Issuu on Google+

a publication of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center

San Antonio, Tejas

July/August 2011 | Vol. 24 Issue 6

Inside this Issue: Sin Maíz, No Hay Pais, o La Soberanía Alimentaria by Marta Benavides

Get on the Bus! Lucius Walker & Pastors for Peace by B.V. Olguin

claiming voice by Luz Guerra

“It’s important to understand that all crises [of the world] are intertwined and cannot be solved separately…” - Marta Benavides

Madre del ambiente by Pájara Cervantes

“Es importante entender que todas las crisis [del mundo] estan amarradas las unas a las otras, y que no se pueden resolver por separado…” - Marta Benavides


La Voz de Esperanza July/August 2011 vol. 24 issue 6

© 2011 Esperanza Peace & Justice Center. All Rights Reserved.

Editor

Gloria A. Ramírez

Design

Monica V. Velásquez

Contributors

Marta Benavides, Martha Caso, Luz Guerra, Araceli Herrera, B.V. Olguin, Nadine Saliba, Bill Stitchnot, Yoly Zentella

La Voz Collective Brenda Davis, Juanita Gallardo, Gloria Hernández, Davina Kaiser, Gina Lee, Ray McDonald, René Mendoza, Angelita H. Merla, Lucy & Ray Pérez, Juanita H. Ramón, Genevieve Rodríguez, Mary Agnes Rodríguez, Dottie D. Sutherland, Mariana Vásquez, Leticia Vela

Esperanza Director Graciela I. Sánchez

Esperanza Staff

Imelda Arismendez, Jessica O. Guerrero, Amanda Haas, Monica V. Velásquez

Conjunto de Nepantleras

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

-Esperanza Board of Directors-

2

Brenda Davis, Jessica O. Guerrero, Araceli Herrera, Rachel Jennings, Amy Kastely, Kamala Platt, Ana Ramírez, Gloria A. Ramírez, Rudy Rosales, Nadine Saliba, Graciela Sánchez • We advocate for a wide variety of social, economic & environmental justice issues. • Opinions expressed in La Voz are not necessarily those of the Esperanza Center.

La Voz de Esperanza

is a publication of The Esperanza Peace & Justice Center 922 San Pedro, San Antonio, TX 78212 (on the corner of Evergreen Street)

210.228.0201 • fax 210.228.0000 www.esperanzacenter.org Inquiries/articles can be sent to:

lavoz@esperanzacenter.org Articles due by the 8th of each month Policy Statements

L

anding in the Bahamas in October 12, 1492 Columbus met indigenous people for the first time. He wrote: “They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will.. They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal.. there can be no better people.. They love their neighbors as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world.. The Europeans had met the Taínos of the Caribbean. By the 16th century they were declared extinct. Or, were they? On Columbus’ 2nd voyage, he began to require tribute from the Taínos in Hispaniola. According to Kirkpatrick Sale, adults over 14 years were to deliver “a hawks bell” full of gold every 3 months, or 25 lbs. of spun cotton. If not observed, the Taínos had their hands cut off and were left to die. This eventually led to more violence. [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taino_ people] The Taino were believed to be a subgroup of the Arawakan Indians in the Northeastern part of S. America and Ctrl. America. In these pages of La Voz, the spirit of the Taino is alive and well from the Caribbean to C. America. As indigenous people, it is my belief that we are all connected and that it is the spirit of indigeneity within each of us that will unshackle the manacles of colonialism that continue, today. We must all call that spirit from within to guide our quest for transformation of this world. Taino, after all means “good and noble.” –Gloria A. Ramírez, editor

Thelma Villanueva Gavin As we go to press with this issue of La Voz we have received the sad news that Thelma Gavin has passed. A San Antoniana born in Hondo, Thelma was active in civic and community affairs. She was a supremely creative individual who brought her folk art annually to the Esperanza’s Peace Market. In 2011, Peace Market will be a little less joyful because of her absence. The Esperanza community shares the family’s sorrow and extends heartfelt condolences.

Esther Garcia Robinson, 89 years old, of the famed Carpa García family who performed from 1914-1947 throughout the Southwest, entered into rest on Friday, July 1st. Sincere condolences from the Esperanza community to the García and Robinson families. We were blessed to have met her through her great niece, San Antonio artist, Adriana García. Esther performed at the 2011 Paseo por el Westside at the Esperanza’s Casa de Cuentos. It was evident she had not lost her style as a performer and that it remained deeply embedded in her spirit. What a blessing that was for us to see. Que en paz descanse.

