Day After #EPNvsInternet Goes Global, Arrests and Injuries at Televisa Protest

PBS to Premiere Documentary on Life and Mysterious Death of Pioneering Journalist Ruben Salazar

From the producers of Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle:

This documentary examines the life and mysterious death of pioneering journalist Ruben Salazar. At the heart of the story is Salazar’s transformation from a mainstream, establishment reporter to primary chronicler and supporter of the radical Chicano movement of the late 1960s. Killed under mysterious circumstances by a law enforcement officer in 1970, Salazar became an instant martyr to Latinos — many of whom had criticized his reporting during his lifetime. Adding to the Salazar mystique is that the details of how he was killed have been obscured in the ensuing four decades since his death.

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Featuring material from recently released files obtained by the filmmaker, Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle removes Salazar from the glare of myth and martyrdom and offers a clear-eyed look at the man and his times. The film, produced and directed by Phillip Rodriguez, includes interviews with Salazar’s friends, colleagues and family members, and Salazar’s own words culled from personal writings. Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle will premiere as a Special Presentation of VOCES ON PBS on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 9:00 PM ET (check local listings).

“LPB is very proud to present this extraordinary documentary,” says Latino Public Broadcasting Executive Director Sandie Viquez Pedlow. “Ruben Salazar is such a well known name in Latino history and yet, until this film, the man himself was an enigma. By examining the complexities and contradictions in Salazar’s life, the film tells a universal and very American story about the struggle between ethnic identity and assimilation.”

“Ruben Salazar’s importance in our nation’s history is underscored by the number of schools, scholarship programs, and parks across the west and southwest that bear his name,” says Joseph Tovares, Senior Vice President for Diversity and Innovation at CPB. “CPB support for this program, through our Diversity and Innovation Fund, reflects our commitment to giving voice to storytellers from all across the country and from a wide range of perspectives.”

To follow the documentary on social media, follow @RubenSalazarPBS or go to Facebook.

#EPNvsInternet Mexican Protest Becomes Twitter’s Top Global Trend Tonight

What Is Happening in Mexico with #EPNvsInternet? (VIDEO)

This afternoon on Twitter, #EPNvsInternet is trending in the United States. Want to know why? Watch this:

White House Hunger Strikers Continue Call to Stop Unjust Deportations

Here is the latest update we have received from


April 21, 2014 - Washington, DC

On the heels of the Philadelphia Mayor signing an executive order rejecting ICE holds in the city and a federal court finding in an Oregon case that the detainer requests violate the Fourth Amendment, members from Massachusetts will arrive this afternoon as part of their campaign to stop unjust deportations in their state by passing the TRUST Act.

Ernestina Hernandez, who took over the hunger strike from the Arizonans who began it and who has not eaten for the past 7 days, and her 13 year old daughter, Melanny Martinez, will pass the torch today to three Massachusetts women who have had their husbands taken from them by ICE, but not without Melanny first writing a letter to the President’s daughter of the same age:

…I wanted to write you a letter because I believe you could understand what I am going through. This might be a little odd and I don’t know if you will ever get to read this, but I thought it was worth a tryMy dad was my hero… One of the saddest days of my life was April 3, 2014. It was my dad’s 50th birthday, but instead of us celebrating he was deported…

…My house is empty without him. I know I could have written this letter to your dad and ask him to help me. But I wanted to write it to you, because you are a daughter too and I think you love your dad as much as I love mine…

Melanny’s father, Manuel Martinez, was on hunger strike himself in the Joe Corley detention center in Conroe, TX when ICE deported him in retaliation.  That night Melanny had a dream that told her to continue her efforts to reunite her family and they decided to join the presence in front of the White House of families with loved ones in detention or already deported.

They will return to Houston today to hold a vigil at the detention center and be replaced in DC this afternoon by Santos Gutierrez, Marina Velazquez, and Magallela Morales who are part of a delegation from Massachusetts where they shut down the Suffolk Detention Center in a day of civil disobedience and are working to pass a state law, the TRUST Act, that would reduce unjust deportations and reject the Secure Communities deportation quota program by limiting local submission to ICE requests to hold people for extra time (recently ruled unconstitutional by federal court in an Oregon case).

The White House protest enters its third week with growing support and urgency as families’ loved ones continue in detention under the threat of deportation. Tomorrow labor leaders will visit the hunger strikers as a busload from the Day Laborer Congress in New Orleans arrives to expose CARI, described as ICE’s “Stop and Frisk” program piloted in New Orleans, through Congressional briefings and an upcoming protest at DHS.

