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Monday, January 31, 2005

State of the Union Speech

From Knight Ridder via the Kansas City Star:

With his pledge to make immigration revisions a high priority for his second term, President Bush is reigniting an emotional national debate over how to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants spread throughout American society.

The president is expected to include the issue in his State of the Union address Wednesday night, renewing his year-old proposal for an immigrant guest-worker program and provoking an acrimonious confrontation with conservative members of his party.

Gates Criticizes U.S. Immigration Law

From Silicon.com:

Bill Gates has called for the relaxation of US visa restrictions in order to boost the number of foreign tech students in the country.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Gates said that the US' stringent visa rules are having a negative effect on its competitiveness in the global software market.

According to Gates, the US' restricted ability to brain-drain foreign countries for computer science students is a "disaster" and the country's status as "IQ magnet of the world" was threatened, the Financial Times reports.

Rumbo

Interesting story about Rumbo, a Spanish-language newspaper distributed in a handful of cities in Texas.

In one of the most closely watched experiments in the publishing industry, Rumbo has started four Spanish-language daily newspapers in Texas in the past year, starting in San Antonio before going to Houston, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley. Hispanics will become a majority in the state in 20 years or so, according to Steve Murdock, the Texas state demographer, and are already the largest ethnic group or majority in several of its largest cities.

Rumbo (pronounced ROOM-boh), which gets its name from a Spanish word that means "heading to" - as in "heading to the United States" or "heading to a better life" - is betting that the state's growing Hispanic population is ready for a sophisticated daily newspaper in Spanish that mixes coverage of local news and sports with commentary and dispatches from Latin America. The writers Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes are among Rumbo's regular contributors, their essays published in the same tabloid pages as reports on local soccer leagues.

The Hispanic market, of course, already supports fast-growing Spanish-language television and radio industries, but Rumbo's Texas venture is perhaps the biggest gamble yet that a large part of the Hispanic population will read a daily paper in Spanish. Spanish-speaking readers in most parts of the country have been the domain of small family-owned newspapers, in part because bigger concerns have considered the market undesirable.

Rush Threatens Bush

From OpinionJournal.com:

On Friday Rush Limbaugh, a staunch Bush supporter, took two separate opportunities to warn the president that he faced conservative opposition on some key issues that could hurt his chances of passing the rest of his second-term agenda. First was federal spending, which "is surging out of control," according to the Heritage Foundation's new "Mandate for Leadership." The other was immigration, which, Mr. Limbaugh told his listeners, "could break up the Republican-conservative coalition" à la Ross Perot. "We cannot maintain our sovereignty without securing and protecting our borders in an era where terrorists around the world seek entry to this country," he said.

Babalú Blog

Val Prieto at Babalú Blog is getting some nice press.

Border Security Bill

From the Houston Chronicle:

Several faith-based groups oppose a Republican-sponsored immigration and border security bill that could move quickly through the House with a spending package for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The groups say the bill sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner proposes asylum law changes that would hurt refugees fleeing religious persecution and should be debated in full committee hearings.

But Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, says the changes will prevent would-be terrorists from slipping into the country by abusing the asylum system.

The changes are tucked into a bill that seeks to prevent illegal immigrants from getting drivers' licenses and to complete a fence on the California-Mexico border.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Gonzales and Hispanics

Further proof that the Hispanic "community" is not monolithic:

Many Hispanic groups are celebrating the likely ascension of Alberto Gonzales to be attorney general as a landmark event: the first Hispanic to hold one of the most powerful Cabinet positions.

But as the Senate prepares to debate his nomination this week, nagging questions about Gonzales' role in the Bush administration's policies on torture have emboldened Democratic opponents and created dissent within the Hispanic community.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Nicaragua's Missile Stash

From the Washington Times:

The State Department said yesterday it has asked Nicaragua to investigate whether its military is hiding stashes of SA-7 missiles capable of downing commercial airliners.

The Nicaraguan government later announced it was conducting a "thorough investigation."

New Castro Documentary

PBS will begin airing a new documentary on Fidel Castro next week. This is what National Review has to say about it:

Veteran documentarian Adriana Bosch clearly shows the appeal of a charismatic revolutionary like Castro to a populace suffering from the oppressive Batista regime, but refuses to sentimentalize the cigar-smoking, iconic leader they got as a replacement. "It is the tragic story of a nation who saw a messiah in just a man," she says of her film, which doesn’t flinch from detailing the brutal reality beneath Castro’s charm: 500 Bastistianos tried and executed in less than three months, 20,000 people arrested after the Bay of Pigs, and so on.

Pinochet's Bankers Get Pinched

From the Washington Post:

Riggs Bank yesterday admitted it was criminally liable for failing to take adequate measures to prevent potential money laundering by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and officials of Equatorial Guinea.

Riggs pleaded guilty to one felony count of failing to file suspicious activity reports and agreed to a fine of $16 million. The fine, if approved by U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina on March 29, will bring to $41 million the total civil and criminal penalties paid by the 160-year-old bank to resolve anti-money-laundering deficiencies in its former embassy and international operations.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Immigration Splits GOP

From the New York Times:

The battle within the Republican Party over immigration policy was joined Wednesday as President Bush vigorously promoted his proposal for a guest worker program and conservatives in Congress introduced an alternative proposal to tighten immigration restrictions.

Paralysis in Nicaragua

Two ex-presidents are standing in the way of badly-needed reform.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Bush on Immigration

In his own words:

"It'll be one of my priorities. I believe it's necessary to reform the immigration system," said Bush.

"I do want to recognize a system where a willing worker and a willing employer are willing to come together in a way that enables people to find work, without jeopardizing a job that an American would otherwise want to do," Bush said.

