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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cesar Chavez

It's Cesar Chavez Day today in California, but did you know that Cesar Chavez routinely reported illegal immigrants to the INS? This was news to me.

Michael J. Garcia

From New York Newsday:

The White House is close to nominating the chief of the nation's immigration and customs enforcement for a new job policing Wall Street as the head of the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan, sources told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Michael J. Garcia, a Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary who oversees immigration and customs, was in the running for the job last year, but no move was made, leaving in place David Kelley, a veteran prosecutor and Democrat.

Garcia's name resurfaced in recent weeks as the lone candidate being mentioned by White House officials for the position, according to two sources familiar with the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because no final decision had been made.

More Border Patrol Officers

From the Washington Post:

Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will assign 500 more patrol agents to the Arizona border, a 25 percent increase, some of them immediately. Border Patrol officials, though, say the announcement has no connection to the Minuteman Project and simply comes in line with recommendations from intelligence officials.

LAPD and Illegal Immigrants

From the World Peace Herald:

Los Angeles police are working on guidelines that could lead to closer cooperation with immigration authorities when dealing with illegal immigrants.

The Los Angeles Times said Thursday the changes are aimed at getting criminals off the streets who are in the United States illegally; however, it would also mark a departure from a long-standing policy of not turning illegal immigrants over to immigration agents.

Reverse Discrimination Case

An interesting case from Louisiana:

A federal jury in New Orleans yesterday determined that the city's first black district attorney discriminated against dozens of white employees in January 2003 by summarily replacing them with black employees days after he took office.

Luis Posada Carriles

From the Miami Herald:

Luis Posada Carriles, the legendary Cuban exile operative accused of blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976 and trying to kill Fidel Castro in 2000, is believed to have secretly slipped into South Florida after years of hiding abroad, a federal source said Wednesday.

The source said he understands that Posada, 77, has been in the area for about a week and has made contact with government authorities.

The source said he may be trying to retain a local attorney, but didn't explain why. One possibility might be to help ensure Posada wouldn't be extradited to Venezuela, where he escaped from prison in 1985 while facing charges related to the airliner bombing.

I admire the many courageous people who stand up and fight Fidel Castro's dictatorial regime, but if you act like a terrorist, you should be treated like a terrorist. I hope Mr. Posada doesn't get away with his crimes just because they were committed against someone we don't like.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hollywood Loves Che

Bridget Johnson, writing for OpinionJournal.com:

Annoying as the Che adulation is, a recent comment by a 14-year-old on an online movie message board was truly disturbing: "I just saw The Motorcycle Diaries, which further made me question: Why is communism bad? . . . Young people are told how bad communism is, but we are not told why. . . . The Motorcycle Diaries showed me how Ernesto Guevara wanted to help people. . . . But this did not explain why he was such a 'bad' person and apparently deserved to be murdered by the U.S."

Is this a legacy of dangerous ignorance that the makers of "Che" wish to continue? Might this teen be taught that the product of Guevara and Castro's "revolution" is a nation whose inhabitants still risk their lives to escape--and an estimated one-third die trying? A nation where neighbor spies on neighbor, where dissent lands one in the clink--or worse--and persecution is punishment for everything from religion to homosexuality?

Quotas and Blogging

Heather MacDonald answers the charge that racial and gender discrimination are keeping females and minorities out of the top echelons of the blogosphere:

Here's a different explanation for why the blogosphere is dominated by white males: because they're the ones producing the best product. Sorry, ladies, but there aren't as many of us engaged in aggressive, competitive opinionizing and nonstop consumption of politics as our male tormentors. In 2001, the Hartford Courant, desperate to promote women on its pages, analyzed its letters to the editor, expecting to find bias in letter selection. It turned out that women write only one third of the letters that the paper receives, exactly the percentage published, incidentally. Even Gail Collins, editor of the New York Times's editorial page, admitted through clenched teeth to the Washington Post in the wake of the Estrich blitz: "There are probably fewer women, in the great cosmic scheme of things, who feel comfortable writing very straight opinion stuff."

As for minorities, the skills gap in reading and writing means that, at the moment, a lower percentage of blacks and Hispanics possess the verbal acumen to produce a cutting-edge blog. For decades, blacks and Hispanics have scored 200 points below whites on the SATs' verbal section. Black high-school seniors on average read less competently than white 8th graders; Hispanic 12th graders read only slightly better than white 8th graders. And those are just the ones who are graduating. In the Los Angeles school system, which is typical of other large urban districts, 53 percent of black students and 61 percent of Hispanic students drop out before graduating from high school; most of the dropouts exit in the 9th grade. Assuming, generously, that those dropouts have 5th-grade skills, they are unlikely candidates for power blogging.

You've gotta love an opinionated woman!

Gloria Cardenas Cudia

A Republican Hispanic Woman, Gloria Cardenas Cudia, is running for Mayor of Rockford, Illinois, the state's third largest city.

Hat Tip: Pedro Celis

Gutierrez on Trade

From Yahoo News:

The Bush administration's drive to remove trade barriers to U.S. exports is working and needs to be expanded with a new free trade agreement with six Latin American countries, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Felicidad Vazquez & Her Family

I have very little to say in this forum about the tragic story of Terri Schiavo. The media are covering every angle and every happening ad nauseum. However, I thought you should be aware of the story of Felicidad Vazquez and her family. Felicidad is being kept alive by a feeding tube, much like Terry Schiavo, but removing nourishment is simply inconceivable for her Puerto Rican family.

Uneducated Immigrants

From USAToday:

Fewer than half of Hispanic adults who immigrated to the United States in the past four years had a high school education, a Census Bureau report released Monday showed.

Viewed unemotionally, the low educational attainment of the nation's largest immigrant group is both bad and good, experts say.

"In the long run, an uneducated society is never beneficial," said Louis Olivas, an Arizona State University vice president.

But in the short run, if immigrants had higher levels of education and skills, they would no longer accept the menial jobs and low pay that mainstream America expects of them, Olivas and a national researcher each observed.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Sin City


The lovely Ms. Jessica Alba stars in Sin City, opening Friday, April 1st. The groundbreaking movie is directed by Robert Rodriguez and also features Latin actors Benicio Del Toro and Rosario Dawson. I've seen the trailer, and it looks like an awesome movie. It doesn't hurt that it boasts a few Hispanic artists. Posted by Hello

The Venezuela-Cuba Axis

Otto Reich has an article in the next issue of National Review Magazine on the latest additions to the Axis of Evil, Venezuela and Cuba. The NR website has this excerpt:

Press reports indicate that a leftist-populist alliance is engulfing most of South America. Some Andean and Central American countries are sliding back from economic reforms and narcotics eradication, and the Caribbean remains irrationally hostile to the U.S. This is the reality U.S. policymakers must confront; and our most pressing specific challenge is neutralizing or defeating the Cuba-Venezuela axis. With the combination of Castro's evil genius, experience in political warfare, and economic desperation, and Chávez's unlimited money and recklessness, the peace of this region is in peril.

Carlos Alberto Montaner has some interesting thoughts on this subject (take a look at this story even if it's just to see the great cartoon that illustrates it).

