Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cuban film festival

The Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano de La Habana, or the Festival of New Latin American Cinema of Havana, has taken place every December since 1979.

Since it is very difficult for most Cubans to travel outside their country, the festival provides a means for them to experience an outside perspective and other cultures without leaving La Habana. Part of the mission of the Festival is to enrich and reaffirm Latin American and Caribbean cultural identity.

Wall Street Journal article: "For Most Cubans, Film Is the Only Way to Travel"

The official website

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sabathia to Yankees

Carsten Charels Sabathia of Venezuela signed a a six-year, $140 million contract offer from the New York Yankees, the New York Post reported on its web site Wednesday. This new contract makes Sabathia the highest paid pitcher in the major leagues. he barely passes the $137 million contract acquired by Johan Santana last year with the Mets. Last year sabathia put together an impressive season with a 17-10 record with a 2.70 ERA and 251 strikeouts.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mexican Woman Shot

Soldiers shot to death a pregnant 35-year-old woman after she reportedly failed to stop at a highway checkpoint in the northern state of Chihuahua, authorities said Friday.
Silvia Arzate died after soldiers opened fire on the sport utility vehicle she was driving near the capital of Chihuahua, which is experiencing a surge of violence as drug gangs battle each other and authorities, said the state prosecutors' spokesman, Eduardo Esparza.
The circumstances surrounding Thursday's shooting remain unclear.
Esparza said Arzate, who died of several gunshot wounds, had been carrying a cousin in her vehicle who had been wounded in an earlier gunbattle. Her mother was also aboard, but was not injured.
It was unclear if the cousin had been a participant in the earlier gunfight. Initial reports suggested Arzate may have been speeding in a bid to escape from another vehicle that was following her.
The Defense Department had no immediate comment on the shooting.
Army checkpoints in Mexico are sometimes poorly marked.
Many have criticized President Felipe Calderon for deploying more than 20,000 soldiers across Mexico to combat the country's violent drug cartels.
The National Human Rights Commission has documented cases of torture, rape and killings of civilians by solders, and called on the government to stop assigning soldiers to police duties.
The government has promised to do that eventually, but has set no timetable for doing so.

Castro Visits Venezuela

Cuban President Raul Castro launched his first international trip on Saturday, visiting with longtime ally Venezuela before heading to a regional integration summit in Brazil. He and president Chavez of Venezuela met and discussed politics between their two countries. Chavez is a long time ally of Raul's brother Fidel and wishes to continue this alliance with Raul.

Friday, December 12, 2008

director fears security in mexico

Guillermo del Toro, directer of "Hellboy" admits his reluctance to filming in Mexico again after his father was kidnapped there ten years ago. Although Del Toro's father was eventually released, the criminals were not all found and Del Toro's family still receives death threats. When he is directing a film, Del Toro's daily life becomes a public matter. He fears for his safety in Mexico, describing his fear as an unfortunate "forced exile" from Mexico. 

The justice is lacking in Mexico, a nation with one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world. It is nearly impossible to find reliable information because people are reluctant to report crimes for fear of police involvement. Therefore while the Mexican government claims that abductions have fallen (18 percent) to about 72 kidnappings a month since August, real kidnapping rates are significantly higher. Citizens' Institute for Crime Studies estimates that the real abduction rate may be 500 kidnappings per month.

-yahoo news.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sao Paulo: Brazilian police officer may have taken part in the murders of 13 gay men in a lower-class suburb of Sao Paulo. These murders occurred between February 2007 and August 2008 at Paturis Park, which is a relatively well-known meeting point for gay men in the area. 

No one has been arrested in this case, and the department refuses to share too much information for fear of jeapordizing the accuracy of the investigation. If the policeman turns out to be involved in these murders, this would speaks worlds of not only the civil rights in Sao Paulo but also of the political development. 

Yahoo News -> Policemen suspected in Killing of Gays

Gitmo commander predicts prison won't close soon

Despite the debate over the possibility of Guantanamo Bay's closing, Guantanamo's commander believes that this won't actually be a possibility anytime soon. Even with Obama replacing Bush in office, it will be unlikely that the military's offshore prison will close so soon after Obama is sworn into office. 

It will be too difficult to close Guantanamo Bay because it is difficult to come to a quick decision where prisoners will be held. The legal process is also complicated if the military intends to continue any sort of persecution or to reach any resolution in the case of each prisoner.

Some terrorists allegedly confessed their crimes on election day in order to seal their execution by the United States in order to achieve martyrdom. "Many observers at the hearing say the defendants may be rushing toward a death sentence before Obama takes office and shuts down the war-crimes trials". However, this speculation has not been confirmed as it is impossible to be sure of the intentions of the terrorists.

yahoo news -> Gitmo commander predicts....

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Rain forest protection in Brazil

Brazil announced on December 1st that they plan to take measures to decrease deforestation. The claim they will halve the rate of destruction by 2018. The rain forest is vital in preventing greenhouse gases and damage to the atmosphere. Check out the story.


In Colombia, a man named Luis Soriano began a travelling library of a different type. In the US there are often mobile libraries in vans or buses, but in rural Colombia that would not work so well. Instead Soriano uses donkeys to take books to rural villages where people borrow textbooks, encyclopedias, novels, books of all kinds until he returns with more choices for them to exchange from. He originally decided to do this after witnessing the empowering effect reading had on his students when he was a teacher. Check out pictures of his travelling biblioburro.

Monday, December 01, 2008


This Latin American dish was mentioned in my Spanish textbook, but I wanted to investigate it further. Picadillo is a dish which mainly consists of ground beef, but can be mixed with various vegetables, or used as filling for tacos. The dish is most common in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Costa Rica and Mexico. The word picadillo comes from the Spanish word picar, meaning to mince or chop. The Cuban version usually is served with beans and rice, while in the Philippines, potatoes accompany the picadillo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chavez welcomes Russian Warship

On Tuesday, Russian warchips sailed into Venezualan port, la Guairia, and were welcomed with a 21 cannon solute by Venezuelan troops waiting for them on the dock. A destroyer, a nuclear powered cruiser and two support ships were the ships that completed the voyage, Russia's first visit to the Caribbean since the Cold war. This meeting is thought to be a further arms deal between the two countries as well as an oppurtunity for Russia to invest in the natural gas and oil resources abundantly found in Venezuela. However, due to falling oil prices, the pockets of both countries are hurting and little might be done in the way of seeing out Chavez's plans for a Russian funded gas pipeline throughout his country.
The United States is skeptical of the meeting between the two countries, but is not afraid that their meeting will have any real affect. Some think that it the Russians don't want to engage in anything too deep with Venezuela when they are beginning to renew their relationship with the United States with the new Administration. To read more, click here

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Flooding In Brazil

After severe flooding, a state of emergency has been declared in the state of Santa Catarina in Brazil. As of Sunday night, at least twenty people have been found dead, and many more have been forced from their homes. At least one million people have been affected by the floods. Many of these deaths are the result of landslides that destroy roads and homes. The federal government and nearby states have been helping, including sending supplies and rescue workers.

