Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Brazil denies any threat of terrorism


Brazil continues to deny that terrorism is a threat to the country or a concern to Brazilian authorities. Though they have made several arrests on potential terrorism-financiers, these suspects have been brought in on lesser, unrelated charges. Brazilian law enforcement continues to take actions to counter this threat, though they deny that it is a worry. According to this Wikileaks article, U.S. officials believe this denial is an attempt to protect Brazil's international image and the country's Muslim and Arab communities.

"Queen of the Pacific" released with no charge


Mexican judge Fernando Cordova has released a woman described as the "Queen of the Pacific", a main leader of Mexico's most powerful drug cartel, the Sinloa gang. Her aquittal is just one of many in this war against drugs, in which almost all of the suspects brought into custody have been released.

Cuba continues to detain American


An American contractor has now been held by Cuban authorities for over a year without being formally accused of any crime. Although the Cuban government suspects he is a spy, he has yet to be charged. On the one-year anniversary of his arrest, the U.S. State Department released a statement declaring that the continued detention of this man is extremely detrimental to the already precarious U.S.-Cuban relationship. The U.S. government has vowed to do everything it can to bring this contractor home.

Crackdown in Rio de Janeiro


Rio de Janeiro police forces secured 118 arrests at the conclusion of a two-week crackdown on drug cartels inthe city. Troops are now stationed throughout the city, specifically in these slum districts, for an indefinite period of time to protect the residents.

Wikileaks reveals doubt in Mexican government's effectiveness in combating Drug Wars


Wikileaks cables have been released revealing the doubts of U.S. diplomats in the ability of the Mexican government to effectively handle the drug wars still raging in the Latin American country. The Mexican army has been called unorganized and outdated, while the government's strategy is ineffective. This damaging information could hurt the reputation of Mexico internationally. Both Mexican and U.S. officials have denied the validity of this information.

10 More Mexican Killings


In Ciudad Juarez there have been 10 more deaths unrelated to each other. This makes 28,000 people that have died in Mexico due to drug violence since 2006 when Felipe Calderon assumed office.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Leader of Drug Trafficking Group Arrested in Mexico


The supposed leader of the main drug trafficking group of methamphetamine in Mexico, La Familia, has been arrested by Mexican police. Jose Alfredo Landa is being interrogated and held in a Mexican prison. What I find interesting is the insistence of this well-known drug gang that it is in fact protecting Michoacan, the Mexican state which the group is based out of, from other drug gangs. It has proclaimed the upholding of family values, and ironically condemned the consumption of hard drugs- but with no mention of the trafficking of such drugs.



Discussed in this article is the release of confidential conversations between U.S. diplomats about certain Latin American countries by Wikileaks. Some of what was said about these countries was negative criticism. I have to agree with the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia, Michael McKinley, who condemned the release of these private conversations. The fact of the matter is that such conversations and criticisms take place between the diplomats of every country, and are necessary to maintain peace between the nations of the world. These conversations were meant to be private, and should stay that way.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Republicans See Hope for Larger Latino Vote

Republicans are getting more and counting on more on Latino votes.

Cool Capoeira Video

This video shows two Capoeiristas from the group Senzala de Santos.
Reminds me of the Capoeira lesson we had in class

Mexican Drug War



This article discusses the positive impact that the DREAM Act would have both on the young illegal immigrants currently living in the United States and on modern American society. The author concentrates on the effect that the passing of this act would have on one youth in particular. However, what I found to be most interesting was the opinion of Benny Martinez, director of the Texas League of United Latin American Citizens District 10: “Undocumented students should go to school. Children who are not educated end up falling into a life of crime, prostitution and drug peddling. It will cost the government lots more to incarcerate than to educate,”.
Martinez makes a wise and valid point that, regardless of whether these youths are legally allowed to live in America, their presence cannot be ignored. They will grow up to become a significant part of American society- it's up to the government to decide if they will be given the chance to become educated contributing citizens or doomed to a struggling, uneducated life and remain a detriment to society.


Same Sex Marriage in Latin America


Last year in December, Alex Freyre and Jose Maria di Bello were wed in Argentina, becoming the first officially wed gay couple in Latin America. The legal consequences for their action have actually proven to be positive for the gay community in Latin America. The marriage was challenged, and a judge in a Buenos Aires court found that a ban on gay marriage is illegal. Though this decision has been contested, it is still a great step ahead for gay rights advocates. I hope this trend continues and that social homophobia becomes an idea of the past, like the idea of the Earth being flat.

Caradiru Prison


This article about a massacre inflicted upon inmates by guards in Brazil's largest prison in 1992. A riot broke out, and 111 prisoners were killed. Though many of the deaths were from inmates, many more were likely from police and prison guards. According to the article, 102 bullets were fired. The guards claimed that many were already killed and that they were acting in self defense. From the article: "In the archival images we collected, we see one inmate partially decapitated and another with a hole in his chest the size of a tennis ball. That doesn't exactly scream self-defense." The prison was notorious for its rough conditions, even violating many international human rights. It was demolished in 2002.

Latin American Radio

I have been listening to more and more music from Latin America and during my search I came across this great online radio with music from all countries and different genres:


Technology Brings Tensions to Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Google Maps is bringing about tensions between Costa Rica and Nicaragua:


The Deportation Case of Bernard Pastor


This article discusses the decision of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement that Bernard Pastor, an 18 year-old recent high school graduate currently residing in Cincinnati, Ohio will be forcibly returned to his native land of Guatemala. It is now up to his lawyer, Firooz Namei, to prove that Pastor should not be deported.
This case hits home with me for several reasons. First, these events are taking place in my own hometown of Cincinnati. My own high school competed against the school that he attended, Reading High School, in several different sports. Secondly, Bernard Pastor is a normal teenager (exactly my own and most of my classmates' age), just like all of us. He was an honor student, as well as an amazing soccer player. Regardless of whether he is technically a legal American citizen, this place is his home. Pastor has been living and thriving in this country since he was 3 years old, and most likely knows no other home. He has been a contributing part of his community up until this point, and shows promise for the future.
I don't know if Bernard Pastor has the constitutional right to live in this country-my knowledge of such laws and statutes is thoroughly limited-but I do believe he has the right to attempt to prove that he deserves a life in this country as much as any legal American citizen.
The drug wars in Juarez have become so severe that hospitals have had to establish their own security system in order to protect their patients. The security system in the Thomason hospital utilizes metal detectors, guards, and a SWAT team with live amunition to keep assasins from attacking the victims they had intended on killing. Investigations in El Paso have shown a startling number of deaths from the drug war alone. Kevin Kozak states, "Juarez looks a lot like a failed state...". This also indicates that the war against drugs is only increasing the problems citizens face as a result of drug gangs stepping up their own defense in response.

One of the things i find interesting about the Tango genre of music is that it originally reflected a negative, pessimistic mood in the songs until the 1910s when it reached America. Tango music then transgressed into a more positive, yet sensual mood. It is interesting how the influence of America reformed the style of music.


Haiti Votes May Be Valid?

