Paisano Protection Program Starts its Christmas Season Operations

On December 3, Mexico’s Paisano Program will initiate its Christmas season operations. In effect throughout all of the year, but intensified between early-December and mid-January, the Paisano Program’s goal is to stop the exploitation of Mexicans and Mexican Americans by corrupt Mexican officials when these people return from the US to Mexico to visit family over the holidays.

Responding to recent criticism from Mexican community leaders in the US that say that the Paisano Program is well intentioned but ineffective, the regional director of the Instituto Nacional de Migración in Baja California, Rodolfo Valdez Gutiérrez, said that the success of the program depends on what people expect of it.

The program consists of 1.2 million pamphlets, 262,000 radio and TV advertisements, representatives in Chicago and Los Angeles, seven people in the Mexico City central office and a coordinating effort with Mexican NGOs. The NGOs are used as a source of volunteers to watch over government checkpoints for illegal behavior on the part of government employees.

In a related story, the PRI recently requested that President Fox restructure customs and immigration procedures so that people coming into Mexico only have to make one stop at a government checkpoint. The PRI believes that this will help reduce the level of exploitation and corruption at the border, according to the Mexican newspaper Excélsior.

 

Electricity without oil

It’s all about oil. It’s the reason we armed the Shah in Iran. It’s the reason we fought the war with Iraq, killing 200,000 people. It’s the same reason we give Israel and Egypt several billion dollars of military aid each year. And currently, like it or not, it’s the reason we’re bombing one of the poorest countries in the world, where millions of people are at risk of starvation.

We have a choice. We can switch to a different, cost-effective energy source, or continue to be trapped in this cycle of violence.

Large-scale wind power produces electricity at 5 cents per KWh, nearly half the price we currently pay to light our homes. Generating electricity from the sun costs around 20 cents per KWh, but that price can be cut by 75 percent. By mass producing the solar panels with today’s technology, the cost of solar generated electricity can also be brought down to around 5 cents per KWh.

The price tag? Approximately $650 million for a large-scale solar panel factory. This is a small fraction of the $50 billion that we spend each year to protect our interests in the Middle East, or the $1 billion we’re spending each month to wage war on Afghanistan.

We have to opportunity to choose a lasting solution to our problems. Let’s get busy.

BRUCE LEININGER

 

Chocolate History

Craved, savored and given as a symbol of one’s love. Yet, so common it can be purchased for 50 cents. This treasured, as well as commonplace item is chocolate.

Chocolate is known as the “food of the gods”, as it should be. It is made from the beans of the Theobroma Cacao tree. In 1753 Swedish naturalist, Carolus Linnaeus, named the cacao tree Theobroma cacao. The Greek word thiobroma interprets as “food of the gods”. The word “chocolate” was originally derived from the Aztec word xocolatl which means bitter water.

When Christopher Columbus first visited the New World, he encountered many new foods; potatoes, tomatoes, corn. Amidst these wondrous vegetables, he missed the fact that cocoa beans were even a food. Columbus noted that ‘cacao’ beans served as coins amongst the Guanache Indians, but not that they were consumed in any fashion.

It took another explorer from Spain, Hernando Cortez, to make the key realization. He and his men were fascinated by Montezuma’s custom of drinking ‘xocalatl’, made from crushed cocoa beans and cold water, whisked together. This bitter, unsweetened chocolate was consumed several times a day, from special gold beakers. In order to add some relief from

the bitter flavor, the wealthy added vanilla or chili powder, sometimes sweetening it with honey. The Spanish mixed it with hazelnuts, almonds, or cinnamon.

Some facts about chocolate:

* It takes approximately 400 cocoa beans to make 1 pound of chocolate.

* Chocolate contains a protein that inhibits bacterial growth on teeth, and since it melts at body temperature and melts off of teeth, the sugar in chocolate does not cling to teeth.

* Chocolate makes us happy when we eat it. It contains the highest concentration in any food of phenylethylamine, which is the chemical produced in the brain when a person is in love. Chocolate is preferred by 80% of the world’s population.

* Annual world consumption of cocoa beans averages approximately 600,000 tons.

* Health-conscious chocophiles owe a debt of gratitude to medical researcher Scott M. Grundy, M.D., Ph.D., who found that stearic acid, the principal fat in chocolate, does not raise LDL cholesterol levels.

* The U.S. Army D-rations include three 4 ounce chocolate bars.

* Chocolate has even been taken into space as part of the diet of U.S. astronauts.

* In the early 1990’s, annual U.S. production of chocolate and related confections exceeded 1.2 million metric tons.

* Annual consumption in the U.S. is about 11.3 pounds per person. In Switzerland, it is more: 21 pounds of chocolate per person, per year.

By this point, chocolate’s position as a favorite dessert, drink, and snack was well-assured, and popularity simply grew. However, the future of chocolate may well be in jeopardy. Cocoa beans are a delicate crop, requiring high temperatures and plenty of rainfall. Pretty much all of

the cocoa grown is done so between 15 and 20 degrees of the equator.

However, wars in these regions, clear-cutting of rain forests, and huge consumption puts the crops increasingly at risk. Many experts advise purchasing organic chocolate, where not only is the soil and plants being taken care of, the native populations are not being taken advantage of, for this reason.

 

Aztec Chocolate and Spanish Chocolate Drink

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cups boiling water
  • ground pepper of chilies to taste

 

Aztec Chocolate

Grate the unsweetened chocolate into a bowl and cover it with a little of the boiling water. Mash the mixture into a paste. Add the rest of the water and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the pepper and chilies to liven up the drink. The chocolate will not totally dissolve and will have a grittiness to it. For a more authentic drink let the mixture cool and then beat until frothy and drink.

 

Spanish Chocolate

Follow the directions for the Aztec Chocolate omitting the pepper and chilies and add 3 teaspoons of sugar, plus a dash of cinnamon.

 

Chocolate Caliente

Ingredients:

  • 4 squares Baker’s chocolate broken into small pieces
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 2 or 3 drops of vanilla extract
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves

Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently stirring. Do not boil. Mix with a whisk and then pour into mugs. Sprinkle additional cinnamon over the top and add sugar to taste.

 

Mexican Style Hot Chocolate

This hot chocolate is wonderful and wonderfully easy to make.

  • 1 wheel (3 oz.) Mexican Style Sweet chocolate (See note below)
  • 1/2 gallon milk
  • 1 Vanilla bean (optional)
  • whipped cream for garnish
  • Optional
  • 8 oz. Kahlúa® or other coffee liquer

Heat milk and chocolate over medium high heat, stirring frequently to mix chocolate as it melts. If you’re using the vanilla bean, split it open and scrape seeds into milk, add pod and proceed with heating milk and chocolate (remove bean pod before blending and serving).

When milk is very hot and all chocolate is melted, add liqueur (if desired) and put mixture in a blender and puree, or whisk by hand to mix well. Pour into cups, top with whipped cream and serve.

Note: Mexican Sweet Chocolate can be found in the Latin Foods section of your grocery store, or in Latin Food Markets. This chocolate is high in sugar and flavored with cinnamon and sometimes almonds. Ibarra and Abuelita are two popular brands.