Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Nashville women's soccer season starts March 5

The Nashville Area Women's Soccer Association spring 2006 season will begin March 5. According to its web site, the Association "promotes adult women's soccer, stimulates friendly competition and sportsmanship at a recreational level of play, and provides instruction and the opportunity to play soccer to both skilled and unskilled players." For more information, visit www.nawsa.org

Monday, February 27, 2006

Arrests in murder case bring possible answers to Hispanic community

Metro Police Nashville Davidson CountyAccording to this article in the Tennessean, the Metro Police department has made two arrests in the murder of a young Hispanic mother and her three-year-old daughter.

The Nashville Hispanic community had feared that the crime would not be solved due to an early detour into the immigration status of the victims' husband and father, as reported in this archive story from the Hispanic Nashville Notebook.

Friday, February 24, 2006


According to this article in the Tennessean, the Tennessee Department of Safety has unilaterally forbidden further issuance of the state's Certificate of Driving, a driving authorization document similar to a driver's license but available to anyone regardless of federal immigration status and not meant to be used as identification. The complete ban will be lifted March 6, but it will remain partially in effect by requiring future applications to prove legal immigration status.

The reason for the ban is a federal sting into state and private corruption related to the issuance of driving documents in Tennessee.

See the archives of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook for recent stories on this subject.

UPDATE: According to this Associated Press article printed in the Maryville (TN) Daily Times, Governor Bredesen says his plan is not to scrap enforcement of the current Certificate of Driving law.

Taco ban deferred again

The Metro Council has deferred again the proposed partial ban on mobile food vendors. According to the following press release in Spanish, Nashville taco vendors are pointing to their cooperation with the ban's sponsors as a key to the continued postponement of the proposal. The ban would completely shut down outdoor taco kitchens in Music City.

Finalmente, el trabajo incansable de los propietarios y empleados de las taquerias en el área de Nashville para evitar que estas fueran clausuradas, rindió el fruto esperado. La ordenanza local 2005-860 propuesta por los concejales Buck Dozier, Tommy Bradley, y Amanda McClendon ha sido pospuesta indefinidamente, tal cual consta en las minutas del Concejo de la Ciudad de Nashville.

Dicha ordenanza presentada ante el Concejo de la Ciudad el 15 de noviembre del 2005 argüía que los propietarios de las taquerias no cumplían con las regulaciones establecidas por el Departamento Metropolitano de Salud que garantizan la venta segura de comidas en unidades móviles.

Los propietarios y empleados de las taquerías decidieron actuar positiva y colectivamente ante la amenaza que representaba esta propuesta para sus negocios, para esto, asistieron al entrenamiento de Manejo Básico de Comida dictado por el Servicio de Protección de Comidas del Departamento Metropolitano de Salud Pública el 25 de enero del 2006.

Finalmente, los propietarios de las taquerías tuvieron una audiencia con el principal patrocinador de la ordenanza, concejal Buck Dozier, el 21 de febrero del 2006 para presentarle sus certificados de asistencia, al curso mencionado anteriormente. El concejal decidió postergar la ordenanza local indefinidamente ya que pudo constatar que nuestra comunidad está comprometida a cumplir con todas las regulaciones que protejan la salud y el bienestar de todos los residentes del área de Nashville,

La decisión de actuar bajo la consigna de que la “unión hace la fuerza” los dueños y empleados de las taquerías ha sentado un ejemplo digno de ser seguido por la comunidad inmigrante hispana de Nashville: organizados y unidos podemos ser parte integral de la solución de los problemas a través de los procesos cívicos y políticos en nuestra ciudad. No nos olvidemos, ¡SI SE PUEDE!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Nashville film "The Trailer" in early morning Saturday premiere

According to the following press release, the Nashville film "The Trailer" will premiere at 3:00 a.m. on TeleFutura Channel 42. The plot centers around a taco trailer owner.

TeleFutura, Channel 42, Nashville's only Spanish language TV station, this week premieres the locally produced short film 'The Trailer.' The film will be broadcast at 3.00 a.m. on Saturday February 25.

'The Trailer' is written and directed by local filmmaker Carlos Griffin and features Yuri Cunza in the lead role as Luis Reyes alongside Valeria Barriga, Kris Campa, Jennifer Richmond and Victor Gomez.

"This is an excellent short film and we are delighted to be able to showcase local movie makers on Channel 42," said Inga Chamberlain, General Sales Manager, TeleFutura, Channel 42. "We are very excited about becoming more involved with the thriving Hispanic film community in Nashville."

The movie revolves around Luis who is living a double life. One is with his attractive and exciting girlfriend, and the other is with his devoted wife who runs the family business: a small taco trailer. Unfortunately both his worlds collide when Luis' wife Marissa tells him that he's going to be a father. The situation gets worse when Luis discovers that his younger brother, Alex, is getting involved in drugs. When a tragedy occurs, Luis is forced to choose between the family that desperately needs him and the woman who offers him an easy way out.

"I'm very pleased to have The Trailer premiering on Telefutura, Channel 42," says writer and director Carlos Griffin. " The film was meant to be a tribute to my Hispanic heritage and (on a larger scale) to the thriving Hispanic community in Nashville, so I believe it makes perfect sense for Channel 42 to premiere it locally. I hope that this film opens doors for other local Hispanic talent and showcases the tremendous creativity that is present in Nashville's artistic community, Latino or otherwise. I hope that everyone enjoys seeing the film as much as I enjoyed making it."

Yuri Cunza, a well known Nashville Hispanic actor, takes on the lead role. "Carlos is an excellent writer and director and I've been acting since I was 13 years old. I have a degree in film and was very excited to take on this dramatic role. Nashville's emergent film industry is now more than ever welcoming of Hispanic talent at all levels."

Telefutura, Channel 42 first began broadcasting in February 2004 and is the only local Spanish language TV station in Nashville. Channel 42 features first-class family entertainment programming that includes original Latin American talk shows, news briefs, variety shows, soap operas, movies, sports, and local programming. For more information, visit www.solonashville.net or contact Inga Chamberlain at: inga@solonashville.net, tel. 615-255-4139.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Williamson County Hispanic networking event next Tuesday

The Strategic Business Network hosts a Hispanic networking event in Williamson County next Tuesday called "Network@Noche":


February 28, 2006
5:30p - 7:30p

Held at Taquitos Mexican Restaurant (Franklin Area)
Appetizers provided. Cash Bar.

$15 in advance: Franklin Hispanic Chamber Members
$25 in advance: Non members
$30 on site
Register @ www.strategicbusinessnetwork.com/hispanic

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Proposed taco ban on Council calendar again

The Nashville City Paper reports that tonight's Metro Council agenda will include, for the fourth time, a partial ban of mobile food sales. The ban would cover taco carts but not hot dog stands. Ban sponsor Buck Dozier indicated that the issue might be deferred, depending on a meeting with representatives of the food stands:

"And though it is on the agenda again for the fourth time since November, voting on the bill that would ban street food vendors likely will be deferred to the council’s second meeting in March, according to bill co-sponsor Buck Dozier."

"Dozier and fellow sponsors Amanda McClendon and Tommy Bradley proposed the bill because of poor health ratings several vendors were receiving, hoping it would spur them into compliance with Metro’s health code."

"'I’ve got a short meeting [today] with some of the vendors … and they’re going to tell us what they’ve done to help their cause and the changes that they’ve made,' Dozier said."

There are more stories about the proposed ban in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook archives, available here.

Tonight: Franklin Hispanic Chamber Valentines mixer

The Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce holds a Valentines Mixer tonight at the Factory in Franklin:

TUES. FEB 21: 5:30PM, FRANKLIN AREA HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE VALENTINES MIXER, Stoveworks (at the Factory), 230 Franklin Rd, Nashville, TN 37211. Take a break and come join us in a cultural celebration. You do not need to be Hispanic or be able to speak Spanish. All meetings are in English. Call 599-0045 for more information or e-mail eva@latinmarketcommunications.com.

Nashville Hispanic Chamber annual meeting this Thursday

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* will hold its annual membership meeting this Thursday at the Trace.

Don't miss this great opportunity to join fellow NAHCC members and friends while we share with you our very exciting new plans for 2006. Your participation and input are instrumental in shaping the future of our growing Hispanic Business Community.

Join us for an evening with leading Hispanic professionals and business contacts, delicious appetizers, door prizes and of course your favourite latin rythms!

