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May 12 / Jon

Earthquake in Chile

Translated by Caroline Letourneau.

I chose two very different articles on the same topic; the Chilean earthquake of February 27, 2010. My principal reasons are because they discuss a recent event, that affected the lives of millions people, the stability of Chile, have foster the solidarity action in the Southern Cone and generated global compassion. This event and its consequences will mark forever Chileans and the history of their country. Moreover, as living in Vancouver, British Columbia where a convergence of two tectonic plates causes the earthquakes felt in the area, we are us too exposed to the eventuality of a great earthquake. Perhaps we can learn some lessons from the Chilean experience.

Source texts: “Terremoto en Chile: tierra, agua, aire y fuego” and “Repercusiones del terremoto en Chile”.

Chile’s Earthquake: Land, Water, Air, and Fire
Cristóbal Orrego, March 1st 2010

I am not going to sketch out a cold analysis, when I have my heart flooded with sorrow.

Chile is a country of wild land, trembling, and rebellious, which bears in its bowels the power of fire. Since Pedro de Valdivia founded the capital city of Santiago in 1941, we have always lived between war trumpets and cries of protests, between fire and floods, and especially between earthquakes . We were not surprised by this disaster of February 27, 2010 for a disaster never surprises a Chilean . Ask any Chilean, anywhere in the world, no one would have denied that we were waiting for it. Between the 1960 earthquake and the 1985 one, half a century; between the 1985earthquake and the 2010 one, half a century. Everyone was waiting for it. There are already a thousand dead. Near me, because now everything is close, there are dead and injured; mutilated, undernourished, and dehydrated ones. The balm of international aid arrives slowly , for it arrived rapidly but we were stunned. Also, Opus Dei bishop, Don Javier Echevarria, before noon, was accompanying his faithful with a very heartfelt letter of his own hand, encouraging everyone to pray, to sustain hope, and to help everywhere.

The authorities lost hours-more than one day-wondering whether or not to bring the military into the streets, while in some cities looting broke loose. Yes, it is understandable, they were scared partly because by those terrible memories of a couple decades old: But now, now, minute by minute modest and defenceless villagers demanded armed protection! Even last night, someone from a southern city was telling that a band of twenty years olds raided homes after curfew. It is when the earth trembles, that the insides of souls are revealed. Yesterday I saw modest people sharing their water, their food, their energy. Yesterday I saw people crying, and I saw people comforting. Most Chileans are like that: they have fire in the heart, like the fire that from below is bursting our land.

But a few do not have fire, but dirt in the soul. It took too long before the authority started to suppress the offenders with the necessary strength! It is a shame to take advantage of the misery of others, to be oblivious to pain and sadness.

The fury of the sea stroke strong, flattened houses and cars, dragged men, women and children. I am thinking of a young woman, inconsolable, unable to retain her four and two year’s old children. And she too, later, was dragged by the sea which denied taking her life. The sea denied killing anyone not wanting to live. This young mother will have to live, sorely, flooded by sorrow, with the deep scar that the infinite cruelty of the sea imprinted on her life. The sea did not despise taking the life her young babies. Now her only chance to keep on living with this pain is if she bares an unshakable faith in eternal life. Rest in peace, may your spirit be present in the family that remains down here mourning.

Friends, I apologize for failing to consider things as should have done an intellectual. Some will ask-So what? – What are worth brainy analysis before the immensity of land, water, air and fire, if life escapes us? Yes, I apologize . Because from the depths of my soul I can only say that, if there is no eternal life, if the telluric forces have the last word, if we are to live without hope, then the truth is that it does not matter to die in a great earthquake or to live slowly for things that now can seems so insignificant. Because if the last word is of this imperturbably trembling land; the fire of solidarity that arises these days from and the Chilean people is surreal And if the water that gives life, solely kills in the end, therefore these words, and theirs, and whichever, are air and dust, air and nothing.

Earthquake Consequences in Chile
Francisco Pineda Zamorano, March 1st, 2010

Mindful of the earthquake victims, their families, the thousands of injured, and the two millions homeless, I would like to focus this note on the implications that will have for Chile the terrible earthquake of last Friday. Chile is one of the most prosperous countries of the continent with an average annual GDP growth of 4.1% in the last 15 years. It is true that there are serious problems of redistribution of wealth in the country . There still remain large areas of poverty. However , it is also true that investments in infrastructure, communication, health and education have benefited all Chileans. Chile’s economy is strong and its growing trend was indicating that it could have been considered a developed country in 2020. Its success depends primarily on the diversity and competitiveness of its export oriented economy.

The consequences of the earthquake on the Chilean economic and social machine of progress send the country back (overnight) several positions behind in socio-economic growth index. This also postpones the mandatory investments planned for the country in the coming years . Some experts suggest that at least 10 years will be necessary to return to the level of economic development , of January 2010 . In other words, nature plays nasty tricks and spoils decades of planning pushing the country backward once again.

Chileans are an entrepreneurial people, capable, lucid, and creative. They will find ways to keep on going forward . I have no doubt about it. However, they could use a little help from the international community. It is urgent to renegotiate the Chilean debt to obtain its partial if not total remission. It is urgent to reconsider the geographical priority of Spanish cooperation and return to include Chile as one of the outmost important country, at least for the next 10 years. It is urgent that NGO’s resume their work in Chile especially concentrating their efforts with those who always remain outside institutional intervention.

The country is not yet completely reduced to rubble, however one can almost be certain that the number of dead and injured reported will increase. We must show our solidarity to this beloved country in order that it recovers quickly.

May 12 / Jon

The Garzon case

Translated by Alanna Jardine.

The following three articles were found on the El Pais website, they are in regards to three cases open against one of Spain’s most formidable judges, Baltasar Garzón. Garzón has been involved in many high profile cases, notably including the extradition of the Chilean dictator General Pinochet as well as charges of genocide against Argentines for the atrocities committed against Spanish nationals. His more recent work has been to help the victims’ families whose relatives were killed or ‘disappeared’ by the Franco regime. However, this investigation has brought about mixed feelings in Spain: while the victims’ families have expressed their desire for the probe and their support for Garzón, others feel that he has overstepped his boundaries in initiating such an undertaking.

Source texts: “Familiares de víctimas del franquismo deciden concentrarse a diario en apoyo del juez Garzón” (later updated as “Las víctimas acudirán a protestar todos los días a la Audiencia”), “Explicar lo inexplicable”, and “El Supremo rectifica y convoca a la prensa española para explicar las causas contra Garzón”.

Families of Franco’s Victims Decide to Congregate Daily in Support of Judge Garzón: his lawyers have agree at meeting the meet every day at 8pm in front of the Audencia Nacional until the 22 of May
Natalia Junquera, Madrid 14/04/2010

“The people are very, very eager to go out to the streets”. Carlos Agüero, memory repression coordinator for the Industrial Relations department at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense, was found this morning with an abundance of family members of the victims’ of the Franco Regime asking them to assemble displays of their support for Judge Baltasar Garzón. An assembly, after it has busily convened all morning, has decided to congregate in front of the doors of the Audencia Nacional every day from now until May 22 at 8 o’clock, when the General Counsel of the Judiciary will gather to decide on the judges’ suspension. Meanwhile, followers organized a large demonstration of support for the judge, on the 24th, all across Spain. The families of Franco’s victims, many now older than 70, have marched throughout the mornings through the university campus becoming experts in legal issues. They know perfectly well the name of the Supreme Court judge and that he is ordering the case against Garzón by opening an investigation in which the people asked him to pursue. They speak with straightforwardness of the law of amnesty, of the European Human Rights Convention, of the United Nations declaration against the use of force. And yet they are not resigned. “We are sad but we are going to do all that we can for Judge Garzón”, explained a relative during the congregation.

