Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Beginner Tango classes start March 7; Tango and a Movie April 25

From Tango Nashville:

NEW Argentine Tango BEGINNER Classes
Start date: Wednesday, March 7, 2007
End date: Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Time: 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM
$75 per person, for all 6 classes
Location: Centennial Activity Arts Center

Work out and show off to others as you learn how to dance Argentine on the cutting edge of this global trend!

For more information on location and registration, please click here

Check the UPDATES below & Save these Dates!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
'Tango & a Movie'
MEMBERS ONLY Reception at the Nashville Film Festival
in partnership with the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Alejandro Saderman, Director of the movie 'El ultimo bandoneon' (The Last Bandoneon), will fly up from Argentina to present the movie that will be screened following the reception.
Click on this link to take a sneak peak of the movie:

Saturday, May 5, 2007
'Tango by Moonlight'

May 22, 2007
'Tango & Romance' at the Nashville City Club

Saturday, September 8, 2007
'Tango & Country' - Our Annual Fundraiser

Photo by Peter Forret

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Remedial Mexican-American student grows up to contemplate "dummy" Einstein on stage

Classroom struggles can hide talent, creativity, says playwright

The Nashville City Paper reviewed Einstein Is a Dummy, a children's play written by Mexican-American Karen Zacarias. The last show was February 18 at the Nashville Children's Theater.

"Karen Zacarias was just 10 years old when she and her family first came to this country from Mexico. But she remembers it like it was yesterday."

"'It was tough. I found myself in a lot of remedial classes, not because I wasn’t smart but because I couldn’t find the right words,' she said. 'It felt like no one understood.'"

"Years later, as a public school teacher and founder/artistic director of The Young Playwrights’ Theater in Washington, D.C., Zacarias encountered kids facing the same feelings of inadequacy."

"'So many kids struggle with school, but they’re very talented and creative in other areas. They may not fit the mold of the perfect student, but there’s a lot going on in those brains.'"

"Zacarias’ experiences inspired her to team up with composer Debbie Wicks La Puma to create Einstein is a Dummy..."

"The result is an engaging musical that follows a fictional day in the life of a 12-year-old Einstein. Distracted by his own curiosity, poor Albert doesn’t fit in. He’s always late or getting lost, and nothing comes out right when he tries to talk to Elsa – the prettiest girl in music class..."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tongue-in-cheek food tax tip reveals a sliver of integration

Everybody is the same at checkout

The political weekly The Tennessee Journal wondered aloud whether a certain class of foreign citizens could figure into the ongoing food sales tax debate in the Tennessee legislature:
Gov. Phil Bredesen has used several arguments against reducing the sales tax on food but still hasn’t figured out the one that might work: Cutting the tax on food would help illegal immigrants. A lot of them buy very little besides food, sending the bulk of their earnings home to their families by money order. So there are few opportunities to tax them other than on food. That would certainly be in line with the logic of a bill by Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) and Sen. Dewayne Bunch
(R-Cleveland) — a 25% tax on money orders purchased by non-U.S. citizens (HB 768/SB 690).
Regardless of what else is implied by this tongue-in-cheek suggestion, it is certainly correct to point out that sales tax applies to everyone. Visaless expatriates are integrated into civic life in many ways, one of which is that they pay the same sales tax as everyone else.

Photo by Janusfinder

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cult, fraud allegations follow "Universal Church" to Nolensville Road

Torture, donations for salvation among charges

Reaching out to immigrants, or targeting them?

The Nashville Post reports that the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a church that has been accused of fraud, cult-like deception, and other wrongdoing, has purchased a church building on Nolensville Road, an area with a relatively high concentration of Hispanic residents. The church reportedly seeks out new locations in immigrant communities, and its web site (here) is in Spanish.

"The Universal Church has yet to open in the new location, and an official with its U.S. headquarters in New York hasn't responded to calls from in the past week. This church would be the first one for the UCKG in Tennessee. There are indications that leaders for this congregation may be coming up from Universal churches in North Georgia, where carpet manufacturing capital Dalton and other communities have seen massive increases in Hispanic populations over the past decade."

"Critics of the church consider it as a cult or sect, with internet sites devoted to describing the church's alleged misdeeds. Many criticisms center on the church's interpretation of the Christian concept of tithing — claiming specifically that the church practices "prosperity theology," charging parishioners and non-parishioners for the service of dislodging demons from their souls. The targets are usually desperate people of poor or working-class backgrounds, according to critics."

"In Houston, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God has faced lawsuits from disillusioned former members who claimed it defrauded poor immigrants out of large amounts of money by convincing them that their donations would bring them salvation."

"In Brazil, its home country, authorities detained a top official of this Pentecostal denomination in 2005 as he landed in a private jet toting seven suitcases that held the equivalent of $4.7 million in cash. The church's founder has been accused in Brazil of embezzlement and tax evasion, but he has never been convicted."

