Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Castro Squashes Businesses

From the Economist via HACER:

FOR a decade or so, scores of privately run stalls have peddled sandwiches, pizzas, sweets, milkshakes and the like outside hospitals, universities and other busy spots in Havana, Cuba's capital. They provided tasty snacks with a smile. This month, Fidel Castro's Communist government closed the stalls down, saying a state body will offer a snack service instead. Customers now expect unappetising bites, served with a scowl. Even regime loyalists grumble about the change.

Raul Midon

I was blown away by a performance by Raul Midon on the Late Show last night. This morning, National Public Radio had a story on this amazing musician. If you've never heard of him, do yourself a favor and check out this guy.

Greeley, Colorado

Interesting article from the Denver Post about the great divide between whites and Hispanics in Greeley, Colorado.

Monday, June 27, 2005

From Numbers to Clout

Roberto Suro:

The number of Latino votes in last November's election jumped 23 percent over those cast in the 2000 balloting. That was more than twice the growth rate for non-Hispanic whites, even though the election was marked by higher-than-normal turnout in a polarized white electorate. Moreover, all the trend lines point to continued growth in the Latino population in the future.

Normally, in an article of this sort, this would be the place to deploy the "sleeping giant" metaphor, hailing the rise of a powerful new voting bloc that's changing the American political landscape. But the Latino population isn't a cliche; it can't be so easily characterized. The rapid increase in its size has not produced a corresponding growth in its political clout -- and won't for some time to come.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Chávez's Goal


President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela wants to build a new empire.

The new strongman of South America hopes to re-establish a new Gran Colombia -- including Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia and Panama -- an oil-rich colossus astride a key global trade route and access to the Panama Canal.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Pedro Luis Ferrer

Read about Cuban musician Pedro Luis Ferrer in Mother Jones Magazine. According to the interview, Fidel Castro is not a fan.

Bolivia's Loss Is Peru's Gain

From the Financial Times of London:

Peru's gas industry stands to benefit from political instability in Bolivia, as the Andean countries' neighbours look for a quick fix to settle chronic shortages in the region.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Remittances Are Not A Drain on the Economy

Lawrence White:

Immigrant workers often send some of their earnings to family members back in the home country. Critics of immigration have begun expressing concerns about such remittances. At a seminar on immigration at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London last year, I heard one critic warn the audience solemnly that remittances by immigrant workers were "draining" X billion pounds per year from the UK economy. I raised my hand to ask the speaker why he thought remittances abroad were a problem for the domestic economy, any more than payments for imported goods. Was he embracing the mercantilist view that out-payments of money were impoverishing the UK or threatening to leave the country with too small a stock of money? He replied that evidently I hadn't heard him: he had said X billion pounds per year.

Read the whole article to learn why remittances are not a drain on the economy of the host country.


From Tamar Jacoby of the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

The compromise solution in the McCain-Kennedy legislation is more like probation than amnesty: not a free pass or an automatic pardon, but a set of conditions that illegal immigrants must meet if they are to earn legal status. They must register with the government. They must pay all back taxes and a $2,000 fine, then undergo a series of background checks and fulfill a prospective work requirement -- six more years on the job in the U.S. -- before they can even apply for a green card. At that point, they must prove they have been studying English and have mastered the rudiments of U.S. history and government. And then, when they do apply, they must go to the "back of the line."

It's not a perfect solution... Still, if ever there were a case where the perfect was the enemy of the good, this is it.


From Diane Ravitch of the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Now mathematics is being nudged into a specifically political direction by educators who call themselves "critical theorists." They advocate using mathematics as a tool to advance social justice. Social justice math relies on political and cultural relevance to guide math instruction. One of its precepts is "ethnomathematics," that is, the belief that different cultures have evolved different ways of using mathematics, and that students will learn best if taught in the ways that relate to their ancestral culture. From this perspective, traditional mathematics -- the mathematics taught in universities around the world -- is the property of Western Civilization and is inexorably linked with the values of the oppressors and conquerors. The culturally attuned teacher will learn about the counting system of the ancient Mayans, ancient Africans, Papua New Guineans, and other "non-mainstream" cultures.

