Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Latinowood & Leon Potasinki!

Dear friends and colleagues,

Latinowood will now be posted through effective February 6, 2013.

It has been getting harder to manage so many of my projects that it was best to post in one place. Latinowood remains my personal blog who happens to now be parked on the Latin Heat Online site.

To read my latest post, on advertising Latino whiz, Leon Potasinki, who recently died unexpectedly. You may not have ever heard of Leon before but certainly you've seen his handy work with the many commercials he created through the years.

Check out the article on Latinowood's new real estate by clicking here:

Please consider signing up for Latin Heat's E-zine to follow my blog which will be publishing weekly.

Thank you all for your loyal following! Please continue to hang with me at Latin Heat!



Monday, January 7, 2013

Sergio Hernandez’ Art: Mixing Mexican-American Metaphors


Some journalists get goofy with movie stars, others with rock stars, but me, I get weak at the knees with writers and artists. To me there is no difference between a blank page or a canvas. It is all art to me and it has always inspired me.

I’ve always said that if you want to really know Mexican-Americans, then all you have to do is study their art and music. No fluff, no sugar coating, just a raw dose of truth about life, politics and spirituality are mainly what you’ll find.

For forty years, artist/cartoonist Sergio Hernandez has kept his pulse on the Latino community and painted life as he has witnessed it. He is part political activist and part community organizer. But mostly, he is a respected artist whose work represents the best and worst of our life experiences. I’ve have also always affirmed that if you want to know the secret to marketing to Latinos, then one should study their art.

In the 1960s, Hernandez began his artistic odyssey when he met the artists and writers producing the Los Angeles-based Chicano literary magazine Con Safos - an experience that transformed his life.

Adding depth to Hernandez’ human insight is the fact that he began his adult life working with the Los Angeles County Probation Department where he counseled youth. His artistic ability inspired and helped to develop art talent in at-risk youths.

Interviewing Hernandez was engrossingly revealing and hopefully will inspire others to give their talents a chance… you never know where it will take you.

What, Sergio Hernandez, is your greatest accomplishment as an artist?

Sergio Hernandez: Probably the most enduring image and the one that I’m most proud of is the Arnie “n” Porfi cartoon strip I created in 1969 for Con Safos. There had been an incident (don’t recall the state) where a young Chicano kid was being accused of rape. When the judge (Chargin was his name, I believe) was sentencing the boy, he [the judge] launched into a racist diatribe and indictment of Chicano people.

I’m paraphrasing here, but the judge said to the boy something like this: ‘your people are lower than animals and Hitler was probably right,’ inferring that mass killing of minorities was justified. Con Safos felt the need to address this issue and thus the cartoon strip was created.

I was 19 years old when I joined the staff of Con Safos in 1968. Creating such an important and iconic cartoon strip a year later definitely stands high above all the other milestones I’ve reached in my life as an artist.

Your Arnie “n” Porfi cartoon strip is legendary and anyone involved with the Chicano student and civil rights movement during the late 60’s will remember it well. What was the inspiration for the birth of these two characters?

SH: I knew I wanted to be part of this movement but I was really unsophisticated. My dilemma was to create a strip from my limited knowledge of the movement. I decided to use my weakness as a starting point and created two juvenile kids: Arnie a ‘Tapado’ [naive one] who knew nothing of the issues and believed everything. The other, his cousin Porfi, a street-smart kid who was adventurous and willing to take chances.

Arnie “n” Porfi  has lay dormant for over 30 years. Recently, Jesus Trevino urged me to resurrect the strip and is now including it as a regular feature on his site.

How did working with Con Safos affect your future career as an artist and cartoonist?

SH:  Con Safos was without a doubt my start in the art world. Here I gained experience working with writers and learned what it takes to actually put together a magazine. My association with this magazine led me to meet Magu (Gilbert Luhan) who was also one of the original artists and a pivotal personality in the art world. He introduced me to other artists and had me looking at art as a cultural expression. It was a great experience for a young artist like myself.

When did you meet Chicano singer Agustin Lira?

SH:  I met him through Phil Sonnicsen, a UCLA Ethnomusicologist. He produced and bankrolled Lira’s album. I was doing some greeting card art for a friend, Bob Martinez, who owned Germaine Litho in East Los Angeles. He connected me with Sonnicsen who was looking for album cover art for a group called ‘Los Peludos.’

Sonnicsen wanted caricature figures of the group. It just so happened that the group’s leader and songwriter was a law student named Enrique Ramirez who was a good friend of mine from CSUN. I completed the cover art several weeks later and both Sonnicsen and the group were very happy with the results and that led me to more projects.

Sonnicsen had recorded Agustin Lira sometime before when he asked me if I could do something from a photograph (of Lira) taken by Oscar Castillo. Lira was not happy with the photo and, if I recall correctly, wanted another photo taken. I took the photo and reworked it and came up with the design. Lira eventually approved the reworked photo, which became the now iconic album cover.

You also worked on a Lalo Guerrero album cover. How did that come about?

SH: Again, Sonnicsen was producing Lalo’s album where the singer changed the words to Kenny Rogers “Lucille” to “Lucila” and had built his new album around this song. Lalo had great success spoofing songs, as you well know. I was commissioned to re-work the album cover but since Rogers refused to give permission for Lalo to use his “Lucille” song, the entire project was scraped. The last project I worked with Sonnicsen was an album cover featuring Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. The history of this Mariachi is long starting from its humble beginnings in Jalisco with several generations of musicians. I created a collage of musicians starting from the patriarch to all the succeeding members. I finished my painting and gave it to Sonnicsen. Later, I was informed that Sonnicsen had gone to Bali owing me and others money… the project never got finished and I never got fully paid.

Which album cover is your pride and joy?