* We ask that articles be visionary, progressive, instructive & thoughtful. Submissions must be literate & critical; not sexist, racist, homophobic, violent, or oppressive & may be edited for length. * All letters in response to Esperanza activities or articles in La Voz will be considered for publication. Letters with intent to slander individuals or groups will not be published.

ATTENTION VOZ READERS: If you have a correction you want to make on your mailing label please send it in to lavoz@esperanzacenter.org. If you do not wish to continue on the mailing list for whatever reason please notify us as well. La Voz is provided as a courtesy to people on the mailing list of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. The subscription rate is $30 per year. The cost of producing and mailing La Voz has substantially increased and we need your help to keep it afloat. To help, send in your subscriptions, sign up as a monthly donor, or send in a donation to the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. Thank you. -GAR

The Esperanza Center is funded in part by the TCA, Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the NEA, theFund, The Kerry Lobel & Marta Drury Fund of Horizon’s Foundation, Coyote Phoenix, Movement Strategy Center Fund, Peggy Meyerhoff Pearlstone Foundation y nuestra buena gente.

VOZ VISION STATEMENT: La Voz de Esperanza speaks for many individual, progressive voices who are gente-based, multi-visioned and milagro-bound. We are diverse survivors of materialism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, classism, violence, earth-damage, speciesism and cultural and political oppression. We are recapturing the powers of alliance, activism and healthy conflict in order to achieve interdependent economic/ spiritual healing and fuerza. La Voz is a resource for peace, justice, and human rights, providing a forum for criticism, information, education, humor and other creative works. La Voz provokes bold actions in response to local and global problems, with the knowledge that the many risks we take for the earth, our body, and the dignity of all people will result in profound change for the seven generations to come.


REFLEXIONES PARA EL SIGLO XXI

SIN MAÍZ, NO HAY PAIS,

por Marta Benavides, SIGLO XXIII— EL SALVADOR

O LA SOBERANÍA ALIMENTARIA

Reflections for the XXI st century:

WITHOUT CORN THERE IS NO COUNTRY: FOOD SOVEREIGNTY By Marta Benavides – EL SALVADOR SIGLO XXIII, the 23rd Century Movement for Sustainable Peace

The article presents a reflection of the four crises that humanity is facing today: financial and economic, food, climate change, and the energy crisis, showing how all of them are interrelated, creating and deepening each other, thus continuing a vicious cycle. It argues that the crises have been created by a more than 500 year old paradigm that favors money and things over people and Mother earth, and that is resulting in famine, and destruction of the natural and social environment. In the case of Mexico with respect to its main staple, CORN, MAÍZ, there is the very negative effect of NAFTA, the North America Free Trade Agreement on all food staples, and on the quality of life of the people, and how the people of Mexico work in all kinds of ways to transform this. The basic concept is that without MAÍZ there is no Pais, no country, no nation. The article goes on to show the situation of extreme hunger, and how it is expected to spiral up, and how governments, investors and donors continued on p.5. . .

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

En estos tiempos de la globalización, se habla mucho de las grandes crisis que como humanidad enfrentamos: la crisis financiera/económica, la crisis energética, la crisis de la comida y la crisis del cambio climático. Todas son causadas y causantes, las unas de las otras. Todo es resultado de mas de 500 años de colonialismo y de practicas que priorizan el Mercado y dinero, sobre la gente, su calidad de vida, y la salud del planeta. Desde el llamado “ descubrimiento” del continente que los pueblos originarios llamabamos Tewantisuyo, Abya Yala, Isla Tortuga, y los Europeos, que por su suerte, llegaron y llamaron, America. Asi, se inauguró la globalización y se impuso, por la fuerza, su forma de pensar, y de priorizar el Mercado libre, o sea la libertad para el Mercado fue la practica, por eso, resultó el comercio de esclavos, por tanto la esclavitud ( the slave trade), y el negocio de las misiones (missionary enterprise). Entonces se corrompieron los principios, los valores humanos y pasamos a la ley del Mercado, del consumo, y la producción de lo que puede producir ganancia, en lugar de una economía basada en el bien de y para la humanidad y la salud del planeta. Y aqui estamos mas de quinientos años mas tarde, enfrentando las llamadas crisis, sin poder ver lo que está a la raíz de ellas. Es importante entender que todas las crisis estan amarradas las unas a las otras, y que no se pueden resolver por separado, que se re-crean y fortalecen entre sí, y que dependen la una de las otras y viceversa. La ciudadania de cada pais, debe lograr entender esto, para poder hacer lo necesario para lograr el cambio necesario y deseado. Reflexionemos sobre el caso emblematico del maíz en Mexico: Hace unos tres años, para el Día de los muertos, se llevó a cabo una numerosa marcha/demostración en la capital Mexicana, en la que quienes participaron iban vestidos unicamente con ropa interior. Demostraban en la calle y de manera muy gráfica, que la vida les estaba siendo negada, que estaban desnudos, desprotegidos en toda forma, por los acuerdos de libre comercio de Norte America/ TLCAN, que negocio la soberanía del pais, al punto de tener que “harmonizar” (le llaman), la constitución de la republica con la constitución de los acuerdos, y asi, en violación de la constitución, se cambiaron las leyes que protegian

