Hispanic Heritage Month

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Hispanic Heritage Month started on September 15. The month celebrates the anniversary of independence for five Latino American countries- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on September 16 and Chile on September 18. ASU Professor Carlos Velez-Ibanez, Professor and Chair of the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department, talks to HORIZONTE about the culture and history behind Hispanic Heritage Month.

Jose Cardenas:
Good evening. I'm Jose Cardenas. Welcome to Horizonte. People marched and rallied across the country, asking congress to pass immigration reform legislation. These efforts have turned into a campaign to get more Latinos registered to vote. We'll talk about what's going on to educate voters in the community. Also meet the new chief of the Phoenix Fire Department. Plus learn about the importance of celebrating the culture and history behind Hispanic heritage month. That's all next on Horizonte.

Jose Cardenas:
For many political candidates, the Latino vote has become an important factor. With the November elections coming up, parties and candidates are reaching out to the Hispanic community. Recently, people marched for immigration reform and now this momentum has turned into getting more Latinos mobilized and registered to vote. Joining me to talk about voter outreach efforts is Ray Gano, president of LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens Council in Phoenix . And Lydia Guzman, spokesperson for Mi Familia Vota, a non partisan national voter education and registration project, and also for the "We Are America" coalition. Ray , Lydia , thank you for joining us on Horizonte.

Lydia Guzman:
Thank you for having us.

Jose Cardenas:
Lydia , just give us a brief outline of what Mi Familia Vota is and the coalition as well.

Lydia Guzman:
Mi Familia Vota is an organization that is reaching out to Latino voters that are registered to vote and are not coming to the polls. A recent study showed us that about 150,000 Latinos that are registered to vote didn't go to the polls, and chances are they won't go to the polls again this coming election simply because we did a really good job -

Jose Cardenas:
150,000 in the last presidential election?

Lydia Guzman:
That's correct, in the last presidential election. And, but they register to vote because so many efforts in the last couple of election cycles came in to Arizona , and did mass voter registration drives. However, the next step of voter registration is voter participation. And as you well know, Jose, the next step is, it's like leading a horse to water. On election day, how do you get that horse to drink?

Jose Cardenas:
And we are going to talk about how do you that. Right now the focus of the project is voter registration. Getting those people who -- or actually even more so getting the people who register to actually go and vote.

Lydia Guzman:
That's right. This is called a get out vote effort.

Jose Cardenas:
And I know you are with LULAC but I want to talk to Ray because, Ray, lulac is cooperating with this project and you are heading lulac separately. Tell us about that.

Ray Gano:
Well we are cooperating with every Latino organization that is working to get people out to vote. And, of course, Lydia is our spokesperson in Maricopa County . And relative to issues. Voting issues, but what we want to do is, we want to take a message out to all of the community that we really need to register and vote by mail. It's crucial.

Jose Cardenas:
That's Lulac's particular focus?

Ray Gano:
That is my particular mission, my project. And, of course, Lydia and the other members of Lulac and the coalitions and different groups are working in getting other information out to people, education.

Jose Cardenas:
Who are the other groups that are involved in this effort?

Ray Gano:
There are, of course, Somos America , the coalition, the political coalition. There are the

La Raza.
There's a whole conglomerate of organizations that are working for the same purpose. And we are all united because we know we must be effective. We must work together to get the message out and I know we can do that if we stick together and work hard.

Jose Cardenas:
you talk about what many would see as very disappointing be numbers with respect to Hispanic voting efficacy some of which is attributable to the fact you have a large foreign born segment but the few research center has come out with numbers. Can you run those through for us?

Lydia Gorman:
Right, the number of Latinos that are registered to vote in Arizona , they are about 50 of 500,000 Latinos that are registered to vote. However, we know that we can still register about 375 to 400,000 Latinos so we have that voting age population. Now, the difference between, you know, we do have a large number of Latinos living here in Arizona but not all of them are eligible to register to vote. Latinos have young children that are still under 18, as well as Latinos are also non citizens. So when look at demographics of the Latino pop litigation versus the number of Latinos that are registered to vote we are still increasing our numbers bit by bit, and the reason it looks like it's a small gain is it's only because of those two factors.

