Saturday, April 30, 2005

Kerry Endorses Villaraigosa

I thought it was against the unwritten rules of politics for a major national official to endorse a candidate in a disputed primary... What do I know?:

Repaying a political ally from his presidential bid, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry on Saturday endorsed mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa at a campaign rally in the city's San Fernando Valley.

Echoing themes from his 2004 campaign, the Democratic senator said the May 17 election will reward the candidate who makes the best case for public safety, health care and education. Villaraigosa, who could become the city's first Hispanic mayor in more than a century, is trying to oust Mayor James Hahn, a fellow Democrat.

Meanwhile, Villaraigosa is being investigated for the donations he received from employees of a Florida company.


Bill Dahl has come up with a term I've never heard before:

From a purely historical standpoint, the plight of undocumented Hispanic immigrants residing in the U.S. can be accurately characterized by the term Hispurgatory: A moment in U.S. history when the resident, undocumented Latino immigrant population is caught in a state of legal limbo. Their standard of living is typically well below the official poverty level. Their daily existence is one of endurance and survival. They are motivated by the hope that their service to this country as upstanding, creative, contributing, law abiding residents will be rewarded someday with legitimate, official acceptance by the government of the Promised Land.

For these Latinos, the hope for citizenship in the U.S. is heaven. Visions of better jobs, education, healthcare, housing, protections against discrimination, racism, the ability to be all one can be, to contribute to the United States economy and culture on an equal footing…these are the elements of their hope. The country they departed was, at least, economically oppressive. If the prospects for a better life for their families in their country of origin was without hope, then, that is hell. Hope led them here. Hope keeps them here. They hope that we will awaken from our self-righteous indignation and accept them formally into this, the Promised Land. Until then, they remain among us, their lives suspended precariously between heaven and hell, in a state of Hispurgatory.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Black-Latino Tensions

Commentary from the Pacific News Service:

The sight of over 100 black and Latino students brawling at a major Los Angeles high school recently exposed the enduring myth of Black-Brown solidarity. In truth, tensions between Latino and black students have always lurked dangerously close to the surface, fueled by the changing ethnic realities in Los Angeles, and America, in the past decade.

This is the adult version of the same tension:

Polls and endorsements suggest that a historic alliance of blacks and Latinos is taking shape behind the mayoral campaign of City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa. But political strategists say anxiety among some blacks about supporting a Latino for mayor could make that alliance tenuous.

Anti-immigration Immigrant

The Governator pandering to the anti-immigrant right:

In his strongest language yet on illegal immigration, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lavishly praised private citizens patrolling the Mexican border - a group President Bush has called "vigilantes" - and demanded that controversial Los Angeles billboards promoting a Spanish-language television station be removed.

Villaraigosa Returns Money

He might as well admit his campaign did something wrong:

In the face of escalating pressure over questionable out-of-state campaign contributions, mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa decided Thursday to return thousands of dollars to employees of two related Florida companies.

For a second day in a row, the city councilman and his campaign manager declined to provide details about what prompted at least 20 employees of the gift-shop companies and their relatives to give $45,000 to a mayoral candidate in Los Angeles.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Matrícula Consular Useless in Arizona

From the Arizona Republic:

The credit card-size ID issued to more than 102,000 Mexicans living in Arizona soon could be useless for public business such as getting water service, library cards or help from community health centers.

The Legislature is expected to send Gov. Janet Napolitano as early as today a measure banning cities, towns and state government from accepting the Mexican ID cards issued by the Mexican Consulate as valid identification.

Not Again....

What do liberal Democrats have against minority judicial nominees? First, they kept Miguel Estrada from even getting an up-and-down vote on the floor of the Senate, now they want to do the same to Janice Rogers Brown. What in the world are they thinking?

Spitzer Is on the Case

This guy never stops:

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has launched an investigation into the lending practices of big banks toward minorities and low-income customers, according to a person familiar with the inquiry.

The GOP's Hispanic Strategy

A very insightful analysis of demographic trends and the future of the political parties from Best of the Web Today:

Of particular concern to the GOP should be two states--Arizona and Florida--that together account for 14 of the net 17 electoral votes the "red" states are projected to gain between now and 2032. Neither is solidly in the GOP camp now--Clinton carried both in 1996--and both have large and growing numbers of Hispanics. Cuban-Americans excepted, Hispanics tend to vote Democratic. Bush showed significant improvement in 2004, but if that trend doesn't continue, it's bad news for Republicans--for if, in our scenario, both Arizona and Florida were to flip to the Democrats in 2032, the Republicans would lose, 286-252. Thus Republicans would be well advised to make Hispanic outreach a high priority.

Villaraigosa Under Fire

From the L.A. Times:

After months of criticizing Mayor James K. Hahn for accepting questionable political donations, mayoral challenger Antonio Villaraigosa found himself answering questions Wednesday about $31,000 in donations to his campaign from workers at two affiliated Florida-based companies.

Although some employees said they supported Villaraigosa, others struggled to explain the donations, sounded confused when told of their donations or declined to answer questions.

The donations, which were first reported Wednesday in the Torrance-based Daily Breeze, prompted Hahn to urge city officials to investigate.

Hispanic Furniture?

First, it's a Hispanic truck, now it's Hispanic furniture. What will they think of next?

As a new line of furniture bearing her name was arriving in stores this month, the Hispanic television star Cristina Saralegui appeared at the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, N.C., to introduce a home accessories collection. The two lines are part of a new wave of niche marketing in the furniture industry and reflect an awakening to the country's shifting demographics, particularly the growth of the Hispanic population, now approaching 40 million.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hate Crime - Update

This is an update from an earlier post:

A 19-year-old African-American student at Trinity International University was charged Tuesday with committing a hate crime, accused of sending threatening letters in recent weeks to three other minority students at her university and setting off panic among the 170 black and Hispanic undergraduates there.

