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February 18 2014

February 17 2014

February 16 2014

February 15 2014

February 14 2014

Protests Against Death of Immigrants in Ceuta, Spain: “No One Is Illegal”

Image from Fotomovimiento taken at the Barcelona protest

Image from Fotomovimiento taken at the Barcelona protest. Used under CC License.

A group of 200 people tried to enter Spain from Morocco by swimming around the fence at Ceuta, and some 14 sub-Saharan African migrants were crushed to death or drowned. The Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) has been condemned by the immigrants and by a number of civil society organisations alike that argue that the security forces neither assisted [es] the immigrants nor alerted the coastguard to rescue those who were at sea. They also condemn the use of rubber bullets and tear gas against the immigrants in an attempt to prevent them from crossing the border.

The Guardia Civil has denied the accusations and created confusion by daily changing their version [es] of the events of Thursday 6th February.

Map of the border zone between Morocco and Spain - Wikipedia

Map of the border zone between Morocco and Spain – Wikipedia

A week after the tragedy, protests were convened in 15 Spanish cities to condemn the immigrants’ deaths. At the citizen gathering in Madrid, the most popular slogans [es] were: “They didn't drown, they were murdered”, “Natives or foreigners, we're all the same working class”, “No one is illegal” and “Where are the pro-lifers now?”, the latter in reference to those who support the controversial reform of the Abortion Law that the Spanish conservative government is currently preparing. 

The Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz finally acknowledged the use of riot gear by the security forces, although he claimed that it was used “only as a deterrent” to prevent the migrants from crossing the border. While the minister was appearing in the House of Representatives and facing the questions and accusations of the opposition parties, Twitter was transformed into a vehicle for people to express their indignation via the now trending topic #muertesCeuta [#Ceutadeaths]:

It seems that when prospecting for oil the borders are a lot wider than when for saving lives #muertesceuta

— Leire Iglesias (@leireis) February 13th, 2014

The minister acknowledges that rubber bullets were fired but not at people… what were they firing at then, the seagulls? #muertesCeuta

— Lorena Sainero (@Anerol27) February 13th, 2014

There are some things which we should never allow to happen. #muertesCeuta
— Ani ツ (@Vaquesinmas) February 13th, 2014

Shooting into the water near people who are desperate and can't swim isn't deterring them “for humanitarian reasons”, it's something entirely different #muertesCeuta

— Juan Luis Sánchez (@juanlusanchez) February 13th, 2014

There are still many questions to be answered: 

Autor Dani Gago - DISO Press

Photo by Dani Gago – DISO Press. ‘More bridges, no walls’

What is the existing protocol for managing the entry of immigrants in Spain? Did the Guardia Civil's actions in Ceuta show respect for the law and the immigrants’ human rights? Were some of the immigrants who did manage to reach Spanish territory returned to Morocco, in spite of the illegality of such an action? 

One Twitter user briefly summarises the need for accountability: 

Why should the minister provide answers to the mysteries surrounding the #Ceutadeaths? Above all, for them: http://t.co/TzhPH6zS9M

— Gabriela Sánchez (@Gabriela_Schz) February 13th, 2014

February 13 2014

Day of Protests in Venezuela Leaves Three Dead and Censorship in the Media

Estudiante protestando el 12 de febrero, 2014. Foto de Carlos Becerra, copyright Demotix.

Student protesting on February 12th, 2014. Photo by Carlos Becerra, copyright Demotix.

[All links lead to Spanish language pages, unless otherwise noted]

Yesterday Venezuela saw a wave of protests [en] in the streets of its major cities. The citizens, mainly university students, took to the streets to demand that the authorities release a group of young people who had been arrested in previous demonstrations. They also demanded improvements in food supply (food shortages [en] are around 27%) and public safety.

The march, which aimed to reach the federal prosecutor's office, was organized mainly by opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. The protest unfolded peacefully until the demonstrators neared the center of Caracas, where a group of riot police and members of armed security forces, hooded and on motorcycles, had taken control of the zone. The majority of the protesters left the area, but a small group remained and clashed with the security forces.

The confrontations in the center of Caracas resulted in two fatalities: a student and a member of a collective. Users uploaded videos of the moment when Bassil Alejandro Da Costa Frías was hit by a bullet and killed.

The protests spread to the east of the city, and during the night, another student was killed. The day ended with a toll of three deaths and dozens of people injured and arrested.

 

Jóvenes protestando en Caracas el 12 de febrero, 2014. Foto de Carlos Becerra, copyright Demotix.

Young people protesting in Caracas on February 12th, 2014. Photo by Carlos Becerra, copyright Demotix.

During the events, including the march and the ensuing violence, Venezuelan media continued to air their regular programming, after authorities threatened [en] to sanction any media that covered the protests. Those who sought information about what was happening had to tune in to the cable news channel NTN24.