3


LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

4

la agricultura, las tierras ejidales de los pueblos originarios, tierras mantenidas y trabajadas en propiedad comun. Por eso, en rechazo a tales violaciones y en defensa de la soberanía, del derecho de los pueblos a su autodeterminación, fuimos testigos alrededor del mundo de la irrupción en Mexico, del movimiento Zapatista. Y asi mismo en el Día de los muertos, no con pancartas ni con camisetas, ni con puños en alto, el pueblo Mexicano, denunciaba la violación de sus derechos a su integridad, a su autodeterminación, a su soberanía. Demandaba la derogación de los acuerdos que garantizaban tales violaciones… porque la agricultura y la naturaleza no estan en venta, decian. Años atras, tambien en el contexto de la celebración del Foro Social Mundial Mexicano, realizaron la caravana de la campaña SIN MAÍZ NO HAY PAIS, NO HAY NACIÓN, y vice versa, SIN PAIS, SIN NACIÓN, NO HAY MAÍZ. Somos en Mesomerica, (Centroamerica y Mexico) gente de maíz. La caravana se paró en los pueblos educando a la ciudadanía, sobre el significado del tema, sobre la SOBERANÍA, AUTONOMÍA Y SEGURIDADALIMENTARIA, sobre el significado de estos valores y principios para la identidad, la integridad y el SER de un Pueblo. Ahora, en la actualidad, es hartamente reconocido que vivimos a nivel mundial una crisis de hambre por el alto costo de la alimentación, de la comida. Nos dicen que hay escasez, pero no es asi. De nuevo, es la conjugación de las llamadas cuatro crisis y el negocio, el comercio, la ganancia desmedida esta a la base de todas ellas. Es la priorización de las ganancias sobre el bien-estar, el bien vivir de los pueblos, y la salud del planeta. Las compañias transnacionales, aliadas a los negociantes nacionales de cada pais, aseguran unicamente sus ganancias, y usan la ley, y los ejercitos, y la educación y la ciencia misma para procurar y garantizar su enriquecimiento, creando y fortaleciendo la clase que explota sin miramientos, y los subterfugios que le permiten hacerlo. Asi, no permiten la creación de energias alternativas a la dependencia, que sean verdaderamente limpias, respetuosas de la humanidad y de la salud del planeta, sólo la basada en el petroleo, la que es asimismo la base de la creación de otros productos, todos altamente contaminates, como los fertilizantes y

los pesticides, creados desde la ciencia, y promovidas por quienes estudian en las universidades para promover la agricultura del pais. La crisis del cambio climatico, muy a pesar de que cientificos pagados niegan su existencia en favor de las grandes industrias que la han provocado y profundizan cada día que pasa, no puede ser negada mas, y sus consecuencias son grandes inundaciones, y derrumbes, sequias, desolación y muertes, no permitiendo la producción agricola. La crisis financiera y económica, se profundiza, ya no es una burbuja, es la cruel realidad que deja sin trabajo y hogar a millones de gente, que resulta en recortes de programas de estudio a todo nivel, de salud, de apoyo a las personas adultas mayores, a pueblos indígenas, a quienes son mas necesitados, y justifica que un nivel de 9% de desempleo, en paises industrializados sea considerado acceptable. No se toma en cuenta que el trabajo dignifica, y que lo que se planta es lo que se cosechará., por tanto los recortes serán un dolor de cabeza mas pronto que nunca. Estos principios financieros y económicos, priorizan y garantizan las ganancias de quienes invierten, asegurando que los precios de los servicios básicos, que garantizan los derechos humanos, los derechos economicos, sociales, culturales y ecológicos de los pueblos sean tan altos, y puedan ser realidad. Asi, la crisis de los alimentos, asegura la ganancia de quienes negocian con ellos, los paises que subsidian su agricultura, mientras forzan acuerdos de libre comercio que forzan a los paises a cultivos para exportación, y para agrocombustibles, valiendose de subterfugios de acaparamiento de tierras en paises del Sur Global, que padecen un sistematico empobrecimiento. Es en este contexto que debemos ver el problema del alto costo de la vida, la crisis de la alimentación. La ONG internacional OXFAM, en su último estudio sobre este tema, dado a conocer al público recientemente, declara que en la próxima decada el costo de los alimentos subiera un 180%, como resultado de la combinación de los factores creados por las llamadas crisis ya enumeradas. Dice tambien, que los paises de Centroamerica, los tres del triangulo norte – Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras, y el sur de Mexico, son los que mas sufrirán esta situación. La verdad es que ya se enfrenta, y que los pueblos indígenas de la