This video caught my eye after hearing from our guest lecturer Mr. Guerrier and learning much more about Haiti. I thought it was interesting to be able to get a peek at what voting was like for the Haitians and what the candidates think about the possibility of irregularities with the votes. I hope that this election can go smoothly and Haiti can prosper, but sadly I have my doubts. Here's the link to the video:


The Tico Times

Something that is very important to me is my experience in Nicaragua. Working with kids and bonding with a host family is something I will never forget. When I found this website, www.theticotimes.net, I was very excited because it can give news directly from Nicaragua AND in english which is always nice. When exploring the news stories one that caught my eye was a story about volunteer work being done in Nicaragua. The article follows both a retiree and a young adult right out of school, and their experiences with volunteering with children in Nicaragua. I connected very much to this article because I was in an almost identical situation. Working with these kids in rural Nicaragua changed my life, and through the article you can tell that their experience is changing their lives also. I'm glad to see that people are learning about Nicaragua through the children and bringing their knowledge to the rural communities. I will continue following this site with information on Nicaragua and the volunteer work happening there. I truly hope to return someday.


BP sells stake in Pan American Energy to Bridas

I was immediately drawn to this article when saw BP in the headline. I'm glad to see that BP is doing something to pay debts caused by the oil spill.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Latinos become focus for US army recruitment - 10 Oct 07

The US army persuades Hispanics in California to join the military.

Should Illegal Immigrants Go To College With Less Tuition?

In this CNN article, an issue regarding the education of illegal immigrants from Latin America is addressed. It was mentioned in the article that California is allowing illegal immigrants pay In-State tuitions whereas students from out of state actually have to pay more. To see the complete article,click me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Brazilian Favelas Raided by Government

The Brazilian government recently sent heavily armed forces into the "lawless" slums of Rio De Janeiro to drive out powerful drug traffickers. This article connects the drastic action taken by the government to their desire for peace and order during the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

"Night Raid Expected in Lawless Rio Slums"

Plant a Billion Trees


This is a nonprofit organization that aims to conserve the Atlantic Forest. The Atlantic Forest is now only 12 percent of it's original size. Most of the deforestation is due to general human expansion. This includes activities such as farming, urban expansion, and illegal logging. I have found several nonprofits that have a focus on Latin America, but this one is particularly appealing because of its focus on progressive green thinking. The premise of the organization is that an individual can donate a dollar and the organization will plant one tree in the Atlantic Forest. I believe the simplicity of the plan here is key, and because of it anyone can be involved. Thinking about it, one dollar is also a very cheap price for the environmental benefit. With that one dollar, the organization is able to pick the most effective tree choice for the area, buy the seed, and actually plant it. This seems to be a very money-efficient setup. As far as non eco-related benefits go, the reforestation of the area will help bring money to million of people and create thousands of jobs. Overall I am very impressed with this organization and its ease of access to the world's population, which I think will allow it to become one of the most successful green programs.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Mexican-American Paradox

The War on Drugs combined with American foreign policy has created a paradox that undermines the purposes of both. The War on Drugs is fairly simple. One of it's three main components is that the US will do whatever it takes to shut down flow of drugs into the US. This creates tension between the US and Mexico because of the drug cartels that are largely responsible for the amount of drugs floating around in the western hemisphere. The drug cartels are also the root of much of the violence that is hurting Mexico. Violence is one of the main ways the drug cartels are so successful; they are outside the government's control. However, the success of their rule also owes gratitude to the US. The US is by far the #1 exporter of guns and weapons. Arms trade to the Mexican cartels has mostly been underground. However, most of that underground economy is knowingly supplied by US arms dealers. The trade is simply generally done here and shipped to the cartels, rather than directly dealing with the drug lords. The US is only increasing its tension with Mexico by allowing such trade to happen. The black hole of international policy and nation resources, AKA the War on Drugs, only exacerbates the problems these policies pose. By supplying the Mexican gangs with guns, the US only contributes to the problem and prolongs the suffering of Mexican citizens.


Saturday, November 20, 2010


Though Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected leader, his actions are progressively becoming more and more like those of a dictator. Now he is trying to shut down last remaining television channel that opposes his actions as president. Though Chavez did rid his country of the corruption that drove democracy out of Venezuela, he brought a new kind of democracy that has degenerated over time. Now he silences his opposition, falling into the classic model of a dictator. I've read very little on Chavez before today, when I read an online biography. It's really interesting to me that he has been re-elected so many times. The article didn't give much information on the circumstances of the elections, i.e. how equally each party was advertised in society or whether the polls were fair. The article said the elections were overseen by two noninterest groups, one of them being the Carter Center, run by Jimmy Carter himself. If the elections had nothing rigged, it makes me wonder about the people's impressions of him and of the opposition running against him. Either way, he is still around now in 2010, nearing 2011. This will make his twelfth year as president. His actions seem to have become more suppressive as time has gone on, evident by this most recent shut down. A population that can't have a balanced view of the their ruler can't have choice of their ruler, and I am personally disgusted by this most recent development.

This article was a surprising find. It talks about armed forces starting some sort of revolution in Bolivia. They've declared their regime to be socialistic, against imperialism, and anticapitalistic. It's also interesting to note that Evo Morales is defending their stance. Here's the full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/noticias/2010/11/101118_bolivia_ejercito_polemica_socialista.shtml

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Smallest man ever to have lived

, Nelson de la Rosa, finds true passion in dancing:


Possibly the most humiliating event in primordial dwarf history

for more on primordial dwarves:

Mexico's Women on Canvas


"Cuba in Revolution"


Cholera Outbreak In Haiti

After our discussion about Haiti in class, I was inspired to do more research about the state of the country after the earthquake and the growing problem of the Cholera outbreak. Here is an interesting article about the problems officials are facing with the public:


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pais Vasco

This was really interesting so I thought I'd share!
In my spanish class, we recently had a discussion about a el Pais (country) Vasco which is a small section on the northern border of Spain where a group of people want Independence from Spain. They have their own language (Euskera or Vasco) and a culture very different from the majority of Spain. In fact, because of the political disagreements over becoming independent, there are even terrorist groups that attack civilians as a way to make a statement. Their differences, as in language, make them pretty distinct as they are probably descendents of people from Georgia. I was surprised that this entire people existed that I had no idea about. It just goes to show how big the world really is.

Pais Vasco

This was really interesting so I thought I'd share!
In my spanish class, we recently had a discussion about a el Pais (country) Vasco which is a small section on the northern border of Spain where a group of people want Independence from Spain. They have their own language (Euskera or Vasco) and a culture very different from the majority of Spain. In fact, because of the political disagreements over becoming independent, there are even terrorist groups that attack civilians as a way to make a statement. Their differences, as in language, make them pretty distinct as they are probably descendents of people from Georgia. I was surprised that this entire people existed that I had no idea about. It just goes to show how big the world really is.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Hispanic Literature

What Latin American blog site is complete without mentioning Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Of all the latin american literature that I've read, it's definitely my favorite and a popular classic too. If you've already read it, I would advice you to take that extra step and read the spanish version of the novel. It's definitely a challenging read but it's much funnier than any translations. My AP Spanish class in high school worked on certain chapters but I hope to eventually finish the entire thing. Other authors and poets I would recommend are also Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pablo Neruda and Federico Garcia Lorca. Neruda's poem "Oda a la Alcachofa" was funny to read and pretty creative with his personification of vegetables. If you're looking for a shorter piece of literature such as a play, I would definitely recommend Lorca's "La Casa de Bernarda Alba." A play with a more modern twist would be "La Casa en Mango Street." The play was amazing and I'm sure anyone with an interest in hispanic culture would love it too.

I hope you guys enjoy these recommendations!