The symbolic confinements, which will also be prolonged every day from 10-20 hours until the 22nd of May, they began today at 6pm with the presence of actress Pilar Bardem, actor Juan Diego Botto, writer Rosa Regás, representative Joan Herrera, and reporter Miriam Lagoa. The symbolic confinement ended today with a new assembly outlining some organizational aspects for support acts for Judge Garzón. Tomorrow a new congregation will begin that will be repeated until May 22nd at 8 o’clock. Tomorrow, also at 8 o’clock, there will be a recital of poems by Civil War authors as well as a concert with Luis García Montero and Luis Pastor. The organizers will also begin to screen an uninterrupted documentary on themes related to historic memories. They have installed a ballot box to collect money and finance the performances all the while gaining firm support for the judge, already they have 100 more supporters.

But the mobilization of support for Garzón will not be a unique one. The students of Universidad Complutense have been called to another rally to express their support for the cleric of the institution, Carlos Berzosa, who has given university facilities over to hold events in support of the Audenica Nacional Judge. Carlos Agüero explains that Berzosa has been denounced by the extreme right-wing pseudosindicato group Manos Limpias (Clean Hands).

Editorial: Explaining the Inexplicable: The Supreme Court calls to the foreign press to justify their Decisions about Garzón

The Second Chamber of the Supreme Court has used a procedure so far unprecedented in their practice and customs to explain its actions against Judge Baltasar Garzón. Through the technical cabinet, the highest body of jurisdiction has convened a meeting to which correspondents of foreign mass media have been invited in order to explain the legal aspects and motivations of the three cases against Garzón.

Aside from the bizarre nature of such a meeting, it was conspicuous that only foreign journalists convened. Why were Spanish journalists, who usually cover legal informational, discriminated against and not called to cover the high profile cases? Perhaps it was considered that the foreign press is not sufficiently informed or do they have poor professional preparation in order to understand the intricacies of the Spanish justice system. If a court decides to disclose certain aspects of its activity, which it considers insufficiently clarified – something questionable in its self, since the court speaks for their orders and judgments – in no case would it make sense to choose who can and cannot lead the coverage of the trial. But the Second Chamber of the Supreme court has to apply such an obscure and strange formula for the issue of jurisdiction, as explained by the informative press briefing, also the orders and decisions of Judge Garzón are unclear and pose compression problems for everyone, foreign and Spanish.

Regarding the proceedings against Garzón for crimes against the Franco regime, it is not only the procedural aspects that generate concern in much of Spanish society and abroad: it is the root of the issue in the case. The procedural legal aspects may be explained to the journalists, but it will remain incomprehensible to the families of victims of Franco who still lie unidentified in mass graves to criminally prosecute a judge who has tried to satisfy their need for the truth.

Instead of calling an absurd press conference to explain something that does not have an explanation, the Supreme Court should respond by taking under its’ wing the demands for identification and exhumation of mass graves where victims of Franco still lie. And the Supreme Court should be at the forefront of this task, instead of persecuting Garzón for taking up this case.

Supreme Court rectified and calls Spanish press to explain the cases against Garzón: the high court had only informed foreign press of the irregularities of the proceedings against the judge
Julio M Lazaro, Madrid, 14/04/2010.

The Supreme Court has corrected the call to an unprecedented informative briefing for correspondents of foreign media in Spain to explain the peculiarities of the three cases open against Audiencia Nacional Judge Baltasar Garzón, which has cause a flood of protests in the international press. The high court has released a public notice today inviting the national press to participate.
In the letter, the Supreme Court says that neither the President nor the judges who make up the Second Chamber of the court are the authors of the announcement, but all responded to the wishes expressed by some of the guest correspondents. The notice says it was the press office of the high court who had established an informal meeting with a lawyer from the Technical Office of the Supreme Court, attached to the Second Chamber. The press release concludes: “Obviously, this informal meeting can be attended by all national media journalists who want to.”

May 12 / Jon

Wisin y Yandel

Translated by Erin Guest and Shima Safari.

When I first heard about the final project I was excited about the freedom we had to choose to do whatever we wanted to do. I was also a little nervous to have to post something publicly as translation is difficult and this was my first class that involved it. After careful consideration, Shima and I decided we wanted to do something fun for this project and since we both love music (as I think most people do) we decided we would translate one of our favorite artists’ work. I had just come back from Chile in January and while I was there they were constantly playing Wisin y Yandel so it was fresh in my mind and on my iPod so we decided we wanted to translate their work. At first we thought it would be easy as we knew the lyrics off by heart but because we had never considered those lyrics in English, it proved to be a lot harder than we expected but it was still enjoyable. We knew the biggest problems were going to be translation loss and literal translation. The songs contain a lot of Spanish slang so English idioms were going to be necessary to complete this project.

Erin and I were really excited about this project because this was our chance to find something creative to translate. We thought about translating articles, research papers, even books but none of those excited us. However, we both love music so we decided to translate one of our favourite Spanish singers called Wisin y Yandel, they’re from Puerto Rico and their music is very Latino and fun to listen to. Therefore, we each picked two of our favourite songs and began the process of translating. Halfway through, it wasn’t as easy as we thought. There were many things we had to think about prior to translating it, we thought about if we could keep the same rhyming scheme, or use the same expressions, but what we did notice was a lot of translation loss that came with translating the songs.

Source texts: “Besos Mojados”, “Gracias a ti”, “Emociones”, “Abusadora”.

(Compare “Wet Kisses”, “Thanks to You”, and “Abuser”.)

Wisin y Yandel Official Site

Wet Kisses

The revolution
W, Ya-Yandel
Luny Tunes!

Hey Shorty! How’s it going?
It’s been awhile since I’ve heard from you
(You’re not going to believe it when I tell you…)
Honestly, I can’t stop thinking about you
(And I’m being sincere…)

I can’t forget your wet kisses
And the way in which we devoured each other
That night in my room
And the moon was the only witness
To the heat our bodies created
(You know it!)

(You know what I’m talking about…)
Honey, you’re so serious, give me a little of that sweetness
You know how hot you are; now give me a passionate kiss
Take the key, take the code; give me some of that love
And we’ll steam up the windows of this ship

I feel you…
I’m caught up in you…
I want you…
You want me…

So stick to me like a snail
Today you won’t escape me
Honey, give me a little kiss and let’s aim for the top
W, the ladies man
Beautiful, the bottles of champagne are open

(Chorus x2)

(Tell the people what you feelin’…)
Go, tell all these guys hittin’ on you
The man who makes you melt has arrived and today I roll with the gang
If you kiss me, give me the combo that excites me
It’s very simple, if I mark her neck with my lips, she demands me

Here I am: your stallion
The one with the bank account
Honey, cover up cuz in this dilemma you stick out
Love me, cuz when I’m not with you, I die

Dance, so I can do the same
I pet my kitty so that in return she shows me love
I have confidence in her and so that she always returns to me
I feel like I’m in a trance, I smell a romance

(It makes me so happy to see you…)
How’s it going?
It’s been so long since I’ve seen you
(You’re not going to believe it if I tell you…)
(The revolution…)
I still can’t forget you…

(Chorus x2)

Two protagonists, two witnesses
Only you and I know what happened
W, Yandel… The revolution

Luny Tunes, Victor the Nazi
Simple friend, you know where to find me

I feel you…
I’m caught up in you…
I want you…
You want me…

Thanks to You

W with Yandel
We’ve laughed
We’ve cried
We’ve had many beautiful moments in our lives
(The revolution)
Thanks for being here
You’re special
I only want you to hear to this song

I felt cold and you covered me up
I’ve fallen down and you’ve picked me up
A woman with determination (thank you)
You gave direction to my life (W Yandel)

I felt cold and you covered me up
I’ve fallen down and you’ve picked me up
A woman with determination (aha!)
You gave direction to my life (Yandel)

Thanks to you today I’m happy
When you arrived I learned to live
And it’s thanks to you (thank you)
Today I can be happy
When you arrived I learned to live

A smile (please)
You are my queen, my everything
My submissive princess
I iron my shirt so I can accompany her to mass
Always with a laugh
Cutie pie, my sweet breeze

