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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Indigenous Issues

From Marcela Sanchez of the Washington Post:

Indigenous issues have seldom fit into U.S. priorities except in tangential and unconstructive ways. At times they have even collided with Washington when the actions of a few have made all appear anti-capitalist, tolerant of drug trafficking and even supportive of terrorists...

...indigenous leaders describe fundamental differences between themselves and Washington. To them, the obsession with individual human rights clashes with their traditional emphasis on collective rights. Rather than having an individual title to, say, a plot of land, they would favor a collective title.

Another difference is self-determination. They want to have sovereignty without limitations that could mean submitting to the national laws of the country where they live. To them such limitations would be just another form of discrimination and subjugation.

Yet another is the crucial issue of land rights. Indigenous groups want control over their lands including all surface and subsurface resources. Land disputes between indigenous groups and national and international business interests have led to violence and bloodshed.

There doesn't seem to be much common ground for the parties to work on.

CAFTA Update

From HispanicBusiness:

The Bush administration, after four years of moving free trade deals through Congress, faces its toughest test in trying to bring six Latin American countries into the open U.S. market that now includes Mexico and Canada...

The U.S. signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica last May. The Dominican Republic signed later...

The stakes are higher this year. Cafta is the most significant multilateral pact for the U.S. since the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada more than a decade ago. It is seen as crucial to the greater goal of establishing a free trade zone for all the Western Hemisphere.

The Democrats' Hispanic Problem

Excellent analysis of post-election data on the Hispanic vote by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman:

Consultants who specialize in Latino politics have long been directing Democrats’ attention to Spanish-dominant recent immigrants. Those are the easiest voters to poll, but, important as those voters are, they are not where the problem seems to be.

Latinos who voted for Kerry in very large numbers tended to be poorer, Spanish-speaking and living in Latino neighborhoods. Those less likely to have voted for Kerry include better-off, English-dominant and bilingual folks who live mainly in more diverse neighborhoods.

According to the Annenberg polling, the decline in Democratic support among Latinos came almost entirely in English-language interviews. Kerry did just one point worse than Gore had among Spanish-dominant voters.

Land Mines in Latin America

From the Kansas City Star:

Land mines are often perceived as affecting only far-off places such as Angola, Cambodia and Afghanistan. But 45 million to 50 million of the deadly devices threaten lives in about 90 countries, including at least five nations in Latin America.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Argentina

The Economist has an interesting article on the Argentina debt restructuring situation:

Argentina appears to have persuaded most of its bondholders to accept a deeply discounted debt-restructuring offer. But the country’s financing problems will continue unless it can coax back capital stashed abroad by its citizens

Chavez for Nobel Peace Prize?

Now we know the world is upside down!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

GOP Base Is Split

From Fox News:

WASHINGTON — President Bush has told the nation he still plans to advance a proposal he made a year ago to grant temporary visas to illegal immigrants already in the United States, but many members of the conservative base that helped re-elect him say they staunchly disagree, and they are warning the White House not to take their loyalty for granted.

Chávez the Fidelista

What kind of dictatorship would Hugo Chávez's Venezuela be without a little militarization?:

EVER since he was first elected as Venezuela's president in 1998, Hugo Chávez has been fond of anti-American rhetoric. American officials long ignored this, preferring to watch what the Venezuelan did rather than what he said. Since Mr Chávez trounced his opponents in a recall referendum last August, not only has he turned up the volume of his “anti-imperialist” pronouncements, but some of his words are turning into deeds. As a result, some in Washington are starting to become alarmed about Mr Chávez and the wider regional implications of his leftist-nationalist “revolution”.

Mr Chávez, a former army officer, recently declared himself to be a Fidelista, a follower, that is, of Cuba's communist president, Fidel Castro, his closest ally. He has ordered Venezuela's armed forces to draw up a new Cuban-style strategy in which the top priority has become preparing to fight a war of resistance against a hypothetical invasion by the United States, now seen as the principal adversary. To this end, Mr Chávez has recently ordered a doubling of the army's reserve, to more than 100,000 troops under his personal command. “Popular defence units” of 50 to 500 civilians are to be set up in workplaces and on farms.

Immigration Debate

Professor Gary Becker and Judge Richard Posner, two very smart guys, are having a theoretical debate about possible solutions to the immigration issue. Their blog is perhaps the most erudite blog on the net.

For Enforceable Immigration Reform

The Miami Herald has a strongly worded opinion in opposition to HR 418:

The ''Real ID Act'' recently approved by the U.S. House is a thinly veiled attack on immigrant communities. It would weaken, not strengthen, national security by diverting attention from the real issue: Should federal law-enforcement be targeted at deterring terrorists or at rousting undocumented farmworkers and nannies from jobs that Americans don't want?

We say focus federal resources on the nation's enemies -- the terrorists, drug-traffickers and others engaged in criminal enterprises. By all means improve port security, cargo screening, criminal databases, intelligence sharing and cooperation on border security with Mexico and Canada.

