Latino USA

Archive for May, 2009

Reverse Foreign Investment

While the economy has waned in the U.S., the problem of drug violence in Mexico has only gotten worse. On the streets of some Mexican cities, gangs fight each other as well as police and the military for control of the lucrative drug routes. And it’s getting so that it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad, as the spillover affects the population. Those who can, get out. Sometimes they travel to safer locations in Mexico. Sometime, they simply come here.

It’s been reported that one out of every 10 people born in Mexico today now lives in the United States. When most people see this statistic, they often think illegal Mexican immigration of poor workers. But legal Mexican immigration, particularly from that of business elites, is helping a thriving housing market in places like San Antonio, Texas. Ruxandra Guidi has the story.

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Guatemala: Alma de la Tierra

The lush greenery of Guatemala is ubiquitous, earning the moniker, “Land of Eternal Spring.” To travel the picturesque countryside of Guatemala, one would have little idea that this modest-sized country of 13 million people shouldered such a violent past. The 36-year civil war killed over 200,000 people and ended in a fragile peace in December 1996, putting an end to a series of military dictatorships and returning the country to civilian rule.

For years weak democratic institutions of Guatemala have been tested by crime, corruption, drug trafficking, and social unrest. Many promises made under the 1996 Peace Accords have yet to be fulfilled. And those in power have enjoyed an impunity caused by a weak judicial system.

All this came to a head this month when an otherwise non-descript killing took place on the streets of Guatemala City.

Days after his murder, Guatemalan Attorney Rodrigo Rosenburg could be seen in a video that was slated to be released in case of his demise. The video accuses Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom of ordering his murder.

Claudia Méndez Arriaza

In subsequent days, political rallies have called for Colom’s resignation and investigation; while other marchers, who consider the leftist Colom a champion for the poor, have come out in support of the embattled president.

Claudia Méndez Arriaza is an investigative reporter for El Periódico newspaper in Guatemala.

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Reporter Claudia Méndez Arriaza responded to Maria Hinojosa in Spanish. Listen to their extended conversation without the English voice over.
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Remembering Mario Benedetti

In Latin America, he was as famous as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabelle Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Carlos Fuentes. But in the English-speaking world, Mario Benedetti was largely unknown. And in Montevideo, Uruguay, Benedetto was not only famous, but beloved for what many say was his knack for capturing the essence of Uruguayan life, a great observer and recorder of the ordinary. Crowds of admirers used to gather at his public appearances to hear him read from his poems, essays, novels, and short stories.

Mario Benedetti died May 17 at the age of 88 in Montevideo.

Adriana Dominguez

While native to Uruguay, Benedetti was forced into exile from 1973 through 1985 when military dictatorships ruled the country. For a time, he lived in Lima, Buenos Aires, Havana, and Madrid. But in the end, he was considered the quintessential Montevideano.
Adriana Dominguez is a book editor who grew up in Uruguay. She writes a blog on Latin American authors called “Voces.”

Nortec Collective: Tijuana Sound Machine

The Nortec Collective has been hailed by critics and fans alike for their distinctive border feel, combining the best Mexican styles of music with the modern, Americanized techno feel. Created in 1999 by several Tijuana, Mexico DJs, Nortec has produced several CD compilations beginning with “The Tijuana Sessions Vol.1.” The latest compilation, “Tijuana Sound Machine” was nominated for a 2008 Latin Grammy.

The Nortec collective is not a band or a group but a series of compilations created in (and about) Tijuana Mexico where electronica, norteño and tambora music come together with visuals. As a group, the Nortec Collective has not performed publicly since 2007. But as DJ’s, the collective’s live shows are dominated by VJs, computers, and visuals.

Grammy nominated members Bostich and Fussible are embarking on a mini-tour of Mexico, Texas and California in June.

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Web Extra: Memorial Day Poem

Writer Joe Pacheco

Memorial Day was created to honor those veterans who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country. With war casualties growing in Iraq and Afghanistan, Memorial Day takes on greater urgency. But, as poet and writer Joe Pacheco reminds us, the death of a loved one in wartime does not have to be recent, to be remembered. This year marks the 65th Anniversary of the passing of his brother Pedrito during World War II. Joseph Pacheco is a former New York City school superintendent. He’s now retired and lives on Sanibel Island in South Florida.

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The Music of Maya Azucena

Musical artist Maya Azucena believes that music is a tool for healing and activism. This Brooklyn-based soul-singer has toured the world and shared the stage with some of the most well-known musical artists from the worlds of R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Rock. She is so eclectic that she shared in a 2008 Grammy Award for a Reggae collaboration with Stephan Marley. In the spring of 2008, Maya and her band did a 5-week U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of Myanmar (Burma), China, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, as part of The Rhythm Road/American Music Abroad program. They did concerts as well as music workshops in an effort to create cultural exchange.

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Watch this 11-minute long music-filled documentary of Maya Azucena on VIMEO.

She’s Out There

Amy Sewell

When enlightened men signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence, refusing to be governed by a king claiming divine rights of superiority, the idea that all men were created equal was a progressive one. At the time, of course, the concept didn’t apply universally to everyone. But as a nation, this idea of equality for all, away from serfdoms and enforced servitude, had universal appeal. And making equality real for all citizens has shaped the history and struggles of our American nation.

Agxibel Barajas

When an African-American man and a White woman battled for the Democratic nomination in 2008, the idea that All Were Created Equal, took on new meaning. Documentary filmmaker Amy Sewell sensed this new political landscape and has edited a series of essays in a book titled, She’s Out There — 35 Women Under 35 Who Aspire To Lead: The Next Generation Of Presidential Candidates. She’s also joined by essayist Agxibel Barajas, a law student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and one of the book’s essayists.

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Empowering Girl Journalists in Texas

Girls working on the e-zine

For young Latinas, role models are sometimes difficult to find. Too often, Hispanic girls lack resources to develop to their full potential. In Austin, Texas, a non-profit has created a mentorship program, pairing Latina girls and teens, to help develop their leadership through journalism. It’s the mission of Latinitas to empower Latina youth through media and technology with the goal of informing, entertaining, and inspiring young Latinas to grow into healthy, confident, and successful adults.

Since 2002, the Latinitas program has produced an online magazine — or E-Zine — produced and written by youth. Recently, the online magazine has gone to traditional print.

KUT’s Crystal Chavez profiles the journalistic training program and some of the girls involved.

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Watch a Slideshow of the Latinitas program as you listen:

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