Archive for the ‘Latinoamérica’ category

Kirchner Extends Nationalization Threat to Other Groups like “Telecommunications Companies and Banks”

April 19, 2012

Kirchner Extends Nationalization Threat to Other Groups like “Telecommunications Companies and Banks”
Spanish firms are engaged in a wide array of enterprises in Argentina
El País: Kirchner extiende su amenaza a otros grupos como “telefónicas o bancos”
David Fernández reporting from Madrid April 16, 2012

The expropriation of YPF could be only the beginning of a nightmare for Spanish businesses. During her announcement of the nationalization, Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner threw down the gauntlet before other foreign business interests in the country, like “telecommunications companies and banks”, about the “necessity” of reinvesting their earnings in Argentina.

After speaking about Argentina Airlines and its disappearance, the president moved on to comment on other sectors in which Spain has investments in Argentina. “We’ve made it clear that the businesses that are here, even if their stockholders are abroad, are Argentinean businesses,” she began. She referred to “telecommunications companies, some of which are Spanish and which have recently submitted us to blackouts. I hope that the Ministry will promptly respond to this,” she charged, clearly referring to Movistar. “And the foreign banks, as well…in sum, we don’t have a problem with profitability, but these profits must be reinvested in the country in order to help the country grow,” Fernández resolved.

The internationalization of Spanish businesses began in Latin America, and Buenos Aires was one of the first ports of call for these then-incipient multinational corporations. In recent years, the importance of Argentina on the bottom lines of these sought-after businesses has decreased in favor of other economies in the region (principally Brazil, Mexico, and Chile), but the Argentinean market continues to be a net contributor. This is the exposure that the principal Spanish companies have to Argentina, according to fiscal 2011 data.

Repsol: YPF provided 17.42% of operating revenues (~€11,105,000,000) and 25.61% of gross profit (~€1,231,000,000). Last year, Argentina received more of Repsol’s investment money than any other country (€2,182,000,000, 33% of the total). There are 15,119 Argentineans on Repsol’s payroll, 32% of the total, making them the second most numerous nationality on their staff after Spaniards.

Telefónica: Kirchner, without referring explicitly to the Spanish operator, has sent a message to Telefónica in reminding them of the “blackout” that some enterprises “have submitted us to recently”. This April 2, a breakdown in Telefónica’s Argentinean affiliate’s mobile phone service affected 16 million users and a smaller number of landline users. After the blackout, the Argentinean government signaled that it would study how to impose the “maximum” fine possible on Movistar, which indicated its intention to compensate its clients in the country for the blackout.

Telefónica of Argentina has licenses which permit it to provide landline, cellular, and Internet telephone services. These licenses will not expire, but as the operator recognizes in its annual report, “they can be cancelled by SECOM (the Secretary of Communications) for failure to complete the terms of the license”.

Telefónica has 21.9 million clients in Argentina, principally for its mobile phones (15.9 million users); it enjoys a 29.8% market share in the cellular market. The net total of the bills for this division in that country last year was ~€3,174,000,000, while its Operating Income Before Depreciation And Amortization (OIBDA) reached ~€1,085,000,000. Telefónica’s Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) in Argentina in 2011 was €449 million.

Banco Santander: Santander Río is the country’s principal private bank, with 358 offices, 2.5 million individual clients, and 6,777 employees. In 2011, the affiliate had gross earnings of €926 million, net earnings of €472 million, and €287 million in profits. Argentina contributes 3% of the Santander Group’s profits.

BBVA: The entity controls 76% of the capital of BBVA Banco Francés. In 2011, the Argentinean division earned a net profit of €315 million and an attributed profit of €157 million, a quantity which represents 5.2% of the group’s total profits. BBVA has 4,844 employees in Argentina, 4.4% of its total employees.

Endesa: The services of the generation and transportation of electricity provided by Endesa’s Argentinean affiliate netted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) of €118 million in 2011. In addition, since the beginning of April last year, two interconnecting lines between Brazil and Argentina have begun to receive regulated remuneration, producing an EBIDTA of €127 million. The distribution business, for its part, had operating losses of €23 million, as greater fixed costs as a consequence of inflationary recovery in the country could not be recuperated by the bills charged to clients.

Gas Natural: The distribution of gas in Latin America earned the company an EBITDA of €621 million in 2011. Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico are Gas Natural’s principal markets; Argentina only contributed €27 million of its EBITDA.

