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The Story Behind California's Undocumented Relief Fund

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer saw the writing on the wall as COVID-19 began to cripple the small businesses of his district, which include Huntington Park, Walnut Park, South Los Angeles, Florence/Firestone and Exposition Park.


Assembly District 59 also has a large population of undocumented workers who made a living, in large-part, from street vending. That ability to sell goods and services ended when stay-at-home orders and social distancing were put in place.


Realizing the undocumented community could not apply for federal assistance including business loans or state unemployment, Jones-Sawyer reached out to Governor Newsom to see if state funds could be allocated to help the financial impact about to be felt by the more than 2 million undocumented workers in California.


On April 9, 2020, the Assemblyman penned a letter asking the Governor to establish a state relief fund for undocumented workers. On April 15, 2020, just six days later, the Governor announced a $125 million Disaster Relief Fund supporting undocumented Californians impacted by COVID-19 who are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief, including the CARES Act, due to their immigration status. 


The Disaster Relief Fund will provide approximately 150,000 undocumented adult Californians will receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 per adult with a cap of $1,000 per household to deal with the specific needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals can apply for support beginning next month.


In a statement, Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer said, “Our state must show compassion to those affected by COVID-19 especially those whose contributions to the state go unreciprocated. The undocumented community in California has shown resilience and fortitude during other state crisis’s – providing for their families, their community and nonprofit organizations through hard work and dedication to service. California prides itself on being a progressive state with the unique ability to create innovative programs and services for its residents. Now is the time to be inclusive and support the undocumented community in our state."


You can read the Assemblyman's letter to the Governor here.

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Latino Edge Magazine spreads awareness about the diverse talents and beliefs of the Latino community in California and all over the world. Interested readers can have access to inspiring and thought-provoking content that tackles relevant matters involving and impacting Latinos. Check back again soon for more information!

Be in the Know

A Historical Review of the Rise of Latino Politics

George L. Pla and David R. Ayon have compiled a stunning written history of Latino politics, its early leaders and its effect in California and in the nation.


Power Shift, How Latinos in California Transformed Politics in America, in paperback and distributed through Berkeley Public Policy Press, with a forward by former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, is a remarkable account of the rise to power of notable Latino leaders.


The book looks at the how labor movements, shifts in demographics and racism, among other factors, led to the political determination and rise of Richard Alatorre, Gilbert Cedillo, Gloria Molina, RIchard Polanco Antonio Villaraigosa and others.


An amazing historical review that should inspire others to take the charge to lead in the political arena despite the odds and obstacles they may encounter.


POWERSHIFT

Eat, Drink & Be Merry - AltaMed's 2019 Food & Wine Festival

Cástulo de la Rocha, CEO of AltaMed, would like for you to feast on the ambiance of AltaMed’s 2019 East LA Meets Napa Food and Wine Festival before doing anything else. And the best way to enjoy the offerings of top Latino cuisine and wineries starts with your attire according to Castulo: “Put on a comfortable guayabera or summer dress and fedora hat and completely immerse yourself.”


It has been 14 years since the first East LA Meets Napa event, this year’s celebration takes place on Friday, July 26th at LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles followed by the Orange County version at the Mission San Juan Capistrano on Saturday, July 27th. Both events begin at 7:00 p.m. and conclude at 10:00 p.m.


The event has grown both in attendance and the number and level of sophistication of its vendors. Once held at LA’s Union Station it soon moved to the open-air venue between the Staples Center and the Microsoft Theater.

As many nonprofits search and work to create a signature fundraising event, AltaMed has found a unique formula that promotes their programs and services to attendees and sponsors raising needed funding while at the same time brining to the forefront emerging and established Latino chefs and restauranteurs paired with California’s and Baja Mexico’s top-tiered Latino owned wineries.


“The highlight for me is the ability to bring together a community including Latino wine makers, top chefs, musical talent and our friends and supporters. We want to maintain a high-quality event that everyone can enjoy.”


Launched in 1969 as the East Los Angeles Barrio Free Clinic the name of the organization morphed into Clinica Familiar and settled on the name AltaMed in 1975. Since that time the organization has become one of the top-rated and respected healthcare delivery systems in California rivaling the likes of Kaiser Permanente and UCLA Medical Center.