Latino Rebels Radio: #AJAMBorderland (Pt 2) & Slate’s Latinos Becoming the Next Whites Fail

Last night, Latino Rebels was on the air with guests Lis-Marie Alvarado of Al Jazeera America’s “Borderland.” We also talked with Blanca Vega about the whole Slate “Will Hispanics Become Tomorrow’s Whites?” fail and HuffPost’s Latino Voices Roque Planas on his viral listicle. Yeah, we said, listicle. Here is the full show.


Episode 3 of “Borderland” airs next Sunday night at 9pmET. If you want to read Blanca’s excellent “Latinidad Without Latinos” response to the Slate piece, go here. While you’re at it, visit Roque’s list as well.

Our next show is Sunday, April 27 at 10pmET. Latino Rebels Radio.

Thanks to our producer @Mr_Christian, our host @julito77, plus the following Rebeldes: @monica_promumi, @marentesluis, @rscspokenword and @taydolven.

We Need More Compassion to Fix Immigration Mess

I hear crying in the next room and I stop writing. It’s my nanny. I was sitting at my computer writing, which is my daily ritual. But I think that it’s more like a ritual that monks do. More like the monks in the Middle Ages, like a flogging, really. Rough leather whipped on my back: that ritual looking for a story, a reason to write. I flog myself writing in my mind. At least that’s what it feels like. I have no thoughts, so I flog myself in my mind some more. Just to know the writing is good.

Then I get a phone call and it’s for Carmen, our nanny. To be fair, she’s really more of a friend. I’m the crazy “American” that she works for. Even though I’m Mexican-American, to her I’m just an American.

“Is Carmen there?” he says in a heavy accented voice. He sounds serious.

I call Carmen and she takes the phone. She takes it as far as the cord can stretch, five feet to be exact—just for privacy. I try not to listen. Then she hears some news. I hear her say simply and tragically:

“No, no, no, mi primo no, no mi primo.” over and over again.

Then she begins to cry a soft whimper of hurt and pain that I imagine as more of a cry of loss than I can imagine. Tears flow down her cheeks. I assume someone is dead that is close to her. I look at her and ask the question that I already know the answer to.

“Is anything wrong?” I ask … I admit: stupid question.

She begins to cry trying not to. “My cousin and whole family have been arrested. The immigration came this morning; I don’t mean to bother you.”

I assure her that it’s ok. But I know it’s not.

She tells me they have been in this country 28 years, paid taxes bought a home and they were all just out the night before celebrating Father’s Day. Only their daughter was not arrested. She was in Europe working for an American corporation, Disney, no less. She had just got her papers. And she was in Europe with Disney. The company that proclaimed it’s a small world after all, a world of laughter a world of joy. The irony hits me square in the face.


They are now gone and she does not know where they are. They were arrested like a family of criminals in front of all their neighbors. They were arrested like a Mob family. But they are just a simple Peruvian family that slipped through the cracks. A family that paid taxes, bought homes, helped our economy.

I’m feeling angrier and angrier and more ashamed of the country I love, the country my uncle died for and my father fought and worked in two wars for; a country where countless primos have fought. And I was ashamed this morning. I only could offer her the day off.

“Go home, do you need anything?”

And she just said, “No, I should work. It will take my mind of this.”

So she’ll work like all the immigrants that come to this country to do, and we all will keep our minds off this tragedy.

And still there will be no immigration reform.

There still will be a Congress paralyzed and a President that is now being called the “Deporter-in-Chief” by the Latino leaders who have realized he’s only going to give them “compassionate deportation,” which to some might be as callous as an international phone card to check on your remaining family back in the United States. Or the realization that our political leaders are fighting, but not for the immigrants and most of all not fighting for compassion.


We will need real heroes to fix this mess, and when I say real heroes, I mean people who are not perfect but flawed in spite of their imperfection who still do heroic things like work with the other side to find a solution. They work to find a real solution for our broken system with no powerful lobby or voice or political party, the immigrants. People that need a sorely forgotten emotion called compassion.

We need Congress to act for the people in this nation that they represent even the future American citizens that they will represent. Because this country of ours has done something better than any other nation on this earth: the ability to make more Americans. The ability to recognize others in this world with the same dream.

We need Congress to act. And I will write today because that’s my work. I will work today like the millions of immigrants here do everyday and think somehow this will all go away.

And I drink my coffee that Carmen bring to me and think, “Yes, it’s a small world after all.”


k3l4obvqilty428a2y57Rick Najera is an award-winning writer-performer-director-producer and author with credits in film, television, theatre and Broadway. His latest book, Almost White:  Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood, has recently been nominated as an “Inspirational Non-Fiction Book” by the International Latino Book Awards. You can follow Rick on Twitter @ricknajera.

President Obama Addresses Immigration Reform Debate (VIDEO)

Today in a press conference, President Obama took two questions from Maria Peña of La Opinión about the immigration reform debate:

Did Peña’s second question even get answered?

Florida Senate President Fears Some Undocumented Students Come From Terrorist Countries

Meet Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R), who earlier today said the following about a proposed state bill (SB 1400) that would give undocumented students the ability to pay in-state tuition rates at Florida’s public universities and colleges:


To give that quote some more context, here is more of what Gaetz said about SB 1400, a bill sponsored by state senator Jack Latvala (who, by the way is a Republican):

“I am told it is ‘good politics’ to support Sen. Latvala’s bill, that it will help Republican candidates appeal to Hispanic voters in the 2014 and 2016 elections,” he wrote. “Perhaps. It is certainly true that the Republican Party has lost much of the Hispanic support President Bush earned in 2000 and 2004 and that Gov. Jeb Bush still has in our state and across the nation.”

But Gaetz argued that SB 1400 is “not limited to Hispanics.”

“It casts a blanket of approval over non-citizens who are in this country without proper legal status from anywhere in the world, including countries which are caldrons of terrorism and anti-American violence,” he wrote. “There is no improper or careless intent behind the legislation, but this bill goes much further than merely reaching out to Hispanic voters.”

Gaetz later pointed out that undocumented students are able to enroll in public universities.

“The question posed by SB 1400 is not whether undocumented students will have access to a Florida public college or university education that is supported by Florida taxpayers — they already do,” Gaetz wrote. “The question is the extent to which parents, struggling to save for their own children’s education, and taxpayers, slowly recovering from a deep recession, should be mandated to pay for substantially increased tuition subsidies for non-citizens, who have not attained legal status in our country.”

Apparently, this whole SB 1400 bill is becoming a big issue with Florida Republicans. According to reports, state senator Joe Negron (another Republican) won’t even put in on the agenda of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Here is what Negron said today in a statement: ”After careful consideration, I have decided not to place Senate Bill 1400 on the Appropriations Committee agenda for our meeting on April 22, 2014.” Negron also said this: “Florida law does not prohibit students who are undocumented from accessing our state colleges and universities. Once these students favorably resolve their residency status, they could become eligible for in-state tuition.”

Latvala (did we mention that he is a Republican?) posted this on his Facebook yesterday:

Children should have the opportunity to receive a college education regardless of their parents’ immigration status. Here’s what others are saying about SB 1400:

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford:
“The State of Florida invests thousands of taxpayer dollars to educate children who are here through no fault of their own. The time has come to stop penalizing them for the mistakes of their parents.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush:
“Punishing these children for their parents’ acts by creating obstacles to a college degree isn’t in their interests, or ours. President Obama and the federal government have failed to reform our broken immigration system. This proposal would ensure Florida keeps and capitalizes on the talent of all Florida students who want to attend our exceptional colleges and universities.”

American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas:
“Granting in state tuition rights to these children, who have lived most of their lives in our state, is not only fair but most importantly smart. Most of them will make their future home in Florida and will be far more productive to our state to their families with a college education. Regardless of your feelings on immigration reform, this is a wise proposal to assure a more productive workforce for our state.”

Council of 100 Chairman Steve Halverson:
“Florida taxpayers annually make a substantial investment in the K-12 education of their children, and it is vital to the state’s economy that we support their continued learning, regardless of immigration status. The Council of 100 urges the Florida Senate to continue its thoughtful review of the topic…”

Associated Industries of Florida:
“All Florida high school graduates should qualify for in-state tuition at our public colleges, universities and independent universities regardless of their immigration status, subject to meeting all admission standards. While the federal government continues its inaction on a national immigration policy, the Legislature should do what it can to ensure our workforce is well educated and prepared for demands of a growing economy.”
Like this if you agree that these students should have the opportunity to receive an affordable college education! ‪#‎sayfie‬

And today, Latvala reportedly said this:

But back to Gaetz and his American flag backdrops:


Seriously? Gaetz must come from a part of Florida that likes to believe that an “illegal” invasion is coming. Oh yeah, that’s exactly from where he’s from—a district where 77.7% of voters are “Single-Race Non-Hispanic White.”

By the way, you CAN help. Just go here and call.

David Sal Silva: An American Tragedy (Epilogue)

Last year, ran a three-part series by local Bakersfield journalist/writer Nicholas Belardes about the in-custody death of David Sal Silva. This weekend’s news that no charges would be filed by the local district attorney led to the following epilogue by Nicholas. The previous posts in the series are linked here: “Part One: Culture of Drugs,” ”Part Two: Culture of Violence” and “Part Three: Analysis Of A Protest.” (All photos in the following are credited to Nicholas Belardes.)

Epilogue: Protesting David Sal Silva’s Beating Death

I was at the hospital again, this time for an x-ray of my left foot for an appointment I would never keep. I waited three months. I was in Texas writing by the time I was notified. There were other appointments at the same hospital. The cancer doctor who said I didn’t have cancer. The bloodwork. The chest x-ray. I left each appointment just as I came. Questions piled regarding the mysteries of my health. I’d told a doctor “you’re not listening.” Had given her a detailed timeline of my injury. The cancer doctor at Kern Medical Center said I needed to Google my answers.

This is the hospital in Bakersfield that turned David Sal Silva away when he sought help. Each time I showed up I slowed next to the corner of Palm and Flower streets. Each time I imagined David Sal Silva’s howls, his vomiting in the darkness, his blood still damp in the morning as if grass could bleed dew.


I blame Silva for the drugs he was on. I blame the hospital for turning him away. I blame officers, even their hungry, snarling attack dog, for working his heart into an explosive frenzy. I blame society for not caring. I blame what has been defended by law officials as the legality of his beating for de-humanizing all of us when it comes to the force officers can use when other solutions are apparent. I blame a lack of compassion, a lack of empathy in the media’s own opinion-makers.

I blame the contradictions regarding the word, drugs. We live in a drug-crazed society, both intolerant and in denial. I wonder why so many love Matthew McConaughey as the heroic drugged-up detective Rust Cohle in True Detective, but could hate Silva, a man like Cohle who was looking to be reborn through the fires of the down-and-out.

Often when drugs are connected with a death, the substance abuser is vilified. Any related cause-and-effect complexities are ignored. So I’m not surprised by Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green saying there would be no charges in the death of Silva, a man who was addicted, self-abused, outcast, alone, desperate, high, wanting help, wishing for a new life, then fell asleep, only to be awakened by an attack from officers and a K-9, all while tragically across the street from a hospital and drug treatment center.


I wasn’t surprised when a longtime journalist, one who admittedly is friends with the previous district attorney posted on my Facebook, “Without Silva’s drug intoxication, he might have compiled willingly or certainly after the first dog bite. But his reactions set everything else in motion. It sounds nice to have deputies try to use their weight to subdue him, but in the face of a thrashing violent big man, that doesn’t support officer safety. So the officers applied force in a legal way.”

It doesn’t surprise me the local sheriff would blurt words out like some militaristic automaton stuck on repeat, “The facts are the facts. I knew the facts and I knew the result would be the same because you can’t change the facts.”

It doesn’t surprise me the same newspaper would only offer the point of view of the officers in its re-telling of details, presenting a highly illogical connecting-of-the-dots between Silva’s death and his drugged state of mind, instead of looking into the highly complex cause and effects of his fatal night that also includes a culture of police violence.

“Silva refused to comply,” the newspaper said.


Where this media language is vague is it doesn’t take into account how the officer could assume Silva was in his right mind to comply (the article also stated the officer suspected drugs prior to attacking Silva). At what point, for example, is a mental patient expected to comply or not comply? How is it that violent mental patients in hospitals are restrained without strikes and blows? How was it even possible to make such a judgment against Silva that he should be attacked for standing up? Sounds like a medical issue that could have been addressed across the street at the hospital.

“I hate the system here,” an emergency room doctor at the same hospital once confided in me.

This is an American tragedy being repeated, one where families of addicts (along with the rest of us) need to ponder this fine line between the legality of reasonable and excessive force, and then protest.

I’ve thought many times while passing Silva’s stop-sign memorial: this is Bakersfield’s Fruitvale Station. I imagine writing a story similar to the tragedy of Oscar Grant, a man who was trying to better his life, who found himself struggling in cuffs, who was shot in the back in cold blood on a BART platform.

Silva was trying.

I wonder about writing such a film and its resulting impact were such a movie to be made.

Silva was exiled from a health facility before being beaten and bit to death under a grey blanket of legalities. In his death I see the dispassionate, the robotic coldness in men and women: the D.A., law officials, the media people who love their relationships with law organizations (and so rarely criticize them) who like too many in society seem to be coldly unaware of the humanity in others, making excuses in the name of legality like so many Southern politicians and officials once said while supporting lynch-laws.

when will it stop

I told that journalist he lacked compassion. He can’t see that every baton strike, every dog bite, every crush and scrape was another string of rope for Silva.


nickb_poetryNicholas Belardes is a journalist, novelist and poet in Bakersfield, California. He has worked in television, radio and print news. You can follow him @nickbelardes or visit his site.