Friday, November 30, 2007
1:35 pm est
Life in Bolivia's Yungas portrayed in photojournal
There's a sweet photojournal of an Afro-Bolivian family on the BBC's website. With photos by Evan Abramson and text by Lola Almudevar, the piece depicts the lives of the Iriondo family -- a rural family
living in Bolivia's Yungas region.
The Iriondo's show a wonderful sense
of pride in culture and love for family. The father, Alejandro, declares that he "wants recognition for the Afro-Bolivian minority, estimated to number 30,000, in a new Bolivian constitution"
and "also hopes for a revival of Afro-Bolivian culture," in particular, the Afro-Bolivian dialect which many of
the youth are too easily forgetting.
Iriondo family (Photo: Evan Abramson)
But they also talk about the difficult routine of their farming lives, which has taken most of their children out
of school, keeps the father busy from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and still barely earns enough for the family to live on.
The BBC story shows that the mother "Teodora suffers from calcium deficiency. She has kidney stones
and is in constant discomfort.
"Doctors say she needs an operation but the family cannot
afford it. She makes traditional herbal remedies to ease her pain.
" 'I am very worried
about her. Her life is in danger. But it is all about money,' says Alejandro.
you called the hospital now they would charge you to send a vehicle down here. Health is the biggest problem for us. If you
haven't got money then you have to go without.' "
Thursday, November 29, 2007
6:30 pm est
Ulises de la Cruz: remembering Piquiucho
By Karen Juanita Carrillo
Afro-Ecuadoran soccer player Ulises
Hernán de la Cruz Bernoid is sponsoring a trip to Ecuador through the England-based adventure-travel/social enterprise
organization the Adventurists.
The trip will serve as a fundraiser for his Fundación de Ulises de la Cruz/Ulises
de la Cruz Foundation (FUNDECRUZ), a non-profit organization that Cruz created to support his native community of Piquiucho.
Afro-Ecuadorian village of Piquiucho in northern Ecuador's Valle de Chota is a short three-hour drive from Quito, the
nation's capital. Yet the Ecuadorian government has for decades ignored the small village of little
more than 200 families. It was not on official maps, and services to its inhabitants have been non-existent.
The village of Piquiucho and the plight of its people only became known following the selection of seven of the villages'
sons to represent Ecuador's eleven-member team in the World Cup in 2002 and 2006.
Ulises de la Cruz visits school children in Piquiucho, Ecuador.
Following his performances in the World Cup, Cruz, one of Piquiucho's most renowned players, was drafted to play abroad. He currently plays as a defender with The Royals, the English Premiership club's team in Reading.
With his earnings from soccer, Cruz created FUNDECRUZ on
June 17, 2002. And via FUNDECRUZ, the soccer player has been able to transform Piquiucho.
11:44 am est
BAR says be wary of cries to "Save Darfur"
"The star-studded hue and cry to 'Save Darfur' and 'stop the genocide' has gained enormous traction
in U.S. media along with bipartisan support in Congress and the White House," writes Black Agenda Report managing editor
Bruce Dixon in the article Ten Reasons Why "Save Darfur" is a PR Scam to Justify the Next US Oil and Resource Wars in Africa.
"But the Congo, with ten to twenty times as many African dead over the same period is
not called a 'genocide' and passes almost unnoticed. Sudan sits atop lakes of oil. It has large supplies of uranium,
and other minerals, significant water resources, and a strategic location near still more African oil and resources. The unasked
question is whether the nation's Republican and Democratic foreign policy elite are using claims of genocide, and appeals
for 'humanitarian intervention' to grease the way for the next oil and resource wars on the African continent."
Monday, November 26, 2007
7:15 pm est
Wyclef Jean: using star-power to get back
The musician/rapper/songwriter/producer Wyclef Jean was given a hero's welcome when he
visited Haiti for the first time since President René Préval named him the country's roving ambassador
Jean visited Port-au-Prince's
shanty town of Cité Soleil on Monday, November 12, 2007.
Jean's non-profit charitable organization, Yéle Haiti, is helping to develop a micro-enterprise project called Yéle Cuisine inside of Cité
Soleil, Haiti's largest slum.
The first group of women being trained to run a micro-enterprise as part of the Yéle Cuisine project.
(Photo credit: http://www.yele.org/projects/yele-cuisine.html)
Yéle Cuisine was created to respond "to both the lack of jobs and the lack of food for children" in Haiti's poor slum areas.
The program provides micro-loans and business training to women's organizations who are then taught
to cook and sell food for public consumption.
The Associated Press reported that "the musician met legislators and accompanied Czech model Petra Nemcova to a school in the neighborhood
where he was born.
"Jean, who moved to Brooklyn as a young boy, then changed into a pinstriped
suit to ask a luncheon crowd of businessmen, the U.N. envoy and nearly every major foreign ambassador for aid.
" 'We need all your money, we need all y'all's support, but let's put it to programs ... that
teach kids how to move the country forward,' Jean told dignitaries in the hills above Port-au-Prince."
The BBC added that "Jean said his next step as ambassador would be to start lobbying politicians in Washington to help promote development
" 'I'm always going to assist my country in the best way I can,'
Sunday, November 25, 2007
10:55 pm est
Chavez' constitutional reform would recognize Afro Venezuela
By Karen Juanita Carrillo
Afro Venezuelans will gain a partial victory if their nation's constitutional
reforms pass on December 2, 2007.
Venezuelan voters will decide whether to approve some 69 changes to the national
constitution on December 2, in part of a reform process set forth by President Hugo Chávez Frías.
has been made of the reforms," noted Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Álvarez Herrera in a November 19th speech
to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "most of it ignoring or distorting key details. One reform would extend the presidential term limit to seven years
and do away with term limits. Of course, the president would still have to face regular elections and the recall referendum,
an innovative democratic mechanism that allows the Venezuelan people to cut short the term of any elected official. Another
set of reforms would codify new forms of public property, though while restating the rights to private ownership. And another
reform would limit certain political liberties during national emergencies, though while maintaining key due process rights
and the right to life and personal integrity - thus keeping with international standards.
also pointed out that some of the reforms are progressive in nature: "One would prohibit discrimination based on sexual
orientation or health. Another would lower the voting age to 16 - following a similar move made in Austria this year. Two
others would formalize the right to adequate housing and the right to free public education, while others still would create
a social security fund for the self-employed, protect Afro-Venezuelan heritage and guarantee the full rights of prisoners."
The language of the proposed reform to Article 100 in the constitution would, in some ways, formally recognize
and protect Afro-Venezuelan heritage and culture. The original 1999 constitution had merely noted that, "The ethnic cultures of Venezuela deserve special attention,
recognition and respect as equals" and that the Venezuelan government would support cultural institutions and guarantee
social security for cultural workers.
Reinaldo Bolívar, Venezuela's
Viceminister for relations with Africa (at the mic) speaks during the "II Festival Cultural con los Pueblos de África." (Photo
The proposed reformed Article 100 (loosely translated) also guarantees social security for
cultural workers, but it also states that, "The Bolivariana Republic of Venezuela is the historical result of the confluence
of many cultures, thus the State recognizes and values the indigenous, European and African roots that created our great South
American nation. The ethnic cultures of the indigenous, of the Euro-Venezuelans and of Afro-Venezuelans enjoy special attention,
recognition and respect as equals. This law will establish incentives and stimuli for organizations, institutions and communities
to promote, support, develop and/or finance cultural plans, projects, programs and activities in the country, as well as internationally."