Monday, March 31, 2008

Bend it like Evo!

Bend it like Evo!

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia has become a member of the Litoral second division soccer league in LaPaz at the age of 47. President Morales has a lot to thank soccer for, including his health and his political career. Morales began playing soccer as a young boy where he caught the eyes of leaders of Bolivia’s largest coca-growers union as he played as a member of the coca-growers team. He was later appointed the head of sports and eventually became the union president. From here his professional career in politics began. Morales is a huge supporter for soccer and has fought against FIFA, which would not allow any games to be played in Bolivia do to the high altitude, and has even hosted a charity match in the capital of Bolivia against the Argentine team led by retired superstar Diego Maradona. Morales continues to succeed as a great soccer star and Bolivia’s first indigenous president elected in 2005. Litoral may rise as Bolivia’s top professional league it can manage to survive a long series of qualifying tournaments this year.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cubans can now have cell phones

You mean they couldn't have cell phones before?? Wow. Anyway, Raul Castro announced that cell phones will now be allowed. However, they will be very expensive, especially considering that the monthly salary of most Cubans would barely cover the cost of a cell phone, plus the exorbitant 60c a minute national rate. Castro hopes that this and other measures will appease people's desire for deeper change.
AP article
video

A Chilling Story from Brazil

A minor in Brazil admits to the murders of 12 people. Police are still investigating whether or not he is telling the truth, but the detectives were frightened of the boy's calm story.

CLICK HERE to read the whole NY Times article.

XUXA!

Remember learning about Xuxa, the Brazilian model/children's show host? I randomly found this clip of her American children's show from the 90's appropriately titled Xuxa. It did not receive as much success as her shows in Latin America; however the it was sold to many other countries including Japan, Israel, Russia, Australia and a few Arab countries. Here it is, enjoy!">

Restoring the Past

This is an interesting article about the restoration of old Cuban buildings in Havana. I know that here in the United States, preserving the past is becoming a huge deal and so I can understand why a rich historical country like Cuba is doing this. I find it very interesting also how many people in Cuba do not like the ideas of this restoration.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/06/world/americas/06havana.html

Out with the Old and In with the Old. Technology in Cuba...


There is a new sensation sweeping the nation, the world, the universe. We are all apart of it. Even you reader. You are a blogger! As we speak, you are participation in this new and revolutionary take on journalism, blogging. However, Cuban bloggers are having a much more difficult time participating because of guess what... governmental censorship. Cuba censor? No way! But its true. Here is a blog about a Cuban blogger and her troubles with censorship. And here is the Cuban's blog which is host to a Cuban women's complaints about life on the island. So that makes this entry a blog about a blog about a blog. VIVA BLOG!

Puerto Rican governor pleads not guilty to corruption charges

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080328/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/puerto_rico_governor;_ylt=ArTcbdIoCbdBIjRzDvcYJwK3IxIF


Governor Anibal Vila pleaded not guilty to corruption charges stemming from shady campaign financing, and was released today to the cheers of many of his country's flag-waving citizens. He was charged with 19 counts of corruption that could lead to a maximum of 20 years; specifically, he was accused of having illegally borrowed money to pay off a half-million dollar debt. He is also the first Puerto Rican official to be charged with federal crimes since the island became a US commonwealth in 1952.

Colombia offers to free rebels in Betancourt swap

Columbia launched an all-out effort to free politician Ingrid Betancourt on Friday, offering cash and reduced jail terms to leftist guerrillas in exchange for releasing her after years of captivity in jungle camps.

Betancourt, a French-Colombian national snatched by the rebels during her 2002 presidential campaign, is reportedly suffering from malnutrition and hepatitis B.

President Alvaro Uribe, a conservative U.S. ally, said his government will maintain a $100 million fund to pay rewards to guerrillas who free any of the hundreds of kidnap victims held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or FARC

"We will resolve their legal problems and offer financial compensation," Uribe said on Friday.

