~ When Salma Hayek spotted Chris Ortiz and Carolina Reynoso from Pero Like handing out Mexican candy on the red carpet at the Golden Globes this week, the Mexican Hollywood icon just couldn’t resist, snagging a Pulparindo and a Mazapán.
For me personally, my view on Pulparindo and Mazapán are as follows:
~ Of the 12 Latino movies Cristina picked as her “films to watch for at Sundance 2023,” I got my eye on Cassandro—Gael García as a gay wrestler from El Paso?
But who can resist a documentary about high schoolers in South Texas competing in “scholastic mariachi,” or Eugenio Derbez playing the Michelle Pfeiffer role in what sounds like a Mexican version of Dangerous Minds? I sure as shit can’t.
~ Shakira has to be the coolest, sexiest, most talented woman on the planet…
~ On Tuesday morning I heard that Bad Bunny might be retiring from music —or at least the limelight— after he earned the wrath of the internet for throwing a fan’s phone in the water down in the D.R.
Parece que Bad Bunny se retira de la música 😯
But then the announcement was made that Bad Bunny would headline Coachella this year, making him the first Latino artist to do so.
Guess you shouldn’t believe everything you see or hear on the internet.
~ Rauw just announced his tour too, so 2023’s shaping up to be a big year for Puerto Rican music…
YA EMPEZOOOOO LAAA VENTAAA!!!!! https://t.co/65mOXrzeHD
BUSQUEN SU CIUDAD, SEPAREN LA FECHA Y ASEGUREN SUS TAQUILLAASSS!!! LES JUROOO QUE ESTO SERÁ DE LOS MEJORES FOKIN SHOWS QUE TENDRÁ ESTE 2023!!! SATURNOOO TOUR WITH SPECIAL GUEST @JABBAWOCKEEZ !!! 🪐🪐🪐🪐🪐🪐🪐🪐 pic.twitter.com/booRM86F2e
— RAULEETO (@rauwalejandro) January 11, 2023
~ The theme art for this year’s Super Bowl LVII —also known as the Rihanna concert with a football game— was created Lucinda “La Morena” Hinojos, a Chicana artist of Apache and Yaqui descent in Phoenix.
~ If HBO’s upcoming series The Last of Us is anywhere as good as the game—which I played for a few days but never finished because, despite my best efforts, I’m too much of a grown-up…
It’s got the Chilean-born Pedro Pascal in it, who stole the show in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent and The Mandolorian—well, actually Baby Yoda stole the show in The Mandolorian, but Pascal was the most captivating human being in it.
~ How the AP’s Colleen Long describes Biden’s first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border as president:
“Biden’s nearly four-hour visit to El Paso was highly controlled. He encountered no migrants except when his motorcade drove alongside the border and about a dozen were visible on the Ciudad Juárez side.
“His visit did not include time at a Border Patrol station, where migrants who cross illegally are arrested and held before their release. He delivered no public remarks.
“The visit seemed designed to showcase a smooth operation to process legal migrants, weed out smuggled contraband, and humanely treat those who have entered illegally, creating a counter-narrative to Republicans’ claims of a crisis situation equivalent to an open border.”
~ “What’s the difference between a Democrat and a Republican? When it comes to immigration, it’s harder to tell these days,” begins this week’s column by Fidel Martinez for the L.A. Times.
~ The last bus of migrants sent from Colorado arrived in New York on Sunday, with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, promising the mayors of NYC and Chicago, also Democrats, that he wouldn’t be sending any more migrants their way.
~ On Saturday MSNBC ran Latino Rebels founder Julio Ricardo Varela’s latest column on the Latinoness of the newly elected Congress, in which he describes Anna Paulina Luna, Florida’s new MAGA member of Congress, as “a Latina version of Rep. Lauren Boebert” and “a representative of Mexican descent who’s signed on to a political movement that began with the demonization of Mexicans.”
Luna called Julio’s characterization “a twisted lie.”
“it’s important that we journalists avoid placing too much emphasis on a representative of Mexican descent who’s signed on to a political movement that began with the demonization of Mexicans.”
