Populist Deception Fooling Latin America’s Poor and USA’s Gullible ‘Intellectuals’

Posted in Latin America on November 16th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off

Some years back my pal Bill and I used to stop for a glass of wine at Pearl Alley after work. One night seated next to me was the editor of a local cartoon magazine specializing in anything anti-American or pop-revolutionary. The editor mentioned jokingly that things were getting so bad in the USA now that he was thinking of moving to Cuba. He even told me about some us government essay topics he used to write. I replied that was fine but he better find another line of work because if he prints one issue there he could get life in prison.

The editor was stunned. He had no idea that such a thing was conceivable. In all his years of radical activism he had never had anyone tell him about political prisoners in Cuba. The editor just shook his head.

In subsequent issues of his magazine there was no change whatsoever. He wanted to believe in what he wanted to believe in. If the facts did not correlate in the preferred manner, he simply ignored them. That’s the problem with populism Latin America style. If the facts don’t fit, ignore them.

In 2006 Mexican presidential PRD party candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had what has to be one the biggest political meltdowns in modern history. Arrogant and presumptuous, Lopez Obrador in January 2006 made a string of very poor political decisions including telling then Mexican Presidente Vicente Fox to ‘shut up’. Fortunately for Mexico, Lopez Obrador took his opponents, including the short statured PAN candidate Felipe Calderon, for granted.

In the first political debate Lopez Obrador was so confident he did not bother to show. The TV camera constantly showed pictures of his empty chair. Even in the last few weeks of the campaign Lopez Obrador told his faithful his polls showed him winning by 10 points. So confident of victory he shunned the smaller political parties as beneath his dignity; any one whose support would have given him the election.

As a post mortem many analysts now believe that Lopez Obrador suffers from a psychological disorder known commonly as the Messiah Complex. The same has been said for Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba. And Evo Morales of Bolivia and Daniel Ortega of Nicaraugua. Are we beginning to see a pattern here? However, in all fairness the same has been said of George Bush so one really must get above the polemics and go into the towns and villages to see for ourselves.

Many of my Maya Mexican neighbors voted for Lopez Obrador in the past election. They felt that if elected he would bring them everything he promised. With such high expectations they feel victimized by the promises of every political party. To a great extent that has been their history.

In my Maya village we are free and can do pretty much as we like as long as we behave ourselves or don’t cause problemas. Not so with some of our Mayan brothers and sisters in Chiapas.

In rural Chiapas, many Maya villages are controlled by the Zapatistas, the most famous being Comandante Marcos aka Comandante Cero. What I found most interesting about the Zapatista communities I saw were the number of child beggars. I was stunned as I had not seen such extreme poverty since I was in Africa many years ago. In my Maya village in Quintana Roo we have no child beggars. Or any beggars.

The Zapatistas somehow can afford to have the latest in machine guns but not enough to prevent their malnourished, swollen bellied children from begging. Several weeks after visiting these rural communities in Chiapas I heard Comandante Cero Marcos speak at the central park in Puebla.

Marcos railed on capitalism and how the Mayan brother’s cause is so much better now that the Zapatistas have the guns and control. I was impressed by Marcos’ eloquence and chic designer revolutionary clothes. But regardless of Marcos’ smooth words or Union Square duds our fellow Maya brothers and sisters in Chiapas are still starving.

Marcos and the failed Zapatista revolution are the story in a nutshell. No matter where in populist Latin America one goes the results are the same. When Hugo Chavez speaks of cutting the Venezuela worker’s day to six hours like the Europeans’ the workers cheer and sing revolutionary songs. But there simply isn’t enough oil in Venezuela to support everyone. But as a Chavista, I sure want to believe there is.

I found it somewhat ironic this week that Lopez Obrador’s followers, after one of his speeches in the Zocalo of Mexico City, stormed the cathedral and shut down Mass. God forbid. The Messiah Man versus Jesus. The truly scary thing was the Messiah Man lost the 2006 Mexican election by a hair. Otherwise, who knows what would have happened. You have to admit Andres Manuel has a lot of you know whats to invade the Catholic Church.

My neighbors and I could have been drafted into the Mexican Revolutionary Army. Maybe sent to Costa Rica or Chile to foment revolution. At my age I wouldn’t be much use except translating, folding bandages, drinking beer and singing Revolutionary songs. Maybe I would have gotten a Che beret and a Marcos pipe. Maybe they would have appointed me ambassador to Texas and I could go up and hobnob with the bourgeoisie in Austin and San Antonio… raise some revolutionary cash for new guns…that sort of thing.

I would rant on the evils of capitalism like Comrade Marcos and how it’s actually better for our revolutionary children to beg than to poison their minds with Mickey Mouse and online porno and eat nutritiously. Make no mistake about it; those swollen bellies are the direct result of imperialist capitalism, but on the plus side you have to admit they do win bigger tips from the tourists.