Censorship in Venezuela

From Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post:

To be sure, much of the Venezuelan media has aggressively opposed Chavez's populist "Bolivarian revolution," though not without reason: The former coup-plotting colonel is well on his way to destroying what was once the most stable and prosperous democracy in Latin America. Some newspapers and television stations openly sided with attempts to oust the president via coup, strike or a national referendum. Having survived all three, a strengthened Chavez is moving to eliminate critical journalists and create in Venezuela the kind of state-controlled media environment in which a minister of information such as Izarra is all-powerful.

The U.S. Created MS-13?!?

From Luis J. Rodriguez writing for the New York Times:

Mara Salvatrucha is now reported to operate in 31 states and five countries, with 100,000 members across Canada, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. The government says MS-13 is the fastest-growing and most violent gang in the country. It describes MS-13 as having "cells" that smuggle people, guns and contraband across international lines, and some federal officials have mentioned possible ties between MS-13 and Al Qaeda.

While there's no proof that MS-13 has any connection to Al Qaeda, it has something in common with it: American policy played a role in the creation of both groups.

This idea that it was U.S. policy that created criminal gangs like MS-13 and Al-Qaeda is ridiculous and pernicious. It assumes that, if America just stopped being America, the whole world would just love us and Utopia would ensue. What world does Mr. Rodriguez live in? And, what is Mr. Rodriguez's solution to the problem that America suppossedly created? Let's sit down with these violent criminals and talk to them! What?!? Why? Because, according to Mr. Rodriguez, these gangsters are victims of U.S. Policy! That's right! You heard correctly, the gangsters are the victims and the U.S. is the culprit! What garbage!

Women's Earnings

From USA Today:

Black and Asian women with bachelor's degrees earn slightly more than similarly educated white women, and white men with four-year degrees make more than anyone else.

A white woman with a bachelor's degree typically earned nearly $37,800 in 2003, compared with nearly $43,700 for a college-educated Asian woman and $41,100 for a college-educated black woman, according to data being released Monday by the Census Bureau. Hispanic women took home slightly less at $37,600 a year.

The bureau did not say why the differences exist. Economists and sociologists suggest possible factors: the tendency of minority women, especially blacks, to more often hold more than one job or work more than 40 hours a week, and the tendency of black professional women who take time off to have a child to return to the work force sooner than others.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

"Alien Hunting"

Some "conservatives" give conservativism a bad name:

When a branch of the Young Conservatives of Texas held “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” at the University of North Texas, it predictably upset many students of color. The game involved “catching” other members posing as illegal immigrants and winning candy-bar prizes for their efforts.

Students at the University of Texas, Austin wanted to make sure that the same thing would not happen on their campus, said Stephen Torres, student director of the university’s Multicultural Information Center. “We wanted to be preventative,” he said. “We didn’t want the YCTs to get away with this again.”

Torres and company were successful.

Dropout Rates in California

From bignewsnetwork:

A report released Thursday said that the high-school dropout rate in California is higher than state officials admit, especially for black and Latino boys.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Trade Is Only Part of the Solution

Marcela Sanchez:

Officials both here and in Latin America promote free trade today as a component of a much greater development strategy that promises passage to a more lush and prosperous future. Trade alone, they acknowledge, is but a tool for an overall solution to eradicate persistent poverty. Their rhetoric at least suggests they understand that freer trade only gets them half-way across the bay.

But looking at their efforts, it would seem that the agreements and the negotiating processare the only parts of the strategy they are executing. And sadly, no one is putting sufficient pressure on the officials to assist those certain to lose out on the deal. Indeed, protest leaders are so focused on the trade agreements that they have little time and energy to pressure the powers that be to do more than say the right thing.

Work Visa Shortage

The U.S. Government needs to issue more work visas to foreign laborers:

From Hamptons resorts to Western foresters, from Midwestern tourist centers to Sun Belt landscaping firms, thousands of businesses are being squeezed by the same, unprecedented labor crunch this year as they scramble to hire employees needed for busy spring and summer seasons.

For more than a decade, they have relied on foreign workers with H-2B visas, a 1990 immigration program that allowed businesses to look outside U.S. borders for workers to fill temporary, non-agricultural jobs Americans increasingly shun.

But in 2005, amid rising business demand, the 66,000 visas authorized each federal fiscal year were gone by Jan. 3, barely three months after the program's annual start. The door slammed shut so early that many business owners say they are unable to hire the foreign workers they recruit to shuck oysters, plant trees, cut lawns, staff kitchens, wait tables and fill dozens of other jobs.

Cameron Diaz is Trippin'

Mega movie star Cameron Diaz has been busy putting together an MTV show based on her travels through places like Chile, Costa Rica and Honduras to make young people aware of environmental and ecological issues. Good for her!

Maquiladoras

This article is about ripple effects in a globalized world:

With garment factories moving rapidly out of Mexico, Central America has become the most important customer to U.S. textile mills. More than 70 percent of the garments produced in Central America are made with U.S. fabric and yarn.

"If we go belly up," said an exporter, Francisco Escobar Thompson, who closed one of his four plants last year and faces closing another in 2005, "the United States will go belly up."

In this desperately poor corner of the world, rising unemployment could also make for a lot more empty bellies and surging waves of undocumented migrants. With the agricultural sector all but abandoned, maquiladoras provide more than half of the jobs in El Salvador's struggling formal economy. More than 40 percent of the population is unemployed or underemployed, and an estimated 100,000 people migrate to the United States each year.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Kick Out the Bums!

From the New York Daily News:

Twenty-one foreign-born men who have committed crimes since they came to America were arrested yesterday in Westchester County and could face deportation.

Their crimes included rape, sexual abuse and stalking, with victims as young as 6, officials said.

The arrests were part of Operation Predator, a federal program targeting sex criminals that has resulted in more than 5,300 arrests nationwide.

Latinos Challenge At-Large Elections

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Civil rights lawyers announced their first victory Wednesday under a new California voting-rights law, a settlement requiring district elections in a San Joaquin Valley school district that has a sizable Latino population but, until recently, no Latino trustees.

The California Voting Rights Act, which took effect in 2002, allows minority voters to challenge at-large election systems by showing that voting breaks down along racial lines, hurting minority representation.

A lawsuit filed last July blamed at-large elections in the Hanford Joint Union High School District, in Kings and Tulare counties, for the fact that Latinos had not been elected to the five-member school board for 20 years, despite a growing Latino population that has reached 38.6 percent in the district.

Go Mets!

For the next five years, Banco Popular will be the official bank of the New York Mets.

Immigrants and Jobs

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

More proof of the integration of the North American labor market comes courtesy of a new report from the Pew Hispanic Center, which says the nation's illegal alien population rose to more than 10 million last year, a 23% increase since 2000.

The news here isn't that the numbers are growing. So long as the U.S. economy is creating opportunities for that supply of poor, low-skilled workers south of the border -- more than half of the growth is attributable to Mexico -- the influx will continue apace.

What the study helps illustrate is how well we've absorbed these newcomers, contrary to restrictionists' claims that immigrants "steal" jobs and are otherwise bad for the nation's economic health. The U.S. has maintained a relatively low unemployment rate since the last recession, even as immigration has grown. The Pew report, authored by demographer Jeffrey Passel, estimates that the illegal population grew on average by 485,000 persons per year between 2000 and 2004. Yet today's jobless rate stands at 5.4%, a percentage point above the norm in the boom-boom late-1990s, but well below the post-recession peak of 6.3% in June 2003.