Jose Cardenas:
Well there's also the suggestion in the media that the voter increase, at least in terms of registration that was expected after these massive marches a few months ago just haven't happened. L.A. Got 500,000 people. Here you had anywhere up to 200,000 people. But nothing like that in terms of voter registration. Why is that?

Lydia Guzman:
Well, a lot of organizations aren't doing voter registration here in Arizona . And that's because, of course, the new provisions of prop 200 where the additional barriers on registering to vote. As you well know in Arizona , Arizona is the first state to require proof of citizenship to register to vote. And that becomes quite a burden. But another thing is, most organizations, what they are doing is placing their focus on get out the vote effort. Get out vote effort for all of those folks that are registered to vote but aren't turning out to the polls.

Jose Cardenas:
And, Ray, what is LULAC doing to make that happen?

Ray Gano:
LULAC, of course, is reassuring the community that we are going to continue our efforts, we are going to continue our efforts into 2008, and beyond, because we think that there's a lot of intimidation and you can see that in political ads that are very negative against immigrants and Latinos in general.

Jose Cardenas:
Give us some examples of those ads you are talking about.

Ray Gano:
Well, some of the ads in particular talk about an invasion from Mexico of people coming into Arizona . It instills fear in a lot of communities, a lot of our friends, Anglo friends and I must mention LULAC is very patriotic. It's 79 years old. We were founded on the basis that, you know, we would promote good citizenship, and that's what we continue to do, to promote Americanism, and make sure that people follow all of the philosophy of this great nation. But we continue to see that there's an attack on the Latino community, and it impacts on everybody. Central Americanos, Chicanos, Mexican Americans, immigrants across the board.

Jose Cardenas:
I think people could understand why that would generate votes, lets say, among the more conservative elements of voting population, their fear of immigration. Why would it intimidate people who, Latinos who are eligible to vote? Why wouldn't it, if anything, encourage them to come out and vote?

Ray Gano:
Well because they feel perhaps they can win elections and they are using this system, this method to discourage Latino voters, and to bring out people that ordinarily wouldn't vote for them but they will vote for them because of fear. That there is a conspiracy, perhaps to invade the state and this country, and it's very, very negative. And I think that you know, we have a lot of friends in Arizona , and we want to promote goodwill.

Jose Cardenas:
Let me ask you this. Why is LULAC focusing on early voting?

Ray Gano:
Because I think that, you know, it will help us to bring people out to vote and voting by mail is simple, and I think we can accomplish a lot. Usually we have a lot of seniors that don't get out to vote. We have no way of them getting out. And we have people that work late into the evening that perhaps this will facilitate getting people out and exercising their right to vote.

Jose Cardenas:
Let me ask you this. Ray mentioned seniors. Are there any particular age groups that are being targeted with this get out the vote effort?

Lydia Guzman:
There are, this is a across the board. The get out the vote effort that is taking place with Mi Familia Vota is they are receiving all those folks that are registered to vote, those numbers are receiving a vote by mail application in the mail. And with their information, the only thing they have to do is put their date of birth and their signature on it and then submit it. And Mi Familia Vota has even saved them a stamp so that they can facilitate this. But the, as far as any demographics, it affects all demographics. You have working families that, because of their long work schedules, you have elderly, you have women, you have new voters as well. So it encompasses everybody. The ones, of course, the voters, the registered voters receive the vote by mail application and they turn it in, Mi Familia Vota is following up with a phone call to the voter asking them to complete this, put it in the mail and then, you know, doing a lot of the get out the vote efforts, contacting the voters several times, not only to ensure that they put the application in the mail but also to ensure that once they receive the ballot, that they place that in the mail as well.

Jose Cardenas:
Ray, we have only got a few seconds left. Final thoughts on the efforts by LULAC and by the coalition to get the vote out.

