Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Republicans sent out statement in Spanish full of errors signed by Michael Steele and some people get offended (?)
Andrea Nill of Wonk Room announced and posted a corrected version of the release:
Today, the Republican National Committee (RNC) released a statement from Chairman Michael Steele announcing the release of a new video in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. However, though the press release emphasizes the Republican Party’s “commitment to the Hispanic community,” apparently that commitment does not include hiring a qualified Spanish translator. The Spanish translation of Steele’s statement is riddled with embarrassing typos and errors.Does the RNC lack of resources to hire a translator? No, is just that they don’t care. After all, most Spanish speaking U.S. citizens –you know, the people who actually vote- are also English speakers. So why bother? That is how politicians see people: as votes.
For instance, the whole Hispanic/Latino identity is fake, it’s a big lie promoted by the U.S. government and the corporations that promote such a big scam. Watch the stupid video, listen to that music in the background, is like Afro Caribbean salsa while a Afro descendant man talks about Hispanic being “the nation’s largest ethnic minority”. Wrong.
Hispanics are mostly white people descendants of Europeans from Hispania (Spain and Portugal), you know like most Spanish speaking Republican leaders. But most of the people from Mexico, Caribbean, Central and South America -and our descendants- are either Native Americans or Black Afro descendants.
Wonk Room complains that the video doesn’t include Cesar Chavez or Dolores Huerta, well they are two Native leaders of Mexican heritage, not Hispanics. They also ask why Hispanic Justice Sonia Sotomayor is not in the video. What about Alberto Gonzales the former Bush’s General Attorney? Well, Gonzales is a Native man of Honduran origins.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is not much better that its counterpart. They think that their advertising in perfect Spanish will make them more capable of leading our communities; they either are being cynical or naive. Just because you speak Spanish, another European language, that doesn’t give you better credentials to lead.
Both the Democrats and Republicans are wrong thinking that the people they classify as Hispanics are going to follow their lie much longer. Younger generations will keep retaking our own identities, reaffirming our true history. Watch what happens in the 2010 Census. As far as I know, we will mark African Americans and Native Americans, because is who we are.
By the way, African Americans are still the nation’s largest ethnic minority.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Afro descendants in Americas at Congressional Black Caucus 2009 Conference: Panel "Unheard Voices in Latin America: The Plight of Afro Latinos" VIDEOS
There are more than 150 million Afro descendants in Latin America, which is about 17% of the population of all the American continent.
Unfortunately most Black populations in Latin America are still among the most marginalized, living in poverty and at the bottom of societies, as a result of centuries of racial discrimination, economic and political exclusion and lack of equal opportunities.
U.S. Congressman Donald M. Payne hosted the panel "Unheard Voices in Latin America: The Plight of Afro Latinos" during the recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Conference, on September 24, 2009.
I spoke to Rep. Payne briefly after the panel:
The impact of African cultures in our communities is present in every aspect of our lives today, in almost every country of the Americas. For centuries, such important contribution has been hidden by the Hispanics and other European descendant communities, but that is changing today thanks to the struggle of Afro descendant communities in the Americas.
Afro Latinos or Afro descendants in the Americas are an important component of our communities and who we are as people. We have coexisted with Indigenous Native peoples in the continent for centuries, and some even say that happened before the European contact.
Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-NJ 10); Mr. Gilberto Amaya, Central American Black Organization (CABO, ONECA); Mr. Leonardo Reales, Afro Colombian Movemente CIMARRON and Consultant for Creador Pictures; Dr. Maria Moreno Vega, Global Afro Latino & Caribbean Initiative; Dr. Shelton Davis, Consultant formerly with the World Bank; Ms. Juliet Hooker, Assistant Professor at University of Texas Austin.
VIDEO OF THE PANEL (2ND PART):
Equality and respect for our diversity
Therefore, we are not one single community, but we are a range of diverse and multicultural groups that share a land in many countries. In order to create better societies where all communities are equal, we must promote policies that include all of us with respect for our rights and identities.
We must look forward to the day the color when the color of our skin and our common history will become bridges to connect us and not to divide us. Until then, there is so much work to do now.
Note: the video of the first part of this panel will be posted this week.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Award Dinner: Lots of Security Not Enough Social Media and a cool President Promoting Better Parenting
I attended the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 2009 Conference It as a great experience with awesome panels, discussions, films and great people to meet. I will post some videos and comments later. But let me jump into the last day: the CBC Phoenix Award Dinner held last Saturday September 26.
The CBC Awards Dinner was attended by president Barack Obama, and three hours before the event U.S. Security Service agents took over the DC Convention Center. They brought cute dogs along with them. Unfortunately a couple of planned workshops wee canceled because of security measures. At that moment, I read an email announcing that not all registered press members were going to be allowed into the dinner.
This is what happened that evening:
5:05 PM All registered press -including bloggers like myself- had to register again. After signing in we were told to wait. There were about 5 dozens of journalists, outnumbered by plenty of security personnel. Those from the mainstream media were called to get in, the rest of us had to wait.
5:25 PM The remaining media were told to sign another list, and then make another line. Twice I am asked who I am working for, and so far no one knows who is getting in the dinner. I chit chatted with other photographers, they have enormous cameras and boring stories.