Mapfre: Argentina is the insurer’s fourth most important market in Latin America. In 2011, it contributed €457 million in premiums (2.33% of the insurer’s total) and €18 million to Mapfre’s bottom line.

DIA: The distributor sold a total of €11,123,000,000 in products last year. Its principal markets are Spain, Portugal, and Brazil. Argentina is fourth, although it was the fastest-growing market in 2011, contributing 7.8% of the chain’s sales (€868 million). DIA opened 47 new stores last year for a total of 495 there.

Prosegur: The security company grossed some €500 million in the Argentinean Area, which also includes Paraguay and Uruguay, in 2011.

Codere: Codere Argentina is the principal operator of bingo sales in the province of Buenos Aires, with a total of 14 functioning rooms and more than 5000 recreational machines installed. This South American country contributes more to the group’s revenue and EBITDA than any other, €553 million and €165 million respectively.

NH Hoteles: On December 31, the group had 13 hotels open in Argentina (11 owned and 2 others under management) with a total of 2049 rooms.


Video Starring Children Sets Off Debate During Mexican Election Campaign

April 14, 2012

Video Starring Children Sets Off Debate During Mexican Election Campaign
The short film has been diffused on social networks by the movement Nuestro México del Futuro
El País: Un vídeo protagonizado por niños desata la polémica en plena campaña mexicana
Paula Chouza reporting from Mexico City April 13, 2012

(Knowledge of the Spanish language is not necessary for understanding this video.)

It is a world of children, but children with the vices of adults that live in a society rife with corruption, violence, drug trafficking, and environmental problems. This is the concept of a video spread across the Internet that has incited the fury of a good part of the Mexican political class just ten days after the official beginning of campaigning for the presidential election on July 1.

The advocacy group Nuestro México del Futuro (Our Future Mexico), which defines itself on its website as a “social movement that calls on all Mexicans to express their visions of the country in which they would like to life,” produced the film, four minutes in length and exceptionally harsh, which has already been seen on the web by over 10 million people. The assault of a citizen with a razor blade in broad daylight by a seven-year old boy, the image of a corrupt politician who is not yet twelve, gives these incidents a macabre realism that has frightened politicians, who asked this week for the video to be taken down.

Miguel Ángel García Granados, a representative of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), called the film “detestable” on Thursday because it used minors. “This is not the way to solve the problems of this country,” he said to the media. In the same sentiment, Mario Di Constanzo of the Workers’ Party said that “the use of children to portray prisoners, drug traffickers, and police constitutes a violation of childrens’ rights. PAN politician Rosi Orozco said it was “lamentable that children were manipulated and used, and that they will be stigmatized as future delinquents, prisoners, and drug addicts.” With these words, the legislators called for the Secretariat of Governance to prohibit the diffusion of the film, which would seem to be difficult because it has already been published on social networks, where the institution does not have the power to intervene because Mexico has not regulated them.

Our Future Mexico released a statement in response to the polemics saying that it was trying “to represent the opinion, not of any institutions or individuals in particular, but rather of millions of Mexicans.” The movement is sponsored by many companies, among them the insurer Grupo Nacional Provincial (National Provincial Group). Its objective is to gather the visions of citizens and compile them in a book titled El Decreto de Nuestro México del Futuro (The Decree of Our Future Mexico). The group has announced that said publication will be given to the presential candidates when it is ready.

At the end of the film, a girl looks at the camera and says, not in vain, “If this is the future that’s ahead of me, I don’t want it. Ms. Josefina, Mr. Andrés Manuel, Mr. Enrique, Mr. Gabriel (the candidates): time is up. Mexico has already touched bottom. Are you only going for the position, or are you going to change the future of our country?”

Spain to Argentina: There Will Be Consequences for Hostility Toward Repsol

April 14, 2012

Spain to Argentina: There Will Be Consequences for Hostility Toward Repsol
The conflict between the Argentinian government and the Spanish business is far from being resolved
The Argentinian government will decide the future of Repsol’s affiliate today

El País: Soria advierte a Argentina: “La hostilidad [con Repsol] traerá consecuencias”
Carlos E. Cué reporting from Warsaw April 12, 2012

The conflict between the Argentinian government and Repsol-YPF is threatening to become an authentic diplomatic row of the first order. The Spanish government has been discrete until now, although it tried to mediate when the Minister of Industry, José Manuel Soria, traveled to Buenos Aires. Even the King of Spain has tried to stop the conflict. The president of Repsol, Antoni Brufau, has been in Buenos Aires for days looking for a solution. But it all seems useless.

