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Indigenous Not Participating in Census

The U.S. Census Bureau launched a massive campaign to encourage New York Latinos to send in their census forms, but apparently made no effort to include residents of Mexico’s indigenous populations, according to community activists.

“A lot of people don’t understand the census, since most of them only speak a little Spanish,” said Rogelio Gonzalez, one of the 300 Mixtecos living in northern Staten Island.

Gonzalez and his family are among the few in the community who have returned their census questionnaire. Only 38 percent of the local Mixtec community, from San Marcos de Natividad in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, have sent in their census forms.

“We don’t even understand the census questions very well,” Gonzalez said of Spanish-speaking Mixtec people. “It should have gone through a translator.”

The census questionnaire has been translated into 60 languages. But these do not include Mixtec or other indigenous Mexican languages.

“We are counting on groups partnering with the Census Bureau to work in very specific communities,” said Igor Alvez, a spokesperson for the New York Census Bureau. “These homes will be visited by census workers if they don’t return their census forms. They will be counted.”

The Mexican Consulate said it supported the Census Bureau with a general campaign inclusive of all Mexicans, and that it did not want to be exclusive or divisive. There was no campaign specifically targeting the Mixtec or other indigenous groups.

The consulate noted that indigenous groups identify as Mexican.

In 2008, there were 295,000 Mexicans living in New York, according to the Department of City Planning.

A writer and expert on the Hispanic community, Louis Nevaer, affirms that a large percentage of them are indigenous.

Nevaer found that only 17 percent of non-Spanish-speaking indigenous Mexicans in the region are willing to participate in the census.

Nevaer led a team of 17 people who interviewed indigenous Mexicans from Feb. 1 to March 15 in New York City, Northern New Jersey and Long Island. The study found that this group would not participate if materials were not translated into their own languages–Mixtec, Zapotec and Mayan.

“They are very reluctant and distrustful,” said Nevaer. “They don’t speak the language, they’re undocumented, and they’re here without village elders to tell them that it’s okay cooperate.”

Obama Takes Step Backward on Cuba

Republished with the permission of New America Media

The Obama administration took a step backward on U.S. relations with Cuba when it included it on a terrorist list. We urge the administration to reconsider this decision.

The list of 14 nations the United States considers either sponsors of terrorism or countries of interest includes Cuba and Saudi Arabia. U.S.-bound air passengers from these nations are to receive extra security checks, including pat-downs. This was in reaction to the Christmas day terrorism attempt during a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Last we understood, the attempted attack broke through because of a failure of national intelligence, not out of a terror campaign by Cubans. As is, the United States applies a long list of restrictions to Cuba under a decades-old embargo policy.

The U.S. State Department has said that Cuba harbors fugitives from justice and has supported Colombian and Basque rebel groups. The Cuban government disputes these claims or offers political rationalizations for individuals it brands as asylees.

But we know that if Cuba posed such a clear and present danger to the United States, that President Obama would not have relaxed some travel and other restrictions on Cuba, as he did last year. Representatives like Jose Serrano and Sam Farr have called for building on that momentum to change stagnant, ineffective policies toward Cuba.

In the context of the last eight years and specifically the events since Christmas day, the nation has been focused, and rightfully so, on terrorism campaigns against U.S. citizens. It makes sense that Saudi Arabia, where the Sept. 11 attackers trained, is included on that list.

While the Castro regime is not innocent, putting Cuba in the same league as Iran, for example, is unfair and undermines efforts towards a 21st century foreign policy.