Partisans of social justice mathematics advocate an explicitly political agenda in the classroom. A new textbook, "Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers," shows how problem solving, ethnomathematics and political action can be merged. Among its topics are: "Sweatshop Accounting," with units on poverty, globalization, and the unequal distribution of wealth. Another topic, drawn directly from ethnomathematics, is "Chicanos Have Math in Their Blood." Others include "The Transnational Capital Auction," "Multicultural Math," and "Home Buying While Brown or Black." Units of study include racial profiling, the war in Iraq, corporate control of the media, and environmental racism. The theory behind the book is that "teaching math in a neutral manner is not possible." Teachers are supposed to vary the teaching of mathematics in relation to their students' race, gender, ethnicity, and community.

This fusion of political correctness and relevance may be the next big thing to rock mathematics education, appealing as it does to political activists and to ethnic chauvinists.

It seems terribly old-fashioned to point out that the countries that regularly beat our students in international tests of mathematics do not use the subject to steer students into political action. They teach them instead that mathematics is a universal language that is as relevant and meaningful in Tokyo as it is in Paris, Nairobi and Chicago. The students who learn this universal language well will be the builders and shapers of technology in the 21st century. The students in American classes who fall prey to the political designs of their teachers and professors will not.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day Reading

A couple of thought-provoking pieces for Father's Day. One by Rich Lowry of National Review and another by the editorial staff of South Carolina's Times and Democrat.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Guantanamo Is No Gulag

From Pavel Litvinov, someone who spent time in a real gulag:

There is ample reason for Amnesty to be critical of certain U.S. actions. But by using hyperbole and muddling the difference between repressive regimes and the imperfections of democracy, Amnesty's spokesmen put its authority at risk. U.S. human rights violations seem almost trifling in comparison with those committed by Cuba, South Korea, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

The most effective way to criticize U.S. behavior is to frankly acknowledge that this country should be held to a higher standard based on its own Constitution, laws and traditions. We cannot fulfill our responsibilities as the world's only superpower without being perceived as a moral authority. Despite the risks posed by terrorism, the United States cannot indefinitely detain people considered dangerous without appropriate safeguards for their conditions of detention and periodic review of their status.

Words are important. When Amnesty spokesmen use the word "gulag" to describe U.S. human rights violations, they allow the Bush administration to dismiss justified criticism and undermine Amnesty's credibility. Amnesty International is too valuable to let it be hijacked by politically biased leaders.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Cover Girl

Guess who's on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine? That's right, Ms. Jessica Alba is gracing the pages of the magazine this week, and something tells me this is not the last time. Posted by Hello

Hispanics and Social Security

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Florida's Hispanics, like those nationwide, have jumped into the debate over Social Security reform but offer just lukewarm support for plans to overhaul the system.

That's because, despite an interest in gaining more control over their retirement income as President Bush has proposed, Hispanics tend to be younger, have larger families and rely on Social Security to stay out of poverty, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Council of La Raza -- a Washington-based Hispanic advocacy group.

I haven't read the report, but the story on the report makes no sense, and I suspect that the report itself is not any more helpful. The Hispanic population in this country is much younger than the non-Hispanic population and it makes sense that they would favor reform aimed at giving them an opportunity to invest a small portion of their social security taxes. In addition, most polls show that the younger you are, the less likely you are to believe that the system will have the resources to support your retirement. In other words, if you are younger, you want reform not the status quo. I can understand how older Hispanics might rely on Social Security to stay out of poverty, but no young Hispanic I know is counting on Social Security at all, much less to support them through their retirement years.

Honduras Wins the Lottery

Marcela Sanchez:

If there were a lottery to end poverty, Honduras would be holding a winning ticket.

Over the weekend, the Group of Eight major industrial nations announced that it had agreed to "the biggest debt settlement the world has ever seen,'' which would benefit some of the poorest, most indebted nations, including Honduras. On Monday, President Bush's development aid program known as the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) made Honduras the first beneficiary in Latin America and only the second in the world. And on Tuesday, the controversial Central American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Honduras and five other nations survived its first real test in the U.S. Senate.

Combine trade, aid and debt relief and Honduras has the big-three poverty reduction strategies sought by both the left and the right.

Now what?

