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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bolivia's New Government

From the Economist:

EVO MORALES, who took office on January 22nd as Bolivia's first elected president of indigenous descent, is still trying to be all things to all men. In a long and rambling inauguration speech, he saluted Che Guevara, denounced “neo-liberalism” and coca eradication, called for the nationalisation of natural resources and the setting up of state-owned industries, and thanked Venezuela's Hugo Chávez for his support. He also called for private investment, for an “alliance” against the drug trade with the United States, and hinted that he might support an Americas free-trade accord if it helped small business.

His first actions smacked more of radicalism than pragmatism. The cabinet he has formed consists mainly of activists from the social movements that vaulted him to power and their intellectual allies. Nearly all have as little experience of government as Mr Morales, who led a coca growers' union.

For the sake of the people of Bolivia I hope I am wrong, but this has all the makings of an imminent disaster.

Overcrowding & Immigration

From USAToday:

Overcrowded housing is emerging as a battleground in the national debate over immigration as towns and counties crack down on landlords who permit many unrelated people to occupy single-family homes.

The World Cup is Coming...

I'm starting to get very excited:

This year Hispanic media are all about soccer and the World Cup.

Hispanic media growth has slowed somewhat from the breakneck pace of the last few years, but TNS Media Intelligence is forecasting 10.4% growth for Spanish-language network TV in 2006 as advertisers ante up for soccer’s global championship series.

Monday, January 30, 2006

After Katrina...

Hispanics are "invading" New Orleans:

Hurricane Katrina, as devastating as it was, has created great opportunities for many. After all, somebody has to tear down, clean up and rebuild this city. And by and large, the people doing the dirty, dangerous work are not native New Orleanians but Hispanics who have flocked in to fill the void left by hundreds of thousands who fled the storm.

Fraternizing with the Enemy

Yahoo! has a picture of left-wing nut Cindy Sheehan with Hugo Chavez's arm around her shoulder and giving the "thumbs up" -- an act of treason if I ever saw one.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The 2006 World Baseball Classic

The 16-team international baseball tournament is coming in March and the Wall Street Journal is happy that Cuban "peloteros" will be able to play in the U.S.

Costa Rica

The Old is New again:

Former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, a vocal critic of U.S. foreign policy, is expected to win a second term as president in the Feb. 5 general election, polls show.

Arias won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for brokering an end to civil wars in central America, but voters expect the U.S.- and British-educated politician to look closer to home for his next project, which will be to stop the gradual economic decline of what once was considered among the best-run nations in Latin America.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Michelle Bachelet

Learn more about Chile's new president, Michelle Bachelet:

She will head the fourth consecutive government of the centre-left Concertación coalition. A moderate socialist, she says she will maintain the economic discipline and respect for markets that have sustained Chile's rapid growth of the past two decades.

Walesa Speaks to Cuban Dissidents

From ABC News:

Former Polish President Lech Walesa advised Cuban dissidents to be ready for an inevitable democratic transition, telling them Saturday that activists in his country had been unprepared for the collapse of East European communism.

Omar Minaya

The wonderful people of New York have been giving Oscar Minaya a hard time for some of his off-season moves as the General Manager of my Mets, but I think he's handling things quite well:

Minaya appeared twice on the sports-talk radio station WFAN, first on Don Imus's show at 6:30 a.m., then 11 hours later with Mike Francesa and Chris Russo, each time addressing the notion — sometimes heard in comments on the station — that he is trying too hard to put Hispanic players into Met uniforms.

"To me, it's about signing the best players possible," Minaya told Imus, before adding: "I don't think about the player's race, his color, his religion, his sexual orientation. I don't get into that stuff."

Asked by Imus whether he felt the comments on the station were racist, Minaya said he did not.

"I'm not one to throw around the racism card," said Minaya, who is the first Hispanic general manager in Major League Baseball. "A lot of people tend to use the race card all over the place. I think sometimes, when something is new, people are uncomfortable with it."

The End of Sanctuary

From USAToday:

Mayor Allan Mansoor says his city has a problem with violent criminals who are in this country illegally, and he wants them sent home.

His solution is to make Costa Mesa the first city in the country to authorize its police officers to begin enforcing federal immigration laws by checking the immigration status of people suspected of serious crimes and gang activity.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Job Discrimination

From CareerJournal:

A new wave of race-discrimination cases is appearing in the workplace: African-Americans who feel that they are being passed over for Hispanics.

This kind of case marks a shift from years past, when blacks were likely to seek legal action against employers who showed preferential treatment toward whites. The cases highlight mounting tension between Hispanics and blacks as they compete for resources and job opportunities...

The situation is exacerbated by strong stereotypes that have set in among some employers about the pluses and minuses of hiring from each pool of minority workers. "There is a perception that Latinos closer to the immigrant experience might work harder than black persons," says Joe Hicks, who is African-American and vice president of Community Advocates, a nonpartisan group that aims to advance interracial dialogue.

John Trasvina, vice president for law and policy at the Mexican-American Defense League, an advocacy group that works on civil rights issues, says that some Latinos may be viewed as "preferred applicants." He believes there is a feeling among some employers that Latinos can be exploited because, in their view, they tend to be immigrants who are more likely to accept low wages and be less aware of their rights than blacks. Says Mr. Trasvina: "Employers sometimes pit one group of employees against the other."

Enforcement and Compassion

From the Christian Science Monitor:

In the immigration debate, and specifically on the hot-button issue of day laborers, compassion and law enforcement can work together.

A country that has become addicted to the cheap labor of illegals has an obligation to respond in a kind way to a problem it tolerates and encourages. Work centers are an appropriate temporary solution that can turn chaos to order. And minimum-wage laws should apply to all.

But the bottom line is that the US is a country of laws. Illegal immigration is a large-scale abuse of the law, with social and economic costs. The fact that states considered more than 300 immigration bills last year shows the absolute failure of the federal government to enforce immigration laws.

America is built on the contribution of foreigners who settle here. But that contribution must be legal.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pinochet Family Members Arrested

From the Miami Herald:

Gen. Augusto Pinochet's wife and four grown children were indicted and ordered arrested Monday on charges of tax evasion related to the former dictator's multimillion-dollar accounts at overseas banks, according to a judge's resolution read on state television.

Judge Carlos Cerda also granted freedom on bail to Pinochet's wife, Lucia Hiriart, and four of his five children -- Lucia, Veronica, Jacqueline and Marco Antonio, a benefit that must be upheld by the Santiago Court of Appeals. The older son, also named Augusto, was not indicted.

The combined alleged tax evasion by the Pinochet family mentioned in the resolution amounts to $2.05 million.

Monday, January 23, 2006

New Citizenship Test

From UPI:

The federal government is planning to change the U.S. citizenship test to reflect better the understanding of government by immigrants.

Gone will be the questions: What color are the stars on our flag? (white); How many representatives are in Congress? (435); Who becomes president if the president and the vice president should die? (the speaker of the House of Representatives); Who wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner?" (Francis Scott Key); Which U.S. citizenship and immigration form is used to apply to become a naturalized citizen? (Form N-400).

Instead, government officials want to ask immigrants about freedom of speech and religion and democratic concepts, the Boston Globe reported Sunday.

However, some fear the teat might become too difficult and will demand better English skills than the current test requires.

I'm sorry, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with making the citizenship test more demanding. This is a great teaching moment.

Bin Laden and Pancho Villa

No comment:

A radical Hispanic group that claims the southwestern United States belongs to Mexico is hailing elusive al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden as the "Pancho Villa of Islam."

Writing for the website "The Voice of Aztlan," Ernesto Cienfuegos recalled the telegraphed message sent by Gen. John J. Pershing after failing to capture the Mexican revolutionary nearly a century ago, "Villa is everywhere but Villa is nowhere."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Latino Groups and Judge Alito

These people don't speak for me:

Several leaders of Hispanic organizations expressed opposition Thursday to the likely Senate confirmation of Samuel Alito as a Supreme Court justice, predicting his accession to the bench would erode civil rights and advances made by Hispanics in the United States.

Fortunately, there are two sides to every story:

But there are also representatives of the Hispanic community - both advocacy groups and Hispanic members of the Republican Party - that have spoken out in support of Alito's confirmation, including Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Florida) on Wednesday.

