't know enough about Fujimori or the Sindero Luminoso to really comment on the situation, but is it a problem that people suspected of things like this can avoid even having a trial for seven years?

Real ID Act

Read this Article about a new driver's id system which would keep illegal immigrants for being able to get driver's licenses. The "Real Id Act" is controversial and needs to have some issues worked out, but as a whole I support the idea. I think that it would give more incentive for people to only enter this country legally if they are not able fake their identification or recieve a driver's license.

Good Food

I love to cook and it is always fun to try new things. At they have a great food section with some really simple, and some not so simple recipes. Here is something I plan to try tomorrow night:

Chiles Rellenos


3 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus additional for frying, to depth of about 1 inch
2 white onions, chopped
2 tbsp. garlic, chopped
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes, undrained and puréed with 1/3 cup water
1 tsp. pepper
2 cups vegetable broth (for a different flavor, use beef or chicken broth)
8 fresh poblano chiles, roasted, steamed in a plastic bag for 4 minutes, peeled, seeded and slit on 1 side
1 lb. shredded cheddar, Mexican Chihuahua, or Monterey Jack cheese
6 large eggs
2 tbsp. flour, plus 1 cup, divided
Preparation: In saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil at medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook until lightly browned. Raise heat to medium-high, add tomatoes and pepper. Stir frequently as it boils, until mixture is reduced by half. Add vegetable broth and stir until blended. Cover and simmer over low heat, 45 minutes. While sauce is reducing, fill chiles with cheese. Close each incision with toothpicks. In large pan, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, in dish wide enough for dipping, combine eggs and 2 tablespoons flour, folding in flour a little at a time, and beat until well blended. Pour remaining cup of flour onto platter. Roll cheese-filled chiles in remaining flour one at a time, shake excess, and dip into egg batter. Fry 4 at a time, gently turning them over, 4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Cool slightly. Heat oven to 400° F. Line chiles on baking sheet, remove toothpicks, and bake 15 minutes. Pour sauce onto dishes, add chiles, and drizzle sauce over top. Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Vincente Fox and Bush, cowboy friends?

Vincente Fox is writing a autobiography and talks about his relationship with President Bush- saying Bush never struck him as one who'd become president. Apparently they've been friendly for years. As recent posts have been saying, it'd be interesting to see who world leaders would back in US elections. Obviously Fox wouldn't have voted for GW.

I thought another really interesting part of the article was at the bottom- Vincente Fox has recently come under fire for having, in essence, too extravagent of a house. People think he might have gotten the money for it using slightly underhanded means.

Mexico City's Similar Troubles

A title article in the NYT- Americas section highlighted a new tower proposed for Mexico City. It will be the tallest tower in latin america reaching 300 meters. Many people in the area surrounding the site for this tower are outraged that this building, for lack of better words, would tower over the entire area, and be an eyesore. Additionally the buildign would cause immense parking and crowding problems. The architects and founders of this building believe that the tower will be a beacon for Mexico's advancement and progress. It is supposed to be finished in 2010, the bicentennial of Mexico's independence from Spain.
I think that this situation is kind of funny only because of its similarity to everyday situations in New York or other big cities. It shows how much we have in common with other countries

"Creating a culture of giving"

An article by Andres Oppenheimer discusses just how much the wealthy throughout the world, and especially in Latin America, give back. In Latin America, it seems that charitable gifts from the wealthy in regard to their earnings are relatively small. Oppenheimer mentions that a lack of giving could be a result of fear of gaining attention, less incentive in the tax laws, and protection of people's estates from the government. Wojtek Sokolowski, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins' Center for Civil Society Studies, cites the donation deficit as a result of a culture where giving is not a sign of social status. In my opinion, those who can give should, regardless of the culture or situation, people should not be afraid or not need to be enticed to help those that are less fortunate See the rest of the article here.

The Divine Comedy: High School Musical is revived

While a televised version is being prepared in Mexico, Ecuador’s is in the theatre.

New talented youth will give life to High School Musical ¡En escena en Guayaquil! It’s an adaptation of the Disney Channel movie, which will have its theatre version, under the direction of José Miguel Salem and his school Danzas Jazz. This newspaper conversed with the six protagonists who were chosen by a process of 700 youth auditioning.

They are Nicole Rubira, Cristian Illingworth, Fanny Manner, Israel Maridueña, José Acosta, and Martin Guerrero, who interpret Troy Bolton, Gabriella Montez, Ryan Evans, Sharpay Evans, Chad Danforth y Taylor McKessie. The kids commented that they felt comfortable with their characters; in the case of Cristina Illingworth, who interprets Sharpay Evans, she identifies with her character because she likes to sing and act. On the other hand, Israel Maridueña, who plays Chad, comments that his character “is a tough athlete, like him”.