No Child Left Behind

From the Houston Chronicle:

Hispanic students are catching up to Anglos in reading and mathematics, mainly because of the No Child Left Behind Act, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said Thursday.

In states across the country, this law is working," Spellings said at a conference on the education needs of the Hispanic community. "Scores are rising, and the achievement gap is already starting to close."

Latin America Investment

Many investors are worried about the political situation in Latin America and are beginning to sound pessimistic about the investment outlook for the region.

MS-13 Arrests

More evidence that the authorities are cracking down on criminal aliens:

Seventeen suspected members of the feared MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, gang have been arrested by the US authorities in the states of New Jersey and Florida on charges of drug trafficking, document forgery and immigration violations.

The alleged gang members were arrested on Wednesday, the majority of the arrests occurred in Elizabeth and Somerset in New Jersey where 10 individuals were detained, according to a Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) statement.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A White Christian Party

Lee Duigon sheds some light and asks some interesting questions about Howard Dean's latest comments about the GOP:

Can we fathom the meaning of their message?

Obviously, Dean is saying that having too many white Christians in a political party is a bad thing. He wants more "diversity." But when President Bush, a Republican, tried to confer appointments to high office on Condoleeza Rice and Janice Rogers Brown, African-Americans, and Linda Chavez, Alberto Gonzales, and Miguel Estrada, Hispanic-Americans, the Democrats in the Senate savaged them.

Would Dean object if all the white Christian Republicans came over to his party? Would they have to convert to another religion--Earth goddess-worship springs to mind--before being allowed to join?

Deferential or Defective

Another BRILLIANT column by Ruben Navarrete:

So this is the Democrats' dilemma. How are they supposed to market themselves to minorities as the one-and-only party of opportunity when Bush is putting nonwhite faces in high places? Better to try to paint the Republican Party as a restricted club, as Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean did recently when he described the GOP as "pretty much a white Christian party." And minority Republicans as aberrations.

I bet all this would come as news to Janice Rogers Brown, who attends church regularly. Just as I bet it would come as news to Miguel Estrada, the Hispanic gentleman who, at one point, seemed headed for the D.C. appeals court for which Brown is now confirmed — until his nomination was unfairly derailed by rank racial politics...

I don't see why liberals won't say what they really mean. It's obvious that what concerns them is not that these nominees aren't real minorities, but rather that they aren't their kind of minority. You know, the kind that asks for permission before they speak and makes sure that what they say falls in line with the views of their liberal benefactors.

Julian Castro

It looks as though we will not have a Hispanic mayor in San Antonio in the near future. Thirty-year-old City Councilman Julian Castro lost the primary and is out of the running for the November election.

Prayer Breakfast

President Bush addressed the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast this morning.

Immigration Sweep

The anti-immigration crowd is always saying that immigration authorities are not enforcing the law, but it seems to me that a lot is being done to arrest and deport criminal aliens:

Nearly 200 illegal immigrants who were ordered deported for committing crimes were arrested during a six-day undercover sweep across New England, federal authorities said.

Dozens of federal, state and local law-enforcement officers began a search Friday for the roughly 200 people targeted in the sweep; by Wednesday afternoon, they had arrested at least 187 illegal immigrants.

Family Values

Antonio Villaraigosa's success just might be the best thing that's happened to the Democratic Party in a long time. He seems to be trying to bring the party back to the center and closer where most Hispanics are:

Democrats must talk more about family values if they want to keep the support of Latino voters, Los Angeles' newly elected mayor said Wednesday.

Republicans were able to gain Hispanic votes in last year's presidential election because they focused on religion and seemed comfortable with Latino voters, Antonio Villaraigosa told reporters at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Convention.

"They recognize something Latinos have in common with everybody else. I think Republicans do a better job of speaking to matters of the heart," the Democrat said.

The EU and Cuba

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Last month, some 150 dissidents in Cuba met openly to plan for a peaceful transition to a post-Castro era. It was the first large-scale meeting in 46 years not authorized by the communist dictator. Such courage signals Cuba's inevitable transition to a pluralistic democracy.