Cholera in Haiti

Cholera has been suspected in Haiti since October but officials have just confirmed that the outbreak has reached Haiti's capital, Puerto Principe. There are about 100 suspected cases in the capital. The country overall has had 544 deaths and 8,000 people enter hospitals for treatment. I was surprised to see that there hasn't been more coverage on this outbreak since Haiti has had so much international aid since the earthquake. Cholera is also a very serious disease with a pretty high mortality rate. The entire article can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/ultimas_noticias/2010/11/101109_ultnot_haiti_colera_capital_amab.shtml.

On one hand, it is slightly understandable that a disease of such potency would spread very quickly in a nation that is still recovering. After the earthquake I know that most people lost their previous level of water quality and overall sanitation. Regardless, it is still extremely unfortunate.

Brazilian President's New Economic Measures

Here is an intriguing article about the implementation of new economic measures in Brazil, preparing for a change in government:

Monday, November 08, 2010

Mexico's Desperate Attempt to Stop Drug Trafficking

This is an interesting slideshow from the New York Times, showing the burning of tons and tons of marijuana by Mexican authorities in an attempt to "send a message to the traffickers."


Venezuela's Global Population

In class, we have been discussing how Latin American countries are affected by the ever globalizing world; it's hard to wrap our heads around the fact that immigration is not just taking place on our southern border, but all over Latin America as well. Here is an interesting article about the surge in the global population immigrating to Venezuela:


Monday, November 01, 2010

Salvadorean Cuisine

After eating at La Macarena, I feel Salvadorean food deserves its own blog post. Anytime I go to La Macarena, I order its papusas. The papusa is very much a Salvadorean specialty. It consists of a hand made tortilla that contains cheese and pork meat ground to a paste consistency. Generally there are also beans, salsa, and a mix of vegetables. These can be put on top of the papusas or cooked inside them. At La Macerana they also include banana cream (I think that's what the waiter said?) and fried banana peppers. This dish is absolutely to die for. Their horchata is also excellent. Horchata is a drink made of pulverized rice, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and water. Variations exist from eatery to eatery but, I promise, it will all be good. Another traditional dessert is etol de elote. It is made of water, cinnamon, and sugar, and corn. Through quite a long process, the corn is broke down and blended with the boiling milk and water, with cinnamon being thrown in at the end. It makes for a very thick and creamy drink. Tamales de Elote are also common. They are basically the same tamales as everywhere else except that the corn they are made with has a higher starch content.

More recipes can be found here:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Latin Leaders Question Legalizing Marijuana

I found an interesting article about the response Latin leaders have about Proposition 19, the law that would legalize marijuana in California. This article focuses on the leaders at a Colombian summit where Mexican and three other countries presidents discussed this controversial topic. The Latin leaders are against the proposition in the fact that it contradicts the efforts that both the US and Central American/Mexican leaders have been working on to stop the drug trade. I agree with the worries that these Latin leaders bring up. How will we be able to control the use and trade of marijuana just within state lines. We have seen the violence that the drug war in Mexico has caused, and I don't see a benefit to adding to it. I definitely think this proposition is against the worldwide anti-drug effort.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Latin Leaders' Reactions California's Possible Legalization of Marijuana

Here is a rather interesting article about officials in Latin American countries, especially Colombia, speaking of the implications of the proposition in California that, if approved on November 2, would legalize marijuana in that state. Many officials feel that if this goes into effect, the United States foreign policy concerning drugs in Latin America would need serious reform.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pot-Pie : PA Dutch :: ??? : Latin American

I grew up with a lot of cultural dishes from my family's heritage, that I absolutely love and crave while I'm down here away from my family. I went home for fall break, and however short a stay that was, my mom made me two different dinners of my choice - beef vegetable pie, and ham pot-pie. I absolutely love these dishes, and I don't know how I made it so long without them. :P
For me, German/Dutch foods are what I know, they're what I grew up with, and I didn't know they were part of my heritage until I was in school with other kids who didn't know what hog maw was (fyi, it's a baked pig stomach stuffed with pork/sausage and homemade bread stuffing, with all the fixin's. yummmm.) To some, that sounds really gross and that it should be an ancient meal, and honestly, I don't eat the stomach lining - but the elders in my family do. I realized when I went home, that I grew up around so many foods like this, and my heritage and ancestry wasn't even overtly a huge deal to our family. It made me think what the Latin Americans and the like, who have a great deal of pride in their heritage, grew up with.
I remember watching a True Life on MTV (I know, how cliche) that was about Latin American families and how their culture really played into what they ate and how they celebrated - with food. So I researched a little bit about what foods are culturally prevalent and tried to find an easy recipe. I hope someone can enjoy a meal like this, because I'm on my way to becoming a poor college kid who eats like a real German only when she's home.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Antisemitism in Sao Paulo

The municipal government in Sao Paulo, Brazil are now requiring that all public schools teach about the Holocaust due to a recent surge in crimes against the the Jewish community in the city. Apparently neo-nazi groups in Sao Paulo have been steadily growing in popularity the last couple of years. I had no idea this was a problem in Brazil and this article certainly opened my eyes:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cidade de Deus

"City of God" is one of my favorite films of all time. It takes place between 1960 and 1980 Cidade de Deus, a suburb not far from Rio de Janeiro and depicts the life of a teenage boy caught between three corrupt sides in a war sparked by obsessions over money, women, weapons, and power.

The tagline is "Fight and you'll never survive... Run and you'll never escape."

Here are two trailers, the first one is definitely worth watching



The Cost of Homes in Haiti

The headline of this article that reads, "$900,000 for a 3-bedroom ... in Haiti", really caught my attention when browsing the recent news from Latin America. This very interesting article showed the extreme increase in housing prices in Haiti after the earthquake. The issue is that there aren't enough houses for the people left homeless. Even the middle and upper class families are living under tarps because even they can't afford the prices to rent/buy the few houses that survived the quake. It's very sad that even the millions of dollars of aid haven't made a dent in the housing situation. No one has a solution to the issue as of now, but hopefully the Haitians will experience relief in the coming months.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chavez Weakened

Here is an article from the LA Times that discusses the newest elections in Venezuela and their results, and their potential to weaken Chavez's political power in the country:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chilean Miners

The last of the 33 trapped Chilean miners were rescued today after being trapped since August 5th. I was so shocked to find that they had been trapped for so long. Here is the article from BBC Mundo: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/noticias/2010/10/101011_1732_chile_mineros_tunel_fin_reforzamiento_jg.shtml
In order to rescue the miners, 15 tubes were connected in order to create a 90 ft. rescue tunnel. This was necessary because of the risk of collapse if the miners were to escape without any protection. The miners were originally trapped because of an earthquake, causing the mines to become unstable. I'm glad that most of the miners made it out alive but also shocked that it took the Chilean government so long to organize and complete this rescue.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Premio Nobel de Literatura (2010)

The 2010 Nobel prize in literature was recently awarded to Peruvian writer and politician, Mario Vargas Llosa. Some of his works include "La ciudad y los perros (1962)" (The city and the dogs) and "Conversación en la Catedral (1969)" (Conversation in the Cathedral). The specific reason why he won was described as being for his "mapping of structure of power and scathing portrait of individual resistance, rebellion and defeat." The award itself included about $1.5 million and will actualy be presented on December 10, 2010.

