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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Latin America, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Celebrating Women’s History Month

world

This March we celebrate Women’s History Month, commemorating the lives, legacies, and contributions of women around the world. We’ve compiled a brief reading list that demonstrates the diversity of women’s lives and achievements.

Women in Asia

Map of Asia

The Courtesan’s Arts: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Edited by Martha Feldman and Bonnie Gordon

Delve into courtesan cultures, including artistic practices and cultural production, often overlooked or diminished in relevancy.

The Power of Gender and the Gender of Power: Explorations in Early Indian History by Kumkum Roy

Discover the distinct strategies through which men and women constituted their identities in India for all their implications, tensions, and inconsistencies.

Cornelia Sorabji: India’s Pioneer Woman Lawyer: A Biography by Suparna Gooptu

Learn about Sorabji’s decisive role in opening up the legal profession to women long before they were allowed to plead before the courts of law, including her writings and personal correspondence.

Women in the Middle East

Map of Middle East

Cleopatra: A Biography by Duane W. Roller

Uncover not the figure in popular culture, arts, and literature of the last five hundred years — but the real last Greek queen of Egypt.

Conceiving Citizens: Women and the Politics of Motherhood in Iran by Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet

Place women in their proper role as mothers of a nation — central to the history of Iran during successive regimes in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire by Leslie P. Peirce

Examine the sources of royal women’s power and assess the reactions of contemporaries, which ranged from loyal devotion to armed opposition.

Women in British History

UK Map

Singled Out: How Two Million British Women Survived Without Men After the First World War by Virginia Nicholson

Try to keep up with a generation of women fated to remain unmarried in the aftermath of the Great War.

The Wealth of Wives: Women, Law, and Economy in Late Medieval London by Barbara A. Hanawalt

Consider an overlooked contribution to London’s economy—the wealth that women accumulated through inheritance, dowry, and dower.

Queen Anne: Patroness of Arts by James A. Winn

Study the life and reign of Queen Anne through literature, art, and music from Dryden, Pope, Purcell, Handel, Lely, Kneller, Wren, Vanbrugh, Addison, Swift, and many other artists.

Women in European History

europe

Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy

Illuminate the brilliant life and tragic death of Isabella de Medici, one of the brightest stars in the dazzling world of Renaissance Italy, the daughter of Duke Cosimo I, ruler of Florence and Tuscany.

Writing the Revolution: A French Women’s History in Letters by Lindsay A. Parker

Investigate nearly 1,000 familiar letters, which convey the intellectual, emotional, and familial life of a revolutionary in all of its complexity.

The Burgher and the Whore: Prostitution in Early Modern Amsterdam by Lotte van de Pol

Delve into the cultural, social, and economic conditions of the lives of poor women in a seafaring society from the perspectives of prostitutes, their bawds, their clients, and the police.

Women in American History

U.S. Map

Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy by Elizabeth R. Varon

Probe the life and work of one of the most remarkable women of the Civil War era–the leader of the North’s key spy ring in the South.

Working Women, Literary Ladies: The Industrial Revolution and Female Aspiration by Sylvia J. Cook

Trace the hopes and tensions generated by expectations of gender and class from the first New England operatives in the early 19th century to immigrant sweatshop workers in the early 20th.

Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement by Sally McMillen

Join the meeting that launched the women’s rights movement and changed American history.

I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science by Marjorie Senechal

Enter the provocative, scintillating mind of the talented and flawed scientist.

African American Women Chemists by Jeannette Brown

Connect to the lives of African America women chemists, from the earliest pioneers through late 1960′s when the Civil Rights Acts were passed, to today.

Women in Latin American History

Map of Latin America

Power and Women’s Representation in Latin America by Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer

Look at the recent trends in women’s representation in Latin America, and the complex and often incomplete nature of women’s political representation.

Refusing the Favor: The Spanish-Mexican Women of Santa Fe, 1820-1880 by Deena J. Gonzalez

Uncover the key role “invisible” Spanish-Mexican women played in the US takeover of Mexico’s northern territory and gain a greater understanding of conquest and colonization.

Weaving the Past: A History of Latin America’s Indigenous Women from the Prehispanic Period to the Present by Susan Kellogg

Reach back through women’s long history of labor, political activism, and contributions to — or even support of — family and community well-being.

Women’s history encompasses the history of humankind, including men, but approaches it from a woman‐centered perspective. It highlights women’s activities and ideas and asserts that their problems, issues, and accomplishments are just as central to the telling of the human story as are those of their brothers, husbands, and sons. It places the sociopolitical relations between the sexes, or gender, at the center of historical inquiry and questions female subordination.

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Image Credits: (1) Physical World Map via CIA World Factbook (public domain). (2) Map of Asia by Bytebear. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (3) Map of Middle East by NuclearVacuum. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. (4) Map of Britain by Anonymous101. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (5) Map of Europe via CIA World Factbook (public domain). (6) Blank US Map by Theshibboleth. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (7) Map of Latin America and the Caribbean by Yug. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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2. What does the future hold for international arbitration?

How can we outline the discussion on the law and practice of international arbitration? What is the legal process for the drafting of the arbitration agreements or the enforcement of arbitral awards? Long-time international arbitrators Constantine Partasides, Alan Redfern, and Martin Hunters — co-authors of Redfern and Hunter on International Arbitration: Fifth Edition with Nigel Blackaby — sat down with the OUPblog to discuss the latest developments in their field. Watch the following videos to learn more about current views on international arbitration and what changes they expect to see in the future.

How did the idea of writing a book come about?

Click here to view the embedded video.

What challenges are arbitrators facing now?

Click here to view the embedded video.

How do you view the future of international commercial arbitration? 

Click here to view the embedded video.

Nigel Blackaby, Constantine Partasides, Alan Redfern, and Martin Hunter are the authors of Redfern and Hunter on International Arbitration: Fifth Edition. Nigel Blackaby is one of the partners of the international arbitration group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Washington, DC. Constantine Partasides is a one of the partners of the international arbitration group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London. Alan Redfern is the barrister and international arbitrator at One Essex Court Chambers in London. Martin Hunter is currently a barrister and international arbitrator at One Essex Court Chambers.

