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Mexican state legislature announces Dream Act scholarship

According to the Spanish-language daily, La Opinión, a delegation of representatives from Jalisco’s state legislature was moved into action by the death of a young Mexican student who may have taken his own life out of frustration with his immigration status.

Ana Bertha Guzmán Alatorre, a member of the delegation, said the scholarships are meant to support opportunities for young Mexican migrants in the United States.

“From Jalisco, we still worry about them and are working for them,” she said.

“We hope the governor of Jalisco will tell us how much more he would be willing to contribute,” said Olga Araceli Flores Gomez, another member of the delegation. ”We also want to involve the congresses of the 32 (Mexican) states to create scholarships for student migrants.”

Jalisco is one of the states in Mexico with the most people living in the United States. The delegation estimated that about 1.5 million Jalisco natives reside in California, many of whom have left because of the lack of opportunities in the state.

The mysterious Venezuelan-Iranian gunpowder plant

The facility is a gunpowder manufacturing plant, whose construction is believed to be already completed and is expected to be operational early this year, according to official sources.

“Iran is going to help us set up a gunpowder factory and primers for ammunition that is imported because we’ve been kept in the backlog,” said Chávez, making reference to the US military embargo on Venezuela.

The plant’s purpose, according to the documents, is the manufacture of “ball powder,” a type of gunpowder that is used as a trigger for a wide range of weapons, from commercial rifles and pistols to 120 mm mortars and missiles for military use.

According to experts, PCI plays a key role in the Iranian weapons program. The firm was founded in 1939 and produces missiles in a facility located around 20 miles southwest of Tehran. Supervisors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have paid several visits to Parchin to determine whether or not it’s part of the Iranian nuclear program, according to Global Security, a non-government organization based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Will Josefina Vazquez Mota become Mexico’s first female president?

But will Vazquez Mota follow in the footsteps of Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Chile’s Michelle Bachelet and Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner and become the fourth woman to lead a large Latin American country? Or will her campaign fall short like Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential run?

In Mexico, the general belief is that her main challenge in July’s general election will be overcoming widespread fatigue and disillusion with Calderon’s PAN government — which has been unable to contain drug violence in Mexico and has presided over six years of minimal economic growth.

To make matters worse for Vazquez Mota, a survey conducted by the well-respected polling firm, Mitofsky, also found that 21 percent of those who had voted for the PAN in the 2006 elections said that this time around, they would switch to Peña Nieto and the PRI.  Among voters who support the leftist PRD party, two thirds said the PRI was their “second choice.”

For many Mexican voters, however, Vazquez Mota remains somewhat of an enigmatic candidate,since, during the primary race, she did not provide concrete proposals for the country’s problems.

Regarding Mexico’s fight against drug cartels, Vazquez Mota has so far promised that the army will not be retrieved from Mexico’s streets until security can be guaranteed.

“How would a female president be different,” she wondered. “What would Josefina offer to stand out from her predecessors?”

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I’ll encourage you to read ‘los señores del narco’ by Anabel Hernández ¿do you want another 6 years of the same 12-years-fox-calderon-bullshit?

Drug war report: Mexican government “cannot eliminate cartels”

The strategy, promoted by Mexican President Felipe Calderon, is only likely to prolong the conflict and spread it around the country, by prompting cartels to fight over new routes and plazas that have not been secured by the limited manpower of the Mexican army, Stratfor said in its annual report on Mexican drug cartels.

“The government cannot eliminate the cartels any more than it can end the drug trade. As long as the smuggling corridors exist, and provide access to so much money, other organizations will inevitably fight to assume control over them,” the report stated.  

In its detailed report, which recounts the activities of 10 drug cartels around the country, Stratfor concludes that the only (quick) way for drug violence to decrease in Mexico is if a truce is reached between the “hegemonic” Sinaloa and Los Zetas cartels, or if the government allows one of these two groups to dominate the drug trade in Mexico.