For more information on Mario Vargas Llosa or to see the article, check out the BBC link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/noticias/2010/10/101007_vargas_llosa_nobel_literatura_aw.shtml

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Girl Wins Lawsuit Over a Hot Pink Dress in Brazil

I found an interesting article from Brazil about a girl who was expelled from school for wearing a hot pink mini dress to class at her college in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. Not only did she sue the college and win $20,000, she's became a local and an internet celebrity. She's even coming out with her own clothing line! Read this ridiculous but interesting article at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101006/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_brazil_short_dress;_ylt=AkYRbXfFn.CdcwEWC3aeJni3IxIF;_ylu=X3oDMTJzN2tnbTlzBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAxMDA2L2x0X2JyYXppbF9zaG9ydF9kcmVzcwRwb3MDMjMEc2VjA3luX3BhZ2luYXRlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDYnJhemlsY29sbGVn

Clown is Elected to Brazilian Congress

Here is a very interesting article about a clown being elected to the Brazilian congress, and allegations now coming forward that he is illiterate could lead to him forfeiting his seat:

Monday, October 04, 2010

News From Bolivia

Hey everybody! So I was looking through Latin American News on Yahoo today, and I came across this. Apparently soccer is taken pretty seriously down in Bolivia! Check out the atricle and video on this link. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101004/ap_re_la_am_ca/lt_bolivia_morales_kick

Ernesto Guavera

I knew very little about Che until I read this. He is a nearly universal symbol for rebellion and freedom, but do you know what he did to get himself that kind of reputation?


Celebrating Heritage (con familia)

I was searching for something interesting about this month being LA Heritage Month, and when I typed in "Latin American Heritage..." to google, I looked at the predictive options that show up underneath and something caught my eye. Underneath "... month" there was "... camp" and I know how I love camp, so I checked it out. This link is for a bunch of nationality heritage camps for adoptees.
I really like the concept of summer camps for kids who are in some aspect different from most of the other kids they live and interact with on a daily basis. In fact, I've attended one every August from the past 10 years and don't see myself ever missing a year. Granted, my camp is for diabetics (and I really do have a love for the place and program) but I figured that these heritage camps would function along the same lines: tailoring its activities so the campers feel like they are one of many, many kids who deal with the same things they do. I know at my diabetes camp (Camp Setebaid) we have time set aside for checking our blood sugars and everyone does it. All the campers are diabetic, and most of the staff is, too, so it helps that you aren't the exception for once. Being at camp is like being normal for that week because EVERYONE knows how to deal with diabetes and they'll all look out for you, and share stories of their experiences - bad and good - but it makes you feel at home. The friends I have from camp are some of the closest friends I have ever made, and we really do bond over everything we do at camp - diabetes-relatede and not.
But anyways, back to the heritage camps: I think it's awesome that kids who are adopted have a place (at least in Colorado - ironically where one of my diabetic friends moved to this summer after camp) where they can feel normal - even if they are the only Latin American, or whatever race, in their home. I can relate to these kids in an unexpected way, but it's really comforting. At Setebaid, we learn new ways to cope with and treat our diabetes, and I'm sure at these heritage camps the campers learn new ways to celebrate their heritage, from other campers and from the staff, just like I did. All in all, these camps are a wonderful counterpart to other summer camps that take everyone (but better for the kids who are unique because they finally feel like they have a family just like them).

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Music and Culture of South America

As I was searching the internet for an interesting article, I found this website that is all about the culture and current music of South America. Check it out-it's definitely something to bookmark!


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Che Guevara

Recently, I started a project on Che Guevara for my Spanish class and thought it would be interesting to share. Most of us know that he is an international figure as a rrevolutionary but specifically, he was an integral factor for Revolutions in Cuba and Bolivia. Originally though, Che (whose actual name is Ernesto), studied in Buenos Aires and was a doctor. Later, he travelled around the majority of Latin America and found himself in Guatemala when Presiden Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown. This sparked Che's interest in revolutions. He later met Fidel Castro while in Mexico and through this friendship was an integral member to the Cuban Revolution. Afterwards, he moved on to his own revolution in Bolivia. However, he was found there and executed by Bolivian officials and CIA opperatives on October 9, 1967.
What is most interesting to me is the lingering controversy over the valor of his actions. Was Che Guevara a villain or martyr? Any thoughts?

Chaos in Quito


Latin Pop Music

After spending the summer in rural Nicaragua in 2009, I became very interested in Central American and Latin pop music. Not only is the popular music in Central America very catchy, singing the lyrics has really helped me maintain my Spanish. I love that Spanish and Latin pop is becoming more popular and American pop artists are starting to sing in both spanish. We've all heard Shakira and Enrique Iglesias sing in both languages, but I was so excited to hear Beyonce blaring from the radio. Here is one of my favorite young Latin pop singers, Makano: http://www.universalmusica.com/makano/Home.aspx

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interesting News From Colombia

Hey everybody! I found this on a news site, and thought that it was really interesting. Check it out!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tropical Storm Matthew

Tropical Storm Matthew is making its way over towards Nicaragua and Honduras with winds at a whopping 75 km/hour. Just about 500 km from the coast, this storm could be devestating. Central America has already seen its share of storms this year with tropical storms Agatha and Frank. Agatha caused about 180 deaths and Matthew had its own casualties as well. It's sad to see these storms devestating countries and turning peoples' lives upside down but at the same time it is important to realize that Katrina and Rita weren't the only devestating hurricanes, there are many other storms that affect people every day.
If anyone is interested in reading the article, here it is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/america_latina/2010/09/100924_huracan_matthew_nicaragua_honduras_az.shtml
p.s. i'm pretty sure BBC Mundo has a translator if you need one.

Reacción a Capoeira en Newcomb

After we had our Capoeira demostration on Newcomb Quad where we learned a few rules to capoeira, I got a text from one of my friends asking me what I was doing in the middle of the quad with a woman with Rafiki's stick. Needless to say, I chuckled at the reference, but it did kind of shock me that not that many people knew about capoeira.
I saw a group performing it at Reily Rocks during welcome week, and I thought everyone jsut knew about it. Apparently, I was wrong, however, becfause I had to explain to all of my friends at lunch that day. They're all intrigued, but still kind of in the dark about it. I think it should be more well-known and I'm kind of sad that it's not. I know when I go home for Thanksgiving and for winter break that I won't be able to tlak about it as freely as I do here, and that's a shame. I'll just have to introduce all my rural friends to it, I guess. :]

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cuba has recently decided to triple the size of its legal private economic sector, but start-up capital required to start businesses is quite difficult to ascertain in a country like Cuba. Economists believe that the majority of start-up business capital in Cuba will come from Cuban immigrants in the United States with relatives still in Cuba. Here is an interesting article about this interesting and quite unique economic situation:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Panama's Tropical Paradise

Reading the news from Latin America recently, it's hard to find positive things. I was very happy to find an article about the beauty of Panama's landscape. Included is a picture slideshow of amazingly beautiful parts of Panama's countryside. I hope articles like this will show people that not all of Latin America is always a scary and dangerous place. After seeing these photos I know I want to be in Panama! Here's the link to check out the photographs:

Monday, September 20, 2010

When thinking of Latin America, most of us think of great food and fun music...or at least I do...but each country works just like the U.S. with its own celebrations and unfortunate events. Here's a link to an article from the Latin American Herald Tribune about the Armed Forces of Colombia Rebels. http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=367234&CategoryId=10718 Latin American Countries have their fair share of political problems.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Latin Jazz in PR

This is my friend Edmar Colon - a tenor sax player who I met at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He's from Puerto Rico and is shown here playing with some latin jazz band from PR. He's super talented - check it out.

