For 28 years now, La Prensa San Diego has been doing year-end reviews, and each year has been unique and interesting in its own right. Yet year 2003 stands out as one of the more interesting years in regards to diversity of stories and their impact on the Hispanic community and vice-versa the impact the Hispanic community had on the issues of the day. With society’s penchant for seemingly remembering only the latest story, the year-end review allows us the opportunity to go back over the events that got us to where we are today, as we look to the future.
Year 2003 started out under a cloud of a depressed economy and the looming war with Iraq on the horizon. Many issues were facing the Hispanic community and America in general. To better understand the issues, and in particular the issues of the Middle-East, La Prensa San Diego collaborated with the Persian American community and Ramin Moshiri in starting the biweekly column “La Prensa Persa”.
The intent of “La Prensa Persa” was to provide a voice for the Persian American community and at the same time discuss many of the same issues that the Hispanic/Mexican American community has been facing such as civil and human rights, immigrant rights, border issues, and discrimination. This column went on to gain recognition not only locally, statewide, and nationally, eventually being recognized at a statewide awards program as a “Bridge Builder” filling the gap between minority communities.
The impact of the newly created Department of Homeland Security was starting to be felt and addressed by civil rights groups as individual freedoms were coming under attack. The intent of the Bill of Rights was being eroded as the Federal government tried to address the threat of terrorist attacks. In the meantime the Hispanic community looked to the future and the impact these new laws would have on their rights.
With war imminent, the specter of restarting the draft is raised by Congressman Cruz Rangle, Rangle’s rational was that, with the minorities overrepresentation in the Armed Forces, it was time to start drafting the privileged. Editorially, we reacted strongly to this proposal, despite the intent of the proposal the reality of a draft is that 80% of those that are sent into war are represented by minorities. This proposal never did get off the ground thanks, in no small part, to the strong opposition from the minority communities.
January 8th is the one year anniversary of President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative. Despite the lofty goals of the program, primarily closing the gap in the education of Latino students, it comes under attack from such groups as MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense Fund) which criticizes the program for the lack of funding.
January also sees Governor Gray Davis start his second term. His immediate concern was the $35 billion budget shortfall that was soon discovered as a huge underestimation and the beginning of the end for Davis.
On January 28th in his State of the Union speech, President Bush lays out his rationale for the war on Iraq, they are: (1) to eliminate Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD); (2) to diminish the threat of international terrorism; and (3) to promote democracy in Iraq and surrounding areas. Bush beats the drums for war citing the eminent threat of terrorist attacks by Iraq, the nuclear threat, and the biological threat by this country. That was the rational, but reality proved to be much different
While most of the country fell in lock-step with the plan to attack Iraq, there were some quarters that questioned the rationale and the supposed proof of such a war. La Prensa San Diego editorials also questioned the supposed proof presented by the Bush administration as did other sectors of the community. But it was a war Bush wanted, and it was a war that he got.
The University of Michigan’s affirmative action program has reached the Supreme Court and the President has challenged the program labeling it as reverse discrimination and/or as a quota system. To the Hispanic community this is seen as an extension of the racists’ attacks launched by California Governor Pete Wilson and UC Trustee Ward Connerly in the form of Proposition 209.
While the war with Iran looms, there is a “Silent War” going on along the border as describe by reporter Mariana Martinez. On January 9th 3 immigrants were killed when the pick-up truck they were riding in became involved with a high speed chase by the border patrol. A spike strip was laid in the road blowing the tires of the truck. 17 people were in the truck 3 were killed. This brings the total of immigrants killed since 1994 to 1,700.