State of Exception: An Abolitionist Poet Visits El Salvador
Christopher Soto is a Salvadoran-American poet, activist and prison abolitionist. He is based in Los Angeles, but has remained tied to his parent’s home country.
Throughout his life, Christopher has taken many trips to El Salvador, but during his most recent visit to the Central American country in the summer of 2022, things were very different: the country’s president Nayib Bukele had declared a state of exception to address rising homicide rates attributed to criminal gangs. More than 65,000 people have been arrested since then, many of them arbitrarily.
On this episode of Latino USA, Christopher Soto takes us to El Salvador during a state of exception and we hear about the deep connections between the United States and El Salvador’s carceral culture, as well as the importance of poetry within the prison abolitionist movement.
Villano Antillano and Ana Macho Dream of Queer and Trans Futures
Villano Antillano and Ana Macho are two Puerto Rican trans and non-binary musicians making waves in the music industry. In their latest projects, Villano Antillano’s debut album “Sustancia X” and Ana Macho’s “Realismo Magico,” both artists use elements of magical realism and science fiction to dream of queer and trans empowerment. In this intimate conversation, we hear the two artists bring some humor into the difficult realities of navigating a transphobic industry, and we dive deep into the sonic worlds of their latest albums.
An Unwinnable War
This week Latino USA shares an episode of the USA v. García Luna podcast, from Futuro Investigates and Lemonada Media.
Genaro García Luna’s trial is over, but Maria and Peniley’s investigative work is not. In this episode, they learn that a U.S. senator has requested the DEA and the FBI information on García Luna, including the names of the U.S. officials who vetted him. We listen to some of our series’ protagonists react to the guilty verdict, and Peniley digs into what’s next for García Luna. Finally, our hosts reflect on why the war on drugs was always unwinnable, and they get into some chisme, going behind the scenes of this series.
To hear more of USA v. García Luna, head to futuroinvestigates.org.
'Suavemente' — The Merengue War
For this week’s Latino USA, we’re bringing you an episode from the newly released podcast series from WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios, La Brega, The Puerto Rican Experience in Eight Songs.
By the end of the 1990s, merengue ruled supreme on the radio and TV in Puerto Rico, but the road to get there was long and complicated, coinciding with the growing Dominican population to the island and culminating in perhaps what was the pinnacle of its popularity and takeover in Puerto Rican music, at home and abroad: Elvis Crespo’s “Suavemente.” Journalist Ezequiel Rodríguez Andino shares the story of merengue’s ubiquity and how the shift from salsa to merengue brought to the surface serious class and racial tension that still remains today.
You can subscribe to La Brega here.
How I Made It: Ayodele Casel
For Ayodele Casel tap dancing is magic. As a young high school student, she dreamed of one day dancing like Ginger Rogers as she recreated Ginger’s moves in her bedroom But it wasn’t until Ayodele Casel was a sophomore at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts that she took her first tap dancing class. That was her entry point into the art form which would eventually lead to a more than 20-year career as a professional tap dancer. As a Black and Puerto Rican woman, Ayodele Casel didn’t see herself reflected in the mainstream image of tap dancers because the form has been largely whitewashed through systematic racism. For that reason, she works tirelessly to remind her audiences that tap is deeply rooted in Black art and culture.
In this episode of “How I Made It,” Ayodele takes us through her tap journey and reclaims tap dancing as a Black art form.
This episode originally aired in November of 2021.