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SaturdayApril 7, 2012

Latino Daily News: Bringing You the Latest Hispanic Current Events and News Stories 24/7

To reflect the dynamic interests of our audience, Latino Daily News is an online daily news source and virtual cultural center for and about Latinos. We offer the latest news headlines, as well as innovative and insightful Hispanic current events stories, photos, videos, and commentaries from a Latino perspective, 24/7.

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National Design Contest for American Latino Musuem Launched

National Design Contest for American Latino Musuem Launched

Photo: American Latino Museum Design Contest

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The Friends of the American Latino Museum (FRIENDS) is engaging its supporters for its first ever Campaign Design Contest!

Running from April 2 - April 30, FRIENDS, the only organization dedicated to the creation of a national American Latino Museum, is hosting a national call to supporters of the museum effort to create this year’s design and theme for its 2012 nationwide promotional and educational awareness campaign.

The winning design will be featured nationally in advertisements, informational handouts, campaign posters, donation cards and other promotional materials, as well as the Friends online and social media platforms reaching almost 240,000 subscribers. The winning artist will be flown to Las Vegas, NV to attend a special unveiling of their winning design during National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) Annual Conference in July, representing the largest and most important gathering of the nation’s most influential individuals, organizations, institutions, and companies working with the Hispanic community.

This design contest follows a wave of significant legislative progress toward bringing the American Latino Museum to fruition. Leaders in both the House and the Senate have submitted letters of support urging for the inclusion of language in the upcoming appropriations bill that expresses support for the creation of a Smithsonian American Latino Museum. Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and his colleague in the Senate Bob Menendez (D-NJ) led the efforts to garner bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate from 22 other Members of Congress.

The Campaign Design Contest winner selection process will include the participation of the Latino community and supporters of the American Latino Museum initiative through a public voting process.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Sen. Richard Lugar’s Farm Bill Would Eliminate Food Stamps for 74,000 in Illinois; 15,000, Chicago

Sen. Richard Lugar’s Farm Bill Would Eliminate Food Stamps for 74,000 in Illinois; 15,000, Chicago

Photo: Senator Richard Lugar

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Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana reintroduced legislation last month to cut $40 billion from federal farming support and federal nutrition assistance funding, which could eliminate food stamps for 74,000 already hungry Illinois residents, including 15,000 in Chicago.

Those estimates come from a Chicago-based nutrition group which helps feed and sustain low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses.

“A legislative plan by Senator Lugar to cut federal food stamp spending alone by $14 billion over 10 years as part of the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization would eliminate nutrition assistance to more than 74,000 Illinois residents, of which more than 15,000 would be in Chicago,” said Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care/Heartland Health Alliance Chief Health Care Strategist Deborah Hinde.

“It would deepen an already overwhelming nutrition problem in Chicago,” Hinde added.

Lugar’s plan, Senate Bill 1658, aims to be part of the overall Farm Bill reauthorization that is to take place in 2012, says Hinde.

Nationally, the Food Research and Action Center estimates that Lugar’s bill would eliminate food stamp eligibility for one million people and deprive 200,000 children of school meals.

“The reauthorization will address all elements of the Farm Bill - subsidies, supplemental nutrition assistance, the emergency food program, and big cuts, like Lugar’s are looming,” said Hinde. “It won’t be pretty - and that is putting it mildly.”

In Illinois, as of November 2011, there were 1,850,593 food stamp recipients in Illinois or 14.4% of the population. That is an overall 6.8% jump over last year.

Regionally, in 2011, state food stamp growth jumped 46% in Cook County, 133% in DuPage County, 84% in Lake County, 96% in Kane County, 168% in McHenry County and 74% in Will County, underscoring the steep increase in poverty in Chicago’s collar counties.

Meanwhile, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee held a field hearing in Galesburg, Illinois on March 23, 2012 to gather input in advance of writing the 2012 Farm Bill.
Hinde also warned that senior households are at greater risk of food insecurity.

Analysis of federal data from the Current Population Survey’s Food Security Supplement shows that in 2009, about 19% of households with adults ages 60 and over with low incomes—under 185 percent of the poverty line—were food insecure. In comparison, slightly less than 15 percent of all households were food insecure.

“Shrinking food stamp coverage will likely hit senior citizens the hardest,” said Hinde.

Additionally, Hinde noted that the federal food stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has successfully eliminated waste, fraud, and abuse in the last decade.