Six Argentinian provinces have now revoked a dozen licenses from Repsol-YPF, sinking the company’s value in the Buenos Aires market. Today, the Spanish government decided to go on the attack. In a recording made by the executive department’s press agency at the doors of the Spanish embassy in Poland, where Spanish journalists could not be present and could not ask questions, Soria said, “The Government of Spain defends the interests of all Spanish businesses, within and without. If there are acts of hostility toward these interests anywhere in the world, the government will interpret them as acts of hostility toward Spain and the Spanish government. What this government is saying is that if there will be consequences for any acts of hostility.”

A diplomatic conflict seems inevitable. Repsol controls 53.47% of YPF, while the Argentinian group Petersen holds 25.46%. The President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has encouraged the escalation against Repsol, which she accuses of not making sufficient investments in YPF, causing that company to decrease production and thus forcing Argentina to import petroleum. Repsol has promised to increase its investment, but the row, far from settling down, has worsened, and there is a risk that at the end of this process, Argentina will buy the company for a low price, which would be very damaging for the Spanish oil company.

Last 10 Colombians in Uniform in FARC’s Power Liberated

April 3, 2012

Last 10 Colombians in Uniform in FARC’s Power Liberated
The prisoners were picked up by a Brazilian helicopter in a demilitarized zone
They were taken to the base in Villavicencio, where they saw their families, and then to Bogota
Photo Album: The End of an Interminable Kidnapping

El País: Liberados los 10 últimos uniformados colombianos en poder de las FARC
Andrea Peña reporting from Bogota April 3, 2012

Evening had fallen in Colombia when a helicopter came to view at the Vanguardia Airport in Villavicencio. This helicopter carried the six police officers and four military personnel kidnapped more than a decade ago by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) (FARC). At a quarter to six in the evening (a quarter to one at night on the Iberian Peninsula) the helicopter touched down. The doors came wide open and from them appeared the last members of security forces which were prisoners of the guerrilla organization: Luis Alfonso Beltrán, Luis Arcia, Róbinson Salcedo, Luis Moreno, César Lasso, Wilson Rojas, Carlos Duarte, Jorge Romero, Jorge Trujillo, and José Forero. Now they are free. But the suffering of the Colombian kidnapped has not ended: 405 private citizens are still captives of illegal groups.

In the midst of the Colombian heat, the men descended one by one with small bags on their shoulders and briefcases in their hands. Several years of mistreatment and isolation did not obscure the happiness of the faces of the liberated. They were no longer in chains or padlocked behind bars, as they were when Colombia and the world saw the proof of their survival which the guerrillas provided years before. Now they wore their military and police uniforms. One of them covered himself in a Colombian flag. Others wore discolored shirts and black sweatshirts. Tears of happiness could be seen in their eyes as they looked for their families from afar, but as yet they could only see anonymous police, military, and press members.

Unlike the other liberated, the people this group met on the tarmac were not their children, spouses, or parents, but rather white-coated military doctors who slowly lead them to a separate salon. There, in an intimate space, each could see only two of his loved ones. Families were disturbed and anxious throughout the almost seven hours the rescued spent in the salon with the humanitarian mission.

But the recently liberated did not arrive alone. A small tapir, a small species of wild boar, walked beside one of the kidnapped, José Libardo Forero, on the tarmac. Forero gave him to Alan Jara, who FARC liberated in 2009 and who is now Governor of the Department of Meta, who came to Villavicencio to receive his former companions in captivity. Minutes later, an emotional Jara said to the local press, “He gave me an animal and instructions for taking care of him. And he greeted me in Russian!” When the two were captives together, Jara taught some of the language to his cellmates. Another two of the liberated arrived with exotic multicolored birds who were surely their pets throughout their days of solitude.

From Bogota, President Juan Manuel Santos gave an address at 7:00 PM Colombian time welcoming the rescued to liberty. He said that “this is a gesture [by FARC] which we value,” but “it is not sufficient.” He demanded FARC liberate the civilian captives in its power: “The moment the government believes there are sufficient guarantees to initiate a process leading to the end of the conflict, we will do it,” he emphasized.

A week of liberations began on Monday at 10:30 in the morning (seven hours behind peninsular Spain) when a Brazilian Cougar helicopter brought ex-Senator Piedad Córdoba, Gloria Amparo Sánchez of the NGO Colombians for Peace (which is mediating the liberation process between the government and the rebel group), and two representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who received the 10 kidnapped from FARC’s hands.

Families of the captives were nervous and tense the entire day. Then the aircraft took off from the Vanguardia Airport in Villavicencio two hours late due to bad weather. Although at first it was said that the liberations would occur on two different days (Monday and Wednesday), at noon Gloria Cuartas of Colombians for Peace confirmed that all the captives would be liberated Monday.

Six hours after the humanitarian mission began, María Cristina Rivera, spokeswoman for the Red Cross, gave the first news of the liberated captives: “FARC-EP has liberated four military personnel and six police officers, every member of the group they’d announced would be freed, between the borders of Meta and Guaviare,” she said from Villavicencio.


10 Liberated by FARC
Top Row, From Left to Right: Police Officers Jorge Trujillo Solarte, Jorge Humberto Romero, José Libardo Forero, Wilson Rojas Medina, and Carlos José Duarte.
Bottom Row, Left to Right: Police Officer César Augusto Lasso Monsalve and Military Officers Luis Alfonso Beltrán Franco, Robinson Salcedo Guarín, Luis Alfredo Moreno Chagüeza, and Luis Arturo Arcía. Photo from EFE.

FARC’s 10 Longest Hostages
Six police officers and four military personnel formed the group of kidnapped which FARC liberated
El País: Los 10 rehenes más antiguos de las FARC
Wire Report from Madrid April 2, 2012

The FARC guerrillas have just liberated the last 10 members of Colombian security forces that were held captive. They are:

Luis Alfonso Beltrán Francos, Vice First Sergeant, 42 years old, oneo f the four military personnel liberated hours ago. Kidnapped March 3, 1998 in FARC’s assault on El Billar (Caquetá) in the south of the country. Beltrán Francos has been a captive for 14 years, longer than any other hostage. He left neither a wife nor children. He belonged to Mobile Brigade No. 3, like Luis Arturo Arcia, his companion in chains who has also been set free.

Luis Arturo Arcia, Vice First Sergeant, shared the same fate as Beltrán Francos during the March 3, 1998 assault on El Billar, a district in Cartagena del Chairá (Caquetá). That guerrilla attack caused the death of 65 soldiers. Arcía is now 39.

César Augusto Lasso, 45 years of age, one of six FARC police officers FARC liberated during this operation. This First Sergeant was kidnapped November 1, 1998 in Mitú (Vaupés) in the west of the country, close to the Brazilian border. 23 government agents died in this guerrilla offensive. Lasso has never met the youngest of his three children.

Robinson Salcedo Guarin, Vice First Sergeant, was captured August 3, 1998 in Miraflores in the department (region) of Guaviare. FARC attacked an anti-narcotic base. The assault ended the lives of 40 policemen and military personnel. He hails from Tolima, where he survived the tragedy set loose in November 1985 when the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano erupted. He is called El Mechudo (The Long-Haired) because he promised not to cut his hair until he was liberated.

Luis Alfredo Moreno Chagüezá, currently a sergeant, but a First Corporal prior to his abduction, also fell into FARC’s hands during the attack on Miraflores. According to testimony from his fellow rescued prisoners, Moreno Chagüezá dedicated much of his time as a captive to embroidery and writing.

Wilson Rojas Medina, Intendant (member of the police leadership), was captured in the brutal assault on a police station in the town of Puerto Rico (in Meta) in the center of the country July 11, 1999. Rojas Medina has a 13-year old daughter. Five of the police who were liberated in this operation were captured during that guerrilla attack. Rojas Medina is 36.

Carlos José Duarte Rojas has been a fellow prisoner of Wilson Rojas from the very first day. He was another of the agents abducted by the guerrillas some 13 years ago in Puerto Rico after a two-day siege. Duarte Rojas, 41, a sportsman, will reunite with his two sons and will also have the opportunity to meet a grandson.