However, admittedly there is one very personal problem I would have. That ski mask bit is way too much in the hothouse jungle…

Jack D. Deal lives in the Quintana Roo jungle and the California suburbs. He can be contacted at [email protected] Related articles can be found at http://www.jddeal.com and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com

Article Source: Populist Deception Fooling Latin America's Poor and USA's Gullible 'Intellectuals'

Latin America’s Best Kept Secret

Posted in Latin America on October 18th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off

Easily, one of the best things about Cartagena is that it is one of Latin America’s best kept secrets. Headlines about Colombias problems with drug production and political unrest have done little to support Colombias struggling tourist industry in years gone by. But thanks to the efforts of President Alvaro Uribe, who when elected in 2002 declared his devotion to bring peace to Colombia, the countrys economy and security situation is fast improving.

Slowly but surely, more visitors are venturing into the Amazon to discover Cartagena and what it has to offer: some of the finest examples of architectural and cultural achievement in the region, breathtaking beaches, a buzzing nightlife and a warm tropical climate.

With old colonial mansions, churches, plazas and brightly painted colonial style buildings, Cartagena is a city of colour with a colourful past.

It was first founded as a city by Spanish explorers in 1533 when it was conquered by Don Pedro de Heredia. He set about establishing it as a port town, for traders of gold, emeralds, coffee, and later for slaves. In 1564, the first slave ship arrived from Africa. It was the beginning of a dark era of slave trade that would see thousands bought, sold and abused as they were put to work in mines, cultivating the land and serving the rich as personal attendants.

San Pedro Claver, a Jesuit Priest, who lived in Cartagena between 1580 and 1684, made it his lifes mission to protect and comfort the slaves who came to Cartagena. He provided them with food, medicine and religious solace from a life of hard labour and mistreatment. During his life he baptised thousands of them in the well inside the monastery where he lived. His compassion earned him the title of The Slave of the Slaves and he is celebrated today by African descendants all over the world.

The Chruch of San Pedro Claver and its monastery was the home of San Pedro and the other Jesuit monks who lived in Cartagena. Today, as well as the Church and Monastery, there is a museum with art and artifacts from Sant Pedros time which is open to visitors. An alter dedicated to San Pedro, containing his remains is inside the church which visitors can also view.

Being a centre of economic activity in the region, Cartagena was a prime target for pirates and foreign invasion. In 1586, Sir Frances Drake from England successfully took control of the town, and everything in it, looting many of its riches and setting fire to anything in sight.

Cartagena came under attack several times from French, British and Dutch forces, and during the 17th Century, the Spanish ordered the construction of the city walls, a barrier of defence that stretched for more than 10kms, surrounding the entirety of the old city in solid stone. Sections of the wall remains today, and are in part responsible for the preservation of the beautiful buildings within the old city.

As well as the walls, several fortresses were constructed around Cartagena as a second line of defence. El Castillo de San Filipe was the biggest fort that the Spanish constructed in the Americas, and is definitely the most impressive of the handful or so of the old forts left in Cartagena today. It was built by African slaves with concrete and red bricks and was finally completed in 1789.

Inside El Castillo there is an elaborate system of underground tunnels that were built to transport supplies and as an emergency escape route. English speaking guides can be hired for a small fee at the entrance. They can show you the best places within this huge structure and explain some of the interesting historical facts of its past.

In 1610, the Spanish also established the Spanish Inquisition of the Holy Court in Cartagena in an effort to force religious and political unity and to profit from the confiscated valuables of those that were found guilty.

The Palace of the Inquisition was where those accused of witchcraft or religious beliefs other than those of the Catholic Church, were persecuted, tortured and executed if found guilty. Completed in 1770, the palace today is a museum of torture instruments, and written records of the torture methods used and of those that died. There is also a small collection of local artifacts that you can browse amongst.

There are plenty of things to see and do within Cartagena but there are also many sights and attractions within a short distance form the city that make for some excellent day trips, allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of Colombia, as well as its historical sights.

For a taste of real Carribean paradise, plan a trip to las Islas Rosarios. An archipelago of small islands about 2 hours boat ride from Cartagena, which will cost you about $12 USD to reach. The area is a National Park and offers deserted beaches and coral reefs with amazing snorkeling, SCUBA diving and sea kayaking opportunities.

There is a variety of accommodation available on the islands ranging from hotels to small beach huts. A visit to the Oceanario Islas del Rosario is highly recommended where you can visit the Museum of Marine Life and take a guided tour along a purpose built walking platform.

Playa Blanca or White Beach in English, is situated about 2 hours journey south of Cartagena. Its worth the trip to enjoy a peaceful retreat with crystal clear waters and fine white sand. You can travel there by bus, taxi or boat. There are no hotels at Playa Blanca but you can rent a hammock for the night and enjoy sleeping out under the stars.

El Volcan de Totumo is located about 60 kms north of Cartagena and can be reached by booking on with a local tour company. Decaying organic matter deep below the earths surface is heated by the earths core, producing a gas which forces the mud up towards the surface of the earth. A small volcano is formed, about 20 meters in height as the mud reaches the top of the crater and spills over the side.

