By Kay Bárbaro
For Borderzine from Hispanic Link
WASHINGTON – WE’RE STILL WAITING: Cecilia Muñoz, longtime vice president of the National Council of La Raza whose appointment in Jan. 20, 2009, to President Obama’s initial cabinet was seen as a payoff to the Hispanic community for its huge role in Obama’s winning a front-door key to the White House.
This, we and many others innocently believed, would ensure that el presidente nuevo would move quickly to make good on his repeated promises to end our undocumented immigrant agony by delivering genuine immigration reform legislation.
Of course not.
Back then and frequently thereafter, we heard that Obama’s key non-Hispanic inner brain trust, including current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, insisted that political expediency required him to reduce his reform priorities to one. Choose it: a decent, legitimate immigration bill or healthcare reform.
For obvious reasons, health care won. The Latino community’s welfare was reverted to its accustomed position at the tag-end of the line.
Could both goals have been achieved? We’ll never know.
As consolation prize, 53 million U.S. Latinos and Latinas have been awarded more Obama lip service and a basically nativist Senate immigration bill.
An increasing number of Latino ex-believers now have figured out that the White House has betrayed them.
The Obama administration continues by the hour to add to its record of deporting more refugees – predominantly Hispanic ones – than has any past president in our “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” history.
The President’s current diabolic catch-and-ship-out strategy tore nearly two million productive immigrant families to shreds in 2012. He would like us to believe that his “racist” Republican adversaries are the real cause of his inhumane inaction.
Now he has lateraled the initiative to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who wants to spend billions more to lock shut our border with Mexico and piece-meal immigration reform to death. He has shown zero interest in permitting the 11 million undocumented immigrants drawn here ever to become U.S. citizens with a right to vote.
On cue, Cecilia Muñoz, now promoted to Obama’s domestic policy director, gushes the Administration’s joy. She tells the press, “It’s a very big deal.”
Over time, Cecilia’s Casa Blanca position calls on her to do little more than appease fellow Hispanics. She covers Obama’s tracks as his lack of ganas or cojones even drives innocent, born-in-the-USA children “back” to countries where they’ve never been as he imprisons and deports their already exploited parents. He allows our desert floors to be carpeted with refugees’ bones.
Muñoz’s familial roots trail back to La Paz, Bolivia. Does her fealty to her boss and her White House title, with its $172,000 paycheck, trumps that?
In politics yes, it’s an absolute. On that one, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and I pretty much agree.
SO WHO IS KAY BÁRBARO? Every Monday from here forward Hispanic Link DC will include classic historical as well as fresh, often irreverent insights penned by Kay Bárbaro.
Kay contributed her first regular commentary more than 30 years ago, on Sept. 5, 1983. It ran in Hispanic Link’s Vol. 1, No. 1, in her weekly column aptly titled Sin Pelos en La Lengua. Literally translated, that’s “Without hairs on the tongue.” Less literally, “Telling it like it is.”
Following are a few other samples, slightly edited for context, of Kay’s reportage from our very first 1983 edition, when Ronald Reagan was president:
#1. ENCHILADAS, ANYONE? President Reagan timed his entrance into a hall full of American GI Forumeers in El Paso perfectly this month. With TV cameras rolling, he walked in just as the audience of 2,000 was offering a standing ovation to our gallant hispano Medal of Honor winners.
“Gracías, my amigos,” Reagan said, depleting his Spanglish vocabulary.
His timing had been less perfect days earlier, on meeting Miguel de la Madrid in La Paz when, smiling for the news photographers, he attempted to lay an abrazo on Mexico’s newly elected president. With his own political image to protect, de la Madrid deftly sidestepped Reagan.
Here are two more of Kay barbs that introductory week:
#2. WHAT I DID ON MY VACATION: …When San Diego Asst. District Attorney Dick Hoffman headed off on a Mexico trip, colleagues chipped in on a cake bidding him, “Hasta la vista y buen viaje.” But the culturally deprived baker goofed and wished him a “buen vieja.”
#3. CLOSE YOUR EYES BEFORE YOU READ THIS ONE: Aurora Flores’ editorial in Latin New York magazine rails against New York Mayor Ed Koch’s trail of broken promises, no-show appointments, and general failure to respond to the support he’s received from N.Y. Latinos. The editorial’s heading, we blushingly report: “Don’t Be a Koch-Sucker!
So who is, or isn’t, this brash Kay Bárbaro?
Kay isn’t. A few of our early staff members, including Steve Padilla, Elaine Rivera, Antonio Mejías Rentas, and Link publisher Charlie Ericksen, all of whom went on to path-finding careers in the media, regularly contributed items to Sin Pelos using Kay’s praenomen. They agreed that “¡Qué bárbaro!” would be an appropriate nom de plume for the gossip column’s author, and thus Kay Bárbaro was born.
Which ghostwriter contributed Kay’s caustic comments about President Obama and Cecilia Muñoz?
It is Hispanic Link publisher Charlie Ericksen, who with his late wife Sebastiana Mendoza and their eldest son Héctor founded the news service. Charlie, a journalist since age 18, celebrates his 84th birthday in the month of February, along with Washington and Lincoln, he points out.