Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

A Latino USA Roundtable

Americans of all political stripes are feeling a heightened sense of worry: where are we headed as a nation? What some of us see as great social achievements, others see as proof-positive of the decline of the country. There’s been a noticeable up-tick in the rhetoric of division and a crypto-nostalgia for an America “the way it used to be.”

We wanted to try to make some connections on this week’s program: between the rise in hate crimes and other vivid examples of intolerance that seem to populate the pages of our newspapers each week… and the way politics is being talked about in 2010. But we didn’t want a shouting match. So, we invited three thoughtful observers of politics and culture to join Maria for a free-wheeling discussion of the country, its direction, and its leadership — and the role of the media, community, and family in helping to shape the America we live in.

This is the extended version of their conversation which runs just over three-quarters of an hour. A shorter version, edited to meet the time constraints of our broadcast, aired on the radio program (and can be heard using the player in the top right corner of this page.)


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StoryCorps Historias

Two tales from StoryCorps Historias: One, about a dad with two very different jobs; the other, how a couple first met over twenty years ago.


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Find out where you can record your story.

Ester Hernandez

Maria talks to visual artist Ester Hernandez about the work she’s created in protest of SB 1070: including the striking image of La Virgen de Guadalupe as a wanted terrorist. (Click the image to see the full work.)

Hernandez was born and raised in California, on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevadas. She was a member of Las Mujeres Muralistas, the influential muralists working in the 1970s San Francisco Mission District. She has been a pioneer in the Chicana/Chicano civil rights art movement ever since.


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Can They Break Out of the Script?

Sometimes you get stuck: stuck in a way of thinking, stuck in a way of reacting to people around you, stuck in the place where you live. This week on Latino USA we meet two people in Arizona — Irene and Gerardo — who seem, well, stuck. They are each waiting for the tough new immigration law about to go into effect, and they see things from two very different perspectives.

Valeria Fernández from the Feet in Two Worlds project talks to them about life in Arizona in the days before SB 1070 becomes the law.


Then, keep listening as Maria discusses how their stories could hypothetically change and shift with satirist and artist Lalo Alcaraz.


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The Art of Lalo Alcaraz

La Cucaracha

Pocho Hour of Power (KPFK)

Kidnap Radio

My father’s kidnapping began on November 22, 1999 and ended August 13, 2000. He was kidnapped by the FARC and kept in 38 different places, spending the first months of his kidnapping alone, with only his guards and a radio, for company.

I was 19 when my father was kidnapped in Colombia. It was 1999. My mother came to my college campus to deliver the news and I flew to Bogota to be with my family for a few weeks. (My mother is American, my father’s Colombian and they divorced when I was 5.) After that, except for brief trips for a wedding and a funeral, I didn’t go back to the country where I was born until I traveled there to report this piece in the spring of 2009.

I was able to make the trip thanks to Jay Allison. I met Jay in Woods Hole through Ibby Caputo, a dear friend and a former intern at Atlantic Public Media. After hearing part of the story of my father’s kidnapping and rescue, Jay suggested I undertake this project and guided me along the way.

I asked my father to meet me in Bogota for a long weekend in April so that I could interview him. I had heard bits and pieces about the kidnapping in the intervening years – when I would visit our family — but in the course of our interviews I realized I had known very little about what he’d endured.


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Caracol Radio streams the radio show Voces del Secuestro every Saturday night from midnight to 6:00a Sunday.

Leave a response to Annie Correal’s story.

This piece was produced for Transom.org by Jay Allison.

Listener Comments

Your thoughts on immigration, Arizona’s law, language, and debate.


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We welcome your comments on the program. You can send e-mail to LUSA @ npr [dot] org or leave a message on our listener comment line: 800-535-5533

Reaction in Arizona

Alfredo Gutierrez

Activist – veteran – organizer.


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Gary Thrasher

Rancher – veterinarian – activist.


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National Reaction to National Guards

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer called the deployment of National Guard troops “a very significant and important shift in the president’s immigration and border-security policy.” Texas Governor Rick Perry, who had asked for 1000 National Guard troops to be deployed to the Texas-Mexico border alone, said through a spokesman: “We remain hopeful that the federal government will step up and secure our international border by providing the resources we’ve requested.”

Frank Sharry, the Executive Director of America’s Voice, said that “President Obama went into the lion’s den today and challenged (Senate) Republicans to work with him on comprehensive immigration reform. So far, so good. But he left the lion’s den having given into the key GOP demand of ‘border security first’ without getting anything in return. Talk about one step forward and two steps back.”

We called two Latina activists for their take on the news. Lydia Camarillo is Vice President of the Southwest Voter Registration Project. Clarissa Martinez directs Immigration and National Campaigns for the National Council of La Raza.


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

Read more national reaction to the deployment.

9500 Liberty

Maria talks with filmmaker Eric Byler about the documentary “9500 LIBERTY,” which he made with Annabel Park. It chronicles the public discussion, passage, and eventual repeal of an anti-immigrant measure in Prince William County, Virginia.

Byler describes the role of FAIR — the Federation for American Immigration Reform — in the anti-immigrant legislative efforts popping up around the country, including Arizona. FAIR, founded by John Tanton and directed by Dan Stein, is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “Teflon Nativist Hate Group.”


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

The innovative film began with an interactive YouTube channel online. You can still watch many of the scenes which would eventually become the final documentary.

State legislators across the country have announced plans to introduce bills similar to Arizona’s SB-1070. Already, in just the first quarter of 2010, legislatures in 45 states have considered bills and resolutions dealing with immigration. The National Conference of State Legislatures is tracking the movement.

Newspaper Takes Politicians to Task

Last weekend, The Arizona Republic, the largest daily in Arizona and a newspaper known for a conservative editorial stance, lambasted public figures for their failure of leadership on the issues of Immigration.

The banner headline on the front page of Sunday’s (2 May 2010) paper read—in what might be viewed as a case of typography-as-commentary—in black & white, and gray: STOP FAILING ARIZONA; START FIXING IMMIGRATION.

We need leaders. The federal government is abdicating its duty on the border. Arizona politicians are pandering to public fear. The result is a state law that intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration. This represents years of failure. Years of politicians taking the easy way and allowing the debate to descend into chaos.

The Arizona Republic has been calling for comprehensive immigration reform continuously since 2002. For a brief time, our congressional delegation led the nation on this front. But no more.

Now, it seems our elected officials prefer to serve political expediency instead.”

—The Arizona Republic

The paper then went on to catalog the leadership failures of ten prominent Arizona politicians: Jan Brewer, Janet Napolitano, John McCain, Jon Kyl, J.D. Hayworth, Phil Gordon, Russell Pearce, Raúl Grijalva, Joe Arpaio, and Andrew Thomas. (You can read the editorial here.)

Linda Valdez serves on the editorial board of the paper; she describes the decision to run the full-page editorial on the front page of last Sunday’s edition.


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