There is a special connection between the vendors and attendees and sort of bonding that happens at this food event that doesn’t seem to occur at other similar types of events. And Castulo recognizes that bond: “We don’t want to lose that spirit.”

Here’s your chance to enjoy the energy of AltaMed’s Food and Wine Festival as tickets remain available for both evenings.


For more information and to purchase your tickets visit ALTAMED

Bringing Mariachi to the Masses

Life in the spotlight is not easy to manage, ask Rodri Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Rodri Rodriguez Entertainment. A pioneering producer in the music and entertainment field, of which few women, and even fewer Latinas, were able to make their mark in the late 1970’s and early 80’s.


Rodri’s career includes producing notable pop and jazz artists over the years, but many in Southern California know her best for founding and launching the iconic summer classic Mariachi USA at the Hollywood Bowl.

Born in Cuba, Rodri’s life has been a complex symphony of which she has composed the melody to her life. Having fled the Castro regime in Cuba as an unaccompanied minor to the United States, Rodri found herself in foster care living in New Mexico.


This is where she discovered the rich sounds and traditions of mariachi music. When she was eventually reunited with her parents in Los Angeles, Rodri found her calling in the entertainment world.


Eventually Rodri saw a need to bring the vibrancy of mariachi music to the masses and share the heritage of Mexico through song and dance. The Hollywood Bowl was the perfect location to launch her campaign.


A venue mostly associated with classical performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and traveling pop, rock and jazz acts, the Bowl would enhance the image of mariachis and present the the sights and sounds to a diverse audience of music lovers.


The Hollywood Bowl itself has come to see the event as mutually beneficial. "We are thrilled to host the annual Mariachi USA event at the Hollywood Bowl and to celebrate 30 years with Rodri Rodriguez who pioneered this iconic yearly celebration. As a County Park, the Hollywood Bowl is a venue for everyone and Mariachi USA is a cornerstone and tradition not only for our Latinx community but also for introducing the history, cultural richness and evolution of Mariachi across all types of audiences. We look forward to being part of this Los Angeles tradition well into the future and congratulate Rodri in this anniversary year." Said Gail Samuel, Executive Director, Los Angeles Philharmonic.


This past June was the 30th Anniversary of Mariachi USA - a major accomplishment for any signature show series. And over the years mariachi USA has celebrated the authors and legends of the genre including Juan Gabriel, paying tribute to his legacy after his passing, Javier Solis and Pedro Infante, the early pioneers of the music, and Jose Alfredo Jimenez, the godfather of the modern-day mariachi.


And although the show is not political, it is worth mentioning that this year’s event was notable during a period when ICE raids, encampments for migrant children and negative tones aimed at Latinos in general have become a major issue in political and social discourse. Being able to celebrate Mexican culture in the open, unabashed and loudly speaks volumes as to the strength of character and drive Rodri Rodriguez has shown throughout her career.


Just the fact Rodri had the foresight to place the the term Mariachi with the suffix ‘USA’ is a statement of inclusion and patriotism in itself making the event a symbol for thousands of Mexican Americans who look forward to the concert every year.


Mariachi USA is more than a mariachi event though, it is Latinos from all origins celebrating community and culture. It’s music aficionados gathering to experience world-class musicianship and virtuosos. And it is an inspiration for all to see what a dream looks like when you are determined and persistent to make it a reality. This makes Rodri’s business prowess a case study and her passion for the arts legendary.


Que Viva El Mariachi!

René Gerónimo Favaloro - Knowing Your Heart

Renowned for his pioneering work on coronary artery bypass surgery using the great saphenous vein, Rene Geronimo Favaloro was an Argentine cardiac surgeon and educator who changed the world and the lives of millions forever.


Learn about his life and work at CORAZON.

Casa Fina Restaurant & Cantina

“A celebration of Mexican flavors, women and color!”

by Tomas j. Benitez

Boyle Heights is currently at the eye of a storm over the gentrification of East Los Angeles. No matter what side you fall on the issue, the changes in the neighborhood have been fast and coming, and have offered numerous challenges to the people who been living in the area for years. 

