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Friday, December 30, 2005

Orishas

I don't know how many of the readers of this space like urban music, but if you enjoy latin beats mixed with some hip hop (or if you are adventurous and like to explore new sounds), you should definitely check out Orishas. This is a latin hip-hop group made up of Cuban emigres in Europe. Mrs. HispaniCon gave me their two latest albums for Christmas, and it's all I have in my IPod and all I've been listening to since Christmas. I love it!

If you're looking for some party music for your New Year celebrations, you could do worse than Orishas.

Have a Happy and Healthy 2006!!

The Cuba Archive

Mary Anastasia O'Grady (WSJ Subscription):

The Cuba Archive project (www.cubaarchive.org) [is] attempting to document the loss of life attributable to revolutionary zealotry. The project, based in Chatham, N.J., covers the period from May 1952 -- when the constitutional government fell to Gen. Fulgencio Batista -- to the present. It has so far verified the names of 9,240 victims of the Castro regime and the circumstances of their deaths. Archive researchers meticulously insist on confirming stories of official murder from two independent sources.

Cuba Archive President Maria Werlau says the total number of victims could be higher by a factor of 10. Project Vice President Armando Lago, a Harvard-trained economist, has spent years studying the cost of the revolution and he estimates that almost 78,000 innocents may have died trying to flee the dictatorship. Another 5,300 are known to have lost their lives fighting communism in the Escambray Mountains (mostly peasant farmers and their children) and at the Bay of Pigs. An estimated 14,000 Cubans were killed in Fidel's revolutionary adventures abroad, most notably his dispatch of 50,000 soldiers to Angola in the 1980s to help the Soviet-backed regime fight off the Unita insurgency.

The archive project can be likened to the 1999 "Black Book of Communism," which documented the world-wide cost of communism, noting that "wherever the millenarian ideology of Communism was established it quickly led to crime, terror and repression." The Castro methodology, Cuba Archive finds, was much like that used in Poland and East Germany, less lethal than Stalin's purges, but equally effective in suppressing opposition.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Pinochet Booked

From AP via Yahoo! News:

Chilean police took fingerprints and mugs shots of Gen. Augusto Pinochet on Wednesday following his indictment for the killing and disappearance of nine dissidents during his dictatorship — the first time he has had to submit to a police booking.

Pablo Rodriguez, a lawyer for the 90-year-old ex-dictator who ruled Chile from 1973-90, called the procedure "an affront to a former President of the Republic."

But government spokesman Osvaldo Puccio said the booking of Pinochet "shows that in Chile all citizens are equal before the law."

The New Prop 187

Jack Kemp:

The proposed Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437) now under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives is so overreaching that, in my opinion, it could become the Proposition 187 of the 21st century.

The World's Largest Gated Community

From OpinionJournal:

Tom Tancredo has done everyone a favor by stating plainly the immigration rejectionists' endgame--turn the United States into the world's largest gated community. The House took a step in that direction this month by passing another immigration "reform" bill heavy with border control and business harassment and light on anything that will work in the real world.

For the past two decades, border enforcement has been the main focus of immigration policy; by any measure, the results are pitiful. According to the Migration Policy Institute, "The number of unauthorized migrants in the United States has risen to almost 11 million from about four million over the past 20 years, despite a 519% increase in funding and a 221% increase in staffing for border patrol programs."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Birthright Citizenship

From USAToday:

A proposal to change long-standing federal policy and deny citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants on U.S. soil ran aground this month in Congress, but it is sure to resurface — kindling bitter debate even if it fails to become law.

José Latour

OpinionJournal.com has the story of José Latour, a Cuban novelist who escaped Cuba to live and write in freedom:

"I believed in the revolution" at first, he recalled. "I thought it was the best thing that ever happened to my country. Ah well, it turned out it's the worst thing that happened to my country." [...]

"Such an oppressive life," Mr. Latour recalled. "Can you imagine a writer that for three or four years keeps asking the Ministry of Culture to please sell him a computer? 'I am not asking you to give away a computer. I will pay you $500, $600 for an old computer that's not worth more than 250. I am willing to pay the price.' And they won't sell you a computer. . . . And then everything you say is a crime, and you are constantly under surveillance; and you go to an embassy because they are giving a cocktail [party]-- and there's an olive-green jeep following you all the way. I mean you feel like a bug under a microscope."

He noted: "You write [a novel] here in the United States about corrupt people in the CIA, the FBI, the police, the government . . . nothing happens; it's just fiction, and nobody questions the writer's right. . . . But you do that in Cuba--you're a traitor; you are giving weapons to the enemy."

