Friday, December 04, 2009
On a slightly more personal note, we have a family friend who works at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Before last weekend's elections, she went to Honduras to visit Zelaya and Micheletti and determine if the Carter Center was going to send officials to observe the election - an act that would legitimize the election. She said that the brazilian embassy was surrounded by soldiers in facemasks and that inside there was a handful of international journalists staying with Zelayas, one of them from Democracy Now! In the end, they decided not to observe the elections.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
This NY Times article discusses the possibility of developing the town of Miches in the Dominican Republic into a prosperous tourist venture. I thought this idea was ambitious and it fits well with our topic for this week.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Check out this article in the New York Times. It's about a group of students who allied themselves with workers from Honduras who had lost thier jobs in a Russel factory when Russel closed the factory overnight. These US students found a way to put pressure on the consumers of Russel goods, like the NBA and their universities. When over a hundred buyers threatened to cut their contracts with Russel, Russel agreed to reopen the factory and rehire all the old workers.
Friday, November 20, 2009
This article tells about the efforts of anthropologists to find and identify the bodies of people who had been kidnapped and executed in Argentina during the dirty war. A trial will be held on December 15th for former officers suspected in these executions. Only recently, immunity laws for those officers were overturned. This reminds me a little of our Guantanamo Bay situation and makes me think we too will one day reconsider investigations into what really occurred in Cuba.
According to this article, Mexico will be pulling out of the recession by 2010. The article says that not only did the global recession and lower oil prices hurt the economy, but also, the swine flu outbreak was an added complication for the country.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I have provided the news article which details the various problems surrounding the closing- the main one being that other nations will not accept the prisoners.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
With our more in-depth look into the darker side of Argentine history, I thought it might be nice to look into a lighter side of their culture. The tango is one of my favorite dances even if I don't know it very well.
Here is a short history of the dance.
And here is a very interesting video of two Argentine performers.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Here's a look at numbers for detainees past and present at the detention center that opened in 2002 at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:
• Currently held at: 215.
• Released or transferred out of Guantanamo: About 565.
• Transferred to the United States so far: One, Ahmed Ghailani, who is awaiting trial in New York.
• Convicted by military commissions at Guantanamo: Three, including two who have completed their sentences, with one now free in Australia and another in Yemen.
• Cases considered viable for prosecution in federal courts or by military commissions: About 65.
• Cleared for release by a government task force as of late September: 78.
Source: AP archives.
I think this will be a very interesting unit because Latin America has often changed its idea of welfare and whose welfare has been important. They have constantly seeked new ways to attain welfare for both individuals, the community, and the nation. This can be seen in part of the original intent of the conquerors who thought religion would help the indigens' welfare and the various social reforms that have occurred in the region.
You might have heard about Tuesday's blackout in Brazil. 60 million people lost power and the government blamed it on a storm. I bet we'll hear more about this because it was so massive. LA Times article
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Since we in New Orleans have been predicted to feel the effects of Hurricane Ida, I thought I should share this New York Times article on the hurricane's effects in El Salvador. Although Ida itself did not inflict much damage, a storm associated with the larger hurricane has killed at least 140 El Salvadorians due to mudslides from excessive rain.
Friday, November 06, 2009
The current situation in Paraguay seems very relevant to our last disucussion, considering the interaction between all three. The current President Lugo used to be a Catholic priest, showing the support for the Church being involved in their government. Then, the military involvement remains obvious as Lugo felt the need to fire many military leaders, fearing a coup against him. The situation resonnates Latin America's instability that becomes even more prevalent with the fear of instability. Lugo could just be causing more conflict by firing these officers. I think Roosevelt's quote during the Depression may have some revelance: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." In some ways, Latin America is so plagued by its history of instability that the region cannot stop being instable.
Since we talked about Venezuela, I figured it might be a nice idea to look more into the country, and I found an article that provided a few facts about the ongoing disputes between Venezuela and Colombia.
Manuel Solis, who served briefly as president during's military regime, died Friday. He was 91.