The $100 Million Question

From the Washington Post:

It's the $100 million question in Bolivia: What will become of the U.S.-financed program to eradicate coca, the plant used to make cocaine, now that the longtime head of the coca growers' union, Evo Morales, is about to become the country's president?

Morales, 46, who will be inaugurated Sunday, said during his campaign that he might withdraw Bolivia's support for the eradication program, a keystone of the U.S.-backed anti-drug and alternative crop development campaign here. He has hinted at decriminalizing the cultivation of coca, which is legally chewed as a stimulant and used in traditional medicines, and he has criticized regional U.S. anti-drug programs as false pretexts for establishing a military presence.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Senator Menendez

From HispanicBusiness:

With a family Bible in his hand, Robert Menendez achieved a lifelong dream yesterday, taking the oath as New Jersey's first Hispanic U.S. senator.

He set about quickly to outline his policy agenda for the coming months, telling reporters he would push for increased training of Iraqi forces to relieve U.S. troops and for increases in Iraqi oil production.

He also said he was undecided on the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.

Documentary: Castro Killed JFK

Carlos Alberto Montaner:

Shown for the first time on German public TV, the documentary, Rendezvous with Death: Castro and Kennedy, contributes several documents and some testimony that are newsworthy. But its most convincing element is a report from Mexican intelligence that states that in September 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald received in Mexico $6,500 from the Cuban secret services to help him carry out the planned crime.

Oscar Marino -- a former officer in Cuba's state security apparatus, now elderly and in exile -- corroborated the research done by the German filmmaker: ''He offered to kill Kennedy, and we used him,'' he told Huismann.

"Wet Foot, Dry Foot"

From NPR:

Cuban Americans in Miami are increasingly demanding the end of the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy that allows the Coast Guard to send refugees back to Cuba if they don't set foot on U.S. soil. Cuban exile groups are starting a lobbying campaign that they hope will go directly to President Bush.

Strange Alliance

Politics makes strange bedfellows:

The United States Chamber of Commerce and two of the country's most powerful labor unions are joining forces to press Congress to pass an immigration bill that would legalize millions of illegal workers, labor and business leaders said this week.

The coalition will include the Service Employees International Union, which has 1.8 million members; the Laborers' International Union of North America, which has 400,000 members; and the chamber, which represents three million businesses.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What Latin America Needs

Marifeli Peréz-Stable::

Latin Americans are concerned about jobs, poverty and low wages. Nearly 60 per cent said they had had an unemployed adult living in their household in the past 12 months. Even so, after two years of strong economic growth, expectations are on the rise: 54 per cent believed their children would be better off than they are today.

A majority, nevertheless, holds that democracy and the market provide the best way to make progress. Populism – which disdains the separation of powers and exalts the state as an economic actor – seems far removed from the good sense of most Latin Americans. Yet it can capture people’s imagination – as Mr Morales just proved in Bolivia. To deflect it, Latin American elites must redress citizens’ discontent within the context of democratic institutions and market economics.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

GOP Should Be Careful

The anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from a few Republicans will only serve to drive away voters and potential voters:

Republicans will lose the gains they've made among Hispanic voters under President Bush if they allow "partisan radical demagogues" to control the immigration reform debate, says Latino Coalition President Robert Deposada.

A new survey of Hispanic registered voters found that a majority support increasing the number of border patrol agents and making sure that employers only hire workers who are in the United States legally. But they also overwhelmingly support a program to allow immigrants to work temporarily in the United States.

A Brief History of U.S. Immigration

Cynthia Crossen:

Immigration remains a contentious issue in the U.S. today, as people from every part of the globe try to enter the country, legally and illegally, to enjoy America's opportunities and freedoms. When Chicago Mayor William Thompson was challenged in a 1931 election by a second-generation Czech immigrant, he called his opponent, Anton Cermak, a "pushcart Tony." "It's true I didn't come over on the Mayflower," Mr. Cermak replied, "but I came over as soon as I could."

AMLO Leading in Mexico

From the Miami Herald:

Although the Mexican presidential election is not until July, the dynamics of the contest already seem set: the election is Andrés Manuel López Obrador's -- AMLO, for short -- to lose. His personality, his vision and his ambition are defining the race, with other candidates following in his wake.