– @MSNBC pushing a twisted lie
— Anna Paulina Luna (@realannapaulina) January 8, 2023
But at least one columnist, over at the Washington Post, seems to disagree with Luna.
~ The owner of Concineros Mexican Grill in Pomona, California, who’s apparently a Latino immigrant himself, was confronted by an activist who was told by an undocumented street vendor that the owner told her to “go back to her ranch” in Mexico, that he was tired of paying taxes to support “illegals” and “wetbacks,” and that, if she didn’t leave, he would either call immigration on her or have his people rough her up.
~ Immediately after being sworn in as governor of Arkansas on Tuesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed two executive orders addressing the state’s most serious problems.
Was it homelessness? Crumbling infrastructure? The public school system?
Naw, she just banned the word Latinx from official use by the state government and block the state’s schools from teaching critical race theory.
~ Meanwhile, in New Mexico —which has the highest percentage of Latino residents in the country— any anti-CRT bill is “probably dead on arrival,” Javier Martínez, who has been nominated to be the state’s next House speaker, told Axios.
~ Last Friday, Sofía Sánchez and Peniley Ramírez over at Futuro Investigates reported on how DEA-trained agents working throughout Latin America had conspired with drug cartels and lived lavish lifestyles.
“The funding for drug enforcement was basically a slush fund for corruption in the DEA,” the attorney of a former DEA agent told them. “When a whistleblower threatens the organization, it leads to pretty almost standardized tactics of retaliation.”
~ In her first speech to state lawmakers on Monday, newly sworn-in Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs promised to tackle Arizona’s housing and water shortage crises, strengthen its public education system, defend against further restrictions on abortions —which are banned in the state after 15 weeks— and called on the legislature to provide college scholarships for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.
“Immigration has been politicized for far too long,” Hobbs said in her speech.
Two GOP senators turned their backs as Hobbs spoke about education, and several Republicans walked out when she promised to defend abortion rights.
~ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is all gung-ho about bussing migrants arriving in Texas to Martha’s Vineyard or wherever, but he’s been pretty gentle with the Cuban migrants pouring into his own state—which clearly shows how the debate over immigration has little to do with economics or national security, and everything to do with politics.
“From all I know, whatever Gov. DeSantis decides to do will be the right thing,” says a boob from Missouri who winters in Florida.
~ “Twitter May Have Broken City Law by Firing Its Cleaning Staff,” reads a headline on Documented.
“On December 19, [Lucy] Calderon and about a dozen of her fellow janitorial workers suddenly learned they had lost their jobs after Flagship Facility Services forwarded them a message that said Twitter was terminating its contract with Flagship without any explanation.”
~ “Few employment opportunities, language barriers, and little sense of community have all negatively impacted the mental health of asylum seekers,” writes Documented’s Rommel Ojeda in an article on “The Unspoken Toll Migration Has on Mental Health.”
~ On Friday, after months of pressure from labor and immigrant organizations, the Department of Homeland Security issued a press release and official guidelines on its 2021 announcement to grant immigration relief to undocumented workers who experience or witness workplace violations.
~ A lawsuit has been filed against the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission alleging that its undercover sting operations target people of color:
“Stanford Miller, a 49-year-old Jamaican American immigrant, was dropping off his relatives at JFK Airport in August 2021 when an elderly woman approached him. She was looking for a ride.
“Miller wasn’t a cab driver, but he felt compassion for her and agreed to drive her since they were heading toward the same borough. Unbeknownst to him, the woman was an undercover officer for the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission.
“Soon after Miller picked up the woman, he was forced to pull over and was accused of agreeing to pick up the undercover officer in exchange for a $40 fare. Miller alleges that he offered to pick up the woman for free. The TLC issued a summons for operating a for-hire vehicle without the required TLC license, which has a maximum penalty of $2,000.”
~ The Minnesota House Transportation Committee approved a measure on Tuesday that would allow undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. The bill largely has the backing of the state’s law enforcement and business leaders, though Republican leaders want driver’s licenses granted to undocumented immigrants to indicate the bearer’s immigration status.
