Latin America promotes but doesn’t respect human rights

Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico have been strong on promoting human rights internationally and in supporting the UN human rights machinery during 2007.

But unless the gap between their policies internationally and their performance at home is closed their credibility as human rights champions will be challenged, according to this week’s report from Amnesty International on human rights around the world.

You can access the report here and click on the links at the top for specific country reports. Continue reading

Video: Illegal Border Crossing for tourists

This video was created to go with this Los Angeles Times report.

Illegal border crossing – for tourists.

La Caminata Nocturna, HidalgoVideo Coming Soon

Panting for breath, I waded through cow-pat flavoured mud, struggling to keep myself from slipping in the dark. “Vamanos, vamanos, vamanos!” urged my coyote, the Spanish name for people who smuggle migrants across the border into the United States.

The sound of La Migra’s sirens – also known as United States Border Patrol – sounded out behind me. Hands shaking, I stopped to catch my breath and watched the faces of the other migrants crouched in the dark, breathing heavily.

“We know you’re there,” boomed a crackling voice in English, tinged with a Mexican accent, over the loudspeaker. Gun shots rang out.

“What you’re doing is illegal. We have food and water. We can help you get back home.”

Only, no one wanted to go back home. Everyone was actually having a rather a good time. That’s because this wasn’t for real. We were pretend migrants, trying to cross an artificial border pursued by a fake Border Patrol deep in the Mexican state of Hidalgo for the bargain price of 100 pesos (US$10) rather than the thousands that Mexicans and Central American migrants crossing into the U.S illegally pay their smugglers. Continue reading

Video: Shakira aims to help poor kids

Last Thursday, Colombian popstar Shakira got a group of Latin American stars and businessmen together in the Mexican capital to launch ALAS (meaning “WINGS”), a Latin American initiative aimed at aiding the development of young children in the region.

Shakira, who recently got together with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, has been running her own foundation to help the poor since she was 18

Millionaires Carlos Slim and Howard Buffett, son of Warren Buffett, were also in attendence, lending their financial and moral support to the songstress.

Not so long ago, Latin American artists who spoke up for social causes often risked prison, exile or far worse, writes Reed Johson in the Los Angeles Times.

What a difference a generation makes. On Thursday, a phalanx of Spanish-speaking pop artists headed by Colombian superstar Shakira and Spanish-Italian singer Miguel Bosé gathered here to promote a new initiative to aid Latin America’s millions of poor, malnourished and undereducated children. They were joined by the world’s second-richest man, a top U.S. philanthropist and an international mob of reporters drawn by a potent cocktail of celebrity, money and power, laced with an emerging social conscience.

The following video was made to accompany this story, all rights reserved.

No. 2 police officer gunned down in Juarez: police death count rising

The attacks on police officers, detailed here, continued over the weekend.

The No. 2 police officer in this border city across from El Paso was shot to death Saturday, the latest high-ranking official killed in an onslaught of attacks blamed on gangs resisting a crackdown on drug trafficking. Associated Press.

Guns on buses and slain police officers

Photo by Gregory Bull for the Associated Press via the LATimes

HONORING THEIR OWN: Federal police officers salute three slain colleagues, including acting chief Edgar Millan Gomez, in Mexico City. Authorities suspect he was betrayed by someone who knew his movements, according to Mexican media reports. Gregory Bull for the Associated Press via The Los Angeles Times.

This week, Mexico City has been living up to its bad boy reputation. Heading down Paseo de Reforma after a trip to the LATimes office on Thursday, I crossed over the main traffic artery and waited for the bus. The sun was hot and high in the sky and I was wilting in my jeans.

I noticed sluggishly that the police had cut off the road just ahead of the bus stop, but that traffic was dripping through slowly in their direction. so I got on the next pesero.

But as the bus waited in line, a young police man came round the side of the police car blocking the traffic, his pistol drawn. I was astonished. He jogged up Reforma, past the side of my vehicle, his dark eyes scanning the traffic and the sidewalk. He was looking for someone. His colleagues back at the patrol car were shouting things and waving their hands, and the bus got beckoned forward.

But before we could drive around the patrol car onto the empty round behind, we were stopped again. This time two young policemen boarded the bus – one from the front door and one from the descent door on the side. Both of them had their guns drawn – not pistols this time, but the small machine guns that many of them carry down here. I was standing in the walkway of the bus, near the front, and as the officer stood next to me, asking one of the passengers to open his bag, his pistol sat on my hip. Continue reading

Video: Leonora Carrington, Paseo de Reforma, Mexico City – Los Angeles Times

Phantoms come, phantoms go. They swirl around Leonora Carrington, a tiny woman of 91 with a tart intellect and a posh British accent, as she sips Earl Grey tea at her kitchen table. They rise like black vapors from the pavement of Avenue Reforma in the Mexican capital, where a menagerie of Carringtons nightmarishly enigmatic sculptures startle pedestrians and spook passing cars….

This video was made to go with with this Los Angeles Times piece by Reed Johnson.