Chile Strike Ends with 10 Percent Raise

A strike by nearly a half million Chilean government workers ended Friday in anticipation of government approval of a 10 percent wage increase. Chile's Senate unanimously approved the measure Thursday and the Chamber of Deputies, Chile's lower house, was scheduled to vote on it Friday afternoon. Passage was widely expected.
Chile's minister of labor said he approves of the 10 percent increase. The increase would go into effect December 10 and affect 450,000 government workers, from the president on down. The workers, who had been on strike since Monday, had been asking for a 14.5 percent increase. The government had initially offered a 6.5 percent increase, then upped the offer to 9.5 percent on Wednesday. Officials then increased the offer to 10 percent after the lower house rejected the 9.5 percent adjustment on Thursday. Striking workers had taken to the streets this week, staging large protests in most of the nation's major cities. Because of the strike, garbage piled up on streets, 18 hospitals were paralyzed and 3,000 surgeries were postponed. Even weddings and autopsies were not performed.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Volcanic eruption kills 4 in Colombia

A volcanic eruption in southwestern Colombia has caused the death of at least four people from landslides triggered by the eruption. Governor Guillermo Alberto Gonzalez of Cauca state says the dead were found Saturday by rescuers about 177 miles away from Bogota. The Nevado del Huila volcano erupted late Thursday and loosed avalanches of mud and ash that injured nine and killed four. Alberto tells Caracol Radio that rescuers evacuated residents by helicopter on Saturday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Drugs in Mexico

In Mexico drug trafficking is a huge problem.  Over 90 percent of Colombian cocaine passes through Mexico on its way to the US.  It has taken a toll on Mexican children that I had never considered.  In some Mexican cities decapitated bodies, severed heads and corpses can be found in streets.  This brutal violence is becoming a part of daily life and the children are being desensitized to the violence.  Rival drug cartels post videos of murders they commit on YouTube.  Popular songs called narcocorridos list the names of famous drug cartel leaders and sometimes make them out to be heroes. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Meriendas Deliciosas

As our trip to La Unión quickly approaches, I've been thinking about the Latin American foods I had during my time in Costa Rica. The first thing that came to mind was a cookie very popular in the area called a Chiky. The Chiky is a plain square biscut whose one side is dipped in chocolate. It also comes dipped in vanilla and strawberry.
Though initially marketed towards children, Chikys have become so successful and popular that the manufacturing company has expanded its product line to include other treats such as the Yipy (also highly recommended), the Chocolina, and Chiky Blak, similar to the original Chiky, but with a chocolate biscut dipped in chocolate.
Hopefully we'll be able to get our hands on some this weekend!

Source: http://www.pozuelo.com/galletas_con_cobertura.htm

Hugo Chavez edging further and further away from Democracy

In the state elesctions this coming week in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez threatens to cut of supplies and funds to states that vote against his chosen leaders. Manuel Rosales, a frontrunner for the governor position of the state of Zulia in which Venezuala's second largest city, Maracaibo, is located, is one of the anti-Chavez candidates that has a very good chance of getting elected. Says Rosales of Chavez, "he wants to wipe out and criminalize Venezuela's opposition, or those who don't think like he does, to attempt a constitutional reform allowing him to remain in power." Chavez has also threatened to send tanks into the streets that elect oponents of Chavez as governor.

Chavez also threatened TV stations that show early results of the elections adding futher shadiness to this not-so-democratic process...As it stands now, Chavez's popularity rating is droppping because of currency inflation, almost regular blackouts, coffee shortage, and wide spread crime. Meanwhile death threats to opponents of Chavez have become normal, hopefully it won't scare his opponents, but, we'll see.

To read more, click here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Defender of the Drug Lords

This New York Times article talks about Silvia Raquenel Villanueva a Mexican lawyer.  Her clients consist mainly of powerful drug lords.  Her work is very unpopular and people have attempted to kill her four times.  It is interesting to see her try to justify her clients.  Her motives are not simply that everyone deserves a fair trial.  She has received some sizable monetary rewards for her work.  To read the article click here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Three years ago, President Hugo Chavez discharged missionaries from the Venezuelan Amazon region where the Yanomami tribe dwells. Resentment is growing in the tribe due to what they consider the neglect that led to the deaths of 50 indigenous people in the Yanomami community. These deaths have been caused mostly by a lack of food, medicine, and access to medical facilities. Chavez responds to this resentment by claiming to have raised overall spending on social welfare programs for the indigenous community. Yanomami leader, 49 year old Ramón González, is quoted saying that this claim is merely rhetoric and not at all reality.

Indigenous healthcare has been an issue lately in Venezuela after a mysterious disease killed 38 Warao Indians in August. González says that indigenous lives are gravely underrated in the politics of Venezuela. "The boats, the planes, the money, it's all for the criollos", or the nonnative Venezuelans.

There are 26,000 Yanomamis in the Amazon rain forest, between Venezuela and Brazil, and they are semi-nomadic, subsisting on crops such as maniocs and bananas. These communities are not at all like the indigenous tribes from anthropology books. They can be seen in Puerto Ayacucho wearing modern-day attire and using cellphones. They are, however, extremely susceptible to many diseases for which they still have weak defenses, such as some respiratory diseases and drug-resistant strains of malaria.

Yanomamis say that while the Venezuelan governments put pictures of the tribes all over tourist brochures and in airport lobbies, the tribes are allowed no political positions. This shows the Yanomami community their governments complete lack of respect for the rights and individualism of the indigenous society.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

a little girl with a lot to say

Mafalda has long been hailed in Argentina not only as a good comic but as excellent political commentary. She and her friends have plenty to say on the political situation of the latter half of the 20th century; why not check it out?