Jorge Humberto Romero Romero, subintendant, was also captured in Puerto Rico. He had been a member of the police force for 12 years when that assault occurred. He had served in Villavencio, where his captivity ended. He is now 50 and has suffered back problems during his years in captivity.

Jorge Trujillo Solarte, 42, was another of the victims in the attack on Puerto Rico. He was serving as a subintendant in the station that was attacked. According to proof of life FARC sent during his captivity, Trujillo Solarte has suffered kidney stones and a skin infection. His daughter had just been born when he was taken.

José Libardo Forero Carrero, sergeant, tried to escape in 2009 along with Trujillo Solarte, but the jungle returned them to the hands of the guerrillas. When his captivity began, he was a corporal with 32 years of age and two children.

Curious Justification for Argentina’s Clampdown on Imported Books

April 2, 2012

Argentinian Secretary of Domestic Trade Guillermo Moreno

Curious Justification for Argentina’s Clampdown on Imported Books
Graphic industrialist Juan Carlos Sacco affirmed that the limitations would only affect books that had elevated levels of lead in their ink: “wetting your finger to turn the page would be dangerous”
La Nación: Curiosa justificación de las trabas de Moreno a los libros importados
March 31, 2011

The new regulations for importing books and any other graphic material has a justification: concern for public health. At least, that’s how the third vice president of the Argentinian Industrial Union, Juan Carlos Sacco, justified the rules today, stating that it could be dangerous to “handle” a book with lead proportions higher than 0.05-0.06% of the ink.

In a radio interview, Sacco emphatically denied that Argentina was prohibiting the importation of books, despite the new regulations from the Secretary of Domestic Trade which will delay the reception of graphic material bought abroad.

With this new norm, each buyer will have to check with customs officials in the Ezeiza airport that the ink in these publications does not have a quantity of lead greater than 0.05-0.06% of its chemical composition.

“Resolution 453 is environmental,” said Sacco in a dialogue on Radio 10. He then explained that it could be “dangerous” to manipulate a book with a greater quantity of lead than permitted. “One must handle a book. And one could possibly put his finger on his tongue to turn the page. This is a serious measure,” affirmed the industrialist in response to a question by journalist Marcelo Longobardi.

Sacco denied that this would block the importation of graphic products. “There is no sentence in any statute prohibiting bringing books into the country from abroad,” he assured. He also added that the norm had the intention of promoting domestic book production.

“In the last five years, 140,000 tons of books have been imported at a cost of $550 million. And in 2011, we had a trade imbalance of 78%, some $125 million,” Sacco explained.

Chilean Poet Nicanor Parra Wins the Cervantes Prize

December 2, 2011

Chilean Poet Nicanor Parra Wins the Cervantes Prize
The 97-year old, creator of the antipoesía (antipoetry) movement, is the most veteran winner of the most important award in Hispanic letters, which comes with 125,000 euros
El País: El poeta chileno Nicanor Parra, premio Cervantes
Javier Rodríguez reporting from Madrid December 1, 2011

The Chilean poet Nicanor Parra, age 97, has won the Premio Cervantes 2011. He is the most veteran writer to receive this distinction. The Minister of Culture, Ángeles González-Sinde, announced from the ministry headquarters the ruling for the most important award in Hispanic letters, which comes with 125,000 euros. Parra (San Fabián de Alico, Chile, 1914), creator of the antipoesía (antipoetry) movement, is the brother of the celebrated singer Violeta Parra, who passed away in 1967. Chilean academic, mathematicist, and physicist, he had been mentioned for the award several times in recent years. The cover story for Babelia (El País’s literary supplement), to be published precisely this Saturday, is a Parra profile written by Leila Guerriero. In it, the author affirms, “I have always fished for things that walked in the air.”

Parra is the survivor of the most outstanding group of contemporary Chilean poets, along with Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Vicente Huidobro, and fellow Cervantes winner Gonzalo Rojas (who passed away this April). After Cancionero sin nombre (A Songbook without a Name), which was much influenced by the popularismo of Federico García Lorca, was published in 1937, in 1954 came the book which marked his career and broke open Latin-American poetry in the second half of the 20th century, Poemas y antipoemas (Poems and Antipoems). After that came Versos de salón (Salon Verses) (1962), which included a poem in which he affirmed: Durante medio siglo / la poesía fue / el paraíso del tonto solemne. / Hasta que vine yo / y me instalé con mi montaña rusa. / Suban, si les parece. / Claro que yo no respondo si bajan / echando sangre por boca y narices. (For half a century / poetry was / the paradise of the solemn fool. / Until I came / and settled down with my Russian mountain. / They come up, if they want. / Obviously I don’t respond if they come down / bleeding from their noses and mouths.)