The president said he believed immigration reform necessary to ensure border security, given a current "system" that "spawns coyotes and smugglers and ... people willing to break the law to get people in our country."

"I believe by making -- by advancing -- a program that enables people to come into our country in a legal way to work for a period of time for jobs that Americans won't do, will help make it easier for us to secure our borders.

"I know there's a compassionate, humane way to deal with this issue."

Gonzales Squeaks By

Thanks to the Democrats, Alberto Gonzales narrowly survived a committee vote that sets him on his way to becoming the first Hispanic Attorney General in U.S. history:

The Judiciary Committee's vote along party lines - 10 Republicans in favor and eight Democrats against - reflected dissension regarding Gonzales, one of President George W. Bush's most controversial nominations going into his second term.

Richardson for President

It's never too early to get started:

Gov. Bill Richardson hasn't announced plans to run for president in 2008, but at least two people have bought Internet domain names that would fit the bill.

At least eight different Richardson-related Web site domain names, including "billrichardsonforpresident.com" and "billrichardson08.com," have been registered with Network Solutions, a Virginia-based company that sells the names.

Cuba's Failed Economy

Excellent opinion piece from the Christian Science Monitor:

It's a former Soviet ally that toyed briefly with a little free enterprise. Its people are some of the poorest in the hemisphere. Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's choice as secretary of State, has just labeled it one of six "outposts of tyranny" in the world.

That's Cuba, still clinging to its communist ways. And it has the economy to show for it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Carlos Gutierrez Confirmed

It's official, Carlos Gutierres is the new U.S. Commerce Secretary. He was approved by a voice vote in the Senate yesterday.

Immigration Reform Opponents

From GOPUSA:

Despite the national security concerns of many, the White House is pursuing a relaxed immigration policy for not only the economic benefits of cheap labor, but also the political benefits of wooing the Hispanic vote, the largest minority bloc in the United States. Two of the factors driving the controversial Bush policy are relations with Mexico and Hispanic voters. Karl Rove, the President's chief political strategist, favors liberalized immigration policies because he believes they help improve the President's popularity with Hispanic voters. It worked in the 2004 presidential election, as President Bush garnered over 40% of the Hispanic vote, a new record for a Republican candidate.

Although the President was re-elected, there are millions of Americans, including Hispanics, who are concerned about our lax border policy.

Pro-Life Latinos

Latino Pundit has a link to an interesting article about Hispanics who are protesting against abortion:

Latinos make up the largest minority group in the country, and in the months leading up to the November election, both political parties tried to court their vote. Some experts speculated that while Latinos would likely side with Democrats on some matters such as education and economics, they would probably agree with Republicans on other issues, such as abortion and gay marriage.

Celebrities for Licenses

From the L.A. Times (where else?):

A bevy of A-list celebrities is backing a bill to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

More than 30 actors, writers and musicians -- including Diane Keaton, Carlos Santana and "Million Dollar Baby" writer Paul Haggis -- took out an ad Monday in the trade paper Variety urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to approve the bill, claiming it would make roads safer and that driving is a civil right.

Bush Has It Right on Immigration

From Pete Prince of Kansas:

As someone who voted for John Kerry, I must admit that George W. Bush has done well for himself since the election. Naming the most diverse cabinet in American history and deploying more troops to Iraq to end the mess faster.

Bush also plans to overhaul the nation's immigration policy. As it stands, our borders are closed. Gone are the days of "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" from the Statue of Liberty...

The proposal does not support amnesty -- giving away citizenship like candy. But, it does offer a way for these immigrants to work, and make a home for themselves. They can also pursue American citizenship. Since the birth of our nation, we have housed all people looking for a better life. If you do not have Native American blood in your body then you are a descendent of immigrants. We need to open our borders again to people pursuing the American dream, wholeheartedly, and legally.

Mara Salvatrucha & Al-Qaeda

According to Carlos Mauricio Pineda Cruz, it is unlikely that Islamic terrorists and Central American criminal gangs are cooperating to strike the U.S.

Here's more on the Mara Salvatrucha.

Monday, January 24, 2005

"Land Reform" in Venezuela

The Christian Science Monitor has a very good editorial on Hugo Chavez's land reform plan - his scheme to transfer private property into the hands of his goons. The Monitor has it absolutely right when it comments that the expropriation will hurt the very poor Chavez claims he wants to help.

South America in Crisis

Florida Senator Bill Nelson thinks that South America is in crisis because of all the crazy things that are happening in places like Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. I agree that things are a mess, and I also agree with some of the Senator's proposed solutions, especially the need for greater engagement in the region by the State Department.

Latinos & Democrats in the West

This is what is more commonly known as "wishful thinking"

While most of the Rocky Mountain and Sunbelt states went for President Bush in November, the Democrats picked up some state and local offices, and say the region holds great promise for them, with its booming population and growing number of Latino voters.

"Democrats have lost the South, so we have to look for another field to mine," said Arizona Democratic chairman Jim Pedersen. "And here is where the opportunity is."

In the 2004 election, Democrats thought that they had an advantage in places like Colorado and New Mexico because of the large influx of Latinos to those states, but both states went for Bush. In Colorado, voters elected one of two new Hispanic U.S. Senators, but Ken Salazar is considered a Conservative Democrat (whatever that means).

Democrats are falling for this delusion because they still subscribe to the old myth that if you're Hispanic you are a natural Democrat. As the party has moved farther to the left, it has moved farther away from a good many Hispanics.

Vigilante Border Patrol

From the Washington Times:

A retired California businessman has 240 volunteers ready for a 30-day aerial and ground surveillance campaign on the Arizona-Mexico border to highlight what he calls the government's failure to control illegal immigration.

