#1352 – End Of The Year

We wrap up the year with bittersweet stories. Journalist Oscar Martinez tells us about riding the rails with Central American migrants heading to the United States and Mexico. A bilingual radio station celebrates forty years on the air. The STEM sisters check back in with Maria Hinojosa about starting their science careers. We hear about environmental concerns from Los Angeles to Puerto Rico. A “Banned Books Club” celebrates a year of spreading forbidden Latino-centric literature. And musician Eugene Hutz visits for a performance chat.

From The Belly Of The Beast

In 2009, journalist Oscar Martinez embarked on one of the most dangerous pilgrimages on Earth. He joined migrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala on their desperate journey through Mexico to the U.S.

It’s a journey that more than 25,000 migrants make every year. The statistics are harrowing — Amnesty International estimates that 70,000 undocumented went missing in Mexico in the last six years.

At every step of the trip, Martinez wrote dispatches for ELFaro.Net. Now those dispatches are collected in the book, The Beast: Riding and Dodging Narcos On The Migrant Rail.

The migrants Martinez profiles are escaping violence and poverty. They flee their homes on the presumption that “there is something better in life, than the life that those people have in Central America,” says Martinez, “I think this is one of the greatest motors in the history of humanity.”

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A team of Spanish photographers joined Martinez as he documented the violence.

To make their way north, the Central American migrants cling to the roof of a colossal cargo train called The Beast, hiding in spaces between and underneath the cars.

The migrants who fall off are crushed. The survivors are perpetually victimized: they are robbed, beaten, raped and kidnapped by narcos.

“It’s a chess game, the road is a chess game,” says Martinez, “If you make a bad move, you can end up in the hands of the Zetas.”

For the people on this journey, there is no justice. Corrupt public officials work with the narcos. Gangs control the coyotes who lead the migrants north. The walls and increased security on the U.S. side of the border only make things worse.

Interview Highlights

Continue reading “From The Belly Of The Beast”

40 Years Of Bilingual Radio

40 years ago, San Francisco based KBBF was the first station in the country to hit the airwaves in both English and Spanish. Today, 95% of Latinos across the nation tune into the radio at least once a week. We explore this tiny station’s history and how it continues to serve a growing and diverse audience.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Nite_Owl


Crosscurrents Live 2012 No Watermark-127Martina Castro is the Managing Editor of KALW News.  She started her career in journalism as an intern at National Public Radio in Washington D.C., and worked with NPR as a producer, trainer, and freelancer before coming to KALW.  Martina’s independent work has been featured nationally on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Day to Day, as well as the online radio magazine The [Un]Observed.


Catching Up With The Stem Sisters

In the last few years theres been a big push on the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and careers.

As part of our first hour long episode in September we introduced you to four Latinas we dubbed the STEM Sisters. Alma, Marcela, Sonia, and Xochyl met at DePaul University in Chicago while getting degrees in environmental studies. They noticed each other over their years at college because they were the only Latinas in their classes.

When we first spoke with them they had just graduated and were figuring out what to do next. Now a few months later, we talk to three of the STEM sisters about looking for work, trying to figure out how to start STEM careers, and looking forward to 2014.

Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images

Puerto Rico’s Eco-Farmers Go Back To The Land

In Puerto Rico, the word jíbaro brings to mind a classic image: a rural peasant working his land, wearing a straw hat and overalls. Machete in one hand, plantains in the other. But it also become a derogatory term, signifying backwardness. You hear it all the time – “Don’t be a jíbaro, don’t be stupid.”

However, a new generation of eco-farmers in Puerto Rico are working to bring pride back to the jíbaro lifestyle. Young people all over Puerto Rico are heading back to the land and starting organic farms up in the mountains, growing everything from coffee to kale. The island has fertile soils and a year-round growing season, yet Over 85% of Puerto Rico’s food is imported. This new generation of hipster jíbaros are working the change that, by promoting organic agriculture and starting alternative businesses serving healthy good. At the same time, they’re trying to figure out how sustainable farming can provide solutions to tough problems facing Puerto Rico today, from obesity to food security.

This story is part of the RadioNature series which explores the ways Latinos connect with nature. RadioNature is supported by the REI Foundation.




Marlon Bishop_new headshotMarlon Bishop is a radio producer, writer, and reporter based in New York. His work is focused on music, Latin America, New York City and the arts, and has appeared in several public radio outlets such as WNYC News,Studio 360, The World and NPR News. He is an Associate Producer at Afropop Worldwide and a staff writer forMTV Iggy.












Taking Out The Trash

Over the last four years, 568 tons of illegal trash was collected near the busy port of Los Angeles. A lot of it winds up in the community of Wilmington, just south of downtown. The number of industrial warehouses and shipping yards there…and the lack of streetlight make it easy for just about anyone to dump anything, illegally.

Salvador Lara is trying to change that.


This story is part of the RadioNature series which explores the ways Latinos connect with nature. RadioNature is supported by the REI Foundation.


Photo Credit: Molly Callister

Molly Callister is a freelance radio producer in Los Angeles, California. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in print and radio from the University of Southern California. In her off time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and hiking in the hills near her home. But most of all, she loves hearing others people’s stories and telling them on the radio. You can find her on twitter, @mollyreports.






Banned Books Club

When the Arizona Department of Education banned 90 books from its public schools for being “subversive,” ban opponents struck back. They set up underground libraries across the Southwest. And in Albuquerque, they organized a banned book reading club.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jennifer-Lamusa

Carrie Jung headshot

Carrie Jung began reporting from New Mexico in 2011, following environmental news, education and Native American issues. She’s worked with NPR’s Morning Edition, PRI’s The World, National Native News, and The Takeaway.

Carrie graduated with a masters degree from Clemson University in 2009. She currently serves as Morning Edition Host and reporter for KUNM and The Fronteras Desk.

Must-Watch Movies For Journalists

The holiday season means snuggling on the couch for a well-deserved movie marathon.

Latino USA has curated a list of must-see movies for aspiring journalists.

Did we miss your favorite flick? Use the comment box or tweet @LatinoUSA #Movies4Journos



1) His Girl Friday


This classic movie is a comedy between editor & reporter on a crazy deadline. Protagonist Hildy is a total role model for her zingers, editorial judgment and THAT SUIT. – Carolina Gonzalez



2) Good Night And Good Luck

A great movie about ethics in journalism. David Strathairn is a perfectly cast Edward R. Murrow fighting his famous media battle against McCarthyism. Every aspiring journalist should know his story. – Maria Hinojosa


3) Full Metal Jacket


A look at war correspondence during Vietnam. It’s more about war than journalism, but the reporting elements are hilarious and revealing. – Michael Simon Johnson


4) The Mothman Prophecies

A fun campy thriller starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, we recommend it solely for the chapstick scene, though Richard Gere is great in his portrayl of a newspaper columnist. -A.C. Valdez


5) Control Room

A movie about Al Jazzera covering the war in Iraq. Watching the transformation of the media guy for the armed forces from this close minded soldier to a compassionate questioner is really remarkable. And it gives us a glimpse into the US Military’s control of the media. – Jonathan Wolfe


6) Network

A network news anchor flips and says what he really thinks about the media. Old movie but still very relevant.- Jonathan Wolfe


7) Reportero

A documentary about covering the border and drug cartels in particular in Mexico. Puts our press freedom here in perspective as well as drawing attention to the plight of embattled and threatened reporters and local journalists in particular. – A.C. Valdez


8) The Killing Fields

A photographer is trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot’s bloody cleansing campaign, which claimed the lives of 2million  civilians. – Marea Chaveco


9) All The President’s Men

Reporters Woodward and Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon’s resignation. – Marea Chaveco


10) The Year Of Living Dangerously

A young Australian reporter tries to navigate the political turmoil of Indonesia during the rule of President Sukarno with the help of a diminutive photographer. – Marea Chaveco


11) Morning Glory

Rachel McAdams shows what it’s like to be an early-morning producer on a daily show. – Brenda Salinas

#1351 – Do They Know It’s Mex-mas?

Latino USA’s Christmas edition runs the gamut of holiday emotions, from the difficulty of putting up with your family to stories of growing up with the name Jesús. Photojournalist Donna DeCesare helps us to remember the less fortunate—victims of war and gang violence. We visit with The King: El Vez, of course, and take a listen to a Latin Christmas mixtape. Producer Daisy Rosario tells us millenials are doing just fine in our regular News or Noise feature, and our Dearly Deported series continues, with a story from Mexico City.


Frank Perry/AFP Photo