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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Death and an Election in Pasco

Only 1 percent of elected representatives are Latino, even though Latinos make up 17 percent of the U.S. population. The representation gap is particularly stark in Pasco, Washington. Despite making up 60 percent of the city and 70 percent of the county population, Latinos have no representation except a long city council member—there’s not even a Latino member of the school board, despite the school district being overwhelmingly Latino.

For the most part, Pasco’s Latino residents didn’t try to change the status quo. But things changed after videos of local police shooting and killing an undocumented, mentally ill farm worker named Antonio Zambrano Montes started circulating online. Many Latinos in town felt frustrated with how local officials were handling the investigation, and several decided to run for city council. One of them was Bertha Alicia Coria, a 19-year-old college student and substitute teacher who suddenly found herself thrust into the world of politics. Latino USA producer Marlon Bishop followed her one-woman campaign.

Photo of Bertha Alicia Corea (Marlon Bishop/Latino USA)

The Power of Latino Millennnials

If there is a voting demographic talked about as much as Latinos, it’s millennials. But talking about one group often means talking about the other. Millennials make up the largest group within registered Latino voters, and 20% of millennials are Latino. The average age of the registered white voter is 42, while the average registered Latino voter is 27. So two of our millennial producers, Antonia Cereijido and Fernanda Echávarri, sat down in the booth to talk about the Latino millennial vote. Antonia shares what she learned talking to the president of Voto Latino, Maria Teresa Kumar.

Featured image: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Hispandering: Will It Win You Over?

In the run-up to presidential elections, it seems like politicians will do almost anything to appeal to voters—particularly Latino voters. The candidates brush on their Spanish, dance to iconic Latino anthems and eat their way through the Southwest with the hope of winning over the elusive “Latino Vote.” We called up Lalo Alcaraz and Gustavo Arellano to talk about our favourite examples of pandering—or Hispandering. Alcaraz is the creator of the cartoon “La Cucaracha” and a producer on Fox’s new show “Bordertown.” Gustavo Arellano is the editor of the OC Weekly, author of the syndicated column “Ask a Mexican,” as well as a consulting producer on “Bordertown.”

#1545 – What Is the Latino Vote?

Yes, we know, we’re still a year away from Election Day but just a few months from the primaries, and everywhere you look there are endless stories about the candidates. Many politicians and pundits seem to think the Latino Vote is monolithic. At Latino USA, we know that’s not true, and we meet a family that exemplifies the political diversity of Latino voters. But what happens with Latinos who don’t vote or run for office? We go to a town that is majority-Latino, where representation matters. We look at Latino voters, Latino millennials and how they vote. Plus, a little Hispandering fun.

The Latino electorate has been growing and is expected to continue to grow. That’s something we will keep coming back to as we cover politics leading up to the presidential election. Examining the dramatic demographic shift in the U.S. through data and trends is at the core of another project we produce called AMERICA BY THE NUMBERS, which began as a series on PBS. To kick off our 2016 election coverage Latino USA and ABTN wanted to answer the question of just what is the “Latino Vote” anyway.

Today in Latin America: November 6, 2015

16 Feared Dead, Hundreds Displaced After Mining Dams Burst in Brazil

Top Story — Two dams holding iron-mine wastewater broke in the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais on Thursday, flooding the nearby town of Bento Rodrigues with water, mud and potentially toxic mining tailings. Authorities have confirmed one death, though some local news sources report as many as 16 dead and many more missing.

Rescuers continued the search for survivors in the decimated town this morning. Officials said Thursday that 600 residents are being evacuated to higher elevation, but there are also concerns about more enduring effects of contamination to the local water source because of the dams’ proximity to a river.

The incident is likely to reinforce public concerns about Brazil’s expanding infrastructure projects. Estado de Minas, a newspaper in the state’s capital city Belo Horizonte, reports that in 2014 the Minas Gerais State Foundation for the Environment found that 8 percent of structures containing toxic mining tailings in the state are unsafe.

Thursday’s episode echoes controversy about flooding and watershed contamination associated with other mining and hydroelectric projects in the country, some of which have also resulted in mass displacement. At least four similar accidents have occurred in Minas Gerais state since 2001, leaving many dead and causing large-scale environmental damage and homelessness.

A statement issued by the Samarco mining company, which operates the Germano mine where the dams are located, said the cause for the break is still unknown.


North America

Pope Francis is expected to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border in February, according to a top advisor to the pontiff, in a move that would be in line with Pope Francis’ emphasis on immigration reform.

