Colombia Brazil & Dominican Republic Leading in Vanity Tourism


The universal idea of beauty has been definitely changed. Now, the most beautiful and most desired women are curvy. For many, the ideal woman is a combination of Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Beyonce 

A new interest for female appearance places Latinas among the most attractive and desired women on the planet, which in turn fuels the existing cult of beauty and the women’s obsession with looking beautiful, young and fabulous.

It is no coincidence that countries such as Brazil, The Dominican Republic and Colombia have become the preferred destination for the so-called “beauty-tourism,” a new and innovative trend that has people traveling to other countries a part of promotional packages that include accommodation, medical expenses and cosmetic surgery ranging from breast augmentation to chin liposuction for a fraction of the cost they would have in the U.S.

The business of vanity or plastic surgery is a growing billion-dollar industry in Latin America, where professional success and social acceptance largely depend on physical appearance. This, despite the myriad of terrifying cases of deaths during surgery and of procedures performed in clinics operated by unscrupulous doctors or by people lacking proper credentials.

Back in the homelands, the social pressure some Latinas feel regarding their beauty drives even the ones with the most limited resources to resort to desperate methods that may include a subtle form of prostitution called “chapeo.”

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the most popular types of surgery are buttock augmentation, liposuction and breast augmentation. Botox continues to top the list of most common non-invasive cosmetic procedures worldwide.



Latinas habitually worry about their appearance and the perception others may have of them, including their financial and social status. Looking good is equated to wellness and to doing well financially. We Latinas were raised admiring and wanting to be “just like” the leading actresses in telenovelas.

For most, going under the knife is considered more as psychological healing than a physical change. It boosts the self-esteem of women who were raised to be beautiful, even if that idea of beauty -which follows a European standard – fails to match the features of most of our countries’ population. It only takes a quick look at the most popular Hispanic TV networks or the famous Mexican telenovelas to see this.

From an early age, girls seem to covet having a full behind, voluptuous hips and stroke-inducing breasts, disregarding the effort required or even considering the risk of ending up being part of the terrifying statistics.

It is an emotional and physical balance. It is an mental attitude. It takes strongly believing that you accept yourself and love yourself exactly the way you are, and no letting advertising affect you and make no pursue and artificial idea of perfection.

We Latinas are more than our beauty. We are warriors who have fought for generations for the right to pursue our dreams in our countries of origin and in this new nation that opened its doors to us. And, of course, we also have curves.

 (Originally published in Latin Trends magazine)

Black Box Helps to Uncover Mystery behind Brazilian Plane Crash

Photo by

Photo by

Negligence may have played a large part in the doomed flight of the chartered LaMia jet that crashed in Colombia, in which most of the Chapecoense football team perished, according to Alfredo Bocanegra, the head of the Colombian aviation agency.

The recordings from the black box from the plane leaked earlier today on social media and contained audiotapes of the pilot requesting to land.

Total electric failure.”

Those were the pilot’s last words before the plane plummetted into a mountain in the Andes region.

The complete lack of fire, which was a blessing in disguise to the survivors, suggests the plane lacked enough fuel to land 18 miles away from its destination.

The lone member of the flight crew to survive, Ximena Sanchez, a Bolivian flight attendant, was able to further corroborate that theory once she was pulled out of the plane.

We ran out of fuel.”

To make matters worse, the plane was flying at maximum capacity and made no pit stops to refuel.

Bocanegra also suspects that the pilot “dumped fuel” or that the “lack of fuel was caused by a leak,” which could have been found before the flight if the 17-year-old British plane was inspected more frequently.

Of the 77 people on board, six managed to survive.


Tragedy Strikes Brazilian Football Team

Photo by Mantos do Futebol

Photo by Mantos do Futebol

Many had hoped Tuesday,  Nov. 29 would be the beginning of a fairy tale ending for Brazil’s Chapecoense football club, but it turned into a nightmare as almost all the members of the team, a flight crew, and the journalists on board the privately chartered LaMia jet died tragically while heading to Colombia the day before the Copa Sudamericana finals.

