December 29, 2006

Entering 2007, We End a Dramatically Active Year

By Raymond Beltran

In entering a new year, La Prensa San Diego likes to review the year’s stories and reflect on the news of the Latino community.


Chicano students from several schools in San Diego organized walkouts during March to protest House Resolution 4437. “Es de todo la raza que vienen aqui para tratar de progresar,” one said.

2006 was a dramatically active year in that the immigration debate prodded our student, labor and domestic communities into pondering their essential existence, as Latinos, in U.S. society verse opposition based on political fear baiting. It is a victory that so many organizations and diverse communities came together under the banner of human rights, however, at the voting polls many of our communities, have not been represented.

Whatever the cause may be, lack of registered voters or lack of faith in our representatives, we must ingest the incidents and issues of the previous year and approach 2007 with history recorded, a year’s worth of wisdom, and most importantly, the vigor we have demonstrated in 2006. Thank you for another year of readership and we look forward to our 31st year of publication.

January

Symbolically, the previous year bled into 2006 with the fatal shooting of Guillermo Martinez Rodriguez on December 30, 2005. An official report stated that eighteen year old Rodriguez, a Mexico national, was approached while crossing over the border fence into the U.S. with a ladder one half mile east of the San Ysidro port of entry when he was shot by a Border Patrol agent. The officer’s name was not released. Coronary reports stated that Rodriguez was shot in the back with a 9 mm handgun from five meters away. He died on December 31 at 12 p.m. while in the care of the Red Cross in Tijuana, Mexico. Journalist Pablo Jaime Sainz reported that agents documented Rodriguez throwing rocks at officers from between the two border fences, but ultimately, the incident added more fuel to a fire (the immigration debate) that would burst later in the year.

“This (2005) has been a year of mainstream hate and mainstream violence at the U.S. Mexico border,” said American Friends Service Committee Director Christian Ramirez in an interview with reporters Cliff Parker and Carolyn Goosen. “Today, a young man was shot by border patrol trying to cross the border … This is how the year will end on the border. Just the way it began — with shooting, with violence, with bloodshed.”


A Día de los Muertos celebration paid respects and tribute to the more than 4,000 people who died trying to cross the border since Operation Gatekeeper was implemented in 1994.

Organized by Border Angels, a group of immigrants rights defenders gathered on Saturday, Oct. 28, at Border Field State Park on the U.S. side and near the faro in Playas de Tijuana on the Mexican side for a vigil.

During the event, Enrique Morones, founder of Border Angels, read the dozens of names of people who have died trying to cross into the U.S.


On a larger scale, Rodrigo Vera wrote about data collected by researchers Blanca Villaseñor and Jose Moreno Mena (authors of Truncated Hope) that stated Mexican migration increased by fifty percent during the turn of the century, 92% of migrants being fifteen to seventeen year olds, mostly labor workers and women.

Locally, Latinos were already in seats of political stature, but with little regard for the public eye. In Chula Vista city council, under Mayor Steve Padilla in the previous December, appointed Patricia Chavez to fill available seat one, left by an ill Patty Davis, with eleven months left to serve.

Throughout January, South Bay residents hollered “their lack of input” and “her lack of experience,” Chavez being a stay-home-mother with only months of civic duty (Resource Conservation Commission) under her belt.

“They don’t think I know what’s going on. I have no political baggage and maybe that’s what we need,” said Chavez during a January 13 interview (Chula Vista’s New Councilmember Fights Back) with reporter José A. Álvarez. Her position ended with her eleven month appointment.

February

San Ysidro K-8 students walked upon new grass in February when the groundbreaking Ocean View Hills School opened. Up to 1,200 students began reaping the benefits of twenty acres of campus, forty classrooms equipped with wireless microphones, DVD equipment, SMART projectors instead of chalk boards, multimedia stations and five computers per classroom.

Pablo Jaime Sainz reported that the school was constructed with state funds, home ownership fees, and Proposition C bonds, all totaling approximately $60 million for the campus.

“It’s really exciting for kids to come to a new school,” said Ocean View Principal José Valdivia. The school will ultimately be turned into a middle school, reports Pablo Jaime Sainz, with plans to create an alternative elementary school in two years.