Yet the reaction in Europe to this political assemblage, unlike in the US which welcomed it, was striking. Last week, the European Union decided to continue barring opponents of Fidel Castro from visiting the embassies of EU members in Havana. And it did this despite the fact that Cuba expelled two EU politicians who came to Havana to address the May 20 pro-democracy assembly.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

CAFTA and Democracy

According to the editors of the National Review, CAFTA approval is good for democracy in Latin America (not surprisingly, I agree):

A prosperous Central America will be a Central America whose people are less inclined to cross U.S. borders illegally or participate in the trafficking of narcotics. More important, by bringing greater prosperity and openness to the region, CAFTA will strengthen democracy. The 1983 Caribbean Basin Initiative — which essentially created the Central American textile industry and, with it, a middle class — helped undermine the dictators and Communist revolutionaries who for decades had kept the region poor, violent, and miserable. But the triumph of Central American democracy is not irreversible. Daniel Ortega remains a powerful force in Nicaragua, and, throughout Latin America, the anti-democratic, anti-American message of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez gains ever-wider currency. For the U.S. to reject CAFTA would only strengthen the hand of would-be despots. Instead, Congress should turn its back on the protectionists.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Education Crisis

Sebastian Mallaby:

...the American class system won't soften until inner-city classrooms improve. Education is the last, lumbering public monopoly, and it is not performing: Only 23 percent of blacks and a fifth of Hispanics graduate from high school prepared for a four-year college; a quarter of all college freshmen require some sort of remedial course. So long as this is so, the alarming wealth gap in this country will remain unbridgeable.

What's Happened to Venezuela

Carlos Ball waxes nostalgic about a once-prosperous Venezuela headed for economic, social and political decline.

Oppenheimer on Dobbs

Enfuriating and funny at the same time:

[CNN's Lou] Dobbs has been plaguing us for months with apocalyptic warnings that Hispanics are taking over the United States. Worse, they may be contagious, he says.

On Wednesday, Dobbs warned viewers that ''illegal aliens are bringing harmful diseases into this country.'' On April 14, he stated that ''the invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans. Highly contagious diseases are now crossing our borders.'' (So, if you are Hispanic and happen to run into Mr. Dobbs, I suggest you wear surgical gloves for his protection.)

The Popular Kid

Thoughts on the Hispanic Voter:

While the Republican Party continues to woo black voters, Latinos arguably are a more attractive bloc because no one knows which way they will swing. Marcelo Gaete of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials uses this analogy to explain the increased attention being paid to Latinos: "All of a sudden you are the most popular kid in high school and everyone wants to buy you lunch."

Desperate Housewives

Amas de Casa Desesperadas:

The smash TV hit Desperate Housewives may be getting a Latino makeover for half a dozen countries south of the border.

Disney's Latin American television unit is in talks with several Latin American networks to create Spanish-speaking local versions of the show, Daily Variety reported Monday.

Monday, June 13, 2005



The North American Free Trade Agreement's tarnished reputation has become one of the biggest impediments to President George W. Bush as he starts his final push to win approval of a similar accord with Central America.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Racism in Bolivia

From the CSM:

Corruption. Weak democracy. These two enduring problems help account for the lack of economic opportunity for Bolivia's poor masses. They also explain why that country is on the verge of tipping left - mirroring a trend by six other Latin American nations in the past three years.

But another big issue at play needs to be more openly addressed, and that's racism.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Candor on Immigration

Robert Samuelson, writing for the Washington Post:

Immigration is crawling its way back onto the national agenda -- and not just as a footnote to keeping terrorists out. This year Congress enacted a law intended to prevent illegal immigrants from getting state driver's licenses; the volunteer "minutemen" who recently patrolled the porous Arizona border with Mexico attracted huge attention, and members of Congress from both parties are crafting proposals to deal with illegal immigration. All this is good. But unless we're brutally candid with ourselves, it won't amount to much. Being brutally candid means recognizing that the huge and largely uncontrolled flow of unskilled Latino workers into the United States is increasingly sabotaging the assimilation process...

We could do a better job of stopping illegal immigration on our southern border and of policing employers who hire illegal immigrants. At the same time, we could provide legal status to illegal immigrants already here. We could also make more sensible decisions about legal immigrants -- favoring the skilled over the unskilled. But the necessary steps are much tougher than most politicians have so far embraced, and their timidity reflects a lack of candor about the seriousness of the problem. The stakes are simple: Will immigration continue to foster national pride and strength or will it cause more and more weakness and anger?