Rich Latin Jocks are Targets

From the Miami Herald:

In the past 18 months, the families of well-known athletes have been among those targeted in violent attacks throughout South America...

In Venezuela, as in many other Latin American countries with the exception of Colombia, much of the recent violence has been fueled by economics, not politics.

The nation's economy, in decline since the 1980s, has plunged since President Hugo Chávez came to power five years ago.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Immigration Boom

Reuters has a story about the economic benefits of the most recent boom in immigration:

The largest immigration boom in U.S. history is expected to lift earnings at companies from discount retailers to telecommunications providers, putting dollar signs in the eyes of investors looking to cash in on the wave of newcomers, mostly from Latin America and Asia

Deportation Enforcement

According to the Houston Chronicle, authorities just can't keep up:

An estimated 400,000 people who have been ordered out of the United States, including many convicted criminals or those from terrorist states, are still living in the country — in some cases decades after getting deportation orders — because federal officials have failed to ensure their removal

Venezuela v. Colombia

From the Washington Times:

The two most strategically important countries in Latin America -- Colombia and Venezuela -- are locked in a row that is on the verge of either subsiding or escalating. The dispute over a guerrilla operative surreptitiously apprehended in Venezuela and brought across the border to Colombia highlights a long-standing problem between the two countries. The crisis has implications for the United States, which depends heavily on Venezuela's oil exports, but is a close ally of Colombia, particularly under President Alvaro Uribe.

Friday, January 21, 2005

McCain on Immigration

From BizJournals.com:

Arizona Sen. John McCain stressed immigration reform as a top priority for the start of President George W. Bush's second term and encouraged the Republican White House to focus on the issue.

Mel Martinez on Hugo Chavez

From the Miami Herald:

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez said Thursday that Brazil and others in Latin America need to do more to contain Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, amid growing concerns in Congress over the role the Venezuelan leader is playing in the region.

''Brazil has to step up,'' he told The Herald on the side of the presidential inauguration festivities, as should other Latin American heavyweights like Argentina, Chile and Mexico.

''I have seen that movie before,'' Martinez said of Chávez. ``That's exactly the pattern that Cuba followed.''

Martinez, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also praised the ''strong approach'' on Chávez taken by Secretary of State designee Condoleezza Rice, who during her confirmation hearing this week called the Venezuelan leader a ''negative force'' in Latin America.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Linda Chavez's Wish List

Linda Chavez on National Review Online:

Topping my wish list are two issues: true immigration reform and ending the federal government's own system of racial preferences.

Despite the sturm und drang over the need to control our borders, the only practical way to do so is to open the borders to more legal immigrants. The presence of an estimated eight million illegal immigrants in the U.S. is proof not only of how porous our borders are but of how dependent we are on immigrant labor — legal and illegal. Yet our current immigration laws make it nearly impossible for us to fill the market's need for labor. A temporary-worker program is absolutely vital if we are to fill that need — but more importantly, it is imperative if we are to secure our borders. If we created a program that would allow more workers to enter the country legally, we could devote our limited border-enforcement resources to intercepting drug dealers and potential terrorists — priorities that now get short shrift in our zeal to stop Mexican laborers and Salvadoran housekeepers from entering the country.

I'm sure President Bush would grant my first wish if it were in his power to do so, but I'm less confident the president would grant my second wish, even though he could with a mere stroke of the pen. I would like to see President Bush revise Executive Order 11246 to ban racial or gender-based preferences. Issued by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, E.O. 11246 ushered in the government's affirmative-action program for federal contractors and gave birth to a system of racial preferences in hiring and promotion. By revising E.O. 11246 to prohibit all discrimination, explicitly banning preferences based on skin color or sex, President Bush could lead the nation in building a true, color-blind, equal opportunity society.

Immigration Crisis?

According to OpinionJournal.com, if there is an immigration crisis, the President intends to do something about it. If it doesn't yet exist, it is a matter of time, and the President will be proactive (a variation on the preemption doctrine):

...the case can be made that there is no crisis--if the presence of 10 million undocumented workers, largely accounting for a $1 trillion black market, isn't quite a crisis. But at some point, one Administration or another is going to have to come to terms with the integration of the North American labor market, and neither ignoring the problem nor building a 2,000-mile Berlin Wall along our southern border achieves that. Mr. Bush's guest-worker program may only be a first step toward a more comprehensive solution. But at least the President is facing up to reality.

There's another reality Mr. Bush is facing up to and it's called the Hispanic vote. Paleocons and nativists may think the key GOP demographic is uneducated whites. But it's hard to imagine a majority Republican future without at least being competitive among Hispanics. In this sense, the guest-worker proposal isn't just an exercise in economic sanity but also in long-term party building on a par with FDR's capture of the black vote.

Chile and Privatization

From the Miami Herald:

As President Bush prepares to push for partially privatizing Social Security, lessons can be learned from Chile, which dumped its government pension system in 1981.

Aznar Seeks Solidarity

Jose Maria Aznar, the former Spanish Prime Minister, has a very good editorial in today's edition of the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Today a new presidential term starts in the United States. It is the duty of President Bush and his administration to formulate and propose solutions. However, this cannot be the exclusive burden of the United States. The rest of the international community must also bear our share of responsibility. In other words, if we want problems to be solved, Mr. Bush will have to do his job, but the rest of world's major leaders must also play their part.

I wish we were hearing more of this from other leaders in Europe.

Another interesting thing that Mr. Aznar says in his essay is this gem:

It is evident that we must also support the forces of democracy against pre-dictatorial populism in Latin America.

