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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

In Puerto Rico, Undocumented Immigrants To Get The Right To Vote

A few weeks ago, Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla made a surprise announcement that soon he would submit legislation that would give undocumented immigrants and other non-citizens the right to vote in island-wide elections.

The move has been commended by immigrants’ rights groups, but is viewed by many on the island as a cheap move by an unpopular governor to try and fix the next election. It’s also left many people on the island asking: can the governor legally do it?

The answer, it turns out, seems to be “yes.” Federal law doesn’t stop states or cities from allowing non-citizens to vote.

Currently there are six towns in Maryland that allow all residents to vote in local elections regardless of immigration status, and a number of cities are currently considering extending the vote to all legal permanent residents.

Still, if Puerto Rico passes the law, it will be the first time in recent history that undocumented voting is adopted on such a large scale — and, some say it could set off a larger, national debate about immigrants and the right to vote. Our producer Marlon Bishop reports.


Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

La Malinche: The Story of Mexico’s Eve

La Malinche, often referred to as “the mother of all mestizos” is one of the most controversial figures in Mexican history. She’s been called a traitor and a victim. She was a Nahua woman who acted as translator for the conquistadors in the early sixteenth century. She became Hernan Cortes’s lover and their child, Martín, is often called the “first mestizo.” Mestizos are the mixed race people of Mexico that make up 60% of the country. Her legend led to the creation of the term “Malinchista.” A Malinchista is a traitor, or someone who denies their Mexican culture in favor of another.

But since the 1950s, female writers have been trying to reclaim and vindicate the story of La Malinche – not just in Mexico but also here in the U.S. Chicana writers relate to La Malinche. They too are stuck between two cultures: their Mexican heritage and the U.S. culture they live their daily lives in.

We look at who La Malinche was and what she has come to represent over time.

Here is an extended and uncensored version of the piece:

Photo via Wikipedia

Anthony Quinn Remembered with new Mural

Mexican-American actor Anthony Quinn was Hollywood’s first real Latino star, appearing in films like Lawrence of Arabia, Zorba the Greek and Viva Zapata! Thirteen years after his death, he remains an important icon in Hollywood—and now a new mural in Los Angeles is commemorating his career. Shara Morris looks back on Quinn’s life and impact.


The mural “The Pope of Broadway,” at 242 S. Broadway.



Photo by Quim Llenas/Cover/Getty Images

Roberto Clemente: The Musical

Roberto Clemente, one of the all-time great players in Major League Baseball, is nothing short of a legend in Pittsburgh where he played for the Pirates for 18 consecutive seasons through the 1950’s, 60’s and into the 70’s. Throughout his career as an outfielder, he was awarded the Gold Glove twelve times, and at his last time at bat during a regular season game he tallied his 3,000th hit—a distinction only held by eleven other players in history at the time.

But the Puerto Rican-born all-star was not just an incredible player. The first prominent Afro-Latino in the league, he became equally as known for his humanitarian work, his intolerance towards racism within the baseball, and ultimately his kind-heartedness.

In Pittsburgh, composer and baseball fan Alki Steriopoulos has written a new musical called 21 about Clemente’s life and untimely death in 1972. Erika Beras went to see the musical and learn about the impact Clemente has had on Pirates fans and beyond.

Photo by Via Tsuji via Flickr.

The Infinite Dream of Chilean Pop Music

Before Augusto Pinochet took power in 1973, Chile was a poor country known for its rich folk traditions. During his reign, however, cultural expression was suppressed; Protest singer Victor Jarra was put to death a few days into the dictatorship. Villa Grimaldi, once a famous cultural center, was turned into a detention complex for dissidents. It wasn’t exactly that Pinochet wanted to destroy arts and culture, it’s that he wanted Chileans to make economic prosperity their top priority. But this came at a sharp creative cost.
For Chilean children of the 1980’s, the only window to the outside world was music and television imported from outside. Now that Chile has been opened to that world, it’s experienced a musical boom from those now grown-up children. But as Anne Hoffman explains, this has created a modern pop aesthetic that seems stuck in the past.