NAHCC Annual Membership Meeting
DATE: Thursday, February 23rd
TIME: 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
LOCATION: The Trace Restaurant
2000 Belcourt Ave. Nashville, TN 37212
RSVP by phone to 615-216-5737 or via e-mail to nashvillehispanicchamber@yahoo.com

*There are two Hispanic chambers of commerce in Nashville: the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

RSVP by phone to 615-216-5737 or via e-mail

Friday, February 17, 2006

TSC star jeff obafemi carr seeks authenticity in portrayal of African-American church

The Nashville City Paper reports in this article that jeff obafemi carr, star of The Second Chance, had a role as both a consultant as an actor to give the movie an authentic portrayal of the African-American church and religious experience.

"I was brutally honest about everything, especially in terms of the things that were depicting the African-American church and religious experience. I didn’t want people to see things that weren’t real or things that never happened in any black church ... One thing that I really admire about the script is that it doesn’t sugarcoat or sanitize the differences in experiences and outlook, but it also doesn’t make it seem that it’s impossible for people of good will to work together. One thing that we’ve discovered in some of the test showings is that the ministers who work in tougher areas see some of the scenes with tough language or violence and they’ll quickly say hey that’s very accurate to what we know. Others might think it’s a bit extreme. But I think that the audience will realize that we’re trying to address issues in a credible manner, but not just hit them over the head with anything either.”

The interaction between African-American congregations and the Hispanic community was highlighted this week by an article in the Tennessean* about New Visions Baptist Church, an African-American congregation exploring its ties to Hispanic Nashville by hosting Spanish lessons for its members. Another story in the Tennessean highlighted a recent visit to Spruce Street Baptist Church, one of Nashville's oldest black churches, by the Rev. C.T. Vivian, a civil rights leader and former member at Spruce Street. According to the article, "Vivian developed his sermon from Amos 3:1-14, particularly verse 10, in which the prophet Amos condemns the people of Israel for overlooking the social justice aspect of their faith."

Other stories about The Second Chance:

*If any reader has the link to the New Visions Baptist Church article, please send it to the editor of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, and we will update this story.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Michael W. Smith movie explores racial themes, redemption; opens Friday

The Second Chance MovieThe movie The Second Chance, filmed in Nashville and starring Michael W. Smith and jeff obafemi carr, will premiere nationwide this Friday, February 17. The story features the interplay between an affluent suburban evangelical church and an inner-city mission church.

Nashville's Yuri Cunza appears in a supporting role as a Hispanic character in one of the movie's subplots. According to screenwriter Chip Arnold, Cunza's "Javier" role as "was specifically written as a Hispanic character because we wanted the internal life of The Second Chance Community Church to represent as much as possible a diversity of ethnic backgrounds. But on a more personal and human level, beyond the individual cultural heritiage that we all take pride in, we wanted to show that the character of 'Javier' and his difficult circumstances in the story was worth exploring as a vital subplot. We wanted to show the audience that the character of 'Ethan,' a character outside 'Javier's' community, saw value in another human being and was willing to take a risk on him. Whether they knew it or not every character in the movie was searching for a 'second chance.' Many of them got it. A few didn't, but it is something we are all searching for...it is something our faith provides for us. I hope and believe that the character of 'Javier' and his plight will resonate with the audience that goes beyond a specific ethnic culture. I hope it touches every heart because of our mutual humanity."

A more complete description of the movie follows in this press release:

Michael W. Smith’s first starring film role to hit theaters Feb 2006.

Multi-Platinum and Grammy and Dove Award-winning artist, Michael W. Smith, is set to hit the big screen February 17, 2006 with his first leading role in a motion picture. The Second Chance tells the story of a relationship between two pastors, Ethan Jenkins (Smith) who is from a successful upper-middle-class suburban church and the other, Jake Sanders (introducing jeff obafemi carr), who heads up an inner-city mission church. Their relationship is one that exemplifies many of the differences between various facets of the Church body, and the film brings out the great need for compassion, communication, forgiveness, and understanding.

The Second Chance is directed by acclaimed filmmaker/writer/producer/recording artist Steve Taylor, from an original screenplay by Taylor, actor/writer Chip Arnold and filmmaker/photographer Ben Pearson. It’s a story about stepping out of your comfort zone to bring comfort to the needy and experiencing relationship through brokenness, forgiveness and authenticity.

“This movie was four years in the making—it has been a great experience,” says Smith. “It’s a great story and I think it’s going to connect with people. The great thing is you’ve got a black man and a white man, and you see them come together because of various circumstances. It’s a story about redemption and transformation. At first Ethan is willing to serve God as long as it's safe. Then he realizes there's nothing safe about serving God.”

“This was my first feature film,” says director Steve Taylor, who is the son of a pastor. “Above all, I wanted it to be authentic. Christians can come off as cartoon-like in most media portrayals.” One exception, he believes: Robert Duvall's Academy Award-nominated performance as a Texas preacher in the 1997 drama, “The Apostle.” “He got it right,” says Taylor.

Smith wanted to get it right, as well, working with an acting coach for over six months before filming began. During the production, the filmmakers strove for authenticity in every aspect of the production. The movie was made with local money, local film professionals and an almost entirely Nashville cast; two actors came from Georgia, but none from New York or L.A. Rather than casting actors in their roles, the production brought in actual homeless people from the nearby rescue mission. Residents from the inner city neighborhoods the film shot in—areas of Nashville many on the set confessed they had never seen—stood in as extras. jeff carr and Jonathan Thomas, who plays youth pastor Tony, are involved in real-life ministry with inner city youth.

In the film, these two passionate pastors worship God from the same book—but that’s about where their similarities end. White and well-to-do, Ethan is comfortable in his music ministry at his media-savvy suburban mega-church, The Rock; Jake is a street smart African-American who ministers to gang members, teen mothers, and drug addicts of the urban Second Chance Church.

Both churches were founded by Ethan’s father, Jeremiah Jenkins (J. Don Ferguson). He founded Second Chance Church amid the turbulence of the civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s. He then moved from the inner city to the suburbs where he founded The Rock, where the act of service often takes the form of large donations to the collection plate. He continues to travel the world “planting churches,” but he’s lost sight of the place where his journey as a pastor began.

Having recently left his wayward lifestyle as a celebrated musician on the West Coast, Ethan is currently serving as associate pastor at The Rock. He’s busy, affluent, and caught up in the big business of a big church, where his ministry is more about Sunday simulcasts than service to others. Still, the occasional situation arises that reveals a glimpse of Ethan’s former life. After having had enough of Ethan’s rocking the boat, the church board decides he needs to take a little sabbatical away from The Rock…and assign him to begin helping out at Second Chance.

Thrown together with Jake in Second Chance’s tough neighborhood and forced to work side by side with him, Ethan discovers there is no boundary between the streets and the sanctuary. A committed servant to his community, Jake works hard to keep his church together, and he resents the arrival of Ethan with his shiny BMW and his cash-can-solve-anything attitude. Sparks fly from day one when Jake takes Ethan on a tour of the ’hood. Jake resented Jeremiah’s decision to move to the suburbs, and now he resents being saddled with his son.

Tensions mount when word leaks out that the future of Second Chance is potentially in jeopardy. Ethan and Jake are then faced with the opportunity to let the faith they share overcome the prejudices that divide them, giving themselves and the struggling urban church a second chance.

The Second Chance, which recently won "Best Feature" at the WYSIWYG Film Festival in San Francisco, will be released by Sony Pictures on February 17, 2006 in over 30 major markets around the country.

Disclosure: the ads for The Second Chance movie that appear on Hispanic Nashville Notebook are not paid placements.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

NASCAR: slow but sincere in diversity march

The Tennessean reports in this article that NASCAR's only full-time black driver is frustrated that the racing organization's efforts to include more minorities have been slow, but that he also believes the organization is sincere in its diversity push. This article on NASCAR.com describes various NASCAR initiatives to support minorities and draw them into the sport at all levels on and off the track, including the story of Brendan Johnson, an African-American NASCAR account executive whose in-road to racing was an internship at Nashville Superspeedway. According to the article, NASCAR has specifically supported the Hispanic community with scholarships for members of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

There are more stories about NASCAR's courting of the Hispanic community in the archives of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook:

ValenTango this Sunday

The second annual "ValenTango Affair" is this Sunday, according to this announcement from Tango Nashville:

The 2nd. Annual ValenTango Affair!
Sunday, February 19, 2006
6:30 to 8:30 pm
(This event will replace our monthly "Milonga")
Ibiza Night Club
15128 Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville, TN 37211
(almost corner with Nolensville Pike, in the Hickory Trace Village strip mall where the Sherwin Williams store is).

