Brazilian studies add a dash of samba to the salsa

EL PASO — With the sexy swaying of samba rhythms and outrageously mechanical capoeira moves, Brazilians and El Pasoans took over the dance floor while others enjoyed the taste of typical Brazilian meals. Green, blue, and yellow Brazilian colors were displayed in flags, T-shirts, and balloons, splashing the spirit of Brazil onto the Mexican-American border city. The University of Texas at El Paso is known as a very cultural university that celebrates different ethnicities. With Ciudad Juarez as a neighbor, most of the students at UTEP have Mexican backgrounds. But UTEP has a wide variety of international student organizations and study programs like the Brazilian studies program that was implemented three years ago.

Rock-and-roll music springs from Latino roots

EL PASO — From rumba to mambo to cha-cha-cha, Latin music rhythms played an important role in the development of rock-and-roll music, strongly influencing songs like Rock Around the Clock and Tequila. “I would consider rock-and-roll music a Latin genre because there are so many Latin connections to it and Latin music was part of it from the very beginning, ” said Dr. Roberto Avant-Mier an associate professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. His book Rock the Nation: Latin/o Identities and the Latin Rock Diaspora explains how Latin rhythms form part of the foundation of rock-and-roll music. Born and raised in El Paso, Avant-Mier told UTEP students and faculty recently that Rock around the Clock by Bill Halley was a song based on the clave, which was a Cuban rhythm. Scholars believe this rhythm came from Africa and is a foundation for Cuban music.

Red-light cameras sting culprits but save lives

EL PASO — After celebrating the 4th of July and enjoying the fireworks, an unexpected flash ruined the night. Driving down Socorro Road in her 2005 green Nissan Altima, Cynthia Villela did not think that a right turn on North Loop Drive would result in a $75 citation. “I stopped at a red light and I did not fully yield on turning right so that cost me a ticket,” Villela said. Three weeks after the incident, Villela was notified by mail that she had to pay a fine for running a red light camera. The city of El Paso began a red-light enforcement program on October 2006, which issued violation notices to vehicle owners who were captured by a camera running a red light.