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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Recriminations in NYC

It's blame-assignment time in the Big Apple:

A senior adviser to Fernando Ferrer, the defeated Democratic mayoral nominee, said yesterday that nationally prominent Democrats who deserted Mr. Ferrer's candidacy had done a disservice not only to him, but also to the party's efforts to woo Hispanic voters.

The abandonment of Mr. Ferrer, the party's first Hispanic mayoral nominee, was "an absolute failure to recognize a constituency coming of age in New York City," said the adviser, Roberto Ramirez.

"It's their failure and they will have to live with it," he said.

Oil for Influence

From OpinionJournal:

Money can't buy love, unless you're Anna Nicole Smith. But these days a little heating oil can buy friends in Washington, especially when they come as cheap as Democrat William Delahunt. Massachusetts wants bargain oil prices to help it through the winter. Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chávez wants influence in Washington. Leave it to the Congressman from the Commonwealth and a Kennedy to close the deal.

Last week Venezuela announced that its U.S.-based Citgo Petroleum would sell 12 million gallons of home heating oil at a 40% discount to help the poor in Massachusetts.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Evo Morales is a Nightmare

Alvaro Vargas Llosa:

The forces of Latin American populism are arrayed behind Evo Morales, the former coca grower who toppled two Presidents of Bolivia through violent street action and promises a nationalist revolution if he wins the elections on December 18th. Although he is ahead in the polls, a parliamentary vote will decide who the next President is if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the ballots. But even if Morales does not, the next President, possibly center-right candidate Jorge Quiroga, will be at the mercy of Morales' movement.

Unfortunately, Morales is not a character in a Romantic novel by Chateubriand, the 19th-century French author who assuaged Europe's bad conscience by idolizing indigenous Latin America. This is a real-life tragedy that will have lasting consequences for Bolivia.

Security First

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Without first showing the border can be secured enough to drastically reduce illegal migration, the president's other priorities such as a "guest worker" program should not be implemented.

Rich Lowry of National Review:

The late Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it "boob bait for bubba" — tough-sounding rhetoric designed to placate conservative voters. Moynihan applied the phrase to Bill Clinton's 1992 pledge to "end welfare as we know it," which it later became clear that he had no intention of following through on when he became president (eventually, Republicans pressured him into it). President Bush is offering his own "boob bait" in the form of speechifying at the border about a crackdown on illegal immigration.

It's not that Bush doesn't intend to use better technology to police the border and end the "catch and release" policy that waves illegals into the country, as he is now saying. But these steps are primarily meant to diminish opposition to a new guest-worker program and what would effectively be an amnesty for illegal aliens. It's a crackdown as prelude to a letup; in other words, Rove bait for red-staters.

Chávez Wants Nukes

From the New York Times:

With his country sitting on top of some of the world's largest oil and gas reserves, and with his constant talk of socialist revolution and criticism of the Bush administration, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has acquired a certain notoriety in Washington and with some of his Latin American neighbors.

But he has seldom sent eyebrows so high as when he recently announced plans to start a nuclear energy program with the help of Brazil and Argentina. Coupled with his talk of a spending binge on weapons like rifles, ships and combat aircraft, and his support of Iran's right to develop a nuclear program, his moves have set off a debate about his motives.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bush on Immigration

President Bush:

We have a comprehensive strategy to reform our immigration system. We're going to secure the border by catching those who enter illegally, and hardening the border to prevent illegal crossings. We're going to strengthen enforcement of our immigration laws within our country. And together with Congress, we're going to create a temporary worker program that will take pressure off the border, bring workers from out of the shadows, and reject amnesty.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A More Latin New Orleans

From MSNBC.com:

Before Katrina, according to the 2000 Census, New Orleans was just 3 percent Hispanic and 67 percent African-American. After evacuating en masse, however, many blacks may have left for good. According to one survey of emergency shelters in Houston, 44 percent of respondents, who were almost uniformly black, had no plans to return. The potential outcome of these dual migrations: a much more Latin New Orleans.