SH:  I believe the “Los Peludos” cover was my favorite. It was all caricatures of people I knew who really liked the artwork. I was involved in the artistic process and sat in on the recording session. I still remain friends with Peludos leader Enrique Ramirez. I have no idea whatever became of the original artwork.

You have a history with the United Farm Workers, tell us about meeting Cesar Chavez for the first time.

SH: I had been to Norte Dame in South Bend, Indiana. On the way back, I happened to be on the same flight with Cesar Chavez. I had my stash of Con Safos magazines with me and after speaking with Cesar for awhile, I asked him to sign several of my Cesar Chavez magazine covers that I had created. He did and I offered to help the strike by doing artwork for the UFW. He thanked me and took my name and number. After our serendipitous meeting, Cesar sent me a personal letter (which I still have) thanking me for my offer and efforts. Throughout the years, I have created several illustrations for the UFW.

Tell us about your other Chicano movement work.

SH: There is so much work… I recently came across some La Causa calendars from the early 70’s that contain some of my illustrations. I didn’t recall creating them until I saw them. I also worked at Plaza de La Raz during this era and I also created a cover for the United Nations and illustrations for the book Barrio Logos, (Simon and Shuster and Harcourt Publishers). I also created story illustrations for Francisca Flores’ magazine, Regeneracion.

In 1970, I was invited by Dr. Saul Solache (CSUN professor) to participate in the first mural project at a major university, UCLA.  Prof. Solache had been a student at UCLA and was involved in politics there. He had secured the funding for the mural project but Chicano activists at UCLA wanted to dictate the content and artists participating in the project.

OMG! I know exactly what mural you are talking about. I was at UCLA in 1975 and 1976 and I spent a lot of time in Campbell Hall. There is so much interconnection here!

SH:  Yes! Well, Solache rebelled and threatened to pull the funding. So the UCLA Chicano Studies Department made concessions and agreed to let Solache control the project if they could pick one of the artists. They chose artist-activist Ramses Noriega. Solache chose journeyman artist Edward Carrillo to head up the project. He also wanted to include me because I represented the youth of the Chicano Student movement, but unfortunately I had only limited experience painting a small mural. Ed Carrillo had been my art teacher at East L.A. College and took me under his wing. He showed me techniques using light and colors that really brought my area of mural to life. Noriega resented my participation because of my youth and relative inexperience and barely spoke to me. We did later became friends. The mural which was in Campbell Hall’s Chicano Library was finished in the summer of 1970. It stayed up for about 15 years. I received a letter stating that the mural was being taken down for repairs to the building. To this day, the mural panels remain in storage. From time to time I hear rumors that the mural will be erected again or given to the Gene Autry Museum… but those are just rumors. Hopefully the mural will see the light of day somewhere, someday.

You took a break from your artistry and took a job. Tell us about this time in your life.

SH: during the late 60’s and early 70’s, I created a lot of illustrations for free because that way it was for me. I always came through when people asked me for artwork in the name of “La Causa” or “La Raza” and I would do it. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to sustain myself especially since I was giving a lot of my work away. I took a job with the L.A. County of Probation Department in 1975 and worked there until 1985 when I transferred to the L.A. County Public Defender’s office and became a criminal defense investigator. This job afforded me more time and flexibility so I began to create art again. I participated in the Serie Artist-in-Residence project in San Antonio. I created a serigraph for this group. In San Antonio, I also did poster art for the “Conjunto Festival.” I began to get involved again and started my own line of humorous greeting and note cards.

One morning as I was walking toward the Courthouse and my office. I saw these very indigenous men sweeping, raking and leaf blowing. I thought to myself once the ancestors of these men were building great temples.Now they continue to work hard just to survive.

Then you stopped again. What happened?
The Last Slap
I worked for 35 years first as a Prob. Officer and next as a Criminal  Defense Investigator and I saw a lot of sad cases. The worst  were sexual abuse, child abuse and spousal abuse. What struck me hard was the fact that many abusers had tattoos professing their love for  mother and the virgin Mary, what hypocrisy. In my painting the wife and mother goes to fetch her drunk husband who is about to slap her for the last time...

SH:  In 1996, I suffered a stroke and was sidelined for one year. After I started to recover, my wife encouraged me to paint again. It was a form of therapy to get me out of my depression and start to feel productive again. I did eventually return to work and retired from the County in 2011. But the stroke kick started my art career again and I began to draw political cartoons. I submitted my cartoons to the Antelope Valley Press (North East Los Angeles) who both  printed and paid me for them. In 2009, a cartoon I submitted was printed by the AV Press and won second place in a National Suburban Newspaper contest competition.

Growing up, did you have support from your parents? Did they nurture your artistic talent?

SH: My father could draw well and had won a May Company art contest as a young man. But the depression and poverty did not allow him to go to art school. He needed to work. When I came along and exhibited art talent at an early age, my parents bought me a blackboard and chalk. My mother encouraged me to draw and would tell me how I would one day I would go to art school. My father worked as a maintenance supervisor at a bakery so he would bring me lots of pieces of white cardboard to draw on. They were very supportive.

In high school I won a scholarship to Otis Art Institute for the summer. I went to school with several prominent Chicano artists of today.

United Nation conference magazine on racism and xenophobia.

Any gallery shows coming up showcasing your work?

SH: Currently, there is one small group show in Lancaster. And later in the year, I have a “Mexican American Baseball” show at Plaza de la Raza that I have prepared a piece for and possible exhibit with several other artists.

Do you know Lalo Alcaraz, and what do you think of his political illustrations?

SH:  Yes, I know Lalo quite well. I met him many years ago when he was trying to get a syndication for his cartoon strip. I admire his tenacity… sticking to his goal of getting a syndication which is very difficult. Creating a cartoon strip with a political point of view is a difficult task. You take a lot of heat and criticism when you step on someone’s political views. But he has been able to hang tough and survive. I like his work.

What do you hope your artwork has contributed to the Chicano movement, UFW, or Latino community at large?