In 1948, in a poetic (a theoretical introduction) for an anthology, he had already minted the terms to which he would remain faithful in his work: “I seek a poetry based on actions and not on combinations or literary figures. I’m opposed to the affected form of traditional poetic language.”

In 1977, Sermones y prédicas del Cristo de Elqui (Sermons and Predictions of the Christ of Elqui) came to light; it is about a mystic and visionary who made predictions from the northern Chilean mines. Besides the Cervantes, he had already won the most important literary prizes for the Spanish Language, the Juan Rulfo in 1991 and the Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana (Queen Sofía Prize for Iberoamerican Poetry) 10 years later.

Parra’s work has had a kind of good luck with regard to publication given he is a poet and Latin American. Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de lectores has published a second, monumental, and we can say definitive tome of his works, Obras completas & algo + (the first appeared in 2006). Here the totality of the new Cervantes winner’s work is collected; the project was supervised by the writer himself and set up by the Hispanicist Niall Bins – the great expert in his work – and looked after by the critic Ignacio Echevarría. There are more good anthologies, like Parranda larga (A Long Night Out on the Town – note the pun) (Alfaguara), edited by Elvio E. Gandolfo, an ample selection of his books, visual poems (he calls them artefacts) included. This title, published last year, summarized already historical editions like Chistes para desorientar a la policía/poesía (Jokes to Disorient the Police/Poets) (Visor) and Poemas y antipoemas (Cátedra), edited by University of Chicago department head René de Costa, who studied the Hispanic vanguard and was also commissioner of the 1992 Valencia exhibition of Parra’s visual works beside Joan Brossa‘s.

Influence on Bolaño
Parra, among others, exercised enormous influence on the departed novelist Roberto Bolaño, who considered him on the same high level as Jorge Luis Borges and César Vallejo. “He writes as if he’s going to be electrocuted the day after,” Bolaño said. He also said that “he who is valiant should follow Parra.” The Chilean represented the adaption of the Spanish language to what critic Julio Ortega called “the civil dialogism of modern English poetry,” closer to spoken conversational language than the lyric and sometimes epic elevation of his compatriot Neruda.

Parra succeeds last year’s winner, the Catalonian Ana María Matute. Since 1976, 36 Spanish and Hispanic-American writers have won the prize considered the “Nobel of Castilian Letters”. The prize, created in 1975 by the Spanish government’s Ministry of Culture, recognizes authors whose work as a whole has contributed to enriching the legacy of Hispanic literature. Although it isn’t officially established, there is a tacit agreement to alternate the award between Hispanic America and Spain. This award has continued that tradition another year.

A Woman Presided on the Jury
For the first time, the president of the jury was a woman, the scientist Margarita Salas. The poet José María Micó, a member of the jury, said that he valued the writer’s long career, that he is an active poet, his great creative independence, and his qualification as a “grand master without a school.” At the moment the award was announced, the jury had not yet spoken with Parra.

After hearing of the award, the founder and director of Anagrama magazine, Jorge Herralde, who is in Guadalajara, currently the site of the most important international book fair in the Spanish-speaking world (the FIL), said of Parra, “it is one of the best Cervantes prizes that has been given, and he should have won it earlier. I discovered him long ago at Oxford, reading his Poemas y antipoemas,” reports Winston Manrique.

“Nicanor continues the path of the great Parra family, whose creativity, talent, and genius fill all of us Chileans with pride,” Chilean President Sebastián Piñera tweeted.

Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman sent his congratulations by e-mail: “How marvelous, and how delightful. Parra has transformed, desacralized our language. I’m dying with anticipation to hear the anti-speech he will give when he accepts the award. Cervantes and Parra together will never be topped…”

“Yesterday I was with him, and he didn’t mention the Cervantes” by Ana Marcos
Patricio Fernández, director of the Chilean seminar The Clinic and author of El País‘s blog Far From Everything, said that yesterday, Wednesday, he was with the awardwinner “all day, and he didn’t mention the Cervantes.”

