Those of us who warned the sky might fall down last November 9 have sought cover, and we’re not alone. As this issue of LATINO goes to press, Trump’s approval rating hit an all-time low of 35% according to a Gallup tracking poll. And a Pew Research Center study shows just 16% of Americans “like the way Trump has conducted himself in office.”
But for all his bluster about being unpredictable, President Trump is anything but. From the revolving door chaos in the West Wing, to the growing scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation, to the danger of a nuclear exchange with North Korea---none of this should surprise anyone. Given what we learned during the campaign, much of what has happened since Trump took office was as predictable as a Greek tragedy. In case you wondered, those never end well.
Yet something about the pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio managed to shock breathless pundits and editorial writers. Though he described himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” Arpaio cowardly abused those unable to defend themselves. He refused to stop even after a federal judge ruled against him, and even arrested journalists for reporting on it, according to the New York Times.
Trump issued the pardon on a Friday night, just as Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas coast, citing high ratings. He ignored the usual procedure for granting a presidential pardon, since the recipient has typically been sentenced and then formally asks for one. Apparently, Trump failed to consult his own Justice Department before pulling the trigger. Arpaio is, above all, a hero to anti-immigrants and a poster boy for racism. Coming just days after his outrageous remarks about the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, the pardon sent a very clear signal where Trump stands.
Latinos shouldn’t be surprised. Not just the pardon of Arpaio, but Trump’s threat to shut down the government to build a border wall (which U.S. taxpayers will pay for, not Mexico), his apparent intent to rescind DACA, and much else, were quite predictable from the first day of his campaign. It seems so long ago, doesn’t it? What remains hard to believe is the craven collusion of those in the GOP leadership and even some Latinos who have kept silent as Trump tests the rule of law, freedom of the press, and our democratic institutions. We’re watching, and we’ll remember.
Our cover story features the fabulous Salma Hayek. The profile by Los Angeles-based Bel Hernandez Castillo makes clear she’s not just another pretty face. Salma took Hollywood by storm with sexy bombshell roles but also has a gift for comedy as well as drama. In this year’s surprising Beatriz at Dinner, she demonstrates depth as an actress. In Breaking Point (p. 20), Ana Radelat takes an in-depth look at another looming crisis, Venezuela’s descent into dictatorship. There is so much breaking news that mainstream media has all but ignored the violence and instabiity of this once prosperous country. Yet it may well get worse before it gets better. Veteran journalist Roberto Santiago makes his debut in this publication with When Will Florida Go Blue? (p. 32). Changing demographics may one day put the Sunshine State in the Democratic column, but it’s an uphill climb. And our Washington editor, Patricia Guadalupe, interviews Latino White House correspondents such as Jim Acosta and Cecilia Vega (p. 28).
There’s much else in this issue, including a profile of Mark Madrid (p. 26), formerly the president of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and now with the Latino Business Action Network at Stanford, and a visit to an unspoiled paradise in Mexico, the island of Holbox just north of Cancun (p. 36). Many thanks to our readers and advertisers. ¡Gracias!
Alfredo J. Estrada