January 3, 2003

2002 Year End Review

The year 2002 was a year that the country desperately looked to for a change, a new beginning after the tragedy and shock of September 11.As a country our world had changed and we looked to see what would transpire, would there be a prolonged war, would the economy turn around, was the energy crisis behind us? Unfortunately year 2002 would not fulfill the hopes of a new year. Our fortunes did not turn around, the specter of war hung over our heads all year long, and our civil and constitutional liberties were threatened under the new Homeland Security Act.

As we look back in the year 2002, one of the highlight were the effort and accomplishments of our youth and students. A good example was "The Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation Honors National Winners of the Youth Awards." Youth Award winner were (from left to right): Jesse Rodríguez, Linda Chavira Moreno, Karen Sosa, Nancy Fernández, Leslie Sánchez, and Brnadon Garcia.

For the Hispanic community 2002 would bring dramatic change and opportunity, as we chroni cled the events of the day in the pages of La Prensa San Diego. We now take a look back at the year and review some of the highlights, events, issues, and milestones that took place last year.

“Kidnapped!” read the headline in January. It was a story by our intern Lisa Marguet. She had just started working with La Prensa San Diego. She wanted to become a reporter, write news stories. Little did she know, at the time, that she and her family would be her first story!

It was a horrific story of her brother, Chava, being kidnapped in Tecate and held for ransom. Unfortunately, the story was not unique. In Mexico with such a disparity between the very poor and those with money, kidnapping has become a cottage industry. Anyone with money was a target.

What was revealed in the story was that there was little that the Mexican police could do. And even less that the U.S. police and FBI could do. If it wasn’t for the good fortune of Chava’s wife the story might have ended differently. His wife got a call from the kidnappers, from a local pharmacy and through caller ID she was able to identify the neighborhood and the police were able to close in on the kidnappers. Then, suddenly, he was released. Apparently the kidnappers grew scared.

Chava was lucky; all too often the kidnappers killed their hostage
For years the Immigration and Naturalization Service had come under attack by the Hispanic community as being incompetent. This fact was brought to light with the terrorist attacks and INS’s failures to do its job. Many called for dissolving the bureau but what transpired was a remake of the service. In January the shakeup started and later in the year the department would be broken into two separate agencies.

Latino critics of Hollywood had long noted the absence of brown faces on this country’s movie and television screens. Writer Steve Rodriguez finally had had enough and in a commentary took the movie industry to task. In his commentary ‘A California Town Without Hispanics???’ Rodriquez asked the question, how can a major movie, The Majestic, about a mythical valley town, could be voided of Hispanics faces? Rodriquez points out how far Hollywood goes to ensure that Latinos remain an invisible people.

Students including (in foreground) Shannon Swanberg, Kevan Akrami, and James Dang sort through donated medicines for the pharmacy

The Flying Sams graced our pages in January. Flying Sams, short for Flying Samaritans, is a voluntary group of pre-med students out of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), who devised and organized a free clinic in Ensenada, bringing medical services to a community that, up to that time, had depended on home remedies and curanderos to cure what ailed them.

The Flying Sams was one organization, the Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club, LULAC, North County Latinas, and many, many other organizations donated their time, money, and moral support to those who most needed it the most throughout the year. And as each club or organization did their part, we did our best to bring their good works and humanitarian efforts to our readers, giving them recognition that they so richly deserved.

Students from Nestor's Language Academy's Two-Way Immersion Program (from left to right) Sixth graders Chelsa Jones, Alejandra Nuñez and Paola Arredondo

Education was and has always been a major focus for La Prensa, and this year was particularly poignant as we headed toward a referendum on the Blueprint for Success and Superintendent Alan Bersin during this election year. We discussed and analyzed the issues, and highlighted the positives throughout the year.

One of these stories was the graduation of the fifth and sixth grades at Nestor Elementary ‘s Language Academy’s Two-Way Immersion Program where they received the California Association of Bilingual Education (CABE) Seal of Excellence Award.

Phyllis Muñoz, Vice-Principal of Nestor Elementary, explained that the school operated on a four-track, year-round school system. Children in tracks “A” and “C” learn only in English, children in track “D” learn in keeping with a bilingual education and children in track “B” participate in the Language Academy.

Raimond Galicia, 11, was an excellent example of the program, not only does he speak Tagalog, the language of his Filipino relatives, he also reads, writes and speaks both Spanish and English fluently.