And before, I was bad
Today I want to be good

Aware that sometimes I give up on myself
When you touch me and talk to me I stop and I am calm
Speak no more
She is the owner of my terrain

Thanks to you
Today I am happy
When you arrived
I learned to live
And it’s all thanks to you
Today I can be happy
When you arrived
I learned to live

(Close your eyes and think of something)

A tribute
My babe has courage
She changed me from a savage
She has the potion
That makes me bad (you know it)
And I start to tremble
And I start to fly
And I don’t want to come down

Tremendous lover
So much that without her it is agonizing
That which my heart feels
For her is gigantic
Give me a shock to the heart
Of fulminating passion

Come with me
And never ask me to be somebody I’m not

Gratefully, and yeah you know, I’ve failed to respect you
Thank you for still being here
Thank you for being part of my life
You know you are very special
W, Yandel, Víctor el Nazi, el profesor Gómez

Pay attention

I felt cold and you covered me up
I’ve fallen and you picked me up (thank you)
A woman with determination
You gave direction to my life

I felt cold and you covered me up
I’ve fallen and you’ve picked me up
A woman with determination
You gave direction to my life

Thanks to you
Today I’m happy
When you arrived
I learned to live

And it’s all thanks to you
Today I can be happy
When you arrived
I learned to live


The revolution
She is my vice

I feel emotions in my body
I am thirsty for you
I feel emotions in my body
I am thirsty for you (the revolution)
When you begin to dance
I have this tension
When you being to sweat
You take me to another dimension
When you being to dance
I have this tension
When you being to sweat
You take me to another dimension
I feel emotions in my body

You want to kiss me
She has skill
Like a spider
You entangle me in your web
Baby I know your type
I’m already ready & chilling the champagne
When you cry I’m here and the one that yells at you
Hey boss, listen I’m crazy by throw
They didn’t tell me your boyfriend had abandoned you
She’s crazy with 2 types that control her throne

When she begins to dance
There is tension
When she sweats
You take me to another dimension
When she dances
There is tension
When you start to sweat
You take me to another dimension
The revolution

I feel emotions in my body
(I’m nervous)

Woman, lion, I am your scavenger
I cut the flower & and next day it grows a sprout
Bite it, hug it, get the poison
Woman, I like it when you perform
Listen crazy & you already fell
If I’m romantic I won’t hide
I won’t front
Knowing Wisin will hit that!
(The revolution!)

I feel emotions in my body
I’m thirsty for you
I feel emotions in my body
I’m thirsty for you (W, Yandel)

When you start to dance
I feel tension
When you begin to sweat
You take me to another dimension
When you start to dance
You make me feel tension
When you start to sweat
You take me to another dimension

I feel emotions in my body…
(You already know)

You are well aware of who has control
Baby I’m asking you for a favor
Never go
Victor ‘the Nazi’
Nesty ‘the Mastermind’
Simple, bringing revolution to Latin music
El sinónimo de los lideres del movimiento urbano a nivel mundial
Just another name for the leaders of the worldwide urban movement
You know it
Baby, calm down
What we have is pure mind, guaranteed.


It’s imposible to stop her (doble u)
She’s the best (la revolución)

Abusive, abusive, abusive (ah hah)
Blessed is the hour in which I found you
Abusive, abusive, abusive
Blessed is the hour in which I found you (Victor el Nazi)

It’s hot in the club, the heat is rising
(You know who we are, the leaders)
It’s hot in the club, the heat is rising
(the revolution)


Feel it
Feel it
In the club its loud
Women come and say peace out
I holler at her and fall for her
She’s got me
She’s looking to find a ride in a Ferrari
Lined up walking, dressed in a tie
The new leaders have no control to the crawl
The business is a matter of winning
Seduce me I already turned on the fire
The lights are seen of neon and the smoke (I hardly see you)
Girlfriend I want a “cantito” if you leave me I’ll burn you
I consume you
You leave me speechless
I’m sorry to tell you that you couldn’t do it without me


Its hot uh huh in the club the heat is rising

(Welcome to the revolution)
It’s hot in the club the heat is rising

I feel an energy that I cant already stop
It’s something that takes control of me and I want more, more
Of your seduction love, love
Don’t stop (please listen baby)


You shield me with your flow come to the show
It’s hit with tequila rose
Move come, go go
You won the screens of touch (super talde)
Janguea at night like an owl
Its sharpened
In her bed, she doesn’t want no rabble!
When you are hot you use it, use it
Si me duermo me saca la gamuza


Abusive, abusive, abusive (ah hah)
Blessed is the hour in which I found you
Abusive, abusive, abusive
Blessed is the hour in which I found you

It’s hot…
In the club the heat is rising
It’s hot…
In the club the heat is rising

We keep showing that musically
We’re on top of you all
That’s the way it is…
So you keep taking classes from us
The revolution!!
And… W, Taini, Victor the Nazi
Los campeones del pueblo papi
Del Pueblo Papi!!

May 10 / Jon

New Music from Latin America

Translated by Megan Edgerton.

In terms of the genre, I want to maintain a casual, but informed register as you would expect to see in a music review magazine or journal. I will do this by utilizing musical terminology where it is possible and a professional but casual tone, especially in the descriptions, verbs, and transitions that could use a boost.

Source texts: “Se avecina tormenta, Doma Tornados”, “Ximena Sariñana: Actriz y cantante nada ‘Mediocre'”, and “Entrevista – Todos Tus Muertos”.

“Monte Negro: Two languages, One ‘Cicatrix’”

Every once in awhile, you’ll stumble upon a band that stands out among the rest. In this case, they’re called Monte Negro. With their first LP, Cicatrix, Monte Negro offers an impressive mix of what truly represents the “Alterlatino” rock scene.

Confining Monte Negro to a specific genre is debatable ; Kinski, the vocalist of the group, jumps from Spanish to English as if they were the same language, leaving the listener wondering whether to classify it as “rock” or “Spanish rock” . The hybridity of their music is clear to see in their first single, “Give me Love (no Llores).” It exhibits a reggae rhythm carried in the guitar line while simultaneously incorporating lyrics that could be confused for those of a rock ballad by Poison or Whitesnake.

On a Monday night, I was lucky enough to witness Monte Negro play a set in the basement of a bar in New York. The room is nearly empty , filled with only the hum of casual conversation and no more than eight people anxiously awaiting the arrival of the quartet. But just ten minutes before the show starts, the venue is filled from wall to wall with rowdy fans. Things are looking good for Monte Negro given their undeniably strong following .

The crowd’s reaction alone is proof that their music is anything but mediocre . As soon as they take the small stage , jumping, clapping, and sweating ensues, and Monte Negro manages to turn this hole-in-the-wall basement venue into a full-fledged rock show . Among the songs from their album, Monte Negro slips in a cover of “Break on Through” by the Doors; nonetheless, their potential clearly stands out in songs like “Pena Colectiva”, “Give me Love (No llores)”, and “Arde el Corazón (Triangled Love)”.

Many of these songs are available for streaming on their Myspace :

“An Imminent Storm: Doma Tornados”
Zigor Cavero

Unafraid to put a fresh spin on his South American heritage, up-and-coming artist Doma Tornados has arranged the perfect musical balance between the traditional and the avant-garde. He’s not to be underestimated, despite the region’s unfamiliarity with his take on electronic music. Doma Tornados’s prowess lies in his creative ability to fuse regional music styles, such as his crossbreed of cante jondo and bajos gordos.

Guillermo Piacenza, the man behind Doma Tornados, keeps a busy schedule juggling two other side projects, TANOX ( and Guillermo Piacenza ( But other aliases aside , we’re most interested in Doma Tornados, the project in which Piacenza mixes native rhythms (focusing mainly on cumbia but without dismissing funk, champeta, or malambo ) with digital genius , dressing up his creation with imported styles (house, minimal techno) and bringing it to life with lots of dub spirit.

Although Doma Tornados is yet to have a record hit stores – he’s on the verge of releasing his debut on his netlabel, Hipi Duki Muzik– he has already received tons of praise for his musical achievements .

All this said, the best thing to do is to check out Doma Tornados for yourself. When, you may ask? His next appearance is October 10th at Le Rock Party in Barcelona , but he can regularly be caught opening for The Peronists as well as playing percussion for MeNeO in clubs across the city .

“Ximena Sariñana: An actress and singer far from Mediocre”

With a broad range of influences from Fiona Apple to Bjork, it’s hard to know what to expect from young Ximena Sariñana . Her debut album, Mediocre, is critically acclaimed in México and is currently taking over charts in the U.S. at record speed.

Generally speaking, Sariñana’s music can be described as a fusion of jazz, rock, and pop. Regardless of a relatively fixed style, each song bears something unique; the opening title track, “Mediocre,” is so unforeseen it is hard to compare it to the rest of the album. As the album progresses, Sariñana continues to keep listeners on the edge of their seats, especially with the singles, “Normal” and “No Vuelvo Más.”

Despite the fact that she only recently completed her first album, Sariñana has been deeply involved in entertainment since childhood. Her parents, both professionals in the television and film industries in Mexico, introduced her to the business as a young girl. In 1994, Sariñana’s acting career launched with her appearance in Hasta Morir, a film produced by her father. Soon after in 1996, she starred in the soap opera, Luz Clarita. During this time, her music career began with her recording of the theme song for the program. From then on, Sariñana has continued to contribute to the soundtracks of programs and movies that she has appeared in.

If anyone can do it, Sariñana can. Having composed majority of the songs from Mediocre, she’s undeniably armed with compositional and vocal talent that will help her rise to the top of the Latin American alternative scene.

“An Interview with Todos Tus Muertos”

Recently, Spinner was fortunate enough to get ahold of Félix Gutiérrez, the bassist of Todos Tus Muertos, in Argentina via e-mail .

Many groups have recognized Todos Tus Muertos as having a significant influence on their music. What bands have inspired Todos Tus Muertos?
There are lots; we could say that at first it was music from groups like Bauhaus, Crass, The Clash, Dead Kennedys, Stiff Little Fingers…At the same time we were listening to Bob Marley, Rubén Blades, Hector Lavoe, Armando Hernández, The Specials, and with time the list branched out to include hip hop, Los Tigres del Norte…it keeps growing everyday.

An emphasis on peace and justice resonates in the majority of your songs. Do you write each song with reggae or punk in mind?
We like to create a mix of everything that we listen to, but more than anything we mix those [styles] that you mentioned. But we also have a Latin vibe…and even in early songs like “El Tango Traidor,” you can hear our attempts to create a tango-funky-punk.

As a group, you’ve been playing together for quite awhile. What would you say is the difference from being a musical group in the 90s? Do you think listeners have changed much, specifically as a result of the war, the economy, or the environment? Does this affect the way they think and receive the TTM’s messages?
Yeah, there were a lot more people involved in the scene in the 90s. [Back then] It was more underground, but it eventually blew up.

Your latest album, Greatest Hits, recently hit shelves in the U.S. Would you consider going on a U.S. tour? You’ve had a following there for years.
For sure, we’d like to play there. We’re working on it, but it’s gotten a bit hard for us living on this side of the border; it’s getting stricter everyday.

Lastly, do you have any plans for another record?
Of course! We’ve got ten new songs that we occasionally throw into our shows. They’ll all be a part of our next album.

May 10 / Jon

Teachers: Do We Evaluate Each Other Whilst Evaluating?

Translated by Alice Comi.

I offered my services to the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET), for which I sometimes work as a translator. After some research we finally agreed on a text about evaluation and teachers’ self evaluation that will be useful for a European project called “Parenting” that focuses on parents training in intercultural contexts. English is the common language for the project, and for the majority of the participants is a second or third language. For this reason I will try to keep the sentence structure very simple. However, I will not attempt any explanation of technical terminology based on the assumption that it is already acquired.

Source text: “Los docentes: ¿nos evaluamos cuando evaluamos?”

Teachers: Do we Evaluate Each Other Whilst Evaluating?
Marcelo E. Albornoz

The intention of this paper is to take up again a theme that is central to the pedagogical agenda: the evaluation of teaching and learning processes. In order to do this, we should acknowledge in advance the complexity of the theme and the compromises made in the educational system that are necessary to reach a basic consensus. Said consensus neutralizes the discretionary aspects that still persist on the agenda.

Evaluation of educational processes is one of the most important moments for the parties involved. It is the situation in which the asymmetry between teachers and students is the most evident. This happens because there is generally a one-way analysis of the student performance, realized by the teacher. It is however quite infrequent to have a holistic perspective on the complex process that the analysis implies.

Evaluation is the process of identification and obtaining of information – useful and descriptive – close to the value and merit of the goals, the planning and the impact of a stated object. Its aim is to serve as a guide in decision making, in finding solutions for problems of responsibility, and in promoting comprehension of the phenomena involved” (Stufflebeam)

In accordance with this definition, evaluation is a judgment of value that does not always reach a proper consensus, firstly because of the school institution itself, including board of directors and teachers; and secondly between teachers and students. Evaluation is a process of assessment that holds taking pedagogical decisions as its principal purpose.

There are different options and techniques in this process, among which the emphasis goes on observation, exposition, dialogue, interviews and different kinds of “testing” methods. The case of didactical evaluation, for its complexity, acquires polysemous characteristics that are based upon a subjective theory – ideology – that has a lot to do with the personal and professional history of the teacher.

With this in mind, the educator has to try neutralizing discretional assessments about his or her students. For this purpose, an adequate solution would be to refer said evaluation to the objectives and the expected achievements that all teachers set out in their refined plans. These have to be the result of the teacher’s experiences, of the opinions shared with their field or department colleagues, and of “diagnostics evaluations” of the class as a group. This, although redundant, is not common. It is a challenge to look at the situation from a different angle, and that requires an institutional culture to empower it.

For many reasons, cooperation among teachers is not easy to achieve; and not because the professional educators do not acknowledge its importance, but rather because the complexity and particularity of their task, cooperation is not properly promoted within an establishment, or because there is no space and time for it to happen. Another important matter to take into account is that of sharing relevant information about the course and, in particular, about the students. In this sense, the direction of studies, the psychopedagogic office, the tutors and/or preceptors have to form a focus group to exchange information about human aspects of the students. To omit such aspects during the evaluation could result in “incomprehensible” failures in judging the students performance.

Evaluation is therefore something more than a matter of didactical pedagogy. For its characteristics and implications, it goes beyond the classroom, having to focus its educational institution analysis in a much larger sense. The evaluation of the refined plans is competence of the institution, for said institution cannot avoid neither the evaluating of its teachers nor the risky results. The scholastic organization has to permanently approach this topic, favouring institutional spaces for it to be discussed; general criteria, ground rules, techniques, proofs and implications need to be agreed upon. With respect to those basics, it is essential to agree in order to evaluate, and as already said, an evaluation always happens so that a judgment of the student performance can be made. However, the teaching strategies put into practice need to be included as well.

As for techniques, though each field has its own specifics, the teacher body should reach a basic consensus about the instruments to be used to carry out the evaluation process, exceeding the sterile debates between the supporters of quantity versus the “opponents” supporters of quality. The most convenient solution is to adopt a methodological diversity that only the teacher can consider as the most adequate in the context and development of his or her class.

Evidence is another very important aspect in working together having to agree upon the quantity and quality of minimum signs that significantly represent the true performance of the students. For this it is necessary to record and categorize the refined development in the conceptual, procedural, and attitudinal aspects. According to Cesar Coll, this inclusion implies contemplating in the teacher’s own practice a determined kind of cultural forms and knowledge, among others, of which the importance is unquestionable. Lastly, the implications held by the results of the evaluative process are not less important. The numeral or conceptual indicators are nothing more than the exteriorization of the “subject” student attitudes, and not always are an accurate reflection of his or her ability. In some cases they represent a very different meta-message that the teacher needs to decode to understand the true situation since personal, intellectual and emotional aspects can be at stake.

