Archive for the ‘Latin America’ Category

Via Twitter, Venezuelans Celebrate Border Closing

This week’s Stories from Latin America series focuses on why #VenezuelaExigeRespeto (Venezuela Demands Respect) trended today on Twitter.

While U.S. presidential candidates keep discussing immigration policy and borders, on August 21 Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced that his government would be closing the border between Venezuela and Colombia. The reason? According to reports, three Venezuelan soldiers and one civilian were wounded in an attack by smugglers. As a result, Maduro told his nation the following: “As part of measures to restore order, peace, tranquility and justice … I have decided to declare a state of emergency.”

The border between Venezuela and Colombia is about 1,400 miles, as shown on the following map. There has been a history of border tensions in this area, particularly when it comes to smuggling. In addition, Venezuelan municipalities like Táchira were at the center of anti-Maduro protests last year.


Today, Venezuelans took to Twitter to generate support for Maduro’s announcement, tweeting to #VenezuelaExigeRespeto (Venezuela Demands Respect). Maduro supporters have been tweeting at a steady clip of about a tweet per second:

We Venezuelans are the ones called to guarantee peace for our Nation, she is our treasure! We must protect her! #VenezuelaDemandsRespect

#VenezuelaDemandsRespect: We cannot allow to be invaded under any circumstance or that our military forces keep getting killed, time for strong measures.

We support the State of Exception Decree as a guarantee of peace an tranquility. #VenezuelaDemandsRespect

The Bolivarian Government continues to work to build a border focused on work, prosperity and peace #VenezuelaDemandsRespect

The social media amplification and trending come at a time when the Venezuelan government is calling for the deportation of Colombians living unauthorized in Venezuela: “According to the Venezuelan authorities, more than 1,000 Colombians living illegally in Venezuela have been handed over to the Colombian authorities.”

What do you think about the situation in Venezuela? Tweet @LatinoUSA or me @julito77.

Two Stories From Latin America You Need to Follow

It has been a very tumultuous past few days in Latin America, and if you haven’t been following the latest news, here is a quick summary of the two most important stories from the region that I recommend you follow:

Protests in Ecuador

After following social media the last few days (see #EcuadorProtesta, #FueraCorreaFuera and #EcuadorALasCalles), it appears that the global press is finally focusing on a series of protests against Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president. Earlier today, The Guardian’s David Hill filed a digital report from Ecuador. At one point, Hill writes:

Ecuador is currently in turmoil. Thousands of people are protesting proposed constitutional amendments, the expansion of the oil frontier, mining projects, changes to water and education policy, labour laws and pensions, a proposed “Free Trade Agreement” (FTA) with the European Union (EU), and increasing repression of freedom of speech, among other things. The government’s response? To send the police and military with batons and tear-gas to beat citizens, make arbitrary arrests, raid homes and even – some people believe – to take advantage of volcanic eruptions by declaring a nationwide “State of Exception”.

The protests have taken different forms. Indigenous people marched for 10 days from the Zamora Chinchipe province in the Amazon to Quito, 1,000s and 1,000s of people gathered in the capital last week, and another march involving approximately 2,000 people was held there on Monday. In addition, a series of demonstrations and road-blocks have sprung up elsewhere in the country.

I haven’t seen many U.S.-based news outlets picking up on the news from Ecuador (although the Associated Press wrote a small story about the warning Correa gave due to the threat of a volcano erupting), so outlets like The Guardian should be ones to follow for now.

Protests in Brazil

While U.S. media hasn’t moved on Ecuador coverage just yet, a few more outlets are paying attention to the current situation in Brazil: where protests are calling for President Dilma Rousseff to step down from office. Rousseff’s current popularity is at 10% and corruption is rampant in the current governing party. The Irish Times wrote a good summary about the root causes of Rousseff’s political problems:

The Petrobras bribery scandal that has dogged Brazil’s politics for some years shows no sign of flagging. Prosecutors are expected shortly to unveil new allegations about the state-controlled oil company, while on the streets of the country’s main cities hundreds of thousands have been rallying, demanding the head of President Dilma Rousseff, re-elected barely 10 months ago. Last weekend saw the third round of mass protests this year and 10 days ago Rousseff’s ruling coalition, led by her Workers Party, was weakened by the desertion of two allied parties .

Rousseff’s problems are compounded by the likelihood that the economy will decline both this year and next. Rising unemployment, a credit rating flirting with junk status, and inflation, all presage the worst economic downturn since at least 1990.The Brazilian real is at a 12-year low against the dollar. Her own poll figures are in single digits – she is the most unpopular president since the return of democracy in 1985.

