Thank You/Gracias Mil to All Our LatinoRebels.Com Contributors

Contrary to what you hear on the Internet, LatinoRebels.com is a collective of several voices. While many of our pieces with “Rebeldes” bylines reflect the core group’s editorial voice, we also have published the works of 60 individual contributors to this site.

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That is a fact.

LatinoRebels.com is not the voice of one, it is the voice of many, voices that deserve to be heard and amplified.

As we prepare to celebrate our 4th year online (May 5, 2014), we take a moment to thank all our contributors. They are what make this page what it is. They have all written some amazing original pieces, and some of them have even gotten jobs from these bylines. That’s what it’s all about. So ¡GRACIAS! Now give them all a follow on Twitter:

  1. @aaronmiguel_
  2. @arodomus
  3. @AuthorISanchez
  4. @BellaVidaLetty
  5. @bezotes
  6. @BlancaVNYC
  7. @CarolinaADrake
  8. @charlespgarcia
  9. @ctsaenz
  10. @ludacristiano
  11. Daniel Robelo of @DrugPolicyNews
  12. @Dominizuelan
  13. @rodrigvm
  14. @Blmnob
  15. @erjusino_FBNET
  16. Edwin Pagán of @LatinHorror
  17. @efrain_nieves
  18. @ErikaLSanchez
  19. Eric Arce (he doesn’t have a Twitter handle, it’s cool)
  20. @kiki416
  21. Frank Salcedo (no Twitter handle, but a great writer from LA)
  22. @ginavergel7
  23. @HectorLuisAlamo
  24. @IcessFernandez
  25. @Iris_Estrada
  26. @GuerillaGrrl
  27. @JorgeEGalvaR
  28. @juansaaa
  29. Judi Jordan
  30. @LamontLilly
  31. @Librotraficante
  32. @marentesluis
  33. Luis Serrano of @Immigrantpower
  34. @minsd
  35. Matt Mendez of Librotraficante.com
  36. Dr. Michael Hogan
  37. @monica_promumi
  38. @muchomartinez
  39. @conrazon
  40. Rebecca Beard of RebeccaBeard.com
  41. @nickbelardes
  42. @coachomar
  43. @Mr__Christian
  44. @vato
  45. Patricia Pou Jové
  46. @Raul_Ramos
  47. @reynaldomacias
  48. @ricknajera
  49. @robvato
  50. @rscspokenword
  51. @salmendoza
  52. @sg_ndlon
  53. @SamARosado
  54. @DurgaOne
  55. @SusetLaboy
  56. @TanishaLove
  57. @taydolven
  58. @hispanictips
  59. @tonytorero
  60. @julito77

Latino Rebels Radio Launches with #AJAMBorderland and #Not1More

Tonight, Latino Rebels Radio launched. Every Sunday night. Live at 10pmET. Click here. We just WENT FOR IT. The convo was real and live. The tech things will work themselves out in future shows.

The show focused on the premiere of Al Jazeera America’s “Borderland.” We even got a surprise call from Kishana Holland @treschicstyle, one of the cast members of the series. Kishana added her thoughts about the show and how real it was.

We also talked with NDLON’s Tania Unzueta about the #Not1More campaign.

Latino Rebels to Shut Down Operations

Following the losses of NBC Latino and CNN Latino, Latino Rebels will be shutting down, effective immediately. The reason? “Unprecedented success.”

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Here is the April 1 statement, which was cut and pasted from the minutes of a Latino Rebels meeting this morning:

It is with sadness that we here at Latino Rebels will be shutting down our operations due to unprecedented success. Our consistent and growing organic web traffic through no advertising or any investment is proving too difficult to stop. Having exceeded over 2 million unique visitors and 2.6 million pageviews, it is best to just no longer produce content that authentically speaks to an underserved market. You can only make so many NPR appearances or get quoted in outlets such as The New York Times.