The problem for the United States is that AMLO is a populist, nationalist, against globalization, and instinctively anti-U.S., in the old tradition of Mexico's traditional ruling party, the PRI, from which he defected years ago when it began to modernize. Like other Latin American populists, he appeals to the millions of poor people who have not benefited much in fact, or at all in perception, from the economic liberalizations of the '90s or the more recent boom in oil prices.

Bishops Oppose Immigration Bill

From the Washington Post:

Nationwide, Catholic agencies serve more than 300,000 "newcomers" through Catholic Community Services. No questions are asked about their immigration status.

But Roman Catholic bishops say anti-immigration legislation passed recently by the House could put that work in jeopardy, even as the drafters of the proposal say vehemently that those interpretations are wrong and that no harm is intended.

The sticking point in the arguments is language in a section of the House proposals, which the Senate is scheduled to take up next month, that would make it a criminal offense for anyone to "direct or assist" an immigrant with the knowledge that the person crossed the U.S. border illegally. Financial penalties and jail time could follow.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Tehran-Caracas Axis

Mary Anastasia O'Grady:

With Iranian nuclear aspirations gaining notice, it's worth directing attention to the growing relationship between Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez. The Reagan administration repulsed Soviet efforts to set up camp in Central America. Iranian designs on Venezuela perhaps deserve similar U.S. attention.

The warmth and moral support between Ahmadinejad and Chávez is very public. The two tyrants are a lot more than just pen pals. Venezuela has made it clear that it backs Iran's nuclear ambitions and embraces the mullahs' hateful anti-Semitism. What remains more speculative is just how far along Iran is in putting down roots in Venezuela.

Lt. Col. Ollanta Humala

There's very little doubt in my mind that this guy is going to be elected:

A nationalist former army officer continued his sharp climb in polls for Peru's presidency on Sunday, but a new survey indicated he still trails in a head-to-head runoff with his chief rival.

The rising popularity of retired Lt. Col. Ollanta Humala, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, has been tied to a wave of leftist populism across South America and it has rattled Peru's financial markets.

I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

Michelle Bachelet

From the Los Angeles Times:

Michelle Bachelet, a socialist who was jailed and went into exile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, was elected the first female president of this South American nation Sunday in a vote that underscored the region's leftward drift.

The 54-year-old physician and single mother, who served as health and defense minister in the administration of outgoing President Ricardo Lagos, became the first elected female chief executive in Latin America whose rise to power was not linked to a powerful husband.

More from the Washington Post.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Wal-Mart International

From Forbes:

Already, they have retail stores operating in Mexico (774 units), Puerto Rico (54 units), Canada (263 units), Argentina (11 units), Brazil (295 units), China (56 units), Germany (88 units), South Korea (16 units), United Kingdom (315 units), Costa Rica (124 units), El Salvador (57 units), Guatemala (120 units), Honduras (32 units) and Nicaragua (30 units). During 2005, Wal-Mart started its move into India.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Worries Over Citgo

The worriers have reason to be concerned:

One of the USA's largest refiners, Citgo is a subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA). As such, it ultimately belongs to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, an avowedly anti-American leader who counts Fidel Castro among his closest friends and mocks President Bush as a "genocidal murderer."

The question of Chávez's influence over Citgo was highlighted by the company's recent provision of 25 million gallons of subsidized home-heating oil to poor people in the northeast USA. More than 100,000 households in four states should eventually benefit from the low-cost heating aid.

But some worry that Venezuela's ownership of more than 6% of U.S. refinery capacity gives Chávez, a former paratrooper given to wearing red berets and military fatigues, the power to cripple as well as comfort.

As Hurricanes Katrina and Rita demonstrated, any disruption to the nation's refining industry instantly increases gas prices. What if Chávez, who periodically threatens to curtail oil shipments to the USA, closed Citgo's refineries?

Latin American Election Preview

Are we going to see a continuing trend toward the election of left-of-center populist politicians in Latin America? We'll see.

Tougher Crackdowns

From USAToday:

In an unprecedented crackdown on more than 500,000 illegal immigrants who have not followed deportation orders, U.S. authorities this year are nearly tripling the number of federal officers assigned to round up such fugitives.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will deploy 52 fugitive-hunting teams across the nation by December, up from 17 teams last year, says John Torres, the agency's acting director of detention and removal.

