Will Board of Puerto Rican Day Parade Get Booted by New York State Attorney General?

Ten months after sponsorship decisions by the board of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade (NPRDP) led to a major backlash by New York City’s Puerto Rican community as well as calls for an investigation by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the New York Post is reporting today that Schneiderman is ready to remove NPRDP’s entire board as a result of the AG’s findings.

CoorsLight

The Post article said that news of Schneiderman’s decision will happen soon, after The Post reported that the AG’s office focused on the controversial Coors Light sponsorship deal and “allegations of conflicts of interest.”

Specifically, The Post included the following about the NPRDP board:

The group also came under fire when board member Luis Rivera, who is married to Lugo, worked as a paid consultant for GALOS Corp., which acts as a for-profit marketing firm for the parade. The nonprofit paid GALOS $103,108, according to 2012 tax filings.

The parade is funded solely by sponsorships and donations. In 2012 it had revenues of $461,363 but spent $620,546.

Carlos Velasquez, its business and marketing agent, may also lose his job, sources told The Post. He heads negotiations with sponsors. He also owns a marketing firm that handles the Dominican and Hispanic day parades.

“Carlos has already begun to steer business away from the parade and into other events he peddles,” said a source close to Velasquez.

PuertoRicanDayParade20102

Last summer, Latino Rebels published a lengthy interview with Madelyn Lugo, chairperson of the NPRDP organization. In that interview, Lugo was asked about the organization’s relationship with GALOS and NPRDP’s finances. Lugo said that all the controversy was an effort to discredit the organization and she also said that her group would cooperate fully with the AG. Here is what she said to our founder, Julio Ricardo Varela, about the GALOS relationship:

JRV: I was able to look into the financials describing the GALOS and the relationship it has with…

LUGO: GALOS relationship is our marketing agent. He [Carlos Velasquez] has a professional services contract that was approved by the board of directors and also submitted to the attorney general’s office for approval. We cannot do business with any professional company in the state of New York until the attorney general approves the contract. We went through the entire process as required by the attorney general, and that is why we are doing business with GALOS. He is our marketing agent.

JRV: According to your financials which we published yesterday, the current setup is 33% commission, correct?

LUGO: Right now, GALOS Corporation, according to the contract, he should be getting 33%, but he is not getting 33%. He is billing us 27%, as per previous years.

JRV: So the information with the attorney general where it states 33%…

LUGO: He can get up to 33%, that is correct. He is not getting 33% but he can get up to 33%.

JRV: So voluntarily he’s lowered his commission from 33% to 27%?

LUGO: Yes.

JRV: Looking at the financials, where do I find the actual revenue generated from sponsors? It was really hard to find on the IRS form, because when I do the math, I am not getting the revenue if I use 27% of what GALOS is making.

LUGO: Remember that GALOS Corporation only gets 27% of whatever money that comes into the parade.

JRV: I understand that, but where is the total gross revenue of the sponsorship?

LUGO: It appears in the activities section but it doesn’t only show GALOS Corporation. It shows all money that was raised by the parade.

JRV: Right, I’m just basically asking, if GALOS gets 27%, which is around the $89,000 that was reported in the financials in 2011, is there a line item that says, the revenue coming in from sponsorship is say, $350,000? It doesn’t seem like the math is adding up? I was trying to make sure that I was looking at the right line item?

LUGO: You are not going to get the math off the financials from the 990 form because there you have the global money that comes from all activities that the parade has. GALOS is not bringing in all the income into the parade, it is also income that we raise on our own. The GALOS Corporation sends his report to the AG’s office, that’s a public document. You can go to the AG office and look at the report there. You can see how much GALOS Corporation brings into the parade.

JRV: Ok, I can find that publicly via the AG and GALOS. That’s fine.

LUGO: You can find that under GALOS Corporation because by law he has to file a financial report showing whatever activities he has with the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

JRV: I just have a couple of more questions. Can you talk about where the sponsorship money goes then?

LUGO: The sponsorship money goes into all of the parade activities. It’s not just the parade on 5th Avenue. People believe that that the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, they only focus on 5th Avenue. That is not the only thing the National Puerto Rican Day Parade does. We do a festival that is free to the community, we have two stages with musical bands that we are paying for the full activities, and not charging anything to the community. We also do a fiesta for our seniors that is a parade activity paid in full by the parade. We have to raise money for that. We have the scholarship program. We have the Juegos Boricuas and the Torneo de Dominó the Saturday before the parade. This is free of charge for all our community. We have different activities that we raise money for to give something back to the community because if we don’t have the funds, we can’t host those activities. Besides that, we have to pay insurance after 9/11, we have to pay a huge insurance to the City of New York to maintain the parade on 5th Avenue. We have to put toilets on 5th Avenue. It is not free of charge. We have to pay the city for the places where people are sitting. It’s a lot of expense involved in terms of the parade and parade-related activities.