SH:  I hope that in some small way I was able to add my voice to a very important time and struggle. The struggle is far from over and I want continue to contribute by voicing my opinions through my art.

Sergio, what (if anything) did you learn as a Latino living through the crazy 2012 political year?

SH:  Well, that the struggle for racial equality in all fields is still sadly sagging. Racism and hate is very much alive in America. However we are making strides and if we vote and become involved in the political process we can effect change. We can also vote with our pocketbook - money is a powerful force.

I have also sadly learned that we as Latinos make the same kind of mistakes and succumb to the same corruption that we accuse the Gringo of.

All Rights Reserved © January 6, 2013
Edited by: Casandra Moreno Lombera

A note to Gen Y'ers: Sergio Hernandez is a Tesorosaurus (/tesoro saurus/, meaning a vanishing, treasured breed of artist/activists). One whose contributions fostered much needed awareness, validation, and respect for your aspirations and work as artists today -- particularly in media, academic, business, cultural, and political arenas. Sergio's extraordinary talent and humility were consistently coupled with integrity and concern for the transformation of his environment. I'm pointing to his footprint hoping to encourage all young artists to consider the regenerative nature of his path as one to inspire the essence of theirs.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Ups and Downs of 2012

We made it! It was a tough, gut-wrenching, challenging 2012.

It started that way and it ended this way. The personal losses were beyond any of our imaginations. January 19th, my dear childhood friend, Ruben Garcia, succumbs to his cancer. Two weeks later, my sweet aunt Leticia Alcaraz dies, the last of my mother’s siblings. There are none left. Then on Valentine Day’s I had to say goodbye to my precious Casper, my Corgi-Terrier who had been my constant companion and buddy for nearly 13 years. I still cry for him. And then on July 6th, an old childhood friend took a tumble down a flight of patio stairs and never recovered. They took her off life support two days later. On the professional side, in June, we were shocked when we heard that actress Lupe Ontiveros was on her deathbed. Cancer also took her a few days later and the tears were plentiful because she was so beloved by so many. Lupe, a friend who never failed to entertain and make us laugh… Latin Heat broke the story of her death as she would have wanted.

In between the personal turmoil, Latinos were caught up in the middle of the Presidential Campaign. Some of us were Pro-Obama, some were not… for the first time in Latin Heat history the magazine cautiously ventured into political editorial by adding a celebrity platform and we can now report these stories resulted in a 15% increase of website traffic.  Woohoo!

Summer passes, Fall strolls in, Bel Hernandez Castillo, publisher and CEO of Latin Heat Entertainment receives an ALMA Award, President Barack Obama is reelected by a lot of votes (four million) with Latinos being credited for his victory-- the sleeping giant will never sleep again! And, then we learn that Banda diva, Jenni Rivera, got herself a sitcom on ABC. Latin Heat was all over the announcement—curious to see how she would match up against Modern Family’Sofia Vergara. Maybe the year was going to end on a positive note after all.
Oh, but destiny had its own plans. On December 9th we are shocked when we learn that the Learjet that Jenni Rivera is traveling on has crashed and everyone onboard has perished. I happened to be channel surfing that day and on one of the Spanish networks I heard the breaking news. I shifted into journalistic ER mode and starting reporting as the facts were coming through the wires. Rivera’s American lawyer happens to be a personal friend, so I was able to hear about details via text in real time. No doubt the media kicked into overdrive because Rivera was good press for Spanish networks... she was, after all, frequently involved in some type of public controversy or scandal. Paparazzi constantly hovered over her and all her family drama she endured. She was a ratings darling. Her televised memorial was as huge as Whitney Houston’s… who also died this year.

Christmas is nearing and I think, peaceful respite. Oh, no not this year. When a mentally disturbed young man kills an entire first grade classroom, a few kindergarteners, teachers, a principal, a counselor… well my heart could not take any more. What I felt (and I am sure many others also felt) was what I imagine those who witness war must feel in the beginning of experiencing so much death… before they become immune and desensitize to it. I pray we civilians never get that way with the gun violence in America. Like so many of us, I avowed to advocate for gun control and a ban of those deadly machine gun-type of weapons. I don’t know why I was so surprised at the high number of individuals who disagree with me. The mentality of “Guns don’t kill, people do” drives me insane! Greed, pure and simple.

I enter 2013 with a hollow but optimistic heart. There is confidence that Latinos working in entertainment will continue to break down barriers with Latin Heat leading the way with the demolition ball.

Thank you for your continued support of our publication and Latinowood. Latin Heat enters into its 21st year excited about all that 2013 promises. Latinos are becoming the mainstream and this will change or force change on an industry that has been traditionally closed off to us. More Latinos will be appear in front and behind the camera. Networks and studios will have to go with the flow and hire more diverse executives who are sensitive to Latinos and understand us without the stereotypes. And, all of this will be very good for Latin Heat and its readers.

We always enjoy hearing from you, so keep sending us your comments and ideas. Also, keep us posted as to your work in film, television or multimedia by submitting your information on our Who’s Working Database. And, filmmakers, please submit your production information in our TV or Film Production Databases. Check our website for complete information.

We made it! Happy New Year!

Elia Esparza
Latinowood Blogger

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"8 Ways To Say I Love My Life" Cathartic Monologues Bring Tears, Laughter, Cheers!

Elia Esparza

No surprise that Saturday’s Casa 0101 premiere opening of the Imagen Award winning 8 Ways to Say I Love My Life received a standing ovation from an audience of men and women of all ages.  For me personally, it was a cathartic two hours. I cried, laughed and cheered, and woke up the next morning with an extra kick in my stride.
8 Ways To Say I Love My Life stars seasoned actors: Kikey Castillo(HOLA! LA), Ivonne Coll(Switched At Birth),Yvonne De La Rosa(Los Americans), andKarina Noelle(Decisions). The monologues were directed by writer/directorNancy de Los Santos Reza (The Jewelry BoxLove, Loss, and What I Wore) who did a exceptional job of weaving each story seamlessly. The writers include: Josefina LopezSusan Orosco, Nancy de Los Santos RezaBel Hernandez CastilloLaura De AndaMargo DeLeonRita Mosqueda Marmolejo, and Joanna Illizaliturri Diaz who each authored their life chapters in the 8 Ways’ book.

