Tuesday, May 31, 2011

R.I.P. Arturo Chavez

The plaque above in memory of Arturo Chavez is on a covered bench in Brentwood's Crockett Park, along the walking/jogging path, between the wooded section of the path and the picnic tables behind the indoor soccer arena.  For you disc golfers, it's the bench that is just out of bounds, to the right, on hole 9. For the rest of you Eagle Scouts out there, that's 35.980106 N, -86.765111 W. My children and I were out there the morning of Memorial Day and took a breather on this bench.

The bench was built by devoted son and Troop 86 Eagle Scout Sam Chavez, who attended Woodland Middle School, adjacent to Crockett Park. Sam is now a student at the University of Tennessee - Chattanooga.

Sam's sister Christina Chavez graduated from UTC in 2009 and is currently on rotation in Singapore as a Finance Senior Analyst for Dell.

Arturo Chavez passed away ten years ago. He was in his forties.

Monday, May 30, 2011

R.I.P. Samuel J. Bedne

Fabian Bedne's father Samuel J. Bedne has passed away after a long illness.

In a message to friends and colleagues, Fabian said, "He was a great guy, you all would have LOVED meeting him, I am very proud of him."

My sincere and heartfelt condolences to Fabian and to his family.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Remembering a family hero, and all who serve in the military

guest post by Fabian Bedne

Ernest ("Ernie") Salter
Ernest Salter (or Ernie as we called him) was my children’s grandfather; I met him 21 years ago when I started dating my wife. At the time he was a retired College Professor in Nevada Missouri, the town where my wife grew up. Ernie served in the US Army from 1954 to 1957 and was very happy, of all the assignments he could have gotten, to have been posted in Berlin after World War II.

Ernie never talked much about his service; he likely got the posting because he spoke German. But he was happy too because he had several German relatives that he could visit and that helped the family stay connected after the war. He also talked about wanting to spend more time visiting his family while he was there but it was awkward apparently - given that the Germans had been our enemy. We think some of his hesitation to talk about his service was because he'd been proud of his German heritage but during and just after World War II that was not something to be openly proud of at the time. My wife tells me that this is one of the influences on her life that helped her to be sensitive to how people are viewed and treated. But she also understood what it meant to him to have guarded just that little piece of what was left of freedom in Berlin.

Years later Ernie developed Alzheimer’s and we decided to move to Tennessee from Ohio, because he was moving to Tennessee to be with Martha, my sister in law. We moved to Tennessee to help take care of him. I was happy we managed to keep him in our home for a while so he could be amongst family.

I never stopped being thankful to Ernie and the many other soldiers that have been doing their part over the years and continue doing it right now all over the world so we can have the freedom and safety that we enjoy every day. I am thankful to them every day, their sacrifice is one of the reasons I want to do my part to make this world a better place for all.

Last week in my neighborhood I met a soldier that had served in Afghanistan for four years, and recently had moved back to our area. While serving he had been hurt and had a prosthesis. We talked for a long while, and when we parted ways he asked me not to forget. I promised him we won’t. On this Memorial Day weekend, I keep the memory of what Ernie gave to my family and my country close at hand while I remember the sacrifices our troops have made in the recent Middle East conflicts.

I hope your family will have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and that you will remember to thank a soldier for service to our country.

To read more stories by and about Fabian Bedne, click on the Fabian Bedne link in the Index to the right.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Juan Mera, General Manager of Hilton Garden Inn Vanderbilt, native of Peru

Juan Mera, General Manager, Hilton Garden Inn Vanderbilt

Juan Mera is the General Manager of the Hilton Garden Inn Vanderbilt, at 1715 Broadway in Midtown. In late 2008, Juan moved from Savannah, Georgia, to Nashville to open this hotel for the Atlanta-based North Point Hospitality Group.  The 2009 opening, which brought 80 jobs to town, was Mera's third opening with North Point.  His first opening was a 220-room Spring Hill Suites in Buckhead, Atlanta, and his second was the 134-room Hilton Garden Inn in midtown Savannah. Mera launched the Nashville market for the company.

The Hilton Garden Inn Vanderbilt has 194 rooms, a restaurant, a bar and over 5,000 square feet of meeting space overlooking downtown Nashville and Music Row. The restaurant, called the Great American Grill, has actively sought out the Midtown lunch crowd with its under-$10 "Southern Buffet," open every weekday from 11am to 2pm.