Politically speaking February was an interesting month. For political purposes California’s primary elections had been moved up March. This left little time for candidates and even less time for the voting public to get to know the candidates. Despite this we trudged on, analyzed, recommended and voted.

The most contentious of the all the local races was the race for San Diego Unified School Board. At stake was control of the board, the future of the Blueprint for Success, and the Superintendent’s job. For the voting public it was a question of do you support Alan Bersin and the Blueprint, or do you favor a change? The race that drew the most attention was the one to replace Sue Braun.

In other races some of the other local candidates that we featured before the primary included: Ricardo Luna candidate for Mayor of Lemon Grove; Mary Salas candidate for Mayor of Chula Vista; Yolanda Escamilla candidate for San Diego City Council, Joshua Castro candidate for the 79th Assembly District, to name a few.

On the local music scene reporter Francisco H. Ciriza would bring us stories and reviews of the Hispanic music scene. One of his first stories of the year was about a band called ‘Emaue’. The band-featured members from as far away as Acapulco and Mexico City and as close as Barrio Logan, as Ciriza chronicled the bands efforts to endure the trials and tribulations of the local music scene and its sub scene of Rock en Español.

We featured the walking man Danny Garcia. Garcia has devoted his life to walking around the world spreading his message of God, peace, and raising the awareness of children’s rights.

Garcia walked from Tijuana to San Diego. Then Mayor Susan Goldin, proclaimed January 25, 1998 "Danny Garcia Day"

For the past couple of years we have been covering the woman’s soccer scene and one of our key areas of focus was that of rising star Linnea Quinones. Soccer reporter John Philip Wyllie has followed her career since high school, college, on the Mexican National Team and this year through the woman’s major league draft, when she became the 32nd pick of the San Jose CyberRays. We now look forward to see how her major league career develops and hope the best for her professional career.

That was how the first of the year 2002 started. Starting with March the communities focus was on the local elections and education.

March 1st found us in the middle of Primary elections. La Prensa made its recommendations and the voters made their choice. Now we had to wait eight months for the General elections!

Ricardo Sánchez at April 4 "State of the District" address

In the meantime we continued our dialogue of and about the San Diego City Schools. We continued covering the school board meetings and airing the public’s opinion about the direction of the district and what they think of the Blueprint. In March, King Elementary released a letter outlining a pattern of discrimination at the school. Throughout the year parental complaints continued and were brought before the school board, but those complaints appeared to fall on deaf ears. Parents throughout the district would feel frustrated throughout the year culminating with a recall effort led by Voters for Truth in Education (VO/TE).

San Diego Unified wasn’t the only school district facing disgruntled parents. Vista School District found itself confronted by angry parents who felt that the school district was protecting its coaches and not paying heed to the parent’s complaints. But in contrast to San Diego, the Vista school board listened to the parents to the courage’s Isaias “Ziggy” Luna and his parents. And because they did a committee was created whose job it will be to “clarify codes of conduct and procedures of discipline” for both students-athletes and coaches.

Parents and educators at Sherman Elementary School had been frustrated with the direction of their student’s education and success. They wanted to make a change and had a plan – they wanted to go charter. They weren’t the only school seeking this alternative and while accommodations were made and other schools allowed going charter, Sherman Elementary was denied.

In April the first the Hispanic community of Riverside named Hispanic female, France A. Córdova, chancellor at the University of California at Riverside after a three-month effort. Ms Córdova is the only the second Hispanic in the history of the UC system to be named chancellor.

As the war on terror continues writer Kevin Gouveia writers a first person story describing his perception of “The Real Heroes” of this war. The following is as excerpt of his piece:

“It is quite an honor to be amongst the finest men and women of the U.S. Navy, onboard the JFK. These Sailors worked around the clock, seven days a week since October 2001 until the ship got underway in February 2002 for Operation Enduring Freedom. It is the men and women of the JFK who sacrificed their personal time with their families and friends to get the ship ready to defend our great Nation against Terrorists. It was their hard work that brought the JFK back to life. On 7 February 2002, in the early hours of dawn under a darkened gray sky, I watched families, parents, girlfriends and boyfriends dropping off their loved ones at the pier, saying good-bye to them, not knowing what their love ones would encounter, let alone what their future had in store for them. And in the back of their minds, wondering if they would return. It takes unique individuals to do what their country is asking of them and the hardships their families must endure from being separated from their loved ones for an extended period of time.”

BULBO from a coffee house to your television: What do a chemical engineer, a filmmaker and an arquitect hae in common? They are all part of the team at Galatea audio/visual, the producer of a new show on Univision called BULBO, which started on October fifth

As summer rolls around the Hispanic community is getting ready for the World Cup, the Pope is scheduled to arrive in Mexico and canonize Juan Diego and locally politics are starting slowly to re-heat.

Libraries can define communities and in San Ysidro, after years of planning, this community was looking forward toward taking a giant step toward their future with a new library. That was until at the eleventh hour councilman Ralph Inzunza, Jr., in what was described as secret meetings changed the location to the Las Americas shopping center. Disgruntled members of the Friends of the Library described this move as politically motivated. The ultimate outcome was that the California State Library Board denied the application for funding for the Las Americas site. The San Ysidro community is back at the drawing board, with an opportunity to redefine their community.

The World Cup is underway and the immigrant/Hispanic community finds itself in a quandary – cheer for your home team and the non-immigrant community will see you as a traitor. Or so it seemed, it was a great 30 days, immigrants and non-immigrants got together, often in the early hours of the morning to view the images live from Korea, to cheer on their team. Oh by the way the Americans did very well in the tournament, for them. And for the Mexican community their team did not perform so well. The Americans trounced them by a score of 2-0 in the second round, ouch!

It is assumed that in America that you have the right to voice your opinion, peacefully, in demonstration, or so thought teacher Ricardo Sanchez.

At a San Diego Unified School District “State of the District” address, Sanchez was outside expressing what he thought was his right to free speech by holding up a cardboard sign that read: “Hail Fuhrer Bersin”, which received extensive media coverage. Five weeks later Mr. Sanchez was terminated after 30-years of teaching. The rational given for the firing was over issues that were considered resolved several years prior. Long story short, Mr. Sanchez is still employed, while he continues his challenge of the firing in court.

As the war on terrorism escalates Hispanics are feeling the pinch. In a first person story, writer Melanie Felicano expresses her fears as a fellow Puerto Rican is arrested as a potential terrorist. The following is a short excerpt from her story:

“I didn’t really understand how an Arab-American might feel being racially profiled as a terrorist — until I woke up one recent morning and saw on television one of my own kind accused of the same crime.

“Puerto Ricans rarely figure in mainstream news. So I was shocked to see a face staring back at me that could have belonged to my cousin. It was Jose Padilla, aka Abdullah al Muhajir, accused of plotting a radioactive “dirty bomb” attack on the United States.” Jose Padilla was later released.

Sweetwater Unified School is in the first year of spending their $187 million from Prop BB funds and is facing a tidal wave of criticism on their spending. The questions were first asked when monies were spent on a new school and then escalated as monies that were presumably dedicated for upgrades and improvements to old schools; saw millions and millions of dollars spent on new gyms. The questions being asked were, what about all the classroom improvements, computers, lads, etc. And this was only the beginning.

The Pope canonizes Juan Diego as a saint on July 31 in Mexico. While the Christian world celebrates this blessed event, indigenous Mexicans are a little more than perplexed. Juan Diego, who was a dark-skinned Indian, is portrayed, in the official Vatican portrait as “guero” — blond and Spanish, more like the conquistador Hernan Cortes than a humble “Indio.”

The United Farm Workers union stages a 150-mile walk from Merced to the State Capitol in support of a farm labor bill. The march retraced Cesar Chavez’s first march for California farm workers 38 years ago. The march started out under a blazing sun, lasted 10 days and rallied the Hispanic community during this time. The labor bill passed was under threat from Gov. Gray Davis of being vetoed. The labor bill would allow labor contracts to be imposed by third-party arbitration when talks deadlock between growers and farm workers. Davis did not veto the bill and it became law.

In the name of Homeland Security a new federal rule takes effect in August allowing the US attorney general to deputize local police to enforce immigration laws a mingling of enforcement powers never permitted before. Though passed by Congress as part of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, the timing of the measure raised concerns among immigrant-rights and civil- liberties advocates. While Florida implemented the act most states and police agencies refused to implement the act.

September marks the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the twin towers. This event is covered and remembered, and discussed.

September is also Hispanic Heritage Month and once again we spent the month recognizing the contributions to the United States by the Hispanic communities. Plus politics is at a full boil once again.

Four days after 5,000 peoples at the state Capitol to conclude the farm workers' 165-mile 10-day "March for Governor's Signature." local supported of the UFW bill rallied outside Gov. Gray Davis' San Diego Office on Front Street, urging the Governor to sign SB 1736 SB 1736 is the United Farm Workers-sponsored bill grating field laborers mediation and arbitration to win union contract when growers drag out negotiations. The governor recived the bill on Monday.

The demonstrator, including Christina Chávez Delgado (pictured), granddaughter of César Chávez , want the governor sign whta the UFW consider the most important farm labor bill since 1975.That year saw passage of California's pioneering law granting farm workers the right to organize.

The governor’s race, a race that shouldn’t have been close, is. The local school board race is quickly escalating as millions are being poured into the race. The city of Chula Vista will have a Hispanic mayor. But the biggest story though is the lack of choice in all most all of the state races. Thanks to the redrawing of district boundaries, the outcomes of all state offices are predetermined. One of the few races not predetermined is in the race for the 78th Assembly District between Shirley Horton, soon to be ex-mayor of Chula Vista and Vince Hall a bureaucrat.

In November the voters made their choice and as predicted no real surprises, some races closer than expected, in particular the governor’s race, but no real shakeups.

The local school board race remains status quo, the Blueprint stays on track and Bersin stays on the job. But, it appears that finally all those frustrated parents and teacher’s voices are finally heard. Alan Bersin has turned over a new leaf and is now making a concerted effort to reach out and communicate. Now only if the school board follows suit and makes an effort to represent the constituents they were elected by.

Staying with the education theme we talked about the changes going on with the University of California system. At UC San Diego Latino educators, in order to bolster the graduation of Hispanic students create a Minor in Chicano and Latino Arts and Humanities.

North County Latinas Association Moving Nuestras Mujeres Adelante:Nancy Arellano,17, is not your average high school student. For the past year and a half, she has worked as a Peer Provider Health Educator at Vista Community Clinic educating young girls and women about everything from pregnacy prevention to parenting. Despite her busy schedule, she has managed to maintain 3.83 grade point average at Oceanside High School and has been accepted to four universities, including UCSD and UC Riverside.

Miss Arellano is just one of the 15 Latinas between the ages of 12 and 18 to receive Scholarships-$100 saving bonds for middle school students and $600 saving bonds forn high school students- from the North County Latinas

Assciation (NCLA), a groupp of professional women whose missoon is to encourafe "young Latinas to stay in school, graduate and be prepared for the opportunuties which lead to a succesful career"

Along this same vain of ensuring the graduation rates of Hispanics we highlighted a tutoring la “Si Se Puede” at Monte Vista High School where parents and students have become involved in this tutoring program. The program started by Carmen Sierras-Carroll with the intent of encouraging the students to build leadership skills as a student, while they look ahead into the future as adults.

On the local Chicano literature scene a small bookstore in the barrio is the leading voice for all Calaqueras y Calaqueros. With the help of little calaca man Chicanos are beginning to creatively rewrite their own histories and tell their own stories through poetry.

This logo, a calavera, represents the home-based, family-oriented, Chicano lit-publishing, Calaca Press. Poets from all over the southwest gathered to celebrate Calaca’s fifth year of supporting Chicano art. Poets such as Manuel Vélez from El Paso, Texas, Leticia Hernández-Linares from San Francisco, and San Diego’s very own Taco Shop Poets came together to explode on the microphone with all the vitality and forcefulness that the Chicano lingo could supply.

Throughout the year we had wondered how come Latino voices were mute while the country spiraled toward war. Well, as the year was coming to an end and as it became more and more obvious that we were headed toward war Latinos began to raise their voices across the state.

The year ended quietly, the economy hadn’t improved, and we are still talking about going to war as the buildup continues oversees. California’s budget is a disaster, education with all its hopes for the future will be dashed as the Governor slashes their budget, unemployment will climb, Christmas sales are down, and the cost of homes is up. So once again we look forward to 2003 hope and pray for a change in fortune in the New Year.

In this year-end review we only touched on many of the issues and stories that transpired throughout the year. If we spiked your interest in any of these stories or you wish to review other stories in whole, you can read them on our web page at: http://www.laprensa-sandiego.org. On our site we have the complete text and photos of all the stories that were published in La Prensa San Diego, throughout the year.

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