Solis died at his home from respiratory failure, said Mitchell Doens, the secretary general of the to which Solis belonged.
Solis served as Noriega and then was named in February 1988 after President Eric Arturo Del Valle was fired. He ruled until Sept. 1, 1989.during the military regime dominated by
Doens said Solis fought for Panama's sovereignty and led the movement in the 1940s against U.S. military presence in the Central American country, where the U.S. built and ran the Panama Canal for generations.
His brief term as president ended with the U.S. invasion that ousted Noriega.
Solis went on to serve as education minister from 2004-2009 in Martin Torrijos' administration.
He is survived by his wife and three children.-AP
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I love baseball and since the World Series is presently unfolding, I thought this article touching on the issue of steroid abuse in Latin America, specifically the Dominican Republic, would be especially pertinent. Somewhere between 25% and 30% of Major League Baseball players are Latino or Hispanic. The pressure put on these young boys to break into and then succeed in the MLB is incredible.
Sunday, November 01, 2009
25 films in three days. I want to go.
I also liked the "universal appeal" comment at the end, which I thought was also sticking up for foreign films in general.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
According to this article, Argentina may become the first country in Latin America to allow same-sex marriage. I thought this was interesting considering the debate going on in the US as well.
I find all the ways drug gangs cover up their tracks very interesting. The war on drugs really is such a never-ending battle because there are always new ways to cover up the trade. The technology put into the drug coffin is truly impressive. I cannot imagine being in that submarine thing for two weeks!
(AP)Representatives of ousted finally reached an agreement with the interim government that could help end the monthslong dispute over Honduras' June 28 coup, and possibly pave the way for Zelaya's reinstatement. The Organization of American States announced the deal late Thursday but did not release a text of the accord, in which Zelaya appears to have agreed to throw his fate into the hands of a congress that has largely supported interim President Roberto Micheletti. "We are optimistic because Hondurans can reach agreements that are fulfilled," Zelaya told Radio Globo, an opposition station. "This signifies my return to power in the coming days, and peace for Honduras." The agreement, if it holds, could represent a much-needed foreign policy victory for the United States, which dispatched a senior team of diplomats to coax both sides back to the table. Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, U.S. Secretary of called it "an historic agreement," noting "this is a big step forward for the inter-American system." The agreement appears to soften Micheletti's previous stance that the Supreme Court — which has already rejected Zelaya's reinstatement — decide the issue. Instead, the high court would make a recommendation, but the final decision would apparently be left to a vote in Congress. The agreement would create a power-sharing government and bind both sides to recognize the Nov. 29 presidential elections. The international community had threatened to not recognize the vote if Zelaya is not reinstated, but on Thursday, OAS Political Affairs Secretary Victor Rico told reporters that "the United States and the OAS will accompany Honduras in the elections" as a result of the accord. Clinton said the elections would go forward and the U.S. will work with Honduras to ensure the election is legitimate. The deal was greeted by all sides as a victory in the long-running dispute that has polarized the country and mired it in diplomatic isolation. "Tonight I am pleased to announce that ... I authorized my negotiating team to sign a final accord that marks the beginning of the end to the political situation in the country," Micheletti said in a televised address. The team of U.S. diplomats had worked over the last two days to coax both sides back to the table. "This is a great moment for Honduras, and its people should be proud that Hondurans have achieved this accord," said Tom Shannon, U.S. assistant secretary of state for , who arrived with the U.S. delegation Wednesday. Rico said "they (the negotiators) are the heroes of Honduran democracy ... and this is a great moment for Honduras." The OAS had tried for months to bring the two sides together. Micheletti called the pact a "significant concession" on his part, and said that one point would require foreign powers to drop sanctions or aid cutoffs imposed after the coup, and send observers to the elections. The Supreme Court has already rejected Zelaya's return, saying he was replaced as president on June 28 because he violated the Constitution by pressing for a vote on potential constitutional reforms. Zelaya's opponents accuse him of attempting to end a ban on presidential term limits — something the leftist leader denies. Zelaya, who is holed up at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, the capital, has