“The food stamp program is working at a 95% efficiency and accuracy rate,” said Hinde. “The people who legitimately are food insecure are legitimately receiving food assistance.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Silenced During Papal Visit, Cuban Bloggers, Dissidents Speak Out (VIDEO)

Silenced During Papal Visit, Cuban Bloggers, Dissidents Speak Out (VIDEO)

Photo: Yoani Sanchez in Cuba

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Not much was heard from dissidents during Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to Cuba.  They say that is because the government mounted a campaign of arrests and harassment to silence them.  After the pope left, I was invited to a meeting that the country’s best known Internet blogger, Yoani Sanchez, had with other critics of the government to share their experiences.

“I heard the car start moving with incredible speed,” said Danilo Maldonado, waiving his arm tattooed with political drawings.  “And when it turned like this, they grabbed me and shoved me inside.”  Maldonado, a graffiti artist, said he was held with other detainees for three days near Havana’s airport.

Meeting in the shaded garden of one of their houses, these dissidents said the roundup coincided with the pope’s March 26-28 visit, as he held mass in Havana and Santiago and met with President Raul Castro and his brother Fidel.

Some dissidents said they were were taken into detention, others say they were put under house arrest.  Many of them said they were unable to use their cell phones.
“Whoever has details to tell should tell them, because I don’t know what happened,” Sanchez told the group.  Earlier, in an interview, she had told me she could not receive international telephone calls and that most of the Cuban contacts in her phone book were unreachable.

“Generation Y” which is translated into 16 languages, including Polish, Hungarian and Chinese.

Earlier, in a television interview with the Voice of America, she described what she writes about.  “My blog does not draw on political or academic analysis.  It’s about the feelings, impressions and observations that I draw from daily life,” she said, seated in her apartment on the 14th floor of a Soviet-style housing block.

“For example, now, there’s no electricity in this building.  So you have to climb the stairs.  On those stairs, I hear stories.  I hear complaints; I hear frustrations.  And all of that goes into my blog.”

But those reflections have been deemed counterrevolutionary by Cuban authorities.  And Sanchez says she has suffered retaliation.

“Arrests, days in jail, police threats,” she recalls.  “But I have to say that wonderful things have happened to me.  To go out into the street and have people say to me, ‘I read your work, I agree with you.’  People my age with tears of emotion telling me to continue the fight—that compensates for everything.”

Sanchez says she was brought up as a doctrinaire youth who used to mouth slogans idolizing Marxist revolutionary hero Ernesto “Che” Guevarra.  But during adolescence, she says, she watched as “everything my parents had sacrificed and struggled for left us in a miserable economic situation without a future.”

She cannot travel abroad to collect awards she has received.  What hurts her the most, she says, is the intimidation of those dear to her.  “I’ve lost many friends, people who are afraid to be near me.  But I’ve also made new friends, who are aware of the risks”—like the fellow bloggers, journalists, artists and dissident clergy who gathered to talk about what happened to them during the papal visit. 

Reverend Jose Conrado Rodriguez Alegre, a Catholic priest form Santiago, told them that his house was surrounded by security forces.  He promised to pass on the testimonies to the papal nuncio.  “In the church, whoever prevents a priest or ordinary Christian from directly communicating with the Holy Father commits a grave offense,” he said.

Their allegations did not draw a response from the Cuban government.  Since taking over the presidency from his ailing brother Fidel, Raul Castro has moved to liberalize the country’s economy and let ordinary Cubans have cell phones and Internet access.

Many defenders of Cuban communism praise its egalitarian ideals and say it provides a high standard of universal health care and education, in spite of the 50-year-old U.S. economic embargo.  Sanchez has written that the embargo should be lifted, but she has little patience for people in Western countries who romanticize Cuba.

“I would advise most of those people to spend two months in Cuba, trying to survive on a local salary and live on rations.  And I’m sure that after those two months, they would be more critical of the Cuban government than I or any other opposition figure based in this country.”

Last year, the government lifted a three-year blockage on blogs like Sanchez’s.  “The only thing the Cuban government achieved during those three years is that alternative blogs became very popular through alternative networks - being distributed hand to hand, on CDs and flash drives,” she said.

But Sanchez says that because Arab youth played a key role in toppling authoritarian governments during the past year, the Cuban government has tightened its control on society.

She tweets from her cell phone via text messaging, but has no Internet connection at home.  She has to go to hotel business centers where online access costs about $10 per hour, a fortune for ordinary Cubans.