There are stairs built into the side of the volcano, allowing visitors to walk to the top and enter the crater to enjoy a thermal mud bath. The mud is said to be warm, relaxing and therapeutic for the skin. You can also enjoy a massage from the locals for a small price before rinsing off in a nearby lagoon.

The best time to visit Colombia is during the dry season. It will still be hot and humid, but a little less humid during the months December- April. You can fly in to Cartagena. The airport is located just 2 kms outside the city, or you can cruise there from many destinations in the Caribbean.

You will find a range of accommodation in Cartagena. Everything from luxury hotel resorts to backpacker hostels, but the best way to enjoy the city is to rent an apartment. This way you can enjoy your privacy and some peace and quiet, as well as see what life is really like for the Colombian people in a well located residential area. Its the most affordable and hassle free option.

There is no need to be paranoid about your personal safety, but it’s wise to exercise the same common sense and awareness of your surroundings as you would in any foreign city. Don’t wander around with large amounts of cash, and keep your valuables well hidden.

You’ll find the people of Cartagena friendly and welcoming. They will be glad that you are supporting the Colombian people by visiting their country and they will be keen for you to enjoy your visit and the many sights and sounds the city has to offer.

The secret wont stay quiet for long, so get out there and experience Colombia. You’ll be glad you did!

Gaizka Pujana is the co-owner of Barcelona Homes, S.L. which is a company specialized in providing short term tenancy solutions in Seville and Barcelona through its web pages Bogota apartamentos turisticos cartagena apartments Apartment rental cartagena de indias

Article Source: Latin America's Best Kept Secret

Volunteer In Peru: Latin America’s Cultural Treasure

Posted in Latin America on October 17th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off

A country with am amazing array of bio-diversity, Peru is considered as one big habitat for humans, flora and fauna. It is situated in South America and has the South Pacific Ocean on one side and the mighty Andes Mountains on the other. As a result of being close to the sea as well as the mountains, Peru enjoys several micro-climates like no other. Some of the main attractions apart from the famous Inca Trail and Machu Picchu include the pre-Columbian cultures, the cuisine, the natural resources and the exquisite colonial architecture.

Why Volunteer In Peru

Volunteering in Peru is like being the closest you can be to nature and civilization, both of which has supported each other well through millions of years. As a volunteer in Peru, you will not only get an insight into the lives of the Peruvian people but also get to enjoy the many colors of their culture and tradition. It is a unique experience that you will be able to re-live time and time again and the warmth of the people of Peru will not remain just as a moment in time – it will become a timeless treasure.

Types Of Projects Available

As a part of volunteering in Peru, you will get to choose the kind of project you are interested in. The different types if projects available include:

• Conservation Project: When in Peru, you will be able to spend a lot of time trekking through the beautiful and captivating landscape as a volunteer in a conservation project. Peru has a wealth of natural resources and the variety of flora and fauna is probably more than anywhere else in the world and hence there is a huge responsibility of preserving the natural habitats. As a volunteer in Peru, you will play a definitive role in conservation of Amazon rainforests as well as the higher and lower regions of the Andes, the varied wildlife, and the historical sites. This is one of the most interesting volunteer programs.

• Internship: There are different types of programs available under volunteering in Peru. You can volunteer for a program for 2 weeks or work as an intern for 1 year. Under the internship program, you will be working with the local people and get to understand and experience their culture from up-close. You will get to understand their problems and find meaningful solutions that can be applied practically.

• Volunteer with Orphanages: There are several orphanages in Peru and as a volunteer in Peru, you can choose to work with any one of them. You will have to care of the children whose age can vary from 1year to 10 years or more. You will have to teach them languages, take care of their educational and health requirements, teach them sports and get involved in extra-curricular activities.

• Health Care: Most of the health care volunteer programs in Peru deal with curing preventable diseases. The medical or health infrastructure in the rural areas is understaffed and not well equipped. As a medical volunteer in Peru, you will be able to make contribution towards strengthening the Peru’s medical infrastructure in the rural areas. Health care can vary from technical areas like nursing and surgery to taking care of mentally ill or HIV patients.

• Sustainable Development Projects: These are specialized projects where some areas might require you to have prior experience and knowledge while in other areas, you don’t require any prior experience. Most of the sustainable development projects deal with four important sectors and they are Environment, Education, Health Care, and Business.

Volunteer Requirements

Age: The minimum age for volunteering in Peru should be 18 or older.

Some of the volunteer programs will require a 2-4 week training program before you start working on the project. The training will be provided by the volunteer organization.

Fee and Other details

There is a fee attached to each of the projects that you volunteer for. The fee is charged in advance and is charged for the following:

1. Accommodation: There are different types of accommodation available in Peru. This includes Host family normal, Host family plus, Host family matrimonial and apartments. Of course the type of accommodation varies from organization to organization.

