Axios Latino

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This newsletter edited by Astrid Galván and Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath is 1,438 words, about a 5.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Latino media deal rankles conservatives

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, speaks with his hand out
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Photo: Anna Rose Layden-Pool/Getty Images

Conservative Cuban American lawmakers have launched a battle over the purchase of 18 influential Hispanic radio stations by a group with progressive ties, Russell writes.

Why it matters: The Latino Media Network’s deal for the TelevisaUnivision stations could transform a large portion of the U.S. Latino media landscape.

Driving the news: In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, which must still approve the acquisition, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and other lawmakers wrote the group "led by partisan operatives with zero experience in broadcasting" may work to silence certain political viewpoints.

  • "If successful, (the Latino Media Network) could exercise virtually uncontested influence over nearly one-third of all Hispanics across the country. "

FCC spokesman Will Wiquist declined to comment.

Background: Latina activists and entrepreneurs Jess Morales Rocketto and Stephanie Valencia have raised $80 million to launch the Latino Media Network.

  • Both have worked for Democrats in the past.
  • The pair used the money to acquire the radio stations in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Chicago, Dallas, San Antonio, McAllen, Fresno, and Las Vegas.

Among them is Miami’s right-wing Radio Mambí, a storied institution among Cuban exiles in Miami.

  • Its conservative bent reflects the anti-communist sentiment of Cubans who came to Miami in the 1960s, but it has also been accused of spreading misinformation about the Jan. 6 insurrection.
  • Miami Cubans have begun to speak out against the deal to sell the station.

In a statement, the Latino Media Network said it was committed to "freedom at every level, a concept that is near and dear to the hearts of Miami’s many communities, be that Cubans, Colombians, Haitians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, or otherwise."

  • “The stations we acquired in Miami have been institutions in the Cuban community for decades and Cuba’s freedom is one of their flagship issues. We believe wholeheartedly in that mission, and we will remain true to that spirit of liberty that has guided them over decades."

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2. More Hispanics needed in science

Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

Hispanics say the key to improving diversity in science hinges on seeing more Hispanic scientists, science students and science teachers, according to a Pew Research Center report published Tuesday.

  • The survey found about 30% of Latinos view scientists as unwelcoming to Latinos, which could hinder efforts to diversify the field, Astrid and Axios' Alison Snyder write.

The big picture: Latinos make up 17% of the U.S. workforce but only 8% of people working in science, technology, engineering or math, Pew found earlier.

  • The percentage of Latino college students earning a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field is up from 8% in 2010 to 12% in 2018, according to the latest available data.

By the numbers: Only 26% of Latinos feel scientists as a professional group are very welcoming of Hispanics. And only 35% of them say Hispanic people have reached the highest levels of success in science, compared to 59% for medical doctors.

  • 81% of respondents said young Hispanic people would be more likely to pursue STEM degrees if they saw more examples of high-achievers in the field who are Hispanic.

What they're saying: Erika Tatiana Camacho, a professor of applied mathematics at Arizona State University, says educating parents about STEM fields and the jobs they offer could help drive more Latino students to the field.

  • Camacho is a program director at the National Science Foundation, which is supporting a slate of new programs at Hispanic-serving institutions (colleges that serve an at least 25% Hispanic full-time student population) that add a cultural perspective to how they teach STEM.
  • Many times students are asked "to leave [their] identity at the door of the classroom ... as opposed to bring in who they are to the center point," she says.

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3. Clinical trials’ risks for immigrants

Illustration of a repeating pattern of IV drips with random ones highlighted.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some Latino immigrants participate in clinical drug trials to earn money, but the risks are not always clearly explained and the lack of government oversight puts participants at greater risk, according to a months-long investigation by Noticias Telemundo.

  • The report found some of the approximately 14,000 clinics that oversee phase 1 trials of new drugs in healthy people lack government oversight and that immigrants who need cash end up being frequent participants.

What's happening: Immigrants who have been part of trials say they now have health issues that the consent forms they signed did not make clear could happen, the Noticias Telemundo investigation found. There’s not a reliable database that could show how many Latinos have taken part in studies.