5:45 PM We are ordered to make a second line, and a lady with European accent asked me to let her use my camera so she “can get in”. I said no. I am not sure who is who; convention center security personnel and U.S. Secret Service agents are all mixed. A third line is made, they count us like in elementary school, and we wait.
I have attended president Obama's speeches five times before: in three colleges in DC area during his campaign, at his Inauguration ceremony and during the reopening of Ford Theatre. I have never seeing so much security surrounding Obama's visit. In one hand, I am glad they are doing this but at the same time I wonder what’s up.
6:05 PM We were escorted to the convention center’s next building, where an attractive White House intern greeted us and gave instructions. There, I spotted someone I met the previous night at the Fashion Show. He is very attractive.
6:15 PM We are inside the other building and told to leave our bags and equipment in the floor, where security dogs will check (smell) them. We leave metals items on a table, we are checked one by one by agents, we step aside waiting for our items. Another line and more waiting, this feels more like a prison. Sexy guy is irresistible.
6:26 PM Finally we are given a “White House” credential, which is a small piece of paper with a colorful sticker. Another line and then we are escorted upstairs, where we run into elegant guests entering dinner.
6:31 PM We head to the backstage area, and then we enter the dinner area which is huge and dark, very low lighting. I can only spot colorful lights in ceiling, and a bright stage. The tables are round with lots of silver wear and printed programs on chairs. I run into Roland Martin (CNN and soon TV ONE political commentator), he seems nice.
They put us in left corner way back there, where I could hardly see the stage but the sound system was good. Still it was a bad place to be. A gospel singer was ending a beautiful song.
6:37 PM All mainstream news station personnel are located in the central stage area; they have a great spot for video and photo. A priest comes out and says a beautiful preach, about president Obama and the future of the United States.
6:49 PM Now the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are presented one by one and all of them dress nicely, but especially the Congresswomen are impressive, but some are just too much I think.
7: 21 PM Dinner is served, only for the guests of course... I’m starving.
7:45 PM Congressman Kendrick Meeks speaks, but I’m not paying attention to his words as much as his looks, he is amazing. I'm going to the restroom, and I take photos on my way there, what a big difference being closer.
8:05 PM I met a writer for Associated Press, he is really cool and we chatted for a while.
8:12 PM US Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaks about the challenges of African American community, reality, history, “from the marches to the mainstream”, mentions president Obama. Congressman Kendrick Meeks takes the mike and speaks about Barack Obama, “the last president that has to do with issue of health care reform”; he announces president Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. Loud applause.
8:19 PM President Obama comes up the stage with Michelle, they look so cool! Obama said “they gave me the right corner at CBC”, he speaks about his work at the White House and the economic crisis related to Black Americans: “1 out of 7 African Americans are out of work, 3 out of 10 black kids live in poverty, our community is the worst hit by crisis” he said assuring his heritage while showing concern, “that kind of inequality is unacceptable in America.” Roar in the big room.
8:31 PM President Obama mentions “launching promise neighborhoods programs, with tools for people to come out of poverty, government can help lift our neighborhoods” and says U.S. Attorney General is making sure the enforcing of civil rights laws, and breaking barriers for opportunities, loud applause.
People here just love Obama; everyone is clapping with respect and Obama looks very confident.
8:32 PM Obama talks about health care reform “Not in 10, 5, 1 year, we will bring health care reform to this country… they tell us to wait, to slow down, how can I tell Americans to wait, we have been waiting for Health Care reform since Roosevelt, Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Clinton, we cannot wait any longer…” applauses. Then he mentioned that at the G20 Summit a foreign president asked him “explain to me Barack why there is a debate on providing every American with health care, I don’t understand why…”
I walk around and I see all the waiting staff are Spanish-speaking Natives, some of them say hi to me. If you see this scene, you can tell that post-racial America is not here yet.
8:34 PM After I took photos of the kitchen workers a White House federal agent asked me to show her my credentials; she said that some people are unconformable about having their pics taken. Paranoid society we live in.
8:38 PM Obama says “Thanks to you and grass roots movements we will not wait any longer for change…” then he talks about education and African American students. He said the key of progress is the state of mind, “we African Americans fall behind in education of our sons and daughters” mentioning the gap of Black students drop out rate: 1/3 black or brown never finish high school.
8:42 PM Remind us he is a good parent Barack tells the crowd: “The government alone cannot get our kids ahead,” the government won’t get them to stop playing with Playstation, putting them to bed, attending PTA meetings, reading them books, helping with homework, making sure the go to school on time, “only a mother and a father parent can do all that!” He says rising his voice, claps in the room.
President Obama says we need more responsible parents and community leaders, role models, “we need to tell our children there are no excuses for doing your best every day, all the time,” we need to push our kids, so they won’t only want to be rappers or sportsmen, but also teachers, Congress members, or President of the United States.
There is no excuses for mediocrity, he added. “If your kid comes home with a B don’t tell them they did great, I know some of you do it, tell them to work harder, set the stakes higher,” he talks about assuring kids a world class education, and the crowd responds with applauses.
8:45 PM President Obama ends his speech with a “God bless America,” people stand up clapping, a singer starts with a song, everyone smiling, what a night.
Don't blame me for the short video, too much time spent at security checks that day killed my video's battery juice. After the speech I’m leaving, I need to eat!