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3. Fidel Castro becomes Prime Minister of Cuba

This Day in World History

February 16, 1958

Fidel Castro Becomes Prime Minister of Cuba


Fidel Castro arrives MATS Terminal, Washington, D.C. 15 April 1959.

Dressed in army fatigues and surrounded by supporters and reporters, 32-year old Fidel Castro took the oath of office as Cuba’s prime minister on February 16, 1959. He would remain in power for nearly fifty years.

In 1953, Castro had led an attack on a Cuban army barracks hoping to launch a revolt against the government of Fulgencio Batista. That attack failed and he was arrested and imprisoned, though later released in an amnesty of political prisoners. Castro and his brother Raúl formed a small rebel group and hid in Cuba’s eastern mountains as they gathered more supporters, trained them to fight, and connected with other anti-Batista groups. By late 1958, the rebel forces were advancing westward. On January 1, 1959, Batista fled the country and Castro entered Havana triumphant.

The initial provisional government included leaders from several rebel factions, not just Castro’s. At first, he refrained from taking any political power, although he was commander of the armed forces. In six weeks, though, the provisional prime minister—not a Castro ally—resigned, and he took the office.

During 1959, Castro supporters, including Raúl, filled more and more top-level positions. Meanwhile, hundreds of former Batista officials were tried and executed, and Castro began sending signals that he was a Communist. An exodus of thousands of Cubans began, some fearing for their lives because of links to Batista, others angered by Castro’s refusal to restore the 1940 constitution and hold promised elections. Cuban relations with the United States worsened when Castro seized the assets of several American companies and tilted toward the Soviet Union; they fractured when the U.S. government cancelled trade agreements and backed an invasion by anti-Castro Cubans, which failed miserably. By early 1962, Castro had announced that his revolution was socialist, and the United States had placed an embargo on trade with the island.

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4. Week-end Book Review: Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina by Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios

Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios, Spanish translation by Adriana Domínguez,
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina
Children’s Book Press, 2011 (as of 2012 an imprint of Lee & Low Books).

Ages 4-8

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina is a perky bilingual tale about a mixed-heritage girl with a lot of spunk, by award-winning author Monica Brown (Waiting for the Biblioburro; Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People).

Inspired by the author’s personal experience as a Peruvian-American of European, Jewish and Amerindian descent, Marisol McDonald introduces us to a one-of-a-kind girl who defies stereotypes.

Stripes, polka dots and flower prints peacefully co-exist on Marisol’s outfit ensembles. In real life, however, her looks, clothes, playground games and food preferences seem to puzzle her friends, who love to say she “doesn’t match”.

Enchanting and quirky Marisol clearly marches to the beat of her own drums. And why wouldn’t she? After all, there’s nothing wrong with liking peanut butter & jelly burritos; wanting to play a game of soccer-pirates; or signing her first name in cursive and her last in print.

When a school friend challenges her, “Marisol, you couldn’t match if you wanted to!”, Marisol sets out to prove him wrong, dressing for school the next day in a single solid color, eating a “regular” peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch, playing a “normal” game of soccer… and feeling wrong all day long, until a thoughtful note from her teacher snaps her back to her old, cheerful, “mismatched” self.

Radiating joy and fun, Sara Palacios’ Pura Belpré Honor illustrations bring Marisol to life and convey the riches of her life and heritage. Children will enjoy looking for and finding clues in the pictures to all the different cultures, as well as to the story’s geographical—and very apt—setting.

Marisol’s lively story ends on a happy and sweet note, leaving readers with the important message that diversity is something to be embraced and celebrated.

Aline Pereira
February 2012

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5. Week-end Book Review: Colores de la vida by Cynthia Weill, featuring Folk Art by Artisans from Oaxaca, Mexico


Cynthia Weill, illustrated with folk art by Artisans from Oaxaca,
Colores de la vida: Mexican Folk Art Colors in English and Spanish
Cinco Puntos Press, 2011.

Ages: 2+

Hypnotic. The word is hypnotic. A deep green lizard with a jolting yellow band around its neck leaps off the light green page – literally. Green / verde. Two white polar bears curve into the even whiter page, fine black lines of their fearsome claws made bold by the painter’s brush. White / blanco. From full-color spread to full-color spread, Cynthia Weill uses hypnotic photographs of folk art figures from artisans from Oaxaca to illustrate the beauty, art, and vibrancy of the Colores de la vida, colors of life, in an unforgettable book as much about the wonder of the ways we can imagine the world around us as about names of colors.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading ABeCedarios (2007) or Opuestos (2009) will recognize the stylized, vibrantly-painted Oaxacan figures arranged in sets of twos and threes on each spread of marbleized papers in the same hues. Like her previous two books in the highly successful “First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art” series, Author Cynthia Weill brilliantly illustrates the theme of the book – colors – using folk art from other nations and culture. Using friendships formed and connections made during her time in Mexico as a Fullbright scholar, Weill employs artisans from across Oaxaca, both aspiring and well-known, to create the ceramic, tin, wood-carved and papier-mâché figures used.

Colores de la vida supplies minimal text, placing only a single word, the color name, printed in its namesake hue in English and Spanish. This lack of explanation or words, including what the animals actually are, reinforces the irresistible draw between viewer and animal figure. What are those extraordinary winged yellow figures heralding irrepressible glee as an egg hatches a third figure near them. A dragon? Another mythical figure? Each page captures a sense of wonder, of the vibrancy of color, the imagination of the artist, the name of the hue. Colors take life in this small picture book, perfect for small hands, in an astonishing pairing of visual intimacy and artistic joy that make this one of the most distinctive recent books on color – in English or otherwise.