Es importante entender que todas las crisis estan amarradas las unas a las otras, y que no se pueden resolver por separado, que se re-crean y fortalecen entre si, y que dependen la una de las otras y viceversa


región tienen muertes diarias por tal condición, y que la niñez de este tiempo, tanto indigena como rural, no crecerán, y su cerebro no se desarrollará debido a la desnutrición, causada por la falta de alimentación. Pero cómo es que una región tan fertile presenta tales condiciones? Por los tratados, lo que se prioriza para cultivar, en manos de quién esta la tierra, y quién decide que cultivar. Los gobiernos asegurarán llevarles alimentos, enviados por la cooperación internacional alimentos que en su mayoria son transgénicos, alimentos que llenan el estomago, pero que carecen de calidad nutritive… o sea que garantizarán la SEGURIDAD ALIMENTARIA, que ademas crea dependencia, a expensas de la SOBERANÍA ALIMENTARIA, que es la potestad de la población de cultivos criollos, orgánicos, nutritivos, parte de su tradición y cultura. Y todo este escenario se desarrolla en el contexto de grandes inversions, en los millones y billones, recaudada por los gobiernos y los donantes . . . Reflections continued from p.3

Bio: Marta Benavides is an ordained minister, who works for a culture of peace in her country, El Salvador and the world, through various initiatives at the UN and with civil society movements. She is a firm believer that we do not have to fight for peace and justice, because WE ARE ALREADY PEACE AND JUSTICE, BUT WE MUST DECIDE INTENTIONALLY TO MANIFEST IT. See more about her work in www.museoaja.org

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

concentrate on food security for the millions of people who suffer this condition, which does not resolve the problem, and creates dependence demonstrating the difference between food sovereignty and food security, where the first one is the principle and practice needed for the development of the nation. It frames this situation in the context of the effort of governments and donors in the region of Central America and Southern Mexico, to commit and guarantee millions and billions of dollars to combat organized crime, violence and insecurity in the region instead of investing on the aspects needed for real security, those aspects that result in peace and justice for all. The article shows what citizens, organized in movements around the globe, are doing to make a difference and impact state and governmental policies related to Human Rights, the Rights of Mother Earth, and the Economic Social and Cultural Rights of peoples. The important relation and the way that the Latin Community and the Chicano nation in the USA, can and must play a role in this regard is also presented. n

