Axios Latino

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¡Muy buen jueves! This week we go over vaccine experimentation, body cameras for border agents, and Venezuelan ingenuity.

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This week’s newsletter — edited by Michele Salcedo — is 1,511 words, about a 6-minute read.

1 big thing: The multiracial revolution

Percentage change in race reported by people of Hispanic or Latino origin
Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of U.S. Latinos identifying as multiracial increased 567% over the past decade, while the number of Hispanics identifying as solely white dropped significantly, according to the latest U.S. census.

Why it matters: The dramatic shift in racial identity came after the Census Bureau offered more options on the questionnaire and as more Latinos embrace Indigenous and Black backgrounds.

  • For decades, until the Civil Rights Act, Latinos had checked off white as their race on forms, mostly to try to skirt segregation laws that would have prevented them from owning homes or holding certain jobs.

By the numbers: Between 2010 and 2020, the number of people of Hispanic or Latino origin reporting more than one race increased from 3 million to 20.3 million, the U.S. Census reported.

  • The number of Latinos who identified as white alone decreased by 52.9%, down from 26.7 million to 12.6 million over the decade.
  • Latinos now are 18.7% of the total U.S. population.

What they’re saying: “I take pride in being a mixed-race individual because it’s as if I’m carrying the trials and tribulations of my ancestors through the color of my skin, the curl patterns on my head, and even the way I speak Spanish,” Celeste Cabrera, a 19-year-old Puerto Rican living in Florida, told Axios reporters Russell Contreras and Yacob Reyes.

Keep reading.

2. Scoop: A narco speaks from behind bars

Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo in prison.

Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, former co-leader of the Guadalajara cartel, in the 1970s (right) and today. He has lost hearing in one ear, sight in one eye and needs an oxygen tank to breathe. Photo: Noticias Telemundo

Former cartel boss Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo breaks his silence in an interview with Noticias Telemundo, his first since being apprehended in 1989 in connection with the deaths of DEA undercover agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena and Mexican pilot Alfredo Zavala.

Details: The man who once was considered “The Godfather” of narco crime and one of the most feared criminals worldwide is now a visibly worn down 75-year-old who calls himself a “corpse waiting to be buried by a tree’s roots.”

  • About Camarena, Félix Gallardo says: “Never met him [...] but I know he was a good man,” as he continued to deny that he masterminded the agent’s murder.
  • Yet he added that he hopes Camarena’s widow “should feel relieved that the culprits are serving time.”
  • Besides Félix Gallardo, former Guadalajara Cartel co-leader Ernesto Fonseca is under house arrest.
  • Former cop and presumed triggerman in the murder, Francisco Tejeda Jaramillo, left prison in 2016 and is now a painter.

Flashback: Félix Gallardo’s expansion of drug routes towards the U.S. earned him the nickname “jefe de jefes,” and the group he co-founded was the first major Mexican criminal organization.

  • Félix Gallardo once worked alongside fugitive Rafael Caro Quintero, one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted, and oversaw lieutenants like a young Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán — later leader of the Sinaloa cartel — and Amado Carrillo Fuentes, nicknamed “el señor de los cielos” for the fleet of airplanes used to move drugs for his Juárez cartel.

State of play: The Sinaloa and Juárez cartels are still operating, after their original kingpins were imprisoned or died. The Guadalajara cartel is no more.

3. Immigration agents get onboard with bodycams

Maria Puga protests the death of her husband, Anastasio Hernandez Puga, at the hands of Customs and Border Patrol agents.

A protest demanding justice over the death of Anastasio Hernández, killed in 2010 during a Border Patrol operation to deport him. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Corbis via Getty Images

A third of all U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents will be outfitted with recording cameras by the end of this year, the agency announced.

Why it matters: The cameras will provide “greater transparency into interactions between CBP officers and agents and the public,” the agency said in a statement. CBP’s operations include securing the borders, immigration raids, and holding immigrant children before they are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Local and state law enforcement have increasingly turned to body cameras for accountability over the use of force, while federal agents now have to use them when serving warrants.
  • The program will begin with Border Patrol officers in the southwest and north, and the rest of the 20,000 strong force will follow in a yet unspecified time frame.

By the numbers: CBP has recorded an annual average of 550 use-of-force incidents by agents over the past four fiscal years, and 2021 is on track for the highest number of incidents yet. Activist organizations claim over 130 people have died in encounters with Border Patrol agents since 2010.

  • Other abuses include the kidnapping and rape of three Honduran women by the agent Esteban Manzanares after he forced the migrants onto his official vehicle in 2014. He committed suicide as law enforcement closed in on him, and the women later tried unsuccessfuly to sue CBP in a civil case.

Yes, but: Agents are not obligated to have the body cameras set to record automatically, and footage will only be saved if it’s deemed to have “evidentiary value.”