Sara Hudson
April 2011

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6. Ríos Montt to face genocide trial in Guatemala

By Virginia Garrard-Burnett


After the judge’s ruling Monday in Guatemala City, the crowd outside erupted into cheers and set off fireworks. The unthinkable had happened: Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez had cleared the way for retired General Efraín Ríos Montt, who between 1982 and 1983 had overseen the darkest years of that nation’s 36-year long armed conflict, would stand trial for genocide. In that conflict (1960-1996), more than 150,000 Guatemalans died, the majority at the hands of their own government, which used their lives to prosecute a ferocious counterinsurgency war against a group of Marxist guerrillas who had hoped to bring a Sandinista-style socialist regime to Guatemala. For many, General Ríos Montt represented the face of this war, because it was during his short terms as president between March 1982 and August 1983 (he both came to power and was expelled in military coup d’états), that the Guatemalan army undertook the most bloody operation of the war, a violent scorched-earth campaign that not only nearly eliminated the guerrillas military operation, but which also killed many thousands of civilians, the vast majority of them Maya “Indians.” Now, some thirty years later, Ríos Montt will be prosecuted along with his former chief of intelligence, Mauricio Rodriguez Sánchez, for genocide and crimes against humanity. Specifically, he will be charged with ordering the killings of more than 1,700 Maya Ixil people in a series of massacres that the Army conducted in the northern part of the country in 1982.

The axiom “justice delayed is justice denied” notwithstanding, the prosecution of fatally misguided leaders and despots such as Serbia’s Radovan Karadžić  or Hutu leader Beatrice Munyenyezi  is not unusual in the early 21st century. Trials such as these are designed to serve the cause of justice, of course, but they are also instrumental in helping a traumatized society create a coherent narrative and build a collective historical memory around what happened in its recent past. What is unusual about the case against Ríos Montt is that almost no one foresaw the day when such a trial would ever take place in Guatemala. In large part, this stems from Guatemala’s long-standing culture of impunity, where few people, from common criminals all the way up to corrupt businessmen and military officers, are held accountable for their crimes; generally speaking, the rule of law there simply does not rule. Beyond that, Ríos Montt’s continued influence in the country—among other things, he established and headed a powerful political party, the Frente Republicano Guatemalteco in the 1989, and he run an unsuccessful campaign for president as recently as 2003—further mitigated against expectations for his prosecution. His daughter, Zury Ríos Montt (who is married to former US Congressman Jerry Weller) is a rising and powerful young politician; her support for her father is so absolute that she stormed out of the courtroom yesterday before the judge could finalize his pronouncement. But most of all, the prosecution of Ríos Montt seemed most unlikely because, in the strange paradox of power that sometimes comes with authoritarian regimes, there were, and still continue to be, some Guatemalans who continue to respect him, remembering his bloody rule as a time when one could walk the streets of the capital safely and when the “raging wolves” of communism were kept at bay.

Adding to the complexity of this case is that fact that, at the time he served as chief of state in the early 1980s, (although called “President,” he did not actually hold this title, having taken power in a coup), Ríos Montt was a newly born again Christian, a member of a neo-Pentecostal denomination called the Church of the Word (Verbo). Fresh from the rush of his conversion, Ríos Montt addressed the nation weekly during his term of office, offering what people called his “Sunday sermons,”—discourses in which he drifted freely from topics ranging from his desire to defeat the “subversion,” to advice on wholesome family living, to his particular vision of a “New Guatemala” where all peoples would live together as one (a jab at the unassimilated Maya), in compliant obedience to a benign government that served the general good. Ríos Montt’s dream of a New Guatemala was in many ways as elusive as quicksilver, and in his sermons, he made no mention of the carnage going on in the countryside. The sacrifice of the Maya people and other “subversives” was not at all too high a price to pay, in his estimation, for the New Guatemala.

But the elegance, even the peaceability of his language, along with his strong affiliation with the Church of the Word (his closes advisors were church leaders, not his fellow generals) in that moment made Ríos Montt the darling of the emergent leaders of the Christian Right in the United States who were coming of age during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. For them, as for the Reagan administration, Ríos Montt seemed to have emerged out of nowhere from the turmoil of the Central American crisis of the early 1980s as an anti-communist Christian soldier and ally. It seemed unthinkable to them that the same man who, with one hand, reached out to called for honesty and familial devotion from his people, would order the killing of his own people with his other. And so it seems to some Guatemalans even today. Yet the strong and irrefutable body of evidence that produced yesterday’s ruling tells a very different, and much more tragic story.

Virginia Garrard-Burnett is a Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of Texas-Austin and the author of Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala under General Efrain Rios Montt 1982-1983.

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7. Week-end Review: My Abuelita by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, photographed by Tim O’Meara,

Tony Johnston, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, photographed by Tim O’Meara,
My Abuelita
Harcourt Children’s Books, 2009.

Ages 5-8

“I live with my grandma. And she lives with me. I call her Abuelita.” So begins this lively love-filled story of a boy and his grandmother going about their morning routine. Tony Johnston’s masterful language and Yuyi Morales’ trademark vibrant palette turn the most prosaic of daily events – getting ready for work – into a magical adventure. As Abuelita bends, stretches, baths, yodels, hums, eats, and packs, the reader turning pages with anticipation: what job could possibly require a scarf like a cloud that flows down to the ground, or a skeleton and plumed snake, or a temple and a crown of stars?

Children and adults alike will delight in discovering Abuelita’s job, even as they revel in unexpected joys and surprises sprinkled throughout the text and images. Johnston’s figurative language perfectly compliments Morales’ intricate, impish visuals, which defy any notions of grandparents as elderly or aging. Abuelita wakes up with the sun and is round “like a calabeza, a pumpkin,” with “hair the color of salt and a face crinkled like a dried chile.” After she takes her morning shower, she looks like a great big bee wrapped in her black and yellow towel, and when they sit to breakfast, she eats fried eggs that look like stars.