Based on the book by the same name, 8 Ways To Say I Love My Life, was an idea conceived by writer Susan Orosco a few years ago. Later, it was playwright/author Josefina Lopez who suggested the book be turned into a theatrical production. The end result is a series of eight monologues interpreting each woman’s life as they share the wisdom of their mistakes and highlighted how they overcame obstacles to achieve self-acceptance, success, and happiness. There wasn’t a woman or man in the audience who didn’t relate to some of the scenarios presented.
Four outstanding actresses (Coll, Noelle, Castillo, and De La Rosa) took on the challenge to morph into their characters as each presented their own one-woman shows. Monologues are difficult at best and when an actor is successful at it, it is a huge accomplishment.
These actresses became Josefina Lopez, Susan Orosco, Nancy de Los Santos Reza, Bel Hernandez Castillo, Laura De Anda, Margo DeLeon, Rita Mosqueda Marmolejo, and Joanna Illizaliturri Diaz. And what tales they told. Our 8 Ways’ Latinas delved into identity crisis, domestic violence, self-sabotage, mother issues, addiction, child abuse, and being serial bum magnets… all issues that erode self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-acceptance. Mind you, each character represented a smart woman sharing her story about how she overcame life obstacles to achieve success and a fulfilled life.

Ivonne Coll

Yvonne De La Rosa
“Nothing is more amazing than seeing highly talented powerful Latinas who, as writers and performers, produce stage and perform one of the best pieces of live theater that I’ve ever seen,” saidJames E. Blancarte, a business and
entertainment attorney and a partner of the law firm of Alvarado Smith. “8 Ways to say I Love My Life is not only entertaining, it is a powerful combination of writing talent and acting that the audience can connect with and relate to regardless of age or personal experience.”

Kikey Castillo

Karina Noelle

8 Ways To Say I Love My Life runs through November 18, 2012 at Casa 0101, 2102 E. 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033. For tickets call: 323- 263-7684 or go to http://www.Casa0101.0rg.Congratulations to Josefina Lopez, Founder and Artistic Director of Casa 0101, a theater and organization dedicated to nurturing future storytellers of Los Angeles. 8 Ways’ is the first production staged at Casa 0101’s new home. The theater is a cultural delight, bright with life’s colors, walls filled with the best of local Chicano art, and one of the most beautiful Dia De Los Muertos shrines I have ever seen. The spirits are happy with their new home. And, my favorite part: Clean and roomy bathrooms!
Friday and Saturday at 8PM; Sunday 2PM and 7PM. $20 General, $17 Seniors and Groups, $15 Students, Boyle Heights Residents and Groups 10+. Note: Casa 010 new theater is across the street from the Hollenbeck Police Department building on the corner of St. Louis and 1st Street.
RUN don’t walk to see this theatrical production! You’ll unleash your uniqueness! We all have a book within us and something that makes us want to say, “I love my life.”
©2012 by 8 Ways Life Group; Arte Publico Press; ISBN 978-1-55885-754-4

Monday, September 10, 2012

GOP Friendly Cubans vs. Staunch Latino Dems

"Very Few Political Candidates Understand "The Latino Vote."

Hollywood’s Esai Morales, Dennis Leoni, Julia Vera, Richard Yñiguez, and Julie Carmen Decipher the Great American Conundrum.

The 2012 Presidential Elections has got the entire nation engaging in debates like I’ve never witnessed before. The current flock of Hollywood Latino celebrities and talent are actively participating “up front and personal” in larger unprecedented numbers. It’s as if the guard is changing and veteran actor/activists like Martin Sheen and Edward James Olmos are no longer alone. Today, more Latino celebrities like Eva Longoria and Jessica Alba have forged to the forefront of the re-election of President Barack Obama’s campaign.

Recently, I asked "activists" (actor/activists) Esai Morales, Julia VeraRichard Yñiguez and producer/director Dennis Leoni, and actor/yoga guru Julie Carmen if they could explain why Cubans primarily vote GOP and Mexicans and other Latinos tend to favor the Democrats. It turned into one of the most fascinating Facebook conversation panel thread’s I’ve ever participated in. But I’m still not sure the question was fully answered. Maybe it can’t be. Also participating in this was Henry Puente (Assistant Professor of Communications at California State University, Fullerton.) He has extensive entertainment industry experience and is a former film distribution executive.

We reached out to several high profile Cuban influentials to participate but for whatever the reason, they didn’t respond as we had hoped. However, hearing Cuban-American TV personality and former host Cristina Saralegui’s speech at the DNC convention was inspiring and it touched upon the very topic we are discussing here. Cristina’s support for Obama and the Democrats is something she is very proud of and she clearly does not align herself with Cuban elected officials like Senator Marco Rubio and other Florida Cubans who tend to vote Republican. Source: Being Latino

When I Googled the Cuban/Mexican question, the answers were varied and made it impossible to pin down a credible explanation. Most commentary posted is racist and full of misunderstandings of cultural and economic differences. In a recent Fox News Latino article, a distinction was drawn between Senator Marco Rubio and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro based on their separate nationalities and the politics perceived to originate in those nationalities.

So it is a widely held but misconceived belief that Cuban Americans all come from wealth and vote Republican, and that Mexican Americans all come from poverty and vote Democratic. New Mexico retired Mexican-American educator, Moises Venegas, believes the same:

The Cubans have never been one of us. They didn’t come from Chihuahua or Sonora in Mexico and from poor backgrounds. They came from affluent backgrounds and have a different perspective. The Republican Party also has opened doors just for them.