Alliances:

Sinaloa Cartel (present in 15 states) dominates Western Mexico

Allies: Knights Templar, Gulf Cartel, Arellano Felix Organization, Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion

Los Zetas (present in 17 states) dominates Eastern Mexico

Allies: La Familia Michoacana, La Resistencia, Cartel Pacifico Sur

Battlegrounds:

Michoacan State:  Knights Templar vs Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacan

Guadalajara and Jalisco State:  Cartel Jalisco and Sinaloa Cartel vs Los Zetas

Veracruz: Los Zetas vs Cartel Jalisco

Ciudad Juarez: Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization (Juarez Cartel) vs Sinaloa Cartel

Monterrey:  Los Zetas vs Gulf Cartel

Rio Grande Valley: ‘Civil War’ amongst Gulf Cartel members, Los Metros vs Los Rojos

Other popular drug plazas:

Acapulco: Secured by Sinaloa affiliate La Barredora after battle with Independent Cartel of Acapulco

Tijuana:   Run by Arellano Felix Organization on behalf of Sinaloa Cartel

 

“@MexicanMitt” Twitter account mocks Romney’s courtship of Latino voters

 

The Real Mitt Romney has launched a bid to win over Latino voters, from noting that his father was born in Mexico, to airing a new Spanish-language ad in Florida. But he’s not getting any help from @MexicanMitt, a ribald and unsympathetic Latino alter ego someone has launched on Twitter.

As the GOP frontrunner made his way down to the next primary state of South Carolina, Mexican Mitt tweeted, “Esta noche voy a el Sur de Carolina. Carolina es mi otra esposa, guey!” – meaning, “Tonight I am going to the South of Carolina. Carolina is my other wife!”

The Twitter alter ego comes as Romney makes a serious push to court Latino voters, the nation’s fastest-growing voting bloc and a minority that could prove crucial in upcoming GOP primary states such as Florida and Nevada. 

 

Despite his distant Mexican roots, though, Romney has come under fire for his immigration stance. The former Massachusetts governor vowed that as president he would veto the DREAM Act, the Democrats’ measure to provide a path to citizenship for some undocumented children of immigrants who attend college or serve in the military.

 

“I work in education and I know first-hand how important the DREAM Act is for Latino youth, for kids who are in this country without having taken part in the decision to come here,” Lopez said. “The short answer is: I wouldn’t vote for Romney.”

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In honor of Dominican Independence Day, a heartfelt love letter to the D.R.

It had been a few years since I last visited the Dominican Republic. Three – to be exact. I used to go every summer, but as you get older, life gradually gets in the way.

When my mother suggested I join her to visit our family during the first week of January 2012, I was ecstatic.

The seven days in the small town of Licey al Medio (located in the Cibao province of the Dominican Republic) were bittersweet. It was hard to see my maternal grandmother Juana, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and is now in her later stages.

As hard as that was, I also had a beautiful time. Whenever I’m in my parents’ native country, I feel at peace. I feel grateful for what I do have, and disappointed at myself for what I take for granted. It is also a relief to not have my BlackBerry glued to my hand at all times. 

Today, the Dominican Republic celebrates its independence. In honor of that, I wanted to share a mosaic of my most recent trip. Through photography, this is my love letter to the country.

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Argentina: Kirchner takes a tough stance on Falklands dispute. Wants to renegotiate flights.

In a fiery speech delivered as she launched the next session of the Argentine Congress, Kirchner announced that she will personally file a complaint on theMalvinas, with the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization this summer, and invited Argentina’s opposition leaders to join her cause.

“We cannot allow a colonial enclave to continue to exist in the midst of the 21stcentury,” a determined Kirchner said, in front of hundreds of applauding legislators and members of her peronista movement.

Ever since Argentine independence in the early 19th century, Britain and Argentina have bitterly disputed sovereignty over the South Atlantic islands, which Britain took by force in 1833.

“It is difficult not to be skeptical of any proposal that would in effect give Argentina control over access to our home,” Falkland’s Assembly Member Roger Edwards told local newspaper The Penguin News, reflecting islanders’ distrust for the Argentine government, which unsuccessfully invaded the islands in 1982.

But Kirchner said during her speech that she means no harm to the islanders, to the English, or to “anyone else.”

“We are a country that was built by immigrants,” Kirchner concluded. “I am the grand daughter of immigrants.”

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[photo: casarosada.gov.ar]

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Kirchner is not ashamed to be descending of inmigrants but Mitt Romney is not so proud to be son of mexican inmigrants, why?

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Mexico: Anti-Drug War activists cover zocalo with ‘corpses’

In yet another protest against the Mexican government’s war on drugs, activists met at Mexico City’s Zocalo square on Sunday, and covered about two thirds of the massive public space with the outlines of human bodies.

The chalk drawings represented the victims of the drug war in Mexico, where NGOs and the media estimate that 60,000 people have died from drug related violence since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006.

Some of the body outlines contained the names of victims, and others had messages about the war on drugs, with one body saying “this war is dictated by Washington.”

The creative activity gave onlookers a chance to think about a war whose impact is not as strongly felt in Mexico’s capital as it is in northern and western areas of the country,  where cartels are viciously fighting each other and the Mexican army for control of drug trafficking routes.

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Mexico: Doubts emerge over claims of indigenous suicide

However, Gardea still claims that at least 50 people committed suicide in different incidents over the year 2010 and said on Monday that he obtained this information from anecdotal evidence and from an article published in December 2011 by the Chihuahua newspaper El Heraldo, which reports that according to the Chihuhua State Attorney’s office, 50 Raramuri farmers killed themselves in 2011 due to several reasons, which include famine, but also alcohol-addiction and family problems.

With a population of some 600,000 people,the 23 municipalities of the Sierra Tarahumara would still have a high suicide rate compared to the rest of Mexico if these figures are correct. In Mexico, there are approximately 4 suicides for every 100,000 people.

“I have personally not seen any suicides,” Father Javier Avila said on Mexico’s MVS Noticias. Avila runs the Catholic Social Ministry in the town of Creel, and helps to run programs for indigenous communities in the area.

All of the sources we have spoken to have confirmed that there is a food emergency in Raramuri territory, with government agencies delivering emergency food rations, that can last for up to a month, but that are not expected to outlast the current drought in Northern Mexico.

Latin American stocks set to fluctuate in 2012

In Latin America, though, most stock markets didn’t fare as well as Wall Street. While the region’s major economies continued to grow last year, their main stock indexes slid in 2011. Brazil’s Ibovespa declined 18 percent, while Mexico’s IPC fell almost 4 percent.

Looking ahead, Latin America’s economy is forecasted to expand only by 3.7 percent in 2012, down from over 4 percent last year, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Only Brazil - where a boost in investment is expected ahead of its hosting of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics - is estimated to grow faster in 2012 than it did last year.

Still, the region is likely to outperform the developed world in 2012. And China - with its already robust economy expected to grow at 9 percent - will remain a large market for Latin American commodities. 

While corporate profits are likely to push share prices higher, Europe hasen’t solved its currency crisis, Americans have no clue who their next president will be, and uncertainty still reigns in the Middle East, where the Arab Spring lives on.


Venezuela: Chávez says his cancer has returned

Late last year, Chávez had said that he had been cured from the disease. But in a pre-recorded statement broadcast on Venezuelan state television Sunday morning, Chávez said that the one inch long lesion that doctors removed from his pelvic area a week ago turned out to be a cancerous tumor.

Chávez has never said precisely which type of cancer he was operated for last summer, which has led to widespread speculation about his health.

In a recent intelligence report published by WikiLeaks, an informant for security consulting firm Stratfor reported that Chávez’s cancer has actually spread from his prostate to his colon, with metastasis in his lymphatic nodes.

With opinion surveys showing that the country is split roughly in three equal slices of Chávez supporters, opposition backers, and “non-aligned” or independent voters, Chávez’s health could affect the outcome of the October elections.