said Congress should make the decision on his reinsatement, even though he currently enjoys the support of only about a fifth of the legislators. Zelaya was flown out of the country by soldiers on June 28, but slipped back in Sept. 21. It was unclear if he would be allowed to leave the Brazilian Embassy under the deal. The interim government has vowed to arrest Zelaya if he leaves the , and filed a complaint Thursday at the U.N.'s highest court accusing Brazil of meddling in Honduran affairs by giving Zelaya refuge. The International Court of Justice declined to comment on whether it would hear the case, and Brazil's Foreign Ministry said the government was evaluating the complaint. Brazil supports Zelaya's fight to return to power and has not pressured him or his supporters to leave. Earlier on Thursday, police fired tear gas to disperse a march of about 1,000 Zelaya supporters as they neared the hotel where the talks were taking place.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I thought that since we talked about the movie in class, I would give a link to a musical number from The Three Caballeros. The movie was made as a good-will message to Latin America. Overall, I think that the message sent is a positive one of allies and friendship, but even this little clip contains too many stereotypes to count. It's fun to watch though!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Here's the article I read: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/world/16chinaloan.html
It seems funny to me that China, which was built on communism, has such strong and prevalent capitalist skills.
Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles recently signed a deal with Universal Pictures, and this seems to be good news for the Brazilian movie industry. This article gives a lot of information about the cinema experience in Brazil and its declining state. When I was there, most of the movies came from Hollywood while only about one or two Brazilian movies would be in the theaters at one time.
And since we have been exploring in class how Latin American artists use their art as a medium for social comentary, it is interesting to see one of Latin America's most renowned authors, Eduardo Galeano (how also happens to write in the stype of magical realism), making a statement about why the Uruguayans are suddenly ready to stand up against the legacy of the military regime. Galeano said, “We believe that our country has shown in the first years of the Frente Amplio party being in office that we are no longer that country that was paralyzed by fear.”
I thought that with the recent excitement about Rio de Janeiro being nominated as the host for the 2016, it would be a great opportunity to look at the darker side of the city. Despite its reputation for fun and opulence, Rio is a city dominated by the favelas or slums that surround the city which serve as hubs for organized crime, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and prostitution. Recently violence has rocked the city as 32 people have died since this weekend in fighting between Rio police and heavily-armed gangs that battle over lucrative turf within the favelas. The fact that 3 policemen were killed when gang members brazenly shot down (yes- shot down) their helicopter in Rio shows how powerful the favela gangs really are.
If you want a realistic view into the amount of crime and violence that plagues Rio de Janeiro, I would strongly suggest the movie City of God which depicts the rise of organized crime by focusing on fictional criminals, and Tropa de Elite which focuses on the BOPE, the elite military police unit assigned to battle the most dangerous gangs in Rio.
The Medellín Cartel was an organized network of "Drug Suppliers and Smugglers" originating in the city of Medellín, Colombia. The Cartel operated in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Central America, United States, as well as Canada and even Europe throughout the 1970s and 1980s. It was founded and run by Pablo Escobar together with the Ochoa Vázquez brothers Jorge Luis, Juan David, and Fabio.
During the height of its operations, the Cartel brought in more than $60 million per day. The total amount of money made by the Cartel was in the tens of billions, and very possibly the hundreds of billions of dollars. There were many "groups" during the Cartel's years, usually white Americans, Canadians or Europeans, organized for the sole purpose of transporting shipments of cocaine destined for the United States, Europe, and Canada While many "groups" were infiltrated and taken down by Federal agents and informers, a few were stumbled upon by authorities, usually due to some small misstep or careless behaviour by a member(s) of a particular "group".
Once authorities were made aware of "questionable activities", the group would be put under Federal Drug Task Force surveillance. Evidence would be gathered, compiled and presented to a Grand Jury, resulting in indictments, arrests, and prison sentences for those convicted. The number of Colombian Cartel Leaders actually taken into custody as a result of these operations, was very few. Mostly non-Colombians, conspiring with the Cartel, were the "fruits" of these indictments.