But denying driver's licenses to people without status, pushing unfunded mandates on states and building hurdles for legitimate asylum seekers is worse than doing nothing. These provisions of the Real ID Act (HR 418) would increase the number of uninsured and unsafe drivers. They would hike the demand for fake documents and the number of people deported. The bill would make immigrants more unwilling to cooperate with law enforcement and unlikely to report crimes, thus making it easier for terrorists to hide.

Gang Leader Arrested in U.S.

From ABC News:

A reputed gang leader suspected of masterminding a bus massacre in Honduras that killed 28 people was arrested this month in Texas, U.S. and Honduran officials said Wednesday.

Authorities described the man, Ever Anibal Rivera Paz, known as "El Culiche" The Tapeworm as the leader of the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang in Honduras.

The violent Central American gang has members in the United States, and U.S. officials are concerned that they might help sneak al-Qaida terrorists into the country.

However, not everyone believes that MS-13 has Al-Qaeda connections.

No Benefits for Illegals in Virginia

From the Washington Times:

RICHMOND -- Both chambers of the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly yesterday approved a measure that would deny illegal aliens access to state and local public benefits, including Medicaid.

The House voted 81-17 to approve the bill, which applies only to aliens 19 and older. The Senate, which usually rejects legislation that restricts benefits to illegal aliens, approved the bill on a 27-11 vote.

The bill now heads to Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, who could not be reached for comment yesterday. Warner spokeswoman Ellen Qualls said the bills are "under review," but did not offer further comment.

Since becoming governor in 2002, Mr. Warner has vetoed legislation that would have required illegal aliens to pay out-of-state tuition at state universities and approved a measure that requires foreign nationals to prove they are in the United States legally before obtaining a driver's license.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Independent Library in Cuba

From the New York Times:

At the beginning of this year, members of the Cuban Cultural Center, an arts group that usually sponsors exhibitions and concerts, adopted an independent library in Cuba.

They chose one in Las Tunas, Cuba, the Felix Varela Independent Library, which is named for a Cuban priest famous for his work for immigrants and the Roman Catholic church in Lower Manhattan in the 1800's. The library itself, like some 100 others that have been founded since 1998, offers Cubans an alternative to the official media or state-run libraries. They carry newspapers and magazines from around the world or books considered taboo by the regime - like "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.

"I know firsthand what it is not having something interesting to read," said the jazz saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, who left Cuba in 1980 and who voted to adopt the library. "I know what it is like to have to hide to read something that the government calls subversive."

Almost two years ago, about 11 independent librarians in Cuba were among 75 dissidents, journalists and others arrested and given prison sentences of up to 28 years for essentially collaborating with enemies of the state. Most are still in jail, despite an international outcry.

Protectionism & the Third World

From Agence-France through HispanicBusiness:

Developing countries would benefit substantially if they cut their own trade barriers and farm subsidies, IMF director general Rodrigo Rato said Wednesday.

"By some estimates, freeing up merchandise trade and removing all agricultural subsidies could generate gains of up to 280 billion dollars by 2015, with a disproportionately high share of these gains going to developing countries," said Rato, speaking at Columbia University.

While most of the focus on trade barriers is on wealthy countries, Rato said that developing states need to face up to their own protectionism.

"There is one aspect of the trade debate that is often overlooked, and that is the trade barriers that developing countries impose on each other," Rato said.

The Border Patrol

From USAToday:

More than three years after the terrorist attacks in 2001, the 11,000 men and women who serve as the border's front-line defense are overwhelmed. Despite an influx of new technology, such as underground sensors and cameras that pan the desert, agents catch only about one-third of the estimated 3 million people who cross the border illegally every year.

Remittances and Political Power

From the New York Times:

Today more than ever, the remittances sent home by immigrant workers, both legal and illegal, are translating into political clout, and their communities in the United States, better organized and more vocal than before, have become social and political forces too important to ignore.

It is a phenomenon that has made Washington a principal battleground to lobby support among Salvadorans for the Central American Free Trade Agreement; New York a crucial state in elections in the Dominican Republic, which allows its citizens to vote from the United States; and Chicago a mandatory campaign stop for Mexican politicians.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Blog Addiction

Am I addicted to blogging? Are you? These are good questions.

Puerto Rican Statehood

Neil Cavuto of FoxNews doesn't think Puerto Rico would be welcomed with open arms as our 51st state:

I began thinking Puerto Rico might very well want to become a state. And I think they'd make a great state. The Puerto Ricans I talked to sure thought so. I'm just not sure everyone here would feel the same way.

So Puerto Rico, keep debating the battle for statehood there. It's nothing compared to the battle you'll likely face ... here.

Immigration and L.A. Public Schools

Allan Favish of Frontpage Magazine thinks that illegal immigration is ruining the Los Angeles public schools, and he has tons of data to support his argument.

Maria Full of Grace

I recently saw Maria Full of Grace. If you haven't seen this movie, run and get the DVD and watch it. It is extraordinary!

Mary Sanchez has a review (spoiler alert!!)

