¡Viva Radio!

El Break proves there's more to Spanish-language radio than ranchero music

Suarez, an extremely energetic 21-year-old, just got her green card a year ago, though she's been legally documented since 1997. She came to Arizona when she was 3 with her mother and year-old sister. She doesn't remember much of the journey, except finally arriving at 52nd Street and McDowell in Phoenix.

"We crossed water. I know that. My uncle came to help with me so my mom could carry my sister. We got caught once and then waited in the night and we came walking," she says. "I know we crossed a river, but I don't know which one. Then we got here. It used to be weird to say that, but not so much anymore."

Gabby, 22, also came with her family when she was 3. She doesn't remember the move. Her father, who became a resident under the 1986 amnesty law, asked for her residency when she was 16. She's in the process of applying for citizenship. She quieter than most of the others and thoughtful about what it means to be a Mexican living in America.

Luis Avila discusses El Break's hunger strike with fans at the Copa Panamerica soccer tournament.
Brad Garner
Luis Avila discusses El Break's hunger strike with fans at the Copa Panamerica soccer tournament.

"Being an immigrant didn't really affect me much, maybe because I was so young. It's affecting me more now," she says. "That's how El Break changed my life — I've become more aware of who I was."

Sandoval, 20, was born in Mexico City and came to the States at 2. When she was in middle school, her parents divorced and she moved back to Mexico with her mother. After a year and a half in her home country, she found she just could not adjust to the Mexican way of life, so she moved back to America to live with her dad.

Like Sandoval, Hurtado is a newcomer to the show. The 30-year-old came to America from Michoacán about 10 years ago, riding a bus to the California border, and moved in with his brother. Today, he works as a foreman at a welding company and moonlights as an actor. He's El Break's party boy, covering nightlife in the Valley. But his usual huge smile falters a bit when he talks about coming to America.

"Well, life is hard. One way or another. Even with all these things happening here, we are better than in Mexico," he says. "We have to find a way to live with it or do something to make it better. That's one of the things El Break wants to do. To be behind the mic is a powerful weapon."

The mission to make things better started at that first meeting at Gold Bar. Avila explained his idea for a show that would reach Spanish-speaking youth, bringing them news and culture in a fun way. He knew Arias was onboard because they'd come up with the idea together. They asked the others to decide if they wanted to be involved and come up with ideas for segments.

Suarez recalls being hesitant. Though she was born in Mexico, she hardly spoke any Spanish. In fact, her first all-Spanish conversation didn't even happen until high school when Enriquez, her best friend, forced her to speak it by pretending not to know English.

"I freaked out and said I didn't want to do it. He said it was going to be all in Spanish and I grew up with nothing but English," she says.

But with Enriquez's prodding, she decided to do it. Her segment "Lo Que Piensa La Gente" ("What the People Think") involves asking questions that people in the community need answers for, but might be afraid to ask.

Enriquez and Gabby decided they'd be a part of it, too.

On January 6, 2006, El Break went live on the air for the first time.

"We were really nervous," says Avila. "We listen to it sometimes and, ugh, it's horrible."

Suarez laughs when she thinks about how scared she was.

"I remember sitting there and Luis saying, 'We are not going to help you.' I was like, 'I don't speak Spanish,'" she says. "Every five seconds I had to ask, 'Como se dice?'"

In the year and half El Break has been on the air, a lot has changed.

It has become more than a radio show and is known for putting on events for the community. In October 2006, the members of El Break traveled to a halfway house in Altar, Sonora, bringing supplies for immigrants preparing to cross the border.

When Proposition 300, which mandates that undocumented students must pay out-of-state tuition and are not eligible for financial aid that comes from state funds, passed in November 2006, they held a forum, broadcast live on La Buena Onda, to explain the law to undocumented students.

Enriquez orchestrated the forum. She feels it was a success — more than 100 students showed up — but she's disappointed there's been no mass movement for change among her peers. When she talks about it, tears well in her eyes.

"For me, the biggest thing about this is that something is getting started. As much as Luis tries to argue with me that there is a movement, I don't see it," she says. "What is upsetting is that we can do so much more. They are passing all these propositions, and what are we doing? We marched. That was it. There are so many other things we could be doing and yet we're stuck on the marching? People have lost faith in their leaders."

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Awesome!. Great report. I'm amazed and very glad. Altough i can't listen to the radio show as often as I would like. I LIKE IT VERY MUCH. As a latina I thank you for taking a look at us this way.


Otra hipocrita fresa que se cree muy gringa, que no mas anda metida en esto para hacerse publicidad, especialmente en este parrafo cuando dice:Sandoval, 20, was born in Mexico City and came to the States at 2. When she was in middle school, her parents divorced and she moved back to Mexico with her mother. After a year and a half in her home country, she found she just could not adjust to the Mexican way of life, so she moved back to America to live with her dad.

Si te has de haber regresado porque de seguro extranabas tus lentes Versace que te apuesto te costaron mitad de lo que ganas, pinches fresas hipocritas si estan tan preocupados por los mexicanos aqui porque no usan su dinero para ayudar a gente que lo necesita en vez de comprar lentes Versace?


La mera verdad son una bola de puros fresas quejones que estan enojados con Estados Unidos porque quieren venir aqui a crear la separacion que existe en Mexico entre los ricos y pobres, quieren demostrar que ellos si fueron a la universidad y pretenden querer ayudar a los mexicanos que estan aqui infiltrandose en cualquier medio de comunicacion posible, cuando lo que realmente quieren es que los gringos vean que ellos no son jardineros ni carpinteros, quieren los gringos los vean como si fueran Elena Poniatowska o Octavio Paz. Y aparte, estan enojados porque aqui no se les hace tanto borlote como quisieran por ser ninos fresas intelectualones, al contrario, la gente los detesta y los aborrece por ser tan hipocritas y por que se mueren por sus quince minutos de fama cuando ni siquiera tienen talento en ningun campo. Y que mexicano tan mas hipocrita es Luis, especialmente en la parte del articulo cuando dice que despues de regresar a Mexico por estar enojado con la prop 200 y no poder volverse adaptar a la sociedad mexicana, entonces quien chingados crees que eres? Un guero de The OC o que a poco los niveles fresas se te subieron mucho mas alto solo porque aprendiste a hablar ingles y porque sabes pedir un Starbucks? Que bueno que vivas aqui y tengas una identidad perdida, porque Mexico no necesita a hipocritas e idiotas como tu que no saben ni porque estan involucrados en tanto desmadre, hablas por hablar y por hacerte famoso usando causas como la de los ilegales para tu propio beneficio.


I am sorry sir, but we DO pay taxes. In clothes, food..etc!. So please inform your self first.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow

Thanks for the enlightening article. It proves that most illegals have no real loyalty to America, or any interest in becoming a bone fide American. They dance around the topic of why they don't want to stay in Mexico. Why is that? I'd like to hear some more specifics about that subject. If they want to protest something or go on hunger strikes, why don't they start by doing it in Mexico City? That's where it's really needed. If more Mexicans stayed put, and worked for change there, to make things better in their home country, I think we'd all be better off, including them. I personally might have a little more sympathy and respect for them if the majority were to do that.


Dear Protesters:I really do not give a damn about your cause. I came to this country from Poland to work and make a better life for me and my family. You want free education paid with my taxes. If you want to protest do it in your country of origen. You want free education, free healthcare, the whole enchilada...PAY for it!!!

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