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Why do they chase you, Wetback / If the Consul in the heavens has already granted you a visa?

"Why do they chase you, Wetback / If the Consul in the heavens has already granted you a visa?"
-- Ricardo Arjona, in Mojado

An immigration march in L.A. recently drew more than 500,000 activists to downtown L.A.  demanding that Congress abandon attempts to make illegal immigration a felony and to build more walls along the border.

This is but one example of the national solidarity that we are seeing sweep across the United States for undocumented workers. Black, white, brown brothers are standing in solidarity across several cities in the U.S. to say, "Si se puede," "Mexico" and "USA"  and no to bill HR 4437 and yes to S. 1033. Our brother Jose from bluelatinos writes: Immigrant America is Rising

The time is now to stand in solidarity.

More and more people are getting sick of the xenophobia and are uniting in action to protest this immoral legislation that unfairly targets undocumented workers and makes them scapegoats for the country's worries and fears. Our undocumented brotheres and sisters are a source of labor for much of America's economy and they are forced to live on the fringes as a permanent and forcibly invisible second class while the big corporations benefit from their tenuous status. It is time we say "basta" and make things right.

As Progressives, we have a moral obligation to raise this to the top of the list of issues that we are concerned about. True there is the war. True there is Katrina. & the third big issue, as far as I am concerned is immigration.

It is time for progressives to take a stand on this critical issue- Now.

Some are saying that this is the next Civil Rights movement. I hope they are right.

Building on the tremendous work of those that came before us we are now called to take action to defeat racist attacks against minorities and immigrants, demand full and equal rights for all immigrants.

Monday, April 10th is the National Day of Action to Defend Immigrants Rights. It has been  declared a national day of action to defend immigrant rights by the AFL-CIO leadership, the Leadership Conference on Civil  Rights, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Change to Win Coalition,  and other organizations. Faith based organizations across the nation are also taking part in these efforts. As of this morning, at least 10 cities around the country had already made the commitment to participate. There will be marches, protests and teach ins across the nation. I hope you will organize or attend one in your local community.

Like Ricardo Arjona we must ask ourselves, how can we let the xenophobia continue?... After all, the consul in the heavens have already granted our brothers and sisters their visas... Earlier this month the L.A. Times picked up and covered the Arjona song, "Mojado".

I thought that in light of this burgeoning movement and as progressives you would find the coverage interesting.

I hope when it is all said & done you will stand in solidarity with us.

Border Saga in Song, With Migrant as Hero
In "Mojado," Ricardo Arjona adds his voice to the heated debate on a divisive topic.
By Agustin Gurza, Times Staff Writer
March 13 2006

In the provocative new music video for his latest single, "Mojado" — or "Wetback" — popular Latin American singer-songwriter Ricardo Arjona stands on a Tijuana beach at the dividing line between Mexico and the United States. Stretching behind him is the controversial new wall being built to separate the two countries. In front of him is the vast, unfenced sea.

The jarring juxtaposition underscores the pro-immigrant message of this Guatemalan-born artist: Man may make borders, but God created the Earth for everybody. In a Spanish-language verse that is bound to inflame the already superheated debate on the issue, Arjona cloaks illegal immigration in a mantle of morality:

Why do they chase you, Wetback / If the Consul in the heavens has already granted you a visa?

Though the video was filmed on Mexico's northern border, Arjona says the lyric applies equally to its southern frontier with his native country where Guatemalans are allegedly mistreated trying to enter Mexico.

"Without a doubt, the solution lies less with the United States than with our own countries because they have been unable to sustain their own sons and daughters on their own land, forcing them to look elsewhere for what they can't find at home," Arjona said in a phone interview from his home in Miami. "Now that doesn't mean that people who cross the border without papers should be treated like animals. That's another story."

With "Mojado," the singer launches the latest salvo in one of the most divisive issues facing the U.S. today. He also echoes the views of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, who recently championed the cause of the undocumented during a defiant Ash Wednesday sermon, urging priests to oppose a proposed law requiring churches to check immigration documents before offering assistance to the needy.