Free Trade & Foreign Policy

Naotaka Matsukata, writing for the Washington Post:

Trade has proved to be an invaluable asset for U.S. foreign policy, fostering more self-sustaining economic growth among key regions of the developing world than any imaginable forms of traditional foreign aid. Free trade is one of the critical components of U.S. efforts to develop enduring, stabilizing influences in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa -- key regions for our work to thwart the rise of terrorism and illiberal government...

Well beyond its economic significance -- some $20 billion -- the [Central America Free Trade Agreement] CAFTA vote will have huge symbolic importance for the United States and its role in the world. It will be carefully scrutinized by countries and leaders in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and South America for signs as to whether this country remains committed to the idea that free trade presents an enduring means to sustainable development, and that free-trade agreements are the best mechanisms for reinforcing political links between the United States and some of its most important foreign partners...

The simple truth of U.S. trade policy is that, in 2005, it is no longer merely about trade but is an often unacknowledged pillar of foreign policy.

New Immigrants

From USAToday:

Immigrants who came to the USA this decade are more educated than those who arrived in the late 1990s, Census Bureau data released today show.

The data also indicate that the adult children of immigrants are exceeding their parents' income and educational levels.

The increase in education levels "is good news because it shows that immigrants are getting a foothold," says William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. "The downside is we're bringing in a lot of lower-skilled people, too."

Utility Privatization in Latin America

Very interesting article from the New York Times about the failing efforts by Latin American states to privatize utility services:

Across the region, companies are more than ever weighing political risks when considering expansion plans. Political leaders, meanwhile, are having to weigh the need for foreign investment against the demands of citizens who are increasingly quick to hit the streets...

Those who resist the trends of globalization have been emboldened by what they see as the success of local people in asserting their control over resources...

Others, less enthusiastic, see a troubling degree of political instability and a perfect storm of uncertainty on the horizon.

The failure of Latin American countries to implement privatization properly will continue to be an obstacle to economic progress for a long time to come. Can you tell I'm one of the pessimists?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Personal Accounts in Chile

From the American Spectator:

When he is stumping for his personal retirement accounts vision for Social Security reform, President Bush often points to the success of Chile, which introduced personal accounts in the early 1980s. If a poor South American nation could make the reform work, the argument runs, so could the United States...

It's hard to see why anyone would call Chile's personal accounts system a failure. Removing barriers to legal employment and fostering a competitive environment among personal accounts managers could certainly help the system operate more effectively, but they are not problems with the system itself.

With rates of return that are more than double what was originally projected and Chile's economy booming, it's a shame that the United States didn't follow suit when it reformed Social Security in 1983.

BRICS

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is assisting an anti-American alliance of nations in challenging the United States' economic dominance:

Most Americans have yet to hear of the BRICS alliance – BRIC standing for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. That is unfortunate, as the position of this alliance is devoted to muscling the U.S. out of global markets where possible. As the editorial claims, Russia is now trading oil to China in exchange for collaboration in the “Geopolitical strategic defense” of Eurasia. Russia believes this is imperative, claims the India Times: “According to some international think tanks, sources close to Russia's Security Council say recommending countermeasures to check the U.S. geopolitical ‘offensive’ in Eurasia will be perhaps the forum's most important job.” To “check” American ambitions, Russia and China will conduct publicized joint military exercises later this year.

Land Mines in Latin America

The Miami Herald has the story.

Chavez is a Threat to the U.S.

From Frederick Stakelbeck, Jr. of the Global Politician:

Although their actions have slipped largely under the radar screen due to America’s continuing duties in the War on Terror and in Iraq, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his minions have initiated an aggressively anti-American campaign in recent months that poses a direct threat to the security of the United States.

Crackdown!

The New York Times has an extensive report on immigration raids in New Jersey and their effect on the immigrant population and the community there:

The result of all these raids is a mixed message for the thousands of Hispanic immigrants, many of whom are in this country illegally. On the one hand, the raids are taking place against backdrop in which 18 states allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. But at the same time, a bill that recently passed the House and went to the Senate would bar states from granting those privileges - part of federal crackdown on illegal immigrants in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Moreover, relations between local and federal agencies is being strained by pending federal legislation that would require local police to enforce immigration law. Introduced in 2003, the measure - called the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act - represents a major shift. Currently, local police departments are charged with enforcing criminal law, while immigrants in the country illegally are in violation of civil law.

What is more, the legislation does not provide additional federal funds for training police in immigration law enforcement or for the hiring of additional officers to help with the increased workload. As a result, dozens of police agencies, including several in New Jersey, are on record opposing the measure, as are several civil liberties groups.

Immigration advocates say that passage of the proposed federal legislation would worsen already frayed relations between the state's growing immigrant population and the local police.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Cuban Doctors in Honduras

Mary Anastasia O'Grady has a very interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription) on Cuba's medical "missionaries" to the poorest countries in Latin America:

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Maybe Fidel Castro, mastermind behind four and a half decades of preposterous Cuban economics, really does understand the market after all. That would explain how the Cuban dictator has managed to maintain some 350 Cuban doctors in this country since 1998, despite President Ricardo Maduro's disapproval of Cuba's human rights record.

