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Archive for 2009

From Patchogue, LI to Gualeceo, Ecuador

Patchogue is located in New York’s Long Island. The village has been in the news lately, but not in a good way. Reports of local teens “hunting” Latino immigrants and roughing them up in recent years surfaced. This harassment of immigrants eventually resulted in the death of local resident Marcelo Lucero at the hands of several White teenagers.

On November 5, one of those teens, Nicholas Hausch, pled guilty to four charges stemming from his role in the attack that killed Lucero. Hausch agreed to testify against the other six defendants in exchange for leniency. He now faces the next 5 to 25 years in prison.

Recently, WSHU radio producer and reporter Charles Lane decided to go beyond the headlines and take a closer look at the Latino immigrant community in Patchogue. What he found was an Ecuadoran community that had strong ties to its home base.

Lane traveled to Gualeceo, Ecuador and saw the economic prosperity that having remittances from North America bring to this community. Despite the economic benefits, however, families often are torn apart.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

UPDATE: Charles Lane’s (WSHU) reporting from Gualeceo won a 2010 Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage. ¡Enhorabuena!

Watch a slideshow from Gualeceo, Ecuador produced by Charles Lane.

A 3,000 Mile Bridge from NPR's Latino USA on Vimeo.

Detained Without Counsel

The number of people held in detention centers has tripled over the past decade according to Amnesty International. As federal immigration authorities have
detained more immigrants facing deportation there have been efforts to streamline the deportation process. Usually a hearing is held, the immigrant may not understand their defenses to removal, and a ruling is quickly rendered without legal counsel present.

A new report by the City Bar Justice Center based in New York says nearly 40 percent of all detained immigrants interviewed in NYC’s Varick detention facility
have valid legal claims to remain in the country and defend against removal.

Lynn M. Kelly is the executive director of the City Bar Justice Center. She spoke with Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

An Unexpected Detour

Most travelers know that even joking about something can be considered inappropriate in an airport situation. Understandably, similar rules apply to border crossings. The wrong sort of statement could find one in the grasp of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That’s what happened to Mexican civil rights attorney Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson.

Because of the drug war in Mexico, De la Rosa has been a busy civil rights attorney in Mexico. That nature of his clientele made him fearful for his life. So much so that he started making it a habit to spend the night in El Paso, just across the border from Juarez. But when U.S. border officials heard this, they decided to act.

We have two stories, beginning with El Paso based reporter Monica Ortiz Uribe.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Jesse Katz: The Opposite Field

Baseball has long been recognized as America’s pastime. And in recent years, the diversity of baseball has greatly reflected that of this country. Little League is no exception. Organized baseball can be found in all kinds of neighborhoods in all kinds of communities across the country.

Los Angeles-based writer Jesse Katz grew up playing ball. When it came time for his son to play, he volunteered to coach, but ended up as the Little League commissioner of a park located within one of the most Asian neighborhoods in the country, itself next to one of the most Latino neighborhoods in the country.

The cultural mix served as the backdrop for Katz’s new memoir titled The Opposite Field. Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa speaks with two-time Pulitzer winner Jesse Katz about the book.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Watch a short film featuring Jesse Katz at La Loma in VIMEO:

The Opposite Field Trailer from Jesse Katz on Vimeo.

Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson

Mexican civil rights attorney Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson had the proper permits to cross the border and was doing so legally at the designated port of entry. But when asked by U.S. border officials why he was crossing so much, De la Rosa mentioned that he was fearful because of the work he did.

Based on his expression of fear for his life, De la Rosa was taken into protective custody by ICE officials. But they did not put him in a comfortable safe house or hotel but rather kept him handcuffed in a prison facility as they awaited a bureaucratic decision over whether to give him political asylum. The fact that De la Rosa, a Mexican citizen, neither requested nor wanted asylum fell on deaf ears.