JRV: So how much do you need to raise a year right now?

LUGO: In order to cover our activities, we have to raise over $500,000 in order to cover our activities and all the activities related to the parade. We have a breakfast, we have a big breakfast before the parade on Sunday. We don’t charge anyone money for that. Everyone in the community goes to the breakfast free of charge.

JRV: Talk about the scholarship money. How much scholarship money is given out every year?

LUGO: Every year it depends how much we get from our sponsors. It depends how much the sponsor can offer. That’s the amount that we are giving out.

JRV: So how much is that? Can you share?

LUGO: It’s between $10,000 to $20,000.

JRV: Total?

LUGO: In total, $10,000 to $20,000.

JRV: A year. Ok. I just have a couple more questions. So GALOS is not a Puerto Rican-owned agency, is that correct?

LUGO: GALOS? If you know the history of Carlos Velasquez, he is half Puerto Rican and half Colombian. He has half Puerto Rican cultural heritage, so saying that he is just Colombian is wrong.

JRV: Have you ever gone and considering that 33% commission is a pretty high number…

LUGO: That number is below that what the industry is offering.

JRV: For non-profits?

LUGO: For non-profits, yes.

JRV: Are you sure?

LUGO: Whatever he is charging right now is below market.

JRV: For a private company working with non-profits?

LUGO: Right, for a private company working with non-profits.

JRV: So do you guys go through a competitive process to find other agencies?

LUGO: We did in prior years with different agencies, and there were offering us over 50% commission. That is unacceptable for us. I don’t know if you know the history of Carlos Velasquez. Carlos Velasquez has been working with this parade for over 40 years, he was at one time, he was a board member of the whole organization.

JRV: And you don’t see that as being too close to home? Do you believe that GALOS has the best interests of the parade in mind?

LUGO: I believe that since he is the marketing agent, he has to have the best interests of the organization in mind in terms of providing the organization the opportunity of providing the parade to our community.

JRV: Even with the recent controversies, you still believe that they have the best interests of the community in mind? I’m not trying to have bring their intentions in question, I’m just trying to get a better sense of the last three years with Coors, you’ve had some high-profile incidents…

LUGO: You know something, mistakes happen. Every board has a learning process, and I don’t think that everyone or people who create controversy with this, they make their own mistakes, too. So I think this is a learning process that everybody has a responsibility for and has to take care of it, and has to take care of policies in the future.

JRV: Will you be setting up new policies after the parade?

LUGO: We’re working to draft new policies after this parade. We will start drafting new policies about operations and new policies in terms of marketing the parade. There will be new guidelines that we will put in place.

JRV: So when you release your responses to the state attorney general, after your release, will that be shared with the press?

LUGO: After we release the package for the attorney general packet, I think it is a public document. We would not have any objections in sharing documents because the attorney general’s office will already have it. It will be public by the time he already gets it, so by law he is going to have to make it public.

JRV: After your share it and submit it, can you let me know so I can read it?

LUGO: That’s no problem. As soon as we have the green light to send it, we will provide all documents at that that time. As soon as my attorney says “go ahead,” we will release the packet to whoever is interested. Everybody can have the packet.

Latino Rebels has yet to receive the guidelines that Lugo promised to send, and it has asked the AG to share its final investigation when available. In addition, a June 2013 LR article also explored GALOS’ relationship with NPRDP. In that piece, public records confirm that GALOS was indeed making 33% commission on NPRDP sponsorships.

…Latino Rebels downloaded NPRDP’s public IRS filings and financial statements from 2011, available at the Charities Search site for New York. The full document can beviewed here.

These documents also include a financial audit for 2010 and 2011 where it lists specific details about GALOS and the commission it earns. According to the filings, GALOS was earning 27% in commissions up to December 31, 2011 and currently earns 33% of the “total funds collected on behalf of the Organization thereafter through the end of the contract term.” The document does not state when the contract term expires.

GALOS

Finally, the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP) issued a release this morning, saying that questions about the NPRDP board were raised as early as 1994:

 As we documented back in 1994, the problems facing the Parade are longstanding ones, making the Attorney General’s actions in response to complaints from the Puerto Rican community a significant reform of this much-criticized institution. With a newly-constituted Board of Directors and the continued monitoring by the Attorney General’s office, the hope is that the Parade can return to its original mission of representing the best of the culture and people of the Puerto Rican community.

