Thursday, September 29, 2005

Prison company promises millions to foreign inmates in abuse lawsuit

Knoxville's WVLT reports that private prison company Esmor Correctional Services has promised a multi-million dollar settlement to foreign citizens who were abused at an Esmor-run New Jersey prison. The abuse prompted the federal government to transfer the contract for that prison to Nashville's Corrections Corporation of America.

"Foreigners who claimed they were abused at a detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, have won a two and a half million dollar settlement from Esmor Correctional Services."

"The Immigration and Naturalization Service closed the center and fired Esmor after its investigation found that poorly trained guards abused the detainees physically and mentally, gave them spoiled food and deprived them of sleep."

"The detention center reopened in 1997 under operation by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Prestigious Nashville cigars born in Nicaragua and Honduras

The Nashville City Paper reports that Nashville's CAO International, Inc. has developed a world-renowned line of cigars made in Nicaragua and Honduras:

"It may not be Miami or Cuba, but in a spanking-new 20,000-square-foot building on Cockrill Bend Circle, CAO International Inc., sells world-renowned cigars from right here in Music City."

"Cano A. Ozgener, who founded the company in 1968, and his two children, Tim and Aylin, have grown CAO from a small manufacturer of pipes and humidors to a producer of 8 million cigars a year — all of which rank consistently high in Cigar Aficionado magazine."

"Making their cigars in Esteli, Nicaragua, and Danli, Honduras, the Ozgeners market and distribute them from the Nashville headquarters."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Back to Cuba Cafe gets rave review for authenticity

The Nashville Scene reviews the Back to Cuba Cafe and finds its atmosphere and food to be as authentically Cuban as Miami's Little Havana.

"In the years since Castro’s takeover, Americans have become increasingly familiar with Cuban cuisine, but until recently Nashvillians have had nowhere to sample it. Happily, thanks to Alex Martinez, himself a Cuban émigré, that longing is now being delectably sated at Back to Cuba Café. In the Trousdale Drive strip center adjacent to Mama Mia’s restaurant (which Martinez owns with his wife Rebecca), the little café is so redolent of similar places in Little Havana as to make visitors feel they have left Nashville on the other side of the door—at least my dining companions, longtime habitués of Calle Ocho, did."

"The culturally correct vibe set the bar high for the food, and we were not disappointed. Five adults and one child set upon the six dishes and Cuban sandwich we ordered like a pack of coyotes, and 30 minutes later, when every plate was virtually wiped clean, all we could do was smile at our good fortune."

Back to Cuba Cafe
4683 Trousdale Drive
11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Tues. - Sat.

Monday, September 26, 2005

"Learn English" judge disciplined

The Tennessean reports that Wilson County Juvenile Court Judge Barry Tatum has been disciplined as a result of his ordering Spanish-speaking mothers to learn English.

"Documents from the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary - which is charged with overseeing the conduct of the state's judges - show disciplinary action was taken against Judge Barry Tatum, but do not reveal the exact nature of the action because state law and the court's own rules forbid it."

"In one of the cases, Tatum told a teenage mother to learn English and use birth control. In a similar case, he ordered another Hispanic immigrant to learn English or face permanently losing custody of her 11-year-old daughter."

"A complaint was filed with the Court of the Judiciary by Nashville resident Alex Friedman."

Friday, September 23, 2005

Selecta radio station close to Nashville launch

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that Selecta radio, which bought Nashville's 1240AM earlier this year (see earlier story here), is almost ready to launch:

"With a background in radio, Mike Mazursky started Spanish-language broadcasts on Sundays about four years ago. He saw a business opportunity with the area's booming Hispanic population, he said. Mazursky is now vice president of marketing and sales for Davidson Media Group Inc., which bought the station in May."

"A second Selecta station went on the air in Norfolk in February, and a third - in Nashville, Tenn. - is about to hit the airwaves."

Spanish-language program to be dropped from WAMB

The Nashville City Paper reports that WAMB-AM 1160 is being sold and that a Spanish-language program will be dropped in the process.

"When radio station WAMB-AM 1160 changes hands next year, the classic big bands will play on – just on a different frequency."

"Barry’s Donelson-based Great Southern Broadcasting Inc. has signed a contract to sell the 50,000-watt frequency license for $5 million to Kansas-based Bott Radio Network, which plans a Christian talk format on AM 1160. Great Southern would retain the call letters WAMB for its adult standards station on 1200. The 1200 frequency offers only a 10,000-watt signal, though Barry said he has a permit to boost it to 50,000 watts."

"'We’ve had a quite a few e-mails, phone calls and letters,' he said, adding that the shift would displace a Spanish radio program that leases time on WKDA."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Councilman makes issue of Cunza's citizenship in Metro commission appointment

The Tennessean reported Tuesday that Yuri Cunza's appointment to a Metro Commission was coming under attack by Metro Councilmen Harold White and David Briley, who questioned whether Cunza's Peruvian citizenship makes him fit to serve on the Nashville commission. Cunza, a Nashville resident since 1996, President of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and an entrepreneur in film and media, was nominated by Mayor Bill Purcell to the commission and has served on other Nashville commissions in the past.

"Purcell said Cunza has the experience and dedication to be qualified to serve on the charter commission. His office also offered three examples of other [citizens of other countries] who serve on Metro boards: Renato Soto, who served previously on the Charitable Solicitation Commission; Simon Mais of the Tourism and Convention Commission; and German Castro of the Human Relations Commission."

"'I have been working hard to expand the diversity of the boards and commissions,' the mayor said. 'Mr. Cunza has been serving the community on the district energy systems board, the arts board and the racial-profiling steering committee. He's been a person giving of himself to the larger community.'"

"Councilmen Harold White and David Briley said they will raise questions at tonight's Metro Council meeting about Mayor Bill Purcell's appointment of Peru native Yuri Cunza to the Metro Charter Revision Commission."

David Briley was quoted in the article, but he has stated that he was misquoted and has called Purcell's office to clear up his position on Cunza's appointment.

"'I just have some questions that I want to ask him,' White said. 'I will speak those (Tuesday) night. … I haven't made up my mind one way or the other.'"

At Tuesday night's Council meeting, a hearing on Cunza's nomination was postponed, but White attempted to comment anyways.

The article does not state whether there is a citizenship requirement for commission service.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

WSJ follows Guatemalan Katrina victims to warm welcome in Nashville

The Wall Street Journal reports that a group of thirty Guatemalan victims of Katrina have found open arms in Nashville:

"Back home, Mr. Escobar and Mrs. de Leon's husband, Miguel, decided it was time to heed pleas to evacuate. The men hurried over to the hotel to fetch their wives. The four immediately joined a group of Guatemalans who had arranged to hit the road together, 30 in all. The group had only two children; most parents in the group have left children in Guatemala."

"Fighting colds and fatigue, they arrived on the edge of Nashville on Sunday, Sept. 4 -- a week after abandoning New Orleans. They threw down some blankets and stretched out to sleep on the floor at the tiny house of Mr. Guzman's friends. On Monday, they arose to a Spanish-language radio station's call for Latinos to take part in a Labor Day fund-raiser for hurricane evacuees."

"Moved by news reports that undocumented immigrants had few places to turn for help, about 2,000 Hispanics showed up with everything from lampshades and dinner plates to disposable diapers and cases of drinking water. They lined up to donate as little as $1 and as much as a day's pay. Most of them were also believed to be illegal immigrants, according to community leaders."

"Among those who heard about the newcomers was Santa Perez, a 58-year-old restaurateur and green-card holder, who came to the U.S. about 30 years ago from Mexico. 'I know what it's like to cross rivers,' she says. 'Many people helped me get started. They opened doors for me.' She invited the Escobars and their friends to her Mexican restaurant, El Arroyo, for a feast of tamales, carnita, beans and rice."

"Mrs. Perez had been thinking about donating $4,000 to the Red Cross but decided to use it to help the Guatemalan group. She paid the first month's rent, or $589, for each of four apartments to house the immigrants, then bought new beds for them. The apartments were furnished with tables, chairs and lamps donated at the fund-raiser. Food came from churches frequented by Latinos."

"Local Latinos stepped forward with information about jobs. Ms. Bautista and five other Guatemalan women were taken to a local job fair and directed to a plant in nearby La Vergne that manufactures and distributes DVDs and other disks. Within two days of arriving in Nashville, they had jobs packing DVDs."