  • One woman, María Elisa Rangel, died in 2015 from a reaction linked to a clinical drug trial she was participating in.
  • The private clinic and pharmaceutical company reached a settlement with Rangel's family in March after the family sued.
  • A woman said one trial in 2017 doubled a drug's dosage halfway through the study and participants felt coerced into signing a new informed consent form even though the new dosage made many participants sick. She said the participants were told they wouldn't be paid and would be blacklisted from future trials if they didn't sign.

Two of the clinics that conduct tests told Noticias Telemundo they strive to help clients get their drugs to market quickly and safely and that participants can withdraw at any time.

The big picture: Phase 1 trials are key to test the safety and side effects of treatments, and the ideal dose at which they should be administered.

  • This is often a years-long process.
  • But health experts tell Noticias Telemundo the FDA branch that audits clinics is short-staffed. An investigation by Science magazine found the FDA has lax oversight of clinical trials.
  • The FDA did not respond to questions from Telemundo regarding its clinical trial oversight. It didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Axios.

4. A boost for LGBTQ+ groups

Two hands are held together in front of a pride flag
Photo: José Cabezas/AFP via Getty Images.

The Hispanic Federation, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering Latino communities, pledged $1 million today to LGBTQ+ groups through a new initiative called Advance Change Together, Marina writes.

Why it matters: More young people of Latino origins identify as LGBTQ+ than any other demographic at a time when conservatives are making a concerted push against gay and transgender rights.

Details: The Hispanic Federation will dedicate between $25,000 to $50,000 to each of the 20 organizations selected for the initiative. The organizations, which focus on the rights and welfare of Hispanic people in LGBTQ+ communities, are "severely underfunded," according to Frankie Miranda, the first openly gay president of the Hispanic Federation.

  • The aim is to strengthen their agenda, tools and resources, as well as to foster a collective way to combat harmful legislation.
  • The initial investment will be for two years, with hopes of attracting more potential funders, Miranda said.

The initiative was announced in Orlando just days after the six-year mark of the Pulse nightclub shooting, the deadliest attack on LGBTQ+ communities in the U.S.

What they're saying: Miranda said a potential Supreme Court ruling overturning the right to an abortion “could open the door to targeting LGBTQ rights.”

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Go deeper: The overlooked history of Latinos in the LGBTQ struggle

5. Stories we're watching

A group of women covered in blankets, masks and hoods stand in front of a large blaze during protest in Peru
Ecuadorian women on a roadblock in Cotopaxi province yesterday. Photo: Cristina Vega Rohr/AFP via Getty Images

1. Indigenous farmworkers in Ecuador erected road blockades yesterday to protest mining developments and rising gas prices.

  • Organizers say they plan to keep the protest going until the government of President Guillermo Lasso approves policies to alleviate the effects of inflation on their mostly impoverished communities.

2. The Cuban government said 381 people have been convicted so far for participating in mass protests almost a year ago, in one of its first public disclosures about the secretive trials that human rights groups have said criminalize people “for simply expressing themselves."

  • Legal defense groups had previously put the true number of jailed and convicted people near 560.
  • Most were convicted on “sedition” and “sabotage” charges and sentenced to between five and 25 years in prison, the Cuban attorney general’s office said yesterday.

6. 🎞 Smile to go: The touch of a photo

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Students during a class by the Escuela Comunitaria de Cine y Fotografía Pohualizcalli. Source: Noticias Telemundo

A free Mexico City photography workshop for the blind is nearing its second year, Marina writes.

Details: Once a week, people with vision impairment are taught tailored photography tips, like how the way they feel the sun on their hand impacts how light will look on a photo and how they can compose the image.

  • Students practice with a darkbox camera, which makes it easier for beginners to feel their way around the trigger and lens because of its size, and to gauge distances from the subject because of how sound echoes. Then they move to handheld.

That's all for today, thanks for joining! Tell your friends to sign up for this newsletter here!

Editor's note: Item 1 of this newsletter has been corrected to show that the anti-communist Cubans came to Miami in the 1960s, not the 1980s.