Nationally, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair and Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (38th District of California) responded to President Bush’s January 31 state of the union address, in a La Prensa commentary, stating: “Today, the Hispanic community must look beyond the rhetoric of his speech to see the appalling track record he has established with our community since he took office.”

Napolitano writes that the president’s address painted too optimistic a picture for the future of all citizens, regarding the “American Competitiveness Initiative and about training 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science.”

With college tuition up almost 50% since 2001, 14 million Latinos living without health care, and with 460 migrants who died while crossing the border in the previous year, she says, “The Hispanic community should be outraged that during his tenure the President has pursued policies that directly hurt the Latino community in mind, body and soul.”

The immigration debate was again prodded when San Diego District 5 County Supervisor Bill Horn made his state of the county address, referring to the border as a “war zone” and an “entry way for nuclear bombs.”


After reading an article in La Prensa early last year about the obstacles a local Latino student had to overcome to succeed in school, Mary (center) decided she wanted to help her and others in her situation by raising $1,400 for student supplies with the Barrio Logan College Institute. (Story by Pablo Jaime Sainz, August 4)

In an editorial, February 10, La Prensa San Diego denounced his remarks stating, “He, with vast ignorance, pandered to the base fears of the Right wing Republican Party, in his state of the county speech, this past week. In the process, he vilified the Hispanic and Mexican communities with his ignorant, callous remarks.”

New America Media Associate Editor Earl Ofari Hutchinson called on civil right’s leaders and black Democrats to “not pander to the anti-immigrant hysteria that has gripped many Americans, including many blacks. In a two part story, Hutchinson portrays the black community as being tied to the unknown or the affect illegal immigration will have on the black worker, student, and poor.

Though, committees like the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP have sided with leniency for undocumented immigrants in the past (mid-1980s) the exponential growth in the Latino population recently has sparked reaction in those same groups, some wanting stricter measures and others still on the sideline.

March

The month of March witnessed a political debacle for labor unions in Mexico resonating from the deadly explosion in the coal mines in the state of Coahuila that killed 65 workers. 270,000 coal miners and union members initiated work stoppages geared toward Grupo Mexico, the owner of the Pasta de Conchos where disaster struck, in order to pressure the replacement of Napoleon Gomez Urrutia as secretary-general of the miners’ union.

“Safety grievances and the lack of equipment at other company mines were also raised as justifications for the mass worker protests,” states a March 10 story A Political Fallout From the Coahuila Mine Disaster from Frontera NorteSur, a New Mexico State University on-line news service about U.S.–Latin American studies.

This March also marked the third year of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a war that 500 protestors opposed by gathering at San Diego’s Balboa Park on March 18 for an anti-war rally and pro-peace festival.


“Con el fin de honrar el tercer aniversario de la muerte del soldado Jesús Suárez del Solar, su padre Fernando Suárez del Solar encabezó a un grupo de activistas por la paz en una marcha de 241 millas de Tijuana a San Francisco, siguiendo de forma simbólica el camino que llevó a Jesús de una escuela secundaria al sur de la frontera, a un campo de batalla en Irak”. (“Marcha Por La Paz” por Luis Alonso Pérez, 10 de marzo.)

“But there was nothing to be festive about,” writes reporter Luis Alonso Perez, “because in spite of every peace effort by the American and global community the only thing it has achieved so far is a drop in Bush’s approval ratings, yet more troops are being deployed to Iraq and the senate is considering spending another $72 billion on war.”

Alonso reports that, in March this year, the war had cost the American people $225 billion in tax payer money, 2,300 American soldiers’ lives and has led to the death of 33,000 Iraqi civilians.

While a heavily Latino-populated U.S. military force in Iraq was filling the obituaries, here at home Latinos were being recognized, politically, as the nation’s largest minority group.

“Republicans must continue working hard to communicate to Hispanics the core beliefs we share on tax relief, market forces over one-size-fits-all government solutions, and on life issues, among others,” writes Representatives Tom Reynolds, Mario Diaz-Balart and Luis Fortuño. Together, in a letter printed on March 10, they highlight the “Hispanic voter’s” common beliefs paralleling with the Republican agenda on various issues but can’t seem to figure out why they don’t lead approval ratings. Latinos favored Congressional Democrats in their research.