"In London, the Universal Church is best known for its connection to the Victoria Climbié case. The guardians of eight-year-old Victoria, a refugee from the Ivory Coast, took her to a UCKG church three times during the period in early 2000 when they were inflicting some 128 separate injuries on her body, as they tortured her in order to break Satan's hold over her soul. The pastor prayed for her health. Only on the last visit, when she was semi-conscious, did he suggest they see a doctor. At the enquiry after her death, he said he too had considered her possessed."

"The church is believed to have some 10 million parishioners in 90 or more countries. Edir Macedo Bezerra, who has been described as a Brazilian business tycoon, founded the church in the late 1970s. Since then, in addition to expanding the church, Macedo has expanded its holdings to include newspapers and television and radio stations in Brazil as well as other parts of the world."

Read the full Nashville Post story here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Robert Chavez suspended from presidency of Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Robert Chavez

Chamber under investigation

Original press releases below

Robert Chavez has been temporarily suspended from serving as President of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, its board of directors announced in a press release yesterday. The Tennessean is also reporting that "[t]he Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is under investigation by the Charitable Solicitations and Gaming section of the Tennessee Secretary of State's office, Todd Kelley, the division's director said Wednesday."

The Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (THCC) is one of four Hispanic chambers in Middle Tennessee (the four chambers were recently reviewed here).

Chavez was the subject of last week's Nashville Scene cover story, in which allegations about Chavez and his conduct cast a negative light on the Chamber leader. The article also stated that Chavez suffers from a lack of trust among Hispanic Tennesseans, which may be supported by the relatively low representation of Hispanics in the THCC membership - 18% of all members - compared to the Nashville Area and the Franklin Hispanic chambers, both of which have about 50% Hispanic membership (see article here).

The story of Chavez's suspension was picked up by WKRN (including an interview with Chavez following the suspension), the Nashville Scene, the Nashville Business Journal, Newschannel5 WTVF, the Nashville Post, and The Tennessean.

The THCC press release, and a responsive press release by the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, are below.

Chavez's personal bio on the THCC web site is here.


The Board of Directors of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has
voted unanimously to suspend its president, Robert Chavez, from serving
in that capacity for a minimum of ninety days pending further actions by
the board.

The board's actions were based upon a recent cover story in The Scene
which called into question certain actions of the president and the
board's concerns over the resulting negative implications of the article
on the Chamber.

In a subsequent action, the board appointed as acting president Ramon
Cisneros, the Chamber's vice president.

During the period of suspension, the THCC Board members will review all
available information and make decisions based on their findings.


The NAHCC Board of Directors through its chairman Marc A. Walwyn releases the following statement:

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce supports the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's decision to fully investigate the allegations brought against its president in relation to his THCC involvement.

Despite the fact of not having a established relationship with the THCC, some of their Board Members such as Miguel Torres and Ricardo Santiago are recognized by our organization for their active participation and support of advancement opportunities for our emergent Hispanic business community and community at large.

The NAHCC fully supports its members, business owners and the community and will provide any and all resources to ensure ethical business practices are followed.

Psychotherapist to speak about human typology at Charlemos Spanish tonight

Psychotherapist Sandra Velarde, will give a talk, in Spanish, on human typology at the next meeting of Charlemos Spanish on Thursday 22 February. Charlemos meets the second and fourth Thursday of the month from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Palette Gallery and Cafe at 2119 Belcourt Avenue in Hillsboro Village. The event is free and open to the public.

Sandra has twenty years of experience practicing individual and group therapy. She is director and owner of Colmenas Psychotherapy Center. She has worked in schools, a police department, and for the Mexican National State Workers Healthcare System. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Masters in Neurolinguistic Programming.

“Sandra can evaluate a person in an instant”, said Charlemos president, Elizabeth Worrell Braswell. “She has anchored a television psychology section, as well as, written a psychology column for a newspaper”, added Braswell. “Her next goal is to write a book.”

Charlemos Spanish is a social conversation group, for all levels of Spanish-speakers, created in December 2006 by the Spanish Committee of Sister Cities of Nashville, a nonprofit organization, founded in 1990, dedicated to the promotion of global understanding through educational, professional and cultural exchanges.

Mayor Bill Purcell is the Honorary Chair for Sister Cities of Nashville.

Charlemos Spanish is for persons who wish to:

* Speak Spanish on a regular basis
* Make bilingual friends
* 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, president of Charlemos Spanish.

For directions and more information on the gallery go to:

For more events in Hispanic Nashville, visit the Hispanic Nashville Datebook.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

First conviction in murder of Hispanic mother, 3-year-old daughter

Botched kidnapping led to killings

Motive related to perpetrator's miscarriage

Father of victim was arrested on immigration charges; tactic questioned but did not prevent successful investigation

The Tennessean and WSMV reported on the confession and conviction earlier this month of one of the suspects accused of murdering Hilda Gutierrez, a young Hispanic woman, and her 3-year-old daughter Michelle on December 2, 2005. Christina Sanchez will serve two life sentences without the possibility of parole. Her motive was to steal Gutierrez's 1-year-old son, Michael, after Sanchez herself miscarried. Sanchez's co-defendant Danny Anderson is still awaiting trial.

Rudy Aguilar, the boyfriend of victim Hilda Guiterrez and father of victim Michelle, discovered Sanchez in Aguilar's apartment after she had committed the murders but before she was able to kidnap Michael. Sanchez fled and her identity was unknown. Aguilar reported the crimes to the police but was arrested on immigration-related identity theft charges pending the investigation. He was later released. The circumstances surrounding Aguilar's arrest caused concern among Hispanic neighbors that the crime would never be solved because witnesses or others with information would be afraid to deal with the police (story here). Tips from Hispanic residents eventually led to the arrests of Sanchez and Anderson.

At the time of the arrests, Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas praised the work of Detective Marvin Rivera for his role in the investigation (press release here).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Peruvian folk art on display for first anniversary of Hispanic Community Group, February 24

The Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee sent this invitation to its February 24 anniversary celebration featuring folk art of Peru:

In celebration of the 1st Anniversary of the Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee, you are invited to join us for a

from the
Saturday, February 24, 2007
4:00pm – 8:00pm

Progreso Community Center
2720 Nolensville Pike, Suite 210

Featuring entertainment from
the Hispano America School of Dance
and appetizers from
El Inka Peruvian Restaurant
La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant

Organized by:
Local Regional Government of the Lambayeque Region, Peru
Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee
United Peruvian Association of Nashville

Monday, February 19, 2007

The four Hispanic chambers: a February roundup

There are four Hispanic chambers of commerce in Middle Tennessee: the first three are the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Tennessean profiled these three chambers in this article in June 2006. A fourth chamber, the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, was incorporated in 2006. Middle Tennessee's Hispanic chambers closely track the geographic distribution of non-Hispanic business groups such as the Nashville, Tennessee, and Williamson County-Franklin chambers, as pointed out by the Hispanic Nashville Notebook in this recent article.

The latest on these four chambers is below.

Nashville Area Chamber membership meeting February 21

NAHCC Annual Membership Meeting
February 21st 2007
5:30 pm-7:00 pm

Every year the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosts this meeting at the beginning of the year as stipulated in Article XIII Section 1 of our bylaws to offer members an opportunity to learn about the work of our organization, upcoming projects and about opportunities for volunteer participation.

This year the NAHCC will introduce its newly elected Board of Directors for the 2007-2009 period. We are proud to announce that the following members have been elected to serve as officers:

Marc Walwyn, Chairman
Luis Bustillos, Vice-Chairman
Chalene Helmuth, Secretary
Loraine Segovia, Treasurer

Please confirm your attendance via this RSVP link or e-mail us at

Franklin Chamber networking night February 27

The Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce invites you to a Chamber networking night on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27 at 5:30PM at TORTILLAS MEXICAN BUFFET AND GRILL, 1401 Liberty Pike Suite 400 Franklin, TN 37067-8648. Bring your business cards and make some new friends who share a passion for diversity. Nashville and other area businesses welcome. All meetings are in English. Cost is $5. If you would like to host a meeting call 615-599-0045.

Tennessee Chamber President under fire

The Nashville Scene dedicated last week's cover to Ismael "Robert" Chavez, the President of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The piece focuses mostly on Chavez's alleged personal and business affairs outside the Chamber, and how he is viewed among Hispanics locally and at the national level. Where the article addresses the Chamber directly is to allege that the Chamber is out of compliance with state tax laws governing non-profits. Furthermore, according to the article, the Chamber's board of directors recently proposed audits "to keep our finances clean and our affairs transparent" and called for elections in which past presidents would be excluded from running.

The next event on the Tennessee Chamber's web site is a June 25 golf tournament.

Middle Tennessee Chamber establishes web presence

The Middle Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is online (here) and has attracted at least one major sponsor (AIG), but the Hispanic Nashville Notebook is not aware of any Middle Tennesee Chamber events since its 2006 incorporation.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nearly half of all Hispanics in Tennessee were born in U.S.

78,000 of 167,000, according to U.S. Census

In states with significant Hispanic populations, at least 4 in 10 are U.S.-born

The Tennessean reports on the recently released U.S. Census findings that 46% of Hispanics in Tennessee were born in the U.S. In most states, that number is even higher. Among states with over 100,000 Hispanic residents, Georgia had the lowest percentage of U.S.-born among the Hispanic population, at 39.7%.

"In all, the number of foreign-born Hispanics in Tennessee grew from 59,098 in 2000 to 89,124 in 2004, census figures show."

Tennessee's Hispanic residents totalled about 167,000 in 2004. Hispanic residents of Nashville totalled about 58,600 that same year.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

From art to trade, politics to religion, Vanderbilt events eye Latin America

Multiple departments take scholarly look southward

Religion series on immigrant experience

Scholars from across the country featured

Tonight at the Frist Center: Mexican prints in the context of politics and history

Vanderbilt University's Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies is in the middle of a busy semester of special events, continuing tonight with History professor Edward Wright-Rios speaking at the Frist Center's Off the Wall Lecture Series on the topic, "Making Art and Revolution: The Prints, Politics, and History in Mexico’s Taller de Gráfica Popular, 1937-1960."

Vanderbilt's religion department has also turned its eye toward Latin America in the Relevant Religion series with a four-week program titled "Latino/a Immigration: Reasons, Faces, Expectations" to be held on March 12, 19 and 26 and April 2, at 7-8:30 p.m. at the Scarritt-Bennett Center. From Vanderbilt's program description: "This series, led by Fernando Segovia, Oberlin Graduate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, seeks to address the experience, reality and expectations of recent Latino/a migration in the United States, focusing on various communities of origin and settlement and using documentaries as points of departure for information and discussion." The cost is $50 a person, with registration via phone at (615) 936-8453 or online here.

The CLAIS spring calendar is available here and is also reproduced below:

Thursday, February 15 6:30pm
Edward Wright-Rios, History, Vanderbilt
Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Off the Wall Lecture Series
“Making Art and Revolution: The Prints, Politics, and History in Mexico’s Taller de Gráfica Popular, 1937-1960”

Thursday, February 22 7:00pm
Wilson Hall 103
Film: Enamorada (1946, Emilio Fernández)

Thursday, March 8 6:30pm
Leonard Folgarait, Art History, Vanderbilt
Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Off the Wall Lecture Series
“Giving Context to Modern Mexican Art and Printmaking”

Friday, March 23 3:00 pm
Peter Smith, Political Science, UC-San Diego
Buttrick 206
“Latin America’s ‘Pink Tide’: A Threat to U.S. Interests?”

Friday, March 30 3:00 pm
Susan Stokes, Political Science, Yale University
Buttrick 206
“Globalization, the Welfare Gap, and Rise of the Left in Latin America”

Friday, April 6 3:00 pm
John Carey, Government, Dartmouth University
Buttrick 206
“The Primary Elections ‘Bonus’ in Latin America”

Monday, April 9 3:00pm
Robert Irwin, Spanish, UC-Davis
Buttrick 206
“Ramona and Lola Casanova: Borderlands Icons and Inter-Americas Studies”

Tuesday, April 10 4:00 pm
Mitch Seligson, Political Science, Vanderbilt
Renaissance Room, Vanderbilt Law School
Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) Symposium

Thursday, April 12 6:30pm
Gary Gossen, Anthropology, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, State University of New York
Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Off the Wall Lecture Series
"The Heroic Theme in Multi-ethnic Societies: What We Can Learn from Mexican Art"

Wednesday, April 18 4:00pm
Sam Quiñones, journalist for the Los Angeles Times and author of True Tales from Another Mexico.
Buttrick 101
“So Far from Mexico City, So Close to God: Stories of Mexican immigrants and of Mexico's Escape from History"

Thursday, April 19 7:00pm
Wilson Hall 103
Film: Los Trabajadores (2001, Heather Courtney)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

God is Amor

"Teacher, which command in God's Law is the most important?"

Jesus said,

"Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.

This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it:

Love others as well as you love yourself.

These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

-Matthew 22:34-40, The Message

Photo by Savannah Grandfather

Tennessee banks to Hispanic customers: "Trust us"

Majority of Hispanics do not use banks

Spanish-language radio campaign

The Nashville Business Journal reported in two recent articles (here and here) that Tennessee banks are seeking the trust of Hispanic consumers.

The first article describes the recently launched Spanish-language statewide radio campaign developed by the Tennessee Bankers Association (TBA). The ads run through February 19 and can be heard or downloaded via the TBA web site here.

The second article states that "[a]lmost half of Hispanics are 'unbanked,' meaning they don't put their money into savings or checking accounts. Hispanic buying power is estimated at $600 billion. By 2050, Hispanics will make up about 25 percent of the U.S. population."

'There's been a lot of discussion among bankers about this,' says Bradley Barrett, TBA president. 'We've been asking, 'What can we do?' We decided that we can help Hispanics understand that banks are a good place to manage financial resources.'"

"Southeast Financial Credit Union is aggressive in its marketing to Hispanics. It was one of the first local institutions to offer mortgage lending through nonprofit agencies and has distributed about $15 million in mortgages to Hispanics in the past three years, says John Simmonds, CEO and president."

"'Of the 200-some-odd mortgages we've made (to Hispanics), we haven't had one default,' Simmonds of Southeast Financial says."

"SunTrust in Middle Tennessee is continually adding bilingual employees to meet the needs of the Hispanic market, says Tatia Cummings, emerging markets manager."

"'We've grown 700 percent, from two bilingual tellers to 22,' Cummings says."

Monday, February 12, 2007


Mayor Bill Purcell

"The great overarching truth in our success in this still new century is that we are a welcoming, inclusive, and friendly people and place."

Nashville Post report here

Mayor's statement below

English is our language. It has been so since before the city existed more than 200 years ago.

It is the language we use to conduct the city’s business. In order to get ahead in Nashville a person needs to be able to speak English.

This has been the case for more than 200 years. It is not going to change.

We don’t need a law to tell us what language we are already speaking.

We don’t need a law that will make it harder for a police officer to do his job, for a school teacher to teach or for a doctor to help a patient.

This ordinance was introduced last September and for the last six months the sponsors have been twisting arms and trading votes to get it passed. Some sponsors say it is an important law while other sponsors say it has no effect at all. The truth is that no one knows how this law may ultimately be interpreted. If this law takes effect, this city will be engaged in years of lawsuits testing the effect and constitutionality of the ordinance. That means hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees whether we win or lose, for no good reason.

This is not who we are. At the heart of this ordinance is the issue of immigration. We are dealing with that issue by supporting the deportation of illegal aliens who commit crimes. But this ordinance goes beyond illegal immigration to put at risk our community and its ability to welcome and work with those people who come to our city legally and want to be a part of our city.
The Legal Department is clear in its opinion today that advised me that this ordinance is unconstitutional. The ordinance states that “all communications . . . shall be in English.” The exceptions are so broad that there is no way to know what is and is not allowed.

What do we do when a Kurdish or other refugee wants to take an English class at the Cohn Adult Learning Center?

What do we do when a Japanese company wants to find out about economic development opportunities?

What do we do when a foreign tourist wants to find out how to get to the Parthenon?

What do we do when someone who only speaks Spanish wants to report suspicious activity in a neighborhood, or a codes violation, or a pothole?

This ordinance does not reflect who we are. When the waves of immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries came to Nashville, they became part of our community. Germantown and the Oktoberfest are reminders of those immigrants.. Most recently the NHL has brought people from all over the world to our city to work and to play.

Last year, the Celebration of Cultures at Centennial Park attracted 15,000 visitors to celebrate the diversity of the many communities and ethnicities in our city. Last year Nashville was chosen as one of three cities to host a World Cup soccer exhibition. Last year we welcomed the Greek Orthodox Church to a national convention here in Nashville, the most successful in history. Then we welcomed Hadassah.

Last year we welcomed the leadership of Nissan Motor manufacturing.
This year we are planning to welcome a new Japanese Consulate to our city. In April I will lead a delegation of Nashville business leaders to what is now the fastest growing economy in the world. The great overarching truth in our success in this still new century is that we are a welcoming, inclusive, and friendly people and place.

If this ordinance becomes law, Nashville will be a less safe, less friendly, and less successful city. As mayor, I cannot allow that to happen. Therefore I am vetoing Ordinance 1185 and returning it to the Metro Council where I hope it will remain never to be seen again and that we can turn our full attention once again to education and public safety and quality of life which are the real work of a city and should be the work of its leaders now and forever.

Free on-site Hispanic taxpayer education courtesy of Conexion Americas

Open to businesses, churches, schools, other organizations

10-person minimum

Bilingual staff available

Conexion Americas sent out this announcement regarding its free tax preparation seminars targeting Hispanic taxpayers in Nashville:

Dear friends,

With the upcoming tax filing season, Conexión Américas is making available to your organization its “Tax Outreach Program for the Hispanic Community”.

The program consists of one hour workshops on information regarding taxes, focusing on issues of interest to the Latino population in Middle Tennessee. We will provide a bilingual staff person to come to your organization or place of business to conduct a workshop. These clinics seek to provide tax information on issues such as:

· Basic filing responsibilities of taxpayers
· How and where to file taxes for FREE using the VITA program for low-income families.
· Eligibility for the various credits available for low and moderate income families (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Education Credits, etc)
· W-7s (Individual Tax Payer Identification Numbers): What are they? How are they obtained and used?

This is a free service of Conexión Américas. All we need from the sponsoring company or organization is to recruit attendees, and guarantee a minimum attendance of 10 participants.

If you are interested in scheduling one of these workshops at you workplace, place of business, church, or school please contact Nancy Rodriguez at (615) 545-7742

Please forward this message to anyone you think may be interested in this program.

Visit our webpage!!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Strings of Fire: Ramon Romero and Cuerdas de Fuego at TPAC Saturday

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center will host Ramon Romero and Cuerdas de Fuego ("Strings of Fire") this Saturday, February 10, at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for children.

From the TPAC web site:

Strings of Fire ("Cuerdas de Fuego") is a lively, interactive show with Ramón Romero on the harp, the national instrument of his native Paraguay, Santiago Maldonado of Mexico (guitar and vocals) and percussionist Carlos Caro of Cuba. Much smaller than its cousin in the orchestra, the Paraguayan harp often sounds like a guitar, from rapidly picked melodies to rich combinations of chords. The internationally renowned artists use a variety of fun-to-watch techniques to play traditional and contemporary music from Latin America.

