Archive | Culture RSS feed for this section

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2011

5 Oct
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 2011

“Renewing the American Dream”







By: Leyla Tess Berlanga

September 15th through October 15th has been proclaimed as National Hispanic Heritage Month and has been given the theme “renewing the American Dream.” On September 15th President Obama’s “proclamation” was released and I found it to be quite interesting. In the proclamation, the President mentioned how influential Hispanics are to the American community as a whole, stating that things such as “strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service” have enhanced our nation’s character. The President also expressed that “the future of America is inextricably linked to the future of our Hispanic community. “

The President is also in the midst of “selling” The American Jobs Act to the American people as well as to Washington; Hispanics account for two-thirds of the country’s population growth, are currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 11.3 percent, and there are currently over 50 million Hispanics in the United States; so I think it is safe to say that the support and vote of the Hispanic community is very important and crucial to the Obama administration.

The President has proposed the American Jobs Act to help the entire Nation, and particularly Americans like the nearly one million Hispanic-Americans who have been out of work for over six months. The President also mentioned topics such as “improving educational opportunities, and expanding access to affordable, quality health care” and stated to remain committed to fixing the country’s “broken immigration system”. He mentioned key issues that we, the Hispanic community, are concerned about and I hope that these statements weren’t made simply in lieu of this being Hispanic Heritage Month, but rather made with the intentions of being executed efficiently, properly and in a timely manner.


What You’ve Been Missing: Good News on Mexico

4 Jun

I am always on the hunt for good news about Mexico and the Americas. Something to distract me from titles like, “Border Bloodshed” and the “Immigration Problem”. If you dare to focus on Mexico in a positive way, does that make you crazy?

Courtesy of México Today's Facebook page

A friend of mine at ProMéxico, shared a Facebook page with me called, México Today. Thanks to a post on their page, I armchair traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula from the comfort of my desk, drinking my morning coffee.

México Today gives you something hard to come by: good news and an insiders perspective on what you’re missing in Mexico.

Their call to action: “…tell Mexico’s stories as part of a vibrant community of Mexico enthusiasts. Whether you’re an art and travel guru or intrigued by infrastructure and the economy, share your viewpoint here.

I’m hooked. After getting a dose of reality from my Google Alert “Mexico, binational” (try it yourself), I log onto México Today to get in touch (and go a little crazy) with the country’s good side.

Try listening to Gnarles Barkley’s song “Crazy” while checking out the site…

Yeah, I was out of touch.

But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough.

I just knew too much…

Does that make me crazy? Possibly…

Hilary Clinton Takes Latin America off Back Burner

24 May

By Tina Kosikowski @

In the past month, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has taken Latin America off the back burner and back into the spotlight through a series of speeches and engagements intended to mend relations with a region not prioritized by Washington D.C. and policy makers.

Image courtesy of: New York Times

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with the presidents from Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, left, from Chile, Sebastian Pinera, second right, and Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, during the investiture ceremony of the new Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff in Brasília in January. COURTESY OF: Fernando Bizerra Jr/European Pressphoto Agency

Following President Obama’s recent trip to Latin America, Secretary Clinton has spoken repeatedly on behalf of inter-american relations and Mexican-American leadership. She addressed the Council of the Americas at Washington’s Conference of the Americas, hosted a dinner attended by the former presidents of  Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Panama and El Salvador, and has even promoted educational exchange in the Americas through the initiative called One Hundred Thousand Strong in the Americas.

Commentary on the Washington Conference of the Americas states,

“’There is power in our proximity,’ said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her address to the Washington Conference. The secretary referred not just to geography, but also integrated economies, shared values in terms of democracy and human rights, and common culture across the Americas. She noted that, as the United States seeks to rebuild its own economy, it looks to its partners in the region. ‘For our security and strategic interests, we have to design an architecture of cooperation, and we are looking more and more to increasingly capable partners in the hemisphere,’ she said.”

Hear Secretary Clinton’s remarks for yourself. Is this genuine interest in inter-american relations or timely strategy in light of the upcoming elections? Get informed, decide for yourself.

Listen to remarks about President Obama’s trip by Dan Restrepo.

Madres inmigrantes

6 May

By Doris Marquez

El día 10 de Mayo , significa mucho para muchas mujeres , ya que se festeja el día de las madres en México. Pero hay muchas mujeres inmigrantes que tienen poco que celebrar ya que muchas madres inmigrantes se encuentran lejos de sus hijos.

Me encantaría compartir con ustedes la historia de América López una madre quien decidió inmigrar con su prima a los Estados Unidos.