Outside of voting, Latinos started their own political campaign the only way it’s proven to create change, through the grassroots and in mass mobilization. In coinciding with week long Cesar Chavez celebrations, 660,000 Latinos marched in the streets of Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago and New Jersey in order to oppose House Resolution 4437 (The Sensenbrenner Bill that passed in December 2005), which would charge undocumented migrants living and working in the U.S. with a felony.

A March 31 La Prensa editorial read: “The Mexican and Mexican American communities are well aware that the debate on immigration has been driven, not out of fear of terrorist attacks, but of a fear of the growing Mexican American community in the United States and the growing political and economy clout that this growth represents.”

The activism would only prove a preliminary phase of massive demonstrations and boycotts to be seen later in the year.

April

The Diamond Neighborhood, including Chollas View, Emerald Hills, North and South Encanto, Lincoln Park, Mountain View, Oak Park, and Valencia Park, began to mobilize as an economic front, reported Katia Lopez-Hodoyan in a story titled “Owning a Piece of the Block.” She followed the process a 32 year old widower and mother, Bevelynn Bravo, took to raise awareness about owning stock in her neighborhood’s Market Creek Plaza on 47th Street.

While working with the Jacob’s Center for Neighborhood Innovation, Bravo learned that the Market Creek (a plaza with a Food 4 Less, Wells Fargo Bank, Starbucks, and Cold Stone) was opening up to 450 investors, so, residents began campaigning to collectively purchase. As stockholders, residents can decide on what’s constructed in their neighborhoods, and, as Lopez-Hodoyan writes, they would want to stop the influx of liquor and cigarette stores.

“If everything around your neighborhood is ugly,” says Bravo, Community Coordinator at Lincoln Park, “then slowly, one starts to feel that same way too. Under this project, we can directly take part in how to run our community.”

The Chicano Park Steering Committee continued to celebrate the Annual Chicano Park Day Celebration. Established by Chicano activists on April 22, 1970, the park has received national and international acclaim as a major outdoor public art site known for its powerful mural paintings depicting the past and present struggle of Mexican and Chicano history.


“This Cinco de Mayo don’t expect Chicano muralist [Mario Torero] to go celebrate with beer in hand. On the contrary. It’s more likely that on this day you’ll find him with his brushes in hand, painting a mural in honor of Mexican hero Benito Juarez.” (Story by Pablo Jaime Sainz, May 5)

This April marked the 36th Anniversary of its existence and was titled “Their Spirit Lives Within Us,” in memory of two profoundly respected Chicano heroes who passed away recently, Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzalez and Marco Anguiano.

On Sunday, April 9, 100,000 marchers gathered at Balboa Park in San Diego, armed with no more than their self respect and white t-shirts, to join the rest of the nation in opposing HR 4437. Radical left, liberal democrats, Christians and Muslims found themselves, for one day, under the ideology of human rights and walked side by side from the park down to the city administration building.

“This march demonstrated that the town can be united if there is a great objective,” writes Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego Gilberto E. Chávez in an April 14 commentary. “This event indicates to us clearly that the town lost their fears.”

It was the largest mobilization in San Diego / Latino history and some thought the political awakening of the Chicano Mexicano population, what some refer to as The Sleeping Giant.

The marches also sprung the idea for a May 1st boycott, where immigrants nationwide were urged to cease making any purchases, to skip work and school and partake in countless demonstrations to show the economic impact in the absence of America’s immigrant community, mainly Latinos.

“The hard reality is that immigration, both legal and illegal, has drastically changed Americans’ ethnic and political landscape,” writes Hutchinson in a follow up April 14 commentary. “Black voters and elected officials have no choice but to come to grips with that change and try making it work for them, not against them.”