The most rapid growth in the number of undocumented immigrants is occurring in states like Arizona and North Carolina. So it's notable that these states boast jobless rates below the national average. Arizona's is 4.1%, down from 5.3% a year earlier. North Carolina's has fallen to 5% from 5.9% over the same period. And as Mr. Passel explained in an interview, these migrants are not only responding to economic opportunity but also creating more of it once they reach their destination.

"They go where the economy is strong because they want jobs," said Mr. Passel. "As consumers they buy things like housing and clothes and pay consumption-based taxes. And to the extent that they often live in enclaves, a lot of them start businesses to serve other immigrants."

Republicans hostile to immigration have done an excellent job of obscuring these realities. That's one reason President Bush's guest-worker plan has been buried in Congress, even though it makes economic sense, and would help drain a black-market labor swamp and reduce the illegal activity that goes along with it. At the very least, Mr. Passel's study gives lie to the claim that immigrants are somehow displacing American workers and fettering our economy.

The Digital Divide

From Wired News:

The Commerce Department Thursday released a detailed report on Internet use, which highlighted a growing digital divide between whites and minorities and the poor and rich...

Although the report found disparities based on race, geography and even whether a household was single-parent -- they were far less likely to have computers -- the biggest single dividing line was money.

GOP's Missed Opportunities

Every Republican interested in expanding the party's base and appealing to the growing Hispanic voting bloc must read this article and take it to heart:

Back in 1990, a colleague of mine was in California covering Dianne Feinstein's campaign, against Pete Wilson, for governor. After spending a few days in Hispanic enclaves in Los Angeles and Orange County, and coming away with the conclusion that the Latino vote - entrepreneurial, fiscally prudent, culturally conservative - was in many respects a more natural ally of the Republican party than the Democratic one, he asked one of Feinstein's top people what her campaign was doing about it.

"Not much," came the reply. "We own the Hispanic vote."

At the time, this struck me as one of the most screamingly arrogant and suicidally idiotic comments I'd ever heard, and one that was - and is - merely symptomatic of a party-wide complacency toward Hispanics in particular and minorities and immigrants in general. Democrats, of course, are genetically programmed to serve up political opportunities to the Republicans like fully stuffed Thanksgiving-Day Butterballs; but rarely have they produced such a plump and glistening target as the immigrant vote in the early 1990s.

Well, six years after that signal Feinstein moment, it seems that the only party more hopeless and hamhanded than the Democrats in this area is the GOP. Faced with an historic opportunity, the Republicans not only squandered it, but succeeded in sparking an immigrant backlash that yielded huge benefits for Bill Clinton...

Learn English or Lose Child

From the New Standard:

A Hispanic woman who was ordered by a Tennessee judge to learn English within six months or permanently lose custody of her child is fighting the order with the help of one of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations. The Southern Poverty Law Center has stepped in to help the woman by representing her for free.

"The judge's requirement that a mother learn a new language within a few months or risk permanent parental termination is a gross violation of the Tennessee and federal constitutions," said Rhonda Brownstein, the Center’s legal director, in a press statement about the case.

Concern Over Chavez's Weapons

From Yahoo! News:

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed concern over Venezuela's purchase of some 100,000 AK-47 automatic rifles from Russia on a tour of Latin American nations focusing on security, drug trafficking and the war on terrorism.

The purchase, as well as plans by Caracas to buy Russian attack helicopters and fighter jets, has fueled Washington's ire against populist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

America's Dumbest Illegal Gangster

From Local 10 News:

Miami police say they arrested a member of a violent street gang as he pushed a shopping cart carrying two .22-caliber rifles and a shotgun.

Police arrested Edwin Reyes, 23, a citizen of Honduras, in downtown Miami Tuesday. They said he is a member of MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha 13).

Reyes' arrest is part of a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement anti-gang initiative called "Operation Community Shield." Since Operation Community Shield was launched late last month, ICE agents working with their federal, state and local counterparts have arrested more than 103 MS-13 gang members, including 24 in Miami.

Reyes will be prosecuted federally for possessing firearms. Police said Reyes entered the country illegally, and he also faces administrative immigration charges for being an illegal alien.

Reyes is in ICE custody pending the outcome of his case.

Immigration Reform Update

The New York Times:

President Bush promised the leaders of Mexico and Canada at a meeting on Wednesday that he would continue pressing for changes in United States immigration policy. But he also sought to lower expectations that a guest-worker program would gain momentum on Capitol Hill, where it has faced resistance for years.

More...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Pledge of Allegiance

There is a controversy surrounding the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at some schools in Maryland in Spanish!!

Dissident Protests in Havana

From the Economist:

EVERY Sunday the wives of 75 dissidents jailed by Cuba's communist government in 2003 put on white clothes and attend mass at the church of Santa Rita in Miramar, a once-elegant district of Havana. After the service, they quietly walk up and down ten blocks of the avenue outside, before gathering briefly in a park. On March 18th, to mark the second anniversary of the heaviest crackdown by Fidel Castro's regime since the 1960s, they marched to the offices of state-run television to demand that it cover their cause.

These sustained public displays of opposition are almost unprecedented in a tightly controlled country. Hitherto, the government has chosen to ignore them. But on Palm Sunday, the wives felt the regime's wrath. They were besieged by 200 members of the government-backed Cuban Women's Federation, screeching insults, chanting slogans and waving the national flag. The previous day a mob had attacked a dissident supporter.

Hugo Chavez: Clear and Present Danger

Douglas McKinnon argues that the Venezuelan president is a dangerous terrorist:

What acts define Mr. Chavez as a terrorist? Since first coming to power in 1998, Mr. Chavez has openly courted and met with terrorist leaders from around the world. He just hosted the mullahs of Iran and joined them in denouncing the United States. His mentor for life and role model is Cuba's Fidel Castro. He has imported thousands of Cuban intelligence agents to spy on and terrorize his own people. He openly supports, harbors, and bankrolls the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) of Colombia. He is trying to destabilize the presidency of U.S. ally Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. He bankrolls and exports terrorism throughout Latin America. He has welcomed al Qaeda operatives into Venezuela and given them refuge. And finally, he has named President Bush and the United States as the sworn enemies of his "revolution."

Remittances Set New Record

This is truly amazing:

The amount of money sent home by Latin American workers living abroad reached record levels last year, the Inter-American Development Bank reported Tuesday.

The Washington-based IDB said Latin American and Caribbean workers living abroad and sending money to their home countries reached $45.8 billion last year, up from $38 billion during 2003.

The Border

From the New York Times:

When United States Customs officials discovered the latest tunnel under the border here last month, they were stunned. With a cement floor and an intercom system, the passage ran nearly 200 yards from a house on one side of a rusty metal fence, under two streets and an apartment complex, to emerge in an unassuming tract home in California.

Though more elaborate, the tunnel is not unlike the 13 others found during the 1990's, built by drug cartels. But everything in the world after Sept. 11, 2001, has taken on a different hue. Today such tunnels are where the failures of drug policy, border control and immigration reform meet ever pressing issues of national security. American officials fear the tunnels could be used just as easily to smuggle terrorists and explosives as cocaine or illegal immigrants.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Democrats Want Immigration Reform

Democratic Congressional leaders have written a letter to Presidents Bush and Fox asking that the two heads of state work to bring about "realistic, humane, and fair" immigration reform.