Morales Will Fail

Carlos Alberto Montaner gives us his take on Evo Morales, the president-elect of Bolivia:

Morales will fail, of course, just the way Perón, Velasco Alvarado and the Sandinistas failed, and as Chávez, Castro and the rest of the indefatigable revolutionary mob, to the left and right of the ideological spectrum, will fail. The revolutionaries always wind up in a major disaster because the political premise from which they start is wrong.

If anything was learned and confirmed countless times throughout the 20th century, it was that development, general prosperity and social harmony are consequences of juridical security, the market, freedom to produce or consume, education and investments and international cooperation.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa does the same:

Mr. Morales's election has been interpreted as confirmation that South America is moving left. Mr. Morales does not hide his admiration for Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, and his proposals include the nationalization of the oil industry, the redistribution of some privately owned estates and the decriminalization of coca plantations in the Chapare region. He opposes the Free Trade Area of the Americas and blasts "neoliberalism."

It would be a mistake, however, to think that Mr. Morales will become another Hugo Chávez even if that is his wish. The new Bolivian president will not have the resources that Venezuela commands and his popular base is shakier. Moreover, Brazil has an important presence in Bolivia and will be in a position to exercise a moderating influence.

Hispanic American of the Year

United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas!!

I want to wish every visitor to the site a very Merry Christmas and the best for the holidays! At the risk of bringing everybody down, I would encourage you, during this season of giving and joy, to think of those who are less fortunate:

Forty-one million children in Latin America won't cheer the holidays. They live in extreme poverty, i.e., on less than a dollar a day.

These boys and girls are born to exclusion -- often literally, as up to 20 percent are never officially registered -- and are virtually destined for a life of abuse, forced labor, prostitution, crime or disease. School, vacations, birthday parties, Nochebuena or Three-Kings' Day don't even enter their dreams.

The U.S., Chávez and Bolivia

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Anti-Washington feelings run deep in Latin America, and the US would only strengthen the likes of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez by challenging Bolivia's newly elected president, Evo Morales. To govern, socialists like him may need a bullying Yanqui.

The Bush administration must sit tight, and wait to see if Mr. Morales, Bolivia's first Indian president and the first to win more than 50 percent of the vote, can actually hold his troubled Andes nation together.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Latin American Leans Left

Recent election results and polls in countries heading for elections are troubling, but it's not all bad news:

Latin America as a whole has not yet swung radically to the Left. Anti-Americanism will always raise a cheer, but, at the other end of the political scale, lies a dire warning: the utter bankruptcy of Cuba's Marxist experiment.

Don't Go! It's A Trap!

From PR Newswire:

In a letter to U.S. energy company executives, Fidel Rivero Prieto, President of Cuba Petroleo, told his counterparts from the U.S. energy sector that Cuba " ... would be very pleased to do business together ... " and invited them to meet with him and his Cuban colleagues at the U.S.-Cuba Energy Summit scheduled for February 2-4, 2006, in Mexico City.

Ollanta Humala

Another left-leaning populist is rising in Peru.

What Will Evo Do?

Now that Bolivia has a new president, many people (including yours truly) are wondering which road president-elect Evo Morales will take:

As Morales joins a growing list of elected Latin American presidents generally described as leftist or populist, he has two basic models from which to choose. One is that of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who has gleefully defied the Bush administration, formed a warm alliance with Cuba's Fidel Castro and cracked down on domestic opponents in the name of social change. The other is that of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, who has developed disciplined fiscal policies, left democratic institutions intact and avoided alienating the United States, all while forwarding broad social programs to help the poor.

"The old threat in Latin America was that of military coups. The new threat is that of authoritarian democracies -- leaders who get elected and then use the state to repress opponents, push through social change and stay in power," said Bernard Aronson, an international consultant in Washington and a former State Department official. "That is what Chavez is doing, and what Lula is not doing," he said. "The big question is, which way will Evo Morales go?"

Monday, December 19, 2005

GOP Alienating Hispanic Voters

Andres Oppenheimer:

President Bush's Republican Party's love affair with Hispanic voters may soon come to an end: Judging from the xenophobic measures proposed by conservative Republicans in Congress last week, many Latino voters will think twice before casting a vote for Republicans in the 2006 congressional elections.

The massive anti-immigration package presented to Congress late last week by House Judiciary committee chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Homeland Security committee chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., contained some of the most radical anti-immigration measures ever, including depriving babies of undocumented workers of their right to U.S. citizenship...

Bush won the 2004 election in part thanks to an unprecedented 40 percent slice of the Hispanic vote, nearly twice what Republicans got in the 1996 election.

Bush has opposed the bill, saying enforcement measures should be accompanied by a temporary guest workers' program. But the isolationist wing of the Republican Party, perhaps taking advantage of Bush's political weakness, steamrolled the bill through the House.

