Tag: La Opinion

Podcast

Podcast: Can the GOP Convince Enough Hispanic Voters to Help Elect Mitt Romney?

Mitt Romney is supported by fewer than 30 percent of Latino voters. Two Latino journalists talk about what he can do to improve his standing.

Podcast

Podcast: Republican Candidates Do Not Resonate With Latinos

In this podcast, Fi2W Executive Producer John Rudolph speaks with La Opinión senior political writer and columnist Pilar Marrero about the first poll showing how Latino voters are responding to the GOP presidential field.

In California and Elsewhere, Latinos Disproportionately Affected By Recession

Social worker Lourdes Cienfuegos, at right, talks to an Imperial Valley resident - Photo: La Opinión

Social worker Lourdes Cienfuegos, at right, talks to an Imperial Valley resident. (Photo: La Opinión)

Sara Espinosa chose to sleep on the street rather than leave her 12-year-old son to spend the night alone at a men-only homeless shelter. As a consequence, Sara, her son and her two daughters have been sleeping in her car.

Espinosa is one of hundreds of people in conditions of extreme poverty in Imperial Valley, one of the poorest counties in California and the nation, La Opinión reporter Claudia Nuñez wrote Wednesday.

Here, the unemployment rate has already passed 24 percent, almost four times the national average, and one out of every 18 families has lost their home.

While Imperial Valley is an extreme case, a report released last week by the Pew Hispanic Center shows the economic recession “is having an especially severe impact on employment prospects for immigrant Hispanics,” according to Rakesh Kochhar, the center’s associate director for research.

The unemployment rate for foreign-born Hispanics increased from 5.1 percent to 8 percent, or by 2.9 percentage points, from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2008. During this same time period, the unemployment rate for all persons in the labor market increased from 4.6 percent to 6.6 percent, or by 2 percentage points.

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Obama’s Latino Problem: Hispanic Leaders Criticize the President-elect's Cabinet Choices

By Pilar Marrero, La Opinión columnist and FI2W contributor

The last few weeks have proven again that for a “post racial” leader, elected for the content of his message -and regardless of the color of his skin- the racial and ethnic lines that subtly divide this country will surely affect the way Barack Obama governs after January 20th.

Even before taking office, the president-elect has had to confront –again- the thorny issue of his relationship with Latinos and Latino leadership. It was an issue that plagued his campaign, particularly during the primaries.

His appointments to the cabinet and to the ranks of White House “West Wing” advisors have been closely watched –and criticized- by Latino leaders. From the onset they were pushing a broad agenda, including Bill Richardson’s appointment as secretary of state.

The fact that Obama chose Hillary Clinton instead of Richardson – who supported him during the primary and had to withstand being called “Judas” by the Clinton campaign for doing it – set many tongues wagging about how the governor of New Mexico got the lesser appointment. The word “treason” was uttered by some political observers in private conversations.

The criticism began with the initial absence of Latinos among Obama’s first appointments: the economic team, the “kitchen cabinet” of close advisers that will surround him every day. There were several Latinos named to the transition team, but that was not seen as enough by some Hispanic leaders and commentators.

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Obama Calls On Latinos To Vote In "Record Numbers," Promises To Address Immigration Reform In His First Year

Obama asks for the Latino vote

"Obama asks for the Latino vote"

Senator Barack Obama appears to have launched a Hispanic version of his closing argument to voters. In an exclusive interview with the Spanish-language newspaper chain ImpreMedia, the Democratic candidate said he intends to “guarantee that [immigration reform] will not be used as a political football” and added that he was “committed” to putting together “a recipe” for immigration reform “starting in my first year” in the presidency.

In his chat with reporter Maribel Hastings of L.A. newspaper La Opinión, he made the disclaimer that if elected president he would have to deal with some more urgent issues at the start of his term. But Obama gave assurances that he is still committed to pushing forward immigration reform during his first year in office. [The interview was available only in Spanish on the chain’s website Tuesday: what follows is our translation back into English.]

The Democrat –who’s been warning his supporters against complacency despite his steady lead in the polls– also urged Hispanics to get out and vote. It’s becoming widely accepted that Obama will need Hispanic voters to put him over the top in some key states on the electoral map.

“I hope everyone understands what is at stake: if we’re going to try and make fundamental changes, comprehensive immigration reform, and a health care system that works for everyone, then we will have to see the Hispanic vote get out in record numbers,” he said. “In the battleground states, they can make all the difference in the world.”

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Weekend Roundup: Chinese American Families Seek Common Ground Over McCain and Obama; Presidential Campaigns Battle (in Spanish) Over Immigration; Obama Speaks to Voters en Español

One third of Asian American voters still have not decided who to vote for in the presidential election, according to a recent survey. Yan Tai, a reporter for the Chinese-language daily World Journal and Feet in Two Worlds, says younger Chinese Americans are helping their parents overcome their ambivalence about the candidates. In an interview Friday on PRI’s The World, Yan talked about Chinese American families where young people who support Barack Obama have convinced their more conservative immigrant parents to vote for the Democratic candidate.

Click here to listen to the interview.

PRI's The World

Earlier this week La Opinión reporter and columnist Pilar Marrero, who is also a FI2W journalist, appeared on The World to talk about Spanish-language radio and TV ads being run by the McCain and Obama campaigns. She explained how both candidates are battling over who has the best record on immigration, but only in Spanish-language media. They almost never mention immigration to English-speaking audiences.

On Friday, Marrero reported on her blog about a new Obama ad in which the Democratic candidate speaks to the audience entirely in Spanish. Marrero notes that up ’till now both campaigns have used Spanish-speaking announcers in their ads. But in this new, soon-to-be released commercial, it’s Obama who is doing the talking, telling Hispanic voters that he shares “their dream.” According to Marrero, Obama doesn’t actually know how to speak Spanish. In the ad he pronounces the script phonetically. But she says his pronunciation “isn’t bad at all.”

More Endorsements for Obama: Spanish-Language Newspapers Announce Support in New York and L.A.

Maybe not unprecedented like the Chicago Tribune‘s nor unexpected like Colin Powell‘s, but there were two other important endorsements for Barack Obama in the last few days.

Los Angeles’ La Opinión and New York’s El Diario/La Prensa, two of the nation’s oldest Spanish-language dailies, made public their endorsements of the Democratic candidate on Friday.

El Diario/La Prensa endorses Obama.

Both newspapers are owned by ImpreMedia which bills itself as, “The No. 1 Hispanic News and Information Company in the U.S. in Online and Print.” [In the interest of full disclosure, Feet in Two Worlds has worked with editors and reporters at both papers.] The two dailies carry considerable weight in the Hispanic communities in Los Angeles and New York, and beyond.

El Diario ran its endorsement on the cover, under the headline: “Necessary Change. A vote for Obama.” [The full text is available in Spanish and English.]

“Our country is perched on the edge of a cliff,” the newspaper said. “We are staring down a growing economic crisis.”

It added the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have “no end in sight,” and in the U.S., families have suffered from “stagnant wages, and the rising costs of everything from gasoline to food to health care.

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Obama To Deploy Army of 500 to Turn Out Latino Voters: Top Latino Strategist Says Florida May Not Be Winnable

Polls may look tight right now in the presidential race, but Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Figueroa, a man who’s had several key positions in the Obama campaign –he was national field director and is now head of Latino outreach- talks confidently about, “paths to victory,” and, “expanding the universe,” of voters.

“We don’t want to go to bed on election night hoping Ohio or Florida are gonna come our way, like the last two election cycles,” says Figueroa, while he dips his fork into a seared tuna salad at a restaurant in San Diego on a recent afternoon. “We want to create different paths to victory and if we don’t win Ohio, or Florida, there’s other ways.”

Figueroa says that that the path to victory will mean, “focusing like a laser beam on four states that have a lot of Latino voters, and that were won by Bush in the last election: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Florida.”

His comments reflect the oft-repeated claim by the campaign that they can change the electoral map in 2008. The path to victory though, doesn’t necessarily mean expanding the map. Figueroa doesn’t believe that Obama can win Florida but he does think they can win 2 or 3 Western states if they drive up turnout.

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