Shake-up in Arizona’s LULAC chapter leade

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shakeup within the leadership for Arizona’s LULAC chapter. Does this put the future of the state’s largest Hispanic advocacy group in question?

>> José Cárdenas:
Good evening. I'm José Cárdenas. Welcome to "Horizonte." A shakeup within the leadership for Arizona's LULAC chapter. Does this put the future of the state's largest Hispanic advocacy group in question? Plus, we'll talk about a book exploring the regional and cultural diversity of the Hispanic population of the United States. Next on "Horizonte."


>> José Cárdenas:
Within the past month the national executive board of the League of United Latin American Citizens, LULAC, suspended its state director Samuel Esquivel and state director of education Silverio Garcia. Southern Arizona LULAC members allege Esquivel had secret meetings and engaged LULAC in a lawsuit without permission from the state board. The national board suspended Silverio Garcia based on allegations also from Southern Arizona LULAC members because of his involvement in complaints regarding a Valley school district without approval of LULAC state board. Garcia's suspension led to his resignation last week. We received a statement from David Rodriguez, LULAC's national vice-president for far west region, which represents Arizona. The League of United Latin American Citizens is very concerned about the conduct of some Arizona officers. We apologize to the community for the negative statements being circulated by those members who have chosen to discuss internal organizational matters in the press. We have every confidence that the many LULAC members from both central and Southern Arizona who have brought certain matters to our attention have acted out of great concern for the well being of their organization and the Hispanic community. We are hopeful that a resolution of this matter will enable our Arizona members to continue LULAC's 75 year tradition of service to the community. Tucson deputy director Terry Martinez, now the interim state director, declined to comment. Joining us tonight is state director for LULAC, Samuel Esquivel. Samuel, thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Thank you, José Cárdenas.


>>José Cárdenas:
There's quite a controversy brewing right now.


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Yes, it is.


>>José Cárdenas:
If I understand correctly, you have not been officially notified that you have been suspended; am I correct?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
That is correct. To clarify the statements Mr. Rodriguez made, to this date I have not received any type of notify notification, not by telephone, not by e-mail, not by letter, in any way, shape or form have I been notified from the national LULAC office that I'm officially suspended.


>>José Cárdenas:
As far as you're concerned you are the state director?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
As far as I'm concerned I am still the state director.


>> Let's talk a little about LULAC's background generally and the organization's history in Arizona.


>> Samuel Esquivel:
LULAC in general is an organization that was created for civil rights issues, advancement of economic development, political advancement, and education advancement for the Hispanic community.


>>José Cárdenas:
This would have been the late 1920s, early 1930s --


>> Samuel Esquivel:
It was born actually in 1929, to be exact, in Texas, Harlingen, Texas, to be exact, three organizations got together, the league of Latin American citizens, the sons of America and the knights of order, I believe it's called, and those three organizations united together to confront a lot of Hispanic issues that were affecting community.


>>José Cárdenas:
What's the history of the organization in Arizona?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Well, here the history in Arizona, because I'm actually kind of new to Arizona, I'm not a native Arizonan myself, I'm originally from Texas, here the organization has been here now going on 54 years. Last year we celebrate -- last year we celebrated our 53rd annual convention here in Phoenix, and the history from many members have that told me the organization got kind of lax there after a while, and all they were more concerned about was politics.


>>José Cárdenas:
And the suggestion about the national organization itself has been that it's no longer relevant to the Hispanic movement in that you have kind of rejuvenated at least the Arizona chapter. Do you agree with those criticisms and that assessment of for role?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
I do agree with that, because when I came onboard -- the reason I joined the organization is because of my beliefs in the organization that it was there to address civil rights issues and injustices against the Hispanic community, and that inspired me to come onboard as a member.


>>José Cárdenas:
How long have you been a member?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
I was I've -- I'm going on my fifth year, and this to me is actually a surprise that I was even asked to become a candidate for state director.


>>José Cárdenas:
And when was that?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
That was in 2003 when I first got elected. I'm on my second term now.


>>José Cárdenas:
Now, you have a state board as well, is that right?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
That is correct. We do have a state board.