We have become one of the top independent Latino news sites in the world (outpacing pretty much every other independent site), and now we don’t know what to do, so we decided to follow the advice of the small angry group of people (about three people basically tweeting to each other) who choose to tear down success: we are stopping. We can’t take this good news any more. We need to be constantly bitter, constantly divide people and constantly be victimized. We need to keep our voices muted and have our opinions silenced. We need to cease giving other voices a forum to share their opinions. We will no longer be fearless. Our strategy is to capitulate and surrender. In the end, it’s best to just follow how other people judge you and walk away from a really good thing.

APRIL FOOLS!

In all seriousness: we are not going anywhere. This is only the beginning. As for the tiny miserable group of haters, hit it:

As for the rest of you who continue to support us 100%, we already have our playlist ready for today. First:

Then:

Add this:

With a little bit of this:

LatinoRebels.com Celebrates Latina Leaders for Women’s History Month

In observance of Women’s History Month, LatinoRebels.com celebrates the Latinas who are making important contributions to our society across industries, sectors and movements. This week, Rebeldes Mónica Ramírez, Jen Wilton and Luis Marentes worked together to highlight some of these incredible leaders. They are role models in their communities, schools and workplaces. We thank them for their leadership and for their tireless efforts to make our world better each and every day.

Rebelde Mónica Ramírez (second from left) with Dolores Huerta (far right)

Rebelde Mónica Ramírez (second from left) with Dolores Huerta (far right)

Today we begin our series by spotlighting some of the Latinas who have made a significant impact in the fight for civil rights, including the fight for immigrants’ rights.  Historically, Latinas in the United States have confronted a number of civil rights issues, including discrimination in employment, housing, and education.  Latinas have been denied their voting rights and have been subject to amplified anti-Latino and anti-immigrant sentiment, including an increase in hate crimes.

Below is a short list of some of women who have helped promote equal rights for all:

Dolores Huerta is one of the most important labor rights, civil rights, human rights and women’s rights activists of all time. Among her many accomplishments, Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez in 1962. Today she is the President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.  Through her activism she has worked to achieve the passage of new laws and protections for farmworkers and others.  She coined the phrase, “Sí Se Puede,” which has been used as a slogan for the farmworker movement and many other important campaigns, including President Barack Obama’s  for President of the United States. Huerta has received many awards and recognitions for her incredible advocacy, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She was also inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Felisa Rincón de Gautier, commonly referred to as “Doña Fela, was a passionate and staunch leader. She first rose to the spotlight for her activism in the fight for women’s right to vote, which was achieved in Puerto Rico in 1932.  In 1946, Rincón de Gautier became the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the first female to hold this post in the Americas.  She was mayor for 22 years. Rincón de Gautier promoted the well being of the Puerto Ricans that she served. She focused on improving the infrastructure and health systems on the island. She died in 1994 at the age of 97. Rincón de Gautier helped pave the way for other Latina politicians.

Sylvia Méndez and her siblings were catapulted into the limelight when their parents Gonzalo and Felicitas made the decision to fight for the right for their children to receive the same educational opportunities as white school children.  In 1943, Latino students in California and other parts of the U.S. were still subject to school segregation. Mendez’s parents, along with a group of other parents, sued four school districts in California in the case Méndez vs. Westminster for discriminating against Latino students.  The Court found that school segregation was unconstitutional. The Méndez case resulted in school desegregation in the state of California and laid the foundation for school desegregation throughout the United States.  Méndez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Ana Avendaño, recently appointed the Vice President of Labor Participation for United Way Worldwide, USA, previously served as Assistant to the President and Director of Immigration and Community Action at the AFL-CIO. Through her work, she promoted critical labor-community partnerships and worked to connect the labor movement with Latino and immigrant communities.  Avendaño helped represent the labor community in discussions with business leaders in the immigration reform debates, leading to the historic shared principles that were announced prior to the introduction of the “Gang of 8’s” immigration legislation. She formerly served as Assistant General Counsel to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union where she was one of the leaders in the labor movements’ call for immigration reform and legalization.

María Gabriela (Gaby) Pacheco  is a leader in the immigrant rights movement.  Pacheco first gained national recognition in 2010 when she and three other immigrant youth leaders set out for a four month walk from Miami, Florida to Washington D.C. with the goal of raising awareness about the plight of undocumented youth.  Their action came to be known as the Trail of Dreams and their mission was to push for the passage of the Dream Act.  She and her colleagues set out to educate Congress about the reality of undocumented youth and adults who were brought to the United States as children.  Pacheco and her family moved to the United States from Ecuador when she was eight years old. Consequently, like hundreds of thousands of other immigrant youth, she grew up and studied in the United States.  However, she did not have legal status to live or work in the United States.  Pacheco’s leadership helped pave the way for the   federal government’s decision to permit certain qualifying youth to apply for deferred action from immigration deportation, along with the opportunity to attend college and work.

Of course, this list could go on and on. Who would you add to this first list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. We will have another one tomorrow.

Latino Rebels Is Seeking a New Publisher

As LatinoRebels.com transitions into a new exciting phase, we are seeking a Publisher. This unpaid position (for now) contains equity, and is ideal for an individual who seeks the challenge of taking one of the world’s top independent U.S. Latino sites and taking it to the next level.

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The candidate should have a superior knowledge of editorial content. In addition, truly understanding the “DNA” of the organization (how we find stories and how we amplify them) is a must.

Serious candidates are encouraged to be creative when submitting their interest. Share your vision. Think big. Email [email protected] Or tweet us @latinorebels.

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.

The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Response to Governor’s “Opinion” Piece on Puerto Rico

Editor’s Note: As we prepared this opinion piece by Susanne Ramirez de Arellano, it came to our attention that the headline for the Fox News Latino piece cited in her piece has changed to read, “Puerto Rico’s Governor Says Despite Criticism, Island’s Economy Is On The Mend.” Here is what the current FNL page says:

Newest headline of FNL piece, captured around 6pm ET.

Newest headline of FNL piece, captured around 6pm ET.

 

We did tweet to FNL about whether the headline changed:

Here is Susanne’s original piece. If we hear from FNL about the headline change, we will provide an update. (UPDATE: FNL tweeted back to us on January 29, 2014:)

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What? This was my reaction when I read Puerto Rico’s Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s “opinion” piece published today by Fox News Latino about the state of the island’s economy and overall well-being.

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Earlier headline of FNL piece, captured around 2pm ET.

 

Under the headline “Puerto Rico: Economic Turnaround in the Caribbean,” Garcia Padilla wrote: “If you want to see what a recovering economy looks like, you need only to look at Puerto Rico. Our island has enjoyed an economic turnaround and is emerging from recent challenges stronger and more successful than ever before.”

 

In the piece – which follows another published recently in the Huffington Post titled “Puerto Rico’s Economy is Stronger today than it was a Year Ago,” Garcia Padilla assures that job creation, a controversial pension reform, fiscal measures and a restructuring of public corporations have turned the economy around. All of these attempts have come at a serious political cost.

Garcia Padilla writes that “what makes these successes so notable are the challenges we had to overcome, years of kicking the can down the road and postponing tough choices meant historic economic problems for Puerto Rico.”

Reality check. The island’s economy, the government’s coffers and the sanity of its people are in pretty bad shape. The official unemployment rate just hit 15.4 %. It was at 13.5% six months ago. The Planning Board is now predicting that the economy will contract a further 0.8% in fiscal 2014. Payroll employment fell last month by 25,000 jobs. The island is also waging a war against drug trafficking and an ever increasing crime wave.

The worst is not over. All three credit rating agencies are on the verge of pulling the plug and junking the island’s bonds. This could severely affect the 3.7 trillion US municipal bond market. And the stampede toward the airport has resulted in a diaspora that has seen a population decline of 2%. That’s in Puerto Rico.

