Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Argentinean President to pick up policy where her spouse left off.

Cristina Fernández in her opening address implied that she will continue to uphold the last administrations economic policy. While the populace appears to be in support for the moment, clear statistics predict political trouble in the future.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fujimori in Peru

Fujimori seems to come up quite often in class, so here is an article about his return to Peru that many people may find of interest.


Abortion rates in Latin America n nations highest in the world

Despite blanket bans on abortion with few exceptions, Latin American countries have the highest rate of abortions per captia in the entire world. Could the contradiction between policy and practice reflect a simultaneous drop in public deference to and a sustained political influence from the Catholic Church?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Venezuelan bills seeks to limit baby names

Venezuelan parents have a reputation for coming up with crazy baby names, like Stalin, Tutankamen del sol, and John Wayne. A bill in the National Assembly seeks to limit bab y name choices to a list of 100 names, with exceptions for indians and foreigners. This might be the ultimat sign of an authoritarian government. While naming a child Stalin might be cruel, it is definitely a parent's right to use whatever name they want. The article can be found here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Che Guevara's Hair

My post today is purely entertaining but I read this article and couldn't believe it actually happened. I think it's crazy that someone paid 100,000 for a lock of che Guavera's hair. Ecspecially when there is some debate on whether the body it was cut off of was actually his (And when the guy was the only bidder on it)!! Anyway it's a short and very entertaining article to read..definently worth your time.

Mexican embassy bombed

What groups might benefit from this type of statement? Who would stand to gain enough to make organizing such an attack worthwhile?

the Hillary of the South

n a NYT- Americas article, reporters claim that the Argentinian candidate for presidency Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, will probably not fulfill her promises of change as made in the beginning of her candidacy. Though many people support her economic policies which are similar to her husband who she hopes to suceed, many also believe that she needs to address the changing economic problems as well as environmental problems of argentina. The article also referred to them as the clintons of the south, which i enjoyed.

Author Recommendation

I am currently enrolled in an English Course entitled Caribbean Cultural Studies. I would like to recommend an author that we have been reading in class. Her name is Maryse Conde and she has written a lot of different novels about a variety of subjects. Although Conde is from the island of Guadeloupe, she currently lectures in the United States. She has received many prestigious awards and is definitely worth reading.

Macabre Che

It seems like a lot of NY Times articles lately have been about Che Guevara. Here's another, and its pretty wierd.

Up for auction until last Thursday, when it was sold to the only guy who bid on it, was a lock of Che's hair and pictures of his dead body. A bookstore owner bought them for $100,000 (the minimum bid) to display in his store.
The, uh, memorabilia was owned by Gustavo Villoldo, a Cuban CIA opperative who aided in Che's capture and cut the hair just before Che was buried. He took the hair out of spite, thinking it was symbolic of cutting off the revolution. Villoldo decided to sell the pictures and hair at the auction house that sold Anna Nicole Smith's diaries.

The son of Gen. Barrientos, the Bolivian president who probably ordered Che's death, commented on the auction saying:
“Why anyone would want to buy this kind of stuff, I don’t know. I would find better uses for my money.”
I agree.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Bush discourages continuing Cuban dictatorship

President Bush will speak about the change in power in Cuba from one Fidel brother to another. Bush will encourage the Cuban people to resist and will also continue to withhold support of a Cuban dictatorship. Bush will also reiterate to the Cuban people that they “have the power to shape their destiny and bring about change.” It seems quite ironic that Bush is stating his opinion on Cuban political affairs, while the United States is beginning to look for a new President. Check out the article here.