2. Food/meals

3. Travel insurance

4. Transportation within the region

5. Emergency support


Volunteering in Peru has its own benefits as it will open your world to some of the most beautiful aspects of nature that you have probably seen before only in the National Geographic magazines. Projects can vary from 7 days to 4 weeks and depending on the type of volunteering work you are interested in, you can submit your resume with the respective organization and begin the journey.

Volunteer in Peru expert Alex Landin is a project manager and contributes to Volunteering in peru destinations programs at GlobalCrossRoad.com

Article Source: Volunteer In Peru: Latin America's Cultural Treasure

Volunteer In Chile- Latin America’s Best Kept Secret

Posted in Latin America on October 9th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off

Volunteering in Chile can be an amazing learning experience, one that you are unlikely to forget. Pretty much isolated from the rest of the world, Chile’s natural barriers such as the most arid desert in the world, the Andes Mountain range, the Pacific Ocean, and the ice fields in Southern Patagonia, offers such a tremendous amount of diversity to this extended and thin country that it’s considered as the jewel of South American continent. Much loved and popular, it is said that in Chile you are never too far from the sea, the mountains, or the desert. Currently, on a economic fast track, Chile is now experiencing a newer and improved socioeconomic stability as compared to the other South American countries. However, this capitalistic approach has ended up widening the gap between the economically richer and poorer sections of the society. As a volunteer to Chile, you will have many opportunities to do something really worthwhile as you travel from one city to another, helping people to gaining emotional, financial, and physical independence.

Why Volunteer In Chile

With 5,000 kms of South Pacific coastline, Chile is a wonderfully blessed with pristine beaches, and plenty of tourist activity. Furthermore, Chile can also lay claim to some portion of Antarctica and if these reasons are not enough for you for volunteering in Chile then consider this. Across the nation, there are several NGOs that are willing to accept you as volunteer to help them in their attempts to improve housing for the poor, provide assistance for academic development, work with drug addicts, offer expertise at medical health centers, and show compassion towards the homeless and much more. Why not take a year’s gap to volunteer in Chile as well as travel this country, which is a contradiction and reflection of global landscapes?

Types Of Projects Available

For those of you who find volunteering in Chile a challenge as well as an opportunity to contribute to the society in a solid way, Chile volunteering projects come in varied types demanding different levels of skills. Whether you enjoy working with drug abusers, for have a passion for languages, or want to teach children and make them better adults, or work to improve the position of women in the society, or perhaps, you are a die-hard animal lover and want to do your bit to improve the apathetical outlook of people towards them; you will most certainly find volunteering in Chile personally satisfying.

• Community Welfare programs: Volunteering in Chile for community welfare programs include delivering food for homeless people, doing social work in poor communities, teaching at various education centers, taking care of children at day care centers, assisting the homeless and terminally ill patients, etc.

• Education programs: Assisting as a teacher in rural schools will offer you the opportunities to teach the locals various subjects such as Math, Science, geography, history, even crafts, arts, knitting, etc.

• Teach English programs: If you can also teach conversational English to children, women, and adults thus, helping them to make the best of global opportunities, which demand knowledge in English language. As a volunteer in Chile on this project, you will work with teenaged children who are currently in youth shelters due to sexual abuse, neglect, or abandoned by their family. These shelters give children a safe place to study, live, and develop.

• Building Homes programs: As a volunteer in Chile for building and repairing homes/buildings project, you get the opportunity to leave an indelible mark of your contribution. You can help build homes or help repair existing homes, build educational set-ups for underprivileged families and orphans. Such kind of volunteering in Chile programs help you build lasting relationships at the personal level with the locals. Of course, if you have similar knowledge that a huge plus!

• Conservation program: A broad term, conservation is applicable to environmental conservation as well as architecture and natural heritage conservation. While most volunteering in Chile conservation projects includes animal conservation such as animal rehabilitation centers, or reserves, you can also participate in breeding and rehabilitation of specific spices of animals.

Volunteering in Chile Requirements

1. No experience or qualifications required
2. Must be 18 or over 18 years of age
3. Should be free from all health problems

Fee and Other details

Every project has a fee attached, which is taken in advance and used for providing food, accommodation, comprehensive travel insurance, in-country travel, fund raising ideas etc.


Leave a never to be forgotten mark on the world map by volunteering in Chile!

Volunteer in Chile expert Alex Landin is a project manager and contributes to Volunteering in Chile destinations programs at GlobalCrossRoad.com

Article Source: Volunteer In Chile- Latin America's Best Kept Secret

Skiing In Argentina – Summer Snow Vacations in Latin America

Posted in Latin America on June 16th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off

The last of the skiing opportunities are disappearing from the slopes in Canada, the USA and Europe as summer arrives. There’s only one solution; follow the snow south! since the founding of the Argentinian Ski Federation in 1941 things have been, in true Latin American style, developing slowly but steadily. A world away from its counterparts in the Northern Hemisphere, your ski trip can include experiences from partying in the midst of the Argentinian winter getaway of Bariloche to horseback rides and hikes into the middle of nowhere to conquer faraway slopes.