I’m not sure if this editorial will create a Hollywood storm that permeates through diverse Latino communities or not, but here is our best attempt at shedding light on a question that’s been brewing on many Latino minds. Recently, while watching the GOP convention with my niece, she asked an interesting question, based on the rhetoric she was listening to on TV:

Are Cuban-Americans Latinos?

Everyone said, “Yes, of course, Cubans are Latinos.”

Dennis Leoni:  Their political belief doesn't define who they are ethnically.

Esai Morales:  However, I think Cuban Americans are a unique subset.

Henry Puente:  
I don't think that political ideology should determine whether or not a person is Latino.

Q: Marco Rubio said in an interview during the GOP Convention that most Cubans tended to relate more to the Republican philosophy but that there were a few exceptions. Why, in your opinion, do you think Cubans subscribe more to the Republican philosophy and Mexicans and other Latinos tend to side more with the Democrats?

Esai Morales:  Not easy to answer. With the exception of the Marielito 'boat people,' the early Cuban arrivals exhibit a tremendous sense of self-esteem and gumption in general. In my opinion, the 'boat people' may share the colonized mind-set usually associated with oppressed immigrants and other Latinos. The ones who came here first after the revolution were political refugees. Many were among the captains of industry in Cuba; the "haves" if you will. These Cuban-Americans were and still are from the most educated and or monied families who 'ran things on the island.' This group had a lot more business acumen that accompanied them to their new home. 

Richard Yñiguez:  Being part of a party is ideology, self interest, and in some cases peer pressure. Cuban-Americans are a very committed block of voters and believe that the Republican platform serves them. You can also look within the ranks of the military, the Law enforcement community and can't help but come away scratching your head with the amount of Republican supporters.

Dennis Leoni
Dennis Leoni:  Many just have a conservative perspective because of their history and their hatred of Castro. Most of those forced to flee to the U.S. were the aristocracy and the bourgeois of Cuba, which is also a contributing factor in their political outlook. With money comes conservatism. The irony of this is that Castro is not really a communist. He only aligned himself with Kruschev, who wasn't really a communist, either, to spite Eisenhower and Nixon, who spurned and insulted him. Castro is really a fascist dictator which is on the conservative far right side of the political spectrum. Coming from a working class Mexican family, personally I will never understand why there are conservative Latinos. Republican Latino seems like an oxymoron to me.

Henry Puente:  I don't believe that a Republican Latino is an oxymoron. I also don't believe that a Democrat Cuban is an oxymoron. 
I personally feel that neither party has really done much to win support from Latinos in general. Republicans assume that they will not vote for them, so they incorporate policies that do not benefit Latinos. In contrast, Democrats assume that we will vote for them, so they don't incorporate policies that will benefit Latinos. 
At the end of the day, I always find myself voting for the lesser of two evils.

Q: Party choice is based on historical background... class distinction?

Esai Morales:  Unfortunately, Latin America has a history of corrupt governments that have oppressed their poor to such a point that many risk their lives to come to the U.S. These poorer immigrants don't have the same sense of ownership and industriousness that Cubans left their country with. In the States, as a refugee population, Cubans developed a stronger sense of community ownership and personal identity.

Richard Yniguez
Richard Yñiguez: Yes, there is that class distinction as well and it weighs heavy on upwardly mobile Latinos who feel that's one way to make it in this country. ‘Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres!’ ‘Tell me who you’re with and I’ll tell you who you are!’ It's obvious that the Republican Party platform offers nothing to the lower and middle classes not to mention the seniors of this country! Their immigration policy is self deportation...are you kidding me? You can't help but hear their rhetoric and realize they say nothing about the issues. They create lies/innuendos that in time makes those in the know question their own knowledge.

Esai Morales: The fact is Cuban immigrants have felt more welcomed and accepted into our society, even if they were penniless when they got here, compared to their agrarian counterparts from the other Latin American countries. With their greater education, self-esteem, and business prowess, Cubans transformed Miami into an internationally renowned Latin American capital in the U.S.

Many are of the opinion that American Cubans haven't gotten over the fact that their side lost the conflict with Castro. Not unlike Southerners who still call the Civil War, "The War of Northern Aggression." 

Q: In the U.S., Cubans are powerful even though they are the smallest percentage of the Latino demographic pie. Why?

Esai Morales:  Cubanos have an impressive ability to organize and mobilize quickly and efficiently around their political and social interests. They are not afraid to voice their opinion. Unlike the progeny of displaced farmers or of those from humble origins who tend to take more systemic abuse--Cubans will let you know how they no uncertain terms. 
They are a powerful minority w/in the Latino community. Not unlike the Jewish minority which wields considerable power and influence here in the U.S. despite being so few in numbers. Perhaps the two group's cultural cohesion is due to the shared sense of pride and persecution. Outside threats, real or perceived, are not taken lightly in either camp. Their responses are swift and loud. 
Regarding Latins and the GOP it would be wise to note that not all Latino Republicans are Cuban.

Q: Among Latinos, family and moral values are important but even though the GOP is the most conservative in this area, why do the majority of Latino votes go to the Dems?

Esai Morales:  The fact is traditional values that place family first are Latino values. Whether Republican policies actually support families or not; their rhetoric appeals to a growing segment of the loyal, conservative, and independent-minded Americans of Latino descent. 
The fact is that our [Latinos] people often appear to be taken for granted by the Democratic Party. This drives many disillusioned Hispanics towards the self-reliance message of traditional Republican ideals. Think about it, many immigrants come here to start businesses and become citizens because of the political corruption in their home countries. They don't want welfare, they simply want to fare well. 
Too often it seems that liberal minded people only offer a hand out, dependence; not a helping hand up, IN-dependence. Hand outs are offensive when people just want to earn an honest living.

