Axios Latino

Red wooden block with Latino in colors engraved on it.

🎉 Welcome back, dear readers! 🎉

ICYMI: Earlier today, Axios' Erica Pandey and Russell spoke with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and The Education Trust-West executive director Christopher J. Nellum about initiatives to resolve financial barriers in higher education. Watch the event here.

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  • Puede leer la versión en español aquí.

🚨 Situational awareness: Two Mexican journalists were killed yesterday, Axios' Sara Fischer reports. That makes it 11 journalists so far this year.

This newsletter edited by Astrid Galván and Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath is 1,363 words, a 5-minute read.

1 big thing: Gun ownership soars

Illustration of gun barrels getting longer forming an upward trending bar chart.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The percentage of U.S. Latinos who have purchased firearms in the past two years has soared, Marina and Shawna report.

Why it matters: Violent crime — and hate crimes — are up in many parts of the country.

  • Gunfire killed nearly 3,000 Latinos each year in the past two decades, according to a study by the Violence Policy Center.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that the overall firearm homicide rate increased nearly 35% from 2019 to 2020; the increase for Hispanics was over 25%.

The big picture: When it comes to non-deadly gun injuries, Latinos in the U.S. have double the rate of white non-Hispanics, according to research by nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety.

By the numbers: Gun retailers reported a 37% increase in Latino buyers during 2021, according to the most recent survey by trade group National Shooting Sports Foundation.

  • There was a 49% increase between 2019 and 2020.
  • Crime or gun violence form one of Latinos’ top five concerns, polling by Ipsos for Axios and Noticias Telemundo shows.

The 2019 mass shooting in El Paso by a gunman intending to harm Hispanics led to the formation of the Latino Rifle Association, its founder, P.B. Gomez, said.

  • He says the aim of the association is to “educate Latino communities about firearms and self-defense.”

Yes, but: Firearm ownership has been linked to greater risk of suicide.

  • The majority of overall suicides —53% — involved a firearm in 2020, the CDC found.
  • A study published in March found an increased likelihood during the pandemic of depressive people, including Hispanics, buying a gun.

Go deeper

2. Latinos with superpowers

Two side-by-side photos show Victoria Alonso, left, posing at the premier of the Marvel's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" and to the right is Xochitl Gomez, who is in the movie
Victoria Alonso (left) produced “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” featuring Xochitl Gomez (right) as America Chavez. Photos: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic, Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Disney

The newest Marvel box office hit features the first big screen Latina character and was produced by a Hispanic woman, Marina writes.

Details: Mexican American actress Xochitl Gomez plays America Chavez in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” produced by Victoria Alonso, who is from Argentina.

  • This is Chavez’s first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She is also known as Miss America, and is one of few major comic book characters with Latino origins.
  • Her character has two moms and is a lesbian in the comic books.

What they’re saying: “America Chavez gives us the representation that we haven’t seen yet; she’s the character I’ve wanted to spotlight since I started out at Marvel,” Alonso told Noticias Telemundo.

  • Alonso was promoted to president of post-production, VFX and animation production last September, after working on Marvel movies since 2008’s "Iron Man."
  • Alonso started out in Hollywood as a teenager working three jobs, after leaving Buenos Aires.

What’s next: More Latino comic book characters will make the jump to film in the next few years, with Xolo Maridueña (from “Cobra Kai”) playing Blue Beetle and Bad Bunny headlining Spider-Man spinoff “El Muerto."

  • Latino actor Oscar Isaac stars in “Moon Knight” on Disney+.
  • There is no confirmation yet that Gomez will reprise her character, but Miss America does team up in the comics with other young Marvel heroes already adapted to shows and movies.

3. Fires ravage historic villages

A large plume of smoke is seek from a distance in New Mexico as the sun sets in the background
The Hermits Peak Fire in New Mexico. Photo: Naitonal Wifefire Coordinating Group

Wildfires raging across New Mexico are endangering historic Hispanic villages and Native American pueblos, Russell writes.

