Things That Matter

Here’s Why You Need to Know Rep. Adriano Espaillat, The First Undocumented Immigrant in Congress

The hot button politician blowing up everyone’s Twitter feeds is the one and only AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). While she may be the youngest, most progressive Congresswoman on record, there is another Latino breaking records that you should have on your radar.

Adriano Espaillat is a Dominican-born American politician representing New York’s 13th congressional district. And, he’s the first formerly undocumented immigrant to ever serve in Congress as well as the first Dominican to ever serve in Congress. He’s not just trying to fit in and make any power grabs either. He’s putting everything on the line to fearlessly serve the immigrant community.

1. Espaillat isn’t abandoning his community and has made them his entire platform.

@VMforCA10 / Twitter

In fact, in response to Trump’s most recent State of the Union Address, Espaillat has led the Democrat party to introduce an Immigration Package to the floor. He wants to protect hospitals, churches and schools from ICE’s grip, so that every individual in this country can access health, education and personal welfare without fear of deportation. Bravo.

2. Espaillat came to the U.S. as a child with his family.

@repadrianoespaillat / Twitter

He was born on September 27, 1954 in Santiago, Dominican Republic. His family moved to the U.S. (Washington Heights, NYC) when he was 10 years old.

3. Their family lived without status for a year.

@Almomentonet / Twitter

Their tourist visas expired and the Espaillats had to live as undocumented until their green card applications were approved a full year later. Espaillat was only 11 years old when this happened.

4. He’s known for spearheading the 2007 effort to allow undocumented immigrants get driver’s licenses.

@repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

Caption: “The love felt by parents trying to cross the border with their children is the same love my parents felt for me when my family immigrated from the Dominican Republic. Their families should have the same opportunities that I was given here in America. #ToImmigrantsWithLove”

5. He knows that he “did things right” in his journey to citizenship and is proud.

@johnbcanela / Twitter

Caption: “I came to the U.S. as a child with my family, and today, it is the honor of my life to serve my community here in Congress. And I want to tell every immigrant in this country today: you are welcome here & you are a valued part of our country.”

6. He dedicates all his Valentines Days’ to immigrants.

@repadrianoespaillat / Twitter

7. He’s the great-grandson of Dominican President Ulises Espaillat.

@bernat1923bld / Twitter

Soo yeah. Politics runs in his blood.

8. He’s been arrested for speaking out for Dreamers.

@NCRMuseum / Twitter

Caption: “#OnThisDay last year, 3 lawmakers, Luis Gutierrez (IL), Raúl Grijalva (AZ) & Adriano Espaillat (NY), were arrested outside of Trump Tower for demanding more protection for young undocumented immigrants. DACA’s fate is in our leaders’ hands.”

9. Espaillat led the initial effort to Impeach Trump.

@RedTRaccoon / Twitter

While America elected both the first formerly undocumented immigrant to Congress as the most nativist, racist President in history, Espaillat cosigned the bill to begin the impeachment process against Trump.

10. “Not all Trump supporters are racists, but all racists voted for Donald Trump.”

@zabalaaldia / Twitter

In an interview with Vice News, he said, “The Klan used to wear a hood. Now they don’t; they openly come out and spill their venom out there for everybody to see their identity.”

He hosted the first ever  “Dominicans On the Hill” community event in Washington D.C.

@repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

He plans to make it an annual event to celebrate Dominican community leaders and invite them to Congress and “to highlight Dominican heritage, our culture and diversity.”

11. And he marches with Boricuas at the Puerto Rican Pride Parade también.

@MannyDeLosSanto / Twitter

He flew to Puerto Rico to survey the damages and relief efforts on behalf of his Puerto Rican constituents. He himself used to be the chair of the New York State Senate’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative caucus.

12. He celebrates Three Kings Day with his constituents like a good Latino.

@repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

13. His group of interns are actually diverse.

@repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

No more Paul Ryan selfies with a hundred white people behind him. This is why we need to diversify Congress—to give opportunities to brown kids.

14. He loves One Day at a Time!

Netflix

He’s out here retweeting NPR Latino interviews with Justina Machado and Isabella Gomez, shipping the Latinidad of the show.

15. When Verizon and DirectTV dropped Televisión Dominicana, Espaillat called on the companies to change course.

@ChefMimiIsles / Twitter

His exact statement according to Latin Times was this: “The recent decision by AT&T to remove Televisión Dominicana from its lineup shows cultural disregard, indifference, and lack in the network’s efforts to promote diversity among its programming. Promoting diverse voices and minority representation are critical to our success in telecommunications and the marketplace. I strongly encourage both parties to return to the negotiation table to find the best solution in the interests for my constituents and for their customers.”

He also called on Dominicans living in the US to petition the companies and tweeted out their phone numbers to call to complain. The networks ignored the call for diversity. ????

16.

@hunterw / Twitter

17. His full name is Adriano de Jesús Espaillat Cabral.

@WNYC / Twitter

18.

19.

@repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

Caption: “@RepEspaillat visited with Colombian President Iván Duque during today’s House Foreign Affairs @HouseForeign Committee meeting.”

20. He’s not letting up anytime soon. #LaResistencia

@repadrianoespaillat / Instagram

Caption: “Delighted to be back in my district! I’m working on behalf of #NY13 and to combat the #FakeTrumpEmergency that this administration is promoting to build Trump’s reckless #BorderWall. My fight continues.”

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Things That Matter

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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