Teams generally are made up of five to eight agents. They focus on rounding up and deporting immigrants who have been ordered by a judge to leave the USA because they are here illegally or have violated the conditions of their stay by committing crimes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

CAFTA Is Stuck

From the L.A. Times:

The pact was to take effect Jan. 1, but it has been blocked by election politics and anti-trade sentiment. U.S. officials say it's not in jeopardy.

Growing anti-trade sentiment in several Central American countries has held up a trade agreement with the United States that had been slated to launch Jan. 1.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More Women Are Crossing Border

From the New York Times:

No one knows how many people illegally cross the Mexico-United States border, trekking through the desert, hiding in cars and trucks, or walking through points of entry with false papers. But academics, immigration advocates and Border Patrol agents all agree that the number of women making the trip is on the rise.

Katharine Donato, an associate professor of sociology at Rice University in Houston who studies Mexican migration to the United States, estimates that as many as 35 percent to 45 percent of those crossing the border illegally today are women. Twenty years ago, fewer than 20 percent of the people crossing illegally were women, she said.

The increase, which has occurred gradually, comes at a time when anger over illegal immigration is on the upswing, especially in states near the border. Some of that anger is directed at women who have babies in American hospitals and send their children to public schools.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Evo and Hugo

From the Economist:

Evo Morales, a leftist who won Bolivia's recent presidential election, visited Venezuela, where he pledged to join President Hugo Chávez in fighting “neoliberalism and imperialism”. Mr Chávez offered to give Bolivia diesel in return for farm products.

Machu Picchu Suit

From the USAToday:

Yale historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911, and backed by the National Geographic Society, he returned with large expeditions in 1912 and 1915.

Each time, he carted out crates filled with archaeological finds, with permission from Peruvian President Augusto Leguía.

Today, Peru is threatening to sue the Ivy League school, claiming the permission was either given illegally or misunderstood.

The treasures of Machu Picchu, says David Ugarte, regional director of Peru's National Culture Institute, were given to the American explorer "on loan."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

AIDS in Honduras

This is a reprint of an excellent article series that first appeared in the Dallas Morning News:

The human immunodeficiency virus has in recent years emerged as the primary cause of death among childbearing-age women in Honduras and, after violence, the second leading cause of hospitalization among adults.

With 5.5 percent of its population infected, San Pedro Sula, the country's second largest city and a busy commercial hub near Puerto Cortez, Central America's largest port, has emerged as the region's AIDS capital.

In Honduras, which has a population of about 7 million, the prevalence of the disease is estimated at 1.8 percent, one of the highest in the hemisphere. The figure is based on the number of cases reported to government officials, which Honduran epidemiologists say is far less than the real figure.

Four of the five Latin American countries with the highest prevalence of HIV are in Central America - a trend that experts say shows no signs of waning.

Although Central America's HIV epidemic is not nearly as widespread as sub-Saharan Africa's, its ripple effects pose a growing threat to the stability and livelihood of a region increasingly tied to the United States because of record migration and a newly signed free-trade agreement.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Linda Chavez on Immigration

Linda Chavez:

Mass deportations won't -- and shouldn't -- happen. The legal, moral and practical obstacles to rounding up and deporting millions of illegal aliens and their U.S.-citizen children are insurmountable. Nor is it feasible to station enough agents along the border or build a barrier long and high enough to keep out everyone. I once stood at the border between East and West Germany with its barbed wire, mines, and sentry posts with soldiers aiming high-powered rifles. Is that really the America we want to create?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Immigration Half Measure

This is an editorial from the Seattle Times:

THE immigration-reform bill the U.S. House passed last month is half-baked — and, if passed by the full Congress, could devastate parts of the nation's economy.

While it promises a major crackdown on illegal immigration both at the border and in the interior, the bill does almost nothing about why people sneak into the United States: jobs and better wages than in Mexico or other countries where the people come from. Employers need the workers — and hire them. Even with as many as 11 million foreign-born people living in the United States without legal authorization, the nation's unemployment rates are low.

This is from the Chicago Tribune:

If anti-immigrant forces in Congress had their way, illegal immigration would be a crime punishable by death... The problem is that the fence idea has been tried; it won't work, and countless more unnecessary deaths will result.