Evo Morales Wins!

This is a disaster. The coca farmers have their man:

Evo Morales, who challenges U.S. anti-drug policies, was set to become Bolivia's first Indian president and join Latin America's shift to leftist leadership after winning an unexpectedly large majority in Sunday's elections.

Morales' rivals conceded defeat when results tabulated by local media showed him taking slightly more than 50 percent of the vote, much higher than predicted.

Friday, December 16, 2005

700 Miles of Fences

From the New York Times:

House Republicans voted on Thursday night to toughen a border security bill by requiring the Department of Homeland Security to build five fences along 698 miles of the United States border with Mexico to block the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into this country.

The amendment to the bill would require the construction of the fences along stretches of land in California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona that have been deemed among the most porous corridors of the border.

The vote on the amendment was a victory for conservatives who had long sought to build such a fences along the Mexican border. But the vote was sharply assailed by Democrats, who compared the fences to the Berlin Wall in Germany. Twelve Republicans also voted against the amendment.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Elections in Chile

From Eduardo Gallardo of AP via ABC News:

A Socialist single mother will face a conservative millionaire in a presidential runoff next month after failing to win an outright majority in her bid to become Chile's first female leader.

Michelle Bachelet easily defeated two feuding right-wing candidates with 46 percent of the vote, but fell shy of the 50 percent needed for victory. She is aligned with President Ricardo Lagos' ruling coalition that has governed Chile since the 1990 collapse of Gen. Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship.

Opinion polls during the campaign have indicated Bachelet would likely triumph in any runoff scenario, making her Latin America's fourth elected female leader. But her opponents have vowed to join forces to defeat her.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Menendez Appointment

From NY Newsday:

TRENTON, N.J. -- The appointment of Rep. Robert Menendez as the first Hispanic U.S. senator from New Jersey underscores the increasing political clout of the state's growing Hispanic community, leaders said Friday.

"The choice of Menendez highlights the maturation and growth of the community, and the political awareness of our strategic importance," said George A. Castro II, chairman of the Hispanic American Political Action Committee.

"He possesses the strength, tenacity, intelligence and endurance to fight an (election) campaign against any Republican candidate, and prevail," Castro added.

New Jersey is the fifth most populous U.S. state for Latinos, with about 1.3 million, or 15 percent of the state's population. That figure grew almost 70 percent from 1990 to 2003, the most recent year for which the Census Bureau has data.

Citizenship for All Mexicans?

This story raises a lot of questions:

Mexico's top diplomat said here Thursday that his nation wants to see Washington undertake an immigration reform extending legal status to "all the Mexicans in the U.S."

The time has come to debate that reform, "without passion, but with reason, because it mutually suits us," Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said in Chicago, home to a burgeoning Mexican community.

Why all Mexicans? How about Mexicans who have no interest in becoming citizens? Why not give citizenship to all immigrants regardless of nationality? Is this what passes for "reason" in Mexico?

Latin America Tilting Left

Bad news from South of the Border:

Since a bombastic army colonel, Hugo Chávez, won office in Venezuela in 1998, three-quarters of South America has shifted to the left, though most countries are led by pragmatic presidents like Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil and Néstor Kirchner in Argentina.

That decisive shift has a good chance of spreading to Bolivia, Ecuador and, for the first time in recent years, north of the Panama Canal. In Nicaragua, the Sandinistas, led by Daniel Ortega, are positioning themselves to win back the presidency they lost in 1990. Farther north, in Mexico, polls show that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a hard-charging leftist populist, may replace the business-friendly president, Vicente Fox, who is barred from another term.

Traditional, market-friendly politicians can still win in all these countries. But polls show a general leftward drift that could bring policies sharply deviating from longstanding American economic remedies like unfettered trade and privatization, better known as the Washington Consensus.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Chavez's Gift to the Bronx

From the Washington Post:

NEW YORK -- A green Citgo tanker truck chugged up a hill with a grim view of tenement buildings, elevated subways and treeless sidewalks to deliver Venezuelan heating oil, a "humanitarian" gift from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Moments before the orange-gloved worker snaked the hose to a Bronx tenement, Eartha Ferguson, a manager and resident of a low-income building, said: "I call it a gift of survival. It comes at a good time, a very needed time."

Chavez's gift, which arrived on Tuesday and is being distributed this week, may be nothing more than a chance to tweak the nose of the Bush administration, which has long opposed the South American leader. But few residents in the South Bronx, where 41 percent live on incomes below the federal poverty line, are inclined to worry about international politics.

Immigrants Trading Jobs

From the New York Times:

A report about the work lives of recent Mexican immigrants in seven cities across the United States suggests that they typically traded jobs in Mexico for the prospect of work here, despite serious bouts of unemployment, job instability and poor wages.

