Tag: interviews


‘My Lolo Screamed at Me: Why Are You Telling the Family Stories?’

Performance artist and activist Kilusan Bautista has a personal brand of hip hop theater. His latest work, ‘Universal Filipino,’ is a solo theatrical piece debuting in New York this weekend. Jocelyn Gonzales sat down with Bautista to find out more about his background and art in an interview for TheFilAm.

News Analysis: ICE Chief Promises Efficiency, Continued Tough Enforcement of Immigration Laws

On his first visit to Los Angeles, three months after becoming the chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), assistant secretary for Homeland Security John Morton said all his agency wants to do is become more efficient.

“We will try to apply immigration laws in a tough, smart and thoughtful manner,” said Morton to a small group of reporters invited to meet him last week as part of his tour of Southern California.

He said that if people expected ICE to stop doing its job, they would be disappointed. “That is not the point”, said Morton, who is a career prosecutor.


Diana Maldonado, "The Other Wise Latina," Makes History in Massachusetts' Justice System

By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W Contributor
Diana Maldonado - Photo: El Mundo Boston/elmundoboston.com

Diana Maldonado - Photo: El Mundo Boston/elmundoboston.com

The Latino community of Chelsea, Mass. had twice the reason to celebrate when Judge Sonia Sotomayor was appointed to the Supreme Court. They had recently pushed for and gained the appointment of their own “wise Latina” for the local criminal and civil court.

Last month, Gov. Deval Patrick named Bronx-born judge Diana Maldonado First Justice of the Chelsea District Court.

The judge and Justice Sotomayor share a similar history. Maldonado, who is 50, was born to Puerto Rican parents and raised in the Bronx. The youngest of ten siblings, she attended Bronx public schools, and Stony Brook University (a New York State college), before attending Northeastern University law school. After graduating, she worked for Neighborhood Defender Services in Harlem, New York, leaving in 1993 to become the first Latina appointed to the Massachusetts Federal Defenders Office.

Comparison between Maldonado and Sotomayor seem inevitable these days. “I received a congratulations card with the acronym TOWL. I had to ask the sender what it meant, and the person said: The Other Wise Latina,” Maldonado said in a phone interview with Feet in 2 Worlds.


Polish Immigrant's Dream: Polish-Americans Will Help Elect Him To Congress

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter
Victor Forys

Victor Forys

Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois governor under investigation, may have had the power to pick a replacement to fill President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. But the governor does not get to choose a new representative from the 5th Congressional District, a position he once held, and which was left vacant in early January when Rahm Emanuel resigned from his congressional seat to become the new White House Chief of Staff.

A special election will be held on April 7 to fill the seat, after a primary on March 3. One of the 15 Democrats in the race is a Polish immigrant: Dr. Victor Forys, a political newcomer who believes he has a serious chance due to the area’s large Polish-American population.

Numerous Polish-Americans held the seat in the past, including disgraced congressman Dan Rostenkowski who, prior to his conviction on corruption charges, served as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Martin Gorski, who, like Mr. Forys, was born in Poland and came to the U.S. as a child.

Out of approximately 650,000 residents in the district, more than 111,000 (17%) are of Polish descent.



First-Generation Immigrant Voters: The ‘Weird Dichotomy’ of Being Puerto Rican

Feet In 2 Worlds senior producer Jocelyn Gonzales wraps up her video series on first-generation voters with an interview with Andrea Moya, who was born in Puerto Rico in 1986 and moved to New York four years ago to attend college.

Moya, who is originally from Guaynabo, works in film development in New York. In the video, she explains the particular relationship Puerto Ricans have with U.S. politics –“a weird dichotomy,” she calls it–, since only those who live in one of the fifty states are allowed to vote in American elections.

While Andrea’s family in the islands is interested in the U.S. elections, they cannot participate. At the same time, she is not voting in Puerto Rico’s gubernatorial election, but she plans to cast a vote for Barack Obama Tuesday. This will be the second presidential election she has participated in.


First Time, First Generation Voters: From Guyana, A Conservative Point of View

Feet in 2 Worlds senior producer Jocelyn Gonzales is interviewing first-time, first-generation voters — youngsters born to immigrant families who this year will formally take part in their first election.

In this new video, Jocelyn talks to Avinash Ramsadeen, a recent college grad from New York now working for Fox News online. His parents are originally from Guyana, a tiny South American country that, according to the CIA’s World Factbookachieved independence from the UK in 1966, and since then … has been ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments.” Although it’s neighbors with Venezuela and Brazil, Guyana is not considered a Latin American nation since it was colonized by the Dutch and British. The main population groups are of black African and Indian heritage.

Ramsadeen, who grew up in Jamaica, Queens, says those earlier leftist Guyanese governments strongly influenced his parents into more conservative views, many of which he shares. Here, he talks about his and his parents’ involvement in U.S. elections, and about the issues that influenced his decision to support Republican candidate John McCain.

Not Exactly A Debate: Obama, Biden Discuss Latin America on Univision

Obama and Biden on Univision

The Democratic ticket on Univision

The first debate between Barack Obama and John McCain left a “big frustration” among Latinos in the U.S. and Latin Americans watching across the hemisphere. Jorge Ramos, the Univision anchor, wrote “Latin America was completely ignored.”

“Neither Obama nor (John) McCain nor moderator Jim Lehrer dedicated even a few seconds to it. Nothing. Like President George Bush for almost eight years, the presidential candidates and the PBS journalist treated the region as it did not exist.”

The morning after the debate, Ramos had an opportunity to question Obama and his running mate Joe Biden about what U.S. relations with Latin America will be like if they win the November election. [You can find videos of the interview in Greensboro, N.C. on this page.]

Ramos first asked Obama whether he was still open to meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, after the latter expelled the American ambassador to the South American country and insulted the U.S. during a mass rally. Obama said that, as the president, he would have the obligation to meet anyone if he thought that it “would make America safer.”

Obama went on to say that Chávez has exploited his standing as a U.S. enemy to improve his popularity at home. [Univision has not yet published an English transcript of the interview.]

When Ramos followed up with a question to Biden about Russia’s joint military exercises with Venezuela in the Caribbean and about Chávez’s stated intention to build nuclear power plants, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations “answered with strong criticism, not for Chávez or the Russians, but for President Bush and candidate John McCain,” Ramos wrote.

Biden complained that the U.S. government has no set foreign policy towards Russia nor Latin America. “There’s no policy,” he said. “They don’t know what to do.”

The next topic was Mexico and drug violence. According to Ramos, Obama agreed with Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s assessment that for violence in Mexico to diminish, drug consumption has to decrease in the U.S. Obama called for a partnership with Mexico whereby the U.S. would do a better job of preventing money and guns from crossing the border into Mexico while the southern neighbor would continue fighting northwards drug trafficking.

Drill, Baby, Drill: The Backstory

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is getting most of the credit for a new slogan that sums up the Republican position on energy. But the phrase, “drill, baby, drill,” was actually used first by former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele in his speech to the Republican National Convention last Wednesday night. Later that evening Giuliani repeated the phrase in his remarks from the podium, and when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accepted the GOP vice presidential nomination, convention delegates chanted it during her speech. Since then, “drill, baby, drill,” has taken on a life of its own. Newspaper editorials are using it as shorthand for the McCain/Palin energy platform. Wired.com has announced a “drill, baby, drill” remix contest.

Photo: Fox News

Steele is African American, leaving some to wonder if he reinvented the 60’s black power phrase, “burn, baby, burn,” to advance the GOP argument for a dramatic increase in offshore oil drilling. But Steele told Feet in Two Worlds that wasn’t the case. “No, we weren’t there…(I) was not making that connection,” Steele said. Rather, according to Steele, the slogan, “literally just came to me,” as he was writing his speech. Steele continued, “I think it’s the part of me that really kind of connects to real people – how real people would view this, what’s their expectation.”

A few days ago we blogged about Steele’s comment that the GOP had, “dropped the ball,” when it comes to reaching out to African American voters. We thought you would be interested in hearing all of his remarks, so here they are:

Listen to Michael Steele interviewed by Feet in Two Worlds’ John Rudolph.


Reporter's Notebook: A Russian American Journalist at the Republican Convention

This article was written by Ari Kagan who is in Minnesota to cover the Republican National Convention under a project sponsored by Feet in Two Worlds and the New York Community Media Alliance.

Dr. Solomon Bayevsky, an 85-years-old resident of Menorah Plaza Apartments in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, book writer and Persian culture scholar, knows a few things about war. He was just 19 years old, when he was badly injured during the fierce fighting against the Nazis at Stalingrad in 1943. “We don’t need more wars,” said the immigrant from Mogilev, Belarus. “With John McCain America will start a new war with Iran, and maybe even with China (over Taiwan) or Russia.” Bayevsky, who lost the use of his right arm in the war, added, “we will stay in Iraq much longer than we need. I will vote for Barack Obama because he will finish the Iraq war, will use more tough diplomacy in other conflicts, and because he is young, smart and energetic. I also like the Democratic approach toward immigrants and low-income people.”

Listen to an interview with Dr. Solomon Beyevsky by Feet in Two Worlds executive producer John Rudolph.


Bayevsky’s opinion is not entirely shared by his neighbors, many of them Russian Jewish immigrants who live in this quiet retirement home in a suburb of Minneapolis. Some praised McCain and expressed reservations about Obama’s message of change. But everybody here is ready to vote on September 4 to choose the next president. Most Russian seniors in St. Louis Park receive their information about presidential politics either from Russian-language TV and newspapers or from their children who tend to vote for Republicans.

Listen to an interview with Leonid Kerbel. Mr. Kerbel, 75, immigrated to the US in 1994, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was a tennis coach in the USSR, and still stays in shape by playing tennis. Here he explains to John Rudolph why he plans to vote for John McCain.


Ari Kagan (left) interviews a resident of the Menorah Plaza Apartments in St. Louis Park, Minnesota about the 2008 presidential election.

My visit to the local Russian community was at the end of the first weird day of the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul. The most visible and noisy event of the day was not the convention or appearances by Laura Bush and Cindy McCain who urged delegates to donate money to the Gustav Hurricane relief fund. Instead the biggest media attraction in Minnesota was an anti-war march near the State Capitol. While the main part of this rally (about 8,000 people) was peaceful and predictable, one group of violent self-proclaimed anarchists (about 200 people) behaved and looked like underground terrorists. These young marchers, in dark clothing, and with bandannas over their faces, smashed the windows of a Macy’s department store, slashed the tires of a police car, tried to block the Republican delegates’ buses, and threw various objects at police. Some of them held signs like “Thank God for Gustav,” “Fag McCain,” and “God hates Palin”.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how local police exercised the necessary restraint. Hundreds of cops, sweltering in heavy riot gear on a very hot day, protected delegates and streets from some of the craziest protesters. As a Russian-speaking Jew, who immigrated to America in search for freedom and capitalism, I shook my head when I saw some of the more peaceful marchers with anti-Israel, anti-capitalism and anti-American placards. I am no fan of George W. Bush or his war policies, but I don’t think that signs like “Free Palestine: support the right of return” or “Stop American aggression and idiocy!” were effective in terms of spreading the anti-war message. But we have freedom of speech, so even some radical views could be heard here. That is the beauty of America.

Ari Kagan is Senior Editor for Vecherniy New York, a Russian-language newspaper, and host of the weekly TV show “Here in America” on RTN – the Russian Television Network of America.


La Ruta del Voto Latino (The Road to the Latino Vote): Kinston, North Carolina

Journalist Diego Graglia is documenting the lives of Latinos during this presidential election year as he travels from New York City to Mexico City. For more on La Ruta del Voto Latino-The Road to the Latino Vote, visit www.newyorktomexico.com.

Juvencio Rocha Peralta

Latinos started settling in big numbers in the South about two decades ago. Since then they have changed the face of the region. Here, I visit the small town of Kinston, North Carolina where I meet Juvencio Rocha Peralta. Born in Mexico, he was one of the first migrants to arrive in the area almost three decades ago, and is a longtime community activist in the rural Eastern part of the state. Our conversation focused on issues that concern local Latinos in the 2008 presidential election. Listen to our conversation in this podcast.

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