In the piece, “Immigration Threatens Sea Change in Black Politics”, he writes that though the Latino population has outweighed the African American community, they do not have the number of voters due to lack of eligibility as non-citizens and a majority of minors. Though, he states that black people will have to consider that Democrats and Republicans alike are beginning to cater to Latino issues, putting black issues (inner city schools, black unemployment, high prison population, and the HIV/AIDS crisis) that were once preliminary on the back burner.

May

The May 1st boycott came to fruition, and businesses hung “Closed” signs on their doors, as did the nation’s busiest international port of entry in San Ysidro, while thousands of pro-immigrant activists marched down East San Ysidro Boulevard and proved that with steadfast organizing and unity, the power of the people can be heard.

“As long as there are people who are forced to work 12 hours a day and are not earning enough to feed their families, all workers are threatened … we must all be ashamed,” shouted City College Professor Roberta Alexander who spoke to 2,000 marchers. “It is time to unite. In English we say ‘All Power to the People.’ In Spanish we say ‘El pueblo unido jamás será vencido.’”

Meanwhile, May also proved a drastic change for elementary school parents in the South Bay when Otay Ranch’s Heritage Elementary School Principal Tim Suanico was fired for reasons unreleased by the school district, reported Pablo Jaime Sainz.

The incident led to the demand for Superintendent Lowell J. Billings’ resignation by the Filipino community, of which Suanico is a part of. Throughout resident meetings and inquiries, Billings was unresponsive to answer, saying that he has limitations on what he can discuss.

Sainz writes: “Meanwhile, a group of parents from another school, Los Altos Elementary School, also in Chula Vista, are also protesting that Los Altos principal (Emma Sanchez) is being transferred to Heritage, something they say will affect Los Altos students.”

With the preliminary voting season on the horizon, 51st District Congressman Bob Filner found himself sparring for his position with Assemblyman Juan Vargas. On Saturday, May 13, the two met at Southwestern College where they began mudslinging. From Filner paying his wife $500,000 to run his campaign to Vargas’s affiliation with the Inzunza family, now labeled politically corrupt, the debate led to an unbearable harangue of boos and hurrahs from the crowd, reported Jose A. Alvarez.

Filner would ultimately win as the incumbent. Vargas would move on to be the new vice president for the insurance company Safeco, a Seattle-based company that handles auto, home and business coverage.

National City City Council can never seem to crawl from under the cloud of controversy. Voters had previously shut down a sales tax increase, Prop B, in 2005 and once again the council put it right back on the ballot for the June 6 preliminaries in the name of Prop D. This time, they used what many referred to as a prevalent amount of “scare tactics,” reported Pablo Jaime Sainz in “Opposite sides debate National City’s sales tax measure.”

“Either approve Prop. D or prepare for more cutbacks in city services, including public safety, such as police and fire departments,” said Ron Morrison, who was a councilman at the time and is currently mayor.

“A re-warmed sales tax proposal is on the ballot for Tuesday, and this leaves a very bitter taste,” writes La Prensa’s National City Spotlight columnist Ted Godshalk. “Raising taxes in National City is not new, but it is tiresome, annoying, and insulting.”

Prop D ultimately won with 59 percent of voter approval.

June

On June 9, writer and producer Mark Day introduced our readers to writer Lydia Cacho in the story “The Devils of Eden.” Cacho authored an investigative book (The Devils of Eden: The power that protects child pornography) that shed light on the entrepreneurial and political ties to child sex trafficking.

Naming millionaires like Lebanese businessmen Jean Succar (awaiting extradition to México) and Camel Nacif (never arrested), who do business in Cancun, México and Los Angeles, Cacho was arrested for defamation in December 2005 and taken from her home in Cancun to Puebla, México. Many claim it was because of powerful political ties of those she accused. Cacho was later released and lauded for her research to uncover abuses.

“She adds that besides the inefficiency and corruption of the authorities, there lies a deeper problem,” writes Day, “a macho culture that turns a blind eye to women and children, uses them for recreational purposes, then offers impunity to those who harass, intimidate and molest them.”

For the 50th Congressional District, Francine Busby and Republican Brian Bilbray “Duked” it out, so to speak, to replace the convicted Congressman Randal Cunningham. Immigration was summoned as the basis for political debate. Bilbray, stringent. Busby, borderline. She was ridiculed for encouraging undocumented people to vote. She ultimately lost to Bilbray, who previously tried to end “birthright citizenship.”

