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We are Mayas no Latinos nor Hispanos: teacher talks to Janet Murguia of NCLR

Posted on: September 20, 2009
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http://youtube.com/v/uH-uB3M_3wU.swf

Marina Diaz is a Maya woman and a teacher in New York. She works with Indigenous families from Mexico and Guatemala, and she wants the immigration advocates to recognize the presence of Indigenous peoples as part of the process for an immigration reform. Carlos in DC blog: carlosqc.blogspot.com .

New NCLR report reveals employers who exploit Latino laborers have little to fear

Posted on: September 19, 2009
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One of the arguments for reforming immigration and recognizing the people who, though living illegally in this country are working, is to bring them out of the shadows where unscrupulous employers take advantage of them on a continual basis.

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This Labor Day, it's only fitting that we remember those employees who are not covered by health insurance, forced to work long hours at below market wages or whose wages are illegally kept from them, are not afforded the basic rights of bathroom or lunch breaks and work the dangerous, high-risk, health-risk jobs.

To the public's credit, when situations become widely known of abuse or neglect on the part of employers, there is swift and punitive action.

Maybe that's why the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report a slight decline in workplace fatalities between 2007 and 2008.

Nationwide, there were 5,071 fatal work injuries in 2008, a decrease of 20 percent from the revised total of 5,657 in 2007.

Unfortunately, the story isn't the same for Latino workers whose occupational fatality rate has remained the highest in the nation for 15 years, according to a new study, Fractures in the Foundation: The Latino Workers Experience in an era of Declining Job Quality, by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

What's even worse is that there are still employers who are abusing their immigrant workers -- and have the audacity to think they can get away with it -- and do!

The NCLR report put into black and white what has long been a known reality in Latino communities:

  • Two in five Latino workers do not earn sufficient wages to keep their families out of poverty.
  • Millions of workers are excluded from basic protections simply based on the kind of work they do due to antiquated labor laws.
  • In 2007, just over half (52.3%) of employed Latinos had health insurance through their employers, compared to 72.6% of White and 67.1% of Black workers.

But what is even more appalling is that employers treat their workers any way they want with little fear of being prosecuted.

  • Many employers evade their legal responsibility to pay their workers and keep their work sites safe.
  • Some employers legally sidestep accountability for their workers' well-being.


  • For employers who break the law, the chances of getting caught are slim and the penalties are low. Many employers have come to treat compliance with labor laws as optional and fines for noncompliance as merely a cost of doing business.

That could explain why exploitation of immigrant labor seems to be rampant in some corners of the country and in some industries.

It's ironic that everyone remembers the anniversary of Katrina yet hardly anyone remembers that the workers, mainly Latinos, who came in after the catastrophe to help clean up the Big Easy didn't and still don't have it easy when it comes to collecting back wages.

A survey conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed that eight in ten Latino workers in New Orleans reported being robbed by their employers.

New Orleans isn't the only place.

A group of immigrant laborers who worked for a Las Vegas cleaning contractor told authorities how their bosses made them work 13-hour days, seven days a week cleaning such fancy Las Vegas hotels as the Luxor without even being able to take a single break. Though the workers were promised $1300, they were only paid $4.40/hr

In Nashville, six Salvadorans and three Peruvians found out the hard way that even being in the country legally didn't mean some employers respected immigrant labor.

The immigrants - from El Salvador and Peru - say they were charged "recruitment fees" of $2,500 t0 $4,000; put to work stripping hazardous asbestos and lead for less money than promised; charged rent to sleep on floors, six or seven to an apartment; and forced to pay for "training." Cumberland Environmental Resources Co., of Nashville, and Accent Personnel Services, of Baton Rouge, falsified documents to get the visas, and discriminated against U.S. citizens, who are more difficult to abuse and exploit, according to the complaint. The immigrants said they were promised construction and general labor jobs, but were made to work with hazardous asbestos and lead, and forced to pay for "classes" in asbestos and lead removal through payroll deductions. They say they were forced to wait for weeks before being put to work, were not paid "in compliance with federal law," and were fired if they protested about any of it.