“Allowing an undocumented immigrant to acquire a driver’s license that looks exactly like the license used by a legal Minnesota resident is asking for trouble,” said the GOP ranking member on the Transportation Committee. “If the goal is to just let undocumented people have driving privileges, then there should be no objection to making the license reflect their undocumented status.”
“The reality is that a majority of these parties are probably driving anyways for work purposes, and to have them properly licensed with proper training just increases the safety for everyone involved,” said the sheriff of Stearns County.
“Minnesota employers rely on immigrant workers to serve their customers and produce the goods and services we use and enjoy,” said Laura Bordelon, senior vice president for advocacy at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. “Our groups support federal immigration reform and recognize that as we wait for immigration solutions on the federal level, the state has a role in dealing with state specific issues.”
The Minnesota House passed a similar bill in 2019 with an amendment requiring that the driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants include the words “not for voting.”
As it stands, 18 states and Washington, D.C. have authorized driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
~ Monday marked the first anniversary of the Bronx fire that killed 17 people, including eight children, at the Twin Parks high-rise apartment building. Documented spoke to some of the survivors, one of whom, Yadhira Rodriguez, who was pregnant at the time of the fire, says the $10,000 credit card that City of New York gave her family and others to rebuild wasn’t nearly enough.
“Six months after the fire there were still people in the shelters,” Yadhira told Documented’s labor reporter, Amir Khafagy. “Thank God I have a whole village praying and doing stuff so that we don’t only depend on the City. But what happened to my neighbors who only have the City?”
~ The Flagmakers, a new National Geographic documentary that debuted on Disney+ last Friday, looks at the mostly immigrant and refugee workers inside a factory producing U.S. flags.
“The people that literally sew the stars and stripes of our nation are very much representational of our nation,” filmmaker Cynthia Wade told Russell Contreras at Axios.
~ The share of Latino professors of medicine has lagged in recent years, though the number of Latinos students in med school jumped last year by four percent, reports Marina at Axios.
~ Taking inspiration from their Republican role models in the United States, supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro stormed the National Congress, Supreme Court, and the Palácio do Planalto —the presidential offices—in Brasília on Sunday, refusing to accept President Lula da Silva‘s electoral victory and recent inauguration.
“Thousands of demonstrators bypassed security barricades, climbed on the roofs, broke windows and invaded all three buildings, which are connected through the vast Three Powers square in Brasilia. Some are calling for a military intervention to restore the far-right Bolsonaro to power,” reported Diane Jeantet for the Associated Press.
While I had hoped that Bolsonaro and his supporters were bluffing when they said they wouldn’t accept the results of the October 30 presidential election, Sunday’s events are all that surprising for anyone who’s been following the increase of political violence in Brazil over the past year or so. I’ve been editing Raphael’s monthly rundown of Brazilian affairs since taking the helm at Latino Rebels back in October 2021, not to mention the news I’ve been getting from other sources, so I understood that a January 6-like uprising was always in the offing.
~ Police arrested 300 rioters “caught in the act” on Sunday, plus another 1,200 people who had been camped outside a military base for weeks hoping they could pressure the armed forces to intervene and restore Bolsonaro to the presidency.
Meeting in Mexico City on Monday, Biden, AMLO and Trudeau issued a joint statement condemning the insurrection in the Brazilian capital, while the leader of Bolsonaro’s party called it “an embarrassment.”
“This may have been the beginning of the end,” said Mario Sérgio Lima, a political analyst at Medley Advisors. “The political system will want to isolate that radical movement and move away from it.”
~ The United States—making the world safe for fascism:
~ With Bolsonaro hiding out in Florida in the home of MMA legend Jose Aldo, Biden’s under pressure from leftist leaders in Latin America and progressive lawmakers at home to get rid of the Brazilian Batista.
“Nearly two years to the day the U.S. Capitol was attacked by fascists, we see fascist movements abroad attempt to do the same in Brazil,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). “The U.S. must cease granting refuge to Bolsonaro in Florida.”
We give asylum to foreign leaders threatening to tear down democracy in their countries through violence and corruption, but not to the poor people fleeing such places.