Getting there Travelling to any of the main resorts can be achieved through fairly simple connections, with a 2 to 3 hour flight from Buenos Aires followed by ground transportation to your chosen resort. Depending on your level and the kind of trip you want, Argentina presents the following options.

Popular ski resorts in Argentina Catedral Bariloche is in the heart of the Argentinian Lake district, the biggest mountain in Argentina. The ski resort is outside the popular mountain town of Bariloche, which Argentinians flock to during national holidays. Famous for its huge steaks, red wine and hot chocolate, it’s easy to get distracted from skiing. In general the resort has an intermediate focus, with incredible views to enjoy over the lakes as you ski.

Las Lenas is known for its back-country skiing, with expert skiers coming from all over the world to throw themselves down the challenging terrain, including gullies, chutes and cliffs. Just outside Mendoza, famous for its wine, transport connections are easy and before long you will find yourself exploring the limits of the 230 hectares of ski-able terrain. Heliskiing is also a popular option here.

Chapelco, outside the alpine town of San Martin de Los Andes, has something for everyone. Alpine skiers, ski tourers and snowboarders will all find something to suit in the range of snow-parks, groomed runs, powder bowls and tree skiing. Smaller but just as popular as its bigger neighbour Mount Catedral, Chapelco is well worth a visit.

Smaller ski resorts in Argentina Mount Castor in Ushuaia is the southernmost resort in the world, a place where you can ski down to sea level on dry, fine powder. Great for nordic skiing, Mount Castor enjoys a longer season than anywhere else.

Las Penitentes is the neighbouring resort to the bigger Las Lenas, a sizable resort with 300 hectares of skiable terrain with a mixture of beginner, intermediate and advanced runs. Watched over by Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas, visitors will be impressed by the surrounding scenery.

Mount Bayo, the pride of Villa La Angostura, is an impressive resort set in a beautiful natural landscape. Surrounded by forests and with a majestic view of Lake Nahuel Huapi, it is very close to the mountain village and it offers skiers 200 hectares of terrain. Visitors will have the strange but wonderful experience of winding their way through the network of bizzare monkey puzzle trees, seen to be believed!

La Hoya, 13 kilometres outside Esquel, is another resort blessed with stunning landscape, a selection of forests, waterfalls and lakes. The aspect of the resort also shelters it from the sun, which gives the resort the benefit of reliable, excellent quality powder snow.

Batea Mahuida resort provides an interesting mix of winter sports and culture, home to the Puel Mapuche community. Since the local volcano became extinct and formed a lagoon in its crater, the Mapuches have resided in the region, and visitors can enjoy their cuisine and get to know their customs. Nordic skiing is popular here.

Caviahue is located at the base of the Copahue volcano, which provides a couple of unique advantages. The first is the 8km descent from the volcano’s summit through back-country powder, and the second is the range of natural thermal baths in the resort full of water rich in volcanic minerals. With a stunning landscape to match, Caviahue is fine example of Argentinian rustic charm.

If you decide to head to the bright lights of Bariloche, the challenging slopes of Las Lenas or the secluded retreat of Caviahue, Argentina can provide the endless ski season that you are searching for. As with any ski resort worldwide, you’ll get the best out of your trip if you have a local guide or arrange a tour with an experienced operator to open up access to those hidden treasures tucked away in the mountains. Make sure that if you do choose to go with someone they have a solid reputation and take no chances; safety on your ski trip should always be a priority. That said, don’t hesitate to explore this snowy corner of the world a little further off the beaten track than your regular ski trip; you won’t regret a ski vacation in Argentina!

Gary Sargent is the Managing Director of the tour companies Escaped to Peru and Escaped to Latin America and has lived in South America for over 10 years. Gary is passionate about life here, the people, customs and places. To learn more or to book your next personalized adventure please visit http://www.escapedtolatinamerica.com

Article Source: articlestreet

Border Crossings in Latin America – The Easy Way and the Hard Way

Posted in Latin America on May 14th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off

The obese, sour faced Mexican official sweating gently in the tiny booth doesn’t like the look of my passport. Bulging from within his damp uniform, he tells me that there is an irregularity with my visa stamp. Co-incidentally, there’s also a problem with my travel companion’s passport. Luckily, for a couple of hundred pesos per person, he can resolve the problem.

The border crossing between Belize and Mexico is not the nicest place to be. It’s made even worse when the gatekeeper between Chetumal and Corozal tells you that you have two options; return to Mexico and get the proper paperwork, or pay his fee. Fuming, I slide the crumpled notes across the counter and the official mutters under his breath at the injustice of me asking for a receipt, which I never receive. I return back to our waiting taxi to find out that the driver has doubled our fare for the ten minutes spent arguing at the window.

Border crossings. Some go well in Latin America, some don’t. You’re in unfamiliar surroundings with the intention to move into another country, not considering going back, and everyone at the border knows it. Sad but true, the best advice is not to trust anybody. Latin Americans are wonderful people, just not at the borders of their countries.