The police said the student, Alicia A. Hardin, admitted Monday to sending the letters. Ms. Hardin, of Chicago, said she was unhappy at Trinity International, an evangelical Christian college in Chicago's northern suburbs, and wanted her parents to think the campus was unsafe so she could transfer, the police said.

A Hispanic Truck?

From Ad Age:

In an effort to promote the sale of its new limited edition F-150 "Lobo" pickup truck to Texas Hispanics, Ford Motor Co. has signed a deal with Mexican singer and soap opera star Pablo Montero.

The singer and actor appears in Spanish-language TV commercials that broke this week for the F-150 Lobo, the first vehicle Ford developed exclusively for the Latino market.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

More Chavez Paranoia

From The News International:

Venezuela is ending military operations and exchanges with the United States, President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday, and he ordered out US instructors. The end of the military cooperation marked a further downgrading of ties between Venezuela, the world’s No 5 oil exporter and its main oil customer, the United States. Warning of a possible US invasion of Venezuela, Chavez said a female US naval officer and some American journalists were temporarily detained in recent separate incidents for photographing a Venezuelan army base and an oil refinery.

Fujimori Planning a Comeback

Some people never learn:

Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori will return from exile in Japan this year and launch a candidacy for the 2006 presidential elections, his lawyer has said.

Wanted on murder and corruption charges, Fujimori fled Peru in 2000 after a massive corruption scandal ended his 10-year rule.

Don't be surprised he does well at the polls.

Navarrete on Social Security

Ruben Navarrete has a great column, published by HACER, that gives a pretty good explanation of the Social Security crisis and how Hispanics are affected by the problem. It's a must-read.

Sierra Club Update

Anti-immigration forces within the Sierra Club lose again:

Sierra Club members Monday flatly rejected a change in the group's policies that would have advocated reducing immigration to the United States as a way to protect the environment.

The proposal was defeated by nearly 84 percent of the 122,308 members who voted, the club announced. About 16 percent of the club's more than 750,000 members cast ballots during voting that began in early March.

Members also elected five new members to the 15-member board of directors, which sets club policy and oversees the San Francisco-based organization's $100 million annual budget.

Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization, a network of club activists seeking stricter immigration limits, backed a "yes" vote and five of its own candidates; none won a board seat.


What is Congress waiting for?

Cafta would expand the market for U.S. goods with the 44 million consumers in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, as well as with the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. As it happens, thanks to earlier trade laws, the U.S. market is already quite open to their goods. Nearly 80% of goods from the six Cafta countries currently enter the U.S. duty-free. Two-way trade was $31.9 billion in 2003, according to the Cato Institute, making the Cafta region America's 13th largest trading partner -- bigger than Brazil, Singapore or Australia.

Cafta would return the favor by eliminating most tariffs on U.S. exports to the region. On motor vehicles and parts, Cafta countries levy an average tariff of 11% while the U.S. rate is zero. On vegetables, fruits and nuts, the Cafta region's average is 16.7%, again compared with zero in the U.S. On grains, it is 10.6% to zero; and on meat products, it's 14.7% while the U.S. rate is 3%. Cafta would remove these disparities.

From WSJ (paid subscription).

MSN Latino

From Ad Age:

In a nod to the growing importance of Hispanic audiences and broadband connections, Microsoft's has launched a Spanish-language video site that debuts with content from this week's Billboard Latin Music Conference in Miami...

MSN Video in Spanish will be accessible through MSN Latino, a content site for Spanish speakers. After the Latin Music Awards wrap up April 28, MSN will broadcast music, entertainment and news content in Spanish from a variety of sources.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Catching Illegal Immigrants

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Tracking down criminals often requires teamwork at many levels of law enforcement. This month, for instance, a joint federal, state, and local task force caught 10,000 fugitives in a coordinated nationwide effort.

Impressive as it was, the question must be asked: Why not use the same scale of teamwork against the largest group of outlaws in the United States - the 10.3 million illegal aliens estimated to be in the country?


In Latin America, the fun never ends:

Ecuador’s leader, Lucio Gutiérrez, has been booted out of power. It marks the third time in nine years that the Andean country’s elected president has been ousted by Congress and street protests.

The phrase "Mob Rule" comes to mind when I read the description of what happened in Ecuador.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Xiomara Villacis

Xiomara Villacis, a 24-year-old woman from Ecuador has just been appointed to the Board of Trustees of Hempstead, NY, a suburb of New York City in Long Island. HispaniCon will keep his eye on this promising young talent.

Racist Threats at Christian College

This is very strange. Having attended a Christian college, I can tell you that this is completely out of character for such an institution:

Scores of African-American and Hispanic students at a small Evangelical Christian college here missed classes and were set to spend a second night in seclusion on Friday, after a series of threatening racist letters spurred their evacuation from the campus.

Officials at Trinity International University, a conservative Bible-based school headquartered in this village 30 miles north of Chicago, said three students, two of them black and one Hispanic, had received hate-filled handwritten notes through the campus mail over two weeks.

The officials said they urged nearly 200 minority undergraduates to leave their dormitories after the third letter arrived on Thursday because it included growing threats of violence and was sent within days of the anniversaries of the Columbine school shooting in Colorado, the Oklahoma City bombing and Hitler's birth.

Condi Travels to Latin America

From Yahoo! News:

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Brazil, Colombia, Chile and El Salvador next week in a trip where democracy, economic reforms and good governance will be emphasized, the State Department said.

High School Mariachi Classes

From the New York Times:

Across the country, more than 500 public schools now offer mariachi as part of the curriculum, said Daniel Sheehy, a mariachi expert and director of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in Washington.

Local Enforcement of Immigration Laws

From AP via New York Newsday:

Frustrated by illegal immigrant criminals who slip their grasp, a growing number of state and county police agencies nationwide are moving to join a federal program that enlists local officers to enforce immigration laws.