Ray Gano:
What I would like to do is assure all the people, the good people of Arizona that Latinos, Chicanos, Mexican Americans are good people. And we want to be able to promote this great state and this great nation, and that we want to participate. But I don't think that you know, we should be labeled as enemies of the state or of this nation. We are not terrorists. We have contributed greatly to the progress of Arizona . And we will continue to do that. We're not going to go away. We are here to stay but we want to be able to work with everybody in Arizona . And to guarantee that, you know, we are going to promote good citizenship, good neighbors and I think that, you know, that's what it's all about. It's nothing negative, nor do we want to promote further division among the people of our state but we want to hand in hand, we want to have people come forward and say, ok, we want to work with you and make Arizona greater.

Jose Cardenas:
And we'll have to leave it at that. Ray Gano with LULAC and Lydia Guzman with Mi Familia Vota, thank you for joining us on Horizonte.

Jose Cardenas:
Bob Khan is Phoenix 's first new public fire chief in 28 years. He was promoted earlier this year taking over after former fire Chief Alan Brunacini, who officially retired in June. What are his plans to lead the Phoenix fire department? First Nadine Arroyo gives us a look inside the department.

Nadine Arroyo:
The Phoenix Fire Department was founded in 1887. Since its inception the P.F.D. has been growing at a fast pace along with the city it serves. Chief Bob Khan, the phoenix fire department's new leader, inherits a department with nearly 2,000 firefighters and civilian staff. With an operating budget of $220 million. The department has 52 active fire stations, 32 of which are recent developments. And to keep up with the city's growth, two stations are under construction and an additional six are in the planning and design stages. On average, the P.F.D. responds to 160,000 9-1-1 calls a year. As for the future of the department, a city bond passed in March allowed for funds to be used to develop three new centers for P.F.D., one for fire training, another for command training and the third a modern 9-1-1 center.

Jose Cardenas:
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to bob khan, the new city of Phoenix fire chief.

Jose Cardenas:
Chief Khan, welcome and congratulations.

Bob Khan:
Thank you, sir.

Jose Cardenas:
You are stepping into the shoes of a legislate agenda, chief Brunacini, nationally recognized. Let's talk about him before we talk about the new regime that we are going to be seeing.

Bob Kan:
Absolutely.

Jose Cardenas:
What can you tell us about his, because he had a national reputation. What was the particular basis for that?

Bob Khan:
Still does. He is an incredible person. He set the bar in the fire service. He I think next to Ben Franklin is one of the most notable people in the fire service. A lot of it --

Jose Cardenas:
The Ben Franklin -

Bob Khan:
The original fire chief. Jose, he set bar in the fire service. He is an individual that not only cares about the people in the community but the firefighters that serve them.Their safety, their training, and all levels. So what he has done is enabled….01 the firefighters to have a voice in the way they deliver service and address who he calls, we call Mrs.Smith, our customers. And that changed the industry, truly, from the west coast to the east coast. And he's nationally known for it, continues to be nationally known. I just saw him this morning. He is doing very well. He is still training, still coaching, still a great mentor for the Phoenix fire department. And honestly, I think the saying legendary is almost an understatement. He is a driven character. He's done a great job for the fire service.

Jose Cardenas:
What changes will we see, though, in your administration?

Bob Khan:
It's a little, it's a new time. Society is a little more complicated. We are kind of an urban peace corps. So it's not just firefighting and the rescue calls that are high profile you see us go on. It's the social service calls, people that have the flu, their may be emotional issues involved. If you look at how complicated society has gotten with drug use, a lot of the homeland issues we are dealing with, we are a multiuse sort of organization and we need address all those. And the resources aren't falling out of the di. We need to take a look at footprint that's out there for the service delivery model that we are using and what's expected out of us and make some adjustments with the resources we have in the system.

Jose Cardenas:
As I understand it, it's not just a question of scarce resources but also greater demands because of the growth of the city, and questions about where you are going to be building these fire stations and so forth. What can you tell us about that?

