Axios Latino

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🎤 Hi! Today is the last day of April ... tomorrow it's gonna be May.

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This newsletter, edited by Astrid Galván, is 1,517 words, a 6-minute read.

1 big thing: Journalism and activism win "Green Nobel"

Marcel Gomes and Andrea Vidaurre. Photos: Courtesy of Goldman Environmental Prize

A Latina activist in California and a journalist in Brazil have been honored for the impact of their work on environmental issues affecting their communities.

Why it matters: The efforts of Andrea Vidaurre in the U.S. and of Marcel Gomes in Brazil have helped shed light on how U.S. Latino communities and people across Latin America are affected by climate change and pollution.

Driving the news: The Goldman Environmental Prize, which some have nicknamed the "Green Nobel," announced yesterday that Vidaurre and Gomes, who is based in São Paulo, are among this year's seven winners.

Zoom in: Vidaurre, a founder of People's Collective for Environmental Justice, has since 2020 been gathering data on the impact of pollution from cargo trucks and trains crossing through California's Inland Empire, advocating for a reduction in it.

  • The Inland Empire is home to more than a thousand massive warehouses that fulfill online shopping orders, and the region's largest cities, Riverside and San Bernardino — where Latinos make up more than 50% of the population — have some of the worst air quality in the U.S.
  • As a result of the efforts of Vidaurre and others, California last year adopted standards for zero emissions from fleet vehicles, requiring delivery vans, school buses and big rigs to transition to emissions-free engines over time.

Between the lines: "When you click and shop online, you don't necessarily know where that's coming from," Vidaurre says, "but there is a whole system of communities that make the global supply chain happen … and there are deadly impacts from it, due to air quality and more."

Gomes reports for and helps manage the outlet Repórter Brasil, which has published stories exposing child labor in farms linked to multinational corporations and has traced gold purchased by major tech companies to illegal mining that's poisoning Indigenous peoples.

What they're saying: "There is a tremendous need to make all elements across supply chains more transparent, for more companies to do due diligence of where things come from," Gomes tells Axios Latino.

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2. Latinos key in college anti-war protests

A sign showing solidarity from Latinas is on display at an anti-war Gaza solidarity camp at UCLA in Los Angeles on April 27. Photo: Grace Hie Yoon/Anadolu via Getty Images

Latinos are a key part of a multi-ethnic coalition of students spearheading college demonstrations and encampments calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and divestment in Israel.

The big picture: As college campuses have become more diverse, Latinos are part of a new generation of student activists who identify with the Palestinian struggle.

Catch up quick: The protests over the treatment of Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war have spread since a demonstration at Columbia University drew international attention.

State of play: The population of Arab American students is small, and they need a coalition of diverse students to bring attention to the war in Gaza on campuses, James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, tells Axios.

  • Latino students are a crucial part of that coalition, Zogby said.
  • "They're part of a global community of people who've experienced America in different ways. That's really quite significant and isn't going away."

What they're saying: Andre Montoya-Barthelemy, a faculty member at the University of New Mexico's School of Medicine, tells Axios that some Latino and Native American students see their own stories as similar to that of the Palestinians.

  • "The organizers perhaps who feel most passionate about this issue of Palestine ... is much closer for people of color and historically marginalized and oppressed populations," Montoya-Barthelemy said at an encampment at his school.

The other side: U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), whose parents are Puerto Rican, has been outspoken about the protests, which he says make Jewish students fearful because of antisemitism.

  • "Campus antisemitism is at an all-time high, and American universities are not capable of handling it when left to their own devices," Torres said in a statement.

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3. Poll: Americans critical of latest immigrants

A Venezuelan woman is comforted by her daughter on April 2 as she cries while telling of her journey to reach El Paso, Texas. Photo: Christian Monterrosa/AFP via Getty Images

A majority of Americans say they believe people who are trying to immigrate to the U.S. today have "worse character" than those who came 50 years ago, according to a new Axios Vibes survey by The Harris Poll.