Most Colombians targeted, as well as those named in such indictments, lived and stayed in Colombia, or fled before indictments were unsealed. However, by 1993 most, if not all, Cartel fugitives had been imprisoned or hunted and gunned down by the Colombian National Police, trained and assisted by US Delta Force units and the CIA.
Also here is the link for the movie:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0221027/
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
My favorite part of Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquival, was reading about all of the food that Tita would prepare. The one dish that I had eaten is chicken mole. Mole is a Mexican sauce and apparently there are several types of mole, the most known being mole poblano, made with chocolate. It is especially popular in Oaxaca. The site talks about the history of mole, the different types and gives a recipe.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Thought I would post the link to the protest at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. This military training facility has been in Georgia since the 1980s and specializes in training Latin American military in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. Over 60,000 soldiers have graduated from the school and returned to their country, where they use their new tactics against the people of those countries. Common targets are union organizers, student and religious leaders, and people organizing at the grassroots. Latin America has most recently felt the impact of the school in Honduras, where graduates of the SOA planned the coup.
This annual protest will take place on Novemeber 20-22 in Fort Benning.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Here is the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxsFpbyfiZg&feature=related
cooking scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_u2gbvxS1A
I found this article about a fire in one of Sao Paulo's favelas, and I realized we hadn't really talked about these that much in class.
A favela is a Brazilian slum. In the cities, they are extremely compact and feel like a labyrinth. The police usually have little to no control there, and usually, it is under control of one drug lord or another. They are almost completely different cities.
Here is a group of articles about life in favelas, and it also has a few pictures. Just click on them for a different article in the group.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I stumbled upon a post from the Associated Press concerning an ongoing protest in Mexico and have posted it below:
MEXICO CITY – Tens of thousands of people have marched to protest Mexican President Felipe Calderon's decision to disband a public electricity company.
The marchers included leftist groups and many of the 44,504 people employed by Luz y Fuerza, the company that provided electricity toand the surrounding area.
Many demanded Calderon's resignation or urged Mexicans to stop paying their electricity bills.
Calderon disbanded the company over the weekend, citing a gaping budget and operational inefficiencies. The Federal Electricity Commission, which provides service to the rest of the country, has taken over for Luz y Fuerza.
City officials estimated at least 33,000 people showed up to the march Thursday.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Unfortunately, I have no idea how reliable this source is,
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Here is a video clip that features interviews with Honduran citizens:
I found this interesting article that starts out about what the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics will mean for Brazil. However, it gets into more about the state of Brazil and its growth. It has a lot of easily digestible information about expected trends for Brazil.
There is a festival celebrating Latino culture and music this weekend. It will be at Mardigras World, the warehouse across the river. It looks like a really diverse lineup of music from all over Latin America.
Coconut oil is easy to find in Belize, if a little expensive. It makes your beans taste heavenly! If you can't get that, you'll have to use ordinary oil. (Click here to find out how to buy Virgin Coconut Oil.) Heat about 2 Tbsp in a heavy iron skillet and then put the beans in. If they're canned refried beans*, they're already smashed. If you have previously cooked beans, you can put them in and smash them with a potato or bean masher. (A bean masher has a flat plate with holes in it; a potato masher has a wavy bar. The bean masher works better.) Stir the beans and cook them/it in the oil for a while. You can add water and cover and cook for a little while, but mostly, you just have to get the mix into a thick consistency so you can use it to spread on tortillas.
Now, add a half cup of salsa. This can be canned salsa, like the Salsa Casera we have here in Belize, or it can be Old El Paso® or Pace® Picante Sauce. Stir it in until it disappears, cook a little more to marry the flavors, and your refried beans are ready to hold their own with the restaurant variety.
They'll keep about a week in a sealed Tupperware® container; we use them for lots of things, including side servings for breakfast.