I love that phrase, "pre-dictatorial populism" because it fits Venezuela best, but also Bolivia and Peru and Argentina and all those countries in Latin America that have elected Socialists to run their governments. The only thing standing between Socialism and dictatorship is time.

Cubans in Honduras

From the Miami Herald:

The Honduran government announced Wednesday that it was working with Cuba to halt a wave of migrants who have been leaving the communist-ruled island and arriving on Honduran shores.

Immigration official Carlos Sanchez said the talks with Cuba began five months ago, although he didn't give details.

Nearly 500 Cubans have arrived in Honduras in the past two years. Most ask for temporary asylum so they can later travel north to the United States.

Sanchez said Honduras was willing to receive Cubans fleeing their home country for political reasons, but that it didn't want to remain a stop on the way to the United States.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Gonzales Vote

More evidence of Democrats' obstructionism:

A Senate vote on attorney general designate Alberto Gonzales has been delayed at least one week because of Democratic opposition to the nominee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was expected to approve Gonzales for the post Wednesday, opening the door for his full Senate approval following President Bush's inauguration Thursday, but Democrats have asked for a one-week hold on the nominee.

Nevertheless, he is expected to ultimately gain approval.

When will they learn?

Crisis in Nicaragua

From Stephen Johnson of the Heritage Foundation:

When Nicaraguan citizens defeated communist comandantes at the ballot box in February 1990, it was the dawn of democracy in a country that had rarely known it and the triumph of elected civilian rule in a region long plagued by dictators. Yet now, just as Nicaragua is set to receive a Millennium Challenge Account grant rewarding anti-corruption efforts, greedy politicians are poised to roll back the country’s democratic gains, depose an elected president and install a kleptocracy -- a state based on stealing from the governed -- with a convicted felon and former dictator in charge.

I Like Rice

From the Miami Herald:

Secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice said President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela was a regional troublemaker and called Cuba an ''outpost of tyranny'' during testimony Tuesday before Congress, during which she sketched out her plans for Latin America.

Cuba and the EU

From the Miami Herald editorial board:

For too long Castro has blamed the United States for the regime's own transgressions. The 2003 crackdown on dissent exposed that fiction to the world. The EU must not put on blinkers now. Normalizing relations would send the wrong message: that human rights and dissidents don't matter, and that all is fine with Havana when it's not.

Castro only responds to pressure. The EU could, and should, play an instrumental role in pressing for Cuba's transition to democracy and garnering international support for Cuba's opposition. As long as Castro remains in power, he should be treated as the tyrant that he is.

Immigration & Productivity

From Reuters:

Tightened U.S. immigration policies since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks threaten America's ability to keep boosting productivity, Federal Reserve Governor Ben Bernanke said On Wednesday.

A relatively open immigration policy earlier had paid big dividends for the United States, Bernanke said in response to questions after addressing the Council on Foreign Relations.

"I think a very important part of the productivity gains in the past decade were associated with our open immigration policy," Bernanke said. "If we don't allow, if we don't make provision for bright people, whether they be graduate students or professional people to come...that's a loss to our society and a loss to our potential productivity."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Prop 200 Lives On

From Reuters:

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A federal appeals court has refused to block an Arizona law, approved by voters last year, that bars illegal immigrants from voting or seeking public assistance.

A two-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals late last week rejected a petition by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund to stop enforcement of the law, known as Proposition 200

Immigration & Social Security

From Bloomberg.com:

Americans are having more babies. The trend, combined with an annual inflow of immigrants that is more than the rest of the developed world combined, may undercut a key argument behind President George W. Bush's plan to allow private Social Security accounts: that the current system faces an emergency because of a sharp decline in the size of the future U.S. workforce.

Even Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House of Representatives and a supporter of private accounts, says, ``The combination of higher birth rates and more immigration makes the United States the healthiest of developed nations. This is not a crisis.''

Inaugural Address

P.J O'Rourke has written a brilliantly funny "alternative inaugural address" based on the 10 Commandments, which assumes that the President is not a "compassionate conservative." Warning: don't read this while drinking coffee, unless you want coffee coming out of your nose (I'm speaking from personal experience here):

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." Let's be fair about this. We did see a lot of white, non-Hispanic Democrats in churches in 2004. But they were all running for president. And the churches were inner-city black churches. I happen to know that there are churches in the white, non-Hispanic suburbs where these Democrats live. Apparently jerks can't find them.

Read the whole hillarious thing!

Resolutions

Ruben Navarrete has another excellent column out today. He thinks Hispanics should make the following resolutions for the new year:

-- Become U.S. citizens.

-- Learn English.

-- Teach their children the importance of education and set the example.

-- Become more involved in the society they live in.

-- Promote and practice unity and tolerance toward one another...

The destiny of the nation's largest minority is in its own hands. Instead of constantly complaining about what's being done to them, Latinos should think long and hard about what they can do for themselves. And then start doing it.

Che Chic

From Jay Nordlinger of the National Review:

The world is awash in Che paraphernalia, and this is an ongoing offense to truth, reason, and justice (a fine trio). Cuban Americans tend to be flummoxed by this phenomenon, and so do others who are decent and aware. There is a backlash against Che glorification, but it is tiny compared with the phenomenon itself. To turn the tide against Guevara would take massive reeducation — a term the old Communist would very much appreciate.

Hat Tip: Hispanic Pundit

Bush Feels the Pressure on Immigration

From the Associated Press via The Guardian UK:

Mexico will continue to press for an immigration agreement establishing a right for Mexicans to work temporarily in the United States, the country's interior secretary, Santiago Creel, said Monday after meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

Creel also denounced an Arizona ballot measure - approved by voters in November - that limits government services for illegal immigrants.

