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How a Latino political cartoonist is fighting misinformation

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Posted at 3:46 PM, Sep 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-30 16:51:47-04

Lalo Alcaraz still gets excited when he sees people reacting to one of his political cartoons.

"That never gets old," he said.

A tiny office is where he creates a loud message by using barely any words. 

“I’m just trying to get people to think critically," Alcaraz said.

The thing about political cartoons, he said, is that within seconds people should understand the point.

“I think political cartoons are really accessible, quick format that delivers the truth with a punch,” Alcaraz said.

His work is sometimes controversial. Alcaraz admits he's received hate mail throughout his career. 

“Bluntness. That's what makes my cartoons different. I have a lot of different cartoons I like to be direct," Alcaraz said.

Alcaraz is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated cartoonist whose daily comic strip "La Cucaracha" is the first nationally syndicated Latino political cartoon.

His art has made him an icon in the Mexican-American community.

In the pandemic, his work has carried a new meaning.

“It makes me feel good if someone tells me like, 'that really helped me to talk to my uncle about his dislike of vaccines,'" Alcaraz said. "That’s always a win for me."

He created special cartoons to fight pandemic misinformation as part of the "COVID Latino" project with Arizona State University.

The Latino community’s high reliance on social media for news is a reason why groups like Nielsen say they are at a higher risk for misinformation.

Avaaz, a nonprofit organization, found posts with misinformation in Spanish on Facebook are far less likely to be flagged— compared to posts in English.

“I think we’re all responsible to our communities we can’t expect people to come in and fix things for us and also on the ground level at some point," Alcaraz says.

Facebook has promised to do more to fact-check Spanish posts on its platform.

As the midterm elections near, Alcaraz hopes his messages can be educational.

"You know the information is out there; you have to look at it," he said. "'Use the coco that God gave you.'" That’s an old thing my mom used to say.”