>>José Cárdenas:
And the statement from the national organization made several references to you taking actions without the permission of your state board. What's your response to that?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Well, my response to that is that there's been a couple of actions I have taken, but the reason that led me to take those actions is because of the urgency needed at the time for the welfare of the Hispanic community. I was contacted by MALDEF --


>>José Cárdenas:
That's The Mexican-American legal defense and education fund?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Correct. MALDEF was created from LULAC in 1968, which has been the primary legal arm of all Latino organizations. Any time there is a legal issue, most of the time you'll see MALDEF at the forefront. And there was a legal issue pending and I had been contacted by an attorney, Mr. Steve Reyes from MALDEF in California, asking the assistance of LULAC if we could be a plaintiff on a possible lawsuit that they were looking at. One of them was regarding elections, and another one was regarding prop 200. In talking with Mr. Reyes, I told him, I says, we can be a plaintiff but I want to make sure you run this through our national legal advisors, if you please, just to let them know.


>>José Cárdenas:
Was that done?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Apparently it wasn't done. By the time I was made aware of it, a lawsuit had already been filed.


>>José Cárdenas:
Which lawsuit are we talking about?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
This is the one on the prop 200 issue.


>>José Cárdenas:
Is this the one that's currently pending?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
This is the one that's currently pending.


>>José Cárdenas:
One of the complaints of the national board is you got LULAC involved in that lawsuit without the permission of your state board?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Correct.


>>José Cárdenas:
Is that something that required the permission of the state board?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Some folks say it does, some folks say it doesn't. Now, a state board is required approval, yes, but since the beginning when I first took office, I have been struggling continuously in obtaining approval from the state board to get anything accomplished, even though I would give them the courtesy, I offered to meet with them, I even traveled, because majority of my state board was concentrated right there in the Tucson area.


>>José Cárdenas:
In fact, there is an undercurrent here both in the articles and some of the statements that have been made that this is kind of a Tucson versus Phoenix thing. Do you agree with that?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
I very much agree with that. Since I took over as state director, I have -- it's been made visible to me now that there's been a power struggle between the Tucson membership and the Phoenix membership, and this goes back many years.


>>José Cárdenas:
And why is that?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
I think it's because the power base has primarily been at the hands of the Tucson southern region folks and the folks here in Phoenix felt left out. They weren't really part of the events that they were continuously having.


>>José Cárdenas:
As I understand, you were elected by the membership; is that right?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Yes.


>>José Cárdenas:
1700 members statewide?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Yes, 1700 members statewide, and I was elected by membership. In the 1990s, we ran into a similar problem where this state actually ended up with two state directors. One state director was asked to step down because he called on the national leadership with some problems that did exist, and at the same time the president at the time, the national president, appointed a state director, interim state director, which in this case the state director that was appointed was Mr. Dave Rodriguez, and basically you had --


>>José Cárdenas:
That's the person whose statement we read?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
That is the person whose statement you just read. He's now the national vice-president for the far west region, and the other state director at the time was Mr. Ray GANO, which has also held the position of national vice-president.


>>José Cárdenas:
Let's talk a little about the situation involving Silverio Garcia, what can you tell me about that?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
The situation -- I appointed Silverio Garcia as our education chairman because Silverio is very knowledgeable in problems that are affecting our children today. He's been at the forefront continuously assisting parents that have encountered obstacles that are hurting their children, and Silverio, while he has a fairly aggressive style, you know, he uncovers what needs to be uncovered.


>>José Cárdenas:
As I understand it, the reason he was, quote-unquote, suspended, and I understand you disagree as to whether he was effectively suspended, but the stated reason was him calling for some action against a local school district; is that right?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
That's correct. He actually called for a principal to be -- to step down for specifically -- specifically Maxine bush in the Roosevelt school district.


>>José Cárdenas:
Wasn't there also about a boycott of the school?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
There was talk of a boycott because some children had gotten into an altercation with some other students and nothing ever happened. Nobody took action.


>>José Cárdenas:
Was Silverio actually organizing a boycott?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
He was in the planning of organizing a boycott, yes he was.


>>José Cárdenas:
Is that something that was also cite as a basis for his, quote-unquote, suspension?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
That was something they do to cite him for suspension, but I think the stepping down, asking -- stepping down of a principal -- I'm not sure if a board director was also asked to step down, I'm not sure of that. That became a political issue, and that's what was used to suspend Silverio.


>>José Cárdenas:
Who is actually communicating the suspensions? You've told me earlier thereof have been no formal, official communications suspending you or Silverio, am I right?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
That's correct.


>>José Cárdenas:
So where sit coming from?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
This is coming from the reporter -- the first time I heard -- read from it, it was in the "Arizona Republic," and this was after talking to the reporter, in this case, Yvonne WINGETT. She told me she had gotten in contact with David Rodriguez and Brent Wilks and they had relayed this message to her.


>>José Cárdenas:
That you had been suspended?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Right.


>>José Cárdenas:
We talked before about the possible motivation. What do you think is behind these efforts to suspend you?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
The motivation behind my suspension, I say, is a pending audit that the state membership called for on our -- at our last state meeting, which was held in November. In our constitution, an odd sit called for every year at the end of an administration's term to be performed by an outside public accounting service. In this case, it has never been done since I became -- I came into office, and according to many members that have been in LULAC here for more than 20 years, they have no recollection of any outside audit ever being conducted.


>>José Cárdenas:
So has an audit been conducted? to this date, no, I have ran into brick walls. We have already hired an accounting service, and the accounting service has requested statements from the agency where the state account was at, and they have been told they can't receive those statements because they're not signatures on the account.


>>José Cárdenas:
They have been told by who?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
They were told by the financial agency.


>>José Cárdenas:
In Tucson --


>> Samuel Esquivel:
In Tucson. Because that's where the state account was originally opened.


>>José Cárdenas: And you think it's your calling for an audit that has led to these actions against you?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Yes, I do. And the reason behind the audit was, when we decided, myself and the new state treasurer, made a decision to close the account with the former financial institution it was in, we accidentally became aware of five or six accounts that exist that were created under the same tax I.D. number, and under these accounts there was quite a bit of substantial amounts of monies, in the thousands, and many of the state membership, they weren't even aware of these accounts, nor was I. So the question started coming up, could there have been any commingling of monies --


>>José Cárdenas:
Do you think that actually happened?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
I'm not sure. And the only way to determine that, according to our public accountant that we have hired, says the only way to determine whether there was any commingling of fund or anything like that with the state account would be to conduct an official audit.


>>José Cárdenas:
Samuel, we're almost out of time, where is this all going to end up?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
I'm not sure. I can say I really don't know where it's going to end up at, but the purpose of Silverio and I, we got into this organization to serve the Hispanic community. That's what my purpose is about. It's not about Sam Esquivel, it's not about Silverio Garcia. It's about having a voice for the Hispanic community, fighting injustices where it needs to be fought, and addressing civil rights issues where they need to be addressed. I see that it's going to make LULAC stronger, whether I stay or don't stay.


>>José Cárdenas:
Do you have any plans to resign?


>> Samuel Esquivel: I have no plans and no intentions of resigning.


>>José Cárdenas:
You think it's going to make the organization stronger. Could this also lead to a split between the southern and northern parts of the state?


>> Samuel Esquivel:
It could but the one thing that I see coming out of this, it's going to take this organization back to where it should be, should have been and stayed at, and that's the grass roots level. I think this organization at the top has forgotten why it was created. We were created to assist and help the Hispanic community, and many people, many members, feel that that has been forgotten.


>>José Cárdenas:
Samuel, we're going to have to end the interview there. Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."


>> Samuel Esquivel:
Thank you very much.


>>José Cárdenas:
Hispanic Americans are one of the fastest growing population groups in the United States. What factors help to create the variety of Latino communities? Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places, Community and Cultural Diversity in Contemporary America, reports on the migration, politics and culture of landscapes of Hispanic communities in the country. Here tonight is the author of the book, ASU professor of geography Daniel Arreola. Professor Arreola, as we discussed before we went on the air, welcome to "Horizonte."


>>Daniel Arreola:
Thank you.


>>José Cárdenas:
Before we get into talking about the book, tell us a little bit about yourself.


>> Daniel Arreola:
Well, I am a third generation Mexican-American. My grandparents were born in Mexico and were immigrants. My parents were all born in the United States and so I hail from Southern California. I spent a number of years in Texas teaching at the institution of higher learning there, Texas A & M university before coming to Arizona State University in 1990.


>>José Cárdenas:
Are you part of the Latino group you talk about in the book?


>> Daniel Arreola:
In some ways, yes. I am obviously as many of us are Latino ancestry are, it's a matter of when. My ancestry goes back three generations. So my grandparents came here in the early part of the 20th century from Mexico. This diaspara is really concerned also with the more recent increased volume of people coming from different parts of the Latin America to the United States.


>> José Cárdenas:
You just talked about Hispanic Latino descent. The book is entitled Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places. There is this controversy over are we Hispanics, Latinos? Does the book address any of that?


>> Daniel Arreola:
I do briefly. There is a long tradition of discussion amongst academics and in the popular press about the correct words. In fact, I wanted to use Hispanic and Latino in the title, but in fact, what we talk about throughout the book is that there is really not a Hispanic or a Latino because continuously when surveys are done of the subpopulations that are the ancestry people of Hispanic Latino, people tell us over and over again I'm not Hispanic Latino, I'm Mexicano, I'm Dominican, I am Guatemalan, I'm Honduran. So these terms have to be seen in their context. They are larger contextual terms for all of the different Hispanic Latino groups.


>>José Cárdenas:
It's precisely that diversity that really comes out from the book, at least as I understand it. Do you agree with that?


>> Daniel Arreola:
Oh, absolutely. It's one of the reasons that I undertook the project three years ago, organizing scholars -- I edited the book and contributed several chapters, organizing scholars that I knew that were friends that had been doing research in communities across the United States looking at Hispanic Latino population changes in their own backyards, in places that they lived in.


>>José Cárdenas:
Let's talk a little bit about the organization of the book. You mentioned the introduction that you -- it's organized in three ways and then you have a number of authors who talk about different communities across the United States.


>> Daniel Arreola:
Right. One of the things that we're doing is to try and understand that Hispanic Latinos have come to the United States at different times. I mentioned a moment acing about how my own ancestry goes back three generations. What that means, of course, is that the Hispanic Latinos in one community are going to be different from the Hispanic Latinos in another. One that's been here for three or four centuries in Laredo, Texas, let's say, versus a Hispanic Latino population that's a newly arrived immigrant of Guatemalans in Los Angeles, so in the organization of the book what we decided to do was to look at three level of community, each one of them being different kinds of Latino Hispanic populations dependent on length of time here. The oldest we called continuous communities, these are communities that were founded as Hispanic Latino communities and have persisted from the time they were founded right up to the present as being predominantly Hispanic Latino places.


>>José Cárdenas:
Would Los Angeles be an example?


>> Daniel Arreola:
Los Angeles is not an example of that, in fact. Los Angeles would be an example of what we would call a discontinuous community. It was founded as Latino place but at some time in its history it became a predominantly Anglo place but now it's going back to becoming a predominantly Latino world. So we've used the word discontinuous to talk about that ancestry. If I could give the example of Laredo, Texas, as the example of a continuous community. There are many communities in New Mexico that were founded as Hispanic communities and have persisted right up to the present as being predominantly Hispanic communities.


>>José Cárdenas:
Las Vegas, New Mexico, would be one of those?


>> Daniel Arreola:
Exactly, Las Vegas, New Mexico is another one. The third kind of community we're looking at are actually the more interesting ones in one sense because there are many more of them. These are communities what we call the new Hispanic Latino communities. These are communities in which there's been no tradition of Hispanic Latinos historically.


>>José Cárdenas:
Would that be places such as you discuss here like Cleveland or Kansas City?


>> Daniel Arreola:
Cleveland, Kansas City. There are places in Iowa. One of the more interesting conclusions that we come to by just simply excavating and analyzing the census information from 2000 is that there are states in the United States in the northeast and New England, for example, in which Hispanic Latinos are the largest minority group. Most people wouldn't think that Massachusetts or New Hampshire or Vermont or Connecticut or Rhode Island would be places where you would have Latinos. But four of those states in fact Latinos are the dominant minority group.


>>José Cárdenas:
And as I understand it, another unique feature of the diaspara as you put it is just the breadth of it across the United States.


>> Daniel Arreola:
Yes.


>>José Cárdenas:
Talk about that.


>> Daniel Arreola:
One of the things the census shows us is that Hispanic Latinos may in fact be the wide most widely distributed minority group in the United States. In 1990 we know from a study done that outside a handful of counties in the state of Montana, north and South Dakota, every county in the United States has at least one Hispanic Latino person of that ancestry. That's really quite unusual, if you think about it, to have a population group that is so widely distributed all across the United States.


>>José Cárdenas: Is there a predominant group among the Hispanic groups you talk about?


>> Daniel Arreola:
Yes, people of Mexican ancestry overwhelmingly are the dominant group. It's understandable why. They are the people that are closest to the United States political boundary, much of western United States, of course, historians know, was part of Mexico before the middle of the 19th century. So Mexican ancestry people are about almost 60% of the total population of Hispanic Latinos in the United States. In 19 -- in 2000, the census reported 39 million Hispanic Latinos.


>>José Cárdenass:
What are the other surprising things that people might find when they read the book?


>> Daniel Arreola:
Well, one of the things they might find is that the composition of Hispanic Latino populations in the largest cities in the United States are changing radically. Phoenix, for example, has we know from our own media and from the reporting that the City of Phoenix has done, and from the federal census in 2000, Phoenix in 2000 was 34% Hispanic. The City of Phoenix. Not all of Maricopa County and all of the other communities, simply the City of Phoenix. But the planners in the City of Phoenix are already predicting that before 2010, sometime in the next five years, the population of the City of Phoenix will be primarily Hispanic Latino. That means it will be a city on par with places like Miami and San Antonio that today are big cities in the United States that are predominantly Hispanic Latino people.


>>José Cárdenas:
So the comparison with Miami, which has a much greater diversity amongst its Hispanic population, does it not?


>> Daniel Arreola:
Absolutely. That's one of the other things that comes out of this kind of research that you understand that that diversity we spoke of earlier is actually represented by regional differences within the United States so that places like Miami and New York are very, very different Hispanic composition population centers than places like Phoenix or the San Francisco bay area, for example. That means that in New York, as one example, people -- will think of New York as being of Puerto Rican ancestry. Puerto Ricans of course are U.S. citizens whether they live on the island or mainland of the United States. But in fact the 2000 census showed Puerto Ricans are no longer the majority in the five Burroughs of New York. It's now a plurality in which Puerto Ricans represent the largest of the groups, but they're not the majority. There are groups of Ecuador 81s, groups of people from the --


>>José Cárdenas:
There are interesting things about the Dominican population. Why don't we talk about that. I think you --


>> Daniel Arreola:
The Dominican republic, of course, is a Latin American area in the Caribbean, and we've had a long association in the United States with that part of the world, but in the last about three generations, the number of Dominicans that have come to the United States is extraordinary. Sports fans and baseball fans in particular know about Dominicans because many professional baseball teams have large numbers of Dominicans on their rosters. The Dominicans are extremely concentrated in New York City. Of the roughly 1 million Dominicans that were counted in the 2000 census, about -- more than 95% of them are in one or two Burroughs in New York, primarily parts of the Manhattan and queens. So they're extremely concentrated, perhaps more so than any Latino group in the United States.


>>José Cárdenas:
Thank you for joining us on for this fascinating discussion. For a transcript of tonight's show or to see what's coming up on "Horizonte," visit our website, www.azpbs.org, and click on "Horizonte." Thank you again for joining us tonight on "Horizonte." I'm José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Samuel Esquivel: State Director, LULAC;

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