Friday, September 17, 2010

La Voz de Literatura Latino: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Anyone who speaks the Spanish language has probably heard of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In the states however he is much less known. I have never heard of any high school that requires any of his internationally acclaimed novels, even in world literature classes. I read him for my Spanish 5 class, but that's only because my high school is private and my Spanish teacher basically picked whatever he happened to feel like reading. Since then, Cien Anos de Soldad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) has become one of my favorite novels. It, like all of his works, gives an incredibly vivid picture of the world it takes place in. You can literally feel the individual emotions, actions, and even thoughts of the characters. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, the town of Macondo begins in a total primal state society-wise. Marquez uses somewhat of a rambling style for narration, switching back and forth between different characters being narrated about. He never talks about the characters inner feelings directly, instead focusing moreso on their actions and then giving a broad description of the motives. In doing so, the reader gets to know the characters in a similar manner that one gets to know someone in real life. It is a really different perspective that few authors have captured, and Marquez is the master. He was recognized for his skill with the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. Most of his novels tie in to the history or culture of Latin America in some way. However, the beauty of this is that the tie-ins are generally not very direct. More simply put, though the novels have themes taken from Latin American, especially Colombian, history, that is not the texts total purpose. One can interpret his writing in any way one sees fit. Marquez is an incredible writer, and there is a reason he is known as "the voice of Latin America." I highly recommend his novels to anyone who hasn't read them.

EDIT: Here is the beginning of Autumn of the Patriarch. It is a direct example of Marquez's ability to create a vivid setting where the reader can feel the experience and life that has taken place there.

To Live Up To Stereotypes - Or Not?

Exactly a year ago my family and I went on a vacation to Cabo san Lucas, Mexico (aka Los Cabos, on the tip of the Baja Peninsula). I was SO excited to go and rightfully so - it was beautiful!! I had so much fun just being somewhere tropical. Granted, we did stay at this ritzy resort, so everything was a hundred times better. But we did travel outside of the resort a few times. A couple times we took a shuttle to their sister resort (just as amazing) but then we walked outside the property and around the Mexican town. It was still an American tourist area, so it was still pretty nice (think a neighborhood around an American mall and you've pictured where we were). They catered to our stereotype of mariachi bands playing "La Bamba" everywhere (literally EVERY restaurant we went into had one - or two). However, I was surprised at how well most of them spoke English (better than some people in the US) and at how nice they were. Although these tourist-y spots were really nice, when I'd look out the windows of the taxis as we'd be taken to our next activity, I'd see how much was neglected at the cost of the beautiful resorts. The towns were shotty, and their sidewalks were worse than in NOLA. Their streets were alright, but a good bit of the buildings had tarps over the back half in lieu of a roof. Along the highways there were construction sites that had just been abandoned with no sign of completing the work that had been started.
But within the resorts it seemed like everyone who worked at the resorts absolutely loved their jobs and would do anything for you if you just asked. We read on some website that they expected tips (the resort was huge, so they had guys that drove around golf carts to taxi you everywhere) but every time we gave them a few pesos, they all looked genuinely surprised and ecstatic that they were being rewarded for their job. All-in-all, my vacation was amazing, between bungee jumping and zip lining and scuba diving and even the days where we just laid around our suite, everyone was so nice and wouldn't hesitate to help you out with directions or help you out of the vehicle. Although I did see some stereotypes upheld, I saw others broken down and realized that the only reason the other stereotypes lived on was because that's what made money - that's what the Americans coming to visit expected and wanted to see. It's our fault that the stereotypes live on; if we could look past them, then they wouldn't be forced into them.

Mexican Stereotypes

When looking at the recent news coming from Latin America I was bombarded with articles talking about the violence in Mexico. This reminded me of the discussion that was had this past week about the stereotypes, both good and bad, of Latin Americans and where they're from. There is so much information in the media telling us about all the horrible things going on in Mexico. It's sad that information like the article I read about a drug shootout is pasted everywhere while there is barely anything said about the bicentennial celebration. I hope that its possible for people to realize amidst the violence and problems, there are good things happening in Mexico also. Here is an example of an article that paints a scary, dangerous picture of Mexico.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Here is an article on the reaction of Brazilian presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff to significant negative press and the breaking of multiple scandals involving her

Mexico's Bicentennial


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Independece capsule of Guatemala- The Quetzal.

Before the Incas, Quetzal feathers represented royalty and power in the Maya, because of this beautiful bird was persecuted for trade, then in the process of conquest,around 1524, and that why comes the legend we know today.

One Of My Favorites

For those who have been lucky enough to have listened to the wonderful Mexican/American rock guitarist Carlos Santana, im sure that you will agree with me when I say that the is one of the most talented musicians of the twenty first century (and for those who don't agree, I rest my point in the fact that he was number 15 on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time") . He was born on July 20th, 1947 and became famous with his band Santana in the 1960s and 70s. He introduced a new Latin sound into the American rock scene by using timbales and congas and has won 10 Grammy Awards and 3 Latin Grammy Awards. His cover of Tito Puente's song "Oye Como Va", which means "Hey, Hows it Going?" in english is one of my favorite songs of all time because to this day it has a sound that is unlike anything else in todays music scene. Check it out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Latinos may be 'future' of U.S. Catholic Church

This is an article I found on CNN about Latinos being the "future" of U.S. Catholic Church: Click Me.

'"They still confuse every Hispanic as being from Mexico, and that everyone is here illegally,' says Moreno Garcia.'' This quote from the article hit me the most; it is interesting how stereotypes stick around for such a long time. Religions emphasize on love, yet for some people, the love is limited to "their own kind". Moreno Garcia also says: "When you go to heaven, and you're in front of St. Peter, what would you want to have in your hand, your baptismal certificate or your passport?" Sharing the same religion is a blessed thing; when in front of God, there should be no difference in race or ethnicity.

Mexican Quisine

Mexican food, in my opinion, is some of the most delectable on the planet. I come from a town with a high Mexican population, and therefore I've always been spoiled with the seven or eight local Mexican restaurants in my small town. Anytime I go, I can get an enchilada suiza (Swiss Enchilada), rice, beans, and chips and salsa for around 7 or eight dollars. More info on enchilada suizas: http://rollybrook.com/enchiladas_suizas.htm . Overall the Mexican cuisine interests me more than any other. I love all the different chiles shredded into cheese and different meats. This internet blog is about different aspects of Mexican dishes and has some really interesting articles on their preparation: http://mexicanfood.about.com/b/ . Finally, the most interesting article I found describes the general food culture in Mexico City from a personal perspective: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123215425094092359.html . I think the writer of the last article was influenced by the food he had been eating at the time :). His description of the lasagna made with special goat meat made my mouth water as I read it. I also enjoyed his description of the open market. I remember when people in my class came back from the Mexico trip to Guadalajara and talked about all the open air markets where fresh fish and meats could be bought for miniscule prices. Though I have yet to go to a Latin American country, I hope to soon both for the language benefits and to delve further into Latin American cuisine, especially Mexican.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mardi Gras- Rio de Janeiro's Carnival

The city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is well known for its stunning beaches, such as Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon, and its gorgeous landscape, like Pão de Açúcar or the Corcovado with the statue of the Christo Redemptor, considered one of the new Seventh Wonders of the World. Aside from its gorgeous and touristic assets, Rio is also known worldwide for its carnival, known as the biggest party on Earth. As in New Orleans, the Brazilians have re-modeled and created a unique way of celebrating the pre-Lent festivities by adding their own touch and heritage such as the samba music considered Brazil’s national identity. Compared to Rio’s Carnival, New Orleans’ Mardi Gras could be perceived as amateurish. For two whole days, gigantic parades are held in the Sambadrome, which has been specifically built for this purpose. To get a better understanding of this Brazilian celebration, watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3mYDwRTALo

Or go on Rio’s Carnival web page: http://www.rio-carnival.net/

Friday, September 10, 2010

ABT Returns to Cuba

I am very proud to say that this November, the American Ballet Theatre is scheduled to perform in Cuba for the first time since 1960. It's good to know that we can put our differences aside for a couple of days to enjoy some quality dancing.