In reaction to these events, Hilda Lugo Conde posted on Facebook:

Mientras se reportan heridos graves y hasta un muerto según la agencia Reuters en la marcha de hoy en Caracas, esto es lo que se ve en las pantallas de televisión de señal abierta en el país en este momento:
1- Venevisión: telenovela En nombre del amor
2- Globovisión: las películas más taquilleras en Estados Unidos este fin de semana según NTN24
3- Canal I: Mundo Fitness
4- VTV: Diosdado Cabello en la sesión especial de la Asamblea Nacional por los 200 años de la Batalla de la Victoria
5- Televen: telenovela Las Santísimas
6- La Tele: telenovela Cada quien a su santo
7- Tves: Pocoyo

Y la radio, también, en su mundo paralelo. Ese que impone la censura, la autocensura…

While the agency Reuters is reporting serious injuries and even a death during the march today in Caracas, this is what is being seen on open-signal television in the country right now:
1. Venevisión: Soap opera “En nombre del amor”
2- Globovisión: The highest-grossing movies in the United States this weekend, according to NTN24
3- Canal I: Mundo Fitness [Fitness World]
4- VTV: Diosdado Cabello in the special session of the National Assembly for the 200-year anniversary of La Batalla de La Victoria
5- Televen: Soap opera “Las Santísimas”
6- La Tele: Soap opera “Cada quien a su santo”
7- Tves: Pocoyo
And the radio, too, exists in a parallel universe. One that is under censorship, self-censorship…

In the afternoon, journalists of the news channel NTN24 condemned the fact that the government had pressured subscription television companies to remove NTN24 from their selection of channels. Minutes later, the complaint had become reality, and Venezuelans could see the channel only via internet.

Fran Monroy posted on Twitter:

At 6:17 PM Caracas time, the signal for NTN24 went dead on MovistarVe.

Rodrigo Blanco posted an alert about the situation:

To our friends outside of Venezuela: two students killed and information blackout by the government. Police are repressing.

Estudiantes protestando en Caracas. Foto de Juan Hernandez, copyright Demotix.

Students protesting in Caracas. Photo by Juan Hernandez, copyright Demotix.

 

Daniel Prat questioned the state of democracy in the country after what took place in the capital:

Don't protest, because I'll shoot you. Don't make demands, because I'll take you prisoner. Don't inform, because I'll take you off the air. Nice democracy, right?

However, Gabriel Lopez expressed his disagreement with the protests proposed by Leopoldo Lopez and marked by the hashtag #LaSalida:

“La salida” [The Exit] that some people are proposing is undemocratic. There are loopholes and ways to “exit” the government, including a recall referendum. Not by force.

The night ended with a national parade where President Nicolas Maduro celebrated Youth Day and the bicentennial of La Batalla de la Victoria.

Furthermore, a judge issued an arrest warrant for Leopoldo Lopez. This morning, the office of his party, Voluntad Popular, was searched.

The protests have not stopped.

The Facebook page Rebelión 2014 is collecting reports and photos (unverified) of the current protests.

Ecuador to Implement Charges for Private Copying Levy

Image from Shutterstock. Copyright: S_L

Image from Shutterstock. Copyright: S_L

UPDATE: Since the original publication of this article in Spanish, there have been no significant changes to the information reported, except that the list of products to be taxed by the Levy was publicized on Facebook [es] by the association Usuarios Digitales (Digital Users). 

[All links lead to Spanish language pages, unless otherwise noted.]

A proposal put forward by the Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property (IEPI) would impose an additional tax of 4%-10% on the importation of all music and video players, such as cell phones, personal computers, and tablets, as well as storage devices (CDs, DVDs, etc).

Faced with rumors and varying opinions about the proposal, known as Compensated Remuneration for Private Copying (RCCP), or private copying levy, the IEPI released a statement on December 10th explaining that the proposed measure is not a tax and that it falls under the provision of the current Ecuadorian Intellectual Property Law. The statement emphasizes that the current law already establishes the RCCP in its articles 105 to 108, so the project they are working on has to do with the implementation of the RCCP, as well as the distribution of the compensation that is collected. The IEPI added:

Se desinforma cuando se afirma que existe un impuesto a descargas, o un cargo tributario dirigido al Servicio de Rentas Internas, al Servicio de Aduanas o directamente al IEPI por cada descarga que se realiza. Eso es falso y contiene una intencionalidad deliberada para confundir a los usuarios.

It is mistaken to claim that there exists a tax on downloads or a fiscal tax going to the Internal Revenue Service, Customs Service, or directly to the IEPI for each download that takes place. This is false and is intended to deliberately confuse users.

Roberto Aspiazu, executive director of the Ecuador Business Council and the Ecuadorian Telecommunications Association (ASETEL), is one of those who has made clear his rejection of the measure, saying that it is only a different name for a tax of 4% for cell phones and other devices.

In an interview with local media on the subject, Aspiazu criticized the contradictions of the Ecuadorian government: “We will end up with a 24% tax. Brazil, which produces electronics, has a 16% tax, but that is in order to protect its industry. We, who have no industry, are raising the tax to 24% and then claiming that we want public policy that facilitates access to mobile Internet.”

JJ Velasco, writing for ALT1040, compares this measure to similar laws in Mexico and Spain (the Sinde Law [en]), and explains that it is not a tool of dissuasion, but rather a collections process whose original model dates back to around 2007. This model assumes that everyone is pirating and therefore increases the cost of devices that can be used for such activity. Velasco continues:

En estos años el escenario ha cambiado mucho y la oferta de contenidos legales es enorme y sigue estando a buen precio. Spotify sigue su expansión por Latinoamérica (acaba de aterrizar en Chile y Colombia), Google ofrece música a través de Google Play, Apple también ofrece música a través de iTunes y, gracias a Netflix, también podemos encontrar películas y series en streaming legal; con tanta oferta multidispositivo ¿en serio van a imponer un canon a los dispositivos? El Gobierno defiende la medida porque supone una fuente de financiación para los artistas ecuatorianos pero, realmente, tiene un impacto directo sobre el usuario final.

In these years, the situation has changed significantly: the availability of legal content is enormous and continues to be affordable. Spotify is continuing its expansion in Latin America (it just made its debut in Chile and Colombia), Google offers music via Google Play, Apple also offers music through iTunes, and, thanks to Netflix, we can also legally stream movies and TV shows. With so many multi-device options, are they really going to impose a levy on these devices? The government defends the measure because it would be a source of funding for Ecuadorian artists but, in reality, it has a direct impact on the end-user.

