Good Lord! Bush wishes Castro dead

Wishing somebody’s death is not a very Christian thing. Yet, Mr. Bush invoked the Lord himself to express what he really feels about Fidel Castro.”One day the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away,” the president said this week during a speech at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.

And, of course, the White House spokespeople had to come out to try to fix the “misunderstanding” (if any). Asked whether Bush was wishing Castro dead, White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe was quoted in the press saying: “The president was commenting on an inevitable event.”

As for Castro himself … well, he responded with humor, and also pointing at the grace of God.

“Now I understand why I survived Bush’s plans and those of presidents who ordered my assassination,” he joked in an essay distributed to international media in Havana. “The good Lord protected me,” he said, echoing Bush’s words on his eventual demise.

Good lord!

Miami Beach gets a hand from “God”


Diego Maradona might not be the hot soccer player he was in his prime, but his name remains a strong brand to sell all sorts of things. And in his most recent branded effort, the controversial Argentine figure is now behind the development of a luxury apartment complex in South Beach called “El Maradona”.

According to Buenos Aires-based El Clarin, the 72-residence complex will include a sculpture aptly named “La mano de Dios,” (the hand of God) reminiscent of Maradona’s controversial goal in the quarter-final match of the 1986 World Cup between England and Argentina.

Residencies will cost between $700,000 and $1.7 million and the complex will include a small Maradona museum. Wife Claudia says she’s happy with the deal. After all, she says, the Maradona’s are still waiting on the Italians who promised him a piazza named after him and… nothing yet has happened.

Who wants to be the ‘mero mero drywalero’?


I had no idea what a dry wall “expert” (or drywalero) was. But thanks to a Chicago-based company I now know that is someone who works with drywalls and is eligible for a $5,000 cash award courtesy of Sheetrock, a USG corporation that specializes in, well, dry walls.

And following the example of other “innovative” marketers, this firm is going the extra mile in reaching the Hispanic consumer. Just check out this week’s announcement by Sheetrock with a call for entries looking for the “mero mero drywalero.”

The competition is about identifying -and crowning- “el mero mero drywalero,” loosely translated as the “Best of the Best Drywaller” in Chicago. The first prize is $5,000 in cash. The company has even set up a dedicated Web site with Brazilian-like music included (don’t ask why) luring Mexican-looking guys to apply.

Contest rules call for applicants to be at least 21 years of age, though there is no word of immigration status, which makes me think ‘my people’ are more than qualified for the prize.

Other skills required (verbatim):

  1. Contestants will snap and score a Sheetrock Brand gypsum wallboard panel along pre-marked lines.
  2. Contestants will then hang the panel on a stud wall structure furnished by USG using 5 drywall screws and a screw gun supplied by USG. Screws must be at least 2 inches apart from each other. (note: Mexican workers will have to be familiar with the inch dilemma).
  3. Using a new Sheetrock Brand knife, Contestants will dispense Plus 3TM Joint Treatment Compound into a pan and mix three times. Water will be already placed in the pan.
  4. Contestants will apply the Plus 3TM Joint Treatment Compound to the panel to cover the 5 screws.
  5. Contestants will then place the knife in the pan and put the pan back on the floor.
  6. The winner of each round will be the contestant with the fastest time; however, deductions of 5 seconds will be taken for each of the following:
    • dropping more than a teaspoon of compound on the floor
    • overdriving more than one screw
    • failing to cover a screw with joint compound
  7. Failure to wear any PPE item will disqualify a contestant

Piece of cake!

I’m sure my fellow Mexicans will do better here than in their previous challenge (playing the U.S. national soccer team) which didn’t turn out that peachy.

Si se puede!!

Oooops! Gringos build wall in the wrong country


It is not very often that American officials apologize to Mexican authorities. But it happened this week when the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the U.S. government didn’t “intentionally” erect a 5-foot-tall barrier … in Mexico.

As it turns out, part of a wall built in 2000 along the U.S.-Mexico border (and intended to stop vehicles from moving between the two countries) was built in the wrong country. The barrier encroaches into Mexico territory between 1 and 6 feet south of the border along a 1.5-mile stretch.

Upon realizing the mistake –7 years later– the U.S. has said it will soon be removed and rebuilt on American soil.

“We respect our international boundary, and we want to be good neighbors,” Michael Friel, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told Associated Press.

Thank you, Mr. Friel. You might now want to consider hiring some Mexicans for the job…

Meanwhile on the Web…

And speaking about the media and covering what really matters, more than 180,000 people have logged onto celebrity-news Web site to cast their vote on one important issue: whether Salma Hayek’s boobs are real or not.

The verdict is not great for my paisana, with only 53 percent saying ‘yes, they are the real thing’. To see for yourself and make an informed decision, you can even access before and after pictures on the subject.

As for me, I decided not to cast my vote … yet. I’ll wait for after the birth of her first child to avoid any confusion. In the meantime, I’ll keep scouring over the media looking for stuff to be on top of the news.

What else is on TV?


Thank God I speak English, because if I had to rely on Spanish-language television to be informed, I would think that besides the death of Antonio Aguilar, nothing else has happened on this planet.

The Mexican singer died at age 88 on June 19, and as of today (Friday June 22) nothing else has been on Hispanic television. And I don’t mean only the chismes shows. Since Tuesday, both Univision and Telemundo have opened their nightly newscasts with the details of Aguilar’s death; and for 48 hours straight, daily shows such as Telemundo’s Cotorreando and Escandalo TV have devoted one-hour specials to the event. The coverage has become ridiculously detailed, and some reporters went as far as to shed some tears on live television.

“What would Latinos be watching otherwise?,” my mom –who is visiting from Mexico– asked me. “Is there anything else?”. I was sorry to tell her there was nothing much, at least not in Spanish, the only language she understands.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the death of Antonio Aguilar was worth making it to the news but, how much longer do Spanish speakers have to hear about this?

Spanish-language TV gets animated


I feel bad for Mr. Schwarznegger, but Spanish-language TV is just about to get even more viewers (yep, more of those lazy Latinos who don’t want to learn English).

El Chavo del Ocho, the popular Mexican sitcom that follows the tribulations of an 8-year-old homeless kid living in a vecindad, is now to be released in animated form in the U.S. Fifty-two half hour episodes already launched throughout Mexico and Latin America in the fall.

During a brief visit to New York City this week, the show’s creator and producer, Roberto Gómez Bolaños, told reporters the first 26 episodes will be ready to be shown this winter.

Don’t worry, Mr. Governator: plans call for El Chavo to be dubbed into English in the near future.

P&G’s latest finding: Latinos love to smell


You may not know this, but we Hispanics are “avid scent seekers.”

That is according to Procter & Gamble, which worked closely with “smell expert” Dr. Alan Hirsch in determining the impact of scents in Latinos’ moods. The result of such exhaustive research is a partnership with Target stores, announced this week, to “Inspire the living environments of Hispanic consumers with scent tips”

I’m not sure exactly what that means but it smells like a plot to push Tide, Febreze, Bounce, Cascade and Downy among “my people.” Funnily enough, after reading the release to my mom (the ultimate Latino housewife) she emphatically said “That’s not true!… I use Clorox all the time, y huele a rayos!”

Procter & Gamble’s “insight” reminded me of that of Coor’s, which recently found out we Latinos are particularly sensitive to “cold” when it comes to drinking beer (“Latinos like it cold”). Or Inc., the search engine marketing company that recently stumbled upon another unprecedented finding: “Hispanics in the U.S. are more comfortable with technology than the general population.”

(Why on earth didn’t I get into marketing? sounds like easy, fun, full of B.S. and certainly better paid than journalism!)

One (Latino) nation under dog


Latino film lovers brace yourselves! The Walt Disney Co. next year will bring you South of the Border, featuring, among many others, Salma Hayek, Andy García, Cheech Marin, Plácido Domingo, Edward James Olmos and even Univision radio personality Eddie “El Piolín” Sotelo.

But don’t expect anything too politically or socially charged. According to IMDB, the plot of South of the Border, currently in pre-production, can be resumed as follows: “While on vacation in Mexico, Chloe, a ritzy Beverly Hills chihuahua, finds herself lost and in need of assistance in order to get back home.”

Alas, none of the Latino luminaries mentioned above will be giving voice to the main character. The job, says The Hollywood Reporter has already been given to Drew Barrymore.

Ay Chihuahua!

Schwarzenegger was right …


Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comment this week about immigrants and Spanish television pissed off a lot of proud Latinos and unleashed a series of online (and off line) bashing against the Governator. And because the incident was widely covered, I decided not to blog about it … until now.