The immigrant workers, along with five American workers, are suing the company. The American workers are suing because they say the companies lied about not having available American labor to do the job and only wanted the immigrant labor for wage exploitation.

And then there's the farmers.

Life as a fruit or vegetable picker has long been known to be a hard life and made unbearable by those farmers who are only fixated on baskets of quotas and have little respect for their workers who must toil in the hot sun.

Because of this low respect for human life, men and women have died in the fields picking this nation's foods because the farmers did little to help their workers cope with the heat.

Now comes news of the latest atrocity practiced by a farmer towards his workers.


Giumarra--the world's largest table grape company that employs close to 3,500 grape workers, who has been found guilty in the past of intimidating, exploiting and endangering their workers has found a new way to bully their workers.

Giumarra has another way of forcing workers to reach unrealistic quotas and to intimidate workers. It's a version of the "time outs" you do to a little kid when they are naughty. Giumarra is the only grape grower who uses this humiliating public method of punishment.

A worker does not pick fast enough or dares to question a supervisor? They get an unpaid, "time out" where they need to sit and wait until the supervisor says they can go back to work.

In an occupation where labor literally translates into dollars, such a "time out" tactic is a form of retaliation against workers and illustrates how some of these farmers/companies have so little value for their workers.

The troubling aspect is that these companies/people that exploit immigrant labor feel above the law, or at the least out of its reach.

The grape workers have filed charges against the company and as was expected, Giumarra management is already retaliating. Friends of the workers are asking people to email Giumarra and demand they treat their workers with respect and dignity.

Yet, no petition or mass email campaign will have the same kind of impact as stronger laws to punitively punish those companies that knowingly exploit people for their labor - regardless of their legal status.

As the Fair Labor Standards Act outlines: A worker is a worker and the aggrieved have a right to sue.

Excerpt from: New NCLR report reveals employers who exploit Latino laborers have little to fear

The 2009 Alma Awards Show Breakdown: Selena Gomez + Benjamin Bratt + George Lopez + David …

Posted on: September 19, 2009
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Oh, look it was Los Angeles mayor Antonio Vallaraigosa, taking some time from his philandering schedule to be at an honorary event. Isn’t he handsome though; he looks like an entertainment celebrity almost.

I wonder how many people really paid attention to what he was saying when he came on the stage. Maybe they were thinking about his, um, little adventures with female TV anchors.

Francia Raisa, I want that dress, girl. Wow, royal blue is definitely her color.

Ooh, I’m going to have to sneak in this photo of her on the red carpet prior to the start of the actual show. She’s just gorgeous.

That Mexican-Honduran looks like a doll, practically. Okay, Hollywood, and she needs something more than that The Secret Life of the American Teenager role to fill up her days, thank you very much.

Eva Longoria was the host for the night. I’m not liking that dress of hers at all. The material is okay. It looks like refined taffeta, but the style of the dress is another matter.

Edward James Olmos came out of his hiding place to attend the Awards.

The ever-adorable David Archuleta performed at the show.

John Leguizamo accepted his award for Best Actor in a film for his role in Freddie Rodriguez’s film Nothing Like the Holidays.

Dania Ramirez and Amaury Nolasco presented an award as well. While we have those two in front of us, don’t they look like they could make a great couple? I’m just saying…

Is it too late for me to take back what I had said about Eva Longoria’s gown earlier? Wow, from this angle, it looks rather good. Something I’d wear, even.

And look, it’s James Edward Olmos all smiles, as he gives the recently retired Oscar de la Hoya a Special Achievement in Sports Television.

Roselyn Sanchez and Cristian de la Fuente presented an award.

I know it seems as if I say this about every pair that presents awards, but doesn’t Mrs. Eric Winter looks like she and Cristian could have been a glamorous couple?

E.Lo came out wearing yet another sweeping creation.

Mr. 305 rocked the house.

Is Pitbull like the most glamorous Latino rapper or what?

This man never hits the stage without his well-tailored linen suits. Talk about a cosmopolitan rappero!

G.Lo goofs around on the stage. Gosh, I miss his show.