El Mundo de Mafalda

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hundreds Could Be Unknowingly Spreading HIV in Chile

In Chile, at least hundreds have not been told of their positive HIV tests. Health Minister Alvaro Erazo told lawmakers Thursday that public health services did not tell 512 people that they tested positive for HIV. Private sector services did not tell an estimated 1,700 people. Chile is beginning a campaign to inform the patients who Chile's public health service said provided incorrect addresses.

Read more here.

512 Chileans tested HIV+ but likely never found out

Insufficient efforts were made to notify 512 Chilean hospital patients that they tested positive for HIV. Approximately half the patients may have been notified, but receipt of the notification was never verified. The previous health minister Maria Soledad Barria resigned after it was discovered that some patients were never told that they had tested HIV+. The atrocious error may lend partial blame to false biographic information provided by the patients, which would inhibit contact being made between the hospital and the patient.


Novalima singer
The Peruvian band Novalima performed on Monday to kick off Newsnight's "Inside Latin America week." 
The group also published their own article to explain the origins of their music, and to eliminate some of the misconceptions surrounding the Afro-Peruvian musical tradition.

Mexico City plans to give Viagra to older men

Men 70 and older are being given free Viagra and other impotence drugs from Mexico City. Mayor Marcelo Ebrard says the city decided to put this plan into action because sexuality "has a lot to do with quality of life and happiness." Starting December 1 the government will start handing out doses of one or two Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis from three centers that specialize in sexual health for the elderly. The City Health Secretary Armando Ahued says there is an estimated 112,000 men over 70 years old living the Federal District who will be able to receive these free drugs.

Abortion law vetoed by Uruguayan president

Uruguay has been prevented from having South America's most liberal abortion law by a presidential veto. Women's rights groups are outraged and are planning protests, saying that President Tabare Vasquez is "authoritarian," while religious groups are supporting him. First-trimester abortions were legalized by Uruguay's Congress despite threats from national bishops to automatically excommunicate any lawmaker approving the measure. However this law was stopped short by Vasquez's veto on Friday, calling the law unconstitutional. He also says he doesn't agree with abortion "philosophically or biologically." Now the measure will be sent back to Congress because of the veto, but most likely will die as lawmakers lack enough votes to override the veto.

Landmines in Columbia

Everyday about three people are killed by landmines in Columbia. Columbia has the most landmines of any country in the southern hemisphere, an estimated 150,000. These mines terrorize farmers, who sometimes move their families into cities to get away from the threat these mines pose. Despite the signing of the Ottawa treaty, prohibiting the use of these fatal weapons, landmines remain a popular form of land protection for guerrillas and drug traffickers alike. However, natural forces, such as hurricanes, can relocate these dangerous devices, putting innocent citizens in grave danger. One of the most horrifying aspects of this issue is the statistic that over 40% of the victims are civilians, and over 20% of these victims are children, under the age of 14.
Imagen del UNICEF
This picture shows a group of young Columbian children at an informational session on how to protect themselves from landmines.

Former El Salvador Leader in War Crimes Case

Human rights groups from the United States and Spain filed a lawsuit in a Spanish court Thursday, charging El Salvador's former president, Alfredo Cristiani, with covering up crimes against humanity. The case involves the killing of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her teenaged daughter nearly two decades ago during El Salvador's civil war. Fourteen former Salvadoran military officers are accused of war crimes, murders and state terrorism in connection with the massacre dating back to November 1989. It has become one of the most notorious episodes of El Salvador's 12-year civil war that pitted leftist guerrillas against the U.S.-backed conservative government. Some 75,000 people died. The case filed by two human rights groups in Madrid argues that justice was never done in El Salvador. Two military officers were convicted of murder in 1991 in the deaths of the Jesuits, but were pardoned in 1993 under an amnesty law approved by the national assembly.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ecuadoran Chocolate

Cacao bean farmers in Ecuador have always sold their beans to a middle man who then sells them to companies that make chocolate, which means the farmers are paid a tiny amount for something that is so expensive in the end. A large group of indigenous farmers decided to band together with the help of a woman from Kansas to cut out the middle man. Step by step they became more in charge of their own production and now make their own organic chocolate which is sold for as much as $5.99 in Whole Foods. It's pretty interesting.. check it out.

Tiger in Mexico City

Earlier this week, a tiger's cage at Mexico City's zoo was left unlocked and the animal escaped. Once out, it fatally attacked its caregiver. Officials searched the 740-acre property for the animal before capturing and killing it.
Shockingly, events like this is not unheard of in Mexico.
Last week, several circus tigers escaped and made their way into a private home in western Mexico.
In September, an elephant in a Mexico City circus escaped and made its way onto the public highway system, leading to its death of a collision with a bus.
In August, a lion escaped from a zoo and attacked numerous dogs, a pig, and a woman and child riding a donkey in southern Mexico.
Hopefully this situation will be taken under control before another tragedy has the opportunity to occur.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081111/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_mexico_tiger_killing;_ylt=AsPMwcYh44aG3S3kOYLSTzS3IxIF

ATLAS Fiesta at Tulane

This past Sunday, Tulane's ATLAS (Association of Tulane Latin American Students) put on a fiesta in the LBC. There was Brazilian and Mexican food from the Brazilian Market, Felipe's Taqueria, and the kitchen of some of the club's members. One of my personal favorites was the tres leches cake. Tres leches cake is popular throughout all of Latin America and may have originated in Nicaragua. The cake itself is first baked and then soaked in condensed milk, evaporated milk, and either whole milk or heavy cream. It is absolutely delicious! Just looking at the picture makes me hungry!

Source: http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Cakes/TresLechesCake.htm

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mexican Physicists

Physicists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico recently discovered how to synthetically create diamonds out of tequila. These diamonds are not meant for show or jewelry. They are a microscopic film that can only be viewed through a microscope. The diamonds can be made from even the cheapest of tequilas, and the outcome is still useful. To create the synthetic diamonds, the tequila is heated through a special process which results in carbon atoms in the shape of a thin diamond film.