* Easier to get out of the can if it has a bottom that works with a can-opener. (Many of them don't.) Open both ends and push out into the pan.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
As I am giving a presentation on Haiti for our next class, I thought it would be good to find an article about Haiti. The article discusses the interest of foreign businesses and banks in investing in Haiti's economy by placing new factories in the country and giving loans to these businesses. It's a bit of a catch-22 though since businesses do not want to invest in a non-stable government but Haiti needs investment to become stabilized.
Photo from NYTimes.com
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Here's a video on the new monument:
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Friday, October 02, 2009
I figured that since our readings touched on Carnaval in Brazil, it would be fitting to put in a post on the subject. However, I was disappointed when it only mentioned Carnaval as done in Rio de Janeiro. In Rio, the Samba schools and parades take a huge emphasis in the celebration. However, this is not how most of the country celebrates the festival. Much of the country takes influences from the Carnaval in Salvador. Instead of watching parades, it is a huge festival with large masses of people and lots of music. There are lots of different kinds of music, but the main kind during this kind of Carnaval is Axe (pronounced Ah-shay). Salvador has the largest Carnaval in Brazil. The Brazilians flock there while most of the tourists go to Rio. Any Carnaval from this style is a sight to behold.
Here is a website with a lot of pictures and a few videos about Carnaval in Salvador. Just beware that the Axe music will play in the background (It really startled me when I opened the website, and my speakers started blaring the music at me). I have not found a way to turn it off while looking at the website.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (CNN) -- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee announced Friday. The announcement brought tears to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief several times in a news conference afterward. "Our hour has arrived," he said. "It has arrived." In Rio, jubilation erupted at the world-famous Copacabana beach, where thousands of people gathered to hear the announcement. Rio organizers promised to start working immediately to make the games a success. "Maybe some of the people tomorrow can rest," said Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman. "I'm not [resting]." Rio beat Madrid, Spain, in the final round. Chicago, Illinois, and Tokyo, Japan, were eliminated in earlier rounds. For Rio, a major appeal was bringing the Olympics to South America for the first time. IOC President Jacques Rogge said in the news conference afterward that in addition to its excellent bid, Rio had the "extra added value of going for the first time to a continent that's never had the games." He also noted that Brazil helped its chances this year when it did not get the 2012 games awarded four years ago. "Rio remained humble," he said. "They wanted to listen, to repair their shortcomings."
More than half of Rio's Olympic venues are built, including state-of-the-art facilities constructed for the 2007 Pan and Parapan American Games: the magnificent Joao Havelange Stadium (the proposed 2016 venue for athletics), the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center, the Rio Olympic Arena (which will host gymnastics and wheelchair basketball), the Rio Olympic Velodrome, the National Equestrian Center and its close neighbor, the National Shooting Center. Rio will hold the games from August 5-21 and its theme will be "Live your passion." According to Rio's bid, the games will be held in four zones with varying socioeconomic characteristics:
• Barra, the heart of the games, is an expanding area of Rio that will require "considerable infrastructure and accommodation development." It will house the Olympic and media villages and some venues.
• Copacabana, a world-famous beach and major tourist attraction, will host outdoor sports in temporary venues.• Maracana, the most densely populated of the zones, will contain an athletic stadium and the Maracana Stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies. Major redevelopment is planned for the zone.• Deodoro has little infrastructure, but the highest proportion of young people. It will require construction of Olympic venues. The city's bid was helped by a strong economy and guaranteed funding. Brazil's economy is the 10th largest in the world and predicted to be fifth by 2016.