Officials from Colombia‘s aviation agency and local police report that some of the possible reasons for the crash, which was near the jungle region of the country, may have been due to unfavorable weather conditions and electrical problems. There is also the possibility that the plane ran out of fuel while it was only 18 miles away from its destination.

In total, there were 71 casualties and six survivors. The survivors include aircraft mechanic Erwin Tumiri, flight attendant Ximena Suarez, journalist Rafael Henzel Valmorbida, and football players Jackson Ragnar Follman, Alan Ruschel and Hèlio Hermito Zampier.

Goalkeeper Marcos Danilo Padilha initially survived the wreckage, but later died from the injuries that he sustained.

This year, the small club was gaining major attention after it managed to attract Brazilian superstars back to their home country after many had played for other countries, like midfielder Cleber Santana who spent many years with Athletico Madrid.

After learning of the terrible event, Brazilian President Michel Temer “declared three days of national mourning,” according to

In a show of solidarity and sportsmanship, Colombia’s football team Atlètico Nacional asked the Copa Sudamericana organizers to award the title to Chapecoense.

Why Don’t Colombians Want Peace?



After nearly 60 years of civil war, Colombian president Juan Manual Santos and the leader of the Marxist rebel group FARC, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, signed a peace treaty but the public was also able to vote on said treaty. The result: rejection. Though the war has cost more than 220,000 lives and displaced millions of others, both in the major cities as well as the country sides, the Colombian people were nearly evenly-split on this agreement, and possible those who voted no felt that what was in the peace treaty wasn’t enough. According to NPR, much of the country’s population on the Caribbean coast couldn’t come out to vote with Hurricane Matthew in their midst; they were in favor of the agreement. Nearly two-thirds of the population did stay home, however.

This peace treaty didn’t simply state to end the fighting. Both parties were looking to agree to not only laying down of arms but for the FARC to be converted to a political party that would eventually participate in democratic elections. Being that the FARC is a designated terrorist organization, what about the atrocities they have caused all these years, while funding themselves through the drug trade and extortion? The treaty states they would have to confess to their crimes but wouldn’t face jail time and would receive some benefits, which is what stopped many from voting yes to this agreement.

The FARC was founded by farmer Manuel “Sureshot” Marulanda in 1964 to peacefully fight against inequality in Colombia at the time, which was already a violent period for the country. He was inspired by the Communist Revolution in Cuba, hence the group’s Marxist-Leninist ideology. One can say that the FARC has been in a bit of a decline with Marulanda’s passing in 2008, capturing/killing of other leaders, and shrinking ranks; these events could have lead the current leadership to the negotiation table with Santos.

Negotiations for this peace deal took about four years and happened in Havana; the deal was signed with Cuban president Raul Castro present, along with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Santos assured his country that he would keep the negotiations going until a deal is made that they can agree with.



Lionel Messi wants this championship badly. He sports a beard symbolizing the goal. He is focused like never before to bring Argentina it’s first trophy of any kind since the 1993 Copa America. This was never so true as last night’s 4-0 win over the United States at Metlife Stadium demonstrated.

Messi, didn’t back track even when the man who he assisted on the opening goal, Lavezzi, did a 360 flip over the advertising board landing flush on his head and shoulder which was very reminiscent of Derek Jeter’s spill during the 2001 Divisional playoff game against Oakland. It was a 63rd minute air-sapper as we learned that he fractured his arm and is scratched for the final.

He was carted away by ambulance to the horror of Argentine fans. But they could take solace in their top player. Though Messi has been the ultimate tease, losing the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America finals, Argentina does not get that close without arguably the best player on any pitch today.

Though that spill grabbed the headlines, it was Messi‘ playmaking that set up three of the four goals. Three minutes in, just outside the box he lifted a gorgeous, towering ball perfectly into the heart of goaltending territory, where Ezequeil Lavezzi headed it perfectly past Brad Guzan.

“It was a lesson,”

U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann explained,

“We hit the wall,”

The second was a taste of free kick magic. Messi left-footed bender that found the top-left corner for a 2-0 lead. The fourth was a 86th minute transition treat. Messi, in classic, turf-tearing sprint, picking up a turnover, and entering the left side of the box, passed to his right to set up Gonzalo Huguain for his second of the game.

