The Dream Is Now

June 9, 2013

Le Havre

November 3, 2011

A Better Life

July 18, 2011

Minimum Wage

September 6, 2008

This song is from Lila Downs’ new album, Shake Away (Manhattan Records).

To hear the song and to check out more music from this artist go to

Travelled seven hundred miles
Cross the border to the states
With a plasic bottle running
Cross the desert in a shake
Come to English-only country
Hidin’ from the minutemen
Come to make this place my home
Run a long, long way from them
Story of a lifetime for the minimum wage

Well they chased me through the desert
Then the agents strapped me down
Then they ask me why in Spanish
Why you keep on comin’ back
Well I left my dad in Jersey
And my sisters in Des Moines
They been workin’ in this country
Pickin’ lettuce, washin’ floors
Story of a lifetime for the minimum wage

Well they raised me to eight dollars
Cause I washed the dishes fast
Well the boss he got me workin’
On the porch and in the back
Then I wash the dish and rinse it
Then I go home, then I sleep
Well, I need to be real careful
‘Cause I walk out in my sleep
When I see that black van comin’
Then I know I’m sure to run
But goddamn them agents caught me
And they cuffed me on the spot
For the minimum wage

No one forced the boss to hire me
But it’s nearly been fifteen
Well I left my baby cryin’ with
A promise in my skin
On the outskirts of L.A. I recite
A native poem million hands
Ten thousand years, it’s the season
For the crop, it’s my people doin’
The pickin’ in the valley of the dolls
It’s a decent job to work it any day
I’ll take this job

Ethiopian, Colombian, Pakistani, Cantonese
Every man that I run into
All the kitchens on the strip
And they’re pluggin’ in them hours
And they’re smilin’ in their dreams
They’re a long, long way from home now
But they lookin’ to be free
California, Alabama, and Missouri, Oregon
They been workin’ like their fathers were
A long, long time ago
For the minimum wage

Death by Detention

June 20, 2008

Latino Support for GOP Drops

November 4, 2007

What’s the alternative for Latinos though? To vote for the Democrats? The same Democrats that support legislation to build a wall on the border. Who are against driver licenses for undocumented immigrants. Who have almost completely sided with Bush and the rest of the Republicans in the immigration debate.

Spending any amount of time and energy to help elect Democrats is self defeating. Supporting and getting involved in the Pro-Immigrant rights movement is the way forward.

Anti-immigrant rhetoric and hysteria is at an all time high in the US along with the mass arrests and discriminatory laws being created and passed all over the country.

Neither corporate party is going to defend the rights of immigrants. All immigrants not just Latinos have to mobilize, build unity and fight for their equality.

Although immigration is not yet a major campaign issue, it is one that presidential hopefuls cannot afford to ignore. At fifteen percent of the population, Latinos form the largest non-white community in the United States, and Latino voters are an increasingly important constituency.

Latino support for the Republicans has been slipping since 2004, when over 40% of Latinos voted for George W. Bush. By 2006, this had dropped to less than 30%. Pollster John Zogby said last year that the Republican campaign against illegal immigration is “a key factor in Hispanic disillusionment.”

Full Article

Small countries, great films

September 8, 2007

Small countries, great films

As the offer of Latin American-oriented cinema is increasing in the city, Latinbeat has become a late-summer classic.

The annual series organized by the Film Society at Lincoln Center ( holds its ground as a place to encounter the brightest and the latest of the region’s cinema.

“People hold us to a high standard, and we’re trying to live up to that,” says Richard Peña, the Film Society’s program director.

Apart from the ever-present selections from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, this year’s edition — running Sept. 7-18 at the Walter Reade Theater — offers several films from countries where there’s almost no movie industry to speak of, like Ecuador, Uruguay or Bolivia.

This is the case for Paz Encina’s “Paraguayan Hammock,” the first film to be produced in Paraguay in more than three decades, as well as the shorts “Pinta the Bird” (El Salvador) and “Temporal” (Costa Rica).

Peña says there was no explicit intention of showcasing usually underrepresented countries.

“We don’t choose films because it’s Ecuador or Paraguay,” he says. “We choose the films because we think they are good films.”

“How Much Further” (“Qué tan lejos”), which follows two young women on a road trip around Ecuador, surprisingly became the most popular local film there since 1990, according to director Tania Hermida.

“The movie has no commercial hook,” she says in an E-mail. “It’s a small film with an unconventional story and characters.”

Another highlight will be the directorial debut of Mexican star Gael García Bernal, who also plays the lead role in his opera prima, “Déficit.”

One theme that appears in several of this year’s selections is Latin-American migration (mostly to the U.S.) and its consequences in the lives of migrants and their families.

“Soy Andina,” by American director Mitch Teplitsky, follows the transnational lives of two female dancers: a Peruvian immigrant to New York and an American born to Peruvian parents.

“I was interested in the story of the immigrant community kind of living in both worlds and never feeling part of one or the other,” Teplitsky says. After six years of work on the documentary, he ended up marrying a Peruvian woman he interviewed on camera.

“In the process, I kind of uprooted myself,” he says. “I went through the same process” as the immigrants.

Tania Cypriano’s “My Grandmother Has a Video Camera” covers more than two decades in the life of her Brazilian family in the United States. Patricia Riggen’s “Under the Same Moon” is about a Mexican kid and his mother, who leave for the North. “The Most Beautiful of My Very Best Years,” by Martín Boulocq, follows a Bolivian man as he tries to get money to exit his country.

A screening of Uruguay’s “Whisky” (2004), by Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, will be dedicated to Rebella, who committed suicide last year.

Thousands Demand Immigrant Rights

April 9, 2007

L.A. Marchers Demand Immigration Rights

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Thousands of people marched through downtown on Saturday, demanding a way for the country’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to become citizens and condemning President Bush’s latest proposal.

Carrying signs saying ”Amnesty Now!” and ”Love Thy Neighbor, Don’t Deport Him,” about 15,000 people danced to Mexican ranchera music, chanted ”Si, se puede!” or ”It can be done!” and passed large American flags over the crowd.

Many were angry about a White House plan that would grant illegal immigrants work visas but require them to return home to apply for U.S. residency and pay a $10,000 fine.

”Charging that much, Bush is going to be even more expensive than the coyotes,” said protester Armando Garcia, 50, referring to smugglers who transport people across the Mexican border.

Immigrant rights advocates say many of the area’s illegal immigrants feel betrayed by President Bush, who they had long considered an ally. While illegal immigrants and advocates have long focused their ire at conservative Republicans and Congress, many had seen Bush as an advocate of immigration reform because he had repeatedly said he favors giving many illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

The White House’s draft plan, leaked last week, calls for a new ”Z” visa that would allow illegal immigrant workers to apply for three-year work permits. They would be renewable indefinitely, but would cost $3,500 each time.

Then to become legal permanent residents, illegal immigrants would have to return to their home country, apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate to re-enter legally and pay a $10,000 fine.

The proposal has been sharply criticized by Hispanic advocacy groups, Democrats, the Roman Catholic Church and unions that have many immigrants in their ranks. They argue the cost of work permits and the green card application — which could total more than $20,000 — are prohibitive for low-wage earners.

”For my wife and I it would cost about $30,000,” said Francisco Gomez, 41, who along with his wife is in the country illegally. ”Multiply that by all the illegal immigrants here … It’s obvious Bush just wants to fund his Iraq war with our money.”

The plan is far more conservative than the one passed by the Senate last year with bipartisan backing and support from President Bush. That plan would have allowed many of the country’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to stay in the United States, work and apply to become legal residents after learning English, pay small fines and back taxes and clear a background check.

Many Senate conservatives opposed that plan, and it failed to gain traction in the then Republican-controlled House, which at the end of 2005 passed the punitive immigration reform bill that angered immigrant communities and led to massive protests.

”Last year, we were fighting for legalization, and this year we are fighting for legalization and against all these raids,” said Maria Lopez, 50, an illegal immigrant who works as a seamstress and sends $200 a month home to family members in Mexico.

”We have no way to come up with that much money, and Bush knows that,” she said. ”He is doing this on purpose so we don’t ever become legal residents.”

Demonstrator Yoland Araujo carries an oversized resident alien card during an immigration protest rally Saturday, April 7, 2007, in Los Angeles.

Demonstrators calling for immigration reform march during an immigration protest rally, Saturday, April 7, 2007, in Los Angeles.

Some of the estimated 15,000 marchers are shown during an immigration protest rally Saturday, April 7, 2007, in Los Angeles.

A spectator gestures to immigration protesters during an anti-illegal immigration rally in Los Angeles.

Leticia Tepetitla, 9, wearing a US flag, marches with other demonstrators calling for immigration reform around the Federal Building in Los Angeles.