The Cuban doctors seem to have already had the effect of polishing Cuba's image as a kinder, gentler dictatorship, and making it more politically costly for Mr. Maduro to support Cuba's dissident movement. More troubling is the potential for soft indoctrination, a kind of tilling the soil in the poor countryside so that it is ready when political opportunity presents itself as it has in Venezuela of late.

The Cuban doctor program was introduced into Honduras when Hurricane Mitch devastated the country in November 1998. With over 50% of the Honduran population living in rural areas and 1.5 million Hondurans with no access to health care, according to a national health official, there was a market for Fidel's foot soldiers of medicine even before the ravages of the hurricane.

Ms. O'Grady's last column is available free at the HACER website. I hope HACER publishes this one, too. Ms. O'Grady is a very insightful commentator and very much worth reading.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Black History Month

Deroy Murdoch of National Review has published an excellent comparative history of Republican and Democratic attitudes toward African Americans and Civil Rights in this country. It is an enlightening piece that should be read, circulated, printed and saved to be brought out again every February (at least). An excerpt does not do it justice. You must read the entire piece.

Immigrant Drivers' Licenses

Bad new for supporters of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants in Iowa and Utah.

U.S. & C.A. vs. MS-13 & Al-Q

From the Miami Herald:

They sever fingers with machetes in the United States and cut off heads in Honduras. U.S. officials worry they'll help al-Qaida sneak in terrorists from Mexico.

Central American gangs have spread from the streets of San Salvador to the valleys of Virginia, prompting the FBI to share intelligence and resources with southern neighbors — launching an anti-gang strategy that reaches beyond U.S. borders.

FBI officials in Washington are expected to announce the plan as early as next week. It would centralize investigations at FBI headquarters, beef up intelligence and establish a national task force to reduce Central American gang activity in the United States.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Segregation in Nebraska

From the L.A. Times:

Dick Eisenhauer is tired of watching white families take their children out of the schools in his Nebraska district and enroll them in smaller, outlying ones where there are virtually no poor or Hispanic students.

Like many of Nebraska's school systems, the Lexington district where Eisenhauer is superintendent has seen an influx of Hispanics, largely because of jobs at the meatpacking plants, and an accompanying exodus of white students to public elementary schools just outside town.

And there is nothing Eisenhauer can do about it. Nebraska law allows students to switch schools without giving a reason.

Religious Persecution in Cuba

Pentecostals vow to defend their modest church

HAVANA, February 16 (Amarilys Cortina Rey, Cuba Verdad / www.cubanet.org) - Members of a Pentecostal congregation in Managua, on the outskirts of Havana, said they are willing to "let the roof of their church fall on them" if the government follows through with its order to demolish the structure which, it alleges, was built illegally.

A roof resting on columns is indeed just about all the church consists of; a floor and a pulpit complete the picture, all built more than five years ago on the backyard of the pastor's home. Members of the congregation say they have been worshiping at that location for more than 14 years.

Last Monday, municipal housing inspector Mabel Despaigne imposed a 600 pesos fine on the Rev. Ernesto Oliva, the pastor of the Light of God Pentecostal church and owner of the property on which the structure is built.

Latina U.S. Treasurers

What's the deal with this?

Every job has perks, and having your name on the dollar bill certainly could be considered one of the best, but is the job worth anything? Four of the past five (and five of the past nine) U.S. treasurers have been Latinas, and one would be hard-pressed to find a similar trend for any single minority group in such a visible post.

Bernie Williams


Bernie Holding a Clinic Posted by Hello

The Yankee outfielder recently toured South America:

The average Venezuelan makes about $3,600 a year. The average Colombian makes about $1,800. Williams, who was born in Puerto Rico and is a United States citizen, is in the final year of a seven-year, $87.5 million contract.

Even though Williams said that he was cognizant of the tense political situations in Colombia and Venezuela and the concerns that the United States has about both countries, he stressed that his journey was about influencing people. Williams said he did not consider the trip risky and never felt in danger. If anything, he said, he felt a 120-hour embrace.

Terrorism in the Americas

From USAToday:

The United States increased its funding to fight terrorism in the Americas Thursday as regional security chiefs called for improved intelligence sharing and tougher laws against terror financing.

U.S. Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson urged countries to increase their financial contributions to the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, an arm of the 34-member Organization of American States that was holding its fifth annual conference in Trinidad's capital of Port-of Spain.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Marvin Olasky on Immigration

I realize that lately, I've been posting a disproportionate number of entries on the issue of immigration. I'm taking advantage of the fact that there is an actual dialogue going on on the issue and a lot of people are saying good and useful things:

Lincoln... applauded the contributions immigrants made and expected new arrivals to be, as he wrote about some German-Americans, "true and patriotic."

That should be our test regarding immigrants. Those who come to America to tear it down or live off of others should not be welcomed. Those who are "true and patriotic" should be. This means that we must toughen our tests for citizenship and not allow dual citizenship. It particularly means that our schools and libraries should do their part to communicate patriotism, rather than politically correct anti-Americanism, and that all children should learn to speak English, so that we do not end up with a bifurcated culture.

Greenspan Supports Immigration

From Reuters:

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Thursday he supports increased immigration because it is good for the United States, not simply because it could help the Social Security trust fund.

Free Trade and Chile

From the Miami Herald:

SANTIAGO, Chile - More than a year after a landmark free-trade agreement between the United States and Chile eliminated tariffs on thousands of goods, figures show that the deal began to pay off immediately. The results are encouraging other South American countries to sign similar agreements, a Chilean official said.

Meanwhile...

The Bush administration is working to build support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement with a focus on boosting economic ties in the face of rising competition from China and mobilizing support among a growing Hispanic population in the United States.

Vigilante Tipster Scam

Why would anyone pay for this?:

Many Americans angered by the surge of illegal immigrants who feel their tips are ignored by the federal system are now using the Internet to report suspected illegal aliens, and paying a fee.

The nation’s first for-profit tip site, Reportillegals.com, charges users $10 per lead. The site claims to take all legitimate information received and turn it over to federal agents, which they say creates a paper trail and frees the users from the hassle of doing it themselves.

South American Arms Race

From the Voice of America News:

The Colombian defense minister, on an official visit to London, says his country will not be drawn into an arms race with neighboring Venezuela.

Colombia Defense Minister Jorge Uribe says the weaponry his country requires will be used only to fight its internal conflicts with drug traffickers, leftist guerrillas, and rightwing paramilitary groups.

"Colombia is a country that has never had territorial ambitions," he said. "We are centered and focused on the local, internal problem. Colombia does not consider it a possibility of an international confrontation with any of its neighbors. What we are facing is just a fight against crime, drugs and terrorism. And that is where we will concentrate."

Earlier this week Venezuela signed a deal with Brazil to purchase several Super Tucano light attack aircraft. Venezuela also is acquiring 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles from Russia, a deal that has raised alarm in Washington that the weapons could fall into the hands of Colombian guerrillas.

Al-Qaeda at the Southern Border

From the New York Times:

New intelligence information strongly suggests that Al Qaeda has considered infiltrating the United States through the Mexican border, top government officials told Congress on Wednesday.

Children of the Deported

A heart-wrenching story from the New York Times:

About three million young American citizens have at least one parent in the United States illegally, demographers estimate. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within Homeland Security, removed a record 157,281 foreign people from the country in the last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. The agency does not keep track of how many adults took along children who were citizens. But immigration experts say that just as thousands of such children are being left behind, thousands of others have been thrust, helter-skelter, into foreign lives.

Read the article for the details of one family's story.

Update: USAToday has another story on deportations.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Hispanic Giving

From the Mercury News:

Hispanics are generous with both time and money, according to a report being released today by the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley and Community Foundation Silicon Valley. The study -- the first of its kind -- is part of an ongoing effort to examine giving patterns among local communities.

The report found that while the habit of giving is well entrenched among Hispanics, they tend to give and volunteer informally, far from the structured world of non-profits and foundations. Broader involvement could help Hispanics make a greater impact on the community at large, experts said -- and non-profits would benefit from more diverse support.

Chávez is Playing with Fire

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez is adding weapons imports to his leftist crusade. That's a combustible mix.

Social Security & Immigration

From the New York Times:

The size of Social Security's financial shortfall in the decades ahead will depend partly on how many people are allowed to immigrate to the United States, a report to be released on Wednesday shows.

That finding comes as Congressional leaders of both parties prepare for a public relations war at the grass roots next week over Social Security's future. Lawmakers are in recess then and will head home for town hall meetings, editorial board visits and a flurry of other events.

The immigration report, based on an analysis of data from the Social Security Administration, concludes that if legal immigration rises by one-third over the next 75 years, the result will be a 10 percent reduction in the Social Security deficit.

Similarly, if the number of immigrants falls by a third, according to the study, the retirement system's shortfall will worsen by 10 percent.

Since retirees' Social Security benefits are covered primarily by taxes paid by current workers and their employers, the system's financing is strengthened if there are more immigrants working. Immigrants typically arrive early in their working lives, the study found, and contribute taxes to the system for decades before they claim benefits.

The report is available in PDF.

New Latino Urbanism

This is how USA Today is describing Orange County, California:

Amid a suburban county's gated communities, three-car garages and megamalls, Santa Ana is a fledgling hub of "new urbanism," an increasingly popular antidote to sprawl that promotes dense, walkable neighborhoods where people live, work and play.

But it's new urbanism with a twist: Latino new urbanism.

Advocates of this budding movement suggest that places where Hispanics are fast becoming the majority could help rein in sprawl by capitalizing on Latino cultural preferences for compact neighborhoods, large public places and a sense of community.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Venezuela Arms Build-up

From the New York Times:

President Hugo Chávez's government is moving toward purchasing combat planes from Brazil, the latest step in what the Bush administration has cast as a worrisome arms buildup by the left-leaning government in an already tumultuous region.

Progress on Trade

From Bloomberg News:

President George W. Bush is beginning to make progress in convincing U.S. textile makers to drop their opposition to a trade agreement with Central American nations.

Being Bilingual

From Mary Sanchez of the Kansas City Star:

Far too often, the expectation is for immigrant families to lose their native languages completely.

Adding English, not subtracting a foreign language, should be the goal.

Parade's Dictator's List

Fidel Castro is No. 9 in the top 10 list of the world's dictators in Parade Magazine:

9. Fidel Castro, Cuba. Age 77. In power since 1959. Last year’s rank: 9. The world’s longest-reigning dictator, Castro took advantage of the world’s preoccupation with the war in Iraq last spring to carry out his biggest roundup of nonviolent dissidents in more than a decade. He arrested 75 human-rights activists, journalists and academics, sentencing them to prison for an average of 19 years. Cuba remains a one-party state. The courts are controlled by the “executive branch”—that is, Castro, who traditionally has blamed his country’s problems, both economic and social, on the U.S.

Castro the Peacemaker

From the Washington Post:

Fidel Castro may rule one of the few remaining "outposts of tyranny" in the world, but the Cuban dictator did us all a favor by breaking the impasse that threatened to escalate into a serious conflict between two countries of enormous strategic significance for the United States. Without Castro's diplomatic intervention, it's uncertain whether presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Alvaro Uribe of Colombia would be meeting today in Caracas to help reduce the tension between the South American neighbors.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

"Impertinence"

From the Washington Times:

Venezuela yesterday dismissed as "impertinence" U.S. criticism of its plans to buy Russian rifles and helicopters and suggested Washington was just upset about not being the seller.

Scare Tactics

From CNS News:

The Republican Party says a Hispanic lawmaker is using his Spanish language skills to scare senior citizens away from President Bush's Social Security reform plan.

The Hispanic lawmaker is Bobby Menendez of New Jersey and his message is that Republicans want to play the lottery with seniors' money. Democrats are not only desperate, but they are so lacking on any positive ideas to reform the system that they have to resort to distortion and fear-mongering. Amazing!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

U.S. Upset Over Arms Sales

From the Washington Times:

The Bush administration has lodged a formal protest with Russia for agreeing to provide the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez more than 100,000 AK-47 rifles that U.S. officials believe could be used to aid left-wing uprisings in Latin America.

The Coup That Never Was

According to the Miami Herald, the story of the supposed plot by Colombian paramilitary commandoes to kill Hugo Chavez is full of holes.

The Horse Trading Begins

The president is beginning to make concessions to conservative Republicans on the immigration issue:

The White House endorsed a bill Wednesday that would make it harder for illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses, preserving some of its political capital with conservative House Republicans.

By supporting the immigration and border security House bill that could pass as early as today, President Bush delivered on a promise he made to House conservatives in December in exchange for passage of a law overhauling intelligence operations.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Indio-fascists in South America

This is very disturbing and alarming:

While President Bush’s sweeping vision of worldwide democracy was never more vividly conveyed than in his recent inaugural speech, he has thus far failed to acknowledge an alarming anti-democratic movement festering within America’s own hemisphere: the increased radicalization of Indians in South America’s Andean region and their assumption of anti-democratic, reactionary and strikingly fascistic attitudes. This trend is increasingly powerful in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru and, if not dealt with quickly, will lead to the region’s collapse into a political, economic and social Stone Age, posing a danger to the entire world.

In addition to their vocal opposition to capitalism, the United States and democracy—all characteristics that explain their close ties to the Left in their countries as well as to the Chavez regime in Venezuela and to Castro’s Cuba—these movements are also openly racist. Indeed, they advocate a return to the pre–Columbian Inca state, with the European cultural and ethnic (i.e. “white”) additions removed—by force. In any other circumstance, the combination of racism and historic nostalgia would instantly produce cries of fascism from the politically correct Left. But, not surprisingly, it views the situation in South America far differently—after all, to the Left, the “oppressed” races cannot be racist, only the white “oppressors” can and are.

Read the whole thing and you will find out, among other interesting things, that these indio-fascists are enthusiastically supported by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

Adding Insult to Injury

From the Sun Sentinel:

Eloy Gutiérrez-Menoyo, a controversial Cuban exile who returned to the island two years ago to join the dissident movement, said Monday that the U.S. Treasury Department warned he could be prosecuted or fined for living in Cuba.

Gutiérrez-Menoyo, a permanent resident of the United States, fought alongside Fidel Castro to overthrow Fulgencio Batista's government. He later broke with Castro and spent 22 years in a Cuban prison after an ill-fated attempt to start an insurrection on the island.

After 17 years in Miami, he announced during a trip to Cuba in August 2003 that he would remain there as a dissident. Now U.S. government officials say he could be violating the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

Arizona Wants to Get Paid

From AP via New York Newsday:

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has billed the federal government for nearly $118 million in unreimbursed costs for imprisoning criminal illegal immigrants.

If the federal government doesn't pay, it should take custody of approximately 3,600 illegal immigrants in state prisons, Napolitano said in a letter sent last week to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

GOP Deal on Immigration

From the New York Times:

Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, said Tuesday that conservatives might be able to compromise with President Bush on his proposal allowing illegal immigrants to work in the United States legally.

