Latino USA

Archive for March, 2010

The People in the Checkboxes

Right around three hundred nine million people. That’s the best guess at the moment of how many people live in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau is busy trying to convince as many Americans as possible to return the questionnaire that has been mailed to every household in the country. It asks ten questions about everyone who lives in the home.

But, as Latino USA’s Yasmeen Qureshi reports from New York, it’s not a simple matter to get those questions answered.


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Race & Ethnicity: No Easy Answers

Maria talks with Maria Teresa Kumar, the founding Executive Director of Voto Latino. The organization has been encouraging Latinos to participate in the Census in a number of ways, including a telenovela/PSA campaign called “Be Counted — Represent!”

The campaign targets young people in an effort to get them to talk with their parents about the Census. Voto Latino has been able to reach deep into some communities: using Latino/a celebrities and tools of social networking such as Twitter.

One of the persistent concerns has been the issue of immigration status: it’s taking some convincing to get undocumented immigrants to believe that the Census Bureau will not share information with ICE and other authorities concerned with immigration enforcement.


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Watch an episode of the PSA/telenovela from Voto Latino.

Thousands Rally in Washington

As the House of Representatives moved on the final passage of Health Care Reform last weekend, tens of thousands of people rallied in the bright sunlight a few hundred yards west of the Capitol. Thousands had arrived by trains and busses and cars from all across the nation—many are without documents to be in the U.S. legally—to urge President Obama to fulfill a campaign promise and to advocate that the Congress make Immigration Reform the next item on the national agenda.

Yasmeen Qureshi reports that the crowd was filled with hope.


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Watch the video from the White House that was shown at the rally on the Mall:


source: whitehouse.gov

UPDATE: Healthcare Reform & Latinos

While the rally on the Mall progressed, nearly all eyes of the press were trained on the Capitol building up the hill and on the historic reform of health care that was being voted upon.

The day before, thousands of protestors had converged on DC to protest the Bill from a number of perspectives: some saying it did too much, some saying it didn’t do enough, some saying the government has no business in healthcare to begin with.

Maria checks in with EFE correspondent Maria Peña about the final version of the Bill and what it means for Latinos.


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The Legacy of Oscar Romero

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador was assassinated 30 years ago, but his vision of a transformed nation in Central America lives on far beyond the borders of El Salvador.

Maria talks with Rose Berger of Sojourners magazine and with Ernesto Valiente, who teaches at the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.

This is an extended version of their conversation. A shorter version was included in the broadcast edition of the program.


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Esteban “Steve” Jordan

San Antonio (14 August 2010) — Esteban “Steve” Jordan, the conjunto accordion legend has died of complications from liver cancer. He was 71 years old.

Last year, Alex Avila produced this appreciation of the musical pioneer.

Texas accordion artist Esteban ‘Steve’ Jordan has built a reputation as a reclusive, eclectic artist. Many of those who know his work say he is truly a musical genius. But unlike other Tejano accordion players like Flaco Jiménez, Jordan resisted musical collaborations and built a reputation for keeping to himself. In fact, he often refused to give media interviews.

In 2008, Jordan was diagnosed with liver cancer and cirrhosis. While he has battled those illnesses, he has largely maintained a regular schedule, playing at Saluté International Bar in San Antonio, Texas every Friday. This past February, Jordan released his first CD in nearly two decades.

Latino USA’s Alex Avila visited with Jordan and his sons.


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To hear an hour-long audio documentary on the life and music of Esteban ‘Steve’ Jordan, click on the slideshow below.

Juarez Killings

Over the past decade, Juarez, Mexico, just across the river from El Paso, Texas, has garnered much unwanted attention. The murder of women and girls lured to the border by the promise of jobs in the maquila industry emerged in the late 1990s. And the first decade of the 21st century saw a major increase in drug-related violence.

It’s hard to avoid gruesome murder photos constantly in the Mexican media. But the recent killings of Americans and Mexicans connected to the American consul in Juarez have again shocked the community. Questions quickly arose as to why drug gangs would target the American embassy. But American FBI units have said that Americans were not specifically targeted and could have been caught in a case of mistaken identity.

Alfredo Corchado has been following the drug violence for years as Mexico bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News.


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Documenting Border Violence

In January of 2009, independent producer Scott Carrier produced a report for NPR’s Day-to-Day program (now defunct). In it, Scott followed around a Mexican photographer whose job it was to photograph gruesome drug-related murder scenes before the bodies were taken away to the local morgue. Most of the photos would appear in the next morning’s newspapers.

Here again is that broadcast.


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This story was part of Day to Day’s “Hearing Voices” series. CLICK HERE to link to the original broadcast dated January 5, 2009.

The Central Falls School District of Rhode Island

Central Falls, Rhode Island is not a region that immediately jumps out as being an immigrant Latino hotbed. But as the region has struggled with English as a Second Language and shifting demographics, the “No Child Left Behind” provisions of federal education standards has critized the school’s performance. In a drastic move to combat falling performance standards, the local school board recently fired the entire teaching staff of the local high school. The story has made national headlines.

But the immigrant and Latino aspects of what is happening in Central Falls, Rhode Island is largely being overlooked by national media. To examine this more closely, Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa speaks with WRNI Education Reporter Elisabeth Harrison and New York University Education Professor Mario Suarez-Orozco.


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Commentary: Who Wants to be a ‘Minority’?

Demographers say that in many growing areas of the country, Latinos are becoming a “majority-minority.” But the term “minority” has been one Latino USA has sought to avoid throughout the years. Maria Hinojosa explains why.


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The 9/11 Workers

In the hours immediately following the attack on the World Trade Center, a call went out for help. People were needed to sift through the debris and to begin to clean up the rubble that piled in the footprint of the twin towers.

It was delicate and back breaking work. Many responded generously and put themselves in harm’s way to sift carefully through the ash and dust: this was a mass gravesite, and the work was considered sacred in some very real way.

Some of those who responded in 2001 lack the documentation to live in the U.S. legally. That is complicating their attempts to receive medical care for illnesses they say stem from their cleanup work. This week, many of them met in New York to call for reform of the nation’s immigration laws.

Maria talks with José Gaviria, one of the workers who responded to the call for help at Ground Zero and with Daniel Coates, a communtiy organizer with Make the Road: New York, which sponsored the gathering of 9/11 workers.


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

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