The big picture: In the poll of U.S. adults' attitudes about immigration, many respondents expressed romanticism about the past and strong skepticism about it today — a contradiction historians say is rooted in myth and fantasy about the nation's immigrant past.

  • Republicans have made immigration a top election issue and many are increasingly using the word "invasion" to describe a record number of border crossings

Overall, 62% of respondents in the online survey of 6,251 U.S. adults said they believe the character of people wanting to immigrate to the country today is worse than fifty years ago.

  • 76% of Republicans, 53% of Democrats and 60% of independents said the same.

Reality check: Americans 50 years ago had the same complaints about immigrants — that they reshape cities and don't assimilate — as they do today, María Cristina García, a Cornell University history professor and past president of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, tells Axios.

  • García says many Americans today erroneously believe that previous generations of immigrants assimilated and the country was welcoming. The study of history doesn't bear that out, she adds.

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4. Spotlight: Isabel González Whitaker

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Moms Clean Air Force

Editor's note: This is part of a monthly series spotlighting Latinos who are making a mark in their communities.

Isabel González Whitaker is the associate vice president for Moms Clean Air Force and the director of EcoMadres, two organizations dedicated to fighting climate change.

Why do you do what you do? My mother, Sara J. González, actively uplifted the Latino community and gave a voice to historically marginalized communities across the southeast. She inspired me to live my life in a way that honors her sacrifice as an immigrant who came to this country with nothing.

What's your recipe for achieving your goals? Give yourself the grace to avoid reaching your goals in a straight line. Be kind to yourself when you stumble or fall off the path. Accept that your goals might change, and know that could be great.

What are you reading or watching? My son and I are watching "The Secret of the Octopus" — a beautiful nature documentary that is as complicated and dramatic as any piece of classic literature.

What is something you do just for yourself? Finding time to work out, because health has become critically important to me, a privilege I don't take for granted.

What is something you can't live without? My family is my everything. I especially cheer my son on at his sports games.

What is the best advice you ever got? Pa' lante pa' lante: a Spanish saying for taking one step forward at a time. This has helped me through tremendous losses and dark times.

5. Stories we're watching

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

1. Argentina's public universities will remain open and funded, President Javier Milei said this weekend after massive protests last Tuesday.

  • Protesters had criticized Milei for seeking to cut funding to universities such as the top-ranked UBA as part of austerity measures that have included massive layoffs, closing ministries and defunding cultural organizations.
  • Milei denied plans to disendow universities, saying he only plans to audit them, and claimed that the protests' huge numbers were "padded" with "hired actors."

2. The presidents of Mexico and the U.S. discussed during a call on Sunday "concrete measures" to reduce irregular border crossings, the White House said yesterday.

  • Migration has become one of the key issues going into the November elections.
  • In Mexico, which holds presidential elections on June 2, the matter has been scarcely mentioned by the candidates.

6. Smile to go:🔭To infinity and beyond

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Peeks at some of the exhibits in the Museo del OVNI in La Serena, Chile. Source: via Telemundo

Chile, an astronomy hub, is now also home to a UFO museum.

State of play: Chile has major observatories and structures like the Atacama Large Millimeter Array radio telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope, which, when completed, will be the largest optical telescope in the world, rivaling the Hubble.

  • Images from telescopes in Chile have yielded findings of early galaxy clusters and exoplanets — and attracted ufologist tourism.
  • In response, the country's first dedicated museum opened in February, exploring alien myths, how the topic has been broached in pop culture and related political discussions in Chile's Congress and beyond.

🥎 Russ is becoming that dad who watches softball pitching videos for his daughter, Ava, who struck out three hitters in her first start on Saturday.

🤯 Marina is kinda flabbergasted that it's gonna be May.

🎤 Astrid hopes this song is stuck in your head, too.

Our sincerest gratitude to Carlos Cunha, Alison Snyder and Axios Visuals for their many contributions!