—Angelo Falcón

Drudge’s “Boehner in a Sombrero” Meme Proves Why GOP Base Will Never Get It

You know many on the right side of the political spectrum are having issues with the constant mocking of immigration issues by conservative media when a tweet alerting us to Drudge Report’s “John Boehner in a Sombrero” image came from an actual Latin@ conservative:

 

So, we checked it out, and last night we found this:

Drudge

Which lead to this an Ann Coulter piece basically slamming the GOP leadership for even considering “principles” for immigration reform because in the end she has PROOF:

Immigrants — all immigrants — have always been the bulwark of the Democratic Party. For one thing, recent arrivals tend to be poor and in need of government assistance. Also, they’re coming from societies that are far more left-wing than our own. History shows that, rather than fleeing those policies, they bring their cultures with them. (Look at what New Yorkers did to Vermont.)

This is not a secret. For at least a century, there’s never been a period when a majority of immigrants weren’t Democrats.

At the current accelerated rate of immigration — 1.1 million new immigrants every year — Republicans will be a fringe party in about a decade.

Thanks to endless polling, we have a pretty good idea of what most immigrants believe.

According to a Harris poll, 81 percent of native-born citizens think the schools should teach students to be proud of being American. Only 50 percent of naturalized U.S. citizens do.

While 67 percent of native-born Americans believe our Constitution is a higher legal authority than international law, only 37 percent of naturalized citizens agree.

No wonder they vote 2-1 for the Democrats.

Aside: Is Coulter not an immigrant herself? But we digress. Back to the main point.

So Drudge puts Boehner in a sombrero because when it comes to visually explaining the whole “immigrant” problem, always go with the Mexican motif. Umm, in your quest to actually save the GOP, using these types of memes just perpetuate the image that Republicans really don’t like Mexicans. Or Latinos. We do wonder how the remaining 6-7 Latino Republicans are feeling about this today. Psst, the extreme part of the GOP, the one that actually shapes national ignorance, is not that into you, guys.

And we’re not the only ones who think gets a #NoMames:

As expected, some people thought the sombrero image was awesome:

Everyone Has High Expectations of ABC/Univision’s Fusion Network

In response to a Latino Rebels open letter to the new Fusion network, CEO Isaac Lee invited us for a visit to the Newsport. True to their word, the Fusion team graciously welcomed me (an original member of the LR collective since 2011) to its Miami-based headquarters last week.

The brand-new Fusion network is a joint venture between Univision and Disney/ABC. Defining themselves as a news, pop culture and satire channel, this digital and TV network targets a young, diverse and inclusive audience.

Admittedly, my expectations were quite high since I was being greeted by the publicity team of a network with plenty of money and resources. The hosts were kind and affable. I was greeted by genuine people passionate about their work and Fusion’s mission. So many of them left their families behind in various states around the country to be a part of this team. Everyone was super friendly and each insisted they had the encouragement and support of the network to experiment and create fresh content.

Alicia Melendez (l) and the author (r) at Fusion last week.

Alicia Melendez (l) and the author (r) at Fusion last week.

I was given a VIP tour of the entire station. Yes, I was impressed by the huge converted space which looks a whole lot like the set of HBO’s “The Newsroom.” Teams from both Univision and Fusion currently share this space. The open area designed to promote teamwork is decorated with cool modern furniture. Offices had glass doors and windows, most of which were wide open. Behind the scenes I got a sneak peak of the various studios producing media content for both Univision and Fusion. Some of the studios had actual live shows going on, while some were being recorded for later use. It was thrilling to see the control room staff in action using the latest equipment and technology .

I also got to meet some of the the network’s talent, beginning with star newscaster Jorge Ramos, who hosts back-to-back shows in both English and Spanish. Then there was the ever-candid Alicia Menendez, who speaks on current issues, trends and topics from sex to politics on her nightly show.  While the network cancelled the show “DNA”, I do hope to see more of Derrick Ashong.

Speaking for the rest of the Rebeldes, we would love to continue seeing Fusion implement even more diversity both in front of the camera and off but especially in positions that have impact in addition to producers and writers.

In preparation for our visit, the Latino Rebels team and community scanned through Fusion’s social media feeds to see what kind of content they were promoting and producing. While the majority was good content, there was one item in particular which didn’t make it past our radar. Quite frankly, many of us in the LR group and our community would love to see less snarky humor which comes off as hostile and stereotypical. Articles like that only perpetuate negative stereotypes. In 2014 we are well aware of the dangerous impact these images cause in real life where people of color become targets and victims.

Expectations are probably even higher now that the gap to fill the void just grew wider as news of NBC Latino’s demise made the news the last few weeks. The scales are imbalanced and the entire industry is nowhere near inclusive.  Since media is extremely influential in shaping opinions of Latinos, it is extremely troubling to see so many groups of people still remain voiceless.

While expectations may be high, there are a whole lot of people rooting for you, Fusion. Thanks for your hospitality and willingness to listen.

***

lettyBella Vida Letty is a regular contributor to LatinoRebels.com and one of the Original Rebeldes, having been with the group since the very beginning. In 2012 she was named one of the Most Powerful Latinas in Social Media by VOXXI. You can follow her on Twitter (@bellavidaletty) or read more about her on her blog, Bella Vida by Letty.