There's a puzzling quote from an African-American resident of New Orleans who complains to Mayor Nagin that immigrant labor is depressing wages in the city, and he's forced to work for $6 an hour. The funny thing is that the one illegal immigrant worker who's quoted is being paid $12 an hour to do the dirty, back-breaking work of cleaning up the Big Easy. What's wrong with this picture?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Specter's Immigration Proposal

From the Washington Times:

A draft immigration bill from Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter calls for dramatic increases in legal immigration, far beyond any of the other major proposals now before Congress.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Pro-Trade Demonstration

From Yahoo.com:

Thousands of supporters of a free trade pact for Central America marched through Costa Rica's capital on Thursday, an unusual event in a region better known for protests against the pact.

Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like "Yes to Jobs," and waving Costa Rican flags, the group of about 5,000 mainly workers and business owners urged Congress to approve the pact known as CAFTA.

Costa Rica has yet to join the trade bloc with the United States. Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic have already joined.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

A Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I'm grateful that so many thoughtful people choose to visit this site and are interested in what I have to post. I will take a few days off from blogging, and I'll be back next week. Enjoy the holiday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Free Trade in Latin America

Marcela Sanchez:

Anyone following Latin America closely knows that the majority of its leaders want freer trade. And while some may take advantage of [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez's aid, primarily in the form of cheap oil, they see their long-term prosperity tied rather to the United States.

But those who look for expansion of free trade anytime soon may be in for a disappointment. Indeed, in the spirit of straight talk on trade, Bush administration officials now would have to admit that Washington's highly charged political climate is making the city less enthusiastic about free trade these days.

Latinos and Illegal Immigration

From the Bergen (NJ) Record:

A new wave of Americans are calling for stricter restrictions on immigration: Latino Americans.

Immigration Debate

A good article from the Houston Chronicle on the immigration debate. I think the article presents both sides accurately and fairly.

China Invasion

From the Washington Times:

China, striving to match the superpower status of the United States, is boosting military contacts throughout Latin America and eyeing the region as a market for its growing arms industry, U.S. officials say.

Chinese military officials made 20 visits to counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean last year, says Gen. Bantz Craddock, who heads the U.S. Southern Command.

Gen. Craddock, in congressional testimony, reported that nine Latin American defense ministers visited Beijing during the same period.

"An increasing presence of the People's Republic of China [PRC] in the region is an emerging dynamic that must not be ignored," he said.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hot Latin American Markets

From Barron's (subscritpion):

Emerging markets indeed have been the hot ticket among international investors, with Latin American equities providing much of the excitement. Fueled by brisk economic growth and through-the-roof prices for coffee, iron ore and other commodities, stocks south of the border have been hotter than the Brazilian sun, soaring 86% since 2003, according to the Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Markets Latin American index. Latin markets are up 38% in dollars for the year through last Wednesday. Latin bonds have also dazzled, returning 8% this year.

A sharp selloff in Latin stocks in October has some believing that the rally, which was hitting its three-year mark, might be losing steam. But emerging-market bulls contend that stocks and bonds south of the border will remain in vogue next year.

Menendez to the Senate?

We may soon have three Hispanic Senators:

Prominent Hispanic elected officials are putting pressure on Democratic leaders for New Jersey's governor-elect, Jon S. Corzine, to appoint Representative Robert Menendez to fill his seat in the Senate.

Haitians in the Dominican Republic

A very sad and disturbing story from the D.R.:

The attacks on Haitians here provide the most recent example of what international human rights groups describe as the Dominican Republic's systematic abuse of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent. In recent years, those organizations report, tens of thousands of Haitians have been summarily expelled from the country by individuals and the government, forcing them to abandon loved ones, work and whatever money or possessions they might have.

We Need More Immigrants

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Other industrialized countries recognize the importance of human capital for economic growth, and they have ratcheted up recruitment of the world's mobile talent. Meanwhile, the U.S., the undisputed leader in attracting global talent, has erected barriers for skilled migrants and watches passively as they stay home or go elsewhere.