Eva changed into yet another dress. Doesn’t it remind you of Scarlett O’Hara’s dress made from her mother’s curtains from the movie Gone with The Wind.

And the woman of the hour, the one who made it all possible, NCLR president and CEO Janet Murguia.

Too bad that dress she has on is all wrong for her. She should not have gone for something off the shoulder at all, with her ample, er, endowments. That dress looks too much like a mother-of-the-bride dress at some 1990s Latina wedding, or a 1980s dress for a Latina mom celebrating her daughter’s quince. And some of the layers of the dress look like they could have benefited from some steaming from the Dry Cleaner.

Oh, well, at least Ms. Murgia has a good heart. I’m sure that’s a trait that matters somewhat somewhere in some universe.

Jimmy Smits gives her a well-deserved hug. Aww.

Wow, now this was probably Eva’s best change of outfit dress all night. I’m speechless. Oh, hi, George.

Cuban mami Soledad O’Brien took the stage. Now, you’d think that all this time she spends on CNN wearing those run-of-the-mill anchor suits, you’d think on one of those rare days that she comes on the spotlight and has the opportunity to show off, she’d wear something dazzling.

But no.

She chose to wear that old thing. And she didn’t even try to do something with her hair. An updo, and not that boring sweep she does with it all the time.

Benjamin Bratt and his cute face were there. Is that gray Benjie in your beard? Don’t you know you’re in an ageism-laden industry, my boy? Somebody nudge him and pass him some hair dye, please!

He received his Year in Television Drama Actor award for “The Cleaner” . Congratulations Ben.

Eva de la Rue and Jake T. Austin, as he accepts his award. I’m really liking Eva’s dress. Nice.

Efren Ramirez, your suit looks nice and all, but those glasses really have to go. I understand the nerdy look is trending, but this isn’t a good nerdy look.

Activist Raoul Yzaguirre was present as well.

And our girl Selena Gomez also accepted her award for Best Actress for her role on Disney’s The Wizards of Waverly Place.

Puerto Rican cutie Jordana Brewster and fellow presenter Enrique Murciano. Jordana, do you think I could have that bracelet.

Everyone who attended the Alma Awards got a Backstage Creations goody bag. Oh, the goodies! I’m so jealous; needless to say.

Photos: Robert Benson/Getty; and Kevork Djansezian/Getty

See original here: The 2009 Alma Awards Show Breakdown: Selena Gomez + Benjamin Bratt + George Lopez + David ...

Carter’s remarks on racism don’t even scratch the surface

Posted on: September 19, 2009
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In the aftermath of former President Jimmy Carter's assessment that racism is fueling this unprecedented backlash against President Obama, nobody seems to want to agree with him. Former President Jimmy Carter The White House couldn't distance itself quick enough nor did Republicans waste any time in denouncing Carter's statement. But the sad fact is that racism has seeped back into the American psyche in a big way and not in a subtle manner, especially against Latinos. This point is abundantly clear in an otherwise mundane piece of reporting found in The Dallas Morning News.
U.S. marshals arrested a Pleasant Grove man who Dallas police say is responsible for his mother's death. Cesar Dan Hernandez-Sandoval, 20, was apprehended without incident this week in Las Vegas, four months after the death of his mother, Esther Hernandez, 43. Detectives had searched for Hernandez-Sandoval since he disappeared May 10 when his mother's body was found in her Pleasant Grove home. Police initially believed that Hernandez-Sandoval, who is in the U.S. legally, fled to Mexico. Dallas police detectives were in Las Vegas interviewing Hernandez-Sandoval on Wednesday. His extradition was pending.
Why has it become necessary to give the legal status of Latinos? There are plenty of examples of other ethnicities who have escaped to Mexico to avoid arrest. Yet, we have reached a point in our society where it is now necessary to give the legal status of Latino subjects in articles. If this isn't a sign of racism then, as a nation, we've become too complacent and accepting of discrimination. Link: Carter's remarks on racism don't even scratch the surface

New Latino initiative unites Latino bloggers and organizations in speaking out against Lou Dobbs and CNN

Posted on: September 19, 2009
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If there was any doubt as to how vicious the issue of undocumented immigrants has become then you haven't seen the Senate Finance Committee's version of the healthcare bill.