Lawyer Sergio García Responds to “DREAMer Diva” Critics

Just weeks after making global headlines for becoming the first publicly-known undocumented lawyer in California history to be admitted to the state bar, Sergio García is now facing another different sort of challenge from bloggers as well as nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr.—that he is just a “DREAMer Diva” for promoting an “exorbitant $25,000 performance fee” on his website and, according to Navarrette, has shown “little gratitude” to others for their help and support of his historic accomplishment.

Sergio García with Jorge Ramos (via García Facebook site)

Sergio García with Jorge Ramos (via García Facebook site)

Visiting García’s “Personal appearance standard agreement” on his own site confirmed the $25,000 fee, with additional demands for first class airfare, a chauffeur, security and “complementary food and beverage,” among other things. The agreement’s last point indicates that the fees are negotiable for “schools and non-profits.”

Yesterday, Latino Rebels reached out to García to find out why he decided that he deserved these fees and perks. Here is a summary of what he told @marentesluis via phone:

García believes that Navarrette lacks journalistic integrity, as he claimed that the columnist never bothered to contact him before writing the piece. The young lawyer also suspects some resentment from last year when he “respectfully declined an interview” with Navarrette. According to García, the “Agreement” has been on his site for many years, and Navarrette (and others) have just pointed it out right now.

As for why he posted the “Agreement” years back, García admitted that is was an “immature mistake,” but explained that when his case first came to court four years ago, he was receiving too many speaking invitations. He felt he couldn’t reject them, but these engagements took too much time away from him and he needed remuneration for legal and other expenses. Once he posted the “Agreement” on his site, the speaking requests began to diminish, but he has continued to publicly speak for free or for fees usually ranging between $500-$1,000. García said that last week he gave a motivational speech at Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, California for free and he is scheduled to speak at Stanford soon for a small fee.

Additionally, García also said that whenever he gives a paid public talk, he donates half of his proceeds to the Sergio C. García Foundation, which has a mission of “supporting our youth independently of their background as long as they have the will, drive and need to succeed.” He said that he expects to have raised $100,000 by February 1.

García also challenged those who criticize his “Agreement” to share any documented proof of a specific time when he has received $25,000 or flown first-class.

Furthermore, García also noted that he is not a DREAMer. He insisted that he has worked in support of DREAMers and their movement, but because he is 36 years old, he does not qualify for DREAMer relief. His case is different: the son of a US citizen who has been “waiting in line” for close to 20 years to have his residency papers approved.

He finally had much to say about Navarrette’s criticism of his lack of thankfulness. García first explained that the Jorge Ramos interview that Navarrette refers to in his column took several hours, but that the final television spot was edited. García did not criticize Ramos for the final product, but instead questioned Navarrette’s journalistic integrity for not investigating what else took place during the production of the segment. García pointed out the US flag that he wore for the interview as a symbol of his appreciation that Navarrette ignored. He also insisted that his critics never bothered to fully explore his web site, where he has many expressions of gratitude to all his supporters, like in the following video:

In a January 27 public Facebook post, García also shared the following bilingual comment about his critics:

If you want to win a fight, here’s what you do, take the high road. Nothing is more upsetting for people than their inability to bring you down to their level.
Si quieres ganar una pelea, no te rebajes al nivel de los que te atacan. Nada les molesta mas que su inabilidad [sic] de bajarte a su nivel.

Another video produced in Spanish this week by García supporter Javier Luján goes over other concerns Luján had with Navarrette’s column:

Obama and the GOP Debate Immigration Without Solving It

Tonight during the State of the Union, expect President Obama to make due on his threat to bypass Congress and use Executive fiat to provide more Band-Aids and policy placebos to our immigration problem. Later this week, expect the House Republicans’ outline of immigration “principles” to be an unoriginal and shallow reiteration of the quid pro quo between amnesty/legalization/whatever and border security.

This ongoing immigration debate continues to center on these two conflicting forces. Among the participants are the uncompromising extremes: some on the Left who promote zero deportations and enforcement regardless of an immigrant’s level of criminal activity, and some on the Right who want nothing but enforcement and deportations, again regardless of an immigrant’s level of criminal activity and the practicality of such an endeavor. Between these two extremes lie the victims of a failed immigration system that continues to fester.

Via America's Voice

Via America’s Voice

Missing from the debate are members of the third voice—those wanting to address the primary causes of the “broken” immigration system. Those who bring up the issues of bureaucracy, lack of judicial discretion in immigration courts, allocations of non-immigrant visas and our visa system in general. This third voice argues that reforming the actual day-to-day process of obtaining legal access into this country is what will cure the future problems of illegal immigration. However, members of this group are rarely heard in articles, television and politician’s press releases.