8:55 PM A fellow blogger tells me there is food at the Media Room. Lasagna, grilled veggies, salad, bread, dessert, sodas and water. Not bad, after the whole waiting process and a great speech of Obama, I am happy now.
9:30 PM Actor and activist Danny Glover speaks about the African Diaspora in the Americas, the need to support Afro Colombians, Garifuna Afro Hondurans, and the rights of Indigenous peoples as well. Amazing!
9:52 PM Broadway actress and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph spoke about HIV, gay men, straight Black men and African American affecting Black women. Really touching, I met Sheryl the day before and interviewed her.
10:37 PM My friends on their way to pick me up, I’m off to a party.
Waiting to be part of the news:
Press waiting at CBC Award Dinner
Uncommonly this year I had a blast and the crowds flooded Mount Pleasant Street NW, and once again the space wasn't big enough for the thousands of people that showed up. Remember that plans to move the festival to 14th Street NW failed after the DC Fire Department didn't approve the idea. Hopefully next year they will try at 16th Street NW this time.
These are hundreds of photos that I took during the event, mostly during the Parade of Nations which presented traditions from the Americas, including dances and music of our Afro descendant and Indigenous peoples.
SET 1 - BEGINNING OF PARADE, GUATEMALA AND PUERTO RICO: This is the beginning of the Fiesta DC parade with school children and the parade marshals, followed by: 1- Maya Indigenous dancers from Guatemala and 2- Dancers from Puerto Rico performing Plena, which mixes Hispanic and African traditions:
SET 2 - PANAMA: Panamanian American groups performing dances that mix Afro descendant and Indigenous traditions from Panama:
SET 4 - BOLIVIA: Bolivian American dancing groups performing Indigenous dances from the Andes and Amazon regions of Bolivia, in order of appearance: 1- Las Tobas, an Indigenous dance of Amazonian and Andean peoples. 2- Tinkus, a very old Andean dance of the Quechua Indigenous peoples. 3- Diablada de Oruro, an Indigenous Andean dance based in religious beliefs. 4- Caporales, an Andean dance that mixed Indigenous, African and Hispanic traditions:
SET 5 - URUGUAY: Candombe is a carnival troupe, performed by a DC based group along with Afro Uruguayan music:
SET 6 - PERU: Peruvian Americans dancing Afro Peruvian and Amazonian Indigenous dances: 1- Marinera, a dance that mixes Indigenous, African and Hispanic traditions. 2- Festejo, an Afro Peruvian dance. 3- Pandilla, an Indigenous dance of the Amazon regions:
SET 7 - EL SALVADOR: Salvadoran Americans performing traditional dances from El Salvador that blend Indigenous, African and European rhythms: 1- Banda Civica. 2- Salvadoran Cumbia:
SET 8 - MEXICO: DC based dance groups performing Mexican dances: 1- Mariachi, which mixes Indigenous, African and European traditions. 2- Tecuanis, an Indigenous dance of the Nahuatl people:
SET 9 - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Afro descendants music and dances performed live by Dominican Americans living in the DC area:
SET 10 - BRAZIL: Three DC groups performed Afro & Indigenous dances and rituals from Brazil, in order of appearance: Samba, Capoeira and the Batanga women drummers:
THE PEOPLE OF WASHINGTON DC: Images of our neighbors, our community enjoying a great festival:
All photos by Carlos A. Quiroz.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Photo by WCP
Also everyone knows about the work of Ted Loza with Fiesta DC, the local festival that celebrates the multiracial and multicultural heritages of Latin Americans living in this city, which will be held this weekend by the way.
My general impression about Ted Loza -even today- is that he is a very smart individual, a hard working man who is very proud of his accomplishments, and someone he represented in some way the American Dream for many Latin American immigrants in the DC area. Thanks to his talent, his hard work and his connections to DC Councilmember Jim Graham, he became an influential leader in DC politics. Also Loza was surrounded by controversial rumors about his private life, in regards of his children and failed relationships with women, but that, let's leave it alone, his private life should stay that way. What I can't overlook is what I heard today.
Today I found out through a friend that the FBI has arrested Ted Loza, for a bribe probe after he received $1500 dollars from an Ethiopian businessman. My first reaction was surprise and I quickly wondered what really happened. The man seemed to be doing well last time I saw him and honestly, I feel bad for him and his family and once again I am disgusted by the way politics are run by some politicians.
I know this case is not just about taxi drivers "bribing" Loza for his support to their demands. This seems to be about political revenge and the control of today's most active and progressive Ward in DC. This has to do with hurting Jim Graham and using Loza as a scapegoat.
Did Loza make a mistake? Of course he did, [update] but his attorney insists Loza is innocent of the charges.
But, for better or worse, let's remember that Ted Loza is not a man of his own: his career is very much connected to Councilmember Jim Graham, someone who is also facing really hard times now days with several problems at his Council office, and at the Metro system -as the chairman of WMATA board. In this mess, Loza was the weakest link and he went down. I just wonder who did this.
Money is such an evil bastard, it changes peoples, it brings them up and then make them fall so hard. Worst criminals are free but a guy who worked hard for the community is now behind bars for stupid mistakes he made. I wish for Loza to stay strong and that he will overcome this tragic moment, by taking responsibility for his actions and move forward with his life once he is free again.
