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From issue: Cuba and Colombia (Fall 2014)


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:
One of the workshops teaches participants how to make oversized puppets. Photo: Susan K. Tiss. Homepage photo: property of Dirty Hands LLC.

The All Souls Procession

The unique All Souls Procession in Tucson, Arizona, draws its inspiration from the traditional Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Launched in 1990 as a performance piece by local artist Susan Johnson to commemorate her late father, it has grown to become a two-day event that melds a myriad of cultural traditions to honor the dead—drawing over 20,000 participants from across the United States and Mexico.

This year’s Procession, which takes place the weekend after Día de los Muertos, will kick off with the family-friendly Procession of Little Angels on Saturday, November 8. In Armory Park, families will get a chance to build altars, children can celebrate by getting their faces painted with a traditional calavera (skull), or decorate sugar calaveras of their own.

The main event, organized by the nonprofit Many Mouths One Stomach, a collective of artists, teachers and community activists committed to creating and perpetuating modern culture, won’t get under way until the following day. Participants don their masks and costumes, set up altars and floats, and place prayers, messages and offerings into a large urn in preparation for the two-mile trek through downtown Tucson.

The parade culminates at the Mercado San Agustin with the burning of the urn, which “draws on the ancient ritual use of fire to transform the hopes, prayers, remembrances, and messages that participants place into it and sends them on or lets them go,” says volunteer coordinator Melanie Cooley. With over 250 volunteers working more than 3,000 hours, the 25th anniversary of Tucson’s All Souls Procession promises to be a weekend to remember.

DIY Wine

Like many wine aficionados, José Manuel Ortega Gil-Fournier  wondered what it would be like to bottle his own varietal. To turn his dream into a reality, the Spanish-born investment banker left his successful career to start his own vineyard.

But this venture came with an innovative entrepreneurial twist. Launched in 2012, his O. Fournier Wine Partners program, based in a vineyard purchased by the O. Fournier label in Mendoza, Argentina’s Valle de Uco, allows other wine enthusiasts to indulge similar dreams of creating their own vintage.

The Wine Partners program sells vineyard plots in the Andes foothills, ranging in size from one to three hectares (2.5 to 7.4 acres). To date, 32 plots have been sold, but 84 separate tracts are available to investors, who get all of the benefits of owning a vineyard without the hassle of day-to-day management. The winery’s staff plants, tends to and harvests the grapes—including Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Torontés, and Chardonnay—produces the wine, and even helps design unique bottle labels.

Many of the partners, he says, are as interested in the vineyard “lifestyle” as they are in the product; so, in addition to the vineyards, the O. Fournier Group offers a luxury hotel for the partners and guests. Proprietors of the eight largest vineyards also have the option of building a villa on the property to be maintained by the hotel staff. Other estate perks include the fine cuisine available at the Urban restaurant, access to nearby ski destinations, and even a children’s juice-making course designed to mirror the wine-making process.

Almost half of the plots have been sold, and some early partners are already tasting the fruit of their investment. One partner will be serving his own private-label wine at his upcoming 25th wedding anniversary. “That emotional part [of wine production] is very special to me,” Ortega explains. We’ll raise a glass to that—though we don’t plan to make it.

Manos Sucias

Rebecca Bintrim

Brothers Delio and Jacobo stand by as two Colombian military officers inspect their boat, desperately hoping their stash of cocaine submerged just below the water won’t be discovered. After a few tense minutes, the officers depart, leaving the brothers to await further instructions from the drug lords.

This is just one of several suspense-filled scenes in Manos Sucias (Dirty Hands), American filmmaker Josef Wladyka’s first feature-length production, which portrays the tension and grime of the narcotrafficking trade in Buenaventura, Colombia.

The heart of the film is the contrast Wladyka depicts between the “normal” lives of the young brothers, who love soccer and arcade games, and the darker business of cocaine smuggling. As the brothers sneak their cargo through impoverished towns, always one step ahead of the authorities, the film shows the toll the drug business has taken on Colombian youth. Delio and Jacobo may have “dirty hands,” but they are also victims of forces beyond their control—and the ending is tragically true-to-life.

The film, five years in the making, was subsidized through crowdfunding and grants, and premiered at the Cartagena Film Festival in March, earning Wladyka the award for Best New Narrative Director at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. According to the director, the plot was grounded in the grim reality of the Colombian drug trade. “In Buenaventura, unfortunately, there are a lot of kids who at a very young age […] are caught up in this cycle,” he explained. Manos Sucias was released in Colombian theaters on October 9. A U.S. distribution deal is still pending.