The big picture: The infernos are scorching the state, home to nation's largest percentage of Hispanic residents, as the region suffers its worst drought in centuries.

Driving the news: The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak blaze has grown to be the nation's largest wildfire and is now around 260 square miles.

President Biden last week signed Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s request for a disaster declaration, which unlocked millions of dollars for relief.

Zoom out: Most of the western United States is in a drought.

  • An extreme drought extends through 79% of New Mexico.

4. LGBTQ+ suicide risk

Data: The Trevor Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

A recent survey of LGBTQ+ youths found 46% of Latinos had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, up slightly from the year before, Astrid writes.

The big picture: Conservative lawmakers across the country have introduced and passed legislation curbing the rights of transgender and gay youths.

By the numbers: The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ youths, surveyed 34,000 LGBTQ+ people ages 13-24 across the U.S. The survey was conducted online between Sept. 20, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

  • 17%, or 5,778 respondents, identified as Latino.
  • 16% of Latino respondents said they attempted suicide in the past year, up slightly from the year before, and 60% said they experienced symptoms of depression.
  • 65% of Latino respondents said that they've experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

The big picture: Overall, respondents said the top four barriers to care were fears around discussing mental health, concerns with parental permission, fears of not being taken seriously and lack of affordability, Axios breaking news reporter Shawna Chen reports.

  • LGBTQ+ youth of color also reported significantly higher rates of concern that providers would not understand their culture compared to white youth.
  • Young LGBTQ+ people are "a marginalized group consistently found to be at significantly increased risk for suicide because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society," Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, said in a statement.
  • Latinos are much more likely than other LGBTQ+ youth to report a suicide attempt, according to the Trevor Project.

Worth noting: Latinos are highly accepting of members of the LGBTQ+ community, according to the latest Axios-Ipsos Latino Poll in partnership with Noticias Telemundo.

5. Stories we're watching

A person tends to an injured man who is slouched in the back of a pickup truck in Ecuador after a massive prison riot.
A wounded inmate gets a check-up after a prison riot in Ecuador. Photo: Juan Carlos Pérez/AFP via Getty Images

1. A prison riot in Ecuador left 44 dead and several wounded yesterday.

  • Authorities also recaptured 150 inmates who had escaped, while roughly 70 may remain at large.
  • Ecuador has seen a string of deadly prison riots since last year, including in September, when almost 200 people were killed in a jail in Guayaquil.
  • The port city is under a state of emergency over high rates of drug trafficking and homicides.

2. Residents in over 70 communities in Colombia are under siege and stuck inside their homes after the Clan del Golfo criminal group launched an “armed strike” this weekend, authorities said.

  • The cartel is restricting the movement of people and the passage of cars and trade in response to last week’s extradition of Dairo Antonio Úsuga, also known as Otoniel, to the United States to face drug charges.
  • The Clan del Golfo said it will free up the roads again and lift its blockade, extending over 11 regions, tonight.

6. One smile to go: 🗣 16 years, 9 languages

María Asig is pictured looking to the side
María Asig. Source: Noticias Telemundo

A Guatemalan teenager who sells treats to tourists can speak nine languages despite not having formal schooling, Marina writes.

Details: María Asig, 16, sells chocolate, water and candies at a national jungle reserve in northern Guatemala.

  • She's learned to communicate in Hebrew, German, French, English, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch, in addition to Spanish and her native Mayan Q'eqchi, in the 10 years she's been working.
  • Asig has also been learning some Japanese.
  • She wants to become a tourist guide, she told Noticias Telemundo.

Guatemala is also the birthplace of another multilingual wonder. Duolingo was created by Luis von Ahn, born in Guatemala City, the capital.

Yes, but: Indigenous Guatemalan women have on average three years of formal schooling by their teen years, according to Summa, a research lab from the Inter-American Development Bank focused on education in Latin America.

  • The biggest barriers to schooling include a need to work from a very young age, the physical distance from schools and a lack of educational content in Indigenous languages.

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Thank you for reading! We’ll be back Thursday.