The Hispanic Link archives project: Four decades of Latino political and news history worth preserving online for the future

Before alternative news media outlets like the Huffington Post provided an outlet for communities to tell their stories to a national audience, Hispanic Link News Service acted on behalf of the Latinos nationwide by covering political news through a Latino lens. Started in February 1980 in the basement of a Washington, DC apartment building by veteran journalist and editor Charlie Ericksen, the Link provided over 30 years more than 5,500 columns and broke the national op/ed-page barrier of nationally syndicated newspapers. While Ericksen edited and mentored dozens of talented young Latino journalists in his downstairs newsroom, his wife, companion and Link cofounder, Sebastiana, provided emotional and physical sustenance to scores of “Linkies,” until her unexpected death several years ago. Until it stopped publishing in 2015 when Ericksen, in his 80’s, retired and moved to Southern California to be close to his children, the scrappy sometimes irreverent but always fact-filled and insightful newsletter often took to task the politically well-connected and powerful, including mainstream news media leaders, for ignoring this growing group’s issues, interests and contributions. Now his sons, Carlos and Hector Ericksen-Mendoza, are intent on preserving and making available online all of the Link’s work, including columns, newsletters, taped interviews and photographs.

Families of missing Mexican students travel U.S. to find support for justice

EL PASO — Blanca Luz Nava Vélez gripped the tissue with both hands as if it were about to float away from the tears forming in her eyes as she forced herself to speak through the shake in her voice to say that even if the world were to end she will find her missing son Jorge and the 42 other students kidnapped in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, on September 26. “When I am at home, I want to die,” she said. “I feel like dying because I see the items that belong to my son, his guitar and I would go mad. That’s why I am doing something about what happened.”

Speaking at a forum at the University of Texas at El Paso, March 17, she said she finds comfort and consolation when she gathers with the other families who are trying to find their missing sons. Being with the families and staying at her son’s school is better than being home, she said.

Farewell to Chicano activist Reies Lopez Tijerina

Friends, family and community members pay their last respects to Chicano civil-rights leader Reies López Tijerina, who died Jan. 19, 2015 in El Paso at the age of 88. Related story: Reies López Tijerina celebrated as a dedicated leader for Chicano rights

Reies López Tijerina celebrated as a dedicated leader for Chicano rights

EL PASO — Shouts of “Viva Tijerina!” rang out in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, reverberating over the crowd gathered to honor the tiger of the Chicano movement, echoing over the mourners huddled around the casket. During a Mass for Chicano civil-rights leader Reies López Tijerina, his widow, Esperanza placed a wood cross on her husband’s casket and sat with family toward the front of the church.  The Mass was one of various memorial observances held here this weekend for Tijerina, who died of natural causes at a local hospital, January 19. He was 88. The Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe hosted the services on behalf of the family. According to La Fe, Tijerina’s internment will be a private event at a later date.

Declining minority representation in American newsrooms dominates discussion at convention of Hispanic journalists

SAN ANTONIO – The celebration of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ 30th anniversary was brought to a sobering pause last week when Hispanic Link News Service publisher Charlie Ericksen voiced his dissatisfaction with the progress mainstream media have made in diversifying the staffs of their newsrooms.

Hispanic journalists from all corners of the country made their way here to the NAHJ convention to celebrate its three decades of advocating for more minority participation in news media. Much of the talk at the four-day NAHJ convention was on the diversification of newsrooms throughout the United States and that conversation became a strident argument. During the convention’s final event – the Gala and Awards banquet – the association recognized news organizations that had “increased the visibility and accurate representation of Latinos in cable news,” including CNN, PBS, Buzzfeed and Fox News Latino. Ericksen, 84, a founding member of NAHJ, was given a chance to speak when he was recognized for his lifetime of work in newsroom diversity. He told the gathering that celebrating increased visibility and accurate representation of Latinos in the media by honoring a network such as Fox News was a “kind of a farce.” He also said that despite the organization’s 30 years of work on increasing newsroom diversity the number of Latinos in mainstream newsrooms has actually declined.

The film Man in the Middle on the life of journalist Rubén Salazar premieres in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON — Phillip Rodriguez’s documentary Man in the Middle on the life of slain journalist Rubén Salazar has great meaning for the U.S. Latino community and Hispanic media in this country, according to many attending its first showing. The 54-minute documentary, which premiered here Feb. 27 at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, describes the controversy that gripped an entire culture and the racial and social issues of the 1960s and 1970s. The crowd of 125 heard a brief statement from U.S. Representative Xavier Beccera  (D-Calif.) who said it was beneficial for the Hispanic community to bring to the public eye the life of the martyred Latino journalist. Salazar’s grandson Jackson Cook, son of his daughter Stephanie, who makes a couple of appearances in the film, drove the five-hour trip with his girlfriend Melissa Millen from his home in New York to attend the event.