Each step in the morning routine flies off the page in this 2010 Pura Belpré Honor book. Award-winning illustrator Morales builds on her former success by introducing a new illustration technique, building and staging puppets and taking photographs of the scenes. With the help of Tim O’Meara, she finishes each illustration digitally, which gives the whimsical, exuberant images a three-dimensional quality akin to a Pixar film. Family love wafts from words and pictures alike, as the narrator assists his grandmother in each step of their familiar morning routine, and confides he wants to be like her when he grows up. Magical realism, traditional iconography, and sprinklings of Spanish all root this story in its Mexican context, while its themes of love, family, and dreams make it immediately and intimately familiar to all. A joyful tale for readers and non-readers alike, and an ideal read-aloud for teachers, families, and friends.

Sara Hudson
April 2011

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8. Eichmann in Jerusalem

By Gerald Steinacher


April 11, 1961 marked the beginning of the trial against Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. In the course of the trial, the world came face to face with the reality of the Holocaust or what the Nazis called the “final solution of the Jewish problem” – the killing of 6 million people. Newspapers around the world published thousands of articles about Eichmann and his role in the Holocaust. But what none of the international journalists touched upon was probably the most intriguing aspect of Eichmann’s story: the way in which he, the bureaucrat of the Holocaust, managed to escape justice soon after the war and flee to Argentina.

The prominent philosopher Hannah Arendt, who closely followed the trial in Israel, was one of those who wondered why Eichmann’s escape never attracted more international attention. In her famous book Eichmann in Jerusalem she wrote “the trial authorities, for various reasons, had decided not to admit any testimony covering the time after the close of the war.” It seems that there was a conscious effort to restrict the dissemination of information on how Eichmann managed to escape to Argentina. This part of his story was to remain largely a secret, which took historians more than fifty years to uncover.

We now know what the Israeli authorities kept hidden during the Eichmann trial: the involvement of Vatican circles, Western intelligence services, various governments and the International Committee of the Red Cross in the escape of Eichmann and thousands of other Nazis, war criminals, and Holocaust perpetrators. A picture has emerged that raises many uncomfortable questions. It is clear that the agencies involved knew exactly what they were doing, but were able to justify the decisions they made and the actions they took with the Cold War. After all, as the Third Reich lay in ruins, the only enemy left for the Western Powers was the communist Soviet Union. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, communism was a ‘godless, deadly enemy’, even worse than Nazism.

After laying low in Germany for several years, in 1950 Adolf Eichmann decided to immigrate to Argentina. He used a tried route through Italy, where he acquired a new identity as Riccardo Klement, a South Tyrolean from Bolzano, and a travel document from the Red Cross. In Italy he was helped by the Vatican Aid Commission for Refugees, in cooperation with a small group of catholic priests, former SS comrades and some Argentinean officials. The ease with which he reached Argentina was also the result of Western intelligence services, such as the CIA and the German BND, turning a blind eye to where Eichmann was hiding. Research suggests that they knew of his new identity as Riccardo Klement, but ignored the information. But why would the Israeli government be so careful not to reveal any of this during Eichmann’s trial? The true reasons are unclear, but it is possible that Israelis simply did not want to embarrass governments and institutions who were now their allies.

Riccardo Klement’s life on the run came to an abrupt end in May 1960, when he was kidnapped by Israeli government agents just outside of his home in Buenos Aires and taken to Jerusalem: “I, the undersigned, Adolf Eichmann, hereby declare out of my own free will that since now my true identity has been revealed, I see clearly that it is useless to try and escape judgment any longer.” Eichmann had to stand trial and in the process the world came to know the horrible details about the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, from their forced emigration to centrally- planned industrialized genocide. But the world had to wait 50 years longer to finally learn the truth about how some of the worst Holocaust perpetrators fled justice and who were the institutions helping them do it.

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9. 9th Annual National Latino Writers Conference

The 9th annual National Latino Writers Conference takes place May 19 – 21 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. The conference is uniquely devoted to writing by and for Latinos and is a magnet for Latino writers whose work has often been neglected by major publishing houses. Nationally prominent authors, editors and agents will come together to present workshops, panels and participate in one-on-one consultations with participants. Children’s book author Monica Brown will teach two workshops on Writing for Children and Francisco Alarcón will be teaching El Poder de la Poesía: Poetry for Two Languages. While all workshops and panels are closed to the public, the May 19th poetry reading by Alurista in the Bank of America Theatre will be open and free to the public.

For more information and to register click here.

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10. Authors remember their grandparents: Grandpa Felix by Yuyi Morales

Continuing our Authors Remember Their Grandparents series, today we welcome author and illustrator Yuyi Morales to PaperTigers with a poignant piece about her Grandpa Felix.

Yuyi’s most recent book is Ladder to the Moon, written by Maya Soetoro-Ng (Candlewick Press/Walker Books, 2011). It is the story of a little girl Suhaila whose wish that she could know her grandmother is granted one night, when a golden ladder appears with Grandma Annie, ready to take her up to the moon. Read more about the book on Yuyi’s website, and take a look at the first few pages here - gorgeous!

This is not the first time Yuyi has depicted a grandmother by any means – there is her rosy-cheeked Abuelita with hair “the color of salt” in the exuberant My Abuelita written by Tony Johnston, our current Book of the Month on the main PaperTigers website (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2009). And there are her own picture books starring Señor Calavera – Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Chronicle Books, 2003) and Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Alphabet Book (Roaring Brook Press, 2008): we are big fans of both of them in our household and love Señor Calavera’s website.

Visit Yuyi’s PaperTigers Gallery, enjoy her wonderful interview/gasp at the images over at 7-Imp’s, and find out about all her books and her many projects on her website and blog.