On the blog Derecho en Bicicleta, the anonymous author lists several reasons that s/he believes justify his/her opposition to this project: first, it is unconstitutional, and second, it contradicts the concept of the social knowledge economy, which was defended by the President of Ecuador himself. Regarding the unconstitutionality of the project, the blogger argues that it violates Article 287 of the Ecuadorian constitution, explaining:

La remuneración por copia privada es una tasa creada en una ley de 1998, que establece la obligación de que un particular (el importador o fabricante) pague a otro particular (la sociedad recaudadora creada por los artistas) por algo que no han acordado mutuamente: es una imposición. Puede comprenderse que el Estado imponga la obligación de pagar impuestos, pero es irracional que una ley obligue a un privado pagar un valor a otro privado, sin que haya mutuo consentimiento. Por esto es clave enfatizar que quien recibe el canon digital no es una entidad pública: no es el Estado, es un particular. Es esto lo que lo hace (a mi juicio) inconstitucional.

The private copying levy is a tax created in a law from 1998, which establishes the obligation of one party (the importer or manufacturer) to pay another party (the collections society created by the artists) for something that has not been mutually agreed upon: it is an imposition. It is feasible for the State to impose an obligation to pay taxes, but it is irrational for a law to require a private entity to pay a given amount to another private entity without mutual consent. For this reason, it is important to emphasize that the recipient of the private copying levy is not a public entity: it is not the State, but a private entity. This is what makes the levy, in my opinion, unconstitutional.

Various discussions on the topic can be found on Twitter under the tags: #Impuestospordescargas (Taxes on downloads), #pagoSINreproducir (I pay WITHOUT copying), and #noalcanon (no to the levy). Below are several highlights from the Twitter debate.

Efrén Guerrero speaks out against benefiting a dubious group of Ecuadorian artists: 

Everyone should earn their living through their work. Not by being compensated for not being able to compete in the market.

Diego Cevallos put together a Storify with tweets on the subject: 

Levy for “Compensated Remuneration for Private Copying”

Carlos Correa of Creative Commons Ecuador shares a video conference with Santiago Cevallos, the National Director of Copyright and Derivative Rights of the IEPI:

video conference with Santiago Cevallos of IEPI.

Mauricio Becerra argues that the anti-pirating measures should be focused elsewhere: 

They're inventing this to avoid dealing with who knows who… they're so afraid of going up against the real pirates.

Finally, Guillermex of the blog The Wild Children suggests that we should keep in mind the old saying “Innocent until proven guilty,” and then reflects:

Mientras el resto del mundo se vuelve loco por compartir y poner la música disponible y al alcance de todos; mientras en otras regiones, los computadores, laptops, tablets y todo aparato tecnológico se liberan de aranceles; mientras en todo el planeta tierra, los artistas suben a internet su material para que sea escuchado grateche; aquí, en el país de la revolución, hacemos todo mal y todo al revés.

While the rest of the world goes crazy sharing and making music available and accessible to everyone; while in other regions, computers, laptops, tablets, and all sorts of technology become free from taxes; while all over planet Earth artists are uploading their material to the internet to be listened to for free; here, in the country of the revolution, we are doing everything wrong and backwards.

For the time being, the result of this proposal is that internet users are putting forward a comprehensive discussion about the copyright model and casting doubt upon the government's proposal regarding digital media and the society of knowledge. Let's wait and see how the discussion develops.

Argentina's Polar Bear ‘Arturo’ Will Stay at the Mendoza Zoo

Imagen de la pagina de Facebook OSO POLAR Arturo

Image from the Facebook page OSO POLAR Arturo (Arturo the POLAR BEAR). Text: “I'm a polar bear – what part of polar don't you understand?”

A group of medical specialists determined that Arturo the bear, the only polar bear in captivity in Argentina, should stay in Mendoza instead of being transferred to Canada, after an intense heat wave put his health at risk.

The blog Un Mundo en Paz (A World of Peace) [es] explains:

Por unanimidad, los especialistas decidieron que el oso Arturo se quede en Mendoza. Analizaron que por su edad, 23 años, no puede ser sometido a una serie [de] análisis necesarios para el traslado y en Canadá no podría recibirlo porque el animal no cumple con los requisitos que exige el protocolo de ese país.

Unanimously, the specialists decided that Arturo the bear would stay in Mendoza. They determined that because of his age, 23, he could not be submitted to the series [of] analyses needed for the move, and in Canada he would not be received because he does not meet the requirements of the country's protocol.

In January of 2014, due to the demands and pleas made by different groups that the bear be put in a place more suitable for his species, the governor of the city of Mendoza, Francisco Pérez (@PacoPerez), announced from his Twitter account that the bear was being evaluated physically to determine the possibility of eventually moving him to Canada:

Let it be know that our Government, if the medical board decides it is best, will approve and support the decision to move Arturo the bear.

In February, a medical board made up of local, national and foreign veterinarians will evaluate the health of Arturo the bear.

This board will determine whether Arturo is in good condition to deal with a move, being that the main goal is to safeguard his health.

If the medical board approves it, and Arturo the bear can be moved, two Canadian entities are interested in receiving him.

This news brought about a lot of happiness and gratitude towards the governor, and the community was waiting for the medical board to arrive on February 7th to do the evaluation.

As one might expect, the news that the bear will stay in Mendoza has generated reactions from those who were waiting for the results. On Twitter, Argentines are commenting on the case under the hashtag #OsoArturo.

For their part, the Association of Civil Servants and Lawyers for the Rights of Animals (AFADA) [es] presented a statement [es] announcing the request for a habeas corpus for the polar bear's illegal loss of liberty. 