The Girl from Ipanema - A Mulher de Ipanema

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Brazil is celebrated for being the birthplace of Samba. Samba is a musical genre with manifest origins from many places over the African continent. Bossa nova is a style of Brazilian music that evolved from Samba. Although they are very similar, Bossa nova tends to have less emphasis on percussion and rhythm, focusing on complex chord progressions and harmonies.

One of my favorite songs is written by Brazilian guitarist/ composer João Gilberto featuring himself, his wife Astrud, and Stan Getz on Alto Sax. When first recording the song in the studio Gilberto convinced his wife Astrud to sing along in English. Astrud, a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker who knew few words in English annunciates the unfamiliar words in a way that makes her delicate female vocals an essential contribution to song.

Live: 1964:


Studio Version:


Download :)


Venezuelan Jewish Community talks with Chavez

Thought this was interesting.
When thinking of Latin America and the country of Venezuela in particular, the idea of an organized Jewish community and their collaboration with Hugo Chavez would probably not ever come to my mind. Some Venezuelan Jews have been concerned with the possibility of government supported antisemitism since Hugo Chavez recently cut all ties with Israel. Chavez will be meeting with Venezuelan Jewish leaders sometime in the next couple weeks. Check it out.

Basque Pelota

One of my favorite things about Latin America is their love for sports like soccer. Latin America has a bunch of interesting sports unique to the culture. One of the oldest games is called Basque Pelota. This sport involves curved rackets and a ball which is bounced off a large wall. It may seem very similar to the elementary school game "wallball," but don't be fooled because this game is very intense. Here is a youtube video of athletes playing the game. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JwZOqALcN4.

Salsa! Cha-Cha! Tango!

I've always been entertained by the different varieties of Latin dancing, and I really wish I would have been in a dance class since I was a kid to maybe have learned some of them. We barely scratched the surface of these dances in my high school's gym class, and it left me wishing I knew more, and the genuine dances (not just the teacher's interpretation of printed out steps...). 
I found this video [which is free, so I'm all for it (:] and wanted to share it. I think it's so cool how the professional dancers move and how crisp their legs are when they're dancing. It's kinda crazy to think that with the right amount of practice and experience, my legs could do those crazy things too. :P

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Glimpse at the Life of Trapped Chilean Miners

It was amazing to see this short video of the living situation for the 33 trapped Chilean miners. It's incredible to see their optimism in spite of the fact that officials don't know exactly how long they will be there. I hope for both the miners and their families that rescue workers can get to them soon!

Chavez Loses Support

This is a very interesting article regarding the adverse economic conditions in Venezuela and their effects on the support of Chavez by his usually very eager supporters, the poor.

The State of Brazil's Education

Here is an interesting article from the New York Times about Brazil's educational gap.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Miss Mexico Wins Miss Universe

In my many travels to Mexico, and particularly to the city of Guadalajara, the people often say that the women of Guadalajara are among the most beautiful in the world. Now, there's some evidence to give credibility to the claim:
A 22-year-old Mexico woman won the Miss Universe pageant Monday night after donning a flowing red gown and telling an audience it's important to teach kids family values.

As Jimena Navarrete of Guadalajara walked during the evening gown competition, her one-strap dress billowed behind her like a sheet. Earlier, she smiled in a violet bikini as she confidently strutted across the stage on the Las Vegas Strip.
Good for Mexico. That country needs some good international press.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Another Way to Help Haiti?

Today on the CNN website was an article about Mesh Gelman. He is a New York entrepreneur who wants to use Americans' passion for shopping to help Haiti and of course earn money. He isn't running a non-profit, he jokes. However, he thinks that reading "Made in Haiti" on t-shirt labels will encourage Americans to buy these products.

The Port-au-Prince factory was partially damaged in the quake and had also suffered due to political instability and trade embargoes, so it is not producing at full capacity. Today, the company supplies to WalMart, Old Navy and JC Penny. Gelman hopes that soon the unused sewing machines will be up and running again. Even though the workers do not get paid much, it is better than no job at all says one worker, Misere Cherlie.

In addition, production in Haiti results in much lower shipping costs than production in Aisa explains Gelman. He thinks that because of these things, this sector of the Haitian economy has a lot of hope. "Greed, [Gelman] says, half joking, can be a very good thing."


American Priest Found Dead in Venezuela

Esteban Woods, an American priest who worked with the Catholic Church for 23 years, was found stabbed to death in his Venezuela on Thursday. Two prosecutors have been assigned to investigate the case.

Source: CNN

Venezuela arrests man in alleged plot to kill Chavez

Venezuelan police arrested a man suspected of trying to incite the assassination of President Hugo Chavez. Relations between Colombia and Venezuela remain strained, and the Venezuelan government suspects Colombian paramilitary groups to be involved in the plot.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Arizona's New Immigration Law

Arizona has recently put into a law that its police are required to question the immigration status of anyone thought to be illegal - a drastic measure in a state not only bordering Mexico, but with one of the largest Mexican immigrant populations in the United States. Under the law, illegal day workers are subject to arrest and police departments failing to enforce this may be sued.

Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, however, is not pleased with the new law and warns that he and the Mexican state will do everything in their power to protect their nationals. He defends Mexican immigrants in the US by saying, "Criminalising immigration, which is a social and economic phenomena, this way opens the door to intolerance, hate, and discrimination". Additionally, he plans to address the issue with President Obama next month.

On a personal note, I feel that the law is rather severe, however, President Calderón's argument is invalid in the sense that the Arizona law is not discriminating against immigrants, who are welcome to reside and work in the state granted that they are there legally. The law is a punishment, however harsh, for those that choose not to follow the rules.

In response to his concern for "intolerance, hate, and discrimination" I think that in the United States, there tends to exist a negative opinion when it comes to Latin American immigrants in the US and a lot of people incorrectly assume that they are all illegal and that they are all Mexican (though to be fair, the vast majority are). A law that cracks down on illegals immigrants, taking advantage of the country's benefits without paying taxes, etc. may, in fact, work to reduce discrimination. By being sure that the Latino - or any - immigrants in the US are here legally and therefore have every right to be in the country, there is not reason to look down on them. It is the fact that some people are not playing by the rules that causes resentment and discrimination against immigrant communities.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chilean Reverend Accused of Sexual Assault

In Chile, Reverend Fernando Karadima has been accused of sexual assault by four men. Father Karadima is one of the most influential and respected priests in Chile, sometimes even considered a "living saint." These four men, who were once devout followers, have said that they were sexually abused for up to two decades. Chile is one of Latin America's most devout counties, and the people are very upset, some directing their anger at the accusers. These people say that such a well-reputed man in his position could never do such a thing. Chile's Catholic Church has had to deal with many cases of sexual abuse recently, and are still deliberating as to how to deal with the case.

You can read the article here.

Colombia's Sewers Home to Many Vagrant Kids

Today, on the CNN website was an article about the many Colombian kids who live in the sewers. The trend started in the 90s when "death squads" were sent during the night to "clean" the streets of the many homeless children. To escape the violence at home and on the streets, kids moved into the sewers. For a while, this became a humanitarian story, discussed openly on the news and charities were set up to help the kids. However, like most things, media attention soon turned to other stories. And police began going into the sewers killing many kids to end the problem.

It is not over, though. Kids still live in the sewers. They live on crack to escape the anxiety living in these horrible conditions creates. One man, "Papa Jaime" is still trying to solve the problem. he tries to help the kids move out of the sewers and get a better life. The children look to him as a protector and trust him.

This is a very moving article and video clip that explains more about the situation. I encourage you to watch it: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/04/22/vbs.sewers.bogota/index.html?hpt=C1

Drug War in Mexico Continues

Six police and one civilian were killed in a shootout in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico today. It is suspected that the shooters were involved in the drug trade.

Source: CNN

Bolivian President promotes "Planet's Rights"

Evo Morales, the current president of Bolivia, was recently discussed in a chapter in Green's book. He is currently making some headlines. He plans to create a "Mother Earth Ministry" to promote the planet's rights. Also, he wants to create an international court that could punish nations that do not comply with emission-reduction agreements. Morales would like this court to be located in the Bolivian city of Cochabama, where he recently hosted a climate change conference. The attendance at the conference included environmentalists, Indian communities, and Hugo Chavez. Morales unveiled his plan to plant 10 million trees in a year.
This proposed court is related to the issue we discussed, if other nations have a right to tell some countries what to do with natural resources. I doubt that Morales's planned court would go over too well, though it would be nice if it did.

The link:http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/04/23/1594781/bolivian-president-creates-mother.html

New Amazon Dam Planned in Brazil

After fighting off three efforts to halt the project, Brazil has formerly awarded the rights to build what will be the world's third-largest dam to a private-public consortium. The proposed plan to build the dam on the Xingu River which feeds into the Amazon is already coming under fire from environmentalists, local indigenous groups, and even director James Cameron for the potential envirnonmental damage it would cause, despite the government's claim that the impact would be minimal compared to the amount of electricity (6% of Brazil's electricity by 2014) it would produce for the country.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mexican Drug Dealer Caught

A major drug trafficker, Alvarez Vazquez, was caught today in a wealthy neighborhood near Mexico City. Since December 2006, an estimated 22,700 people have been killed in Mexico's drug war. Hopefully the arrest of this major player in the drug trade will make a big difference in reducing violence and illegal activity both in Mexico and throughout Latin America.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stranded Tourists in Caribbean

The volcanic eruption in Iceland that has cancelled many flights to and from Europe, may be helping to boost some Caribbean economies. Many European tourists are stuck until air service returns to normal, forcing them to stay longer than planned in hotels, eat out, etc. and many hotels have called in extra staff and supplies to meet the demand. Jamaica, for example, has 2500 stranded British tourists, and one hotel in Grenada has reported a 45% increased in its occupancy rates. Islands such as Antigua and Barbados, however, that depend greatly on British tourists are not seeing this increase because many tourists were unable to flight TO the caribbean because of the flight cancellations. Although this is not long-lasting nor extremely significant, it is helping a bit to make a bad situation a little bit better.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mexico's First Lady Plays a Postive Role

Margarita Zavala, wife of Mexican president Felipe Calderon, has been consoling families of victims of the Mexican drug war with visits and phone calls. However, she wishes her role to go unpublicized and does not desire any praise for her actions.
As first lady, Margarita Zavala has also been an advocate for women's rights and supported organizations to fight drug addiction.
A recent poll found that Zavala is the most popular member of her political party, even more so than her husband.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Government-Sponsored Graffiti in Venezuela

The Venezuelan government has sponsored graffiti artists to tag the Caracas with their art. Graffiti artists have put up a wide range of political images, from tagging to strong political images. The government's Ministry of Communes has arranged these groups of street artists. Many of the political images glorify Hugo Chavez and put down the United States and associated political figures.
Here is the link to see some of the images:http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/04/12/world/20110412VENEZ_index.html

Friday, April 16, 2010

Brazilian Rancher Guilty in Nun’s Murder http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/world/americas/13briefs-BRAZILIANRAN_BRF.html?ref=americas

Sorry for the long title, but there was a problem copying the url into the article, so I had to put it there.

Anyway, In Brazil a rancher accused of murdering a Catholic nun has been convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The nun had worked for 30 years with indiginous peoples of Brazil and protecting the rainforest. The man allegedly killed the nun after she blocked him from taking land the government gave to farmers

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Electoral Council Warns Against Colombia's Election System

Marco Emilio Hincapie is the President of the National Electoral Council in Colombia. He reported on the council's findings that the electoral system in Colombia is inefficient. He said that the current system is "unreliable," because of such factors as "poor management of information" and "excessive manipulaion of documents." Also, it is too slow in counting votes. Although Hincapie urged the government to implement electronic voting, he has not received a response. Electoral Observation Mission, an NGO based in Bogota, alleged that votes were bought in Colombia's March 14 election; and authorities suspect fraudulent activity in the ballot count.
Hincapie wants to have a new voting system before Colombia's presidential elections on May 30.

See the full story at: http://www.colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/9173-electoral-council-colombia-election-system-is-failing.html

James Cameron battles a "real-life Avatar" situation in Brazil

Director James Cameron spent the past few days in Brazil near the Xingu River, the cite where the country is looking to build a huge hydroelectric dam. Cameron has been visiting with indigenous tribes who would be hurt by the build, and his support for the opposition likely played a major role in a Brazilian judge's recent decision to temporary halt bidding on the dam. Cameron calls the debate a "real-life Avatar" battle in the Amazon.
We've talked a lot in class about the importance of protecting the Amazon, but we've also discussed the issues involved in telling a country what to do with its own natural resources. Does Brazil have the right to cause extreme harm to the environment within its own national borders for the sake of electricity, or does it have a responsibility to protect the forest for the good of the entire world?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mexico Says No to Obesity

The lower house in Mexico's Congress recently passed a bill that will require Mexican schools to set aside a time each day for students to exercise, as well as restricts the sale of junk food in those same schools. The bill has been sent to the Senate for discussion.

Source: Yahoo! News

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Michelle Obama Visits Latin America

Today first lady Michelle Obama made an unannounced visit to Haiti in her first solo trip overseas. She witnessed the devastation caused by the earthquake and met with the president.
Next Michelle Obama went to Mexico City where she plans to work with children. She has been very welcomed thus far and these countries citizens express happiness towards her presence.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Calle 13 Concert in Cuba

This is a little delayed, but I think the article is interesting enough to still take about and asks a more general question about international interaction with the communist country.

On 23 March 201, the popular Puerto Rican reggaeton band Calle 13 performed in Cuba which was, in the words of singer/rapper Residente, held to talk about "sex, religion and politics". This performance included their controversial song "Querido FBI [Dear FBI]"that criticizes the US for its actions in the death of Filiberto Ojeda Rios, a Puerto Rican radical accused of an anti-US heist in Connecticut. Most Cubans enjoyed the show merely for the music, although the political undertones were obvious.

This provoked the angry reaction of many US-Cubans, including Emilio Esteban, who chastized Calle 13 for making ties with the communist country. Others, however, believe that the criticism is uncalled for and Calle 13 should be able to perform for Cuban citizens without creating so much political drama. Other concerts, such as one held by super popular Colombian singer Juanes, have received similar responses.

