When it comes to Latinx representation, media can always use more voices and that’s especially true for the Central American community. As a Salvadoran-American myself, I grew up apart from many members of my family and with a mostly conservative, religious viewpoint.
I first heard of Radio Cachimbona through other Central Americans on Twitter and discovered its host, Yvette Borja, who boasts an amazing resumé. She graduated from Yale and went on to study law at Stanford. Today she’s a journalist with Balls and Strikes, where she works to make sure anyone can understand how legal issues, developments, and rulings can affect them.
Yvette Borja has hosted Radio Cachimbona since 2017 and uses her platform to discuss Salvadoran and US politics, bringing in authors such as Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez, journalists, and creators like the women behind Reina Rebelde. I had the chance to talk to Borja about her work, the motivation behind the podcast, and self-care.
On Living Outside of the Major Salvadoran and Central American Bubbles
Salvadorans and Central Americans in the US tend to live in Los Angeles or other ethnic hubs, but being in Tucson, AZ means Borja has a slightly different experience. “It’s very relevant to describe how militarized the border is. Tucson and Southern Arizona are heavily policed by immigration, law enforcement, and state law enforcement. There’s also a very heavy border patrol and ICE presence,” she says. That makes for a different experience for sure.
On the Connection Between the GOP and Right-Wing Salvadoran Talking Points
In her podcast, Borja discusses several aspects of Salvadoran politics that are relevant for folks in the diaspora to keep up with. Some of these include the harmful ways the Biden Administration intends to “help” Central America, the failures of El Salvador’s former guerilla and now political party, FMLN, and perspectives on El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender.
Though it’s easy to have a grim perspective, during our conversation, she taught me one positive thing about Biden, saying he did “elect more public defenders as judges. As a whole, the federal judiciary is staffed with prosecutors and corporate lawyers,” she explains, which can bake more anti-the-little-guy sentiment into the system.
On Dealing with Parents as a Progressive Salvadoran-American
Politics can be fraught in Salvadoran and Latinx families, with many in our community voting for the GOP or not voting at all. When asked about how she deals with potential conflicts, Borja says, “My mom listens to the podcast. I don’t think she hears everything that I say. We disagree when we talk about things. I think because she supports me, she’s willing to listen, which I think is great.”
On Legalese and Making Rulings Interesting for the Public
Given Borja’s background, it makes sense that Radio Cachimbona is particularly good at making sure people understand the implications of our country’s rulings. Where most people are glad to use ambiguous terms, Latin phrases, and other words you wouldn’t understand unless you have a law degree, Borja makes sure to use clear, easy language both in her podcast and in her journalism. “All of the articles I write are meant to be accessible and enjoyable to read by people who did not go to a law school, and it takes a lot of work,” she explains.
On Self-Care and Getting Paid
For many in the Latinx community, especially women, self-care is seen as a luxury or a waste of time. But Borja finds a way to prioritize it. “A lot of self-care comes down to just being paid well. Being able to take vacation where I indulge, go to the beach, get a massage, and go to a really nice restaurant. Those are all things I make an effort to prioritize as somebody who is the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants because especially the women, the generations before me, did not get to rest. For me, it’s like a critical intervention to take care of myself,” she says.
Listen to Radio Cachimbona now.
CORRECTION: This piece was updated on July 14. It originally stated Yvette Borja is from Tucson, AZ when she is originally from California’s Bay Area. She has lived in Tucson for the past four years.