Groups who organized the immigration marches earlier in the year, Justice Overcoming Boundaries and We Are America Coalition, began a campaign called “Get the Vote Out” to encourage the Latino community to register, but in Busby’s defeat, many were taken aback by the lack of representation at the polls.


“Lowriding: changing with the times” Rigo Reyes, a local lowrider legend talks about the golden era and the future of this age old Chicano tradition in a January 2006 article by writer J.D. Hawk.

In a commentary called “What Happened to the Protestors? Shame On You Who Did Not Vote,” Columnist E.A. Barrera asks: “What happened to all those protestors, who only two months ago clogged the streets of San Diego and marched 100,000 strong in defense of human rights, freedom and immigration? What happened to the thousands of voices who have protested this war?”

Meanwhile, the Latino community faced more aggression with President Bush’s deployment of National Guard troops to man the U.S. Mexico Border. Groups like Si Se Puede held rallies in opposition, on June 3, reported Luis Alonso Perez.

The City of Vista began laying a heavy hand on migrants’ right to work, reported Pablo Jaime Sainz, by introducing and ordinance that would restrict people, or companies, from hiring undocumented migrants as laborers. Contractors would have to register with the city before hiring migrants and take courses on labor law, if not, face $1,000 fines. This would only be a preliminary battle for the migrant community in North County, who would ultimately face human rights battles in Escondido and in the canyons of Encinitas, where many find shelter.

July – December 2006

By Daniel Muñoz

July:

The first half of the year as reviewed by writer Raymond Beltran was steeped in activism, controversy, the Iraq war, and politics. The politics of the time have been polarizing with the country’s attitude of us against them, with the “us” being the Hispanic and immigrant community. Relief from this omnipresent sense of pressure from the issues, in particular immigration, was needed in the second half of the year and found in the World Cup, held in Germany this year.

Writer Katia Lopez-Hodoyan had the opportunity to travel to Germany during the World Cup and watch her beloved team from Mexico perform on the world stage and her article, “Ay, ay ay ay, Canta y no Llores...” she shared her experiences with our readers of the sights and sounds of attending the greatest sporting event in the world. On a side note team Mexico lost to Portugal and then lost to Argentina. But no matter there was still a sense of pride and excitement that prevailed.


Writer Katia Lopez-Hodoyan had the opportunity to travel to Germany during the World Cup and watch Mexico perform on the world stage and her article, “Ay, ay ay ay, Canta y no Llores...” she shared her experiences with our readers.

Another focal point during the month of July which the Chicano community to point to with a sense of pride was the induction of the “Herman Baca Chicano Archives” at the University of San Diego, California Library, which documented 40 years of Chicano activism in San Diego.

LEADER: You call us to treat our neighbors as we want to be treated ourselves. “We want to be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves… Being not hearers who forget but doers who act — they will be blessed in their doing.” James 1:22,2. With this passage 200 religious, labor, and community leaders began a litany outside the Border Patrol offices in Imperial Beach where the first of a series of controversial immigration and terrorism hearings were being held across the country by a Republican-led House panel. The community and religious leaders were there to expose the hearings as a farce, which they were. Public hearings on immigration bills that had already been introduced in Congress were lambasted coast to coast.

Mexico held their Presidential elections July 2 and the process was described as very democratic, albeit controversial. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, (PRD) lost a very close race to Felipe Calderon (PAN) and Obrador immediately charged voter fraud and called for recount. He would go on to declare himself the people’s president which resonated with the common man as thousands rallied to his call to protest the vote. The election would be shroud in controversy until the official swearing in, and only then did Obrador’s attempt to create a shadow government fade away.

“The Most Racist City in America – Hazleton, PA.” On July 12th, the Hazleton, Pennsylvania City Council voted to approve an Illegal Immigration Relief Act, creating one of the strictest Anti-Immigrant laws in the United States. This Relief Act imposed severe penalties on landlords who rent space to illegal immigrants, suspend the licenses of businesses that employ them and declared English the city’s official language. One title given to Hazleton was “The First Nazi City in America.” Hazleton was the blueprint that the City of Escondido in San Diego County was to follow, creating an atmosphere of hate in the North County.


