June 23, 2022
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This newsletter, edited by Astrid Galván and Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath, is 1,448 words, about a 5.5 minute read.
1 big thing: Evangelicals' role in a political shift
The leader of the world's largest Hispanic evangelical organization tells Russell that he believes U.S. Latinos are moving away from the Democratic Party as more of them embrace evangelical churches and conservative beliefs.
Why it matters: Latino evangelicals are among the fastest-growing segments within an increasingly powerful voting bloc.
- They are more politically moderate than white evangelicals on race, immigration and the economy but more conservative than Black and white college-educated progressive Democrats.
- The organization has pushed for immigration reform, and Rodriguez has advised leaders from both political parties, including former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
- Many of the group's member churches cater to Spanish-speaking immigrants from Central America, while others serve Latinos who have left the Catholic Church.
What he's saying: Rodriguez said recent elections, including Republican Mayra Flores' victory last week in South Texas and gains former President Trump made with Latinos in 2020, show a seismic political shift.
- "The Hispanic community is not what everyone assumed it would be: this unbelievable lock-in-step voting constituency that is an integral part of the Democratic Party."
- A combination of Democrats taking Latino voters for granted, the targeting of Latinos by Republicans in local races, and an increase in the number of Latino evangelicals are pushing Hispanics into new political territories, he said.
- It's what experts have been saying and what election results have shown in the past two years. Polls also show the Democratic party losing ground with Latinos, although it's not a mass exodus.
Yes, but: The surge in Hispanic evangelicals doesn't mean most Latinos will automatically shift from supporting Democrats to backing Republicans, Rodriguez said.
- "I would not necessarily come to the conclusion that it is this unbelievably strong, super-conservative constituency. I would argue it is now America's number one independent voting demographic."
2. The latest on Uvalde
Uvalde school district police Chief Pete Arredondo was placed on administrative leave yesterday amid criticism of his force's slow response to the May 24 shooting in which 19 children and two teachers were killed, Astrid writes.
The big picture: A day earlier, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety called the law enforcement's response an "abject failure."
Details: Superintendent Hal Harrell said in a statement that he put Arredondo on administrative leave "because of the lack of clarity that remains and the unknown timing of when I will receive the results of the investigations." Initially he had said he would wait to make personnel decisions until after the investigations concluded.
Catch up quick: Separately, Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D) sued the state DPS yesterday in a bid to access public records related to the shooting, Axios' Shawna Chen reports.
- Gutierrez says DPS has unlawfully denied his open records requests, and he emphasized that the Uvalde community deserves transparency and accountability over what happened.
- On Tuesday, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin accused DPS of releasing contradictory information, perpetrating "false leaks" and having its own agenda in the aftermath of the Robb Elementary School shooting.
- Meanwhile, Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), who represents Uvalde, said yesterday he would support a bipartisan gun safety bill when it reaches the House.
- The U.S. Senate is expected to vote today on a bipartisan gun reform bill.
3. Rescuing Colombia's poached animals
Colombian environmentalists are rehabilitating illegally trafficked animals in a nation ripe with poachers, Marina writes.
Why it matters: Colombia has some of the world’s highest levels of biodiversity but also has steep rates of poaching and illegal trafficking of endangered species.
- Government data shows 100 species are illegally traded daily in the country.
- Several sanctuaries for rescued animals have been established in recent years, including the Aviario Nacional — the biggest aviary in South America — and the National University of Colombia’s Unit for Wild Animals’ Rescue and Rehabilitation (URRAS).
- There are also newer NGOs like Santuario Animal Namigni, which rescues animals from neglect or dangerous situations, like cockfighting rings.
- The groups help animals after customs officials intercept them.
Driving the news: This month a coalition of environmental groups released 29 poisonous frogs into their natural habitat following a unique repopulation campaign. The endangered frogs, of the Oophaga lehmanni species, are endemic to Colombia.
- The frogs grew up in labs under human care, the first of their species to successfully reproduce that way.
- The frogs that were used to reproduce had been illegally trafficked.
The sanctuaries also work to prevent public health hazards that result from trafficking, as happened with Pablo Escobar’s infamous hippos.
- Escobar illegally imported four of them for his private zoo in 1983. After his death, the hippos’ numbers grew, and they roamed out of Escobar’s estate.
- The Colombian government declared them an invasive species dangerous to both humans and biodiversity earlier this year and considered carrying out controlled hunts to reduce their numbers.
- But groups such as the Santuario Namigni argued the hunts were inhumane, and the government continued to sterilize them instead.
4. Padilla's shot at farmworker fairness
U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) is seeking to end overtime exemptions for farm workers, Russell writes.
Driving the news: Padilla is scheduled today to introduce the Fairness for Farm Workers Act, which would update the nation’s labor laws around farm work ahead of the 84th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- The law established minimum wage and overtime pay for most workers, but excluded agricultural workers until 1966, when they were included in the minimum wage provision. Employers still aren't required to pay time-and-a-half for overtime, though.
Details: The Fairness for Farm Workers Act would gradually implement overtime pay over four years.
- It removes exemptions to overtime for workers employed in irrigation projects, livestock auctions incidental to farm work, small country grain elevators, and certain sugar processing.
- The bill has a number of Democratic co-sponsors.
What they're saying: "Earlier this month, I experienced a small dose of the demanding work that farm workers do to feed millions of families across the country and strengthen our economy," Padilla said.
- “It is hard to believe that overtime exclusion for the men and women that feed America still persists 84 years after the creation of the Fair Labor Standards Act," United Farm Workers president Teresa Romero said.
Between the lines: The bill has been introduced several times since 2018, to no avail.
5. Stories we're watching
- The Boquilla dam, which feeds both sides of the border area, is at less than 30% capacity, according to authorities.
- Data from Mexico’s National Water Commission shows it has rained 20% less than usual from October to date, a sign of hardships to come for the border.
2. The Honduran government issued an environmental red alert yesterday in Omoa and Puerto Cortés beaches over waste contamination.
- The waste floated into the beaches from the Guatemalan shore after heavy rains set garbage loose.
- Eight Guatemalan provinces are under a state of emergency due to the weather.
6. 🖌️ Smile to go: Miniature miracles
This Puerto Rican artist recreates iconic New York buildings but in miniature form, Marina writes.
Details: Daniel Cortés uses cardboard and other recycled materials to create models of what he calls the “old New York” — bodegas, newspaper boxes (graffiti and all) and trains.
- Cortés says he started making the replicas during the pandemic to pass the time, sharing some of the work on Instagram. Before long, he started taking commissions and he now has over 40,000 Instagram followers and almost 30,000 on TikTok.
- Some of his pieces made it to a Sotheby’s auction in March, and he will be part of an exhibition this fall in Soho’s Inverted Art Museum.
What they’re saying: “I was going through a lot, and I discovered that working on these dioramas transported me to another world, almost like my way of meditating while also doing something productive,” Cortés told Noticias Telemundo.
7. Pachanga: 🪅 Rebecca Palacios
Today we're raising a glass to Rebecca Palacios, the first Latina to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame (in 2014). Palacios has worked in early childhood education for over three decades.
Keep it going, Rebecca!
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