Arjona says the momentum of the debate so far has been unfairly tilted toward border-control advocates, prompting him to speak out on the other side.

"People get used to hearing the news every day on television or in the papers, but when you hear it in a song, the problem takes on a different shading," he said. "I felt bombarded by the constant assault of news … people who die trying to cross, the speeches from politicians who came as immigrants to this country and now stand completely against other immigrants. It all hit me as an author and this song is the result."

There is a long and storied tradition of Mexican artists speaking out in support of undocumented immigrants. One of the most popular and audacious examples is the 1980s norteño classic by mariachi superstar Vicente Fernandez, "Los Mandados," in which an illegal immigrant boasts about being deported hundreds of times and admits beating up gringos as revenge for beatings he suffered at the hands of La Migra.

But this is the first time in recent memory that a Guatemalan artist, especially one of Arjona's stature, has weighed in on the issue musically, and with a video that is being broadcast on Spanish-language music stations in the United States.

For "Mojado," Arjona joined forces with one of the most popular norteño bands, Texas-based Intocable. The unusual duet — combining artists and styles from separate pop music realms — adds power to the song and weight to its message.

"I think the song can be easily adapted to any reality," said Arjona. "It could apply to Spain's reality with the people from Africa, and to many other places. In fact, it's a universal problem that confronts us constantly — the enormous discrimination that exists against these people, the little worth that is given to their huge labor force."

The U.S. Border Patrol gave permission for the two-day shoot in November, says the video's Los Angeles-based director, Simon Brand. But the federal agency also issued a warning in case a crew member decided to slip illegally into the country: "If we see someone running, we're going to shut you guys down."

The black-and-white video — which also features interviews with migrants poised to cross the border illegally — was recorded at various locations near the I-5 junction with the border in Chula Vista. At the beach site near a Tijuana bullring, the border wall being built by the U.S. remains under construction. Posts have been placed in the sand, leaving enough open space between them for somebody to walk through.

If viewers could pan back for a wider shot, they'd see the cinematographer's dolly track laid out on the beach, straddling both countries on a strip of sand. The moving camera was able to go where the predominantly Mexican video crew could not — back and forth freely from one side of the border to the other. The Border Patrol's fears were ultimately unfounded: Mexican crew members were so worried about making a false step they almost tiptoed when coming right up to the line to take close-up shots of border markers.

"I just found it very interesting that you take one step and you're in another country," said Brand in a phone interview from his native Bogota, Colombia. "The crew was very sensitive about not stepping on the U.S. side, but all the immigrants we were shooting, they didn't care. They weren't nervous at all."

Brand was in Colombia to cast his new feature film, "Paraiso Travel," about a star-crossed Colombian couple who immigrate through Mexico to New York in pursuit of happiness, only to find hardship. Although he was familiar with immigration issues, he says he learned much about its human dimension while talking to real migrants for the "Mojado" video shoot.

One man, he said, had lived in the U.S. for 30 years and was working at a naval base painting ships when he was deported. He was poised to cross the border and get back to his family and the only world he had known since childhood.

"When you hear their stories, it's so moving," says Brand, 35, who became a naturalized citizen after immigrating to the U.S. 16 years ago. "I'm an American, and I always hear what we have to say, but you never hear the other side of the story. That's what I was exposed to now, and it was very compelling to me."

Known for his socially conscious songs, Arjona, was honored in Los Angeles this week by ASCAP, the composers and songwriters association, with its Heritage Award for his career contributions to Latin music.

He originally wrote "Mojado" three years ago for solo acoustic guitar and had planned to perform it on "Premios Lo Nuestro," a popular Latin music award show airing nationally on the Univision television network. But he says producers thought the theme was "too strong" compared to the normally tame fare on Spanish-language TV.

Arjona resurrected the number for his recent album, "Adentro," and Intocable added the norteño arrangement. The new version starts with Arjona's original mournful guitar, then breaks into the punchy, accordion-driven beat that is so popular among Mexican migrants.

The upbeat treatment, says the songwriter, makes a somber topic much more accessible to the public. "I was surprised how the song was transformed by the arrangement," Arjona says. "It gives the tune a power it didn't have before."

"Mojado" debuted at No. 50 this week on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks; it ranks No. 27 for airplay on regional Mexican stations, according to Radio & Records, a trade magazine.

Arjona admits it's not the kind of number that burns up the charts, but he's satisfied that it's been steadily finding a receptive audience: "A song never starts a revolution … but it can provide the accompaniment."


Posted by Kety Esquivel on March 27, 2006 at 08:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Live Blog

Hi gang! I'll be available for questions until about 9pm. I'd love to discuss how we can continue to grow the progressive community in 2006 and beyond. I'm also happy to discuss DFA-Link, DFA's endorsement process and any other issues of interest to your local groups.

Posted by ChrisWarshaw on March 20, 2006 at 08:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (34)

Lamont's Participatory Democracy

Here is Aldon Hynes' post:
I have just gotten back from Ned Lamont, so I’m pretty tired, but pretty excited as well.  When I first agreed to do this, it was when we were planning to have the announcement on Saturday, but the schedule shifted around, as they so often do in campaign, and now I am writing just a few hours after the announcement.
Before I should go to far, I want to acknowledge that I am a paid staffer for the Lamont campaign, doing Internet Outreach, and I hope you all visit http://www.nedlamont.com.
Ned’s campaign is exactly the sort of campaign that I think readers of the My Vote is My Voice Blog should be excited about.  I know a lot of people are excited simply about someone challenging Senator Lieberman.  However, just being against something isn’t enough.  The real question is, what are you for.
What I like most about Ned’s campaign is that he is focusing on participatory democracy.  You can be against Senator Lieberman for his position on the war, for his unwillingness to take the lead in fighting against appointments by the Bush administration, whether you are talking about Judge Alito, Ambassador Bolton, or Michael Brown
There are many reasons to be against Senator Lieberman, and people have sought a good candidate to challenge Senator Lieberman.  Ned Lamont is the candidate that is taking up the fight, and doing it with the sort of gusto that we need in the Democratic Party and simply in democracy itself.
We are not going to defeat a sitting three term Senator who has already raised over $4 million simply by doing what everyone else has done.  No, we need a new strategy.
And that strategy is participatory democracy.  It is getting people on the web to talk to other people on the web.  It is getting them to get in touch with their friends and relatives in Connecticut, getting them to talk about why we need a real Democrat in the Senate.
I hope all of you will take a little time to learn about Ned’s campaign, how you can support it and what it can mean for other campaigns around the country.
With that, do any of you have any questions?

Posted by Charlene Johnston on March 13, 2006 at 08:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Education - A Flame in the Field

Please join us on Monday, March 6, from 8 PM to 9 PM EST.  Bob Winkler will be guest blogging. In advance of his blog, he provided the following commentary:

The Vermont Climate Action Partnership recently submitted a grant proposal to the Beldon Fund to develop a regional climate justice partnership entitled Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Leadership, Health and Community Outreach Through Education. The proposal envisioned training future leaders and establishing a common environmental culture in partnership with civic, educational and community organizations. It also aimed at developing energy related GHG emissions core curricula, pursuing regional outreach and ecological community coalitions, and promoting general awareness of health issues associated with carbon emissions. Though the grant was not awarded the vision remains intact.

VCAP is also working to introduce an amendment to Vermont Bill H.49 which established the Climate Crisis and Opportunity Act.  This act’s goal is to create a common energy culture in partnership with statewide civic, educational, business and community organizations.

I came to university life thirty some years ago and have remained involved in academia ever since. I found that campus projects evolve from start to finish on average every five years. That means that at least seven environmental/ecological dreams could have been realized since then. That seven generations of students could have potentially passed on this message to their children and beyond. Amongst the current global turmoil this remains a constant beacon for us to take hope in.   

As a core value in our society [and that could be a debate unto itself] - how effective are educational endeavors as primary tools toward bringing about change, or is its role merely to reinforce the conservative status quo?

Posted by Charlene Johnston on March 6, 2006 at 06:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)