Latin American border crossings vary massively depending on many factors, including the officials present, the time of day and the number of people crossing. Despite this, there are very clear ways to make your crossing go smoother, or reduce the possibility of problems.

The Easy Way The simplest way by far is to make your transit by long distance bus routes between large towns or cities in different countries; you won’t be hunting around for transport connections or trying to get out of the border post or community. Staying on the bus or moving through immigration in a big group, you’ll be in and out in no time. Anyone wanting to take advantage is much less likely to pick on a big group of tourists; all your paperwork will be processed together as well, and officials will be less likely to take the time to single you out.

The (Possibly) Hard Way Next up on the scale of difficulty is crossing solo or in a small group by public transport, or in your own vehicle. Some borders are surprisingly trouble free, for example the one between Colombia and Ecuador, but it’s worth considering the following points:

- If you need to change currency, work out how much you need and do the calculations at the current exchange rate before you arrive. You will have a number in your head for reference to make sure you don’t get ripped off by fast-talking changers with dodgy calculators.

- Pack your patience. Depending on the crowds you could be waiting as an individual traveller a lot longer than those arriving on a long-distance bus or with tour groups.

- Make 100% sure that your paperwork is in order. Do you have all the right documents for this particular border? Are you visas and stamps up to date, or have they expired? Don’t give crooked officials the opportunity to find an ‘irregularity’. You should check the requirements for your border in your guidebook or check a reputable travel forum.

- Bribes are an inevitable part of contact with administrators; for many of them its the only way to improve the miserable salaries that they are paid. Stay aware of any suspect diversions from procedure, and don’t be afraid to challenge or call out corruption; you could try asking for a receipt (recibo) or even haggle the cost of the ‘service charge’ down. Cash is not the only solution either; countless travel forums suggest commodities to entice officials from gold watches to Playboy magazines…

- Keep photocopies of all your important documentation. You never know when they could be asked for, and it’s much better to hand them over right away instead of see your papers disappearing into an office to be copied, never to return.

- If a good friend or a trustworthy travelling companion speaks Spanish, you’ll find things a lot easier. However, if you don’t speak the language, don’t let lots of fast talking and hand-waving get you spooked. Take things slowly and use whatever means to communicate clearly and make sure that you understand, and are understood.

Remember, however good or bad border crossings may be, they’ll only be a small part of your Latin American adventure. Good luck on your next journey!

Gary Sargent is the Managing Director of the tour companies Escaped to Peru and Escaped to Latin America and has lived in South America for over 10 years. Gary is passionate about life here, the people, customs and places. To learn more or to book your next adventure please visit http://www.escapedtoperu.com

Article Source: articlestreet

Panama is the Hotspot for Investments in Latin America

Posted in Latin America on November 17th, 2009 by admin – Comments Off

Being located near the Latin American market, the republic of Panama is the ideal Country for financial privacy, with no taxes, either personal or corporate. According to the international living’s annual global retirement index, Panama is ranked No 1 country for investing.

There is no need to change currency in Panama, as the US dollar is the national currency. Officially the currency is balboa, but it is available only in the form of coins which is identical to the size of the US coins. This is also one reason why the economy is stable and inflation is very low.

Here are the reasons, why you need to invest in Panama:

1. Panama has excellent infrastructure, hence the Panamanian highway is excellent and takes you to a variety of destinations, including Azuero Peninsula and Pedasi. Panama also is financially very sound, with the help of ATM machines you can access any account anywhere in the world.

2. With 90 commercial banks, Panama is the second largest international banking centre in the world, after Switzerland. Panama is also the second largest home to offshore corporations in the world next to Hong Kong.

3. Panama’s geographical position is very unique, no earthquakes or hurricanes occur; hence any investment done here is very safe. Panama has one of the best and affordable medical treatment facilities, very much similar to the facilities available in US, most of the doctors speak English, the medical insurance polices are reasonably priced. You can drink tap water in Panama, which is very rare in Latin America

4. The communication facilities are excellent, Panama has the best fax, phone, cellular and internet connections. Panama is a shoppers paradise, where you can find almost anything!

5. Panama has excellent schools for your kids; Panama also has 3 American accredited schools, oxford international, balboa academy and the international school.

6. In Panama city English is widely spoken, and Spanish is the official language. Situated near North America, Panama is around 4 to 5 hours by flight from US.

7. There are daily flights form NY, Miami, Houston, Orlando and LA. There are weekly flights from Montreal and Toronto too.

8. Foreigners can sell and buy property in Panama easily and legally, and are protected by the same rights as enjoyed by Panamanian citizens, the real estate prices are very reasonable

9. Panama is financially secured than its neighboring countries. The annual inflation for the past 35 years is around 1.5% and in the 1990′s it exceeded 1% per year. The main source of income for the government and the majority of the people is the ‘Panama Canal’. The annual revenue by means of the Panama Canal has been $650 million, where most of the money is used for the Panama Canal’s regular maintenance. The canal is due to be widened and bigger locks are to be built, which would automatically bring in more revenues.