The federal government has already granted that authority in Florida and Alabama, and the program is under consideration in Connecticut, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

It's also in the works in Southern California -- one of the nation's most ethnically diverse regions -- where it would reverse a long-standing local police policy of avoiding questions about immigration status during criminal investigations.

Immigrant rights groups insist the move will discourage people from reporting domestic violence or other crimes for fear of deportation, and that it would lead to racial profiling and other abuses.

Villaraigosa's L.A. Coalition

From the New York Times:

With the enthusiastic help of numerous African-American leaders... Mr. Villaraigosa is patching together a black-Latino coalition unlike any ever seen in this vast, diverse city.

His coalition building skills may be good, but his Spanish is less than perfect.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Sean Hannity, Illegal Immigrant?

This is funny:

Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has charged the U.S. Border Patrol with having a double standard when it comes to prosecuting individuals who cross the U.S. border with Mexico illegally. During a visit this week to the Mexico-U.S. border, the ABC Radio Networks syndicated talker and Fox News personality stepped over a fence into Mexico and moments later stepped back over into the U.S. Sinema charges that action means Hannity broke U.S. law by “reentering the U.S. illegally” and that although the Border Patrol saw Hannity’s action agents took no steps against him or made any attempt to arrest him. Hannity was in Arizona this week to highlight the crisis of illegal immigration between the U.S. and Mexico.

Latin American Papibilis

From the New York Post:

Latin American cardinals, touted as papal contenders, appear to have posed little challenge to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger when it became time to decide, according to accounts emerging from the secret conclave.

"Many were the names of Latin American cardinals mentioned in the press as 'papabilis' [or papal contenders], but in the voting, they were nowhere to be seen," said Francisco Cardinal Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago, Chile.

Others who voted in the election said the qualities of the 78-year-old German cardinal, who became Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, were viewed as superb, indicating it wasn't much of a contest.

Italian state TV said there were indications Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina took a "handful of votes" in the first round.

The American Dream, Chicago Style

From the Chicago Tribune (free registration):

J. Ignacio Gonzalez thinks he can give Pilsen a boost by buying a two-bedroom loft in a condo project planned for an abandoned warehouse. One of his potential new neighbors disagrees and accused the 29-year-old police officer of kicking out his "own people."

"I'm not trying to kick anyone out," said Gonzalez, the son of Mexican immigrants, still fuming about the exchange. "I'm trying to attain part of that American dream, which is to own a piece of property."

The clash over Chantico Lofts echoes many others around the city: Pilsen residents fear the project will displace working-class Mexicans by raising property values, which result in higher property taxes and, ultimately, higher rents.

But this battle isn't about outsiders moving in and threatening an immigrant neighborhood's ethnic character. Nearly all those who, like Gonzalez, have put down $1,000 deposits to reserve a loft are Mexican themselves. Many grew up in Pilsen.

Opponents have made Chantico Lofts a rallying point because they fear that the project, believed to be Pilsen's largest condo proposal, will open the floodgates to more high-priced housing.

What a dilemma!

Discrimination in Boston

From HispanicBusiness:

Despite metro Boston's increasing diversity, 80 percent of African-Americans and roughly half of Hispanics polled recently said that racial discrimination remains a somewhat serious or very serious problem that can cost jobs or promotions and make others feel unwelcome at sporting events and shopping centers.

More than half of African-Americans and almost four of 10 Latinos said they face day-to-day discrimination at least a few times a month -- for instance, by being treated with less respect, offered worse service, or called names.

Apparently, Houston is not much better.

Sierra Club

From the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

The Democratic Party's main environmental enforcer, the Sierra Club , is having another revealing scrap over immigration. A year after losing in a rout, a group of anti-immigration insurgents is back this month making a run at five seats on the group's 15-member board.

Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization wants the super-green club to endorse immigration limits, with a broader goal of freezing the American population. "The issue of escalating population growth in the United States is the single most important environmental issue in the nation," board member Paul Watson recently told the AP. In its wire-service deadpan, AP noted that Mr. Watson "is a Canadian citizen and U.S. resident." It's an irony of the anti-immigration movement that its most prominent voices, on the right and left, are often immigrants who want to pull up the drawbridge now that they've arrived.

While the Sierra Club insurgents probably lack the votes to prevail, their effort is notable for revealing the zero-population-growth roots of the anti-immigration movement. Their argument isn't about the "rule of law" or "securing our borders"; their main problem is other human beings. They'd prefer fewer of them, the better to preserve America just the way it is, or perhaps was. No offense to Mr. Watson, but if it's a wilderness museum he wants, why did he leave Canada?

The U.S. is so prosperous because it has always embraced the spirit of economic growth and human enterprise. Meanwhile, Republicans tempted to embrace the anti-immigration cause should understand the political and ideological company they are keeping.

Ecuador Crisis

Whatsakayer has extensive coverage...

Hispanics Against Euthanasia

From Hispanic PR Wire:

LULAC California joins the diverse coalition of organizations that are strongly opposed to state mandated doctor assisted suicide including the California Medical Association, California Disability Alliance, Western Service Workers, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals and many others.

Californians Against Assisted Suicide was established to defeat legislation that would legalize assisted suicide in California. CAAS is a coalition of health care, disability rights, and grassroots advocacy organizations united in strong opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Schwarzenegger: "Close the Borders"

From CNN:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday the nation's policy on preventing illegal immigration is too lax, telling a group of newspaper publishers the United States needs to "close the borders."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Che vs. Pinochet

This would be funny if it weren't so disturbing:

I don't have a problem with icons, or with popular culture for that matter. It is just that I do not understand the idolization of murderers. Every time I see a picture of Che I ask myself: how would I look in a t-shirt picturing Augusto Pinochet?...

Let us therefore look back at the legacy of the two men. Both Che and Pinochet are obviously murderers and in favour of dictatorship. But one helped installed a dictatorship that has led to poverty whereas the other one ran a dictatorship that brought wealth and stability to the country.

