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Cuba's Customs Clamps Down in “Illegal Imports”

On September 1, 2014 the Customs Service of the Republic of Cuba will begin enforcing new regulations intended to combat illegal trafficking of merchandise by relatives, friends and ‘mules’ (a slang term for couriers of goods from overseas through airports and port facilities).

Iván's File Cabinet considers this “one more turn of the screw”, explaining that since 2011, there have been new measures every year to try and stop the illegal importation of goods by families and private businesses on the island.

How to Become a Good Father

Panamanian Joel Silva Díaz elaborates what many people wonder, especially men: how to be a good father. On his personal blog he describes his challenges with his own father and his goals as a father:

…Recuerdo que veía como un juego el buscar un tema de conversación, debido a mi falta de interés en el deporte, nunca tuvimos una conversación de más de 5 líneas (legítimamente contadas por más de 10 años), pero conociendo otros casos e historias, por lo menos tuve un padre.
[...]
Y es eso lo que quiero mejorar, quiero ser un padre que no haga las cosas sin enterarse, quiero abrazar, quiero besar a mis hijos, presentarle siempre la opción de tomar las mejores decisiones y apoyarlos cuando no tomen las mejores, nunca dudar en mostrarles mi amor y cariño, mucho menos dudar cuando se ganen un coscorrón.
[...]
Pero mi parte no quiero que se quede en un apellido, o un cheque en la quincena, mi parte ha de ser presente, determinante y quiero que mi hijo o hija tenga por lo menos un solo recuerdo lindo impregnado en su corazón, como los domingos de Salsa y el olor a grama recién cortada de los domingos en mi casa.

I remember I considered a game to look for something to talk about, due to my lack of interest in sports we never had a conversation longer than five lines (rightfully registered for over ten years), but knowing other cases and stories, I at least had a father.
[...]
And that's what I want to improve,I want to be a father that does things without noticing it, I want to hug, kiss my children, present them the best option to make the best decisions and support them when they don't make the good ones, never hesitate in demonstrating my love and care, let alone when they earn a smack on the head.
[...]
As for me, I don't want a last name to last, nor a check every two weeks, my part has to be present, decisive and I want my child to have at least on only nice memory in their heart, as Salsa and the scent of recently trimmed off grass on Sundays at home.

Are you, or plan to be a good father?

You can read Silva Diaz following his accounts on G+ or Twitter

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV, (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

Reflections After 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014

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Image from Flickr, with CC license.

Mexican student Álvaro blogs about his sentiments and opinions about 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. He reflects on the poor performance of Mexico and Brazil national teams, but highlights what he considers a strategy failure of Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff.

Días antes del comienzo del mundial, Dilma se imaginaba este lunes 14 de Julio como el día en que ganaría anticipadamente las elecciones presidenciales de octubre, un Brasil campeón en su tierra hubiera sido suficiente para sofocar las protestas civiles que se han alzado en contra de su gobierno, o al menos hubiera logrado distraerlas por un rato.[...] Sin embargo, es evidente que el plan no salió según lo esperado, sino todo lo contrario; de manera similar a lo ocurrido en Sochi, Rusia para las Olimpiadas de Invierno, el enfoque mundial sobre Brasil solo sirvió para exponer los graves problemas que enfrenta el país en todo ámbito. No hubo escasez de reportes de la prensa internacional sobre el mal estado de las calles, las acomodaciones, la gente y hasta los estadios, mismos que se derrumbaron o que ni siquiera pudieron terminarse antes del evento.

Just days before the World Cup started, Dilma was imagining this Monday, July 14 as the day she would win in advance the Octobre presidential election, with Brazil champion on its own land would suffice to calm down the civliian protests against her administration, or at least, it would be useful as a distraction for a while. [...] However, it's evident that didn't work as expected, but on the contrary; just as it happened in Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympic Games. The world approach to Brazil only exposed the serious problems the country faces. There were many reports by international press about the bad roads, accommodations, people and even stadiums, that collapsed or weren't even completed before the tournament.

You can follow Álvaro on his Twitter account.

Colombia: “What Do You Love About Medellin Downtown?”

Medellín

Medellin seen from the MetroCable. Image on Flickr by user szeke (CC BY-SA 2.0).

On his Facebook page, Colombian journalist Juan Mosquera reflects on the problems of downtown Medellin:

#‎AmamosElCentro‬
El centro de Medellín tiene problemas, cada día más palpables y agudos, que no sólo obedecen a la siniestra presencia de los intereses de la delincuencia. Lo lees, lo escuchas, lo ves, casi lo respiras. Por eso quiero preguntarles a los que pasan por aquí ¿Qué amas, a qué le tienes afecto en el centro?”

#‎AmamosElCentro‬ (We love downtown)
Medellin downtown has problems, more tangible and serious each day, due not only to the sinister presence of delinquency interests. You read, hear, see them, you almost breathe them. That's why I want to ask those who pass by: what do you love, what are you fond of about downtown?”

By the time this post was written, the question had 71 answers, and some users also expressed themselves on Twitter:

We love downtown for San Alejo and its cakes. Right, @bgarcial?

We love downtown for the hills, the 7th, the Planetarium, museums and many other things.

“Muito Obrigado, Brazil”

Colombian student Juan Pablo Ramírez blogs his opinions, mainly about football and politics. He shared his farewell to 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, and called it “the best 21st century World Cup”, because of the many records broken and the many surprises this tournament brought. Like Colombia qualifying to quarter finals for the first time ever, Germany hammering Brazil on semifinals (the semifinal with the most goals ever) and mucha more.

En fin, el que terminó ayer fue un gran Campeonato del Mundo, lleno de emociones y sorpresas, el cual deja muy alto el listón para Rusia 2018 que es lo que viene, y para el que lo único que queda por decir es muito obrigado, Brasil.

Anyway, the World Cup that ended yesterday was a great World Cup, full of excitement and surprises, that sets the bar high for Russia 2018, which comes next, and the only thing that's left for us to say is muito obrigado, Brazil.

The author also writes about Lionel Messi being awarded with the FIFA Ballon d'Or that he, as many other people, considered unfair, comparing it to James Rodríguez as the highest scorer.

Follow Juan Pablo on his blog and on Twitter.

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

Venezuela Clears the Tower of David, the “World's Tallest Slum,” of Squatters

The Venezuelan government has finished evacuating thousands of squatters from the Tower of David, which overlooks Caracas’ slums, and is the tallest and most distinct building in the capital city's skyline. 

The one-time office tower is a symbol of how prosperous Venezuela once was and its current dilapidated state reflects growing inflation and poverty problems in the country. Some of the squatters were people seeking refuge from growing daily violence in the sprawling city.

“This is not an eviction, this is a coordinate operation, harmoniously carried out with the community of the Confinanzas towers, that implies moving from here to units in Misión Vivienda”, stated Ernesto Villegas, minister for the Transformation of Gran Caracas, to a local TV station. Those units are located in Valles del Tuy.

On Twitter, users are posting some images from the so called skyscraper-favela of Caracas:

Know why the famous Tower of David is being evicted (PHOTOS).

CARACAS: Since last night, the “Tower of David” is being evicted. Since 2007 the building was invaded by squatters.

One of the seasons of TV show Homeland was set in the Tower of David. On this report, we watch.

Simply, Thank You!

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Image on futbolshampan.blogspot.com.ar, used with permission.

2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is over and Argentina didn't win this time. A week after the final match, there are still lots of reflections and comments about the performance of the Argentinian national team. This time, we find a hearfelt comment by Manuel de León, where he expresses his grattitud to the crew on his blog:

 No son magos, pero 23 jugadores y un cuerpo técnico que eran sumamente criticados dieron vuelta la tortilla e hicieron que hasta el más incrédulo, se llenara de fe y esperanza. El mundo entero vio la bandera Argentina y escuchó el himno nacional de nuestro país en una final de la copa del mundo. No pasa todos los días. Es por tal motivo, que no encuentro otra manera de terminar este texto: tan solo, GRACIAS.

They are not magicians, but 23 players and a technical staff who were severely criticized and who turned things over and filled even the most skeptical ones with faith and hope. The whole world saw the Argentinian flag and heard our country national anthem on a World Cup finale. This doesn't happen every day. That's why I can't think of other way of ending this text: just THANK YOU.

You can follow Manuel on Twitter

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV, (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014. 

A Documentary That Allows Transgender People's Voices to Be Heard

Though gays and lesbians are gradually gaining more acceptance in Puerto Rico, the same cannot be said yet of transgender people. That is why a film like Mala Mala, a documentary in which trans people speak freely about their stories, is so important. The film, directed by Dan Sickles (@dan_sickles) and Antonio Santini, is on the official selection of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

One of the people interviewed for the film is Paxx Moll, a chef who is also a transgender female-to-male. In an article published in La Respuesta, a digital magazine about the Puerto Rican diaspora, he talks to E. J. Dávila about who he is, his experience being part of the documentary, and about the lack of social and medical spaces for trans people in Puerto Rico, particularly for transgender men.

This is the teaser trailer for Mala Mala, which will premier in Puerto Rico in the coming months:

The Engineer, Documentary About the Man Unearthing the Dead in El Salvador's Gang Wars

Pandillas

Symbolic weapon handover from the gangs to Monsignor Colindres and Raúl Mijango. Photo on Flickr by user Departamento de Seguridad Pública OEA (CC BY-ND 2.0).

The documentary “The engineer” tells the story of the man that unearths the dead in El Salvador's gang wars. Israel Ticas has been trained as a civil engineer, and as forensic criminologist, every day brings with it the promise of new bodies, victims of a remorseless Salvadoran gang culture, dumped in disused wells or buried in the thicket of inaccessible woodland.

This has made him a target for the pandilleros, whose ugly deeds he unearths. “He's sticking his nose in where it doesn't belong”, comments one member of 18 Street. In spite of the risks, however, and not for want of a way out, Israel Tocas carries on. “When you think of the 20 mothers waiting for the bodies down there, that's when you get motivated”.

Palestinians are Friends with Journalists

Marcelino Torrecilla N. has started a series in Spanish called Stories from Gaza. The first installment by this United Arabe Emirates based Colombian was published on El Tiempo of Bogotá and tells a story of two Gulf News journalists in Abu Dhabi.

Taking pictures in the Gulf is challenging and even when trying to take pictures of women. But Palestinians are used to be photographed. The media are friends of the Palestinians and they know that. as Torrecilla translates:

In Gaza it is very different. With one of the highest concentrations of media in the world, the people of Gaza are used to being photographed. Not only this, but they welcome the eyes of the world. The Palestinians don't have an army to fight with. They have the rocks they throw at Israeli soldiers and they have their tears.

For more stories about the Gaza Strip in Spanish told by an eye witness, follow Marcelino Torrecilla's updates on Twitter.

This post was part of the elventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

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