All I want for Hispanic Heritage Month is respect… y nada más…

Forget the proclamations, the speeches, the month-full of Latino movies. I don’t need to see one more person in Mexican costume, or hear politicians and corporate executives refer to Latinos as their “amigos”. Please don’t speak Spanish masticado only when it is convenient to your campaign; and stop sending mixed signals about your love/hate relationship with the Hispanic community.

Yes, it is Hispanic Heritage Month. The one month a year when everything is Hispanic and people get a quick review of the most palatable things of our culture.  Who doesn’t like nachos? What’s not to like about a nice fiesta? Ceviche, anyone? Those are the easy to do things in everyone’s list. Check, check… and check!!!

But, whenever it’s time to talk about real issues everyone gets uptight and leaves.

I see a double-standard here. Amigos por conveniencia es la cosa.

We (and they, the politicians, the corporate rulers) have memorized the facts. The good ones are used for certain occasions and the bad ones for others.

For instance, “Latinos are important, at more than 50 million; this is the largest fastest growing community… we need Latinos… (ehem, to pick up our crops, build our houses, clean up our messes…”

How come we are never mentioned together with the word “professional” is a mystery and probably has to do with our own internal branding.

Okay. So there’s an example, and believe or not, that was the “good” one.

Here comes the bad:  “But, wait, aren’t you all the undocumented, uneducated people who are stealing American jobs? Pa’ fuera.”

And so goes this very strange dialogue all year-long. The exception comes between September 15 and October 15. That’s when we get our special month all to ourselves and everyone has to “like” us.

Yay Latinos. Hooray for us. When this month comes around, I almost can hear people saying: “Let’s give them a distraction, something to feel good about between September and October of each year.”

But when it comes the time to dedicate resources and empower Latinos to create businesses, get to the top of the corporate ladder, have representation or hold public office. When is time to talk serious, deeply important business, the papel picado and la cerveza vanish.

And if it’s about making tough choices and putting on los pantalones on topics such as comprehensive immigration reform or the Dream Act… it’s “Adios Amigo… and remember: when the election cycle comes along, I’ll be back to string you around with empty promises and palabras, palabras, palabras… okay?”

But there is one thing to celebrate this Hispanic Heritage Month, and that is the fact that Latinos are now seriously realizing that smokes and mirrors, hand waving, nice speeches, and little celebrations such as HHM, mean nothing without true respect. We know and understand that without leaders this community will continue to be referred to as “illegals”, “Not Americans”, “Aliens”, the “help”… and we will continue to be treated as second-class citizens. We now can see through the people that court us every once in a while, when it’s convenient. And we are done with that.

We pay our taxes and contribute. We are productive and innovative. We are resourceful and creative. We are the future of this country and we will have a Latino president some day not so far away… and, who knows, it may be something like my fictional presidente, Plumbago Torres.

And that’s why all I want for Hispanic Heritage Month is respect… y nada más…

Loving, playing, working in multicultural global village comes easy to Latinos

Globalization is inevitable. It is already happening. It’s a fascinating worldwide phenomenon and it is not specific to one particular country. It is an evolution driven by people, which makes it even more captivating, because it has millions of moving parts.

As the editor of Contacto Latino, a global site, I’m faced with reading, and quickly digesting, news in Spanish, English and Portuguese. News that inform about things that happened somewhere in the world different than where I am, written within the context, and cultural and political background, of that country.

I have fun jumping from one language to another, from one culture to the next. I love learning about people in other countries and have no problem integrating new experiences into mine.

I’m sure that millions of Latinos in the world do too.

Which brings me to my question: Are Latinos and Hispanics (and I’m using the words in their broader scopes, to include the Americas, Brazil, USA, Spain and Portugal) better equipped to help this world become a true global village?

Is being multicultural and multilingual, having no problem assimilating other cultures, and actually evolving with the process, positioning us to lead the way to the future?

“As we become more global and our cultures become more integrated, we learn new responses from our cohorts, our social networks, or in our multicultural families. We probably use and share (different) languages more today in all these venues than we have in the past,” says Francine Adams, Chair of Community Partnerships at South Florida Diversity Council.

A person with a global mindset feels at ease taking on global experiences and challenges. And by doing so, he produces a new interpretation of the world that, in turn, actually helps it evolve.

“It is a blessing to be able to communicate in more than one language. Furthermore, it is a way to learn different cultures, have a different perspective in life, and have an open mind when it comes to specific subjects,” says Maria Pereira Alborzfard, CEO of iPRCOMM in New York City.

We love, work, play in different languages, we interchange them as we become more accustomed. I, for example, now have to make a mental note that I’m reading in this language or the other because I no longer feel the jump when changing languages.

Many of us do the same when talking or writing in our social networks. We have a cultural dexterity that goes beyond language.