Messi’ return was a relief but it will remain to be seen the effects of Lavezzi’s injury when Argentina plays Sunday against today’s Columbia-Chile semi-final winner. If Chile wins, it will be their second meeting in this tournament as Argentina bested them in group play. They would also get the opportunity to avenge last year’s Copa America loss. Colombia, after seeing their name mis-spelled, will not be confused as they are on the verge of a final.

Adidas spends $$ MILLIONS on soccer ads with HUGE typo & Colombians are FURIOUS!

Adidas spends $$ MILLIONS on soccer ads with HUGE typo & Colombians are FURIOUS!



At least the Colombian National team can live up to it’s lofty credentials. The Copa America entrant started off well with two victories in group play to start off the tournament. They are one of the favorites to win and James Rodriguez is poised to add to the worldwide fame he first achieved at the 2014 World Cup.

Only one problem. In the advertisements concerning Columbia Pictures, no, I mean the space shuttle, Columbia, check that, the Columbian National Soccer team, it appears that Adidas‘ advertisement agency goofed on the basics, spelling.

The error caused the ads, that were to show off the players white home jerseys, to be removed and Adidas to be ridiculed. The company spoke about how much they valued the partnership.

“We apologize for our mistake,”

Adidas responded,

“We removed these graphics and are quickly installing new versions today.”

This slight has seemed to only add to Colombian play as they followed their 2-0 win over the United States with a 2-1 victory over Paraguay Tuesday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.



The choice of venue for the opening match of the 2016 Copa America, the “Centenario” if you will, was Santa Clara, California. For Jurgen Klinsmann’s men it was supposed to be the beginning of a statement. However, instead of a show of skill with the feet, it was the hands that marked the defining moment of this match.

Colombia came out quickly showing its quality of play and silenced 67,439 fans at Levi’s Stadium eight minutes in when Cristian Zapata, played a corner kick into a cute tally putting Colombia up first. He eluded two defenders and volleyed it in for his first international goal.

Clint Dempsey has proven to be the most deadly sniper the United States owns. The lethal lefty has scored many crucial goals in the past twelve years including three
World Cups. But the 33-year old found frustration to be the word of the day. He re-directed the ball just pass the post on one occasion and saw another shot that usually finds the net making friends with the boards.

“Clint was a warrior out there giving everything he had,”

Klinsmann said,

“He was really fighting that fight very positively until the very last second.”

The problem was that the United States, with eight players who appeared in the 2014 World Cup, could not find another to match Dempsey’s desire. They remained a single goal away from a draw and Colombian star striker James Rodriguez had not yet put a stamp on the game. In fact he aggravated a shoulder injury when he as taken down later in the match.

But it was Michael Bradley, the U.S. Captain, who doesn’t make many mistakes, turning the ball over and then DeAndre Yedlin who turned away from Farid Diaz’ cross attempt with his hand open. The ball found it and a red-card penalty called in the 65th minute. ”

That penalty decision had a big impact,”

Klinsmann understatedly proclaimed.

James Rodriguez put it away and the 2-0 scoreline held for Colombia. The third-ranked Colombia took advantage of the change in goal as the long-tenured Tim Howard was replaced by Brad Guzan for this tournament. Guzan was the number one goalie for Aston Villa in England last year. The U.S, in Group A plays Costa Rica Tuesday in Chicago while Colombia will get Paraguay on the same day at Pasadena, California.

Almost Another All-White Oscars

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 2.40.33 PM

For the past few years, considerable efforts have been made to diversify the Academy Awards, but today’s nominations feature only one prominent person of color in a major category, Alejandro G. Inarritu for The Revenant.

Even with notable performances by Benicio Del Toro (Sicario), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina), Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor (Tangerine), this was the second consecutive year where no persons of color have nominations in any of the 20 slots in the acting categories.

Films like Sicario, Tangerine, Ex MachinaStraight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation and Creed either have recognition in smaller categories like technical achievements, have only one nomination or were completely shut out of the race.

