Category Archives: Politics

Remembering UT student media with UT Watch


This is an addition to my electronic resources list that deserves its special mention. I might be biased because I studied at UT, but UT Watch is a great resource in many ways. Its archive of “student publications, theses, dissertations, and research guides” is full of interesting resources and memories of a history of student public engagement at many levels. Engagement in the sense of activism, of establishing connections, of thinking, speaking acting and responding. The writing is serious and engaged.

The archive has a rather complete PDF collection of many student documents and publications, including Polemicist (1989-1992), The Other Texan (1992-1993), Tejas (1989-1996), (sub)TEX (1994-1995), The Working Stiff Journal (1998-2000), Issue (2003-5) and The Rag (1966-1977). Continue reading

Migration reform on all fronts: Speaking, legislating, and acting for Immigration Reform as the year ends

Image by @ndlon

Colorlines began November with a mixed review of October’s movement on Immigration Reform, reporting that despite the bipartisan Senate’s “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” being stuck in the House, “Immigration Activists Continue to Fight on All Fronts.” Much was being said about paralysis, but in the streets, the prisons and the corridors of power, people were acting. Coming out of the government shutdown and coinciding with the calamitous unveiling of the Affordable Care Act web site, at times immigration seemed to float off the margins, but its advocates kept pushing it to the center stage again and again. President Obama focused his October 24 press conference on immigration reform, but for many his engagement seems “too little, too late” in the legislative front, and “too much, too often” when it comes to the deportation and incarceration of the undocumented. Continue reading

Enfranchising the Disenfranchised — A Case for Resident Voting Rights


Photo by Ho John Lee

On October 26 a Boston Globe headline immediately called my attention: “Many in East Boston Can’t Vote on Casino Referendum”. As the city prepared to elect a new mayor to replace the twenty-year incumbent Thomas Menino, the permitting of a new casino in East Boston was a far more important issue for many. For some it represented economic opportunities and for others it seemed a threat, bringing unwanted traffic and vice to the region. The stakes were very high for local residents, but, as the article reported,

census figures show that almost half of the adults in this immigrant enclave will not cast a ballot about the casino, the mayoral race, or anything else — because they cannot.

They are not US citizens.

The vote went on, the casino initiative failed, but the fact that “about 46 percent of the adults in East Boston cannot vote” on matters that directly affect their livelihood and quality of life raises very important questions about democracy and representation, at least at the very local level. Continue reading

The #Dream9 “Publicity Stunt” to Improve the Immigration Reform Debate

#Dream9 at Nogales Border Crossing

#Dream9 at Nogales Border Crossing (from “In These Times”)

As Congress enjoys a well-deserved vacation and lobbyists of all persuasions are on high-gear pushing many causes, including different approaches to Immigration Reform, 9 DREAMers – Claudia Amaro, Mario Félix, Adriana Gil Díaz, Luis León, Lulú Martínez, Lizbeth Mateo, María Peniche, Ceferino Santiago and Marco Saavedra – have taken the immigration debate to a new front at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, a facility owned by Corrections Corporation of America, the self-proclaimed

private corrections management provider of choice for federal, state and local agencies since 1983… the fifth-largest corrections system in the nation, behind only the federal government and three states… hous[ing] more than 80,000 inmates in more than 60 facilities… with a total bed capacity of more than 90,000.

Dressed in caps and gowns, the nine attempted to enter the United States through the Nogales border crossing on July 22 only to be detained. Six of the nine had either been deported or forced to leave the US earlier, while three of them – Martínez, Mateo and Saavedra – purposefully left the US with the specific purpose of participating in this event.

On July 17 Lizbeth Mateo posted this video from Mexico explaining her reasons to purposefully leave the US. Continue reading

On questions of status: Puerto Rico’s relation to the US and Oscar López Rivera’s fate

Oscar López Rivera (from 80 Grados)

The next couple of weeks will mark two important milestones for the history of the Puerto Rican people. On August 1, the US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold hearings about the island’s status, responding to a recent non-binding plebiscite in which the majority of voters expressed their disagreement with the current status. These hearings will take place exactly one week to the day of the 115th anniversary of the event that paved the way to this status, the US invasion of Puerto Rico on July 25, 1898. Many look at the hearings full of expectations, hoping that they might allow the island to once and for all clarify its relation to the United States. Others are more cautious, assuming that this is just one of many other futile attempts to clarify a relationship that has been very complex from its origin and a catalyst for passions of different persuasions.

Much will be written about the hearings and their results. Today I’d like to address another aspect of the passions surrounding the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico that has been steadily gaining the attention not only of Puerto Ricans, but of the international community as a whole: the fate of Oscar López Rivera, who has already served 32 years in prison for the charge of “seditious conspiracy”, a statute enacted on July 1861 to detain and punish Confederate rebells. Continue reading

“Presunto culpable” presumed guilty

After successfully bringing attention to judicial impunity, “Presunto culpable” is now victim of the Mexican judicial system

Antonio “Toño” Zúñiga, in a Mexican prison after being wrongfully accused of murder.

Antonio “Toño” Zúñiga, in a Mexican prison after being wrongfully accused of murder. (Credit: Abogados con Cámara (Lawyers with Cameras))

On July 12 the site Ciudadanos en Red published a letter attributed to Roberto Hernández, director of Mexico’s highest grossing documentary, “Presunto culpable”. The film about corruption in the Mexican judicial system remains at the crossroads of Mexico’s judicial system. But while in the film Antonio Zúñiga, falsely accused of murder, is the center of attention, now it is the film itself. As the letter states:

Yesterday [July 10] several media outlets requested access to the hearings: they left them outside of the court, including print media that only had a notebook. Then, what do we have? A court that works in secret, far from citizen scrutiny. A court that records what is convenient, not what really happens in the hearings. A court that passes judgement about our rights even before delivering a sentence. A court that time and again does not allow us to question the people who are suing us, as it again happened yesterday. A court that allows us to be sued by the witness who did not see Toño Zúñiga commit the crime of which he accused him and who yesterday also recognized that he has not seen the film for which he is suing us. In Mexico we are far from a dependable justice system and we are scared, not for what could happen to us, but what could happen to those who want to follow our steps and engage in journalism about Mexico’s Judicial Power.

Continue reading

ALEC: The hand that rocks the cradle

From “stand your ground” to the “border surge”

The fundamental danger (by @aurabogado)

The fundamental danger (by @aurabogado)

George Zimmerman’s acquittal for Trayvon Martin’s murder has been considered by many, including myself, as an outrage for our legal system. How can a neighborhood vigilante who regularly profiled black males as “suspicious” be allowed to walk free after shooting to death a teenager who was walking home in his own neighborhood armed only with Skillets and iced tea? Within hours of the acquittal, the NAACP began circulating a petition requesting the Department of Justice to take on the case.

Pundits and other legal experts will continue discussing the trial, the prosecutor’s case and jury’s composition, speculating as to the causes for the verdict. Yet, behind the court proceedings lies a more disturbing element, the very existence of so called “stand your ground” laws that ultimately gave Zimmerman legal authority to execute Trayvon Martin with impunity. And crucial to our understanding of these laws is what Reuter’s Joanne Dorshow called upon the verdict “The secretive corporate outfit behind ‘Stand your ground’”: the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC.

Eye on Alec (From Moyers & Company)

From Moyers & Company

Continue reading

Zapatista pioneers of cyber-activism

One of my major inspirations to start a blog was realizing the great potential that new electronic resources have for both communication and scholarship. While I am only now beginning to blog and actively engage with social media, I am not a complete novice to this medium. My first personal experience with it came in 1994, when the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas opened our eyes to the role that emerging cyber-technologies would play in the redefining of communications and political participation around the world. Back at a time when (now apparently archaic) tools like Archie, Veronica and Pine were astonishing new means to search and communicate, cyberspace completely transformed our way of learning and communicating. It is quite interesting to see this essay written by Harry Cleaver when the EZLN unleashed this new power. It was a time when the internet began to complement other means of communication, like alternative print journalism. Back then journals like (sub)TEX began discovering what we now take for granted, the “synergy” between electronic and print journalism.