Condom Ban Feeds HIV Infections in Latin America

According to a United Nations official, the HIV rate in Latin America is skyrocketing. Many many believe this is in part a result of the Roman Catholic Church's ban on condom use. Reuters reports that 1.7 million people in South America have HIV or AIDS. The epidemic is quickly spreading, with 410,000 new cases reported in 2006, an increase from the 320,000 new cases in 2004. Considering the circumstances, I believe the Church needs to adapt to modern society and change this no condom rule. Here is the story: http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid49991.asp

Best Hostel in the World


First of all, Bariloche is absolutely beautiful. I was there in July, perfect time for skiing. The snow and the mountain are ok, especially for those who have been to the western U.S. but combined with the town nightlife, chocolate, natural parks, and lake(s) its really an idyllic place. For those on the younger side and not in need of absolute privacy this hostel is at the top of the tallest building and the staff are awesome.

The US Influences Abortion in Latin America?

Abortion is more common in Latin America than in Europe, depsite the fact that Latin America has very strict abortion laws. Apparently the culture of Abortion in Latin America is changing after the UN condemned some the more recent abortion cases in the region. Interestingly enough, the US is exercises some control over abortion in Latin America by not giving funding to family planning groups that discuss abortion. This seems hypocritical given that in the US a woman's right to choose is protected. Here's the link to the article http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/01/06/opinion/edlatam.php

Argentina could have its Second Female President

In 1974, Juan Peron's 3rd wife took over as president for a while, but Cristina Fernandez would be the first *elected* female president of Argentina. Currently, she has 43% support in polls.
She is the wife of President Kirchner. Also, she is a senator. Still, she doesn't like being compared to Hillary Clinton.
The election is Sunday the 28th of October, so we'll see what happens!

Associated Press article "Campaigning Closes in Argentina Election"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Drugs Take Root in Mexico

Many of the drugs that reach US soil come into the country across the Mexican border. However until recent years, Mexico was mostly a place for the transport, rather than the use of drugs. Unfortunately though, as time has passed and cartels have become more ingrained in the towns and cities, drug use and abuse has become a serious problem, even in the small towns and the country side. To read more about the new and pervasive drug addictions in Mexico, go here:

Biofuel and World Famine

This article at CNN refers to an essay by Fidel Castro published in Cuban state media on Tuesday. He accuses Bush of "pushing the world to the brink of WWIII," but I was interested in a comment made about famine. From the article:

"The danger of a massive world famine is aggravated by Mr. Bush's recent initiative to transform foods into fuel," referring to his support for biofuel projects that convert foodstuffs like corn into fuel.

I consider myself pretty pro-environment, but that's a way of looking at it I hadn't thought of before.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Brazil Exports Beauty

Latin American countries are known for exporting things like bananas and rubber, or products manufactured in Latin America by American corporations. In brazil, however, one of the biggest exports is beauty. With a growing worldwide concern in appearances, beauty products made from Amazonian resources are very popular.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

border security tightened

Border patrol agents are becoming more vigilant in checking entries at the US/ Mexico border. I suppose it makes it tougher on Mexicans, too.

Entertainment Style

After reading Eva's post, I was reminded of other books and movies from Hispanic and Spanish authors and directors that I enjoyed that had this same element of magical realism. The style is truly pervasive throughout Latin culture, and is unlike the productions from any other culture, as far as I know. My favorite movie in this genre is Guillermo del Torro's Pan's Labrynth. The film takes magical realism to an extreme level, mixing dreams and reality in a fantastic way. To see more on the movie, go here : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0457430/. And if you're looking for a very different cinematic experience, I highly suggest it.

US Relieves Debt in Exchange for Conservation

This is a form of debt relief and foreign aid that benefits the entire planet. While economic stability in Latin America certainly does affect other areas of the world, everyone should have a vested interest in environmental isssues. The US has agreed to $26 million of Costa Rica's debt in exchange for conservation of threatened tropical rainforests. This seems to be part of a recent trend of increasing American interest in the environment.