``It's incompatible with human rights and does a disservice to both countries, the United States as much as Mexico,'' he told reporters at a news conference following the meeting in Calexico, a border city about 100 miles east of San Diego.

Ridge, for his part, said an immigration agreement was a ``high priority'' for President Bush in his second term, but added that a temporary worker program would be an uphill battle in Congress without provisions for stricter enforcement of immigration laws.

For its part, the New York Times had this to say:

The president has repeatedly said in recent months that he does not want an amnesty or "instant citizenship" for the 8 million to 10 million undocumented aliens who live and work in America. Instead, Mr. Bush has been talking in general about a guest-worker program that would be designed to give legal status to those now doing jobs Americans refuse to do. But the president also increasingly seems to be acknowledging the key to such a program, which is that these workers must be offered a path to American citizenship. Certainly, they cannot be allowed to jump the very long queue that already exists. But what undocumented workers would come out of the shadows willingly if it meant an automatic one-way ticket back to their native land?

Monday, January 17, 2005

MLK Day

Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity has an article encouraging us all to speak up when we see racial discrimination in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Martin Luther King Jr.'s, famous dream was that his children "will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." In honor of the day, speak up the next time you encounter racial discrimination. The bad news is that there are still plenty of opportunities to do so; the good news is that, if you do, the discriminator will likely capitulate.

Political Prisoners in Cuba

Number of political prisoners remains high, says Human Rights Commission

HAVANA, January 13 (Miguel Saludes / www.cubanet.org) - The number of political prisoners in Cuban jails remains roughly the same as last year, according to a report by the Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a non-governmental Cuban organization.

The report says that the list of prisoners this year includes 294 names, whereas last year's extended to 317, and points out that this past year there were at least 21 new cases documented.

The number imprisoned for matters of opinion exceeds a hundred, says the report, and of those, at least 84 have been classified as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.

Mayates

Thanks to this lengthy article in the Dallas Observer, I now know what a Mayate is.

Marielitos

From the New York Times:

For 25 years now, the Marielitos, as Mariel refugees were called, have quietly chipped away at the stereotype they were saddled with. According to American immigration statistics, more than 90 percent of them worked hard, paid taxes and stayed out of trouble, becoming like any other Cuban exile, except for one legal distinction.

The distinction was this: Up until last week, any Mariel refugee who had not become an American citizen or legal resident could be detained indefinitely after completing a jail term for even the smallest crime. The lack of normal relations with Cuba makes it impossible for them to be sent back, unless they were on a 1984 list that allowed for the deportation of 2,700 (most of whom have been deported). That deceptively small detail left many Mariel Cubans feeling stigmatized and especially vulnerable - no longer in Cuba but not fully accepted in the United States, either. In the eyes of the law, in fact, Marielitos had technically never reached American shores - they had simply been saved from the sea.

Last week the Supreme Court changed that, ruling that open-ended detention of Mariel Cubans was illegal. This may seem like the mere correction of an anachronism, affecting only the 750 people still in detention, but for Mariel Cubans it was a hugely important and emotional event: The highest court of the land they have chosen as their own has validated the status not only of those convicted of crimes but of all Cubans who in 1980 set sail for the United States.

Mara Salvatrucha & Al-Qaeda?

According to this report by World Net Daily, criminal Central American gangs, left-wing radicals and Islamic militants may be joining forces to infiltrate the U.S./Mexico border:

Senior police and intelligence officers combating violent crime gangs in Central America believe now more than ever, outside forces such as brands of left wing ideologies, national revolutionaries and militant Islam, are involved in the terror style attacks committed by crime groups...

A source in Los Angeles where the Central American gangs originated and were inspired, says street informants continue to report on reciprocal visits by gang members traveling back and forth from Central America to the U.S. The same source said these visits are used to exchange information and improve methods of human smuggling as well as for illicit drugs and weapons smuggling across the Mexican-U.S. border. In addition to almost every kind of drug entering the U.S. through what the source described as "the Swiss cheese border," these gangs also control large portions of the weapons and explosives trade and keep looking for more potent weapons such as rocket and grenade launchers.

Police sources comprehend the immense national security implications of this trade – and the ability of these gangs to penetrate either side of the border with impunity.

A little background on the Mara Salvatrucha for the uninitiated.

Chavez/Uribe Dispute

From the Miami Hearald:

CARACAS -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Sunday he was willing to meet with his Colombian counterpart to discuss a dispute over the recent abduction of a Colombian rebel on Venezuelan soil, which led to a freeze in relations.

But Chavez also stressed that he expected an admission from President Alvaro Uribe that ''a crime'' was committed when Venezuelan authorities were hired as bounty hunters to spirit Rodrigo Granda, a leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to Colombia.

Chavez said that the issue was exclusively ''bilateral'' and should be discussed only between the two presidents. Chavez invited Uribe to his home state of Barinas to talk.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Why Liberals Hate Gonzales

Ruben Navarrete aswers the question: Why are liberal Democrats engaged in a witch hunt against Alberto Gonzales, the President's nominee for Attorney General?

It isn't all that different from the reasons that Democrats kept Honduran-born, Harvard-educated Miguel Estrada off the federal appeals court. Both men were nominated by a Republican president and owe nothing to the Democratic Party. That makes them a target for liberals, who are only interested in minorities' success if they can claim the credit.

Cristina

Interesting article in Time Magazine about Cristina Saralegui, the Spanish Oprah:

Cristina's mission, she says, is to bring the diaspora of Hispanics together. "In unity, there is strength." And dollars as well.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Chinese in Latin America

A little birdie told me I should keep a watchful eye on China's attempts to muscle into Latin America. I'm just doing what I'm told:

It's not just oil they are after.