10. In order to attract foreign investment, the government of Panama has set up special economic zones and introduced attractive programs which give people a tremendous opportunity to set up businesses in Panama.

Panama is next big tourist destination. Come spend your Panama vacation in Gamboa Resort, in the rainforest luxury. When traveling the interior, stay in Gran Hotel Nacional, the best hotel in David, Chiriqui, Panama. Now is also the best time to invest in Panama real estate.

Article Source: articlestreet

Travel Cheap To Latin America

Posted in Latin America on November 17th, 2009 by admin – Comments Off

One of the biggest considerations when it comes to budget travel is where to vacation. Some vacation destinations are much less costly than others, so travelers on a budget need to choose their vacation spots carefully.

One of the most exciting, and least expensive, travel destinations for the budget traveler is the countries of Central and South America.

Going where your dollars go farther is one of the cardinal rules of budget travel, and U.S. dollars are highly sought after, and incredibly valuable, in a number of Latin American countries.

For instance, for the same budget, you could spend a week at one of those priciest Caribbean resorts, or several months in many fascinating parts of Central and South America.

Budget travel in Latin America has many advantages far beyond the monetary savings. For instance, some of the most amazing and unforgettable sights just happen to be located in some of the world’s least expensive countries.

These easy to afford, hard to forget sights include the Incan wonders of Machu Picchu in Peru and the wonderful Mayan ruins scattered throughout some of the least costly parts of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.

A budget Latin American vacation can include such exciting adventures as exploring an unspoiled rainforest, white water rafting down some of the world’s most beautiful rivers, climbing active and extinct volcanoes, and diving off some of the world’s most spectacular coral reefs.

The key to enjoying all this adventure while staying within your budget is to shun the standard tourist sights, and to take your time when traveling around. By doing this, not only will you save money, but you will make contact with real people, and make some wonderful memories.

While in Cancun you may meet only other tourists, in the wilds of Peru you will meet all kinds of people, from peasant coffee farmers to experienced mountain guides and white water raft guides.

Visiting an affordable country means you will enjoy wonderful meals, stay in unique and interesting places, and meet wonderful people you will never forget, all for far less than you would spend at home.

When visiting Latin America, it is important to take your time, not simply because there is so much to see, but also because the pace of life there is slower and more relaxed.

And after all, relaxation is what a vacation should be all about. And the best thing is, your vacation budget can last for many months in this most affordable of destinations.

Taking it slow will allow you to spend time with and get acquainted with some of the most fascinating people you will ever meet.

Getting the perspective of the local population and learning from their varied experience, is one of the best parts of travel, no matter what your budget.

Travel provides a perspective and a view of your place in the world that nothing else can, and that is what makes it so uniquely valuable and exciting.

Traveling throughout Central and South America is also a great way to boost the local economies, and help the lives of the wonderful people who live there.

Spending time in a small village, living with a local family in a small guest house, may well pay that family’s bills for weeks, help send their children to school, and help them enjoy a brighter future.

Instead of spending your money in a large tourist resort, try stepping off the beaten path for a couple of weeks or months.

Not only will you save significant sums of money, but you will help people who need the money. The beauty of budget travel in Latin America is that your money goes directly to the people who need it, instead of being filtered through resort owners, tour operators and hotel managers.

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Coffee In Latin America And The Caribbean

Posted in Latin America on November 17th, 2009 by admin – Comments Off

Coffee is produced in many parts of the globe in over seventy countries including parts of East Africa, India, Indonesia and Vietnam (second largest producer in the world), but here we’re going to concentrate on coffee in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Most Like it Black

Apparently most coffee drinkers in Mexico take it black and believe that the best black coffee comes from their country. I’m sure the natives of many other countries would dispute that and probably the story is apocryphal.

Mexico produces approximately 3.5% of the world’s coffee and the greatest concentration of coffee growing here is in the south of the country but the types are divided into lowland and Altura (high), i.e. grown in mountainous country.

Lowland coffee is mainly grown in Vera Cruz State, on the Gulf of Mexico, east of the central mountain range, whereas Altura Coatepec, a very popular coffee, is grown in the mountains near Coatepec city. Other mountain-grown coffees worthy of note from Vera Cruz State are Altura Orizaba and Altura Huatusco.

In Chiapas State, situated in the south east of Mexico near the border with Guatemala, coffees are also grown in the mountains. The best known of these is Tapachula, named after the town, which has a medium light body and soft flavour.

Oaxaca State is another prolific producer.

Simply the Best

Arguably, Guatemala produces the most interesting tasting coffees in the world, being slightly spicy or smoky on top of a somewhat acidic base.

Coffee growing areas include Antigua (the former capital of Guatemala) and Atitlan, in the central highlands, where the coffee tends to be rich and of spicy acidity in flavour and well-bodied, whereas the coffees grown in the mountains on the Pacific or Caribbean sides are less acidic and more fruity.

