CultureStrike to Host Event on Central American Migration

Mexico Migrants

Migrants ride on top of a northern bound train toward the US-Mexico border in Juchitan, southern Mexico, Monday, April 29, 2013. Migrants crossing Mexico to get to the U.S. have increasingly become targets of criminal gangs who kidnap them to obtain ransom money. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

The pro-immigration magazine CultureStrike in collaboration with Verso Books and Impact Hub Oakland will be hosting “Before the Destination: Migrations from Central America to the United States,” in an effort to shed light on the dangers that Central American immigrants face on their journey to the United states. The multidisciplinary event scheduled for Saturday, December 7, 2013 will feature the work of award winning journalist Óscar Martínez, photographer Edu Ponces and artist Favianna Rodriguez.

Martínez, author of “The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail,” will be doing a reading from his book. In October 2013 he was featured in NPR’s Alt.Latino show for his work in documenting the story of Central American’s who travel through Mexico to the U.S. border on freight trains known as La Bestia.

Ponces is an award winning, Spanish, photojournalist whose work has centered largely on the topic of migration. He co-authored the book “En el Camino: Mexico, la Ruta de los Migrantes Que no Importan (On the Way: Mexico, The Route of the Migrants Who do Not Matter).” Ponce’s exhibit will focus on the experiences of women on the Train, who face additional risk factors.

Favianna Rodriguez

Artist Favianna Rodriguez at the pro-immigration event “Face to Face: Action. Healing. Solidarity” in collaboration with French artist JR and his project Inside Out, on Thursday, July 25, 2013 in Oakland, Calif. (Photograph by: Natalie Rodriguez)

Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist and activist. She is an international lecturer, coordinator of CultureStrike and co-founder of the national organization, Her work will be present via an art installation.

Despite the many dangers of making the trip from Central America to the U.S. through Mexico via freight train, according to The New York Times, the number of American arrests of undocumented immigrants from Central American countries increased from 46, 997 in 2011 to 94,532 in 2012.

The event will take place at The Hub Oakland located at 1423 Broadway Ave., Oakland, Calif.; from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Admission will be free. Register for the event via the Facebook Event page or through Eventbrite.

Mexico Migrants Attacked

A group of Central American migrants read the news of their ordeal from a local newspaper outside of a shelter after they were attacked on the freight train they were riding through Mexico, in Acayucan, Mexico, Thursday, May 2, 2013. The United States-bound migrants had hopped on the train in southern Mexico and were traveling through the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz when attackers shot and cut them with machetes. Some jumped from the train to escape and others were thrown off, said migrants’ rights activist Tomas Gonzalez Castillo. At least 10 Honduran migrants are recovering from wounds suffered in the attack. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

Everyone’s a Critic: How the Opinions and Fair Comment Privileges Protect California Journalists

Vincent Cortez

Oakland, Calif. (April 14, 2013) — Vincent Cortez, local filmmaker checks the IMDb movie rating for his unreleased film The Hush, which has already received negative ratings from unknown reviewers. (Photo: Natalie Rodriguez)

There is an old saying that everyone’s a critic, however, with access to social media and blogging, being a critic may well cost you a defamation lawsuit. The Internet gives you an instant audience that can, and will, both admire and criticize your work, and in some instances your personal life. Bloggers beware; writing statements that could damage a person’s reputation could land you in a lot of legal trouble. In California, journalists are protected from potential defamation lawsuits through several privileges, among them the opinion and fair comment privileges under which you can state opinions about others as long as they cannot be proven true or false. Vincent Cortez, local filmmaker of Mitchell Street Pictures, says, “Defamation can be a concern because that is when it becomes about someone trying to make you, the artist, look bad.”

In February 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle published the article titled “Web 2.0 defamation lawsuits multiply,” in which business reviews on popular websites, such as Yelp and college gossip sites were under fire for statements alleged defamatory reviews and statements. Five years later, in January 2013, a contractor who received a bad review on Yelp filed a $750,000 defamation lawsuit in Fairfax County, VA. Yelp’s Terms of Service specifically warn that the users are responsible for the content that they chose to publish and that they may be exposing themselves to liability if the content “contains material that is false, intentionally misleading, or defamatory.” Those same terms of service include and indemnity release and state, “California law will govern these terms.”

Cortez who currently is experience low ratings on the IMDb page of his unreleased movie, The Hush, comments on how direct access to

information allows for any comment or opinion to be attached to your name and work in search engines. The opinion and fair comment privileges protect online journalist in that the context and the circumstances under which statements are made are taken into account in a legal case of defamation. For example, in the case Global Telemedia International, Inc. v. Doe 1, statements made in a chat room were dismissed as opinion and protected under the privileges because the statements were full of exaggerations and “language not generally found in fact-based documents,” amongst other things.

While the first amendment protects our freedom of speech and the opinion and fair comment privileges make sure that journalist are protected from defamation lawsuits, we should not forget that when we write reviews we do so at our own risk. Cortez tells us that, “negative reviews can turn away potential interest in your project and even potential work for you as an artist.” Opinion and fair comment privileges do not protect against facts with the preface “in my opinion,” nor do they protect from false facts that may be implied.

Infographic created using by Natalie Rodriguez.

Created on by Natalie Rodriguez