Telenovela Sexes Up Census Participation
Soap opera reaches out to worried Latinos
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2009 8:49 AM CDT
A census worker recruits character Perla Beltrán in this scene from "Más Sabe el Diablo."   (Telemundo)

(Newser) – Spicy soap opera action may not be something usually associated with the US Census Bureau, but that's set to change next week. Perla Beltrán, a luckless but lovely character in popular Telemundo telenovela Más Sabe el Diablo, is getting a job helping boost Hispanic participation in next year's census. Census officials and Hispanic leaders hope the storyline will help tackle real-life Latino concerns about the headcount.

"Perla is a strong woman," says actress Michelle Vargas of her character, who will address fears that census data could be used to identify illegal immigrants by learning that census information will be kept strictly private. Telemundo's arrangement to help out the Census Bureau is strictly informal, officials tell the Washington Post, and follows a long Latin American tradition of soap operas pushing public-service messages.