~ Some were thinking Bolsonaro and his family might head to Italy, where his forebears emmigrated from in the 19th century and where Bolsonaro was bestowed honorary citizenship in 2021, but the Italian foreign minister said this week that Bolsonaro has never requested official citizenship.
~ Among the millions of dollars in artwork destroyed during the insurrection is a 17th-century clock made by Balthazar Martinot gifted to king of Portugal by the French court. he only other Martinot clock in existence is one half the size in France’s Palace of Versailles.
And on a historic wooden table inside the Supreme Court, insurrectionist carved the words “Supreme are the people,” a nod to Bolsonaro’s many battles with the high court.
~ The attack in the Brazilian capital is “a reminder that instead of championing democracy, we’re exporting shameful coup tactics,” wrote Jennifer Cardoso and Iván Espinoza-Madrigal this week on LR. Both are members of the Boston-based Lawyers for Civil Rights, where Cardoso is a Brazilian Portuguese-speaking paralegal.
~ The resemblance is uncanny…
Luego de 10 años 😂 pic.twitter.com/d8td9LpDVa
— Javier Alejandro (@JavierA68705086) January 12, 2023
~ “There is, perhaps, no other living leader in either the Global South or North with the stature and track record to effectively make the case for a renewed focus on human wellbeing and survival in a world that is cascading deeper into inequality, environmental destruction, and war,” writes Sean T. Mitchell in an essay for NACLA titled “The Importance of Lula’s Presidency in an Increasingly Multipolar World.”
~ “To restore order, Lula signed a decree for a federal intervention in Brasília until Jan. 31—but constitutional amendments cannot be carried out during a federal intervention, meaning his planned tax and environmental overhauls will have to wait,” writes Marina Franco at Axios.
“The swearing-in of Congress, scheduled for Feb. 1, could also be delayed if the intervention is extended, says Gustavo Ribeiro, editor-in-chief at the Brazilian Report.”
~ The protests in Peru over former President Pedro Castillo’s ouster are still raging, with the death toll now at 48 people as of Thursday morning, including a police officer who was burned alive by protesters in the city of Juliaca.
~ On Thursday, a 16-year-old who had been shot in the head during a protest and was in critical condition for two days finally died, bringing the death toll to 49.
His death occurred in the same Puno region, near Lake Titicaca, where that police officer was burned alive.
~ On Thursday the mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, announced the deployment of more than 6,000 National Guard troops to patrol the capital city’s subway after a series accidents that officials fear may be sabotage.
In May 2021, an elevated section of the system collapsed, killing 26 people and injuring almost 100 others. And just last Saturday two trains collided between stations, killing one person.
While Sheinbaum, a member of AMLO’s party, likes to paint such accidents as sabotage by the conservative opposition, many in the city blame them on antiquated state of the subway system itself, one of the cheapest in the world —at about 25 cents a ride— and thus drastically underfunded.
It’s so bad that current and past subway workers say their forced to use messaging apps on their phones to communicate with train operators and avoid accidents.
…And Mayor Sheinbaum hopes to replace AMLO in the 2024 presidential election.
~ Three students were arrested earlier this week in Guadalajara, Mexico for trying to plant trees on land that was belonged to the city and was slated to become a public park but was then given to a private developer in a shady deal back in 2008.
The three students —Iván Cisneros, Javier Armenta, and José Rojas— were charged with illegal land seizure and carrying weapons, the “weapons” in question referring to the shovels and picks they used to dig the holes during a weeks-long peaceful protest on the land in 2021.
The local community wants a public park as originally promised, but developer plans to build a high-rise luxury apartment building—because who needs a big beautiful park for the public to enjoy when you can sneer down at the peasantry from 30 floors up?
~ On Thursday AMLO called on the “one or two” private companies beginning lithium mining projects to hault, since Mexico nationalized its lithium mines last year.
The only private company even close to mining lithium in the country is Chinese lithium giant Ganfeng International, which runs an operation in the northern state of Sonora and was expected to get cracking this year.
~ “Puerto Rico, where 70 women were slain last year and attempts were made on the lives of another 69, named a special investigator for gender-targeted violence this past weekend, five months after the position became vacant,” reports Axios. “Vilmarie Rivera Sierra, who previously led a network of shelters for abused women, will head the office.”