Fight Against Socialist Policies

Here's an example of the resistance to socialism often coming from wealthy areas of the country, as for the most part the poorer areas benefit from shared welfare. The citizens of Vera Cruz , Bolivia's wealthiest province, reclaimed the airport from government troops sent by the President. The people of Vera Cruz have been resisting socialist policies from the federal government, and demanded that the airport tax revenues go to the local government instead of the federal. The troops were driven out without violence and the government generally acknowledged the return to local control. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/20/world/americas/20bolivia.html?ref=americas

Friday, October 19, 2007

6 hour workday

Even though it seems like people would be happy and about it having the workday reduced to six hours would be a good thing as proposed in this article about Chavez' proposed constitutional amendments. The other amendments such as emiliminating the right to due process are obviously horrible for the country; however, changing the workday to only 6 hours would also be bad: It would have a large and negative effect on the economy.

Bosque Eterno de los Ninos


This is the website of a private reserve in Costa Rica across the lake from the Arenal volcano in the vecinity of Monteverde. I stayed there for 4 days doing trail work and stuff. The guest house has a stunning view of the volcano when its not cloudy and you can hear it erupt almost every day. This is just another example of how Costa Ricans are preserving they're land even without the government. The preservation instinct has caught on in the culture as well. Its also a wonderful place to stay (for easy camping, no electricity but cold water).

Colombain and Venezualan leaders tighten ties


Despite having drastically different ideologies, Álvaro Uribe of Colombia and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela are apparently trying to form a positve relationship between their countries. The two men come from vastly differnt backgrounds, and while Chavez and the US don't generally get along, the article states that Bush has " no closer friend in South America" than Uribe. The two countries haven't been too friendly lately (several Colombians mysteriously dissappeared in Venezuela not too long ago for instance.) And political leaders don't say many nice things abou teach other, but recently the 2 presidents got together to inaugerate a pipeline that is shared by both countries. Politcal instability and war are stereotypes of Latin America, so its good to read that things are changing in that regard.

Magical Realism

In reading our class' most recent novel "Like Water For Chocolate" I have really enjoyed the Latin American specific style of "Magical Realism" in literature. I think it says something about their society and culture that that sort of writing and style is embraced. I think it adds a certain unique depth to the writing and also makes it more entertaining. I think it helps an important element of literature, which is to sympathize with the characters and understand their perspectives.

Glass Guevara Shot

This article discusses the destruction of a monument in Venezuela. The glass monument was in honor of Che Guevara and to remember the 40th anniversary of his death, however two weeks after the unveiling the glass statue was shot. While the culprit(s) has not been identified, these actions are unsettling for many Venezuelans. Read about it here.

"Restaveks" in Haiti

This is a 3- or 4-minute narrated slideshow at MSNBC, depicting Haitian children who are sent by their families to work for others. According to the video, "restavek" is Creole for "servant." There's are some primary source interviews, as well as a lot of striking photographs.

Pet Massacre in Puerto Rico

In the town of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, a company called "Animal Control Solutions" was hired to get rid of animals (including pets as well as strays) in a housing project. Apparently the employees hurled the cats and dogs from a highway bridge. There has been an international uproar about this, and people are petitioning the governor of Puerto Rico to ensure that the employees are punished. article
click here to sign the petition

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mattel Re-Call in Latin American Countries

This article discusses the effects of Mattel's distribution of toxic toys in Latin America. Although, the recall definiely caused problems in the US, the issues were larger in Latin America because of the lack of regulation.
It's interesting to see how global commerce affects different countries to different degrees. This is one more illustration of the way the Latin America is at a disadvantage in international commerce. Here's the link: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=39080

Chavez Proposes a Confederation joing Venezuela and Cuba

Hugo Chavez toured through Cuba this week making a series of speches. Within these speeches, he proposed a political union between Cuba and Venezuela. This came as a surprise to Cubans, and many were not welcoming the idea. In general, the Cubans favored the economic ties between the two nations, however were not interested in any political ties. Here is the story: http://www.lanuevacuba.com/nuevacuba/notic-07-10-1703.htm

Monday, October 15, 2007

Published: October 12, 2007
Venezuela’s government has blocked the Spanish pop singer Alejandro Sanz from using Poliedro Stadium in Caracas for a scheduled Nov. 1 concert because he criticized President Hugo Chávez three years ago. Responding to questions about Mr. Chávez before a 2004 recall referendum, Mr. Sanz said: “I don’t like your president. I don’t like those from other places, either.” Higher Education Minister Luis Acuña, who disclosed the stadium ban, did not explain why the government had initially agreed to the concert.