Against Dual Citizenship

Anthony Fonte in the Washington Times:

Unlike many other nations, American citizenship is not based on racial, religious or ethnic identity. It is based, instead, on political loyalty to American constitutional democracy. People from anywhere in the world can become Americans. But if our great historical success in assimilating millions of immigrants is going to continue, ultimately newcomers must be loyal to the U.S. Constitution and not to any other constitution.

GOP and Hispanics

Can the Republican Party continue to garner the support of Latino voters as President Bush has? It's a good question:

Maybe it’s the Texas-twangy Spanish he speaks, or his pro-immigrant views, or formerly governing a state that shares a border with Mexico, or even his Latino-heartthrob nephew. But whatever the reason, George W. Bush seems to have been more popular with Latino voters than any other Republican presidential candidate before him...

But can future Republicans duplicate Bush’s success with Latinos? It’s a question, so far, that few political observers have asked. But its political importance shouldn’t be understated: According to the William C. Velasquez Institute, a Latino think tank, there were nearly 10 million Latino registered voters in last year’s election who cast approximately 7 million votes, and it projects that those numbers will double in the next 16 years.

Hernando de Soto Interview

Hispanic Pundit has a link to an exclusive interview with Peruvian Economist Hernando de Soto published by Stephen Pollard. Great stuff!

The Latin American Left Must Deliver

The brilliant Álvaro Vargas Llosa has some excellent advice for the new leftists governments in Latin America:

In order to compete with economies that have undergone reform in East Asia and Europe, Latin America's left must dismantle corporatist states that hamper enterprise among those who are not close to government and, through legal privilege, mock the notion of equality before the law.

Immigrant Soldiers

From the New York Times:

As of January, about 41,000 permanent resident aliens were in the United States armed forces - 3,639 of them from Mexico. The Mexicans are the largest group among the 63 immigrants who have been killed in action in Iraq, the Pentagon says.

It is a fact that points to Mexico's ambivalent yet deeply intertwined relationship with the United States, the country Mexico fought its last war against, and lost. That defeat, in 1848, is not forgotten here.

Yet so many Mexicans have migrated to the United States seeking jobs in recent years that they and their children are willing to fight and die for it, even if they are frequently motivated more by economic necessity than patriotism.

For many, armed service is seen as a fast track to citizenship. During wartime, foreigners with residency permits need only to serve honorably for their citizenship to be all but guaranteed, immigration officials said. Of course, they must survive as well.

Terror Risk at the Border

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Concern is growing at the top levels of government about the US-Mexican border becoming a back door for terrorists entering the United States. While Al Qaeda infiltration across the nation's southern border has been a constant concern since 9/11, US officials cite recent intelligence giving the most definitive evidence yet that terrorists are planning to use it as an entry point - if they haven't already.

As a result, a number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers - mainly from border states - are pushing to tighten checkpoints and other ways of monitoring the porous 1,400-mile boundary. The subject will also be central to President Bush's summit in Texas Wednesday with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Stephen Moore on Immigration

From the Washington Times:

George W. Bush has long supported a pro-growth, pro-freedom immigration strategy and clearly sees immigrants as assets to the United States. On this issue, his world vision collides with the Republican Party's more nativist faction, which would drape a "No Admittance" sign over the Statue of Liberty.

On the economics of immigration, Mr. Bush is more right than his critics. Whether skilled scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley or the migrant laborers who work in the sweaty fields of the Southwest picking fruits and vegetables, immigrants are the backbone of the American economy.

"Our Terrorist-Friendly Borders"

The New York Times wants the U.S. Government to get tough on border security.

Condi Rice on Univision

The Department of State's website has a transcript of an interview the Secretary of State did with Lourdes Meluzá on Univision.

Chavez Quotes

From the Times U.K.:

CHÁVEZ ON . . .

Assassination: “If they kill me, there will be a really guilty party on this planet whose name is the President of the United States, George Bush”

Bush’s Administration: “It is a mafia, a true mafia of murderers”

Cuba: “I am the second Fidel Castro of Latin America”

Capitalism: “The Devil’s economic model . . . The capitalist exploitation model has destroyed oceans, entire oceans”

Saddam Hussein: “A brother”

Condoleezza Rice: “I cannot marry Condolencia (condolence), because I am much too busy. I have heard she dreams about me”

Gaddafi’s Libya: “A model of participatory democracy”

US relations: “We have invaded the United States, but with our oil”

His ‘revolution’: “Every little grain of sand goes toward building the mountain . . . It’s like love. You have to make love every day in many ways. Sometimes carnally, sometimes with your eyes, sometimes with your voice. A revolution is love”

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

Nearly 11 Million

That's the approximate current size of the undocumented population in the United States, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.

USAToday has details.

Double Standards

John Leo of U.S. News & World Report:

Conservatives criticize liberals for "playing the race card" and reducing broad issues to narrow ones about race and gender. But conservatives do it too. Liberals opposed appeals-court nominee Miguel Estrada on philosophical grounds and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on grounds that he favored mistreatment of suspected terrorists. But some Republicans tried to sell that opposition as anti-Hispanic bias. Opposing Estrada, said Sen. Charles Grassley, "would be to shut the door on the American dream of Hispanic Americans everywhere." Not really...

Liberals have been severely critical of the Patriot Act and Ashcroft for the policy of seeking library records of suspected terrorists. Librarians were particularly incensed. However, the American Library Association declines to protest the serious mistreatment of librarians in Cuba. Some 75 dissidents, including 10 librarians, are subject to beatings, denied medical help, and kept in "medieval cages," according to human-rights advocates. The librarians' silence has to do with the lingering romantic attachment of the American left to communism in general and Fidel Castro in particular. The Motorcycle Diaries, the glowing movie about the young Che Guevara, is the current horrible example. The romantic left would never do a similar film about a young Nazi. Guevara killed a lot of people and dreamed of slaughtering more. How about On the Road With Adolf? Let's not dwell too much on what came after.

Bolivarian Propoganda

HACER has an interesting article that sees right through the Venezuelan government's obvious attempts at currying favor by throwing its petro dollars around.

Older Cubans Denied SSI Benefits

From the Miami Herald:

A little-noticed change in federal benefit rules has kept scores of older Cuban immigrants from collecting disability checks that are considered one of America's last-ditch social safety nets, according to a pair of public service lawyers...

[The Social Security Administration] ruled that it would provide SSI benefits to Cuban immigrants only if they arrived via the dry-foot policy, which basically means they fled successfully to the United States without a visa and often by rafts or go-fast boats. Cubans who... arrived on tourist visas but then overstayed them were denied.

Inneffective, Romantic Caudillos

Georgie Anne Geyer:

Today, in place of the progressive regimes of our dreams to the south, we find only a chaotic melange of countries that are not making it at all. In fact, we now see a new left -- from the seemingly eternal Fidel Castro, to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, to the Sandinistas taking over again in Nicaragua, to leftist gangs wreaking havoc in El Salvador and Honduras, to Bolivia apparently about to break apart, to a new leftist president, Tabare Vazquez, just inaugurated in Uruguay, a country that long ago eschewed the left.

When I interviewed the leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez four years ago, just before his election, skeptics were saying that he would be "another Fidel Castro." I rather dismissed the possibility. I could not see how the left could solve Latin America's problems today any more than it did yesterday, particularly without the Soviet Union backing them.