Grandpa Felix

My white dress of crochet clusters like popcorn, mama made especially for me.
She also made the wings and a halo with antennas, and painted with powder my cheeks, and when I saw myself in the mirror I was a butterfly.
At school I fluttered like I was supposed to do, I ran in a circle and flapped my arms with my wings behind. But nobody looked at me.
Everybody was too busy watching the pretty white girl flap her transparent arms and shake her chamomile washed hair.
Even mama, her swollen eyes straight at me, was looking somewhere else.
Nobody cares to watch the brown that is me.
Just like nobody wants to play with a girl with baby shoes that fit the insole inside and hold my leg right so that some day I can have straight feet.
“Mama, those shoes with the golden buckle and the bow on top are so lovely,” I have been telling her every time we pass by the glass case of the shoe store.
But mama doesn’t say much anymore.
She must be tired of repeating what I already know. That I have to stick with these ugly baby shoes until… when? Until I am a grown up.
Clipity, clap, clipity, clap, went my shoes while we left school.
Pling, plong, pling, plong, went my mama’s eye tears while we walked down the street. To Grandpa Felix’s house.
He is my abuelo because mama told me so. But he doesn’t remember me.
I know it because the other day when our teacher took us to the park, and my grandpa was

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11. Review: Cold America

This past May the Fundación Juan March in Madrid closed the survey exhibition Cold America: Geometric Abstraction in Latin America (1934-1973). The exhibition gathered over 300 works by more than 60 artists, taking as a point of departure two very specific return trips from Europe that offered a chronological structure to the show; Joaquín Torres-García’s return to Uruguay in 1934, and Jesús Rafael Soto’s return to Venezuela in 1973. The exhibition’s strength lies in showcasing a comprehensive visual tracing of the complex histories of geometric abstraction in Latin America in an European institution; a legacy grounded on the aesthetic language of the European constructivist project which, renewed and transformed, thrived throughout Latin America well into the 1960s and 1970s. The title of the show, Cold America, alludes to the tradition's rational and objective forms which revealed chromatic structures and experiments in a diverse array of mediums such as painting, sculpture, photography and architecture.[...]

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12. Virgin of Guadalupe appears to Mexican peasant

This Day in World History

December 12, 1531

Virgin of Guadalupe appears to Mexican peasant

According to the tradition accepted by the Roman Catholic Church, a fifty-five-year old Native American who had converted to Christianity was moving down Tepeyac Hill to a church in Mexico City to attend mass. Suddenly, he beheld a vision of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ and an iconic figure in the Catholic Church. She instructed him to tell the local bishop to build a shrine to her on the spot. The Native American, Juan Diego, hurried to the bishop to relate the story. The bishop was intrigued but unconvinced; he needed proof, he said. Three days after the first encounter, on December 12, 1531, Diego saw the vision again. Asking for a sign, Mary told him to gather roses and carry them in his cloak to the bishop. When Diego opened his cloak and the roses fell out, the image of the Virgin Mary was embedded in the fabric of the inside of the cloak. A shrine was built on the site, and later a basilica.

The account is not universally accepted. The bishop identified in the story did not reach office until three years after the visitation was said to take place, and his papers say nothing of the event nor of Juan Diego. Indeed, documentary evidence about the visitation comes from more than a century later. Nevertheless, since the 1550s, the site has been home to a shrine—one of many dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe across Mexico. The Virgin of Guadalupe was named the patron saint of Mexico and recently was named the patroness of all the Americas. She has long been a national symbol for Mexicans. Today, the basilica in Tepeyac Hill contains a cloth said to be the original cloak—and is a much-visited pilgrimage destination.

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13. Pinzón becomes first European to land in Brazil

This Day in World History

January 26, 1500

Pinzón Becomes First European to Land in Brazil


On January 26, 1500, Spanish sailor Vincente Yáñez Pinzón spotted land. He named the cape the Cabo de Santa María de la Consolación. The site was near modern-day Recife, Brazil, making Pinzón the first European to explore Brazil.

Pinzón was an accomplished navigator who had taken part in the famous 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus. Pinzón commanded the Niña while his brother Martín commanded the Pinta (a third brother, Francisco, was Martín’s chief officer on that ship). It was not until 1499, however, that Pinzón set out on a new expedition.

In November of that year, he sailed from Palos, Spain, reaching the South American coast by the next January. He spent several months exploring the coast, reaching as far north as the mouth of the Amazon River. Pinzón noticed that the color of the water had changed and, after sampling that differently color water, found it to be freshwater, and not saltwater. He named the body the Mar Dulce, or Sweetwater Sea, and using the strength of the outflowing current, he sailed for the West Indies before returning to Spain.

Records and maps from the Age of Exploration are not always clear or without controversy. Pinzón’s sighting of Brazil is subject to these uncertainties. Some historians think that he landed in Venezuela, not Brazil, and encountered the Orinoco River, not the Amazon. They believe that Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral—who certainly reached Brazil in April of 1500—was the first European to land there. At any rate, Portugal, not Spain, gained possession of Brazil and made it the cornerstone of its American empire.

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14. Buenos Aires founded

This Day in World History

February 2, 1536

Buenos Aires First Founded


On February 2, 1536, Spanish explorer Pedro de Mendoza founded the city he named Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Aire—Buenos Aires, Argentina. The new town was meant to spearhead the Spanish effort to colonize the interior of South America. It came less than two years after conquistadors had returned to Spain from Peru with treasures seized from the Inca empire.

Spain’s Charles I was spurred by the vast Inca wealth to seek further riches in South America. He also wanted to block any effort by Portugal to expand its foothold in Brazil. Accordingly, he commissioned Mendoza to mount an expedition to explore and settle the Río de la Plata, a vast estuary in southern South America that had been sighted back in 1516.

Mendoza set out in August 1535 in command of 800 to 1700 men (accounts vary) in around a dozen ships. The expedition — the largest sent from Spain to the Americas to date — was ill fated, however. A fierce storm blew the ships off course, and after regrouping Mendoza decided that one of his lieutenants was a rebel and had him executed. Troubles continued after the founding of Buenos Aires. At first the Spaniards received gifts of food from the indigenous locals but soon after fighting broke out between the two groups. That conflict cut off the chief source of food, and the Spaniards began to starve. Mendoza sent a lieutenant upriver in search of a friendlier site. He founded Asunción, now the capital of Paraguay.

Mendoza himself headed back to Spain in 1537. He was seriously ill — perhaps from syphilis — and died on the return trip. His settlement continued to struggle, and in 1541 the remaining colonists abandoned it, heading for Asunción. Not until 1580, when Juan de Garay returned to the scene, was a permanent Spanish presence established at Buenos Aires.

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15. Cybils' Annual Book Bloggers KidLit Awards

BOOK BLOGGERS KICK OFF KIDLIT AWARDS’ SECOND YEAR


CHICAGO – Will Harry Potter triumph among critical bloggers? Will novels banned in some school districts find favor online?

With 90 volunteers poised to sift through hundreds of new books, the second annual Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards launched on Oct. 1. Known as the Cybils, it’s the only literary contest that combines both the spontaneity of the Web with the thoughtful debate of a book club.

The public’s invited to nominate books in eight categories, from picture books up to young adult fiction, so long as the book was first published in 2007 in English (bilingual books are okay too). Once nominations close on Nov. 21, the books go through two rounds of judging, first to select the finalists and then the winners, to be announced on Valentine’s Day 2008.

Judges come from the burgeoning ranks of book bloggers in the cozy corner of the Internet called the kidlitosphere. They represent parents, homeschoolers, authors, illustrators, librarians and even teens.

The contest began last year after blogger Kelly Herold (Big A little a) expressed dismay that while some literary awards were too snooty – rewarding books kids would seldom read – others were too populist and didn’t acknowledge the breadth and depth of what’s being published today.

“It didn’t have to be Brussels sprouts versus gummy bears,” said Anne Boles Levy (Book Buds) who started Cybils with Herold. “There are books that fill both needs, to be fun and profound.”

Last year’s awards prompted more than 480 nominations, and this year’s contest will likely dwarf that. As with last year’s awards, visitors to the Cybils blog can leave their nominations as comments. There is no nomination form, only the blog, to keep in the spirit of the blogosphere that started it all.

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16. Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival ~ 9-10 October 2010

Preparations for the Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival are underway. An outstanding lineup of authors and panels is being put together, as well as performers, and special appearances by celebrities and representatives of the Latino community. To be held at California State University Los Angeles (CSULA), the festival will feature a main stage, a children’s area and stage, and three lecture halls/classrooms for author presentations. More information, including a list of confirmed authors, is available here and to make sure you receive regular updates, sign up for their newsletter here.

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17. The Singapore Book Club Presents “In Conversation with Adeline Foo, Lim Fong Wei and Sangeetha Madhavan”

Georgette's Mooncakes (Chinese Version) by Adeline Foo, Translated by Lim Fong Wei, Illustrated by Lee Kowling

Georgette's Mooncakes (Chinese Version)

On July 16th The Singapore Book Club is hosting “In Conversation with Adeline Foo, Lim Fong Wei and Sangeetha Madhavan”.  All are welcome to attend this free event which starts at 7pm at the Earshot @ The Arts House (1 Old Parliament Lane). Discussion will centre on Adeline’s latest children’s book Georgette’s Mooncakes which was translated in to Chinese by Lim Fong Wei.

Adeline Foo has written 15 books  including the acclaimed Peranakan series (Chilli Padi, The Beaded Slippers) and The Diary of Amos Lee which made Singapore’s top ten best sellers’ list.

Sangeetha Madhavan’s picture book A Blue Cat’s Tale (Straits Times Press) was published under the First Time Writers and Illustrators Publishing Initiative 2008. Five of her short stories, commissioned by the Ministry of Education Singapore, will appear on a web portal for children in 2010.

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18. The immigration debate and From North to South/Del Norte al Sur

We are looking forward to the release of From North to South / Del Norte al Sur, by René Colate Laínez, due out in September by Children’s Book Press. René has written many children’s books about the immigrant experience, such as I am René and René Has Two Last Names, always drawing on his experience of coming to the United States, as an adolescent, from civil war–ravaged El Salvador (he arrived as an undocumented immigrant and is now a US citizen). From North to South deals with the issue of family separation, due to a parent’s precarious immigration status, from the perspective of child who, as is the case in these situations, has no say in it. With the immigration debate in the US being as heated as it is now, this is an important and very timely release.

Spanish speakers can see a video of René talking about the book here. I’ll be adding a link to our review of the book as soon as it’s live.

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19. Latino Book and Family Festival ~ Oct 9-10, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Latino Book and Family Festival, Latino Literacy Now

The countdown has begun for this year’s Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival which will be held October 9th and 10th at California State University. Over 120 Latino authors and artists will be in attendance and nearly 50 panels, readings, and workshops will be offered throughout the weekend. In addition there will be books signings, storytelling, folklorico dances, music and much more. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.

Non-profit organization Latino Literacy Now! launched the Latino Book & Family Festival in 1997 in Los Angeles to promote literacy, culture and education and to provide people of all ages and backgrounds with the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the multicultural communities in the United States in a festival atmosphere.  Today, the Latino Book & Family Festival is hosted in several major Latino markets across the U.S. including Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles. Well known actor and community activist Edward James Olmos is the co-producer of the festival.

A special fundraiser for this year’s event,  “An Evening with the Authors” takes place on October 9 and gives guests the chance to dine with their favorite authors! During the evening the winners of the 2010 International Latino Book Awards will be honored and the 1st annual Latino Books in to Movies Awards will be presented. To purchase tickets to the dinner click here.

Latino Literacy Now has also joined with Pan American Bank (located at 3626 East First Street, Los Angeles) to host a nine week-long children’s program that will feature prominent Latino children’s book authors. The reading program called The Children’s Reading Hour, will take place at 12pm on Saturdays from Sept 11 – Nov 6.  The first 10 children to show up each Saturday will receive an autographed book. Click  here to see the schedule of authors.

“We are thrilled that the authors will join us in supporting our community’s youth. Reading to children is the best way to encourage literacy and life-long learning. It is also an incredible way to teach important lessons,” said Pan American Bank CEO Jesse Torres. “These Latino authors are not only incredible Latino writers – they are incredible authors, period!”

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20. Books at Bedtime: Señor Cat’s Romance

Senor Cat's Romance by Lucia M. Gonzalez, illustrated by Lulu Delacre.Ever since reading in The Storyteller’s Candle that one of the stories Pura Belpré tells to the children at the library is about “a beautiful Spanish cockroach named Martina and a gallant little mouse, Ratoncito Pérez”, I have wanted to know that story! So I was delighted to get hold of it recently as one of the stories included in Señor Cat’s Romance: and Other Favorite Stories from Latin America (first published 1997, reissued by Scholastic, 2001), which I think is set to become a classic. It’s by the same author/illustrator team as The Storyteller’s CandleLucia Gonzalez and Lulu Delacre, so my expectations were high (The Storyteller’s Candle is one of our Spirit of PaperTigers bookset; read our interview with Lucia and view Lulu’s PaperTigers Gallery). I certainly wasn’t disappointed: it’s a joy… Although I have to say I didn’t get a look-in for a while because both Older Brother and Little Brother purloined it to read for themselves!

There are six stories in all, each one a delight for sharing with young children. “Martina the Little Cockroach” did not disappoint, though I was mightily relieved to realise that there was one extra page-turn to the story. “The Billy Goat and the Vegetable Garden” also has a connection with Pura Belpré since it is based on her retelling of the Puerto Rican version, included in her book The Tiger and the Rabbit and Other Tales. One of the many Latin American trickster tales about “How Uncle Rabbit Tricked Uncle Tiger” is also included. Then there’s a cheeky wee “Half-Chick” with only one wing and one leg – what a lovely story to weave around the everyday sight of a weather-vane; “Juan Bobo and the Three-Legged Pot”, one of many stories about this character, which translates as Foolish John – and maybe he’s not so foolish… And finally, at the end is the exuberant song abut the Señor Cat of the book’s title.

Lucia’s Foreward and Lulu’s Afterword both make clear the love that has gone into the creation of this vibrant book: but, in fact, that also comes through very clearly via the narration and illustrations themselves. The notes accompanying each story provide insight and connections with other story-telling traditions – and don’t miss the mouthwatering recipe for arroz con pollo Lulu has included in one of her goegeous illustrations!

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21. Children’s Book Press 25th Anniversary Celebration~ Sep 26, San Francisco, CA, USA

As Aline mentioned in her post below, “Claiming Face” on Hispanic Heritage Month, Children’s Book Press will be celebrating their 35th Anniversary this fall. The anniversary celebrations will kick-off on September 26th with a free family-oriented public event at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library (100 Larkin St. @ Grove, San Francisco, CA, USA) between 2:00 to 4:00 pm. There, Children’s Book Press will celebrate its dynamic community authors, artists, supporters, partners, and the many friends who have been part of a long and nationally renowned publishing history. With music provided by the 14-piece youth salsa band, Futuro Picante, this event will also highlight two new books published this year, with readings by René Colato Laínez, author of From North to South / Del Norte al Sur and Angela Domínguez, illustrator of Let Me Help! /¡Quiero ayudar! Light refreshments will be served. RSVP on Facebook or email publicity(at)childrensbookpress(dot)org

On October 7 at 7:00pm, Children’s Book Press will be holding No Small Matter: A Fundraiser for Children’s Book PressYerba Buena Fundraiser at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (701 Mission St., San Francisco). This event will honor Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for his work exploring the American identity, and Children’s Book Press founder Harriet Rohmer for her vision and legacy. Attendees will enjoy they dynamic artistry of Gregangelo & Velocity Circus, featuring whirling dervishes, contortionists and images taken from Children’s Book Press’ anthology, On My Block. The event will close with the swirling colors and pounding rhythms of Non Stop Bhangra, a dance troupe that combines traditional Punjabi folk music with hip hop, reggae, and electronica. Former California State Senator Art Torres will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Tickets are $70/person and can be purchased here.

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22. Island Beneath the Sea, by Isabel Allende

Spanish/Latin American Cover
Island Beneath the Sea, by Isabel Allende

Original Title: La Isla Bajo El Mar
Release Date: January 1st, 2010, Latin America
Publisher: Editorial Sudamericana, Latin America
Age Group: Adult
Categories: Slavery, Historical Fiction, Latin America
Source: Bought
Overall: 4 Monkeys
Interest: Isabel Allende's Books
Date Read: December 29th, '10 to January 4th, '11.

Summary from Goodreads:
Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue, Zarité -known as Tété- is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. Though her childhood is one of brutality and fear, Tété finds solace in the traditional rhythms of African drums and in the voodoo loas she discovers through her fellow slaves.
When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, it’s with powdered wigs in his baggage and dreams of financial success in his mind. But running his father’s plantation, Saint-Lazare, is neither glamorous nor easy. It will be eight years before he brings home a bride -but marriage, too, proves more difficult than he imagined. And Valmorain remains dependent on the services of his teenaged slave.
Spanning four decades, Island Beneath the Sea is the moving story of the intertwined lives of Tété and Valmorain, and of one woman’s determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruellest of circumstances.
My Opinion: 

Like every Allende novel, this book is rich in history and travels through the lives of a lot of characters.

It tells the story of Zarité -or Teté, as they called her- a slave in the French colony of Saint Domingue (now Haití). Teté is sold as a child to monsieur Toulouse Valmorain, fact which will mark her forever.
She grows up in her master's plantation, Saint-Lazare, and, despite of being a domestic slave (she works in the house, as a housekeeper), she suffers a terrible life.

It's the 18th century, and slavery is something as common as the blue sky and a hot day in Saint Domingue. Slaves are just something more their masters own. Possessions.
Teté will fight her whole life to protect her own, going through some very difficult challenges.

As always, Isabel's writing is excellent -the majority of the book is written in third person, and we get glimpses into Teté's mind in a few chapters written in her POV- and the story catches you until you finish it.

There'll be people who'll say this is a very long book, to the point of becoming tiresome, but to me, it's because they don't know how to appreciate Isabel's writing.

She's one of my favourite Latin authors, and I've read most of her work. Everything she's written is amazing.

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23. Outbreak: Cholera in Haiti

By Christopher Hamlin


The recent Cholera outbreak in Haiti reminds us that this is not simply a disease of the distant and unsanitary past. The current outbreak is both unique and typical. Caused by a disease that has a long and devastating history, this Haiti outbreak has much in common with the outbreaks of the nineteenth century and twentieth century. History helps us keep in mind five key factors:

The Role of Media Coverage in our awareness of cholera: In our current age, as well as in the past, the combination of rapidity and deadliness has made cholera epidemics into media events. In fact, much of the tragedy of global diarrheal disease happens beyond the public gaze. Vibrio cholerae accounts for only a small fraction of global diarrhea deaths. The microbe is widely distributed around the world. Most cholera cases are mild, often they will be unnoticed.   Unfortunately these, and particularly those many diarrhea deaths, have become part of our normal.

Epidemiological Monroe Doctrinism: In the months preceding the Haiti outbreak there were outbreaks in Pakistan (following floods) and in parts of Africa. Western hemisphere outbreaks are news because they seem to threaten the sanitary sanctity of the U.S. Some reporters ask outright whether cholera will come to us; others hint. But how serious a problem cholera is conceived to be usually depends more on where the outbreaks are than how many are affected.

“Withering Othering”: This is a phrase I used in the book to indicate the ease, which came to prominence in the nineteenth century, with which we use presumed sanitary status to group human populations. Cholera epidemics are occasions for magnifying distance between a clean “we” and a dirty “they.” Cholera is rightly associated with poor sanitation, along with the host of social, economic, political, and cultural factors that contribute to its spread. But often, blaming unsanitary conditions is an excuse to lose sight of that bigger story. Haiti has often served as default abjectness for the western hemisphere. When something bad happens, we shrug and say “Well, it is Haiti.” Cholera reinforces that abject ahistorical identity. I have taught a bit of Haitian history, am an admirer and minor collector of Haitian art, but certainly no expert. But the historian’s business is to explain both the perception of abjectness and the complicated antecedents of this cholera. Earthquake destruction is part of that latter story, but diarrheal disease was high in Haiti even before that. Haiti is a poor country, with a difficult political past.    All this is coming to bear tragically in a large number of individual lives.

Pretense of Order: As an outside observer, most of the information I get is though press conference statements. In these, whatever has happened and however many have just died, is equalized as grey fact. Nothing ruffles bureaucratic prose, well organized web-sites, or well-dressed spokespersons. Effective response, it seems, requires emotional control, and, somehow, an overlooking of tragedy. This is not new – historians of epidemics will have often been struck by the disparity between the chaos of mass disease and the need to project that those in charge have things in hand — but I was shocked to see it happening. The cholera riots in Haiti too are wholly typical – people in cholera-stricken cities have rioted throughout the world both in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.   Often, in various ways, the pretense of normal seems to be at the root of their anger.

Preparation and Distribution of Resources: Cholera’s status in

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24. Mexico’s Struggle to “Vivir Mejor”

By Susan Pick


With all the ambitious international goals and targets that developing countries have committed to, from poverty reduction to universal education and access to health care, we’ve observed a not uncommon response by the governments: too strong a focus on the public image of the new programs, not strong enough a focus on making the programs truly accessible. Here’s an example to illustrate our point: On a daily basis, Mexicans are exposed to immeasurable social development propaganda from government agencies. The propaganda is unavoidable because these messages are disseminated via commercials on public transportation, highway billboards, TV and radio, and posters in the most rural communities. Some of the current hot topics of these campaigns are diabetes and childhood obesity, nonviolence toward women and anti-corruption laws.

“Vivir Mejor” (“Live Better”) is the federal government’s umbrella strategy behind many of these flashy ads, and its aim is to eliminate extreme poverty and promote sustainable human development throughout the country. The rainbow-colored logo is impossible to miss and is stamped on nearly everything the government is involved with. “Vivir Mejor” social development campaigns share with the public the services they are entitled to. A man that never got the chance to study when he was young is now completing his secondary education – and you can do the same, for free! A smiling woman is receiving free prenatal health care –and you can sign up for it as well, it’s simple! In addition, many of the “Vivir Mejor” campaigns encourage the public to exercise their rights. This involves procedures like signing up for government health insurance, filing a report in the case of sexual harassment, and requesting information from the government’s transparency portals.

Making people aware of their rights and the social programs they can benefit from is indispensable…in theory. How can these types of public campaigns possibly be inefficient? Why aren’t poor people in Mexico seeking health care or going back to school or reporting abuse of their basic human rights? The first problem is most obvious: there are incredible structural barriers to accessing social services in Mexico; widespread corruption and absurdly bureaucratic procedures prevent Mexicans from registering for social programs or filing reports when their rights are violated.

The second problem is less obvious, but its solution is essential for Mexico to achieve its development objectives: there is a severe lack of civic engagement in Mexico. The lack of participation in pubic affairs that this implies results in the absence of social action and citizen monitoring, as well as the underutilization of government programs. The unengaged citizen lacks psychological preparedness for accessing his or her rights and seeking opportunities for personal development. Some examples of psychosocial barriers to participatory citizenship include the internalization of feelings of inferiority, a lack of intrinsic incentive to bring about change, and insufficient communication and team work skills. All of these factors are directly related to what’s been labeled “low intensity citizenship” in Mexico (Ochoa Espejo).

The solution to the problems we mention lies in the development of an individual’s personal agency. In other words, she needs to feel empowered and entitled to make changes in her life. If social programs were designed to facilitate the acquisition of psychosocial tools like assertive communication, autonomous decision-making, and critical thinking in addition to classic welfare services, citizens would become participatory agents of change. Once engaged, the everyday citizen has an incredible pow

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