Archive for February, 2011

I kind of wished I was back at Harvard yesterday, as Colombian singer and Grammy Award winner Shakira was at my alma mater in Cambridge yesterday to accept an award for her artistic and humanitarian contributions.

Shakira was named the Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year, presented to her by Harvard Foundation Director Allen Counter. Copyright @Associated Press

During her remarks, Shakira took the time to focus on the country’s recent wave of anti-immigrant legislation, especially Arizona’s proposed new controversial law, which some are calling “SB1070 on steroids,” that if passed by the state legislature would severely curtail services to illegal immigrants in this country.

Shakira takes questions from students at Harvard University yesterday. Copyright © The Associated Press

As she told the Associated Press after the awards ceremony:

Justice will come. I’m sure. Wherever there is … a kid, who could be the son or the daughter of a Latino immigrant, who cannot attend a school in the United States of America, that kid should be a concern to all of us and our responsibility.

I believe we should never think less of the Latino community because it’s a productive force in this country.

The singer also shared her thoughts about education and its importance, while at the same time, made the typical “Hey, mom I’m at Harvard” joke:

“As I entered the premises today, I had to call my mom and say, ‘Hey mom. Guess what? I got into Harvard’,” said Shakira, who took a history class in 2008 at UCLA.

“Not everyone can study at Harvard University,” she said. “But everyone, wherever they live, whatever their background, deserves a chance to make the most of his or her potential” through education.She said that applied to poor children in Bangladesh or immigrants in the United States. “And as a child of the developing world, it is my duty to use this voice in every way I can to promote the message about the power of education to change lives,” she said.

So for that, Shakira, I say: GRACIAS. Thank you for speaking out for the voiceless.

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Yup, it’s Friday and it means it’s #VivaViernes time. Here are the five songs I am listening to enjoy my work day. What’s on your playlist?

1. “La bolsa” by Bersuit Vergabat (Argentina)

2. “Ingrata” by Café Tacvba (Mexico)

3. “En el muelle de San Blas” by Maná (Mexico)

4. “Si hoy” by Entre Ríos (Argentina)

5. “Matador” by Los Fabulosos Cadilacs (Argentina)

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As reported by Fox News Latino today, a new survey by the Pew Research Foundation released this past Monday provides a more analytic look at how American view immigration issues in the 21st century.  Here are some of the conclusions that the Pew survey, conducted Feb. 2-7 among 1,385 adults, reveals:

  • The idea of increased border security combined with a citizenship path to illegal immigrants already residing in the US is an option most Americans would support.
  • 57% of Americans oppose changing the Constitution for the sole purpose of denying automatic birthright citizenship of children of illegal immigrants born in the US.
  • 61% of Americans support Arizona’s controversial immigration law, which allows law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of individuals. However, according to the survey, 27% of Hispanics are in favor of the law,  as compared to 72% of Whites and 42% of Blacks. Support and opposition is also categorized by political affiliation as 54% of Democrats oppose the law while 88% of Republicans support it. 62% of Independents support the law and 34% disapprove of it.
  • The survey also called out what self-identified Tea Party members think. 57% of Tea Party members support a change to Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship with 38% opposing a change.

On the Facebook page of Fox News Latino, fans of the page have already started to comment and share their thoughts about the FNL story and the survey. Here are just a few of the posts that appeared there tonight (Editor’s Note: we did not edit any of these comments):

People who’s birth took place in this nation are citizens and not “undocumented,” as stated by the constitution (addressing the first sentence). The issue with border “security” is that a lot of Conservative don’t see the line between patrolling the border (to return people to their nations of origin) v. building a wall at the border (to keep all others out). If we pass job creating legislation to identify and naturalize already resident immigrants, things should work out much better. More jobs, more money being paid into the government and more tax paying citizens.

I agree with tougher enforcement and a path to Residency before citizenship… And we need to crack hard on the drug stuff too

In other countries if atleast one of your parents is not a citizen of that country then the child is not a citenzen.. The only reason that amendment is in the constitution is because of the discrimination againts people brought here AGAINTS THEIR WILL.. Not otherwise specified. 🙂

Other parts of the survey focused on how Americans view jobs and illegal immigration. Below are all the infographics that Pew shared with their article:

This survey paints a different picture from the more extremist views dominating the conversation, both nationally and in Arizona. Maybe there is hope for America after all.

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A word that has ignited extreme feelings all over the country.

To some, Arizona is Nazi Germany, a place where rights are suppressed and documents are presented to prove citizenship.

To others, Arizona is a patriot bastion that has pitched a new American Civil War against the federal government, human rights, and illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Convicted murdered and Minutemen leader Shawna Forde

This week, events in Arizona only added more fuel to the struggle. First, a Tucson jury sentenced convicted murderer and Minuteman vigilante Shawna Forde to death for the murders of American citizens 29-year old Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia. The murder, which occurred during a May 2009 home invasion of the Flores home, did not gain much mainstream media attention, although major outlets like CNN and CBS News did report about Forde’s death sentence.

Raul and Brisenia Flores

As Flores’ wife Christina González said on Tuesday:

“I miss my husband, I miss my daughter, I miss my family, I miss my life … and that’s all because of a choice she made,” referring to Forde.

CNN reported that prosecutors successfully argued that Forde’s motive was to steal cash and drugs to help fund Forde’s activist group. Police found jewelry from Flores’ home in Forde’s possession. Forde was the leader of the Minutemen American Defense group, an organization that supported stricter border enforcement and deportation of all illegal immigrants.

As Forde awaits her fate, some videos about her on YouTube paint a picture of her thoughts and opinions. In this first video from local Arizona TV, Forde shares her thoughts about why illegal immigration is ruining America.

A website called Justice For Shawn Forde still maintains her innocence, even though Forde was tried properly to the fullest letter of the law. The site claims the following about interview Forde had given to a journalist last year:

In an 11th hour move, Shawna Forde, who has been held incommunicado for over 2 weeks by the jail, called her supporters and insisted that she was misquoted in a hasty 10 minute interview she gave to a yellow journalist with the dirtbag. She says she doesn’t appreciate being characterized as a criminal, and she is innocent of all charges.  Further legal actions are pending.  Shawna indicated she is now willing to speak to media and to answer all questions asked, and directs journalists to the media section of this website. She will grant no interviews unless the parties have been screened through The Committee for Justice for Shawna Forde first.

Here is a video of Forde and her claims that she was protecting CIA agents who were tracking Mexican drug cartels around the border.

On the same site, a post that supports Forde’s innocence contains the following:

In America, accused murderers like Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers and Black Panther Huey Newton, as well as O. J. Simpson, have been acquitted in cases where there was far more evidence of guilt than there was in the Shawna Forde case. Newton and Simpson are black.  Ayers is white but hates America.  Forde is white and loves America.  That makes her a viable scapegoat in today’s politically correct atmosphere

The website also contains a video from a Minuteman YouTube page that has received over 2 million views since July, 2009. The video speaks to the US Government’s lawsuit against Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration bill SB 1070, which passed last year.

With regards to SB1070, the Arizona state legislature is about to vote on a more controversial measure that would severely limit human rights and create a situation that would lead to greater possibilities of racial profiling of Latinos and unjust discrimination. As reported by The New York Times this week, the bill, which passed through committee, will now be considered by the Republican-controlled state legislature. Here are a few excerpts of the article:

Illegal immigrants would be barred from driving in the state, enrolling in school or receiving most public benefits. Their children would receive special birth certificates that would make clear that the state does not consider them Arizona citizens.

Some of the bills, like those restricting immigrants’ access to schooling and right to state citizenship, flout current federal law and are being put forward to draw legal challenges in hopes that the Supreme Court might rule in the state’s favor.

The Times also quoted several people to share their opinions about the bill:

“This bill is miles beyond S.B. 1070 in terms of its potential to roll back the rights and fundamental freedoms of both citizens and noncitizens alike,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Arizona. She said the measures would create “a ‘papers, please’ society” and that a new crime — “driving while undocumented” — would be added to the books.

“If you are ever going to stop this invasion, and it is an invasion, you have to quit rewarding people for breaking those laws,” said State Senator Russell Pearce, the Senate president, who is leading Arizona’s effort to try to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they stop coming, or leave.

“Denying citizenship to children because they have parents without documents is crazy,” said the Rev. Javier Perez, a Roman Catholic priest and immigrant from Mexico who waited in the legislative chamber into the night Tuesday for a chance to speak. “Honestly, I don’t think anything I say will change their minds, but it’s immoral what they’re doing and we have to say this is against the values of America.”

In the meantime, it is very likely that these events will indeed elevate the attention on Arizona. Just like Madison, Wisconsin, the state has becoming a symbol of an America at a crossroads. It will be up to all American citizens to decide which direction our country will take. Nonetheless, whatever the outcome, Raul and Brisenia Flores will never come back to walk this earth. The debate has become too extreme and the fight to stop this ignorance and hate must intensify.

This reminds me of a song by Public Enemy called When The Time I Get to Arizona. The song, which was released in 1991, was written to protest Arizona’s refusal to acknowledge the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr, a national holiday that the rest of the country celebrates. All Americans who believe in justice and human deceny better get to Arizona soon before it becomes the symbol of an America that espouses racist principles and anti-American values. Let the REAL patriots show up.

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The island of Puerto Rico is deeply divided about the student strikes occurring at the Río Piedras campus of the University of Puerto. As new video showing a UPR English professor fighting with striking students released today can attest, it is a division that has sparked hate, violence, and political tensions. In general, those who support the strike fall into camps that promote free association or independence from Puerto Rico, while those who oppose the strikes are more likely to be island residents who support the pro-statehood movement of Governor Luis Fortuño.

Social media has played a large role for both camps, with YouTube becoming a central video channel. In doing some research for other stories, we found several videos showing events that have occurred both in the 2011 strikes and the 2010 strikes. A few of these videos take it a bit too far, quickly labeling Puerto Rican students as terrorists, criminals, and communists. In fact, this type of tactic is eerily similar to what Tea Party groups in the US do as well: if you don’t agree with someone like President Obama, scream SOCIALIST and your patriotism will shine through.

To set the record straight, even though some Puerto Rican independence movements in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s were terroristic in nature, any rational person with a brain would know that the UPR student strikers are not terrorists. As these two videos prove, the medium is the massage. Calling your own fellow Puerto Rican residents angry names of hate won’t get you that far. And what’s up with the photos of men and women in turbans? Hey, you want to yell TERRORIST in a crowd, might as well show some Arabs in the mix, since we know all Arabs are terrorists. This claim needs a little clarification: To compare the UPR students with terrorists is a slick move by the pro-statehood crowd. It is also false and shows that yes, even in a democratic state, extreme views in the end do nothing to the debate. You can disagree with the students, but calling them terrorists, criminals, and communists is a sign of disrespect, hate, and ignorance.

Yes, Governor Fortuño, if you are going to let your supporters share your ideas on the strike, you might be better off just talking to press, which by the way is something you need to do more. Making subtle references about Arab terrorists at the UPR campus is not the way to go. You are truly a member of the Tea Party. Maybe they will welcome you to join and form the Spanish version titled “Partido de té.”

PS Governor Fortuño, you still haven’t commented of what Rep. Luis Guittérrez said about you and Hugo Chávez. Or are you going to let your Partido de Té members speak for you?zaa

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A video released today by a Puerto Rican YouTube channel shows an English professor from the University of Puerto Rico fighting with students, after the professor demanded that the striking students open the gates for other university students who wanted to attend classes. Recent media coverage about the university strike has begun to reach the mainstream media in the United States.

James Peter Colan, Professor of English at the UPR in Río Piedras

The professor in question is James Peter Colan, a member of the University’s English Department on the Río Piedras campus. We contacted Professor Colan tonight to see if he would like to issue a statement, and if he does, we will share it on this blog. In the meantime, here is the video unedited and without commentary (the fight begins around 1:56):

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Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Great news for my dear friend and award-winning author Raul Ramos y Sanchez. The author of HOUSE DIVIDED and AMERICA LIBRE will be on CNN en Español today, February 23, at 6pm EST/3pm PST.

He will be interviewed by CNN en Español anchor Juan Carlos López.

Juan Carlos López

You can watch the interview on DirecTV Channel 419 and Dish Network Channel 859.

¡Enhorabuena, Raul!

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