The City Paper published an advance review here, mentioning that "the lineup also includes equally marvelous Chilean guitarist and vocalist Rafael Manriquez."

Hispanic Nashville Datebook

Brando's "Viva Zapata!" free at Frist tonight

From the Frist Center for the Visual Arts calendar:

Viva Zapata!

Friday, February 9, 7:00 p.m.
Auditorium, FREE

Directed by Elia Kazan, Viva Zapata is the story of Mexican revolutionary leader and President Emiliano Zapata (Marlon Brando), who led a rebellion against the corrupt, oppressive dictatorship of president Porfirio Diaz in the 20th century. (1952, USA, 113 minutes, English/Spanish, Black and White)

Free popcorn and cash bar available.

1953 Oscar, Best Supporting Actor: Anthony Quinn
1953 Oscar Nominations: Marlon Brando (Best Actor); John Steinbeck (Best Writing, Story and Screenplay)
1952 Cannes Film Festival Best Actor (Marlon Brando)
1952 Cannes FF. Nominated for Grand Prize of the Festival

Sponsored by: CLAIS

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Dr. Susan Berk-Seligson discusses Costa Rica, Peace Corps at Charlemos Spanish tonight

Former volunteer is Director for Graduate Studies at Vanderbilt's Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies

Dr. Susan Berk-Seligson will give a talk, in Spanish, on “The Experiences of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica: A Retrospective View” at the next meeting of Charlemos Spanish on Thursday 8 February. Charlemos meets the second and fourth Thursday of the month from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Palette Gallery and Cafe at 2119 Belcourt Avenue in Hillsboro Village. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Berk-Seligson is Director for Graduate Studies in the Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies at Vanderbilt University, as well as, Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Before coming to Nashville she was a professor of Hispanic linguistics in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh for nineteen years. Prior to that, she was an Assistant Professor at Purdue University.

“Susan has a fascinating background”, said Charlemos president, Elizabeth Worrell Braswell. “She is author of The Bilingual Courtroom: Court Interpreters in the Judicial Process, published by The University of Chicago Press”, added Braswell.

Charlemos Spanish is a social conversation group, for all levels of Spanish-speakers, created in December 2006 by the Spanish Committee of Sister Cities of Nashville, a nonprofit organization, founded in 1990, dedicated to the promotion of global understanding through educational, professional and cultural exchanges.

Mayor Bill Purcell is the Honorary Chair for Sister Cities of Nashville.

Charlemos Spanish is for persons who wish to:

* Speak Spanish on a regular basis
* Make bilingual friends
* 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, president of Charlemos Spanish.

For directions and more information on the gallery go to:

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

"English Forced" ordinance passes

Council adopts another ban aimed at internationals

Multilingual communications allowed only when federal law or health/safety/welfare require

Limits Metro government, or does nothing?

Legal challenges could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands

Nashville's friendly, welcoming reputation in play

Non-governmental speech remains unregulated for now

Required by federal law, health, safety, or welfare?

The Tennessean and the City Paper report that the Metro Council passed the controversial language ban ordinance on third and final reading last night, requiring Metro communications to be in English except where federal law or health, safety, or the public welfare require. Its sponsor originally dubbed it "English Only," then "English First" after the exceptions were drafted. He also claimed that one of his reasons for the bill (among many) was to help speakers of other languages to learn English by forcing them to use it when interacting with government. It is unclear whether any immigrant-familiar organizations supported the ordinance, but supporters of the ordinance cited what they deemed to be overwhelming enthusiasm from the general public. A coalition of coalitions called NashvilleForAll, which includes the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, opposed the ordinance.

Gregg Ramos, one of the leaders of NashvilleForAll, told the Tennessean that the federal law/health/safety/welfare exception "probably swallows the rule," but that local government "department heads will probably be reluctant to do anything in a language other than English until there's a legal challenge."

Late yesterday, before passage, the Tennessean reported here that the Metro law department had evaluated the ordinance as a potential First Amendment target that could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and thousands of hours of city employee time.

As to whether the ordinance makes the city less welcome, both sides claimed a desire to maintain Nashville's reputation as one of the nation's friendliest cities. The city's welcomers (among whom are the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Convention & Visitors Bureau, who seek to attract permanent and occasional newcomers) can point to the Council's pro-English resolution in January that had favorable wording regarding speakers of other languages. (See NashvilleForAll). But if outsiders pay less attention to the January resolution and more attention to the Council's many recent bans aimed at internationals, of which the language ban is only the latest, our city's favorable reputation may be at risk.