Sanchez says adversities such as these lead many Cubans to feel apathetic, “as though this is some sort of curse and there’s nothing we can do.”  But she says the Middle East and North Africa uprisings changed that and gave young Cubans a feeling of empowerment.

“Civil society is in ferment,” she says.  “Things are happening not just among dissidents, but also among young people making hip hop music, art, theater, alternative film.” 

Many of them, including Yoani Sanchez, are convinced that the future of Cuba is in their hands.

Yoani Sanchez is a HS News Contributor

Read more at Voice of America →

Teen mothers account for quarter of all Births in Mexico

Teen mothers account for quarter of all Births in Mexico

Photo: One in Four New Mothers are a Teen in Mexico

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Mothers aged 14-19 account for roughly 480,000, or 24 percent, of Mexico’s 2 million annual births, the Health Secretariat said Saturday.

The figures were provided by Alejandro Rosas Solis, deputy director of sexual and reproductive health at the secretariat’s National Center for Equity, Gender and Reproductive Health.

“A teen pregnancy is considered high risk due to the immaturity of the (adolescent’s) body, which puts them at risk of preeclampsia or hemorrhages, conditions that are among the main causes of maternal mortality,” the expert said.

He said teen pregnancies also have negative repercussions for the health of the newborn, including low birth weight and immature lungs and temperature regulation systems, which can endanger the child’s life.

Over the long term, teen mothers often find their life ambitions stymied because they must abandon their studies to raise the child and later have limited employment prospects.

“More than 60 percent of teen pregnancies are unplanned” by the couples, many of whom do not use condoms or other forms of birth control.

“The lack of use of some method of contraception in the first sexual relationship increases the risk of having unplanned pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS,” the secretariat said.

Rosas Solis therefore called for greater funding for programs that provide information and attention to young people.

“We need to talk with our children about sexuality because it’s an essential aspect of human beings. It’s important to tell teenagers that all sexual behavior has repercussions so they make informed decisions,” the expert said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Julio Iglesias Kicks Off Latest Concert Tour in Chile

Julio Iglesias Kicks Off Latest Concert Tour in Chile

Photo: Julio Iglesias

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Spanish singer Julio Iglesias will give four concerts in Chile beginning this weekend to promote his latest album “1,” part of a tour that will take him later this month to Argentina and Paraguay.

The 68-year-old artist will take the stage Saturday at a well-known casino in the northern city of Antofagasta before performing Monday at the theater of the University of Concepcion, some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Santiago.

Next weekend, Iglesias will arrive in the Chilean capital and give a pair of concerts on Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14.

The artist will then head to Argentina for shows on April 19 in Buenos Aires’ Luna Park, April 21 in Mendoza and April 25 in Cordoba and then give a concert in Asuncion on April 28, according to his official Web site.

The tour coincides with the release of the compilation album “1” (volume 2), a collection of 14 songs in which the Miami-based Spanish artist reinterprets many of the biggest hits of a career spanning more than four decades.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Marco Rubio Says The Dream Act Will Encourage Illegal ‘Chain Migration’ Ignores His Family Path

Marco Rubio Says The Dream Act Will Encourage Illegal ‘Chain Migration’ Ignores His Family Path

Photo: Marco Rubio- No Dream Act

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Marco Rubio Says The Dream Act Will Encourage Illegal ‘Chain Migration’ (VIDEO) however, we note that Senator Rubio’s father, mother and brother entered the United States upon the invitation of a relative, what he has called:  “chain migration”.  Thereafter, they all enjoyed the benefits of the Cuban Adjustment Act.  Today, if a Cuban national crosses the U.S. Mexican border illegally, a year after such entrance pursuant to this generous act, he/she can become a legal permanent resident.  Many individuals would call that “amnesty”.

Endangered Jaguar Population Found in Mexico

Endangered Jaguar Population Found in Mexico

Photo: Jaguar Siting in Mexico

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In the land around Terminos Lagoon in southeastern Mexico there are still jaguars to be found, one of the animals most venerated by pre-Columbian cultures and now in danger of extinction.

The surprising discovery was made in the process of a study to find out whether rural inhabitants in the states of Tabasco and Campeche had in their possession any fangs or skins from jaguars that had been killed in recent years.

But now the study’s goal has changed to determining how many jaguars actually live in the border region straddling the two states.