America has seen the number of legal migrants, who tend to be more educated, fall by nearly a third over the past few years -- much more sharply than less educated illegal immigrants, according to the Pew Hispanic Research Center. Enrollment of foreign students in U.S. higher education declined for the first time since the 1950s. And when Congress failed to extend legislation that tripled the quota for highly skilled workers under the H-1B program, the number allowed in under this program has fallen as well. This ambivalence towards foreign talent risks depriving U.S. universities and businesses of the high-octane fuel that helps drive the American innovation machine.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Quicker Deportations

Who says the government is not doing something about the illegal immigration problem?:

The House Homeland Security Committee yesterday passed a border security bill that would expand expedited removal of illegal aliens across all U.S. land borders and boost funding for border enforcement and detention.

"Expedited removal" is an attempt to speed up the processing and return of illegal aliens to their home countries, which takes about 90 days under the old system, but has been cut to about 30 days under a limited Department of Homeland Security pilot program. The program allows immigration authorities more discretion to deport someone without a set of hearings, and cuts down on processing time for other countries to take back their citizens.

Workers Cheated

From the Miami Herald:

The leader of the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights group traveled to Gulfport Friday to investigate claims that immigrant workers are living in squalid conditions and being cheated out of wages while working in the hurricane-ravaged region.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Latino Film in Taiwan

These movies sound very interesting:

After the Taipei Golden Horse International Film Festival wrapped up this week, this year's film festival season will enjoy another boost with the arrival of the Latino American Film Festival.

Featuring 24 movies from across the continent, the festival opens up a window for audiences to see different aspects of Latin America other than Argentina's tango or Brazil's football team.

Speaking of movies:

Jim McNamara started tailor-making telenovelas for U.S. Hispanics as president of Telemundo -- now he's launched a new company to produce movies with the same strategy.

"I feel there's a huge market out there," McNamara said from the Coral Gables office of Panamax Films. "There are three full-blown Hispanic TV networks out there, cable and radio, but it doesn't make sense that there are really no commercial features in the mix."

Especially because Hispanics tend to be avid movie fans.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Dangerous Left in Latin America

Dick Morris:

THE growth of leftist regimes throughout Latin America and their increasing links with the new axis of Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez poses a serious danger to the United States. The left is using revenue [from] drugs and oil to offer voters in these young democracies an alternative to free markets and global economics.

Fidel May Have Parkinson's

This isn't exactly news, but it's closer to a confirmation of long-held suspicions:

On Wednesday, a United States official said that an intelligence assessment, based on a wide variety of material, suggests Castro has Parkinson's disease.

The official asked not to be named. He added that the assessment is not a definitive conclusion.

Cuban officials have long dismissed reports that Castro has Parkinson's, or any other chronic ailment.

What's Wrong with Fair-Trade Coffee?

Professor John Larrivee:

I heard the story again just a few days ago. You know the basic plotline: Poor coffee growers in third world countries get paid $1 per bag of coffee, which Starbucks then turns around and sells for $10 a pound. The story always concludes with a discussion about the evil firms involved and how markets result in people at the top getting rich and people at the bottom getting ripped off. But, in the end, this story can only survive due to ignorance of how markets work.

Difference between input price and output price doesn’t inherently imply injustice... the question is not the difference between what different parties to the production get paid, but rather who adds value, how much, and where.

Republicans, Immigration & Elections

Linda Chavez:

REPUBLICAN candidates hoping to make illegal immigration a central issue in next year's Congressional elections and the 2008 presidential race should consider the results of the Virginia governor's contest.

The Republican candidate, Jerry Kilgore, tried to tap into sentiment against illegal aliens by running advertisements that featured grainy video of border arrests and Hispanic men waiting in line while an announcer accused his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine, of favoring "taxpayer benefits for illegal immigrants." In the last weeks of the race, Mr. Kilgore regularly worked the theme into his campaign speeches, especially in Northern Virginia, home to most of the state's immigrant population, legal and illegal.