y comprometida para la lucha contra la violencia, el crimen organizado en esa mismisima region. Entonces, que hacemos, que nos queda? La primera cosa es tener la voluntad de saber. Educarnos sobre nuestra situación, buscar las reales causas. Crear comunidad, una comunidad preparada para enfrentar la situación, trabajar para transformarla. Tocar puertas, de universidades, de gente que pueda comprometerse a trabajar, artistas, académicos, estudiantes, sindicatos, la iglesia, medios de comunicación y todo aquel o aquello que dice estar por la paz y la justicia social, y desde este movimiento social y solidario, presionar a las legislaturas de todo nivel, y a la presidencia de la republica, y a los organismos internacionales. Preparar planes de trabajo, y realizarlos de manera disciplinada, en tiempo real, sin dejar caer la bola. Me dices que es muy dificil? ¡Quién dice que no! Me dices que es imposible, eso si que no… si queremos podemos, y por amor a la humanidad y a la amada Madre Tierra, mas vale que lo hagamos, o estemos dispuest@s a perder nuestra alma, nuestra propia humanidad. Hay gente que lo estamos haciendo, ya en varias practicas y movimientos, como lo es la economía solidaria. Si hacen busqueda verán toda clase de ejemplos por todo el mundo. Trabajamos por los derechos económicos, sociales y culturales de los pueblos, para que los paises los ratifiquen y que cada pais los cumpla. Promovemos los derechos de la Madre Tierra tan valiosos como los derechos humanos, la inversion en la verdadera seguridad, que es en la convivencia y paz ciudadana, no mas guerras, mas educación y oportunidades de desarrollo para las juventudes, para la niñez. Nos movemos a todo nivel para la erradiccación de la violencia en general, y la del empobrecimiento en particular, asi como en aquella violencia doméstica y contra la mujer. Presionamos para el cuidado de la madre tierra, y para que sea ratificado el derecho humano universal al agua, entre otros . Para nosotros la gente de Latinoamerica y el Caribe, la gente Latina en Estados Unidos, y en particular, la gente Chicana, tengan conciencia de estas situaciones y su efecto. Tengan conciencia del papel histórico que pueden y deben jugar para su pueblo y para nosotros con respecto a la justicia y la paz, y de como su práctica debe estar en consonancia de tal entendimiento. Es urgente y necesario, pues para nosotros este pueblo es nuestra familia en el pais, que impulsa y decide sobre las condiciones que la humanidad enfrenta. ¿Contamos con ustedes? ¡Asi lo esperamos! Para mas información sobre Marta y su trabajo vea: www. museoaja.org n

5


Lucius Walker, Pastors for Peace & the Legacy of Black Internationalism in Support of the Cuban Revolution by B. V. Olguín

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

The Bus as a Consciousness Raising Experience

6

Among African Americans and Latina/os there are few symbols that conjure up as much anxious memories and outright rage as a bus. Until the 1960s, segregated municipal buses were an extension of American apartheid, and there is no Black or Brown family today who escaped the indignity of having its elders forced to ride in the back of a city bus. The advent of busing as a means to desegregate schools in the 1970s led to new opportunities for minority youth... alongside taunts and outright attacks by White bigots. For Black and Brown school children in the U.S., the arrival of the yellow school bus signaled the beginning of a trial by fire: even if they were not verbally or physically attacked while waiting for the bus, they still were psychologically accosted by Eurocentric curricula. But as we know, the bus also became a provocative site of resistance. Who does not know of Rosa Parks? It also became a vehicle for outright transgression through the Black-led multiracial Freedom Riders: youth of all backgrounds who rode buses throughout the south in efforts to desegregate public institutions through lunch counter sit-ins and voter registration drives. The bus also was rendered into a contemporary symbol of Black empowerment in Spike Lee’s film, Get on the Bus (Sony, 1996), which chronicles the significance and impact of Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March on Washington, D.C. on October 16, 1995. While many racial minorities in the middle class now believe that freedom simply means equitable pay in their bourgeois professions, or the opportunity to own a business, many others take a more incisive and historically-informed view of how American wealth is created through the exploitation of workers in the U.S. and abroad. For Reverend Lucius Walker, Jr., who was born and raised in New Jersey, ordained as a Baptist minister and co-founded and helped lead Pastors for Peace until his death on September 7, 2010, the question was not where one got to sit on the bus. Neither was success solely measured in terms of whether or not a Black person became the owner of the bus company. For him, the destination was less important than the ride. The bus has always been a consciousness raising experience for African Americans, and Walker was determined to turn the Freedom Ride into an international spectacle in the fight against

all injustices, especially U.S. capitalism, imperialism and the persistent U.S. attacks on the independent Republic of Cuba that has sought, from its inception, to put people before profits.