The Chairman's Mark America's Healthy Future Act of 2009 goes out of its way to calm fears that undocumented immigrants would be able to receive healthcare coverage.


In the Senate's bill, undocumented immigrants are barred from participating in the healthcare exchange even if they can pay for it.

The intent is ludicrous. In essence, the government is forcing undocumented immigrants to use emergency rooms and run up bills in the thousands of dollars, that will probably not get reimbursed, rather than accepting their money on a monthly basis to pay now for healthcare later.

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense -- but only to people who have lost all reason and compassion when it comes to undocumented immigrants.

One of the most vocal voices fueling this kind of asinine thinking is a guy I used to have a lot of respect for -- Lou Dobbs.

There was a time when, as a fellow journalist, I respected his thoughtful analysis and the way his booming voice delivered an authoritative yet comforting perspective.

Yet, over the years, Dobbs has changed his thoughtful journalistic analysis for parroting talking points found at some of the most notorious hate group sites.

It's one thing for a journalist to deliver an opinion or to even have a cause but to revisit the same topic on a semi-regular/regular basis on a daily show while perpetuating unverified information to the American public then that is a serious breach of journalistic ethics and borders dangerously on being nothing more than a mouthpiece for an organization or movement that has a definite political agenda.

At that point, it's no longer news. It's propaganda.

Today, it was announced that several leading immigrant advocate and Latino groups have signed on to a campaign called Drop Dobbs.

The focus is to heighten awareness among advertisers that Dobbs' rhetoric is nothing that a self-respecting business would want to be associated with.

Latina Lista has not signed on to the Drop Dobbs campaign.

Not because I don't agree but because I think it's important that the people who are most impacted by this national tirade against undocumented immigrants rise up and speak for themselves.

Who is that you might ask? It's not just undocumented immigrants -- it's Latinos everywhere.

The trouble with vilifying undocumented immigrants is that the average Joe or Jane can't tell an undocumented immigrant from a fifth-generation, English-only Latino/a. Rhetoric that lumps all undocumented immigrants together is, in essence, lumping all Latinos together.

A couple of months ago, I was invited to be part of a Latino/Jewish coalition. Part of our introductory exercises to break down misperceptions of one another was to list the first five things that came to mind when each side heard the label Latino or Jewish.

The Jewish group's #1 response was that Latinos were all "illegal immigrants."

The campaign BastaDobbs or Enough Dobbs is a coalition of mostly Latino organizations and bloggers who have united for the first time to make media accountable for those employees they have who go beyond journalism and are allowed to breach its ethics in the name of profits.

Lou Dobbs has increasingly pushed the envelope when it comes to using his show as a soapbox for organizations identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as being hate or racist when it comes to the illegal immigration debate.

Just this week, Dobbs took a prominent role at a rally in Washington sponsored by an organization known as being overtly anti-immigrant. Known as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the group's executive director is most well known for warning that "certain immigrant groups are engaged in "competitive breeding" aimed at diminishing white power."

That Dobbs would openly associate himself with such a questionable organization is a sad commentary on how little disregard he has for the journalism profession but even less for CNN itself.

In this day and age when public opinion polls show that people have a low opinion of the media, personalities like Dobbs most certainly contribute to that negative perception.

For the sake of salvaging the credibility of CNN and not further discrediting the journalism produced by the rest of CNN staffers who know what real journalism entails: balance, accuracy, and truthfulness -- it's time CNN management really looked at Dobbs and realized that he's using the CNN brand to further an ideology that runs counter to what CNN always represented in the minds of viewers worldwide -- a trusted source.

As long as Dobbs remains, it will be harder and harder for other CNN news shows to distance themselves from a man who claims to be a journalist but has little respect for the profession, and much less for the company that employs him.

It's a sad situation but one that calls for CNN management to act responsibly and understand that its the viewers to whom a network is accountable to and not an egotistical host bent on dragging a network down with him.

See original here: New Latino initiative unites Latino bloggers & organizations in speaking out against Lou Dobbs and CNN

New study finds women make more effective lawmakers than men

Posted on: September 19, 2009
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It's safe to say that Congress is a mess these days with partisan machismo run amok.


Representatives Lorena and Loretta Sanchez from California are two Latina politicians paving the way for more Latinas and women to seek public office at the nation's highest level.

Too many congressMEN are quick to make a whole lot of noise but slow to accomplish anything. So, that's why a new study touting the effectiveness of female lawmakers is something that everyone should pay attention to.

...the preliminary conclusion of a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Chicago, who say that on average, women in Congress introduce more bills, attract more co-sponsors and bring home more money for their districts than their male counterparts do
.

Researchers say that it's probably because there is such a small number of female legislators that they feel they must work harder and accomplish more than their male counterparts -- and they're doing it.

Though there are only 93 female congressional members versus 441 male members, female congressional members are the biggest asset to Congress. In part due to the ability to sit down and work with different parties.

It's no wonder that Democrats working on the Senate healthcare reform bill are counting on Sen. Olympia Snowe to be the one Republican that gives them their bipartisan goal in passing the bill.

"We find that, on average, women sponsor about three bills more per Congress per term than their male counterparts," said Anzia. "They co-sponsor more bills than other members, and they also obtain more co-sponsors for their own bills."

All of this sounds like a perfect solution to creating change in Washington -- elect more women who are actually able to reach across the aisle to find shared solutions and aren't so busy jockeying for position in front of a television camera.

When it comes to Latino politicians, this report was just icing on the pastel!

According to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), Latina politicians are especially hitting the road running for public office.

Between 1996 and 2007,the number of Latina elected officials grew faster than the number of male Latino officials - the number of Latinas increased by 74%, compared to 25% for male Latinos. As a result, the female share of all Latino elected officials grew from 24% in 1996 to 31% in 2007.

With research showing that women make more effective leaders -- and honestly, who didn't already know this -- it's time to encourage more women and girls to pursue public office and aspire to be all that they can be -- regardless of their age!


Read the original post: New study finds women make more effective lawmakers than men

President Obama’s usage of the term “illegal immigrants” is more than just semantics

Posted on: September 19, 2009
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Whoever created the phrase "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" was just plain dishonest.


Obama delivers his push for healthcare reform to a joint session of Congress.

No matter how many times we were taught to let insults "roll off our backs" the truth of the matter is words do hurt, and what we've learned in our current polarizing political climate, is that they can carry a bigger punch than any physical fist-clenched hit.

Knowing that words matter, and some more than others, it was disappointing to hear President Obama repeatedly use the term "illegal immigrant" in his recent healthcare speech to the joint session of Congress.

In the past, he has referred to this population by its more accurate description of "undocumented immigrants" and so the prevailing thought among immigrant advocates is that the President's use of the term was a subtle political olive branch to those like "Joe the Congressional Heckler" Wilson.

Yet, as we now know, the usage of the term didn't appease anyone but merely added to the antagonism already felt by some in the room -- not to mention that it elevated a term regarded by many as hate speech as now having White House approval.

For many in the media and politics, the term "illegal immigrant" has become shorthand for the longer more cumbersome "undocumented immigrant." The shorter version definitely rolls off the tongue more quickly, fits more neatly into space-cramped headlines - whether online or in print - and the assumption is that it embodies concisely what the speaker is trying to describe - immigrants who are here illegally.

But that really isn't the case.

The two words -- "illegal" and "immigrant" when thrown together as such create the impression that immigrants are illegal. They are not. They may be undocumented and living here illegally but they themselves are not illegal humans.

The notion that any human is illegal would be laughable if it were not for the fact that there has been a long sad history in this country, and other countries, where certain groups perceiving themselves to be elite have looked down on people of color or who were different from themselves, and for all practical purposes, considered those people to be illegal in terms of being able to claim full rights afforded to all humans.

To the casual bystander witnessing/reporting on the illegal immigration debate, the term "illegal immigrant" seems like an innocent way to describe this demographic. Plus, it saves reporters, writers, politicians and speakers from having to explain whom they are talking about.

Everybody knows who an "illegal immigrant" is referring to.

A couple of years ago, I had used the term in one of my posts and I was immediately scolded by some of my fellow bloggers in the Latino blogosphere. I had used it because it fit all the criteria I had previously mentioned -- it was convenient, short and evoked an immediate understanding from the reader, plus all my colleagues in mainstream media were using it.

Yet, I failed to realize one thing -- that was rightly pointed out by my blogosphere friends -- the use of it only perpetuates the condoning of a term that goes beyond two simple words.

The term has been effectively adopted as the rallying cry for hate groups who see undocumented immigrants as the first wave of some imaginary Hispanic takeover of the country.

The term, as it's now used, goes beyond describing the legal status of a group of people but is used to insinuate a diabolical lawlessness in this group that just isn't true and who are only guilty of letting visas expire or crossing the border illegally which are not felonies and far from heinous crimes.

The term has become synonymous with justifying racial profiling and citizen assaults by dehumanizing the individual and giving the impression that anyone who has this label attached to them isn't worthy of basic human rights or constitutional considerations.

It is far from an innocent phrase used to describe a group of people.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists even issued a call to all news media to stop using the term and other such terms that are meant to only incite hatred and are grammatically incorrect to boot.

Unfortunately, as we know most mainstream journalists still prefer the term "illegal immigrant." Yet, what's worse is that there are some Latina/o journalists still using the derogatory term as well, even as they defend the undocumented.

For President Obama to reverse his previous course and use a term that dehumanizes a group of people characterized as being Latino in origin does not advance the cause of reforming healthcare or immigration policies.

Rather it reinforces and validates the idea that these people are "illegal humans."

It is only a matter of time before this term will join the ranks of every other embarrassing derogatory term used in our nation's history to villify, demean and shame a particular group of people.

But it's become increasingly clear -- we can't wait for history to make that judgement call.

Follow this link:
President Obama's usage of the term "illegal immigrants" is more than just semantics

The funniest show NOT on television returns 9/15 with season 2.0

Posted on: September 16, 2009
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By Herald de Paris Contributor's Bureau on September 14, 2009 With all respect, forget Leno. Ruth Livier’s YLSE is the funniest show on television. Only, it is not on television, at all. This talented group of actors, writers, and directors work ensemble, and without pretense. What they deliver is a thoroughly modern American sitcom that still recalls the great comedies of television’s past, far more than anything on the networks. If you like Alexandra Wentworth’s ground-breaking Cinemax show, “It’s Complicated,” you’ll love YLSE. Watch last season’s webisodes from the links below, and don’t miss the YLSE 2.0 season premiere tomorrow, Tuesday, September 15th. - Jes Alexander By Ruth Livier HOLLYWOOD (Herald de Paris) - The now Award-Winning webseries YLSE premieres its second season tomorrow Tuesday, September 15th. You can see right away from our vibrant new YLSE.net website that we have taken our show to the next level. YLSE’s first season received positive reviews from audience, critics and celebrity friends alike! And we are very excited to be back to share season 2. This time around we delve into our main characters’ personal lives and relationships: We get to meet Ylse’s parents (played by Richard Yñiguez and Alma Delfina) and her new love-interest (Alex Mendoza), Blanca’s ex-husband (David Barrera) returns to stir the pot, Alex’s out-of-town girlfriend Jessica finally visits (Kristen Ariza) and Sergio can’t get enough of his Eastern European chocolate bon-bon (Carolyn Wilson). Judy Reyes (SCRUBS) also joins the cast this season AND celebrity friends rallied in support behind cameras as well: Elizabeth Peña (NOTHING LIKE THE HOLIDAYS, THE INCREDIBLES) directs our season finale webisode and Herbert Siguenza (CULTURE CLASH) came on board as a writer! I’m really excited to share season two on our new website and can only hope we are received with the enthusiasm & support we’ve been enjoying! So a BIG Thank you to our audience!! YLSE stars: Ruth Livier, Marlene Forte, Alejandro de Hoyos and Gabriel Romero.