View a trailer from the film below.

10 Things to do in Nashville

Richard André

Nashville's place in America's musical heritage has always made it a must-see destination for country music fans. But an expanding food scene and growing cultural diversity, propelled by a wave of new immigrants, has transformed "Music City" into the new "it" city.

1. Visit an American icon. No visit to Music City is complete without a stop at the Grand Ole Opry—“country music’s most famous stage.” Shows are Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights. (Tickets from $30 to $70)

2. Visit the home of bluegrass. The Station Inn’s nightly performances, intimate venue and cold beer make for a great listening atmosphere. (Admission up to $20, depending on the show)

3. Experience Nashville’s diversity. Egyptian, Indian and Latin American restaurants on the “immigrant corridor” along Nolensville Road are worth a visit, after checking out Casa Azafrán, an international community center.

4.Try hot chicken. Nashville’s signature dish—caked in a spicy cayenne paste—lives up to its name, and Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack offers an eye-watering introduction. You’ll welcome the cooling addition of a pickle and coleslaw. ($7.65 for a half chicken)

5. Get out of the city. Just 10 miles from downtown Nashville, Lake Radnor State Park, a 1,322-acre nature preserve, offers a peaceful escape from the city. (Free)

6. See how Music City got its name. Nashville’s honky-tonk bars on Broadway are the source of the city’s sound—and you don’t even need to step inside. Free live music wafts out of every door.

7. Visit East Nashville. A 10-minute drive over the Cumberland River, East Nashville is where the historic district meets a creative renaissance. The Five Points area is home to several art galleries, and the pulled pork sandwich and hushpuppies at Drifters BBQ will remind you that you’re still in Tennessee!

8. Go Greek. Centennial Park boasts the world’s only full-scale replica of Athens’ Parthenon. The building serves as the city’s art museum and the park also hosts concerts and festivals throughout the year. (Admission to the gallery and museum $7)

9. Sample craft beers. Visit the Yazoo Brewing Company tap room or take a tour of the brewery on Saturdays. Sample the more than 10 local beers on tap, and walk away with a Yazoo glass…and a buzz. (Tour $8)

10. Channel your inner Elvis. The Country Music Hall of Fame displays legendary artifacts—from Elvis’ gold Cadillac to Johnny Cash’s guitar. Tours are also available at the famed Music Row studio.(Hall of Fame admission $25, Studio B tour $40)

View a slideshow of Nashville, Tennessee.

From the Think Tanks

Due Process of Law Foundation, Centro Brasileiro de Relações Internacionais (CEBRI), Bertelsmann Foundation

In “Independencia judicial en la reforma de la justicia ecuatoriana,” the Due Process of Law Foundation argues that the Ecuadorian judiciary’s independence vis-à-vis other branches of government has been compromised. Based on a review of high-profile court cases, Consejo de la Judicatura (Judicial Council) resolutions, official statements, and more than 20 interviews with government workers, the report raises questions about the politicization of the Judicial Council, which has the power to discipline and remove judges, and the use of the courts to pursue government critics. The report concludes that judicial independence will ultimately require the Correa administration to cease its interference in the courts, and to overhaul the Judicial Council to ensure impartiality and transparency.

In its report, “Resseguro no Brasil: desafios e oportunidades da abertura,” the Centro Brasileiro de Relações Internacionais (Brazilian Center for International Relations) examines the evolution of Brazil’s re-insurance industry since it was privatized in 2007. While acknowledging challenges, the report strikes an optimistic note. Not only has Brazil seen average insurance costs drop, but local reinsurers have begun to upgrade their services and business practices. For sustained growth, the report recommends greater harmonization with international industry standards, transforming the Superintendéndia de Seguros Privados (Superintendence of Private Insurance) into an independent agency, and privatizing the country’s Seguro de Acidente de Trabalho (Workplace Injury Insurance).

After years of political and economic progress, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru are on their way to becoming regional leaders, much like the Asian Tigers. In “The Pacific Pumas: An Emerging Model for Emerging Markets,” the Bertelsmann Foundation analyzes each country’s trajectory to economic and political stability, as well as their opportunities for further integration into international trade networks, and evaluates each country’s potential as strategic partners for Europe, the U.S. and East Asia—and particularly China. The report suggests that to seize these opportunities, the Pumas must focus on difficult reforms at home, deeper integration within the Pacific Alliance, and meaningful trade agreements with global partners.

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