August:

Education is important to the Hispanic community and in the pages of La Prensa this importance is reflected each and every week with the news, inspirational stories, and opportunities for scholarships and community support available to help our students succeeded.

An example of the type of stories we published this year included “Looking forward to a warm dorm in college!” Anonymous group of ladies makes the college experience a joy for Barrio Logan students, by Pablo Jaime Sainz. Inspired by a previous story in La Prensa this group of ladies wanted to help young students from the Barrio who had to choose between books and dorm supplies. The students naturally had to choose books, this anonymous group of ladies provided the supplies needed in a dorm such as blankets.

“Lack of Accountability Equals Lack of Education for Some” by Raymond R. Beltran was a success story of a young student who had overcome economical obstacles to achieve success. Helix High graduate Victor Covarrubias began classes at San Diego State University after having earned a Ryan James Simpson scholarship and state aid that will carry him through the next four years. He attributed his academic success to an early interest in middle school and engaging teachers at an early age, a factor that low income residents say is lacking in Latino neighborhoods which contributes to a rising gap in academic progress between the poor and affluent.

“Lowriding for education in the community” is another example of the Latino community focusing on education. The lowriding community spends a great deal of their time throughout the year raising money to provide scholarship dollars for their community.


“In wrestling, as in life, you can be a rudo or a técnico… and sometimes both. A técnico is the good guy who plays by the rules, sort of like the shimmering, spur-jingling cowboy in the white hat. And the rudo does not play fair. He can be the underhanded evildoer. He cheats and is both hated and loved for his devilish deeds ... Satirist Victor Payan and his creative co-conspirator, Pocha Peña presented RUDOS Y TECNICOS: AN AZTEC GOLD EXTRAVAGANZA in August at the Museum of the Living Artist, Balboa Park.” (Story by Michael Klam.)

But not all stories related to education were upbeat stories. We also had to report on the passing of Dr. René Nuñez in August. Dr. Nuñez helped develop the notion of being a Chicano, was at the forefront of creating MEChA, and developed the Chicano Studies program at San Diego State Universty.

Fidel Castro fell ill and was admitted to a hospital. The power passed from Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl and Cubans in the United States were dancing in the streets with visions of Cuba finally being released from the clutches of Communism. But it was not to be. Fidel recovered and Raúl Castro followed in his brother’s footsteps, meaning no change.

The Arts and Culture graced the frontpages in August including “Luchador Poetry, Paintings and Piledrivers” in Balboa Park, by Michael Klam. Advant garde performance art presented by Chicano political satirist and performance artist Victor Payan with his creative co-conspirator, Pocha Peña (aka the Chicana writer/producer, Sandra Peña Sarmiento) who presented RUDOS Y TECNICOS: AN AZTEC GOLD EXTRAVAGANZA in the Museum of the Living Artist, Balboa Park.

“The Fruit that Anger Bears, Chican@ Art Magazine Released in San Diego” by Raymond R. Beltran introduced a new Chicano art magazine to the San Diego community. The creator of the magazine was Laura Molina who stated that “This magazine will be dedicated to who we are now, and will rely upon the contribution of those artists and scholars that wish to declare and empower Chicano Art by their creative endeavors. Just don’t tell us who we are, we will do that for you and ourselves.”

Some in the community surrounding the Mercado Project in Barrio Logan had hoped for a culture center and museum, others looked forward to a major market in their neighborhood, but whatever was to become of the project had been put on hold for the last 12 years with only a locked chain link fence to show for all the hopes and dreams. Finally, in August the City of San Diego and the residents of Barrio Logan came together, once again, to get the project moving forward. The old developer had been ousted and the hunt was on for a new developer, would this be the beginning of something new? As it turned out the old developer, LandGrant Development, sued the city over the project. The community has to sit on the sidelines once again until the courts decide what to do.

