Spanish-language media rally immigrants

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Mar 29 14:02:03 UTC 2006

>>From the San Jose Mercury News - CA, USA Mar. 28, 2006

Spanish-language media rally immigrants

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - The marching orders were clear: Carry American flags and
pack the kids, pick up your trash and wear white for peace and for effect.
Many of the 500,000 people who crammed downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to
protest legislation that would make criminals out of illegal immigrants
learned where, when and even how to demonstrate from the Spanish-language
media. For English-speaking America, the mass protests in Los Angeles and
other U.S. cities over the past few days 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 Hispanic 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 100,000 people
received coverage on local television more than a week in advance. "This
was a much bigger story for the Latino media," said Felix Gutierrez, a
professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for
Communication. "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 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
Hispanic 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.'" 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 104.7 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.

In Los Angeles, 10 prime-time Spanish-language news anchors filmed a
promotion urging demonstrators to show respect, said Julio Cesar Ortiz, a
television reporter who covers 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 1 1/2 weeks before a recent rally,
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 Writers Emily Fredrix in Milwaukee and Carla K. Johnson
in Chicago contributed to this report.


 2006 AP Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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