But on Election Day, immigration failed to galvanize voters, and Mr. Kilgore lost by six percentage points, coming up short even in reliably conservative areas like Loudoun County, where I live. No doubt other missteps, including harshly negative ads on his opponent's position on the death penalty, contributed to Mr. Kilgore's defeat. But clearly, immigrant bashing can cut both ways in an election.

More Cubans Escaping

From the Chicago Tribune:

Frustrated by continued hardship, the number of Cubans leaving their homeland by sea has increased sharply in the past year and led to several high-profile deaths in the Florida Straits.

U.S. authorities said 2,504 Cubans have been intercepted at sea so far in 2005, up from 1,499 in all of 2004. The number of Cuban migrants reaching South Florida by sea also increased during the 12 months ended Sept. 20, to 2,530 from 954 during the previous period.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

O'Grady Acceptance Speech

The Latin Americanist has published the speech Mary Anastasia O'Grady delivered on the ocassion of her receipt of the International Policy Network's 2005 Bastiat Prize for Journalism:

Since we're here tonight to recognize journalists who defend freedom, I'd like to take a moment to say a word about Cuba's independent journalists and writers, many of whom are in jail right now for the crime of refusing to conform. They are a constant source of inspiration for me.

Read the whole thing and never forget!

Minority Political Involvement

From Voice of America News:

Young immigrants and minorities are getting more involved. The proof is increased voter turnout among members of all racial groups between the ages of 18 and 24 in the 2004 election.

However, there is still a huge divide in the voting patterns. Census bureau statistics show that almost half of all registered African-Americans in that age group, many of whose families have been here for generations, voted in the 2004 election. Among registered young Asian-Americans and Latinos, whose families are more likely to have immigrated recently, the number voting was only around one-third.

Immigrants Spark Growth

From USAToday:

Large numbers of immigrants and their businesses in U.S. inner cities often spark growth in jobs and household incomes — and even broader economic activity in those locales, according to a study released Tuesday.

For decades, policymakers have debated the best ways to boost bleak inner-city economies. Immigrants and rundown urban neighborhoods are seen by some as a drain on the U.S. economy, according to Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter.

But in his study, Porter found that the 5.5 million immigrants who live in inner cities are key catalysts to economic growth and urban investment.

Virginia's Governor Elect

This is an excerpt from an interview with Virginia Governor-Elect Tim Kaine:

PN: There are an estimated 200,000 illegal immigrants in Virginia. Will you leave immigration policy to the federal government, or do you plan to address it at the state and local levels as well?

TK: I have supported a series of things at state level, like tightening up the process to get a driver's license. Most of the hijackers on 9/11 got driver's licenses in Virginia. We've made it tough to get a driver's license in Virginia without being a legal citizen. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with something the state of Virginia did wrong; it is because the federal government refuses to enforce immigration law. I am not going to let the feds off the hook. What they are doing is pushing the burden of illegal immigration onto the shoulders of the state. My main focus is to really push the federal government to really do their job.

The PN stands for Potomac News and the TK for the interviewee.

The Singapore Model

Eneas Biglione writing for Tech Central Station:

With the exception of Chile and Colombia, most of Latin America finds itself stalled in deep economic and institutional backwardness, and there is little hope of future improvement. Indeed, politicians there appear more concerned with opinion polls than with the substantive policy reforms which must be undertaken. Their solutions are only short-term fixes, damp cloths which relieve the pain but do nothing about the sickness that caused it.

Latin American countries must follow the example of the Asian nations that made significant economic breakthroughs despite comparative disadvantages and the instability which has characterized the region in recent years. Singapore is an excellent example. The city-state was able to overcome its status as a poor, third-world colony and develop into a powerful exporter of high-tech and medicinal products.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Diplomatic Spat (Mex v. Ven)

This story from BBC News takes me back to high school:

Mexico and Venezuela have recalled their ambassadors amid a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

Mexican President Vicente Fox announced the move minutes after Venezuela said it was ordering home its envoy.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez refused to bow to Mexican demands to apologise for warning off Mr Fox - after describing him as a "puppy" of US imperialism.