There are some disturbing numbers in this piece that are derived from a report about Mexican immigrants published by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz, two Harvard economists.

41 Million

From HispanicBusiness:

US Hispanic and Asian populations have marked strong growth, as the US Hispanic population topped 41 million people, the US Census Bureau said in estimates out Thursday.

The estimates, which group the population by race, age, and Hispanic origin regardless of race, showed that the Hispanic population -- the largest US ethnic minority -- surged by 3.6 percent between July 1, 2003 and July 1, 2004 to reach 41.3 million.

Guantanamo Gulag?

Anne Applebaum, who knows a thing or two about the meaning of Gulag, doesn't like Amnesty International's use of the word to describe the Guantanamo Bay detention centers:

I don't know when Amnesty ceased to be politically neutral or at what point its leaders' views morphed into ordinary anti-Americanism. But surely Amnesty's recent misuse of the word "gulag" marks some kind of turning point. In the past few days, not only has Amnesty's secretary general, Irene Khan, called the U.S. prison for enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "the gulag of our times," but Amnesty's U.S. director, William Schulz, has agreed that U.S. prisons for enemy combatants are "similar at least in character, if not in size, to what happened in the gulag." In an interview, Schulz also said that foreign governments should prosecute U.S. officials, as if they were the equivalent of the Soviet Union's criminal leadership.

Thus Guantanamo is the gulag, President Bush is Generalissimo Stalin, and the United States, in Khan's words, is a "hyper-power" that "thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights" just like the Soviet Union. In part, I find this comparison infuriating because in the Soviet Union it would have been impossible for the Supreme Court to order the administration to change its policies in Guantanamo Bay, as it has done, or for the media to investigate Abu Ghraib, as they has done, or for Irene Khan to publish an independent report about anything at all.

Like Khan and Schulz, I am appalled by this administration's detention practices and interrogation policies, by the lack of a legal mechanism to judge the guilt of alleged terrorists, and by the absence of any outside investigation into reports of prison abuse. But I loathe these things precisely because the United States is not the Soviet Union, because our detention centers are not intrinsic to our political system, and because they are therefore not "similar in character" to the gulag at all.

The Future of the Bolivarian Revolution

Carlos Alberto Montaner:

It's clear where Chávez hopes to go. What's interesting is to predict where he will really go if he remains, let's say, one decade longer in power. There is no question that he will generate more poverty and rip the economic fabric to shreds. As a result of rising inflation, the currency will depreciate considerably. Investments will diminish until they nearly disappear, and job growth in the shrinking private sector will decline.

The exodus of qualified people and the flight of capital will increase. Violent crime and the decay of the urban environment will multiply. Shortages, widespread corruption and unpleasant social tensions will beset a polarized and embittered country that will adopt as its mantra the melancholy sentence written by Bolivar in the twilight of his life: ``The only thing one can do in America is to emigrate.''

On the international arena, the crisis with the United States and the frictions with the neighboring countries will heat up. Several ''sisterly'' nations will knock on the doors of the White House, begging ''the Americans'' to do something to halt the meddling of their unhinged neighbor but warning that their governments will have to condemn Washington's imperialist action to pacify the gallery.

Sometime during the conflict, as alternate sources of oil and good national reserves become available, and as Chávez further strengthens his ties to the nations within the axis of evil, the United States will stop buying crude, plunging Venezuela into a dangerous economic catastrophe in the hopes that the resulting chaos can be solved by the departure from power of the loquacious army officer.

Bolivia's Gas Pains

The Motley Fool has a nice primer on the Bolivia situation.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

California, the GOP and Minority Voters


California is home to nearly 37 million people - one of every eight Americans - and is projected to add as many as 11 million more in the next two decades, roughly the equivalent of the state of Ohio. But while population growth is slowing in left-leaning coastal areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco, it is accelerating in more conservative regions such as the Central Valley and the Inland Empire area east of Los Angeles.

