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Archive for December, 2008

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Christmas cuteness at its finest: El Burrito Sabanero is not about food, but a favorite Christmas song in Latin America. Burro in Spanish means donkey, and burrito is little donkey. El Burrito Sabanero is about a boy who rides his little donkey to Bethlehem to see the niño Jesús.

This famous Venezuelan Christmas song, written by Hugo Blanco, gets played with about the same frequency as “Silent Night” does in the U.S. El Burrito is a joyful staple at elementary school Christmas recitals. The song is so precious that it’s not even necessary to know Spanish to enjoy it — but it has been translated.

El Burrito Sabanero has been covered by many artists, a few of which are below:

The latest version is by Incaptepec, a Latin-style jazz band. Click here for an article and the song.

Here is an adorable hip hop version by the Puerto Rican boy band Tick Tock:

The cuteness continues with a bilingual version by Bachata group, Aventura, from the Dominican Republic:

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Ozzie Guillen is tired of the sour tone of U.S.-Venezuela relations in recent years.

Speaking from his home in Caracas, the Chicago White Sox manager weighed in on the financial crisis and the effect it may have on baseball. He said that “teams will have to look for alternatives, work with lower salaries.”

Guillen also expressed hope that President-elect Obama and Venezuela’s Chavez will strengthen relations. The AP reports that he added, “I’m not asking them to be great friends, but at least that they shake hands.”

After all, trade between the U.S. and Venezuela rose by about 50 percent in 2008.

Hopefully Santa Claus was listening.

Guillen is in Caracas to give Christmas gifts to children with cancer through his Oswaldo Guillen Foundation. Next year, he hopes to do the same thing in Chicago.

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VENEZUELA/

Today, the World Jewish Congress welcomed the commitment of Latin American Leaders to condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination.

President Chavez of Venezuela, along with Presidents Lula da Silva of Brazil and Fernandez of Argentina signed a joint declaration promising to

renew their commitment to continue working at national, regional and international level to fortify the mechanisms of promotion and protection of the human rights, in order to assure their total respect irrespective of race, color, sex, religion, or political opinions

The President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder (pictured at right) called the signing of the declaration “an important and very welcome step” that could serve as an example to the rest of the world.

Click here to read the press release.

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Representatives from 33 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean just finished meeting in Brazil. By all accounts, the atmosphere was convivial.

Believe it or not, this “Rio Group” summit marked first time that such a large regional event has occurred without the presence of the United States. So what does this mean for the hemisphere? It depends on who you ask.

The AP reports that President Lula da Silva of Brazil said:

In the middle of an unprecedented global crisis, our countries are discovering that they aren’t part of the problem,” Mr. da Silva said. “They can and should be fundamental players in the solution […]

There was a time when our friend Chavez was all alone. Who would have imagined 10 years ago our beloved Evo Morales as president? Would would have thought that a liberation theology bishop could become Paraguay’s president?

President Chavez said:

The important thing is that we are here together, without the patronage of the empire. The way is beginning, a new way – our way from the South.

And of course, Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington had this commentary to add:

This is a healthy development and should not be seen as a rejection of the U.S. On the contrary, Latin America wants to deal with the U.S. and other major world powers, but it wants to do so on more equal terms than in the past.

Read more about the Latin American summit from the AFP and the New York Times, and use the comments section to tell us what you think about the events.

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Another superstar pitcher from Venezuela was signed by the New York Mets last week.

Francisco Rodriguez (or “K-Rod”) grew up outside of Caracas, where he first set foot on a baseball diamond at his grandmother’s insistence at age seven. She simply wanted to get him out of the house.

Now he has gone on to become one of the most promising names in Major League Baseball. At 20, he helped the Angels win the World Series, becoming the youngest member of any team to win the title. This year, at 26, he set a record for the greatest number of saves in one season.

The Mets signed K-Rod for three years at a rumored $37 million. Find out more in an in-depth feature article from the New York Daily News.

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Thanks to the Miami Herald today, we have a lesson in how to make the Venezuelan dish called the cachapa. This is a savory pancake made of corn that is eaten with mild white cheese and makes a tasty snack. The recipe that appears in the Herald is from the book The South American Table.

In Venezuela, the best cachapas are usually grilled to a golden brown on a large, flat budare like the one pictured here.

The cachapa is said to come from Venezuela’s indigenous heritage, particularly in the interior of the country. Corn was an important staple food for many Native American communities.

It is also the main ingredient in another Venezuelan snack that remains popular today; the singular arepa.

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Venezuela may be known as an oil country, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t taking steps to explore the renewable energy sources of the future.

News came today that the state oil company PDVSA is beginning to invest in wind power. A Spanish company called Gamesa has been contracted to install and maintain machinery that will deliver 100 megawatts of wind power to Venezuela.

The country’s first wind farm will be located in the state of Falcon, an area of the country which juts out into the Caribbean with its arid Coro peninsula. This land mass is so desert-like, it has sand dunes that are protected as part of the Medanos de Coro National Park (pictured here).

According to Reuters, 76 wind turbines will be installed. The pricetag: almost $150 million.

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