This raises an interesting question as to how much if any can the international community interact with Cuba, even in non-political terms, without creating tension with the US and its Cuban population? Should this even be taken into consideration?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Masters

With one Round left and angel Cabrera at -3. Does the Argentinian stand a chance to take home the Masters at Augusta?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Elian Gonzalez: All Grown Up

Many people remember the incident back in November of 1999 when 9 year-old Elian Gonzalez was found floating in an inner tube near the coast of Florida. There was much controversy over whether the boy should be sent back to Cuba or stay in Miami with relatives. After much drama, US federal agents returned Elian to Havana.
Throughout the years since the incident, Elian has been kept away from foreign media. However, photos have recently been released that show now 16 year-old Elian at a Young Communist Union Conference in Havana. It is said that whether he like it or not, Elian Gonzalez is still a political symbol.

University of Wisconsin cuts ties with Nike

Friday, the University of Wisconsin Badgers ended the agreement licensing with Nike, Inc. In January 2009, two factories in Choloma and San Pedro Sula, Honduras shut down abruptly. The workers have been left unpaid. Though Nike, Inc. subcontracts its work, these companies are responsible for compensation of their employees. University of Wisconsin is the first University to take this step due to workers rights. Nike is expressing disappointment, but student activists on campus are very happy and hope other universities will take their lead.

Colombian Presidential Candidate Has Parkinson's

Colombian presidential candidate Antanas Mockus revealed that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He is the Green Party candidate, and has been 2nd in public opinion polls. Mockus says that the disease would not affect his ability to be president, and says that the disease would not affect him that greatly for 12 years, as it is in early stages.


Putin Visits Venezuela to Discuss Oil and Arms

Last week Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met in Venezuela with President Hugo Chavez to discuss weapons sales to the Venezuelan military and the possibility of oil ventures and cooperation between Venezuela and Russia in this area. The Russian and Venezuelan governments have always been friendly and this meeting was based on that friendship. Chavez is currently trying for closer relations with Russia in Latin America to neutralize the US influence in the region. Chavez had hoped that the meeting could be used to discuss plans for Russia and Venezuela to cooperate in a plan for nuclear energy in Venezuela, but at the moment it seems relations between the two are not close enough for that. It seems that for the moment their friendship is limited to oil and weapons sales.


Birthrate declines in Latin America

I found an interesting, recent article which states that the birthrate among Latinos fell in 2008. The article claims that a stereotype of Latin American people is that families tend to have too many children. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released a report which states that the overall birthrate fell in 2008 by almost 2% after reaching its highest point in two decades. The birthrates dropped in nearly all categories, and the most dramatic change was among Hispanics. The birthrate among Hispanic teens hit a historic low. Stephanie Ventura, chief of the reproductive statistics branch at the NCHS, said she wasn't sure about the decline in Latino births; however, she said that many could consider poor economy and loss of jobs.

Read more at: http://ourlatinamerica.blogspot.com/2010/04/study-latino-birth-rate-drops.html

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Mudslide may have killed 200 Brazilian slum-dwellers

A mudslide in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday buried and may have therefore killed 200 Brazilians. The mudslide was triggered by records amounts of rainfall, and the people of this favella, which was built on top of a former landfill, may have lost not only their houses and belongings but also their lives. Brazil's emergency systems are working to rescue those buried and address the issue, although the nation has also downplayed the event to ease concern regarding the 2016 Olympics.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Scopolamine: The Real-Life Imperius Curse

Yes, you read that title correctly. Those of you who read Harry Potter know the effects of the Imperius Curse very well: loss of memory; inability to control your actions; extreme susceptibility to outward influence; and all while acting and talking completely normally. Your friends have no clue you're under someone else's control. Pretty scary, right? Now imagine the ramifications of all of those symptoms in our world today: bank accounts cleaned out, people raped and murdered. A recent article on CNN.com enlightens the world about Colombian Devil's Breath, a plant that strikes fear in the hearts of Colombian citizens but is little known in other parts of the world. Scopolamine, which is essentially a date-rape drug on steroids, is derived from Devil's Breath and is responsible for countless Imperius-esque episodes in Colombia. VBS.tv (CNN's source for the article) interviewed a Bogota drug dealer named Demencia Black who explained Scopolamine like this:
Scopolamine is a drug like no other. Nothing can compare. Got me? For example, with this you could be walking right here and suddenly... *poof* [he mimes somebody blowing a powder out of their hand onto another person]... you have your back turned or a girl walking right here and I walk up and I go *poof*. Just like that. With just that flash the person is totally drugged. You wait a minute and when you see it kick in then you know that you own that person... If you exceed the dose, you run the risk of the person dying.
With effects like that, Scopolamine has the potential to become one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. It completely takes away your free will. I have to hope that governments everywhere are already in the process of controlling the Colombian Devil's Breath trade, or we may be in a heap of trouble.

For the full stories, see:
CNN (written article)
VBS (2 videos)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Machu Picchu Re-opens

After being closed in February and March of 2010 due to a mudslides and flooding that trapped 4,000 tourists in Agua Calientes, Peru, the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu re-opened this week. The Peruvian government invited Susan Sarandon to help celebrate the re-opening. This will be very helpful to the Peruvian economy, which has suffered greatly without its most popular tourist attraction - the loss was estimated at approximately $185 million by the Tourism Ministry.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Colombian Rebels Free Hostage After 12 Years

Today a soldier held hostage in the jungles of Colombia was finally freed. Colombian rebels handed over their hostage, Sergeant Pablo Emilio Moncayo, to a Red Cross team. As this was the second hostage freeing this week, many are hopeful for a deal with the FARC, a powerful rebel force in Colombia. Moncayo, now 32 years old, says, "You have no idea how staggering it is to return to civilization."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cuba Outdoes Itself

Cuba, already reputed to produce the best cigars in the world, will be releasing a new cigar in June. It is called Cohiba Bahike and is part of the prestigious Cohiba line. Critics claim that this new cigar will have "a serious bid to become the best cigar in the world."

For more information: CNN

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chávez Critic Is Arrested, Then Freed, in Venezuela

This Thursday agents from the Venezuelan military intelligence agency arrested Guillermo Zuloaga, the owner of the TV network Globovision, one of the most influential networks critical of the Chavez government. He was later released but told not to leave the country while an investigation took place. This arrest follows another arrest this week, this time of one of Chavez's political opponents whole stated that he agreed with the Spanish judge who a few weeks ago accused a Venezuelan official of aiding the Basque separatist group ETA and training Colombian leftist guerrillas. The Chavez government has come under a lot of fire lately on issues of freedom of speech, since many feel that Chavez is increasingly trying to restrict any speech critical of him or his administration.


Pesticide in Argentina

To go along with our unit theme of land, I found an article about the dangerous use of agrochemicals in Argentina. The article is an interview with Rodolfo Páramo, a retired pediatrician from the central Argentine province of Santa Fe. When he worked in a smal village in 1994, he noticed a high rate of birth defects. When he investigated, he discovered that the cause was the spraying of glyphosate, a toxic herbicide produced by the U.S. company Monsanto. The herbicide is sprayed on fields of soy, which cover 42 million acres in Argentina.
Mechanical crop sprayers called spiders or mosquitoes would spray soy fields and then return to the village spreading harmful chemicals. Some villages got wise and started to prohibit the storage or entry of the "spiders" into a town's perimiter. Paramo says that, of course, this is not the only case of harmful chemicals and refers to another example from India. Our book mentions other examples. Paramo says its hard to deal with because people know about the dangers but they're getting ignored. Soy is an important crop for Argentina, but the protection of life is more important.

Read more at:http://www.lapress.org/articles.asp?art=6089