But I had missed a major factor of Latin American life: They were living for the grandiose rhetoric again, for the sexuality of the caudillo, for the thrill of the charisma. God bless Latin America...

On the world scale today, we find the greatest success stories in Asia, along the Persian Gulf, among the little countries of Eastern Europe and the Baltics and even, ironically, Mother Spain and Mother Portugal. That Latin America should so lag behind is a shame and a pity, even more now that they are heading back to their leftist caudillo stage, again looking for answers in all the wrong places.

Al-Qaeda Plans

From Time Magazine:

TWO WEEKS AFTER intelligence officials confirmed that Osama bin Laden had sent a message to Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, urging him to plan attacks on U.S. soil, details are emerging from one of al-Zarqawi's lieutenants about what the man behind many of the terrorist attacks in Iraq could have in mind. Intelligence officials tell TIME that interrogation of a member of al-Zarqawi's organization, who was taken into U.S. custody last year and has been described as a top aide, indicates that al-Zarqawi has given ample consideration to assaults on the American homeland. According to a restricted bulletin that circulated among U.S. security agencies last week, the interrogated aide said al-Zarqawi has talked about hitting "soft targets" in the U.S., which could include "movie theaters, restaurants and schools."

The bulletin also notes the Iraq-based master terrorist's apparent belief that "if an individual has enough money, he can bribe his way into the U.S.," specifically by obtaining a "visa to Honduras" and then traveling across Mexico and the southern U.S. border. Al-Zarqawi's aide also revealed that his boss, after pondering the absence of attacks in the U.S. in recent years, concluded that a lack of "willing martyrs" was to blame. Al-Zarqawi believes, according to his lieutenant, that "if an individual is willing to die, there was nothing that could be done to stop him," even in the U.S.

Social Security and Minorities

From the New York Times:

As part of their campaign to overhaul Social Security, White House officials and Republican strategists have begun a push to persuade African-Americans and Hispanics that Social Security, long thought to be of benefit to them, is a bad deal.

Republican officials argue that blacks are being shortchanged under the current Social Security system because they tend to die earlier than do whites and to collect retirement benefits for fewer years.

In a parallel effort aimed at Hispanics, they focus on the wealth that people could build through the sort of individual investment accounts that the Bush administration has proposed.

As usual, the New York Times gives its liberal spin to this story. The GOP is not saying that Social Security is a "bad deal" for Blacks and Hispanics, only that more control over retirement money has the significant potential of improving their retirement.

Tony Saca

The Miami Herald has an interesting interview with Elías Antonio "Tony" Saca, the President of El Salvador. The main topics are CAFTA and relations with the U.S.

Bill O'Reilly on Immigration

The man has some very strong opinions:

I don't want to sound cynical, but there is no question that both political parities are not looking out for you regarding the immigration mess. This column has stated before that it will take another 9/11 before we the people demand that elected officials protect us. It will take blood in the streets. Most Americans have no idea what kind of danger they are facing, and the elite media will never tell them. Once again, it is politically incorrect to mention that immigration laws must be enforced and the borders effectively monitored.

Immigrant bashing is an ugly thing. But demanding that U.S. authorities enforce laws already on the books is not bashing anyone. Two months ago, President Bush swore to uphold the laws of the land. It is time he did.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Walmart Settles

From VOA News:

Wal-Mart said Friday it will pay the U.S. government $11 million to settle charges that it used illegal immigrants to clean its stores in the United States.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Immigration Reform Update

From Knight-Ridder:

MEXICO CITY - Mexican President Vicente Fox said Wednesday that talks on immigration reform with American officials have ended for now and that there won't be any new announcements on the subject when he meets with President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin next week.

"President Bush has in his hands all the information, all the instruments to convert immigration initiatives into legislation," said Fox. "But it's up to him and the U.S. Congress to lead us into orderly, legal migration which is beneficial to all."

Fox came to office in 2000 pledging to work for reforms that would make life less precarious for the hundreds of thousands of Mexicans who work illegally in the United States. But his hopes that Bush would be able to bring about reforms were dashed by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which refocused American attention on securing borders.

Latinas on the Net

More power to the ladies:

Portals trying to sum up all Hispanics on a website are out. But niche sites, particularly those catering to Hispanic women, are in.

As more Latinas in the United States join the workforce and earn more money, they are looking for ways to spend it. They also want relevant content on beauty, the job market, and relationships.

Hispanic Mayors for NYC and LA?

Juan Gonzalez writing for the New York Daily News:

For the first time anyone can remember, the front-running candidate for mayor in each of the nation's two largest cities are [sic] Hispanic.

In Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, a charismatic councilman and former speaker of the California state Assembly, finished comfortably ahead of the pack last week in that city's mayoral race...

Back home in New York, early polls report that former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer would defeat Mayor Bloomberg if the election were held today.

Hispanics and Personal Accounts

From the Houston Chronicle:

WASHINGTON - Nearly half of U.S. Hispanics support personal investment accounts for Social Security, according to a study released Wednesday.

The report, by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, also found that Hispanics might have more difficulty making the transition to such accounts than the overall population because they earn less and have less experience owning and managing long-term financial assets.

"Latinos are young so they will be disproportionately affected by proposed changes in Social Security," said Richard Fry, a researcher with the Pew Hispanic Center and co-author of the report. Ninety percent of Latinos are under age 55, compared with 74 percent of whites, he said.

If anybody knows how these numbers compare to statistics from the general population, please post a comment.

DHS Going After MS-13

From Hispanic Business:

The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that 103 members of a violent Hispanic youth gang have been arrested nationwide in recent weeks as local law enforcement officials use immigration violations to take dangerous gang members off the streets.

The arrests took place in New York; Newark, N.J.; Miami; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and Baltimore.

Those cities are participating in Operation Community Shield, a program for local and federal law enforcement agencies to pool resources to pursue Mara Salvatrucha -- one of the nation's most vicious youth gangs.

More...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Pinochet's Cash

From the Miami Herald:

WASHINGTON - Former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet used a baffling array of 125 accounts in U.S. banks -- many of them in Miami -- to hide a 25-year money trail that was much bigger and deeper than previously thought, a Senate report showed Tuesday.

Pinochet used multiple aliases, family members and even Chilean army officers to hide his identity from regulators and, on occasion, even from bankers themselves.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Land Confiscation in Venezuela

From Turkish Weekly:

Venezuelan authorities have said they will redistribute more than 110,000 hectares of privately-held property to landless farmers.

The land seizure is part of an agrarian reform effort led by President Hugo Chavez.

Since his 1998 election, President Chavez has enacted controversial reform laws, including a 2001 land law aimed at narrowing the gap between Venezuela's rich and poor.

The law allows the government to redistribute unused land to the poor.

Critics say the law violates property rights, and could lead to illegal land grabs.

One of four estates to be redistributed includes a 13,000 hectare cattle ranch owned by a British company. The company has said it legally owns the property, and that the land is fully productive.

Fidel's Fortune

From the Wall Street Journal:

He didn't make it into the billionaire category, but Fidel Castro nonetheless earned an honorable mention on Forbes magazine's annual list of the World's Richest People out this month. And why not? With a net worth of $550 million, this is one bit of media recognition that El Jefe actually deserves.

According to Forbes, the Cuban leader committed to "socialism or death" has made a killing from a "web of state-owned businesses" -- all of which have no competition in the worker's paradise. Castro's most profitable operations include a convention center, a retail conglomerate and a company called Medicuba that sells pharmaceuticals made on the island, reports the magazine. Not mentioned are Cuba's biggest exports -- seafood, tobacco, sugar and nickel -- which, as El Maximo Lider of the communist regime, Fidel naturally benefits from too.

Castro's business savvy isn't limited to the maintenance of monopolies. He is also adept at turning confiscated property into dollars. In 1993 Castro sold 50% of Havana Club rum, which he had expropriated decades earlier, to the French liquor company Pernod Ricard for, as Forbes notes, $50 million.

Meanwhile, the rest of Cuba is so poor that food is rationed; as of 2003 each person was limited to a pound of chicken a month, according to the Cuba Transition Project at the University of Miami. But at least Cubans aren't being exploited by wealthy capitalists.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Citizen Soldiers

Some of our newest citizens are also our bravest:

Former President George Bush was on hand Friday at his presidential library in College Station, Texas as a federal judge conferred citizenship on 47 immigrants who are currently serving in the U.S. military.

The new citizens hail from 27 nations and currently serve in the US Army, Navy and Air Force. More than half have served in Iraq or other combat areas. Former President George Bush assisted in presenting them with their citizenship papers and praised their dedication to their new country.

Cuban and Immigrants Lobbying in D.C.

From Albor Ruiz of the NY Daily News:

Two groups of concerned, civic-minded people, both advocating worthy causes, will be in the nation's capital next month lobbying Congress people. April 27 is the National Day of Action for Immigrant Rights and Cuba Action Day.

Latinos Can't Be Ignored

Even traditional opponents of amnesty for illegal immigrants are beginning to see things a little bit differently:

All of a sudden, I began to think that maybe Social Security might not go broke if those illegal aliens were given the opportunity to become tax-paying Americans with a better opportunity to have their children schooled so they too can join the workforce as the baby-boomers head toward retirement.

What does America need? A “geezer” workforce or one that taps the ability of native-born and immigrant Latinos?

A lot of Americans are going to be very surprised to discover that the taxpayer base in ten years and the workforce in 2020 are going to be predominantly Latino...

The numbers of Latinos born here and coming here cannot be ignored. Ways must be found to integrate new Hispanic immigrants into our society, nor should we forget that there are already millions of first, second, third and fourth generation Latinos for whom America is their home. A group that will spend $700 billion this year alone cannot be ignored and... they are not being ignored.

Latinos Can't Be Ignored

Even traditional opponents of amnesty for illegal immigrants are beginning to see things a little bit differently:

All of a sudden, I began to think that maybe Social Security might not go broke if those illegal aliens were given the opportunity to become tax-paying Americans with a better opportunity to have their children schooled so they too can join the workforce as the baby-boomers head toward retirement.

What does America need? A “geezer” workforce or one that taps the ability of native-born and immigrant Latinos?

A lot of Americans are going to be very surprised to discover that the taxpayer base in ten years and the workforce in 2020 are going to be predominantly Latino...

The numbers of Latinos born here and coming here cannot be ignored. Ways must be found to integrate new Hispanic immigrants into our society, nor should we forget that there are already millions of first, second, third and fourth generation Latinos for whom America is their home. A group that will spend $700 billion this year alone cannot be ignored and... they are not being ignored.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

NO to Dual Citizenship

William Buchanan, writing for the Washington Times:

Candidates for citizenship should be:

• Required to turn over their old passports before taking the oath.

• Informed that, once they have taken the oath, they may not obtain passports or special privileges in their previous homeland so long as they continue to be American citizens.

• Informed we will report to their former country they are U.S. citizens and have renounced their former loyalty and rights.

• Warned that if they obtain passports from, or take an oath of allegiance to, their former homeland, they risk losing their U.S. citizenship as they would be guilty of a "willful misrepresentation."

The Competition for Hispanic Souls

Interesting article from Newsweek and perfectly appropriate for a Sunday post:

Forty million strong and deeply religious, Hispanics are traditionally Catholic. But, research shows, the longer they are in the United States, the more open they are to other faiths. While 72 percent of first-generation Hispanics are Catholic, according to one study, that figure drops to 52 percent by the third generation—a trend that has long troubled the Catholic hierarchy. Latinos remain the Catholic church's fastest-growing ethnic bloc, but they are also one of the fastest-growing segments among Mormons, Methodists and most other denominations. The result: all faiths are courting Hispanics with a marketing savvy more often associated with corporate America. These churches "have plans to grow, and they're aggressive," says Edwin Hernandez of the University of Notre Dame. "The competition is rampant."

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Axis of Evil Expands

According to this story from Al-Jazeera, the Venezuelan dictator and the Iranian mullahs are cozying up:

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez defended Iran over its dispute with the U.S. and Europe regarding its nuclear program saying Iran has a right to atomic energy.

Labor Shortage Along the Border

Stricter enforcement at the U.S. Mexico border has resulted in a shortage of lettuce pickers, but the problem goes beyond this discrete area (WSJ - subscription):

All told, about 10 million illegal immigrants live in the U.S. Without them, experts say, industries like construction, lodging and agriculture would be forced to radically change how they operate -- sharply boosting costs for consumers or curtailing the services they provide. An illegal work force "defines whole industries and whole sectors of the labor market," says Doris Meissner, the immigration chief under President Clinton.

Now, inflamed by security concerns, the debate over illegal immigrants is heating up as Congress considers proposals that would amount to the most significant change in immigration law since an amnesty in 1986.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Protectionism = Racism?

Wow! It's not everyday you hear someone saying that trade protectionism shares some characteristics with xenophobia and racism, but I'm glad someone is talking about it:

I hold this truth to be self-evident: It is just plain ugly to care more about total strangers in Detroit than about total strangers in Juarez. Of course we care most about the people closest to us-our families more than our friends and our friends more than our acquaintances. But once you start talking about total strangers, they all ought to be on pretty much the same footing. You could say you care more about white strangers than black strangers because you've got more in common with whites. Does that make it okay to punish firms for hiring blacks?

It's also worth mentioning that laws intended to "protect" Americans raise the price of goods that Americans buy. I won't dwell on this because it's already obvious to anyone with a dollop of economic literacy. Besides, it's tangential to my main point, which is this: Even if Kerry-style (or Nader-style or Buchanan-style) protectionism could improve Americans' well-being at the expense of foreigners, it would still be wrong.

After all, if it's okay to enrich ourselves by denying foreigners the right to earn a living, why not enrich ourselves by invading peaceful countries and seizing their assets? Most of us don't think that's a good idea, and not just because it might backfire. We don't think it's a good idea because we believe human beings have human rights, whatever their color and wherever they live. Stealing assets is wrong, and so is stealing the right to earn a living, no matter where the victim was born.

Immigration and Social Security

From OpinionJournal:

Everyone knows by now that two major items on President Bush's second-term agenda are Social Security and immigration reform. Less known is how closely related the issues are.

With so much attention focused on illegal immigration, it's easy to forget that most foreigners come here legally. In addition to replenishing our workforce and spurring economic growth, these hard-working individuals help fund benefits for current and future retirees. And according to a new research paper by the National Foundation for American Policy, immigration will continue to affect Social Security regardless of whether Mr. Bush succeeds in modernizing the system with private accounts.