Such a compromise could entail, for example, requiring illegal immigrants to return to their native countries to apply for the program, Mr. DeLay said.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Latin America Underperforming

From Hispanic Business:

The International Monetary Fund Tuesday said most of Latin America was still lagging behind its potentials for economic performance and financial stability despite huge efforts to change, and advised the region to "carefully" tackle new reforms now, while the regional and global economy were on the upswing.

Latino Attitudes on Iraq

A new report from the Pew Hispanic Center on attitudes toward U.S. policy in Iraq is now available in PDF.

Asylum Seekers

From today's New York Times:

Thousands of people who come to the United States saying they are seeking refuge from persecution are treated like criminals while their claims are evaluated - strip-searched, shackled and often thrown into solitary confinement in local jails and federal detention centers - a bipartisan federal commission found in a report to be released today.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Fidel Documentary

A review from the Weekly Standard:

ADRIANA BOSCH'S much-touted documentary Fidel Castro made its PBS debut Monday night, as part of the network's "American Experience" series. I can already picture conservatives rolling their eyes. "A PBS special on Castro?" But Bosch's piece is remarkable--remarkably good, that is. It explains (1) Castro's messianic appeal to the Cuban people in 1959; (2) his countless failings as a leader; and (3) the barbarity of his rule. Bosch, a Cuban-American, pulls no punches. She interviews former political prisoners and documents the ghastliness of Cuba's jails. She also includes testimony from ex-Castro confidants who fell out of favor with the regime for their anticommunist beliefs, such as Huber Matos.

Yes, there are a few asides about the Cuban revolution's achievements in education and medicine (achievements that are highly debatable, to say the least). But on balance, Bosch paints an objective portrait of El Jefe. She does a bang-up job illustrating how the fatigue-clad strongman of a Caribbean island grew so influential on the world stage.

2nd Shot at Citizenship

From USA Today:

As many as 1,000 people who may have been wrongly denied U.S. citizenship for minor infractions could eventually be given the oath, thanks to a lawsuit brought by a South Korean man who was rejected because he once gathered too many oysters along a beach.

U.S. officials conceded that from 1998 to 2004, immigration authorities in Seattle misapplied the "good moral character" standard for naturalization and routinely denied citizenship to people because of minor infractions on their record.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Gonzales Confirmed

From Agence France Press via Hispanic Business:

Alberto Gonzales was confirmed Thursday to be US attorney general, after three days of polarized Senate debate about his alleged role crafting US policy on the treatment of overseas terror suspects.

Gonzales, a long-time friend to President George W. Bush and White House counsel during the president's first term, was confirmed in a 60 to 36 Senate vote, becoming the first Hispanic US attorney general.

Arkansas' Prop 200

There's some "inflammatory race-baiting demagoguery" going on in Arkansas (WSJ - subscription):

[Arkansas State Senator Jim] Holt has introduced a bill modeled after Arizona's Proposition 200 to make sure that immigrants without proper documentation don't vote in elections. Some of us hadn't realized that was a problem in Arkansas; proper identification is already required to register and vote, and you wouldn't think illegals would want to call attention to themselves by showing up at the polls.

But the bill goes further, much further, than assuring clean elections. It would require proof of citizenship for state services: education, medical care, any and all. Jim Holt explains that it's not a matter of bigotry but justice: These folks broke the rules to get here, and shouldn't be able to get any benefits the rest of us don't. He doesn't give any examples of the benefits an illegal immigrant gets that the rest of us don't, but Sen. Holt has never been a detail man. The people his bill appeals to get his drift well enough. The co-sponsor of this bill in the state Senate says folks don't want to provide prenatal care for pregnant mothers who aren't here legally. "I know," he acknowledges, that some of us will point out that "those kids are going to be citizens, and we want them to be healthier. But the other side is, what kind of message is that sending?"

Well, yes, what kind of message does that send? That we're foresighted enough to want these future Americans to be healthy and well-educated? That we don't punish the children for the sins of the fathers? Do we really want to make these little suckers second-class citizens while they're still in the womb? There may be some differences of opinion in this state, and country, about when life begins, but these two state senators seem agreed: Discrimination should begin at conception.

In real life, as opposed to politics, would Jim Holt really deny some poor Mexican who's just been mangled in a car wreck the emergency treatment he needs? Jim Holt ran for the U.S. Senate last year as a practicing Christian; his campaign signs bore the fish symbol. Would he just pass by people who are hurting and in need of help -- like some kind of Bad Samaritan?

Jim Holt's bill is less a serious proposal than an angry gesture. It's bound to be popular with the kind of folks who write angry letters to the editor warning that ILLEGAL ALIENS! are about to take over. But in Governor -- and Reverend -- Huckabee, Arkansas now has a leader who will call Jim Holt's ugly little bill what it is: "inflammatory, race-baiting demagoguery." That may be the big difference between now and 1957: a leader who exhibits -- much abused term -- moral values.

State of the Union

From President Bush's speech last night:

America's immigration system is also outdated -- unsuited to the needs of our economy and to the values of our country. We should not be content with laws that punish hardworking people who want only to provide for their families, and deny businesses willing workers, and invite chaos at our border. It is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take, that rejects amnesty, that tells us who is entering and leaving our country, and that closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Apoyo = Support

From Roll Call:

In a historic rarity, freshman Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) will speak from the chamber floor in Spanish today, urging his colleagues to confirm Alberto Gonzales to be the next — and first Hispanic — attorney general.