In summary, the complex evaluation process should not be underestimated, and it should be kept in mind that the teachers do evaluate the students, though they also have to evaluate the teaching strategies, their pertinence and efficacy.

Works cited

Stufflebeam. Novedades Educativas. Vol. 117. p. 13.


Santos Guerra, Miguel Ángel. Evaluación Educativa. Magisterio del Río de la Plata, Bs. As 1996.

Camilloni, A. and others. La evaluación de los aprentizajes en el debate didáctico contemporáneo. Paidos 1998.

Zabalza, M. Áreas, Medios y Evaluación. Narcea, Madrid 1987.

May 7 / Jon

Poems for children by Juan Guinea Díaz and José García Velázquez

Translated by Michelle Cheng.

Juan Guinea Díaz’s poems emphasize the sound devices such as rhythm and rhyme, which is a common characteristic in children’s poetry because it helps to capture their attention. Therefore, it is my priority to reproduce the phonetic characteristics when translating his poems. In a situation that requires me to make a decision between a word that preserves the meaning and a word that rhymes, I would certainly choose the second one.

The poem of José García Velázquez stresses imagination and imagery. Even though his poem also has a rhyming pattern, it is much weaker than the ones in Díaz’s poems. However, Velázquez’s poem incorporates more imagination and sophisticated concepts. Therefore, I chose to sacrifice the rhyme to better convey the meaning and imagination.

Source texts: “Mi regalo para mamá,” “Mi padre,” “Mis manos,” “Abuela hechicera, abuela cocinera,” “Las recetas de la abuela hechicera”, “Viaje a Fantasía”.


Presents for my mother
By Juan Guinea Díaz

a present I give to my mother
a shimmering smile like silver
which makes my face look brighter
when at night, darkness covers me over

a present I give to my mother
a hood of the color that couldn’t be redder
to thank her for the tale she told and retold-
a story that I heard with wonder

a present I give to my mother
a fragrance to make the air fresher
to thank her for her comforting hand
that takes my pain away like painkiller

a present I give to my mother
an armed army with archers
to protect her from the frightening monster
that in my nightmare makes me wish I could run faster

A present I give to my mother
The language of the elves
To understand what I say
When no one else understands it other than ourselves

A present I give to my mother
A hat from a magical performer
In which my kisses are filled and wrapped
as a present to my mother

Grandmother, the sorcerer; grandmother, the cooking master
By Juan Guinea Díaz

If there is someone in this universe
who is the greatest sorcerer
she is definitely my grandmother:
sorcerer and the cooking master!

She has a recipe book that’s timeless
With which nothing would be tasteless
from salad with citrus
to charms for princess

The spells hidden
between soups and muffins,
so they won’t be stolen
and only I would know them!

Sometimes my grandmother
allows me to read what she wrote
of all her notes
these are my favorite quotes:

Recipe on how to kill a pirate:
Feed him a fillet buried in maggots
he will choke on vomit

recipe on how to kill a dragon:
why killing a dragon?
To have his tooth as a weapon!

Recipe on how to kill a witch:
Steal her cat like a snitch,
and her sorrow will give her a twitch;
if you return it before your conscience itch
she will turn into a good witch!

Recipe on how to kill a coyote:
Take the pirate we saw before,
Dress him up in a housecoat,
and the coyote will laugh till he burns his throat!

Recipe on how to kill an ogre:
Ask the good witch to give him a flower
and with a love poem that takes away his breath like a killer.

Recipe on how to end the wars:
Don’t kill the laughers anymore,
and throw a big party on the shore
invite the dragon, the ogre,
the pirate and an orchestra to the dance floor.

My clean hands
By Juan Guinea Díaz

I rinse my hands after playing
and take a towel for drying.
I dry all my fingers, including the pinkies
so they’re soft and clean, ready for the cookies

My father
By Juan Guinea Díaz

If a black vampire haunts me at night
or a witch wants to eat me alive
if I see a few bogeys following me in the lamplight
or lions with a big appetite arrive
my father,
with his big hands,
embraces me firmly,
always protecting me,
giving me a rub on my tummy,
kisses me on my forehead,
and guards me from the monsters I see when I am dreamy.
(My father takes care of me
Without feeling drowsy)

If behind the curtain the snakes hide
or a big dinosaur waiting to attack.
if the crocodiles are going to open his mouth wide
or a pirate wants to throw me into the sea like a sack.


my father,
with his big hands,
embraces me firmly,
always protecting me,
giving me a rub on my tummy,
kisses me on my forehead,
and guards me from the monsters I see when I am dreamy.
(My father takes care of me
Without feeling drowsy)


A trip to the wonderland
By José García Velázquez

In the soothing sunset I travel
Through the portal of poetry
To magical places and the kingdom of fantasy
where dreams become real

on the beach chair I rest
without an action my adventure begins
from neuron to neuron
my imagination flows

returning to the old days of my childhood
when life was tender and happy
the memory that almost faded
comes alive suddenly
the aromas of the past linger

in the dusty corners of my brain
I meet people who only exist in tales:
witches, dragons, princesses

colors swirl and dance with musical notes
smells mix with floral adornments

An imaginary flight takes me to the place
where strange beings seem to rest,
safe from curious and aggressive eyes,
far from the perverse and offensive words.

Everything is amiable
Love is within every breath
If only this dream would last!

May 1 / Jon

In search of the Caribbean ‘Pablo Escobar’

Translated by Matt Shepherd.

The reason for choosing this article was the relation to the Latin American criminal under world, probably one of the most prominent issues in the region right now along with the drug war in Mexico. The criminal world has always been of profound interest to me so after not being able to find any automotive articles that expressed a Latin American point of view, I resorted to searching for a recent Latin American Cartel article. After reading a few articles about “The Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean” and the ongoing search for him and knowing about the legendary Pablo Escobar the cocaine king, it became something interesting to translate that came from a Latin American journalists perspective rather than an American perspective.

Source text: “Abogada boricua admite ayudó a ‘Junior Cápsula'”

In search of the Caribbean ‘Pablo Escobar’
Posted: 2010-04-26 15:14:54

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. They call him the ” Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean”, although in the underworld his nick name is “Junior Capsula” or Junior capsule in english, by either name the Puerto Rican is the most sought after man in the Dominican Republic.His near impossible escapes and mockery of the police have fueled his legend for the last ten years. Now the search for the supposed drug trafficker Jose Figueroa Agosto has intensified, after a police operation lead to the discovery of a laptop computer full of pseudonyms, a fleet of luxury cars and a country villa with its own private zoo.

American agents and Dominican police are on the hunt for any clues. The United States Secretary of Justice, Eric Holder, has personally committed to a full collaboration to capture the fugitive; who has avoided authorities from both countries since his escape from prison a decade ago in his native Puerto Rico.

“He’s classified as the Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean”, said Rafael Escobar, an American spokesperson who is of no relationship to the notorious Colombian drug trafficker. Just like Pablo Escobar in the 80’s, Jose Figueroa has accumulated a large quantity of jewels, land and luxury cars according to the Dominican police. For years he hid in plain sight, developing connections with elite Dominican personalities which often appeared in social magazines. Since September at least five people have been incarcerated under suspicion of money laundering or other means of aiding Figueroa.

America authorities issued a warrant for Figueroa’s arrest under charges related to his prison escape and trying to obtain a passport using false documents. The fugitive is also on an American units list responsible for investigating the main providers of drugs to the United States, said a member of the department of Justice, who only spoke to us under the conditions of remaining anonymous, because the investigation is still underway. It is believed that the 45 year old man ships drugs from Colombia to the continental United States through Puerto Rico, a United States territory and a associated free state which is attractive to traffickers for being the closest point of entrance to the south.

The political link in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is also Figueroa’s old base of operations, where he cultivated a extensive list of contacts during the years he became a drug trafficker. The case has been at the center of the scandal on the islands since last week after it was revealed that various politicians interceded, before the governor seeking a pardon for Figueroa as he was incarcerated for murder during the 90’s. The president of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Representatives asked for an investigation into the connexion between the fugitive and another civil servant in particular, Antonio Silva, a lawyer who denies having done anything illegal.