Bob Khan:
We are looking at about eight new stations over the next six years. And those stations barely keep up with the growth on the edges of phoenix. It's a huge demand on the system that we have. We are doing about 160,000 calls a year. Our respond times are just edging over five minutes, which is very difficult for us in the fire service because we would like to be there closer to four minutes. What we are trying to do is address the outlying areas and build those stations and inside of phoenix look at different models. One of the best metals that we have come up lately was the arrangement we have with paradise valley where we have actually a partnership with the town of paradise valley. We are using one of their fire stations, blending our resources to actually provide more service in the automatic aid system, which is a huge component to this. The automatic aid system reflects over 20 fire departments that respond through a computer aided satellite dispatch system. You have this universal sort of fire resource delivery in the valley that gets you the closest apparatus. A hole in the doughnut is part of that system and didn't really cost the people in phoenix any more money and was a reduction in cost to the city of paradise valley. We need to explore options and not just build new systems. Look at bait we are doing things to see if there's a smarter or better way to do those services.

Jose Cardenas:
Chief, you talked a little bit more. You mentioned homeland issues. Are you talking about immigrant population and how the fire department interacts with them?

Bob Khan:
Fully, prevention and response to either natural or man made disasters, now require a blended response from not only phoenix police, but phoenix fire, the F.B.I., the A.T.F., the multi agency responses you are seeing now, we need to be able to have an interoperability which takes staffing. It doesn't happen accidentally. You look at Katrina or even the world trade center, the way we work on the street on a daily basis will reflect how we perform in the event of a large disaster. So we have a bureau now that's blended with phoenix police. We have a deputy chief and commander that actually work together with the bomb squad, with our usual search and less skew team and our special operations team on those sensitive issues.

Jose Cardenas:
as I understand it, we only have a few seconds left, super bowl will require the cooperation, even though it's in Glendale , of Phoenix police department. What can you tell bus the preparation for that?

Bob Khan:
It's huge right now. We will work with chief Burdick out there. Obviously, we will provide our services through the automatic aid system. And throw everything at it we can to help the valley. It's going to be seamless to the people attending. We will do everything we can to make sure people are safe and cared for.

Jose Cardenas:
Congratulations on your appointment and thanks for joining us on Horizonte.

Bob Khan:
Thank you.

Jose Cardenas:
Hispanic heritage month is a national holiday that is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. It marks the anniversary of independence for five Latin American companies, Costa Rica , El Salvador , Honduras , Nicaraugua and Guatemala . Mexico and Chile celebrated their independence days on September 15 and September 18. Joining me to talk about the importance of recognizing what's behind Hispanic heritage month is ASU professor Carlos Velez Ibanez, the chair of the Chicano and Chicana studies department at ASU. Thank you for joining us on ASU. We talked about celebrating these various independence days but that really wasn't the original motivation back in 1968, when the month was declared. Tell us about what was going on at that time.

Carlos Velez Ibanez:
1968 was a hallmark year for the entire country. You have basically in the southwest, and also in portions of the east but mostly the southwest, really five simultaneous movements led by Mexican origin populations. Entire movement in agriculture by the united farm workers, Cesar Chavez, the urban movement in Colorado , you have, in fact, a land movement in New Mexico land moment.

Jose Cardenas:
The people trying to recover land given by Spanish land grants.

Carlos Velez Ibanez:
And Mexican land grants. There were more Mexican land grants than U.S. Land grants. Those student movements in high school, there was a film not very long ago called "walk out," which depicted that period of time.

Jose Cardenas:
Led in part by the current mayor of Los Angeles .

Carlos Velez Ibanez:
That's right. He was a student at Fairfax or one of the schools. And fifth, university students. So when you combine all of that with the Vietnam War, and the Vietnam war was particularly difficult on Mexican population, Mexican origin population because you had the casualty rates were so enormous, rates of 23 and 24% of K.I.A. And wounded in Vietnam when, in fact, the population for that age cohort was between no more than 12%.

