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Posts Tagged ‘Latino in America’


This morning, as I was researching stories for this week, I noticed something extremely cool: 100,000. Yes, today, the little blog that could surpassed an amazing little milestone: 100,000 unique visits here.

So, in the spirit of Sally Field’s Oscar speech, I would like to thank the following people who helped make this blog a destination point on the Internet, ever since it was launched in early 2009:

  1. Latinos in Social Media (LATISM): You were there from the beginning, and I am eternally grateful. Can’t wait to see everyone in Chicago this November!
  2. The Original Twitter Posse: you made me laugh, you challenged me, you picked me up when I was down, and you have made my online and offline experience a joy. Much love to you all!
  3. Jeremy Clarkson: thank you for being a anti-Mexican boor.
  4. Republican and Pro-Statehooder Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño: your vendepatria ways have allowed this blog to be one of the top ones when it comes to Puerto Rican politics.
  5. CNN Latino in America: without your uneven and poor show two years ago, there would be no Latino Success Stories blog.
  6. Fernando Varela: my brother is a talent and I was honored to co-translate a Spanish version of Coldplay’s YELLOW for him.
  7. All the trolls who want me to move back to Mexico. Memo to you: I am an American citizen. Bite me.
  8. The Rebeldes!!!!: my new group of ruffians, The Latino Rebels, are perhaps some of the most like-minded people I have ever met.
  9. The Two Raúls: Raúl Ramos y Sánchez and Raúl Colón. There are so many others who have helped this blog (see LATISM), but the two Raúls have been there from Day 1. Thank you for your unwavering support.
  10. And YOU: all the subscribers who take a moment from their busy lives to read this blog. Without you, this blog would never have achieved what is has done so far.
The future is even brighter in 2011: new books, new companies, new ventures, new topics, and two elections in 2012, one in the United States and Puerto Rico. Should be freaking fun.

GRACIAS MIL. A THOUSAND THANKS.

Hit it, Sally!

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I am proud to announce that one of my chapters for FRANKY BENÍTEZ was published in the book 100 STORIES FOR QUEENSLAND, a charity anthology of flash fiction from authors across the globe. Proceeds from all book sales are donated to The Queensland Premier’s Flood Appeal. The book is available as an eBook or trade paperback.

The chapter, called “Power’s Sunday Slam,” is a tribute to the Puerto Rican Winter League and one of Major League Baseball’s first Black Latino stars, Víctor Pellot (or Vic Power). Today, all 100 authors in the anthology are holding an AMAZON CHART RUSH to celebrate the launch of the anthology. So far, the results have been outstanding, as reported by the editors of the book. Help me make some Amazon history in the U.S. by buying a book today?

Here is the current report about 100 STORIES FOR QUEENSLAND as of this morning:

Hello everyone,
It is a little after midnight here in Australia and I have lots of amazingly good news.

First, 100 Stories for Queensland is one top of the UK movers and shakers list… up a ridiculous up 76,471% from 183,006 to 239 in just six hours.

100 Stories is currently sitting at 239 on the UK best seller list… we’re aiming to get it into the top 100.

In its categories… it is #3 in the short stories and general fiction anthology sections.

With the US just waking… we’re seeing some more amazing movement.

Currently sitting at 1313 on the bestseller list (up from 446,000 yesterday!) and just cracked the top 20 in the General Fiction Anthology category at #20.

Thank you all of you who have book books, or added books to your wish list. We’re only a quarter of the way through the 24 hour period, but I have a great feeling about where we will end up.

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Estimados Residentes de Jamaica Plain,

Nos complace informarles que ya recibimos las llaves de la propiedad ubicada en el 415 Centre Street y que hemos comenzado con las renovaciones. Como les prometí en mi última carta, quiero informarles sobre los últimos acontecimientos. Hemos recibido cientos de llamadas y mensajes de correo electrónico de personas expresando su apoyo y entusiasmo por la próxima apertura de nuestra tienda, algo que realmente apreciamos.

Actualización sobre la Tienda:
Actualmente estamos terminando la fase de demolición dentro del edificio y pronto finalizaremos nuestros planes de diseño.  Como anunciamos previamente, no realizaremos cambios a la estructura del edificio ni a las características exteriores que hacen de esta  propiedad un edificio único. Sin embargo, necesitamos realizar trabajos extensos en el interior del edificio para cumplir con los códigos vigentes. Es probable que este proceso tome hasta seis meses, por lo que anticipamos inaugurar la tienda durante el otoño. Si usted desea mantenerse al tanto de nuestros avances, le recomendamos seguir la cuenta de Twitter @WFM_JP. ¡Ya tenemos más de 270 seguidores!

Probablemente nuestra noticia más emocionante es que ya contratamos al equipo de liderazgo de la tienda.  Me enorgullece presentarles a Mike Walker y a Wanda Hernández, como el Líder y la Líder Asociado del Equipo de Tienda en JP. Mike ha sido miembro del equipo de Whole Foods Market desde 1994 y su puesto más reciente es de Líder del Equipo de Tienda de nuestra tienda en Symphony. Wanda ha trabajado para Whole Foods Market desde el 2005 y su puesto es de Líder Asociado del Equipo de Tienda en nuestra localidad de Wellesley. Tanto Mike como Wanda tienen lazos con el área de Jamaica Plain y ambos comparten una magnífica visión sobre la creación de un mercado comunitario que se convertirá en una parte integral y homogénea del vecindario.

Su Mercado Comunitario:

Nos sentimos muy inspirados por la gran demostración de interés comunitario que hemos presenciado durante los últimos meses. ¡Es maravilloso formar parte de una comunidad que se preocupa tanto por lo que ocurre en su vecindario! Quisiera compartir con ustedes algunas noticias emocionantes sobre nuestras asociaciones comunitarias:

–       Apoyo a Organizaciones Locales: El mes pasado nuestras tiendas de Brighton y Symphony recaudaron más de $8,500 para la organización Hyde Square Task Force durante un Día del 5%, esto gracias al maravilloso apoyo de la comunidad. Cada trimestre llevaremos a cabo un Día del 5% para apoyar a las organizaciones sin fines de lucro locales.

–       Alimentos Saludables en las Escuelas: La escuela Boston Latin School será la primera escuela de la ciudad de Boston en implementar una barra de ensaladas bajo el patrocinio financiero de nuestro Proyecto de Barras de Ensaladas. También llevaremos este programa a la escuela Curley K-8 School, en donde planeamos donar otra barra de ensaladas para fomentar los almuerzos saludables a través del acceso a la fruta fresca, los vegetales, las proteínas y los granos enteros.

–       Agricultores y Productores Locales: Durante el verano planeamos realizar “mercados agrícolas” en nuestro estacionamiento, de manera que los agricultores y productores locales puedan tener un lugar gratuito para vender sus alimentos.  Una vez que abramos oficialmente nuestras puertas, también apoyaremos a estos productores locales y a muchos otros ofreciendo la mayor cantidad posible de productos locales.

Reunión Comunitaria:

Según lo prometido, realizaremos nuestra Reunión Comunitaria el jueves 2 de junio en la escuela Curley K-8 School de 7:00 pm a 8:30 pm. Queremos presentarnos formalmente, introducir al equipo de liderazgo y dar a conocer nuestros planes para la tienda. También contaremos con un periodo de preguntas y respuestas cuya duración será de 30 minutos y durante el cual los integrantes de la comunidad tendrán la oportunidad de realizar preguntas sobre la tienda y ofrecer sus recomendaciones sobre cómo podemos atender mejor las necesidades de la comunidad de Jamaica Plain.

Oferta de Productos:

Nos gustaría que ustedes nos informen sobre los productos que desean adquirir en la tienda. Nuestros compradores están trabajando diligentemente para contar con una amplia variedad de productos que cumplan con nuestras estrictas normas de calidad. ¡Queremos escuchar sus opiniones! Hemos creado una dirección de email, JP_Products@wholefoods.com para este fin. Durante la reunión comunitaria entregaremos tarjetas postales pre-pagada para que la comunidad de JP puedan indicarnos cuáles productos desean ver en las repisas de nuestra tienda.

Contrataciones:

A medida que continuemos con las renovaciones y tengamos una idea más clara sobre nuestra fecha de apertura, comenzaremos el proceso de contratación de Miembros del Equipo para la tienda. Realizaremos las entrevistas en un remolque que situaremos dentro del estacionamiento de la propiedad. Planeamos contratar a cerca de 100 Miembros del Equipo (aproximadamente 70 de tiempo completo y 30 de tiempo parcial) y esperamos que muchos de ellos provengan de la comunidad local de JP. Durante la reunión comunitaria proporcionaremos más información sobre cómo convertirse en un Miembro del Equipo de Whole Foods Market.

Esperamos ansiosamente la reunión del próximo 2 de Junio. ¡Estamos deseosos de presentarnos y de proporcionarles más información sobre Whole Foods Market!

Saludos cordiales,

Laura Derba

Presidenta de la Región Norte del Atlántico

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Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz

After publishing a letter asking Whole Foods to help set up a housing fund to benefit Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang- Díaz has followed up with a second letter, which tries to clarify her positions about her initial letter. The first letter was criticized by many constituents, leading some to create a Facebook page that wants her voted out of office.

Here is the letter she sent us yesterday:

May 12, 2011

Julio Ricardo Varela
[ADDRESS WITHDRAWN]

Re: Whole Foods in Hyde Square, Jamaica Plain

Dear Julio Ricardo:

Thank you for contacting me with your views regarding Whole Foods Market’s entry into Hyde Square in Jamaica Plain. I appreciate your taking the time to participate in this debate about our neighborhood and to share your perspective with me.

Since Whole Foods announced its decision to open a store in Jamaica Plain, my staff and I have done our best to understand the different points of view on this issue. We met with representatives from Whole Foods; attended many community meetings; spoke with former employees of Hi-Lo, members of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, and staff at the JPNDC and local Main Street organizations; and read hundreds of letters and emails from JP residents.

As many residents expressed, there are several benefits to bringing Whole Foods to JP. The store would be a source of new, good-paying jobs. This is no small thing for the workers and families who will be touched by employment, especially at a time of still-fragile recovery for our economy. Whole Foods would also increase access to healthy foods at a time when other socio-economically diverse neighborhoods are suffering negative health consequences due to a lack of healthy options. It would also increase quality of life for residents who want Whole Foods’ offerings in JP.

Yet, others pointed out that the presence of Whole Foods will likely rapidly and substantially raise property values in the surrounding neighborhood. Experiences in similar neighborhoods around the country strongly suggest this is true (e.g. Washington Post 7/22/06; Fortune Magazine 7/12/07).Increasing property values in our community is usually a good thing. Indeed, it’s something every home owner in JP—low- or high-income, white, brown, or black—surely hopes for. But, if property taxes and rents shoot up faster than people’s incomes can keep up with, we risk displacing long-time JP families and their neighbors, both renters and home-owners.

This rapid displacement is a high price to pay. That’s why I believe, with a heavy heart, that the disadvantages of Whole Foods’ arrival in JP outweigh the advantages.

To be clear, however, my role as State Senator does not afford me the power to prevent the lease of property between private parties—nor should it. A new group of residents, the JP Neighborhood Council Ad-Hoc Committee, has been charged with helping the community collectively respond to this situation in a way that respects and includes residents on all sides of this issue. Whole Foods has said they strive to be a good community partner, and as such, I hope they will be responsive to the requests of the Ad-Hoc Committee and the larger community.

Recently, I released a letter offering two ideas into the mix of those the JPNC Ad-Hoc Committee will likely consider as they begin the process of finding a compromise. In the letter, I proposed that Whole Foods commit to hiring local residents for a specific percentage of jobs in their new JP location, and work with community partners to create a housing trust to help prevent the displacement of low-income families in the neighborhood.

As always, I welcome your feedback on my position on this issue or any other affecting our neighborhoods.

Thank you, again, for taking the time to reach out to me. Your advocacy helps bring about better public policy in our district neighborhoods and in the Commonwealth.  Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or my Senior Policy Aide and JP Liaison, Nika Elugardo, at (617) 722-1673 or nika.elugardo@masenate.gov.

Saludos,  

Sonia Chang-Díaz
State Senator
Second Suffolk District

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When we started covering the Whole Foods JP controversy in January, our biggest concern was a simple one: will Whole Foods realize that part of its Latino clientele in the Hyde Square area of Jamaica Plain will be looking for the same kinds of cultural food staples they found in the former Hi-Lo Supermarket?

That was basically the reason we started blogging about the new Whole Foods in JP. While some raised serious issues about rising rents and gentrification (all valid reasons, even though poorly executed) and others praised anything that Whole Foods represents (a good effort, although they sometime went too far in ignoring how much the Hi-Lo was a Boston Latino institution), we just wanted to ask Whole Foods: will we be able to get some tostones (fried plantains)?

Well, if you use other Whole Foods stores who sell from predominantly Latino communities as a model, the answer is a resounding YES.

This week, during a topsy-turvy week at work, here were some of the lunch options at a Whole Foods in Orlando, Florida.

A Latin food section with roast pork, friend plantains, white rice, yellow rice, and sweet plantains. The ingredients were fresh, natural, and smelled delicious. It was a pleasant surprise, although it makes a lot of sense, since the Orlando neighborhood where this Whole Foods is located contains a very large Puerto Rican population.

This lunch plate looks pretty similar to many of the Latino food options in JP, no? Last time we checked, we don’t see the Stop & Shop in JP doing this.

So, to Whole Foods, we eagerly anticipate what you plan for JP. Just make sure to bring the food inventory from your Orlando store.

Whole Foods to Hold JP Town Hall Meeting on June 2

This week, Whole Foods announced that they will be holding a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, June 2nd from 7-9pm at the Curley School in JP. It is interesting to note that this is the FIRST public Town Hall Meeting that Whole Foods is holding after being very quiet and guarded about their responses. We will be there! Join us.

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US Congressman Luis Gutiérrez

In response to his public comments on the floor of the United States House of Representatives denouncing the plans for a natural gas pipeline being slated by the Republican and pro-statehood administration of Governor Luis Fortuño, Illinois Democrat Luis Gutiérrez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, has begun to feel the heat from the Puerto Rican press about his ties to Chicago’s natural gas industry.

Puerto Ricans protesting the proposed GASODUCTO pipeline

The Vocero, one of the many newspapers on the island, reported last week that Gutiérrez regularly receives campaign donations from companies with ties to natural gas and energy. As the newspaper states in its article “The Two Faces of Congressman Gutiérrez”:

According to the website, www.opensecrets.org, as recently as 2010, the Congressman received $ 7,500 from Exelon Corp., the U.S.’ largest nuclear operator, which is dedicated to the distribution of electricity and natural gas.

Also in 2008 Integrys Energy Group (a natural gas consulting company), donated $ 1,000 to his campaign.

According to the website, Gutierrez also received $ 10 000 from the Operating Engineers Union, an organization that supported the policies of George W. Bush to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to increase oil production, which received strong opposition from environmentalists.

Gutiérrez’s opposition to a pipeline is apparently limited to only Puerto Rico, as the Democratic Congressman from Illinois has not shown resistance to pipelines running through the city of Chicago, where he lives. He also showed no resistance when the administration of [former Puerto Rican Governor] Aníbal Acevedo Vilá began to build a pipeline to the south of the country and aimed to build another route to the north.

The cost of electricity in Illinois is less than half that of Puerto Rico. According to the Federal Energy Information Administration, the cost of the residential tariff is 10.63 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) 7.98 cents commercial, industrial and 6.5 cents per kWh.

Currently, there are about six natural gas companies operating in Chicago and at least 26 interstate pipelines and eight intrastate natural gas companies across the state.

The companies include: People’s Gas, Interstate Gas Supply of Illinois, Inc., Santanna Energy Services, U.S. Energy Savings Corp., Spark Energy, LP, and Ambit Energy.

Vía Verde (Green Way) is the project introduced by Governor Luis Fortuño to reduce the cost of electricity in Puerto Rico and, in turn, reduce dependence on oil. The government expects savings of $1 billion per year on fuel purchases.

Gutierrez took part [on May 1] in an anti-Green Way demonstration organized by Casa Pueblo in Adjuntas.

In his speech he said: “I am here with you because I think we should stand up and make ourselves heard and I am convinced that we must stop this pipeline.”

He said it is not the use of natural gas “but to stop what, to all appearances, seems to be a ‘mega-con’, the ‘money-pipeline’, the pipeline that leads directly from the treasury bills of the People of Puerto Rico to line the pockets of the [Fortuño] administration’s friends. ”

For his part, Secretary of the Interior, Marcos Rodriguez-Ema, told El Vocero that “Gutiérrez did not object in 2008 when Aníbal Acevedo Vilá wanted to make the southern gas pipeline, because he was receiving money from gas distribution companies. Now he opposes a pipeline because he is paying back the favors of his donors, who are members of the Popular Party.”

As you can see, there is never a dull moment in Puerto Rican politics.

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We have to give it up to the YouTube channel of JulyNavy. This brilliant video below (the Spanish version has over 22,000 hits) basically speaks to the paradox of Puerto Rico’s colonial status.

Sure, it doesn’t intend to be a sarcastic video (hahaha), but it’s clear that JulyNavy is poking fun at the policies of the current administration of Republican and pro-statehood Governor Luis Fortuño.

Enjoy! And as JulyNavy says: “I’m an idiot, thank you.”

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