Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mass-produced America-born foreigners: as historically accurate as a giant 19th century robot spider

An 80-foot, 19th century robot tarantula, from the movie Wild Wild West

At every moment in this great country's history - from the age of George Washington to age of Google and John Glenn, the concept of an America-born foreigner has largely been a myth. You might have heard the actual name of such a creature once, or, more likely, you saw one in a movie. But being born in America as a foreigner is not a concept that has ever had any connection to the day-in and day-out of delivery rooms across America. Not for the entire length of our history.

In 2011, however, some so-called "conservatives" are pushing an alternate paradigm, one that would make America-born foreigners commonplace. To do this, they have to conduct alchemy on two strands of our national DNA: the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the identity of every American citizen child.

Make no mistake about it - the path of the U.S. will radically change if these people get their way. Throwing the national identity lever so far away from jus soli and so close to jus sanguinis changes being born as an American from a simple question - one that has always had roots in the land - into a governmental judgment based solely on the quality of your bloodline.

Anyone who knows American history knows that this path is nowhere in our national timeline, past or future. America has never been defined Americans on the basis of lineage alone.

Like the 80-foot, 19th century robot tarantula in the Will Smith movie Wild Wild West, the concept of an America-born foreigner is newly written fiction that depicts a fake history.

It would be tolerable if these spider-robot "conservatives" limited themselves to Hollywood fantasies or Halloween parties. Heck, every time a legislative challenge to birthright citizenship is filed, it might be cathartic to fire up Photoshop and give the proponents eight mechanical tentacles.

But we can't be altogether dismissive - they've been filing these kinds of bills for years, and they're getting bolder. They must not be allowed to slip one through and pass off their reckless, historically disingenuous fantasy on an unsuspecting nation.

We have never before mass-produced America-born foreigners. And we would not be recognizable as America if we did.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ramirez and Cedillo families celebrate quinceañera of fifteen-year-old Nohely

Nohely poses with her parents at her quinceañera
A few weeks ago, Juan M. Ramírez and Norma J. Cedillo celebrated the fifteenth birthday party of their daughter Nohely - her quinceañera - with a thanksgiving mass officiated by Father David at Sacred Heart Church, followed by a celebration at Music Valley Event Center, where Nohely danced the waltz to the delight of her family who came all the way from Texas to join her on the very special day.

The quinceañera - sometimes just called a "quince" (meaning "fifteen" in English) - is celebrated in some Latin American cultures with as much pomp as a U.S.-style senior prom, but with family in attendance. The celebration marks the young girl's passage to womanhood.

The celebration occurs frequently enough in Nashville. Its existence pops up in the mainstream media every once in a while, such as in the Nashville Scene's Best of Nashville 2007 (one of the categories was Best Place to Buy Quinceañera Supplies), and in last month's stories about the young hero Dalia Perez.

Photo and first paragraph above reproduced with permission from the Hola TN newspaper, Ed. 41, p. 16.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Clues, reward money needed in Cordero murder investigation

NewsChannel5 reports that two persons of interest have disappeared, and leads are few, in the investigation into the murder of Canuto Cordero earlier this month.

The two persons of interest were Cordero's roommates, reports the station, and at least one of them returned to Mexico the same week Cordero was killed.

Cheatham County officials are trying to scrape together reward money to generate leads from a Hispanic community too spooked to talk to police out of a fear of deportation, according to NewsChannel5. In the meantime, according to the report, officials are waiting on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to report on its findings following the recovery of Cordero's truck.

The video of the report is above, and the text of the report is here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Amy Napier-Viteri family tree: a branch in Ecuador

Amy Napier-Viteri
Amy Napier-Viteri (Twitter: @anapierviteri) is a reporter at WKRN News2, Nashville's ABC affiliate. She has covered a wide range of stories, including dog fighting (for which she was nominated for an Emmy and recognized by the Humane Society of the United States), the death of former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair, the historic 2010 flood, various destructive tornadoes, and even a small but loud protest against Spanish-language books in the main library in Lewisburg (see below Napier-Viteri's thoughts about these last two stories).

