“Social Media Savvy y Todo:” How Online Hispanics Are Crafting The Message and Changing Politics

GUEST POST BY Melissa Salas Blair, founder of Puentes Research and Communications, Inc.

Earlier this year, "the chimichanga heard round the United States" was interesting not just for the fact that Jim Messina, Obama 2012's campaign manager, tweeted the following  —"Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: 'The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos"—  but for the fact many Hispanic voters from both sides of the aisle were insulted, and social media stepped in and stepped in quickly.

In less than 10 minutes, even though there were tweets of support for Messina, there were also just as many tweets tweets calling for him to apologize. Blog posts then followed, then full-blown articles, then radio and televisions shows added the ‘scandal’ into their programming schedules. And it all started with a tweet, in 140 characters or less.

"Chimichanga-gate" confirmed that there is now a rapid response time by online Hispanics on both sides of the political spectrum. In days long gone, it would have taken some time for a response, and the usual organizations who often speak out would have taken the throne, but not anymore. Left-, middle-, and right-leaning Hispanics are taking control of their words, their messages, and speaking out via Hispanic-owned and/or managed media. And this list of outlets is growing: Latism, Fox News Latino, NBCLatino, the Huffington Post's "Latino Voices"VOXXI,  as well a myriad of popular independent journalism sites such as this page, the Latino Rebels.

Hispanics are speaking out against rhetoric hurled by all sides, left and right, as well as both political parties. And, no one is "safe," which Geraldo Rivera found out rather quickly—very quickly. For example, this page (and others) had a blog post about Geraldo’s controversial statements up within minutes, followed by massive social media buzz, inspiring NBC Latino to cover Geraldo’s unfortunate remarks. It was a STOP IT chanclazo heard by all, and felt by Geraldo!

In recent years Hispanic communities have become the fastest-growing population of tech-savvy individuals. A report by 360i Digital Connections found that “in the last year, the number of Hispanics using social media grew 38% (more than double the 16% growth rate for the general population).” It’s fascinating to see the changes and growth, but also more importantly, how Hispanics are utilizing social media.

In the past much of it was used to support one political party or the other. To support one policy position versus another. But, now you find more Hispanics from all cultural backgrounds and all sides of the political arena apoyando each other and openly discussing policy stances that many on the left, the middle, and the right agree on, like comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) and some versions of the DREAM Act. Not only is social media increasing the reach of the Hispano voice, but it’s making it possible for Hispanics to work together on issues and policies for the greater good of all Americans and their families. It’s allowing for unity in many cases, or at the very least respectful discussions and debates like never before.

I believe the greatest lesson for all is this: careful what you say on social media and in the mainstream media, because you never know where the next chanclazo is coming from or from which direction — left or right! And, you don’t want to be known as the person who got a #NoMames award. That’s just embarrassing.

Former Ottawa Mayor Tweets Out Latino “Spics” Racial Slur During Viewing of GOP Debate

Here we go again. Looks like East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo has passed on the Latino Insensitivity Award over to former Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien, whose tweet during a viewing of a GOP presidential debate says one thing and one thing only: racism. 

This is the tweet: 

"The spics are getting way too much airtime!"

O'Brien is no longer on Twitter (at least the profile that tweeted it out), but the journalists at Fox News Latino (yes, people, Fox News Latino) reported this story today:

Larry O’Brien, the former mayor of Ottawa from 2006 until 2010, took offense to the topic matter during last Thursday’s Republican debate in Florida. "The spics are getting way too much airtime!" O'Brien posted on larry_o'brien1 Twitter account.


O’Brien then followed that Tweet with one about the Islamic community. "Why is the Jewish community not more involved in this debate? The Islam community want to destroy Israel,” he tweeted.


At first, some on the social media account thought that the post might be a hoax until a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen newspaper confirmed with O’Brien that he had indeed sent out the Tweet.

O'Brien eventually apologized for his tweet, but he is not backing down from why he did it, according to what he told Metro:

“I believe that the Latino community was asking (about) too many parochial issues when I think the 2012 presidential debate is going to be the most significant election in this century,” said O’Brien. “Did I choose a completely inappropriate word? Absolutely. Was it intentional? No."

O’Brien said the controversy would have been “terrible” if he was still involved in politics, and as a private citizen he is able to explain his mistakes and correct them.

According to the Toronto Sun, O'Brien added more to the fire when he wrote the following on his blog:

"Anyone who knows me understands that being politically incorrect (PI) has been a special strength all my life. Even today, as a recovering politician, I still manage to get into a little trouble with my unique ability to make things clearer to the regular people by being PI," he writes.

"Now that I have my Mea Culpa out of the way, I would like to point out the real benefits of using political incorrectness (PI) as a way of bringing attention to very important issues that are being ignored or, worse yet, misrepresented by the mainstream media," he said.

Of Nuclear Bombs and Latino Disunity

It is said by many that if US Latinos could actually put aside their differences and celebrate all they can offer in this country, then and ONLY THEN will they truly be a force that could move mountains.