From New Jersey to the New Man Pastors for Peace was founded in 1988 as an extension of the decades of activism by the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), which was formed in 1967 in New York City as the first national foundation organized and led by racial minorities. Having grown out of the mobilizations of the 1960s, IFCO promoted a “social gospel”—the belief that people of faith and good will could and should work for the well being of all human beings on earth now, instead of waiting for heaven to arrive. Having survived the FBI’s Nazi-like COINTELPRO pogroms that targeted Black, Latina/o and Native American community organizations in the 1960s and 70s, IFCO defiantly expanded its community solidarity programming by taking its social gospel international. In 1982, Lucius Walker led IFCO’s first fact-finding mission in Central America to learn the truth about the conditions that were leading to popular revolutions against U.S.-backed dictatorships. Subsequent trips served as the basis for education campaigns in the U.S. about how tax dollars were being used in genocidal wars against indigenous and the working poor in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, where the broad-based Sandinista popular rebellion had topped the brutal and corrupt U.S.-installed Somoza family dynasty in 1979. On August 2, 1988, IFCO’s humanitarian and fact-finding tour in Nicaragua became deadly when U.S.-funded Contra rebels deliberately attacked the unarmed ferry, Mission of Peace, carrying 200 civilians, including U.S. ministers and lay people from IFCO. Two were killed, and 29 wounded, including Lucius Walker, who was shot in the abdomen. He later learned that rifles and bullets paid for by his own tax dollars inflicted these wounds. In a July 16, 2006 interview with La Voz de Esperanza in Havana, Walker reflected on this experience: “I realized as a U.S. citizen who was attacked and lived to tell the story, that I had a responsibility to tell this story, and also to offer an alternative message than the lies being disseminated by our government.”


Jesus Christ Was a Commie

Walker (pictured above left) was determined to turn the Freedom Ride into an international spectacle in the fight against all injustices

The Yellow School Bus Rides Again! This year, the 22nd Friendshipment Caravan will travel 12 different routes as they visit over 130 U.S. and Canadian cities, after which they will all converge in McAllen, Texas to cross the U.S.-Mexico border together. Along the way, the Caravanistas will offer presentations while collecting material aid and funds designated solely for humanitarian purposes. The Friendshipment Caravan places a particular emphasis on collecting medical supplies and equipment in solidarity with Cuba’s dedication to providing free universal health care to its citizens and poor people throughout the world through its renowned medical missions. Caravanistas will speak with youth about a unique opportunity to attend free Medical School at the renowned Latin American School of Medicine. Since 2001, IFCO/Pastors for Peace has served as coordinator for U.S. students enrolling in the Medical School. Today, over 90 U.S. citizens are enrolled at the Latin American School of Medicine, with countless other graduates now working in poor communities in the U.S. and abroad. These students include primarily Black, Chicana/o and Latina/o youth, but also other conscientious students interested in practicing

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

In defiant IFCO fashion, the day following the U.S. sponsored terrorist attack on unarmed civilians in Nicaragua, Pastors for Peace was founded as a “new action/education project designed to respond to the brutality of the so-called ‘low intensity war’ in Central America with actions based in nonviolent resistance.” The first Pastors for Peace Caravan returned to Nicaragua in Christmas 1988 with 70 tons of humanitarian aid and 18 vehicles that were left behind, including several yellow school buses painted with the multicolored messages of hope and solidarity that have come to symbolize the Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravans. The Friendshipments were designed not just to deliver badly needed material aid, but to provide opportunities for Americans to gain hands-on educational experiences about what their government was doing throughout the world. As the Reagan/ Bush era increasingly involved covert military interventions and outright invasions of countries throughout the world, Pastors for Peace Caravanistas went into action in 1992 to challenge the U.S. blockade of Cuba, which is defined as an act of war by the United Nations. In this first U.S./Cuba Friendshipment Caravan, 100 volunteers carried 15 tons of humanitarian aid that included food, medicines, bicycles, school supplies and, of course, yellow school buses. This was the first popular challenge to the U.S. blockade of Cuba, which was met by violence as U.S. Treasury officers attacked a Catholic priest who was delivering Bibles to Cuba. Taking a page from the Black Civil Rights Movement’s use of non-violent civil disobedience, Pastors for Peace rejected the U.S. government’s program of offering limited licenses to organizations that wished to travel to Cuba. According to the IFCO website, “IFCO has taken the position that to participate in the U.S. government licensing process is to be complicit with the blockade, which is immoral. We choose instead to respond to a higher authority: what the U.S. government calls ‘trading with the enemy,’ we regard as taking a cup of cold water to a neighbor in need (Matthew 25:35).” In 1993, the Treasury Department confiscated a Pastors for Peace school bus at the Laredo border. But the government did not account for the 13 Caravanistas who refused to leave the bus. They went on a 23day hunger strike until the school bus and all confiscated humanitarian aid was released back to them for delivery to Cuba. Pastors for Peace