The Chinese want Argentina's soybeans, Brazil's iron ore and Chile's copper, to name just a few products they want from Latin America.

China already invests heavily, $1 billion in some 300 Latin American enterprises as of 2001, according to an October report by the Inter-American Development Bank, but it wants to do more.

Venezuela vs. Colombia

This is the latest round of hostilities between these two South American Countries:

Venezuela recalled its ambassador in Bogotá on Thursday after the Colombian government admitted paying a bounty for a leading guerrilla allegedly kidnapped in Caracas and handed over to Colombian police

You heard it here first: It won't be long before Colombia and Venezuela go to war!

By the way, Ollie North has an important article on the situation in Colombia (Hat Tip: A.J.).

Thursday, January 13, 2005

"Marielitos" to be Released

From the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the government cannot continue to detain two Cuban illegal immigrants who have completed their sentences for felony convictions while it seeks to deport them back to a nation that refuses to accept them.

The court's 7 to 2 ruling could lead to the release of more than 700 Cuban nationals who are being held indefinitely, as well as of more than 170 immigrants from other nations around the world.

The New York Times has more details on the story.

Hispanics in Rhode Island

From the Providence Journal:

Governor Carcieri yesterday nominated Rafael A. Ovalles to the District Court, putting the Providence lawyer on the path to becoming the first Hispanic judge in the state court system.

The nomination comes amid explosive growth in the state's Hispanic population, which doubled to 90,000 in the 1990s, marking the biggest shift in Rhode Island's ethnic mix in nearly a century.

Governor Carcieri also named Patricia Martinez to lead Rhode Island's Department of Children Youth and Families.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Democrats' Racism

Interesting article in National Review:

If you lined up every elected Republican in Washington and all the governors, you would be looking at over 300 white faces. The only black Republicans in prominent positions are appointed. That's bad PR for the GOP, and good news for the Democrats.

Miguel Estrada knows how this works. Democrats, as their memos revealed, found Estrada "especially dangerous because. . . he is Latino." It's not that Dick Durbin and Pat Leahy's staff think Hispanics are inherently more "dangerous," it's that they don't want to be seen opposing one for the High Court, when all of America will be watching. He had to be stopped before then...

Estrada and [Ohio Secretary of State, Kenneth] Blackwell both suffered a particular brand of racism mostly practiced by Democrats against minorities. Democrats attacked Estrada's conservatism, saying he clearly did not represent the views of the Hispanic community, much like how Clarence Thomas is said to be not truly black because of his political philosophy.

The presumption behind this attack is that while whites can believe anything they want, blacks and Hispanics need to follow their leftist "community leaders" or they are sell-outs.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

English-Only Policy Discriminates

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

A federal judge should not have thrown out a lawsuit challenging an English-only policy for city workers in Altus, Okla., because the policy discriminates against Hispanic workers, an attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission argued Monday.

Twelve bilingual Hispanic workers filed complaints with the commission after the city adopted the policy in 2002, saying the city failed to show there was a need to prevent them from speaking Spanish. They also said the policy singled out a nationality and promoted feelings of isolation.

The Latest Chavez Outrage

From HACER:

Venezuela's Marxist dictator, Hugo Chavez, has begun confiscating farms and ranches, a violent act worthy of Zimbabwe’s ethinc cleansing, marauding socialist tyrant Robert Mugabe.

Robert Zoellick

From the Miami Herald:

Robert B. Zoellick, nominated to be second-in-command at the State Department, promises to be good for Latin America, South Florida and global relations in general. Currently the administration's top trade negotiator, Mr. Zoellick is a seasoned diplomat who has spent much time in the last four years crafting relationships and trade deals in Latin America...

We hope that his experience and interest in the region will translate into increased State Department attention there, not only on trade and economic issues, but on the health of democracies, the state of development and persistent hot spots -- Haiti, Venezuela and Cuba come to mind.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Expectations on Immigration

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Hispanic voters in particular flocked to the Republican president in surprising numbers, helping to seal his victory. Now immigrant communities in Florida and elsewhere eagerly await his plan to allow undocumented arrivals from their countries to live and work here legally.

Pinochet's Stash

From the Miami Herald:

An investigative judge has found that former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet accumulated $15.9 million in foreign bank accounts and used Chilean army funds for personal benefit, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The Santiago daily El Mercurio said the information comes from a report prepared by Judge Sergio Muñoz, who has been investigating Pinochet for five months after a U.S. Senate committee disclosed he kept secret accounts of up to $8 million at Riggs Bank in Washington. The newspaper did not disclose how it got the report but published several photocopies of what it said is the original document.

Carlos Mencia

The San Diego Union-Tribune has a story about Honduras-born comedian Carlos Mencia. One line from the story caught my attention:

Mencia is at his most biting when he lambastes groups for not taking personal responsibility.

In his show, he tosses this out to Latinos: "We want to be treated as equals! (Then, in a whining voice) Can we get into UCLA with a lower GPA?"

Friday, January 07, 2005

Gonzales' Statement

The Associated Press has the text of the statement Alberto Gonzales delivered at his confirmation hearing yesterday.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Gonzales Confirmation Hearing

MSNBC has a good recap of the confirmation hearing of Judge Alberto Gonzales to be the next U.S. Attorney General. C-SPAN has streaming video of the hearing.

Carlos Gutierrez Confirmation Hearing

C-SPAN has a stream of today's Confirmation Hearing of Carlos Gutierrez to be the new Commerce Secretary.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Support for Gonzales

The editorial pages of the country's newspapers are weighing in on the Gonzales nomination for attorney general with the confirmation hearings starting tomorrow. The Miami Herald supports Gonzales, but does not want the Senate to rubber stamp his nomination. The Wall Stree Journal has some supportive pieces, including commentary from Douglas Kmiec, who thinks Gonzales has given the president wise counsel and should be confirmed. As you might expect, the liberal New York Times would like Senators to rough up Mr. Gonzales if they have to confirm him.

Migrant Guide Controversy

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Mexican government is distributing a comic-book guide that warns would-be migrants about the perils of crossing illegally into the United States and offers tips to stay safe -- enraging some advocates of stricter immigration policies in the United States who argue the booklet encourages illegal migration.

Helms-Burton

From EFE via Hispanic Business:

Mexican firms are reducing their involvement in Cuba out of ignorance about the local economy and fear of running up against Washington's four-decade-old economic embargo on the Communist-ruled island, the leader of a business group said Tuesday.

You won't see me shedding a tear for a Cuban regime that is being isolated by the international business community, but I think Helms-Burton is just a bad law for the effect it has on international trade and the way it imposes limits on American and foreign business.

Citizenship Revoked!

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The U.S. government can revoke a Haitian-American man's citizenship even though he was convicted of drug charges after becoming a citizen, an appeals court has ruled.

The government argued that Lionel Jean-Baptiste, of Miami, "illegally procured" his citizenship because he committed a crime while awaiting approval of his application.

Jean-Baptiste, 57, has denied the allegations and said he only learned of the charges when he was arrested in October 1996, six months after he was naturalized. He was convicted in 1997.

The ruling Tuesday by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta marks the first time, at least in the court's jurisdiction, that the government is seeking to revoke the citizenship of someone who was indicted, arrested and convicted after becoming a citizen.

For and Against Gonzales

I generally like Anne Applebaum and her opinions, but this time I respectfully disagree:

...eight months ago, much of the country -- and much of the Republican Party -- was gripped by horror and embarrassment after the publication of photographs from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq...

Although many people bear some responsibility for these abuses, Alberto Gonzales, along with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is among those who bear the most responsibility. It was Gonzales who led the administration's internal discussion of what qualified as torture. It was Gonzales who advised the president that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to people captured in Afghanistan. It was Gonzales who helped craft some of the administration's worst domestic decisions, including the indefinite detention, without access to lawyers, of U.S. citizens Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi.

By nominating Gonzales to his Cabinet, the president has demonstrated not only that he is undisturbed by these aberrations, but that he still doesn't understand the nature of the international conflict which he says he is fighting...

anyone who has ever wanted the United States to play a role in promoting and supporting democracy and human rights around the world -- and this includes a wide swath of the conservative movement -- ought to oppose the appointment of Alberto Gonzales, if only on the grounds that he is associated with bad legal advice that has damaged our ability to do so. Just because the president can't remember how embarrassed we all were eight months ago doesn't mean the rest of Washington, and especially the rest of the president's party, need be gripped by amnesia as well.

I can't think of too many things that I agreed with Henry Cisneros on, but he supports Gonzales:
Thorough scrutiny of a nominee is the Senate's obligation in the confirmation process and in this time of war, sharp questioning will understandably seek to clarify aspects of our national policy with respect to the treatment of prisoners in the war against terror, matters on which White House Counsel Gonzales has advised the president. The questioning should be as intense as the subject is important and in the end Alberto Gonzales should be confirmed.

Go figure!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hispanic Baby Boom

Interesting news from Arizona:

More than 39,000 babies were born to Hispanic women in Arizona in 2003, compared with about 38,800 babies born to Anglo women during the same year, according to state statistics.

The numbers reflect the state's rapidly growing Hispanic population and could also explain how Jose became the most popular boy's name in the state in 2004.

Affirmative Action Hurts Blacks

The Weekly Standard's Terry Eastland has a very provocative article about Richard Sander, a UCLA Law Professor who will soon publish a study of affirmative action admission policies at major public law schools:

This week the Stanford Law Review will publish his article, "A Systematic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools." ...The title of the 117-page study is as dull as Sander's conclusion is sharp. "What I find and describe," he writes, "is a system of racial preferences that, in one realm after another, produces more harms than benefits for its putative beneficiaries." Sander makes the further, riveting point that "the annual production of new black lawyers would probably increase if racial preference were abolished tomorrow."

If you read the entire article, which you should, these are some of the things you will find:

In the picture Sander draws, the admissions preferences for blacks are very large. This is the case with respect to almost all law schools. Which is to say, contrary to conventional wisdom, preferences aren't confined to the elite schools. Indeed, "affirmative action has a cascading effect through American legal education." The top-tier law schools enroll not only the small number of blacks who don't need preferences to get in but also less-qualified black applicants whose credentials would have sufficed to gain them admission under a race-blind standard to a second-tier school. Second-tier schools are then forced to choose between having few if any black students (under a race-blind standard) or using preferences to reach their racial goals. The second-tier schools make the latter choice, and so the effects cascade to the third-tier schools and on down the law-school ladder. There is thus a "system" in place whose net effect is "to move nearly all blacks up a tier (or two) in the law school hierarchy." Only at the bottom--in the lowest-tier schools--do you find black students who are probably unqualified for any law school.

The cascading effect leaves most black students "mismatched" with peers whose academic credentials (in terms of LSAT scores and UGPA) are superior. Which means, as Sander puts it, that "nearly all blacks [are placed] at an enormous academic disadvantage in the schools they attend." And so there are "mismatch effects." In their first year, about 50 percent of black law students end up in the bottom tenth of their class, and roughly two-thirds in the bottom fifth, with only 8 percent placing in the top half. The grades of black law school students go down a bit from the first to the third year. Black students have a much higher attrition rate than white students (19 percent compared with 8 percent). Sander finds that fact unsurprising, since students (of whatever race) with the very worst grades are those who are expelled or drop out. Finally, black law school graduates fail the bar exam at four times the rate of white graduates. Sander concludes that more than 40 percent of black students starting out to become lawyers never reach that goal.

It is disturbing to think that the very programs that are intended to help disadvantaged minorities are causing such terrible harm. According to the article, Sander is writing a book that will examine the impact of affirmative action on all favored groups, not just blacks. I will have to read that book. Star Parker has more on this issue.

Bush's Immigration Challenge

From George Melloan of the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

On immigration reform, Mr. Bush has a sensible plan to restore legality through guest worker programs and amnesties. U.S. business, particularly hotel and restaurant services, could hardly function without immigrants, legal and illegal.

According to Barron's, the U.S. underground economy is growing apace, mainly because of off-the-books work. Reform would ameliorate all this law-breaking; immigrants could go back and forth to their home countries legally instead of being trapped in the U.S., afraid of being caught and subject to exploitation.

Indeed, too little immigration could prove to be a problem in the future. Partly because of overly strict homeland security barriers, the U.S. is in danger of losing the talented immigrants it will need to maintain its superiority in science and technology. But right-wing nativists fight reforms.

Index of Economic Freedom

The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation have published their annual Index of Economic Freedom. Not surprisingly, in Latin American only Chile is ranked as "free" while Venezuela and Cuba are deemed to be "repressed" economies. To the extent that prosperity is tied to economic freedom, most nations in Latin American need to be doing better.

Presidential Welcome

I saw a video of the president welcoming new members of Congress at the White House on C-SPAN last night. The issue of immigration was conspicuously absent from his discussion of the priorities that he wants the new Congress to tackle. I don't know what that means, but in my opinion, it does not bode well for W's guest worker program.

Remember Estrada

Hispanic Pundit asks us to remember that the Democrats found Miguel Estrada unacceptable despite an impressive background.

Anti-Immigrant Flyers in Kansas

The National Alliance, an anti-immigration group out of West Virginia has distributed some alarmist flyers in Dodge City, Kansas:

The main text of the flyer does not single out a specific ethnic or racial group for the National Alliance's venom. But the upper right-hand corner offers a clue to the organization's true intentions: A headline from the July 18 Denver Post saying that Colorado's Latino population nearly doubled between 1990 and 2000.

The National Alliance is relying on fear and ignorance to persuade people to accept the bogus message that America's non-white population - especially the Hispanic community -represents a threat to our way of life.

Monday, January 03, 2005

"Spanglish"

Ruben Navarrete likes the movie. I may have to go out and see it.

Al Gonzales Is No Torquemada

The American Spectator defends Alberto Gonzales' nomination from those who would compare him to the leader of the Spanish Inquisition:

The left wants to sink Alberto Gonzales's nomination to be attorney general and not because he's a conservative, or because he might some day be nominated to the Supreme Court. Both of those otherwise sufficient motives are subordinated to the left's determination to give suspected terrorists captured abroad the same legal rights and protections that a Los Angeles purse snatcher has. Gonzales, as counsel to the President, has been at the forefront of the fight to redefine the concepts of war to fit the new kind of war terrorists wage against us. To those who want to win this war, the fight over Gonzales's nomination is much more important than the nomination itself...

Alberto Gonzales is no Torquemada. He is a conservative lawyer who offends liberals because his advice doesn't try to impose liberal pieties on the prosecution of the war against terrorists and the nations that support them. Confirmation of Gonzales will not quiet those of the media, the ACLU, the U.N., and the Red Cross who wish to impose extra-legal restrictions on our forces and intelligence agencies. But Senate rejection of Gonzales would be an undeserved endorsement of their condemnations of our soldiers, our President, and how we have to fight this war.

GOP Opposition to Immigration Reform

Yet another story about how House Republicans oppose the president's proposal for a guest-worker program:

President Bush's plan to liberalize the nation's immigration laws to allow millions of undocumented workers the opportunity for legal status appears to be on a collision course with newly aroused sentiment among House Republicans pushing for a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Bush describes his immigration proposal as one of the top goals of his second term, calling it a humane way to get a handle on the nation's mushrooming illegal immigration problem. Republican strategists, led by White House chief political adviser Karl Rove, also see the proposal as an important element in their plan to expand the party's base among the nation's fast-growing Hispanic population.

Hispanics and the NRA

In a story about Sandy Froman, the new president of the National Rifle Association, there is this little nugget:

George Diaz, who lobbies at Arizona's Capitol, ...is disappointed with the NRA for not reaching out more to the Hispanic community. He said the NRA chose not to endorse Republican Andrew Pacheco, a lifetime NRA member, for Maricopa county attorney this year. The NRA eventually decided to stay out of the Republican primary in September.

"They missed a tremendous opportunity to embrace the Latino community," said Diaz, a 14-year NRA member who is going to let his membership lapse next year. "We're the fastest-growing community here. Much like the Republican Party, they failed to embrace a section of the population that shares the same sort of morals and ideals. It's the future of both the NRA and the Republican Party. Hopefully, Sandy will examine that."

Hispanic Assimilation

Although Hispanics still tend to live in semi-segregated neighborhoods, we are pretty well dispersed throughtout the country. As with everything else dealing with the Latino population in the U.S., these trends are not easy to describe or explain.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

It's been a little bit more than a year since I started blogging, and it's been an amazing experience. I'm still shocked that people actually come to the site to read what I write. I want to say thank YOU. May the New Year bring you many successes and the kinds of setbacks that will only make you stronger. Have a healthy and properous 2005!