The Illegal Alien Problem

I don't know who this Hanther guy is, but he makes some sense:

Illegal aliens are not looking to come to the United States to join the welfare rolls and they are not looking to come to become dependents of the Nanny State. They are coming to improve their financial lot in life and the desire to improve your financial status is as patriotic a motive as can be imagined. We should remake the immigration laws of this country to reward would be immigrants who seek to improve themselves within our borders.

Rice in Mexico

From the New York Times:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, acknowledging the difficulty of monitoring the porous southern border, said Thursday the United States would work with Mexico to thwart al-Qaida and other terrorist groups rather than trade accusations.

Hispanics for Free Trade

A new organization has been formed to support free trade in the Americas, the Hispanic Alliance for Free Trade.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Bill Richardson Gets It!

Indepundit has an excerpt from a Today Show transcript where New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson actually and repeatedly gives credit to President Bush's policies for positive democratic developments in the Middle East. Wow!

La Raza Inches Toward the Center

From the Washington Post:

The National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization, embraced Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at an awards ceremony last night, breaking with other civil rights organizations that have denounced Gonzales for his role in producing the administration memo that allowed harsh treatment of detainees overseas.

Although La Raza supported Gonzales's appointment as attorney general, last night's ceremony marked a first, highly public step in the group's effort to alter its image as a left-leaning organization, said Janet Murguia, its president and chief executive.

Villaraigosa in Run-Off

Los Angeles City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa earned enough votes to guarantee a run-off election against current Mayor James Hahn. The run-off election will take place May 17th.

Immigrants and Jobs

From the Christian Science Monitor:

In the past four years, the number of immigrants into the US, legal and illegal, has closely matched the number of new jobs. That suggests newcomers have, in effect, snapped up all of the new jobs.

"There has been no net job gain for natives," says Andrew Sum, an economist at Northeastern University...

Most immigrants take jobs at the bottom of the ladder, jobs which many natives won't seek because they are considered too hard, pay too little, or have lost status...

Alleged Killer Smuggler on Trial

From the New York Times:

HOUSTON, March 8 - The driver of the sealed truck that carried 19 illegal immigrants to grisly deaths nearly two years ago in South Texas in the nation's worst human smuggling disaster went on trial for his life here Tuesday with the government and the defense offering the jury sharply different pictures of his culpability

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Mexicans On Death Row

From the Dallas Morning News:

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is asking Texas to conduct new hearings for 51 Mexicans on death row who say they were denied legal help from their consulates in violation of international law.

Staying in Touch

The Boston Globe has an interesting story about immigrant families trying to stay in touch while dealing with separation.

Immigrant Hero

A number of people have spent a lot of time and effort to decry the exploits of "criminal aliens" (Yes, I mean you, Michelle Malkin and Heather MacDonald!), but very little is said about the 30,000 non-citizens who are protecting our country by serving in the U.S. armed forces.

Learn English, Get Laid

I'm not making this up:

As Hispanic teens shed the language of their native countries and immerse themselves in American culture, they become dramatically more sexually active, a new study shows.

Los Angeles' Mayoral Race

City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa is trying to become the first Hispanic Mayor of Los Angeles since 1872.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Cuban Dissidents Endorse Bush Policies

From the Miami Herald:

Three top dissidents in Havana testified before two congressional panels Thursday in the first use of a phone link to bring the words of Fidel Castro's domestic opponents directly to American lawmakers.

Martha Beatriz Roque, René Gómez and Félix Bonne used the occasion to strongly endorse President Bush's hard-line policies on Cuba, including restrictions that make it harder for Cuban Americans to visit relatives on the island.

Gay Rights in Mexico

From Diversity.com:

A government-sponsored radio campaign featuring a mother nervously preparing dinner for her son's boyfriend has conservative groups in Mexico City opposing what they see as official approval for the gay lifestyle.

The campaign is part of a new law, signed by President Vicente Fox in June 2003, that outlaws several types of discrimination, including bias based on sexual preference. The law also requires federal agencies to launch campaigns to promote tolerance.

Progress on Immigration?

From the Houston Chronicle:

Mexican President Vicente Fox said Friday he hoped to make progress on immigration issues when he meets with President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin later this month.

Fox is due to meet with the two other leaders on March 23 at Bush's Prairie Chapel ranch near Crawford, Texas.

Corruption in Latin America

From the Christian Science Monitor:

The art of stealing in high places is well practiced in these countries. A 2003 survey by the World Economic Forum of business leaders found that seven of the 10 countries with consistently high measures of political corruption are in Latin America. And within the region, 90 percent of people in a UN survey said they believe graft is worsening; many see corruption as their nations' biggest problem.

Countries that effectively address corruption and improve the rule of law can quadruple their national incomes, the World Bank claims. Corruption's worst effects are a dangerous erosion in popular respect for democracy and a scaring off of foreign investors and traders.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Cisneros Won't Run for Senate

I guess we won't have a third Hispanic U.S. Senator any time soon.

Chavez Threatens U.S. Oil Supplies

From HispanicBusiness:

New Delhi (dpa) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned Friday that his country would stop oil supplies to the United States if it "hurts" Latin American countries, news reports said.

"If there is any aggression, there will be no oil," Chavez told reporters in the Indian capital, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. Venezuela is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and about half of its annual oil exports go to the United States.

Free the Cuban Dissidents!

Berta Soler Fernandez, the wife of a political prisoner in Cuba, has written a powerful commentary piece for the Washington Post:

After Cuban authorities released seven political prisoners recently, some of us, wives of imprisoned Cuban dissidents, received calls from abroad rejoicing over these "liberations" and over the improved human rights situation in Cuba. But these were not liberations; the regime simply released a few sick men on parole. And in any event, all 75 dissidents detained in the spring crackdown of 2003 are prisoners of conscience, recognized by Amnesty International. All should be freed.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission has a similar message:

A special U.N. rights envoy has urged Cuba to free all political dissidents, grant freedom of expression and lift restrictions on travel.

In her annual report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, French magistrate Christine Chanet said Cuba had continued to arrest dissidents, while journalists had been "threatened and intimidated."

She also accused Cuba of giving "disproportionate" sentences to those jailed for the mere expression of views, and repeated her alarm at the jail conditions some prisoners faced.

Chanet, who was appointed by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in early 2003 to probe allegations of abuse in Cuba, has been repeatedly refused permission to visit the Communist Caribbean state.

Apertura in Colombia

Marcela Sanchez reports from Cartagena, Colombia:

Today more cartageneros have water, telephone, gas, electricity and sewer service. But because there has not been a comparable increase in jobs and wealth, Contreras and her neighbors now have new bills that did not exist when they only had a dirt floor and a roof over their heads, bills they now struggle to pay.

Affirmative Action at the CIA

Linda Chavez asks whether affirmative action and diversity initiatives at the Central Intelligence Agency have negatively affected the spy shop's mission.

Elections in Mexico

From the New York Times:

Although the world has hardly noticed, Mexico is confronting the first great test of its commitment to democracy.

Citizenship Reform Act

From the Hindustan Times:

The proposed Citizenship Reform Act, introduced in the US Congress last month, aims at denying American citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants.

The purpose of this act is to deny automatic citizenship at birth to children born in the United States to parents who are not citizens or permanent residents.

Under current law, any child born in the country can claim American citizenship.

Los Republicanos Hablan Español

Latino Pundit has an interesting post about GOP efforts to learn Spanish to reach out to Hispanics in California.

Gay Hispanic Households in Florida

From the Miami Herald via Philly.com:

A statewide study of Hispanic same-sex couples shows similarities to other Latino households, according to a national gay rights advocacy group. The study will be used in the fight to end bans on same-sex adoption and marriage in Florida.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Utah Driver's License Bill

From AP via Diversity.com:

Immigrant-rights activists are angry about a bill requiring undocumented workers to hand over their driver's licenses for driving "privilege" cards. One even compared the legislation to the marking of Jews during the Holocaust.

The card, according to the bill passed Wednesday by the Legislature, could not be used as identification to board a plane, open a bank account or obtain a driver's license in another state. It would have to be renewed annually and would be a different color than Utah's regular blue driver's license and be printed with the words "FOR DRIVING PRIVILEGES ONLY—NOT VALID FOR IDENTIFICATION."

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Maras and Tattoos

From AP via Yahoo! News:

As Central American officials fight increasingly violent gangs, many current and former members are responding by hiding their tattooed insignia, getting rid of them or discouraging recruits from getting visible body art.

"Body art"? What the heck?!?

Mexicans in New York

From the New York Times (where else?):

Mexican migration is transforming Hispanic New York in patterns more typical of other American cities. Yet because so many of the recent migrants are here illegally, there has been little demographic information about them.

Yesterday, however, new details emerged from an unusual study of nearly 5,000 Mexican migrants seeking identity documents at Mexican consulates in seven cities, including New York. Those surveyed in New York were more likely to say they were in the country illegally, to be under 30 and to be employed in hotels and restaurants than the applicants surveyed in other cities where Mexican settlement has a longer history.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Tabaré Vázquez

At last count, there are six leftist/socialist leaders in Latin America now with the addition of the new president of Uruguay:

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay - Tabaré Vázquez, a leftist former cancer specialist, was inaugurated Uruguay's president Tuesday, promising to bring help to the poor in a country still recovering from the worst recession in its history.

Personally, I'm very skeptical about the ability of a leftist/socialist government to make a lasting difference for the poor in Latin America. History shows that, in Latin America, turning left means heading in the wrong direction.

Economic Freedom in El Salvador

Hispanic Pundit has a good post on economic freedom in El Salvador.

The Civil Rights Commission

It's a new day at the U.S. Civil Rights Commmission, now that Mary Frances Berry is gone.

Gangs in El Salvador

From USAToday:

When Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca took office last year, he pledged to make his country safe... by locking up gang leaders for extended periods of time and scaring their followers into toning down the violence.

Seven months ago, Saca launched "Operation Super Hard Hand," a program that expanded already-broad police powers. More than 4,000 alleged gang members have been arrested. Under the plan, just sporting a gang tattoo is reason enough for arrest.

And yet the country's homicide rate is soaring. There were 295 killings in this country of 6 million in January alone — a rate of nine to 10 a day, says Violeta Polanco, spokeswoman for the National Civil Police. That figure is up 55% from the previous January, before the Super Hard Hand effort was launched.

By comparison, New York City, which has about 8 million people, had just over 550 murders in all of 2004.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Pay Attention to Latin America

It would be a mistake for President Bush to ignore what is happening in Latin America. A lot of what's going on south of the border could become a crisis in a hurry.

Gonzales' Priorities

From the Washington Post:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales yesterday affirmed his support for controversial anti-terrorism legislation due for congressional renewal this year but indicated he is willing to consider changing some of its provisions to ensure their continuation...

Gonzales touched on several other topics in his speech. He pledged to strengthen the prosecution of obscenity, a cause in which the Justice Department recently declared its intention to appeal a federal judge's ruling against certain anti-obscenity laws. He also pledged to try to curtail trafficking in human beings by getting states to approve model legislation developed by the Justice Department.

Calling the litigation of immigration matters a "broken" system, Gonzales complained in particular that immigrants accused of criminal activity have more opportunities for judicial review of extradition orders than noncriminals. He said he supports legislation, now pending in Congress, to block "unnecessary appeals" and ensure that suspected criminals have no special status in reviews.

Persecution in Cuba

Books, radios, and a copier confiscated from independent libraries

HAVANA, February 25 (Lux Info Press / www.cubanet.org) - Two officers from the Department of State Security who gave their names as Frank and Ahmed called at the home of María Elena Mir, in Guanabo, a beach community east of Havana, and confiscated several boxes of books and 25 portable radios.

Mir's home houses the Helen Martínez independent library.

The two officers later called at the home of Reinaldo Cosano, also in Guanabo and home to the Benjamin Franklin independent library, and confiscated a photocopier.

Cosano said one of the officers pointed to the TV set in the living room and told him that he "could keep the TV so he could watch the Round Tables and the National Newscast," programs that many Cubans say put a heavy political slant on the news.

The confiscated items, said Cosano, were donations from the people and government of the United States.

China in Latin America


Chavez meeting with Wu in Caracas Posted by Hello

Interesting Article in the New York Times:

Latin America is becoming a rich destination for China in its global quest for energy, with the Chinese quickly signing accords with Venezuela, investing in largely untapped markets like Peru and exploring possibilities in Bolivia and Colombia.

Hispanic U.S. Senators

Apparently, Mel Martinez and Ken Salazar are becoming friends and plan to work together on issues of mutual interest.

Human Rights Report

The U.S. State Department has issued its annual report on the state of human rights around the world. This is what the Department's representative had to say at a briefing in Congress:

Cuba's government remains a blight on the stunning advancement of freedom worldwide...

Cuba. I wish I could say something has changed there. It's really bad and stayed bad. I was head of our mission in Havana in the mid-'90s, or the mid-to-late-'90s, and have been dealing with Cuba for a good deal of my career. And, you know, it's one of these things where you -- it's not just that the problems are the same, the individuals are the same. I mean, we've had people in the same positions for 45years, and when you have a system that's that stultified you keep making the same mistakes over and over again and making them worse. With a democratic system, at least you have the chance every so often to rectify your errors and commit new ones, but you don't keep making the same mistake over and over. But Cuba is a special case in that regard.

Venezuela. You know, we saw some, unfortunately, some real backsliding there this year. We were supportive of monitoring of the referendum and so on that was done and respected the results of that. But when we then see media law being passed to intimidate and constrain journalists in the country, when you see efforts to pack the supreme court and so on, those are not positive developments.

The Oscars

I was very happy to see this:

Spanish-language cinema made its best-ever showing at this year's Oscar ceremonies, not only because a feature by a Chilean-born Spaniard won best foreign film but because of the breadth of categories in which Hispanics competed.

Judge: "Learn English"

From the L.A. Times:

A judge hearing child abuse and neglect cases in Tennessee has given an unusual instruction to some immigrant mothers who have come before him: Learn English, or else.

Most recently, it was an 18-year-old woman from Oaxaca, Mexico, who had been reported to the Department of Children's Services for failing to immunize her toddler and show up for appointments. At a hearing last month to monitor the mother's custody of the child, Wilson County Judge Barry Tatum instructed the woman to learn English and to use birth control, the Lebanon Democrat newspaper reported.