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From issue: Gender Equality: Political Backrooms, Corporate Boardrooms and Classrooms (Summer 2012)


Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and events from around the hemisphere with AQ's Panorama. Each issue, AQ packs its bags and offers readers travel tips on a new Americas destination.

In this issue:
<i>¿Hablas español?</i> The cast of Casa de mi Padre takes questions from the press at an event in Mexico City. Read more in "Crossover Film." Photo: Marco Antonio Valdez/El Universal/AP. Homepage photo from: <i>The Art of Peruvian Cuisine</i>.

The Art of Peruvian Cooking

Now that Peruvian cuisine has become a worldwide rage, it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when people didn’t know about Peru’s culinary treasures. In 2000, Peruvian businessman and president of Lima’s Fundación Custer Tony Custer helped introduce Peruvian cooking to the world with the publication of his best-selling The Art of Peruvian Cuisine.

At the time, Custer says, “when people thought of Peru, it was always Cuzco and Machu Picchu, but there’s a whole other world people miss out on. I wanted the world to see how rich and fascinating our food was; and there was no other book in English with quality photography.”

In 2011, Custer published a second volume that features Peruvian fusion recipes as well as traditional preparations. Now available in both Spanish and English, it has already sold more than 2,200 copies in Peru alone, making it a hit among local foodies.

But Custer was interested in more than just putting Peruvian cuisine on the map. One of his primary goals was to raise funds for Aprendemos Juntos (We Learn Together), a program started by his foundation that helps children with learning disabilities by sponsoring special classrooms with psychologists and behavioral therapists.

Custer’s first book, written in English, featured recipes for Peruvian classics like tiraditos, ceviches and anticucho, and has since sold over 85,000 copies globally in multiple printings, raising $1.4 million for Fundación Custer (all proceeds go to the foundation). “It exceeded our expectations beyond anything we ever dreamed,” says Custer.

While Custer loves cooking, his real passion is the foundation. Aprendemos Juntos, launched in 1996, was inspired by Custer’s experiences with family members who had learning disabilities.

The program targets first- and second-graders in 12 schools in Lima’s poorest neighborhoods. Students are tested in math, reading and writing; those who test in the bottom of their class are enrolled in the program. Special education teachers work with students twice weekly individually or in small groups in 50-minute sessions. The program also supports two-hour parent workshops to help promote learning at home.

Since the first foundation-sponsored classroom opened in 1998, it has helped over 7,000 students and 4,000 parents, and trained more than 100 teachers. Today the program works with 1,600 children and 50 teachers.

Next steps for the foundation include implementing a franchise model in other schools across the city. With two heavy, 200-plus-page volumes of Peruvian cuisine already out and selling well, there may not be much of the country’s culinary wonders to tap. For now, the foundation is identifying private-sector companies to help grow, fund and train teachers to expand the program. Let’s hope, too, that Custer finds a new trove of recipes.

Crossover Film

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent loudly repeats his question: “Do...You...Speak...American?” Cowboy hat in hand, the humble Mexican rancher glances down before responding, “No señor, no hablo americano.” This scene, from the recently released film Casa de mi Padre (March 2012), could be depicting a tense moment at the U.S.–Mexico border—except that the Mexican cowboy is played by U.S. comedy star Will Ferrell.

The latest production by Nala (North America Latin America) Films studio—whose past releases have included Dan in Real Life and The Air I BreatheCasa de mi Padre was shot entirely in Spanish (with English subtitles) with U.S., Mexican and U.S. Hispanic audiences in mind. And Ferrell, whose pronunciation is flawless even though he admits to not understanding Spanish, isn’t the only gringo practicing rolling his r’s these days. Abbie Cornish (Limitless, 2011) recently learned Spanish to play the lead in The Girl, Indy director David Riker’s new bilingual movie, screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in March, which also takes place on the border.

The drift toward bilingual films in the U.S. not only reflects a burgeoning Hispanic audience but also reflects a more general trend toward bilingualism in music and the arts (think megastars Ricky Martin or Shakira). With good reason: Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in the country, exceeding 50 million in 2011.

U.S. Hispanics have wide-ranging levels of cultural assimilation and Spanish- and English- language abilities, but nearly everyone watches movies. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, Hispanics accounted for 30 percent of frequent moviegoers in 2010. Films such as Spanglish (2004), Nacho Libre (2006) and the upcoming biopic Chavez, about the life of Mexican labor activist Cesar Chavez, attempt to find the right combination of language and culture that will appeal to the vast Latin crossover market. One difference between Casa, The Girl, and earlier flicks is that both were explicitly marketed to both native English and Spanish speakers—in an effort to appeal to the lucrative market of Latin Americans, U.S. Hispanics and gringos who may or may not focus on Latin America.

