Stella Pope Duarte

More from this show

An interview with the local Latina author regarding her latest novel; her two previous books, Fragile Night and Let Their Spirits Dance; and her current work on the women of Juarez project.

>> José Cárdenas:
Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas. Welcome to "Horizonte." Tonight we'll look at several controversial integration bills. A guilty verdict for the highest ranking official in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix. The day labor pilot center is up this month. We'll discuss its fate and other important issues with two journalist as and we'll talk to a local Latina author about her latest novel and the women of Juarez project.

>> José Cárdenas:
The Phoenix labor -- day labor center pilot program runs out this month. Will it stay around in the future? Joining us to talk about this and other important issues is "Arizona Republic" editorial writer Richard de Uriarte and Yvonne Wingett. Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte." The the big issue, the big news this week, of course, is the bishop's conviction or guilty verdict in his traffic case, the accident. What impact do you think that's going to have on the Catholic church here in Phoenix?

>> Richard de Uriarte:
Well, obviously it can't be good. This was a very, very -- this was six weeks of turmoil and controversy and disappointment. So -- and it was very, very well covered in all the media. Yet, you know, Jose, religion is an intensely personal thing that your relationship to God is not affected by what we write all the time but what -- I recall just last Sunday went to church add adoration in the evening, the person staying at church before me was Maria Gonzalez, who has been the last five years, at St. Thomas, the guy behind me was a man named archer. It's there. People -- the Catholic church has worked harder to address the Hispanic community in the previous years because that's where the growth is.

>> José Cárdenas:
You talked about disappointment in what the papers write. The papers wrote a lot about the likelihood we would have an Hispanic, a Latino bishop, replacing Bishop O'Brien, and that didn't happen. Have you gotten any indication that there's disappointment in the Hispanic community that that didn't happen?

>> Richard de Uriarte:
As I recall, you don't tell the -- first of all, you don't tell the Pope who to pick to be bishop. Most Catholics understand that that's how it works. There have been several diocese across the country that get a minority, and it's a nice gesture. It might have worked here. Although bishop Thomas Olmsted seems to be a very, very humble man. He speaks Spanish, not fluently, but he speaks span Spanish and he tries. That kind of humility, that kind of effort in the pastoral sense will probably have a greater long-term effect than a blip. By the same token, the abuse cases over the last few years, you know, these are not --

>> José Cárdenas:
That's the bigger issue. Yvonne, another big issue, of course, is the day labor center. Controversial from the start and now this month marks the end of the pilot program in Phoenix. Give us the latest on that.

>> Yvonne Wingett:
Well, the city staff is going to be issuing a report today or the end -- excuse me -- beginning of next week, and the report is supposed to detail the center's successes, its failures, has it reduced crime, have neighborhood complaints gone down, have loitering complaints gone down. So it's going to be kind of addressing all of these things that could be making some big recommendations to elected officials. They'll have to POR over it, make decision. I think the public funding is going away. The city is not going to continue.

>> Richard de Uriarte:
Yvonne knows this better than I, but it seems to me that the city staff is very timid about this. It's not -- the city likes to think of the day labor center as a neighborhood problem, not as an immigration concern. They're not interested in being the INS, the enforcement of the federal laws. They are interested in working with neighborhoods to clear up traffic or nuisance or problems. That's how they got into the Palomino neighborhood, which is essentially -- has become a very Hispanic neighborhood. But the day laborers, when you had hundreds of day laborers walking around between cave creek and 25th Street of Bell Road, hopping into cars, causing traffic problems, that that has worked. It has been successful in a sense that it's cleared up a lot of that, yet it always depends on who's the watcher.

>> José Cárdenas:
Yvonne, you have written about this recently and the indications are, yes, it has been successful in the sense that some people are using the day labor center but your articles indicate that there's still a significant number of people, even in the Palomino neighborhood, who aren't using the day labor centers.

>> Yvonne Wingett:
That's something they'll definitely have to address. They'll tell you that this thing has shown it works. We have been able to prove that this thing attracts workers. Now we need --

>>José Cárdenas:
City staff?