The timing of the article is telling indeed. Garcia Padilla’s A-Team is in New York talking to credit raters, just before a scheduled February debt offering. Moody’s has already warned that it will downgrade the island’s bonds if it is not kosher with the offering.

Garcia Padilla’s government has its back to the wall, under extreme pressure to convince investors and credit rating agencies that it still has the ability to borrow money from the capital markets. And here is where Wall Street steps in. Dressing up as a savior, it has said it is willing to lend Puerto Rico money. But salvation comes with a cost. Its name is interest, or specifically a 10 per cent rate of return on a 2 billion dollar loan. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Garcia Padilla’s “opinion” piece is a sorry attempt to hide the fact that the “Emperor has No Clothes.” The article is written more as a propaganda piece for outside consumption and not for the readers of “el patio.” I doubt if Wall Street will be convinced.

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You can follow Susanne on Twitter: @DurgaOne.

#Undeportable: The Best #DeportBieber Memes We Have Seen

Status, Status, Status…

Editor’s Note: Edwin Jusino, a regular contributor to Latino Rebels, also weighed in on the latest news surrounding Puerto Rico’s political status.

Last week Congress approved to assign $2.5 million so that Puerto Rico can celebrate yet another plebiscite, one that will almost certainly give the same results as the results from November 2012. There is a catch, though. The Justice Department must approve which status formulas are consistent with the Constitution and with the Administration’s public policy.

This will certainly be a shock to the island’s Popular Democrats (PPD), as they should—if Justice Department does their job—be forced to choose between non-territorial constitutionally valid formulas (i.e, statehood or any form of independence like an associated republic) outside of the current system.

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As usual, the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP) is supporting the 2012 election plebiscite results, and wishes for statehood “Yes or No” ratification vote.

On the other hand, both the PPD and the Independence Party (PIP) are moving towards convening a Status Assembly to negotiate with the Justice Department the terms and “definitions” of the new plebiscite.

Certainly, the incumbent PPD has the votes to decree the formation of a Status Assembly, but Resident Commissioner and statehood leader Pedro Pierluisi has, time and time again, reiterated that the PNP will not participate in such a mechanism.

The question should then be this: What is President Barack Obama’s public policy regarding the status of Puerto Rico? He has stated he will support the voice of the people of Puerto Rico, yet his Administration has been ambiguous about whether the “Estado Libre Asociado” is a viable sustainable mechanism for Puerto Rico’s future. If the DoJ does its research, it should see that the current territorial form of government limits and halts the growth of the Puerto Rican economy.

Whether you support statehood or independence, one thing must be made clear to the U.S. government:we cannot and we refuse to continue in the current territorial arrangement. Like Patrick Henry once said, “give me liberty or give me death.” or as I say, “give me equality or give me a divorce.”

Mexican Workers in NYC Talk About Michoacán and #Autodefensas

While the struggle in Michoacán continues between the self-defense groups, the Knights Templar drug cartel and the Mexican army and police, media reporting from Mexico has portrayed the various views from locals. But what do those who emigrated from nearby areas of Michoacán, and follow the news from the U.S. think?

Cris Alfaro image La Chamba

CREDIT: Chris Alfaro, “Santos en la chamba”

So far, reports from Michoacán locals show there are those who support the self-defense groups, those who are not sure whom to believe and those whom think that any group who gains power gets corrupted at some point. This weekend, Mexican newspaper El País Internacional, informed that a local census in Michoacán revealed how 58% of the population approves of the self-defense movement; although 46.7% does not think their only objective is to reestablish security.

From Mexico, The New York Times reported how it is difficult to find residents who don’t appreciate the self-defense groups. Journalist Antúnez, Randal C. Archibold spoke to a local fruit vendor who said:

Since they [self-defense groups] came last week, everything changed,” said a fruit vendor who, like many here, spoke in whispers and anonymously out of fear that the gang that had ruled would return. “It is peaceful.”

The support and trust for the self-defense groups varies. In an interview with CNNMexico a Michoacán resident who asked not to be identified, expressed that locals were not given many options by the self-defense groups, and some residents are confused about who to believe:

“We think that this is going to last for months, because there is not just one person who says, ‘We are going to hand over our weapons to the Army,’” he said. “People are very afraid. We do not know who to believe. The self-defense groups tell us one thing, and the military tells us something else.”

And for some, although the struggle appears genuine, there is always the fear of corruption, which is a common outcome in the history of Latin American revolutionary movements. Alfredo Castillo, a new commissioner heading up security in the state, offered a warning last Thursday:

The newly formed self-defense groups, he said, could become as ruthless as the cartels they claim to oppose.

“You can start out with a genuine purpose,” he said. “But when you start taking control, making decisions and feeling authority … you run the risk of reaching that point.”

In NYC, Mexican workers are also following the news about Michoacán. It is not difficult to see people traveling on the 7 train from Queens, with Spanish newspapers open, reading headlines about their country’s struggle as they head to work in kitchens, restaurants, or other sites around Manhattan.

Although support for the self-defense groups may vary in degree, one view that most agree on is that the government has been inefficient, and that corruption rules over their home country.

Saul y Lucio

CREDIT: Gabino Castelán “Saúl y Lucío en la chamba”

Saúl works in a kitchen in NYC and is from Guerrero, where his family lives. Saúl, who has been in NYC for 9 years, expressed; “The Mexican government is corrupt, that’s why the self-defense groups were formed. The self-defense groups are good people who want to protect their families. We have police in Guerrero, but everything is marked by corruption.” When asked his opinion about the drug cartels in Guerrero, Saul asserted “drug-cartels (los narcos) will remain because that’s where the money is, and the demand won’t go away any time soon.”

Antonio is a chef who came to NYC 25 years ago from Matamoros, Puebla. He has a son and a daughter who attend college in Puebla, Mexico. Alberto does not have faith in the Mexican government and expressed “the government is not doing the job they should be doing. If they did, there wouldn’t be all this violence. And we don’t have a saying, people don’t want to express their opinions anymore because of fear.”

Antonio, who reads the news from his country, expressed “Being here, from so far away, it is heartbreaking. I cannot do much because I am a simple person who works. Violence won’t stop until government does what they are supposed to be doing.” When asked about the self-defense groups he responded, “they can’t always accomplish what they promise.”

Antonio

CREDIT: Gabino Castelán “Antonio en la chamba”

Although the Mexican government is sending army forces to disarm the self-defense groups, so far, groups refuse to disarm until the head of the drug cartel is caught. On Saturday, Aljazeera informed that violence broke out between the military and supporters of the community police, killing several people and that “After the tragedy, there was little evidence to suggest troops were disarming people or trying to stop the militia from battling the cartels.”

When I asked Lucío, a kitchen assistant from the state of Morelos, who has lived in NYC for 9 years, about the self-defense groups, he said,

What is difficult for the government is to allow the self-defense groups to get all the credit. I give some of my support to the self-defenses, because they support and defend their families and their homes. The government on the other hand only defends itself.

Lucío added that he has no doubt self-defense groups come into municipalities peacefully: “The groups arrive to a town and, at the entrance, they give the town motives over why they are coming in. If the town wouldn’t like their motive, the municipalities would not let them in.” About the drug cartel, Lucio expressed, “It’s a lie that the drug cartels help people, all we see is extortion and violence.”

Lucío, who sends money to his family from Mexico, expressed that watching the current news from NYC “hurts,” he mentions how “I cannot do anything from here, and from here, they always talk about the worst of Mexico, the violence, but nobody shows how beautiful it is.”

[Interviews were conducted in Spanish and translated to English.]

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Carolina Drake has an MA in Philosophy and writes about bilingual education, immigration, and being Argentine in the U.S. Follow here here: @CarolinaADrake.