4. Booster shot experiment in Cono Sur and Caribe

A healthcare worker administers a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 booster vaccine at a vaccination site in Montevideo, Uruguay.

An Uruguayan who received Sinovac for his first two doses gets a Pfizer shot as a booster Aug. 16. Photo: Ana Ferreira/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chile, Uruguay and the Dominican Republic have begun vaccinating their citizens with a third dose of coronavirus immunizations as COVID-19 continues to ravage Latin America and the Caribbean.

Driving the news: Their experience bears watching, now that the U.S. has determined booster shots will be needed around eight months after the first immunization period.

  • The three countries initially used the less costly and more available Sputnik and Sinovac vaccines, which studies show have lower efficacy against variants.
  • People there are now being given AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses, in a real-time experiment of mixing-and-matching.

But, but, but: Most other countries in the Americas have yet to start vaccinating many of their residents.

  • The Pan-American Health Organization announced last week it will begin buying vaccine doses to distribute directly in the region, as wealthier countries drain those available through COVAX for their booster shots.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean are being hit concurrently by the Delta, Lambda and Gamma variants of SARS-CoV-2.

For reference: In the U.S., recent vaccinations are reaching more Hispanic and non-Hispanic Asian and Black people who had lagged in vaccine access.

  • Data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the share of vaccinations going to Hispanic people increased significantly towards August in the 40 states that report ethnicity.

Watch: Axios' Stef Kight and Axios Latino co-author Russell Contreras talk with Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar and cardiologist Juan Rivera at an Axios Latino event about building confidence around vaccines and other health care issues.

5. Tu voz: Where our readers fall on Hispanic v. Latino

Which term do you prefer?
Data: Gallup; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Indifference to the use of either Hispanic or Latino/a seems to unite our readers from various backgrounds, per reader comments to last week’s report on a poll about terms Latin Americans prefer when referencing their ancestry.

What’s happening: Many did express revulsion towards the term Latinx. Axios Latino reader Angel Jaen called it “cumbersome and forced upon its target population,” while Barbara Rehn said it was “one more way that the English-speaking majority co-opts cultural identity.”

  • There is, however, interest in a gender-neutral option and a pair said the Spanish alternative with the -e suffix fits the bill.

What they’re saying: “Younger [...] Latine people are quickly catching up to the notion of ‘they’ as the preferred alternative to strictly him/her,” remarked reader Marcela Pinilla.

6. Stories we’re watching

Children walk through flooded streets following a tropical storm in Saint-Louis-du-Sud, Haiti, on  Aug. 17.

The streets of Saint-Louis-du-Sud, Haiti, after drenching rains from Tropical Storm Grace. An earthquake struck days earlier, 7 miles northeast of the township. Photo: Jonathan Alpeyrie/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tragedies continue to befall Haiti: Tropical Storm Grace left flooding in its wake this week, which could add to the 2,100 death toll from Saturday’s earthquake.

  • The quake had already left many homeless, while hospitals don’t have the capacity to treat the thousands injured. U.S. and World Health Organization disaster assistance is being distributed as the country’s new government remains fragile after the assassination of the president on July 7.

Nicaragua’s purge of any opposition to Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s regime has kept growing. The country’s only daily, La Prensa, was raided last week, the print edition suspended and several journalists have had to flee.

  • At least 33 people, including student activists and former brothers in arms of Ortega’s, have been arrested this summer in the lead-up to November’s elections.

Nayib Bukele’s proposed constitution for El Salvador is almost ready, with changes like extending the presidential term for one year and allowing a one-party state.

  • The draft text would also incorporate all cryptocurrencies into monetary policy, a continuation of a law that made bitcoin legal tender in the country.

6. 1 smile to go: For sale — scrap shoes, never worn

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Andrés López says a single tire can yield three pairs of flip-flops, some of which he donates to other impoverished children in his town. Photos: Noticias Telemundo.

Venezuelan teenager Andrés López only had one pair of shoes, until he lost those flip-flops and his family couldn’t afford new ones. When López decided to make a new pair himself with scraps like tire cutouts and old bag straps, he ended up tapping into an unexpected market.

Why it matters: Like López, many in Venezuela have had to resort to ingenuity in the face of hyperinflation and the scarcity of food and medicine.

  • The 14-year-old’s creations have been selling even in the capital, Caracas, which is 300 miles away from his hometown near Ciudad Bolívar.
  • He has gotten donations from the U.S. as well, for equipment like sewing thread.
  • López says flip flops can cost around $10 dollars in the crisis-ridden South American country, where minimum wage neared 0.64 dollars early this summer. López charges about $3 dollars for his shoes.

Hasta la próxima semana, have a safe one.