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November 1, 2012

Host: José Cárdenas

ASU Morrison Institute: Latino Public Policy Center

  |   Video
  • ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy officially launched its Latino Center to increase the state's understanding of Latino issues as they relate to Arizona public policy, education, workforce, leadership and economy. Joseph Garcia, the Latino Center's director, will talk about the its mission.
  • Joseph Garcia - Director, ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy Latino Center
Category: Community   |   Keywords: morrison, ASU, institute, public, policy, latino, center, ,

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José Cárdenas: Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy opened a new center dedicated to Latinos and public policy. Its first report, "Arizona's Emerging Latino Vote", was released this summer and examined the impact of the Latino vote in the state. Joining me tonight to talk about the Morrison Institute Latino Public Policy Center is the center's first director, Joseph Garcia. Joe, it's good to have you back on "Horizonte." You've been a guest before, wearing different hats. You have an extensive background in journalism but connected to what you're doing now.

Joseph Garcia: Absolutely. Still informing the about important issues. Just right now with my role at the Morrison institute it’s the focus on Latino issues but how Latino public policy affects all of Arizona. In other words, there aren't two issues here. There isn't Latino issues and then Arizona issues. They're all one and the same. You can't separate them.

José Cárdenas: So before we get into the specifics of what you have already done and what's coming up, tell us how the center came to be.

Joseph Garcia: Well, we were talking at Morrison as the think tank does and we were talking about the changing demographics in Arizona and how it was basically the brown and the gray, if you will. Non-Latino whites are moving into retirement and the young population coming up are all Latinos. Almost all virtually U.S. citizens, by the way, born here or naturalized. We're talking about a legal population. There are a lot of myths that we have that we need to overcome and the only way to do that is through education, through awareness, through facts, through data. We're looking at, you know, hard evidence to make the case that, you know, Latino issues are Arizona issues.

José Cárdenas: And what would be some of those myths that you're referring to?

Joseph Garcia: You look at our educational system, k-12. This year, there are more Latino kids in our k-12 system than white kids. But these are all -- almost all exclusive. It's 99% when you talk about children that are five years and younger, and just almost entirely all U.S. citizens. The kids coming through the pipeline are U.S. citizens. This is Arizona. We need to look at the changing face of Arizona, and realize it's nothing to be afraid of or run from. There's opportunity. We have a workforce coming up that can help us build the new economy but what kind of a workforce are we going to have? Are they going to be a workforce that's trained, skilled and highly educated and one that can help Arizona compete or are we looking at Arizona dropping down to a second or third-tier state because we have a low-income, low-educated workforce?

José Cárdenas: So you said it's nothing to be afraid of, this change in the demographics but if you're a Republican, isn't this something to be concerned? Isn't what your first report indicates?

Joseph Garcia: Our first report is talking about the sea change in the political landscape for Arizona that's going to be happening, largely because Latinos vote democratic, even if they belong to the independent party. The large number of Latinos coming up, the youth, in the next 15 years, when they're able to vote, probably will largely vote democratic but that can change. The Republican party can change and I think there's the understanding that this may be the last election you can win without the Latino vote. All future elections, if you don't get the Latino vote, you probably aren't going to win the election.

José Cárdenas: So if current trends hold up and if Latinos continue to vote democratic, this state is going to go from a deeply red state to probably a pretty strong blue state.

Joseph Garcia: That's one of the projections we did. We did a few projections based on enrollment and registration and voting habits, behavior and so forth and we're looking at perhaps 2025, 2030 when Arizona can change from a conservative red state to a more liberal blue state, a democratic state, which could be a big change. But as you know, nothing's written in stone when you're talking about the future. These are projections. The Republican Party can become more of a moderate party, more outreaching towards Latino voters on issues that they agree on, when it comes to immigration issues they may take a little more moderate, temperate approach. So a lot can change between now and then.

José Cárdenas: And there are moderate Hispanic Latino Republicans, some of whom say that setting aside the immigration issue where they think the Republican Party has become too vociferous, the basic values of the basic Republican Party are the same as the Hispanic community, is that what your survey showed.