The biggest jaguar population is found in the Campeche municipalities of Champoton, Sabancuy and Palizada, towns surrounded by the Terminos Lagoon that flows into the Caribbean Sea across from the island of Cuidad del Carmen.

Thanks to the international Wildlife Conservation Society, the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, or Conanp, and the Autonomous Juarez University of Tabasco, or UJAT, in recent years photos have been snapped not only of jaguars but also of ocelots and deer in some rural communities of Palizada in Campeche.

In a geographical area covering 2,200 hectares (5,400 acres), the UJAT researcher Mircea Gabriel Hidalgo and a number of students have discovered that the jaguar population continues to reproduce despite being an endangered species.

“At first we looked for dead animals or those that people here might have killed in the last 10 years. We wanted them to show us skins and skulls of the felines, but what we found were live jaguars,” Hidalgo said.

At first the idea was to look for “tracks” of the big cats. But now the goal is to take a census of jaguars living along the Campeche-Tabasco border.

“What we’re discovering at Terminos Lagoon, one of the country’s biggest wetlands, is of vital importance for those of us studying the ecosystem,” said Hidalgo, who is also a Doctor of Ecology and Natural Resources at the Ecology Institute of Xalapa, capital of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

For the biologist, the use of infrared cameras around Terminos Lagoon was fundamental for finding live specimens of jaguars in Champoton, Palizada and Sabancuy.

Though most of the photos were taken in Palizada, jaguars are now known to exist in areas of Tabasco like Jonuta and the Pantanos de Centla Biosphere Reserve.

The discovery was made possible thanks to the aid of Campeche’s Office of Flora and Fauna Protection and of local inhabitants who agreed to collaborate with the researchers.

“Palizada is a fairly unexplored municipality, a well preserved area. Jaguars sometimes hunt around Jonuta in Tabasco state to prey on the region’s livestock. The jaguars occupy a very large area and we didn’t expect to find so many,” Hidalgo said.

A camera installed among the trees of Palizada’s woodland area costs 1,200 pesos ($93.40), and a total of 60 have been placed around the whole area to form a more complete concept of the jaguar population and movements.

Camera batteries last 90 days and in that period a great many pictures are taken that prove the existence of jaguars there and of other species that were never thought to live in the area.

“We found a peccary. We thought they only lived in Calakmul and in the Lacandona forest, but now we know there are some in Palizada,” Hidalgo said.

For the researcher, the reason wild animals live along the Campeche-Tabasco border is because the communities settled there “are small and isolated.” Jaguars can live in the region without being tracked down by hunters.

Though the number of jaguars in this border area remains unknown, at least the first six have been photographed - “we recognize them by the pattern of their spots, but there has to be a bigger population of jaguars out there,” he said.

Soon, he said, a jaguar conservation program will be established. “The second part (of the project) is associated with the conservation of the species, which is why an expansion of the protected area around Terminos Lagoon is being promoted,” he said.

The UJAT researcher keeps a digital file of the hundreds of photos taken in the area.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Rep. Guitierrez Blasts Dangerous Game GOP Senators are Playing With “Stolen Dreams” Act

Rep. Guitierrez  Blasts Dangerous Game GOP Senators are Playing With “Stolen Dreams” Act

Photo: Congressman Luis Guitierrez

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Writing at Huffington Post, Rep. Luis Gutierrez lets loose on Republican Senators, including Marco Rubio, for their craven attempt to score cheap political points after walking away from DREAMers in 2010:

Word is leaking from the Senate that Republicans, facing stiff and well-deserved opposition from most Hispanic voters, are crafting a bill similar to but not nearly as good as the DREAM Act, a bill to legalize the immigration status of young people who grew up in the United States but are currently undocumented immigrants.

Reports indicate that a proposal backed by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who opposes the DREAM Act, would allow certain young people to eventually earn legal status by attending certain four-year colleges or serving in the U.S. military. The proposal would bar these young people raised in the United States from ever becoming citizens. Similar restrictive or watered down proposals are said to be coming from Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona (both of whom have supported the DREAM Act before now opposing it). Let’s call them collectively the ‘Stolen Dreams’ Act.

This is a very dangerous game these Republican senators are playing with the lives of young people. With zero chance of such a proposal passing the Republican-controlled House, they are hoping to play politics with the immigration issue long enough to soften the Republican Party’s image with Latino and immigrant voters, which, to be blunt, stinks. It is the equivalent of a batter protecting the plate in baseball, sending off foul tips to extend his time at the plate, but without actually swinging or making a serious attempt to get on base.

