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When You Ask White Actors to Act Whiter

Today Mic released a new video that addresses Latino stereotypes and the problems of casting and misrepresentation in the entertainment business. At one point, actor Arturo Castro decides to lead his own audition to drive home a point about how Latinos are portrayed in mass media.

(h/t Latino Rebels)

Digital Exclusive: The Dulce Candy Interview

Latino USA recently aired an interview with Iraq veteran and beauty guru Dulce Candy Ruiz. After noticing the reception the interview received, we decided to share an extended digital-only version of the interview between Dulce Candy and Latino USA anchor Maria Hinojosa.

Featured image: Dulce Candy Ruiz (center) during her deployment in Iraq.

Today in Latin America: November 17, 2015

Brazil Police Investigate Mob Killing in Wealthy Rio Neighborhood

Police in Rio de Janeiro on Monday announced they will investigate the apparent mob killing of an ice vendor in the city’s beachfront neighborhood of Ipanema over the weekend, The Associated Press reported.

The death of Fabiano Machado da Silva, 33, is the most recent episode of vigilante justice to receive national attention in a country where high rates of lynching continue to capture media attention.

Silva was beaten to death by approximately 10 assailants after getting into an altercation with two women leaving a beach party, according to witnesses and security footage released to the local media (link in Portuguese).

Vigilante killings are common in Brazil and have reportedly been on the rise. The country sees an estimated one attempt at mob justice per day, up from four per week until mid-2013, according to the sociologist José de Souza Martins, who studies the phenomenon.

Rio de Janeiro has the second-highest rate of mob killings in the country after São Paulo, according to research conducted by the University of São Paulo’s Violence Studies Center.

In September, Rio de Janeiro’s secretary of security expressed concern over future acts of vigilantism in the same upscale Rio neighborhood where Silva was killed, after a wave of organized muggings prompted social media users to advocate for mob justice.


North America

The major U.S. automakers Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, in an effort to capitalize on significantly lower labor costs in Mexico, have indicated they plan to increase the production of cars there bound for the U.S. market by 250 percent before 2020.

Chevrolet’s Aveo, the most popular small car sold in the Mexican market, has failed key safety tests by an independent safety group, highlighting carmakers’ overall lower safety standards in Latin America.


Cuban migrants seeking to enter the United States have registered with the Mexican government for safe travel through the country at a rate five times higher than in 2014, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Puerto Ricans are preparing for nearly $3 billion in funding cuts to Medicare and Medicaid on the island by the year 2017, a move one top health official said will prompt “collapse” in the local healthcare system.

Central America

A Guatemalan army officer was doused with gasoline and set on fire by members of a moto-taxi association who were protesting rampant extortion in the southwestern department of Retalhuleu.

The recent border dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica over the status of Cuban migrants has reportedly inflamed diplomatic tensions between the two countries, prompting Nicaragua to file complaints with international bodies for an alleged violation of its sovereignty, and Costa Rica to claim that the latest crisis distracts from a pending International Court of Justice decision over a long-standing border dispute.


Colombia’s guerrilla National Liberation Army freed two soldiers who had been captured during combat on Oct. 26 and held as hostages, according to a Monday announcement by the Red Cross.

The head of Venezuela’s legislature claimed Monday that the two nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores who were charged by the U.S. with attempting to smuggle 800 kilos of cocaine from Haiti last week were actually “kidnapped” by U.S. agents in New York following their extradition in order to sabotage the Venezuelan government ahead of important congressional elections.

In a New York Times interview of U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker, the diplomat characterized the $10 billion in aid to the country since 1999 under Plan Colombia as a success, arguing the military aid package saved Colombia from becoming a “failed state.”

Bolivia announced Monday it will pay Spain’s electric utility company Iberdrola $34 million for compensation for the 2012 nationalization of its electricity distribution subsidiaries, part of President Evo Morales’ broader nationalistic approach to energy.

