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Spanish-language media plays key role in pro-immigrant rallies across the U.S.

(AP): The rally/marching suggestions were clear: Carry U.S. and other American flags and pack the kids, pick up your trash, and wear white for peace.

 

Benito Lucio (left) of Pura Raza 103.1FM with friends and family at the March 26 Columbus Rally.


Many of the 500,000 people who crammed downtown Los Angeles recently to protest legislation that would make criminals out of undocumented immigrants learned where, when and even how to peacefully demonstrate from the Spanish-language media.

For English-speaking U.S.-America, the mass protests in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities over the past several weeks have been surprising for their size and seeming spontaneity.

But they were organized, promoted or publicized for weeks by Spanish-language radio hosts and TV anchors as a demonstration of Latino pride and power.

In Milwaukee, where at least 10,000 people rallied last week, one radio station manager called some employers to ask that they not fire protesters for skipping work. In Chicago, a demonstration that drew 350,000 people received coverage on local television more than a week in advance.

“This was a much bigger story for the Latino media,” said Felix Gutiérrez, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication, who was recently interviewed by NPR. “If the mainstream media had been paying better attention, there would not have been the surprise about the turnout.”

Adrian Velasco first learned of House legislation [HR 4437] to overhaul immigration policy on Los Angeles’ Que Buena 105.5 FM. Over two weeks, the 30-year-old illegal immigrant soaked up details about the planned march against the bill from Latino TV and radio. On Saturday, he and three friends headed downtown.

“They told all the Hispanic people to go and support these things,” Velasco said. “They explained a lot. They said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do.’”

El Piolin
One of those doing the most talking was El Piolin, a syndicated morning show radio host who is broadcast in 20 cities.

El Piolin, whose real name is Eduardo Sotelo and whose nickname means “Tweety Bird,” persuaded colleagues from 11 Spanish-language radio stations in Los Angeles to talk up the rally on air.

He said he devised the idea of telling protesters to wear white and carry flags to symbolize their peaceful intent and love of the United States. He also urged parents to bring their children to minimize chances of violence and reminded everyone to bring plenty of water and trash bags.

“I was talking about how we need to be united to demonstrate that we're not bad guys and we're not criminals,'' said Sotelo, 35, who crossed into the United States as a teenager and became legal in 1996.

In Milwaukee, the Spanish-language station WDDW 104.7FM made a point of publicizing the House legislation and the protest against it on its morning and drive-time shows two weeks ahead of time.

Operations manager Armando Ulloa said his goal was at least 10,000 people—and police estimated that was what the rally attracted. After the march, Ulloa said, he called some employers and asked them to be lenient on protesters who missed their shifts.

Pura Raza
In Columbus, Ohio, Pura Raza, at WSMZ 103.1FM, was instrumental in organizing the rally at the Columbus State Capitol on March 26, where over 3,000 attended. Just prior to the rally, Pura Raza interviewed Benito Lucio, with discussions on the importance of the rally. 

La Prensa
Statewide—in the states of Ohio and Michigan—La Prensa and Lazo Cultural were active for the past eight weeks in reporting on HR 4437, various Senate Bills, and the numerous resolutions and marches/rallies across the United States condemning HR 4437.

In Los Angeles, 10 prime-time Spanish-language news anchors filmed a promotion urging demonstrators to show respect, said Julio César Ortiz, a television reporter who reports on immigration.

“The Spanish media said, ‘Do it in a proper way. Do it in a way where's there’s pride behind it when you’re done,’” Ortiz said.

Telemundo Chicago, a Spanish-language TV station, began its coverage blitz 1½ weeks before a recent rally there, though there was no urging that viewers attend, said news director Esteban Creste.

“We just told them what was going on,” Creste said. “While we were not trying to mobilize people, it might have prompted people to decide to go there.”

Associated Press Writer GILLIAN FLACCUS and Rico de La Prensa contributed to this report.

 

 

 

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