Jose Cardenas:
So it was a time of great turmoil in the country, generally, you also had the riots in Los Angeles in the African-American community. This was, in part, then a response to the various movements. Do you draw any parallels between what was going on then and what's going on now?

Carlos Velez Ibanez:
Well, you know, we have come a long way since then. From the point of view that the population itself has generated many of the responses to the issues of that particular period. Hispanic heritage month, I think, is fine. It's a recognition that, in fact, as a population we exist. The only issue --

Jose Cardenas:
More than that, though?

Carlos Velez Ibanez:
Well, it should be more than that. But the fact of the matter is, I think even the notion of Hispanic heritage kind of clumps all the groups together as if we had only one particular history when, in fact, you have very different histories for different parts of the population. If you look at Mexican origin population that history is very much associated, of course, with the Mexican war, the purchase, and that population then has a very long, long trajectory of presence in southwest North America which is all of the border states as well. And that's very different from Cubans in Florida , and Puerto Ricans, which have been under the political control of the United States since 1889. And most recently Salvadorians, they came to the United States in the aftermath of civil war and Nicaraguanses.The problem with the notion of Hispanic, racist to a certain degree, the unique history of the population groups. While I welcome the recognition we exist still I think it's kind of a historic -- that's an issue and that's a problem.

Jose Cardenas:
Well, and on the other side of that, is there concern, especially in these times, when there's such a strong anti-immigration movement and send meant, that there is a backlash amongst the population at large against any kind of a particular focus on one ethnic group?

Carlos Velez Ibanez:
Well, I don't think there's that much of a concern. The real concern that I see basically is one in which you have this fear that's permeated throughout the populations from the, from entire political careers being based on an anti-immigration and ultimately anti-Mexican position that many of these people take along the border. You had previous guests you were talking about voting and registering people to vote and so on. And I remember distinctly, a week or so ago when I went to vote, getting the feeling that even though I may have, I had documentation I provided my voter registration card and my driver's license, that I was going to be questioned. Not that it was real and not that it actually happened but I had this slight fear. Now, if a guy like me who is a former marine, and born in Tucson, Arizona, of households and families that have been around in the state of Sonora and in Arizona before it was Arizona, for the last 200 years, if I felt that and I am perfectly bilingual with a Ph.D. And all the rest of that, what happens to a working guy who is the first generation Mexicanos, born in the United States , maybe only one generation or is a recent resident, how is that person going to feel with all of these issues and all of these political careers basically built on the fear of that very population?

Jose Cardenas:
Let me ask you this and I think it ties a little bit into that. Shoot focus of Hispanic heritage month be not necessarily on the roots in other countries and so instead of celebration of Mexican independence or Costa Rican independence, more the experience in this country, Cesar Chavez or other leaders of the Chicano movement in the united states or shouldn't be both?

Carlos Velez Ibanez:
It needs to be defined by the population. Hispanic heritage is defined by significant others, other than the population itself. How the population chooses to celebrate this and this recognition, I think, should be part and parcel of the process by which that heritage gets celebrated. As far as I can see, much of this is defined from a kind of stereo typical position.

Jose Cardenas:
Professor, we have just got about 20 seconds left. Just a quick summary of what's going on with your department and the name change.

Carlos Velez Ibanez:
Well, we are in recognition of the enormous demographic changes we are going to be become a department of trans origin Latino and Latina studies.

Jose Cardenas:
am hopeful we can get back on the show to talk about the change and what it means. For now, let me thank you for joining us to talk about Hispanic heritage month.

Carlos Velez Ibanez:
Thank you very much.

Jose Cardenas:
If you would like a transcript of tonights show or would like to learn about future topics, please log on to our website at www.azpbs.org and click on Horizonte. That's our show for tonight. I am Jose Cardenas. For all of us here at Horizonte, have a good evening.

Chief Bob Khan: Phoenix Fire Department;

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