Latin America

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. 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 and read some papers as in writings

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 and

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

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

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

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

Article Source: articlestreet

Volunteer in Latin America- Learning Spanish While Volunteering

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

Latin America offers a lot of opportunities for volunteer work and especially in teaching English. This South American region offers beautiful landscape and travel opportunities to places that are more heard of than seen.

Volunteering in Latin America has increased in the recent past due to a failing economy, poverty, and lack of education and political and civil wars and strife. But the fact is that Latin American nations have a wealth of natural resources, but are still considered as developing countries by those in North America and Europe.

So if you are interested in overseas volunteer work then Latin America is a place to be. Some of the relatively developed countries in Latin America like Argentina and Costa Rica have significant number of people below the poverty line.

Apart from this most of Latin American countries are not well versed with English, which is slowly becoming a global language.

Volunteering in Latin America can vary from country to country and it can include from community development, health education, environmental work and even sports. As an individual, you can always choose the kind of overseas volunteer work you want to participate in and the duration that you want to work for.

Volunteering in Latin America includes the following types of work:

Conservation volunteerism: This is of prime importance especially because a large part of the Amazon rain forest has disappeared and with it has disappeared many habitats.

You can choose volunteering work from different types of conservation projects that include preservation of endangered species of turtles in Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago; Wildlife rehabilitation centers in Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador and save forests and environmental projects in Brazil (mostly Amazon), Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala etc.

You don’t need to have any kind of degree in animal behavior, all you need is love for nature, animals and a will to make a difference and save the planet and its depleting natural resources.

Health Volunteerism: Volunteering in Latin America revolves a lot around health and related services because most of the countries there don’t have the necessary infrastructure or skilled people that include, doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners.

Lack of education also means that health problems are at a rise in the backward areas and smaller towns. You can get a lot of exposure through volunteer work in hospitals in Ecuador and Honduras.

Sports Volunteerism: Sports may seem to be the unlikely area for volunteer work. South America has a lot of sporting talent especially in soccer but there is no infrastructure, coaches or training schools that can hone the skills of the youngsters or teenagers who want to enter the professional sports arena.

Soccer is like a religion in some countries like Brazil and Argentina, who have also made their mark on the World stage. El futbol is considered to be a way of life, so if you have ever coached any teams or played in any league games in Europe or other parts of the world then you can volunteer as a football/soccer coach.

Volunteer Community Development: Although South America presents a pretty picture that advertises the smiles, the sun, the sand, the giant palm trees, the beautiful and exotic wildlife, there is much work to be done in terms of community development.

Latin America suffers from a disparity of wealth and there are many people who dream of a better life, more money so that they can provide the basic necessities to their children or parents.

Volunteering in Latin America in Community development will involve many aspects like teaching English, developing projects that will benefit the society as a whole, helping old aged people and orphans, providing education to street kids and many more.

It is all hard work but the end result is gratifying because you will be one of the few people to have made a difference.

Volunteer in Latin America expert Alex Landin is a project manager and Volunteer in latin American destinations and contributor to

Article Source: articlestreet

7 Common Real Estate Scams in Latin America to Avoid

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

It’s no secret why thousands of people choose to move to Latin America each year to invest and retire. The pleasant weather, fresh food, welcoming locals and great property deals all are big draws. But buyer beware, here are a few of the common scams out there to watch out for when looking for your dream beach house.

1. The Bickering Sibling Scam: This scam is very prevalent all over Latin America. This is when the house is owned by various people (often left to children in a will) and some of the owners try to sell the property while other legal owners don’t wish to sell. This can lead to big problems for you if you pay someone before getting this legally cleared up.

To avoid being burned by this scam, work with a good lawyer and make sure they null the legal rights anyone has to the property.

2. The Uncle Larry Scam: Often a house is sold without informing an active tenant, and the tenant simply refuses to leave. The police in many countries of Latin America don’t help much in these cases. So before you buy, make sure there are no active tenants. Or if there are, make sure the current owner gets them out before you hand over the money. This can be one big headache for a new home buyer.

3. Shanty Town Scam: This has been happening ever since the Spaniards first arrived hundreds of years ago. You will see that in some areas of the coasts, the cheapest beachfront real estate is inhibited by make-shift shanty towns. Many of these people have been here for decades, yet they don’t actually have the title to the land. This opens the door to someone coming along and buying the land without their knowledge and reselling it right out from under them. Uprooting these people is extremely difficult, and this difficulty should be avoided if possible.

4. The Invalid Contract Scam: This is when you sign a document or contract in Latin America, but don’t officially register it with the corresponding Municipality, rendering it unenforceable! Using a good lawyer can help prevent things like this from happening.

5. Multiple Sale Scam: In most Latin countries, once you purchase a property you have to register it officially with the local Notary and the Office often designated the “Registro de Propiedad.” If you don’t, the seller could sell the same property multiple times, and the first one to register the property with the local authorities gets the official deed to property. To avoid, make sure as soon as you buy to register the property.

6. The Useless Property Scam: This is where someone sells you a property that has some governmentally imposed building restriction, rendering your purchase useless. A good lawyer can help you avoid this scam. In other cases your property may be on the base of a large, unstable mountain of sand that will collapse on you once you start construction. To avoid, always visit a lot before you buy it, and don’t commit to anything over the internet.

7. False document scam: In Latin America, anything can be copied. Identical-looking passports can be made for around $150. Needless to say, some people may try to sell you a property with false title and registration documents. The way to prevent this is to always work with a trustworthy lawyer.

Don’t let this list of scams scare you off. Moving to Latin America was the best choice many people, myself included, ever made.

Domenick Buonamici teaches expats how to find the hidden beachfront property bargains of Ecuador through his e-Book “The Insiders Guide to Ecuador Real Estate” available for immediate download at .

Article Source: articlestreet

The Deforestation In Latin America

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

From Latin America came the topmost contributor of land scraping in the whole world. Deforestation in Latin America accounts for almost 53% of the emitted carbon dioxide in the atmospheric air. Logging in the region has become so immense that it claimed to have the highest rate in the world, and the fight of it came to be one of hardest struggles of the continent.

In over a period of 5 years, the world lost 100 hectares of the forested lands, and about half of that came from the Latin American nation. Deforestation has been quite a great toil to them and their people for years now, and it hasn’t been an easy battle because economy has been playing with the nation ever since.

What makes the fight even more exhausting is that the economy of Latin America relies on its own soil for support. Not only are the Latin Americans dependent on their ecological capacity, but the neighboring nations as well. If this present trend will run continuously for a period of 30 years, the world will be totally depleted of all its natural resources.

To combat and counter the ways of deforestation, the Latin American government imposed laws which could help stop all illegal activities. However, it is still a question up to this time why the problem has not ceased for years.

Predictions For Latin America
Recently, Latin America has experienced great climactic changes, and this could have been brought only by the intense cutting of their forests and the abuse that their lands receive.

By the year 2050, these set of predictions by environmentalists and experts are set to happen globally: distribution of human diseases will be widely spread and emergence of new types of illnesses will rise, crop disease and pest will likewise rise in trend, economic activities will be severely depleted, drought and famine will be in much abundance especially in impoverished tropical countries.

Water resource will be greatly reduced, plant and animal species will decrease in variability, the ecosystem will be significantly disrupted, and melting of most of the earth’s glaciers will take place.

If such events that harm nature will not be stopped, imagine what the world would be like in the coming years? Would there be something to live for by then, or are the humans about to face extinction in the next 30 years? The questions are very well dependent on humans for answers.

Key Issues Of Deforestation In Latin America
Latin America is presently facing all of these issues: gradual increase in their environmental temperature which causes much change in their climate, tropical forests especially that of the Amazon is buffeted by drought and fire occurrences, shortage in wheat yields brought about by drought and some other ecological factors.

The availability and quality of their water which once was abundant has changed, coastal areas are immensely affected through sea water level increase, infrastructure has been built all the more to counter the effects of coastal problems. Epidemics of disease have been reported; and lastly, a wide classification of plants and animals are facing extinction due to mal adaptation.

Urgent measures must be taken in saving the Latin American forests. Developmental strategies as well as firm decision makings should properly be imposed upon their people and the neighboring countries which benefit from them as well. If deforestation in Latin America prevails, the world could only promise more devastating results.

Paul Hata is active in various community and social programs.Get the latest Environment,Ecology and Gardening information here – ,WorldEcologyPages.comand

Article Source: articlestreet

Panama is Without Doubt the Hotspot for Investment in Latin America

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

A welcoming community, safe environment, low crime statistics, excellent incentives, together with the natural beauty and ethnic diversity that is Panama, the isthmus of Panama appeals to the increasing number of baby boomers from North America and Europe who are looking for a different option for retirement, coupled with investors and adventurers the world over, Panama has something for everyone.

Opportunities in Panama for both business and investment are increasing as the potential is appreciated. Panama stands alone in its unique set of laws and openness, boasting a well-established dollar-based economy, stable political situation and economic growth, sustained by its Canal (and its subsequent expansion), the Colon Free Zone (the second largest Free Zone in the world), and an unparalleled international financial system the second largest international banking centre in the world after Switzerland, with more than 150 banks from 35 countries. A sophisticated CBD, healthcare system, solid infrastructure and the highest level of communications infrastructure in all of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Is one of the top three countries in Latin America for quality of life
Offers the best retiree incentive program in the world
boasts first-rate medical services at the only Johns Hopkins International Medical Centre in Latin America
has a perfect climate of 25-30 degrees centigrade year round
Because of its unique geographical positioning Panama does not suffer natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes etc
Foreign investors can operate with the same rights and incentives as locals
Panamanian tariffs are the lowest of all the Americas
Panama is a shoppers paradise, be it Chanel, Gucci, Canon, LG or Toyota
Private education is excellent with many international schools
Less than 2% inflation increase over the past forty years
No property taxes on new constructions
Cost-of-living is low, especially with the exchange rate
If you combine these unique offerings with the advantage that foreign source income is not taxable in Panama, many are concluding that Panama offers a terrific package.
In 2003 for the first time tourism topped the Canal and the Free Trade Zone as the country’s top revenue earner.
The growth in tourism leads to increasing investor interest in this sector and there are incredible opportunities for tourist related services and accommodations, encouraged by government incentives in a number of designated areas, called Special Tourism Zones, of which Santa Catalina, Veraguas, Panama is one
IPAT, the national tourism bureau has zoned this area precisely because of its outstanding natural beauty and as a result it will soon see a strong rise in interest from further a field. It has been a best-kept secret by Panamanians for a long time and is now beginning to seduce many a traveler, adventurer, investor, and developer. Growth in the area is inevitable; therefore, those who seek to invest early will reap the largest returns.
This is where Big World Villas, the unique development project is due to celebrating its ground breaking procedure in early 2008.
It is the first such development in the area and offers investors a relaxed lifestyle surrounded by pristine coastline, untouched rain forest and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Santa Catalina is a beautiful town located 300km south-west of Panama City and is the best the best access point for the well-renowned Coiba National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also known for having one of the best surf breaks in Central America whilst boasting breathtaking scenery and an outstanding natural environment. World-class fishing is plentiful along the coastline and surrounding islands. Marine activities such as sport fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and jet skiing opportunities are said to be some of the best in the world.

For more on Big World Villas click here For more on Panama Resl Estate click here

Article Source: articlestreet