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Archive for 2013

News or Noise: The Kids Are Alright

In our latest “News or Noise” feature on news literacy, Latino USA producer Daisy Rosario tells us why she’s optimistic after speaking to dozens of young people about their interest in news.


Daisy_faceDaisy Rosario is a comedian, writer and producer of things from radio stories to live events. Recently graduated from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, she also works with The Moth and the Upright CitizensBrigade Theatre. Daisy has interned at Radiolab, taken a play she directed to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and is an obsessive baseball fan. Her story “Child of Trouble,” was featured on the Peabody award-winning Moth Radio Hour. She holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.





Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

Dearly Deported: Mexico City Edition

Our occasional series on the Dearly Deported continues with the story of Eduardo Arenas’ from Mexico City. Arenas tells of the meager food and harsh conditions of detention and what it’s like to have his family still in the United States.


profilecropped Jennifer Collins is a freelance reporter based in Mexico City. Before moving to Mexico, she was with Marketplace from American Public Media for about five years. Collins has also reported for newspapers in Oregon, Alaska and Cambodia.

Your Holiday Party Playlist

Latino USA listener Clarisa Poeliniz sent us the following urgent request:


Dear Latino USA,

It’s December 11th and I am in the middle of planning a New year’s/birthday party for my sister who turns 40. This should be fun but I am stressing out about the music. We are inviting friends and family. My dilemma is: we are Mexican and the majority of our family will want traditional Mexican music-ranchera, nortena, etc… While the “kids” my sister, the primo/ primas and myself do very much appreciate our Mexcian heritage. We all speak Spanish and we can definitely sing along to many songs from our beloved “Chente” osea Vicente Fernandez. 

For this party we have many friends who do not speak Spanish. I want everyone to have fun and enjoy the music. How do I incorporate Frank Sinatra with Los Panchos, top 40 hits in Engish and Spanish. I am desperate can you recommend a play list for my New Year’s Fiesta?




We’ve got your back, Clarisa!


Latino USA music consultant Nadia Reiman created this playlist for you and for all of the other Latino USA listeners looking to strike the right mood this holiday season.


1)  Como te Extraño by Cafe Tacvba 

It’s a cover, so it will please your abuelos but it has that touch that won’t make your primos pass out.



2) Cumbio by Campo

Everyone loves to get tangoed up!



3) Político by MIS

Fun and dancey without being offensive, and also in Spanish so your tías will know you can still throw down in the mother tongue.



4) Bailar Bien Bailar Mal by Gepe featuring Carla Morrison

Soft and nice, good background music, a little dreamy, good for chowing down tamales.



5) Amor, Amor de Mis Amores, the Natalia Lafourcade Agustín Lara cover

A good mix of old and new, a good old romantic hit that your abuelos will recognize and it has Devendra Banhart, so your anglo friends won’t feel excluded.



6) El Extraño by Los Master Plus

Mexy cover of Radiohead’s Creep. Who doesn’t love!



7) Palmar by Caloncho

This seems to be a crossover, intergenerational hit.



8) Pide Piso by Bajofondo

Really, really great tequilazo cocktail music



9) Aquella Ciudad by Ulises Hadjis

Pretty, thoughtful, charming tunes en Español to maybe get your familia to talk about Venezuela in a not-political context.



10) El Tren (Mr. Cumbia Man) by Celso Piña y su Ronda Bogotá

Fun dancey and spiked with that well-known cumbia sound that makes you want to shake your booty.



11) Monedita by La Santa Cecilia

Super fun appropriate for all ages party music with LA sprinkled in. What’s not to love?



12) Flores by Las Acevedo

Adorable, lovable, luau music that will make you want to go to the beach and will not offend the older generations.




Nadia Reiman has been a radio producer since 2005. Before joining the Latino USA team, Nadia produced for StoryCorps for almost five years. Her work there on 9/11 stories earned her a Peabody Award. She has also mixed audio for animations, assisted on podcasts for magazines, and program managed translations for Canon Latin America. Nadia has also produced for None on Record editing and mixing stories of queer Africans, and worked on a Spanish language radio show called Epicentro based out of Washington DC. She graduated from Kenyon College with a double major in International Studies and Spanish Literature



Photo courtesy of Flickr user Bill Rogers. 

#1350 – Money, Money, Money

From Puerto Rico to the Bay Area, Latino USA examines questions of money. Marlon Bishop tells us Puerto Rico could soon default on its public debt. We examine the potential economic impact of immigration reform, a democratic system to spend public money in New York, and helping the unbanked in Oakland. We’ll hear about the debt-incurring cost of quinceañeras. We hear from two Latino tech leaders. And our series on the Dearly Deported continues.