“We had a peaceful day, lunching in Las Cruces (a region of Valparaíso),” said Fernández, who has known Parra “for 12 years.” “We’ve become very good friends.” He says Parra’s “anecdotes, skills, and good ideas are infinite.” “I couldn’t select one.” How did they meet? “One day I went to his home and asked him to do something for my review, which is very similar to the one he made, El Quebrantahuesos (The Lammergeier). So for some time he wrote a column he called Hojas de parra (double meaning: Parra Pages or Vine Leaves), like his book.

After that he started another section called Adivina de quién es este poema (Divining whose poem this is) about Chilean poetry. In fat, we once did a Parra special, an edition dedicated to him with unpublished texts, criticism, and commentary.”

Fernández was very happy the Cervantes was given to Parra because “it’s taken a lot of work to make people recognize that he has been the most important poet in Chile for quite a while now. I believe that thanks to the publication of his complete works, he has begun to receive more recognition.” “Today I called him, but he didn’t answer. It would be a lot like Nicanor to not pick up the phone right now because there’s nothing he dislikes more than answering questions.”

The Great Adventure of Latin American Photography

November 4, 2011

Pages from the photo book 'Fotografías'
Pages from the book Fotografías (Photographs). All pictures courtesy of publisher RM S.A DE C.V.

Pages from 'Bares cariocas'
Pages from Bares cariocas (Bars of Rio de Janiero).

Pages from 'Doorway to Brasilia'
Pages from Doorway to Brasilia.

Pages from 'Chile o muerte'
Pages from Chile o muerte (Chile or Death).

Pages from La última ciudad (The Last City).

The Great Adventure of Latin American Photography
One volume covers 150 of the best books of photography created from the 1920s to today in countries like Chile, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina
El País: La gran aventura de la fotografía latinoamericana
Elsa Fernández-Santos reporting from Madrid November 4, 2011

Like a chain of precious jewels on paper, the volume El fotolibro latinoamericano (The Latin American Photo Book) unites 150 jewels of photographic bibliography created in the countries of Latin America. Unique books, many of them unknown, found in old bookstores and libraries, which shape a route beginning in the 20s and ending in the present day and including along the way some of the most beautiful and singular works of publication and photography realized in recent decades. Works of art in which literature, history, anthropology, and simple beauty meet on the page, pieces which have not only survived the passage of time but also have become authentically unique.

The adventure of El fotolibro latinoamericano began in 2007, after the first Latin American Photography Forum celebrated in Sao Paolo. There the concept of creating a research book was born, one to be headed by Horacio Fernández, a former committee adviser for Martin Parr, Marcelo Brodsky, and Ramón Reverté, among others. “It isn’t a mere bibliographic compendium. It’s a critical study that shows the enormous contribution of Latin America to the photo book,” write the authors. “It has been a detective search. As this had not been researched before, we had to do a lot on pure intuition,” Horacio Fernández explained.

His team traveled to each country, dove into bookstores and libraries, and got in contact with people who could give them tips on unique books. “The selection criteria were simple: they had to be authors who were born in or lived in Latin America, and they had to have participated decisively in the publication and realization of their books.” From the page setting to the proper photographic discourse, each detail was important to the selection of books for this compendium. “The photo book is a collective work in which the photography is as important as the design or the graphic edition. It’s a way of looking at photography that’s very different from the way one would at a showing. I like to compare it with film: it’s a movie on paper, a visual story with a certain order.”

The Latin American photo books created by literary figures especially capture one’s attention. “In the 30s, Neruda had already begun to include photographs in his poetry collections,” Fernández points out. In the same vein, there are editions of Último round (Last Round) by Julio Cortázar, designed in Mexico by Julio Silva; Versos de salón (Salon Verses) by the Chilean Nicanor Parra, with photographs by Daniel Vittet and design by Fernán Meza, next to España en el corazón (Spain in the Heart) by Neruda, with photographic compositions by Pedro Olmos. They surprising works like Bares cariocas (Bars of Rio de Janiero) by Luiz Alphonsus, Fallo fotográfico (Photographic Failure) by Eugenio Dittborn; Fotografías by Fernell Franco, and Letreros que se… (Signs That…) by El Grupo, created in Caracas, “the most photogenic (and photographed) city in Latin America”.