Southern Cone

Both of Argentina’s presidential candidates Daniel Scioli and Mauricio Macri agree Argentina needs a more open economy, though the candidates disagree on the necessary scale and speed of reform.

The relatively conservative Macri remains ahead in the polls after Scioli’s failure to deliver a “clear blow” during Sunday’s televised debate.

New evidence surrounding Brazil’s ongoing investigation into the Petrobas corruption scandal was released Monday, indicating that bribes were paid as part of the state-run oil company’s $1.2 billion purchase of a Texas refinery company in 2006.

Meanwhile, a Brazilian congressional ethics committee decided to investigate whether lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha, accused of receiving kickbacks as part of the Petrobas scandal, gave false testimony during a corruption hearing, threatening the career of Cunha, the only legislator with the authority to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff.

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HBO’s ‘The Latin Explosion’ Sizzles…Then Fizzles

There was something incredibly meta about catching an advanced screening of HBO’s “The Latin Explosion” and noticing a very happy Pitbull in the VIP audience watching Pitbull being interviewed on a large screen at New York’s Hudson Theater last week. Mr. Worldwide was not the only star at the screening—George Lopez, Thalía, Gloria Estefan and Rita Moreno were among the many VIPs who attended and who represented “the new American power brokers in the world of entertainment, business, politics and the arts.”

To say that I was skeptical about the documentary, created by Tommy Mottola (Thalía’s husband), was an understatement. I guess I had seen too many projects falling into the same genre: Latinos are huge! Latinos are amazing! Latinos are taking over the world! Let’s interview JLO, Sofía and Eva! I went into the screening expecting yet another contrived production.

However, within the first few minutes, I was pleasantly surprised.

Soon enough, I was hooked.

The premise of the documentary’s central thesis is simple: use music to tell the history of Latinos’ growing influence and numbers in the United States. The musical history side held its own for the most part, but it was the intention to go beyond the music that ultimately still makes “The Latin Explosion” yet another demographic-driven marketing documentary about a topic that keeps getting overplayed.

Before explaining why the documentary doesn’t fully deliver, it’s best to focus on what it did best—tell the history of Latino America (still a new, evolving and at times, uncomfortable label to many) through music. This is the theory: How the mambo craze of the 30s and 40s set the stage for a “Latin explosion” that eventually led to acceptance of Latinos into the U.S. mainstream and the creation of “A New America.”

The film had me at the beginning with iconic figures such as Pérez Prado and Benny Moré. And before you know it, narrator John Leguizamo had us connecting the dots to Desi Arnaz’s “Babalú” and an emotional speech Arnaz gave as his wife Lucille Ball and emcee Ed Sullivan watched. The Hudson Theater viewers felt Arnaz’s immigrant story and instantly resonated with it. Yes, Arnaz was doing things in the 1950s that had captured the soul of the U.S. television landscape, but to some the white Arnaz was just co-opting Afro-Cuban traditions. “The Latin Explosion” would never “go there,” and I wasn’t expecting that it would, but still you are left to wonder: what if, for instance, Benny Moré had played Ricky Ricardo? Would we be telling a different story? Would the country have been ready for “The Latin Explosion” in the 1950s as they now seem ready for it with Romeo Santos?

After Arnaz, Rita Moreno took center stage, along with West Side Story. The impact of that film and her Oscar-winning speech (it was brief) is still felt to this day. A lot of what Moreno shared in the documentary was very similar to what she had told Latino USA earlier, yet it was fantastic to see Moreno on film. That is always a good thing.

It is here where the documentary could have easily been criticized for its East Coast Cuban and Puerto Rican urban biases, but the sudden pivot to the 60s and how so many rock n’ roll singers (Sam the Sham, Question Mark and Cannibal) had to hide their Mexican American roots to perform was perhaps one of the film’s most poignant and intriguing parts.

The creative choice to hat-tip this little-known fact was the right decision. However, the decision to not spend more time on this topic was not. The documentary should have given these bands their due, just like it did with José Feliciano, Carlos Santana and the Fania All-Stars. Such a glossing over was a disappointment.

The Feliciano segment was excellent and so was the Santana one. Once the film explored the cultural 70s phenomenon that was Cheech and Chong, the continued focus on musical history seemed promising. Celia Cruz with Fania was as fun as you can get.

Add Miami Sound Machine and Ricky Martin’s historic 1999 Grammy performance, and then follow up with Selena, Shakira, Pitbull, Marc Anthony and Santos, and suddenly you think this whole music history theory makes absolute sense.

That is, until the documentary overreaches. Instead of focusing on even more pioneers (how are Ruben Blades and Juan Luis Guerra not included?), the documentary bakes up a conclusion that lacks originality. Musical prowess leads to political power? Marco Rubio, Sonia Sotomayor and Julián Castro are the byproducts of “Livin’ la Vida Loca?” The film stretched a bit too far in the end, leaving the viewer confused and discombobulated. It felt too packaged and too stale. Instead of highlighting the new unheard voices of Latino America (and there were several in the Hudson Theater crowd), HBO and the film’s producers rolled out the same voices we have been hearing for years.

“We’re a very loyal culture, that’s why products want us so bad because we’re loyal consumers,” Pitbull told us in the film.

No, gracias.

Maybe that mainstream consumer narrative is good for the masses, but for me, I will always choose Question Mark (Rudy Martinez) over Pitbull. Question Mark’s world has always seemed more authentic, and “The Latin Explosion” should have focused more on those musical stories, instead of giving us the same tale of an overdone theme we have heard too many times now.

“The Latin Explosion” premieres on HBO, Monday November 16, 9pmET.

Remembering Nohemi Gonzalez

Nohemi Gonzalez was the first identified American victim of the November 13 attacks on Paris. The 23-year-old Cal State Long Beach student was studying abroad in Paris. When more details about Gonzalez’s life began to emerge, our Latino USA social community showed an outpouring of online grief and sadness for her and her family. Social media shared many images of the vigil held for Gonzalez yesterday. Another vigil is scheduled for Tuesday November 17 at Whittier High School.

Featured image via Facebook

Today in Latin America: November 16, 2015

Nicaragua Closes Border to Cuban Migrants Moving North to United States

Top Story — Nicaragua shut down its border with Costa Rica on Sunday to keep more than 1,000 Cubans from entering the country. The move by Nicaraguan authorities is a direct rebuke to their Costa Rican counterparts’ decision, one day earlier, to grant transit visas to the migrants—a decision that the administration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said will set off a humanitarian crisis.

The border crisis comes amid increasing tensions over the rising number of Cubans crossing Central America on their way to the United States in order to circumvent the heavily patrolled Florida Straits and to take advantage of special immigration arrangements that date back to the Cold War.

The “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, as it is informally known, protects Cubans from deportation from the moment they set foot on U.S. soil. Such protection does not extend to migrants captured at sea. Owing to the thawing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, many on the island nation fear that the policy may soon be discontinued — a fear that, according to analysts, accounts for the recent wave of Cuban migration to the United States.

Costa Rican authorities on Friday detained the Cuban migrants at the border with Panama, setting off protests that temporarily blocked the Inter-American Highway. The government reversed course on Saturday, providing the migrants with a transit visa that gave them seven days to cross into Nicaragua.

Conflicting reports emerged on Sunday from the Peñas Blancas border crossing between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, where Nicaraguan police turned away hundreds of Cuban migrants who had either entered the country or were attempting to cross the border. Police members said the migrants caused “serious altercations” and “material damages” after storming the border crossing, according to Agence France-Presse. The Tico Times reports that riot police reacted to the migrants’ attempts to cross by firing shots and tear gas.

“The Costa Rican government, in a deliberate and irresponsible action, hurled and continues hurling thousands of Cuban citizens at Nicaragua’s southern border posts,” the Ortega administration said in a statement. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel González, in turn, condemned Nicaragua’s “totally irresponsible” decision to shutter its border, according to The Tico Times.


North America

A committee in Mexico’s lower house of Congress voted to end the practice of pegging the country’s minimum wage to a series of prices and fees, a move that sets the stage for a potential national minimum wage increase. Mexico’s current daily minimum wage is one of the lowest in Latin America.

Mexican officials have extradited alleged Sinaloa cartel drug trafficker César Gastélum Serrano to the United States, marking a shift in Mexican extradition policy following the escape of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán from prison in July.

Cal State Long Beach design student Nohemi Gonzalez was one of the victims in Friday’s terror attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of 129 people.


In an interview with the Miami Herald, Haiti’s Prime Minister Evans Paul supported the request for an independent verification of the country’s Oct. 25 presidential election results, a call that came from a group of disaffected candidates who claim the election was marred by fraud and corruption.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack became the third cabinet secretary to visit Cuba this year after holding a series of meetings with Cuban agricultural officials on Friday. Vilsack’s visit further marked an effort by the Obama administration to deepen trade discussions ahead of the one-year anniversary of the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Central America

A Honduran court has sentenced opposition journalist David Romero to eight years in prison for insulting the wife of a prosecutor, a punishment that Romero claims is retribution for his role in uncovering a public embezzlement scandal that implicated President Juan Orlando Hernández.

A Los Angeles Times report notes that Central American families and children fleeing violence are entering the United States at a rate more than double the previous year, a sign that analysts say could signify a surge of migration in 2016.


FARC rebels in Colombia have called on the government to release 81 of its jailed fighters, who rebels say are in need of medical attention.

If the Colombian peace process is successful, the government’s most immediate challenge will be to convince more than 6,000 FARC rebels to put down their weapons, according to a piece in The Washington Post that investigates the obstacles to disarmament.

The Associated Press explored the allegedly widespread problem of confusing ballots in Venezuela ahead of Dec. 6 congressional elections, which some say is a desperate tactic by the government to hold onto power despite low poll ratings. More than 150 lawmakers from the region are urging President Nicolás Maduro to allow international observers into the country to monitor Dec. 6 legislative elections. Venezuela has accepted monitors from the Unasur bloc of South American countries, but not from the Washington-based Organization of American States.

Drug enforcement agents seized more than 419 kilos of marijuana in an abandoned car in the town of Oruro, Bolivia, after it had been smuggled from Paraguay.

Southern Cone

Argentina’s presidential candidates —Daniel Scioli of the ruling party and opposition candidate Mauricio Macri— attacked each other on Sunday in the country’s first-ever televised head-to-head candidates’ debate.

Around 3,000 people staged a protest Sunday in the Brazilian capital Brasilia against President Dilma Rousseff, with a small group of far-right protesters going so far as to call for a military coup against the increasingly unpopular leader.

The devastating collapse of two dams in Brazil has limited drinking water for some 250,000 people, and could cause long-lasting environmental damage due to flooding that has filled downstream waterways with mineral waste.

Cities around the world held vigils in honor of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, including a group that gathered with “Rio est Paris” signs in front of the famed Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Tío Sam Wants You

In the early 2000s, the Army aimed to raise its recruitment numbers through diversity. Army marketers tried developing an inclusive advertising message that could be relevant to all target demographics using research based on gender and ethnicity. Eventually, they received help from advertising agencies that helped develop Spanish-language ad campaigns. To understand the role marketing plays in Army recruitment, you have to go back to its history. Since the draft ended in 1973, the Army has switched up its marketing tactics and target demographic, especially looking at the growing U.S. Latino population. Marketing tactics made Latinos feel like they are part of the nation, giving them a “cultural citizenship.” And it worked. From 2001-2005, the Army’s Latino enlistment rose 26%.

Here are three examples of ads tailored to Latinos:




Images courtesy of Irene Garza/ NW Ayers Collection

Army Recruiting in the Classroom

We go to Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood to meet recruiters who speak to families and potential volunteers about joining the Army. The Army also recruits in high schools across the country. In fact, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 tied federal funding to recruiters’ access to these schools. We talk to two recruiters about the pros and cons of this type of work.

Then, producer Julia Alsop talks with counter-recruiters: students and activists aiming to get the military out of public schools.




Dulce Candy: Soldier Turned Beauty Guru

Before she became a YouTube superstar, Dulce Candy Ruiz served as a soldier in the U.S. Army. The Mexican-born video blogger arrived in the U.S. as a child and was able to enlist with a green card right out of high school. After dealing with bouts of depression and a 15-month deployment in Iraq, Dulce Candy posted her first makeup video tutorial on YouTube and the rest was history. Now, at over 2 million subscribers, the veteran-turned-beauty guru is the author of her own book, The Sweet Life, and CEO of her own lifestyle brand, Dulce Candy Inc.

This is the interview that ran on NPR stations when “Enlisted” premiered.

The following is the extended digital-only interview Maria Hinojosa had with Dulce Candy.

War Veteran Smokes Pot, Faces Deportation

Yvona Rodriguez served in the US Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. But despite his service and status as a legal permanent resident, he still faced deportation. That’s because Yvona uses marijuana to treat his PTSD, a condition caused by the traumas of war. Taking antidepressants and other medications failed to help Yvona, even made his condition worse. But smoking pot is a life-saving measure that helps him sleep and eases the guilt he feels after surviving Afghanistan.

Photo Courtesy of Yvano Rodriguez

A Soldier’s Unwelcome Return

When Alex Hernandez returned home from Vietnam, he was not expecting the welcome –or unwelcome– home he received. After stepping off the plane in San Francisco, Alex was kicked in the leg by a child who yelled, “Baby killer!” The boy’s parents stood laughing in the background. In this segment, Alex shares his return story—including a time he was sure he would not make it home. Years later, as Alex has taken steps in his life to overcome the trauma Vietnam brought him, he has something he wants to tell that boy in San Francisco who he never forgot.

Featured image: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) with Alex Hernandez, 2015


#1546 – Enlisted

We talk about Latinos in uniform. Latino USA explores the history of marketing to and the recruiting of Latinos. We hear from current recruiters and anti-recruiters in classrooms, a former solider now Youtube beauty guru, and a self-medicating vet who smoked pot then faced deportation.

Photo by Joe Raedle via Getty Images

Photographing Veteranos and Veteranas

Xavier Tavera has made it his mission to document Latino veterans who’ve been overlooked by the history books and how have at times “felt invisible.” Tavera is a Mexican-born photographer living in Minnesota who can relate to some of those veteranos and veterans because he has felt some of that invisibility as an immigrant. “A portrait is made not only by me, but by two people, the people that I’m photographing and me,” Tavera said. “It’s a relationship and it’s a collaboration.”


About the Photographer

After moving from Mexico City to the United States, Xavier Tavera learned what it felt like to be part of a subculture—the immigrant community. Subjected to alienation has transformed the focus of his photographs to share the lives of those who are marginalized. Images have offered insight into the diversity of numerous communities and given a voice to those who are often invisible. Tavera has shown his work extensively in the Twin Cities, nationally and internationally including Chile, Uruguay and China. His work is part of the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Plaines Art Museum, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Minnesota History Center and the Weisman Art Museum. He is a recipient of the McKnight fellowship, Jerome Travel award, State Arts Board, and Bronica scholarship.



Today in Latin America: November 13, 2015

US Drug War Ally Colombia Will Legalize Marijuana

Top Story — On Thursday, Colombia’s government announced it will legalize the commercial sale of marijuana for medical and scientific use, The Associated Press reported.

The upcoming decree by President Juan Manuel Santos will provide for every step of the commercialization of marijuana, including distributing licenses to cultivators, vendors, and overseeing the eventual export of marijuana-based products.

Colombia follows the lead of other Latin American countries such as Mexico, Chile, and Uruguay, who have all attempted to introduce policies to partially decriminalize or legalize marijuana within their borders, with varying degrees of success. Last week, a Mexican Supreme Court ruling which allowed the use of marijuana by members of an activist group was seen as opening the door to a larger debate on drug policy reform.

Uruguay was the first country in the region to legalize the cultivation and consumption of marijuana in 2013.

As the AP reports, conservative critics fear that Colombia’s announced change to marijuana policy indicates a “weakening” on drug policy, in a country that has both been a key ally of the U.S. in its anti-drug efforts and a top supplier of cocaine. Santos’ administration in May suspended the aerial spraying of chemical defoliant against coca plants, although recent reports suggest officials are seeking a new chemical with which to restart the practice.


North America

Mexican officials confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Mexico City as well as the states of Chiapas, Chihuahua and Michoacan, the latter two of which have been wracked by years of drug violence, during his visit early next year.

Mexico launched a new initiative in October to encourage millions of eligible immigrants living in the United States to become U.S. citizens, a process Mexicans undergo at a much lower rate than their counterparts from other countries.


A man in Haiti suspected of criminal connections was burned alive by a group of vigilantes angered by a slew of recent rapes and robberies in Port-au-Prince on Thursday, as protests over Haiti’s contested presidential elections grew after an elections official refused to sign off on the preliminary vote results because he doubts their credibility.

The United States and Cuba discussed closer agricultural cooperation during Thursday talks, including increased trade despite the ongoing U.S. embargo.

Authorities in Puerto Rico have accused 33 people of running a multi-million dollar drug trafficking ring on the island, a key transit point for drugs entering the United States in part because of its status as a U.S. territory.

Central America

A U.N. indigenous rights official on a visit to Honduras warned that indigenous groups there “face a critical situation” as they have suffered continued human rights abuses regarding their land rights, lack of official recognition and vulnerability to violence without legal protection.

Over a thousand Cuban immigrants are stranded in Costa Rica after authorities altered immigration requirements and also dismantled a migrant smuggling ring earlier this week.


Colombia’s national civil registry has 30 days to update birth certificate forms to allow for two mothers or two fathers to be listed as parents, after the country’s Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday that same-sex couples can register their children in both parents’ names.

Opposition politicians in Venezuela have issued strong responses to the arrest by U.S. authorities of two relatives of President Nicolás Maduro’s wife on drug trafficking charges, calling for measures ranging from a local investigation into the charges to Maduro’s outright resignation.

After the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights on Thursday harshly criticized Venezuela’s judicial system, Maduro defended the South American country’s human rights record, particularly advances in poverty reduction, and condemned what he said was an ongoing U.S. campaign of harassment and sabotage, during a special U.N. session on human rights in Geneva. Reuters notes that Venezuela has not invited U.N. rights officials to conduct a fact-finding mission since 1996.

Southern Cone

Brazil’s government on Thursday confirmed it will levy more than $66 million in fines against mining firms Vale and BHP, the operators of the mine where two dams burst in Minas Gerais state on Nov. 5, killing eight and leaving 19 missing.

Brazil also announced fines against German automaker Volkswagen on Thursday, the maximum $13 million allowed by law in connection with the company’s fraudulent emissions systems which were reportedly installed on some 17,000 cars sold in Brazil.

A Brazilian judge on Thursday ruled to lift bank secrecy protection for ex-Finance Minister Guido Mantega, a member of President Dilma Rousseff’s embattled Workers’ Party, who is being investigated over his role in a tax evasion scheme that may have cost the Treasury more than $5 billion.

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Music from ‘What Is the Latino Vote?’

This week our official Spotify playlist features 19 songs and 120 minutes of some of the music we used for our latest show about the Latino Vote:

And in case you missed the show, you can listen to it here:


THIS WEEK'S SHOW: In this week's show,…

This Week's Captions: Money...

THIS WEEK'S SHOW: From Puerto Rico to…


Audio visual notes for the hearing impaired.

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