That’s exactly right. This is politics at its worst; these GOP Senators know that Rep. Lamar Smith, the vehemently anti-immigrant Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is never, ever going to let their bill move in the House. Some in the GOP may be trying to change their tone (if not their actual policy). Not Smith. Last week, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) noted after another anti-immigrant hearing convened by Smith was a “new high on disgusting behavior.”

As Gutierrez accurately points out about this latest DREAM Act gambit:

It is a tragic commentary on the GOP and how far it has leapt over the anti-immigration cliff.

The Passion of Iztapalapa,  Play Draws Hundreds of Thousands in Mexico

The Passion of Iztapalapa,  Play Draws Hundreds of Thousands in Mexico

Photo: Mexico Izttapalapa Passion

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The Passion of Iztapalapa, a massive annual procession in which the faithful reenact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and commemorate the end of a 19th-century epidemic, drew hundreds of thousands to the streets of Mexico City.

A total of 5,000 residents of this northeastern borough - 150 with speaking roles - formed part of the cast for the hours-long Good Friday Passion Play, which is one of the world’s largest and has been staged uninterruptedly since 1843.

One of the cast members, 19-year-old Fernando, who wore a brown tunic, said he has taken part in the play for more than a decade and played numerous different roles.

“I was a Nazarene for seven years; last year I played a leper and for four years, including this year, I’ve been a Jew. I do it for the tradition more than anything,” he said.

The selection process for the actors is very rigorous and borough authorities require those playing the roles of Jesus of Nazareth or the Virgin Mary to be single, young natives of Iztapalapa who are practitioners of the Catholic faith and people of “recognized honorable character.”

Twenty-three-year-old gastronomy student Jesus Lopez beat out five others on this occasion for the role of the Messiah, whose requirements include remaining celibate for a year.

Maria Fernanda Calderon, a 23-year-old criminology and criminal justice student, won the part of the Virgin Mary for the first time after playing other roles in past years.

Good Friday is regarded as a day of sacrifice for the local population and therefore numerous faithful flooded the streets at dawn bearing crosses, which they would later carry two kilometers (1.2 miles) to the Cerro de la Estrella, which emulates Calvary during the Passion play.

Earlier, thousands of people gathered to witness the scene of Jesus being tried by Pontius Pilate at midday at the Cuitlahuac Metropolitan Macroplaza and turned over to the Pharisees.

Following the trial scene, some 10,000 faithful took part in the walk to Calvary, carrying crosses of different sizes depending on their age and physical strength.

One of them, Edgar Moreno, 19, said he has made the difficult climb up Cerro de la Estrella for four straight years.

“It’s tiring and difficult, but you’re being true to your vow. I promised it for my son, so (God) would give us health and life and I’m going to keep doing it until God takes my life from me,” he said.

Cast members playing Roman soldiers rode horses lent to them by the Mexico City police, which trained the actors. According to legend, Emiliano Zapata, a key figure in the Mexican Revolution, lent some his horses for the Iztapalapa Passion Play of 1914.

The religious procession in that borough, one of the most traditional and well-attended among Mexican Catholics, has its roots in a cholera epidemic that devastated Iztapalapa in the 1840s, then inhabited by some 20,000 people, mostly Indians.

A procession was performed to an image of Christ in 1843 and, when the epidemic subsided soon afterward, it was taken as a miracle and the people’s expressions of gratitude were crystallized in the annual Passion Play ceremony.

Friday’s event took place without interruption under the watchful eye of some 6,000 police officers and, according to borough chief Clara Brugada, drew an estimated 300,000 people.

This year’s Passion Play was held days after the Mexico City government declared the procession part of the capital’s intangible heritage, a step prior to submitting it for official recognition in that category by UNESCO.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Good Friday Becomes a Holiday in Cuba for 1st Time in 50 Years

Good Friday Becomes a Holiday in Cuba for 1st Time in 50 Years

Photo: The pope in Cuba

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Cuba’s Catholic primate offered an appeal for forgiveness and reconciliation in a sermon that was broadcast on state television as the island’s Communist government treated Good Friday as an official holiday for the first time in half a century.

“Without forgiveness there cannot be healthy interpersonal relations, nor family life, nor social coexistence, nor reconciliation between human groups, nor within peoples, but how hard it is for us to forgive,” Cardinal Jaime Ortega said from Havana Cathedral.

The Cuban government announced last week that workers would get the day off for Good Friday, granting the request Pope Benedict XVI made of President Raul Castro during the pontiff’s March 26-28 visit to the island.

The government said, however, that it has yet to make a final decision on whether to permanently make Good Friday a public holiday, a move most Cubans would favor, judging from the comments of Havana residents who talked to Efe.

“Although our Catholic religious culture is not so deep-seated, I believe this day should be respected because it is the way to demonstrate that we respect that religion and its followers,” said Annia Gonzalez, a 22-year-old student who is not a practicing Catholic.

The Communist government’s decision more than 50 years ago to eliminate the Good Friday holiday “was a great mistake because the Cuban people are religious,” Miguel Valverde, 79, told Efe.

“That this Good Friday is being celebrated has been an achievement for society and it should be kept this way forever,” 75-year-old Aracelis Mico, who was educated by nuns, insisted.

The Vatican says more than 60 percent of Cubans are Catholic, though the local hierarchy estimates that only 1 percent of the population regularly attend Mass.

Other observers contend that the dominant form of religiosity on the island is a combination of Catholic and Afro-Cuban elements, as in Santeria.

The precedent for Benedict’s Good Friday request was set by Pope John Paul II during his historic 1998 visit to Cuba, when he persuaded then-President Fidel Castro, Raul’s older brother, to make Dec. 25 a public holiday.

Hailing the “new vigor” John Paul inspired in Cuba’s Catholic Church 14 years ago, the current pontiff used his public appearances on the island last week to demand greater freedom for the church, especially in the realms of social work and education.

Relations between church and state in Cuba are currently better than at any time since the 1959 revolution.

The unprecedented dialogue that Cardinal Ortega and Raul Castro began two years ago has already led to the release of more than 100 political prisoners.

Besides airing services from Havana Cathedral, Cuban state television is expected to broadcast footage of Pope Benedict’s Way of the Cross ceremony Friday at the Coliseum in Rome.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Measuring the Latino Vote State by State

Measuring the Latino Vote State by State

Photo: Where latino Votes Matter

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There’s been a lot of buzz about the latino voter influence in the november elections. Yet it’s hard to really tell how much influence it will have. Latino voter registrations are super low and disillusionment pretty high. A group of political scientist have taken all of this and more into account and may have come up with a formula to to measure the latino influence. Read the poll report and projections here: Projecting Latino Electoral Influence in 2012.

We have all been hearing for some time now how “critical” the Latino vote will be in November. A group of Latino political scientists say they have developed a way to show - and forecast - how Latinos might or might not tip the election in some competitive states this year. 

“We get asked the question about ‘Latino influence’ from the press weekly,” say Matt Barreto and Gary Segura, political scientists and co-founder of Latino Decisions. “Answering the question is easy if you just make it up,” they say.  Instead, they say, “our goal has always been to offer electoral analysis rooted in data.”

With the support of America’s Voice Education Fund, a non-partisan public policy organization which focuses on immigration issues, Barreto explains they have developed a model which will regularly input the local variations in the Latino vote in each state.

Latino numbers and voter preferences, for example, will be changed in an ”interactive” model after a new tracking poll of Latinos, or after new information on voter records.  The data will be adjusted for the next seven months, until Election Day, Barreto explains. 

Latinos might say they are planning to vote when asked on a poll, for example, but the Hispanic political scientists, along with University of North Carolina political scientist Justin Gross, will be looking at the actual voter registration records to see if the participation will probably be higher or lower.

Since they will be looking at state-specific data, the Latino political scientists hope to take into account local factors such as the effect of new voter ID laws, for instance, or the voter roll changes as more Latinos turn 18 and register in different states.

The group says that national elections are won “state by state,” and the key is to figure out whether the Latino vote “can single-handedly cause a state to flip from Republican to Democrat - or vice-versa, from Democrat to Republican.”

How does the model work? In Florida, Latinos make up 16 percent of the voters. This model predicts that if a Republican gets 51 percent of the non-Latino vote, it would need 45 percent of Florida Hispanics to vote Republican in order to win the state.  But if the Republican candidate gets less than 49 percent of the non-Latino vote, he would need 56 percent of the Latino vote to win the state.

The political scientists explain it is not the size of the Latino voters in any particular state that determines their influence, but their turnout. In Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Latinos are only between 3 to 5 percent of the electorate, but they can “tip” a state’s results if the non-Latino vote is almost evenly split, which could happen in places like Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Barreto says his goal is “to give our best guesses, up until the day before November’s elections.” The Latino political scientists hope their numbers prove “objective and verifiable.”

Read more at My Cuentame →

Chavez Pleas to Christ: “Don’t Take Me Yet” in Tearful Speech

Chavez Pleas to Christ: “Don’t Take Me Yet” in Tearful Speech

Photo: Tearful Hugo Chavez Prays for god to Spare Him

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Battling cancer, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez asked Christ to give him a longer life and pleaded “don’t take me yet” in an emotional speech after a Mass giving thanks for his health.

“Give me your crown of thorns, Christ, give it to me, for I am bleeding, give me your cross, 100 crosses, but give me life, because I still have things to do for this people and this country, don’t take me yet, give me your cross, give me your thorns, give me your spear for I am willing to bear them all, but alive, Christ my Lord,” Chavez said.

The leftist president began his tearful speech at Mass in his hometown of Barinas, and as it aired on state television he was visibly overcome by emotion.

“And I say to God, if what I have lived and experienced has not been enough but this has been lacking, it is welcome, but give me life, though it be a life in flames, a life of pain, I don’t care,” Chavez, who was accompanied by his parents, siblings and relatives, said.

“Just now I could not keep back a few tears when I felt the loving hand of my mother and at the same time the hand of my father, those two hands, one that touched me here and the other there and I said to God, how long has it been since I have felt those two hands at the same time?” the head of state said.

Chavez, who is being treated with radiation therapy after being operated for a second cancer 39 days ago in Cuba, said that he is holding on to “so much faith, hope and determination” in order to overcome his illness.

The president returned to Venezuela soon after midnight Wednesday from Cuba, where he underwent a second round of radiation.

The surgery in February was to extract a cancerous lesion from Chavez’s pelvic region.

The president had a larger, malignant tumor removed from the same region last year, but he has never revealed the precise nature of the cancer. He underwent several rounds of chemotherapy after the initial surgery before announcing in October that he was cancer-free.

Chavez has vowed not to abandon his bid to win another term in Venezuela’s Oct. 7 presidential election.

In power since 1999, Chavez now faces a race against the governor of the central state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, the consensus candidate of Venezuela’s long-divided opposition.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Eva Mendes New Movie “Girl in Progress” Coming May 11 (VIDEO)

Eva Mendes New Movie  “Girl in Progress” Coming May 11 (VIDEO)

Photo: Eva Mendes Girl in Progress

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Grace (Eva Mendes) is a single mom, too preoccupied with “paying the bills” and herself to notice that her teenage daughter, Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) is in desperate need of her attention.

When Ansiedad’s English teacher, Ms. Armstrong (Patricia Arquette), introduces her students to classic coming-of-age stories, Ansiedad decides to jump start her own coming of age and all the pain associated with it, as a shortcut to “adulthood” and more importantly a life without her mom.

As her misguided plan unravels, in some comedic yet poignant series of events, both Ansiedad and Grace must learn that sometimes growing-up means acting your own age.

Recently judged “Family-Approved” (ages 12+) by the prestigious International Dove Foundation, the film has already been attracting the attention and support of churches and organizations across the country including Life Teen and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC).

“The message is bound to impact thousands of lives and bring a life altering revelation, which will transform the homes of Hispanic families across the nation,” says the NHCLC.

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Deported Father Fights for Custody of 3 US Born Children

Deported Father Fights for Custody of 3 US Born Children

Photo: Felipe Montes

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A North Carolina court postponed a decision in the case of an immigrant deported to Mexico who is fighting for the custody of his three U.S.-born children.

District Court Judge Michael Duncan heard for eight hours the arguments as to whether Felipe Montes, who lived in Sparta for nine years, is capable of bringing up his children in Mexico or whether it would be better to put them up for adoption.

The judge heard Thursday from the state Division of Social Services and set another hearing for May 29, when Montes’ attorney, Donna Shumate, will have the chance to argue the importance of reuniting the family.

“This is a complicated, difficult case, but we expect to win. I’ve had the support of other attorneys in different parts of the country, and we’ll prepare for our hearing,” Shumate said.

Felipe Montes’ nightmare began on a day in October 2010 that started out like any other. He made breakfast for his wife and children and got the kids ready for daycare.

Montes, 33, was the sole provider for the family and the children’s primary caregiver, as his wife - a U.S. citizen - suffers from an unspecified disabling mental illness.

Unable to get a driver’s license because he was undocumented, Montes had been arrested several times for driving without a license, but continued to drive so he could work.

When he went to court to pay his fines, two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were waiting for him.

They handcuffed him and transferred him to a detention center in Georgia, from where he was deported to Mexico on Dec. 3, 2010, as his wife was expecting the couple’s third child.

Soon after Felipe’s deportation, his wife, Marie Montes, lost custody of their children due to economic difficulties and a decline in her health.

Marie, 31, told Efe that she expects to join her husband in Mexico once the judge returns custody of the children to Felipe.

“He’s an excellent father,” she said, and noted that Montes is “desperate” to see his kids because “he loves them with all his heart and so do I.”

The woman told Efe that the DSS has not let her speak with or see her children and that has caused her stress and insomnia.

“I did what I could during the three months that I had the kids. I want them sent to him. I have health problems with my kidneys and I take medicine, but I repeat, I’m not a drug addict like say I am,” the mother said.

Montes is not an isolated case, according to the Applied Research report “Shattered Families,” which shows that more than 5,000 children of deported or detained immigrant parents are currently in foster homes.

DSS says the Montes children would be better off with their current foster families than with their dad in Mexico, because there is no running water where he lives.

The Mexican Consulate in Raleigh has been encouraging Montes and will offer the necessary assistance to reunite the father with his children if the court rules in his favor.

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Mexico and China Come Together in Fight Against Antiquity Smuggling

Mexico and China Come Together in Fight Against Antiquity Smuggling

Photo: Mexico and China Come Together in Fight Against Antiquity Smuggling

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The governments of China and Mexico signed Friday in Beijing an accord by which the two countries, both millennial cultures that frequently lose national treasures to robbery and contraband, agreed to join forces against such crimes.

The pact was signed by the Chinese deputy minister of culture, Li Xiaojie, and by the Mexican ambassador to Beijing, Jorge Guajardo, in the presence of the respective foreign ministers, Yang Jiechi and Patricia Espinosa.

“The accord aims to increase cooperation in matters of cultural heritage and to combat contraband while increasing efforts to halt the robbery of historical treasures,” Espinosa told a press conference in giving a rundown of her two-day visit to the Asian country.

China and Mexico “have millennial cultures that have made us the target of traffickers of these cultural assets, but we’re convinced that the more we cooperate…the more we will quash this illegal trade,” she said.

Also announced during the visit was this year’s opening of the first Center of Mexican Studies in China.

“It’s purpose will be to disseminate Mexican culture in China,” the center’s future director, Guillermo Pulido, told Efe. “This is an opportunity for both China and Mexico to strengthen academic ties.”

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Tips for a Better Border Crossing Experience

Tips for a Better Border Crossing Experience

Photo: US Mexico Border

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas International Bridges are anticipating an increase in border traffic during this holiday Holy Week. As a result, the agency is adjusting staffing during this week to address the anticipated increase. CBP is offering a number of tips to travelers to expedite the border crossing experience.

CBP will place as many officers as possible in areas where they will be able to process traffic as quickly as possible during peak traffic periods. CBP also encourages travelers to consider other nearby crossings to help facilitate their travel. CBP will closely monitor traffic and keep lanes open as the traffic dictates.

“We will keep a watchful eye on traffic and wait times throughout our three international bridges and adjust staffing where needed to help keep traffic moving while maintaining an effective border security posture,” said Efrain Solis Jr., port director, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas. “Having an adequate number of officers available to process arriving travelers provides us the flexibility we need to perform our inspections quickly and efficiently while upholding our border security mission.”

CBP is also offering a series of tips to help border area travelers. The tips are useful because this is usually a time of the year when people who are unfamiliar with CBP protocols cross the border and travel to the interior of the U.S. Regular border crossers also typically cross more frequently to shop, visit family and friends, and attend holiday related events. Adopting the strategies provided by CBP can help travelers cross the border quickly, safely and without incident.

Tip #1 – Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth. Please have crossing documents available for the inspection including a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) approved document for U.S. citizens. ( www.getyouhome.gov )

Tip #2 – Travelers should declare all items acquired abroad. In addition, individuals should end cellular phone conversations before arriving at the inspection booth.

Tip #3 – Travelers should build extra time into their trips in the event they cross during periods of exceptionally heavy traffic. This includes SENTRI/Dedicated Commuter Lane (DCL) users.

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SaturdayApril 7, 2012