Photo: Karen Bleiber/AFP/Getty Images



Under Water: Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

Recent reports having been calling Puerto Rico the “Greece of the Caribbean” – and not for its mild weather. It’s because Puerto Rico is at risk of growing broke. Unemployment is almost 15 percent; the poverty rate is at almost 45 percent.

The government’s credit rating was downgraded in late 2012.

Everyone seems worried about the economy.

Eduardo Cintrón is a security guard at a shopping mall called Plaza Las Americas. He says the prosperity on display here is a mirage, “All the people that are here, they only spend with the card, the credit card, more debt and more debt.”

Cintrón might as well be talking about the island itself. Puerto Rico’s public debt is $70 billion, almost four times that of the bankrupt city of Detroit. It’s a similar debt load to the state of New York, which has more than twice times the population.

And now, there’s worry among bondholders that Puerto Rico could default

Unemployment in Puerto Rico remains higher than in the rest of the U.S.

Unemployment in Puerto Rico remains higher than in the rest of the U.S.


How Exactly Did This Happen?

Economist Vicente Feliciano says the Puerto Rican economy grew at a healthy clip for decades, thanks to huge federal tax breaks that lured corporations to set up factories there.

“It was growing at Asian levels,” he says.

Puerto Rico achieved one of the highest living standards in all of Latin America. But then in the 1990s, the federal government eliminated those tax incentives. It was like a death sentence for the Puerto Rican economy, “there was an economic model that came to an end,” says Feliciano.

By the time the tax breaks were fully phased out in 2005, much of the island’s industry had evaporated.

The government began to borrow a lot of money to make up for the lost corporate tax revenue.

“Your salary is cut so you start taking on money from your credit cards and there comes a point that you max out,” says Feliciano, “You have to cut back on your living standards, and we have been going through that process



The Paseo de Diego is a working-class shopping district in Rio Piedras, San Juan. More than a dozen stores have closed here this year alone. Photo by Marlon Bishop.

The Paseo de Diego is a working-class shopping district in Rio Piedras, San Juan. More than a dozen stores have closed here this year alone. Photo by Marlon Bishop.


Puerto Rico Has Maxed Out

Essentially, Puerto Rico has maxed out. Rating agencies downgraded the island’s bond to near-junk status in late 2012, making it difficult to borrow. So far, there’s no federal bailout on the table. The government has promised it will not default.

Instead, it’s taking tough measures in order to raise cash.

In other words, Puerto Ricans are really hurting.

Kelvis Polo is a shop owner in the working-class shopping district in San Juan. His life began 17 years ago as a street vendor, and slowly worked his way up to become the proud owner of several apparel stores.

He’s had to close two out of his three stores. He has had to lay off 15 employees.

He says lots of factors are conspiring to bury him. For example, electricity is extremely expensive in Puerto Rico – higher than in any U.S. state except Hawaii.

On top of that, the government has imposed a flurry of new taxes: sales taxes, gas taxes, corporate taxes. Water rates went up 60% this year.

The cost of living is high, and the wages are staying flat. Polo’s former customers have no money to spend.

“We small businessmen are the backbone of any country’s economy,” he says, “but we don’t have the strength to keep going.”

Polo plans to close his last store in January and go back to selling in the street, where he’ll have no rent or electric bill to pay.



Wilfredo Martinez Cuevas says after 65 years in the retail business, 2013 is the worst year he's ever seen. He plans to close his store on the Paseo de Diego, San Juan in January. Photo by Marlon Bishop

Wilfredo Martinez Cuevas says after 65 years in the retail business, 2013 is the worst year he’s ever seen. He plans to close his store on the Paseo de Diego, San Juan in January. Photo by Marlon Bishop


The Price Of Austerity

The government’s new taxes will raise an estimated 1.4 billion dollars. That’s a step towards meeting the goal of balancing the budget by 2016.

But citizens feel angry. There is a sense that the government is just digging in the knife.

David Chafey, a top government financial officer, says the administration didn’t have much choice. It was either raise taxes or cut

spending drastically.

“The governor felt that cutting expenses to that amount would have been quite painful to a lot of people, and maybe for the past 8 or 10 years, different administrations have been able to postpone on some of those decisions,”  says Chafey, “but at this stage, given everything we were facing, these were things that we had to do.”

But those things have come with a price.


It Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

Mario Alberghini is a 30 year-old entrepreneur who wants to stay in Puerto Rico. Given the current outlook, he says, it’s not easy getting a business off the ground.

“When you see young people leaving the island, they do it very calmly, and that is completely understandable,” says Alberghini, “Because on a certain level, you sort of don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Economists speculate that a recovery will come…eventually.