This article was in the NYT Americas section. I found it really sad that even in musical and artistic expression as we have been discussing in class couldn't be a proper outlet because of a singer's outdated comments. Even if the government feared what he stated, his music wasnt directly offensive and they are taking away his personal expression, and because he's a popular artist, odds are other people related to it as well. I guess this is an indicator of the state of Venezuela's political situation currently.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Columbus Day has a different meaning in Latin America

Latin Americans celebrated last monday "Dia De la Raza" or several other names for Columbus day meant to emphasize the indigenous experience of Columbus' arrival in America.

Ex-Playmate is "Unlikely Savior"

Kind of off-the-wall article about Susie Scott Krabacher, a "former Playboy centerfold who over the last 15 years has become an unlikely patron savior for scores of abandoned Haitian babies." Didn't see that coming, did you? The article is here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Second Extraordinary World Congress of Philosophy

Globalism and it's sometimes negative effects on the regions that it encompasses had been a major topic of discussion throughout the past couple of decades. It is no secret that Latin America has been taken advantage of in many cases. A great step on the part of Latin America is them holding a world discussion in Argentina that will feature many Latin American speakers and bring to the forefront the issues they find to be of importance and open up discussions on how to mend these problems.


Controversial Free Trade Agreement in Costa Rica

Costa Rica held a national referendum on Monday to join the very controversial free trade agreement with several of their Central American neighbors, the Dominican Republic and the US. The referendum passed with a very slim margin, a fact which has prompted a mandatory recount. Despite the Presiden'ts opinion that this agreement is necessary, oppostition remains strong, and Washington has vowed not renegotiate if the referendum fails. For the full story click here: http://www.baynews9.com/content/9/2007/10/9/293684.html?title=Costa%20Rica%20to%20Join%20Free%20Trade%20Agreement

Friday, October 12, 2007

Pres to support latinamerican trade

President Bush urged congress to help set up better trade relations with Latin America
Read this article about how Taco Bell is going to open restaurants in Mexico. It is humorous to think that Americanized Mexican food is going to be in Mexico but when looking deeper in to the situation it will be interesting to see whether people will respond well to the opening of the restaurants or be offended.

Queen of the Pacific


This article is really interesting- it gives the story of Sandra Ávila Beltrán, arrested last month in Mexico, who is a big player in Mexico's cocaine trafficing world. She's been known as the Queen of the Pacific since she was in charge of shipping cocaine between different Mexican port cities. She has led a very interesting life; sleeping with men to climb higher in the world, and marrying the director of an anti-drug campaign. When she was arrested, she asked to be allowed to freshen her makeup for her mug shot. And she thinks its against her rights not to be allowed to have restaurant food in jail. Crazy.

Silver Lining

It seems that every new article about Latin America involves the jailing and trial of a former political figure for corruption, human rights violations, and murders. This article is no exception. However, as depressing as it may seem to always have articles of this nature, perhaps we are failing to look on the bright side-- the fact that all these people are being tried and jailed is a good thing. If someone commits a crime, they should be punished accordingly, and now that so many ex-leaders are being punished, it seems that justice is finally eing restored. As the son of the victim said in the article, "the verdict had reaffirmed people's belief in the justice system." Go to this link to read the rest of the article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7040692.stm


The name refers to the set of Yoruban gods now accepted in the Santeria religion in Cuba, but the music group is a modern hip-hop group. Ruzzo, Yotuel, and Roldan are all Cuban emigrants and tend to sing about the problems of the barrios on the edge of Havana. Besides having ubelievably fun beats (especially in El Kilo), they have won a number of Latin Grammies and other awards for their quality lyrics which often make deeper statements about Cuban society. Definitely one of my favorite music groups.



Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hugo Chavez promotes "morality"

This is an interesting article called "Venezuela's Chavez on Moral Crusade." The president Hugo Chavez has a new idea which he calls the "New Man." The main points are: less alcohol consumption, less materialism. It appears that he is trying to change the culture, which is difficult. He proposes to go about doing this by raising cigarette taxes, importing less beer, etc. He also is against breast implants for teenage girls, which apparently is not unheard of in Venezuela. He says: "Now some say, 'When my daughter turns fifteen years old, we're going to give her phony breasts.' What a horrible thing! It's the latest degeneration," What an interesting gift for a quinceañera! And I thought it was strange when my 14-year-old host sister in Ecuador was given a nose job as a gift from her brother. article

A fence will fix it?

This article discusses the Homeland Security Secretary's, Michael Chertoff, statements about building a 670 mile long fence between Mexico and the United States. He uses the degradation of the environment as one of the important reasons for the construction of the fence. While this excuse may appease some, Oppenheimer points out that Americans are the ones who do the majority of destroying the environment. In the end, I agree with Oppenheimer in that instead of the US building fences, Mexico should build bridges and participate in the Latin American economy more, which will in turn help the entire region. The article can be found here.

History Goes on Trial

Suriname dictator Désiré Bouterse is going to stand trial for the "December murders," in which 13 opponents to his regime were marched into a dungeon and machine gunned to death. This is a monumental decision by the country to put him on trial because they are essentially throwing out the "self amnesty" granted by his regime during the time period. Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Chile are all taking similar action by punishing human rights abusers regardless of the amnesty in place. Chile stated the reason for this action: "Amnesty cannot supersede international obligations that CHile signed which obligated the country to prosecute the gravest war crimes." This is an interesting trend in Latin America as the countries are beginning to take action against past oppressors. Here is the story: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB119179783178551634-lMyQjAxMDE3OTAxOTcwOTk3Wj.html

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Che Guevarra: Hero, Villian, Communist which one?

Everyone by now is highly familiar with the image of Che by now because of the siginificant popularity of Che logo wear, (T-shirts, stickers, soccer balls, etc.) It's interesting to hear about different views about him. The older people I've talked to about him seem to think he was a Communist, but I have a lot of friends my age who really look up to him. At some point you kind of wonder how much people actually know about him. Do the a people who wear Che shirts actually like him or do they just need a little extra revolution in their lives? This link contains an opinions piece and then some responses, there's definitely a lot of division on this issue.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Missionaries in Latin America

After watching the first half of "At Play in the Fields of the Lord," I decided to look up some real mission groups in Latin America. I am not going to say whether I am for or against what they do, but if you are also interested in taking a look at these groups, here is a link to one of the mail Evangelical mission groups, "Latin America Mission."


Che, A Revolutionary Icon, and Now, a Bikini

A recent article in the Times Americas investigates the image of Che Guevara.
Is he more symbol or marking tool now?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

US and Costa Rica in free trade decision

The united states has made a statement about the future of trade by telling the Costa Rican government that if they do not agree to the agreement proposed with the united states for free trade, they might reconsider trade preferences with the country or negotiate a deal for trade. What i find most interesting about this situation is that depsite the United States' efforts to push Costa Rica to free trade, the US itself is negotiating deals and holding preferences with trade that indicate a limitation on free trade in the first place.
I found this article in the NYT americas section


Between talking about Latino music in class several times and this week's discussion topic being about art music and culture in Latin America, I thought some of you might be interested to hear a more contemporary Latino musician. Juanes is one of the best-selling colombian musicians, having sold more than 10 million albums and having won twelve Latin Grammys. Additionally, he is one of my favorite Latin artists. Here is a link to his site: http://www.juanesweb.com/

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Indigenous Amazon tribe bans logging and mining

The Wai Wai, a 200-member indigenous group in southern Guyana, has banned loggers and miners from working in their section of the Amazon jungle. As this article at MSNBC says, they are supported by a decree from Guyana's government and a U.S. conservation organization.

I'm glad to see that indigenous groups are being given power to make decisions about their homelands--it's just sad that it's such a rare occasion that it makes international news (and that it hasn't happened much in the past 600 years).
Check out this website of Latin American Recipies. It has recipies from many different countries in it which is interesting because you can see differences in their cultures based on their cuisines. I would like to make "Mango Delight" a recipie from Colombian cuisine sometime this week for dessert.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Julio Jaramillo, the pasillo, and Ecuador

Julio Jaramillo (1935-1978) was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and was a very famous singer of Ecuador, especially for the type of song called the "pasillo," which tends to be in a minor key, with guitar, and of a sad subject matter. Julio Jaramillo, also known as "JJ," is still well-loved by Ecuadorians, especially the older generations. His songs are well-known throughout the region. You can listen to his songs here (scroll down): Songs Not all of them are pasillos; some of the other styles here include the bolero and waltzes.

Drug Use in Mexico


In the past, Mexico has not had a huge drug problem- drugs on their way to the US from other Latin American countries would pass through, but Mexico itself didn't have a large number of users. In the past few years however, the situation has changed. The above article, from the New York Times, has stories of towns in Mexico where crack houses are operating alongside small grocery stores and the like and people sell drugs on every corner. There are rehab centers everywhere- and usually they're small houses with one bathroom that about 30 users are locked into for 3 or so months.
I also read that Colombia's drug use has gone down (a country stereotyped by its drug use). Will Mexico take over that stereotype and become "the new Colombia" in the years to come? Hopefully not....

Brazilian Soccer Star names FIFpro Player of the Year

Brazilians seem to turn out soccer phenoms year after year. Twenty-five year old Kaka, who currently plays for AC Milan, joined the ranks of many Brazilians before him after being named the FIFpro player of the year. He is amazing to watch, I highly recommend trying to catch and AC Milan match. For more information visit ESPN soccernet.

UN approves Declaration on Indigenous Rights

Nearly a month ago, the United Nations approved the "Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which will help protect some 370 million indigenous people in the world." This declaration recognizes the rights of indigenous people, such as the ownership of traditional lands and self-rule. It is seen as "a great step in the indigenous peoples’ struggle,” according to Bolivian President Evo Morales, plus the article seemed appropriate after the reading for class this week.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hangliding in Rio

This is purely a fun post. Hangliding in Rio was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had. We had to wait probably five or six hours before the clouds finally parted. It was literally the very end of the day and the sun had already gone behind the mountains so we were in the half light when the city was just beginning to glow beneath us, including Latin America's most populous favela, Rocinha. Here's a site about it. In case anyone goes to Rio soon, its definitely worth it.



Chavez to Set Time Back Half Hour

Hugo Chavez has decided to set the time back in Venezeula one half hour. Chavez insists the time change isn't arbitrary. He stated that government officials have been studying it since 1999 and the new measure will be a compromise for a country wide enough for two time zones. Skeptics insist that "Chavez wants to get out of Washington's "imperialist" time zone." I suppose we will never know his real reasoning, but the half hour change is certainly unconventional. Here is the story: http://www.presstelegram.com/ci_7066510

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fujimori in prison

Today we talked about Fujimori in class and his extradition to Peru. He's currently being held in conditions much better than he allowed his political opposition. Apparently, he even gets conjugal visits. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/world/americas/27briefs-fujimori.html?ref=americas

Monday, October 01, 2007


Here is the link to the homepage of a documentary we watched in my cultural anthropology class. The documentary was made by two female workers in border factories for multinational corporations. The documentary examines their lives, the working conditions in the factories, and the effect the factories have had on the environment (and therefore health dangers) in Tijuana. Go to this link for more information: http://www.maquilapolis.com/project_eng.htm

Video of Noam Chomsky...this explains why Chavez likes him

This video of a chat with Noam Chomsky goes a long way in explaining why Hugo Chavez admires him. Chomsky seems very much opposed to the Monroe doctrine in Latin America. He also offers some insight as to why people in the United States think ( or don't think) about Latin America. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pnhmq9Hl0qY