Latino USA

Archive for May 22nd, 2009

Guatemala: Alma de la Tierra

The lush greenery of Guatemala is ubiquitous, earning the moniker, “Land of Eternal Spring.” To travel the picturesque countryside of Guatemala, one would have little idea that this modest-sized country of 13 million people shouldered such a violent past. The 36-year civil war killed over 200,000 people and ended in a fragile peace in December 1996, putting an end to a series of military dictatorships and returning the country to civilian rule.

For years weak democratic institutions of Guatemala have been tested by crime, corruption, drug trafficking, and social unrest. Many promises made under the 1996 Peace Accords have yet to be fulfilled. And those in power have enjoyed an impunity caused by a weak judicial system.

All this came to a head this month when an otherwise non-descript killing took place on the streets of Guatemala City.

Days after his murder, Guatemalan Attorney Rodrigo Rosenburg could be seen in a video that was slated to be released in case of his demise. The video accuses Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom of ordering his murder.

Claudia Méndez Arriaza

In subsequent days, political rallies have called for Colom’s resignation and investigation; while other marchers, who consider the leftist Colom a champion for the poor, have come out in support of the embattled president.

Claudia Méndez Arriaza is an investigative reporter for El Periódico newspaper in Guatemala.

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Reporter Claudia Méndez Arriaza responded to Maria Hinojosa in Spanish. Listen to their extended conversation without the English voice over.
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Remembering Mario Benedetti

In Latin America, he was as famous as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabelle Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Carlos Fuentes. But in the English-speaking world, Mario Benedetti was largely unknown. And in Montevideo, Uruguay, Benedetto was not only famous, but beloved for what many say was his knack for capturing the essence of Uruguayan life, a great observer and recorder of the ordinary. Crowds of admirers used to gather at his public appearances to hear him read from his poems, essays, novels, and short stories.

Mario Benedetti died May 17 at the age of 88 in Montevideo.

Adriana Dominguez

While native to Uruguay, Benedetti was forced into exile from 1973 through 1985 when military dictatorships ruled the country. For a time, he lived in Lima, Buenos Aires, Havana, and Madrid. But in the end, he was considered the quintessential Montevideano.
Adriana Dominguez is a book editor who grew up in Uruguay. She writes a blog on Latin American authors called “Voces.”

Nortec Collective: Tijuana Sound Machine

The Nortec Collective has been hailed by critics and fans alike for their distinctive border feel, combining the best Mexican styles of music with the modern, Americanized techno feel. Created in 1999 by several Tijuana, Mexico DJs, Nortec has produced several CD compilations beginning with “The Tijuana Sessions Vol.1.” The latest compilation, “Tijuana Sound Machine” was nominated for a 2008 Latin Grammy.

The Nortec collective is not a band or a group but a series of compilations created in (and about) Tijuana Mexico where electronica, norteño and tambora music come together with visuals. As a group, the Nortec Collective has not performed publicly since 2007. But as DJ’s, the collective’s live shows are dominated by VJs, computers, and visuals.

Grammy nominated members Bostich and Fussible are embarking on a mini-tour of Mexico, Texas and California in June.

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Web Extra: Memorial Day Poem

Writer Joe Pacheco

Memorial Day was created to honor those veterans who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country. With war casualties growing in Iraq and Afghanistan, Memorial Day takes on greater urgency. But, as poet and writer Joe Pacheco reminds us, the death of a loved one in wartime does not have to be recent, to be remembered. This year marks the 65th Anniversary of the passing of his brother Pedrito during World War II. Joseph Pacheco is a former New York City school superintendent. He’s now retired and lives on Sanibel Island in South Florida.

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