The state's large Hispanic population, long staunchly Democratic, has become somewhat less so in recent years. Bush won 32 percent of California's Hispanic vote in 2004, up from 28 percent in 2000. Schwarzenegger won about a third of Hispanic voters in the 2003 recall election even though Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Hispanic, was also on the ballot.

[RNC Chairman Ken] Mehlman has seized on those trends, traveling to California every six weeks this year for outreach work in Hispanic, black and Asian American areas.

Latin American Dictators

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Democracy has made rapid gains worldwide in the past couple of decades. Yet this club of free nations often won't follow the US in criticizing dictatorial holdouts.

Monday was a good example. President Bush asked the 34-member Organization of American States (OAS) to act together to monitor democratic trends and to check the region's autocrats. But Latin America demurs. It cares more about not appearing to be a US stooge than whether a neighbor such as Venezuela becomes a Cuba-style political black hole for the region.

The Bush administration is partly to blame. It's largely ignored the Western Hemisphere since 9/11. It's not done enough to prop up faltering democratic leaders, although it does have the Millennium Challenge Account initiative, which aims to increase aid to nations that show a commitment to govern justly. Bolivia, Honduras, and Nicaragua are slated for such aid.

The US needs OAS support. And that group can't remain uncritical of Venezuela's increasingly undemocratic leader Hugo Chávez without losing legitimacy as a leadership forum.

Chaos in Bolivia

From the New York Times:

Protests in Bolivia escalated today, even though President Carlos Mesa had offered his resignation the night before in an effort to defuse the road blocks and marches paralyzing the Andean country.

Tens of thousands of Indians and miners brushed aside President Carlos Mesa’s offer to resign and flooded the capital.

Tens of thousands of Indians and miners, many of them setting off dynamite, poured into the Bolivian capital, La Paz. Its key highway to the highlands, where the international airport is located, remained cut off, plunging this city of one million people into the chaos of food shortages and a transport strike.

Bush Makes Time for Súmate

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

A U.S. President has many demands on his time. So when George W. Bush put Venezuelan democracy advocate Maria Corina Machado on his schedule last Wednesday, he was sending an important signal of American support.

Ms. Machado is a leader of Súmate, Venezuela's most important non-government electoral watchdog. Súmate has been monitoring the slow destruction of Venezuela's democratic institutions under President Hugo Chávez. And doing it so well that Mr. Chávez wants to put Súmate's leadership, including Ms. Machado, in jail on trumped-up conspiracy charges.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Democracy in Latin America

From Knight Ridder:

President Bush shifts his campaign for democracy to Latin America on Monday amid growing concerns about freedom's future in the region.

The high hopes generated by the fall of military dictatorships in Central and South America in the 1980s have given way to fears that the march of liberty is veering off course.

Some countries appear to be slipping backwards. Others are struggling to build democratic institutions in societies plagued by political instability, chronic poverty and rampant corruption. The fragility of democracy in the Western Hemisphere offers a close-to-home reminder of the obstacles Bush faces in his effort to spread freedom to parts of the world that have little experience with open government, majority rule or power sharing.

Latino Voters and the DNC

Dan Schnur, writing for the L.A. Times:

While Cuban Americans have historically voted Republican by wide margins, primarily because of the GOP's strong anti-communist credentials, Americans of Mexican, Central American and South American descent have been equally ardent supporters of the Democratic Party and its candidates. But that Democratic advantage is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Over the last three presidential election cycles, Latino American support for Democrats has steadily declined, from the 72% that voted for Bill Clinton in 1996 to the 53% that John Kerry received last year.

Although these percentages are based on exit polling and the precise numbers are still being debated, the overall trend is beyond dispute, and a party that loses nearly a quarter of a core constituency in less than a decade is a party with cause for distress.

Anti-Gang Legislation

From Tampa Bay Online:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson last week announced legislation intended to curb the growth of violent street gangs such as MS-13, a gang with Central American origins that police said could be prevented from taking root in South Florida with focused action...

The legislation outlined Wednesday by Nelson would raise the maximum prison sentence from one year to 10 years for people who smuggle gang members across U.S. borders. It would also permit U.S. consular officials to deny entry visas for anyone suspected of gang ties.