The problem is simple: debating visa allocations, guest worker programs and judicial rules are simply not politically “sexy.” They do not ignite the heated passions that “amnesty” and “border security” do. What ignites one’s passion more than the idea of someone receiving unfair favorable treatment simply due to political circumstance? Conversely, what ignites one’s passion more than the idea of a parent being separated from his children by 1,200 miles for several years for committing the (arguably) equivalent of driving without a license? Hence the reason why Senator Ted Cruz talked more about his Gang of 8 amendments regarding border security and citizenship than his amendments addressing immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Talking about those amendments are what get the headlines and appearances on TV, not the reformation of bureaucratic procedure. Nevertheless, the policies of both extremes, if enacted, will fail to solve the issues at hand.

Conservative hardliners, in making their arguments against “amnesty” and/or legalization, continually cite the struggles they themselves or their relatives went through to obtain a work, immigrant, and/or travel visa for the United States. Some cite waiting five, 10, or even 15 years before they obtained a green card, much less citizenship. Others cite how US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) denied a sibling’s travel visa for no apparent reason, or that it took USCIS more than a year to confirm the legitimacy of an immigrant spouse, despite the sponsor being a born US citizen.

immigration_nativism

These examples only serve to bolster the argument that our current immigration is in fact broken, to use that tired cliché. The hardliners cannot operate under the illusion that the only cause of our immigration problem is merely a lack of enforcement of current law. Even if all of the estimated “11 million” were removed tomorrow, the myriad of problems described above will continue unabated.

On the opposite end, just as some conservatives are eliminating any pretense of favoring even legal immigration, some progressives are eliminating any pretense of actually wanting to address the flaws in our immigration system. Rather, many are becoming more vocally hostile to any level of enforcement and deportation of individuals, regardless of whether the only crime committed was unauthorized entry, or they have a pages long rap sheet of violent crime. Similar to the hardliner’s “solution,” stopping all deportations at once will not solve the problems facing new immigrants or workers applying for a visa for the first time, or reapplying for their second or third.

It would be the height of naiveté to believe that reform of substantive US immigration law can occur without the inclusion of the quid pro quo. Those issues are key to pushing any legislation forward (or backward, depending on what side you are on). It is the hope that the plights of current and future immigrants are not ignored between the salvos.

***

Samuel A. Rosado, Esq. is an attorney from New Jersey. He served as Executive Director of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of New Jersey in 2010, and has been a freelance contributor and writer on Hispanic issues and engagement for Politic365, The Daily Grito, and Misfit Politics. Follow him on twitter at @FakeSamRosado.

Irony of Ironies: Group with Ties to White Supremacists Invokes MLK in TV Commercial

Divide and conquer, baby.

CAPS

That’s pretty much the message anti-immigration group Californians for Population Stabilization is sharing with us all.

As Right Wing Watch says:

The appeal to King’s memory is more than a little ironic coming from a group that is tied to white nationalist John Tanton and that just this fall hired a founding member of the new-Confederate group League of the South. CAPS spokesman Joe Guzzardi, who announced in a press release that political leaders have “lost sight of Dr. King’s dream” has written dozens of blog posts for the white nationalist website VDARE.

Here is the release CAPS wrote:

LOS ANGELES (January 14, 2014) – Californians for Population Stabilization launched TV ads today across America leading up to Monday’s birthday celebration of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The TV ads are running on several national cable networks, with much of the media buy focused on daytime programming that skews heavily toward unemployed minority audiences.

The ads feature poignant music and stark black and white photos of displaced American workers. A baritone voice asks how Dr. King “would feel about 20% of African-Americans unemployed or underemployed. About giving amnesty and jobs to 11 million illegal aliens with so many Americans jobless. About admitting 30 million more immigrant workers when 17% of Hispanic Americans are having trouble finding work. About Americans of all races not seeing a wage increase in 40 years.”  The commercial concludes with the question, “Was THAT Dr. King’s dream?”

“As we mark the great Dr. King’s birthday, it’s safe to say, higher minority unemployment and no wage increase in 40 years were not part of his dream for Americans,” said Joe Guzzardi, Media Director for CAPS.  “So, why do so many of our congressional leaders today want to admit millions more immigrant workers to take jobs and depress wages when hardworking African-American and Hispanic American workers can’t find jobs?  Have our leaders lost sight of Dr. King’s dream?”

First of all, you HAVE to love their media strategy, “with much of the media buy focused on daytime programming that skews heavily toward unemployed minority audiences.”

And now ALL of the U.S.’s problems are directly correlated to the undocumented?

We just threw up in our beer.

AP Story on Obamacare Spanish Site Misinforms and Misleads English-Language Press

UPDATE: VOXXI also ran a piece in December that is a bit more accurate than the one the AP wrote.