"Several men in the group soon found work on construction sites, as they had in New Orleans. A phone call placed by a local resident helped Mr. Escobar land a job as a mechanic at a car-repair shop, after initially being offered a cleaning job at a Hispanic-run bus company."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Student journalist experiences integration difficulty in Nashville

New Mexico State University reporter Jayna Boyle described a recent trip to downtown Nashville with Hispanic and African-American co-workers, and found Nashville lacking in comparison to her home state:

"Just as individuals who are colorblind can distinguish between tones and colors, a large number of New Mexicans take note of the differences among people as a level of respect, but those differences are not usually issues of concern. The same cannot be said for other regions of the country."

"Recently, I attended a journalism convention in Nashville, Tenn., with two of my co-workers at the Round Up. When we were walking in the downtown area, we received some interesting responses from people."

"Because one of my co-workers is Hispanic, the other is African American and I am Anglo, we were quite an unusual trio to most of Nashville."

"While dining in restaurants, we received dirty glances from other customers. When we were walking down the street, someone in a passing car catcalled about our group."

"One night, we decided to check out one of the local clubs. While wandering around, we noticed a surplus of young people flowing into the streets. However, every other street was different. One street had only Anglos lined up to get into clubs, while the next was peopled with African Americans waiting to get into different clubs."

"After we found a club that seemed the most accepting of all of us, we settled ourselves as much as possible. However, at one point my Hispanic friend went to the restroom and was asked by an Anglo girl, 'Do you speak English?' After her question was affirmed, she proceeded to ask, 'But you're Hispanic, right?' Apparently Hispanics are not very common in the Nashville area, because my co-worker was asked if she was Hispanic once more before the night was over."

Monday, September 19, 2005

Interview with Nashville news anchor Nancy Molina Sharber

Latin Market Communications released this interview with Nancy Molina Sharber, News Anchor at Telefutura, Channel 42:

Nancy Molina SharberRegular viewers of the local evening news on Nashville's Telefutura, Channel 42 will already be very familiar with the charming news anchor Nancy Molina Sharber. Nancy has been presenting the news for Solo Nashville, Channel 42 for almost two years, but what you may not know is that Nancy is also a mother, radio host, successful business woman and a Christian music connoisseur.

I'm from the Dominican Republic.

Yes, three of them. They are three, five and sixteen.

My background was in TV and news. I started doing television news voice-overs before going to Venezuela where I worked for four years in radio and television. I moved to Nashville 8 years ago where I worked started my career working on-air at a few small Hispanic radio stations. I have been working for Telefutura for 2 years and loving every minute of it.

The best part is to feel that you are informing the public, giving them what that they want. Our mission at Telefutura is to give good, clear local information.

It happens more as Telefutura becomes more popular with the public. I like to meet people.

They need the opportunity to progress. They need to know more about the services that are available that they don't know about. They need fraud protection when they buy their houses. Then need education on home buying and finances.

There are plans but I can't say any more right now.

I like Latino football [soccer] and auto racing.

Olive garden, anywhere with a piano bar.

I only listen to Christian music. I owe everything to God.

For more information contact:
Andrew Vaughan, 615 599 0045,
Eva Melo, 615-599-0045,

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sunday at Fairgrounds: Hispanic Cultural Day

The Tennessee State Fairgrounds will host a "Hispanic Cultural Day" this Sunday:

Sunday, September 18, 2005
Tennesee State Fairgrounds
625 Smith Ave
Nashville, TN 37203
$8 adults, $4 children
FREE seniors & children

Franklin Hispanic Chamber: second mixer on September 20

The Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will hold its second meeting and mixer on Tuesday, September 20:

Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Meeting/Mixer
Tuesday, September 20th: 6:00 PM
318 S Margin Street (La Casa de Mi Padre)
Franklin, TN

We will be forming committees from the paid members and nominating committee chairs for: health & safety, finance, charities & religion, education, sports, media, business, etc.

Please get your application forms in before the meeting. Membership forms:

Pay online or send a $50 check to:

Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
133 Holiday Court, Suite 104
Franklin, TN 37064

To host a meeting at your location call Andrew at 599-0045. Meetings are the 3rd Tues. each month.

Eva Melo,
Andrew Vaughan,

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tango by Moonlight in Centennial Park this weekend

Tango Nashville brings "Tango by Moonlight" back to Centennial Park this Saturday:

'Tango by Moonlight'
Saturday, September 17, 2005
7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Centennial Park, Event Shelter

Experience AGAIN the excitement of a MAGICAL night with Tango Nashville!
Bring your packed dinner and relax under a full lit moon with friends and family.
Door prizes and lots of dance, too!

- Live Tango dance performances by guest performers from Tango Rio in Atlanta: Manuel and Ronda Patino, who will even be dancing Tango to the Pink Panther song!
- Live Tango and Latin music by Serenatta Romantic Latin Ensemble
- Live African Djembfole Percussion Ensemble with dancers
- A TANGO CLASS for all levels led by Artistic Director MariaPia De Pasquale
- Tango Nashville's own surprise guests!!

This event is sponsored by the Global Education Center, Metro Parks and Tango Nashville.
Don't miss it!

Note: this event will be in place of our monthly "Milonga"

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Coalition launches immigration reform initiative today

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition announced this press conference today to launch a comprehensive immigration reform initiative:

Broad Statewide Community Coalition Announces Support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

When: Wednesday, September 14th at 11:30 am

Where: Catholic Center of Nashville, 2400 21st Avenue South (click here for map)

Immigrants Share Our Values. It's Time To Share Our Values With Immigrants.
Over the past week, Tennessee's immigrant community has raised thousands of dollars, and collected tons of clothes and food for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Hardworking immigrant families, who understand how difficult it is to be uprooted from their homes and their communities, have made most of these donations. These efforts once again demonstrate that immigrants share our American values of compassion, family, and hard work. It's time to share these values with immigrants by passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform. For more information on recent Tennessee immigrant efforts to support Katrina victims, please click here or see below.

Immigrants Benefit Our Economy, and Our Economy Needs Immigrants Now More
Than Ever.
White House officials and Congressional budget experts estimate federal reconstruction costs for Katrina damages will exceed $100 billion (New York Times). As our nation prepares for these costly recovery efforts, we must reform our immigration system now to best support our nation's economic growth.

"Short of an...increase in immigration, economic growth cannot be safely counted upon to eliminate deficits and the difficult choices that will be required to restore fiscal discipline." Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve Board
Who Will Be Attending:
Representatives from Tennessee's academic, religious, labor, business, and immigrant communities--as well as others who support immigrants--will be present to recognize the important contributions made by Tennessee's immigrant families, and the need for comprehensive reform of the nation's immigration system.

Some of those who will participate include:

Yvette Sebelist and Mario Ramos, members of American Immigration Lawyers Association
Jerry Lee, Tennessee AFL-CIO
Service Employees International Union of Tennessee
Reverend Henry Blaze, Progressive Baptist Church
Tennessee Catholic Public Policy Commission
Dr. Dan Cornfield, sociology professor at Vanderbilt University
Conexión Américas
Colombian Solidarity Network
Asociación Latina of Nashville
Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition
and many others!

What We Are Seeking: The Passage Of Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation
Our immigration system should reflect this nation's values of family, hard work and fairness. Although it can still be improved, the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act, proposed by Arizona Senator John McCain, is the only bipartisan reform proposal that honors those values by putting into place a safe, legal, and orderly system, enabling hardworking immigrant families to fully contribute to our economy and our communities.**

If you have questions, please contact TIRRC's policy coordinator, Stephen Fotopulos, at or 615-845-6672.

Tennessee landlord opens up Texas apartments to Katrina refugees

Latin Market Communications sent out this press release about the hurricane relief efforts of Franklin landlord Omar Melo:

A new member of the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is offering 20 units of his apartment building in Texas to Katrina survivors. Omar Melo, an active member of the Hispanic community is the owner of the 'Texas Apartments' in Terrell, Texas.

"I wanted to use these units for the evacuees but they weren't ready so the local community pitched in and made it happen. I actually live in Tennessee, the 'volunteer state,' so it seemed appropriate that I help out. I am a member of the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Tennesee. As a Hispanic community we care about our fellow citizens in Louisiana. It's important that we all pull together right now," says Melo.

Churches and charities from the area, including, First Assembly of God, First Hispanic Baptist Church, The Salvation Army, The United Way, and FEMA. Wanda Ranson, Volunteer Coordinator from the City of Terrell provided furniture, materials, supplies and up to 50 volunteers in the effort.

Katrina evacuees who are in need of homes should contact Texas Apartments (now called Spanish Meadows) at 972-551-1758 or Wanda Ransom at 469-474-9485. The apartment complex is located at 1001 Mineral Wells Road, Terrell, TX 75160.

Hispanic job hunting class Saturday

HispanEduca, a training and education program for Nashville's Hispanic community, continues this Saturday with information for job-seekers:

Basic training for Hispanics on how to apply for a job and get hired. Students are coached on how to adapt and prepare their 'toolkit' for job hunting in the US, including, but not limited to resume writing, interviewing and follow up techniques. Classes start on Saturday, September 17, from 11 am to 12:30 pm. The cost is of $5 per person. This program is possible thanks to the support of Cricket Communications, SunTrust Bank, Aurora Bakery, Metro Human Relations Commission, St. Thomas Health Services and Keller Williams Realty.

All clases will be held at Aurora Bakery, 3725 Nolensville Rd., Nashville, TN 37211.

For more information, please contact Diana Holland at 615-889-3390 or

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Nashville celebrates Mexican Independence Day

Mexican Independence Day will be celebrated across Nashville this week. One of the celebrations will be at the La Hacienda Taqueria, and another will be at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds:

September 15, 2005
La Hacienda Taqueria parking lot
Contact Luis at

September 16, 2005
Tennesee State Fairgrounds
Contact Tiffany Johns at 615-862-8980

Monday, September 12, 2005

La Hacienda, Las Americas, and Back to Cuba among Nashville Scene's Top 30 Cheap Eats

The Nashville Scene named 30 of its favorite local, independent restaurants for meals under 10 bucks:

"LA HACIENDA TAQUERIA 2617 Nolensville Road. 256-5066
LA HACIENDA MARISQUERIA Y TAQUERIA 3744 Nolensville Road. 781-2902
For families with kids and anyone who enjoys cilantro, lime or margaritas, the crowded, nacho-cheese-Dorito-colored Hacienda with its adjoining market is the mothership of cheap eating, especially on the weekends, when, more often than not, Hispanic-language cable channel Univision is broadcasting a soccer game or a ridiculous Gong Show-style game show while a diverse crowd noshes on house-made chips and salsa and sucks up fish-bowl margaritas large enough for a whole table. We’ve become addicted to the tostada ceviche, raw fish marinated in lime juice and served on a light, crispy tostada, and the posole, traditional Mexican pork soup made with hominy. (La Hacienda serves red, not green, posole.) A new location, La Hacienda Marisqueria y Taqueria, specializes in seafood. Careful, the chips come in bottomless baskets and are addictive."

"LAS AMERICAS 4715 Nolensville Pike. 315-8888
LA PLACITA 314 McCall St. 832-6811
Nashville is teeming with inexpensive, and good, Mexican restaurants, but far fewer places serve food from Central American countries El Salvador and Honduras. Of these two highlights, Las Americas is the standby, a place where you can fill up just by ordering two pupusas: flat cornmeal-dough patties stuffed with pork, beans and/or cheese. They come with curtido, a tangy cabbage-carrot slaw that your server will happily replenish when it runs out. Total cost, before tip: 4 bucks. A little closer to town, La Placita sits just off Nolensville Road, next to one of the city’s longtime ethnic standbys, Siam Café. The menu offers a broader range of platos Centroamericos, which incorporate grilled meats, earthy vegetables like yuca, and milder flavors than Mexican food. The enchiladas are markedly different from what you’re probably used to: tortillas wrapped around lightly seasoned ground beef, then topped with stewed cabbage and tomatoes and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Word of advice: don’t order the pork rinds unless you really love the melt-in-your-mouth sensation that comes from eating pure fat."

When Castro took control of Cuba decades ago, Florida became the home away from home for émigrés who fled his regime. Alex Martinez traveled a little farther north to Nashville, where he and his Central American-born wife Rebecca have owned and operated Mama Mia’s Italian restaurant for more than 10 years. With the opening of Back to Cuba, Martinez pays homage to his native island. Cuban food isn’t spicy, but it is highly seasoned, as diners will discover in specialties like lechón (marinated and roasted pork), ropa vieja (beef stew cooked until the meat is in shreds) and pargo frito (fried red snapper, served whole with the head), all of them served with black beans and rice, and two different types of fried plantain, one sweet, one savory. The Cuban sandwich is nearly as good as any found in Little Havana—the classic construction of ham, pork, cheese, pickles and mustard is layered on a length of French bread, swiped with butter, and cooked on a sandwich press until the cheese and meats ooze together in gooey goodness."

Friday, September 9, 2005

Feds fine Maryville pallet company for putting young expatriate on power tools reports that the federal government has fined a Maryville company almost $11,000 for allowing an employee under 18 years old to operate power-driven machinery. The employee in question lost her hand last year when she was working at Altr-Eco Pallets. She and her family are underground expatriates from Mexico.

"The federal government has fined a Maryville company almost $11,000 regarding an incident in the spring of 2004 in which the right hand of a teenage illegal immigrant was mangled by a piece of machinery."

"DLJ Enterprises, which did business as Altr-Eco Pallets at 1737 William Blount Drive, was assessed $10,670 'for allowing an employee under the age of 18 to operate power-driven machinery,' in violation of the youth employment provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to a statement by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division."

"The fine goes to the government and not to Maria Alvarez, now 19, who lost all the fingers on her hand to a machine called a mauler."

Ms. Alvarez also sued the company for damages from the injury. Among the defenses raised by the company is that Alvarez "is barred from recovering damages because as an 'illegal alien,' she participated in any circumvention of the law the suit accuses the defendants of violating."

The company also alleges that "illegal immigrants have no standing to assert any claims."

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Incoming UTK freshmen: 2% are Hispanic

The Tennessean reports that there are 78 Hispanics in the incoming class of 4,200 freshmen at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Former Vandy linebacker has Hispanic dreams for NASCAR

The Los Angeles Times reports that Armando Fitz, who used to play football for Vanderbilt University, dreams of an all-Hispanic NASCAR team:

"NASCAR, despite its announced 'Drive for Diversity,' would be hard pressed to find 25 Latinos in its top three divisions. But if a list were made, Adrian Fernandez and Armando Fitz would be at the top."

"But who is Fitz?"

"He is a Cuban, who, according to NASCAR, is the only minority owner of a team in its three elite levels - Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck."

"Fitz, 40, will have three Dodges in today's Busch race at California Speedway, the Ameriquest 300. The drivers are David Stremme in No. 14, Stanton Barrett in No. 40 and Carlos Contreras in No. 12."

"'What I would like, my dream you might call it, is to have an all-Hispanic team - driver, crew chief, mechanics, even the [public relations] person,' Fitz said over lunch at the Beverly-Wilshire. 'It might be a while yet because young Mexicans and other Hispanics never think of jobs in racing as a lifestyle because they are not aware of the opportunities. I think now, with a Busch race in Mexico and with well-known drivers like Adrian, Michel and Carlos racing regularly, it might change. It'll take a while, but I'm working on it.'"

"Fitz ... was a linebacker at Vanderbilt for four years."

"Fitz left Cuba in 1967 when he was 2, arriving in Miami with his parents with nothing but the clothes on their backs."

"'My parents owned several sugar plantations and retail businesses in Cuba, but when [Fidel] Castro began to take possession of them, they decided it would be better to take their chances over here,' Fitz said. 'They couldn't speak a word of English. My first language was Spanish.'"

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Nashville channel plans TV show for Mexico

The Nashville Scene reports that community access Channel 10 is planning a Spanish-language show that could also be broadcast in Mexico.

"Channel 10's proposals, for example, include a feel-good documentary series about the Metro Police Department, a health show featuring staffers from Metro General Hospital, and a Spanish-language show devoted to 'El Protector,' the police department's outreach program to the city's growing Hispanic population. Catalano wants to offer the last of these to Mexico City's equivalent of Channel 10, as it cautions immigrants about crucial cultural differences—for example, not to approach a police vehicle north of the border."

Friday, September 2, 2005

Aid for Spanish-speaking Katrina victims reports that private and governmental aid is being made available to Spanish-speaking Katrina victims:

"Among the many entities mobilizing Wednesday to help victims of Hurricane Katrina was the National Council of La Raza, with the largest Hispanic organization in the United States especially concerned about those whose lack of fluency in English might leave them less able to understand instructions from authorities and avail themselves of aid."

"'There are many immigrants who qualify to receive help from various entities, but they don't request it because of their undocumented status,' said NCLR's vice president for public information, Lisa Navarrete."

"'In all our shelters we have bilingual volunteers to facilitate aid for Hispanics affected by the hurricane, and we also have a telephone line in Spanish to take any donations the Latino community wants to make,' the Red Cross's Maria Yabrudy told EFE by telephone."

"In the aftermath of last year's hurricanes in Central Florida, many of that area's tens of thousands of Hispanic farm workers were afraid to seek aid from FEMA because they entered the United States illegally, but the agency said it would not report undocumented migrants to immigration authorities."

"While the 2000 U.S. Census put the Latino population of the city itself at only 50,000, analysts say the real figure is probably triple that."

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Nashville's Puertas Abiertas wins national homeownership innovation award

Puertas Abiertas ("Open Doors"), a homeownership project spearheaded by Nashville non-profit organization Conexion Americas, has won a national award for homeownership innovation from NeighborWorks America, according to this press release:

Washington, D.C. – NeighborWorks America today announced national honors for four organizations that developed creative and cost-effective approaches to help families of modest means attain homeownership. NeighborWorks made the announcement at the Washington, D.C. NeighborWorks Training Institute, the nation’s premier community development and training program for professionals and community leaders.

“Innovation is key to putting homeownership within reach of people who may not know they can afford to buy a home,” says NeighborWorks CEO Ken Wade. “The four organizations receiving honors have figured out creative ways to put people on a path to homeownership, and in so doing, have opened a new chapter in the lives of people who may never thought they could own a home of their own,” says Wade. “I’m extremely pleased to have such creative people working for the cause of affordable housing,” says Wade.

The four categories and winners in those categories are:


Best Innovative Partnership Other: Puertas Abiertas/Open Doors program showcases how partnerships successfully adapt to changing market conditions and exercise their collective ability to help Latino families realize their aspirations to become homeowners. Puertas Abiertas is a strategic partnership of Nashville, Tennessee, partners Conexión Américas and other non-profit organizations with three financial institutions which created a loan program using specialized underwriting for the immigrant Latino community. In two years, the program created 70 new homeowners and $8 million in loans.


The Innovations in Homeownership Contest identifies and recognizes creative, cost-effective strategies and approaches that nonprofit housing organizations use to promote homeownership to underserved communities. Four awards are given each year through the gracious support of the MetLife Foundation. The NeighborWorks Center for Homeownership Education and Counseling (NCHEC) and the NeighborWorks Campaign for Home Ownership jointly sponsor the contest. Since 1993, the Campaign has assisted over 90,000 new homeowners, counseled more than 500,000 families and promoted investments of more than $8 billion. NCHEC is the largest national training and certification provider for the housing education and counseling industry, assisting more than 2,000 practitioners annually, who reach millions of households seeking homeownership opportunities.

NeighborWorks America provides financial support, technical assistance and training for communities across the nation, including the NeighborWorks network – a nationwide network of more than 235 community development organizations working in more than 2,700 urban, suburban and rural communities across America. These organizations engage in revitalization strategies that strengthen communities and transform lives. In the last five years alone, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $8.5 billion in reinvestment and helped more than 500,000 families of modest means purchase or improve their homes or secure safe, decent rental or mutual housing."

No Tennesseans among Time's 25 Most Influential Hispanics

Time Magazine has released an issue dedicated to the "25 Most Influential Hispanics" in the United States. English-speakers will recognize Alberto Gonzalez and Jennifer Lopez; TV personalities Cristina Saralegui and Jorge Ramos are better known among their Spanish-speaking Univision viewers. Other "influential" Hispanics include Aida Giachello, cited for her influence in health research; and Lionel Sosa, Republican advocate and advertising entrepreneur. No Tennesseans were named.
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