In Tijuana the business community was fed up with all the gang and drug crime that was going on in their city. The kidnappings, the killings, the drugs had enveloped the city and the community wanted action. They called on the Mexican Army to intervene. The army never did come but the call for intervention did express the depth of frustration that was simmering in this border city with the level of crime in their city.

In National City they passed amortization ordinance that would phase out non-conforming businesses from residential neighborhoods. The ordinance was praised by environmentalist and community members alike. On paper the ordinance sounded good but when the fine print is read very little if anything will change for those neighbors affected.

Immigration continued as a major topic as the San Diego Police proposed to sweep the McGonigle Canyon, in Carmel Valley. In the meantime through commentaries and stories we continued to discuss the issue of immigration and a humane means to address this issue not only in San Diego but in the nation. This would be a discussion that would carry through to the General Election which then would cause a slight shift in the debate on immigration.

September:

Labor Day marks the end of summer and the unofficial kick-off for the General Elections. It is also time for the football season to kick-off and we talked with Robert Ortiz, former San Diego State University athlete, who is trying to catch on with the San Diego Chargers. There were a few questions marks surrounding the Chargers which were quickly answered as they are now preparing for the playoffs in a couple of weeks.


“When I first got drafted here my initial thought was that this would be a great market for me to make a difference and an impact,” says San Diego Charger defensive end, Luis Castillo. “I know we get a lot of support from the Hispanic community. Now that they know I am here, I am definitely willing and able to use my Spanish to do things like that. Hopefully there will be a lot more opportunities to get things like that done.” (Story by John Philip Wyllie, Sept 29)

Chula Vista Mayor, Steve Padilla, had come under fire for several missteps throughout the year. He had been pretty much mum on these missteps but finally he came out fighting in an article by Jose Alvarez “Just political garbage” Chula Vista Mayor fights back. By the time this article came out it was already too late we were to find out. Padilla would eventually lose the race for mayor.

In September we introduced “Ask A Mexican” column which was a bit irreverent but very funny. It was a big hit with the readers.

September 15 is the start of Hispanic Hertiage month where the country celebrates the Hispanic culture and heritage which we do through October 15.

National City Mayor, Nick Inzunza, declares the city a Sanctuary City. This left many in the city scratching their head wondering what exactly this meant. All this declaration did was to bring unwanted attention to the city in the form of several protests and thousands of dollars spent protecting the residents.

The protest in the Mexican city of Oaxaca is quickly reaching a boiling point. It started with a teachers’ movement for better pay and blossomed into a social movement that transcended the teacher movement. This protest was to simmer throughout the year isolating the region

The Old Globe Theatre was trying to expand its audience base and for the first time ever hosted a special event to attract a larger Hispanic audience called “Noche bajo las estrellas.” Michael Klam wrote about this event which would go on to be the biggest of its kind for the Old Globe. The title of the article was “Old Globe Seeks to Increase Hispanic Audience with Noche bajo las estrellas.”

October:

October would be an interesting month. Earlier in the year Chicanos, Hispanos, Mexican-Americans, and Mexicans marched and protested the proposed immigration bills. The cry at the time was ‘today we march, tomorrow we vote’. The country became polarized and the politicians passed a bill for a 500 mile border fence. The Democratic Party was feeling energized as they saw their opportunity to win control of the both the Senate and Congress the first week of November.

Politics dominated the pages of La Prensa as we discussed the issues and the candidates. In California the ballot was loaded down with propositions that were lengthy and complicated, it was not small task going through them all. And, even though it was an off year election, the ballots had critical races that would determine the direction of the country with the Iraq war at the top of the list.

Governor Schwarzenegger was comfortably ahead in the polls over challenger Phil Angelides, but with Hispanics Schwarzenegger was not viewed favorably. In the long run would this hurt him? In a close race yes, but Schwar-zenegger was so far ahead… We felt sorry for Angelides as he tried to find some traction to his campaign but to no avail, he never had a chance!

Locally speaking running for the office of mayor in National City, we were impressed with Alegandra Solis which report Raymond Beltran documented in his story “A Little Money and an Impressive Can-Do Attitude: Alejandra Sotelo Solis and her campaign for National City Mayor”

Lt. Gov Cruz Bustamante came to town to energize the Democratic troops with a prophetic statement “Latinos Hurt Themselves By Not Voting” in a story by E.A. Barrera Campaigning in San Diego on October 12, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante told supporters that the biggest hurdle to increasing the influence of Latinos in California was their lack of participation in the electoral process. In the November elections Latinos, once again, stayed home and did not vote.


November:

One more edition before the General Election and out we came with all the ballot recommendations and endorsements. The Democrats did indeed take back Congress and the Senate as Republicans got hit hard for their myopic stance on Iraq and with their Party rocked by all the scandals that transpired over the last two years. The Bush administration had been rebuked and it looks like a new day for our political leadership.

Locally Hispanics found themselves on the winning end of many the races which bodes well for the future as a new brand of Hispanic politico beginnings to come to the forefront. With the election of Ron Morrison as the mayor of National City it closes the book on the Inzunza family in local politics which had been marred by scandal the last few years.

For many in the community they were glad that this election was finally over. With all the special elections that started with the ouster of Governor Grey Davis and with San Diego Dick Murphy quitting it has been just one election after another over the past three years.

Of course with the elections over the only thing left to do was to analyze the results. Here are a sampling of some of the headlines during the month: “Republicans have lost the struggle to gain the Minority Voters”, “The Repudiation of Bush”, “Young Latina Women Changing the Face of U.S. Politics”, and “Latino Candidates Make History on National, State, Local Levels.”

In the City of Oaxaca, Mexico, this bubbling pot finally boiled over with protesters, police, and the military clashing in the streets. Since May 15, Oaxaca has been in the throes of its most massive and significant social movement in recent history. The protest begun by Section 22 of the national teachers’ union soon became the expression of the social contradictions in the state. Oaxacan society has come out in force to show its solidarity with the teachers and add in other demands and grievances. Around 350 organizations, indigenous communities, unions, and non-profits have joined to form the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca. Mexico was clearly shaken by the depth and breadth of this uprising. After the swearing in of the new President, Felipe Calderon, vowed to take a hard line stance against the protesters. The final chapter of this story is still to be written.


December:

This brings us to the end of the year. This portion of the review will be relatively short in that, hopefully, the news is still relatively fresh for you the readers.

The month did start out on a sad note with our story of the death of Jesus Blancornelas the founder of Zeta, in Tijuana. Blancornelas left behind a legacy for future journalist to live by, “He writes about the narcos. He writes about the truth. His newspaper is the best paper in Tijuana. He writes for the people…”

National City made the news again as they attempt to attract the San Diego Chargers in order to build a new stadium along the bay front. Though many in the community found the idea ludicrous, wondering where a city that recently had to pass a tax increase to balance their budget, exactly where would they come up with the money for a football stadium? Undeterred National City, city manager Chris Zapata kept plowing ahead determined to exhaust all avenues before throwing in the towel on the stadium idea.

Mayor Jerry Sanders found himself in hot water after he went on the radio, after the minutemen attempted to evict immigrant workers from their shacks in a canyon near Rancho Penasqitos raising the level of hostilities against these people, with his tacit support of the minutemen.

The issue of the pending sale of Paradise Valley Hospital had many in the community apprehensive believing that this was the first step toward losing the hospital all together. This will be a story that will be played out in 2007.

And finally the final big story of the year was the arrest of over a 1,000 meat packing workers at six different plants raising the stakes on the immigration battle front, listing these immigrants as “identity thieves” by using stolen social security numbers to get jobs.

This brings us to the end of the year. We of course could not cover nearly all the stories that we wrote about, it was our hope just to bring you a sampling of what went on throughout the year. There were many important stories that we left out, in particular many arts and entertainment stories. But, one of the great aspects about the internet and having our web site on line is that we are able to provide you with a place where you can go and review all the stories of last year. You can visit our web site at: http://www.laprensa-sandiego.org and click on the link to our “Previous Editions” and you can view the stories mentioned in this year end review or just browse through the months for all the stories in 2006.

Thank you for the opportunity to bring you the news of the Hispanic community and we look forward to bringing you the news of 2007 – Happy New Year.

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