Cuando América tomó la decisión de dejar El Salvador e inmigrar a EU fue muy difícil para ella dejar a sus hijos de 7 y 11 años de edad. América comentó “Uno siente que se desgarra por dentro. Hacer ese esfuerzo es muy difícil en el momento”.

Desde hace seis años , América esta madre salvadoreña le dijo adiós a sus seres más queridos para emprender el mismo viaje que cientos de miles de madres han realizado hacia EE.UU en busca de una mejor vida  para sus hijos.

lamentablemente  es muy triste lo que muchas mujeres tiene pasar , y más aún siendo madres. Así que este día de las madres no hay que olvidarnos de este magnifico día y agradecerles a estas grandiosas mujeres lo que hacen por sus seres más queridos.

Aquí les mostrare  otro caso,  María otra madre inmigrante

“¡Hasta La Madre!” – Poetry in Motion Stirs Up Controversy Over Drug War in Mexico

3 May

by Carlos Arredondo @

In the beginning of April he penned a letter open to the public at large and directed to the politicians and criminal organizations of Mexico, with the media resources and broadcasting muscle to make it count. Within days he had amassed a grass-root non-violent protest with some 50,000 participants mobilized in the streets of Cuernavaca, Morelos (the largest in the state’s history by the way). But wait, it wasn’t just Cuernavaca, masses took to the streets in over 40 cities throughout the Mexican nation, and internationally throughout Europe, South America and North America to unite in his cause. Then, with another bigger protest march already scheduled for early May in the zocalo of D.F. he begin to drill plaques with the names of men and women killed in the war onto the local Government Palace, and calling on citizens throughout all of Mexico to do the same on the municipal and state government halls in their own cities. So influential was his voice that even “Subcomandante Marcos” personally wrote to him expressing his solidarity and the commitment of his limited participation. But he has the attention of both rebel and orthodox alike… President Calderon also personally received him in his presidential palace in the wake of these events. And it seems the momentum is escalating, not waning…

So by now you must be asking who is “he”??? A politician? An influential and wealthy businessman or tycoon? A celebrity perhaps? A sports or entertainment icon? Well, chances are you would never have guessed. His name is Javier Sicilia, and he is a poet. Yup, that’s right a poet! A native Mexican, Javier is also a novelist, journalist, and a professor of literature. And this scholar poet’s voice seems to be a trumpet awakening the sleeping giant that is the citizenry of Mexico.
But first it was Javier who was jolted starkly out of a passive demeanor into his own current pro-active state. On March 28, his 24-year old son Juan Francisco Sicilia was brutally murdered along with another half-dozen young men. Javier was abroad when he found out news of his son’s death, and wrote an 8-line poem dedicated to his son just hours after. He claimed that this would be his last poem, because after his son’s death, “poetry does not exist in me anymore.” Only days later he wrote his letter (original Spanish version here) to politicians and criminals, which he distributed in mass media to the public. The letter in unfiltered terms criticized both the government and the drug-traffickers alike in a daringly bold and blunt manner. Then on April 6 the people responded in overwhelming unanimity as they marched the streets together in protest. (If you are curious as to the potential effectiveness of non-violent civil resistance, you may want to check out this article.) Not even a week later on April 12, with dozens of local, national and international reporters present after a press conference Sicilia led a company of people in drilling plaques onto the local municipal building in Cuernavaca with the names of 95 people murdered in just the last 100 days there. The first plaque up was one with his son’s name on it. The following day in Cuernavaca’s zocalo, Sicilia and other community leaders announced in the presence of thousands their plan for a march to Mexico City on May 8 in a campaign to end the drug-war. Various religious leaders spoke, heavily quoting Ghandi and King, and nearly 100 more plaques were erected. It was a clever tactic as it put the governmental authorities in a pickle of a situation: if they took the plaques down they would be demonized, if they left them up it would only announce that much louder the point of the message that Sicilia’s posse was trying to make. That weekend (Sunday, April 17), reportedly during the nocturnal hour of 3AM some officials removed several of the plaques, leaving most of them there along with the altar of flowers and candles which had been laid in front of them. But this hidden and hesitative move accomplished nothing as citizens immediately had organized to repopulate the wall and vowed to place two more plaques for each one that had been removed.
Most recently, last Wednesday protestors went to the Paloma de la Paz fountain (translated “Dove of Peace”) in Cuernavaca dying it the color of blood. This was followed by delivering letters in person to the Attorney General’s office and also to the State Congress while deputies were in session. They read their letters aloud and put up large banners saying “closed due to incompetents” and “closed due to impunity and complicity.”
Javier himself has admitted he is not a political person and that it is his convictions that are catalyzing his actions. Nevertheless it is perhaps this very thing that has made him win the agreement of the people so quickly and easily, and created consent for him to be a representative voice. It seems that morals and ethics are root motivators in this whole series of events. He is a poet not a politician, and a wordsmith whose sincerity is obviously transparent as he speaks out of genuine emotions in the wake of his son’s death. His ability to understand so many others who have lost loved ones and live in fear certainly allows most of the population to identify with him. However, Sicilia’s ideology is producing some ideas that could possibly be described as a bit “outside the box” and maybe even radical. And not necessarily radical in principle, but in ambition. He has talked of legalizing drugs, and of making truces or pacts with the drug traffickers to reduce bloodshed and eliminate the “collateral damage” of reckless violence. He also opposes the legislation which would give executive political powers unrestricted access to military force, a privilege that could be easily misused or abused. Add to the mix the support of controversial figures such as Subcomandante Marcos who wrote Sicilia in April saying he would also exercise his constitutional rights by marching with all of his EZLN in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas in May in conjunction with Sicilia’s march.
It will be interesting to see what this movement will evolve into in the near future. At least it seems hard to describe it as anything less than a movement, as small as it may be. It is difficult to say the scale and kind of fruit that the march this weekend will produce. But for those concerned with the welfare of Mexico, it will be something to keep an eye on.

Telenovela Star Gets 30 Days After Lying in Immigration Proceeding

29 Apr

by Regina Cantu @

Fernanda Romero, the Mexican-born actress who admitted lying to immigration officials about her bogus marriage, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The surprising sentence was handed down despite efforts to avoid serving time as a result of plea bargains in the case. U.S. District Judge Manuel Real commented on the seriousness of the crime — the two pleaded guilty to making false statements — and ordered both to start serving their sentences on weekends beginning in June.

Prosecutors recommended Romero pay a $5,000 fine and serve five years’ probation. Real agreed with placing Romero and Ross, both 28, on probation but did not require either of them to pay a fine. “It’s disappointing,” one of Romero’s attorneys, Vicki Podberesky, said after the hearing. “Ms. Romero is remorseful for what happened.”

The Mexican-born actress has had bit roles in U.S. films such as the 2009 horror movie “Drag Me To Hell,” but is perhaps best known for appearing in the Mexican soap opera “Eternamente Tuya.”Romero and Ross’ lives for the past year have played out like a telenova, with federal agents arresting them last April on suspicion of duping immigration officials about their marital status. The couple maintain they love each other and have not yet divorced, saying their marriage fell apart partially because their courtship was so brief. Contrary to information the two provided on immigration forms, federal prosecutors presented evidence that Romero and Ross lived in separate homes, dated other people and essentially lived separate lives. Romero admitted lying when she claimed Ross and her mother “hung out all the time.” Ross, a musician and restaurant worker, admitted he lied when he said he and Romero lived together. Prosecutors contended Ross was paid $5,000 to marry Romero so she could obtain permanent residency.

This has made me grow and made me a better person,” she told the judge, who could have used his discretion to give her up to six months in prison. Her attorneys asked for home detention and noted she has some acting commitments. Still, Romero could be deported depending on the evidence presented by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in the immigration hearing.

PDAs in Mexico City Ain’t Nothing New

15 Apr

by Regina Cantu @

The NY Times wrote an article last week on kissing publicly in Mexico City. NY Times correspondent Damien Caves makes the claim that Mexico City’s recent, more liberal stance on sex and public displays of affection is a consequence of economic growth. He also makes the case that intimate relations have intensified as a result of the fear and despair brought on by Mexico’s drug-related violence.

In truth, I don’t buy these supposed correlations. The city has for decades been filled with lovers on benches and grassy knolls, and this isn’t inspired by access to “Jersey Shore” episodes or pornography on portable devices, as Caves writes. If anything, I suspect we se so much public romance because houses are small and crowded. The “large middle class” Caves seems to think exists in Mexico is still faced with a relative scarcity of space that impels hormone-driven teens to find a spot in the middle of the park or plaza. It sure beats sharing the living room with Grandma.

Sure, public affection and informal relationships may be more widely accepted as a result of the liberalization of sexual behavior. (It wasn’t long ago that Mexico City broke the World Record in 2009 for most people kissing at one time). But it’s a leap to say people are kissing more as a sign of a booming economy. I think it’s an even greater leap to say the current drug wars have bettered or even “intensified” intimate relationships. Mexicans have always had the amazing ability to retain their happiness and disposition in times of hardship. We have, after all, consistently placed among the top countries in terms of happiness rates.