However, Latinos (remember we come from 21 countries) get into issues. Issues of coming from different countries, social issues, racial issues, economic issues, cultural issues, religious issues, and so forth. In general, Puerto Ricans mock Dominicans. Dominicans mock Haitians. All of Central America sees Mexico as a big arrogant neighbor. Chileans and Argentines drive each other crazy. White Latinos go against Black Latinos, and vice versa. Then we deny our Native roots as well. And don't get us started about Spain!

Add to the mix that US Latinos might not be in general the most bilingual of people and you get problems. All these problems speak to what is wrong: in an effort to get our voices heard, we unwittingly trample those around us. Our egos become bigger than our hearts, when it fact it is our hearts that will save the day.

There is a running joke that Latinos are jealous of success, especially when it comes to other Latinos becoming successful. We find that sad, quite frankly. Instead of celebrating our accomplishments, we fall into traps, the same traps that were engrained into our cultures for centuries.

In the end, we claim unity and the mainstream media tell us that we are a social force, but the truth is that we are divided and resentful. Last time we checked, that won't get us anywhere.

Here at Latino Rebels, we try to be unique. We are 30 people strong and our mission is a simple one: to use media, comedy, commentary, analysis, satire, discussion, debate, and community to TRULY UNITE LATINOS. Do we do a good job? You tell us. In the end, we will continue to do what we do and be ourselves.

When we see silly things — like the Tequila Party "national" movement, which we feel belittles Latino unity with a stupid name — we will say so. We will try to do so with respect and integrity, even though we know we have our detractors. Some of those detractors call us "losers" and "rejects." We say, "AWESOME!" Here is to the losers, since history has proven that it has been those losers and rejects who have changed the world.

Oc course, we are not the ONLY Latino-themed company on the Internet today (there are thousands of them!), and in fact, there are so many groups that share the same vision of Latino unity that it actually gives us hope. Some groups have more followers and more numbers, while other groups are just starting and getting a fan base.

Here is our point: NUMBERS TO "PROVE" SUPERIORITY AND EXCELLENCE MEAN NOTHING when it comes to social media. Like our founder said so long ago when he was actively engaging in social media, it's all about the QUALITY, baby. The numbers will come if you do the following: post great content and engage with your fans. If you truly want to say who was the first Latino community group, you need to go way back and maybe say it was those forums at Univision.com of the late 1990s.

Take this for example: what would you rather want? 30,000 followers on Twitter or Facebook or 10 followers? Before you answer that question, what if we said those 10 followers are the President of the United States, the President of Mexico, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Shakira, Carmelo Anthony, Ricky Martin, Juanes, Antonio Villaragosa, and the head of ABC, and those 10 followers gave you TRANSPARENT ACCESS to everything they do and they would actively promote what you do 24/7? That is what matters.

Good content also matters. Most bloggers we know in the Latino blogosphere are great people and write some great content. However, when we come across posts that we feel are strange, stereotypical, and offensive, we will let that group know. We aren't hating, just expressing our concern. Hell, we have been lambasted for our own posts and understand that disagreement is part of being a media company in the 21st century. Most of the times, these types of situations can get a bit messy, but we find that public apologies and genuine concern go a long way. What we don't try to do, unless of course the comments and posts are directly harming someone, is delete the post and try to ignore the problem. And if we do delete the post, it is because it starts getting too ugly and personal. That's not good for anyone.

It's best to just address it and it's best to be united.

With that said, we will say this: ANY LATINO PAGE online that shares our vision is PART OF OUR FAMILY. We will ALWAYS promote content that speaks to the nirvana of Latino Unity. That is the end goal here. That is how we will move mountains.

Soon, the Rebels will be producing a new show. We will use our show to share our universe with our viewers. We will promote other groups and causes with no expectations. We want to help anyone who wants the promotion. And yes, we will also have a blast doing the show!

So as we move into the next exciting phase of Latino Rebels, we take a moment to shout out those pages that we have grown to love. ¡Que viva la unidad latina!

Drum roll, please:

Sure, there are other pages that do the same thing, and no one page is better than the other. We leave the pissing contests to the egos. In the end, by having thousands of pages collectively producing good content and authentically connecting with people and each other, by working together instead of against each other, we will achieve that dream that has eluded us for so long. Will we be up for the challenge? Will you?
Now if the Tequila Party organizers can just change their name….
¡Que vivan los latinos!

John Leguizamo’s Papi Telling World His Son is Not Puerto Rican is a NON-ISSUE

Who cares?

Really, on the heels of recent revelation this week made by his father proving that he is not Puerto Rican, actor/comedian/performer John Leguizamo will not remove himself from his role in the Puerto Rican Day Parade. And the parade organizers don’t want him to go.

And you know what Johnny, WE ARE WITH YOU!!!


Don't be messing with the GREAT Leguizamo. We wouldn't care if he were from Mars. He is the REAL DEAL!!!!

You see, this whole issue of your country or origin, is losing steam among Latinos. If Latinos really want to become the true political force in the United States, they must stop thinking like 15 separate countries and think like one united country.

So, this is easy. On behalf of the Latino Rebels, we are sending this outfit to John today. John, you are now an HONORARY BORICUA. Problem solved. Let’s party!!!!

We are sending this to John Leguizamo RIGHT NOW!!!!