Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Politics’ 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.)


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

Violence in Bolivia

Over the past couple of years, women in Bolivia have been subjected to violent crime at a dramatically high rate. But a new law seeks to curb the violence, and to finally bring perpetrators to justice. The Fonografia Collective’s Ruxandra Guidi reports from El Alto, Bolivia.


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

Puerto Rican Student Activism Today

When we traveled to Puerto Rico a few weeks ago, we found a story that most Americans don’t know: The little island is going through big changes—and boricua youth are playing a big part.


Amidst a massive economic recession, Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño ordered widespread cutbacks at the University of Puerto Rico. The university’s budget took a $200 million hit. To protest the cuts, UPR students launched a 60-day strike across the university’s campuses.

Regina Rodriguez is one of the students who took part in the protests. She’s a first-year law student, and one of many young people in Puerto Rico who’s concerned about where their homeland is headed.


Right-clickhere to download an .mp3 of this segment.

SB 1070 Loses its Teeth

On Wednesday, June 28th, at the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Federal Judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction in the matter of “United States of America v. Arizona, State of, et al.” Four key provisions of Arizona’s harsh new immigration law, SB 1070, were put on hold:

Latino USA takes you to Phoenix to hear reaction on the ground: from activists, from politicians, and from average folks.


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

On the day the injunction was handed down, Maria spoke with Professor Jenny Rivera of the CUNY Law School faculty, and the founder and director of the Center for Latino and Latina Rights and Equality. Here’s that conversation:


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

A note on how we produced this week’s program: A radio program like Latino USA is a collaborative effort. What you hear on the air is the work product of several journalists: reporters, producers, writers, editors, audio producers, web producers, photographers, and Maria, the host. Maria was not in Phoenix this week. But our Production Coordinator Nick Blumberg is, and it is his observations and conversations—his on-the-ground reporting and that of another reporter Valeria Fernandez—that informed what Maria says on the air.

In addition, and as you can see from one of the photos at the top of this page, Nick would find people for Maria to interview by phone, so that their interaction with one another could be part of this broadcast. Nick recorded the Phoenix side of the conversations. Mincho Jacob, another one of our radio producers, recorded Maria’s side of those phone calls. Then, we synchronize the two recordings and pulled sections of the composite interview to use on the air. We call this technique a “tape-sync” — and we use it often, in order to remove the phone line from the broadcast audio stream.

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.


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

President Deploys National Guard

This week, the Obama Administration announced that the National Guard will be sending 1200 troops to the four states that form the U.S. border with Mexico. It is not the first time National Guard troops have been sent to the border, but it may be the most controversial deployment.

It comes at a time of heightened rhetoric and emotion over the issues of immigration enforcement and reform. And Arizona — the site of this weekend’s large demonstration for Comprehensive Immigration Reform — has become the focus and flashpoint for that heightened rhetoric and political machination.

One activist told us: Arizona is a caldron of emotion.

The White House says the National Guard deployment is to assist the Border Patrol in drug interdiction and to combat narcotic and gun trafficking, not the apprehension of migrants. But people on the ground in Arizona say the move is being read as an indication that Latinos are an “invading horde” needing to be stopped at the border with military force.

Cecilia Muñoz is a longtime civil rights activist — the former Vice President at the National Council of La Raza. Now she directs Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House and is one of the highest-ranking Latinos in the Administration. We wanted to ask her the question we are hearing lots of people ask: What is Obama Thinking?


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The Coalition of Immokalee Workers

At today’s piece rate, Florida farmworkers have to pick more than two-and-a-half tons of tomatoes to earn the equivalent of Florida’s minimum wage for a 10-hour workday. And, because of exclusions from key labor reform measures, farmworkers do not have the right to overtime pay, nor the right to organize and collectively bargain with their employers.

Today on NPR’s Latino USA, we track the current efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida. They have successfully won wage increases from a number of fast food restaurant chains, now they’re turning to a super market chain and its customers — trying to win a public relations battle by raising awareness of the connection between your salad and their lives. And along the way, they’re talking about modern day slavery in the state of Florida. Andrew Stelzer has our report.


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

Read more about the Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum.

Arizona Crackdown

This week, Arizona’s legislature passed the toughest state law aimed at undocumented immigration. Senate Bill 1070, if enacted, would:

  • Require that police officers make reasonable attempts ‘when practicable’ to determine the immigration status of a person if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally,
  • Require employers to keep E-verify records of employees’ eligibility, and
  • Allow law-enforcement officials to arrest a person without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense that makes him or her removable from the U.S.

    Some are calling the strategy: “make life tough” — reflecting the view that undocumented immigrants will either leave Arizona or not pass through in the first place if this law is on the books and enforced..

    Critics of the new legislation say it’s unconstitutional and criticize the “get tough” policies of Arizona as unworkable. Mark Brodie is a reporter for public radio station KJZZ in Phoenix and has been covering the story.


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

  • Organizing Arizona

    Maria calls Mary Rose Wilcox (D-5) for a check-in on local organizing efforts in opposition to Arizona’s SB-1070. Wilcox serves on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the first Hispanic to serve on the Board, and is a long-time political activist in Phoenix. She’s also a restauranteur and her “El Portal” is a place to see and be seen for politicos in Phoenix.


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

    Arizona’s SB-1070: Signed Into Law

    As we reported last week, the Arizona State legislature has approved, and now the Governor has signed, the nation’s most stringent law aimed as curbing undocumented immigrants from living and working in Arizona.

    Governor Jan Brewer’s signed the measure into law Friday afternoon, saying she acted in response to “the crisis the federal government has refused to fix.” She also issued an executive order directing that police agencies receive training in what does or does not constitute reasonable suspicion that someone is in the country without documents. “People across the country are watching Arizona,” the Governor said.

    Thomas Saenz is the general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF). He’s convinced the law will not stand the scrutiny of higher courts.

    The week in Arizona has seen numerous protests — both in favor of the measure, and those that were encouraging a veto. Here’s video from one protest in Phoenix, which ended in the arrest of demonstrators who chained themselves to the State Capitol.

    (Video courtesy of the Cronkite News Service, a service of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU in Phoenix. Used with permission.)

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