His misdemeanors

Figueroa escaped from the Puerto Rican jail in November 1999 when he showed the guards a false order of release. He had only fulfilled four out of the 209 years of his sentence for the murder of a man suspected of robbing a cocaine shipment. In less than a month Jose Figueroa had moved to the Dominican Republic, where in 2001 he was detained during a drug trafficking investigation. But within two weeks, he was on the streets again; after using an alias and because the authorities did not realize who he really was.

Now there’s posters with pictures of both Figueroa and his lover Sobeida Morel who is the second most sought after fugitive on the island; both are sought after far and wide in Santo Domingo. Morel was detained last year for money laundering, but managed to post bail and disappeared before authorities discovered her ties to Figueroa.

Although no one can tell exactly how much cocaine he’s capable of moving, the scale of Figueroa empire became evident near the end of last year during a raid to one of his luxury apartments in Santo Domingo. A police brigade following the leads provided by the American authorities stormed into Figueroa’s luxury building on September 3rd. But the suspect barely managed to escape, fleeing on foot after the police shot the tires out on his Jeep. In fleeing he left behind the keys to his cars, including a Mercedes Benz with 4.6 million dollars cash and a laptop computer full of evidence within.

The operation lead to new clues to Figueroa’s new false identities and strengthened the search for the fugitive. Six of his properties where confiscated including an apartment valued at one million dollars in Puerto Plata known as a vacation area and a country villa in Santo Domingo where authorities found a zoo and at least nine vehicles including two Ferrari’s; but the slippery Figueroa is still at large.

Investigators fear that Figueroa has civil servants and even members of the police on his side. Subsequently, on December 30 a man calling himself Figueroa called into the countries most popular radio program, to say that the police let him go during the raid on his apartment in 2009 in exchange for one million dollars. He explained that the police chief, Jose Amado Gonzalez was the one that arranged for the bribe. The chief had died one week before the phone call and the police continue to say that he died during a fight; but many believe that he was really murdered by another police officer in a dispute over the bribe. Dominican and American agents said that based upon there analysis the man that called in was in-fact Figueroa; who during his second radio speech offered 800 thousand dollars to anyone who kills a Dominican police chief.

Drug trafficking has lead to an epidemic state of corruption within the Dominican police force, according to the Department of Justice, which announced at a press conference this month that full police units are being investigated in relation to their connections to the drug lord.

Ricardo Ivanovich Smester, who is allegedly Figueroa’s organizations accountant, was apprehended on January 8th. An accounting book was confiscated from him which outlined a two day operation cost of two million dollars in October of the previous year. Amongst the expenses, there’s payments of 175 thousand dollars which are believed to have been bribes to a unidentified civil servant and a judge.

During a conference last month in Brazil, the United States Secretary of Justice, Eric Holder and the Dominican Republic’s Minister of Justice, Radhames Jimenez, insisted that Figueroa’s case remains a priority. Holder has committed the American agencies to assist in any way possible according to Jimenez’s office; the American Department of Justice did not comment on anything discussed during the meeting.

Just last month there where reports of people having seen Figueroa in the Bayamon suburbs in Puerto Rico where his family lives, but the sightings have not been confirmed. “Everything that turns up in relation to Figueroa is being investigated and re-investigated”, said Rafael Escobar.

May 1 / Jon

Mexico: Politics, Laws, Institutions, and Economy

Translated by Justine Second

I chose to combine my Spanish-English translation project with my international marketing group project which is to launch frozen bread in Mexico. The original data we collected comes from the website of the Spanish “Oficinas de comercio”, an organization to help companies to invest abroad and that belongs to the Spanish “Ministerio de industria, turismo y comercio”. This information is consequently in Spanish, however not all the members of the group understand Spanish. So, we needed a translation into English for them to use the data and build the marketing strategy.

Source texts: ICEX México Marco político ICEX México Marco legal, ICEX México Marco institucional, ICEX México coyuntura político-económica.

Mexico: political environment

The “Constitución Política” (Political Constitution) of the “Estados Unidos Mexicanos” (United Mexican States) dated February 5th, 1917, sets up Mexico as a Representative, Democratic and Federal Republic composed of 31 States and of one “Distrito Federal” (Federal District). All of the states are united in a Federation, but are free and sovereign within their internal regime.

The legislative power lies in the “Congreso de la Unión” (the National Congress) made up of the “Cámara de Diputados” (the Chamber of Deputies) ( and the “Senado” (the Senate) ( The Chamber of Deputies is composed of 500 members, 300 of which are elected by relative majority and 200 by proportional representation system. The latter uses the system of regional lists in 5 plurinominal voting districts of 40 seats each, renewed every three years. On the other hand, the Senate is composed of 128 senators. 96 are elected by relative majority and the other 32 are elected every six years according to the proportional representation principle, through the regional lists in only one national plurinominal voting districts.

The three major parties of in Mexican politics are the “Partido Revolucionario Institucional” (PRI), the “Partido de Acción Nacional” (PAN) and the “Partido de la Revolución Democrática” (PRD).
The executive power lies in the President of the Republic and in his cabinet. Felipe Calderón Hinojosa has been the President of the United Mexican States since December 2006 and his term of office is from 2006 to 2012. Calderón is the second president from the “Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN)” after his predecessor, Vicente Fox (2000-2006), put an end to 70 years of hegemony of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional). Calderón’s term of office began with high tensions, as the candidate from the “Partido de la Revolución Democrática –PRD”, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (dubbed AMLO), leader of the leftist coalition, did not recognize the election results of July 2nd, 2006. These elections were the most disputed of Mexico’s recent history. However, during his first year of government, Calderón managed to both diminish some political tensions and also to facilitate some necessary consensus in the National Congress in order to approve the most relevant reforms. Some of the approved reforms of 2007 include: the reform of pensions for the “Trabajadores del Estado” the changes in the electoral area, the fiscal reform which created new taxes and gave more autonomy and budget to the “PEMEX” ( Petróleos Mexicanos, a major Mexican oil company). In 2008 a more complex energy reform was approved, however it is a partial reform due to its limitation of only the hydrocarbon sector.

On July 5th, 2009 the latest significant electoral meetings were held, responsible for intermediate federal elections for the change of the Chamber of Deputies (every three years) and the “gobernaturas” in six States (Colima, Campeche, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sonora and

The Partido de la Revolución Institucional (PRI) largely won these elections with 36% of the votes,
which enabled it to obtain 237 “diputados” (Members of Parliament) compared with 106 in the last period of office. Since then it has become the major political group in the Chamber. The current party in power, Acción Nacional (PAN), which obtained 27% of the votes, is no longer in the majority in the Chamber as it went down from 206 Members of Parliament to 143. The third main party in the Congress is the “Partido por la Revolución Democrática (PRD)” which has 71 Members of Parliament (nearly 12.2% of the votes) compared to 127 in the previous period of office.

As far as the elections for each States are concerned, the PRI obtained the ruling position in five of six States where they were held. It is the PAN that obtained the control of Sonora.

To learn more, here are the links to the “directorio de los Estados en México” (directory of the useful links to the various Mexican States) and to the website of the Republic Presidency where you can find information about the different branches of the Government:,

Mexico: legal environment

In the past few years, many barriers barring foreign investment have been abolished in Mexico. A
new set of rules was promulgated to oversee this area.

The “Ley de Inversión Extranjera” (LIE) (Law about Foreign Investment) signed on December 27th,
1993 and its “Reglamento” (Regulation) dated September 8th, 1998 set up the current rules for
foreign investment in Mexico.

The organization in charge of the enforcement of the LIE is the “Comisión Nacional de Inversores
extranjeras (CNIE)” (National Commission for Foreign Investment). It belongs to the “Secretaría de Economía” (Secretary of State for Economic Affairs).