Brazil told the IOC its commitment to the Olympics could be seen in the investment already under way in Rio. Maracana Stadium will close next year for two years of refurbishment. The areas around it will be renovated, with improved access and transportation links. The entire neighborhood will be reborn, the Rio committee said, to host the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Work is already under way on the ongoing development of the Olympic Training Center, which includes many of the state-of-the-art venues built for the 2007 Pan and Parapan American Games. This was Madrid's third attempt at hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games. Madrid presented a "very capable" bid, with good transportation infrastructure and a number of venues already in place, said Ed Hula, editor of the Olympics Web site Around the Rings. Madrid's chances might have been hampered, however, by a recent tradition that consecutive Summer Olympics aren't staged on the same continent. The London, England, 2012 Olympics will have happened just four years before 2016. "Although there's no rule against it, the IOC has yet to award consecutive summer games to the same continent since 1952 in Helsinki," Hula said. Brazilian President Lula da Silva was joined by soccer legend and Brazilian native Pelé as they advertised the benefits of a Rio games. An animated Lula da Silva, surrounded by Rio supporters, said at a news conference after the announcement, "Among the 10 major economies of the world, Brazil was the only country that had not received the Olympic and Paralympic Games. For us, it will hardly be our last Olympics. For us, it will be an opportunity to be equal. It will increase self-esteem for Brazilians, will consolidate recent conquests and stimulate new advances."
Thursday, October 01, 2009
I found an article about Latin American politics that's on a much lighter note than usual. The "celebrity", Rafael Acosta, ran for a Congress position for another person. When he won the election, he changed his mind about giving up the position, only to change his mind again a few days ago. He was sworn in today and gave the position away within hours as originally agreed upon.
"The Zapatistas have crafted a revolutionary political discourse – a vernacular dialogue fashioned out of poetry. Over the last fifteen years they have released hundred of communiqués that condemn repression in the Zapatista territories and around the world, that present alternatives and tell stories that are rich with allegory and wit. These stories are clever yet simple, using characters like Old Antonio, a wise old Zapatista who supposedly died in the 1994 uprising, and a proud beetle named Don Durito to mock the empty rhetoric of the politicians and dismantle the machinery of the dominators into a simple language accessible across class, race, and language. And thanks to the internet and a few translators, the number of people these stories reach around the world has been unbelievable.
In one story, Don Durito gives his two cents about the trap of freedom presented by the Powers. Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, the author of the majority of the Zapatista communiqués, writes, “Durito puts a vase with water on the little table, which is made of sticks, tied together with liana, and he says, ‘The Powers tell us, for example, that we have to choose between being optimists or pessimists. The pessimist sees the glass as being half empty, the optimist sees the glass as half full. But the rebel realizes that neither the vase, nor the water which it contains, belong to them, and it is someone else, the powerful, who fills it and empties it at his whim. The rebel, on the other hand, sees the trap. But he also sees the spring from which the water issues forth. (Subcomandante Marcos. “Durito and One About False Options.” Chiapas and the Zapatista Rebellion, Documents, Communiqués and Images from 1994 to 2004/5. March 2003. )
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Given recent events in Honduras, I'd like to revisit the whole context of this crisis and offer some of my own opinions which have been germinating for a while.
First, let me starty by suggesting that the situation in Honduras was and is not as clear-cut and black & white as folks either on the left or the right have made it. Here is some food for thought. First, regarding the original claim by the coup supporters that Zelaya was seeking to establish the mechanism for instituting a Hugo Chavez style dictatorship in his own country, I think it is important to note that Zelaya was not specifically attempting to extend his term of office. In fact, what gets obfuscated in the polemics, is that what Zelaya had actually proposed was to insert in the upcoming election a ballot measure that would have been a binding referendum on the Honduran people's opinion regarding support for calling a constitutional convention with the purpose of reviewing the constitution and perhaps proposing amendments to the constitution, one of which would have included the Constitutional provision that limited a President to one term in office. The Supreme Court ruling against Zelaya was that it was illegal for him even to propose a "binding" referendum. So Zelaya then changed the measure to be a "non-binding" resolution. Whether or not one thinks Zelaya was simply playing fast and loose with the intent of the Supreme Court's ruling is another question. (And I happen think Zelaya WAS playing fast and loose. But, hey, that's politics!) However, that said, in a country governed by the Rule of Law, the next step would have been for the Supreme Court to decide on the legality of this "non-binding" referendum. But they never got that far before the coup took place. Secondly, contrary to what is currently circulating among much of the uninformed punditocracy and blogosphere, the Honduran Supreme Court did not order Zelaya arrested and deported. That's simply an untruth. The Supreme Court declared Zelaya in violation of their original ruling and thus subject to arrest and a subsequent trial for this violation of the ruling. In other words, the Supreme Court basically declared Zelaya to be in contempt of court. What the Supreme Court did not do was to authorize any particular authority to arrest Zelaya. It did not call for the military to detain Zelaya. And it certainly did not order, nor did it condone, his unwilling exile from the country under force of arms. That was done unilaterally by the Honduran military with some vocal support by members of the Honduran Congress.
Second, the Honduran Constitution is unclear on who actually IS the proper authority to arrest a President accused of illegal activity and what is the proper way of bringing to trial a President so-accused. There is nothing in the Honduran Constitution that affords the Congress or the military any authority to act in the way that they did. In this regard, the Honduran Constitution really is a badly-flawed document. Neverthelss, the proper way to deal with this lack of clarity in such situations in a liberal democracy is not for the Congress to make a power grab, as it did, in its struggle with the Executive; but rather for Congress to legislate a process whereby a rogue President is brought to trial and formally impeached.
With regard to the formal U.S. government position on the coup, I would say that the this position is not one of being pro-Zelaya and anti-Supreme Court, as some critics of the U.S. response have argued, but rather one of being pro-democracy versus anti-democracy. Here's the thing: how "democratic" can a country be considered if there are articles of its constitution that are simply un-amendable? Heck, even the most hallowed articles of the U.S. Constitution are not presumed to be un-amendable. Popular sovereignty (i.e. government of the people, by the people, and for the people), not to mention freedom, requires that no constitutional provision be sacrosanct such that it is exempt always and everywhere, forever, from popular sanction and approval. Imagine if the framers of the U.S. Constitution had written a provision into the document that basically stated that only property-owning white males had the right to vote in elections and that this provision could never be amended or repealed, and that any effort to do so would amount to treason. That is, in essence, what the Honduran Constitution says about Presidential term limits. There is something to be said (and perhaps not all good) about the quality of Honduras's democracy and the nature of freedom under a constitution that cannot be amended in some parts and which parts are thus completely and utterly beyond the scrutiny of the people whom the Constitution serves.
Finally, I would always urge folks to think about what is proper conflict resolution between the co-equal branches of government in a liberal democracy. If we would not tolerate the manner of dealing with our own President in the way that Honduras has dealt with its own President, then there is an inconsistency within our own notions of what constitutes proper democratic governance. And when it is coupled with the idea that Honduras can't be expected to live up to the same standards of democratic governance that we in the U.S. would expect because Honduras is, after all, a third world banana republic, then this inconsistency is also very relativist, not to mention patronizing. We should always expect that our democratic allies would not simply have the military round up the country's President in his pajamas, force him into exile, and install a new government over the course of 24 hours. The question I keep asking folks who supported this coup: Would we tolerate this if it happened in our own country? Or in Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Australia, etc.? I doubt it. And why is that? The answer to this question is simple: we fashion ourselves as people more accustomed to dealing with such crises through a strict adherence to the Rule of Law and never through a reliance on the force of arms, much less through the use of the national military.
In short, if anyone supports a military ouster of a President, a President who was never given a fair trial under due process of the law with the right to mount a legal defense in a legitimate trial in front of a duly constituted jury, however that process might take shape, just because Honduras is a third-world basket case that doesn't know a better way to deal with such problems, then shame on you. We should expect more from our Democratic allies, and not settle for the REAL third world basket case solution (i.e. a military coup) that actually took place.
All this is not to say that I support Zelaya or even that I like the man. Frankly, I'm not much of a fan of his, nor do I think he's operating with any measure of sincerity himself. He certainly has demagogic and anti-democratic tendencies like Hugo Chavez. But, even still, I can't claim to be an advocate of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law if I accept the manner in which Zelaya, who, for better or for worse, was the duly-elected President of Honduras, was removed from office and thrown out of the country.
For a good summation of the case against the ouster of Zelaya on constitutional, and legal procedural grounds, go here.
I love the Olympics and was immediately drawn to this NY Times article. Rio de Janeiro is one of four cities left that is still in consideration for the 2016 Summer Olympics. 1968 was the last time the Summer Olympics was held in a Latin American country (Mexico City, Mexico) and 1992 was the last time the Summer Olympics was held in a Spanish speaking country (Barcelona, Spain). Brazilian president Lula da Silva is in full support of the Olympic bid for his country as is 85% of Rio's residents. Rio is hoping to use its status as a future Olympic site to improve and upgrade its infrastructure, attracting more tourists, much like Barcelona did in 1992.
(Photo from nytimes.com)
Monday, September 28, 2009
Since our LAST class is discussing a novel next week written by the famous peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, I began to read his biography and provided an excerpt below:(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Vargas_Llosa)
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmaɾjo ˈβarɣas ˈʎosa]) (born March 28, 1936) is a Peruvian writer, politician, journalist, and essayist. Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America's most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading authors of his generation. Some critics consider him to have had a larger international impact and worldwide audience than any other writer of the Latin American Boom.
Vargas Llosa rose to fame in the 1960s with novels such as The Time of the Hero (La ciudad y los perros, 1963/1966), The Green House (La casa verde, 1965/1968), and the monumental Conversation in the Cathedral (Conversación en la catedral, 1969/1975). He continues to write prolifically across an array of literary genres, including literary criticism and journalism. His novels include comedies, murder mysteries, historical novels, and political thrillers. Several, such as Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (1973/1978) and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977/1982), have been adapted as feature films.
Many of Vargas Llosa's works are influenced by the writer's perception of Peruvian society and his own experiences as a native Peruvian. Increasingly, however, he has expanded his range, and tackled themes that arise from other parts of the world. Another change over the course of his career has been a shift from a style and approach associated with literary modernism, to a sometimes playful postmodernism.
Like many Latin American authors, Vargas Llosa has been politically active throughout his career; over the course of his life, he has gradually moved from the political left towards the right. While he initially supported the Cuban revolutionary government of Fidel Castro, Vargas Llosa later became disenchanted. He ran for the Peruvian presidency in 1990 with the center-right Frente Democrático (FREDEMO) coalition, advocating neoliberal reforms. He has subsequently supported moderate conservative candidates.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I ranke these guys skill-wise with artists like Esteban and Eric Clapton when it comes to acoustic guitar. And their earlier heavy metal style playing is evident in their fast-paced playing and covers of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica's "Orion." My personal favorite is "Satori." I would definately recommend Rodrigo y Gabriela to anyone who has ever been a fan of acoustic guitar. Here's a link to their website:
I recently found this article about a mass grave found in Colombia.
Colombian officials had found 17 bodies in a ranch of a now deceased militia leader. The bodies had shown signs of torture and were dismembered. The article also mentions that they were likely killed due to drug-related conflicts of interests between some guerrilla groups. Over 2,500 bodies have been found in Colombia in such graves since 2005.
I thought that this would be a nice tie-in with one of the articles for next class about the drug situation in Latin America and just how far and deep this problem goes.
talked about "Why Poor Countries are Poor." I found it interesting
that one of the theories we discussed is the idea that countries,
especially those in Latin America, that only produce agricultural
products, will suffer due produce's inelastic demand. Thus no matter
the wealth of the United States, there won't be a higher demand for
bananas if wages go up. I just thought it was an interesting theory of
why Latin America seems to be stuck in a perpetual state of economic
Friday, September 25, 2009
Democracy Now! has done an awesome job at following the coup in Honduras. As most probably know, Zelaya returned to the country a few days ago, finding safety in the Brazilian embassy. While it is unlikely that the Honduran military would enter the Brazilain embassy for fear of making a real enemy out of Brazil (a much bigger country one might note), the military has been finding other ways of retaliating - mainly by arresting many and killing a few of Zelaya's supporters.