Napier-Viteri came to Music City four years ago from Telemundo in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a Spanish-language reporter. Prior to that, Amy worked as a writer and segment producer at WJLA-TV, the ABC affiliate in D.C. Napier-Viteri has also worked outside the U.S. - in London, England for a financial publishing company, and in Madrid, Spain, for an English-language magazine aimed at Spanish readers.

Napier-Viteri received her M.A. in broadcast journalism from the University of Miami, in Coral Gables. She earned her undergraduate degree at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. During college, she studied in San Jose, Costa Rica; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Madrid (before the magazine gig).

Napier-Viteri grew up in a D.C. suburb in Northern Virginia, Fairfax County.

Napier-Viteri tells that her Latina roots are in Ecuador:
My mother is from Guayaquil, Ecuador, and she moved to the United States (New Jersey) with her family when she was in middle school. (My mother says they went to the American consulate and applied to get visas for residency in the U.S., and a short time later, they were approved. It seems the process was a lot simpler than it is now.)
She is one of 7 kids so I grew up around LOTS of cousins. Some of my family is still in Guayaquil and Quito, so we try to get back whenever I can get time off (which is tough in the news business!) 
Dad was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He taught himself to speak Spanish when he met my mother. Very romantic.
Looking back on the tornadoes, Napier-Viteri tells
Covering the mess the tornadoes left behind really puts things in perspective not only as a journalist, but as a person. You see people who have lost everything, every single possession, yet they are so happy and feel blessed to still be here.
Napier-Viteri also describes for the overwhelming response to her coverage of the Lewisburg library story:
One of the most interesting stories came when I first moved here. A man in Marshall County was demanding the public library in Lewisburg remove any books in the Spanish language. The library director explained all foreign language books were donated, so the man demanded a policy that all donated books should be in English. The library declined to change its policy, and after the story aired, the library received more calls and donations of foreign language books than they have ever had before. It is nice to see people respond to a story and do what they think is the right thing. ( followed Napier-Viteri's coverage of the library story here.)

This profile of Amy Napier-Viteri is the fourth in a series of media profiles here on Recently featured media profiles include Chris Echegaray of the Tennessean, Charles Maldonado of the City Paper and Scene, and Marielena Ramos of NewsChannel 5 Plus. On deck are Christine Maddela of WKRN/News2, Ray Ponce de Leon of The Contributor, and Eric Alvarez of Fox17.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tuesday panel on business and state-level immigration politics

This Tuesday, the Nashville Business Journal is hosting the following one-hour panel on state-level immigration politics and its impact on business and growth. The registration web page is here, and the registration phone number is 615-846-4274.

The Impact of State Immigration Legislation
on Business and Economic Development
Recent legislation in Arizona has stimulated conversation and response in Tennessee to the same immigration issues leaders in the southwestern state are attempting to address. Panelists will provide an overview of the Arizona bill's impact on business as well as the impact on the state's brand, image and economic development potential. Proponents and opponents of anticipated Tennessee immigration legislation will be present to discuss their positions.

Guest Panelists:

Tuesday, January 25
Networking: 3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Program: 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Loews Vanderbilt Hotel
Tickets - $30

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Droid X: real-life review by Spanish-speaking family

Droid X

We got our hands on a Droid X for use on Verizon for a couple of weeks, and we used it and tested it with this review in mind. We asked ourselves, what would the typical reader want to know about the phone? Spanish-language features came to mind, but not all of you (and not all of the Hispanic consume market) speak Spanish as either a first or second language. Still, you're more likely to want to navigate through a phone in Spanish or know someone else who wants to. You're also more likely to need to translate something to or from Spanish. This phone can help you with that. So a lot of the review below has to do with Spanish. If you're not interested in those features, you can skip to the end of the review, where we talk about a couple of apps and the phone in general.

Keep in mind that these are off-the-cuff impressions, from the perspective of a family that Speaks Spanish, already owns and uses an original model Droid, and already uses Verizon.

The review is broken into four categories:
  1. System-wide Spanish-language features
  2. Apps with Spanish-language capabilities
  3. Apps in general
  4. The phone in general
System-wide Spanish-language features:
  • Once you've gone into settings and changed the overall system language from English to Spanish, you can input speech and text only in Spanish. If you speak or write in English, it will not understand you, or it will correct what you've input and substitute a similarly-spelled word in Spanish.
  • You can't give voice commands to the phone in Spanish (as you can in English) to send a text message or compose an e-mail to a specific person, but once you are in the e-mail app, in the texting app, or in the Google app, the phone will transcribe your speech with about 80% accuracy. You do have to speak in a Spanish that is fairly enunciated and neutral.
  • Google Search will be 100% in Spanish.
  • If you write with the physical keyboard (letter by letter, not using Swype), spellcheck will not kick in. Swype, on the other hand, will correct your spelling.
  • You have the option of changing the voice mail prompts completely over to Spanish, which is pretty good.
Apps with Spanish-language capabilities
  • Verizon Navigator also has the option of being completely in Spanish. The Spanish it uses is very good; you can understand it pretty well and all of the options that it gives you, like finding the lowest-priced gas station nearby, or food, etc. is incredibly good. I would pay for this feature.
  • The Spanish-language movie and video selection in VCast is pretty slim in my opinion, and the movies are not very good.
  • One of the most interesting apps for those of us who speak other languages is "Talk to Me" - an instant translator in which you can write - or even speak - a word in Spanish, and it will translate it into English (85% accuracy) and it will pronounce it for you as well. Other languages are available.
Apps in general
  • Skype is a good app for those of us who need to make international calls. It's cheap, and on this phone the call quality was 90% better than the call quality on my desktop computer.
  • Quick Office is a must-have.
The phone in general
  • It is pretty big but also very thin, so it's not much of an issue.
  • Another one of the interesting features is that you can choose some of your contacts to put on one of the five main screens and you will have instant access to their phone number, e-mail, Facebook profile, etc. - without the need to look for them in your contacts.
  • You can also program custom emergency numbers, so that when you turn your phone on (even without entering your password) you will have the option to make an emergency call or dial one of your emergency numbers, which is very good in case you are ever incapacitated and the first responders need to call someone who knows you.
  • Web sites come up very well…it's pretty fast, I think that must be due to Adobe Flash Player 10.1. I didn't have any problems looking at Chilean newspaper sites and
For the curious: We got our hands on the Droid X through a Verizon Wireless PR rep. I'm sure it was exactly the same kind of exchange that happens between David Pogue of the New York Times and PR reps at tech companies, except that somewhere in that back-and-forth the Times sends David a check. (Note to David: didn't you just write a column or shoot a video about how your review process goes? I can't find it anywhere.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Marielena Ramos, Producer/Director at NewsChannel5 Plus, born and raised in Puerto Rico

Marielena Ramos, in a place called La Calera in Bogota, Colombia, her husband's hometown
Marielena Ramos is a Producer/Director at NewsChannel5 Plus, an arm of NewsChannel5 Network. As part of her job, she produces and/or directs daily live shows, like MorningLine, as well as pre-taped shows, like Cristina Allen's Que Pasa Nashville. Before working at NewsChannel5, Ramos worked as an editor for a TV production company, and as a marketing consultant for advertising agencies and other television stations.

Ramos came to Nashville 7 years ago with her husband to pursue a Master’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University, where she earned her Master in Science, Mass Communications. (Why Nashville? Ramos' husband is a musician - simple as that.)

Ramos earned her Bachelor's degree in Mass Communications at the University of Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico. Ramos was born and raised and still has family in Caguas, Puerto Rico. Ramos' mother is from Puerto Rico.

Ramos' father, on the other hand, was born in Cuba. He left that island at the age of four with his mother and his cousin.  They first moved to Venezuela, where Ramos' grandmother's sister lived, and after a few years they moved to Puerto Rico, where Ramos' father was raised.

