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:

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:
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. 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.;_ylt=AkQgceEaWBJENQp9OAW9XZC3IxIF;_ylu=X3oDMTJtaXZhYWczBGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMTAwOTE3L3VzX21leGljb19kcnVncwRwb3MDNDIEc2VjA3luX3BhZ2luYXRlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDZG96ZW5za2lsbGVk

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: . 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: . Finally, the most interesting article I found describes the general food culture in Mexico City from a personal perspective: . 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:

Or go on Rio’s Carnival web page:

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.

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.