Venezuelan Media Conferences

During the coming days in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez predicts that a "great debate" will occur between two media conferences that will "dissect" the Venezuelan government's dealings with freedom of speech and press issues. The two conferences that will be taking place over the weekend are the meetings of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) and the "Latin American Meeting on Media Terrorism." The IAPA is predicted to be very critical of Venezuela's, more specifically Chavez's, handling of media issues; in the past the IAPA has accused Chavez of using the government to bring "trumped-up" charges against journalists. The "Latin American Meeting on Media Terrorism," which is comprised mostly of Chavez supporters, is expected to report on the distorted image that is portrayed of Venezuela and Hugo Chavez in the global media. Chavez is right when he says that there will be a "great debate," and it will be interesting to see what comes out of both of these conferences. Perhaps it would be better to find some way to combine these two conferences into a single entity in which a civil discourse can occur that would address and possibly solve some problems, as opposed to meeting with people who all have the same general beliefs.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080328/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/venezuela_media

Travesti


I'm reading an enthography right now in my anrthopology of gender class titled Travesti by Don Kulick. It's about transgendered prostitues in the Brazilian city Salvador. It is incredibly intriguing, disturbing, and very informative. The author spent 12 months living in with these travestis exploring their everyday lives and the thought processes of the indiviuals and the travesti culture within a larger context of Brazilian racial, sexual, and ideological culture. I definately recommend this book to anyone interested in Latin America.

Follow Up on Cuba Presentation

When I gave my presentation on Cuba, I remember someone asking if Raul Castro would follow in his brother's footsteps. Well I found this article on CNN.com that shows that Raul Castro might be open to giving the Cuban people more freedom. A news story mentions that Raul Castro is lifting the ban on cell phones and allowing all Cubans who want one to be able to own a cell phone. Previously this luxary was reserved to those who worked in foreign firms or held key positions in the communist state. Though this is just a minor step, it shows Raul Castro being open to allowing the Cuban people more independence.

Also for a little entertainment I found a YouTube clip of the king of Spain telling Chavez to shut up. Since we talked about it on Wednesday I figure I would post it for all to see. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB_fvVLdmRI

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Zelaya comiendo melón

A recent report by the FDA claims that imported Honduran melons have been responsible for fifty cases of salmonella across sixteen states and parts of Canada. Although there are no reported casualties, the incident has certainly affected the lives of the 1,500 workers who were fired after the Honduran company was forced to stop shipments to the United States. The matter is serious enough to compel the president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, to eat a melon on television in order to downplay fears of contaminated melon. He claims that the FDA’s claims are an error, but, in reality, the damage has already been done as it will take more than a brave stunt to restore confidence among US importers. This incident underscores the importance of agriculture for the economies of Latin America.

The video of Zelaya enjoying a melon:

McCain without Chavez' Support

Apparently Chavez doesn't approve of John McCain, the likely Republican candidate for the 2008 US presidency.

As the MWC News Network reports, Chavez can be quoted saying that "Sometimes one says, 'worse than Bush is impossible,' but we don't know." The article goes on to explain that Chavez has intentions of improving their relationship with the US via the new president.



In Chavez' words, McCain is could prove to be "worse" than Bush because he "expresses the same mentality that has characterised the "terrorist" Bush administration" according to the article.



Interestingly enough, he prefers the relationship before the current administration. Chavez said that he hopes "for the level of relations we had with ex-President Clinton."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Same Name, Different Man

Fidel Castro's brother, Raul, is Cuba's new leader, and he is doing his best to try and appease the residents of Cuba but relaxing the import rules that are typically rather strict. Because of this stringency, for many years, people in Cuba have had considerably less to consume than other comparable countries. But now, Raul Castro has made moves towards allowing more goods to enter the market, which will no doubt put a dent in the black market, and hopefully weather some of the illegal activity that goes on there. The rift between the government and consumers and producers is still large and there is a long way to go until all parties will be appeased. Here is an article that speaks to this fact:

http://worldblog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/03/13/766046.aspx

Food price soaring worldwide

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080324/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/fighting_for_food;_ylt=AoAWPezKroLxktJxGafLe_C3IxIF

Since part of the discussion for this week is about the cost-benefit of economic development vs. land preservation, I found this article somewhat apropos.

According to agricultural experts, the price of food has been rising due to freak weather, increased consumer demand in India and China, higher oil prices, and depleted food reserves. The price of spaghetti, for example, doubled to fifty-seven cents in Haiti. But food worldwide is undergoing a similar upward shift; according to the same experts, they are expected to stay at higher prices for at least 10 years.

This relates to Latin America in that if they are able to produce more goods, they can capitalize on the increased demand and make a much greater profit. Even if production were to remain the same, they could still see more money coming their way. This could lead to further development of the land in order to make crop production more feasible, as well as possibly starting a boom cycle in the Latin American economy.

BRASA em NOLA


This weekend, Tulane University is hosting the 9th BRASA or Brazilian Studies Association Conference. The conference will start Thursday and run through Saturday. Students from all over the country, and even from Brazil will be visiting to listen to and give presentations on their research. There will also be music and dance performances which will surely be worth watching.

Here is the link with the schedule of events.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Haunting Past Shadows San Diego's Rob Jones

The San Diego Toreros' Men's Basketball forward Rob Jones, in the midst of an incredibly successful season that saw San Diego upset West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga for the conference title followed by a first round upset of University of Connecticut, is making a new name for himself and his family. His grandfather, Jim Jones, former leader of the Peoples Temple Cult, is widely known as the orchestrator of the Jonestown mass suicide in the South American jungles of Guyana.

Jones' father, Jim Jones Jr., was the famed cult leader's adopted son, and was absent from the day of mass suicide because of his participation on a traveling basketball team. Since that time, Jim Jones Jr. has held a sense of guilt due to basketball, but his son, Rob, has helped to ease that pain. Needless to say, as common as the name "Jones" is, this family has a very interesting family history.


See full article here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rivalry Revisited

You can already feel the intensity between soccer fans of the United States and Mexico when one speaks of the upcoming match between the countries. But wait, this match is not scheduled to happen until February 6, 2009. Why the drama? After defeating Mexico for a spot in the second World Cup, the U.S had to wait 46 years before it tasted victory again in 1980. Since then rivalry grown as the U.S. first challenged and then began to dominate its southern neighbor. Ahead of the February 6 match in Houston FoxSoccer.com tracks some of the significant recent encounters between the regional rivals. This match is guaranteed to bring all the drama and passion that soccer fans worldwide love.

Goal !

At the Olympic qualifying games in West Palm Beach, Florida five soccer players and an assistant coach belonging to Cubans national soccer team became refugees in the blink of an eye. The players saw this as an opportunity to make their dreams of becoming professional soccer players come true. On Tuesday night on of the players had his grandfather pick him and his teammates up and bring them off in the night. This had been the plan of several of the players for some months. Although the defection of Cuban athletes from international competitions is not uncommon, the sudden departure of seven players and an assistant coach at a qualifying tournament for the Olympic represented a stunning rebuke to the Cuban government.” Cuban’s communist youth union newspaper Juventud Rebelde called the defectors dishonorable in its story “Low Blow for Cuban Soccer.” Because of the lost of several of its players including the goal keeper, captain, three defenders, and midfielder, Cuba lost to Honduras 2-0 after its tie with the U.S. (while all the players were present). They now face close elimination as they prepare for Panama.

The dreams for the boys to become professional athletes, where in the U.S. they could average $85,000 annually compared to $8 a week in Cuba, has taken a halt. Luiz Muzzi, the general manager of Miami F.C., a professional team in the United Soccer Leagues’ First Division, was quoted in the Miami Herald as saying he planned to hold a tryout for the players. But Friday afternoon, he told The New York Times that he would not be doing so. “It is a political situation. They’re not legal in the country yet and we’re against any athlete leaving in the middle of a national competition. Right now our position is that we can’t offer them anything.” Miami F.C. is owned by Traffic Sports, a Brazilian company that organizes soccer events like Copa América and qualifying games for the World Cup. According to their lawyer they plan to apply for a political asylum which under the U.S. policy they would receive because they entered to country on legal terms. Nothing has been heard from the assistant coach at the moment.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dead Dog Beach










Located on the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico, in the town of Yabucoa, Dead Dog Beach is a place where animals are often abandoned, sometimes poisoned, shot, etc. In 2002, the PR Hotel and Tourism Association found that the island loses $5 million a year because of the stray cat and dog problem. After years of international outrage from animal welfare advocates, the government is finally taking action to correct the problem. $1.5 million will be used to start shelters; police will be trained in how to handle pet cruelty cases; and the tourism agency has formed an Animal Welfare Committee to pressure the government to continue action. The photo is of street dogs in Barceloneta, PR. International Herald Tribune article

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Legalize Coca

In Bolivia President Evo Morales want to to spend upwards of 300,000 dollars to invest in and develop legal markets for the coca leaf, the source of cocaine. Morales, a former union leader in the coca growing industry, announced the plans in Chapare, a coca growing region in central Bolivia. Morales hopes his plan to invest the coca leaf in legal markets such as tea, flour, and medicines will limit the crop's use in the drug trade. Much of the international community including the general body of the U.N. and the U.S., do not like Morales' new policy toward the coca leaf because it is regarded by most as a "Schedule I" narcotic, the most illegal of all drug categories which includes cocaine, heroin, and opium among others. It will certainly be interesting to see how Morales' new policies work and what the international reaction will be.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080312/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/bolivia_coca;_ylt=Atl8YQn.5bJJN7UA2JOJOFy3IxIF

Effects of the Dirty War echo still today


As you all will hopefully remember, Argentina experienced a Dirty War during its military regime, when dissidents "disappeared" and were tortured. Some of these "desaparecidos" were parents, and their children were illegally adopted out to families, often military or political families. This past week, one woman has pressed charges against her adoptive parents to 25 years imprisonment for concealing her identity and falsifying adoption papers. [ AP article ]

>> An interesting movie that explores another perspective of this topic: "The Official Story" (1985), which we watched last semester, if you're interested.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Defection

After the report on Cuba, I went onto the New York Times and saw that seven of their national soccer team players and an assistant coach had defected. This is not the first time that national team players have defected but it is one of the largest incidences. I think that this is good for the people now that they can live in a country that allows them freedoms they may not have been granted in their own country. I am still worried, though, about the backlash from Cuba and the way that the U.S. will handle the situation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/15/sports/soccer/15soccer.html?_r=1&ref=americas&oref=slogin

3rd Brazil-US Colloquium on Communication Studies

Hey guys,
So on March 25th and 26th (the tuesday and wednesday we get back from spring break) there is going to be a colloquium about consumerism and citizenship in the United States and Brazil. It offers a wide array of topics such as panels dealing with culture and media, markets and economy, politics and citizens, and comparative studies. Though these topics are placed within the communication major, it covers issues that we talked about in class. One of the topics discussed will deal with how to create a national identity when all of the media one is consuming is made in the United States. It should be very interesting and give an interesting look at how media influences a Latin American country. To find out more about the colloquium and view abstracts of the papers being presented go to:
http://www.tulane.edu/~intercom/index.htm

Latin America taking care of the World's Economy

According to CNNMoney.com, Latin America has been carrying the world's economy lately.

As the dollar value drops and the US slips into what may became a recession, and while Europe's economy has also be down, Latin America has been picking up the weight.


According to Nick Beecroft, a portfolio specialist, Latin America's commodities are "red hot" making exports such as "oil, gas, steel, ore and metals" more affordable and easier to finance.


Although given our class discussions and our general knowledge of economic and its cyclical nature, this won't last forever. Latin America and the world economy will enjoy a "boom" for a while.


Brazil gets 'beefy' with US and Australia

JBS S.A., Brazil's giant beef company, recently negotiated a $1.7 billion deal with US and Australia. This will make JBS the largest American beef company over Tyson Foods.

CLICK HERE to read the full NY Times article

Unwelcome visitors


It seems that the effects of deforestation are being felt in Belem, Brazil in a disturbing (but somewhat amusing) way. Apparently, the clearing of trees in the surrounding rain forests has resulted in the displacement of all kinds of animals, including anacondas. Driven from their homes, the snakes have been making their way to Belem and are now plaguing residences all over the city. They might not be venomous, but as the movie “Anaconda” clearly showed, they can certainly kill a man if tempted to do so. This problem underscores the environmental problems that we were talking about in class and the challenges that Latin American nations face in dealing with the resource of land.

You can read the article here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Soccer Players Defect


As of today, seven members of the Cuban Under-23 soccer team have defected while in Tampa. The team finished playing against the US in an olympic qualifying game. The next game, tonight, is against Honduras, and with only eleven players left on the team, it is unknown how they will perform. This news brings to light the reality that many Cubans face, even after the stepping-down of Fidel. I found it extremely interesting that the general manager of the Miami MLS team scouted the Cuban players at US-Cuba game on Tuesday because, according to him "anytime a Cuban team comes to the United States, there's a chance someone might defect." The picture above is of the first five known defectors who are currently in Miami seeking political asylum.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

All is well

I know a couple people have already posted about this (including myself, for last week), but I just wanted to follow up about it. I think it is very interesting to see how quickly Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela have seemed to calm their demeanors after the breach of sovereignty that occurred last week. They were all fired up about last week, but it seems that they have reached their peace over the issue. It make one wonder if their reactions were a little much, when they resolved their problems so easily. My previous post made mention of how this event reflected how important land is to the identity of a nation, but I now pose the question: are these countries really concerned about their land with regards to their national identity or are they using their land as a way to appear to be a tough guy? It seemed as though Ecuador wanted to "pound its chest" (as Mateo deftly said in class) after there was a slight infringement on its territory. It is certainly up for debate. Here is an article that talks about their resolution:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/03/10/venezuela.colombia.ap/index.html?iref=newssearch

Monday, March 10, 2008

Colombian Border Attack

This situation reminded me of Simmons' article on Territorial Disputes. The tension between Venezuala and Colombia was caused by Colombia's cross-border attack on a rebel base in Ecuador. It's amazing how fast the dispute has supposedly been resolved. It seems that the resolution rests on alterior motives, and I wonder if this is a shaky foundation for patched-up relations. The whole incident reflects many issues in Latin America concerning inter-regional trade, third party abritration, and political stability.


http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/03/10/venezuela.colombia.ap/index.html#cnnSTCText

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Come and get it !

Hola mi hambriento amigos, do I have some new and exciting for you. Latin-American Filet Mignon with Avocado and Jicama Salsa. I know what you’re thinking but it is that easy. Let’s begin with the ingredients:

2 ounce filet mignon steaks (or more for those with a big appetite)
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ripe tomatillos, husked, rinsed and diced
1 medium jicama, which is a Mexican potato, peeled and cubed
2 avocados, peeled and cubed
1/2 red onion, sliced
6 red grape tomatoes, halved

You should begin preparing your meal by first:

Preheating oven to 450 degrees F. Season filet mignon steaks generously with salt and pepper. In a heavy, ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Pan-sear the steaks, only on 1 side, for 2 minutes until a crust forms. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 10 minutes or until cooked medium rare.

To prepare the salsa: Toss together the tomatillo, jicama, avocado, red onion and grape tomatoes. Pour half the chimichurri sauce into the salsa and toss gently to coat. Serve the steaks, crust side up, with salsa and remaining chimichurri. Chimichurri is a sauce originally from Argentina that is used as a marinade for meat. To make your own follow these procedures

Chimichurri:
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1/2 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt

To prepare the Chimichurri: Combine garlic, jalapeno and lime in a small bowl. Whisk in vinegar and olive oil. Stir in parsley and cilantro. Add salt, cover and let stand 2 hours to allow the flavors to marry.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Civil War

After suffering through years of civil war in Guatemala, the people may finally get some new information. The president of Guatemala has said that he will release "war archives" that span over nearly four decades of civil war. This is a huge step toward moving on from the tragedies of the past. After over 250,000 people had gone missing, the war documents are long overdue for those looking for closure. Maybe, the people of Guatemala will finally be able to see what happened to their missing loved ones: the government took them hostage.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7264174.stm
The University of California Television has posted a very interesting video on Rigoberta Menchu. It covers a speech of hers addressing various humanity issues. Although its about an hour long, at 22:00 minutes she discusses the human relationship with "mother earth." She explains that natural disasters aren't really "natural" and that often times have causes in the actions of people. She relates this to creation/evolution and global warming.

South American War?

I have been reading a lot about the Columbia-Ecuador-Venezuela conflict that has recently come to the forefront of the Latin American, and a couple articles I read even suggested that a South American war could break out, simply due to the fact that all three of these countries have so much at stake. From what I read, and the facts I see, I personally do not believe that a war will break out. This article i chose to post talks about the recent Latin American Summit Meeting that was supposed to be focused on universal issues, such as energy use, but instead the conflict seemed to have taken precedent. All three leaders of the countries seemed to have harsh words for one another, with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Rafael Correa of Ecuador ganging up on Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, for his so called breach of sovereignty. I think this conflict has a lot to do with the theme of "People" because if Columbia did in fact break Ecuador's sovereignty they were failing to recognize Ecuador as a People. If that were the case all the time, and happened all over the world, there would constant chaos. People are the most important sovereign entity in the world, and that needs to be preserved at all costs. Here is the article, check it out....


http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/03/07/america/colombia.php

At Last! The President in the Ghetto...