This profile of Marielena Ramos is the third in what will be a series of eight media profiles here on  Chris Echegaray of the Tennessean and Charles Maldonado of the City Paper and Scene were featured last week, and others profiled will include Christine Maddela of WKRN/News2, Ray Ponce de Leon of The Contributor, and Eric Alvarez of Fox17.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

R.I.P. Canuto Yuaruz Cordero

Canuto Yuaruz Cordero

Earlier this month, Cheatam County churchgoer and farm worker Canuto Yuaruz Cordero was found beaten to death in Cheatam County, halfway between Nashville and Clarksville.

According to WSMV, Cordero was killed in his own bed on the farm where he worked. A Bible remained on the nightstand, but his wallet and pickup truck had been stolen.

WSMV interviewed the farmer who discovered Cordero's body, and he told the station that Cordero lived a model life, making the world a better place.

WSMV also interviewed Cordero's pastor and his wife, Fernando and Norma Patino, of the South Haven Baptist Church in Springfield, where Cordero attended regularly (Fernando was interviewed in Spanish; wife Norma translated). It was Cordero's absences at church that led to the suspicion that something was wrong.

The photo above was found by investigators, according to WSMV, which reported that Cordero "regularly sent pictures back home to his son, daughter and wife" in Mexico, and that he was working here to pay for his childrens' college tuition.

According to a follow-up report by WSMV, law enforcement officials working the case have two leads in Nashville: Cordero's pickup truck was found abandoned here, and they also traced a call originating from Nashville on Cordero's cell phone - after his death.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. models faith of a neighbor

Photo by javacolleen. Licensed via Creative Commons.

"Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."

-Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963
King penetrates me with these words.

I quoted them last September in my post Indivisibility: the American Superpower. I sent them to Renata Soto a year ago as she was preparing her MLK Day speech to Maryville College. King's words inspired the video I made for called "See," which starts out like this:
See the neighbor in every name.
See the friend in every face.
Amplifying the definition of "neighbor" - rather than narrowing it - is the lesson Jesus taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

It is no wonder that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a preacher.

And it is no wonder that Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, stepping side by side with King in Selma, saw his presence there as a religious experience, saying, "Our march was worship."

Sometimes we struggle with bringing our faith into the day-to-day. For those of us who are struggling - all of us, perhaps - King, Heschel, and those who march with them model a faith in practice.

God calls us to faith that sees our neighbors as such, a faith that makes adjustments where others have not.

This faith speaks out, but with respect, dignity, and nonviolence.
"You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor." - James 3:18 (The Message)
May we all have - and practice - this faith of a neighbor.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dean and Bredesen to Legislature: keep Tennessee out of quicksand

Photo of Rowing Man sculpture, Knoxville, Tennessee, by Lance Smith. Licensed via Creative Commons.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and now-former Governor Phil Bredesen have both raised the prospect of serious economic harm that could come to the Nashville and Tennessee if the Legislature gets stuck in immigration politics in 2011.  If Arizona has gotten itself stuck into some nasty quicksand as a result of its partisan drama on the issue, these two prominent Tennesseans want the Volunteer State to steer around it.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean
In a December 13 address to the Rotary Club, Dean was quoted by the Nashville City Paper expressing concern about economic harm:
I’m not here to tell state senators and representatives what to do...But, I’m asking them, as mayor of Nashville, not to do anything that would put our city and our state at a competitive disadvantage...I’m just asking them that when they’re having these discussions — if they have these discussions — that they seek the opinion and bear in mind what needs to be done to protect the economy of specifically Nashville, Tennessee, and I think also the rest of the state.
Dean, as mayor of the city that has the highest percentage of immigrants in all of the state, which makes him a relative authority on the subject of the costs associated with immigration, wants the legislature to contemplate the danger facing Nashville if its new $585 convention center is subjected to the same fate as the Arizona tourism industry, which has lost more than $250 million since adopting a controversial law in 2010.

Former Governor Phil Bredesen
Now-former Governor Phil Bredesen, who brought numerous international businesses to Tennessee and is an authority on economic development, echoed Dean in comments to the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce on January 12, in the waning hours of his tenure as governor. Bredesen stressed the threat posed by immigration politics to the state's economic development, in excerpts quoted by the Chattanooga Times Free Press:
We are not going to be successful as a country — and we're certainly not going to be successful as a state — if our main focus is on how many different places we can carry our guns, how few languages we use for our driver's license tests or how closely we match Arizona's immigration laws...Those are political distractions, and we need to focus on those things that are really important for our state...We have so much going for us in economic development and education reform right now; let's not ruin that by getting off into out-of-the-mainstream political issues.
Bredesen followed up by telling the CTFP:
I just think it is a dangerous thing to assume that that kind of stuff [immigration politics] is just a sideshow and that it won't affect things like economic development...That's a real and practical issue for international companies operating in Tennessee
Bredesen went on to tell the paper, from personal experience, how he had to defend the state when interested international companies contemplating investment here expressed concerns about Tennessee being a hostile environment, in light of previous years' immigration politics. Every single year for at least the past ten years, Tennessee legislators have proposed new immigration-related state rules.  Some have gone into effect just this year.

Let existing laws take their course. Let business and economic development take root. And let the immigration drama happen somewhere else.

We'll see soon enough if Capitol Hill listens to the pleas of Karl Dean and the advice of Phil Bredesen, or whether they just jump into the Arizona boat without asking where it is headed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Colombia flood relief fundraiser Saturday night

Photo by Santiago La Rotta. Licensed via Creative Commons.

Over the past couple of months, the South American nation of Colombia has been hit by severe flooding. It has described by some as the worst natural disaster ever to hit the country.

The Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce circulated the announcement below of a Saturday fundraiser in Nashville in support of the victims, with Colombian soup, bread and coffee to be served:

Saturday, January 15, 2011
5 to 9 p.m.
Fleming Center
 Cathedral of the Incarnation
 2015 West End Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203
Donation: $10 dollars per plate

The impact of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina is still present in the memory of the residents of the United States. More recently, the flooding in Nashville in May of 2010 teaches us the vulnerability of populations to these natural phenomena, and the negative impact on the lives, regions, cities and towns of those affected.

Comparatively, the winter catastrophe that has hit Colombia is equal to or greater in magnitude than the two mentioned above. According to data released by authorities the death toll in Colombia is expected to rise to over 300 for the month of January 2011,  2.1 million people are affected, flooded arable land accounts for 5 million acres,  and 40 main roads and 214 minor pathways are interrupted or destroyed, including some bridges.

Of the 32 States, 28 are affected and 70% of those affected are located on the Atlantic coast. Many populations have disappeared because of the waters and landslides in hillside areas. Crops, livestock, domestic animals and pets have died.

Unfortunately, the rainy season has not stopped and according to experts, it is likely to continue raining until March 2011. The most worrying fact is that the effects of this catastrophe are estimated to be long-term.

Unlike the United States, government resources in Colombia are scarce. Approximately 2.5 billion dollars are needed, and the government only has 1/2 billion. For this reason, we are seeking solidarity of the international community.  We ask friendly countries, private companies, and all Colombians for their generosity to reduce the suffering of these victims.

The Colombian community in Nashville, TN, is no stranger to this misadventure and is organizing a charity event to raise funds to serve this cause of solidarity.

There will be a "dinner" of symbolic character: It is a soup and bread called consommé. Also, Colombian coffee will be served.

We invite all Colombians in the area, the Hispanic community, our brothers of Latin America, the American community and all generous people to come and support us in this humanitarian cause.

You can start to show solidarity by helping to spread this invitation. You can also join us as a volunteer during the event or help in the preparations.  We need volunteer groups.

Event Date: Saturday, January 15, 2011

Time: 5 to 9 p.m.

Place:              Cathedral of the Incarnation
                        Fleming Center

Address:          2015 West End Ave
                        Nashville, TN 37203

Donation: $10 dollars per plate

Comité Colombia Solidaria-Nashville,TN

Note 1: FREE parking in the back of the building
Note 2: If you can't come please send your donation to:
Comité Colombia Solidaria
(615) 485-4294
Camilo Rodríguez

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Charles Maldonado, writer for Nashville Scene and City Paper, talks Venezuela roots

Charles Maldonado, standing across the Detroit River from the GM Renaissance Center.  Photo provided by Charles Maldonado.
Charles Maldonado (Twitter: @chmaldonado) freelances for the Nashville Scene and the Nashville City Paper. When he first came to town in January 2010, he wrote a number of stories at Prior to Nashville, Maldonado was working for Knoxville's Metro Pulse, where a story he co-wrote on the TVA Ash Spill won a Public Service award in the 2010 AltWeekly Awards.  Prior to the Knoxville gig, Maldonado did six-month stints at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the Detroit Metro Times.

Maldonado has written a slew of good, solid, local stories for the CP and the Scene. He also conducts what is called "participatory journalism," which means to immerse yourself - the journalist - as a participant in the subject of the story.  The Metro Pulse listed some of Maldonado's participatory stories when they pointed out his naked torso illustrating the Scene's April 2010 cover story on mixed martial arts.  A month after that story ran, Maldonado was striking a more somber note as he immersed the Scene's readers in a post-flood search and rescue operation.

Maldonado is from Detroit and attended Wayne State University in that same city.  Maldonado's mother is from Detroit, and his father is from Venezuela.

I asked Maldonado a few questions about his Hispanic family background.  Here are my questions, and his answers.

What was your exposure growing up to your father's Venezuelan roots?
Do you mean "what do I know about my father's Venezuelan roots" or "how did Venezuelan culture figure into my childhood?" I'll just answer both.

1. My father (Jesus Enrique Maldonado, who goes by Henry) was born in Caracas in 1949, son of Benjamin Maldonado (a lieutenant colonel in the Venezuelan army, died 1982) and Cecilia Cisneros de Maldonado.

I don't know much about my father's early childhood in Venezuela beyond a few disconnected, floating bits of stories that feel very romantic in my head but look like abandoned story notes when verbalized. ("Grandparents were amateur race car drivers. Major accident in late 40s (?)" "Neighbors had a tiger," and the like.)

They (full family: Ben and Cecilia, my dad, my uncle Francisco "Paco" Maldonado, and my aunts Maria Andreina and Maria Eugenia) left in 1958, moving first to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.

The Maldonados exited Venezuela under some circumstances, I guess, because they did a quick job of it. My father was actually pulled out of school in the middle of the day. I have not been told, per se, why they left, but I've been given enough clues to deduce a bit on my own. (Again, grandfather: high-ranking military official plus Venezuela 1958.)

They returned to Caracas, briefly, in 1960, and then moved to Scarsdale, NY, where my father went to high school. My grandparents, uncle and aunts left in 1966-67, but my father stayed to study film at Boston University.

Father's professional career, btw: 1970s, produced documentaries for PBS; mid-to-late 1970s producer/director for WGBH Boston, where he met my Detroit-born mother; late-1970s to very early 80s, producer director for WNBC and WCBS New York; 1981-2001, VP of Programming WDIV Detroit; Charles Benjamin Maldonado born June 1982; 2001-2009, General Manager WKMG Orlando; Currently retired from television/president of the Enzian Theater--or Theatre--a nonprofit arthouse in Orlando [editor's note: see "Henry Maldonado's American Journey" in the May 2009 issue of Orlando Magazine, and the September 2009 Executive Profile of Henry Maldonado in the Orlando Business Journal].

2. In the usual ways: Food—I grew up all over the Detroit area, city and suburbs, but never lived in a Hispanic neighborhood. So I can say with confidence that, in Saint Clair Shores Michigan in the early 1990s, or Grosse Pointe and Detroit's east side in the 80s, we were the only house on the block that ever smelled like arepas or ropa vieja. (We also ate a lot of hamburgers and dry Northern chicken, to be completely fair.)

Music—Not so much Venezuelan but definitely a lot of Latin music in my childhood. Bossanova, yes, but so what? As soon as Frank Sinatra did an album with AC Jobim—which happened before I was born—I could no longer claim that genre as having anything to say about me or my heritage. I don't mean that in a bad way. A lot of tango, too. That was huge in my house. When my grandmother would visit, Gardel. Piazzolla when it was just my father.

And, obviously, some degree of Catholicism—I was more or less raised a lapsed Catholic. Did Catholic school, did the sacraments that came with the Catholic school package (Confirmation name Maximilian Kolbe), never went to mass.
Do you keep any current connection to Venezuela or to Hispanics/Latinos in the U.S. now?
My grandmother and my aunt Andreina still live in Caracas. And I try to follow Venezuelan news more closely than, like, Peruvian news, I suppose. Family in the US: Other than my father, my aunt Jenny (Maria Eugenia) lives in New Jersey. I try to see her and her family as often as I can. Other connections to Hispanics/Latinos: Informal/non-hostile.
Do you speak Spanish?
Regrettably no. I blame this country's chronically underperforming private school system.
Did your family ever tell you what their immigration paperwork/process was like for either of the two entries?
I'm pretty sure, in my family's case, it was an intergovernmental-intermilitary, extenuating circumstance type of deal. Pretty low on the red tape scale. From what I know, the relationship between the Jimenez government and the US was quite close. Everybody pretty much had a green card right off the bat.
This profile of Maldonado is the second in what will be a series of eight media profiles here on  Chris Echegaray of the Tennessean was featured yesterday, and others profiled will include Christine Maddela of WKRN/News2, Ray Ponce de Leon of The Contributor, and Eric Alvarez of Fox17.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meet Chris Echegaray of the Tennessean

Chris Echegary (center) at the Belmont University presidential debate between Senator John McCain and then-Senator Barack Obama, October 7, 2008. The photographer in the picture is Dipti Vaidya, a colleague of Echegaray at The Tennessean. Their backdrop is a protest against the exclusion of a third-party candidate from the debate.  Photo provided by Chris Echegaray.

Chris Echegaray is a staff reporter at The Tennessean who covers general assignments and breaking news.  Here's how Echegaray describes his beat:
everything and anything in Nashville, including the story of a homeless man who beat a woman for handing him a cheeseburger, an accused serial rapist was auctioned off as an eligible bachelor, the death of Steve McNair, missing baby stories and a lot more.
Echegaray came to the Nashville daily three years ago this February, having previously worked at The Tampa Tribune, where he covered diversity, demographics and immigration. One of Echegaray's most interesting experiences as an immigration reporter in Florida was to travel to Mexico with a photographer in tow, on a bus filled with laborers – documented and undocumented - who were going home at the height of the immigration debate. The movie on the bus was “A Day Without a Mexican.”

Says Echegaray: "It was a looong ride."

Before Tampa, Echegaray was at the Worcester, Massachusetts Telegram & Gazette, where he started on the sports desk. Echegaray has also freelanced for the New York Daily News and various magazines, including US Weekly and Latina Magazine, where he wrote a cover story on Shakira. Echegaray has been a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Asian American Journalist Association.

Echegaray's hometown is New York City. He attended college at the University of Alaska, Anchorage and graduated with a B.A. from Springfield College.

Here's how Echegaray describes his Hispanic heritage:
I have a helluva mix but I claim my Dominican, Peruvian and Cuban peeps - but, yes, I still have colonial Spanish blood in my veins.
Can't deny my primo-hermanos who still live in Madrid. (It is cheaper to stay with family when in Europe) I lived in the Dominican for a bit when I was a child and we went back to New York,
Mi mama was born and raised en la Republica Dominicana. My grandfather moved the family to New York after the fall of Trujillo. He had been thrown in jail a couple of times for political reasons during the Trujillato. He didn't want to take a chance and have the dictator's people even some sort of score. My grandfather did not want to end up like some of his relatives involved in the fight against the dictator. He'd worked for American companies and that may have worked in his favor. He was one of the lucky ones that was able to politically maneuver in that dictatorship - even when the US occupied the island many years ago.
My old man is Cuban-Peruvian. I think we all know the story in Cuba.
This profile of Echegaray is the first in what will be a series of eight media profiles here on  Among those profiled will be Charles Maldonado of the Nashville Scene and Nashville City Paper, Christine Maddela of WKRN/News2, and Ray Ponce de Leon of The Contributor.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Where we go from here: pray, respect, listen

[I]t is a time to pray for the victims -- and to pledge to each other that we will struggle for a more civil and decent America.
David Gergen, on CNN
We ought to cool it, tone it down, treat each other with great respect, respect each other's ideas and even on difficult issues, like immigration, or taxes, or health care laws, do our best not to inflame passions.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, on CNN
The ability to listen and the ability to be wise... the ability to listen to people of all generations, to coo with a baby and commiserate with a senior citizen who can barely walk.
Rep. Gabrielle ("Gabby") Giffords' rabbi, Stephanie Aaron, describing Giffords to the New York Times

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Nashville baby of 2011: Isaias Palomo-Coreas

Photo by  Licensed via Creative Commons.

The first baby born in Nashville in 2011 was little boy Isaias Palomo-Coreas, as reported by Eric Alvarez of WZTV-17.  The report gives Isaias' delivery time as 12:55 a.m., and his weight at 9 pounds, 14 ounces.

Proud mother Laura Palomo gave her interview in English, and the beaming father gave his in Spanish.

Isaias is not the only Hispanic baby to be the first born in Nashville in a new year.  Jesus Jiminez and Nancy Perez welcomed their newborn baby girl Johanna Jiminez into the world at 1:16 a.m. on January 1, 2004.  Johanna was Nashville's first baby that year.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Free 2011 calendar by Lalo Alcaraz

This could be yours...

Lalo Alcaraz, creator of a nationally syndicated editorial cartoon and also creator of the daily comic strip La Cucaracha, has published a 2011 wall calendar. They're available for sale at for $20 each (or $35 for 2, or $45 for 3).

Wouldn't you like to have one for free? Alcaraz graciously set one of these calendars aside for a lucky reader, which just might be you.  Consider it a belated New Year's present from Lalo and me.

Just leave a comment below, tweet @muybna, or write on the Facebook wall of, and let me know you want the calendar and how to get in touch with you. I'll make it available to one of you, my faithful readers here in Nashville (translation: I'm not mailing it anywhere!)

Happy New Year, and a big "thank you" to Lalo Alcaraz!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

They are coming for you

A note to the Tennessee legislature when you think about immigration in 2011: they are coming for you.

They will demand that you let a Kansan write Tennessee's laws.

They will demand that you turn your committee hearings over to out-of-state experts, and not let anyone else testify who falls outside their narrow ideological spectrum.

They and their allies will offer only non-answers or stomach-turning defenses if you drill down to their support of sterilization of the poor, or their anti-Catholicism.

They will mobilize advertising armies against you if you don't obey their every command.

And they will take your money - our money - more than $1 million in the first year alone - even if you give in to them.  Piles of our hard-earned cash, in our budget-strained state, will go straight into the pockets of the army of lawyers hired to defend the legal challenges you know full well to expect.

Remember who these people are.  Remember them when you see your legislative peers "demagoging the issue -- some to raise money, some for attention."  Remember them when the dialogue in your committee chamber devolves into a willingness to advance only those immigration laws that are the functional equivalent of the government's raid on the home of Elian Gonzalez - which you opposed.

Ask yourself whether you are willing to have these people - who don't even live here - put a target on your back and come after you if you don't play along.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

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