The Immortal Cantinflas

Martin Boyd

cantinflasThroughout the Spanish-speaking world and in Mexico in particular, Cantinflas is, beyond all doubt, a cultural icon. With Cantinflas, the Mexican comedian Mario Moreno created a character who featured in more than 50 films and became an emblematic image of Mexico’s national identity: the archetypal “pelado”, obtuse, at times insane but always hilarious, with a strong dose of social satire.

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Mexico proudly showcases its identity in Toronto

Nicolás Lucas

Photo: Notimex

Photo: Notimex

Last weekend at the University of Toronto’s MacMillan Theatre, a musical theatre performance of Mexican folk dance was presented under the name Mexico, History and Dance. The university campus theatre, which has a capacity of 800, was filled with an enthusiastic audience, who were delighted by a show in which 122 dancers and musicians took to the stage.

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Bolívar’s Dream

Brian Kennedy

BolivarSince the summer I spent in Caracas many years ago (in fact, longer ago than I’d care to admit), Venezuela has always held a special place in my heart. The beauty of the capital, with its mixture of old world and modern charm, the warmth and friendliness of its people, the afternoon strolls down Sabana Grande and the nights bursting with light and life in Plaza Altamira are images that will stay with me always. Since that summer, I have made many Venezuelan friends here in Toronto. Perhaps I have sought them out, in an effort to recapture the wonder of that special summer, as their openhearted warmth inevitably brings back memories of that time for me. In short, I feel a special affection for Venezuela and for its people, an affection that has made the recent events in that beautiful country hard to watch without being overwhelmed by distress.

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Mexico: Looking to the Future

José Manuel Sánchez Bermúdez

The architects of NAFTA: Salinas, Bush and Mulroney (photo courtesy of Associated Press)

The architects of NAFTA: Salinas, Bush and Mulroney (photo courtesy of Associated Press)

“The need to integrate the nation as an objective of the republican State has given way to the urgent need to bring the economy into line with the dominant global interests.” – Adolfo Sánchez Rebolledo, La Jornada, Jan. 9, 2014

Mexico’s recent history – most clearly since 1988 – has been marked by the progressive destruction of every vestige of sovereignty and national purpose, in correlation with the country’s gradual absorption by the United States. This has been a complex, multidimensional process, and unless it is examined constantly and systematically, it would be impossible to make sense of our present. Part of this necessary examination must involve an analysis of its stages, the shape it has taken on over the course of its development and the contradictions that have unfolded over time. From this perspective, I would like to offer a few ideas.

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Not All Migrant Workers are the Same

Margarita Caropresi

Margarita Caropresi y Genri

Margarita Caropresi with Genri, a young Guatemalan migrant worker in Canada

Since 2001, I’ve been involved with the issue of migrant workers in Canada, and in the last few years I have been promoting Atoctli, a magazine that uses positive, constructive messages to facilitate communication that will improve the work, safety and wellbeing of migrant workers in Canada. Over the years I have observed how Canada’s migrant worker programs have evolved and changed, and although there are fortunately more people today who are interested in the topic, it is disquieting to hear generalizations that seem to suggest that all migrant workers are the same, a notion that is far from the truth.

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Chavela Vargas, a Voice from the Beyond

Isabel Martínez

Chavela VargasChavela Vargas, the Mexican singer with an incomparable voice that seems to embody the spirit of melancholy itself, left us last year after a music career spanning more than 60 years that turned her into one of the most important figures of contemporary Mexican culture and the true incarnation of “La Llorona” (“the Weeping Woman”), the song that became her signature tune.

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Hispanic Awards to be presented on November 27

Mauricio Ospina

José Ortega, founder of the Lula Lounge in Toronto, accepts his award in 2012 (photo courtesy of Alma Latina)

Canada’s new Minister for Immigration, Chris Alexander, and Mr. Ian Troop, CEO of the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games Organizing Committee, will present the awards to this year’s 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians. The three hundred people in attendance will include past winners, diplomats, exporters, journalists and community members. Only 200 tickets are available to the public for the event, being held on Wednesday, November 27 from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Toronto Board of Trade. The event will showcase local associations at no cost as well as sponsors and executives for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.

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Festival of Images and Words

Martin Boyd

Margarita Feliciano at the opening of the 22nd Festival of Images and Words

The Festival of Images and Words, organized by the CCIE (Celebración Cultural del Idioma Español), celebrates its 22nd edition this year. For more than two decades the festival has been offering Torontonians a wide gamut of Spanish-speaking events every fall, including a film festival, art exhibitions, concerts, theatrical performances, book launches, literary readings, literary contests, and panel discussions on a broad variety of topics ranging from discussions of language as a vehicle for social bonding to the historical significance of indigenous Mexican cuisine.

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Forty years since the coup in Chile

Jorge Etcheverry

Salvador Allende y Pablo Neruda

Forty years have passed since Chile’s coup d’etat in 1973 and the memory of the moment is still alive. And not only the memory of the historic event itself, but the diverse and specific circumstances that surrounded it.  Proof of this are the numerous commemorations taking place around the world and of course in Chile itself, not to mention the fact that the political, social and economic conditions that brought Salvador Allende’s People’s Unity coalition to power are basically unchanged and will have another opportunity to be addressed in Chile’s upcoming presidential elections.

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