~ Bolivia is being forced to its knees by blockades set up by protesters in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, the country’s economic engine, whose right-wing governor was arrested on terrorism charges in December for his prominent role in forcing former socialist President Evo Morales out of office back in 2019.
~ Clare Daly, Ireland’s independent socialist member of the European Parliament, on the story of Haiti:
“Haiti is the site of the first and only successful slave revolution in history. Haitians won their independence from France in 1804 and immediately abolished slavery, becoming the first place in the world to do so. It was also the first state to outlaw racism in its constitution.
“Haiti was a beacon of light for the world, and it was punished for it. It was punished over and over again by France, by the U.S., through a series of coups, invasions, occupations, assassinations, through relentless meddling and crushing debt.
“They were determined that this beacon of freedom would be extinguished because it presented a bold challenge to the logic of capital and empire.
“But the Haitian people kept fighting through. Theirs is a light that never goes out.
“And so it’s still being punished. The meddling goes on. If Haiti is a mess —and it is— then Europe and the U.S. are to blame. If we want to support the Haitian people —and we should— we’ll stand up to the U.S., the world’s bully, tell them to get out of Haiti, and get out of it ourselves.”
~ Biden’s announcement last week that the U.S. would allow entry to 30,000 immigrants a month from Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba —so long as they come legally, have eligible sponsors, and pass background checks— has sparked a rush on immigration offices across Haiti, as many are desperate to receive a passport, since a U.S. “sponsor must fill out a form in which they ask for the beneficiary’s passport number,” as the Haitian Times reports.
“All I want is a chance to come to the United States to find work and live,” said 25-year-old Wilfrid Jeune, who arrived in front of the immigration office in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday at 7 a.m. and still hadn’t reached the building four hours later do to the long line and wait time.
~ On Wednesday, the Haitian Bridge Alliance and Welcome.US announced that they were partnering to connect Haitians with potential sponsors.
~ The Haitian Times provides a breakdown on sponsoring a Haitian immigrant.
~ “The recent inhumane acts of anti-Haitian violence captured in the videos circulated on social media should not be seen as isolated events of anti-Black racism,” writes Dominican-born and Brooklyn-raised English professor Ayendy Bonifacio in an essay for NACLA. “Anti-Haitian sentiment and discrimination, coupled with anti-Blackness, have saturated many levels of Dominican history and education. The narrative that Dominican national identity is defined in opposition to all things Haitian —that is, Dominican history as always in opposition to Haitian humanity and existence— has contributed to what I call the institutionalization of anti-Haitianism in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere.”
“The racial logics of the Dominican Republic have a long colonial history dating back to the earliest conquest and enslavement of Arawakan Taínos and Africans on the island, which created a complex, Catholic-inspired caste system of colorism that extended all over Latin America. Although the racist ideology about Haitians formed over centuries, the modernization of anti-Haitianism on the island commenced with 20th-century dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who envisioned the Dominican Republic as a distinctly Spanish, Catholic, and non-Black nation.”
Police blew up the bomb —made of ammonium nitrate, powdered aluminum and shrapnel— in a controlled explosion on Monday.
~ If you’re open for fair elections in Guatemala this summer, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
~ I may be too grown to finish a video game, but not mature enough to laugh at this headline: “Cayman Islands to cull feral cats to protect brown boobies”
The dead-cats bit is sad though.
~ On Tuesday’s episode of Latino USA, Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Ileana Cabra —better known under her stage name iLe— talked about her music journey and the power of protest and song.
~ On this week’s episode of Latino Rebels Radio, Julio talks to Brazilian sociologist Sabrina Fernandes and Juliana Macedo do Nascimento, deputy director of federal advocacy at United We Dream, about last weekend’s insurrection in Brazil and Biden’s trip to the border.
~ On Friday’s episode of Latino USA, Maria speaks with Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of “The 1619 Project,” and the show travels to the 1619 Freedom School, an after-school literacy program for fourth and fifth-graders Hannah-Jones founded in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa.