Here is the English-subtitled interview on CNN en Español with anchor Juan Carlos Lopez that aired February 23, 2011 on DirectoUSA's "Latino en America" segment.
CNN en Español - DirectoUSA
Aired February 23, 2011
Speaking about the experiences of many Hispanics in the nation today, we have an interesting story about an author … a marketing expert, a man who knows the United States and the Latino community and also hosts a website that documents the immigrant experience in the United States. Joining me from Los Angeles is Raul Ramos y Sanchez, the author of a trilogy of books.
Raul, let’s talk about your books. The first is America Libre. The second, which I have in my hands, is House Divided. This book paints a fascinating panorama about Hispanics and their future in the United States. Where did the idea for this trilogy arise?
The trilogy began when I was working on a public television film that, unfortunately, I was not able to find the funding to produce. But I had a lot of research that I had gathered from professors and so I looked for another way to communicate this research. So I began with a novel. That novel took a direction completely different than the film. And that was the foundation of the books. From the beginning, I imagined it as a trilogy because I felt it was a story that would take generations to evolve.
When one reads House Divided, your most recent book, the protagonist is Mano Suarez, a decorated military veteran who is part of the Hispanics in the United States interned inside U.S. cities and not permitted to leave because they want to create their own nation.
Yes, the story centers on Manolo Suarez and his family. The time is the near-future, a time when many social trends we are seeing now have gotten much worse. During the course of the story, Mano changes from a decorated veteran of the U.S. Army to the point where, by the end of the first book, America Libre, Manolo has been transformed from a loyal third-generation citizen who barely speaks Spanish to a rebel with the goal of creating a Latino nation within the borders of the United States. How that type of transformation could happen is the social theme that is the foundation of the books.
You host an Internet forum called MyImmigrationStory.com. How have your books been received and how is the debate within that forum at a time when immigration continues as a topic of discussion where many immigrants feel their support is not accurately represented.
It’s horrible. The site gives one the opportunity to hear from immigrants in their own voices. These are people who are suffering under this immigration system that in reality does not work — it does not allow people who want to come here and who want to work, to contribute to society. Moreover, in many corners of the country these immigrants are treated like criminals and demons, which is actually quite the opposite of reality.
At the same time, I feel the image portrayed in many parts of the media is that Latino and immigrant have become the same word. For that reason, my books, America Libre and House Divided, show how that hatred directed toward undocumented immigrants could become a force for the radicalization of all Latinos. And that’s part of the story. The books imagine a future where what’s going on in the country now evolves into something similar to what’s happened with the Basques in Spain, the Balkans, the Chechens in Russia—in other words, an ethnic conflict. Because we have a situation brewing in this country that could become very similar and I want to give a warning so that it does not happen. And also show how it’s possible we could get from here to there.
What is the next step? How does the trilogy end? And when I was reading the book, I saw this as a film. Will we see this in a movie theater?
Well, we’re in the process to see if we can make a deal that will make that possible. The third book is called Pancho Land. That’s the name the soldiers facing the Latino rebels give them. Because all soldiers give their enemies nicknames, like Charlie in Viet Nam or Krauts for the Germans, the soldiers call the Latino insurgents Panchos. By the third book, the Panchos hold their own territory which remains in dispute. I don’t want to say more about the book. But I will say that, at the end, we find a peaceful resolution and an outcome that I hope most people would see as positive.
Thank you, Raul. Author Raul Ramos y Sanchez joins us from Los Angeles