The row began last week, after Mexico supported a failed US bid to relaunch regional free trade talks at a summit.

On Sunday, Mr Chavez accused the Mexican leader of disrespecting him and warned: "Don't mess with me sir, because you'll come out pricked."

Non-citizen Voters in NYC?

Sorry, but I'm with Mayor Bloomberg on this one:

Immigration activists packed a City Council hearing yesterday to demand noncitizens be allowed to vote in municipal elections — an idea Mayor Bloomberg vehemently opposes.

The council is considering whether to let residents who've been in the city six months or longer vote in local elections.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Specter's Immigration Bill

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is circulating a draft of a compromise immigration bill that does not include guest worker provisions favored by President Bush.

The draft from the lawmaker, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, opens a new stage in an emotional debate that is expected to play a major role in elections in California and many other states next year. It has already divided the Republican Party, pitting talk-radio populists hostile to illegal immigrants against businesses seeking willing workers, and religious groups with humanitarian concerns.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Prosperity in Latin America

Mario Villarreal:

[Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez finds it more advantageous to oppose free trade than to advocate more investment in education. After all, if the poor become educated, they may start to realize that they are being used and exploited for political purposes. Their votes could no longer be bought with a bag of beans and a free t-shirt.

And, of course, it is easier to demonize the US and its agenda than to promote an efficient financial system. The poor might prosper and become less dependent.

Opportunistic leaders would rather maintain an economic and political system that favors big bureaucracies and inefficiencies than to promote free markets and respect individual freedom. It is in their interest to do so.

Who's Afraid of a Black Republican?

Ruben Navarrete has the answer.

Foreign Born Workers

From HispanicBusiness:

One in seven members of the US workforce was born overseas, largely Latinos employed in low-income jobs, a new congressional study said Friday.

That proportion is up from one in 10 a decade ago, and is set to rise further as US-born baby boomers retire, the study by the cross-party Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said.

Also:

Contrary to popular wisdom, large-scale immigration to the United States may boost rather than dampen the wages of U.S.-born workers, according to a study by two university economists.

The influx of about 8 million immigrants from 1990 to 2000 pushed up the average wage of U.S.-born workers by 2.7 percent, economists Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano of the University of Bologna and Giovanni Peri of the University of California at Davis found.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

NYC Mayor's Multi-Ethnic Coalition

From the New York Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg forged his historic re-election victory on Tuesday by drawing roughly half of New York's black voters and about 3 in 10 Latinos to the Republican line, even though he faced a Hispanic challenger who sought to capitalize on ethnic pride, an analysis of voting returns shows.

The mayor's wide support among minority voters is a sign that the strategy of the Democrat, Fernando Ferrer, to build on a dependable base of black and Hispanic votes fell victim to emerging political realities: that blacks and Hispanics no longer vote reflexively as a bloc, and that a middle-class coalition can trump traditional ethnic-based appeals. The winning multiethnic coalition turned out to be Mr. Bloomberg's.

Post-Election Analysis

From OpinionJournal.com:

In Virginia, Democrat Tim Kaine's defeat of Republican Jerry Kilgore shows what happens when the GOP loses credibility on taxes. Virginia is a state that Mr. Bush twice carried comfortably. But the GOP divided over Democratic Governor Mark Warner's record tax increase last year, and Mr. Kilgore never said he'd repeal it. He tried to straddle the difference between business lobbies who liked more money for roads and the rank-and-file who hated giving more to the government. The result was that there was little real difference between the candidates on fiscal issues--and Republicans lose those campaigns nearly every time.

Mr. Kilgore ran instead on the death penalty and especially immigration, which ought to be a warning to Republicans in Congress who think getting tough on the border is the key to victory in 2006. At times Mr. Kilgore seemed to be running for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Commissioner, not Governor. But immigration is an issue, like trade, that always looks better in the polls than it does on election day; very few people vote because of it.