Please read the whole article, and if that doesn't cause you to scratch you head, take a look at this.

Schizophrenia on Immigration

The reaction of different states to the challenges posed by illegal immigration are nothing short of schizophrenic, with some states making life easier for undocumented workers and some states making it nearly impossible.

Identity Theft Among Hispanics

From HispanicBusiness:

According to U.S. Census population estimates, there were close to half a million Hispanics living in [North Carolina] in 2003. Of this number, about 300,000 do not have the necessary documentation to work legally, according to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Considering these numbers, it is not hard to imagine why the instances of identity theft have increased among Hispanics, said Juan Sanchez, Hispanic/Latino outreach coordinator for the Burlington Police Department. This situation not only increases the number of victims but also the number of fraud schemes.

Ingram said his division has arrested several people involved in the production of counterfeit Social Security cards. He has also seen several cases of legal Hispanics who sell their Social Security numbers for a couple hundred bucks.

Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI, the new Pope and the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, greets the crowd at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican shortly after being elected. Those of us who hoped for a Latin American Pope will have to wait. Posted by Hello

Private Accounts and Poor Minorities

Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, writing for the Wall Street Journal:

The wealth-creating power of ownership is not limited to owning homes. An individual who owns his retirement security--a concept central to the president's plan for reforming Social Security--would enjoy many of the same benefits homeownership provides. And under the plan, even the lowest-income workers would have the opportunity to build equity.

Bush Seeks Support for CAFTA

From Reuters via Yahoo! News:

President Bush is expected to step up pressure for Congress to quickly pass a new free trade agreement with Central America, beginning with a speech this week to a Hispanic business group, industry officials said on Monday.

With anywhere from 20 to 40 members of Bush's Republican Party expected to oppose the agreement in the House of Representatives, the White House could need the votes of at least two dozen House Democrats to win approval of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Cuba: Rich Government, Poor People

From the Economist via HACER:

At the end of last year, the tellers at Cuba's central bank must have been busy. Hundreds of millions of dollars, mainly in crumpled bills of small denomination, poured into the state coffers. They came from under mattresses, behind pictures and mirrors, the roofs of pig pens or hollowed-out coconuts—the myriad hiding places where ordinary Cubans secrete their savings. Their transfer to the government boosted the country's hard-currency reserves by $1,476m last year, according to the central bank.

Backlash in North Carolina

The introduction of a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to attend North Carolina colleges at in-state tuition rates, among other things, is engendering some hostile responses in the Tar Heel state.

The Annexation of Mexico

Believe it or not, this is what passes for a solution to the immigration problem in some circles. But, don't worry, they're only being facetious.

Marielitos and the American Dream

An interesting story in the Houston Chronicle about a family that came to the U.S. during the 1980 Mariel boatlift. This is a good reminder that this is a great country for anyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules.

No Benefits for Illegals in Virginia

Commentary from Francisco Semiao for the Washington Times:

As an active Hispanic Republican in Virginia, I am saddened and embarrassed by the General Assembly's passage of a bill that lacks the compassion the party claims, or at least claimed to have during the 2004 elections.

This measure was recently signed into law denying undocumented immigrants public benefits, including access to Medicaid, welfare and local health-care services. Though the targeted population is here not legally present, they are a vulnerable part of our society, and they deserve some basic access to services.

Some may try to justify this ignorant act as an effort to prevent the draining of our public services. But they couldn't be farther than the truth. This is merely an attempt to scapegoat a defenseless segment of our population in a political grandstanding. Any educated and well-informed person knows this is a redundant bill, since federal law already denies access to any undocumented person.

No Child Left Behind & Civil Rights

Brent Staples, writing for the New York Times:

The civil rights establishment was once a fiercely independent force that bedeviled politicians on both sides of the aisle and evaluated policies based on whether those policies harmed or helped the poor. This tradition of independence has disappeared. Over the last two decades, in fact, the old-line civil rights groups have evolved into wholly owned subsidiaries of the Democratic Party. The groups are disinclined to turn on their friends - or to openly embrace even beneficial policies that happen to have a Republican face.

This posture has been painfully evident in the debate surrounding the No Child Left Behind education law, a signature Bush administration reform that also happens to be the best hope for guaranteeing black and Latino children a chance at equal education. The law is not perfect and will need adjustments. But its core requirement that the states educate minority children to the same standards as white children breaks with a century-old tradition of educational unfairness. The new law could potentially surpass Brown v. Board of Education in terms of widening access to high-quality public education.

Why Liberal Talk Radio Sucks

Here's one of the many reasons why Air America continues to flounder in the ratings:

Fragmentation of the potential audience. Political consultant Dick Morris explains: "Large percentages of liberals are black and Hispanic, and they now have their own specialized entertainment radio outlets, which they aren't likely to leave for liberal talk radio." The potential audience for Air America or similar ventures is thus pretty small — white liberals, basically. And they've already got NPR.

Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin

Guns for Drugs

From Reuters:

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, April 15 (Reuters) - Honduran police have seized an arsenal of weapons, including assault rifle and rocket launchers, they suspect criminal gangs were using to supply Marxist rebels in Colombia in exchange for drugs, the government said on Friday.

Some 200 weapons were discovered at a country house in Choloma, north of the capital Tegucigalpa, in one of the country's biggest ever arms finds, Security Minister Oscar Alvarez said.

He said Honduran authorities believed the arms may have been destined for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish initials FARC, which has been in a guerrilla war with the Colombian government for four decades.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

NRA Targets Hispanics

The National Rifle Association is making a pitch for more Hispanic members:

Can you say NRA en español?

Probably not. But if a new campaign designed by a Houston public relations firm for the National Rifle Association successfully woos the nation's fastest growing population, more Hispanics soon will be joining the NRA ranks.

"The NRA knows Latinos are not only a major voting bloc, but they are a huge and growing group of consumers and gun owners," says Hector Carreno of the Carreno Group Inc. "If the organization doesn't start making themselves Latino-friendly, they could lose out on a powerful constituency."

Harboring a Terrorist?

From the Xinhua News Agency:

Cuban leader Fidel Castro urged on Thursday the US government not to give asylum to a Cuban militant involved in a Cuban plane bombing that killed 73 people in 1976, local reports said Friday.

For the second time within a week, Castro said Thursday that it would be improper for the United States to give asylum to Luis Posada Carriles...

Cuba and Venezuela have said granting asylum to Posada, 77, in the United States would be akin to harboring a terrorist.

Papal Conclave

The selection process starts Monday, and speculation abounds:

Together, cardinals from the Americas comprise 34 of the 115 men who will vote in the conclave, set to begin Monday. No U.S. cardinals are considered candidates, but several Latin Americans are being mentioned as the potential first pope from the Third World. They include Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes and Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga.

"The real wild card here is Latin America," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine America and an expert on the Vatican. "There's no one that really is standing out as a possible candidate from Latin America but you don't know how things will develop as the days go by and they may coalesce around someone. If the Latin Americans were united behind someone it could be a very significant block of votes," he added.


Friday, April 15, 2005

The Militarization of Venezuela

The Miami Herald expressing its opinion on Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela:

Unfortunately, the trend in Venezuela is away from civilian control and democratic processes. Though democratically elected, Mr. Chávez has been amassing authoritarian power and gutting Venezuela's democratic institutions for six years. Now he is militarizing the nation at full throttle.

Racial Quotas

Jonah Goldberg:

Today, the debate over diversity is driven largely by the unavoidable fact that, on average, African-Americans and Hispanics are less academically qualified than whites and various other demographic groups....

If there were a surplus of high SAT-scoring, straight-A blacks and Hispanics, no one would sue because they lost their slot to a less-qualified minority. The entire affirmative action controversy is predicated on the unavoidable fact that there is a greater demand for well-qualified blacks than there is a supply. Period.

Loophole Allows Release of Criminal Aliens

From VOA News:

A U.S. official says the United States has released illegal aliens who are violent criminals under a legal loophole resulting from recent Supreme Court rulings.

Testifying before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, deputy assistant attorney general Jonathan Cohn says a number of violent criminals have been released under the legal loophole, and others are to be released soon.

"Among the aliens who will benefit are criminals who have murdered their wives, molested young children, and brutally raped several women," said Mr. Cohn.

Mr. Cohn says the loophole was created after the Supreme Court ruled in 2001 and again last year that criminal aliens could only be held in prison for six months pending deportation. If the alien's home country refused to repatriate the person, the individual must be released.

Mr. Cohn says Vietnam, Cuba and Somalia are among those countries that refuse to repatriate their own nationals. He urged Congress to pass legislation to close the legal loophole,keeping criminal aliens in prison indefinitely.

Latino Catholics

Just as Latinos are becoming more prominent in the leadership ranks of the U.S. Catholic Church, more and more Hispanic Catholics are being lured away by Pentecostals and other evangelical denominations.

The "AMLO" Case

A lot has been written in this past week about the case of Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka "Amlo"), he's a very popular politician who is seen as a serious contender for the presidency of Mexico. He's been stripped of his official immunity and may be sent to jail, a move that would deprive him of the opportunity to run for the country's highest office. The argument is about whether this is a politically motivated prosecution or whether Amlo is a crook that has used his office to get away with criminal activity. Not surprisingly, Maria Anastasia O'Grady and Marcela Sanchez, two of the most astute observers of Latin American politics, disagree.

Here's Ms. Sanchez:

When political enemies in Mexico's Chamber of Deputies lifted his official immunity on April 7, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador entered a legal battle that could keep him out of the 2006 presidential election. Lopez Obrador, mayor of Mexico City and presumptive front-runner in the presidential race, may end up in prison for the unusual crime of failing to stop construction of a road to a hospital.

To most observers, the case against Lopez Obrador is a witch hunt inspired by forces that desire to end his political career and to influence an election. It is hard not to condemn it as such.

Here's Ms. O'Grady:

The Lopez Obrador case is hardly the "witch hunt" that his defenders claim, since he apparently defied a court that ruled against his dubious use of expropriated land...

In his own city government he has played fast and loose with the law whenever it suits him. The case for which he has lost his immunity is but one example. In another expropriation case, when a judgment went against him, he declared that he would refuse to pay because the money was needed for the poor, a favorite populist dodge. His government has been plagued by corruption scandals, including the videotaping of his former campaign manager allegedly taking $45,000 in bills from an Argentine construction magnate and stuffing it in his briefcase and pockets. He has been unwilling to advance reform among the city's law enforcement bureaucracy, favoring its political support over the population's need for security. If Mr. Lopez Obrador is a victim of discretionary application of the law, he is also a practitioner.

Villaraigosa Piles Up Endorsements

From the L.A. Times:

Former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, who came in third in the March 8 mayoral election, today endorsed City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa for mayor in the runoff election, saying it's time for a change in leadership at City Hall.

Hertzberg was joined by 24 supporters, including several prominent leaders from the San Fernando Valley, who said they are also joining the Villaraigosa camp after Hertzberg did not make the May 17 runoff.

Steroids and Poor Latinos

From the New York Post:

A mock funeral procession outside Yankee Stadium yesterday shined a spotlight on impoverished Latino teens who use steroids — and some who die — in their misguided bid for baseball stardom and "the American dream."

Hispanics Across America staged the service — ending at Major League Baseball's Park Avenue headquarters — to demand that baseball crack down on steroid abuse among young hopefuls in Latin America.

Spanish in the U.S.

Don't believe the "experts":

One of Spain's top experts on the Spanish language claims the language of Cervantes could outstrip that of Shakespeare in the US.

"Some of our grandchildren could see a United States with more Spanish-speakers than English-speakers," said Alberto Gomez Font said, a philologist and coordinator of FUNDEU, the arbiter of the use of the Spanish language.

In my humble opinion, the chances of this prediction coming true are between zero and nada. This is why:

They [immigrants] should learn English for their own good and for the good of their children because doing so will bring them more opportunities and speed up their arrival in the mainstream.

Hispanics and John Kerry

According to Raoul Lowery Contreras, Hispanics thrashed John Kerry in the last presidential election. He may be overstating the point, but he's generally right.

Tony Ruiz-Heredia

This is a very strange case:

Ruiz-Heredia's legal troubles started after an argument with Isabel in 1999. He slapped her—the only time he has, she insisted. Drunk, she called the police and, to her lasting regret, said she wanted him arrested. The officers complied.

Lawyers say the case highlights an anomaly of immigration law. While a governor's pardon could keep an immigrant in this country after a murder conviction, immigration law says a pardon doesn't have the same effect in relatively minor domestic-violence or drug cases.

The guy is a legal permanent resident who's been pardoned. I don't get it. There are so many people out there complaining that the enforcement of our immigration laws is so lax, and then there are cases like this one where it seems the authorities are enforcing the laws in an overly-strict way that does not allow for any deviation. Strange!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Henry Bonilla for U.S. Senate

From the Dallas Morning News:

At a time when whites comprise a decreasing portion of the Texas population, election of the state's first Hispanic senator would be a real milestone. If that senator were a Republican, it could boost GOP hopes of reducing the Democrats' advantage in a group that within 30 years is likely to comprise a majority of the state's population.

That is especially important since many Democrats count on maintaining their historic majorities in a growing Hispanic vote to overturn the state's Republican majority. The strong Democratic showing last year in Dallas County underscores that hope.

President Bush has shown that a Republican candidate can do well among Hispanics. But Mr. Bonilla faces a tough fight to win statewide, especially in a GOP primary that has historically attracted few Hispanic voters.

Chávez's Private Army

From the Miami Herald:

Venezuelan army reservists are training civilians, apparently to defend their country against a presumed U.S. invasion. But critics say President Hugo Chávez is building a private army.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Villaraigosa Fundraising in Miami

This is very interesting:

Villaraigosa is just the latest candidate making the rounds in a national fundraising circuit that has become a tremendous cash machine for Hispanic candidates around the country, often pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into their campaigns. Villaraigosa, a high-profile Democrat who co-chaired John Kerry's presidential campaign, will likely draw donations from high-rolling Republican fundraisers, including developer Sergio Pino, media mogul Raul Alarcon Sr. and lobbyist Sylvester Lukis.

"He's a Hispanic. I'm a Hispanic. I want to help a fellow Hispanic," said Pino, who has raised large sums of money for Gov. Jeb Bush and President Bush. "Los Angeles is a big city, and the Hispanics there are booming, so it's time they had a Hispanic mayor."

The cross-party cooperation shows that in politics, ethnicity often trumps party affiliation. Another recent example is Republican U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, who won strong support among traditionally Democratic Puerto Ricans in Central Florida in November's election.

Castro's Cuba Is Not a Victim

Carlos Alberto Montaner:

Castro is wont to portray himself to the world as a poor victim of the United States. But objective facts show that exactly the opposite is true. Washington has been a source of stability for his dictatorship.

Venezuela & WMDs

Does Venezuela have weapons of mass destruction? It's possible!

Villaraigosa Has a Big Lead

Antonio Villraigosa has an 18-point lead over James Hahn in the Los Angeles mayoral race.

GOP Immigration Fight

The battle lines are being drawn:

Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, said on Tuesday that he was discouraging efforts to incorporate immigration and border security measures into the Senate version of a supplemental military spending bill, which would set the stage for showdowns among Congressional Republicans over immigration later this year.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Driving Privilege Cards

From HispanicBusiness:

A coalition of Latino clergy is calling on New Jersey to offer a state-issued card that would allow illegal immigrants to drive but, unlike a traditional license, would not serve as identification.

The group says the so-called driving privilege card would balance the "competing realities" of national security and the need of thousands of illegal immigrants to drive to work.

Minorities Pay More for Loans

From CBS MarketWatch:

Minorities are more than five times more likely to pay higher interest rates for home mortgages than other customers, according to a study released Monday by a community watchdog group.

Minority customers of HSBC Holdings, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo were more likely to pay at least 3% to 5% above the going rate for Treasuries, depending on the type of mortgage they sought, the study showed.


Carlos Slim Helú

Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire, just became a little bit richer after selling his stake in MCI to Verizon for a cool $1.1 billion.

Cuban Terrorist Wants Asylum

From the Associated Press via ABC News:

A militant, anti-Communist Cuban exile who was jailed in Panama and then pardoned in connection with a plot to kill President Fidel Castro is in the United States and will apply for asylum on Wednesday, his lawyer said on Monday.

Luis Posada Carriles is an archfoe of Cuba's Communist government, which views him as a terrorist and has linked him to a series of attacks on Cuba, but is seen as a hero by some hard-line exiles in Florida.

The Sierra Club & Immigration

The Sierra Club is facing the immigration issue again:

One year after failing to win control of the Sierra Club in a bitterly contested election, advocates of stricter immigration limits are back, arguing that the venerable conservation group can best protect the environment by reducing population growth.

The club's 750,000 members are voting this month on whether the 113-year-old organization should push for tighter restrictions on immigration, and on five seats on the 15-member board of directors, which sets club policy and commands the US$100 million annual budget.

Sierrans for US Population Stabilization, a network of club activists seeking to limit immigration, says overpopulation has led to a variety of environmental problems, including increased resource exploitation, the erosion of wilderness and animal extinction.

Living Wage Commentary

This student-authored piece appeared in the Washington University in St. Louis' school newspaper:

I'm a big fan of redistributive justice (pejoratively known as "tax the rich, feed the poor"), and I especially believe in that on an international scale: Americans have a duty to help poor nations. But a living wage at Wash U will keep money in the country, rather than allowing it to go to developing nations. Compared with much of the developing world, America's working class is wealthy, so a true commitment to helping the worst-off would mean helping the developing world, not the American working class.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Latin America's Pope

From the Chicago Tribune:

Keeping worshipers... in the pews and proving that the church can help relieve stubborn poverty are among the enormous challenges facing Pope John Paul II's successor in Latin America. It is home to nearly half of the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics, but it also suffers from a shortage of priests, thinning congregations and a widespread flouting of the church's more conservative teachings.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Crummy Jobs and Illegal Labor

Jeffrey Shaffer writing for the Christian Science Monitor:

The frustrating reality we face is that society's job ladder always has a bottom rung. Someone has to clean buildings, harvest crops, wash dishes, or sort through slimy piles of paper, glass, and tin cans along the conveyor belt at the recycling plant.

And even if laws were enacted to ensure higher wages and benefits for low-end jobs, I don't think they'd be perceived as career opportunities. For most workers, citizens and illegals alike, they would continue to be temporary stops on the way to something better.

The Next Pope

Some Latin American Cardinals are hoping that the next Pope comes from Latin American, others are actually pushing the issue.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

TV Marti

TV Marti, one of the U.S. government's efforts to undermine the Castro regime by broadcasting news to Cuba has survived the budget ax.

Fear of Bilingualism

Domenico Maceri writing for the Japan Times:

The fear of bilingualism is probably most evident in the number of American states that have declared English their official language. Twenty-seven states have passed such legislation. Often the vote is through the initiative process, which asks voters to essentially choose between English and Spanish. English is often chosen by 2-1 margins.

A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Congress that would make English the official language of the country.

Does Spanish pose a threat to English or to the survival of the U.S. as a country? The answer, of course, is no. Although the Spanish-speaking population has increased and will continue to do so in the near future, knowledge of English among these people is also rising.

Visit Professor Maceri's blog.

Of Migrants and Minutemen

From AP via ABC News:

The number of Mexican migrants trying to sneak into the United States through the Arizona border has dropped by half since hundreds of American civilians began guarding the area earlier this week, say Mexican officials assigned to protect their citizens.

But that doesn't mean the migrants have given up. Most remain determined to enter the United States and say they will simply find other places to cross.

Now comes the news that some Minuteman Project volunteers are being investigated for detaining someone.

Daniel Ortega's Comeback

From the International Herald Tribune:

It has been more than two decades since this tiny nation of five million people and its revolutionary strongman, Daniel Ortega, kept Washington awake at night. In recent months, new fears, but the same old politics, have revived that tossing and turning.

Ortega, one of the United States' fiercest opponents during the cold war and the entrenched leader of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front, has opened his fourth campaign for the Nicaraguan presidency.

Washington is worried once again that its old nemesis might win, this time with consequences for a new global war, the one on terrorism.

Liberating Cuba

Extensive and interesting article from La Nueva Cuba:

For a half-century now, Fidel Castro has been in power in Cuba, just 90 miles away from Florida. Unfortunately, not only could this have been prevented, but the United States today has the resources to finally give the Cuban people the freedom they deserve, without a shot being fired. The mass opposition to Castro's dying regime makes it a unique opportunity and an obligation to free the Cuban people. Elimination of the Castro regime will also help win the War on Terror.

Sanctuary Policies

From the New York Times:

Almost any Los Angeles police officer will say that some of the most cutthroat criminals here are illegal immigrants. And yet, the police complain that they cannot use immigration status to apprehend a convicted criminal who was ordered deported.

Known as a sanctuary policy, the police rules here prohibit officers from inquiring about someone's immigration status with the federal authorities unless that person is being charged with a crime.

The policy, adopted in 1979, was intended to protect immigrants from harassment and to encourage them to use public services without fear of deportation. Immigrants can enroll their children in schools, get health care and - perhaps most significant for the police - come forward when they witness a crime.

But the policy also provides a safe harbor for criminals.

Predictably, L.A. Hispanics don't want to see changes to the policy.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Cuba Diet

There is an interesting article in the latest edition of Harper's Magazine (not available online) that describes how Cuban ingenuity and hard work kept the people from starving after the Soviet empire crumbled and the subsidies from the U.S.S.R. dried up:

Cuba has learned to stop exporting sugar and instead started growing its own food again, growing it on small private farms and thousands of pocket-sized urban market gardens – and, lacking chemicals and fertilizers, much of that food became de facto organic. Somehow, the combination worked. Cubans have as much food as they did before the Soviet Union collapsed. They’re still short of meat, and the milk supply remains a real problem, but their caloric intake has returned to normal…

In so doing they have created what may be the world’s largest working model of a semi-sustainable agriculture, one that doesn’t rely nearly as heavily as the rest of the world on oil, on chemicals, on shipping vast quantities of food back and forth…

Cuba is a weird political system all its own, one that’s been headed by the same guy for forty-five years. And the nature of that system, and that guy, had something to do with the way the country responded to its crisis.

For one thing, Castro’s Cuba was so rigidly (and unproductively) socialist that simply by slightly loosening the screws on free enterprise it was able to liberate all kinds of pent-up energy.

This piece is a tribute to the Cuban people and the free market's ability to provide for society's sustenance.

Cuba's Gulag

Columnist Nat Hentoff rightly criticizes Fidel Castro's defenders:

In Cuba, as Amnesty International emphasizes: "Those who attempt to express views or organize meetings or form organizations that conflict with government policy and/or the aims of the socialist state are likely to be subjected to punitive measures including loss of employment, harassment and intimidation, and often imprisonment." In America, there are many who criticize the Bush administration's war on civil liberties as it continues to fight a war on terrorism; but we are free to speak, publish and organize without fear of a late-night knock on the door by authorities signifying the end of our liberty.

The Amnesty International Report is available at the organization's website in PDF.

The Immigration Problem

According to the Miami Herald, the Minuteman Project's effective P.R. stunt is not a solution to the immigration problem:

The U.S. immigration system doesn't work because its laws ignore basic human nature. Yes, adding more Border Patrol agents might better secure our border and discourage some aspiring immigrants. But nothing will shut the door as long as 1) the income gap between Americans and Mexicans remains a chasm, 2) U.S. employers eagerly hire imported workers for jobs U.S. residents don't want and 3) families separated by a border long to reunite.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Fidel Castro & The Pope

Brendan Miniter:

What does Fidel Castro know that many American liberals don't seem ever to have understood about Pope John Paul II? That's something worth asking as the dictator in Havana issued a personal statement of condolence and has allowed his people three days to mourn, three days to publicly act like a normal society amid a social structure otherwise built on fear.

Although he has much to account for, it is wrong to say Castro trembles--as a Polish dictator once visibly did--before this pope. But by allowing a papal visit to Cuba in 1998, Castro revealed that even he could not deny the power of the papacy. This is the legacy of John Paul--that moral capital is a lever that can pry up the edges of even the most repressive regimes and plant seeds of hope.

Illegal Immigrants and Social Security

The New York Times' Eduardo Porter has an incredibly important story in the front page of today's paper:

As the debate over Social Security heats up, the estimated seven million or so illegal immigrant workers in the United States are now providing the system with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year.

The article details the extent to which social security taxes withheld from the paychecks of illegal immigrants are propping up the social security system. Please take the time to read the whole story and become informed.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The President and the Hispanic Vote

A more detailed analysis of the 2004 vote is full of good news for Republicans:

Michael Barone, a co-author of the definitive Almanac of American Politics, reports that Polidata's findings tend to confirm the exit polls that showed George W. Bush gaining nine percentage points among Hispanic voters, ending up with some 44%. Several liberal-oriented groups disputed those numbers, but a look at the breakdown of the two dozen districts with Hispanic House members shows that Mr. Bush indeed made strong gains in their districts.

Take Texas, where six of the state's 32 House districts have Hispanic representatives (five Democrats and one Republican) and another 69%-Hispanic district is represented by Anglo Democrat Lloyd Doggett. In the areas that now make up those seven districts, Mr. Bush dramatically increased his vote totals over 2000, winning four of the seven districts and breaking even in their total popular vote. In two of the Democratic Hispanic districts, Mr. Bush won 55% of the vote, setting up the possibility that a Republican could win those seats when they become vacant.

In Florida, Mr. Bush's Hispanic percentages were artificially inflated in 2000 by Cuban-American anger over the Clinton administration's deportation of Elian Gonzalez. But Mr. Bush still did well in the three Miami-area districts represented by Cuban-American Republicans, winning them by an average of 12 percentage points.

But it is in California where Mr. Bush made the most surprising gains among Hispanic voters. Ten of the Golden State's 53 districts are held by Hispanic Democrats, and two others, in the Central Valley, by Portuguese-American Republicans. In the 10 Democratic districts, Al Gore won 65% of the vote in 2000. But in last year's election, Mr. Bush made gains in every district and ended up with about 40% of the overall vote in those 10 districts.

In 2000 Mr. Bush lost what is now the Orange County district held by Democrat Loretta Sanchez by 15% of the vote. In 2004, Mr. Bush outpolled Mr. Kerry in Ms. Sanchez's district. Similarly, Mr. Bush captured the Modesto-based district of Democrat Dennis Cardoza, an area that Al Gore had easily carried. "I fully appreciate the fact that George W. Bush won 49% of my district," says Jim Costa, a Fresno-area freshman Democrat who won only 54% last November against an Anglo Republican.

True, Hispanic voters were attracted to Mr. Bush for reasons that may not easily transfer to other Republicans. "He is seen as simpatico in terms of his strong religious faith, his willingness to speak some Spanish, school choice and a desire to help small business owners prosper," says Martha Montelongo, a talk show host in California. Obviously, calls for Republicans in government to crack down on illegal immigration can create cross-pressures that could endanger GOP support among Hispanics, but those are often exaggerated. Hispanics rank immigration low among their list of priority issues, and last November exit polls show that 47% of Hispanics in Arizona voted for Proposition 200, a measure designed to limit government services to illegal immigrants and prevent them from voting. "The Hispanics who voted for George Bush largely reject identity politics and simply want to be respected, rather than pandered to," says Ms. Montelongo.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

John Paul II, R.I.P.

The next Pope may be Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Update: People are beginning to compile lists of candidates and placing bets.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Border Vigilantes

From the New Standard:

An American anti-immigrant group calling itself the Civil Homeland Defense (CHD) is claiming that up to 1,000 recruits will begin a month-long patrol of a 40-mile stretch along the US side of the Arizona-Mexico border, beginning April 1. According to the group’s website, volunteers with the action known as the "Minuteman Project" will watch the border areas and report undocumented immigrants to American border authorities.

While the group stresses that participants will follow all laws and remain nonviolent, CHD spokesperson James Gilchrist, told the Washington Times that his group is prepared for attacks from members of a "violent Central American gang" which Gilchrist claims are being sent to teach the "minutemen" volunteers a lesson. "We're not worried because half of our recruits are retired, trained combat soldiers," Gilchrist told the Times. "And those guys are just a bunch of punks."

The Texas Governor's Race

The candidates for Governor of Texas are working hard to attract the Hispanic vote.

Riordan Endorses Villaraigosa

News from Los Angeles:

Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa's mayoral campaign was endorsed Friday by former Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican with close ties to the governor who could help Villaraigosa make inroads with the moderates and conservatives he needs to win.