There are many points that need to be made about a poorly reported Associated Press article claiming that several Spanish speakers are up in arms about how the government’s CuidadoDeSalud.gov page was a computer-generated translation riddled with linguistic errors and “Spanglish,” but before diving into that, let me make one thing clear: not having a fully functioning Spanish site ready in October when HealthCare.gov rolled out in English was a story that many outlets (NBC Latino, Fox News Latino and Boston’s NPR) covered. In October.

Such news barely registered with the mainstream U.S. media landscape because so much attention focused on HealthCare.gov’s launch failings. The lack of a Spanish website once again proved one of the biggest mistakes large organizations continue to make: in a country with a fast-growing number of Spanish speakers, treating Spanish as a lost-lost second cousin no longer cuts it in the United States. In addition, assuming that Spanish will also be a translation instead of original content also sends the wrong message—English-dominant organizations such as the government really don’t see Spanish speakers as equals. I have been spouting that theme for years, and quite frankly, most private and public organizations still don’t understand that.

However, this week’s AP article falls into the very same trap that it is trying to criticize: if you are going to actually critique what is proper Spanish, at least approach it from the eyes of a native Spanish speaker. As someone who has worked in the world of Spanish language development, both in media and education, for over 25 years, the AP article doesn’t fully pass the test.

Site

Here’s why:

  • Let’s start with the title of the Spanish language website: CuidadoDeSalud.gov. Any native Spanish speaker or serious student of Spanish could easily tell you that the term “cuidado de salud” or “cuidado de la salud” is a perfectly acceptable term for “health care” or “care of one’s health.” In fact, all you need to do is consult newspaper articles from all over Latin America. From Argentina (January 14, 2014): ”Reducir el consumo de sal, clave para el cuidado de la salud”. From Puerto Rico (January 11, 2014): “a nuestra gente el cuidado de salud que necesita”. From CNN Mexico (December 28, 2013): ”Twitter, al cuidado de la salud de los británicos”. One Mexican company uses the term as an official company name, while another also uses it within the context the importance of good health care. For the AP to suggest that the name is plain wrong is just irresponsible, since in the context presented on the website, it does not mean “for the caution of health.” If the site said “Cuidado con la salud,” then AP has a point, but the website doesn’t, so the reporting is inaccurate. It is also irresponsible that other reporters and columnists didn’t even explore this very basic fact. Instead, we instantly assume that the AP is the standard. As with any media outlet, even the AP makes mistakes. Just ask Rand Paul. Also, the English site is called HealthCare.gov, so why wouldn’t the Spanish translation be any different?
  • The site is riddled with “Spanglish” terms: The AP article uses the example of one person based in Miami who says the following, “When you get into the details of the plans, it’s not all written in Spanish. It’s written in Spanglish, so we end up having to translate it for them.” Granted, government websites translated into Spanish have never been good, and it goes back to the fact that I raised earlier: that content does indeed need to be written in Spanish and not translated. However, reviewing the actual site would suggest otherwise. For example, a term such as “inscribir” makes complete sense over “aplicar.” As a native Spanish speaker, I think the website translation is mediocre, but it is readable, just like every other Spanish version of U.S. government pages. I have read much worse and I have read much better. But is the site Spanglish? Not even close. Spanglish is using invented variations of English words, like “choosear.” (Yes, I actually saw that word once in a translation for the word “choose.”)
  • The site must be computer-generated. Again, this suggestion comes from one person in the article and it is buried in the story. Computer-generated translations would bring up bad word order, bad syntax and it would just read poorly. This translation does not read poorly. By the way, I have several other editorial suggestions that would make the site better. The first one? Write in Spanish and do a heavier adaptation that is more natural. See the pattern here on how to avoid the critics? There are plenty of authentic Spanish-language health care sites in the world. Maybe people working on the website should pay more attention to them? And, one more thing: Spanish style is initial capital letters and lowercase. Seeing headlines in all initial capital letters is a Spanish editor’s pet peeve. (For example: “Pequeñas empresas” and not “Pequeñas Empresas”.)
  • Then there is the entire issue with the word “prima” (for “premium”), which also means “female cousin.” Granted, for a second, I did a double take. Also, if you actually read the entire AP article, it is the only example of an error that was listed (buried in the middle of the story), so the notion of the site being riddled with errors speaks to more irresponsible reporting. The term is correct within the context of the page, which is a page about health care. Here are some examples of “prima”  usage in other outlets: today’s Nuevo Herald from Miami (my emphasis): “Los datos tampoco suministraron detalles sobre la selección del plan por condado, o si los consumidores deseaban pagar mayores primas para tener una red más amplia o un deducible menor.”  Also, check here and here. Oh yeah, and Univision, too. Of course those who don’t do the research will be quick to say, “riddled with errors.” But it goes to the fact that the AP article needed to talk to people who know Spanish editorial content. Instead, the AP relied on the opinion of one person and concluded that it is a disturbing national trend which would cause disaster for The White House.
  • Finally, English-language media needs to step back for a minute and actually talk with linguistic experts and people who do this for a living, especially health care translation work. The AP article misled you, and you did little to discover more on your own.

Nonetheless, there is one thing that is disturbing, and it is the follow-up reporting Buzzfeed did, so maybe AP’s article did so some good:

The White House officials said they were aware of the sometimes-clunky Spanish. “We are committed to ongoing improvements,” the senior official said via email.

The officials warned against assuming a less-than-ideal Spanish-language website would affect Latino enrollment numbers.

“The Latino community is using in-person assistance at a higher rate than the general public,” the official said. Many Latinos speak English, administration officials have said, and so the Spanish-language site is not the primary way to reach them.

“This sort of translation does not affect your average Latino enrollee,” the official said.

Did The White House have to go there? Why not just say, “Hey, we got to make some fixes with specific terms, but the translation reflects current industry standards?”

Translation is a very complex art, and it is clear that those involved in the rollout didn’t get it. But they didn’t get it because they never correctly approached the development of a Spanish-language in the first place when they had a chance to do it right. Now they are just settling and trying to defend it, but at the same time, the opinions of just two or three people in one AP article really don’t speak to the bigger issue about all this: stop treating Spanish as a second-class language, and if the mainstream media had more people who understood the nuances of this issue, articles like the AP’s story would have done a better job in explaining the complete picture.

Cuidado, indeed. Now that is the right way to say, “Caution.”

***

EDITOR’S NOTE: Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He pens columns on LR regularly. In the last two years, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS’ Face the NationNPR,  Univisionand The New York Times. Currently, he is a digital producer for Al Jazeera America’s The Stream. The views expressed in any of the LR columns written by Julito on this page do not reflect the editorial stance of Latino Rebels or Al Jazeera America. His opinions are his own and his alone.

Announcing the #NoMames2013 Nominees: Time to Vote

As we near the end of 2013, Latino Rebels asked its community: who would you nominate for the 2013 #NoMames award? We got the tweets and the comments, and now we are sharing our top six nominees. Here they are:

#NoMames2013

A little bit about each one:

  1. Jason Richwine and his “proof” that Hispanics have a lower IQ, hence we should not be passing immigration reform.
  2. Many in our community think that the “Deporter-in-Chief” still has some explaining to do.
  3. Not to be outdone, Speaker John Boehner stays clueless about immigration reform
  4. 2013 was also about La Familia Cruz.
  5. And what about Texas GOP leader and Cuban American Sara Legvold, defender of apartheid and white supremacy?
  6. Finally, there is Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. Enough said.

Time to vote:

Texas GOP Leader Accuses Everyone of Everything While Explaining Support for Apartheid (and White Supremacists)

Looks like Sara Legvold, the Cuban American Texas GOP executive committee member who posted some rather bizarre pro-apartheid comments which caused the Texas GOP to distance itself from her and also led Legvold to call fellow Latino conservatives “crimmigrants”, is ready to defend herself.

SaraLegvold

Here is what Legvold shared on a publicly viewable Facebook page called True Conservative Americans:

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I regret that this topic has distracted from the Republican Party, but I am involved in areas where my passions lie. The Republican Party is one of principle and rule of law that protect the freedoms and liberties that are being eroded away in our country…I may fall short in offering the most complete argument, but my heart is in advancing those principles.

I am not a racist and view people as individuals on their own merit, but when those individuals work in concert as a group to undermine my positions, I am not afraid to call them out as a warning to those who have sympathies with them. I will not shy away from speaking plainly at the risk of offending someone.

This whole thing began from a post on the Conservative Hispanic Society facebook page of which I have been a frequent poster and contributor on many issues. In my opinion, one of the most important issues of our time that affects every aspect of our society and will put the final nail into America’s coffin and its history of exceptionalism is the issue of illegal alien amnesty or whatever other name is currently popular. There was a post on the Conservative Hispanic Society Page and comments were being added. I had previously read an article that expressly addressed one of the comments brought up on that thread and when I searched for the article I found the title listed on what I later learned was posted on a site called Stormfront. First & only time I have visited that site contrary to the lies being put out by the Café Con Leche Republican Amnesty PAC and its lead saboteur Bob Quasius.

From that point on, Bob Quasius and his Café Con Leche Republicans have gone after me to stop my postings against illegal aliens, amnesty and the repercussions of dumping 30 million illegal law breakers into our society and make them citizens. Voting citizens. If there is any group around that shares an agenda with the Battleground Texas crowd, I would have to put this group of pro-amnesty scam artists at the top of the list. The simple fact that they call themselves Republican does not make them so.