However, there is still hope in the form of Colombia and Mexican Director-Producer Inarritu. Colombia received a Foreign Language Film nomination for Embrace of the Serpent. The Revenant garnered the most Oscar nods, 12, practically guaranteeing a win for Inarritu, or his cast and crew.

For onscreen performances, The Revenant will compete for Best Actor (Leonardo Dicaprio) and Best Supporting Actor (Tom Hardy).

When it comes to technical achievement, The Revenant will have to contend for Costume Design, Makeup and Hair Styling, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Film Editing, Production Design, and Visual Effects.

Emmanuel Lubezki, Inarritu’s go-to cameraman, also from Mexico, will have to duke it out with John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road), Roger Deakins (Sicario), and two others for best cinematographer.

Last week Inarritu won Best Director and Best Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes, which signals that he is most likely to have another two-peat at the Oscars in the Best Picture and Director categories.

The 88th Academy Awards will be live on Sunday, Feb 28th at 8:30 p.m. EST. The host will be actor and comedian, Chris Rock.



The Repertorio Espanol presented its first play of the 5th edition of the Van Lier Director’s fellowship sponsored by The New York Community Trust. The first of three plays developed in the Siglo de Oro Festival, we were exposed to a Spanish Classic, the zarzuela. The play called “El Laurel de Apolo” was directed by Estefania Fadul.

Fadul was one of three under 30 directors who are required to direct a play in Spanish. It’s especially tricky when you are directing an old style play called the zarzuela that has not been seen here and may or may not translate. But to Estefania it is important to be revisited. “It’s fascinating because it’s one of the first ever of this form of this genre.” Fadul explains,

“A form of Spanish opera taken from Italian opera. It’s kind of like musicals in this way because there is spoken dialogue scenes and musical scenes.”

The play was written in 1857 during the birth of a new Spanish Prince during a period of strife but Fadul sees common themes that many will recognize today. “It was written as a new hope or celebration, a new beginning for Spain.” Fadul informed.

“There are a lot of themes that are still relevant, we updated a lot of the music so it’s still fun for people today as it was for people then.”

Estefania has lived a life of contrasts being born in Colombia, raised in the State of New Hampshire, and now in New York City. Her experiences have aided her in the body of her work which is varied and prominent since her early years. “I would put on plays for my cousins.” Fadul shares,

“It’s always been about stories and storytelling, and telling new perspectives as always been important to me.

It’s been partly influenced by having so many places for me to pull from.”

The Van Liers have been important to young directors like Estefania. By giving the necessary financial support to directors, a rare thing in this industry, Fadul can show her work on a historical stage such as the Repertorio Espanol. “They were the first to say here’s some money, go on and put on this show.” Fadul recalled,

“It’s an incredible opportunity to be able to practice with things that I wanted to try in an environment that feels very safe.”

The Van Lier Fellowship Directors from L to R (Victoria Collado, Diego Chiri, and Estefania Fadul

The Van Lier Fellowship Directors from L to R (Victoria Collado, Diego Chiri, and Estefania Fadul

It also helps when like-minded individuals look at the bigger picture to advance the means. Such was the case of Fadul and the other two directors, Victoria Collado and Diego Chiri, which make up the Van Lier fellowship this year, “We decided to pull together as a festival of Spanish golden age plays.” Fadul explained,

“What’s great is getting everyone into this as a festival and having the support of other directors is crucial.”

The Donald Trump effect has brought responses from all walks of life and the theater traditionally has usually led the march against moral attacks and most often are the voice of the people in general but artistically presented in clever forms. “Doing things like this, with a strong group of Latino actors and creative team members and a few who are not Latino and putting them into this environment where we are in a Spanish speaking theater and play, shows that its very universal.” Fadul shares,

“It’s not about putting people to the side and marginalizing them.”

The role of a director in movies are very noticeable. They can cut and shape from scene to scene, line for line. However in live plays, the impact a director has is harder to view. Fadul tells us where we should look.

“I see my role as a director is to create a process that gives actors and designers and everyone the tools to do the work they need to do.”