Mera is from Peru and visits there a few times a year.

Grand Opening, 2009. Mera is fourth from left; Mayor Karl Dean is fourth from right.
Photo by Zach and Jody Gray, GrayPhotograph.com

Exterior of Hilton Garden Inn Vanderbilt, from Broadway

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bogota native Ruby Milena Riativa wins women's division of Country Music Marathon; Colombian men finish third and fourth

Ruby Milena Riativa, at the 12 mile mark of the 2011 Country Music Marathon in Nashville.
Photo by Michael Byrd. Used with permission.

Last month, Ruby Milena Riativa of Bogota, Colombia, won the women's division of the Country Music Marathon. Her time was 2:50:00.

Riativa's countrymen Edwin Romero and Giovanni Amador took third and fourth place, respectively, in the men's division.  Romero had been leading the men for the first ten minutes.  His final time was 2:25:16. Amador finished after 2:36:08.

Edwin Romero, at the 12 mile mark of the 2011 Country Music Marathon in Nashville.
Photo by Michael Byrd. Used with permission.
Giovanni Amador, at the 12 mile mark of the 2011 Country Music Marathon in Nashville.
Photo by Michael Byrd. Used with permission.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Barter for Spanish? Here's how.

This question came in via e-mail; I'm going to add it to the Frequently Asked Questions:
I came across the HispanicNashville.com site after searching for some resources to learn Spanish. A friend of mine suggested that I volunteer (or barter) my English to a church/non-profit to help people learn English, while I learn Spanish. I'm not sure how feasible this is. I have Rosetta Stone, but would like some live social interaction.

Do you know of any organizations, preferably in South Nashville (Nolensville Road area) that would be a good fit??

I appreciate any assistance you can offer.
My answer:
Conexion Americas has a conversation partners program, where they partner a Spanish speaker with an English speaker, which sounds like what you're looking for. They're not headquartered in the South Nashville area, but these conversation partner meetings might be scheduled at a location other than the agency. You can call them to find out.

Catholic Charities operates Hispanic Family and Immigration services out of the Nolensville Road area, in the Iglesia Catolica Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, so that might be a good immersion/volunteer opportunity, since I don't think they offer a formal language exchange program like Conexion.

For all of the commonly asked questions on HispanicNashville.com (and their answers), visit the FAQ page.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Charge of sexual battery of nine-year-old girl is serious enough without immigration distraction

Matt Bors

Even before sex scandals blanketed the national media this past week (one of which seemed to blame the victim - see above), earlier this month WSMV reported on a Gallatin man arrested for aggravated sexual battery of a 9-year-old girl.  Such a crime is a horrible thing. Kudos to law enforcement and the justice system for stepping in to protect this child.

Because the accused is from Mexico and had previously been arrested for domestic assault and deported through Nashville's immigration dragnet called 287(g), a Gallatin police sergeant and Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall awkwardly tried to use this arrest to defend that program. Just look at their quotes - there is a gratuitous dig in there about mooching, combined with the argument that this arrestee's slipping through the dragnet somehow proves its effectiveness. (It would have been more transparent to have said that this man's previous deportation, although ineffective in this particular case as a crime prevention tool, was absolutely the right thing to do because deportation in conjunction with violent and dangerous crimes like domestic assault is noncontroversial.)

As far as sexual assault is concerned, and this is a case about sexual assault, prosecution and punishment should first focus on that crime, before immigration is taken into account. This man, if convicted, should not be deported "soon," as WSMV reports. A guilty verdict in this case should result in a long time behind bars before the government pays for a ticket to freedom across any border.  WSMV should follow up to determine whether this man was detoured into the federal immigration system before fully processed by the criminal justice system.

Outside the context of law enforcement, two ways you and I can make a difference is by promoting prevention education and by supporting the victims who have come forward.

In Nashville, one of the organizations that does this is the Sexual Assault Center ("SAC"). The SAC is trying to reach out more to the Hispanic community, and it has plans for a bilingual/bicultural contract therapist. You can donate to the SAC by going to www.sacenter.org/donate.php and clicking on the box with the sunshine logo. To learn more about prevention, visit the SAC's two school-based curricula at besafeatlast.com

May God bless this little girl. May there be many people in her life who will be supporting her and focused on her well being.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Linda Chavez-Thompson to speak at Tennessee Values Summit this weekend

Linda Chavez-Thompson, current Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, will be among the speakers this weekend at the Tennessee Values Summit running tonight through Sunday in Jackson.

According to the Tennessee Democratic Party, the event "will be an interactive training with workshops, guest speakers and socializing. Our presenters and programs are focused on helping Democrats — at all levels — build and deliver a winning message to voters in 2012."

Chavez-Thompson was executive vice president of the AFL-CIO from 1995 to 2007, "the first person of color to be elected to one of the federation's three highest offices."

She is a native of Lubbock, Texas, and a second-generation American of Mexican descent. Upon her retirement, she celebrated 40 years of experience in the labor movement.

For more information about the Tennessee Values Summit, click here.

Photo by now_photos. Licensed via Creative Commons.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ale Delgado, mobile milkshake star, talks Nicaragua and mix tapes

Ale Delgado
Belmont University sophomore Ale Delgado wants to make you a milkshake.

Delgado's name is on the tips of Nashville tongues this year - not necessarily because she's an intern at Infinity Cat Recordings or Vice President of Belmont Service Corps - but because she is one half of the entrepreneurial team that brought Moovers & Shakers into being. Moovers & Shakers touts itself as Nashville's first mobile soda parlor, and everyone from Nashvillest to the Nashville Scene is eating it up. (To satisfy your soda sweet tooth this summer, you can follow Moovers & Shakers on Twitter and Facebook, or visit their web site at mooversandshakersnashville.com.)

Born Martha Alejandra Delgado in Rockville, Maryland, she also lived in Gainesville and Cincinnati before coming to Nashville to become a Belmont Bruin.

Delgado's parents are from Nicaragua, so I asked her how that heritage reveals itself at home:
My parents cook Nicaraguan food all the time. We usually end up having gallo pinto a few times a week, so that's a big stable. My mom also sent me some pico in the mail the other week and I got to share it with my friends here, which was pretty fun. (I admit that I kept most of it for myself...) Same with music, though unfortunately I'm never quite sure who I'm listening to. I can say there was a lot of Celia Cruz and Proyecto Uno played in my house growing up-- quite a variety!
Sadly, I don't speak Spanish. I can understand fairly well, just not very good at translating my own thoughts in my head. I volunteered with my family at Cincy-Cinco, which was always a ton of fun because I usually helped out with games. Plus, it was the only time I knew I could really get good Spanish food!
Delgado has visited Nicaragua only once, but she remembers "the little things" - including the ice cream:
I don't make it down to Nicaragua a lot; I think the last time I went I was 6 or 7...It's really the little things that I remember from my trip to Nicaragua, hanging out with my cousins outside on the hammock, watching Zorro. We were staying so close to the ice cream shop that we could walk over. I loved that as a kid because it was so hot outside! (Plus, you can see how much I love ice cream...) I also remember loving the beach, although I ended up getting a mouthful of waves a couple times!
Delgado's parents came to the U.S. during the war that ravaged Nicaragua in the 1980's. Names like Daniel Ortega, Violeta Chamorro, the Sandinistas, and Oliver North can be abstract political footballs in the U.S., but the events that brought those names to the headlines were very real. Delgado tells the story through her mother's eyes:
My mom came over in 1984 as a political refugee. She stayed with her aunt for a year until the rest of the family could come over and actually missed celebrating her Quince. Her family came with tourist visas, then applied for political asylum, and have now all become permanent residents and US citizens.

The war itself was pretty horrendous; she describes it as a period of insecurity, lack of safety, and fear. At one point, the military thought her family was harboring revolutionaries, so they were threatening to bomb the house. She said that if it weren't for their neighbor yelling for them to open the door, they probably wouldn't have survived. After that, they walked to the nearby hospital, holding white flags to show that they were just civilians. They put mattresses up against the wall to protect themselves from the bullets, had to run into the bathroom whenever they heard machine guns or helicopters...

After a while in the hospital, they left for Honduras. It was there that they learned that my great-grandmother's jewelry business had been looted and there was nothing left. When the war was over, they finally returned to Nicaragua before coming to the U.S. 
My mom said she feels like she was protected from the first-hand horrors of the war, but the impact of living with a war does shape her feelings and behaviors. She doesn't really watch the news, especially when it involves human suffering, but she does say that she's able to adapt to change and remain hopeful in challenging situations.
Delgado's mother and father now live in Fayetteville, Arkansas - her dad works at Proctor and Gamble, and her mother at the University of Arkansas.

When she's not making milkshakes for her new business, Delgado is blogging at Pretentious Mixtapes I Made In High School. I asked Delgado about the hobby, because I was surprised that the word "tape" was still in the vocabulary of a college student in 2011, and I was doubtful that Delgado had actually seen a cassette tape recently. I was wrong:
I actually use cassette tapes all the time, although all three of my Walkmans are broken, so I need to find somewhere to buy another one. My dad got me started on them when I was much younger. I remember the first time I taped some of my favorite songs, I was worried that the tape player would pick up the sound from Rugrats-- that's how young I was! My dad was really my biggest influence as far as music and technology goes; he would come home and show me how to use Napster and introduce me to all this new music (until we had to delete it, of course) or bring a miniDisc player and teach me how to record the radio on it. But the tapes are really what stuck with me. I like scrunching up by my stereo for a couple hours, taping and making covers. I like that it takes more time and effort to really get it right because it seems more meaningful and permanent that way. And I've never thought that I'm very good at expressing myself, so I like to let the music do it for me.

I honestly can't remember why I decided to write about my tapes online. I come up with a lot of random ideas and this one just stuck. Honestly, I probably just thought the phrase "Pretentious Mixtapes I Made In High School" was funny, ha! I make mixes about pretty much everything, but if I had to pick an overarching theme, it'd probably be "the little moments" --or "angst," I was in high school, after all. You check out the Moovers & Shakers mix here: http://soundcloud.com/moovers-and-shakers/sets/moovers-and-shakers-summer/s-oKOm5. It starts off with a spoken word poem by Hayden, my business partner.
With a love for tunes, and a knack for bringing a conversation about her hobby back to the business plan, Delgado should do just fine selling milkshakes in Music City.

Follow Ale Delgado on Twitter at @IAmAleDelgado

To read more stories about Nashville and Nicaragua, click on the Nicaragua link in the Index to the right.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Missing your fix of HispanicNashville.com? There's more out there.

When there's no new story on the HispanicNashville.com home page (or no new story in your inbox, for the e-mail subscribers), if you think you're stuck with radio silence all day long, you are missing out on some of the other Hispanic Nashville goodness:
The Twitter Feed (@muybna): where I retweet local Hispanic Nashvillians' events and updates, plus what I'm thinking during the week about the immigration bureaucracy (800+ followers can't be wrong...)

The Bonus Track (bonustrack.hispanicnashville.com): where I republish many of the press releases I get, so you can get the whole scoop

The Español (espanol.hispanicnashville.com): where I have recently started republishing the Spanish-language press releases I get

The Facebook Page (facebook.hispanicnashville.com): where readers submit their own stories, events, and suggestions (there's a "Like" button there; hint hint)
If you check those, you might find something new to chew on when the main page is taking a breather.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

First-ever protest at CCA HQ over immigrant detention

Screen capture from video by Jacob Flowers

For the first time, it looks like Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America ("CCA") is getting some local resistance to its role in immigrant detention.

CCA, which self-describes as the "nation’s leading provider of correctional solutions to federal, state and local government," has been in national and world headlines over the past few years over its treatment of immigrants at the behest of the U.S. government (see the HispanicNashville.com coverage of those stories, including links to CCA's response).

The Nashville media has been largely (but not completely) silent on those controversies, and, perhaps as a result, Tennesseans have asked few hard questions of their corporate neighbor.

This past Thursday, however, that passive, neighborly attitude started to change. Nashville's NPR affiliate WPLN reported that a CCA shareholder meeting in Burton Hills was the site of a protest by Tennesseans calling for major investors to divest.  The Nashville Post alerted its readers, as well.

The novelty here is that we had a good-old, Volunteer State protest on our hands.  When it comes to CCA's treatment of immigrants, this is the first time I am aware of that Tennesseans visited CCA's Burton Hills headquarters to speak up.  To boot, at least two local media outlets told the story.

We locals aren't the only ones who cared enough to speak up, however.  The Nashville protest at CCA was just one site of five similar protests held across the country.

The immigration bureaucracy is usually the weekend focus on this site. From Monday to Friday, visit HispanicNashville.com for stories about arts, business, events, local personalities, food, jobs, history and more.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nashville Scene to Bomba Estereo: we say welcome, even if Legislature sends other message

Clay Bennett

There were three paragraphs in the Nashville Scene's recent review of Bomba Estereo that are just priceless - if you didn't catch them, the Scene has graciously given me permission to reproduce them here:
But how is this playing out across America circa 2011 — an era when, if you spend much time keeping track of politics, you'll notice that folks seem to be enthralled with extreme nativist posturing? If our, um, esteemed state legislature is any indication — and dear God, let's hope it's not — Americans at the moment are far more interested in stocking their bunkers with assault weapons and Andy Griffith DVDs, making bogeymen out of major religions and polishing their tinfoil hats, than engaging in dialogues with different cultures. ... How is a fiercely political, fiercely progressive Latin band going over in a country that's, well, a little on edge about all things foreign and different?

"We didn't know what to expect," says Salazar. "For instance, we are going to Louisiana for the very first time, and we're going to North Carolina too. But in Texas, it was really well-received from the very beginning, as well as in New York and San Francisco. ... I don't know about Nashville — maybe all your friends are as excited as you are?"

Yes, Mr. Salazar. Yes they are. While the elected officials on Capitol Hill are working hard to codify discrimination and legalize the marginalization of people who fall outside of their warped Andy Griffith image of the state, those of us who actually live here — the folks who make up this diverse and increasingly cosmopolitan community — welcome you with open arms. It doesn't matter if isolationism and fear are the order of the day on the statehouse floor: On the streets and in the clubs of Music City, the vibe is all about inclusion and the interchange of ideas. There's a cultural cross-pollination that's fueling the creative explosion here. There's a thirst for art that acknowledges all of our differences and uses them as a stepping-stone to achieve greater things. Something tells us Bomba Estéreo will feel right at home.

Worth pointing out: the comic above is about immigration, which has more to do with the legislature than with Bomba Estereo.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Join me for breakfast May 26

A Cup of Coffee for Conexión Américas

If you are reading this, please consider joining me at my table for "A Cup of Coffee for Conexión Américas," the annual coffee and breakfast (cafecito) to raise awareness and money for Nashville's premier non-profit for Latino families.  Clear your calendar on Thursday, May 26, from 7:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., RSVP online, and we'll look forward to seeing you at the event at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.

Every year, more than 2,500 Latino individuals and their families turn to Conexión Américas for assistance in achieving their American Dream. At the cafecito on May 26, we will celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of these men and women, as well as Conexión's own small business development program, called "Negocio Próspero," or "Prosperous Business."  We will meet Karla Ruiz, Tony Torres and María Ramos, just three of many small business owners who are contributing to Nashville's economic vitality.

This is a fundraising cafecito. While there is no set ticket price for this event and no payment in advance required for the reservation, we hope that once you get there you will be inspired to give and support Conexion's worthy mission (a $100 minimum donation will be suggested).

To register, click here to fill out the form, and after that, send me an e-mail at the address below so we can arrange for you to sit at my table:

I hope you can join me for a cup of cafecito - Conexión Américas' own fair trade, organic Rumba Roast - and for a morning of learning and conversation.

John Lamb, Editor

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Undivided union

A. J. Russell Stereoview #539. "Chinese at Laying Last Rail UPRR"

Today, President Obama will deliver an address in El Paso on the importance of immigration reform. Today is also the anniversary of the completion in 1869 of the Transcontinental Railrod, the joining together of the eastern and western halves of the U.S. "in undivided union," as PBS put it. The Transcontinental Railroad was built largely with Chinese and Irish immigrants.

"Our country should have raised monuments to their achievements. We should have rewarded them with instant citizenship for their efforts," wrote John S. Richbourg in "Yin and Yang of Immigration Law." Instead, less than a quarter century after immigrant hands brought the continent together, Congress passed, and President Chester A. Arthur signed, the Chinese Exclusion Act in May 1882.