Chris Salcedo, who is the moderator of the Conservative Hispanic Society page, can and should verify that the only posting from Stormfront by me was the one occasion that I mentioned previously. I also asked Chris Salcedo to leave all the defaming, ugly comments posted about me left on the page for all to see and decide for themselves who is who and what is what. Bob Price also emailed me and I explained to him that getting the article from Stormfront began as a simple online search for an article previously read that led me to my first and only visit to Stormfront and nothing more. Seems that he chose to believe the poisoners and not the victim of their poison. Chris Salcedo allowed the attacks to silence myself and others on his page without comment. That is between he, his conscience and God. Since then, I have received phone calls threatening me at my home and an email from someone wanting to shut me up. These despicable human beings from the Café Con Leche Republican ‘leadership’ and their venomous operatives have mounted an all out assault to silence my voice on all my FB pages, Twitter and elsewhere, locally and nationally. One has to wonder why.

Bob Quasius and his Café Con Leche Republican operatives, (Raul Contreras, Joe Laughon, Xavier Hermosillo & Michael W. Trigg. to name the worst of the lot) because of their incessant and relentless postings coupling my name with Stormfront, led the supposed leader of said website to follow me on Twitter and receive a follow back from me. Looking at his twitter profile showed him to be just another individual with similar issues following and getting a follow back since nowhere on his profile is Stormfront even mentioned. Bob and his henchmen have been the ones with a disturbing familiarity with that site and seem to have gone so far as to steal my identity and post on that site in my name. Can any white supremacists out there in cyberspace please check out Bob Quasius and his band of character assassins and share with the world who is the real supremacist, racist and bigot?

I want to add that I stand wholeheartedly with transparency and do not wish any censorship on my account if it means exposing the real patriots from the pretend. I will gladly fill in any gaps in this narrative that you still have concerns with if you would like to contact me.

I will finish with Merry Christmas to my valiant defenders and God Bless.

Merry Christmas to you as well, Sara. You are truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Here’s some advice: you are more than welcome to share your extreme views any time you like, but when you assume a leadership role in a state Republican party, others have every right to criticize you for comments that, quite frankly, make your party look bad, especially in front of Latinos and other groups your party is trying to do a better job reaching out to.

Anaheim Blogger Slammed for “Satire” Post Mocking Tragedy of Slain Latino Youth

UPDATE: For Gustavo Arellano’s excellent local take on all this, go here.

Here is another reason why everyone having a blog might not be a such a great idea.

As reported yesterday by the Voice of OC (Orange County, CA), “a conservative blogger funded by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce posted a photo ridiculing the mourning rituals for young Latino men shot and killed by police, triggering outrage from mothers whose sons were killed by officers.”

This is one of the photos uploaded by Matt Cunningham, author of the “Anaheim Blog” site:

52afc535077e5.image

The image of the defaced teddy bear next and a Virgen de Guadalupe candle “clearly mimics widely publicized images of memorial sites that Latino families place on sidewalks to honor the young men,” according the Voice of OC story. The story also reported the following:

The grieving mother said Cunningham’s message is clear: Poor Latinos aren’t human beings; the deaths of their children and their religious traditions are merely jokes.

“You’re making fun of me losing a child, having to bury him,” Smith said. “I’m outraged. I’m absolutely outraged.”

Apparently Cunningham decided to delete the post when the Voice of OC asked him for comment. He then shared this with the reporter:

52afdc5cec6cf.image

Cunningham’s blog post was still captured by the Voice of OC before he deleted it. You can read the entire post here.

A few excerpts from the post:

UPDATED: Senseless Teddy Bear-icide Near Anaheim City Hall

This teddy bear met a grisly fate sometime today at Anaheim Boulevard and Center Street, just a few
steps from Anaheim City Hall…

UPDATE: This senseless tragedy seems to have struck a chord with the community…

A make-shift shrine stands vigil over the fallen teddy bear.

The left-wing agitation group AnswerLA.org reacted by blaming racial profiling and brutality campaign by the Anaheim Police Department targeting people of color.

Dr. Jose F. Moreno called for a series of community meetings to discuss the impact of this violence on an inclusive roster of stakeholders and for the formation of a city task force to explore ways to increase teddy bear participation in Anaheim municipal government, suggesting this tragedy could have been prevented if the city council were elected from single-member districts.

[note to the gullible - AnswerLa.org and Moreno didn't really say that]

Then Cunningham wrote this:

[NOTE TO READERS]: A few humorless leftists have read the post and taken exception, so let me say a few things. I found the teddy bear as is on the sidewalk (the candles being the only added touch) – never touched it, never moved it. This post is satire. The subject is the leftist tendency to feed off of tragedies of violence – to contend they have wider social and political meaning behind themselves and exploit them to push their politics and usually a specific policy agenda. Frankly, I expected this reaction from some of these very commenters, given they lack a sense of humor about their politics.

HuffPost Politics also included some reactions from local Anaheim residents.