Leonel Limonte, head of New England Festival of Ibero-American Cinema, thinks Spanish in U.S. movies is here to stay. The “New Latin American Cinema” of the 1960s and 1970s portrayed Latin Americans fighting against dictators and the U.S. But what Limonte calls the “New New Latin American Cinema” tells more intimate, universal stories to which audiences can relate regardless of their cultural backgrounds. If current movie-making and demographic trends are any indicators, the linguistic and cultural lines in North American film will be increasingly blurry in coming years.

10 Things to Do: São Paulo, Brazil

Carolina Pasquali

São Paulo is a challenge if you’re in a hurry. At first glance, it’s a city of traffi c jams, tall buildings and endless concrete with no green space—not much charm at all. Or you can pause and amaze yourself with the treasures you’ll find. From great restaurants to museums, a buzzing nightlife to fine art, there’s lots to get absorbed in. Just make sure you leave with plenty of time between places…remember the traffic?

1. Spend an Afternoon with Fine Art. Brazil’s Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) has the most extensive collection of Western art in the southern hemisphere. The 1968 modernist building designed by famed Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi is art itself. Open daily (except Mondays) 11:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. Admission: 15 reais ($7.40).

2. Stroll Down Avenida Paulista. On weekdays, Paulistanos rush to work down the avenue that is the symbol of São Paulo and the city’s principal artery. On weekends, things slow down and you can enjoy Trianon Park, as well as boutique shops, street artists, skaters—and even clowns.

3. Try a Brigadeiro. Brigadeiros are popular ball-shaped chocolates, which were taken to another level by Maria Brigadeiro, the first boutique of its kind, which opened three years ago. There are 40 flavors, from traditional milk chocolate to dulce de leche, cashew and cachaça. Open Monday–Saturday 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m., Rua Capote Valente, 68, Pinheiros.

4. Stroll Through Praça Benedito Calixto. Benedito Calixto Square is a hot spot on Saturdays, when you’ll find antiques, handicrafts, avid collectors and resellers of Brazilian music bargaining for records, and stands serving treats like tapioca and acarajé (peeled blackeyed peas deep-fried in dendê—palm oil). Eat while listening to chorinho, old-school samba. Located in Pinheiros.

5. Party on Vila Madalena. Vila Madalena is classic São Paulo nightlife. The neighborhood is full of restaurants, shops, and lots of bars and clubs. Among the most notable places is the Astor, with an upstairs restaurant and the downstairs Sub-Astor, where you can quaff German-style beer or, if your taste runs to martinis, the fresh fruit Melona-Tini. Rua Delfina, 163, Vila Madalena.

6. Visit the Museu da Língua Portuguesa. The Museum of the Portuguese Language is located in the Estação da Luz, a beautiful metro station worth seeing in its own right. The museum displays work by Portuguese-language writers, such as Bahia’s Jorge Amado. Across the street, visit Pinacoteca to see works by Brazilian artists Tarsila do Amaral and Lasar Segall.

7. Go Classical. Housed in a beautiful building, Sala São Paulo is home to the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (OSESP), where you will experience the best of Brazilian classical music. Purchase tickets up to 60 days before each show through online ticket retailer Ingresso Rápido.

8. Explore the Japanese Connection. For a sense of how Japanese immigration has influenced life in São Paulo, pay a weekend visit to Liberdade neighborhood, where Japanese-Brazilian residents host a weekly street fair. Japanese dishes vie for space alongside Asian-Brazilian fusion cuisine. Metro stop Liberdade.

9. Take in the Views. The Altino Arantes Building, a.k.a. Banespa, was completed in 1939, and its observation deck is still one of the best spots for views of the city. The elevator ride to the top is free, but don’t forget to bring a valid ID to sign in with building security. Rua João Brícola, 24.

10. Shop Till You Drop. Brazilians like to shop, and São Paulo boasts arguably the greatest shopping Mecca on the continent: Daslu. More than 60 ultra-posh designers are showcased. Rua Dauro Cavallaro, 1 in Morumbi.

Venezuelans Abroad: When Every Vote Matters

The October 7 elections pitting President Hugo Chávez against Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (Coalition for Democratic Unity—MUD) candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski promises to be close, and every vote will count.

With almost 700,000 eligible voters overseas—215,000 of them in the U.S.—mobilizing the expat community is key, particularly for the opposition: nine out of 10 Venezuelans in the U.S. voted for the opposition in the country’s 2006 presidential election.

One group working to promote the voting rights of Venezuelan expats is Generación Libre. Founded in 2011 by Venezuelan young professionals in Miami, it recently launched the Voto Donde Sea (I Vote Anywhere) initiative, which organizes voter registration days and social media–based get-out-the-vote campaigns. They are mobilizing voters in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Austin, and New York—as well as in Canada, Panama and Germany.

Venezuela’s opposition party has also taken note. The MUD is now spearheading similar efforts through its Venex program. Ramón José Medina, the coalition’s international coordinator, says the goal is to register up to 300,000 new voters.

Folk on the Rocks

Nina Agrawal

If you’ll go anywhere for great folk music, put Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories (NWT), on your July itinerary. But a warning: it will test your limits.

Yellowknife is where Folk on the Rocks holds its annual festival. Founded by Rod Russell and his band in 1980, the three-day festival takes place every third weekend in July on the shores of Long Lake.

Executive director Penny Ruvinsky says the festival tries “to encourage and support Northern talent.” About half of the 30 artists in each year’s lineup are “Northern”—that is, from Canada’s northern territories, and Alaska or northern countries (Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia). The remainder are from just about everywhere else.

Past performers have come from as far away as Australia and Ireland, and some of the more notable artists have included David Essig, a songwriter and performer of contemporary folk music; Kulavak, a duo of Inuit women whose “throatsinging” was showcased at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver; and Pat Braden, a folk artist originally from Yellowknife.

Although 5,000 attendees seems puny in comparison to other major festivals, it is quite an organizing feat for this small community of 19,000 in the continent’s northernmost regions. The drive from Edmonton, Alberta—one of the closest major cities—can take more than 20 hours.

This year’s concerts began July 19 with “Rock the Folk,” a contest among local bands. The winner earned a performance spot in the festival and a $1,000 grant toward a  locally produced demo. It continued with “Warm the Rocks,” pre-weekend shows at downtown venues, and “Folk in the Park,” a free public concert featuring a visiting artist.

Ticket prices range from $80 for the day to $105 for the weekend. A welcome by traditional drummers from Dene, one of the largest Indigenous groups in Canada’s Arctic, kicks off the formal program.

Don’t forget to bring warm clothes. July is one of the warmest months in the NWT, but average temperatures hover at 63 degrees F (17 degrees C). That’s tropical compared to January, when the mercury plunges to -17 F (-27 C).

Candidate Quotes

Where do the U.S. presidential candidates stand on the critical issues (and threats) in the region today?


“The Bolivarian movement threatens U.S. allies such as Colombia, has interfered with regional cooperation on […] illicit drugs and counterterrorism […] provided safe haven for drug traffickers […] encouraged regional terrorist organizations, and […] invited Iran and foreign terrorist organizations like Hezbollah into the region.” —Mitt Romney


“I will launch a campaign to advance economic opportunity in Latin America, and contrast the benefits of democracy, free trade and free enterprise against the material and moral bankruptcy of the Venezuelan and Cuban model.” —Mitt Romney


“The right course for Cuba is to continue to honor Helms-Burton. I will use every resource we have, short of invasion and military action, to make sure that when Fidel Castro finally leaves this planet […]” —Mitt Romney

“The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba. I know there’s a longer journey that must be traveled to overcome decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day […]” —Barack Obama


“The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here.” —Mitt Romney

“But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country.” —Barack Obama
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The Obama administration is on track to deport more undocumented immigrants in one term—over 1.22 million as of February 2012—than the Bush administration did in two terms (1.57 million).]

Free Trade

“Passage of the Colombia and Panama trade agreements and the resolution of the U.S.-Mexico trucking dispute underscore [my] commitment to creating new opportunities for U.S. exporters and support rules-based trade.” —Barack Obama

From The Think Tanks

The Woodrow Wilson Center on Latin America’s new publication, In the Wake of War, assesses the impact of civil war on democratization in Latin America, with a special emphasis on state capacity. Contributors concentrate on seven countries—Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru—where state weakness fostered conflict, and where state reconstruction presents multiple challenges. In addition to case studies, it explores cross-cutting themes such as the role of the international community in supporting peace, the explosion of post-war criminal and social violence, and the value of truth and historical clarification.

Cuban Economic and Social Development: Policy Reforms and Challenges of the 21st Century provides the most detailed analysis to date of the ongoing economic reform in Cuba. Published by Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the edited volume presents the views of prominent Cuban economists and sociologists on a decade of economic and social trends, with suggestions on next steps to promote economic growth and improve social welfare. The authors cover trade, capital inflows, exchange rates, monetary and fiscal policy, and the agricultural sector—as well as economic and social policies that have produced declines for some groups and dramatic new economic opportunities for others.

Public-private collaboration has in recent years led to groundbreaking public policy in areas such as education, healthcare and citizen security. Alianzas Público-Privadas y Seguridad Ciudadana: Gúia para la Acción (Public-Private Partnerships and Citizen Safety: A Guide to Action), a joint report by the World Bank, the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá, Colombia and Brazil’s Instituto de Criminologia e Política Criminal, is a practical guide that demonstrates how companies can improve community safety by helping firms understand the importance of citizen security to economic development. It explores the role the private sector can play by leveraging its resources and influence. The guide features best practices from across the region, with an emphasis on Brazil and Colombia.

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