The good news is that the ordinance does not purport to regulate the behavior of anyone other than local government departments and employees. Accordingly, WELCOME and BIENVENIDOS to the readers and residents of Hispanic Nashville. May you find on these pages countless examples of Nashvillians who respect you, value you, and humbly reach out to you in friendship - in any language.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Final vote on language ban tonight

Not the pro-English resolution passed in January

NashvilleForAll coalition wants "a city that works for everyone"

Ripple effect into housing discrimination, codes violations, recycling, more

The Tennessean reports here and the City Paper reports here that the Metro Council will vote for the third and final time tonight on Ordinance 1185, the proposed language ban which would prohibit any government communications in English except "when required by federal law or when necessary to protect or promote public health, safety or welfare." The ban has been called "English Only" or "English First."

The ban is not the resolution that the Council passed in January 2007 (story here) with the support of a coalition of religious, business, and immigrant-familiar groups. Tonight's crucial vote prompted that coalition to formalize itself with a web site and the name NashvilleForAll. The coalition is urging the Council to stick to the January resolution and reject the language ban up for vote tonight. Coalition leader and attorney Gregg Ramos explained the difference between the resolution and the language ban ordinance in this WKRN interview, and the NashvilleForAll web site reproduces the text of both the ordinance and the resolution here.

Citing the U.S. Census Bureau, NashvilleForAll states that "Nashvillians come from all over the world--1 in 11 Nashvillians was born outside the United States, and even more--1 in 10--speak a language other than English at home. From Spanish to Kurdish, Lao to Somali, Nashvillians have given a newly profound meaning to our nickname: Music City."

NashvilleForAll also states that the language ban "would mean MDHA could no longer inform new arrivals of their rights to be free from housing discrimination in Lao or Somali. Public Works could not encourage non-English-speaking schoolchildren to recycle. And Metro Codes' property standards division could no longer promote safe neighborhoods, by explaining how to report codes violations in Spanish."

For previous coverage of the Metro Council's proposed language ban in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, click here. To search for all bans related to internationals that have been contemplated by the Council in recent years, including the taco ban, click here.

The Hispanic Nashville Notebook is an official supporter of NashvilleForAll and encourages its readers to contact their Council representatives before tonight, urging a "No" vote on Ordinance 1185.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Free bilingual child passenger safety seat seminar February 13

#1 killer of Hispanic minors is automobile accident

Meharry study: Latin Americans more likely to buckle up than non-Hispanic whites

Seminar sponsored by Nissan North America, Inc. and Thompson Lane Boys and Girls Club

Nissan engineers, Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas will be present

Nissan North America, Inc. and Thompson Lane Boys and Girls Club are partnering up to offer a free bilingual child passenger safety seat seminar to the Hispanic community in support of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Child Passenger Safety Week on February 13, 2007 at 6 p.m - 7:30 p.m.

According to the NHTSA, in the United States 1,638 children ages 14 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and approximately 214,000 were injured during 2004. Among Hispanics ages 1-18, automobile accidents are the leading cause of death. NHTSA studies show that 80% of children are not buckled up correctly.

Hispanics are more likely to use their seat belts than non-Hispanic whites, however, according to a study by Nashville's Meharry Medical College: "Central and South Americans were 66% more likely to buckle up than non-Hispanic whites, Mexicans were 33 % more likely to." (Story by WKRN's Amy Napier-Viteri here and video here).

Nissan’s Quest for SafetyTM seminar is designed to educate parents and caregivers about child passenger safety. The bilingual seminar will focus on Tennessee’s child passenger safety law with a hands-on demonstration on how to properly install a child safety seat or booster seat. Participants will receive English- and Spanish-language educational materials along with an opportunity to receive a free child safety seat through a raffle.

“There continues to be a disproportionate and alarming number of Hispanic and African American children in automobile accidents,” said Stephanie Valdez Streaty, senior manager, philanthropy and diversity communications at Nissan. “Safety is one of our highest priorities and we are happy to offer a seminar that can save a child’s life.” Nissan is an innovator and is driven by the desire to provide safer vehicles and driving experiences to its consumers and their loved ones worldwide. According to NHTSA, approximately 7,500 lives have been saved during the last 20 years due to the proper use of child safety seats and Nissan’s Quest for SafetyTM is on board to make a difference.

The Quest for SafetyTM seminar will take place Tuesday, February 13, 2007 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Thompson Lane Boys & Girls Club located on 67 Thompson Lane in Nashville. Nissan engineers will be on site to answer questions regarding child seat safety installation. Chief Ronal Serpas of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department will also be present to discuss the importance of child seat safety. Food and refreshments will be served after the event.

Established in 1998 by Nissan North America, Inc., the Quest for SafetyTM program aims to help parents and caregivers provide the safest riding experience for their children. Quest for SafetyTM is part of Nissan’s commitment to “Enriching People’s Lives” by helping to meet the needs of communities throughout the United States through philanthropic investments, corporate outreach sponsorships, in-kind donations and other charitable contributions. For more information on Nissan’s community relations efforts in the U.S., visit

In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, design, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. More information about Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at and

Friday, February 2, 2007

Frist Center brings modern Mexican printmaking to Nashville

Special events start immediately

Antioch student art featured

Through April 15

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts boasts a new exhibit called Mexico and Modern Printmaking: A Revolution in the Graphic Arts, 1920-1950. The exhibit will run from February 2 through April 15, 2007. A short synopsis is below, and a full schedule of events related to the exhibit are here. Events on the immediate horizon include a free presentation by the curator on Friday, February 2 at 6:30pm and portrait-making sessions for children 5-10, starting Saturday, February 3 (more information on the exhibit events page here). The exhibit has been covered in the Scene and on WPLN (web / audio / transcript). Update 2/9/07: the Nashville City Paper has reviewed the exhibit here.

An accompanying exhibit at the Frist features the artwork of Antioch High School students and is called "Contemporary Cultures." Included are prints created by students who participated in an after-school printmaking program organized by the Frist Center and held in fall 2006. Led by two local printmakers, the Frist Center program offered lessons in printmaking techniques and addressed concepts presented in the exhibition Mexico and Modern Printmaking: A Revolution in the Graphic Arts, 1920–1950 (on view at the Frist Center from February 2-April 15, 2007). After creating a series of prints that reflect their ideas about contemporary culture and society, the participants selected their best works for this exhibition. Student artists included Aubrey Cox, Nidia Gonzales, Kathryn Herbert, Ronald Hereford, Manychanh Kittirath, Bethany Lawson, Alex Mitchell, Reginald Myriek, Rosalba Ortiz, Magen Parmer, Claudia Perez, Elisabeth Rodriguez, Crystal Soverall, Brooke Stigerwaldt, and Denae Woodward. Teaching artists were Martin Cadieux and Julie Sola.

Also in conjunction with the main exhibit, the Thompson Lane Public Library is sponsoring free art classes for children 10 and up. Classes will be in Spanish on Thursdays in February from 4-5:30pm. Call Martin Cadieux at 615-744-4911. Reservations required by February 7.

Here's a short synopsis of the main exhibition:

Mexico and Modern Printmaking: A Revolution in the Graphic Arts, 1920-1950 examines the vital contributions made by Mexican and foreign-born printmakers working in Mexico. The exhibition features 125 prints and posters by 50 artists, including Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, who, while best known for their revolutionary murals and paintings, made extraordinary contributions to the field of printmaking, which they embraced because it could reach a wide audience with their political message.

In addition to important prints by well-known Mexican artists, the exhibition will also feature works by such foreign artists as Americans Charles White and Elizabeth Catlett, who were affiliated with the Taller de Gráfica Popular, a celebrated cooperative print workshop founded in Mexico City in 1937. Playing a crucial role in sustaining the ideals of the Mexican Revolution, the workshop printed limited-edition works to capture the attention of international collectors, as well as mass-produced posters and leaflets intended for widespread distribution to the native populace.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Tango & Art this Saturday

Participants will draw and paint tango dancers, enjoy live performance, visit downtown galleries

'Tango & Art'
Saturday, February 3, 2007
4:30 to 6 pm studio time, with Downtown Art Gallery openings to follow
Tennessee Art League
808 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203

Warm your heart this winter as you experience the versatility and passion of Tango. Join in an evening of fun as Tango Nashville and the Tennessee Art League present 'Tango & Art'. This open level workshop will begin with a studio opportunity to draw and paint a Tango couple, dressed in Tango attire and striking poses typical of this dance. Instructor: Jim Hsieh.

Following the studio workshop, you will be treated to wine and refreshments while the Tango dancers perform live in the galleries. Continue the evening with a self-guided tour, by shuttle, of various Downtown Gallery openings.

Fee: $30.00 per person, or $50.00 per couple

For more information, visit

Photo by Tracy Blacher

Molly Ivins: 1944-2007

Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins has died of cancer at the age of 62. Ivins' sense of humor, her sharp Texas wit and her populist politics made her a favorite on my reading list. President Bush, who as a Texas politician was raked over her coals on a near-daily basis, had these words to say after her death:

"I respected her convictions, her passionate belief in the power of words, and her ability to turn a phrase. She fought her illness with that same passion. Her quick wit and commitment to her beliefs will be missed." (quoted in The Guardian)

Ivins herself had kind words to say about the passing of her friend Billie Carr in 2002, and I think this tribute reveals Ivins' own values nicely: she said Carr "was there for the workers and the unions, she was there for the African-Americans, she was there for the Hispanics, she was there for the women, she was there for the gays. And this wasn't all high-minded, oh, we-should-all-be-kinder-to-one-another. This was tough, down, gritty, political trench warfare; money against people. She bullied her way to the table of power, and then she used that place to get everybody else there, too. If you ain't ready to sweat, and you ain't smart enough to deal, you can't play in her league." (quoted in The Nation)

The photo of Ivins above is from the Texas Observer, which has a sprawling, loving tribute on its web site. The Scene was the first place I read of Ivins' passing.

Creators Syndicate has links to her columns and books.
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