The definition of Cultural Globalization, the head of the spear of economic, sociocultural, political, technological and biological globalization, includes such things as “Growth of cross-cultural contacts; advent of new categories of consciousness and identities which embodies cultural diffusion, the desire to increase one’s standard of living and enjoy foreign products and ideas, adopt new technology and practices, and participate in a ‘world culture’”.

Doesn’t that sound like something many of us are already doing?

Be it that it is to love, work or play, what sets millions of Latinos apart is the multilingual and multicultural skills and mindset.

Nathalie Molina Niño, a Senior Director for Global Media and Ads Strategy at Lionbridge, calls it “cultural agility”.

“We have the natural ability, learned from birth in most cases, of constantly weaving in and out of different cultures and languages. The countries that comprise the Latino culture are different, their take on the language is different, and so we are learning all the time. We are part of a culture with so many different nuances. We are always adapting,” says Molina Niño, who grew up in a Colombian and Ecuadorean household within the U.S mainstream culture.

Molina says that her background helped her grow profitable corporations in different areas of the world and took away the awkwardness when working with people of different cultures. “It is all in observing, adapting, and being open to cultures and languages. But it does come natural to Latinos. That is something I’m always saying to companies that would like to market to Latinos in the US. It’s not about the language only.”

“I have been a global citizen way before the term was coined and became mainstream. I’ve been a global thinker since I was 12 years old, even when I did not speak any languages other than my own I always had the sense that there was a lot more than my own limited world,” says Eleanor Kreis, a marketing professional in California.

This “training” position Latinos in a strategic place to help lead a re/evolution.

“Globalization is imminent in all areas of practice; if you really want to communicate, it is necessary to master at least two languages ​​and understand at least three,” says Alejandro Louis, a graphic designer for the marketing firm VO9 in Mexico.

John Grimaldi, an executive management professional with experience working with different countries, agrees. “Maybe it is because I live in San Diego, but I cannot even imagine life without speaking both English and Spanish. I would even go so far as saying that a majority of my friends are also bilingual,” he says.

The migration patterns of Latinos in the last two decades, even within Latin America itself, in addition to the massive embracing of communication technologies, has prepared millions of citizens of the world to become an influence and help change the way we communicate.

Not only that, but the intermixing of cultures has birthed a mestizo culture throughout the world, which is only the beginning of much larger cultural and economic changes that will affect the way we interact with each other, and even the way countries work with each other.

“I love, play, think and talk in English and Spanish. I really like to be able to do that. It’s just amazing all the capabilities that we have and how far we can go knowing more than one language,” says Maria Iregui, a business administrator in San Francisco.

People who embrace their multiculturalism are in fact leaders when it comes to globalization. That same mindset we have, where we can switch back and forth between cultures and languages, places our so called “minorities” at the front line of how the world will look in a close future…

“I was born in Honduras of an Honduran mother and a Puerto Rican father. I have had one foot in both worlds and cultures since birth (Latin American, Caribbean and North American). Although my first language was Spanish, I grew up in a household that commuted back and forth living in many countries and cities. So the transition seemed seamless from one culture to the next […] In today’s world, where the internet and the social graphs connect everyone, no matter where they live, it is even more apparent. It baffles me how so many companies, although they recognize the need, neglect the local and international cultural markets in their own back yards. They seem to fail to see the “web” of connections and bonds we have to our native countries extended families and friends and the commerce opportunities these have,” explains Consuelo Santiago Dean, a project manager at Resource Interactive in Columbus, Ohio.

“Being bicultural is another layer to the multiple ones we navigate and manifest. Globalization is another characteristic of today’s fast pace life: global real-time effects […] We need total information and disclosure to be responsible with the global consequences. In this respect, Latinos and multicultural experienced people may be more prepared than others without a passport,” explains Raul Morales, Executive Creative Director of Fusion3-USA.

Our minds don’t have the borders that we physically impose on each other as human beings. Our minds allow evolution, flexibility and growth… The real question becomes: will we allow our minds to explore and hunt without boundaries in the new global wild?

El Presidente Obama y el candidato Obama necesitan ponerse de acuerdo

Presidente Barack Obama, Gobernador Luis Fortuño y el Diputado Pedro Pierluisi (Foto: White House, fotografiados por Pete Souza)

El ataque de los mensajes presidenciales y electorales bipolares ha empezado. Esto se está poniendo interesante.

Por un lado tenemos al Presidente Obama, tres años después y sin haber cumplido con las promesas electorales de reforma migratoria, y más bien mostrando una tendencia anti-inmigrante con el aumento en las deportaciones en un setenta por ciento, en comparación con el Gobierno de George W. Bush.

Por otro lado, el candidato Obama, cortejando a las comunidades latinas con visitas y discursos en los que no faltan unas cuantas palabras en español.

El Presidente Barack Obama estuvo en El Paso hace unas semanas hablando de la reforma en las leyes de inmigración y acusó a los Republicanos en el Congreso de obstaculizarlo. Esa misma semana, utilizó un mensaje a favor de pasar el DREAM Act en la página del candidato Obama, 2012. El DREAM Act ya va para su undécimo año de esperanzas fallidas en propuestas de ley que aparecen y desaparecen sin ser aprobadas. La maniobra fue denunciada abiertamente por una variedad de organizaciones.

Hace poco el candidato Obama me empezó a enviar invitaciones para donar a su campaña. Le he escrito repetidas veces acerca de la resolución a los asuntos de inmigración, pero al parecer esta no es una conversación sino solamente un pedido de contribuciones.

El congresista Lamar Smith (R-TX) presentó ayer, 14 de junio, una propuesta de ley para hacer que el e-verify, el sistema computarizado que verifica la elegibilidad para trabajar en los Estados Unidos, sea mandatorio para todos los empleadores.

Mientras eso sucedía, el candidato Barack Obama estaba en la isla de Puerto Rico, guiñándole el ojo a los puertorriqueños que viven en los Estados Unidos y que constituyen una porción interesante de los 50 millones de latinos en la nación.

Los puertorriqueños que viven en la isla son ciudadanos americanos pero no pueden votar; sus paisanos sí lo pueden hacer. Y el equipo de Obama 2012 considera que los casi 5 millones de puertorriqueños que viven en el país son lo suficientemente importantes como para ser el primer presidente estadounidense que visita la isla desde John F. Kennedy. De especial importancia para la reelección son los casi un millón de puertorriqueños en Florida y que se dice podrían contrarrestar la influencia Republicana sobre los cubanos.

Durante su visita de solo cinco horas, el presidente expresó su apoyo al referéndum para convertir a Puerto Rico en un Estado. Mientras tanto, el candidato Obama recaudó casi un millón de dólares en donaciones durante una actividad organizada por el Partido Demócrata de Puerto Rico en el hotel Caribe Hilton.

Mientras el presidente y el candidato Obama finalizaban su corta visita, en tierra firme el Senado de Texas aprobaba una ley que permitiría que la policía verifique el estatus migratorio de cualquier persona que detenga por cualquier motivo. Una más de las muchas leyes que se han promulgado ya en Arizona, Indiana, Alabama y Georgia; y que están convirtiendo a muchos de esos Estados en zonas anti-inmigrantes y especialmente anti-latinas, sin importar su estatus migratorio.

Líderes latinos reclaman que el Presidente Obama podría dar una orden ejecutiva para detener las deportaciones, aprobar el DREAM Act y contener la marejada de leyes estatales que estrangulan a las comunidades inmigrantes, costándole millones a los Estados y forzando migración masiva a ciudades que se presenten más tolerantes de la diversidad. Mientras tanto, el candidato Obama se contenta con mantener a los Republicanos en el Congreso a gusto, invitar comitivas de cantantes y otras celebridades a la Casa Blanca para “conversar” del tema de inmigración, dar discursos cargados de emotividad y seguidos de inacción, y otorgar reconocimiento a unos pocos que están haciendo un excelente trabajo a través del programa “Champions of Change”.

De acuerdo a resultados a boca de urna, 67 por ciento del electorado latino votó por Obama en el 2008. Su aprobación en este momento ha disminuido al 49 por ciento, según un sondeo de opinión de ImpreMedia y Latino Decisions (hace un año estuvo en 57 por ciento y hace unos meses en el 41 por ciento). La pregunta es si el Presidente Obama le dará una manito al candidato Obama o si seguirá el mismo camino, cortejándonos por un lado y castigándonos por el otro, menguando en los próximos meses su popularidad con los electores que con tanta expectativa y entusiasmo lo ayudaron a llegar hasta la Casa Blanca.



Tequila Party launches… will it be taken seriously?

On April 20, the day of the first anniversary of SB1070, the harsh and controversial anti-immigrant law, DeeDee García Blasé, the leader of Somos Republicans launched her Tequila Party. In a column in the Voice of Tucson she wrote about her disappointment with current laws and leaders, her frustration with the Obama administration and the surge in deportations and the economic disaster that SB1070 is for Arizona.

“I have been called a RINO (Republican in Name Only) several times because of my stance on immigration,” García Blasé wrote, “yet I know these individuals would have called Ronald Reagan one if he were still alive because he gave amnesty. Dozens of Republican leaders attacked me for being vocal against Republican lawmakers when they embraced harsh anti-immigrant laws. What do they expect? I’m Latina. My people are suffering and it is no different than when Moses pled for mercy with regard to his own Israelites.”

The movement was received with mixed emotions and much disbelief. Much has been said about the stereotypical name and the appeal to just certain populations. However, boiling frustration among Latinos regarding immigration and racial profiling issues may help bring unity and a sense of urgency that will favor a rebel movement that resonates with the Hispanic community as much as the Tea Party has with mainstream America.

Recently, García Blasé went further in her quest to send a message to the GOP. She stepped down from the leadership of Somos Republicans and switched political affiliation.

“The Republicans cannot be anti-immigrant and expect to grow the Latino vote to their benefit. I had it with the Republican Party. I am not doing their work any longer. I’m done. The only way I could go back is if they correct themselves. Right now it’s embarrassing. I feel liberated. I’m switching to the Independent Party to send a message to the GOP,” said García Blasé.

“We cannot afford to stay home. We have to support Obama. He has asked for a grassroots movement, bipartisan support to pass comprehensive immigration reform and we are here to give it to him,” she states. “There are no other options, if we don’t vote for Obama in 2012; we’ll see a Palin as a president. Sarah Palin, for example,  endorses Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), the worst anti-immigrant Republican. Is that what we want?”

The National Tequila Party Movement is a national tour of concerts, events, dinners and rallies that will encourage a massive Latino Get Out The Vote. This movement is non-partisan and although is not about tequila, its first sponsor is Tequila Don Abraham. “We like that the name is controversial, it’s helped us out there,” said García Blasé, who also explained that her team has people from different national origins, including recent immigrants. To appeal to Latinos other than the Mexican community, the events will be headlined as Tequila Party/Café con Leche in cities like Miami and New York.

The first rally took place June 4 in Tucson, Arizona, headquarters of the party and ground zero for immigration advocates. About 50 people gathered to hear their leader. “The siesta is over, amigos. Now is time for fiesta,” she said to the small crowd. The Tequila Party’s slogan is “Your shot for Change.”

The man who inspired García Blasé and others to initiate the Tequila Party is Fernando Romero, a long time Democratic Latino activist in the state of Nevada. “He swirled the idea but nothing really came into fruition. As the 2012 Presidential Elections are underway, we decided to launch the Tequila Party Movement on Cinco de Mayo 2011. We reached out to Fernando Romero and told him he was our inspiration, and he is flattered we acknowledge him as our inspiration,” said García Blasé.

“Tequila Party is about motivating Latinos to participate in the early ballot system and to vote in the primary elections as well as the general elections. All are welcome, regardless of Party affiliation. Move over Tea Party people, the Tequila Party Movement is here. This time you won’t see a bunch of “angry at Obama” people in a rally. Nay, this time you will see fiestas, celebration of cultura and a massive Latino Get Out the Vote Drive,” the Tequila Party leader said.

According to a recent report by the Pew Hispanic Center more than 6.6 million Latinos voted in last year’s election-a record for a midterm-according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center. Fueled by their rapid population growth, Latinos also were a larger share of the electorate in 2010 than in any previous midterm election, representing 6.9% of all voters, up from 5.8% in 2006. At the same time, however, the number of Latino non-voters among those who are eligible to vote has also increased. This increase contributed to a decline in the voter turnout rate among Latinos-down from 32.3% in 2006 to 31.2% in 2010.

Latino Decisions, a political blog, estimates that 21.5 million Latino citizen adults will be eligible to vote in November 2012, up from 19.5 million in 2008. If registration rates remain constant, that will leave over 8 million Latino eligible voters who are not registered in 2012.

Tequila Party’s objective is to bring 20 million voters to the next election.

“We need to be better voters. This is why we believe the Tequila Party Tour is a critical movement to work towards a massive 2012 National Latino Get Out the Vote Initiative. We have leaders in place in all high Latino populated states and we are strengthening our ties with all organizations who want to participate in this important crusade,” indicated García Blasé, who has made this her full-time job. She expressed that the difference between her movement and other voter registration organizations is that Tequila Party is creating events with voter registration booths and educating voters.

The leader says that the Tequila Party has more than 50 grassroots leaders throughout the country working to get sponsors to support their Latino Get Out The Vote rallies. She also assures the skeptical that the Tequila Party is not funded by the Republican Party and that is not a ploy to get Latinos to vote Republican.

While she has no political ambitions, García Blasé highlights Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) as a great leader and even a potential presidential candidate she would support in the future. The Tequila Party has requested Gutierrez to be their national spokesperson. He is “considering it.”

“It’s overwhelming, but the tears of the children becoming orphans and of the DREAMers not achieving their dreams, that’s what keeps me up. Those of us who are legal in this country are pissed at the current state of things. We need to push for immigration reform, send a message to Republicans such as Lamar Smith (R-TX) who are now pushing for enforcement only laws, and let them know that we will be there in droves. People are scared of Tea Party, well, here comes the Tequila Party,” finalized García Blasé.

Cities that the Tequila Party tour will visit have been announced but not the dates; and the leadership promises live streaming video of the gatherings. For more, visit