Another interesting fact is that Tim Kaine is a devout anti-abortion Catholic who was once a missionary to Honduras and spoke freely and often about his faith.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Chávez Exports Revolution

Melana Zyla Vickers:

If all there was to the Venezuelan president was his backward socialist views, Chávez wouldn't be such a problem. He'd just be a hypocrite whose government enriches itself on highly globalized, state-controlled oil revenues, while he denies the region's privately owned businesses the same opportunity.

The trouble is, Chávez is about much more than hypocrisy. He's become an exporter of revolution, a socialist authoritarian with a Fidel Castro-style agenda to destabilize the region and with oil dollars to finance his ambitions.

Democrats Ignore Hispanics

From New America Media:

The Democratic Party seems to have initiated a campaign to forge ties with the Hispanic community, with the goal of addressing their problems and the promise of a “wide strategy” for dealing with Latin America, reports EFE. Both initiatives were formed while President George W. Bush visited Argentina last week to attend the Summit of the Americas. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, the only Hispanic governor in the United States, said that Democrats should not take the Hispanic vote as a sure thing and that overconfidence in Latino support helped Democrats lose the White House in 2004. Richardson, who admitted that he might run for president in 2008, said the Hispanic vote is important in states like Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

Hispanic-Majority Schools

From HispanicBusiness.com:

Hispanic majority schools are far more likely than White majority schools to experience serious overcrowding and teacher shortages, according to a new study by UCLA's Institute of Democracy, Education & Access (IDEA), in collaboration with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

Students attending Hispanic majority high schools were also found to be less likely to graduate high school eligible for a four-year college or university than White majority high schools.

Chávez's Socialism Is Not the Answer

From John Hughes in the Christian Science Monitor:

Chávez's muddle-headed concept of socialism for Latin America is often confusing. He says it is "to transcend the capitalist model," and that it is not communism, at least not "at the moment," but is the alternative to communism, building a "social, humanist, egalitarian economy." Often his philosophy sounds less like a vision for the future than a rant against what he decries as American "imperialism." He has also paid a state visit to Iran, praising the leadership of its mullahs.

Two potential negatives loom for Chávez. One is his dependence on oil, and his current reckless spending of oil revenues based on the resource's current high prices. If the bubble should burst, he would be hard put to continue expanding social services at home and financing revolution throughout Latin America.

The other problem is the inevitable departure from the scene of his comrade-in-arms, Fidel Castro. Castro is 78 years old, and one or two recent lapses suggest that he is in failing health. The likelihood of Cuba's continuing along the path of communism after Castro seems slim. Communism in Cuba is already discredited with the masses and is held nominally in place by Castro's reign of oppression. Cuba's people are the prisoners of a regime that offers them neither political freedom nor a free market economy.

Neither communism, nor Chávez's woolly "not-communism-at-the-moment" kind of socialism seems likely to be a panacea for the challenges of today's Latin America.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Two Americas

Andres Oppenheimer:

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina -- The Fourth Summit of the Americas attended by President Bush and 33 regional leaders ended here Saturday with a virtual partition of the Americas in two economic and political blocs: one made up of the United States and 28 other countries, and another made up of Brazil and four other countries.

Despite efforts from all sides to put a good face to it, the summit ended in disarray.

The Rights of Foreign Criminals

From CNN:

The Supreme Court on Monday jumped back into the issue of the rights of foreigners in criminal cases, agreeing to consider the appeal of two men from Honduras and Mexico.

Mario Bustillo of Honduras was convicted of killing a Virginia teen with a baseball bat, but was never told of his right to seek legal help from the Honduran consulate. His new lawyers are trying to win another trial.

Moises Sanchez-Llamas of Mexico was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for wounding a Medford, Oregon, police officer in a 1999 gunfight.

Sanchez-Llamas claims his pretrial statements to police shouldn't have been allowed as evidence in his case because he wasn't told of his right to contact the Mexican consulate.

Bush in Panama

The President made a stop in Panama, where he toured the Panama canal, discussed free trade and played a little baseball:

Polls indicate that Mr. Bush is deeply unpopular in Latin America, but he is probably the least unpopular in Panama, a country that has long ties to the United States and where Americans are well liked. Mr. Bush frequently stops in young democracies as his last stop on grueling foreign trips, ensuring that he gets good pictures for the television networks and a personal boost on his way back home.