Competing for Immigrants' Souls in Rome

This is a report from David Gonzalez of the New York Times:

If the Vatican is ever to re-evangelize Europe, it could start with the waves of immigrants living at its doorstep, many of whom are already baptized and who have a cultural kinship with the church. Rome's 50,000 Latin American immigrants are often poor and isolated, far from their homelands and from their memories of Catholicism as the center of spiritual and local life.

In these very ways, the Latin Americans in Rome are more and more like the half billion or so Catholics back in the Western Hemisphere. Both in Europe and Latin America, the church is trying to come up with a way to appeal to these nominal Catholics, and to keep them from the evangelical churches that are competing intensely to convert them.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Immigrant Children

This news item from David Crary of the Associated Press discusses a study by the Urban Institute that produced some interesting findings:

The report estimated that 22 percent of all American children under 6 have immigrant parents. More than 90 percent of these children were born in the United States and automatically are citizens, and nearly one-third – 1.3 million – live with at least one undocumented parent, the report said.

Those seeking tougher measures against undocumented people want Congress and the federal courts to reconsider two long-standing national policies – a constitutional provision that bestows citizenship on any child born on U.S. soil and a 1982 Supreme Court ruling requiring public schools to accommodate any school-age child regardless of immigration status.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Hispanics and the GOP

From the Orange County (CA) Register:

The quickest route to the American dream is through the GOP, the chairman of the Republican National Committee told Hispanic community and business leaders Thursday.

"We want to make sure the American dream touches every willing heart," said Ken Mehlman. "This party is the American party."

Mehlman said the GOP's encouragement of home and business ownership, personal accountability and hard work vs. social service handouts are the American values that appeal to many Hispanics.

Hat Tip: James Taranto.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Immigration Reform

Paul Greenberg has some ideas about what immigration reform should look like. I think all sides of the debate can find points of agreement.

Latinos Leaving the Catholic Church

From the Boston Globe:

Mirroring a trend throughout Central and South America, evangelical Christianity is flourishing throughout the state's Latino immigrant communities, which traditionally have been considered a stronghold for the Catholic Church. In Boston's western suburbs, where tens of thousands of Brazilians make their home, dozens of evangelical churches have been established. Many court Catholics who are searching for a more involved spiritual existence.

It's unclear how many evangelical churches are in the western suburbs, in part because of the speed with which they are emerging. The Brazilian Ministries Network, a network of the state's Brazilian evangelical pastors, estimated that dozens of ministries have been started in the area.

Villaraigosa: Dems Need Diversity

Oh, the irony!!:

Los Angeles Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa told Democrats on Wednesday they need to diversify.

"We need to look long and hard within our movement," said Villaraigosa, the former California Assembly speaker who was elected mayor in mid-May.

"Look at this room today," he told a largely white crowd at a rally for the liberal group Campaign for America's Future. "You don't see the kind of diversity that we need to build a strong movement in America."

Papa's Casa in Havana

It's nice to know that there are exceptions to the rules:

Ernest Hemingway's house in Cuba is falling apart, prompting the National Trust for Historic Preservation to mount a rescue campaign that has the U.S. government's OK, despite the 44-year economic embargo against the island nation.

Health Tourism

The USAToday has an interesting story about American seniors traveling to Mexico to receive low-cost medical care and obtain cheap medications. The difference in cost is amazing!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Is Luis Posada A Terrorist?

Reasonable minds can differ on the subject:

If Posada did in fact take part in the bombing of a Cuban airliner then he must be brought to justice for the death of innocents. But he should not be sacrificed because of our fear of looking hypocritical. Instead, we should think of this as an opportunity not only to highlight the tyrannical nature of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments, which are state sponsors of terrorism, but also to highlight what real justice is by offering a fair alternative. For example Posada could be tried in a U.S. or another free nation’s court, thereby ensuring that Western rules—including the need for evidence, right to counsel, an impartial judge and jury, and most importantly the presumptions of innocence—are respected. Cuba and Venezuela could provide the prosecution team...

More important, though, the debate over Posada must not be allowed to distract or hinder the U.S. from fighting the War on Terror. Similarly, it must not be allowed to impede our strategy of reengagement in Latin America by those seeking to politicize the issue with their own moral relativistic worldview. Indeed, fighting that view is perhaps the true battle on the home front. It is a battle that must be won.