So it came as a great relief to many of the residents when Josefina Lopez announced she has acquired the former La Serenata de Garabaldi on First Street, (a closing that surprised and disappointed scores of locals and visitors), and was planning to open her own establishment, Casa Fina Restaurant and Cantina. Not unlike what she has done with Casa 0101, an oasis of Latino Theatre, Josefina has endeavored to create a space that is a welcoming portal to the local community and she has the same ambitious agenda for Casa Fina as she has demonstrated with her other dreams. The former restaurant was known for its high end menu, quite pricey and excellent haute cuisine. But with great purpose, the new owners, including Emmanuel Deleage and Richard Alonzo, wanted open a place that is affordable, accessible, and artistic.


You can tell the restaurant has fallen into the hands of new creative spirits; the façade has been painted over in a bold and unapologetic purple, and the interiors, painted in a bright Mexican pallet, are covered with art from Juan Solis, Pola Lopez, Lalo Lopez Alcaraz, Gronk and a cadre of many other Chicano/Latino artists. The ambition carries over to a voluminous menu, which features tasty antojitos like savory mushroom tacos to the specialties of the house, molcajetes, sizzling stone temples with a delicious selection of meat, chicken or fish, large strips of nopales (cactus) and big chunks of Mexican cheese, soaking in a shallow bowl of a spicy sauce. One order feeds two, so even as the priciest item on the menu, the molcajetes are still a deal. Taco Tuesdays is made for families on a budget, with a selection of generous tacos both soft and hard shell, all so very good and bargain priced. For the middle ground, try the shrimp enchiladas, but whatever you select, make sure to leave room for fresh brewed coffee and a slice of wonderful, tasty flan. Other desserts include fried platanos, tres leches cake and deep fried ice cream. Or you can ask to see the dessert tray if you don’t mind being envied and stared at; so tempting. One note, the fresh table salsa and chips are great, but if you want the ‘hot salsa’, ask the server. The service is efficient, and courteous, and will help you navigate through the daily specials.


The Cantina section of the restaurant specializes in a selection of inventive wine margaritas, has their own wine list upon request, and features buckets of bottled beer (both domestic and imported), just like you find in all the cool cantinas south of the border. On the opposite side of the large wooden bar, tucked away in a discreet corner, is the ‘Frida Sufrida Sofa’, a colorful cozy loveseat or “fainting couch”, perfectly designed for women who have just suffered too damn much, or maybe, had too much wine at one of the periodic wine tastings. Casa Fina will also be hosting “Pinta Y Toma”, (paint and drink), a combo wine tasting and painting lesson, courtesy of featured artist Juan Solis, Tuesday October 30th, 6:30-9:30pm, but you must RSVP as the evening will be sure to sell out.


In the future Casa Fina will be hosting Open Mike nights, the Boyle Heights Comedy Corner, Bohemian LGBTQ Nights, salsa dance nights, and rotating art exhibits. Can a new restaurant become a cultural nexus, community gathering place, art gallery, and still provide a quality dining experience? I have learned over the years, that if Josefina Lopez --- an award winning author, French chef, actor, producer, lecturer, mother, dreamer and force of nature in the cultural lifestyle of Boyle Heights, wants to do something --- it will happen. Bien provecho!


Casa Fina Happy Hour menu is from 3pm to 7pm Sunday through Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays 10pm to 2am. Valet parking is in the back through the alley, $4, (plus give the guy a dollar). Major credit cards accepted. Price range is from $ - $$. Casa Fina is located at 1842 East First Street, Los Angeles 90033. For reservations, call (323) 604-9592 or visit www.casafinarestaurant.com.

FORMER LA OPINION PUBLISHER TO LEAD ACADEMIC NONPROFIT

Monica Lozano, former publisher of the largest daily Spanish language newspaper in the U.S., LA Opinion, has been named as the new President and CEO of the College Futures Foundation.


College Futures is a private foundation working to help students who are low-income and underrepresented in higher education achieve college success by increasing their rate of bachelor's degree attainment and closing the racial, ethnic, and gender gaps that begin in high school or earlier and persist through college completion.