The Petrobras scandal –kickbacks for massive state contracts– dates back to Rousseff’s time as chair of the company’s board before she won the presidency in 2010, although neither she nor her predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have yet been directly implicated. She also faces legal challenges over whether her campaign received illicit contributions and if her government improperly used money from state banks to cover budget shortfalls. She insists she will not resign, but the demand for impeachment has grown to the point that two in three Brazilians support it, most strongly among the poorest and least educated; her party’s natural support base.

In addition, here are a few links that will get you up to speed:

From CNN: What Brazil’s Protests Means by Jeffrey Lesser

From the BBC: Rousseff’s woes worsen as Brazil’s protesters smell blood by 

From Reuters: Despite protests, slog more likely than radical change in Brazil by 

The Olympics are next year in Brazil, and a lot of what is happening now in the country has been bubbling for the last few years. If you really want to find out more about why Brazil is where it is at right now, I will give you one more recommendation—read Juliana Barbassa’s Dancing with the Devil in the City of God. Last month I had the pleasure of hosting a book talk with Juliana about her book, which dives into the extreme contrasts coming out of Rio de Janeiro and the rest of the country. It will give you the framework you need to understand the latest news.


Surviving The Mexican Revolution

Some lessons are learned in school. Other lessons are taught in the home. Or more specifically, in the kitchen. Two generations of women  – a mother and daughter – remember what they learned from Jesusita, who fled Mexico for Texas during the Mexican Revolution. She was the matriarch that made them the women they are today.



McClurgLesley McClurg is a reporter and producer for Colorado Public Radio’s daily interview program, “Colorado Matters.” She came to CPR after getting her start in public radio as a freelance reporter and producer for KUOW in Seattle, Washington.In addition to her work as a journalist, Lesley also has extensive experience in documentary filmmaking and writing. A seven-time Emmy Award nominee, she won an Emmy Award in 2009 for the documentary, “Green Prison Reform.” Lesley holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Louisiana State University




Photo of immigrants fleeing the Mexican Revolution, courtesy of U.S. History Scene





Blogging from Cuba

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo is a Cuban blogger, activist, and editor of Cuba’s first digital magazine Voces. Maria Hinojosa talks to Pardo Lazo about blogging and writing in Cuba, the democratic potential of the Internet, and Pardo Lazo’s impressions during his first trip to the United States.

00570032Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana. He graduated with a degree in biochemistry and later became a writer, photographer and blogger. He founded the independent literary digital magazine Voces, Cuba’s first digital magazine. He is the other of numerous works of short fiction and manages the blog Lunes de Post-Revolución (in English – Post Revolution Mondays) as well as his photoblog Boring Home Utopics.

Losing Your Citizenship In The Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, the Constitutional Court has retroactively revoked citizenship from anyone of Haitian descent dating back 84 years. Maria Hinojosa reports on how this change is affecting Dominican-born Haitians, and how the dynamic is playing out among Dominican and Haitian-Americans here in the U.S.


Sabiduría: Luchadores

For a few words of wisdom this week, we turn to the luchadores, the masked wrestlers of Mexico. Jasmine Garsd brings us the words of one fighter who’s been combating opponents in the ring, and homophobia in society. This luchador is part of Los Exóticos, a group of fighters in drag based in Mexico City.

Jasmine Garsd was born in Argentina and hosts NPR’s Alt.Latino podcast. As a journalist she’s worked on the NPR programs Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation and Tell Me More. She has covered a wide variety of topics for radio including immigration issues.

Luchador Name Generator

If you ever need your very own luchador name, we have the solution for you. Just enter your name and choose your gender (“other” is an option).

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Tell us your name on Twitter, using #LUSALUCHA.

The LUCHADOR Face-off

To get in character for this week’s show, ¡LUCHA!, we came up with our own fighting aliases. The best Luchador name gets a special prize. Help us choose a winner!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

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Santiago Postcard

Reporter Alexandra Hall sends us an audio postcard from Santiago, Chile, on the fortieth anniversary of the U.S. backed coup against Salvador Allende.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Alexandra HallAlexandra Hall is an independent radio producer currently based in Santiago. She holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Columbia and a B.A. in Spanish from UC Santa Cruz. Alexandra is an intern with Chile’s finest news station, Radio Cooperativa, and the Co-host of NACLA Radio. She is best known for going rogue to get the story- from New England to the Southern Cone.




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