>> Yvonne Wingett:
City staff. Now we need to figure out a tool or mechanism that will force people to use these things and not stand on corners. That might mean an ordinance prohibiting day laborers to stand on streets and solicit for work. That could mean fines, big fines, for employers who pick them up off the streets. Could mean any number of things. They certainly are going to have to do something because these groups are all over the city. 36th Street and Thomas. 36 -- excuse me, 75th avenue Avenue and McDowell, 43rd Avenue and McDowell.

>> Richard de Uriarte:
27th Avenue and Buckeye. They're all over. What's interesting is it's not the annoyance and nuisance that gets the people angry, it's -- what -- letters to the editor that I read are, it's just -- what is government doing helping these people? You talk to the laborers, and I think we both have, they say, we're just here -- we're responding to the market. It's a complete -- they talk at each other. They talk in different frames of reference, and the city staff and officials are caught in between. They understand that normal people are saying, why are we funding illegal aliens, that's what -- getting jobs, taking them away from Americans?

>> José Cárdenas:
That part is likely to go away, isn't it, Yvonne, the city funding?

>> Yvonne Wingett:
The city funding is going away. Behind the scenes they're all saying, the owe city officials and Mayor, they're flipping through Rolodexs trying to find funding, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, councilman Lingner has a concept to possibly incorporate a day labor center or something similar to a day labor center in a big box, like a Home Depot, like a Lowe's, any sort of home improvement stores. So they're moving away from the funding because they got so much criticism from the antiimmigrant community --

>> José Cárdenas:
As a practical matter, without city funding is this going to work?

>> Yvonne Wingett:
Depends on who you ask. It has to, because they're still going to have that problem. They're going to have to find money to get these people to congregate in one space.

>> José Cárdenas:
Richard, let's assume the city council concludes on balance this is a success,er we going to see more all over the city? Is that the plan?

>> Richard de Uriarte:
No, I think as Yvonne has said, unless the neighborhoods come to the city, they're not going to be interested in spending money, spending resources from the police and -- or the neighborhood services just to come up with solutions because every locale is different. The city is not interested in creating more problems for itself, and these -- these might solve the businesses' problem, they might solve a traffic problem, they might solve somewhat of an -- a nuisance problem if the workers either don't -- don't have facilities, but it doesn't solve the problem of what are you using taxpayer funds to help these people -- why aren't you rolling them up. Then when you set up a day labor center, they're still going to be stragglers.

>> José Cárdenas:
You talked about maybe solving businesses' problems but then we have maybe on a parallel track proposed legislation at the state capitol that would impose penalties on businesses that hire the people at these day labor centers.

>> Richard de Uriarte:
Well, you never expected -- you're asking me for consistency and coordination from government agencies. It is a sign of the times. America is in a changing economic picture. As the day laborers, who we talked to say, we're here, people come to us every day, they're after us for work -- for work to do, plumbing, maintenance, landscaping. The other folks say, you know, you're depressing wages. It just depends on who --

>> José Cárdenas:
Any predictions from the two of you?

>> Richard de Uriarte:
I think businesses do not like to be told that they can't hire anybody they want. Contractors, when they need a job to be done, they want workers.

>> Yvonne Wingett: And enforcing it, how do they expect to enforce it? Are they going to beef up their police -- no, they can't afford it to get them off the streets. Inspectors?

>> José Cárdenas:
Do you think the city will wait and see what happens at the state legislature before going forward?

>> Yvonne Wingett: I think they have to act before. I think they have to act quickly here.

>> José Cárdenas:
When can we expect a final decision from the city?

>> Yvonne Wingett:
Don't know. They'll probably review the report this week and maybe a vote sometime mid-march. I don't know. The funding's going to run out. The nonprofits are picking up the operational costs until they can figure out what to do, but --

>> Richard de Uriarte:
And the bills at the legislature are -- take for several months and -- but as long as they get a newspaper story and the sponsor gets his or her name in and you can use it on their brochure, they've accomplished their purpose.

>> José Cárdenas:
Do you think that's what's behind some of the other bills, one, for example, that would target students who would lose in-state tuition if they don't have proper documentation?

>> Richard de Uriarte:
Jose, you have to remember, I'm a pretty much of a sinic about legislative -- Richard's first rule of legislative politics is bills -- bills are introduced not to solve problems, they're introduced to give the ill illusion that we're doing something about a perceived problem. This is a hey Martha, bill, that's right, why should those illegal aliens or children of illegal aliens go to our schools?

>> José Cárdenas:
With a about on the flip side, the proposal to give licenses, driver's licenses tune documented work centers.

>> Richard de Uriarte:
I think -- this is almost like the third wire of politics. I don't think that there's -- both sides are very locked in cement. The solutions on these problems have to be in the middle, and there's -- the context of this -- these are very controversial times and controversial topics, and I don't think that you're going to ram them through the --

>> José Cárdenas:
Either side --

>> Richard de Uriarte:
No, I think these --

>> José Cárdenas:
With a about some of the most sensational being to call for armed volunteers to patrol the border with Mexico?

>> Richard de Uriarte:
I don't think -- I think -- it accomplishes purpose by having the bill get its -- get mentioned in the newspaper or in TV or radio interview. Most bills don't pass anyway. Bills have that a lot of controversy or cost a lot of money or don't solve the problem, you know --

>> José Cárdenas:
Likely result if that were to happen?

>> Richard de Uriarte:
Sure.

>> José Cárdenas:
Let's go into another area of tension. We talked a couple weeks ago on this show about black are-brown tensions. Our guests seem to acknowledge that there may be some tension, but they viewed it as a natural result of just competition for political power, for example. Do you see it any differently, Richard?

>> Richard de Uriarte:
Well, I think that economics are at it. For us, for people, professionals, we don't see it, but when you have the recent book "presumed alliance" about lower middle class people in construction n service who are competing for jobs, a lot of African-Americans worry that this great influx of Hispanics and Latino immigrants has swelled the numbers, thus giving --

>> José Cárdenas:
He was talking the national scene. Do you see that same thing occurring here locally?

>> Richard de Uriarte:
Clear. We have -- as soon as someone gets elected in the Roosevelt school district there's recall petitions put out against him or her immediately.

>>José Cárdenas:
Yvonne, you have written about the issue of three council -- City of Phoenix council members who did not have bilingual aides, including a black council member who had -- is in a heavily Hispanic district. Since his -- he has since hired one as have the other two. What's your take on this black-brownish? Do you see it --

>> Yvonne Wingett:
Even at the local level, it's -- I think it's -- it's prevalent especially in some of the southwest districts in Phoenix. Councilman Johnson came under some criticism from some Latino advocacy groups and his constituents for not having a Spanish speak inner his office. They figured, hey, we're being ignored, when I call his office, no one can communicate with me, I have to go through several layers of translation to find help. He since hired one and it's probably going to help mend that gap, but it's clearly there.

>> José Cárdenas:
So you see it getting better, worse or --

>> Yvonne Wingett:
With the hiring I think it will help. I think it will help that out.

>> Richard de Uriarte:
Ironically, Jose, last evening there was a reception for Dr. Rufus glassBRO, who is African-American. Ironically the people hosting it were exactly the same kinds of groups, advocates, who were saying that you shouldn't hire an African-American, you should hire an Hispanic to run the community college district which serves, after all a quarter of a million students, many, many of whom are Hispanic. In fact, Maricopa County community colleges across the Valley are the first entry point for people who are going to college at ASU.

>> José Cárdenas:
We thank both of you, Yvonne win jet, "Arizona Republic," Richard de Uriarte, thank you for joining us on "Horizonte" and sharing your shots. She has been described as a major new literary voice in America. And her work has won awards an uners nationwide, including the nomination for the Pushcart Prize in literature. Stella Pope Duarte was born and raised in South Phoenix. Duarte began her literary career in 1995 and is joining us this evening to talk about her latest novel, "and the women of Juarez project." Stella, thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizonte."

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
Thank you for inviting me to the show.

>> José Cárdenas:
You've been an educator all your life. How did you get into the writing world just nine years you aking?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
That was a magical way for me to get into the writing world. Actually I had a dream, and I journal a lot, so in the dream my dad, who had been deceased for 10 years in 1995, shows up in my dream with a huge spiral staircase to indicate to me that my destiny from thence forth was to become a writer, that I was destined to write.

>> José Cárdenas:
And you've done now two books and you've got a third one on the way. The books you've done reflect your experiences growing up in South Phoenix. Tell us about that. How is it a reflection of your life's experience.

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
The barrio is off of 7th Avenue and Buckeye, and it also borders 19th Avenue and the freeway and in "let their spirits dance" you will see it as -- it totally permeates my life as a writer.

>> José Cárdenas:
Being your second book?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
Yes. And fragile night being my first book, which is a collection of short stories. The first story that came out of me, everybody in the barrio knew -- who she was, because she's the official ghost of the Latino people. It permeates all my work and that was the first story that came out of me. In fragile night you will see people encountering their own souls. I say to people in the short stories that I wrote there, like turning points, moments, aha, and I tell them, if you comes to terms with the dark parts of who you are, you won't have to mayor arery them, just recognize them.

>> José Cárdenas:
Your books brought you the distinction of the first author from South Phoenix to be published worldwide, so you ever met with tremendous success being compared to the author of Like Water for Chocolate. What is your re action to that kind of comparison?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
I love her work, and I read her work and I hope to meet her some day, because -- the editor -- my editor in New York also handles Isbelle Allende, so I'm really in good company. Very famous authors. I look at these authors and I'm just in aweE of them. I still am in awe of them.

>> José Cárdenas:
Let's talk more about the themes that are reflected in the two books you have written today.

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
The first one as I mentioned, the short stories, turning points is people meeting their own soul and not running away. See, that's a fragile night. It's a moment of truth. The second one is, wow, that's my heart heartthrob. This is dedicated to our Latino youngsters who died in the Vietnam War, their names, the names that are on the wall. So it's a mother in "let their spirits dance" who makes a promise to go to the Vietnam memorial wall and touch her son's name and honor his memory before her death. So here you see an entire history, not just of the RENITAS family, who issues from the barrio, all the way -- they trek all the way to the -- to the Vietnam memorial wall because of mother's promise and they come to terms with the death of their son Jesse in the story of let their spirits dance.

>> José Cárdenas:
The Vietnam War and service in it has been in the papers a lot because of senator Kerry's emergence as the leading candidate for the democratic nomination and his service in Vietnam. He has reached out a lot to veterans groups. What kind of response have you gotten from veterans and their families to your book.

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
It's been beautiful, lots of healing. See, a lot of unfinished business was put into the people because of the Vietnam conflict. It was never really declared a war. When I went to the Vietnam memorial wall I was on my knees. I promised these youngsters I would tell their story to the world, because almost every fourth or fifth name on the Vietnam memorial wall is a Spanish surname. That's not including other Latino youngsters who did not use their Spanish surname. The book is dedicated to sergeant Tony Cruz, and he had told his family, I never knew him, but I vowed I would dedicate the book to the first family whose -- whose youngster has died in Vietnam and that was the Cruz family, and he told his family, mom, I'm going to be famous, you're going to read about me in a book, I will make history, and I have lived out that Prof. prophecy in writing let their spirits dance.

>> José Cárdenas:
You talk about children, youngsters and all your life you have been an educator. How does that complement your writing?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
It complements it beautifully because I'm able to go in front of these awesome youngsters, knots only Cesar Chavez where I work as head of counselling, but all over the city, all over the nation I've presented to huge audiences of young people and to see them get inspired and find meaning in life, in their own talents, in the beauty they have to give, that's so touching to me.

>> José Cárdenas:
How does that come about? What is it you say to them that provides that inspiration.

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
I tell them everything that's beautiful is already inside of you. You just need to discover it. That's the only debt you owe to the world, is a debt to give your talents and your gift to the world. That's what you owe, and all that love, that's it.

>> José Cárdenas:
Do you have any specific recommendations for students or others who are interested in writing?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
I would say for people who are writing, continue to write. You know, collect all your work, don't throw anything away, you know, save it all, because you might use the idea, you know, at some other point in time, and don't get discouraged, because in this world people want action right away, like after the dream of my dad, I signed my first book contract one year after, but it usually doesn't happen that way, Jose. It could take years. So sometimes people get discouraged. I would say, don't get discouraged. Do what your heart tells you.

>> José Cárdenas:
Right now your heart is telling you to work on this new project, your latest one, the women of Juarez. Tell us about that one.

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
That one is going to be in my mind such an important book because of the horrendous murders of women in Juarez, young women, who have been murdered since 1993.

>> José Cárdenas:
How many?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
Over 400.

>> José Cárdenas:
This is something that's been in the papers a lot lately?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
Yes, brutally murdered. These women have been desecrated. Their flesh ripped from their bodies, anything that you can imagine that's just the most horrible crimes have been committed against these women -- crimes have been committed against these women. These women have come to my attention. The books chase me, Jose, they really do. They come after me, and this book is coming after me big time. I already went to Juarez, and I interviewed one of the mothers who received the remains of her daughter in a box, the bones of her daughter, and I mean, this is something that I hope that I can contribute to the end of these murders. That is my desire in the women of Juarez.

>> José Cárdenas:
What will the focus be? A lot of the attention in the news articles has been on the Mexican government's inability to solve the crimes. There's been a lot of speculation as to whether they're sons of prominent families who have been involved. What's your focus going to be in your book?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
Well -- my focus is going to be the story of a young woman, and in the book she is going to tell her story. She is going to be, you know --

>> José Cárdenas:
Is this one of the actual victims.

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
What I'm going to do is I'm going to research. I'm going to from research create an actual story of a woman who is kidnapped and who was tormented as tortured and who lives to tell. So in the story you're going to see an actual, you know, rendition of what is going on in Juarez. I hope to do -- like let their spirits dance, a historical novel.

>> José Cárdenas:
I understand you're still doing your research, but any insights as to what is happening in Juarez and why these crimes continue and why they haven't been solved?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
What I saw when I was there this past weekend was that people are concerned because -- there seems to be a lot of government -- the government is really covering up, and nobody has really done anything to help --

>>José Cárdenas:
Why would the government be interested in covering it up?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
A lot of political struggles are going on, and a lot of powerful people may be involved. Some it may be the porno industry, who do like what they call snuff videos, where they show the murder and the death of a young woman, and they sell the video for huge amounts of money. And some of it might be drug-related. So there could be a lot of money being exchanged because, you know, of political leaders who are being silenced by the money.

>> José Cárdenas:
What do you hope to accomplish with your book in terms of having an impact on how these -- how this investigation, these murders are resolved?

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
What I would like to do is bring more worldwide attention on this -- because it has to stop. The unjust murder of these young women has got to stop. I think sometimes if people see it in a story they're more likely to read it an if they have to turn to a documentary or something that is information like, and whereas if they have a story, they might be able to read it better that way.

>> José Cárdenas:
I'm sure it will be a great story and you'll be adding another prize to the many you --

>> Stella Pope Duarte:
I'm proud to be from Phoenix.

>> José Cárdenas:
Thank you so much for being with us. That's our program for tonight. Hope you enjoyed our show. Join us next Thursday for more in depth coverage of issues affecting the Latino community. Thanks for joining us. Enjoy the rest of your evening.

Yvonne Wingett: Arizona Republic;

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024
airs April 18

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates as part of ‘AZ Votes 2024’

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

The Capital building with text reading: Circle on Circle: Robert Lowell's D.C.
May 2

An evening with ‘Poetry in America’

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: