Latino USA

Archive for September, 2012

SOMOS: HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, is supposed to be a time to celebrate Latino contributions to U.S. society and culture. But for some, it feels like a way to sanitize Latino history in the U.S. Or worse, just another excuse to market to Latinos. Host Maria Hinojosa speaks with Prof. Arlene Dávila and humorist Lalo Alcaraz about the uses and meanings of Hispanic Heritage Month.

This is part of our series on Latino identity, “Somos.”


Click here to download this week’s show.

Lalo Alcaraz is the creator of the first nationally-syndicated, politically-themed Latino daily comic strip, “La Cucaracha,” seen in scores of newspapers including the Los Angeles Times. He is also co-host of KPFK Radio’s popular satirical talk show, “The Pocho Hour of Power,” and co-founded the political satire comedy group Chicano Secret Service. His work has appeared in major publications around the world and he has won numerous awards and honors. Alcaraz received his Bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University, and earned his master’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently a faculty member at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles. Alcaraz was born in San Diego and grew up on the border. He is married to a hard-working public school teacher and they have three extremely artistic children.

 

Arlene Davila is a professor of Anthropology, Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She is the author of Sponsored Identities: Cultural Politics in Puerto Rico and Latinos Inc: Marketing and the Making of a People, Barrio Dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos and the Neoliberal City. Her book, Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race recently received the Latin American Studies Association prize for the best book in Latino studies.

HEALTH HERO: CENTRO DE SALUD LA FE’S SALVADOR BALCORTA

A look at El Paso’s celebrated “Centro de Salud La Fe” and its executive director, Salvador Balcorta. This pioneering clinic was founded in the late 1960′s by a determined group of mothers and abuelitas in one of the country’s poorest neighborhoods. Balcorta, a child of the neighborhood, now leads the clinic. Reporter Monica Ortiz Uribe brings us this profile.


Click here to download this week’s show.

Mónica Ortiz Uribe is a native of El Paso, Texas, where she recently worked as a freelance reporter. Her work has aired on NPR, Public Radio International and Radio Bilingue. Most of her stories examined the effects of drug-related violence across the border in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Previously, she worked as a reporter for the Waco Tribune Herald in Waco, Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in history.

LOS BROS

Comic book superheroes may rule movie screens recently, but two Chicanos from Southern California have used comics to tell amazing stories about ordinary people for the past 30 years. We meet Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, godfathers of the alternative comics movement and creators of Love and Rockets. Latino USA’s senior producer Carolina Gonzalez reports.


Click here to download this week’s show. Love and Rockets, Copyright 2012, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez. Photo courtesy of Fantagraphics.

Diaz On Hernandez/Hernandez on Diaz

Dominican-American author Junot Díaz’s work often references Love & Rockets. And Jaime Hernandez has illustrated four Díaz stories published in The New Yorker magazine. So we decided to ask Díaz about the influence Los Bros. have had on his storytelling, and asked Jaime about translating Diaz’s obsessions into images. Check out what they said here:

But wait! There’s more…check out this exclusive cover art slide show below:

Carolina Gonzalez is an award-winning journalist and scholar with over two decades of experience in print and radio. She served as an editorial writer at the New York Daily News, and has covered education, immigration, politics, music and Latino culture in various alternative and mainstream media outlets, such as WNYC radio, AARP Segunda Juventud, SF Weekly and the Progressive Media Project. The guidebook she co-authored with Seth Kugel, Nueva York: the Complete Guide to Latino Life in the Five Boroughs, was published in 2006 by St. Martin’s Press. She was raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Queens, New York and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

NOTICIANDO: VOCES

Mexican American women train to compete in Mexico’s Charro contest, raw poetry emerges from the Brooklyn projects, modernist architecture in Cuba, and an inside look at the masked men of Mexico’s Lucha Libre. These are documentary subjects on VOCES, a Latino arts and documentary showcase on public television. We speak to Sandie Pedlow, executive director of Latino Public Broadcasting.


Click here to download this week’s show.

Sandie Viquez Pedlow is the Executive Director of Latino Public broadcasting overseeing the development, production, and distribution of public media content that is representative of Latino people or address issues concerning Latino Americans. She brings to this position over 20 years experience in program development, production, and the development of international public media initiatives. Most recently she was Director, Station Relations for PBS Education where she led the implementation and marketing of PBS online and digital media products and services. Prior to PBS, Pedlow was Director of Programming Strategies, Associate Director of Cultural, Drama and Arts Programming, and Senior Program Officer with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for 10 years. She managed the development and funding of national public broadcasting programs which addressed social and diversity issues, history, the arts and many aspects of American culture. Pedlow was a key member of the CPB team that managed the founding of LPB. Prior to this work, Pedlow developed and produced documentaries, cultural/arts television programs for SCETV and was the U.S. National Coordinator for INPUT, an international public television conference with more than 35 participating

Fi2W Commentary: Campaigns Blitz Latino Voters with Ads, But Will it Change the Race?

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney are stepping up efforts to reach Latino voters ahead of the November 6th election. Last week Obama and a strangely tanned Governor Romney appeared on Univision to answer questions in a town hall-type forum. Their campaigns are also churning out ads directed at Latinos.

In this post I’ll explore what’s different about these ads and whether they can make a difference in the race.

Romney is concentrating on key battleground states like Florida and Nevada where the Latino vote could swing the election. In a recent Florida ad, produced in both Spanish and English, Romney’s favorite Latino poster-boy Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) talks about how Romney has promised to save Medicare. This is a tactical change for a campaign that until now has mainly talked to Latinos abut the economy, the issue that regularly tops polls of Latino concerns.

Romney has largely stayed away from the immigration question when speaking to Latinos, since his anti-immigration rhetoric during the primaries turned off many Latino voters. During the Univision town hall, moderator Jorge Ramos repeatedly pressed Romney on immigration, but Romney remained vague about what he would actually do as president regarding unauthorized immigration.

Another theme that Romney is using to woo Latino voters is disillusionment. The Romney camp knows that about 70 percent of Latinos currently support the president. However, many Latinos feel let down by Obama because he didn’t keep his 2008 promises to create an easier path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants through comprehensive immigration reform.  In a Romney ad airing in Colorado and Nevada called “Ya No Mas” sad-faced Latinos talk about how Obama makes a lot of promises with his pretty words, but doesn’t follow through with results. Their disillusionment is why they are going to vote for Mitt Romney.

Why the change in focus? It could be because Romney’s support among Latino voters is actually shrinking. Only 24 percent of Latinos say they will definitely vote for the GOP candidate, down from 30 percent a few weeks ago. One of the reasons for this decline may be Romney’s now famous “47 percent “ talk in which he said that 47 percent of Americans are freeloaders that live off government. The Obama camp has seized on this in their new campaign ads.

In an ad from the SEIU/Cope Super-PAC, Romney is shown during the GOP primaries saying that most Latino immigrants just want to sneak across the border and get a free government handout,  a comment that is reminiscent of his “47 percent” remark. The ad is airing in states throughout the West that have large Latino populations like Nevada and Colorado. Obama’s supporters want to underscore the problem Romney has with Latinos, that they don’t believe he represents their values and interests. Democrats also want to remind Latinos about some of the anti-immigration statements Romney made during the primaries.

The Obama camp is also attempting to shore up their support among Latina women. In an ad produced by the campaign, Mexican-American actress Eva Longoria urges women to get active in the campaign because, she says, women stand to lose many of their reproductive rights if Romney is elected. In the spot, Longoria also mentions that Obama appointed two women to the U.S. Supreme Court. In another ad, also produced by the campaign, a Latina lawyer named Nydia Mendez talks about how Romney opposed Sonya Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination. Another Democratic ad features popular Spanish-language talk show host Cristina Saralegui saying that Romney only wants to continue Bush’s failed policies.

In addition to the issues, both campaigns are subtly attempting to appeal to Latino voters on racial and socio-economic grounds. Watch Romney’s “Ya No Mas” ad above. Notice anything? The Latinos in the ad are almost all of European origin. The Romney camp probably believes that the segment of the Latino population that is more likely to vote for him, besides the disillusioned, are those that are better off financially.

One legacy of Spanish colonial rule is that the upper classes in Latin America are overwhelmingly white. Take for example the Cuban exiles that came over in the ’60s. Though Cuba’s population is roughly half European and half Afro-Cuban, the first few waves of Cuban exiles were almost entirely white because they were largely from the upper classes. You see this in many other Latin American societies as well. Look at the telenovelas on Univision or Telemundo. The majority of the main characters, usually rich, are light skinned and light eyed while the servants are darker skinned.

By comparison, the Obama ads feature many darker skinned Mexican-Americans. These ads are running in the West where the majority of Latinos are Mexicans who, the assumption goes, are from the working class and middle class.

Will these tactics and changes in strategy work? Are Romney’s attempts to reach out to Latinos going to increase his popularity among this key group of voters? It’s possible, but unlikely. Obama’s massive lead will be hard to overcome. Even though the Romney campaign has spent more money on their Latino outreach than any other Republican candidate in history, it hasn’t done him much good. Though they spent less money on outreach, George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004, and in 2008 John McCain won the votes of 31 percent of Latinos. It just goes to show that in the end it comes down to the candidate. And in the case of Mitt Romney, many Latinos just don’t like him.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

Jack Tomas is a writer, filmmaker, and editor working in New York. He’s originally from Houston, TX where he earned a BA in Theater and Communication from The University of St. Thomas. Later, he received an MA in Media Studies at The New School. Jack has worked several years as a professional filmmaker and his films have appeared in several film festivals including the Cannes Film Festival, The LA Comedy Shorts Festival, and The New York Independent Film Festival. He has also worked as a professional blogger since 2009 writing for Guanabee.com, Tuvez.com, Egotastic.com, and Directorslive.com. He lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with his wife Marybec and two cats.

Fi2W Commentary: Congress’s Green Card Debate – Should Highly Skilled Immigrants Get Priority?

Yesterday, House GOP members tried and failed to pass legislation meant to keep the best and the brightest foreign students in the United States — at least the ones who earned doctorates from our better universities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Authored by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the STEM Jobs Act would have provided up to 55,000 green cards a year to STEM graduates who agree to work for at least five years for a US employer in a related field.

The bill made sense since we desperately need the talent to stay competitive in the global economy. In a letter addressed to President Obama, 165 university leaders warned that “one quarter of US science and engineering firms already report difficulty hiring, and the problem will only worsen: the US is projected to face a shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree workers in scientific and technical fields by 2018.”

House Democrats however, blocked the bill because it would have eliminated thediversity lottery green card program, and reallocated up to 55,000 diversity visas to new green card programs for the STEM graduates.

A “Dear Colleague” letter circulated Tuesday by leaders of the Tri-Caucus – the Congressional Asian Pacific American, Black, and Hispanic Caucuses – argues that the STEM Jobs Act would effectively eliminate a legal immigration path for some groups, particularly those from African nations, “whose residents were issued approximately 50 percent of such visas in recent years.”

While the Tri-Caucus leaders and other Democrats agree that there is a need to keep STEM graduates in the United States, they contend that “the zero-sum approach of House Republicans, where we are forced to rob Peter of his visa so Paul can wait in a shorter line, is poor policy with poor prospects for becoming law.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who has put forth a bill similar to Smith’s, but which keeps the diversity lottery program intact, charges that that the GOP’s sudden enthusiasm to pass a bill before Congress’s campaign recess is purely political.

“Democrats strongly support STEM visas, and we believe there is a unique opportunity here to craft a balanced, bipartisan bill that can pass the Senate,” Lofgren said. “But the Republicans have instead chosen to rush a partisan bill that has no chance of becoming law to score political points. It seems the only reason our colleagues have chosen to pursue this strategy right before an election is to attempt to appear more immigrant-friendly and to curry favor with high-tech groups.”

In a statement released last night, Smith expressed his disappointment.

“Unfortunately, Democrats today voted to send the best and brightest foreign graduates back home to work for our global competitors,” Smith said. “Their vote against this bill is a vote against economic growth and job creation.”

A bill that would have allowed foreign talent to stay in the country and contribute to our competitiveness and prosperity makes sense, whatever the political motivations behind it might be.

However, as policies are crafted to address our nation’s workforce needs, our lawmakers have to acknowledge that we also rely on other kinds of talent and labor, not just STEM graduates.

“America’s economy needs the skilled farmworker as much as it needs the skilled engineer,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, in a statement. Indeed, our farms are faltering due to lack of farm hands, thanks in large measure to anti-immigrant policies and sentiment.

“Despite the abundant harvest, asparagus growers had to leave 10 percent of their crop in the field this year due to lack of pickers,” complained Ralph Broetje, President of Broetje Orchards in Washington state, one of the largest privately owned orchards in the country. In a press release from the National Immigration Forum, Broetje said “The skilled labor source that we depend on is rapidly disappearing. If Congress does not act soon, U.S. farms will move their operations to other countries that are more cost-effective and have an adequate labor supply. If you look at that apple juice label and see where it’s coming from — it’s already happening.”

“Right now, all across America, there’s a flurry of activity on farms. And there’s a flurry of activity in Congress to provide STEM visas,” said Craig J. Regelbrugge, Co-Chair of the Agricultural Coalition for Immigration Reform in the same release from the National Immigration Forum. “At the end of the day, we don’t just need STEM, we need STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Math.”

What we really need is a sane and rational approach to reforming our immigration system. Not to mention a functioning Congress which has our nation’s best interests in mind. Unfortunately, it looks like we will not be getting either any time soon, regardless of the outcome of the November election who ends up controlling the House.

You can follow Erwin de Leon on Twitter or read his blog.

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund. Image courtesy of flickr.

Erwin de Leon is a Policy Researcher and writer based in Washington, DC. He writes on immigration, LGBT, and nonprofit issues. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.

A TALE OF TWO GARZAS

In the first of two reports from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, reporter Maria Martin examines how the controversy over immigration reform is viewed in this predominately Latino part of the country.  Here she talks to two men, both named Garza.  One is a law enforcement officer; the other is a local politician and community organizer.


Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of flickr (creative commons).

María Emilia Martin is a pioneering public radio journalist with more than two dozen awards for her work covering Latino issues and Latin America. She started her career at the first community public radio station owned and operated by Latinos in the U.S. Martin has developed ground-breaking programs and series for public radio, including NPR’s Latino USA, and Despues de las Guerras: Central America After the Wars. A recipient of Fulbright and Knight Fellowships, she has extensive experience in journalism and radio training, in the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia and other countries. Sports Business Journal, among other publications.

COLLEGE WITHOUT PAPERS

How are colleges and universities in the US are dealing with undocumented students? We survey the nation and find a wide range – some schools, like the Illinois Institute of Technology, have a special liaison for them; other schools offer in-state tuition rates.  Some even offer “underground” classes. And not everyone agrees on what to do next.


Click here to download this week’s show. Photo courtesy of Freedom University Georgia. To find out more about Freedom University, check out their homepage. And to find out more about Tom Tancredo’s organization, The Rocky Mountain Foundation, click here.

 

 

YERBAS BUENAS

A group in El Paso is now working with local health and educational institutions to start a school that will teach natural healing methods—using herbs, acupuncture and aromatherapy to cure illnesses. What’s more, they’re aiming for state accreditation. Monica Ortiz Uribe reports as part of our year-long series on Latinos and health.

This report was produced for Fronteras: the Changing America Desk. For more Fronteras coverage, go to fronterasdesk.org.


Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of flickr (creative commons).

Mónica Ortiz Uribe (Las Cruces), is a senior field correspondent with Fronteras and a native of El Paso, Texas, where she recently worked as a freelance reporter. Her work has aired on NPR, Public Radio International and Radio Bilingue. Most of her stories examined the effects of drug-related violence across the border in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Previously, she worked as a reporter for the Waco Tribune Herald in Waco, Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in history.

MIS GETS POLITICO

Former record-exec-turned-musician Camilo Lara, aka Mexican Institute of Sound, talks to us about the inspiration behind his new album, Político, about sonidero and about his sonic legacy.


Click here to download this week’s show.

Mexican Institute of Sound (MIS; or Instituto Mexicano Del Sonido) is an electronic music project created by Mexico City-based DJ and producer Camilo Lara. Lara is the former president of EMI Mexico. He is part of a growing Mexican electronica movement, encouraging fusions of folk and more traditional music with modern sounds.

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