The musical will debut September 7th in the Centro de Arte with 22 young artists on stage; in addition there will be eight principal dancers and 30 extras who will act in Spanish, with the exception of the songs, which will be interpreted in English.

For a link to the original article in Spanish:
And for photos of the cast members:

School of the Americas turns out more exemplary graduates modeled after their professors.

No less than five graduates and two former professors from the school of the Americas are now under investigation for "collaborating with the drug cartels in Colombia they were trained to fight against." Hows that for pedagogy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

US Presidential Candidates and Cuba

This article was published in the Flordia Sun Sentiniel, but it's an interesting insight into to relations between immigrants from Cuba and their attitudes towards the country and how that relates to their life in the US.

Apparently, traditionally Cuban Americans favor Republican candidates so both Obama and Hillary are trying hard to win the Cuban American vote. Hillary so far is the favorite because she supports Bush's 2004 policy to limit travel to Cuba. Of course, this claim of favor is disputed.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Chavez Threatens to Take Over Schools

President Hugo Chavez threatened to take over any Venezuelan private schools that do not submit to the oversight of his socialist government. All public and private schools will now be subject to inspections enforcing a new educational system and curriculum. The new curriculum is intended to help students develop values of "cooperation and solidarity" while learning critical reflection, dialogue and volunteer work. However, what exactly this curriculum will include remains unclear. The Associated Press did obtain a copy of a medical school syllabus that included writings from Karl Marx, speeches by Fidel Castro, and information on Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Columbian rebel chief Manuel Marulanda, alongside the traditional subjects like biology and chemistry. Any schools that do not submit to the new policy will be taken over by Chavez and nationalized. Here is the story.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fox honors Hispanic heritage month

Today Fox's show This Week in Baseball celebrated the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month with an episode exclusively devoted to Hispanic players, particularly from the Carribean, which has always been a fertile source of talent. It is good to see the contributions of this group of players recognized.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Latin Americans in the MLB Hall of Fame

I watch baseball very regularly...sometimes two or three major league games each day. It is obvious to any baseball fan that Latin Americans play a huge role in the success of the game. They are present in both leagues and on all teams. I thought it was interesting to look at Hall of Fame statistics to see how many have been inducted. According to, thirteen Latin Americans have been inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame. This includes players, announcers, and managers. Enjoy.

National Assembly leader of panama wanted for murder in the U.S.

VOA News reports that a free trade deal between the U.S. and Panama is now in jeopardy after the national assembly names man with a U.S. warrant for murder as president.

Castro would vote Clinton-Obama

Well, probably not, but Fidel Castro did say that a Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pairing would be "invincible" (though he apparently doesn't support their ideas for Cuba). The CNN article is here.

That's one thing I haven't thought about in past elections--how will such and such candidate impact the lives of people outside the U.S.? Might seem strange to vote for a candidate based on the needs of people outside your country--but hey, the world is smaller than ever, right?

Endangered Languages

This is an institute run by my cousin for the recording, study, and preservation of endangered languages. They've also developed the 'language hotspot' model (name borrowed from the common 'biodiversity hotspot' model). A language hotspot is an area that includes 3 factors:

1. High level of linguistic diversity
2. High rate of langauage extinction
3. Low level of previous study/recording

Interestingly, one of the most grave areas in the world in terms of all these factors is in Bolivia, which can then be split into three sections. One encompasses the high Andean region northwest of La Paz, one the southern altiplano, and planes extending into northern Argentina and Paraguay, and one the tropical lowlands of the amazon basin. Anyways, this and much more on their website here.


Cuba becomes a refuge for tired revolutionaries

In this article, members of Colombia's National Liberation Army are finding peace and quiet in Cuba. The former guerrillas went from hijacking airplanes and blowing up oil pipelines to dinners in Cuba. The group leaders are negotiating cease-fire talks with the Colombian government. I guess that's what aging rebels do when they decide to settle down.


Here is a link to some pictures taken of the devastating earthquake in Peru last month. This earthquake, which measured an 8.0 magnitude killed hundreds of people; however, I feel like it did not receive the media attention that such a disaster should have. These pictures, collected by the New York Times, make it easier to understand how devastating the earthquake was to the province of Ica.

Peruvian Health Scare

Within the last six months, at least four people have gotten infected with HIV from routine blood transfusions at a Peruvian hospital in the port city of Callao. Additionally, 30 people have contracted Hepatitis C from the same procedure. People are already afraid of going to the hospital and using healthcare sevices, and this certainly isn't helping. A health official in D.C. estimates that a quarter of the blood that comes into the hospitals isn't properly screened for diseases before it is given to other patients. The health scare is being called a national emergency, and frankly, if I were Peruvian I would be terrified of hospitals. Click here for the full article.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

We Have Castro to Thank

While many people have often expressed ill will towards Cuba and Fidel Castro, I stumbled upon an article that discussed Castro's help in saving President Reagan from an assassination plot. It seems quite ironic that Castro provided information that saved the life of a president of the United States, while the article states that the CIA has made 638 attempts to kill Fidel Castro. The article can be found here. Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fires in Paraguay

I found it interesting that I hadn't heard about this until I did Latin America specific research.

This week fires continue in the rural areas of Paraguay. The fires are burning through small peasant farms and poor areas, who typically use small fires to renew the land. San Pedro, Concepcion and Amambay declared states of emergency, to receive national aid. While the fires are somewhat under control, a lot of damage has already been done to the land of the impoverished farmers, hurting part of the country's agricultural market. The article can be found here here.

A Latin American View on the U.S.

This article details the opinions that Latin Americans have on the U.S. and our foreign policy, more specifically, responding to Bush's tour through Latin America earlier in the year. According to the article, Latin Americans look negatively upon the U.S., even those whom the U.S. is working to help. On the other side, most Latin Americans do appreciate Democracy.

Cuba, Really?

I worked at an NGO in Washington, DC, over the summer that dealt with racial and ethnic disparities in the American healthcare system. Through working I was able to go to a screening of Salud!, a documentary recently released about Cuba's healthcare system. It was incredible! It turns out that Cuba has comparable health statistics to the US, and has an even lower infant mortality rate and a higher life expectancy. The nature of their healthcare system is drastically different than ours, and the film brought up several interesting issues. It is a great example of how misunderstood Cuba is, and since most of what we hear about Cuba is negative this film provides another way to look at our neighbor. Click on this link to go to the film's website and learn more about Cuba's system and the film.

Nicaragua's Coastal Poor Survey Hurricane's Wreckage

This article was in the NY Times last week, after Hurricane Felix hit Central America.

Horrible natural disasters are always compounding troubles in Latin America. And much of the infrastructure in Central America isn't good enough to hold up against storms, earthquakes, etc.

It makes a never-ending cycle of poverty.

Female President

This article was written immediately after Michelle Bachelet was elected as president. Apparently her election is a sign of the times; Chile is changing. The article discusses some of these changes, including an economic boom and the introduction of divorce. Here's the link.

Hugo Chavez Could Possibly Rule for Decades to Come

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez proposed a referendum that would eliminate term limits. It contains a large package of amendments, however they are voted on as a whole as a simple yes or no. Some of the other amendments, such as extended social security benefits, make voting yes an extremely attractive option despite the questionable extension of executive control. The referendum will be voted on in December, and pollsters are predicting that it will pass. Click here for the story.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

“Se necesita materia prima para construir un pais”

My host sister from Ecuador always forwards me junk, but I found this slide she sent me to be interesting, so I translated it. The point of view very harshly criticizes the Ecuadorian people, and largely blames them for their own state of misery. I don't agree with everything the creator has said here, but it is an interesting perspective. :::
We say that Mahuad didn’t serve well [as president]; the same we say of Bucaram and Gutierrez; Now they’re saying that Correa isn’t any good either. And the one that comes next will not be sufficient either.

I suspect that the problem isn’t with the corruption of Bucaram, nor in the ineptitude of Mahuad, nor in the autocratic Correa. The problem is with us as a PEOPLE, as the main component of a country.

I belong to a country where newspapers will never be able to be sold as they are in other countries, that is, putting boxes on the sidewalks where one pays for a newspaper and takes out “A SINGLE NEWSPAPER.”… leaving the rest where they are.

I belong to a country where the people feel triumphant if their neighbors’ cable gets turned off, where people cheat on their taxes in order to pay less… where unpunctuality is a habit… where there is no interest in the environment; people throw trash in the streets and later complain about lack of street maintenance.

[I belong to a country] where a culture of reading does not exist, where there is no conscience, no political, historic, economic memory… Where driver licenses and medical degrees can be “bought” without taking any kind of test… where a senior citizen, a woman with a child in her arms, or a handicapped person get on the bus and those who are seated pretend they are asleep in order to not give up their seats… Solidarity does not exist. We don’t share anything with anyone.

Even if Correa resigned today, his successor would have to keep working with the same defective people. Unless someone first finds a way to eradicate our vices that we have as a people, no one will ever serve as a sufficient leader. Is it that we need a dictator, to make us obey the law by means of force and terror? This idea is also lacking something.

It is wonderful to be Ecuadorian. But when that autochthonous Ecuadorian-ness begins to damage our possibilities of development as a Nation: that is where the line must be drawn. We ourselves have to change; a new president with the same Ecuadorians will not be able to accomplish anything. This is very clear. It is we who have to change. SEND THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW. We need to raise awareness. We’re already damned, and if we keep on this way we’re going to go even father in the wrong direction. OR NOT? What do you think?