Archive | December, 2010

New series of Ecuadorian films focus on migration

30 Dec

Three Ecuadorian films to be released in 2011 will focus on the increasing trend for its people to migrate away from their homeland. Among these films are Fernando Mieles’ Promoteo Deportado, Rabia by Sebastian Cordero and Carl West’s Zuquillo Express, which is the odd one out of the three, being something of a comedy. There’s a really interesting article about these three films, as well as this increasing trend for migration, at BBC News. Here is an extract:

Following a huge financial crisis at the end of the 1990s, thousands of Ecuadoreans were forced to leave their country and seek fortune abroad, mostly in the US, Spain and Italy. According to the government, three million Ecuadoreans currently live abroad – 22% of the country’s entire population. “[Migration] has been the most important experience – sociologically, culturally, emotionally, economically – for Ecuador in the last 15 years” said Oderay Game, film producer on Prometeo Deportado. Migration is an important phenomenon in the country, yet until recently it was not widely discussed. The success these three films are having seems to show a change in attitude.

You can read more here:

Second Edition of UruguayNow, travel guide to Uruguay, arrives

30 Dec

On 24th December 2010 the Second Edition of UruguayNow (the first English language travel guide to Uruguay) was launched. If I hadn’t been stuffing hundreds of mince pies into my face at the time I would have mentioned this earlier. Well, the mince pie hangover has died off and so I bring the news!

The Second Edition can be viewed HERE. Just a few changes to the first edition, namely a couple of articles I have written about the upcoming Montevideo Carnival and about the Uruguayan Invasion, when a number of Uruguayan bands got so enthused by The Beatles they started to take over the continent (they got as far as Argentina) before people simply got interested in other things. It was an ever-chaning climate those days.

You can read the new edition of UruguayNow right HERE.

Deadliest Journeys: Brazil

23 Dec

I did just found this video in my drafts folder. I had completely forgotten but I wanted to post this video of two seperate journeys in Brazil’s Amazonas region. One story is of the “riberinhos” who make a living from selling goods on tourist boats going down the river. Their ability to paddle over to these huge boats and get onboard is incredible! The second story is of two old fellas, Amerigo and Big Yuse, who head off down the Amazon to find gold – the classic get-rich-quick scheme. Fair to say, it doesn’t quite work out! Here’s the blurb for the film, followed by the film itself:

Meet 14-year-old Jesse. Like the other “riberinhos,” or river dwellers, he learned to swim and paddle before he could walk. Alongside other children as young as five, he rows for hours a day on the Tajaparu River, risking death trying to fasten his tiny canoe onto fast moving tourist boats and freight barges. The children hope to earn a few pennies for their families, selling jungle delicacies to the passengers and crew. But what happens when Jesse pushes his luck too far?

New articles at PopMatters, Latineos and Sounds and Colours

23 Dec

Just thought I should have a quick update here on a few articles which have found their way out into the world wide web over recent weeks (months actually – an update is well overdue!)

New articles at PopMatters:
An Interview with Paddy McAloon – this has annoyingly been retitled “A Slacker Like Myself: An Interview with Prefab Sprout” by the Editors of PopMatters. Shame on them! Anyway, this was an interview conducted by email with Paddy McAloon, lead singer of Prefab Sprout, who sent back his answers after round about six weeks, which considering how often he releases music wasn’t too bad!

Review of Afrocubism – review of a new collaboration between artists from Cuba and Mali. This idea was originally touted in 1996 but when the Malian musicians were turned away from Havana for not having work permits, the producer Ry Cooder, who had already travelled to Cuba for the recording of the album, decided to find some cheap musicians who could fill the gap. Thanfully he happened upon some of Cuba’s finest musicians, people like Ibrahim Ferrer and Ruben Gonzalez, who had largely been forgotten by the Cuban population. Buena Vista Social Club was born. Now that the euphoria from that release has died down a little the original concept has returned, and its mightily good too!

Chicha – Psychedelic Music from Peru – the first of what will hopefully be a number of articles for Latineos. This first one is a look at the history of Peruvian cumbia, a style of music mixing rock ‘n’ roll with Latin percussion and the cumbia beat, and that has become known as Chicha by the Western press.

Going Underground: New Music from Uruguay – I might as well plug something from my own site, and so here is my recent guide to some of the new indie and rock music coming from Uruguay. It took a while to peel off the stinking outer layers but once inside the core of Uruguay’s indie scene there’s some pretty damn good stuff!