Metropolitan Nites and Tango Nashville have partnered to showcase Nashville’s second ‘The ValenTango Affair’. This signature event will feature:

- NEW live Tango dance performances
- Authentic Argentine Tango music
- Exciting door prizes
- Authentic Argentine hors d’oevres
- Smooth Argentine wines – 1 glass with ticket
- A ‘Taste of Tango’ session
- A spicy interactive game with a ‘twist of Tango’

Dancing is optional.

Special discount for Tango Nashville Members: $5 off each price (couples is $5 off the couple price).
Please contact Diana Holland at connect@tangonashville.com or at 615-889-3390 for your membership discount code.

BEFORE February 14, 2006:
Singles: $20 per person
Couples: $35 per couple

AFTER February 14, 2006:
Singles: $25 per person
Couples: $40 per couple

REGISTRATION IS DONE DIRECTLY THROUGH http://www.metropolitannites.com/events.php

Sponsored by Aurora Bakery, Don Cristobal, Ibiza Night Club, Metropolitan Nites and Tango Nashville

Monday, February 13, 2006

Freedom Forum Diversity Institute welcomes eighth class of journalism fellows

The prestigious Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University announced its eighth class of journalism fellows, one of whom has experience in El Salvador and Spain and whose education includes international relations:

The Freedom Forum Diversity Institute will welcome its eighth class of journalism fellows on Monday, Feb. 6. The 12-week training program at Vanderbilt University is designed for people of color who want to become journalists but have had little or no formal journalism training.

Among the six new Diversity Institute fellows is Louis Medina, who has spent more than half his life living in El Salvador, Spain and Japan and graduated from the University of Southern California with a double degree in East Asian languages and cultures and international relations.

The press release is here.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Raul Malo hosts NCO Valentine with Trisha Yearwood tomorrow

According to the Nashville Chamber Orchestra web site, Raul Malo will host an "NCO Valentine" featuring Trisha Yearwood tomorrow night at the Grand Ole Opry House:

February 11 – 8 PM – Grand Ole Opry House

Paul Gambill, conductor
with special guest Trisha Yearwood and
hosted by Raul Malo

Multi-platinum and multi-Grammy winning superstar Trisha Yearwood joins the NCO for her No. 1 hits like She’s In Love With the Boy, That’s What I Like About You, XXX’s and OOO’s, Thinkin’ About You and A Perfect Love. And Raul Malo, Grammy and CMA award winner and a favorite of NCO audiences, will host the evening, bringing his incredible vocal styling to solo selections and duets with Trisha.

Thanks to Latin Market Communications' Cultural Calendar for the heads-up.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Hispanic woman one of ten finalists on Nashville Star

Melanie TorresNashville Star has announced ten contestants for the show's fourth season, one of whom is Melanie Torres, a young Hispanic woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Nashville Star is a country music talent competition along the lines of Fox's American Idol. The show can be seen on the USA Network starting March 14.

"Melanie Torres comes to Nashville from Albuquerque, New Mexico where she grew up and attended the University of New Mexico, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Music. Melanie began singing at the age of 9 and the first album she ever bought was one from Michael Jackson. She also plays the piano, and is learning how to play guitar to broaden her repertoire."

Nashville Star"When it comes to goals, Melanie wants to be a successful mother and a role model for young Hispanic women. Professionally, she dreams of one day being CMA Female Vocalist of the Year ... not surprising when you consider that the one word Melanie would choose to describe herself is ambitious. If she got to do a duet with one artist, it would be Martina McBride and her favorite karaoke song is "Love Shack" by the B-52's."

According to a USA Network press release, Melanie "is bilingual, speaking English and Spanish, and wore the Miss Albuquerque crown in 2000. After passing on the tiara, Melanie moved to Nashville with nothing in her bank account destined to make it big."

Melanie follows in the footsteps of another Hispanic contestant, John Arthur Martinez, who came in second place in the show's first season.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Middle Tennessee: 5.8% Hispanic in 2011

The Tennessean and the Nashville Post report the findings of a study that predicts that in 2011 the seven-county Middle Tennessee region will have a total area population of 2,631,394, with a Hispanic population of 149,475, or 5.8%. Nationally, Hispanics currently represent about 11-12% of the population.

The expected Hispanic population figure represents a gain for Middle Tennessee and is the third highest proportional gain in the study, behind Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C.

Much of the gain is from first, second, and third generation Hispanic U.S. citizens, whose parents and grandparents were immigrants (stories here and here). To the extent that the gain is attributed to new immigrants, however, the hospitality and agricultural industries should prosper in the region. They have both expressed concern recently about labor shortages related to immigrant restrictions (stories in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook here and here).

Expect the growth figure to fuel political strategies in Tennessee that use immigration as a weapon (story here). Political discord is one of many factors that can prevent Hispanics from becoming integrated into the Southern culture (story here), and an unwelcome social culture can contribute to a minority exodus (story here).

For previously published population statistics related to Tennessee, Nashville, and the Hispanic community, read these stories in the archives of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook:

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Citizenship Chief Aguilar meets public in Nashville today

Alfonso AguilarThe INS is no more. It has been carved up and spread across various offices inside the Department of Homeland Security. The part of the old INS that was responsible for processing immigration documents and providing immigration services was transferred to a new bureau known as U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services ("USCIS").

Inside the USCIS is the Office of Citizenship, which is responsible for civic integration of immigrants at two key points: when they first become permanent residents and when they are ready and eligible to begin the formal naturalization process. The Chief of the Office of Citizenship is Alfonso Aguilar.

Mr. Aguilar will be in Nashville today to discuss immigration. Details below:

Immigration Meeting
Chief Alfonso Aguilar
USCIS Office of Citizenship
Washington D.C.

· Discussion of Immigration Issues that Affect Us All!

· Perspectives from the Washington D.C. Point of View!

· Share your Ideas with a Washington Insider!

This event is free of charge and comes to you as a courtesy of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Place: Coleman Community Center (next to the park), 384 Thompson Lane (at the intersection of Nolensville Rd & Thompson Lane), Nashville, Tennessee 37211.

Date: February 7, 2006

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 PM

For more information please call the Nashville Task Force on Refugees & Immigrants (615) 569-1947 or (615) 668-0128, or the Woodbine Community Center (615) 850-3449.

According to the Office of Citizenship web site, Mr. Aguilar was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003 and is "the first Chief of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Office of Citizenship. As Chief of the Office of Citizenship, Mr. Aguilar is charged with leading efforts to promote an understanding of the civic principles on which this nation was founded and increase public awareness of the benefits and responsibilities associated with U.S. citizenship."

"Mr. Aguilar has served in the Bush administration since 2001. He has experience within both the U.S. government and the government of Puerto Rico serving as Press Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean at the U.S. Agency for International Development, as Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Energy, as the Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, and as Press Secretary for the Puerto Rico Governor’s executive team. Mr. Aguilar is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and received his Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico."

Monday, February 6, 2006

Immigration charges in Nashville murder investigation threaten police ties to Hispanic community

Ironic twist: document difficulty may have motivated killings

Metro Police Nashville Davidson CountyThe Nashville Scene reports that police tactics in an ongoing murder investigation have threatened Nashville law enforcement's relationship with the Hispanic community. The victim's husband was both a potential witness and a potential suspect, and the police used immigration-related charges to keep him in police custody. In 2004, Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas started a program called El Protector to create a relationship of trust between the police and the Hispanic community, naming Hispanic officer Juan Borges as the director of the program. In previous interviews with The Tennessean and The Nashville City Paper, both Serpas and Borges have expressed an intention to overcome the Hispanic community's distrust of police by focusing on crime-fighting and not immigration enforcement.

"Since most victims of murder know their assailants, suspicion immediately turned to Aguilar. He was told to change clothes in a squad car and was asked the usual questions. Did he have any enemies? Was he in a gang? Was he involved in the drug trade? Was he in the country legally?"

"When he answered no to the last question, he says, police then took him to police headquarters, where they questioned him for five hours. After that, they arrested him—not for murder but for possessing an invalid green card (which was actually pink), for which Aguilar says he paid $80 but never had the opportunity to use. The Department of Homeland Security dropped identity theft charges nine days later, and he was in jail the whole time."

"According to police spokesman Don Aaron, police were afraid that if they didn’t detain Aguilar, he would have escaped as well. 'We kept him in a place where we knew where he was and in such a way where he would not be able to leave Nashville or Tennessee,' Aaron says."

"That police decision may have had a chilling effect on the willingness of witnesses to come forward. Word quickly spread that police had trumped up charges against Aguilar even though nothing indicated he was the murderer: three co-workers he rode home with would have been able to vouch for his whereabouts before the murder, and there was nothing to indicate he was responsible for the gruesome scene—no bloody clothes, for example."

"The conventional wisdom was that, if police would arrest under bogus circumstances an immigrant whose closest family members were brutally murdered, there was no telling what they might do to witnesses likely in the country without proper documentation."

The crime, which claimed the life of a young mother and her three-year-old daughter but spared her one-month-old son, may have been motivated by the difficulty of obtaining legal documentation in this country. Among the few stolen items were the children's valid social security cards, which could be sold for $10,000 on the black market.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Speak Spanish in new conversation group

conversationMembers of the Spanish committee of Sister Cities of Nashville have formed a new conversation group called Charlemos Spanish for those who want to learn, practice, and speak Spanish. The meetings are twice a month and are open to the public, according to the group's press release:

A new social conversation group for adults has been formed in Nashville by volunteer members of the Spanish Committee of Sister Cities of Nashville.

The group is called “Charlemos Spanish”, which is a combination of the Spanish for “Let’s chat”, and the English word, “Spanish.”

“Charlemos Spanish” meets the second and fourth Thursday of every month from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Montgomery Bell Academy’s library. The public is invited. There is no cost to attend, or join. MBA is located at 4001 Harding Road, Nashville, TN 37205. Contact Elizabeth Worrell Braswell at 297-4239, or elizworrell@comcast.net, for more information. The next meeting will be Thursday, February 9, 2006.

“Charlemos Spanish” is for anyone who wants to:
• Speak Spanish on a regular basis
• Make bilingual friends
• Exchange ideas
• Learn more about Hispanic culture.

Founding members of “Charlemos Spanish” include—
• Claudia Villavicencio, Spanish teacher at MBA, Montgomery Bell Academy
• Kim Sorensen, Online Producer at CMT, Country Music Television
• Diana Holland, President of Tango Nashville, and a Hispanic cross-cultural consultant
• Elizabeth Worrell Braswell, online Spanish instructor for Austin Peay State University.

Diana Holland explains that “the name of the group reflects the times we live in, where cultures are 'weaved together' in our daily lives". Holland, a native of Argentina, is very involved in sharing all that the Argentinean culture has to offer with Nashville. She previously lived in Atlanta where she worked as a Community Liaison for the Consulate of Argentina in Atlanta.

“I think that it is wonderful that Spanish-speakers of all levels are welcomed. There will be Spanish, English, and Spanglish spoken” adds Kim Sorensen.

Claudia Villavicencio explains that “The group will be creating a casual, friendly, and professional atmosphere. Some of the activities that are planned include a game night for playing charades or board games in Spanish; show and tell from travels; a tapas night; and a presentation of Nashville’s Spanish Sister City, Girona, Spain by Vanderbilt Spanish professor Dr. Phil Rasico.”

“Charlemos Spanish” founding member, Elizabeth Worrell Braswell, says, “I have been looking for a place to speak Spanish and make Spanish-speaking friends in Nashville for years.” “You would think that as a college online Spanish instructor for Austin Peay State University that I would have plenty of opportunities, but this is not the case.” “I am very excited about the group, as I have already made some wonderful new friends just working on the committee.”

Of course there are already Spanish-speaking groups in Nashville. For example, we have:
• Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce;
• Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and
• Franklin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Also, most Spanish teachers are member of professional foreign language teacher groups. “Charlemos Spanish” is unique in that it is strictly social.

Claudia Villavicencio is a native of Guatemala and is fluent in English; her parents still live in Guatemala.

Kim Sorensen is a Nashvillian who loves to travel to Spanish-speaking countries and has a sister-in-law who is from Panama.

Diana Holland is a native of Argentina and is very involved in sharing the best of Argentinean culture with Nashville.

Elizabeth Worrell Braswell is a Nashvillian who teaches Spanish online for Austin Peay State University.

Contact: Elizabeth Worrell Braswell elizworrell@comcast.net, 297-4239, 4505 Harding Road, Nashville, TN 37205, or visit Sister Cities of Nashville website, http://www.scnahsville.org, or contact its director at director@scnashville.org.
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