Estefania responds,

“It starts months before anyone else comes aboard with analyzing scripts, thinking how its relevant today, and come up with a concept and central ideas we want to get across.”

It’s a inter working of director with talent that allows the flow of expression that will be seen in the finished product. From the first rehearsal to the performance, Estefania is the conductor that allows the current to flow everywhere.

“All the work we do is layering different things on top of each other so they have the foundation for their performance to grow.”

Estefania points out.

All directors dream of the ultimate play or maybe even television or big screen projects. But for Fadul, though she is interested in seeing where things may lead, her first love is the theater. “I hope to do this all my life.” Fadul explained,

“I have done some film in the past and would like to get back into it on a larger scale. But right now my energy is very much focused on theater.”

Estefania Fadul sees herself as “creative.” It’s the central theme of her expressions in theater. She is quite a busy woman which various projects in the works in 2015. The fall will be filled with her fellowship with the drama league directors project. “That’s really exciting” and directing a show in a college upstate in the spring. “The first professional gig I have.” She laughs.

Fadul knows she is a rare breed but she feels that women should view her and know what’s possible and never limit themselves. It may be the most important impact Estefania ultimately brings to Latino directors of the future.

“I think the biggest thing is to never let anyone tell you no.”

Fadul expressed, “If you know that its what you were meant to be doing then continue forth in it and it will get done.”

MAKU Soundsystem at the LAMC


photo credits: Catherine Rojo

The Latin Alternative Music Conference week had its musical launch event at the Bowery Electric in New York. Among the bands in the house that evening, MAKU Soundsystem, Colombian in heritage and New York based we learned about how they formed, what alternative means, their latest project, and the musicians take on immigration and Donald Trump.

It was a few moments before they were to enter the basement stage at the Bowery and Juan Ospina, their bass player, spoke for the band. The forming of a large band and lasting through three albums is always an interesting story. The search of identity is always evolving in the music. Juan brings it together.

“We got together in several ways like workshops in Queens, meeting in High School.”

Juan recalled,

“Also references in college, but more than anything through a network of musicians in New York.”


So here they are, living in a crowded city, like all of us, where respect can be in short supply. The journey of musicians playing non-traditional music can be long but there is demand.

“There is so much diversity in music in our country, culture, different Latinos, they just want to hear different things.”

Espino explained. “That has opened doors for bands like MAKU to be able to play things that are close to us as Latinos.”

Juan cited the pitfalls of a society that is often crushed into each other for lack of space, physically or mentally. The knee jerk reactions are the result often times. In the end what is the solution?

“It’s a matter of us all being able to work together, push the envelope with new music and expressions.”

Juan pointed out,

“Everyone in the music industry has possibilities and responsibilities.”

Maku performed four songs this evening that brought out the pre-show desires of the band for the people to feel the music, have synergy, and respond to what Juan Ospina referred to their performance as “A powerful quicky.” Indeed it was quite diverse as their music called to the ears of immigrants with cards in their pockets. It was as Juan described,

“something familiar, but at the same time new.”

Felipe Quiroz, (synthesizers) interjected at this point,

“Its family to me, a learning experience to share life together with tools we are lucky enough to have, which is music.”


On the topic of the Trump effect, MAKU, a band that is well traveled in Europe and South American, displayed their view.

“There are people who are running to be leaders of nations.”

Ospina shared,

“You better not get on any race of any kind if it’s not from love or understanding.”

MAKU is passionate yet based in love for each other and those who experience their music. They share a solidarity that is the source of their rise.

“We are living proof that those who work together from the bottom can go somewhere.”

drummer Andres Jimenez said.

“We make music for the everyday people.”

Espino added.

MAKU Soundsystem will be coming out with their fourth album, “Nation of Immigrants” which was sparked by a July the 4th social get together of bands that Juan Ospina summarized as a

“Celebration with substance.”

The eight track project of original songs will be a diverse call to immigrants from different nations but under the same umbrella.

“We are ourselves immigrants in the city.”

Juan explained,

“The world is for all of us and we have to deal with each other.”