Salaries will probably be lower than on the mainland. And that could make Puerto Rico attractive to businesses again.

But for now, things will likely get worse before they get better.




Marlon Bishop_new headshot Marlon 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.







The Economics of Congressional Immigration Reform

We often about immigration reform in terms of the human cost, the loss of lives, families torn apart, the lack of due process, and the conditions of detention. But what about the money side of the equation?

A report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says immigration reform would actually increase the GDP by tens of billions of dollars each year.

“Every time a new group of immigrants comes in, whether it’s Italians, or Irish, or Mexicans, or Salvadorians, the claim is always the same,” says Walter Ewing, with the American Immigration Council, “’’They’re going to hurt us, they’re going to drive down our wages, they’re going to drain our social services,’ and that ends up not being the case.”

One major point of contention surrounding any proposed reform is a pathway to citizenship. Ewing says granting undocumented workers legal status would give the US economy a much-needed boost.
“Undocumented immigrants would earn more. If you earn more, you spend more, and you invest more, and you save more, and you are more likely to start a business.”
A bigger workforce also translates into greater tax revenue. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it’s enough to reduce the federal deficit by a trillion dollars over the next twenty years.


Infographic courtesy of the Bipartisan Policy Center

How Immigrant Workers Benefit The Economy 

Roel Campos is a former Securities and Exchange Commissioner. He says the best research we have shows immigrant workers not only benefit the economy but also aren’t an economic threat because they don’t steal jobs.

“In fact what happens is that, because, you know, they don’t have the same skill sets that American workers do, they do their own work. They set up their own businesses. They do work that other American workers don’t care to do. They work in the fields, work at restaurants, work at hotels.”

Immigrants also tend to be entrepreneurs. They’re more than twice as likely to start a small business than the native-born population.

Campos says current policy costs the US in potential tax revenues. But the US is also losing out on innovation and creative capital.

“We’re educating phDs and high-level people with masters and PhDs, and then they can’t stay in the US, even if they want to,” says Campos. “So after educating them, we send them away, and go live in other parts of the world that get the benefit of the education that the US provided for.”

Immigrants also make up an astounding number of PhDs in STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The National Survey of College Graduates reports that 40% of all PhDs in the sciences, and 60% of PhDs in Engineering, are from people born in other countries.

“If we had a comprehensive immigration bill… that bill would provide for very high skilled individuals coming from other places around the world to do jobs in Silicon Valley, in the East, all over America,” says Campos.


Photo by Luke Sharrett/Getty Images 

When A Business is Raided

For some Republicans, the push for immigration reform is about the bottom line and their employees’ welfare. Maria Hinojosa talks to conservative commentator Linda Chavez about ICE raiding her business.

(Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP)

FYR_LindaChavez_t700Linda Chavez is president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, based in Washington, D.C., and a FOX News Channel contributor.

What’s The Deal With Participatory Budgeting?

Participatory budgeting gives local residents direct control over part of the city budget. The project is in its third year in New York City and is expected to be used in up to 22 Council districts, covering more than $20 million.

The way it works is this: local residents, regardless of age or citizenship status, get together to discuss capital needs — infrastructure, buildings or equipment — to improve their neighborhoods. Projects are voted on in community meetings, and then local politicians must spend on those items.

The project was started in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1989, and it is currently in use in 1,500 communities around the world. In the U.S., it is used in Chicago, San Francisco, Vallejo, California.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons user Mondo



B2 melissa mark-viveritoMelissa Mark-Viverito currently serves as a New York City Council Member, representing District 8, which includes El Barrio/East Harlem, Manhattan Valley and Mott Haven. She was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and attended Columbia College at Columbia University in New York City where she earned her B.A. in Political Science in 1991. Melissa was selected to attend the National Urban Fellows Program and earned her Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York in 1995.

Unbanked In The Bay Area

In a national first, Oakland, CA is now offering its residents a groundbreaking new municipal ID card that doubles as a prepaid debit card. Residents can apply for the card regardless of their immigration status.


Farida-Jhabvala-Romero-reporting-in-Mendota-CA-broccoli-field-150x150Farida is a reporter for Radio Bilingüe, the National Latino Public Radio Network. She regularly covers health and the environment. She also contributes stories on California traditional artists for Radio Bilingüe’s series Raíces: Reportajes sobre Artistas del Pueblo. Prior to joining Radio Bilingüe, Farida worked as a reporter for El Mensajero, a San Francisco weekly, and other publications. She has a bachelor’s degree from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and currently lives in Alameda, California, with her husband Eric and 2-year old daughter Devika. She can be reached at



The Cost Of A Quinceañera

A quinceañera, or “sweet fifteen,” can be a glitzy affair with rituals to mark a girl’s transition into womanhood.