Color Blind in Texas

From the Christian Science Monitor:

When a large and predominantly white public university such as Texas A&M can successfully increase its enrollment of minority students without considering race as an admissions factor, other schools should pay close attention.

Minority College Students

From USA Today:

Only about one in 17 young people from the nation's poorest families, those earning less than $35,377 a year, can expect to earn a bachelor's degree by age 24. For those from the nation's wealthiest families, those who earn about $85,000 or higher, it's better than one in two.

Recent studies also show that many low-income and minority students who aspire to college are poorly served by their schools and their families, arriving at college unprepared and forcing colleges and universities to spend an estimated $1 billion a year on remediation.

Escaping "Heaven"

Imagine how unbearable life in Cuba must be for people to spend days at sea only to arrive at a country like Honduras, where they will then start off on an overland trip of more than 3,000 miles to reach the U.S. This is what many Cubans are doing while Castro continues to declare that Cuba is "heaven" and the United States is "hell."

''I just want to be able to live as a human being,'' Rivero, 45, said. ``I want to work, be able to take care of myself and help my family in Cuba. I want to have a normal life. Life is unbearable in Cuba. And it's getting worse.''

Democrats Delaying Gonzales

Democrats insist on upsetting the Latino community:

Judge Alberto Gonzales has been endorsed by every major Latino organization in the country - "so why are Democratic leaders dragging their feet and trying to hold back this excellent nominee?" a Latino group wondered on Tuesday.

"The time for partisan posturing is over," the board of directors of The Latino Coalition said in a press release urging "quick and decisive" Senate confirmation of Gonzales as the next U.S. attorney general.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Chavez Is Escalating the War of Words

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Ratcheting up his battle against Washington, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced his intent to sell Venezuela's interests in eight U.S. oil refineries, part of a broader bid to reduce his government's oil dealings with its biggest customer and ideological adversary.

During a visit to Argentina, Mr. Chavez yesterday made it clear what many industry observers have suspected in recent weeks: that Venezuela's oil policy is moving away from pragmatic accommodation and toward open hostility. "Our strategy is to look for businesses in the North to sell, such as refineries," Mr. Chavez said, adding he was considering cutting Venezuela's oil interests in the U.S. altogether. "We are subsidizing Mr. Bush."

Well, at least he is not nationalizing U.S. private property (YET!)

Cuba Is Heaven

And, of course, the U.S. is hell:

HAVANA - Fidel Castro said Tuesday that U.S. President George W. Bush appears deranged, and that Cubans would much rather live in the Caribbean island's "heaven" than try and survive in what he said was Bush's corrupt, capitalist "hell."

No comment. Fidel's delusional madness speaks for itself.

Illegal Status as Aggravating Circumstance

Interesting case from Arizona:

Circumstances that judges can consider to impose stiffer sentences may include a defendant's status as an illegal immigrant but not nationality, a state appellate court has ruled.

The Court of Appeals ruled Friday in a DUI case from Pima County that a sentencing judge could have -- but apparently didn't -- consider a DUI defendant's status as an illegal immigrant.

A state law that lists aggravating circumstances that can be considered in non-death penalty cases includes "any other factor that the court deems appropriate to the ends of justice," the ruling noted. "Under that provision, a trial court would be permitted to consider a defendant's disregard for the law in entering the country illegally as an aggravating circumstance."

Remittances

This is a staggering amount of money:

Mexican migrant labourers sent home $16.6bn in remittances last year - a 24 per cent increase on 2003 - thanks largely to the improving US economy and reductions in remittance charges.

The news came the same day that Standard & Poor's, the ratings agency, upgraded Mexico's sovereign debt rating, and when the Mexico City stock exchange hit a new record. The peso also strengthened against the dollar, while Mexico's central bank announced provisional figures that gross domestic product had risen by 4 per cent. The bank's figures mean remittances account for more than 2 per cent of GDP.

The Spineless Europeans

From the Chicago Tribune:

The 25-member European Union lifted sanctions Monday that were imposed on Cuba after scores of opposition figures were arrested and given lengthy prison sentences in the spring of 2003.

But the EU vowed to continue pressing Cuba to improve its human-rights record as part of a policy of "constructive dialogue" with Latin America's only communist nation.

The EU also insisted on the unconditional release of all political prisoners.

GOP Civil War

From Gregory Tejeda of UPI:

Hispanic people ought to pay particular attention to Wednesday's State of the Union address to try to get clues as to who will win the upcoming Republican civil war over immigration reform.

President Bush wants the Republican-dominated Congress to give a rubberstamp of approval to his long-simmering reform proposal -- one that allows non-citizens without visas to remain in the United States for up to three years if they are gainfully employed in jobs considered undesirable by U.S. citizens.

But that rubber stamp only occurs in the president's dreams. Congressional Republican leaders have a mind of their own on this issue.