AIDS Drugs and CAFTA

From HispanicBusiness:

AIDS advocates with expertise on the HIV crisis among Latin Americans today called on Congress to protect access to low-cost generic HIV medications now available in Central America but threatened by the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

Bolivia Facing Paralysis

From the Financial Times of London:

Bolivia is caught in a dangerous “power vacuum” in which the conventional institutions of government are failing to function, analysts warned on Wednesday.

Members of Bolivia's Congress failed yet again on Wednesday to reach a consensus on how to defuse a crisis that has sparked violent protests and on Tuesday forced Congress to abandon a session.

Thousands of protesters had marched in La Paz, protesting at a hydrocarbons law that radical social movements say failed to give the state ownership over Bolivia's considerable gas reserves. They want the reserves nationalised, an assembly to rewrite the country's constitution and an end to any moves towards greater autonomy for the wealthier eastern and southern provinces.

LatAm vs. EU at WTO

A coalition of Latin American countries is getting ready to do battle against the European Union at the next meeting of the World Trade Organization in Hong Kong. These Latin American countries want Europe to reduce or eliminate its tariffs and duties on imported bananas. It should be an interesting food fight.

Latino-Jewish Hip Hop

Do we live in a multi-cultural society, or what? Here's a story about a group called "Hip-Hop Hoodios" (clever word play):

Started three years ago as a one-night-only gig at Makor, the band soon realized that their blend of Jewish and alternative Latino music was in high demand. Two albums later, including collaborations with legendary Latino rocker Carlos Santana and the Klezmatics, the group (its name turns the Spanish word for Jews, Judios, into Hoodios — hoo-de-os — or Jews from the ‘hood), is riding high.

I Love Flan

...and I'm not the only one:

According to a recent national survey sponsored by SPLENDA(R) No Calorie Sweetener, more than 1,000 U.S. Hispanics voted on their top five traditional Latin desserts. Survey results revealed flan as the number-one rated dessert most favored by Hispanics, followed by pastel tres leches, arroz con leche (rice pudding), churros and pudín de pan (bread pudding) for the top five.

Iranian Smuggler Caught

Tom Galvin has a disturbing post about an Iranian living in the U.S. who is being prosecuted for trying to obtain visas for other Iranians to be smuggled into the U.S. via Mexico.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Navarrete at the Border

Ruben Navarrete reporting from the U.S.-Mexico border:

What a no-brainer it must be for Mexicans who are thinking about entering the United States. Here you have two countries with a huge economic disparity, side by side, where a job that pays $3 a day in one country will earn you $60 in another. And the only thing standing in the way is a flimsy barrier. Naturally, immigrants are going to cross.

Minorities Want Testing

At least one educrat gets it:

Over the past decade, public opinion surveys have demonstrated overwhelming support among racial minorities for high-stakes testing. In a 2003 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, for example, three-quarters of Latinos said that standardized tests "should be used to determine whether students are promoted or can graduate." Two-thirds agreed that the federal government "should require states to set strict performance standards for public schools," as mandated under President Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act...

Ed-school professors love to talk about "hearing the voices" of blacks and Hispanics, who are too often excluded from America's educational dialogues. But when minorities express an opinion that we don't like, we turn a deaf ear. That's a lousy model for education, and an even worse one for democracy.

Whatever we think of America's current testing craze, American racial minorities clearly endorse it. And if we dismiss their views out of hand, we'll be demeaning the very people whom we claim to defend.

Michelle Malkin Rocks!

Thanks to a post by Michelle Malkin about media diversity which included a link to this humble site, my traffic went through the roof today. Thanks Michelle!

Pro-Democracy Protests in Cuba


AN unprecedented meeting of pro-democracy dissidents seeking political change in Communist Cuba ended a call for massive peaceful protests.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro's government made no effort to stop the two-day event, but it did deport politicians and other observers from Europe who had arrived on tourist visas to attend the meeting.

Similar attempts by dissidents over the years to bring together the dozens of small, illegal organisations spread around the Caribbean island had been repressed during the planning stages with the arrest of leaders.

Delegates approved a declaration denouncing one-party rule and demanding democratic pluralism, respect for human rights and freedom for political prisoners, among other issues.