Correction: Augusto Pinochet was voted out of power in 1988, not 1991 as stated in this piece.


fakuta fans

Fans of Chilean pop singer Fakuta.

fakuta portrait alt

Fakuta performing.

fakuta's apartment details

Objects found in Fakuta’s apartment.

#1451 – Gangs, Murder and Migration in Honduras

From poverty to gangs, this episode of Latino USA takes a deep dive into the root causes of why people leave Honduras to travel through Mexico and to the U.S.

This episode was the recipient of a 2014 Peabody Award and was produced in collaboration with Round Earth Media.

Photo by Marlon Bishop

Sabiduría: Asking for papers

People identifying themselves as government agents board a train and ask for each passenger’s citizenship. If this sounds like something out of a movie, it’s not. It happened to Maria Hinojosa’s son on his way back to New York City from college in Chicago. Maria gives us her thoughts on what this kind of incident means for the qualities and values we hold dear in the United States.


Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Thanksgiving in your home

Thanksgiving is a time for food and traditions! We reached out to you on social media to see what your family does for the holiday. Maria and producer, Antonia Cereijido, sit down to talk about what you replied to us.

You can find Pati Jinich’s Mexican Thanksgiving Turkey recipe here:

A special shout out to Sara Inés Calderon for helping us collect responses.




President Obama takes on Immigration

President Obama announced that he’d be acting to change the immigration system, including transforming the Secure Communities program, devoting more resources to border security, and, most controversially, expanding DACA (a.k.a. Deffered Action for Childhood Arrivals). We’ll hear from DREAMers, politicians, a congressional reporter and activists about what President Obama’s action means for them, as well as Congress’ path forward.

Latino USA Producer Camilo Vargas contributed reporting to this story.

MATT-LASLOBased on Capitol Hill, Matt Laslo is a freelance reporter who has been covering Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court for more than five years. While he has filed stories for more than 40 local NPR stations, his work has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Chattanooga Times Free Press, National Public Radio, The Omaha World-Herald, Pacifica Radio, and Politics.



Photo by Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images

Do undocumented immigrants pay taxes?

It’s a common misconception that unauthorized immigrants don’t pay taxes. In fact, it’s a requirement for everyone who works in the U.S., regardless of immigration status. According to data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. paid more than one billion dollars in personal income tax in 2010.

To file taxes, you need a number. If a person isn’t eligible for a Social Security number (and often times even authorized immigrants aren’t) they might need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or an ITIN. Since the Internal Revenue Service says it doesn’t track the immigration status of ITIN users, the government doesn’t actually know how many ITIN filers are unauthorized workers.

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition estimates that there are about 200,000 immigrants living and working in the state who are not authorized to be here. Reporter Sarah reynolds looks at one of the many non-profits that are helping these immigrants file their taxes.


This story was originally produced for WCAI, the Cape & Islands NPR Station, as part of a six-part series on immigration.


Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

#1445 – Birth and Re-birth

What does it mean to create? Or to re-create oneself? Latino USA takes a look at issues of birth and re-invention, as well as emerging ideas and film in this episode.

Latinos in the Running

Representation is a crucial part of any democracy, but how do you know if you’re really represented? Across the country, more and more Latinos are running for office in unexpected places.
Erika Aguilar reports on 45 year-old Jose Moreno running for city council in Anaheim, a city that is more than half Latino yet has no Latino councilmembers. In Arizona, Jude Joffe-Block looks at the race for the state’s superintendent of public instruction, where fourth-generation Arizonan David Garcia is hoping to fix his state’s troubled relationship with education. And in the Providence, Rhode Island mayoral race, reporter Ian Donnis introduces us to Jorge Elorza, a Guatemalan-American who is challenging the city’s legendary former mayor Buddy Cianci.


Photo above is of David Garcia, right, at a recent candidate forum hosted by Univision. Garcia is running for state superintendent of public instruction in Arizona.


Correction: In our story on the Arizona school superintendent’s race, we incorrectly described Common Core as being federal academic standards. Common Core is a bipartisan, state-led effort to adopt national academic standards.

Why do Latinos vote at low rates?

Latinos have, historically, participated in elections at low rates. Some Latinos are non-citizens. Others, like many Americans, are fed up with the political process. And still others lack the resources to vote or don’t want to vote while feeling ill-informed. But Gary Segura of the polling firm Latino Decisions says there are some bright spots when you look at the Latino electorate, starting with the enthusiasm of younger voters.

Photo by G. De Cardenas/Getty Images

Gary SeguraGary Segura is a founder & principal at Latino Decisions and a political science professor at Stanford University.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti: Two Nations, One Island

On a Sunday afternoon Johende Cepin and his father, Wilfredo , hang out together at Venus Restaurant, a Haitian place in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, in Brooklyn.


“I feel more Haitian than Dominican” Johende says.


Johende tells his father that Haitians are smarter but Wilfredo replies, “Just keep talking.”


Wilfredo was beaming while Johende talked to me. He proudly told me that his son speaks four languages: French, Creole, English, and Spanish.


But the Dominican-Haitian love might just stay in the family. Johende says that the Dominican news outlets promote negative stereotypes about the Haitians.


“They say in the news the Haitian people are bad. The Haitian people have the voodoo thing.”


The Dominican-Haitian feud makes for fun banter between Johende and Wilfred, but the history of the relationship between the two nations is no joke.


The Republic of Spanish Haiti


To truly understand how deep these roots go we need to go back… way back to the late 1700s when Haiti fought the first successful slave revolution.


Haiti gained independence from France while the Dominican Republic to the east continued to be governed by the Spanish crown.


Almost two decades after gaining independence, Haitian president Jean Pierre Boyer began his campaign to unite the island and defeated the Spanish crown in 1821.


For 22 years the island of Hispaniola was one nation: the Republic of Spanish Haiti. But then the Dominicans rebelled against the Haitians to gain independence.


In fact, when the Dominican Republic celebrates their independence day on February 27th – they are celebrating their independence from Haiti. They are the only Latin American country to celebrate independence from another country in the region.


A Border of Lights


Over the next century, things between the nations didn’t necessarily get easier.


“Estimates go from 4,000 to upwards from 20,000 haitians and dominicans of haitian descent were murdered.” Says Julia Alvarez, a Dominican writer and professor at Middlebury College in Vermont.


She is referring to a 1937 massacre, which is still denied by many in the Dominican Republic. Some know it as the parsley massacre because it was rumored that the president at the time, Rafael Trujillo, had ordered anyone who said the word “perejil” or parsley in Spanish with a french sounding “r” to be killed.


“When I was a little kid I was taught that the Haitians were this enemy next door. That if I didn’t eat my supper or go to bed the Haitians would come and take me away to Haiti where they ate little Dominican kids.” Alvarez says.


Once Alvarez was an adult she learned more about the actual history of both countries and on the 75th anniversary of the massacre, in 2012, Alvarez joined efforts with some colleagues to remember what happened.


“We had a procession, we had a service, the people in the border town joined us in the border. We lit up the border with lights.”


Alvarez says that hundreds of people from both sides of the border brought candles to honor the sad history. And they still do it every year.


“There was so much real, from the people, grassroots desire to really connect and make this a porous border. You know a border of lights.”


Yet the political relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti continues to be strained.


The Fight for Dominican Citizenship


Just last year in 2013, a court ruling made it so that anywhere from 24,000 to 200,000 people of Haitian descendant who were born and grew up in the Dominican Republic were determined ineligible for citizenship.


The woman at the heart of this case applied for a national ID card. She was denied on the grounds that her parents were considered “irregular parents.” They were irregular because they were what was deemed “in transit.”


“The general understanding of what in transit means it means you took a flight in and you’re flying out and you happen to have your baby,” says Allyn Gaestal, a freelance journalist who covered this court ruling.


The Dominican courts defined in transit differently.


“They kind of determined that anybody who was there without documentation or had overstayed their visas or anything besides having all their paperwork in line was considered in transit. And this applied especially to a lot of farm workers who had come on temporary work visas to work in the sugar cane fields. And a lot of those were at the invitation of the Dominican state.”



Another aspect of this case that made this whole situation complicated is that documentation in the Dominican Republic is kind of a mess.


“The birth certificate means something a little different in the Dominican Republic. It’s something you need to do a lot of things that you don’t need it for here. Like going to college you need your birth certificate, a lot of state services. So it’s something that people need a lot but it’s not something you necessarily get when you’re born.”


Deisy Toussaint’s Story


One such person, who did not get her birth certificate at birth, is Deisy Toussaint. Deisy was born to a Dominican father and Haitian mother. Since her father traveled a lot, when it came time for her to get her birth certificate her mother ended up giving Deisy her maiden name: Toussaint, a very common Haitian last name.


Even before Deisy’s last name ended up getting her into trouble years later, a bizarre childhood experience foreshadowed her strange relationship with the state and her status.


“When I was one and a half years old my fragile body began to balloon for some unknown reason. They decided to hospitalize me but my veins weren’t showing up. They had to give me the IV and all the shots into my head. I had a heart attack.”


The doctors declared Desiy dead.


“Since I didn’t have a birth certificate and was the daughter of poor people, it was difficult to sign off on getting the body removed from the hospital.”


But her mother was finally able to take what they believed was Deisy’s lifeless body out of the hospital and a wake was planned for that very day.


“They had commissioned an ambulance to take me from the hospital to my home and that same ambulance was going to take me from my home to the cemetery.”


At the cemetery, Deisy’s mom saw Deisy open her eyes right before they were supposed to bury her.


“The only person in the entire wake that sees me open my eyes is my mother. She grabs me out of the coffin and begins to run. She ends up taking me back to the hospital where I’m declared not dead. At that point the medics wouldn’t let the press or the police come into the hospital because they were the ones who had declared me dead that very morning. “

It turns out that Deisy suffered from catalepsy, a condition that is characterized by rigid muscles and a lack of response to external stimuli.


Deisy went on to become a writer and she actually won a national award for a short story she wrote about catalepsy. After winning the award she was invited to go to a book fair in Cuba. This is what happened when she applied for a passport:


“They say they can’t give me my passport because my last name is French. I think this must be a prank. I had seen stories about this before but it felt really distant from me. They treated me like I was a cheater. I had a birth certificate, an ID card, I studied, and everything was normal. but now…they tell me no. It’s like erasing my entire past. “


Since Deisy applied for a passport, she has been recognized formally by her Dominican father in court and is officially a Dominican citizen.


Deisy still has not been able to leave the Dominican Republic. Her visa to come to new york for a book fair this year was denied. She was going to present her latest work, “The Deaths of Deisy Toussaint.”


“I draw a parallel between the first death, the one by catalepsy, and the second death, my civil death.”


Deisy has been lucky. But for others in the Dominican Republic who don’t have her profile, being recognized by the state can be very difficult.



The 2013 court ruling received a lot of backlash and since the Dominican government has established a program that allows Haitians who have been living in the Dominican Republic to apply for residency.


According to a report from the AP released in late august, more than 115,000 people have signed up through the program since it launched in early June – but only 275 have met the criteria.


Nationality isn’t just an issue of whether you have papers – It’s how people identify.


“Most of the people who have not been able to get their identity cards or have not been able to register, they identify very strongly as Dominican.” Gaestal says, “Juliana Deguis, one of the most important cases, when I asked her if she felt Dominican, she said I don’t feel Dominican, I am Dominican.”

Peace Corps Culture Clash

American Peace Corps volunteers are known for bringing aid to communities in developing countries, but American volunteers are also supposed to learn about another culture, and vice versa. In rural Paraguay, three volunteers each face their own struggle with the local people. Julia Wentzel, who is teaching local farmers how to keep bees, finds that most men are more interested in her than in making honey. Nick Fisher discovers that his sexuality is a bigger deal in Paraguay than he expected. And Maren Saly finds love in a small farming town, but itsn’t sure if their cultural differences can sustain the relationship over time. Nina Feldman reports from Rincon Guazu, Paraguay.


Photo by Stan Wentzel


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