The Best Albums of 2010 (10-1) – Christmas also means the end of the year so here we have the final list I made for Sounds and Colours of the best South American albums of 2010. Except for Axel Krygier’s position at #1 this was very hard to choose due to the sheer quality of so many albums this year, especially some of the efforts from Brazil and Chile.

Stunning pictures from Rio’s drug war

23 Dec

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture column on its website is a great concept; simply one page of giant photos with no ads or breaks, something that is very rare to find these days. It’s even better too when the Boston Globe are featuring Rio’s drug war which means we get incredible shots like these:

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

(AP Photo/Andre Penner)

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

To see the rest of the pictures click HERE.

USA vs Morales – Bolivia and America continue to disagree on matters of foreign relations and coca growth

1 Dec

I’ve been meaning to write about this ever since the press conference happenened in Santa Cruz in Bolivia last week. Essentially, on the 23rd November Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, spoke out against the US, blaming them for recent coup attempts in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, as well as asking them to stay out of their foreign affairs. This was documented in BBC News:

Mr Morales said US policies to combat drugs and terrorism were pretexts for “intervention” in the region. He was addressing a meeting of regional defence ministers, including US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. Mr Gates listened but made no public response to the accusations. The US embassy later expressed disappointment at Mr Morales’s remarks. In an hour-long speech, Mr Morales accused the US of backing failed coup attempts in Venezuela in 2002, in Bolivia in 2008, and in Ecuador this year. He also accused it of involvement in the ousting of Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in 2009.

Instead of getting into the nitty-gritty of the background behind his statements I first wanted to get into the actual reporting of the incident, as this was one of the things I found most interesting about this story.

Now I’m well aware I’m not going to get a balanced argument from Fox News but I wasn’t quite ready for the poor quality of the journalism involved. Mike Gonzalez, who was arguing that all aid to Bolivia should be cut, started with the following:

Especially after that former union leader, President Evo Morales, spent an hour berating our Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at a regional defense conference on how Bolivia’s democracy is superior to America’s and how Bolivia has the right to team up with Iran on nuclear projects. Gates, speaking earlier, had warned about the wisdom of tying up with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran.

He then carries on:

Gates probably should count himself lucky that Morales did not behave toward him as he did last week to a player on a soccer pitch last month. Suffice to say that Morales’ opponent doubled over in pain and fell to the ground after the el lider applied his knee to a part of the other man’s body. Just search YouTube for “Morales and soccer” to see the president’s thuggish behavior toward opponents.

You always have to question when a journalist uses a tackle in a football game as to why the US shouldn’t give aid to one of the poorest countries in South America, one with 60% of people in poverty.

Gonzalez continues to demean Morales and Bolivia throughout the article, which makes a lot more sense when you get to the bottom and find out the he is a former journalist and current vice president of The Heritage Fund, an organisation “whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” You should always be slightly skeptical when you see the phrase “traditional American values” in there. Ultimately, Morales has got his abuse for questioning the power of America and stating that he has no obligation to do as he is told. Obviously this could be taken two ways, as either a President asking for freedom, or as one who is out-of-control. As Morales has consistently tried to improve working conditions for Bolivians and become allies with other South American countries, it seems rich to imply that they could be a threat to a country like the USA.

The backdrop to all of this is the struggle of the new socialist regimes of South America to break away from the stranglehold the USA has on Latin America. Morales has been at the fore-front of this through his constant resistance to pander to the US’s policies, with his love of coca one of the main points of controversy. As a former coca-grower, Morales believes in its positive uses, and has encouraged growth of coca since he began his presidency, seeing it as a way of poor farmers to increase their income. Obviously, the US has differed in this view, asking for the country to desist its growth due to its potential to be turned into cocaine. This article was detailed well in the Washington Post here. Due to its coca growth Bolivia has been ear-marked as a major threat to the US, despite the fact that Colombia and Peru are capable of producing far more cocaine and have more resources to deal with the problem. The fact that both of these have agreed to aid the US’s counternarcotics campaign have meant that they have not been listed as a threat. Go figure!

So, it’s obviously a deep-rooted problem, which needs much discussion, discussion which Fox News or the Heritage Foundation are not interested in indulging. They prefer to label a President as a thug and then neglect their country. Proving however that it is possible to have non-biased opinions on the matter in the US press is the article by the LA Times, which opts for taking a fair view of things, and seems like a place for me to finish this article.