As far as the effects of the LIE are concerned, foreign investment means:

a) The participation of foreign investors in any proportion of the share capital of Mexican

b) Investment made by Mexican companies with a majority of foreign capital (for the effects of
LIE to be valid “majority in foreign capital” means when its participation is more than 49% of
the share capital), and

c) The participation of foreign investors in activities and transactions covered by LIE itself.
This law also includes activities restricted for foreigners and activities in which participation is not restricted.

You can find further information about the international and national regulatory environment for
foreign investment, administration procedures and statistics at the website listed below: empresarial/ inversión extranjera

Mexico: institutional environment

Bilateral relationships between the European Commission and Mexico were made official when the “Primer Acuerdo Marco” (First Framework Agreement) was signed in 1975. On July 1st, 2000 the “Acuerdo de Asociación Económica, Concertación Política y Cooperación” (Economic Partnership, Political Coordination and Cooperation agreement) between the European Union and Mexico established new prospects for the bilateral relationship. The ambition of political dialogue in this Agreement and the scope of the cooperation which includes 27 sectors to make it more comprehensive than the “TLCAN” (Tratado de Libre Comercio de America del Norte, that is NAFTA). The EU-Mexico Agreement has significantly improved the entry requirements for European products in the Mexican market. 48% of industrial European products are exempted from custom tariffs since the Agreement came into force and there is a one hundred per cent tax deduction since 2007. For agricultural products the schedule is delayed and the tax deduction will be total for determinate products in 2010.

Mexico: economic situation

On the economic level, the situation in Mexico became progressively worse through 2008 and 2009, as a consequence of both the global economic situation and the crisis in the U.S. Indeed, the prospects in regards to the evolution of the Mexican economy rely highly on the production activity of the U.S. In fact, the U.S. is the major purchaser of Mexican products and the first investor in Mexico. In the second term of the year, the PIB of Mexico dropped by 10.3% compared to the same period in 2008. The country then entered into a period of recession. In this context, the Mexican government is enforcing the necessary anti-cyclical economic measures including increasing public expenditure in housing and infrastructure and it is attempting to reinforce domestic demand.

May 1 / Jon

Blogging for Colombia

Translated by Patrick Russell

I searched around some Spanish media websites and came across some opinion blogs written by newspaper columnists about various issues in Colombia. Blogging is a relatively new phenomenon in the e-world, but its popularity is growing rapidly as it provides people with a public way of expressing their own personal opinions about various topics. So, I thought that translating a collecting of blog posts by the same writer would be an interesting final project as it is a good reflection of what I feel is the goal of this final project.

All of the following posts are written by Janeth Acevedo as part of the blog section for the Colombian newspaper La República.

Source texts: “Los 513.000 desempleados de Bogotá, el histórico karma”, “Se marchita el Polo en Bogotá”, “Sin problemas a la entrada de Eldorado”.

513,000 Unemployed in Bogota, the Historic Karma
April 5th, 2010

In Bogota, we get used to seeing delays in road work and issues of security stealing news headlines. However, other equally severe problems like the high rate of unemployment in the city go unnoticed.

This is one of the historic karmas of the capital, which keeps growing with every passing month; but, hardly anyone seems to care.

The figures could not be more disturbing. According to a report from the National Administrative Department of Statistics, the unemployment rate in the city reached 12.9% during the quarter from December (2009) to February (2010). This corresponds to a 1.6% increase from the figure reported one year ago.

The preceding statistics mean that there are 513 000 people without jobs in Colombia’s capital, 89 000 more than the same period from 2009.

Even more troubling is that while the level of unemployment has increased by 20%, that of employment has only increased by a measly 3.03%. In effect, the number of people with some sort of work changed from 3.3 million to 3.4 million.

The bad figures are mimicked in the data for underemployment, which increased by 19.5%. In the city, there are 1.1 million residents who are dissatisfied with their jobs which is either due to low salaries, the type of labor they perform or hours worked.

It is certain that this is not an easy problem to solve since the arrival of people from other cities searching for employment opportunities is spiraling out of control. The attraction to the city is due to the nearly 300 000 companies that are based in the capital. Nevertheless, cities like Bucarmanga, where there has been a focus on entrepreneurship and the creation of small and medium sized businesses to boost the level of employment(coincidentally is the city with the lowest unemployment rates in the country), should be taken as examples. Another successful example is that of the Colombian Coffee-Grower’s Axis, where governments in the region fervently created plans to generate work in reaction to social problems in the area.

The private sector must also play its part in this matter to make Bogota a more competitive and productive city.

The Pole Fades Away in Bogota
March 15th, 2010

It doesn’t seem strange that the Democratic Pole has lost power in Bogota. Even though the results of last Sunday’s elections came as a surprise to some of the Pole’s followers, the nonconformity of mayor Samuel Moreno Rojas’ administration is certainly to blame for the electoral loss.

No one is going to deny that leader is working hard. However, the residents of Bogota have not been content with the events and decisions from recent months. Problems with contracts and delays in the road work on Avenue El Dorado, the mess of public transit and the recent hold on transports by the Integrated Public Transport System not only tarnished the image of Moreno, but also the entire left party. This image was also reflected in the polls.

If there was one area where members of the Pole felt calm, it was Bogota. No less could be expected, given that when Samuel was elected over two years ago, the vote was heavily one sided and it was thought that the trend would be similar — although obviously not in the same proportion since the political machinery of the U was in full force.

Indeed, in the elections for the House of Representatives, votes for the presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos’ party exceeded 410 000, which constitutes 30% of the vote in the country’s capital.

These results inevitably have the Pole thinking, as the U21 practically doubled its results. The yellow movement nearly had 216,000 votes, which represents 15% of the vote.

Hopefully the president can move forward. He still has almost two years left to demonstrate that he is a good leader and he should be left to his work, not only for the sake of his party, his image and his political future, but also for the welfare of all who live in the city. More specifically, the city needs the Transmilenio (Rapid Bus System) the Integrated Public Transport System projects to resolve quickly so that efficient transportation is guaranteed.

On another note, the amount of apathy towards the vote in Bogota is impressive. This past election will be recorded as one of the most abstentious. Of the 4.7 million people eligible to vote, only 1.8 million exercised their right. Could it be that it lacked candidates with more proposals and less politicking?

Eldorado’s Entrance Free of Problems
February 15th, 2010

After the the delays in the Phase 3 projects of Transmilenio due to the mess with Nule and the constant traffic jams on Avenue El Dorado, something good has finally happened for Bogota’s mayor, Samuel Moreno Rojas – for now at least.

I speak of the route to Eldorado International Airport’s closure. Many of us have doubts about the changes to the north causeway.

In fact, we expected monumental traffic jams that were worse than usual. However, much to our surprise the road was properly marked and transit officials were coordinating traffic flow. Most of the clueless drivers were from the public service who became disoriented at the peak of the roundabout despite having two stops on the service roads to allow the passing and going of passengers.

At the front of the terminal, things were slightly more complicated due to the quantity of vehicles that were aiming to return to the east of the capital. In the end though, everything is running smoothly enough that it is not necessary to arrive at the airport early to avoid missing your flight.

Hopefully, the feelings of contentment with the traffic organization will last for the two years that it will take for the new passenger terminal to be constructed by Opain under the Eldorado Modernization and Expansion Plan.

May 1 / Jon

The Nopal: Tasty, Cheap, and Good for You

Translated by Edda Mata

I chose this article because as a Mexican I thought it was important for English speakers travelling to Mexico to understand the benefits of the nopal; an exotic vegetable, and dare them to try it on their next trip to Mexico. Unlike other consumer-oriented articles, this article’s main purpose is not so much to sell a particular branded product to the consumer, but to inform them of the health benefits of consuming a local produce.

Source text: “Nopal: sabroso, benéfico y barato”

The Nopal: Tasty, Cheap, and Good for You
Adriana Hernández Uresti

Its nutritional contributions, its qualities (true or invented) to prevent and/or control some diseases, the possibility of cooking it in different ways and even eating it raw, and its low cost (less than a peso per piece) are enough reasons for this vegetable to have earned a place on the dining table of Mexican families, who in average consume 6.36 kg per year.

The production of nopal has increased over the past decade; not only has its plantings increased, but also the states where it gets cultivated, assured Javier Montes de Oca, president of the Consejo del Nopal y Tuna (Nopal and Pickly Pear Fig Council of Mexico City). According to the farmers’ representative, a key factor in this trend is the organization of the Feria Nacional del Nopal (National Nopal Fair), where the consumption and cultivation of this thorny food is promoted.

Although it is cultivated in 23 states throughout the country, there are four states considered the main nopal producers: the Distrito Federal (303, 755 tones), Morelos (61,110), Estado de Mexico (14,464) and Aguascalientes (13,178). Out of 436, 222 tons farmed each year, 97% is consumed fresh and the other 3% is used as a primary product by food, pharmaceutics, and perfumery industries.

Its demand has also increased outside the country, and even though Mexico is the main exporter, the amount of nopal sold in other countries is still little, less than 1% of the national production. The United States is the main market followed by Japan and some European countries.

For Those With a Big Appetite:

The nopal provides a daring table companion of proteins, calcium, iron, vitamins A and B, and fibre (even though it’s a food with a high amount of humidity, its dietetic fibre content is greater than 20%). These properties can be altered depending on the way it is consumed; for example, cooking it provokes a small loss in all the nutrients, particularly in carbohydrates, potassium and vitamin C.

According to the nutritionist, Cecilia Sommer, it is advisable that people with problems such as high glucose (like diabetics) consume raw nopal, given that it controls sugar levels more effectively than in its cooked form. The specialist also warns about the risks of broiling as this cooking method may result in the nopal containing traces of this mineral such as phenolic compounds derivatives, which are harmful for the health. There are no restrictions in regards to consuming it like that, but one of the thumb rules of smart nutrition must not be: a varied and balanced diet.

In regard to dehydrated nopal (in pills or other varieties), nutritionist Sommer, commented that: “when a food is dehydrated, normally the loss of water causes the nutrients content to increase by net weight; another advantage is that it has a longer shelf life, and for many people the fact that it isn’t slimy is important, however, it is precisely in its sliminess where one is able to find a significant source of fibre. In addition, dehydrated nopal is much more expensive than the fresh one.

The Father of all Remedies

In addition to its proven benefits, there are other fictional benefits that can be added, specially those invented by charlatans, who offer this product as “the mother of all remedies,” even for diseases that up to date have no cure. For Cecilia Sommer, the biggest myth that exists about the nopal is related to diabetes; she admits that there are in fact studies that demonstrate that its consumption decreases the level of glucose in the blood, but up to date there is no evidence to consider it a cure, like many people believe.

Its high fibre content (soluble and insoluble) is the main cause of its medical benefits, as it prevents or delays the absorption of sugars. In the book El Poder Curativo del Nopal (The Healing Powers of the Nopal) by Guillermo Murrayhe mentions that it helps control the following disorders:

Obesity: The insoluble dietetic fibre absorbs water and accelerates the passing of food through the digestive tract, preventing or delaying the absorption of sugars, which provoke a sensation of satiety, through which the ingestion of food is decreased; likewise, it helps regulate the intestinal movement.

Gastrointestinal Problems: The fibre and the mucilage (the slime) control the production in excess of gastric acids and protect the gastrointestinal mucous. Also, they contribute to a good digestion, avoiding constipation problems. Cholesterol: The amino acids, the fibre and the niacin avoid that the excess of sugar in the blood turns into fat; on the other hand, they metabolize the fat and the fat acids, thus reducing the cholesterol levels.

Arteriosclerosis: The effect of the amino acids and fibre, including the antioxidants, vitamins C and A, prevent the possibilities of damage in the blood vessels’ walls, like the formation of fat platelets.

Colon Purity: Insoluble fibres help dilute the concentration of carcinogenic agents in the colon, which can help to a degree prevent the appearance of such disease.

There is no doubt that including the nopal in daily diet is very recommendable, due to its nutritional benefits as well as its medical benefits. Although it is worth mentioning that it is not a drug on its own, but an supplement to help control or prevent the problems already mentioned.

The Scientists raise their hands

The innovations in the production and procedure of the nopal are few; actually, the majority of the farmers use traditional sowing systems. Despite what has been mentioned, researchers of different centres work to improve its farming. Three examples are:

Increased resistance: Doctor Candelario Mondragón Jacobo, at the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales Agrícolas y Precuarias (National Forest Research Institute of Agriculture and Livestock) works in genetic improvement of nopal in order to increase its protein content and make it more resistant to frost and pests; likewise he develops cactus figs of different colours from the traditional ones in order to make them more attractive. In the case of the forage nopal, he seeks to improve its nutritional content, to facilitate cattle its consumption.

Thorn Free: Engineers at the Instituto Politecnico Nacional (IPN) (National Polytechnic Institute) have designed a machine capable of cutting off 80% of the nopal’s thorns, at a velocity of four seconds per piece. This equipment could help accelerate the process of de-thorning, a task that has been qualified by farmers as slow, tiring and tedious. Engineers Guillermo Cruz Villa, Jacobo Moreno Cruz and Sigfrido Soria Farias, at the Unidad Profesional Interdisciplinaria de Ingeniería y Technologías Avanzadas (Professional Interdisciplinary Unit of Engineering and Advanced Technologies), work with farmers from Milpa Alta to develop a machine at an industrial level.

Strong Bones: The doctor Mario Enrique Rodriguez, at the Centro de Física Aplicada y Tecnología Avanzada (Department of Physics and High Technology) in the UNAM, is the head of the project “Nopal flour as a treatment to prevent osteoporosis.” It is still rather early to offer conclusions, but no one would be surprised that this product could add a new virtue to the ones we already know.

In detail

The nopal is endemic of America; there are 258 species, out of which 100 exist in Mexico, the main producer at a national level. Nopal is the name given to several species of the Oputina genre, of the cactus family. The Nopalea Cochenillifera is the species that we normally consume and the one referred to in this text.

Multiple Possibilities

Nopal mole, nopal pizza, nopales y cheese sauce, spaghetti with nopales or with cream, dirty beans with nopales, Jell-O, marmalade, ate, nopal cake, tamales with nopales and cattle brains, nopal cookies with cinnamon and a tuna salad, are only some of the 112 recipes that the Recetario del nopal de Milpa Alta, D.F. & Colima (number 48 of the collection Popular Indigenous cuisine of the General Cultures Directorate of CONACULTA). The recipes were collected among the people of the Distrito Federal, the majority producers of Milpa Alta. This culinary jewel can be found in Educal bookstores ( and in the National Museum of Popular Cultures.

Nutritional Facts

Every 100 grams of nopal contain: Energy: 27 kcal Proteins: 1.7g Fat: 0.3g Carbohydrates: 5.6g Calcium: 93 mg Iron: 1.6 mg Retinol (Vitamin A): 41 mcg Thiamin (Vitamin B1): 0.03 mg Riboflavin: (Vitamin B2): 0.06 mg Niacin: 0.3 mg Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C): 8 mg Source: Instituto Nacional de Nutrición (National Nutrition Institute).

Tips for Nopal Lovers

Pick nopals with firm thorns (a sign of their of freshness) and without brown-orange stains (a symbol of oxidation). When eating them raw, asides from washing them it is indispensable to disinfect them. Boil them with little water, and avoid overcooking them as this decreases its nutrimental benefits. Use a copper pot to cook them if you want them to keep a lively green colour. If possible, buy and consume them the same day. If you want to store them, put them in a plastic bag inside the fridge; they will preserve well for three days. Grilled nopales tend to have some white spots after a couple of days of storage; these are due to the vegetable reactions and signs of decay. Source: Nutricionist Cecilia Sommer.

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Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada
This work by Spanish 401, UBC, Professor Jon Beasley-Murray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada.