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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Daisy Hernandez Journeys to Cuba

In her new memoir, “A Cup of Water Under my Bed” journalist Daisy Hernandez reveals many personal experiences. One such difficult experience is how her father would abuse her when she was a child.

She talks to us about how she learned to forgive him and how her trip to Cuba put things in perspective.

The Whitopia of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a growing town near the Canadian border, is what author Rich Benjamin calls a Whitopia–a place that is overwhelmingly white in the face of increasing national diversity. Maria traveled to Coeur d’Alene and met Pat Boland, a former LAPD officer who moved with his family from Los Angeles in 2001 to the highly homogenous community of Northern Idaho with a troubled history of white supremacy. She also talks with Patricia Gonzalez, a Mexican restaurant manager who experienced firsthand the leftover racist and anti-immigrant attitudes of the town–yet who nonetheless has no desire to leave.

Made in conjunction with Futuro Media Group’s new television series America by the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa, Maria looks at what these Whitopias mean for a country that is less and less white.

America By The Numbers: Our Private Idaho Trailer from The Futuro Media Group on Vimeo.

Fear of those who are supposed to protect you

What happens when those who are supposed to protect you are the source of your fear? We talk to Jennifer Gonnerman, a reporter for the New Yorker whose latest piece follows the unfortunate story of Kalief Browder.

Kalief was held at Riker’s Island for more than 1,000 days without trial. For many of those days he was in solitary confinement. After three years of being held the charges against Browder were finally dropped. But Browder continues to experience fear…

You can find the New Yorker article here.


Jennifer Gonnerman is a contributing writer for New York Magazine and Mother Jones. She is also the author of “Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award.





Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Day of the Dead gets its Hollywood moment

Jorge Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua know a thing or two about the Day of the Dead. The director of the new animated film The Book of Life and his wife who was a character designer for the film got engaged and married on el dia de los muertos.

So it only fits that their first big studio theatrical film be inspired by it. They tell us what day of the dead means to them and how they hope to pass on its meaning to others.

The Book of Life comes out October 17th.


Jorge R. Gutiérrez is an animator, painter, writer and director who created the multiple Annie and Emmy award winning animated television series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera for Nickelodeon.

Sandra Equihua is an illustrator, painter, and animated character designer.

Sabiduría: A DACA recipient on finally serving

Last week the Department of Defense announced that they will now allow and even recruit deferred action for childhood arrival, also known as DACA, recipients to the military.

For some, like high school senior Yael Julian Calderon Esquivel, joining the army will mean fulfilling a childhood dream.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

After The Floods

In September 2013, rain pounded Colorado. Catastrophic flooding killed ten people and destroyed more than 1,800 structures, including six mobile home parks with large Latino populations.

Back then, we interviewed Colorado-based reporter Lesly McClurg about stories she collected from Latinos who were affected by the floods.

Now, one year later, Lesley McClurg brings us a report about how families have struggled to recover in the face of language barriers, split communities, and the fear of revealing their immigration status. She visited two families in northern Colorado who lost everything.


Photo via Lesly McClurg

#1436 – ¡Showtime!

This week we find out what it means to be in the onstage and on the spot. We meet an opera singer who loves telenovelas, a comedian who inspires young Latinos. We hear the drum beats of Puerto Rican Bomba music, learn about a new reality show starring undocumented kids. We put pressure on the new president and CEO of NPR. We shine a spotlight on Tejanos, and a tech journalist tells us what it means to “fail fast.” And Maria Hinojosa interviews the legendary Sheila E and we find out what makes her so cool.

Photo by Chris Smith via Flickr. 

Zorro: America’s First Superhero

The Zorro story, invented in 1919 by pulp fiction author Johnston McCulley, tells the tale of an aristocrat in Spanish California who dons a mask to fight against corrupt colonial officials on behalf of the oppressed.

Zorro became the subject of a hit silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks in 1920, and went on to become one of the biggest pop culture franchises of all time. It inspired dozens of remakes, TV series, books and comics across the globe. Perhaps more importantly, Zorro went on to influence the American super hero tradition as a model for characters like Batman, Superman and the Lone Ranger.

But McCulley didn’t pluck Zorro out of thin air. The character was based on several real-life Spanish and Mexican outlaws who operated in the West, including Joaquin Murietta and Juan Cortina. These figures weren’t always fighting on the side of the United States.


Photo: Movie poster for 1920 film The Mark of Zorro, courtesy of Wikipedia


Fania Records: Fifty Years Of Sabor

After years of gathering dust, the legendary salsa music label Fania Records is back and revamped under new owners—a private equity company looking to make a mint on classic Latin music. As Fania turns 50, we ask: what future lies ahead for the label once known as the “Motown of Latin music?”

“We gonna take you back to what we were doing in 1986,” says boogaloo star Joe Bataan from the stage.

In 1968, Joe Bataan was in East Harlem recording boogaloo tunes for an upstart Latin music label called Fania Records. Today, Joe is performing in a Staten Island park as part of Fania’s 50th anniversary celebrations happening all summer long around New York City.

A native-New Yorker crowd of all shades has turned out. They’re sitting back in fold-out chairs, dancing, and soaking up the nostalgia. Tony Lopez puffs on a cigar, looking like he’s having the time of his life.

“We’re big time Joe Bataan fans from way back in the day,” says Lopez. “I was a kid when he came out with his music. It was off the hook man.”

The people gathered here aren’t just fans of Bataan. They’re fans of Fania itself, because Fania isn’t an ordinary record label.


The Motown Of Latin Music

Fania records was founded in 1964 by two classic New Yorkers—Johnny Pacheco, a Dominican immigrant who led the hottest Latin band in the city, and Jerry Masucci who was a street-smart lawyer and ex-cop from Brooklyn. They decided to team up and start a record label that could beat-out Alegre Records, the top Latin label at the time.

“They were two dynamic guys, really ahead of their time, and they just captured the industry,”  says Joe Bataan.

Fania really exploded in the 70s, when it became home base for an exciting new musical movement known as salsa.

“A whole new world opened up with salsa, and all of these artists were brought to different levels that they never thought they would achieve,” says Bataan. “The bandleaders were taken out of their leadership roles in the individual bands and put into the Fania All Stars, which became a world wide name.”

Footage from the famous Fania All-Stars concert of 1973 at Yankee Stadium.

Fania recorded just about every great Latin artists of the era: Bobby Valentín, Hector Lavoe, Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow, Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz, and so-on. The label was grossing $5 million a year and commanding 80 percent of the market. But it wouldn’t last.

By 1980, Fania was in serious financial trouble. The label crashed due to a perfect storm of changing music tastes, bad business decisions and interpersonal conflicts. For years, the catalog essentially gathered dust.

Fania Rises Again

In 2009, Fania’s assets were bought by an investment firm called Signal Equity Partners, operating under the name Codigo Group. According to their website, Signal Equity specializes in “leveraged buy-outs, roll-ups, and restructurings.” It was an unlikely match— before Fania, they were buying up rural telephone exchanges. But a guy named Michael Rucker convinced the investors that there was money to be made in classic Latin music.

Rucker is now the chief marketing officer for Codigo group. “There’s this huge opportunity to go out and look at Latin music and Latin catalogs and to roll them up, archive them, treat them with respect, and then to collect on that respect,” says Rucker.

The company bought not only Fania, but 14 other Latin catalogs from the same era, including West Side Latino and Kubaney Records. They now own almost 3,000 records by 200 artists. Taken together, it’s a major chunk of Latin music history.

They fished the master tapes out of old storage units and got the records up on digital services like Spotify and iTunes. They also pressed up new “Best Of” albums, and began selling t-shirts bearing art from classic Fania album covers.

“It’s been working really well for us,” says Rucker.


“This Is Gone Forever”

Meanwhile in the Bronx, things haven’t been working very well for Mike Amadeo, owner of the famed Casa Amadeo salsa record store. The store has been in continuous operation since 1941. But it might not last much longer.

“Business is lousy,” says Amadeo. “Nobody in the music business is going to tell me after 64 years in the music business that this is going to be like it was before. It will never happen again, this is gone forever.”

Amadeo says that in Fania’s heyday, records flew off the shelves—he made $7 thousand dollars a week, more than three times what he takes in today. He says there used to be over a hundred ballrooms with live bands in the Bronx alone. Today, not one is left. And if you ask him about the new Fania owners—let’s just say he’s not pleased.

“Let them buy an American record company, for the English speaking people that know what the hell they doing. They don’t know what the hell they doing,” says Amadeo.

Amadeo was once a shot-caller in the salsa industry, back when everybody involved were friends and extended family from the barrio. He and other old-timers say they feel neglected by the new Fania. Amadeo, for example, says the new owners never once called him up to try to learn from his decades of experience selling music to the community. He says the stuff they are putting out doesn’t make sense.

“What Fania is doing right now is killing the industry. The few people that are left that go to the stores to buy records, they want the original recordings as they came out,” says Amadeo.


Reinvent, or Die

The new Fania isn’t particularly interested in reaching the  people that go to the stores to buy records. For Michael Rucker at Fania, there’s a different audience in mind.

“Now we look forward and we say –how do we take this to a younger audience today,” says Rucker. “Because at the end of the day, if you aren’t reinventing, if you’re not going to find new listeners then ultimately you die. And that’s exactly what we don’t want to happen.”

In an attempt to reach younger audiences, Fania is has been working with DJs and putting out remix albums that sample their catalog. For some members of the salsa community like Mike Amadeo, this amounts to sacrilege—a watering down of a rich musical history. But Joe Bataan, for one, isn’t so sure.

“If you sit on history, it dies. So you got to lift yourself from your seat, let history breath, and pass it on, and then you’ll have a chance with the music,” says Bataan.

It’s unclear whether the new Fania will succeed in reaching the youth— the label won’t share sales numbers, so we don’t know how well they are actually doing. But, says Bataan, at least they are trying, and giving the next generation a chance to decide what Fania means to them.


For a complete list of Fania’s 50th anniversary events, visit
All photos courtesy of Codigo group.

Sabiduría: Melissa Mark-Viverito

We turn this week to New York City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for some words of wisdom, or sabiduría.


This Week’s Music: Nuestro Nueva York

This week’s music includes:


-Songoro Cosongo by Héctor Lavoe

-Cumbia Meguro by Mexican Institute of Sound

-Gimnasia de Cumbia (Waka Waka Titanium Remix) by Dënver

-Everlasting by Polock

-Got Your Money (feat. Kelis) by Ol’ Dirty Bastard

-Todo tiene su final (feat. Willie Colón) by Héctor Lavoe

-There You Go by Fania All-Stars

-Let’s Get it On (Pa’ encima) by Los Rakas

-Luminous Insects by Inventions

-Ponte Duro (Empresarios Dubplate Especial) by Fania All-Stars vs. Empresarios

-Somos Pocos by Laguna Pai

#1432 – Genius Is…

In this episode, Latino USA brings you stories of perspiration and inspiration. First, guest host Daisy Rosario looks into how we define intellgence. We hear about a physics teacher driving success in California. One congressman’s efforts to pass immigration reform just aren’t genius enough. We learn about Latino mega-stars you might not have heard of, online, in soccer, and in music. An ingenious new online platform, Vine, is launching careers and attracting a young Latino audience. Latin@ studies professors form a new professional association. And a singer-songwriter looks for wisdom on a dark note.

Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

This Week’s Music: Genius Is…

This week’s music includes:


-Cariñito by Bareto

-You Were Never There by Diego Garcia

-El Retrato de Mamá by Johnny Albino

-Distraida by Rosa Diaz

-La Casa Abandonada by Franny Glass

-Baby Elephant Walk by The Miniature Men

-Propuesta Indecente by Romeo Santos

-Odio feat. Drake by Romeo Santos

-Dile Al Amor by Aventura

-El Justiciero by Los Mil Jinetes

-Lo Mucho Que Te Quiero by Los Rakas

-La Bamba by Zocalo Zue

-Beware of Men Who Don’t Remember Their Dreams by Rosa Diaz

-Every Time by Natalia Clavier

-Africana by Los Rakas

Hate Groups Fuel Backlash Against Child Refugees

The spike in children coming to the US border has been called a “border crisis” by the media. Protests have sprung up around the country in response to this crisis. Some protesters call it “a border surge of illegal immigrants” while the more extreme groups call it “an invasion” and have vowed to do something about it.

The facts: More than 57,000 children fleeing violence and endemic poverty from Central America have been apprehended at the border. They are then taken to detention facilities and shelters across the country, and over 30,000 have been released to relatives, sponsors or parents, mostly in California, Florida, New York and Texas. 

But the communities where the children and families would be held have erupted in a backlash that has mixed communities with anti-immigration activists, hate groups, and in some cases, militias or militia-type groups.

The first incident was in Murrieta, California, on July 1st, after the mayor made it official that Central American undocumented immigrants would be detained in a facility in the community. This video by David Lane of shows protesters blocking off the road for three buses carrying undocumented women and children.

Since then, other protests have taken a turn for the extreme, with armed protesters rallying in Michigan, Virginia, Maryland and throughout the East Coast.

There have also been reports of militias actively patrolling the border and militia-type groups mobilizing by the dozens to the border, an initiative the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Patrol has discouraged.

According to Mark Potok, a specialist on hate groups and extremism at the Southern Poverty Law Center, three groups are behind the more coordinated efforts: ALIPAC, Overpasses For America, and the social media campaign #MakeThemListen. They called for a national protest on July 18th and 19th, 2014, in 300 cities across the US. According to Potok, the turnout to the rallies was low, with just 40 making it out to a New York City protest in front of the United Nations.

But the language has been virulent, and the protests called to picket locations like the Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino, Calif., where relief efforts for the children were coordinated, or the Peppersound Campground in Oracle, Az, where  child refugees would potentially be held. The organizers are calling for more protests in early August, in what they call a sustained effort to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants to the country. 

Mark Potok highlighted the role of Fox News in fueling the backlash against efforts to house immigrants. Potok also mentioned the role nativist organizations like the Federation for American Immigration – FAIR, Numbers USA and the Center for Immigration Studies, whose senior policy analyst Stephen Steinlight, said of Obama on his immigration policies: “I would think being hung, drawn and quartered is probably too good for him.”

Potok’s comments echo calls by the Anti Defamation League for civility in debate around the children refugees and migrants. The ADL specifically calls out comments by conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, who asked who would take the blame if “disease is spread across the country” because “the government spreads the illegal immigrants across the country.” The ADL also reprimanded  Rep. Rich Nugent (R.-FL) for claiming that “a lot of these children…quote un-quote…they’re gang members. They’re gang affiliated.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled ALIPAC and FAIR as hate-groups, a label that William Gheen, ALIPAC’s director, rejected in a letter earlier this year. Gheen also declined to Latino USA’s request for an interview, with the following statement: 

ALIPAC is a peaceful racially inclusive organization and we do not support media or groups designed to divide Americans among racial lines. We reserve our interviews for media designed for Americans of all races and ethnicities only and therefor must decline to interview with NPR Latino USA. We would reject any similar request from any groups or media that were focused on blacks only or whites only or anyone called ‘Caucasian USA’. So we object on our principles opposing racism and we have found that we almost never get a fair report on our positions from employees or companies that owe their incomes to continued or accelerated illegal immigration into America from Latin American nations. Thank you for inquiring.

Fox News has not answered our request for comment. FAIR replied saying Potok’s opinion was not qualified since the Southern Poverty Law Center has no government affiliation.

James Neighbors, from Overpasses for America, did agree to an interview with Maria Hinojosa. We have included the entire interview in the SoundCloud file below the segment.




Mark Potok mugMark Potok is one of the country’s leading experts on the world of extremism and serves as the editor-in-chief of the SPLC’s award-winning, quarterly journal, the Intelligence Report, its Hatewatch blog, and its investigative reports. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Mark has appeared on numerous television news programs and is quoted regularly by journalists and scholars in both the United States and abroad. In addition, he has testified before the U.S. Senate, the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights and in other venues. Before joining the SPLC staff in 1997, Mark spent 20 years as an award-winning journalist at major newspapers, including USA Today, the Dallas Times Herald and The Miami Herald. While at USA Today, he covered the 1993 Waco siege, the rise of militias, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the trial of Timothy McVeigh.


IMG_1638James Neighbors was born on July 12, 1967 in Tacoma, Washington (Fort Lewis), traveled early in his life, before settling in the Norman, Oklahoma area in 1977. James came upon the inspiration for Overpasses for America when he was drawn to an article online about a protest calling for the impeachment of Barack Hussein Obama. With his knowledge of business from past job experience, his understanding of the plight of the working poor (having experienced this himself), Neighbors created the Facebook movement to gather the numbers of patriotic Americans who shared the same hope for a revived nation. 

Cover photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Child Refugees: Underage and Alone In Immigration Court

More than 57,000 children fleeing violence and endemic poverty have come to the United States border in 2014 according to Customs and Border Protection. A majority of them could actually qualify to stay in the country under protected status. But more than half of them will not have the legal help to prove it.

A survey conducted by the United Nations Office for Refugees in the US found that as many as 60 percent of these children could qualify as child refugees or some other form of humanitarian relief that would allow them to stay in the United States.  The other 40 percent are economic refugees fleeing endemic poverty or are seeking family reunification. The United Nations has advocated for an immigration procedure that would allow the children to state their cases.

But under the current system, more than half of the children coming from Central America will not have a lawyer or any form of legal counsel to state their cases in immigration court. This is according to an ongoing study by TRAC, a program at Syracuse University that tracks immigration procedures.

Sarah Gonzalez spoke to Stacy Jones,  an attorney at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, about what it’s like to be underage and alone in immigration court.





Stacy Jones is Senior Staff Attorney at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. USCRI’s Immigrant Children’s Legal Program provides pro bono legal assistance to unaccompanied immigrant children in removal proceedings before the various immigration courts throughout the United States. Stacy has previously served as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow at USCRI and worked in private practice, for other nonprofit organizations, and for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  She is also a contributor to The Migrationist, an international immigration blog.  She received her J.D. from American University Washington College of Law, after earning a B.A. in Spanish and International Relations from Lehigh University. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Photo of Southwest Key compound in Lakeside, CA, 2005 by SandyHuffaker/GettyImages


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