One might guess that President Obama's speech today will lament the echoes of the Chinese Exclusion Act that keep people from legally enjoying this wonderful country despite their hard work here. It is less likely that he will lament the lack of monuments for those who have worked and studied here for years. The federal government chases most of them out, even the ones with visas, so the best we might expect from Obama in terms of "monuments" is simply more visas under the current model. There is certainly no "instant citizenship" in exchange for hard work or contributions made to the U.S. on American soil, but perhaps the Commander in Chief will make the case, as his predecessor did, for some legalization in exchange for a good record (as I have said before, hopefully that would be in the form of a system, like bankruptcy, and not just a one-off).

Immigration reform is a lot like the Transcontinental Railroad: it takes a long time getting there, and a lot of people working toward some middle point, for the country to be joined in "undivided union" on this issue. After so much inaction on this issue, most Americans are already there, in the middle, ready and willing to embrace a solution that is part enforcement (on the one side) and part legalization (on the other).

All we need is for someone to drive that last spike into the ground and make the new way possible.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Nashville-based TV show launches on Wednesday: La Tertulia

Crew of "La Tertulia"
On Wednesday, May 11, Nashville will have a new, locally produced TV show for Spanish-speaking audiences: La Tertulia, co-hosted by Jon Alonso and Carolina Gruber. La Tertulia will be broadcast on Comcast Channel 19 on Wednesdays at 4:30 pm, Thursdays at 10:30 pm, and Saturdays at 9:00 pm. At first, the show will debut without subtitles, but in June, English subtitles will be added.

According to the show's bilingual blog, episodes will include interviews with serious guests but also "the wisdom of Dr. Gruber in the Linguistic Laboratory, along with the often outlandishly askew humor of our collaborator, the illustrious Don Santiago de Trastámara y Azpeitia."  So there's going to be sketch comedy, and the press release photos show the characters in costume and makeup, too.  This might be interesting.

In Spanish, the word "tertulia" can be roughly translated as a party of friends in conversation. It is commonly used in regard to literary gatherings, as in the English word "salon."

Here is the press release:
La Tertulia is a show that contains education, interviews, entertainment and humor.

“Our humble intention is to provide an example, so we all together, can look at ourselves in order to improve our lives and the ones of our children,” said La Tertulia’s creator and host, Jon Alonso, “we want to give a voice for those whom want to speak and ears for those whom want to be heard and, while we are educating, we will also try to snatch a smile with a little bit of humor,” he added.

“Our initiative is to show the community that we all are part of by introducing into their households the opinions of our leaders, our neighbors, and our brothers,” La Tertulia’s co-host Carolina Gruber said.

On the first show, Amelia Post and Leticia Alvarez, volunteers at the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugees Rights Coalition, talked about the different perspectives relating to the enforcement of the immigration law in our nation specifically in Tennessee. They explained that the current laws are in a process of negotiation. Also, they emphasized that working as a community would prevent the violation and limitations of the rights of Hispanics.

Don’t miss our second episode, coming up this week in which Luz Belleza-Binns and Helena Ortegon will talk about domestic violence.

For those who do not have Comcast as their cable provider, you can watch the show via Internet at http://www.youtube.com/user/TertuliaNash

Remember that our show will be on the air every Wednesday (4:30pm), Thursday (10:30pm) and Saturday (9:00pm).
Read the Spanish-language press release on espanol.hispanicnashville.com

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother Juana Villegas vindicated: man-made labor pain at hands of Sheriff's office was unconstitutional, says federal court

Excerpt from April 2011 opinion of federal court finding in favor of Juana Villegas

One day, a child who is now only two years old will find out that his mother was given unnecessary and illegal additional pain, on top of her biological pain of childbirth.

Chained to her bed - against commonly recognized standards and in violation of the U.S. Constitution - Juana Villegas was shackled during labor and denied a breast pump while she was in the custody and care of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office. As of April 27, 2011, the illegality and unconstitutionality of her treatment is no longer an allegation but is a formal, legal finding by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Attorney Elliott Ozment, along with Phil Cramer and his team at Sherrard & Roe, represented Ms. Villegas, a resident of Nashville and native of Mexico. Villegas does not, and did not at the time, have a visa to be in the U.S.  Her immigration status was the focus of the DCSO's unsuccessful defense of its actions.

According to the 42-page opinion (attached), restraining a woman in labor is recognized in U.S. law as unacceptable unless absolutely necessary to prevent escape, and deference is generally given to law enforcement. Judge William Haynes of the Middle District, who issued the opinion, cited the U.S. Supreme Court and lower opinions, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and human rights standards and U.S. treaty obligations in his findings of Due Process violations under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Unsupported by the law were the arguments of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office that the mother's lack of authorization to be in the U.S. automatically meant that she was able and likely to jump out of the ambulance, the bed, or the delivery room and not be capably restrained by sheriff's office personnel.

Two passages in the Court's opinion had an emotional impact on me:
"Ms. Villegas experienced a profound stressor, the threat of death to her unborn child." -Dr. Jill DeBona, p. 13 (The reason shackling is universally recognized as wrong is that it threatens the health of the mother and the unborn child.)

Villegas "was not allowed to contact her husband or other family, by telephone or otherwise throughout her stay at the hospital." -p.16 (Villegas went into labor, delivered her child, and held the child in her arms without being allowed to contact her family at any time, and no family at her side during labor and delivery, even though her husband and other family members were in Nashville. That, however, was not found to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution.)
The DSCO no longer shackles mothers during labor.

Happy Mother's Day.

For more information about the Juana Villegas case, including the suspect circumstances of her original arrest, see these other HispanicNashville.com stories, as well as the video below.

Friday, May 6, 2011

About the economy

Matt Davies

The U.S. is a heap of bad, good, and goofy. Take May 5 throughout U.S. history: it was a day Congress approved the Chinese Exclusion Act (bad), a day we liberated a Nazi concentration camp (good), and now it's becoming day we revel in alcohol over mumbled Spanish (goofy).

Bill Clinton said that there is nothing wrong with the United States than cannot be fixed by what is right with the United States. Aside from the immigration bureaucracy, which I blog about a lot, there are a lot of macroeconomic dilemmas facing the United States (see the cartoon above), and I wonder whether we are even coming close to summoning the "right" in America, so that it can be used for the fixing of what is wrong.

As a result, I've been tempted to flip a switch here at HispanicNashville.com and blog about the economy more. The dollar losing its high esteem and the possibility that the federal government might lose its sky-high credit rating are both disastrous for the welfare of our country, and getting distracted by reality-TV pop culture and not concentrating on the hard problems is also bad.

Anyone else out there feeling this? Is HispanicNashville.com a good place to think about the economy?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo parties in Franklin go for tequila world record, honor Manuel and La Hacienda

What are you doing for Cinco de Mayo tonight? This bonanza of a holiday is more of an American celebration than an authentic Mexican commemoration of its victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla, but it's still a good excuse to get out and party, and there are a lot of Cinco de Mayo parties around town tonight. Two in particular stood out to me, and they're both in Franklin:

First, there's going to be a block party on Main Street in which local Mexico-born fashion celebrity Manuel will be honored, along with a world-record attempt at the largest single toast of Tequila:
SOL Restaurant will attempt to break the Guinness Book Record for the Largest Tequila Toast in the world. The attempt will be in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, a day honoring Mexican heritage. The event will take place from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. in downtown Franklin. Main Street will be closed from 4th to 5th Avenues to allow for the festivities. The tequila toast will take place at 7:00 p.m.

Special musical guests Frank Ortega and the Small Time Rock Stars will provide entertainment for the event. The event is sponsored in part by Dos Equis Lager and Milagro Tequila. Tickets to participate in the Tequila Toast will cost $5.00. Proceeds from the Tequila Toast ticket sales will be donated to the Mercy Children's Clinic of Franklin.
H/T: the Tennessean

A couple of miles north, Salvador Guzman's La Hacienda (1110 Hillsboro Road, Franklin) will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with music by Kazique (starting at 8pm) and dance by Destellos Culturales. Cindy McCain at the Examiner has the details.

"Manuel Day," tequila toast at 7, Kazique at 8 - Franklin has its Cinco on tonight.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Music: Grupo Fantasma, Mike Herrera, and Bomba Estereo in town

Readers of HispanicNashville.com might appreciate these live performances in Nashville from three very different out-of-town musicians:

Bomba Estereo, last night at Mai (my bad; sorry about the late notice)
Mike Herrera, this Wednesday, May 4, 8pm at Exit/In
Grupo Fantasma, next Thursday, May 12, 8pm at Exit/In

Bomba Estereo in the studio. Photo by 100% Café de Colombia. Licensed via Creative Commons.
Anyone go to see the Colombian duo Bomba Estereo at Mai last night? Their music sounded pretty good on the Internet; I'm sure it was 1000 times better live. If you check out the tour dates on their web site, you'll see Nashville's sister city in Argentina on the list - these folks get around. Too bad I noticed the writeup in the print edition of the Scene last week but didn't publish it here in time. I have to admit that I was distracted by the giddily defiant writing of Sean Maloney's three-paragraph screed against the backwards tendencies at Legislative Plaza (read it yourself - starting with "If our, um, esteemed state legislature is any indication — and dear God, let's hope it's not — Americans at the moment are far more interested in stocking their bunkers with assault weapons and Andy Griffith DVDs, making bogeymen out of major religions and polishing their tinfoil hats, than engaging in dialogues with different cultures," and ending with "Something tells us Bomba Estéreo will feel right at home." Seriously, put my site down and read those three paragraphs right now.)

Mike Herrera performing in Brazil. Photo by Alexandre Cardoso. Licensed via Creative Commons.
Also coming to town is Mike Herrera, of MxPx and Tumbledown, doing a solo gig Wednesday at Exit/In. What you need to know about Herrera: he has some Mexico in his blood, Tumbledown counts among its influences "Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash," and Herrera is Christian, as are most of MxPx, but they don't like to be called a Christian band. Dude, I think you are going to fit in just fine in Nashville.

Mike Herrera plays Wednesday, May 4, 8pm at Exit/In

Finally, there is Grammy Award winner Grupo Fantasma, next Thursday. They've played with Prince, they've been heard on HBO's Weeds - they are more famous than you are, by far - but you won't be jealous when you're soaking in their show. Here are the details of their upcoming Nashville gig, from the e-mail I got from David Lobel:
Thursday, May 12th, 2011 - 8pm
Exit/In - 2208 Elliston Place
$15, Warren Hood opens

Acclaimed Austin-based Latin funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma receives their first Grammy Award, garnering “Best Latin Rock, Alternative or Urban Album” for their latest album. Released on Nat Geo Music, El Existential is being praised by critics including the Huffington Post who declared it “a sound done so right that you have to hand the crown to this group,” while Billboard states that by “tightly weaving Anglo, Afro and Latin musical genres, El Existential takes on an identity of its own.” Though this is Grupo Fantasma’s first Grammy, this was their second nomination, which they celebrated with a short tour of the Southwest. Grupo Fantasma are widely known for their energetic live shows, which NPR declares “seamless…whenever and wherever they’re on stage.” The 10-piece orchestra has received praise from The Wall Street Journal, La Opinion, and by USA Today, calling the band “Latin-funk masters.”

Brought together by Austin’s bustling music scene, Grupo Fantasma formed in 2000 and is comprised of musicians with Latin American and Texan backgrounds. Praised as one of the most important independent acts in the Latin genre, the band draws from influences including cumbia, salsa, old-school funk, reggae and more.

From the Press...

"Latin music both new and traditional...vibrant fusions that transcend easy classification" –Wall Street Journal

“Seamless…whenever and wherever they’re on stage.” – NPR

“One of the sickest live bands ever” – Philadelphia Weekly

“Real musicians playing real music.” – Prince

"An orgy of creative musicianship" - San Francisco Weekly

“One of the decade’s most important artists in the Latin genre.” – All Music Guide

“They’ll knock you down with the grooves.” – The Village Voice

“The ten members of Grupo Fantasma represent a new generation in Latin music.” – Washington Post

“Listening to Grupo Fantasma is like watching the Iron Chef at work; they create a sprawling feast for the ears.” – Boston Phoenix

"Grupo Fantasma was as tight as one would expect from a band that routinely backs up Prince" -LA Weekly

“Famous for their incendiary live shows.” – Toronto Sun

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Day of the Worker

A lot of people in Nashville are from countries where May 1 is a national holiday celebrating the worker. The first day of May is actually the International Day of the Worker, officially recognized in over 80 countries, including most in Latin America. May 1 falling on Sunday this year pushes many of the official observations to Monday, May 2.

Although in the U.S. we celebrate Labor Day in September, it's one thing to celebrate the labor itself, and another to celebrate the laborer.

If you work, consider this your day. The world salutes you.

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