The blowback from getting high for some people is starkly simple: Americans want drugs that ship through Mexico, and the resulting crime surrounding this commerce exacts a toll on both sides of that frontier. The devastation, of course, has been far worse in Mexico, where cartels battle each other, as well as the government and innocent citizens, in a hurricane of violence that seems to be surging out of control.
A delegation of Los Angeles writers and artists recently traveled to Mexico City and Cuernavaca for several days of dialogue about the crisis. The L.A. group, which included author and professor Rubén Martínez, playwright-activist Raquel Gutiérrez and multimedia artist Rafa Esparza, heard how Mexico’s artists face the violence of the drug war. They spoke to poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was murdered in a cartel-related crime in 2011; critic and “artivist” Mónica Mayer; singer-songwriter Leticia Servín; poets Gabriela Jáuregui and María Rivera, and journalist Daniel Hernández,
A group of nuns began their 6,500-mile bus journey late last month in New Jersey with a view of Ellis Island. Since then, their brightly-decorated blue bus with images of hands raised — to show support for families and immigration reform — has rolled for more than 5,000 miles down Eastern Seaboard roads and into the South. This week marks the California leg of the “Nuns on the Bus” tour supported by NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice group. The nuns’ goal during this 15-state, 40-city whirlwind event which ends on June 18: “Standing with immigrants, faith-filled activists, and Catholic Sisters who serve immigrant communities.”
Last Wednesday, the nuns were scheduled to speak with community groups in Nogales, Arizona and federal lawmakers in Phoenix. After the meeting with government leaders in Phoenix, they joined immigration groups to discuss the tour, the importance of family unity and citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country,
Maria Elena Durazo serves as Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which represents more than 600,000 union workers. She is also the Chair of the National AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee and recently spoke to Frying Pan News about the pending immigration bill in Congress, as well as a new student film competition that her organization and UNITE HERE are sponsoring. (Part 1 of this interview appeared yesterday.)
Frying Pan News: Is there something in particular that bugs you about the immigration bill?
Maria Elena Durazo: Yes! We want to make sure that there’s an alternative to the past guest worker model. We’re hopeful that we can fix the language through what’s commonly referred to as the Labor-Chamber agreement. There are three elements to it. One, that there be an objective, data-driven analysis of the future needs of workers in this country.
Seven years ago María Elena Durazo, the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, stood on a stage erected at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, facing a sea of demonstrators who had just paraded miles in support of immigrant rights. In the twilight of that May Day, as Durazo addressed several hundred thousand people, the march for immigration reform seemed unstoppable – an irresistible historic tide that was poised to sweep away any objections.
Then came an angry backlash that saw anti-immigrant legislation passed in Arizona and Alabama that made Proposition 187 – California’s 1994 ballot initiative curbing immigrant rights – seem tame by comparison. Frying Pan News sat down with Durazo to discuss the pending immigration bill in Congress, as well as a new student film competition that her organization is sponsoring with UNITE HERE, a union whose members are largely immigrants.
Within about a month of the debut of Fwd.us, Mark Zuckerberg’s new DC lobby outfit aimed at promoting immigration reform, the group is already falling apart. If this week is any indication, the meltdown will be as spectacular and ignoble as every other ill-conceived, overfunded start-up in the Valley.
Fwd.us’ political problems began the way they usually do: with a cynical, too-cute-by-half strategy adopted by his Beltway proxies. Fwd.us’ approach amounted to this: Buy the votes of key lawmakers by dumping money into ads in their home states on issues that are useful to them but that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about.
What that has meant in practice is running commercials supporting South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham for his bold opposition to Obamacare and his support of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and applauding Alaska Senator Mark Begich for his support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.