On Friday afternoon I turned down an opportunity to go live on national TV to “defend” Spanish-language television during a small debate organized as a result of the brouhaha. My friend, a Washington, D.C.-based entrepreneur and media personality called and asked if I would be interested in taking up the challenge.

Though I ended up not doing it, the possibility got me thinking: how on earth could I go on national television to defend the indefendible? Could I actually make myself available to say publicly that my fellow Latinos (documented or not) should watch Univision and Telemundo?

While I might not agree with the reasons given by Mr. Schwarzenegger for Latinos to turn off Spanish-language TV, I would very strongly encourage them to do so … simply for mental health reasons.

$4.4 billion worth of pupusas

Hoping to change the negative perception some Long Island residents have about the growing Latino community, a pro-immigrant group there this week launched a new advertising campaign, financed by the Horace Hagedorn Foundation. The spots –one of which tries hard to be witty– began airing on Thursday in several Long Island cable stations.

Interestingly, one of the spots revolves around pupusas, as in the Salvadorean tortilla-like corn snack. The pitch? Immigrants contribute with an estimated $4.4 billion to Long Island’s economy. As the commercial states in the end: That’s a whole lot of pupusas.

Long Island Wins –

Piolín goes to Washington


Univision Radio personality Eddie “Piolín” Sotelo did achieve his goal of gathering over one million letters in support of the passage of a “fair and just” immigration reform bill.

And now, he is taking them to Washington.

“Por la Reforma Migratoria con Piolín,” as the latest pro-immigration campaign is known, included a caravan that departed Wednesday from Los Angeles and is arriving today in Washington, D.C., where Piolín is expected to hand-deliver the letters to members of the Senate and House, including Senator Kennedy, Senator Martinez and Senator Menendez.

Sending off the caravan, known as “Dreams Across America,” was Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, a longtime supporter of immigrant rights.

Univision has even set up a dedicated blog where users can join the “pioli-caravana” as it travels to its destiny.

One can only hope that those traveling with Piolín have their papers in order, as the much publicized event lately has been the center of attention of everybody, including immigrant busters.

Bolivian president challenges FIFA


Who says you cannot play soccer de altura?

To contest FIFA’s decision to prohibit international tournaments and World Cup qualifying matches above 8,200 feet (2,500 meters), Bolivian president Evo Morales (shown in green in this AP photo) this week played two soccer matches –one at 6,000 meters (19,700 feet) above sea level, and another one at 5,580– in an improvised field on top of el nevado de Sajama, near the Chilean border.

As most Latin American soccer fans know, FIFA’s decision rules out the capitals of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and the stadiums of leading teams in Peru, Chile and Mexico.

War troubles? try sweetening them up with Splenda

Spanish-language media in the U.S. have never been very good at news analysis; let alone at taking a stand for -or against- issues other than immigration. But when it comes to pairing products and services with heart-wrenching, novela-like programming, Hispanic television is an indisputable leader.

Take the Iraq war and last night’s Soñando Contigo one-hour special on Univision.

Producers of the show brought in U.S. Army Sgt. Rogelio Paredes before being shipped out for his third tour of duty in Iraq. The occasion? to renew his wedding vows on national television, and in front of a live audience. All of this, of course, was made possible by Univision and Splenda … Yep, as in the non-sugar sweetener made by McNeil Nutritionals.

In addition to the public ceremony, Sgt. Paredes’ received a “fantasy getaway” for his immediate family in -where else?- Las Vegas; and to top it all of: a lavish wedding cake sweetened with -what else?- Splenda.

How sweet is that?

I did see the show but in case you missed it, you can read the details in an incredibly long press release.

Why Hispanic media loves “Danny”

You gotta acknowledge Spanish-language media for their relentless coverage of all things Latino in the U.S.

After an exhaustive weekend coverage of the Puerto Rican parade in New York City, Monday’s evening Spanish-language newscasts opened with –what else?– Danny Olivas’ walk on space.

See, it’s not only because Danny is one of the few fortunate ones to have gone on a spacewalk … ever. As luck has it, his grandparents happened to be born in Chihuahua, Mexico, which gives him an enviable spot in the attention of Hispanic media.

Univision news anchor Enrique Gratas last night went as far as to close the segment with the following remark: “It was one small step for Danny Olivas, and a giant leap for the Hispanic community.”

Why? … I wonder.