Rich and Robust

Of all the coffees in Central America, those of Costa Rica are amongst the most favoured, being full-bodied with a robustly acidic flavour. Most of the coffee here is grown around the area of the capital, San Jose, the most well-known districts being San Marcos de Tarrazu, Tres Rios, Heredia, and Alajuela and it is thought that the height at which the coffee is grown may have more influence on the flavour than actual area or estate.

Major Player

Colombia produces about 10% of the world’s coffee, which can vary in flavour from mild and flavoursome to positively uninteresting.

The better coffees are produced on the slopes of the central and eastern mountain ranges in areas such as Nariño State. Bucaramanga (after the town) produces rich flavoured coffee with low acidity and full body said to resemble that grown in Sumatra. The Bogota (after the capital city), is believed to be one of the most high-grade blends is lower in acidity than the notable Medellin but is still flavoursome.

Much of the coffees is produced by small private growers then processed by the Colombian Coffee Federation. It is this "cooperative" coffee which can vary somewhat in quality.

Coffee in the Caribbean


Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is world-renowned for its smoothness and rich flavour. Unfortunately, supply is short and consequently prices are high. Other Jamaican coffees are undistinguished and the "Blue Mountain Style" coffees almost certainly contain coffee grown at much lower altitudes and indeed, may not contain any coffee grown in Jamaica at all.

Low Flyer

Haiti produces a very tiny percentage of the world’s coffee but what it does produce has a pleasant softness and sweetness. This is attributed to the low altitudes at which it is grown, the high rainfall and the volcanic soil of the coffee growing area.

Nearly Jamaican?

The Dominican Republic produces only a small amount more coffee than Haiti but experts are comparing it with the richness and acidity of that grown at high altitudes with that of the Jamaican Blue Mountains. Low grown coffees are softer and less acidic.

There are many other countries in this region which grow coffee but we only have time here to cover a small cross-section.

Liz Canham is webmistress of Coffee All Day.

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Microsoft’s Joint Venture Brings Popular Internet Culture to Latin America

Posted in Latin America on November 17th, 2009 by admin – Comments Off

Have you found a comfortable niche in your industry and region? Are you looking for a way to expand your operations without the necessary capital buildup and potential debt structure required for most business expansion projects?

Why not look for a business with a similar industry to yours that is doing well in another regional niche? By combining forces, including technology, customers, subscribers, name branding, and other strengths, you could form a joint venture to capitalize on new markets.

Microsoft’s Desire to Enter into Latin America

Microsoft is the undisputed king of PC and Internet software. What would happen if the software king partnered with the leading telecommunications company in Mexico to bring popular Internet and MSN technology to Central America? The result was T1MSN, a joint venture created by Microsoft and TelMex.

As we crossed into the 21st century, Microsoft was looking for a way to expand their online software and Internet presence, known as MSN, into further reaches beyond the United States. Though Microsoft was already known worldwide, they looked at a potential partnership with Telmex, the leading telecommunications company in Mexico.

TelMex controlled 10.8 million phone lines and over 5 million wireless customers through the largest fiber optics digital network in three countries. Their services included wireless communication, video broadcasting, data transfer, and Internet access. With such a tremendous communications presence already in Central America, Microsoft had a perfect partner in which to launch a joint venture into Spanish-speaking countries.

Microsoft’s JV Marketing Proposal

Microsoft knew that TelMex had a leading Internet stake already planted in Central America. Rather than trying to build their own Central American presence and delivery system from scratch, Microsoft approached TelMex with a joint venture proposal. The proposal would combine existing TelMex customers and internet delivery systems with quality and popular MSN programming and services in a new company, T1MSN.

T1MSN began delivering services in Mexico, offering rich, popular MSN content in Spanish, such as the MSN Internet portal, MSN Messenger, MSN web communities, Hotmail, and other web-based email services. The new company also began creating new web programming and bundled software for its Spanish-speaking subscribers.

Part of Microsoft’s strategy in forming the joint venture with TelMex is to continue forming partnerships with other Internet providers to over 29 countries in the America’s and Europe. Microsoft faced stiff competition in North America from Internet provider rival AOL. In order to continue to compete in the Internet arena, Microsoft needed a strategy to build and provide popular Internet content. They decided the best route to growing their Internet brand was through joint venture partnerships with established communications and Internet companies in other countries.

Even Microsoft can’t take over the world without a little help. By joining forces with strong companies in other regions Microsoft grew their Internet market presence. If you’re ready to begin your business expansion, consider joint ventures. It could be the best strategy for your company to become a national, or even a worldwide, presence in your industry.

Christian Fea is CEO of Synertegic, Inc. A Joint Venture Marketing firm. He exemplifies how to profit from Joint Venture relationships by creating profit centers with minimal risk and maximum profitability. Join his Joint Venture Marketing Wealth Report at http://www.christianfea.com/joint-venture-wealth-report/?a=3

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