I read this article about President Lula of Brazil launching a new social program in the slums of Rio which hopes to transform the whole favela, or ghetto. It is hard to argue that reform like this isn't long overdue. The favelas are extremely dangerous places. Listen to this fact:
Between 1987 and 2001, 467 minors were murdered in Israel and Palestine combined. In that same time 3,973 minors were killed in Rio de Janeiro alone.

This project plans to build 4,000 new homes and replace 2,000 more. It will widen the avenues, improve the sewage system, and build school, community centers and a post office. It also includes a overhead cable car system to transport inhabitants up and down the favela. This will create hundreds of jobs for the community.

Check out this youtube video to get an idea of what the favela looks like. The footage from the helicopter is the best.




A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Sensationalism is, without a doubt, the driving force of today’s media. The media coverage of the current diplomatic crisis in Colombia is indeed a great example of the shameless disregard of facts and honest reporting in favor of apocalyptic scenarios aimed at boosting ratings. I am following the situation closely, and I cannot help but be frustrated by the endless hypothesizing of an all-out two-front war, an American intervention, and other outcomes that assume that Latin Americans are not able to resolve their conflicts peacefully. The truth is that war is the most unlikely of scenarios. To begin with, Colombia and Venezuela are too interdependent. Colombia relies on Venezuelan oil and Venezuela imports 60% of its food supply from Colombia. Chavez must realize that a war would also disrupt his oil infrastructure (a prime target in a war) and would therefore cripple Venezuela’s unstable economy, an economy that is already suffering from high food prices and a 22% inflation rate. Moreover, Chavez’ popularity has been declining in recent months and a war would most certainly turn the people against him. There are other reasons, and this article delineates them, but the bottom line is that, unless some unexpected event were to catalyze a conflict, war is certainly most unlikely.

More Conflict in Latin America

While searching for something to post this week, I came across this video about Columbia and Venezulan tensions. Raul Reyes was killed by the Columbians because he was thought to be a revolutionarie. Venezuala on the other hand called him a revolutionary and now is going to fight Columbia with the aid of Ecuador. Though it is two countries fight against one, Columbia has the better advantage because their army is bigger and is backed by the U.S. government. Columbia also has the support of the U.S. To hear this full story go to :



http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/03/06/rugman.colombia.venezuela.itn

Thursday, March 06, 2008

In Haiti, people starve while food rots


There is so much red tape in Haiti's customs that food actually rots in the ports, never reaching the people. Many charity groups donate tons of food, but after sitting for months waiting to be processed, it is no longer suitable to be eaten and is eventually thrown away or burned. The problem is that Haiti has been a transfer point in cocaine trade due to its corrupt customs. So now that they are trying to reform this, it's getting to an extreme level of bureaucracy and food is trapped in storage while people starve. Isn't this outrageous?
Caption for the picture: "A man puts rotting pinto beans in a bucket to throw away in a private yard inside the port of Cap-Haitien, Haiti, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008. An Associated Press investigation found the situation is most severe at the port in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second-largest city. One recent afternoon, garbage men shoveled a pile of rotting pinto beans that had turned gray or crumbled to dust as cockroaches and beetles scurried about. The men had found the putrid cargo by following a stench through stacked shipping containers to one holding 40,000 pounds of beans. It had been in port since November.(AP Photo/Evens Sanon) "

Chavez's rebel ties discoverd via seized laptop

After a raid on a Colombian rebel camp in Ecuador, investigators found a laptop that implicated Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for his role in working with rebels to undermine the Colombian government. The primary reason for this, it is suspected, is because of the Colombian government's ties with the United States. According to the discovered files, Chavez has been in league with the rebels for over 10 years. But the information goes beyond just Chavez; it shows that the rebel leaders have been in contact with people from all over the globe, including Europe and the United States. Venezuela's official position is that the documents are forged, but they bear electronic signatures from many of the top members of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the oldest and most prominent rebel movement in South America. I won't delve into more details, but the article delineates some of the more interesting files found.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080306/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/colombia_farc_laptop;_ylt=Am1PO6x1r8XIBHHsqgRteJm3IxIF

Haitian Hunger

In a recent article that we read about the restavek system in Haiti, the problems of hunger and malnutrition were key factors that influenced parents' decisions to send their children to other families. As parents decide to send their children into slavery, shipping containers full of food in Haitian ports go rotten because of bureaucratic red tape. "So many times, by the time the food gets out of customs it's expired and we're forced to burn it," said Susie Scott Krabacher, whose Colorado-based Mercy and Sharing Foundation has worked in Haiti for 14 years. "The food is there. It is available. It just can't get to the people." When I read this quote in the article, I found it unbelievable that literally hundreds of thousands of pounds of food such as beans, rice, etc. are left to rot mere miles away from the people who are in desperate need of such amenities. There is much talk to reform the slow nature of Haitian customs policies, which ironically were enacted to protect the country and its people from the illegal drug trade from countries such as Columbia. I just thought it was very interesting and unfortunate that the solution to many people's problems is a few miles away, sitting untouched in a shipping container.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080306/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/haiti_rotting_cargo;_ylt=AuFH4sHbjcifUg10gxOCPlS3IxIF

OAS passes resolution on Columbian raid

The organization of American States passed a resolution hoping that it would ease the tensions between Columbia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. The dispute began when Columbia’s military attacked a rebel camp in its neighboring country Ecuador. This attacked has caused Ecuador to cut off any relations with Columbia and has also caused other neighboring country Venezuela to move troops to its border. As stated by in the article “the OAS called the attack a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ecuador and of principles of international law and noted that it led Ecuador to break relations with Colombia.” A commission was ordered by OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza and his four appointed ambassadors to brainstorm ideas which will bring the nations closer together. Columbian officials have apologized for taking action against the leftist Revolutionary army of Columbia into Ecuador but made it clear that the act was necessary to take action to the threat of Columbia’s national security. Tensions flared more as Columbian officials suggested that they had contained evidence that the governments of Ecuador and Venezuela had met with the group and Chavez gave $300 million to the rebels. These accusations were denied by Chavez and other government leaders. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted that he saw little chance of war between the nations but if such actions were to take place the United States would not need to assist its Columbian allied. Why do you believe this is so? OAS officials are to meet March 17 in Washington to review the facts and make recommendations.



Rebels: The Next Generation





I just read this article from the New York Times about cyber-rebels in Cuba. Basically, young people are using the technology of the internet to spread information that the repressive Cuban government tries to keep out of the public eye. Some of these cyber-rebels use blogs with servers from other coutries to write about their opinions on the government while others spread news by trading memory sticks and flash drives. I was amazed to find out that the citizens of Cuba are not allowed private access to the internet. They must go to cyber cafes (Old Havana apparently has only one) where someone supervises your internet activity and you are limited to only a few minutes. This article really blew me away. Imagine not having access to international websites, or possibly worse, facebook.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

¿Juanes? ¿Quién es?

I was reading through some articles and almost skipped over one talking about "Latin America's biggest rock star." Maybe I am ignorant of much of the Latin American popular music scene, but as a lover of all music, I had to look him up. I had never heard of Juanes before reading this article about his upcoming tour, but I searched on YouTube and found a video of him performing with the Black Eyed Peas. Pretty cool stuff.

Article Link about his upcoming tour

Latin American Funk

For all of the music fans out there, spanning from Reggae, Hip Hop, Pop, Jazz, and Rock, Latin American music is the way to go. These and many other genres, offer the rhythm and style of your favorite style of music with some unique Latin American Funk. One of my favorite Latin American based bands is Ozomatli. They perform various styles of music such as hip hop, rock, salsa, jazz, and many other great styles that feed off of the funk and flavor of the Latin American style of music. So if your ever in the market for some new music check out Ozomatli.

You can check out Ozomatli performing "After Party" at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15ZFLhM9F_c

Monday, March 03, 2008

Peru's Dina Paucar

We read about Dina Paucar a very popular, Andean Indian, music sensation in Peru a couple weeks ago in one of our global studies articles. I wanted to see what kind of music this was and what Peru's "Beautiful Goddess of Love" looked and sounded like, I found this music video.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

New Bolivian Constitution, if passed, would give indigenous groups more power


Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, has proposed a new Constitution, which could be approved in a May 4th referendum. There is quite a bit of opposition, however, because critics claim that the proposed constitution gives too much power and autonomy to indigenous groups of Bolivia. By the way, Evo Morales is the first indigenous president of the country. Another proposed change in the constitution would cap land ownership. Morales is in favor of agrarian reform that would redistribute "idle or fraudulently obtained" land to the poor. The opposition was mad because Morales' supporters blocked them from attending the congressional session, so that the May 4th referendum was passed, the 28th of February, with no debate! Apparently the conservative opposition had been blocking the efforts for a few months, so Morales finally found this solution. Doesn't sound very democratic to me.