De la Rosa tells his story now to Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Story Corps Historias: Before they Were Politicos…

The family of U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his brother U.S. Rep. John Salazar, in fact, had humble beginnings in their native Colorado. And it wasn’t simply a matter of no toys for Christmas. They recall walking to school in shoes that didn’t match because that’s all they had. But they now credit those experiences with helping them become the adults they are today.

Congressman Raúl Grijalva grew up in Tucson, Arizona. He recalls a story to his daughter Marisa of an important life lesson imparted on him when he was a child going to school. When he was given an award, he didn’t mention it to his mother, who couldn’t speak English. Months later, when it became clear that she knew that there was an awards ceremony that she didn’t go to, she taught him to never be ashamed of who he was.

The family of U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his brother U.S. Rep. John Salazar, in fact, had humble beginnings in their native Colorado. And it wasn’t simply a matter of no toys for Christmas. They recall walking to school in shoes that didn’t match because that’s all they had. But they now credit those experiences with helping them become the adults they are today.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Diaz Family and the Great Depression

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Jones Act, which granted American citizenship to the people of Puerto Rico. The territory had come under U.S. jurisdiction after the Spanish-American War of 1898. Between 1898 and 1917 any Puerto Rican who lived on the U.S. mainland was considered a “resident alien.”

As Puerto Rican citizens, however, the people on the island could not serve in the U.S. military. By making them American citizens, the Jones Act enabled some 20,000 Puerto Ricans to serve in active duty during World War I.

During the 1920s, thousands of Puerto Ricans took advantage of their new American citizenship and came “stateside.” It was a time of economic boom and large cities welcomed the influx of cheap labor.

In 1927, Manny Diaz moved with his family from Puerto Rico to New York. The family had hardly settled in when suddenly the country was in the throes of The Great Depression.

As part of our partnership series Story Corp Historias, here is Manny Diaz’s story.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

B as in Beauty

Alberto Ferreras is probably not content with sitting still or doing any one thing for too long. Born in Madrid, Spain and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Ferreras has been New York based since the 1990s. He has adapted plays based on classic Latin American novels in Spanish. He designs and promotes film and documentary projects for cable outlets like MTV and HBO. He even has written music that has been performed by such artists as Madonna.

All of those elements, music, books, movies, and pop culture are incorporated into his first novel titled B as in Beauty. Well received by critics and audiences alike, Ferrera’s “B” is a large girl who is miserable as she struggles with her looks in a thin-crazed society. It’s not until she embraces her large size that she finally begins to live life more fully. Okay, so she becomes a “comfort provider” for men who love large women. But it’s a fun story told with lots of comedy.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Happy Halloween! and ¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!

The good thing about being Latino is the bicultural approach families often employ when it comes to the holidays, food, self-expression, or just about anything. But not everyone can have it both ways, as Maria Hinojosa observes.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet

Three-time Grammy nominee Wayne Wallace is known for the use of traditional forms and styles in combination with contemporary music. An accomplished arranger, educator, and composer with compositions for film and television, Wallace has performed, recorded and studied with acknowledged masters of the Afro-Latin and Jazz idioms such as Aretha Franklin, Bobby Hutcherson, Earth Wind and Fire, Pete Escovedo, Santana, Conjunto Libre, Whitney Houston, Tito Puente, Steve Turre, John Lee Hooker, Con-funk-shun, Manny Oquendo and Libre, Max Roach, Orestes Vilató, and others.

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Wayne was exposed to Blues, Country and Western, and Jazz at an early age. His studies of Afro-Latin music and Jazz have included several trips to Cuba, New York, and Puerto Rico.

Wayne teaches at San Jose State University, Stanford University and the Jazz School in Berkeley. He is also the head of his own record label, Patois Records. His latest CD is simply titled ¡Bien Bien!

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quartet on YOU TUBE.

‘Grand Café’ – Empowerment Through Popular Media

Throughout Latin America the telenovela is an extremely popular form of entertainment. While they are often described as a Spanish-language TV “soap opera,” the biggest difference between telenovelas and American soap operas is the Spanish-language version actually has a planned episodic ending. It’s rare for a Spanish-language telenovela to last more than two-years. But the audience is well aware of this. And some telenovelas have had famed remakes or re-airings.

Spanish-language television networks in this country have kept the telenovela popular in the U.S. The most popular ones come from Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. And the tradition of watching telenovelas has spanned generations as well as diverse nationalities and ethnicities.

Now, CEO Women, an Oakland based advocacy group, is taking advantage of the telenovela format to train Latinas in the intricacies of starting a small business. Producer Lonny Shavelson tells us about this unique project.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Web Extra – Latino Farmers v. USDA

In the landmark Pigford v. Glickman class action lawsuit, some 15,000 Black farmers sued the federal government for systematic discrimination when it game to allocating USDA farm loans vital to seasonal farmers. The government settled that suit for $1 Billion and are now looking for another $1.25 Billion to cover additional claimants.

But despite the fact that Latino farmers, especially in South Texas, faced very similar discrimination in the same loan program, a federal judge has ruled that the Latino farmers cannot be given class action status, severely complicating the case.

Reporter Wade Goodwyn reported this story recently for NPR.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Here is a link to his original story.

A Focus on the Family

Demographically speaking, Latinas are statistically interesting to social scientists. As girls, they are often the least educated and are more likely to drop out, contract AIDS, or commit suicide. As a group, this is a pan-Latina issue. It’s true for Mexican-Americans, Central Americas, Puerto Ricans, etc. For those who follow these trends, it was little surprise to learn that one-in-four stay at home moms in this country are Latina. And while some say this is due to cultural preference, others are questioning the limited choices many Latinas are often given.

Pilar Torres is the co-founder and executive director of Centro Familia, a Maryland-based advocacy group that helps families with early care and education.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

PBS’ Latin Music USA

Latin Music USA is an extensive look into the myriad styles, cultures and sounds that collectively comprise “Latin Music” in the U.S. Spanning five decades, this rich documentary covers Latin sounds from a fusion of Jazz, Rock, Country, Rhythm and Blues, and more. From Salsa to Reggaeton, Norteño to Tejano, Pop to Rock, Latin Music’s variety is captured in this epic four-part series.

The national PBS broadcast of Latin Music USA begins on October 12. (Check your local listings.) This series was produced by WGBS in Boston and co-produced by the BBC.


Remembering Artist and Activist Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa titled one of her early LPs “Yo No Canto Por Cantar” meaning she didn’t sing just to be a singer. With such a statement, Sosa, born in a remote Argentine province in 1935, told the world that her music had a message. It combined music and politics in a time and place where such a combination was dangerous. Later, when a military junta controlled the country, Sosa found herself spending several years in exile while many of her friends and comrades disappeared, were killed, or simply were harassed into hiding.

Argentines lined up to pay their respects to legendary folk singer Mercedes Sosa. (Flickr Photo by blmurch)

Known as both an activist and a singer, Mercedes Sosa was a powerful voice in the Latin America “Nuevo Canción” movement that fused native sounds, human rights, and modern music together. And her music and message took her around the world. She performed at such places as Carnegie Hall in New York, the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, the Roman Coliseum, and Paris’ famed Teatro Mogador. But she performed even more in rural towns and villages, where thousands would dub her the “voice of the voiceless.”

A prolific recorder, Mercedes Sosa, who died October 4th at the age of 74 in her native Argentina, left behind more than 40 LPs and many recordings of her live concerts. Currently, she has three open nominations for next months Latin Grammy Awards.

When Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa moved to New York as a student in the 1970s she found a thriving Chilean and Argentine immigrant community. It was here she discovered Mercedes Sosa, who was always more than simply an interpreter of songs.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Mercedes Sosa – Solo Le Pido a Dios


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