The Facebook page Ecológicos Unidos [es], calls for continuing to fight [es] for the polar bear:

MENSAJE URGENTE A AQUELLAS PERSONAS QUE TIENEN GANAS DE AYUDAR AL OSO POLAR ARTURO Y TIENE IDEAS NUEVAS PARA LOGRAR SU TRASLADO 

Nosotros probamos con todo y no lo logramos … pero no quiere decir que alguien más preparado y con más herramientas no pueda hacerlo ! 

NO DISCUTAN CON NOSOTROS , HÁGANLO URGENTE ! ARTURO NO TIENE TIEMPO ! 

URGENT MESSAGE TO THOSE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO HELP ARTURO THE POLAR BEAR AND HAVE NEW IDEAS FOR MOVING HIM

We tried everything and we weren't successful … but that doesn't mean that someone more prepared and with more tools can't do it!

DON'T ARGUE WITH US, DO IT QUICKLY! ARTURO DOESN'T HAVE TIME! 

The page OSO POLAR Arturo [es] does the same, and reports [es] that the result is “the worst news” they could have imagined.

Imagen de la página en Facebook OSO POLAR Arturo

Image from the Facebook page OSO POLAR Arturo (Arturo the POLAR BEAR)

The AFP [es] news agency shared a video of the news, showing the protesters awaiting the result:

Meanwhile, Greenpeace Argentina [es] calls for joining the fight [es] to improve the conditions in the enclosure where Arturo is now. 

Another Journalist Dies in Mexico: Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz

Mexican authorities have confirmed the murder of Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz, aka “Goyo”.

The lifeless body of Jiménez de la Cruz was found in a clandestine grave on February 11, 2014, according to reports in El Universal [es] and La Jornada. [es] [Report in English by the BBC here]

The electronic version of the weekly Proceso [es] had previously reported the disappearance of the reporter, demanding answers from the authorities.

On Twitter, the hashtag #HastaQueAparezcaGoyo [es] was used to express support for the family and colleagues of Jiménez de la Cruz during the darkest hours.

The journalist Paola Rojas was one of the first to spread the word on Twitter:

The Special Prosecutor of Veracruz has confirmed that journalist Gregorio Jiménez was murdered.

The activist Jesús Robles Maloof asked for the resignation of the governor in Veracruz, where Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz practiced his profession as a journalist:

It's time that Javier Duarte is removed from the government.

On the morning of February 11, the activist shared this photo:

Twitter user Másdel131 also shared a photo from the same protest:

From the Veracruz’ government's representation in the Federal District, journalists protest

While Pertaesus asked:

The demand raised in the hashtag #HastaQueAparezcaGoyo raises another equally painful question–how long until we get our country back?

“Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists,” according to Reporters Without Borders. The organization adds that “more than 80 have been killed in the past decade, and 17 have disappeared”.  The death of Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz must be added to this number.

In Mexico there is an atmosphere of uncontrolled war and violence, ever since the previous President, Felipe Calderón, launched an attack on drugs in 2006. Judging by the death of Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz, the violence in the country continues under the administration of Enrique Peña Nieto.

February 12 2014

VIDEOS: Argentina's Melting Pot of Culinary Traditions

[All links lead to Spanish-language sites unless otherwise noted.]

The diverse migratory flows that have reached Argentina from the 1880′s and until now contributed to the richness and variety of the typical [en] cuisine in the country.

The various ‘ferias de colectividades’ (cultural fairs) that take place throughout Argentina are good illustrations of this. In these fairs we can witness not only a display of each community's traditions, folkloric dances, beauty pageants and souvenirs but also their traditional dishes. For instance, during the Fiesta de Colectividades in the city of Rosario that takes place every year, a varied menu is offered representing the multiple communities (Latin, European and Asian) that compose the Argentinian society. In this video, we can see how typical Paraguayan food is prepared and sold during that same fair in Rosario.


On Facebook, the page Encuentro Anual de Colectividades (Annual Gathering of Communities) shows some dishes that will be sold during the 2014 program in the city of Alta Gracia [es]. The city, located in the Córdoba province, is quite famous because it is where the revolutionary Che Guevara [en] lived for 12 years.

Imagen de la página de facebook Encuentro Anual de Colectividades

Photo posted on the Facebook Page of the Encuentro Anual de Colectividades event

Every September, the Misiones province [en] also celebrates its traditional Fiesta Nacional del Inmigrante (National Feast of the Immigrant). For the occasion, the Polish community, among other migrant groups, cooks Kursak Polski na Royezaj, better known as Polish chicken.

Ingredientes
1 pollo
1 cebolla grande
2 ajo puerro
1 morrón rojo mediano
1 morrón verde mediano
200 gramos crema de leche
200 gramos champiñones
sal y pimienta

Preparación de la salsa
Picar la cebolla bien fina, rehogar con una cucharada de aceite, agregar los morrones cortados en daditos, agregar el ajo puerro picado muy fino. Revolver muy bien, agregar crema de leche y los champignones.
Cocinar durante cinco minutos, agregar sal y pimienta a gusto.
Optativo nuez moscada.
Si queda muy espesa la salsa agregar leche para suavizar. Servir acompañado con pollo a la parrilla o al horno

Ingredients

1 Chicken

1 Large Onion

2 Leeks

1 Medium Red Pepper

1 Medium Green Pepper

200 g. Cream

200 g. Mushrooms

Salt and Pepper

Preparation of the sauce

Chop the onions very finely. Fry lightly with one tbsp of oil. Add the peppers after they've been diced followed by the leeks finely cut. Stir well. Add the cream and mushrooms.

Cook for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some nutmeg if you wish. If sauce gets too thick, add some milk. Serve with grilled or roast chicken.

In addition there are community-specific celebrations, such as the one by the Volga Germans [en], who settled mostly in the province of Entre Ríos. The Volga Germans lived in the region of southeastern European Russia, close to the Volga river [en]. They came to Argentina in 1878 and preserved their traditions as well as their language. Cuisine is naturally at the heart of these traditions. This video produced by the Asociación Argentina de Descendientes de Alemanes del Volga (Argentinian Association of the Volga Germans Descendants) demonstrates how to prepare a Kreppel:


There also many restaurants serving foreign food. The Croatian community in Argentina, for instance, keeps its culinary traditions with restaurants like Dobar Tek, offering a rich Croatian menu. This video shows the “art” of preparing an apple strudel.


The Armenian community is also quite influential in Argentina. Romina Boyadjian suggests the 5 best dishes in Armenian cuisine while pointing out that the Community in the diaspora has reinvented the typical dishes:

Algo curioso es que la comida armenia que se come en Argentina es muy distinta a la que se consume en Armenia. Esto tiene que ver con las reinvenciones que hacen los diferentes pueblos al partir de su tierra natal, las costumbres que traen consigo y lo que termina siendo valorado en la nueva comunidad. Hay comidas que acá se consideran típicas y que allá apenas se conocen.

It's quite intriguing that the Armenian cuisine we eat in Argentina is quite different from the one actually consumed in Armenia. This has to do with the reinventions done by the different populations based on their homeland, the traditions that they bring and what ends up being valued in the new community.  Some dishes are considered traditional yet they are barely known there (in Armenia).

One of the cities symbolizing the Jewish immigration to Argentina is Moisés Ville [en], established by the first immigrants who reached the country. On the YouTube account of the initiative Señal Santa Fe we can see the city and get to know how traditions are preserved through well-known dishes such as the strudel or the Knish [en] among others:


But which dish was quickly adopted by immigrants upon their arrival to the country? The asado [en] without any doubt, especially because the majority of the newcomers were peasants and meat was quite cheap. The Club Argentino de Asadores a la Estaca (Argetinian Club of Rotisseurs) has some photos for you to enjoy.

Asado a la Estaca - Imagen. Laura Schneider

Asado – Photo by Laura Schneider

February 11 2014

Mapping Conflicts Between Indigenous Peoples and Corporations in Latin America

map conflicts latin america

Codpi (Coordination for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) has created a map to monitor projects that are affecting indigenous territories, as their website explains [es]:

This map aims to collect cases of conflict that arise due to the presence of transnational corporations -mainly those with headquarters in Spain- in the territories of indigenous peoples in Latin America.

In Otramérica [es], Diego Jiménez from Codpi adds:

It is a tool in permanent construction, which collects some of the most important cases of violations, and that will be completed periodically to reflect a total of 50 identified [cases]. For each [case] a record is published -accessible from the interactive map- that contains basic information about the violated rights, the resistance posed by the indigenous people and a summary of the current situation. We have also included a number of links and additional audiovisual material.

With all this, we don't want to limit ourselves to denouncing a situation of enormous and increasing severity. We also hope that this tool will be useful and effective for indigenous peoples and also for the organizations, social movements and groups working with them.

Argentina: ‘We Increase’ Progress or Corruption?

Imagen del usuario @AdrianBono en Twitter

“Don't buy Pantene, 40% increase”; “Don't buy Elvive due to excessive increase” Image by user @AdrianBono on Twitter

A speech on national television by President Cristina Fernández in which she announced a new increase in retirement pensions and in education allowances, among other things, provoked immediate responses among Twitter users who began using the hashtag #Aumentamos (we increase) to give their own account of what has ‘increased’ in the country.

Since the beginning of 2014, for example, one of the issues that most impacts Argentinians is the increase in prices. From the cost of basic household goods to appliances and cars, there have been substantial changes affecting the economy in general.

User casarosada uploaded the February 4 speech to YouTube [es]:

During the speech, Cristina Fernández emphasized the positive gains generated during her tenure:

Aumentamos las medidas que permitieron aumentar: hemos aumentado los puestos de trabajo, 6 millones de puestos de trabajo. Hemos aumentado las fábricas, más de 58 mil fábricas desde 2003; hemos aumentado los parques industriales.

We’ve increased the measures that allowed gains: we’ve increased jobs, 6 million new jobs. We’ve increased the number of factories, more than 58,000 factories since 2003; we’ve increased [the number of] industrial parks.

Fernández continues:

Aumentamos las universidades nacionales, tenemos nueve más; aumentamos el número de escuelas y de aulas [...] aumentamos la cantidad de becas y salarios para que los científicos se quedaran en la Argentina; aumentamos la inversión en ciencia y tecnología [...] Aumentamos la infraestructura en riego, en camino, en obras que permitieron recuperar miles de hectáreas bajo el agua; aumentamos la cantidad de argentinos que tienen agua potable y cloacas, también aumentamos el pavimento.

We’ve increased national universities, we have nine more; we increased the number of schools and classrooms […]; we’ve increased the number of scholarships and salaries so that scientists will stay in Argentina; we’ve increased investment in science and technology; […] we increased irrigation infrastructure, road works, and works that allowed us to recover thousands of acres of land under water; we increased the number of Argentinians who have potable water and sewer, and we’ve increased [the amount of] paved areas.

And finally:

Aumentamos el número de jubilados en más de 2,5 millones, gente que no tenía una cobertura previsional y que nos convierte en el país de Latinoamérica de mayor cobertura previsional, con 93%; aumentamos los salarios [...]. Aumentamos la compra de medicamentos [...]. Aumentamos las inversiones en viviendas [...]. Aumentamos la cobertura de aquellos que todavía no tienen un trabajo registrado, que están en ese limbo que se denomina trabajo informal [...].

We increased the number of retirees by more than 2.5 million, people who had no pension coverage, and that makes us the largest country in Latin America with pension coverage at 93%; we increased wages […] We increased purchases of medications […].  We increased investment in housing […] We increased coverage for those who don’t have registered work, who are in that limbo called informal work […]

She also said that her government has increased ‘consumption capacity’ and added: “I don’t think there are any Argentinians going hungry.”

Following the speech, the phrase “we increased” [es] quickly became a local trend on Twitter, with opinions for and against:

We’ve increased EVERYTHING! Corruption, poverty, hatred, the pockets of officials, shamelessness, lies, insecurity, her wealth

We’ve increased poverty, taxes, corruption, ignorance, insecurity, unemployment, violence, etc. The most corrupt government in history!

We’ve increased theft, prices, people who don’t have anything to eat, floods, deaths. But no worries, Cris says nobody is lacking anything (?)

But those who were in agreement with the national broadcast expressed their support:

We're with you yesterday, today and always! Happiness and commitment with the people!

A society that doesn’t help its elders and doesn’t help educate its children is a society that has no memory

What can I tell you about our beloved president after listening to her? That today more than ever: we will keep supporting this project!

February 08 2014

What Do the Streets Sound Like in Spain?

el sonido de las calles

“The sound of the streets”

What do the streets sound like? This questions opens “The sound of the streets” [es], a documentary that portrays the work and life philosophy of five street musicians — Manuel Marcos, El Terraza de Jeréz, Pedro Queque Romero, Little Boy Kike, including two singers, and a group, Los Milchakas, who work outdoors.

Produced by BuenaWille [es] – a space that promotes cultural projects – the documentary was released in May 2013 under a Creative Commons license. As a nonprofit, its goal is to promote street music and expose these musicians’ testimonies to the public. 

“I play for the love of music and because of necessity,” says Abdul Yabbar, singer and guitarist on the streets of Granada, who after losing his job saw no other option but to use his talent to “get by.” The film's protagonists live and offer their art in southern Spain, where the weather is warm and the people are more receptive, according to them. Most of them report the most positive aspects of their work, but also talk about the difficulties that come with this lifestyle, like the indifference of pedestrians, low tolerance from authorities, economic insecurity, and even complaints from neighbors that sometimes go as far as throwing objects and food at them because they consider them annoying, which is what happened to Abdul. 

Here is the complete documentary [es]: 

There are also people who appreciate musicians who try to enliven the streets. A YouTube user posted a video from a group called Milchakas, which appears in the documentary, getting over 7,000 visits. The following comment is in the description: 

This wonderful group in Granada, Spain brings so much joy and happiness to the constant stream of tourists and locals that pass them on the way to Alhambra or perhaps, Sacromonte. Their music is a blend of Spanish, reggae and a few other styles.

These artists are united by their talent and love for music, but most dream of promoting themselves, gaining visibility, and being able to play in bars. The streets are not easy and working in them seems increasingly difficult. This is how it is, for example, in the Spanish capital where the Madrid City Council has restricted their job. Whoever wants to play in the streets of the capital must pass an audition to have a license that authorizes them to work in the Central District. Artistic street activities that have passed the test still face a series of restrictions [es] on schedules, distance between each musician, width of the streets where they are permitted to play, and the level of noise pollution, among others. 

These new measures have generated criticisms, above from the artists. One video in particular in which two musicians criticize the impositions of the city council. Both the media and social networks have embraced the humorous and critical video that already has had over 350,000 views on YouTube [es]:

Here is a snippet of the song starring a group that called itself the Potato Omelette Band: 

Ay mi Madrid, pobre ciudad mía, que quitan artistas para poner policías, tú que eras toda alegría, ahora gris color ceniza, no hay mejor jurado que el de la gorra, a veces no hay nada, a veces te forras …pobre músico que no se ha vendido, esta ciudad no es para artistas.

Oh my Madrid, my poor city that removes artists to be replaced with police, you who used to be all joy now are the color of gray ash, there is no better jury than the one in the cap, sometimes there is nothing, sometimes you make a killing… poor musician that has not sold himself, this city is not for artists. 

February 07 2014

Puerto Rico’s Debt Downgraded to “Junk” Status

Un cuarto de dólar estadounidense, o peseta, como se le llama en Puerto Rico. La expresión

A U.S. quarter, or peseta, as it’s called in Puerto Rico. The expression “everything has gone to hell now” [in Spanish the expressions plays with the word "peseta" that means "quarter"] is commonly used to mean that the cost of living has suddenly gone up or that life has suddenly got more complicated. Image from the public domain, taken from
Wikimedia Commons.

What everybody feared finally happened: Puerto Rico’s debt was downgraded to junk or speculative level on February 4, 2014, by the rating agency Standard & Poor’s. The consequences of degradation had already been mentioned in a previous article [es] by Sergio Marxuach, the Director of Public Policy of the Puerto Rican based think tank Center for a New Economy:

… [U]na degradación del crédito de Puerto Rico a nivel “chatarra” tendría repercusiones adversas para todos los que vivimos en Puerto Rico ya que desataría una crisis financiera. Eso significa, entre otras cosas, que: el gobierno tendría poco o ningún acceso a los mercados financieros; veríamos una depreciación del valor de los bonos y obligaciones de Puerto Rico de entre 30% y 50%; la liquidez y la solvencia de las instituciones financieras y compañías de seguro en Puerto Rico podrían verse afectadas adversamente; veríamos un aumento en las tasas de interés y una contracción significativa del crédito; y aumentarían tanto las quiebras como el desempleo. Nadie en Puerto Rico estaría inmune de los efectos de esa tempestad.

Degrading Puerto Rico’s credit to ‘junk’ level would have adverse repercussions for everybody who lives in Puerto Rico because it would set off a financial crisis. That means, among other things, that the government would have little or no access to financial markets; we would see a depreciation between 30 to 50% of the value of Puerto Rican bonds and obligations; the liquidity and solvency of financial institutions and insurance companies in Puerto Rico could be adversely affected; we’d see an increase in interest rates and a significant credit crunch; and an increase in bankruptcies and unemployment. No one in Puerto Rico would be immune from the effects of this storm.

The degradation of the Puerto Rican debt comes after a series of unpleasant measures implemented by both the New Progressive Party and the Popular Democratic Party, which is currently in power. Among the measures implemented were the laying off thousands of public employees, the imposition of new taxes, and reform of the retirement systems. The Government Development Bank (BGF in Spanish) of Puerto Rico and the Department of Treasury issued a joint press release to calm the concerns of the public, but especially of investors:

Si bien estamos decepcionados con la decisión de Standard & Poor’s, seguimos comprometidos con la implantación de nuestros planes fiscales y de desarrollo económico. Creemos que la comunidad inversora reconocerá oportunamente el impacto positivo de las reformas que la Administración [del Gobernador Alejandro] García Padilla ha implantado.

Entendemos que S&P reconoce los esfuerzos significativos de Puerto Rico hasta la fecha para enfrentar problemas estructurales de mucho tiempo, según queda demostrado por nuestra significativa reforma de retiro, el incrementar la independencia de una serie de corporaciones públicas y los recientes aumentos en los recaudos.

[...]

Estamos confiados en que tenemos a mano liquidez para satisfacer todas las necesidades de liquidez hasta fines del año fiscal, incluyendo cualquier necesidad de efectivo que surja como resultado de la decisión de hoy.

While we are disappointed with Standard & Poor’s decision, we remain committed to the implementation of our fiscal and economic development plans. We believe the investment community will recognize the positive impact of the reforms that the Garcia Padilla Administration has enacted in due course.

We appreciate that S&P recognizes the Commonwealth’s significant efforts to date to tackle long- term structural issues, demonstrated by our significant pension reform, increasing the independence of a number of public corporations, and recent revenue increases.
[…]

We are confident that we have the liquidity on hand to satisfy all liquidity needs until the end of the fiscal year, including any cash needs resulting from today’s decision.

However, Cate Long, market analyst of municipal bonds for the Reuters news agency, who has closely followed Puerto Rico’s situation during the past few years indicated:

For several months, there has been a climate of pessimism in Puerto Rico with regard to the economy, if Twitter comments serve as a barometer for the national mood:

Right now we all have better credit than our government…

The ‘junk’ is here, and now the situations is verrrrrrry bad…

Things have definitely gone to hell now.

Of course, there were also humorous comments amidst the preoccupation:

We announce that for now, we will not downgrade your tweets. But the outlook remains negative.

Janizabeth Sánchez produced a Storify [es]  with more Twitter reactions.

Uruguayan ‘Asado', Much More Than Just a Barbecue

asado4

Photo published by Jorge Alonzo on Flickr, under Creative Commons licence (CC BY-SA 2.0)

When we think of Uruguayan cuisine, one iconic dish always comes to mind: the ‘asado‘, or barbecue. But this is more than just a traditional dish, it represents the country's whole identity.

This dish is an icon of Uruguayan and Argentine tradition par excellence, acting as a social linchpin, as one of the most strongly rooted customs and as a symbol of friendship. No-one, or nearly no-one, prepares a barbecue for themselves alone. The barbecue is a reason to meet, an excuse for a get-together, to bring together those who are separated for whatever reason.

On Vimeo, Geoff Stellfox shares a brief video of a traditional Uruguayan ‘asado':

The ‘asado’ is also a cause of rivalry between opposite shores of the Río de la Plata. Both Argentines and Uruguayans boast of having the best barbecue in a debate as varied as there are palates in the world.

The daily newspaper El País [es] comments:

Los argentinos dicen que son ellos los que hacen el mejor asado, a veces nos reconocen que tenemos mejor carne (excepto el bife de chorizo que es argentino por unanimidad), nos matamos por la mejor receta del chimichurri, nos reímos de los mexicanos que cocinan a la llama y descalificamos a los porteños que cocinan con carbón.

The Argentines claim that they are the ones who make the best barbecue, they do occasionally admit that we have better meat (except the ‘bife de chorizo’ which is Argentine by definition), we batter each other over the best recipe for ‘chimichurri‘ [a special sauce for the meat], we laugh at the Mexicans who cook in the flame and we dismiss the Porteños who cook using charcoal.

When we speak of the barbecue, we are not necessarily referring to a mere lump of cooked meat, but rather to all the paraphernalia which surrounds it, the different kinds of meat and vegetables so that everybody feels included, whether they are meat-eaters or vegetarian. The fire which brings people together and protects them also has a central role, as it has done since the dawn of humanity.

In the absence of a grill, many households have substituted the typical grilled barbecue [es] for the oven-baked barbecue in their daily cooking. This option is considered a second-best by connoisseurs of the ‘asado', but it is easier to work in to the daily life of Uruguayan families. In order to simplify the dish's preparation still further, the well-known chef Sergio Puglia [es] even suggests a barbecue with salsa criolla [es] made in the microwave on his website.

xczxc

Photo published by Bruno Maestrini on Flickr, under Creative Commons licence (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The role of the barbecuer -'asador’ in Spanish- is fundamental to this social event, transforming them into the architect of the feast and to a certain extent, into a master of ceremonies. The barbecuer is the one who takes the lead in this dish, the one who manages the timing and signals when and how to savour their work. The skill of the barbecuer determines the quality of the barbecue and if they are successful, they will receive praise and applause. However, if they get it wrong they will be the target of taunts and reprimands, until they manage to redeem themselves with another barbecue which meets expectations.

The traditional midday barbecue held on construction sites constitutes another iconic moment in the life of the dish. This is a ritual for construction workers who gather to eat together, regain strength to continue working and strengthen the brotherly bonds which make it easier to work and live together during these tough working days.

xcvzxczx

Photo published by Nae on Flickr, under Creative Commons licence (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Besides the traditions and the friendship, there is also a veil of mystery surrounding a good ‘asado'. Each barbecuer has their secrets and their own particular way of preparing the meat, which gives each barbecue its unique and unrepeatable taste. Even if these secrets were to be revealed, it would still be impossible to repeat as the barbecue is much more than just a dish, it is a magical moment to be shared.

In Uruguay, but above all in Montevideo, the majority of gastronomic venues are specialised barbecues [es] or they have the barbecue as an option on their menu.

The daily newspaper El Observador [es] visited one of these venues to reveal the secrets for making the best Uruguayan ‘asado’ [es]:

February 06 2014

Work on the Panama Canal Grinds to a Halt

Foto de André S. Ribeiro en Flickr, bajo licencia Creative Commons  (CC BY 2.0)

Photo by André S. Ribeiro on Flickr, under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

[Links are to Spanish-language pages except where noted.]

The GUPC (Grupo Unidos por el Canal), a Spanish-led construction group, has completely stopped work on the Panama Canal expansion project [en]. After more than 15 days of negotiations [en] the consortium decided to make good on its threat to shut down construction when its demands were not met. 

Jorge Quijano, the canal administrator, indicated that while conversations between the parties could continue, the window of opportunity was closing and that prompt action should be taken. 

It did not take long for patriotic outrage to make itself heard. 

To better understand the stakes involved, it helps to know that for Panamanians, the Canal is sacred. It was born hand in hand with the nation. More precisely, Panama seceded from Gran Colombia and became an independent country in 1903 with the primary objective of opening up the Canal. As a result, Panamanians feel this crucial stretch of water to be part of their DNA, and since it was opened, they have defended it tooth and nail. Some have gone so far as to call it “the religion that unites all Panamanians.”

This notion was reflected in social media, where politicians of all stripes showed their support for the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), which remains firm in its determination to not negotiate outside the terms of the contract.

The journalist Manolo Álvarez collected the various statements made by Jorge Quijano, who guaranteed that Panama would not let itself be blackmailed by the GUPC and that the ACP was prepared to face them in court. 

The Canal will not be subjected to any extortion by the GUPC and we will face them no matter the circumstances

Isabel St. Malo, who is running for the vice-presidency under the banner of the Partido Panameñista [en], tweeted her support for the ACP, pledging that the expansion of the Canal would be done with or without the GUPC.

We endorse the message of Administrator Quijano, we will finish this project with or without GUPC. ACP, national pride!

Martin Torrijos, former President of Panamá and son of General Omar Torrijos—the man who signed the Torrijos-Carter treaties that returned the Canal to Panama—also indicated he stood behind the Administrator and commented that if they were able to make the Canal Panamanian, then surely Panamanians would be able to expand it. 

The expansion project is ours; they will go, we will remain, as Quijano said. We will fulfill our duty to Panama. If we got it back, there's no question we can expand it. 

Popi Varela, a Partido Panameñista deputy, points out that the mistake made by Sacyr, the Spanish firm leading the GUPC, was to believe that the ACP was just like any corrupt government they could blackmail. 

Sacyr thinks they are negotiating with a corrupt government and haven't realized that the ACP is independent of the central government according to the constitution!

With its typical sarcasm, El Gallinazo requests that Panamanians not let “gringos” finish the work and that they themselves pick up the tools and complete the expansion project.

Panama needs you! Don't let the gringos finish the expansion. Grab your hammers and shovels and we'll finish this job ourselves!

Quintín Moreno opines that the GUPC should not be given any more chances and that another company should be found. 

The ACP should hire a new firm to finish the expansion; the GUPC has shown itself to be opportunistic and disloyal.

The impact is being felt in Spain, where the share price of Sacyr plummeted when news hit the financial markets. This is how Mi Diario describes it:

Shares of Sacyr fell on the Spanish stock market

R.A. Benta says that this is the beginning of the end of the Spanish “brand” and that the real question is, “Who is going to pay for it all?” 

Today Sacyr with the Panama Canal, tomorrow Saudi Arabia with the Ave [high-speed train], who's picking up the tab for these megaparties?

Quijano's statements, assuring there is still wiggle room in the negotiations, indicate the ACP believes that the GUPC can complete the work. However, when it comes to Panamanians, patience for the manoeuvres of the consortium seems to have run out. 

February 05 2014

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Mexican Newspaper Editor?

On PBS.org you can take “The Reportero Challenge”, a game inspired by the documentary Reportero which presents various scenarios that journalists and editors face in Mexico:

You have been offered the position of Editor-in-Chief at El Centinela-Investigador. Since its inception, the paper has stood up to the drug cartels and a corrupt government, and the decisions you make will affect the newspaper's credibility, its circulation and the safety of its staff.

Do you have what it takes? Take the challenge here.

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