You can follow more details about this case in the Washington City Paper, and pay close attention to the hateful comments, they can give you a clue of what this is all about.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Crisis Worsening in Honduras as Protesters are Repressed by Coup Police and Military Forces: The U.S. Government Must Take a Stand Urgently
Coup leader Roberto Micheletti has sent military and police troops to repress Zelaya supporters, some of whom have been tortured and sources mention over 20 casualties. Meanwhile government raids and detentions are reported daily.
A supporter of Honduras' ousted president Manuel Zelaya reacts as he is hit by tear gas shot by riot police during a demonstration march in downtown Teguciglapa September 23, 2009. Photo Reuters
Even though president Zelaya has demanded peaceful talks with Micheletti, but at this point there is not hope for such dialogue, as Micheletti has offered Zelaya nothing but his incarceration. The UN Security Council will host an emergency meeting today September 24, to see the case of Honduras.
The president of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva has said yesterday at the United Nations General Assembly that "the international community demands the return of president Zelaya to power" and members of the Brazilian military have said that they won't tolerate if the Embassy of Brazil should is invaded by Honduran police.
Reports directly from Honduras
This is an email sent by the Quixote Center Delegation in Honduras:
President Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras yesterday. He is based at the Brazilian embassy along with members of his cabinet. Early this morning, police and military violently dispersed a large crowd that spent the night in front of the Embassy to support Zelaya and in defiance of the 5pm curfew instituted as part of the state of siege declared by the coup regime. There are reports of wounded and two dead from this morning's attack.The blogs Honduras en Lucha, Habla Honduras and Vos the Soberano have reported of human rights violations (in Spanish I transcript) as the crisis is deepening, violence is rising
The power at the Brazilian embassy has been cut. News transmissions from independent media stations have been cut. The state of siege has been extended and the coup regime is telling people to stay in their homes. The streets are deserted. The military has mounted a six block solid cordon around the Brazilian Embassy. There is a high level of concern about the possibility of an attack on the Embassy and bloodshed. The situation is extremely tense.
We have just received a report from the human rights organization, COFADEH, that their offices have been attacked with tear gas. […]
The protestors camped out in front of the Brazilian Embassy were violently attacked and removed from the Embassy with live rounds of ammunition and tear gas. There are at least 4 people wounded. President Zelaya was in the middle of an interview with Radio Globo early this morning from inside the Brazilian Embassy, struggling to talk through the tear gas, when the Radio Globo signal was once again cut.
Photos by Habla Honduras
Popular protests in support of Zelaya are growing. The Brazilian Embassy is still surrounded by the military and police. The Honduran press and media are mostly manipulated and they are ignoring the protests and supporting the coup government. The influential Catholic Archbishop also supports Michelleti . The interim government had set detention centers in baseball stadiums, about 20 poor neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa are in rebellion.
There are rumors that Israel military is helping the Michelleti forces and armament is entering the country illegally. Water and electricity supplies have been cut off at the Brazilian Embassy. Around the country, food and other supplies are running out and civilians lack of free transit and access to telephone, radio and internet, especially limited for the resistance groups.
Honduran police is entering poor neighborhoods raiding homes, detaining young activists who are tortured. A video posted online show that some of the tear gas bombs used by the Micheletti forces were manufactured in the U.S. but came from the Peruvian National police.
A rally in support of Micheletti is being organized for today, and Vos the Soberano suggests this could be a plot to take over the Brazilian Embassy and kill president Zelaya.
Why the United States must take a stand
Honduras is a country that was created in part by U.S. corporate interests, back in the days when agribusiness was so powerful that fruit companies had their own train systems and created entire towns for their slaved workers. Well, agribusiness is still powerful and U.S. corporations are still influential in Honduras.
The coup led by Roberto Micheletti is proof that Honduras is still a U.S. satellite country with a weak democracy and a divided society. The influence of the U.S. in Honduras is such, that most of its commerce and military depends on the United States economy and politics.
After the coup, Honduran society has become more divided and radicalized. In on side, there are Hondurans who support Micheletti completely, –usually the rich elites- accusing Zelaya of breaking the law and the Constitution. In the other side, are those who support Zelaya and lean towards following the alternative path set by Hugo Chavez and its “socialism of the XXI century” or simply because they believe that Zelaya should end his term due by November this year.
With Manuel Zelaya back in Tegucigalpa, after walking 15 days from Nicaragua, his popularity might have increased and he may be becoming a hero for many Hondurans, especially the working class and the poorest in the country. Even when Zelaya is a rich landlord himself.
The Obama administration –Hillary Clinton in charge of the State Department- has tried to keep a low profile with the Honduran crisis, only denouncing the coup and canceling traveling visas to Micheletti and his crew. However, the U.S. government knows that there are corporate interests behind this coup.
President Obama and secretary Hillary Clinton need to step up and help Honduras to find a point of agreement and thus avoid bloodshed.
Violence is already increasing and casualties have been reported, some say that more than 20 people have died. Watch Video:
We can help to avoid more violence in Honduras
The Quixote Center suggests these actions:
U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. State Department and their Congressional Representatives to demand that the U.S. government:
• Pressure the de facto government of Honduras to refrain from using violence against nonviolent protesters, human rights organizations or the Brazilian Embassy.
• Pressure the de facto regime to cease its repression of the freedom of expression and information in Honduras.
• Impose full economic and trade sanctions on the coup regime.