Q: When it comes to undocumented Latinos, they suffer a double standard versus how newly arrived Cuban refugees are thought of... why?

Richard Yñiguez: Also, the Cuban community has a negative view of the undocumented issue that is very much a South Western issue and they can't relate or look the other way.

Q: Who is more organized at attracting Latinos with targeted voter registration drives, the GOP or Dems? Cubans or all other Latinos?

Richard Yñiguez:  [I would ask] what is either party doing to entice our vote or participation in the process? The Cuban community has an intelligent support system in place for the conservative party. They vote which is more than I can say about the rest of us. We need a good voter registration campaign to overcome the GOP's drive to suppress!

Q: It comes as a surprise that most Cuban-Americans are against the DREAM Act. Is it because this legislation mainly benefits Mexicans and other Latin Americans?

Esai Morales:  Obama's recent (temporarily enacted) DREAM Act is a step in the right direction because it gives young immigrants an opportunity to contribute to our society more meaningfully. The timing and lack of permanence however may seem suspect right before the coming election. Almost too little too late and too temporary to gain long-term traction and loyalty for the Democrats. 

Cristina Saralegui
On Immigration, Cristina SaraleguThe difference between Romney and Obama is that one man sees the undocumented as ‘illegal aliens’ while the other sees them as DREAMers.

Q: President Kennedy’s failed Bay of Pigs have anything to do with Cubans leaning more toward GOP?

Esai Morales:  With regards to Cubans specifically and the GOP, ever since the Bay of Pigs invasion there appears to be a close connection between the exile community and the American Intelligence apparatus. In the early sixties those exiles who tried to retake Cuba by force worked closely with the Republican wing of the the CIA. This relationship cemented the Cuban connection to the Republican Party. I think this relationship has helped establish the political preeminence of Cubans and their cause amongst U.S. Latinos.

Richard Yñiguez:  In some cases the Miami Cuban community is still punishing the Democratic party because of the Kennedy fiasco at the Bay of Pigs. On the other hand they are a very committed block of voters and believe that the Republican platform serves them. You can also look within the ranks of the military, the Law enforcement community and can't help but come away scratching your head with the amount of Republican supporters.

Q: It must be incredibly difficult for political non-Latinos to understand the true essence of who their Latino constituency really is.

Esai Morales:  Let's not forget the Latino 'community' is incredibly diverse. Obviously, not all Latinos are immigrants, yet you wouldn't know that by watching the media. There are many fifth, sixth and even seventh generation Americans of Latin descent who don't identify with the general minority status. Some of these families were here long before these states were united. They are fully assimilated; Latino in name only (LINOs)--for example, Cameron Diaz/Charlie Sheen (Estevez), etc... This group is practically invisible as 'Latinos' in the mainstream marketplace of images and ideas they don't necessarily relate as Latinos.

Dennis Leoni:  Like the Stones sing, ‘You can't always get what you want...’ Or should that be everything we want? Do the Dems offer Latinos everything we want? No, but they are much closer than what the Republicans are offering, particularly when it comes to issues like immigration, unions, health, and education. Labor has traditionally been liberal and business (management) has traditionally been conservative. In this country, whether we like it or not, Latinos are predominantly the labor class. On issues like abortion, I get it. We have a lot of Catholics. But unless you're rich, it makes no sense to me to be a Republican. And not that there aren't a lot of racist Dems, but the Republicans have them overwhelmingly beat there, too. I am, of course, speaking in general terms. That's all I'm saying when I say I find it hard to believe that there are conservative Latinos.

Q: I have immigrant friends who became U.S. citizens (Mexicans, Guatemalan, El Salvadoran) who immediately signed up with the Republican party because they saw it as the higher class party. They were tired of being poor and lower class in their countries of origin. What do you think?

Julia Vera
Julia Vera:  I have friends that I grew up with that were from very poor families, but working families, who are now Republicans. I just shake my head at them. Unbelievable. They feel that being Republican raises their status or standing. I don't think so. They will always be looked at with prejudice because they are of Mexican decent. Harsh I know.

 Latinos that speak Spanish, Italian, and French are also Latinos since these languages are rooted in Latin. That is the only reason we are called Latinos.

Dennis Leoni:  That's why a lot of "Latinos" don't want to be called "Latino" because they feel it's a misnomer. To me, Latinos are anyone who is descendant from Spanish speakers from the western hemisphere, predominantly from below el Rio del Norte. I know that excludes the Spaniards, but they are, after all, Spaniards. Okay, maybe we include them, too.

Julia Vera:  Where is El Rio Del Norte? El Rio Grande divides Texas and Mexico. It also sometime back was called El Rio Bravo.

Dennis Leoni:  Not way, way back...

The Mexicans called it that... I believe the Conquistadores called it del Norte.

 I read that somewhere... of course it could be B.S. It appears, Julia, that you are correct and I'm partially correct... El Rio Bravo del Norte is the full name the Mexicans gave to El Rio Grande.

Q: Cubans share a kindred spirit with the GOP for reasons of....

Esai Morales: Similar European heritage, a shared mortal enemy in Castro and a mutual admiration for the entrepreneurial spirit may explain why Cubans identify more with the Anglo frame of mind than their less celebrated Latino brethren.

In conclusion, there is so much more that can be said about Cubans, Latinos, and America, but two thing are for sure. One, Cuban politics in America are a touchy 'third rail' subject. Secondly, I should probably spend less time studying history, worrying about my community--its collective public image and more time acting and making a living....but, oh well.....hope you enjoyed my thoughts. 

Actor/Yoga Guru Julie Carmen
Julie Carmen:  it's all menudo anyway. When my grandpa was born in Cuba his passport said Spaniard because Cuba "belonged' to Spain. So some Cubans came here via Europe and avoided the whole Castro era. 

Esai Morales:  I've also heard Cubans describe themselves as "Spaniards (or their descendants) of the Caribbean."

Like online site Being Latino said, ‘It’s great to see a Cuban-American from the island stand in favor of progressive values. The myth about Florida Cubans being a synch for the Republican Party is just that-- a myth.’

Gloria Estefan was also in attendance at the DNC supporting the president. The tide does seem like it is slowly changing in the area of ideologies for Cuban-Americans.

This is an incredibly delicate topic and Latin Heat thanks all of the participants who shared their thoughts, beliefs and historical knowledge with us. What we do know is that Latinos in the U.S. are more unique and dynamic than any experts or Hispanic reports or stats report.

All Rights Reserved, © 2012, Latin Heat Entertainment / Latinowood
Edited by: Casandra Moreno Lombera

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Undocumented or Illegal Aliens? Perceptions of Patriotism

Latinowood guest contributor:
By Casandra Moreno Lombera
With Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez and Richard Yñiguez

Editor: We recently read an article in Herald de Paris by Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez which we found provocative and extraordinary. Latin Heat does not normally dive into the politics of trending social issues, but this one is worth sharing especially since film and TV shape and enforce the stereotypes. The intro is contributed by Emmy-nominated producer/writer, Casandra Moreno Lombera.

The article, "Illegals Make American-Born Latinos Look Bad," with reader response, was originally published in September of 2011 in Herald de Paris and to date, it is still relevant. The article contains  three loaded cannons, areas of overarching assumptions, within the text of both writings. I poured them into three defining categories: Perceptions of Patriotism, Willingness to Risk Everything, and Destined to Do Anything. The media (mainstream and Spanish) as well as Hollywood have had no effective, consistently constructive impact on the American comprehension of this roughly half a century old predicament. Readers may find themselves conflicted or provoked as they venture through these perceptions that disrupt a healthy coexistence between the haves and have-nots.

1. PERCEPTIONS OF PATRIOTISM - The undocumented find themselves navigating a minefield of expectations (in varying decibels) to the tune of: Love your native country but, while you're here, love America more. Working in America means working for America only. We expect you to fight for America and show that you appreciate the U.S. better than American citizens by the way you work, speak, and live -- or go home. The rub is that if they actually succeeded at meeting those demands, both Mexican and mainstream Americans who do not rise to the occasion themselves may develop a retaliatory attitude toward immigrants for "making them look bad."

2. WILLINGNESS TO RISK EVERYTHING - The culpable plight of illegal immigrants frequently incites obvious and socially scorned consequences. We have no quantifiable data that reveals any public sympathy levels toward their unappreciated behavior and risks such as: breaking immigration laws to be here; risking their lives to get here; being separated from spouses and children and sacrificing a natural family life for survival; letting someone else raise their children; facing all levels of abuse without legal rights or recourse; and positioning themselves to face deportation and be treated like criminals, at any given moment, for simply being identified.

3. DESTINED TO DO ANYTHING - Do the dirtiest, most challenging, sub-wage work for which Americans do not apply for, covet, or compete. Contribute to America's economy expecting nothing in return, e.g., income tax refunds, social security benefits, disability benefits, etc. Participate in a co-dependently dysfunctional system that exploits them and does not have their best interests at heart nor cares about their future and family. In the last 40 years, employment/economic issues sprouted some ruthless tentacles. A percentage of unemployed Americans complained about missing out on under minimum wage jobs that they did not pursue and declined to fill. The illegal immigrant has been labeled as “the problem” by this unemployed segment and and lobbied against by certain lawmakers as opposed to being regarded as “the solution” -- contrary to the thousands of American corporations, farmers, and individual employers who would have tailspun without them. In March 2005, Wal-Mart, a company with $285 billion in annual sales was fined $11 million for having untold hundreds of illegal immigrants nationwide clean its stores. - Deborah White, The undocumented worker became America’s best known, most wanted, sneered at, and most controversial dirty little secret ...with U.S. employers feasting on this illicit fare. Consumers didn’t even think about them at the checkout stand when they were enjoying lower food and merchandise prices.

On a separate economical plain, there has been rumblings of "employment envy" concerning the burgeoning success of the monolingual Spanish language entertainment industry which largely caters to Latino immigrant viewers. English speaking Latinos have felt completely suppressed by America's mainstream entertainment industry (completely valid) but some are misdirecting their bitterness toward illegal immigrants.  

That said (and still volumes left unsaid about this incendiary topic), the following article written by Hispanic media pioneer, Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez, and response by producer, actor Richard Yñiguez may further enlighten, edify, or upset you.

Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez

Illegals Make American-Born Latinos Look Bad
By Al Carlos Hernandez on September 18, 2011, Herald de Paris

Hate to say this, but something Kat Williams said a few weeks ago rings true for me: if you are not loyal to this country and your allegiance is to somewhere else, then get out and stay out…
It is clear, even from an Ivy-League-limousine-liberal point of view, that people from around the world come to our country because the “motherland” has failed them in some way. Most focus today is on Mexican immigration. The reason there is such a glaring problem in Mexican immigration is because Mexico is within walking distance and there is no reasonable policy to address that issue. However, recent statistics prove that there has been less illegal immigration over the last few years – and the border patrol has little to do with it. Mexico’s economy is getting better. Still, it is rare to hear an undocumented person talk about how badly America sucks. Maybe if bleeding heart enablers understood colloquial Spanish rather than Rosetta Stone, they would know that folks who come here want to work and participate in the “American Dream.”

Freedom for this country has been won, and is currently maintained, on the backs of ethnic minority men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice out of love for a country that misunderstands them. Some of the proudest people I have ever seen were those who were participating in a San Franciscan citizen swearing in ceremony. Wonderful people, from almost every country in the world, willfully pledged allegiance to our flag. How many of our citizens are willing to do the same, given today’s attitude of entitlement? Okay. So I sound like a knee-jerk Republican (emphasis on “jerk”). However, I am equally proud to say that I have been given the title of Minister of Information Emeritus by Brown Beret Prime Minister Dr. David Sanchez – an honorary title that I wear with pride. This is what I experienced: during the late 60’s and early 70’s, courageous young Latinos (when Hispanics were not yet invented) gave it all to help stop the Vietnam war and to make sure that colleges and universities afforded Latinos equal opportunities for education. Because of this overt and unabashed political action by the Brown Berets and the the Young Lords Party, Latinos have made many important strides over the last 30 years. Hey, there is a Latina on the Supreme Court!

Illegals, on one hand, make American-born Latinos look bad. On the other hand, everyone thinks that every Latino speaks Spanish and watches Univision. Spanish speaking foreign nationals have stolen access to the airwaves from those of us born here. And those of us born here, many of whom are talented artists who fought the hard battles to get those rights, are cut out of the action. Watch any Latino award show. No homegrown representation . . . ever. Instead, artists like Willie Colon, Little Joe, the bands Tierra and Malo have been systematically excluded by monolingual Spanish speaking nationals. Master TV directors Dennis Leoni and Jesus Trevino, both of whom cannot get a network show, are leaving tens of millions with their stories untold while whack job telenovelas get top national ratings.

If you respect the country, then you have to respect the law. This is not to say that there is not selective enforcement. There is. Those who come to our country illegally know that they are breaking the law, but are willing to take the risk to feed their families. To grant blanket asylum for those who do not respect our laws sets a bad president. Seems to me that the simple solution is to keep the people who are willing to become loyal citizens. Send back people who have no respect for this country; a country that we love and have died to maintain. I wish there was a place we could send welfare recipients, convicts, senators, and congressmen who refuse to work. They should be drug tested every week. My Bible says, “If a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat…” Every welfare recipient, irrespective of race, should be required to pass the citizenship test. I am most certainly qualified to comment on this issue. As a child, my family grew up on welfare when the system worked for those who couldn’t. And also for those that wouldn’t.

I am so tired of hearing about how great other countries are. I’ve gotta say, they are not as great as this country I live in. People wishing to be somewhere else live in a world that doesn’t exist. Other countries fail. That is the reason these people are here. People need to channel that love of “country of origin” to this country – a country that is giving them a quality of life they could never have back “home.” We need to engender a new patriotism. America is like a baseball team with players from all over the place who have one goal: to win and to keep on winning. How are you going to play for a team wearing some other team’s jersey? United we stand. Divided we fall.

It is time for America to stop apologizing. We need to stand up and take back the dignity that we deserve as the greatest country on Earth. Acknowledge the fact that “we” are all the races which make up the American landscape: the bilingual, bicultural, bisexual, bi-ignorant…

America needs to get back to work. Kids need to study hard and get a good education. The days of entitlement are over. Only those who are willing to put in the time to do the work should be eligible to reap the fruits of the harvest. And when sojourners fondly remember the country they came from and sing its songs while eating its popular foods, I hope they never forget the reason they came here and why what they have now is so much better. Thank God for it.
On the real, if you really don’t like it here, there are buses that leave every hour. It would be so easy to do a fundraiser for one way tickets. I would be willing to chair such a committee.
--Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez
Richard Yniguez

Published response from Richard Yñiguez:

I appreciate a lot of what you have laid down in your article [and] yes there are those who come here to take and not care about the country! As you pointed out, they do it out of necessity. They break the law to survive and statistically they are least to take advantage of welfare or emergency services offered to all. They make their money send it home and, when the time comes, go back. I admire their tenacity, persistence, and love of family, of country! If anything they make the American worker (Latino, Anglo, Black, etc..) look bad because they do what others won’t….work at anything!

What we need is a good work program to offer those who are willing to come here and do the jobs our welfare recipients refuse to do! This country would fall to it’s knees without their support in the fields, in the streets, the deserts, etc… To endure what they did to get here is heartbreaking and they survived to work another day! They don’t make me look bad! It’s all those who do nothing to make this country work, and play politics, and think we’re too stupid to see through them and some of us are!

I agree that the Spanish language networks have blurred our contributions to this great nation and media reflects that notion by the lack of Latinos in the mainstream and the lack of stories that prove we are a part of the fabric of this nation. If an alien from another world landed here he would see that dinosaurs must be prominent citizens because they get more air time than Native Americans and Latinos! When it’s all said and done we need to support each other because we are family, regardless of where we come from, and help solve the problem!

Hatred toward Latinos is growing in this country. Hate crimes toward us and the illegal should not be tolerated. Crimes against anyone should not be tolerated. I suggest we focus on the positive and put the negative aside and help find a solution…a good start would be a worker program to benefit all in a legal manner. Your article is an open door for discussion and I hope others take advantage and chime in because you touched on so many issues of the day affecting our community! Thank you again Dr. Al and Herald de Paris for focusing on us.

--Richard Yñiguez

Yñiguez recently added: “I appreciate President Obama's courage in implementing his program for children brought here as illegals without their consent. This will energize our economy and give these young people a chance to a better coin a phrase from a recent movie title!”

In conclusion, the biggest question we have to ask ourselves about high voltage issues like this one is “how well do we educate ourselves on these topics before drawing conclusions?” How much do we allow biased media, movies, and other sources to shape our opinions? This post did not even begin to cover the intricacies of how the U.S./undocumented worker relationship began, evolved, and has affected us as a society and economy in the last five decades.

What are your views about undocumented workers and how much research has led you to your opinions? Whatever your background or ethnicity, we would love to hear from you!

--Casandra Moreno Lombera

All Rights Reserved, © 2012, Latin Heat Entertainment
Edited by: Casandra Moreno Lombera and Elia Esparza