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[photo Flickr Quecomunismo

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This year three important elections in the continent:
July - México
October - Venezuela
November - US 

Supreme Court rules against Latino-friendly Texas voting map

The thorny Texas redistricting case took an unexpected turn on Thursday, when the Supreme Court knocked down a redistricting map drawn by a San Antonio court that favored minority voters and Democrats.

The case centers around congressional maps drawn by Texas Republicans that Latino groups and Democrats argued diluted the voting power of Latinos and other minority voters. Texas gained four new congressional seats as a result of the 2010 Census due to population growth, which was sparked by a two-thirds increase of the Latino population there.

Latino civil rights groups argue that growth was not reflected in the new district maps, but Republicans countered that the complaints were pretext for Democrats to expand their ability to win seats in the Lone Star State.

The Washington Post explains why the decision was mad

“A district court should take guidance from the state’s recently enacted plan in drafting an interim plan,” the justices wrote. They added, however, that courts must be careful not to incorporate parts of a state’s plan that might violate the Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.

With a bullet in his head, Salvador Cabañas returns to pro soccer

Salvador Cabañas, a prolific striker who was nearly killed in 2010 after a gangster shot him in the head, is set to return to professional soccer in his home country of Paraguay, with the third division club, 12 de Octubre.

Back in 2010, Cabañas was the top goal scorer in the Mexican soccer league, and a crucial member of Paraguay’s World Cup team.

For starters, doctors had to remove part of Cabañas’ skull to operate on him, but were not able to remove the bullet that almost killed him, which is still lodged in his brain.  Nevertheless Cabañas slowly recovered and began to train on his own and then with local Paraguayan teams, surprising doctors who said that only 3 percent of patients with a bullet wound like his could perform normal functions after going through medical treatment.

“I think he’s at about 80 percent,” Alonso told ESPN Raza.  “His passes are precise as well as his free kicks,” she said, adding however that Cabañas still had some problems with his field of vision and his initiative on the pitch, which currently make it too difficult for him to play with a first division team.

Mexico: Vazquez Mota captures the hearts of Mexican CEOs

Josefina Vazquez Mota, a mother of three and a presidential candidate for Mexico’s National Action Party, could easily become the country’s next president. If the only people voting in July’s elections are Mexican CEOs, that is.

In a poll released by CNN Expansion this week, 54 percent of the country’s “most important” executives said they would vote for the conservative Vazquez Mota, while only 17 percent backed the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto and his centrist platform.

Her support among CEOs could reflect investors’ confidence in the economic policies of Calderón, who has kept inflation in low digits and hardly raised corporate taxes in Mexico, although the country’s poverty rate has increased slightly under his watch.

But with 25 percent support in the most recent general polls, Vazquez Mota still has a lot of catching up to do if she wants to defeat the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto, whose party gained 50 percent support in a poll released on Tuesday by newspaper Excelsior.

Chávez’s daughter angers Venezuelans and unleashes photo craze

This week, Hugo Chávez’s 14-year-old daughter, Rosines, angered Venezuelans and embarrassed her father, by posting the above picture of herself on the web.

The greenbacks in the picture are of small denomination as you can see, but the picture caused outrage in Venezuela. The Chávez government has tightly controlled the sale of U.S dollars in that country for almost a decade, limiting the annual amount of dollars Venezuelans can buy, those who need more foreign currency for business or for travel, must dig deep into their pockets to buy dollars at exorbitant prices in the country’s black market.

Currently on her Twitter profile, Rosines boasts a picture of herself posing with Canadian pop idol Justin Bieber, whom she met while he was on tour in Venezuela, thanks to her father’s influence.

Her dollar picture however has been Roisines’ most popular by far. It has inspired a new verb in Venezuelan slang “rosinesing,” and prompted Twitter users in Venezuela and elsewhere to post their own versions of the Rosines picture.

According to Mexican government 47,000 dead from drug violence in past five years

Newly released numbers by the Mexican government set the death toll for the past five years in drug-related violence at 47,000. According to Ecuador’s El Comercio, the number exceeds previous press estimates, with 12,903 deaths being reported for 2011 through September only – a monthly average of 1,433.

But places such as Ciudad Juárez remain a stronghold for the bloody drug cartels. Some 120 killings per 100,000 residents happen every year, and 50% of all murders in Mexico happen there, according to Reuters. The city ranks 2nd in some of the World’s Most Dangerous Cities in the World lists.

But, depending on how you look at, there may be some good news. Ciudad Juárez’s 1,206 murders for 2011 is an improvement from the 3,000 reported the year before. Mexico’s Office of the General Prosecutor said of the deaths: “According to their characteristics, could have occurred in the context of rivalries among crime organizations.”

Adding together the totals reported, some 51,000 people have died in drug-related violence since president Felipe Calderón began his tenure in 2006, El Comercio says.

Guatemala: New President Perez Molina deploys army against drug cartels

A retired general, who was elected on promises of tackling crime with mano dura,or an iron fist, Perez Molina deployed more than 700 soldiers across the country’s roads on Friday, setting up 32 permanent road blocks along routes which the government said are used by drug traffickers to move their merchandise.

“The legalization of drugs, would have to be a strategy that the whole region agrees with,” Perez Molina said on Mexico’s Televisa Network. “If we do not pursue that road we will have to find another one, but it will have to be a regional strategy where everyone is willing to put in the same amount of effort,” he added, after criticizing the United States for not helping Mexico out in its fight against the drug trade.

In recent years, the Central American country has also become a base for the Mexican cartel Los Zetas and local gangs, which have set up cocaine labs in the country’s jungles, and corrupted government institutions in Guatemala, where 98 percent of violent crimes go unpunished.

U.S. interest in Guatemala has diminished since the Cold War ended and the pro-business Perez Molina is not expected to have major clashes with the American government.

However, Guatemala is facing a financial crisis and a budget deficit of its own, meaning that the former general will need outside support, as he attempts to pacify his country.

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Mexican NGO cancels HIV awareness campaign amid controversy

Earlier this week Fundacion Mexico Vivo, an NGO dedicated to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, launched a campaign targeted at pregnant women. The idea behind the campaign was to promote the importance of early detection of HIV in pregnant women in order to prevent the transmission to infants. 

While the campaign was meant to dispel these prejudices by juxtaposing images of young, innocent children with large bold letters iterating these harmful preconceived notions about individuals who have HIV, it was not taken that way at all. Instead, people who saw these ads thought that they were offensive, and simply propagated harmful beliefs.

Nevertheless, Mexico Vivo decided to pull the ads and cancel the campaign. Mexico Vivo issued a statement recognizing that the message was not being perceived as they had intended, and stated that it will be replaced with a new campaign to be released within the next few days.

“A Guerilla of the Time” Fidel Castro publishes memoir

Cuban media reported over the weekend that the 85-year-old former communist leader and supreme commander of Cuba for more than four decades, published his memoirs on Friday, celebrating the occasion with a six-hour-long book launch, in which he apparently spoke much of the time, and seemed to be in good spirits.

The 1,000 page book, titled Guerrillero del Tiempo, or A Guerrilla of the Time, covers Castro’s youth and his early days as a political activist and guerrilla fighter, but stops in 1958, just before the start of the Cuban revolution, leaving the reader to wonder if there will be a second 1,000 page volume, that covers the more juicy parts of Castro’s life, such as the U.S. backed Bay of Pigs invasion, the economic crisis in Cuba following the collapse of the Soviet Union, or how he survived at least a dozen CIA assassination attempts.

Castro grew up in a large farm run by his father, Angel, a Spanish immigrant from Galicia who had become a fairly wealthy landowner in Cuba. By the time he was studying law, however, Castro had joined dissident groups seeking to overthrow U.S.-backed military rule in Cuba. 

We do not know if Guerillero del Tiempo is widely available in Cuba or in other Latin American countries yet. The last time we checked, it was not on Amazon Kindle or on the Barnes and Noble Nook.