MTV Tr3s documented the crossover of the coming-of-age tradition in its series “Quiero Mis Quinces”.

As the Latino population in Las Vegas has grown over the past decade or so, so has the business of quiceañeras. Families might empty their pockets to throw a party, sometimes bigger than a wedding, for their little girls.



Kate Sheehy is a Multimedia Journalist with a focus on documentary style radio reporting covering Immigrant issues and marginalized communities. Sheehy has reported for public radio stations in California, New York, Washington, D.C. and most recently Las Vegas, where she was part of a bilingual reporting team called Fronteras: The Changing America Desk.

Latinos Talk Tech

In 2013, you can’t talk money without talking tech. It isn’t just the industry of the future, it is the industry of now. But despite research that shows that Latinos adopt new technologies at rates equal to, and sometimes higher than, other Americans, Latinos are rarely part of the tech conversation.

We plan on talking to more Latinos in tech, or Techinistas – in 2014, but this week we are speaking to two people who are working hard to get more Latinos involved in the tech sector.

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP

C2_LuzRivasLuz Rivas is the Founder and Executive Director of DIY Girls, a nonprofit organization that develops and implements educational programs and events for girls and women designed to encourage exploration with technology, promote self-confidence and support aspiration to technical careers. Like young girls in the DIY Girls program, Luz is a daughter of Mexican immigrants and grew up in the Pacoima neighborhood of Los Angeles. Luz started her career at Motorola where she was an Electrical Design Engineer working on position and navigation systems for the automotive industry.  For the last 10 years, she has worked on developing out-of school science and engineering education programs and has developed higher education programs focused on recruiting and retaining underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. Luz has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from MIT and a Masters in Technology in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.



Edward Avila is a native of San Jose and has worked at high-tech companies in Silicon Valley over the last 20 years as a Human Resources executive. He advised and nurtured talent for emerging businesses within corporations. He has a proven track record in the areas of leadership development, executive coaching, and talent management. In 2010, he co-founded myJoblinx, the industry’s first employee-centric enterprise solution, leveraging both social recruiting and employment branding into a single unique application on Facebook. In 2012, Edward was featured as a ‘Game Changer’ in Hispanic Executive Magazine. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco

Dearly Deported: Jordan Edition

Jordanian Abu Firas was deported from the US back in 2003, but hopes one day to return. In our “Dearly Deported” series, he tells us about the life he led in New York and his struggle for work in Amman.




Dale Gavlak 2013 pic

Dale Gavlak is a radio and print journalist who has covered the Middle East for more than 20 years initially from Cairo and now Amman, Jordan.

#1349 – Let’s Talk About Sex

In this week’s show, we focus on how Latinas think about themselves as sexual beings, and the constraints on their decisions about sex and reproduction. We hear from one woman whose decision to end a pregnancy brings up memories of a history of control of women of color’s fertility. We also examine how changes in funding of public health clinics in Texas have affected the choices of tens of thousands of women in the state. And we tell you the stories of some of the nearly two million people who have been deported during the Obama administration.

Photo Courtesy of Spike Walker, via Flickr

Sex, Young Love and Choice

Beyond the question of abortion, there’s the sad and difficult history of sterilization in the United States. Usually, the victims have been poor, and often they’ve been women of color. Katilin Prest, from the AudioSmut podcast, brings us one woman’s story and a some background on the modern face of the eugenics movement.

For more reading, check out this CIR report on sterilized inmates in California and see the book by Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body.



A1_PrestKaitlin Prest is a radio producer and audio documentary artist interested in sound and intimacy. She is the co-creative director of the Audio Smut podcast, producer and sound designer at the Life of the Law podcast, and co-creative director of New York’s Radio Cabaret.

Latina Sex Stereotypes

Photo by Flickr, Martin LaBar

For Latina women it can often seem like there are only two types of representation they see in the media. They’re either sexy and “spicy” or religious and family oriented. But is that really the case?

Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa speaks to writer, poet, and sex columnist for Cosmo for Latinas, Erika Sanchez about growing up in a “traditional” Mexican family while being an American girl, feminism, and facing fear.


B1_ErikaSanchezErika L Sánchez is a poet and writer living in Chicago. Her poems have appeared in Pleiades, Witness, Hunger Mountain, Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Copper Nickel, and others. Her nonfiction has been published in Cosmopolitan for Latinas, NBCLatino, Truthout, Salon, Rolling Stone, Salon, The Guardian, and Al Jazeera.


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