Joseph Garcia: You're talking about issues of faith and patriotism and family and these issues, abortion, dealing with catholic faith and many different 5 things, they do align very nicely but when you talk about education, that is such a key issue in the Latino community because they know this is the great equalizer. The great chance to better education. When you talk about immigration, it can't be the hard line where you have a father and mother, brother and sister deported because they're here without documentation. Those things all impact you and social scientists tell us that, around 8 years old strt you know, around eight years old we start forming our opinions that kind of last a lifetime. So the hardline immigration issues that Republicans do today are going to be felt tomorrow and for years to come. But that doesn’t mean there isn't change. Look at Mitt Romney, he was probably the most conservative anti, hardline immigration candidate in the primary and he's softened it towards the general, including which he said he would allow for a dreamers act to allow the young Latino kids who are here without documentation to stay in the country. There's a moderation even now I think we're seeing.

José Cárdenas: But is it going to make any difference? All the polls seem to indicate that President Obama's going to get about 75% of the Latino vote nationwide.

Joseph Garcia: It may not make a difference in this election but I think it's going to make a difference in future elections. There's an old guard now that's moving aside after this election cycle. The new guard will come in for the Republican party and I think they're very in tune with what the demographics are telling them and as far as the future of voters. So I think there will be a change.

José Cárdenas: Now, I know your view in the report is more long-term. But let's talk a little bit about the impact the Latino vote may have in this election, first nationally. Is it going to be enough Obama--.

Joseph Garcia: A lot of people do think it's going to be the difference, the Latino vote. It's always the case the Latino voters. Are they cast ballots?

José Cárdenas: Which has been a promise.

Joseph Garcia: I mean the numbers are there. That's why many of the Latino voting advocates have been pushing for the mail-in ballot. Because Latinos, largely blue-collar workforce. Sometimes, they're 20, 30 miles away from the polling place, they get there, it's closed, on either side: opening or close. So they're not able to vote. If you take the ballot measure and you vote and you send it in, your vote's counted. You don't have to deal with it.

José Cárdenas: We made national news recently with the hubbub about the mistakes on some bookmarks and other materials that were issued in Spanish and had the wrong voting date. Do you see any kind of conspiracy there?

Joseph Garcia: I guess you can look at conspiracy theories pretty heavily. My theory on the conspiracy theory is that I don't think they're that smart and I don't think they're that dumb that they would do this.

José Cárdenas: So at the local level, while Arizona probably almost certainly will go Republican at the presidential level, we've got some key congressional and local races at the Senate level. We've got Carmona against Flake. What do you think is going to happen there, Carmona being Puerto Rican?

Joseph Garcia: Well, there's a Latino interest for Carmona. He's Puerto Rican but he's also Latino. A lot of people think President Obama galvanized the Latino vote here when it came to the mini dreamer act that he passed as president or authorized.

José Cárdenas: The deferred action.

Joseph Garcia: The two-year work permit essentially. That's a big plus. Republicans didn't do themselves any favor when it came to S.B. 1070, pushing it again and again and again. That also probably galvanized some votes. Carmona's going to be an interest, too, that could get more Latinos to the polls, you know. It's just a matter of, you know, at this point, it's always get out the vote. Who's going to vote, who's going to show up? Who mailed the ballots in?

José Cárdenas: And unlike at least the perception that Romney has gone towards more the middle, Jeff Flake hasn't done the same thing.

Joseph Garcia: No he really hasn’t. --I think he's shoring up his base so he doesn't lose any towards former Republican leaders, Surgeon General, which is Carmon. So perhaps he's showing up that Republican vote. But he is not going towards the middle and I think perhaps a lot of independents votes there are going to be left on the table for Jeff Flake.

José Cárdenas: Let's talk quickly about two other elections. One, the race for sheriff in Maricopa county. You’ve got Paul Penzone, Maggie

Joseph Garcia: All right, well as an observer of political races, it's a little bit different from what the senator does. I mean, I think it's very hard to overcome the amount of money and notoriety that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has out there. I know this will be the closest race we’ve had in years.

José Cárdenas: And what about Jerry Lewis who was the beneficiary of the recall effort mounted against Senator Pierce, which was led by a lot of Latinos? Elections that followed thought Latinos played a critical role, there. Now, he's up against an incumbent Democratic state senator. I would think Latinos would have some divided loyalties.

Joseph Garcia: You would think so but what you're seeing, overall, is the moderation of the state legislature. It's happening largely through redistricting and also that we're looking at a post-S.B. 1070 Arizona and I think that Arizona is looking towards the future now and not so much hung up on this very contentious and divisive issue, which has kept Arizona frozen in a battleground.

José Cárdenas: So speaking of moving beyond, what are we going to be seeing in the future from the Latino Public Policy Institute?

Joseph Garcia: We're working on -- we have a great advisory board, which we meet with and we're going to be meeting with soon again but they give us a lot of issues and we look at this. We're looking at Latino housing, Latinos were especially hard hit by the housing market collapse. Many losses and forfeitures, how do Latinos reenter the housing market, this impacts everything. Talking about neighborhoods, we're talking about what makes for healthy Latino neighborhoods and after looking at pre-k, many people believe that if you don't get young children, especially Latinos, involved in pre-k education, it doesn't -- it almost doesn't matter what you do in the pipeline because you've lost them from the beginning. So Stan Barnes: that's going to be one of our next focuses, a playoff of our drop report, 11 years removed from our five shoes waiting to drop. The Latino education gap, nothing happens for Arizona, or toward Latinos unless we can close that gap and really move all of Arizona education forward.

José Cárdenas: Joe Garcia, director of the first Latino Public Policy Center, we look forward to talking to you about those other reports when you get them out. Thanks for joining us.

The Day of the Dead

  |   Video
  • El Dia de los Muertos - The Day of the Dead - is a colorful Mexican and Native tradition that honors and celebrates the dead. Carmen Guerrero, Executive Director for the Cultural Coalition, talks about the history behind the custom. Zarco Guerrero, well-known mask artist, joins the discussion.
  • Carmen Guerrero - Executive Director, Cultural Coalition
  • Zarco Guerrero - Artist
Category: Culture   |   Keywords: day, dead, ,

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José Cárdenas: El Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is a colorful Mexican and Native tradition that honors and celebrates the dead. Joining me to talk about the history behind this custom is Carmen Guerrero, executive director for the Cultural Coalition. Also here is artist Zarco Guerrero, one of the things he is known for is his creativity in making masks. Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte." Carmen let's start with you and just a quick recap of the various festivals that have already begun and that are coming around the valley beginning with CALA. We've got an image that relates to the CALA organization. This is an image that I understand was created a year ago.

Carmen Guerrero Yes, it was last year's CALA Festival. We were granted to create a new dance so the dance is called the flight of Quetzalcoatl. So, Zarco created the-- dragon, big snake, there was also used on the sun serpent. And was danced by – last year. We brought it back yesterday when we produced and had the CALA festival in downtown Phoenix.

José Cárdenas: One of the Aztec gods.

Carmen Guerrero: Yes.

José Cárdenas: Let's talk about the festival. I should mention, I'm on the board of directors. Say a little bit about CALA and let's talk about what's proved to be the first Phoenix day of the dead festival.

Carmen Guerrero: CALA is the celebracion artistica de las Americas. It's a group of very dedicated leaders in our community like yourself who is the big picture in terms of highlighting the best that Latino culture has to offer. Last year was the first of their biannual festivals. They were able to involve 10 different organizations in creating exceptional works of art and performances that highlight the contribution of Latinos to the arts in our community and this year, we did the encore, and which next year is going to be the big biannual again but this year, we did the first inaugural Día de los Muertos at Hance park in downtown Phoenix.

José Cárdenas: How did it go?

Carmen Guerrero: It was wonderful. We had over 3,000 people, everybody enjoyed it. And it was a great feeling to be there with artists and the student activities and the entertainment. It was absolutely awesome with dances like -- flight of Quetzalcoatl, primavera, open dance, and performances by the Aztec dancers.

José Cárdenas: We've got several other organizations that will be doing their events this coming weekend. I want to come back and talk about that. Let me get a little bit of information from you about this tradition. First of all, its origins?

Zarco Guerrero: The origin goes way back in ancient Mexico, some say as far as 3,000 years before the Aztecs, before the Mayans, all the way back to the Olmec’s. So, the is an ancient indigenous tradition. We like to emphasize that it's in honor of our indigenous past and it is not a Hispanic celebration as we so often hear.

José Cárdenas: If it's 3,000 years old, what relevance does it have today?

Zarco Guerrero: It has so much relevance today because it's an expression of our past and honoring of our indigenous heritage, which is under attack today in much of the legislation being passed. For example, the banning of books, the banning of Chicano studies in and light of that, we have to take the initiative, the responsibility to educate our community on who we are because our past is being denied us, and it's being played down. And especially our connection to the indigenous people of the Americas who are continuing this ancient migration north and south about these imaginary borders that are being forced upon us.

José Cárdenas: Let's talk a little bit about the traditional elements of this celebration.

Zarco Guerrero: There's so many different things, it’s celebrated in different ways in many different regions throughout Mexico. The last three years, it's been principally a festival, beginning in Mesa 30 years ago through Xicanindio.

José Cárdenas: An organization that you helped found.

Zarco Guerrero: Yes and the celebration has been, you know -- has expressed a continuity of tradition in our community. And we've shared in developing it with a lot of different organizations, artists, performance artists, musicians, dancers, theater groups. It really is a community effort to honor our traditions, to redefine our identity as Mexican-Americans, Chicanos, Latinos, here in the southwest today.

José Cárdenas: Now, we've got some images that we want to put up on the screen that are associated particularly with the celebration in Arizona. These are in large part due to your creativity. The first picture is a giant puppet, a new dress this year?

Zarco Guerrero: Yes, as a matter of fact -- well, it's one of the many forms of expression throughout Mexico, one of course is the painted decorated smiling skull, the other is the use of big puppets in parades, the Aztec dance, the burning of incense. At this year’s festival, we heard a lot of the Aztec language spoken through many of the ceremonies. These are all of the things that put us in contact with our ancestors because for Day of the Dead, that's when we believe they come back and we commune with them through prayers, through song, through music and through food, as well.

José Cárdenas: And we've got another couple of pictures, one of them is a group--, who is part of the celebration. We’ll put that up on the screen right now. Tell us about that one.

Zarco Guerrero: We call them the enchanted skulls.

José Cárdenas: The two right there.

Zarco Guerrero: And they're like the clowns, the jesters, you could liken that to the clowns for their ceremonies. They're there to let people dance with death, to laugh in the face of death, and they express the exuberant passion for life.

José Cárdenas: And your beautiful daughter's in the middle. She’s been around there for a long time. When she was much younger, was she afraid of them?

Zarco Guerrero: No.

José Cárdenas: Because a lot of people look at this as tradition, they see the skulls, and think it's a little morbid and why are we celebrating in this way?

Zarco Guerrero: They think a lot of things about our culture and our origins are morbid and why should day of the dead be anything different? We started the day of the dead like many Chicanos as a form of resistance and affirmation. It was a holiday that came from the community, came from the artist. It wasn't a corporate thing like Cinco de Mayo or the 16th of September, it was a way to sell alcohol to our community, our own form of expression.

José Cárdenas: One more image I want to show. This is also representative of a traditional element of the Arizona celebrations, at least and tell us about this one, it involves a group of people with masks.

Zarco Guerrero: We've tried to re-create, reinvent the use of masks. Masks were essential throughout the Mexico and throughout Latin America, and really throughout the world. All cultures of the world have used masks at one time or another. We make a great effort to utilize the mask and incorporate it in our celebrations because when we put on the mask, we become someone or something else. And in this case, we're putting on the face of our ancestors and adopting their philosophy of life.

José Cárdenas: And -- this is called la mascarada. [ Indiscernible ] Carmen made a reference to other things going on. Zarco made a reference to Xicanindio a group that the two of you helped found in 1975. They’ve got an event coming up this weekend. Let's talk about that a little bit. I should mention that I'm on that board, too.

Carmen Guerrero: On Saturday the 3rd of November, Xico is having, Xico is now in downtown Chandler is having the 32nd annual Día de los Muertos festival. So that's what's happening on Saturday. On Thursday and Friday, Desert Botanical Garden has different types of events. On Thursday, one called cuisine and culture, where they serve the food and Zarco does a lecture on what is Dia de los Muertos and there's a Mexican artist at the Mexican consulate brought in, that's going to explain an altar that he created for the Desert Botanical Gardens. And Desert Botanical Garden continues on Saturday and Sunday, as well. And please, I didn't want to forget, ALAC is having something on Friday, that is the Arizona Latino Artisan Cultural Center downtown Phoenix that I have to say that I'm on the board of that organization and they are going to have their celebration on Friday from 3:00 in the afternoon until 10:00 at night.

José Cárdenas: We've got some information about the Desert Botanical Gardens event there. Zarco, that includes a -- exhibition of altars. Talk about the altars and the role they play in this celebration.

Zarco Guerrero: Botanical Gardens have been wonderful in their support of the arts and every year, we invite 10 different artists to create their interpretation of a Día de los Muertos altar and it takes many forms. Each artist is completely unique. Sometimes, it deals with things that are extremely personal, other artists make statements about the environment, about politics. But it always has to do with the theme of death and honoring people who have passed away.

José Cárdenas: Carmen, the traditional altar that people would make in their homes, basic elements there, the marigold, the incense and so forth, give us kind of picture.

Carmen Guerrero: First of all, a picture of the lost one and then food, their traditional food, their favorite food, flowers of course, and incense and all the objects that they liked. So that's the traditional altar. The exhibition at the Desert Botanical Gardens is not traditional. This year, the team is -- [ Speaking Spanish ]

José Cárdenas: Eternal love.

Carmen Guerrero: We asked 10 of them to interpret eternal love through their art. There's a song, it's a beautiful Mexican song so we created that as the theme for this year's altar at Desert Botanical Garden. It's going to be viewed until next week.

José Cárdenas: This year with the inclusion of Phoenix, which was a huge omission in the past, everyone was scratching their head how you couldn't have such a celebration in the biggest city in the valley but it's not just Phoenix. We've been involved in celebrations in Glendale, and really across the valley. How have you seen it grow over the years?

Carmen Guerrrero: It's grown all over the state. On Saturday, we were at the museum of northern Arizona, this was their 10th annual celebration of the people, which is Dia de los Muertos. It goes down to Flagstaff, it goes down to Tucson, Glendale, Avondale had something at the cementary last Saturday. So it's really growing, it's an expression -- it's a holiday or a tradition that's been embraced by many cultures, not just people of Latino heritage. It's so beautiful, it's our gift to the larger community, to be able to celebrate and remember the loved ones with so much flowers and flowers of colors and music and songs and poetry and beauty and zest.

José Cárdenas: We're almost out of time but I do want to return to one question I asked you before, about why is it relevant today, but more in the context of why it should appeal to people of other traditions, other cultures, as well as to Latinos?

Zarco Guerrero: In researching our past and our culture, we find gifts there, we find things of beauty, of interest. We find poetry, we find philosophy of life. And these we feel as artists, these are our gifts from our past, from our ancestors and as artists, we want to translate these gifts in such a way that we give them not only to our family, not only to our community, our cultural community, but to the community as a whole. You know, when we have these festivals, everybody is invited and there's people who are not of Mexican descent.

José Cárdenas: It truly is for everyone.

Zarco Guerrero: For everyone.

José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us on Horizonte to talk about it. Zarco, Carmen Guerrero thank you very much. That's our show for this Thursday Evening. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm José Cárdenas, Have a good night.