Fujimori Arrested

From the Washington Post:

Peru's fugitive former president, Alberto Fujimori, was arrested early Monday in Chile, where he had arrived unexpectedly in an attempt to return to Peru to resurrect his political career. Instead, Peruvian officials began working to have him extradited on charges of murder and corruption committed during his decade-long presidency.

Fujimori, 67, who fled to Japan after a corruption scandal toppled his government in 2000, recently stated his intention to defy an international arrest warrant and return to Peru to run for president in 2006. He landed in a private plane in Santiago, the Chilean capital, Sunday afternoon and was arrested by Chilean officials without resisting at the Marriott Hotel early Monday morning. He was being held at a police training academy.

Immigrants in Europe & the U.S.

From the Wall Street Journal (free this week):

The Big Apple offers a lesson for France. An analysis of recent census numbers indicates that immigrants to New York are the biggest contributors to the net growth of educated young people in the city. Without the disproportionate contributions of young European immigrants, New York would have suffered a net outflow of educated people under 35 in the late '90s. Overall, there are now 500,000 New York residents who were born in Europe (not to mention the numerous non-European immigrants who live, and prosper, in the city).

Contrast this with Paris, where the central city is largely off-limits to immigrants, in some ways due to the dirigiste planning that so many professional American urbanists find appealing. Since Napoleon III rebuilt Paris, uprooting many existing working-class communities, the intention of the French elites has been to preserve the central parts of the city -- often with massive public investment -- for the affluent. This has consigned the proletariat, first white and now increasingly Muslim, to the proximate suburbs -- into what some French sociologists call "territorial stigma." In these communities, immigrants are effectively isolated from the overpriced, elegant central core and the ever-expanding outer suburban grand couronne. The outer suburbs, usually not on the maps of tourists and new urbanist sojourners, now are home to a growing percentage of French middle-class families, and are the locale for many high-tech companies and business service firms.

Read this whole piece and you will have a better understanding of the reasons for the riots in France and in other parts of Europe.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Anti-Capitalism in Latin America

Carlos Ball:

The fact is, U.S.-Latin American relations are at one of their lowest historical points. The majority of Latin intellectuals traditionally have felt a deep and secret inferiority complex toward the U.S., blaming it for everything bad that takes place in the hemisphere. They have taught in both public and private schools and universities for three generations, and finally have seen their favorite students reach the top political positions not only in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Bolivia, but also again in Chile, where the highly successful accomplishments and the good name of the "Chicago boys" are being meticulously trashed by official lies and horrendous judicial decisions, while Allende's followers are treated as victims and "compensated" from the state coffers...

Unfortunately, socialism and communism have a growing number of advocates in Latin America, while capitalism has no clear support coming from Washington. Instead, too many recycled civil servants enjoy the tax-free life and great power of their current positions at the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and all the U.N. outposts, from where they support failed policies of big government and higher taxes. Is it any wonder some Latin friends of the U.S. feel betrayed?

Immigrant Workers in New Orleans

Mary Sanchez:

The dire poverty suffered by black people in New Orleans was not created by Katrina. The hurricane simply exacerbated it. The immigrant workers who are taking the jobs now should not be blamed for a situation they did not create.

Nor should they become scapegoats when strategic, long-term solutions that could help blacks haven't even been tried yet.

The Immigration Debate

There are a lot of issues that we have to come to grips with as a country:

Ultimately, the immigration debate is also an ethical debate, and as such, it raises hard questions that cannot be answered by appeals to economic calculation, human rights legislation or sentiments of nationalism alone. Difficult as it may be to think in terms of "valuable" versus "valueless" immigrants, or to distinguish between the free circulation of information and the free circulation of individuals, the growing political clamor over immigration will force us to think hard about such questions, and perhaps sooner than we expect.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bush Down South

Actually, this is debate worth having:

President Bush yesterday pushed for free trade among the Americas stretching from Alaska to Argentina as thousands protested his visit and the president of Venezuela vowed to "bury" the trade pact.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Resentment in Louisiana

Out-of-state workers have come to the Gulf region in large numbers to help with the clean-up and reconstruction, but they are not always welcome:

Louisianians, from high-level public officials to low-wage workers, have begun to complain about the influx of outsiders they perceive as having come to profit off their pain.