The report, released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center, was based on surveys of nearly 5,000 Mexicans, most of them here illegally.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Elizabeth Vargas

From the L.A. Times:

ABC named Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff as the new co-anchors of "World News Tonight" on Monday, charging the duo with the task of expanding the reach of the evening broadcast by delivering more real-time news.

When they officially take over Jan. 3, the pair — who succeed the late anchor Peter Jennings — will helm four separate editions of the evening newscast, including an online version and two feeds customized for West Coast viewers. The new format, which will require an additional financial commitment by the network, reflects the effect of a rapidly changing media landscape in which news is instantly available on the Internet.

The Galeras Volcano

From USAToday:

Government experts, including volcanologist Martha Calvache, say that after a year of increased activity, Colombia's most-active volcano is set to erupt. An explosion could come in weeks, or days. The government has demanded that the 9,000 people who live in the immediate danger zone evacuate. That includes the 4,500 people of Genoy, the largest town at the base of the volcano, which is about 300 miles southeast of the capital.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Immigration Politics in California

From the New York Times:

With a special election on Tuesday, one of the strongest Republican Congressional districts in California has become a focal point for national immigration policy, thanks to a long-shot independent candidate who helped organize a volunteer border patrol group.

Immigrant Sues Border Patrol

From News 8 Austin:

A 41-year-old Honduran man claims U.S. Border Patrol agents nearly beat him to death and has filed a suit in federal court.

The Border Patrol denies the claims made by Santos Roque Ramirez Carias.

Chavez Consolidates Power

From the Washington Post:

Allies of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez were poised take overwhelming control of the legislature after some of the country's strongest opposition parties called for a boycott of Sunday's congressional election, claiming it was unfairly controlled by the government and therefore illegitimate.

Though final results had not yet been announced late Sunday, allies of Chavez said they easily captured a two-thirds majority, which would be needed to change the constitution and possibly permit Chavez to run for a third consecutive six-year term in 2012 without the need for a referendum. Chavez has already announced his plans to run for reelection next year.

Chavez downplayed the boycott, which was formally observed by about 10 percent of the more than 5,500 candidates vying for the 167 National Assembly seats. Among those who pulled out of the race last week were members of the most powerful opposition parties. Chavez suggested that they did so only after it became clear that they would be roundly defeated at the ballot box.

Update:

In an unusual election victory, Hugo Chávez’s party and its allies have won all the seats in Venezuela's national assembly, thanks to a boycott by most of the opposition parties. While some of Venezuela’s neighbours are warming to the fiery, anti-American populist, the best others can hope for is to stop him from becoming a regional menace

MS-13 Expanding

FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker:

"Well, with respect to MS-13, we don't look at them as a typical gang. MS-13 has two characteristics that give us great concern and have drawn our attention. One is that they are extremely violent, and they're proliferating around the country. Two is they're an international criminal organization. They're not confined in the United States. You can find them in five countries. And now even in Europe."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Health Care in Venezuela

Please go to the BAD HAIR BLOG for a great post and video (in Norwegian and Spanish) on the Chavez health care system (or the lack thereof). Thank you, Fausta!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Hispanic Muslims

Interesting story:

Islam, the religion with the most followers after Christianity, is growing rapidly in the United States – and the majority of new followers are minorities, especially Hispanics, according to New York’s El Diario/La Prensa. In 1997 the American Muslim Council counted approximately 40,000 Hispanic Muslims. Recent studies estimate there are 75,000 followers most of them in big cities like New York and Miami.

The First Illegal Immigrants

Check out this funny cartoon posted by Hispanic Pundit.

The GOP and Immigration

From the New York Times:

Employers in the United States will soon be given a more reliable way to verify the immigration or citizenship status of new hires, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday. That system will then be followed up with tougher enforcement of immigration laws, he said.

"We owe the employers tools to verify their employees in a prompt and accurate manner," Mr. Chertoff said during a news conference. "Once we give them those tools, though, they owe it to us to use those tools, and if they don't, we then have to sanction them."

Mr. Chertoff provided little detail on how the system would work, saying only that an announcement would be made in the next several weeks.

There's also this from the Republicans:

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman urged his party Thursday to oppose rising anti-immigrant sentiments in the debate over border security and illegal immigration, suggesting that the GOP risks being on the wrong side of history and electoral politics alike if it embraces an exclusionary message.

Also, NPR has a story on the GOP's division (a.k.a. schizophrenia) on the issue of immigration:

This week, President Bush resurrected the debate over imimgration policy with speeches urging a guest worker program and tighter security. Bush's tone on the issue has changed since he addressed it last year, reflecting divisions within the Republican party.