Recent Celebrity Hotspot in Uruguay

On the southern coast of Uruguay rests a small village called Jose Ignacio. This town is an up and coming location for wealthy travelers. Once a quiet fishing outpost, Jose Ignacio was a place where only the occasional celebrity would visit. Now, this charming area has become a chic place to be. The atmosphere is almost quaint, with dirt roads, small boutiques, and bed and breakfasts. It has become increasingly popular for celebrities and other travelers who appreciate the European influenced mood of the town, and the miles of gorgeous beaches.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kidnapping in Mexico on November 11

Today, in Culiacan Mexico, 27 farm workers were kidnapped by many armed men in military looking uniforms. The police searched today for the men but the victims have not been found. The motives of the assailants are yet to be determined. Police corruption, however, is widespread in this area of Mexico.

Brazil and the fertile crescent of soccer

Why are there 0ver 1000 stars from Brazil playing in European Leagues (which is a bigger contribution of soccer players from a country not in Europe)? Because from a young age, everyone plays soccer. The phrase they use in brazil, joga bonito, this is what the coaches tell the children... This is why Brazilian soccer players have such a grace and elegance to to their play and this is why Brazil is a powerhouse for soccer. The one thing that Brazilian soccer players lack, that players from other countries have is structure. Brazilians play soccer sometimes to make enough money to feed themselves, hoping that one day they will become pro and play in Europe where they will never have to worry about money again. Soccer is a way of life donw there, not just a sport, and because of it, Brazilian socccer players are one of a kind. To read more, click here

Tensions Grow Between Dominicans and Haitians

There has virtually always been tension between Dominicans and Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. The Dominicans have horrible racism towards the Haitians wh0 have left their country to seek better lives in the DR. Recently a Haitian village near the border was attacked by Dominicans seeking revenge for a crime that was supposedly committed by a Haitian. Haitians have a typically darker skin tone than Dominicans and the older generations of Haitians speak French and Creole. However for the majority of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic, they are third or fourth generation, meaning they look less Haitian and generally speak Spanish and some Creole to their elders. It is harder to live in the DR if you are Haitian because of the racism that is so deeply rooted in the society. For this reason Haitians in the DR generally live in extreme poverty.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cubans Embrace for Paloma's Aftermath

Thousands of Cubans returned to homes demolished by Hurricane Paloma even as the once-powerful storm dissipated off the coast Monday. The hurricane washed out fishing villages, ripped the roofs off factories, and ravaged roads. However, no one was reported dead. Coastal Santa Cruz del Sur took a direct hit when Paloma struck as a Category 4 hurricane Saturday night. Ten-foot-high waves carried away wooden houses, leaving a tangled mess of smashed furniture and strewn belongings bobbing in the surf. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said that the remains of Paloma were hanging off the north coast of central Cuba on Monday and that the storm was not expected to regain force thankfully. Reports state that in Camaguey province, nearly 200,000 people had been evacuated to shelters or waited out the storm with neighbors or relatives. All but 59,000 had headed home by Monday morning. For some, however, there wasn't much to which to return. Cuba already is struggling to recover from major Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. They caused about $9.4 billion in damage, smashing nearly half a million homes and destroying almost a third of the island's crops. Outside Santa Cruz del Sur, some homes were submerged up to their flimsy metal roofs. Banana crops and other farmland was washed out, though there were no official estimates on the loss to the island's dwindling food stocks.Cuba balked at U.S. offers of aid after Gustav and Ike, and Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura said the country would take the same position if Washington pledged more help after Paloma. "Our problem is the blockade," said Machado Ventura, referring to the U.S. trade embargo, which has been in place since 1962.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Ecuador and Peru Relations Improving

After a long history of conflict, the border issues between Ecuador and Peru are finally improving. At the close of the Cenepa War in 1995, the two countries signed a peace agreement that has largely been ignored and not acted upon. Now, finally, the two countries are taking actions to improve their shared border territory.

Changes are being made. Roads and infrastructure are being developed to improve the life of the populations living there. Trade has increased from $300 million/year to $1.9 billion between the two nations. And further, taking a cue from the European Union, citizens of either country now do not need a passport or a visa to cross the borders. To read the full story, click here.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Barack Obama's presidency will assuredly change, maybe even resolve, longstanding hostile relations between American and Cuban. Obama's presidency could reform the way that the Castro brothers maintain control over the nation of Cuba by loosening restrictions on the island, as communist leaders have long used the embargo to justify the repression of differing opinions.

"They'd have to throw out the whole script about American imperialism", with Obama's campaign promise to ease restrictions on Cuba. A new Democrat-dominated Congress could further exacerbate the Castro brothers' power.

The government's policy towards Cuba, which has been unchanged since 1962 when the embargo was first imposed, is likely to decrease, allowing the Castros to perhaps open up. This in turn would allow Cuban-Americans to visit Cuba more frequently and send money to family and friends residing still in Cuba.

In addition, journalist Miriam Leiva believes that allowing more Americans to visit Cuba on occasion will help to spread and promote democratic ideals, in a time when "urgent change is required". 


For more information, refer to this article:


Friday, November 07, 2008

Cuba and the US Presidential Election

A video segment from The New York Times discusses how Cubans feel about the 2008 election in the United States. Cubans are taught from birth that it does not matter which political party is in charge in the US because both parties are capitalists. They also learn that the US is a very racist country. Some of the Cubans interviewed were astonished that an African-American might be elected president. They wanted Senator Barack Obama to win because they think he will be more likely to address their needs and improve foreign relations. To see the video scroll down.

US Anti-drug Operation Suspended In Bolivia

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, suspended US sponsored anti-drug operations last Saturday, a report in the New York Times says. Morales says his decision to do so was based on suspicion of the DEA being involved in "criminal groups" that are trying to undermine the Bolivian government. The US has now added Bolivia to its anti-narcotics blacklist as a result of this move. Though Morales claims to have eradicated more than the necessary amount of illegal coca crops being grown in Bolivia, he rejected a request made by the US earlier this year asking to fly an anti-drug plane over the country. It will be interesting to see the effects that President-elect Obama has on our relations with Morales. Read more here

The First of His Kind

A Spanish-language commercial for Gatorade pays tribute to Rolando Cantu, the first player from  a Mexican university to play in the National Football League. Cantu entered the NFL in 2005 after making the roster of the Arizona Cardinals. The Ad appears on the Telemundo and Telefutura America networks.