"People from other states, we appreciate their help," said Aubrey D. Cheatham, a union electrician from New Orleans who believes he lost a job to lower-paid workers from outside Louisiana. "But everybody else is getting work, not us..."

The focus on Hispanic immigrants worries people like Representative Nydia M. Velázquez of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Small Business Committee.

"I am afraid the anger and frustration of hurricane victims is going to be turned against undocumented workers, who are being taken advantage of," Ms. Velázquez said.

Louisiana has only a small Spanish-speaking population, which is concentrated in and around Kenner. New Orleans itself is 3.1 percent Hispanic, according to the latest census, and the state as a whole is just 2.4 percent, far less than the national average of 12.5 percent. Therefore many of the newcomers stand out.

Summit of the Americas

Every indication is that President Bush is going to face a tough crowd in Mar Del Plata, Argentina as he meets his fellow Latin American heads of state. Good luck!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bush in Latin America

From the Washington Post:

As President Bush prepares for a visit to South America this week, thousands of people in the region have been preparing to make sure he knows exactly what they think of him...

The chilly welcome, according to public opinion polls, reflects a general slide of the U.S. government's popularity throughout South America. While some of the criticism centers on the war in Iraq, much of it is linked to regional economic policies such as privatization and low tariffs promoted by multinational lenders and supported by both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Immigrants and Food Stamps

From the Washington Post:

House Republicans are pushing to cut tens of thousands of legal immigrants off food stamps, partially reversing President Bush's efforts to win Latino votes by restoring similar cuts made in the 1990s.

The food stamp measure is just one of several provisions in an expansive congressional budget-cutting package that critics say unfairly targets the poor and disadvantaged, especially poor children.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fidel Financed Lula

From the Denver Post:

A Brazilian newsmagazine published allegations over the weekend that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had received as much as $3 million in secret campaign donations from Cuban President Fidel Castro.

The alleged action would break Brazilian campaign laws that mandate the disclosure of campaign funds and prohibit politicians from receiving contributions from foreign sources.

"Three Strikes"?

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Twice already this year, Gabriela Lemus hoped to hear the news that President Bush had made history and tapped the first Hispanic nominee to the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, her hopes were dashed again, when Bush named Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. - the son of an Italian immigrant - as his choice to fill the seat of retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

"Three strikes," said Lemus, the national director of policy and legislation for the League of United Latin American Citizens, lamenting what she called another missed opportunity.

Why Not a Hispanic?

From TownHall.com:

The Hispanic National Bar Association Monday expressed disappointment in President Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito for Supreme Court Justice instead of nominating a Hispanic candidate.

The HNBA said Bush ignored "the estimated 41.3 million Americans of Hispanic descent" and "missed an opportunity to create a historic legacy by nominating the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court" by choosing Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor instead.

Latino Education

Very interesting:

Hispanic teens are more likely than blacks and whites to attend public high schools that have the most students, the highest concentrations of poor students and highest student-teacher ratios, according to a new Pew Hispanic Center analysis...

The report found that more than half of Latinos (56%) attend the nation's largest public high schools – those schools whose enrollment size ranks them in the 90th percentile or higher. That's compared with 32 percent of blacks and 26 percent of whites.

The report also found that about 37 percent of Latinos attend the 10 percent of schools with the highest student-teacher ratios. Just 14 percent of black students and 13 percent of whites attend those schools, which have a student-teacher ratio greater than 22-to-1 compared with the national average of 16-to-1.

While much of the research on the achievement gap between Hispanics and whites has focused on characteristics of students, the new study examines the structural characteristics of the high schools attended by different racial and ethnic groups.