During a rally Thursday in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on Congress to ensure Puerto Rico gets its “fair share of Medicaid dollars,” saying the situation on the island was “a humanitarian crisis in the making.” A number of New York politicians, including state Governor Andrew Cuomo, took part in the rally, which called for Puerto Rico’s equal treatment on federal health care.

A 2002 transparency law in Mexico has allowed journalists to expose corruption scandals and investigate the disappearance of the 43 student from Guerrero over this past year, contributing to the Mexican public’s perception that their media is reliable, according to a piece in the Christian Science Monitor.


Haiti’s electoral council announced Thursday the two candidates that will advance to a runoff presidential election on Dec. 27: government-backed candidate Jovenel Moïse and former state construction chief Jude Célestin. Several major candidates, however, have alleged fraud in the days following the Oct. 25 primary election.

Authorities in Haiti have closed St. Joseph Home for Boys, an orphanage in the capital city Port-au-Prince that was founded thirty years ago by a U.S. citizen currently facing accusations that he sexually molested boys under his care.

The Associated Press takes a close look at the recent wave of migration from Cuba to the United States, which has brought some 100,000 Cubans to the United States since 2013, when the Cuban government eliminated the need for exit permits to leave the island.

Billboard interviewed Robin Pedraja, a young Cuban who created his country’s first music magazine, discussing how he navigated loopholes in existing state policy, as well as the current trends and opinions of young people on the island.

Central America

Guatemala’s Congress raised the country’s minimum legal age for marriage in a Thursday vote following pressures from children’s rights groups. The new legal age of 18 was increased from the previous age of 14 for girls and 16 for boys.

Belize’s newly elected Prime Minister Dean Barrow said Thursday that he is confident a territorial disagreement with neighboring Guatemala can be resolved once Guatemala’s President-elect Jimmy Morales assumes office.

El Salvador’s former President Francisco Flores appeared in court Thursday to face charges of embezzlement and the misappropriation of $15 million that Taiwan donated to El Salvador following a 2001 earthquake.

Nicaragua has approved the HKND Group’s environmental and social impact studies for its controversial interoceanic canal project, allowing the Chinese firm to begin the construction process.


Bolivia’s Supreme Court justices voted Thursday to make Justice Pastor Mamani the court’s president, making him the first indigenous person to hold the office.

U.S. carmaker General Motors has announced plans to invest some $100 million in Colombia over the next four years, with plans to export cars to Brazil.

Southern Cone

Argentina’s exchange-traded stock fund is experiencing a boost in investments amid optimism over a potential change in government and its promises to increase growth and check inflation rises.

Eduardo Cunha, Brazil’s speaker of the lower house, will be facing a hearing led by the country’s congressional ethics committee over Cunha’s secret Swiss bank accounts, an investigation that forms part of the greater probe into a large kickback scandal.

Chile’s Interior Ministry acknowledged in a statement Thursday that it is “highly probable” that leftist Nobel-prize winning poet Pablo Neruda was killed in the wake of the country’s 1973 coup, which brought the right-wing dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power.

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The Latino Vote: An Infographic from Latino USA

For my final post in anticipation of Friday’s Latino USA show about the Latino vote in the United States (see all my previous stories here), I created the following infographic, based on data from Pew and Gallup. If you want to explore complete state-by-state breakdowns, visit this chart from Pew. (FYI: Click here for mobile version of the chart.)

Today in Latin America: November 5, 2015

Mexico’s Supreme Court Rules Prohibition of Marijuana Use Unconstitutional

Top Story — Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday in favor of allowing the four members of a marijuana-rights organization to grow and smoke their own marijuana, a move that could set the stage for eventual legalization of the drug.

The Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal Self-Consumption, called SMART in its Spanish acronym, brought the case in 2013, resulting in Wednesday’s 4-1 ruling that found the prohibition of marijuana cultivation for personal use to be a violation of the right to “free development of a personality” and therefore unconstitutional.

While the ruling only applies to the members of SMART, drug policy reform activists say the ruling should be extended to all and that it could be a potential first step in the full decriminalization of drugs in Mexico. For his part, President Enrique Peña Nieto told reporters on Wednesday that he has always supported a broader debate on drug legalization, The Guardian reported.

“This does not open or in any way signify the legalization of marijuana consumption, nor the commercialization, nor the transportation of it,” he added.

The decision follows a 2009 ruling that decriminalized possession of small amounts marijuana, cocaine and heroin for personal use, offenses which, prior to that ruling, rarely resulted in legal action, officials told The New York Times.

In an October survey by polling firm Parametria, 77 percent of respondents said they oppose the legalization of marijuana, although 81 percent said they would support its legal use for medicinal purposes.


North America

The governor of Mexico’s Quintana Roo state, where Cancún is located, said that suspects have been identified in two out of three killings of women that have taken place in the past few days, one of which incited a protest on Sunday because she was a university student and her body showed signs of sexual abuse.

A supposed cancer patient accompanied by two paramedics allegedly smuggled 84 pounds of cocaine in their luggage onto an ambulance air flight from Tijuana, Mexican police said Wednesday upon detaining the three suspects for further investigation.

Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said forensics investigators will be deployed to Carrizalillo in southern Guerrero state to examine mass graves that are rumored to contain the remains of the 43 students from the town of Iguala.


Lawmakers in Puerto Rico reviewed a bill Wednesday designed to alleviate the $9 billion debt burden of the island’s state-run power company — a goal that many Puerto Ricans worry will result in even higher energy bills, which are already twice as high as on the mainland United States.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio will attend a rally in San Juan on Thursday called to demand that the U.S. Congress allocate more money to healthcare on the island, an issue of great importance for New York’s large Puerto Rican population.

Central America

Officials in Panama said on Wednesday that they broke up a drug-trafficking ring that served as a link between Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and FARC rebels in Colombia.


Colombia’s constitutional court on Wednesday delivered a landmark ruling banning adoption agencies from discriminating against LGBT couples during the adoption process, prompting an immediate protest from the Roman Catholic Church.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has decried what he says is Chile’s attempt to intimidate its neighbors by conducting a large-scale military exercise over a period of 13 days along the border it shares with Bolivia and Peru.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has pledged to shave off his famous mustache if his administration fails to deliver on a promise to build 1 million public housing units by Dec. 31.

In light of recent progress made during ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, Amnesty International has called on the government to ensure that the rights of displaced indigenous and Afro-descended groups are prioritized in the peace process.

Southern Cone

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is confident that Congress will approve her administration’s new arguments against a ruling that she manipulated federal accounts prior to her election in 2014, her chief of staff said Wednesday.

The British head of Formula One racing told Reuters recently he hopes to bring the sport back to Argentina, but that he is waiting to see who wins the upcoming presidential runoff, although he did not specify which candidate he favors.

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522K #RacismIsntFunny Signatures Delivered to NBC

NEW YORK — Just days before Donald Trump is scheduled to host “Saturday Night Live,” a group delivered more than 522,000 petitions Wednesday night, asking for NBC to cancel the Republican presidential candidate’s appearance.


“Racisim isn’t funny,” said Juan Escalante, director of digital campaigns for America’s Voice, an immigration rights organization based in Washington, D.C. “When Trump says he’s going to deport 11 million people he means it. When he calls us murderers and rapists, he means it.”

Escalante —the main organizer behind Racism Isn’t Funny, a microsite featuring several online petitions that call for NBC to disinvite Trump as SNL host— traveled to the network’s main studios at Rockefeller Center to deliver the petitions. About two dozen people held signs that read “Stop the Hate, Dump Trump” outside NBC.


Escalante walked inside the lobby and about five minutes later came out and said a man by the name of “Adam,” who would not identify himself by title or say his last name, took the box with petitions.

“Bottom line is that there is no room to repackage hatred and racism and pass it off as comedy. What NBC and what SNL are doing is shameful,” Escalante said.

According to protest organizers, the following organizations were involved in Wednesday night’s event: America’s Voice, Campaign for Fair Latino Representation, CREDO, El Grito de Sunset Park, Hispanic Organization of Latin Artists (HOLA), Justice League NYC, Latino Leadership Institute (LLI), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), MoveOn, National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP),, South Bronx Community Congress, Teatro La Tea and The Jordan Journal WBAI-FM.

Latino USA anchor Maria Hinojosa tweeted a few photos from the protest:

The New York Times posted a video clip of Escalante delivering the signatures:

Despite the low attendance, organizers said that they will continue to put pressure on NBC, SNL and the show’s sponsors for agreeing to host Trump even after NBC had decided to cut business ties with the Republican candidate for comments he made about Mexican immigrants in June.

According to the Associated Press, Trump said that he welcomed the protesters: “Look, I think they should demonstrate. Ratings will go even higher than they are going to be. It’s going to be one of their highest-rated shows ever and they’re very excited about it.”

Do US Latino Voters Still Care About Immigration?

In anticipation of Latino USA’s upcoming show about the U.S. Latino vote (premiering this Friday November 6), I plan to share daily historical examples of American politics and Latinos. My first post was about Jackie Kennedy campaigning in Spanish. The second post highlighted the country’s first Latino senator. The third post focused on U.S. Latino voters and the presidency. Last Friday, I focused on Hispandering. Earlier this week, I wrote on the three little-known facts about the Latino vote. I also gave the US Cabinet a Latino report card. Today, I ask the question: Do U.S. Latino voters still care about immigration?

Of all the comments I hear in newsrooms, the one about Latino voters no longer caring about immigration as a top voting issue continues to come up. I do want to dive a bit deeper and try to answer the question. From a purely statistical perspective, it is accurate to say that U.S. Latino voters don’t think immigration is the top voting issue. A 2014 Pew study said this:

“Among Latino registered voters, two issues rate highest in importance. Fully 92% say education is an extremely (49%) or very (42%) important issue to them personally, and 91% say jobs and the economy is an extremely (46%) or very (45%) important issue. Following these two issues is health care, which 86% of Latino voters rate as extremely important (40%) or very important (46%). These three issues have consistently rated as the top three among Latino voters in Pew Research Center surveys (Krogstad, 2014), and the ranking is similar to that seen prior to the 2012 presidential election (Lopez and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2012).”


But then Gallup released its own 2014 poll, which showed that immigration was the second most important issue for Latinos after the economy:

“Over the summer, the percentage of U.S. Hispanics naming immigration as the most important issue facing the U.S. nearly doubled from the first half of the year, as the issue received heavy media attention related to the surge of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America. Concern among the general public about the issue intensified as well, rising over threefold, but Hispanics remained more likely to name this issue as one the country’s top problems.”


A 2014 election eve poll by Latino Decisions, hired this year by the Hillary Clinton campaign, concluded that immigration was the top issue for Latino voters:


Earlier this summer, Univision commissioned a poll about the 2016 election and the Latino vote. It did asked voters about important issues. Here was the breakdown for the top four issues:






Still, there is no denying that even if immigration might not be the top issue, U.S. Latino voters still think it is important that some form of comprehensive immigration reform get passed soon. This is what Pew reported in 2014:

“A solid majority (66%) of Hispanic voters believe passing new immigration legislation soon is extremely important or very important according to the new survey. This is up six percentage points from 2013, when 60% of Latino registered voters said it was extremely important or very important to pass significant new immigration legislation in 2013.”


This would be in line with a 2014 post-election poll that shows that a majority of Americans want Congress to pass some type of immigration reform legislation.

When it comes to a pathway to citizenship, Gallup shared this a few months ago:

“Hispanics (77%) are more likely than non-Hispanic whites (62%) or non-Hispanic blacks (70%) to favor a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. One in five whites, compared with 14% of blacks and 8% of Hispanics, prefer deporting undocumented immigrants back to their home countries.”


In addition, another Pew poll from earlier this year included these findings:

“Hispanics, younger Americans and Democrats are among the most supportive of both allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S., and having the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Fully 86% of Hispanics say there should be a way for undocumented immigrants who are living in the U.S. to remain legally, if certain requirements are met: 54% say they should be able to apply for citizenship while 30% say they should be able to apply only for permanent residency.”


And don’t forget the 2011 Gallup poll, which shared this:

“One-in-four (24%) Hispanics say they personally know someone who has been detained or deported by the federal government in the past year.

Familiarity with detainment and deportation is highest among foreign-born Hispanics who are not U.S. citizens and not legal residents. Among this group, more than a third (36%) say they know someone who has been deported or detained in the past year.

However, familiarity with detainment and deportation is not limited to the foreign born. One-in-five (22%) native-born Hispanics say they personally know someone who has been detained or deported by the federal government in the past 12 months. And among Hispanic registered voters, one-in-five (20%) say they know someone who has been deported or detained.”


So what do you think? Tweet me at @julito77.

Today in Latin America: November 4, 2015

Guatemala President-Elect Doubles Down on Anti-Corruption Pledges

Top Story — In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Guatemala’s President-elect Jimmy Morales said he will work to strengthen the mandate of domestic and international anti-corruption bodies within the Guatemalan government when he takes office on January 14, after winning a landslide election amid nationwide protests over a massive graft scheme.

Morales said he has already petitioned Guatemalan prosecutors as well as the U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CIGCIG) to help vet his cabinet. He also promised to extend CICIG’s mandate to 2021.

Investigations led by CICIG with the help of Guatemalan prosecutors led to the resignation and arrest of ex-President Otto Pérez Molina, a former military general, amid a wave of anti-corruption popular protests. Morales, a television comedian, rode that sentiment and claims of being a political outsider to claim 67 percent of the vote in the October 25th run-off presidential election against former first lady Sandra Torres.

Despite this overwhelming political mandate, doubts have been raised over what critics see as Morales’ lack of concrete policy positions and his ability to pass legislation as the head of his party, the National Convergence Front which holds just 11 of 158 seats in the Congress. Founded in 2004 by military officers who, similar to Pérez Molina, participated in anti-insurgency campaigns against Marxist guerrillas during the 1980’s Civil War, the FCN has attempted to “restore dignity to the military within the country and minimize the prosecution of military officials.

Morales has claimed that he will not appoint any former military commanders to his cabinet with the exception of the defense ministry. Nevertheless, after the election, one political analyst predicted Morales would be forced to strike up alliances with the same elites who supported Pérez Molina.

In a recent interview with Morales, Univisión anchor Jorge Ramos asked the president-elect to detail his personal wealth and to promise that by the end of his term he would not be further enriched.


North America

The mayor of Cocula in Mexico’s Guerrero state has been placed under house arrest after authorities caught him meeting with the alleged leader of a drug gang. The Cocula municipality was the alleged site of the incineration of 43 students from a Guerrero teacher-training school, according to a controversial government account of the students’ disappearances.


The Havana International Fair, a week-long trade show marked by contrast the Cuban government’s official suspicion of open markets, has attracted attention this year due to the participation of 20 major U.S. corporations.

A leading Puerto Rican physician said Tuesday said that the United States’ reduction of health care funds for the territory has contributed to an exodus of Puerto Rican doctors, and that many healthcare practitioners on the island plan to protest the cutbacks.

The results of Haiti’s presidential elections, which took place on Oct. 25, will not be released until Thursday, stoking claims of fraud and mismanagement.

Central America

Thousands of starving crocodiles kept on the farm of the wealthy Honduran Rosenthal family were fed for the first time on Tuesday after the U.S. government froze the family’s assets due to money laundering allegations.


Colombian troops killed 12 members of the powerful Usuga Clan gang in the state of Antioquia.

Peace talks in Colombia could extend past an agreed-upon March deadline, as negotiators still need to debate how justice will be delivered for crimes committed during the conflict, the FARC commander codenamed Carlos Antonio Lozada said Tuesday.

McDonald’s French fries reappeared in Venezuela on Monday after a nearly year-long absence following an 85 percent drop in potato imports in 2014, a challenge the company overcame by purchasing them locally.

Southern Cone

Reuters examines the situation facing Brazil’s Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, who last week spoke out in an effort to quell long-standing rumors he will soon resign in the face of a difficult task: helping push through an austerity package despite widespread opposition.

The former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation José Maria Marin plead not guilty to corruption charges in New York after his extradition from Switzerland, where he was arrested with six other FIFA officials in May.

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O’Malley Camp Criticizes Clinton on Immigration

Echoing an immigartion position that has been consistent ever since Democratic presidential Martin O’Malley unveiled a comprehensive plan in July, a O’Malley campaign spokesperson said last night that Hillary Clinton should focus on releasing her own plan to inform voters instead of just criticizing Republicans.

“While Republicans may have elected a new Speaker who shares their party’s age-old political problems, our party needs decisive, progressive leadership like Governor O’Malley’s to ensure that we fix our inhumane immigration system once and for all,” O’Malley for President spokeswoman Gabi Domenzain said in a statement. “It’s easy to slam Republicans, but harder to put forward proactive ideas. And Secretary Clinton still has not put forward any immigration plan whatsoever.”

Domenzain’s statement was in response to a Clinton campaign statement about how new House Speaker Paul Ryan has no intention in working on a comprehensive immigration reform bill while President Obama is still in office.

“We cannot allow the fate of millions of families to fall prey to political football or to whims of states’ rights. Secretary Clinton should join Governor O’Malley by proposing a concrete plan to ensure that New Americans will, in fact, be safe in her Administration,” Domenzain added.

For months, the O’Malley campaign has been proactive in focusing on Latino voter issues, usually the first Democratic candidate taking the lead on matters such as immigration, with the Clinton campaign reacting to what the O’Malley presents. It is a point the former Maryland governor made in a recent interview with Latino USA at a stop in Boston. O’Malley said that Clinton is always “following” him on issues that pertain to Latinos.

“Once again we lead, and she follows,” O’Malley said. “I intend to lead with ideas. I believe that leadership is often times saying things first and being ahead of the pack. Any nitwit can follow a poll, but leadership means forging a new consensus and very often speaking out on issues that others are ignoring.”

O’Malley also said that it was “morally reprehensible” for the country to detain immigrant families and called the immigration rhetoric from Donald Trump “racist hate speech.”

Nonetheless, O’Malley’s standing in national and state polls is still a distant third from both Clinton and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.

Featured image: Martin O’Malley talking with Latino USA in Boston, MA (CREDIT/Julio Ricardo Varela)

Latinos in the US Cabinet: A Report Card

In anticipation of Latino USA’s upcoming show about the U.S. Latino vote (premiering this Friday November 6), I plan to share daily historical examples of American politics and Latinos. My first post was about Jackie Kennedy campaigning in Spanish. The second post highlighted the country’s first Latino senator. The third post focused on U.S. Latino voters and the presidency. Last Friday, I focused on Hispandering. Yesterday, I shared three little-known facts about the Latino vote. Today, we explore the history of Latino appointees to the Cabinet.

Before we look at how many Latinos have served the Cabinet in our country’s history, permit me to share this point about the Constitution. The word “cabinet” does not appear in the Constitution, but Article 2 Section 2 does state this: “[the President] may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices.” There is also a “Heads of Departments” phrase at the end of that section. Section 4 of the 25th Amendment makes reference to “principal officers of the executive departments,” but no mention of the Cabinet.  George Washington’s first Cabinet had only four positions. The current Cabinet for President Obama has 16 positions, including the Vice President. In other words, the Constitution gives government a lot of room in how Cabinets are formed and expanded.

So how many Latinos have served the Cabinet? Here is the report card of positions, in order of succession to the President. (NOTE: This list does not cover Cabinet-rank positions, such as those of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, the White House Chief of Staff and others.)










Alberto R. Gonzales:  Served from 2005–2007 during the second term of President George W. Bush. He was the country’s first Latino attorney general. Gonzales resigned in 2007.


Manuel Lujan, Jr.: The New Mexico native served from 1989-1993 under President George H.W. Bush. He served for close to four years.

Ken Salazar: Salazar was the second Latino to be appointed Secretary of the Interior. The former Colorado senator served from 2009–20013 for the President Obama’s administration.




Carlos M. Gutierrez: The Cuban-born Gutierrez was the country’s 35th Secretary of Commerce, serving from 2005-2009 during the second term of President George W. Bush.


Hilda L. Solis: Solis was appointed by President Obama and served from 2009–2013. Before she was Secretary of Labor, Solis represented California’s 32nd Congressional district. She is Mexican American.

Thomas E. Perez: Perez succeeded Solis in 2013 and is the current Secretary of Labor for the Obama administration. He is of Dominican descent.




Henry Cisneros: President Bill Clinton nominated Cisneros in 1992. The former San Antonio mayor served from 1993–1997. Cisneros is Mexican American.

Mel Martinez: President George W. Bush nominated Martinez in 2001. The Cuban-born Martinez, a former Florida senator, served from 2001–2003.

Julián Castro: Secretary Castro, also a former mayor of San Antonio, is HUD’s current secretary. He has served as part of the Obama Cabinet since 2014. Castro is Mexican American.


Federico Peña: The former Denver mayor became President Clinton’s first Secretary of Transportation in 1993. He served until 1997, when he then became Secretary of Energy. He is originally from Laredo, Texas.


Federico Peña: Peña served as Secretary of Energy from 1997–1998 under the Clinton administration.

Bill Richardson: Richardson succeeded Peña in 1998 and served until 2001 for the Clinton administration. The former New Mexico governor was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations before becoming Secretary of Energy.


Lauro F. Cavazos: Cavazos was the country’s first Latino Cabinet member ever. He served for President Ronald Regan at the end of Reagan’s second term in 1988 and served another two years from President George H.W. Bush. He is a Texas Democrat.





So how does this all stack up?

Republicans presidents have had five Latino Cabinet members (Gonzales, Lujan, Martinez, Gutierrez, Cavazos). Democratic presidents have had seven Latino Cabinet members, eight if you count Peña’s two positions (Salazar, Solis, Perez, Cisneros, Castro, Richardson, Peña). There is only one Latina (Solis). If you take into account the highest-ranking Cabinet position, Gonzales was closest in succession to the President. There has never been a Latino Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense, and there has never been a Latino Vice President.


Featured image: President Obama’s first Cabinet (including Cabinet-rank positions), 2009 (Public Domain)

Today in Latin America: November 3, 2015

Colombia’s ELN Promises Hostage Release, Asks For Catholic Church Role in Peace Talks

Top Story — Colombia’s leftist guerrilla National Liberation Army announced Monday that it will free two soldiers kidnapped following a recent deadly raid, and on the same day appealed to the Catholic Church via Twitter to mediate a bilateral cease-fire and peace talks with the government.

Soldiers Andrés Felipe Pérez and Antonio Rodríguez were kidnapped during the Oct. 26 attack by the ELN in Güicán in the state of Boyacá, which killed 11 soldiers and one police officer who were transporting votes from the gubernatorial and mayoral elections from the day before.

The statement by Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group said that the church should have a definitive role in any peace talks and agreed with a September statement by Pope Francis that Colombia cannot afford another failed peace process. More than 200,000 people have been killed and some 92,000 people have gone missing since the conflict began in 1964.

The ELN’s larger counterpart, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been in peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba since 2012, and urged the government to include the ELN in deliberations back in May. Since 2014, the rebel group has only engaged in preliminary informal peace talks.


North America

Officials continue to deny claims of a semi-official plan to promote sex tourism within the border city of Tijuana, according to a Los Angeles Times report on the city’s La Coahuila, a “tolerance zone” where the regulated and illegal sex trades flourish.

A Mexican national was sentenced to life in prison by a California judge on Monday after pleading guilty to a series of 9 murders stretching back to the 1980’s, some of which, he claims, were committed at the behest of an unnamed drug cartel.


Two French pilots who fled a 20-year drug smuggling jail sentence in the Dominican Republic last week were arrested by French police in Lyon on Monday.

The Cuban state-owned telecommunications company Etecsa and U.S. firm Sprint have signed the first agreement for direct roaming between the two countries.

During Cuba’s top international trade fair the economic ministers of Spain and Cuba announced a deal to refinance Cuba’s $221.9 million debt to Spain along with other measures to increase economic flows between the two.

Central America

Ahead of Wednesday’s general elections, Belize’s chief elections officer has spoken out concerning threats against her and her family, a month after Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow dissolved the National Assembly.

Guatemalan President-Elect Jimmy Morales met with Acting President Alejandro Maldonado on Monday to begin the power transition process within the country, following the ouster of former President Otto Pérez amid charges of corruption and fraud.


Ecuador’s government must pay some $1 billion to the U.S. Occidental Petroleum Corporation for seizing an oil field belonging to the company in 2006, at which time it was the largest oil firm in the country, following a decision by a World Bank tribunal to resize the payment following an initial 2012 ruling.

The Miami Herald looks into the relocation of residents from an Andean mining town to a brand new development built by a Chinese corporation to spotlight the surge of Chinese investment in the region, in which the companies involved are perceived by some to treat local citizens and workers better than in China, a phenomenon reportedly due in part to strong regulation.

An explosion in a pharmaceutical lab in the Galerias district of Bogotá, Colombia, left 15 injured on Monday.

Southern Cone

Brazil’s main oil workers’ union remained on strike for a second day Monday in protest of state oil firm Petrobras’ recent asset sales, part of an overall downsizing effort following a collapse in oil prices and a historic corruption scandal at the firm.

Nine of the 33 Chilean miners whose rescue in 2010 captivated international news have sued their lawyers for fraud, claiming that they were cheated out of royalties for a Hollywood depiction of their ordeal starring Antonio Banderas, among other financial remuneration.

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Three Little-Known Facts About the US Latino Vote

In anticipation of Latino USA‘s upcoming show about the U.S. Latino vote (send us your voice memos), I plan to share daily historical examples of American politics and Latinos. My first post was about Jackie Kennedy campaigning in Spanish. The second post highlighted the country’s first Latino senator. The third post focused on U.S. Latino voters and the presidency. Last Friday, I focused on Hispandering. Today, I decided to share some numbers.

With the 2016 election beginning to kick into high gear, the attention on U.S. Latino voters continues. It is estimated that by 2016, the over-18 U.S. Latino population will be close to 40 million. It is also estimated that U.S. Latino voters in 2016 will account for about 13% of the country’s eligible voters. But how well do you know the U.S. Latino vote? These three statistical nuggets will impress your friends the next time you talk politics:

Since 2006, the Southeast has seen the fastest percentage of U.S. Latino growth than anywhere else in the country. However, this growth has not led to more voters.

Last year, Pew presented an excellent analysis on the state of the U.S. Latino vote. It stated, “Over the past decade, the Hispanic population has grown most quickly among states in the southeast (Brown and Lopez, 2012). However, much of the growth has come from people not eligible to vote: immigrants (many of whom are not U.S. citizens) and those under 18.”


Such findings coincide with another point Pew reported: the share of U.S. Latinos in the Big Three Latino states (California, Texas and Florida) continues to decrease.

MY TAKEAWAY: Sooner than later, “Latino outreach” will be more and more national, and less and less regional.

According to Gallup, 51% of U.S. Latinos are independents.

In 2012, Gallup produced a poll that I think will soon get updated, but it is one of the most important underreported findings out there. According to Gallup, “A majority of U.S. Hispanics identify as political independents (51%) rather than as Democrats (32%) or Republicans (11%).” Right after that sentence, Gallup wrote this, “However, once their partisan leanings are taken into account, most Hispanics affiliate with the Democratic Party (52%) rather than the Republican Party (23%).”


This year, Pew broke down party affiliations and concluded that the rise of independents continues to trend up among all Americans: “Based on 2014 data, 39% identify as independents, 32% as Democrats and 23% as Republicans. This is the highest percentage of independents in more than 75 years of public opinion polling.”

MY TAKEAWAY: Democrats would be wise to not take the U.S. Latino vote for granted, while Republicans should realize that not having debates on Spanish-language television is not a wise move.

U.S. Latinos are still the youngest group in the country, when compared to other groups.

This one comes from Pew: “In addition, the new Census Bureau estimates show that Hispanics, with a median age of 29 years, are younger than most other racial or ethnic groups. By comparison, the median age for non-Hispanic blacks is 34; it’s 43 for non-Hispanic whites and 36 for Asians. But Hispanics are growing older: In 2010, the group’s median age was 27, up from 26 in 2000.”

MY TAKEAWAY: The national party that can get young U.S. Latinos to vote now will be the party with a long-term future.

What would you add to the conversation? Tweet me @julito77 or add your comments at the bottom of this post.

Featured image: G. De Cardenas/Getty

The Top Five Hispandering Moments of 2015

In anticipation of Latino USA‘s upcoming show about the U.S. Latino vote (send us your voice memos), I plan to share daily historical examples of American politics and Latinos. My first post was all about Jackie Kennedy campaigning in Spanish. The second post highlighted the country’s first Latino senator. The third post focused on U.S. Latino voters and the presidency. Today’s post will focus on the very real example of Hispandering.

What is Hispandering? Urban Dictionary defines the term as “to Hispander means to pander to Hispanics.”

Who used it first? In 2002, political blogger Mickey Kaus coined the term when he was at Slate. In the last few years, several Latino political writers (including myself) have been using it whenever we see examples of politicians (or brands) reaching out to U.S. Latinos in ways that well, feel a bit staged, uncomfortable and not authentic at all. This year’s political cycle has already seen several examples of Hispandering moments. Here are my top five examples:

“I am tu Hillary.”

From The Guardian:

At Thursday’s Latinos for Hillary organizing event, Clinton walked on stage to Jennifer Lopez’s Let’s Get Loud, and stood at a podium adorned with a campaign sign that read “Estoy Contigo”.

“I gotta tell you, I love being La Hillary – I promise I will keep working on my pronunciation – but I’m not just La Hillary. I’m tu Hillary,” Clinton told the boisterous crowd.

The “tu Hillary” comment came after the Democratic candidate entered the rally while a Selena song blared.

Donald Trump’s Colombian Moment in Las Vegas
When your popularity with U.S. Latinos is at 11%, any little bit helps.

Barack Obama’s Cinco de Mayo Speech: Tequila and Immigration

Here’s hoping one day elected officials stop forcing the immigration issue during a cultural celebration.

Jeb Bush’s Cinco de Mayo Ad

Not to be outdone by President Obama, Jeb Bush also had to release a Spanish-language ad on Cinco de Mayo.

Ted Cruz Para Presidente
Considering that Cruz once said Spanish speakers live in a “language ghetto,” his campaign’s 2016 ad in Spanish earns the final slot on the Hispandering list.

Which ones did I miss? Tweet me at @julito77.


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