• Unequivocally support the return to power of elected President Manuel Zelaya.
The Honduran police and military have committed grave human rights violations under this coup regime, often during instated curfews.
Please help to prevent bloodshed in Honduras. Contact the U.S. State Department (202.647.4000) and your Congressional Representatives (202.224.3121) to demand that the U.S. send a strong message to the coup regime in Honduras to refrain from violent assaults on civilians, human rights organizations and or the Embassy of Brazil.
Here are some additional numbers:
State Department Honduras Desk: Rebecca Valerin, 202-647-3482
Office of Central American Affairs: Director Christopher Webster, 202-647-4087
Secretary Hillary Clinton, 202-647-5291
Find your Congress member’s Contact Info Here
Check the Quixote Center website for updated information and action alerts.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Please help Alonso to stay in the United States: successful college student fights deportation order due this Friday - VIDEO
With 22 years old, Alonso as he is known by his relatives and friends, had a bright future ahead of him, until last March 2009 when he made a wrong turn at the highway and drove into Canada.
Alonso is one of millions of undocumented students in the United States. Originally from Peru, he came here at the age of 14, graduated with honors from high school and then enrolled in college.
After being detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents at the border control in Washington state, Chehade was incarcerated for 2 weeks and a he has given deportation order, which is due by this Friday September 25.
With no criminal records whatsoever, Alsonso wants to stay in the U.S., and that would be possible had the DREAM Act being a reality. I interviewed Jorge-Alonso Chehade yesterday, here is his personal testimony.
Take Action to help Alonso
- Send a fax to DHS by clicking this link
- Tell the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) not to deport Jorge-Alonso Chehade, and co-sign this letter sent by U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell in this link.
- Call DHS Assistant Secretary John Morton at 202.732.3000 and urge him to grant the deferred action.
- Send this to your friends!
Alonso has received also the support of Congress member Jim McDermott, and Washington state delegates Dave Quall and Phyllis Gutierrez-Kenney. There is hope he can be allowed to stay longer in the U.S. so he can regularize his immigration status.
Every year over 2.8 million undocumented students graduate from high school in this country, without a chance to continue a better education. Read more about the DREAM Act here.
II Summit Africa-South America this week in Venezuela: government of Hugo Chavez promotes integration of Southern continents
This is the only international summit between southern regions of the planet, and so far have confirmed their presence the presidents of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika; of Libya, Muammar el-Gaddafi; of Ghana, John Atta; of South Africa, Jacob Zuma; of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez; of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, and of course of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.
Preliminary meetings among the leaders from 54 African countries and 12 South American nations will start today September 22, in preparation to the summit this weekend. The coordinating countries for this summit are Nigeria representing Africa, and Brazil in South America.
Along the summit, the III Cultural Festival of the Peoples of Africa will be held in Caracas, from September 21 to 27; and the meeting of the Council of University Presidents of South America and Africa, which will bring educators from 14 countries: Senegal, Ethiopia, Gambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Angola, Libya, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Paraguay y Venezuela.
Venezuela promotes closer relations with Africa
The president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez is one of the few presidents in the Americas that acknowledge his African and Indigenous roots. President Chavez has said that this summit “will serve to sign agreements of international cooperation, and to get together and help each other in our development,”
”The struggles of the peoples of the South, can be condensed in two continents: Africa and South America. These are two brother continents, mixed, linked, (…) Africa is very close to us,”Also Chavez has mentioned that the south of the planet has a commercial emptiness that needs to be filled:
“In the north, between Europe and the United States, the sea is filled with aerial and marine routes, and intense commercial trade; while down here in the south, what is seeing is a big emptiness that is about time to be filled. That is the great challenge.”The Venezuelan government has put enough efforts to improve its relations with Africa. Since Hugo Chavez was elected 10 years ago, Venezuela has increased its diplomatic representation from 8 to 18 embassies in Africa, and that country is an observer member of the African Union since 2005. The Venezuelan vice chancellor for Africa, Reinaldo Bolivar says:
“Africa has kept a regional relationship and has searched for international cooperation from the European Union, but in the last years it has open up to China, India, Russia, Iran and of course, South America,”Venezuela’s chancellor and Foreign Relations minister Nicolas Maduro, also an Afro descendant, has said that this will be “the summit of the peoples, focusing on the forces of our cultural expressions, of the African roots that exists in our South American continent.”
Africa in South America
The first Summit Africa-South America was held in November 2006, in Abuja, Nigeria. Africa represents the 7% of the commercial exchange of Brazil, amounting some $25 billion dollars in 2008. Brazil is the country with more African descendant population, outside of Africa. While Argentina sales 3.5% of its products to the African nations.
The representative of the African nations, Jean Ping from Gabon, has said that this summit will try to decide “concrete actions” to help the attending nations in all issues:
“We have the same problems, therefore we have to share the same experiences, we must unite facing the world (…) In this summit we will discuss topics as education, health, communications, and the financial crisis that are hitting us so hard, even when we are not responsible for that.”Jean Ping was referring to the influence that the economic, military and cultural policies that are designed in the United States and Europe, which affect directly the countries in South America and Africa, especially when it comes to the extraction of natural resources by multinational corporations, being mining and oil the most important promoters of pollution, forced displacements and military conflicts.
African presence in South America
The African presence in South America might have started before the European contact, according to some scholars. Today, out of the 910 million people living in the Americas, over 150 million are of African heritage. South America has two of the countries with more Afro descendant population in the Americas after the United States: Brazil and Colombia.
Afro descendants represent almost 50% of Brazil’s population, about 30% of Colombia, 60% in Venezuela, 10% in Ecuador and Peru, 45% of Suriname, 50% of Guyana and there are significant communities in Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay.
The cultures, identities, and history of all the countries in South America have a strong presence of African presence, both northern and south Saharan cultures. This is something that has been hidden and denied by racist policies, but a process of revaluation of the Afro descendant populations’ contribution is in process currently in most of the region.
The election of Afro descendant leaders in the Americas, including U.S. president Barack Obama and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, has boosted this African renascence process tremendously.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Jose Hernandez a Native American astronaut who recently went on a space mission with NASA, has demanded an Immigration Reform in the United States.
Photo by Oregon Live
Hernandez is originally from California and his parents are Native people from Mexico, who worked as farm workers all their lives to give their children a better future. Jose himself worked in the fields along other Indigenous workers.
NASA has reacted cowardly and said that Hernandez was speaking on his own and his words don't reflect the position of that institution, but the astronaut of Native Mexican heritage said to Los Angeles Times:
"Having 12 million undocumented people here means there's something wrong with the system, and the system needs to be fixed."Watch this video where Jose Hernandez presents himself before the mission he took part of:
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Why are we called Hispanics? We are Natives and Afro descendants: a conversation with Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Participants
I spoke to three people -very sharp and educated folks I must say- so this video is very interesting. They are an attorney from Colorado, a young Capitol Hill staffer, and a promising activist from NYC. I asked them three questions:
This is what they said:
- Why are we called Hispanics when we are Natives and Afro descendants?
- Why are corrupted corporations sponsoring the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute 2009 Conference?
- Will the Obama administration actually approve an Immigration Reform?
It was refreshing to meet these bright people who are conscious about the need to reaffirm our true identities and to stop using the term Hispanic, which is promoted by the U.S. government and private corporations in order to create a market that can be a source of political power and profits.
Our "future young leaders" are malcriados
When I asked these guys about our true identities, some of them were rude, shallow and arrogant. Are these the future leaders of our communities? Is this what Comedy does to people? I guess when they saw a short Brown guy with a camera, they thought "this is trouble..." Exactly my point:
This racist and cultural discrimination -ignoring our true identities- is the cause of many problems in our communities: social division, lack of self esteem in our youth, conformism, apathy in national issues, destruction of our families, and sadly, racism against our own people. The lack of identity promotes the division of our communities, where our people ignore or don't care about our civil rights anymore.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Adios Colombian Broken Hearts: advertising sculptures leave DC after controversy and protests - see PHOTOS
Today is the last day for the "Colombian Hearts" sculptures to be displayed in the streets of Washington, DC.
In the ten days of their presence in Chocolate City, these advertising sculptures caused controversy, and protests as opposed of what the Colombian government intended. Human rights, labor and fair trade activists have protested this campaign of the government of Colombia:
This photo shows the yellow heart placed in the corner of 18th Street NW and Columbia Road. Last weekend an activist hung a pig heart or something, and a sign that says "The reality of today's Colombia: Heartless Murder of Trade Unionists" ... very direct!The following photos were taken at the protest held by the Colombia Human Rights Committee last Thursday September 11, at Freedom Plaza. This protest was organized to honor the thousands of Colombian civilians killed by the government of Colombia and the violence between paramilitary and guerrillas, which have caused the displacement of about 4.5 million people.
Reportedly some staff of the "Colombia Es Passion" campaign destroyed a symbolic memorial built in this location the previous Tuesday September 8. An activist who built the memorial confronted the guys with "Colombia Es Pasion" badges, and they said that their bosses at the Union Station exhibition ordered them to destroy the memorial.
Now the Colombian Broken Hearts are traveling to New York City, where more protests are expected. What a bad idea this was after all for the Colombian government, but at the end it was a good chance for the people of DC to learn about the atrocities committed against the lives of so many brave Colombians in the last decades, especially by the government of Alvaro Uribe and his mafia partners.
Adios corazones rotos.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The 2009 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Conference, which started yesterday September 13 is being sponsored by some of those corrupted corporations. This event is organized by the CHCI, an institution created to 'educate' the young political leaders of this country.
This year's CHC conference will end this Wednesday September 15 with a gala reception where president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will be attending.
Initially, I didn't intend to write much about the CHIC event. All of you who read me know what I think about the U.S. government imposing the false Hispanic identity, as if we people suddenly would lose our heritages and become Spaniards just because we speak Castillian.
The fact that this conference doesn’t include any discussion about racial issues, or topics affecting directly the Indigenous and Afro descendant communities -whom they try to represent- says it all.
However, I am more concerned about the list of corporate sponsors of this conference program. If they are financing the "education" of our young leaders, what hope do we have of a different future?
From its own website:
Altria Group is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, John Middleton, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Philip Morris Capital Corporation. Philip Morris USA is the largest tobacco company in the United States, with approximately half of the U.S. cigarette market. U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company is the leading producer and marketer of moist smokeless tobacco. John Middleton is a leading manufacturer of large machine-made cigars. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates ranks among the top 10 producers of premium wines in the United States. Philip Morris Capital Corporation's portfolio consists primarily of leveraged and direct finance lease investments. In addition, Altria Group holds a continuing economic and voting interest in SABMiller plc, one of the world's largest brewers.Corporations sponsoring 2009 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Conference: Walmart, Phillip Morris, Citi, Bank of America, Lockheed Martin, Shell, Walt Disney
The largest armament manufacturer in the planet, Lockheed Martin's profits come from wars, violent conflicts and all kinds of armed confrontations in the world. From Wikipedia:
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is a multinational aerospace manufacturer, global security and advanced technology company formed in 1995 by the merger of Lockheed with Martin Marietta. It is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Lockheed Martin employs 146,000 people worldwide. Robert J. Stevens is the current Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer. Lockheed Martin is the world's largest defense contractor by revenue in 2008. As of 2005, 95% of Lockheed Martin's revenues came from the United States Department of Defense, other U.S. federal government agencies, and foreign military customers.From WordPolicy:
George W. Bush has strong ties to Lockheed Martin from his service as Governor of Texas, where he tried to give the firm a contract to run the Texas welfare system before he had to relent in the face of public protests and an unfavorable regulatory ruling by the Clinton administration. Lockheed Martin VP Bruce Jackson is a finance chair of the Bush for President campaign, and was heard to brag at a conference last year that he would be in a position to "write the Republican platform" on defense if Bush gets the nomination (which he will, later this week).
The world’s largest retailer, according to Wal-Mart Watch:
Wal-Mart's still insures barely over half its employees on the company plan, Poverty-level wages make life extremely difficult for Wal-Mart's 1.4 million workers, Wal-Mart's business model is detrimental for our planet, Wal-Mart continually fails to pay every worker for every hour worked.
With the election of Barack Obama and the potential passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, Wal-Mart is clearly afraid that its anti-worker practices of the last half century might be coming to a close.
The current contrast between the earnings of the 1.4 million U.S. Wal-Mart employees and the earnings of the Walton family provide a striking example of the widening income gap in America.
Wal-Mart is currently facing more than 80 lawsuits at various stages of the legal process. The potential financial impact of these cases and those still to come are massive, even for a behemoth such as Wal-Mart.
The Dutch oil and gas giant corporation is accused of polluting gas flaring and alleged human rights abuses in Nigeria, and other countries in the world.
Greenpeace and Green Left report:
The Oil Spill Intelligence Report, a 10-year spill record commissioned by Greenpeace, has revealed that Shell's major spills in Nigeria total a massive 7.4 million litres. Of the major spills from Shell operations in over 100 countries worldwide, 40% occurred in Nigeria, according to the report. Shell is the world's second biggest company in terms of sales ($US107,000 million) after General Motors ($US125,000 million).Exxon Mobil
The world's largest oil corporation, based in Texas and with strong connections to both Republican and Democratic parties, Exxon Mobil is one of the biggest polluters in the planet and is one of the top five lobbyist in U.S. Congress. Check what ExposseExxon says:
Despite record profits, ExxonMobil refuses to help the world build a cleaner energy future, curb global warming, or even pay the damages it still owes. ExxonMobil is moving America backward on energy policy when we desperately need to move forward. ExxonMobil is the ONLY major oil company that denies the urgency of global warming and funds global warming skeptics that cloud the facts and create a debate where there isn’t one. ExxonMobil leads the charge against efforts to reduce global warming pollution worldwide. It is also the ONLY major oil company still a member of Arctic Power, the special interest group lobbying Congress to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - a move that would not result in lower gas prices or greater energy security. Despite ExxonMobil's record profits, it refuses to invest in renewable energy like its competitors. Plus, ExxonMobil is still appealing the $4.5 billion (plus interest) in punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill awarded to fisherman, native Alaskans and others harmed by the spill.Exxon Mobil has destroyed the environment of Indigenous peoples in Philippines, Singapore and the Nepal delta in Africa. Recently, Exxon Mobil sued the government of Venezuela, after the oil corporation was expelled when it refused to reinvest its profits in the country's poorest.
More dinero more problems
The list of corporate sponsors continues with the racist stereotyping media empire Walt Disney Company; the corrupted Walk Street banks and bailout beneficiaries Citi and Bank of America; the unhealthy, children poisoning and animal rights abuser fat factory McDonalds, and beer making Anheuser-Busch Companies. Oh, let's not forget California's gas and electricity supplier PG&E Corporation.
Of course, there are also a couple of national labor unions in this list. Shame on them to go along with corporate America. These are the same Wall Street corporations behind free trade policies that have hurt the U.S. working class so much!
I say, shame on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute for selling their souls to the very oppressors of our Indigenous and Afro descendant communities, especially the working class in the U.S. and the rest of the Americas. Shame on them for brainwashing those who might become our future leaders.
Inauguration ceremony of Afro Colombian Mural on U Street NW: remembering the over 4 million displaced people in Colombia - PHOTOS & VIDEO
The mural which is almost two floors high, is located in the historical African American neighborhood of U Street NW, and it has been painted by DC based muralist Joe Bergner, with the sponsorship of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham attended the event and he spoke about his support for public funding of murals in the city. Here is a video with a coversation with artist Joel Bergner:
Marino Cordova is president of AFRODES or the Association of Displaced Afro Colombians, and also a union leader at Casa de Maryland. He spoke about his personal experiences when his hometown of Riosucio, located in the forest of northern Pacific coast of Colombia, was bombarded by the Colombian government along with right-wing paramilitary forces, at the end of 1996 and early 1997.