My inspiration for photography and for music were together in a long forgotten space in Washington, D.C.

Before the concert: Photography

WASHINGTON D.C. — I was not expecting this. How could it be that my inspiration for photography and for music were there hand in hand in a room long forgotten? There he stood and their faces looked past him, as if time stood still for just them. Of course, a photograph captures the essence of a certain place in time, but it also resonates and almost comes back to life when the time-stamp machine prints its thumbnail. Mike Mitchell, a photographer who had captured the way the U.S. public saw The Beatles when they first arrived in Washington D.C., was 18 years old and effectively preserved the moment. On Feb.

Boehner takes more heat on reform comments and inaction

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the Republican Party are getting an earful from Democratic congressional members and Hispanic leaders and organizations for saying they do not trust the president to enforce immigration laws and forecasting  that immigration reform isn’t likely to pass this year, if ever. Fair Immigration Reform Movement spokesperson Kica Matos said in a press release that FIRM’s efforts last year to gain House Republican support for reform were unproductive. “Persuasion got us only so far,” said Matos. “From now on, any lawmakers who do not support it should expect relentless confrontations that will escalate until they agree to do so.”

America’s Voice spokesperson Frank Sherry stated that Republicans should recognize that selecting a presidential candidate next year could create serious division within the GOP. “It’s now or never for the Republican Party,” he said, and to oppose reform carries the risk being perceived not only as anti-Hispanic, but also against Asians and other immigrants.

Ana McBayna and other Impact volunteers pick up debris off the Tidal Basin. (Aaron Montes/HispanicLink)

Chasing Martin Luther King’s dream

Washington, D.C.- Skipping some opening tributes that quoted the profound words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on his Jan. 20 birthday, some 150 black and other youths picked up shovels and trash bags to take direct action. Student volunteers from Howard University and members of Impact DC, a multiracial civil engagement group that shapes upcoming leaders, joined U.S. Secretary of Interior Sarah Jewell in spending a chilly morning clearing debris and raking leaves that littered the King monument site along the Tidal Basin. Last year, then-Secretary Ken Salazar and department specialist Celinda Pena initiated the effort. Back again this year, Peña said, “Martin Luther King Jr. represents everyone in his message which is duty and service.

Joe Cervantes participated in the Million Mask all day in his effort to protest against a large federal government. Cervantes wore a Guy Fawkes mask in participation of the protest. (Aaron J. Montes/

El Pasoans show support for the international Million Mask March

EL PASO – Supporters of Anonymous occupied the sidewalk in front of the Courthouse here on Nov. 5 protesting the growth of the federal government and the disproportionate power of big corporations in the United States. Anonymous supporters participated in the Million Mask March, which swept the globe in urban cities such as, Washington, D.C., London, Tokyo and Sydney. Protesters in major cities such as D.C. experienced arrests and police resistance. Organizer of the international march Christine Anne Sands said that she had asked for a permit in Washington, D.C. and had been waiting to receive one to prevent negative attention that has given the Hacktivist group a shady reputation.

Communication Professor Richard Pineda (far left) leads a discussion on the 83rd Texas Legislature with State Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D), Rep. Joe Pickett (D), Rep. Marisa Marquez (D -77), Rep. Joe Moody (D), Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D -76) and Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D -75). (Aaron Montes/

El Paso state legislators decry law that restricts women’s reproductive health options

EL PASO – A controversial law passed during the 83rd session of the Texas State Legislature in 2013 that restricts women’s reproductive health options drew strong criticism at a gathering here of state legislators from the El Paso area. The bill restricts abortions after 20 weeks and mandates that clinics must meet the same standards as major surgical health-care facilities. Governor Rick Perry signed it into law on July 18 in a second special session after a filibuster by Senator Wendy Davis (D) on June 25 that drew national attention. Rep. Marisa Marquez (D -77), Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D-76) and Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-75) agreed that the legislation was detrimental to an individual’s health and that the legislation was biased against women. “When the heat is on and you have something explode the way it did you really do see the true character of Texas women,” Marquez said.

Maria Espinoza talks to Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) about her concerns about U.S. military intervention in Syria after the town hall meeting on Sept. 2 at the Mills building in Downtown El Paso. (Aaron Montes/Borderzine)

O’Rourke says his constituents and his conscience will decide his vote on a U.S. military strike in Syria

EL PASO – Only a few of some 150 military veterans, businessmen and members of the local Syrian community attending a town hall meeting here Sept. 2 called by U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said they supported any U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war. On Aug. 31, President Obama called for a congressional vote to authorize a military strike against Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons after the government of Bashar Hafez al-Assad allegedly unleashed a chemical attack that killed nearly 1,500 of his own people. O’Rourke said he wanted to hear from his constituents before taking part in next week’s vote in Washington, D.C. “With your emails, Facebook quotes, phone calls, letters, I feel like I can then make a decision that is in the best interest of my community and in keeping with my conscience,” O’Rourke said.