In the Commercial, Cantu tells his story as he lines up for action on the Cadinals' practice field. As he prepares for the snap, the offensive guard recounts how people told him he wasn't big enough or good enough to play in the NFL and how the game was too complicated for him to succeed. As the ball is snapped, those assumptions, along with a linebacker, are squashed as Cantu dominates the play.

Fidel Castro Praises Obama

While Fidel Castro did not endorse Senator Barack Obama as President, or Senator John McCain for that matter, he did praise Obama as "smarter and less warlike" than McCain on Tuesday. Castro said he waited until election day to give his opinion on the candidates so that "no one had time to say I wrote something that could be utilized by the candidates in their campaigns." He continued to say "Without a doubt, Obama is more intelligent, cultured and levelheaded than his Republican adversary" and called McCain "old, bellicose, uncultured, of little intelligence and not healthy." Even so, the former Cuban president has still expressed skepticism about both candidates.

Kidnappers Murder Mexican Child

Kidnappers snatched a 5-year-old boy from a street market, and murdered him in Mexico City. The method was an injection of acid into his heart.

Javier Morena, the boy, was the eldest son of a poor family who sold fruit at a market in the neighborhood of Iztapalapa. This is seen as a confirmation that kidnappings for ransom beset the working class as well as the upper, rich class.

Read more here...

Obama and Latin America

The United States’ influence in Latin America seems to be waning, but relations south of the border under the new administration of President-elect Barack Obama, may continue to stagnate. Obama supports lifting travel restrictions to Cuba for family members and permitting remittances to be sent to the embargoed country, ‘right away,’ but that will be all of the immediate attention purposefully paid to Latin America under the new presidency. While campaigning during the primary, Obama spoke his plan to allow illegal immigrants to obtain legal status; we’ll see if he remembers what he said. Oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, much larger than previously imagined, may force the president to deal with Cuba sooner rather than later. Of paramount importance: two wars, one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq, being wagged behind an economic crisis, will employ the majority of President-elect Barack Obama’s first years in the White House.
Read the BBC article outlining the issue: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/us_elections_2008/7710855.stm

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Chavez favors Obama as US president

Venezuelan "president" Hugo Chavez said that he would likely resume talks with the United States if Obama was elected president. Chavez, who ordered the US ambassador to Venezuela out of the country in February, refuses to resume talks until President Bush leaves the White House. I suppose Chavez thinks that Obama, being a democrat, will sympathize with the way that he runs his country, but I don't think that's the case. Spokesman for Obama said that "Hugo Chavez does not govern democratically and relations between our countries will not improve unless Venezuela respects democracy and the rule of law. That is the clear message that Barack Obama will deliver to Venezuela as president." Hopefully Obama sticks with that message... To read more, click here.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Latin American Leaders Urge U.S. to End Cuba Embargo

Latin American leaders are urging the United States to repeal its 47-year-old trade embargo against Cuba. Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega embraces Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at a summit this week in El Salvador. The leaders say that the unilateral embargo is unacceptable and harms the Cuban people. The move came after the UN General Assembly asked the U.S. for the 17th year in a row to lift the embargo. The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Cuba and lists the country as a state sponsor of terror. The embargo, imposed in 1962, has been tightened the past eight years.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Dia de los Muertos

Day of the Dead in downtown New Orleans. Right outside the famed Cabildo, next to St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans, a brave Tulane student dances with the Mariachi as part of the day's Dia de los Muertos festivities. In addition to Mariachi music, there is a fabulous Day of the Dead altar on display on the 2nd floor of the Cabildo. You can see the display tomorrow from 2-4pm -- and then get some Cafe du Monde beignets and cafe-au-lait afterwards. Here's a shot of the altar at the Cabildo:

The weather is absolutely glorious in the Big Easy these days. Get out to the "Quarters" and check it out!


Folklore is a little-known traditional dance of Argentina that can be smooth (sambas) or quick and passionate. Check it out:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Poll Shows Latin Americans Don't Care about US Election Outcome

According to a survey in 18 countries, two in three Latin Americans either are indifferent about who wins Tuesday's presidential election in the United States or do not think the outcome will matter. According to the poll, 29 percent of Latin Americans think a victory for Democrat Barack Obama would be more beneficial to the region. But 8 percent would rather Republican John McCain be elected.

For more on this, read here.

What happened in Ecuador?

Ecuador’s judicial branch is, “threatened,” according to an Ecuadorian Supreme Court justice. The threat arises from a lottery meant to thin out the Supreme Court . A new constitution, approved last week, approved the act which if executed will take the Ecuadorian Supreme Court from thirty-one to twenty-one justices. The epitome of democracy!
See the CNN headline here: http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/10/28/ecuador.court.ap/index.html

Disney and the Third World

Walt Disney published many cartoons that depicted people from third world countries, especially people not of European descent, as inferior.  These comics such as Donald Duck were targeted towards children but had significant political meanings.  In some comics he portrayed indigenous people in Latin American as sub-human and compared them to what he should to be the superior white American race.  These cartoons seem extremely dated in that I don't think cartoons that are so politically incorrect would be tolerated anymore.

Mob in Peru Protest at Police Station

After 71 people were hurt in a conflict between police and protestors in the south, angry villagers in Peru's northern jungle set fire to a police station in Lima, Peru. The mob had over a thousand participants and took 25 officers captive in San Martin province. It was reported that the mob was angered when police threw tear gas near a school and several children were affected and since mounting unrest has spread to a total of five provinces, as they press a variety of demands with local authorities or the central government.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chile: Achievements in AIDS Fight Marred by Irregularities

Soledad Barria, the health minister to Chile, has resigned on account of the AIDS scandal that has surfaced in regard to the government’s failure to notify people who tested positive for AIDS. Twenty-five people who tested positive for AIDS in 2004 were not notified, and two of them died. This occurred in the northern Tarapacá region of Chile. This carelessness has threatened Chile’s “exemplary image in the field of AIDS prevention and treatment”.

Four of the twenty-five people have still not been notified, as two of them left the country, one is homeless, and another is a mentally ill man. The scandal occurred when 34-year-old Dearnny Aguilar died from an pneumonia. She did not take the antiretroviral treatment that very well may have saved her life. Her husband also died due to AIDS.

The scandal revealed that many people do not return for their results and often provide false personal information. Therefore, this issue is much more complex than governmental ineffectiveness.  The Health Committee in the lower house of Congress is considering improving the 2001 AIDS Law, or making it so that HIV tests are not “voluntary” and “confidential”. 

Sand Theft in the Caribbean

Sand is disappearing in the small islands in the Caribbean, namely Puerto Rico where the sand is being used to finish buildings during this construction boom. Not only will this affect tourism, because who really wants to go to the Caribbean if there are no beaches, but it is also cause for enviornmental concerns. A gulley of sand was dug out that allowed salt water to mix in with a freshwater supply that was on the island, which, because of the salt water contamination, can no longer be used. In addition, the coastal islanders are now much more vulnerable to strong seas and flooding without the barrier of sand. Let's just hope that they don't get hit with too many hurricanes next season. To read more, click here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

FARC Rebels and Hostages

Leftist rebels have agreed to exchange letters with a self-appointed group of Colombians to discuss the possible release of hostages the rebels are holding.
The FARC posted the statement on one of its Web sites. The statement was electronically signed by the group's seven-man leadership council. They were responding to a 9/11 letter by a disparate group of Colombians, where they asked the FARC to write letters to "allow us to identify the terms to set an agenda to clarify the route toward an understanding regarding a hostage exchange." The government estimates the FARC is holding some 700 civilians and military personnel hostage. The FARC says it wants to exchange about 30 hostages for as many as 500 jailed guerrillas held in Colombian and U.S. prisons.


Amazon Jungle Dwellers Discovered

Earlier this year, a tribe of indigenous Amazonians were discovered in Brazil. It is believed that these individuals have never had any contact with the outside world, but threats from the surrounding areas are great. The land on which they reside is constantly in danger of being destroyed and if that happens, we will lose one of only 100 or so remaining isolated tribes in the world. Isn't it incredible to think that there are, as you read this, people living right now entirely
unaware of other humans and society?


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Inequality Revealed

A recent World Bank study showed that between 25-50% of income inequality in Latin America are due to circumstances beyond the control of the individuals when they were children. These factors include ethnicity, gender, birth place, parents' occupations, and education levels. This index, the Human Opportunity Index, measures the percentage of opportunities needed to guarantee children's universal access to basic available services. Though this is not very encouraging information, it does give the world a platform from which to start fixing these inequalities. Read the full story here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cuban EU Relations

Not too long ago, Cuban relations with the United States and the European Union (EU) were severely strained. Now, following a formal signing ceremony with the EU, Cuba has agreed to resume open discussion with the European Union. In exchange for its political transparency, Cuba will now be eligible for much needed humanitarian aid, to reconstruct the country from the devastation left by hurricanes Ike and Gustav. Relations between Cuba and the EU were suspended for five years after the arrest of dissidents. The EU, in contrast to the United States, intends to expand its influence in Cuba. View the entire BBC story here:

Human Heads Discovered in Mexico

Two human heads accompanied by menacing drug messages have been found in central Mexico. A Mexico state police official in Cuautitlan reported that one head appeared in a box that was left in the parking lot of the police station. It came with a message threatening that federal police and members of the drug gang La Familia would be decapitated, said the official.

Read more here...

Indigenous Influences on the Spanish Language

Transculturation has has a huge affect on Latin America from everything including religion, style and agricultural practices. The influence of indigenous words on the Spanish language is an example of this transculturation. The Nahuatl word "cholo" was adopted by the Spanish in Mexico and used as a derogatory word to describe Mexicans. It leiterally meant Mexican dog. Now in the United States the word has been reappropriated by Mexican-Americans to mean somethinlike Mexican gangster. It is interesting how the definition of a word can change by who uses and where they use it.

US Trade Deal With Bolivia Suspended

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice announced yesterday that the US will be suspending a trade deal with Bolivia due to their continued association with drugs and their reluctance to improve anti-drug efforts. This move is anticipated to cost Bolivia nearly 300,000 jobs and also more than $300 million in exports, which would be priced out of the US market. It will be interesting to see how this affects US - Bolivia relations in the long term. Read more about this story here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Violence in Mexico Kills 21 People

Mexico is currently engaged in aggressive warfare against drug traffickers. During twenty-four hours across Mexico, twenty-one people died. A toddler was killed when the car he was in crashed during a gun battle. Four men were shot and killed before a crowd of people at an amusement park.

Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana have experienced almost daily murders as Mexico is overwhelmed by a flood of drug-related carnage. Officials attribute the violence to cartels warring over profitable trafficking routes.

Read more here...

"Kidnapped Voices" steals the hearts of the families of FARC hostages

Herbin Hoyos, 38, Colombian Journalist. He was kidnapped in 1994 for 17 days by the leftist guerilla group in Colombia, the FARC. During his time being kidnapped, the other kidnappees complained to him that journalists, like him, should be doing more the tell other people, other countries about what was going on in Colombia. When he was rescued, he began his radio program, "Kidnapped Voices."

"Kidnapped Voices" is a program that the FARC is almost forced to allow it's prisoners listen to by a request made by Hoyos. Hoyos finds the families of the kidnapped and allows them to talk to their kidnapped family members over the radio. He transmits a new message once a week and has so far transmitted 328,000 messages. he promises to be there at the release of all of thoses kidnapped to deliver the freedom hug and has so far given 11,017 hugs.

People consider him part of the family for all of the help and hope he has given these families. He selflessly claims that he has no social life and works 20 hours a day, dedicating his life to the people who have been kidnapped so that they can stay in touch, somewhat with their families outside. Hoyos claims that his program won't go off the air until the last prisoner has been released.

To read more about this wonderful story, click here

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bolivia's set to vote for new constitution.

Bolivian Congress has agreed to hold a referendum on indigenous president Evo Morales’s new constitution that places more rights into the oppressed majority. Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, stated that he now feels he has fulfilled his obligation to the Bolivian people.

Morales’s administration has often been met with opposition from the middle and upper classes of mixed race. Despite this opposition, the constitution is expected to pass, as voters claim to want an end to the long-standing riots appealing for the constitution, and the issues and failed negotiations that usually ensue.

Morales had promised to only run for one more five-year term if the opposition lawmakers grant their support of the constitution. Both sides had to make compromises after their long debate, and this sacrifice was worthwhile in Morales’s eyes. His campaign in total has been dedicated to bestowing power to the oppressed population, so this constitution is his greatest accomplishment

"Now we have made history," Morales said. "This process of change cannot be turned back...neo-liberalism will never return to Bolivia."

For more information, refer to this link.

Last week I wrote about festivities celebrated in Latin America on October 31st, and today I'll write a little bit about one festivity here in the States that ties the global community together. This upcoming Halloween, trick-or-treaters in the Green Bay area will be distributing chocolates as they go from house to house. Unlike "Most of the world's chocolate," which, "comes from cocoa grown on small plantation farms in Africa or Latin America, where children between 5 and 17 work long hours in hard labor instead of going to school," this chocolates is produced via fair trade. Each chocolate being distributed this October 31st will come along with additional information about other fair trade items. It's important to keep in mind how much hard labor went into those mini pieces of chocolate we so much enjoy acquiring for free.

Source: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20081018/GPG0101/810180665/1207/GPG01

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

más para los golosos!

If you've ever been to Argentina and bought one of these on the street, you've probably been craving for another one ever since.
Alfajores are a a delicious sweet found in cafes and kiosks all over Argentina, as well as in parts of Peru and Uruguay. They usually consist of two soft or hard cookies sandwiched with any variety of jam, chocolate, or dulce de leche and covered in chocolate or merengue (apart from the equally delicious maicena variety, made with corn flour and dulce de leche and caked in coconut). If given the chance, give them a try!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bulletproof Fashion

In Mexico City, a Colombian man named Miguel Caballero has opened a self-named boutique. Its claim to fame? Bulletproof clothing ranging from leather jackets to tuxedo shirts. Security has become a serious concern for even average people in Mexico City, completely unrelated to drug-trafficking. The bulletproof clothing is expensive, but effective. The entire sales staff can attest to that as they have to test it out in order to work there. Some think these clothes are more of a gimmick than they are necessary. Check it out here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

6-Hour Workday in Venezuela

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is hoping to institute a new 6-hour workday by the end of the year. The proposed bill will change the current 8-hour day and will apparently enforce stricter penalties for those businesses who do not follow the rule. Some businesses stated that they will have to cut jobs if the proposal is actually passed, but the legislation will doubtlessly affect businesses in many different ways. Read more here

Friday, October 17, 2008

Police held thirty-four illegal Central American immigrants under custody until an angry crowd of hundreds of people in Mexico attacked the police. They did so in order to protect the immigrants after hearing that police allegedly sold them to human smugglers for $100 each. This occurred in the rural town of Rafael Lara Grajales, Puebla, as police forced the thirty-four immigrants into a van. Rioters set fire to a patrol car, a motorcycle, and a truck, and police responded to this attack with tear gas. 

The migrants were able to escape due to the ensuing chaos, although twenty-one were promptly taken under custody again. Police are searching for the other thirteen immigrants. Central Americans often suffer such abuse while crossing Mexico on their travel to the United States; although on a rare occasion do Mexicans offer such protection to these victims. To read more detail about this occurrence one can follow this link

Constitutions as Living Documents?

People sometimes refer to a constitution as a living document. In the United States this is only somewhat true. We have had the same constitution for 200 years and the amendments are the only parts that have changed over the two centuries. However, Latin America has a history of changing constitutions often. During the post-colonial era liberal governments would write a constitution and then it would be overturned in favor of a different type of constitution. It seems like Colombia created a new constitution almost every ten years during this period. This trend has died down somewhat in current times but at the end of September Ecuador ratified a new constitution. I am not sure if their are any benefits to the constant changing or if it is better to have a more permanent document in place, probably the second one because it offers more stability.

How 'bout that Cuban Oil

Foreign investors, specifically Americans, have been eyeing offshore oil in international waters between Cuba and the United States, for quite awhile now. A problem arises, however, from the trade embargo still being imposed on Cuba. Now petroleum seeking Americans have even more of a reason to covet Cuba’s black gold laden waters. Cuban oil reserves, based on new data, are double what they were originally thought to be, now estimated at twenty billion barrels (comparable to the oil reserves of the United States). Presidential candidate Barack Obama has intimated at less restricted relations with Cuba. Will the United States finally abandon its quasi containment policy in order to exploit Cuba’s oil reserves?
View the article "Cuba claims massive oil reserves" here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7675234.stm

NFL Seeks Larger Latino Fanbase

On October 5th, The San Francisco 49ers played the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City. This was the first NFL game ever to be played outside the United States. This was an attempt by the NFL to gain popularity amoung Latinos in Mexico as well as in the United States. It was estimated that the NFL now has 20 million fans in Mexico. That is more than any other country has combined outside of the US. The game sold out with 45,000 people in attendance. The success of the game may bring more games to Mexico in the future. Maybe other countries as well?

General Sentenced in Human Rights Case in Chile

After killing five dissidents during the former military dictatorship a retired Chile army general was sentenced to six years in prison. General Sergio Arellano participated in the killings during the "Caravan of Death" led by General Augusto Pinochet in 1973 several weeks after a military coup. Arellano led the "caravan" searching for dissidents, killing at least 90 people total. The 88-year old was sentenced by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cuidad Juarez

1,100 + people have been killed so far this year in Juarez, El Paso's across the border neighbor in Mexico. 37 people were killed, just over the weekend. Juarez has had more more murders so far this year than New York and Chicago combined had in 2007. Let's remind ourselves that New York and Chicago have 7 times as many people as Juarez, just to put it in perspective. People from the United States are increasingly afraid to go there. US soldiers are not allowed to go to the bars and nightclubs of Juarez, once popular hotspots for US military and civilians alike. As a result, stores and clubs in Juarez are closing, which, in the long run, will probably result in more people being involved in the bloody drug trade which has caused all of these murders.
After President Felipe Calderon announced a plan to attack and eliminate major drug lords in an effort to curb the drug trade, more and more violence has resulted. The innocent have been killed in the cross-fires and taxpayers must cover the cost of this violence in hospital bills and security. To read more about this sad story, click here

One Immigrant's Story

This past summer I had the honor of working a man named Isaac Marquez. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the time that Isaac left his homeland, El Salvador, in search of a better life in the United States. The inspirational story of his experience was recorded and is something I think everyone should read. Here's the link to the newsletter it was published in: CLICK HERE
This particular article is entitled, New U.S. Citizen Was Determined to "Keep on Going." The other articles in this letter are worth checking out as well.