As a result of this massacre, many people died and some remain still missing. Over 20,000 survivors had to leave the area and are now displaced in many regions of Colombia. Cordova said that displaced Afro Colombians not only have lost their loved ones and their civil rights as Colombians, but many as himself lost their dreams, lives, struggles and relatives who were forced to live in different areas of the country, without a chance to be reunified anytime soon.
Even though Afro Colombian communities were in the middle of the war between the government armed forces, the paramilitary, the guerrillas, drug cartels and common delinquents, they have always chosen peace before violence. Today, they still hope for a better future with peace for all Colombians, and they use their rich culture to keep that hope alive no matter how difficult it can be. "That is why the mural paintd by Joel Bergner is so important for our community," Marino Cordova added. "It touches us and remind us of our lives and struggle."
Marino Cordova denounced the support of the U.S. government to the Colombian government, especially through the multimillion military aid, and he asked the U.S. Congress not to approved the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement until the Afro Colombian and Indigenous communities of Colombia are included in the negotiation process. In that sense, he reminded the public of his participation during the recent protests against the publicity campaign of "Colombian Hearts" displayed in the streets of Washington, DC.
This is a video of the speech given by Marino Cordova, with a simultaneous translation thanks to Gimena Sanchez from WOLA.
Also there was a cultural program -before and after the ceremony- which included Afro Colombian food, music and dances performed by local group Tangare, all of which were enjoyed by the over 120 people who showed up.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
This is a private festival supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities along with private corporations, and it was created by local DC filmmaker Jon Gann;
''I think that by concentrating on short films, [we give] audiences the chance to see quite a lot of different viewpoints, different story telling and stuff from around the world," says Gann. "In a two-hour period you see at least one drama, a comedy, a documentary, a local film, an animated, an experimental. Sometimes even a horror movie. And if a film's not to your liking, in 10 minutes there will be something else on."More than 150 filmmakers will attend the festival to interact with the public, there are free screenings, family events, workshops and private parties included. Tickets are $12 dollars for each showing which includes about 10-11 films of 20 minutes or less, they can be purchased at the venues or online. There are two venues both located in Downtown DC: E Street Cinema and Navy Memorial's Burke Theatre: at Gallery Place, Metro Center, Navy Memorial Metro stations.
For locations, schedules, tickets and more info
go to the DC Shorts Film Festival website
When I heard that the Tea Party was coming to DC this weekend, I decided to attend and make a video of the event or something. The "taxpayer protest" was planned in the same day -Saturday 12- when the Anti 287g Program and Immigration Reform rally was going to be held in the National Mall and the White House.
When I was on my way to the immigration rally I got news on my phone that the Tea Party protesters had taken over the area of the protest, and that some rally attendees were discouraged. At that moment I run into some protesters coming out of Woodley Park Metro station and I spoke to them for a couple of minutes.
Honestly, the people that I encountered seemed like a nice family -about 7 white folks in their 40's and 50's- and they were really convinced they were doing the right thing, by protesting the federal government's expenses and bailouts to Wall Street, and the Health Care reform. Point taken.
While talking, they looked to me like working class people from a small town somewhere -I didn't ask- but I also noticed they all were wearing well made t-shirts, signs, and pins -lots of money and creative work involved. Those signs didn't look to me like those of a true grass roots movement, but more like a corporate sponsored event. Perhaps the insurance companies or the GOP friends? I didn't ask neither.
The organizers of this protest call themselves The 9/12 Project -silly name- and its main spoke person is the racist radio and TV host Glenn Beck. Wrong. They say the DC rally was attended by 2 million people -no way- that is an anti government, anti spending, anti taxes and non partisan movement. They also say they are not angry mobs who hate Obama, racist and hateful people, that this is all for America's best interest.
However by looking at these pictures -thanks to Huffington Post and Jillstanek- and listening to their blah, blah, blah on TV, we can realize the tea baggers are mostly lying.
When I finished talking to the family of protesters, I felt really bad. To me, these people were used and manipulated by corrupted groups. They seemed to really have convictions that their efforts were intended to make this country better. I was shocked on their level of ingenuity, or perhaps falseness. They called me "brother" and invited me to join their movement. I told them I was going to an Immigration rally -then they looked at me weird until one man broke the silence "I am also in favor of an immigration reform!" he said.
Right after that I went home and got ready to attend the Afro Colombian Mural inauguration party. I didn't have the nerve to go and run into thousands of naive/fake/angry people yelling nonsense, and who didn't protest during the 8 years of the absurdly abusive Bush administration, who wasted billions of dollars in illegal wars and giving more privileges to the rich.
Instead of going to the Mall, I preferred to witness a celebration of displaced Afro descendant peoples trying to survive in a country, where sometimes I get impressed by the levels of ignorance and selfishness.
This is a nation where corporations have too much political power. With their corrupted money, interest groups are trying to copy the grass roots movements that helped Barack Obama get into power, and are using well intentioned folks who have some much anger withing themselves. Almost all of the Tea Party protesters are white and "mature". Signs of the times we live.