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.