Caribbean getting pounded by Hurricane Omar

Hurricane Omar weakened Thursday after hitting the northern Leeward Islands in the Caribbean with powerful winds and rain. Shortly before approaching the islands as a Category 3 hurricane, Omar's maximum sustained winds had increased to 125 mph, but slowed a bit to 115 mph after moving rapidly away from the islands. The fast-moving storm was picking up speed, heading northeast at about 29 mph. All warnings and watches were discontinued for the Leeward Islands. Earlier, the 500,000 barrel-a-day oil refinery Hovensa, on St. Croix, was shutting down all equipment, which was to ensure the safety of employees and the operation of the refinery. The U.S. Coast Guard closed the Christiansted Harbor, where the refinery is located, on Tuesday. It will remain closed until the hurricane passes and all facilities are checked to be in good order. Puerto Rico and some portions of the northern Leeward Islands, which includes the Virgin Islands, could get up to 20 inches of rain. The storm is forecast to head into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean after crossing over the Virgin Islands and sweeping past Puerto Rico, but hurricane tracks are subject to variation, and such long-range predictions can change.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ecuador Approves a New Constitution

On September 28th, Ecuador overwhelmingly approved a new constitution with 64% of the vote. This new charter "establishes a new economic and social model that defends a harmonious relationship with nature as a base for national development". According to President Rafael Correa, this new system puts human rights ahead of the free market. It also establishes access to water as a basic right, and calls for universal education, even on the tertiary level.

However, the decision to pass this new constitution was far from unanimous and there is some staunch political rivalry occurring. One of the biggest opponents is Jaime Nebot, mayor of Guayaquil, who, with the support of the catholic church, managed to have his city reject the charter. However, this did not effect the overall outcome. The charter is controversial and ambitious, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future. To read the full story, click here.

Dominican Republic Immigrants

Monday October 13, 2008 the US Coast Guard returned 146 illegal immigrants to the Dominican Republic who were apparently traveling illegal into Puerto Rico. Some of these 146 people have previously attempted to access US borders through the seas, and territories such as Puerto Rico. 11 people are being tried in Puerto Rico by the US Courts for their multiple attempts to get into US territory.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Without Corn, There is No Country

In Mexico, activists are lobbying for the “right to nutrition” to be added to the list of constitutional rights. The motto for the campaign is “Sin Maís, No Hay País”, translating to, “Without Corn, There is no Country”, meaning that Mexico must make nutrition a priority for all its citizens. Currently, there is an estimated 18 million Mexican’s without an ensured food supply, but this campaign is hoping to reconstruct the current systems in place for ensuring nutrition of all Mexicans. One of the most important things they have to do, according to Adelita San Vincente, coordinator of the organization, is lessen their dependency on the United States, in case we ever fail or do not follow through. If that were to happen, 50% of their food supply would disappear. To read the full article, click here.

Vidas Robadas

Human trafficking, especially the forced prostitution of young women, is still a fairly common thing in parts of Latin America. Human rights groups recently have been especially pushing awareness of the issue, and it has begun to appear in the media too (there is a very popular telenovela in Argentina called "Vidas Robadas" about the subject). Read one mother's sob story here.

Haitian Child Servants

In the past few months Haiti has been devastated by multiple hurricanes: Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike. The country's poor are now destitute and those getting by are now struggling. Parents can't afford to feed their children and so as an alternative, they are becoming "restaveks." The term literally means to "stay with" someone else. These children are taken in by families who are better off than their own and the idea is that they will contribute to the household by doing some work in order to earn their room and board and be allowed to attend school. However, in practice what really happens is that they become cheap servants who are underfed and treated as second-class citizens. Very, very few are actually allowed to attend school. It's extremely sad and something needs to be done. When will things change?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Inflation Rate Drops In Brazil

The rate of inflation in Brazil has dropped to the lowest it has been in a year, a recent report states. Consumer price increases dropped to .26 percent, down from .28 percent this August. The drop in the inflation rate follows a four-month long trend that highlights the steady decrease in the inflation rate. Food prices also fell, to .27 percent, making September the second month in a row to have a drop in food deflation. Read more here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Flamenco dance classes are being offered every Saturday and Sunday of October at MC William's Hall in New Orleans. Beginner classes are 11am-12pm and intermediate and advanced classes are 12:30pm-2pm. 

Departure of the President of Peru's Cabinet

Alan Garcia, the president of Peru, acquiesced to the resignation of his entire cabinet Friday. This in response to an oil kickbacks scandal. He did not nominate replacements. Audio conversations about kickbacks for directing government contracts to Norwegian oil company Discover Petroleum have been publicly aired, obviously affecting Garcia's government. Read more here.

Uruguay's Demographics

In my mind I stereotype all of the people in Latin American as being the same race even though they are all from very different countries.  I was surprised to learn that Uruguay is 88 percent white, eight percent mestizo and four percent black according to the CIA World Factbook.  The indigenous population is virtually nonexistent.  I think that this is really interesting and means that the problems that other Latin American countries face with the discrimination of indigenous people are not a big problem in Uruguay.  This information will make me more hesitant to generalize about the people who make up all the different and unique countries in Latin America. 

Violence in Peru

A Maoist-inspired narco-terrorist group in Peru, called, “Shining Path,” has attacked convoys of civilians and soldiers traveling through Peru’s southeast province. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the terrorist organization tried to take control of the government, killing some 70,000 people in the process. When reports of an ensuing government suppression of these narco-terrorist groups was recently released, violence between government soldiers and narco-terrorist groups simultaneously escalated, after a decade of near silence in the Peruvian Andes. Only fraction of their previous influence, the Shining Path is certainly not staging a comeback, but perhaps it would prefer that its relationship with area narcotics smugglers remains unmolested.
Click here to read the BBC article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/americas/7664107.stm

Haitian Bridge to be Rebuilt by US

After this summer's destructive floods in Haiti, the American Embassy has agreed to help rebuild an important bridge that was destroyed. Four tropical storms hit Haiti this summer, causing the collapse of many buildings, bridges, and homes. The Ennery bridge in the hard-hit northern coastal city of Gonaives is set to begin construction later this year. The United Nations has been there clearing away the muck, which has been causing some traffic in crossing the riverbed. The Haitian government and UN are also helping with the rebuilding, but have yet to announce the financial details.