reports that “the Little Yellow Schoolbus has been serving the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Martin Luther King Center in Havana since 1993.” The U.S./Cuba Friendshipment Caravan recently joined forces with other organizations such as the Venceremos Brigade, which has been participating in American-Cuban educational exchanges, volunteer labor activities and people-to-people diplomacy since 1970. For the past several years, Pastors for Peace and the Venceremos Brigade coordinate their travel and join together in Cuba to illustrate the wide diversity of beliefs and ideologies represented in grassroots American support of the Cuban Revolution. In an interview with La Voz de Esperanza during a Pastors for Peace and Venceremos Brigade meeting in Havana in July 2006, IFCO volunteer staff member Ellen Bernstein smiles when she recalls how the U.S. government’s harassment of Pastors for Peace members became a great recruiting tool: “People were so outraged at the government attacks on peaceful priests, pastors, rabbis and pacifist youth, even more people wanted to travel with us. Sure, some were scared away, but this attack also served to broaden our membership internationally. As an indication of how isolated the U.S. has become for pursuing its ridiculous and illegal hostility and blockade of Cuba, we now have new members from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Scotland, Canada and Mexico!”

7


what 24-year-old Chicana Alicia De Los Reyes, a Sacramento, California native and student at the Latin American School of Medicine, calls “people care.” In an interview with La Voz de Esperanza at the Latin American School of Medicine on July 18, 2007, De Los Reyes, a cancer survivor, rejects the profit-driven model of medicine that governs in the U.S. In Cuba, she says, “We are learning to treat the person as a whole, and not just focus on the infirmity of a ‘patient’.” Guided by this alternative vision of serving the world’s poor that motivated the founding of the Latin American School of Medicine in 1998, De Los Reyes plans to form a non-profit organization to serve farmworkers and Native Americans living on reservations” in the U.S. Pastors for Peace also has joined the Campaign to Free the

16, we will pay a special homage to our brother Lucius. He was a man inspired by faith, but he did not let religious orthodoxies and bureaucracies of established churches get in the way of doing good things. He took his lead from the homeless poor son of a

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality. — Ernesto “Che” Guevara

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

Photo (L to R): Cuban Health Care Workers, San Antonio Brigadistas in Havana, 2009, Artwork by Antonio Guerrero

8

Cuban 5. They are five Cubans who were imprisoned in the U.S. for attempting to thwart a right-wing Cuban American terrorist attack in Cuba such as the 1997 hotel bombing that killed an Italian tourist in Havana. These individuals, who had joined the expatriate Cuban American community in south Florida, reported the terrorist plan to the Cuban government, which subsequently forwarded the leads to the FBI. Instead of arresting the terrorist planners, the FBI arrested the five Cubans, who are now recognized throughout the world as U.S. political prisoners.

Lucius Walker: !¡Presente¡

Jewish carpenter, who preached that the poor, sick, exploited and outcast were his main constituency. Walker dedicated his life to gathering a flock of believers who learned how to bring the principles of heaven back to earth, and political activists who learned, under his magnificent and magnanimous tutelage and example, that the true revolutionaries are motivated by love and belief in humanity. Together, they dared to get on a bright yellow school bus covered in peace signs. In honor of our friend, we respond to the call - “Lucius Walker”with our shout - ¡PRESENTE!” He will always be present and his legacy lives on each time someone fights injustice. n

When the San Antonio community prepares to welcome the Caravanistas to the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center on July

Bio: B. V. Olguín is a San Antonio educator and member of the Venceremos Brigade.

“Most of the land areas of the world have changed hands many times and will continue to do so as long as military force remains the accepted method of land transfer. The U.N. was created to put a stop to this practice. So far it has not worked. ” –Stripping the Gaza by Thein Wah (Sept. 2005, La Voz de Esperanza)

Thein Wah

Thein Wah died peacefully in his adopted home, San Antonio. Born in 1919 in Burma, he came here in 1957 as a civil engineer. During the 50s and 60s, he was a leader in the civil rights and peace movements. In later years, he directed his efforts toward supporting peaceful solutions in the Middle East. Thein and his wife, Edith, were a constant presence in the Esperanza community from the beginning. He wrote commentary for La Voz de Esperanza as well as the major SA newspapers. Our sincere condolences to Edith and Thein’s family in this time of transition. He was an inspiration to all. Thanks to those that have contributed to the Esperanza in his memory. Thein Wah, siempre presente!


TRABAJADORAS DEL HOGAR EN ACCIÓN

H

claridad y seguir en la lucha. Graciela trajo a La Esperanza una organización de Chicago, que nos comentaron que en New York, ya tenian unión de trabajadoras domésticas, junto con grupos de trabajadores excluidos. Al final del programa Graciela me presentó con Celeste Escobra. Ella me dijo que organizar a las domésticas era muy dificil pero que ellas lo hicieron, poco a poco. El saber que ya existia un sindicato en este pais me dio esperanzas. Pero, problemas personales, económicos y falta de tiempo me frenaron a seguir. Paso el tiempo. Cuando fui al Foro de los Estados Unidos en Atlanta, fui becada por Fuerza Unida, con la que tambien he colaborado por muchos años, voluntariamente y con las que tengo mucha afinidad por la justicia. ¡Éso fue grandioso! Ver a

Summary: Aracelai Herrera is one of 84 domestic workers in San Antonio who took it upon themselves to organize when VÍA bus routes to the suburbs where they worked were cancelled. Some of the workers had worked up to 30 years for the same household, many working without pay raises and enduring hardships that included working with household chemicals that jeopardized their health. With the help of organizations like the Esperanza and Fuerza Unida, Araceli was able to join with other domestic workers to demand the return of their bus routes after 3 years of struggle. She was also able to connect with domestic workers throughout the U.S. and connect the local struggle to the national effort to unionize domestic workers. Bio: Araceli Herrera is a domestic worker in San Antonio who is part of Esperanza’s Mujerartes Clay cooperative. She has worked on human rights issues with various local organizations. miles de activistas y organizaciones luchando por justicia. Estaba asistiendo talleres, cuando llegó Graciela diciendo, –Ven, aquí están las domésticas de New York.– Entré al salón del taller. Habian muchos gritos, ánimo, mucha energía y puños levantados en pie de lucha, hablando mi lenguaje. Me dije. –De aquí soy… ¡y lo demas es historia! Se formo la Liga Nacional de Trabajadoras del Hogar. ¡Bravo! Al año asisti a la primera reunión ya como Liga Nacional, en New York. ¡Hasta somos internacionales! n

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

ace unos años atrás cuando nos quitaron el bos [autobus] que nos llevaba a las colonias donde vive la gente rica de la ciudad de San Antonio, un grupo de trabajadoras de la limpieza, baby sitters y demas se unieron. Nos unimos las 84 trabajadoras. Algunas trabajaban con los mismos patrones hasta por 30 años. Otras, por 15 años y su servidora, por 10 años. La gran mayoria eramos veteranas en la ruta del VÍA, el bos que cada semana sabia de nuestras alegrias, sufrimientos y la explotación que sufriamos con la “mis.” Las experiencias que compartiamos a diario incluian las enfermedades que padesiabanos por los venenosos químicos que forsozamente usabamos sin protección ignorando los dañosos efectos. Por falta de información, o porque las patronas inmisericordias nos exijian, el uso de éstos químicos se usaban para que sus casas lucieran impecables a costa de nuestra salud; o también, porque las informaciones están escritas en Inglés y la mayoría no sabemos leer. Compartianos las señales en el cuerpo de la violencia que algunas padecian con sus parejas. También habian madres solteras que hacian milagros para sobrevivir con el poco dinero ganado por tanto trabajo que hacian. Muchas veces, con el mismo sueldo por años, sin ningún aumento. Nos unimos, las trabajadoras, logrando una fuerza, que nos llevó al triunfo. Después de una pelea que nos duro 3 años, nos regresaron el Bos, “El West Av.” Como unas fieras luchamos por nuestra sobrevivencia y el pan de nuestros hijos. Nunca olvidaré el apoyo que nos dio la Esperanza Peace and Justice Center y en especial, Graciela Sánchez, la directora. Luego de esa experiencia tan amarga que vivimos, le comenté a Graciela –Cómo me gustaría tener un sindicato de trabajadoras domesticas. Ella contestó – Sí, es necesario.– Haciendo nuestro viaje diario al trabajo por la mañana, compartí mi idea con mis compañeras. Aún reiamos y recordabamos anecdótas de lo sucedido. Les comenté, –Deberíamos hacer un sindicato de trabajadoras domésticas, terminar con la explotación. Ya ven, se van de vacaciones y no nos pagan, no piensan que nosotras tenemos que comer y pagar renta. No hay leyes que nos protejen, no tenemos retiro. Que va a ser de nosotras cuando ya estamos viejas? –Sí, lo deberiamos de hacerlo!, gritabanos emocionadas. Ya ven, fuimos pocas y, ¡lo logramos! Recordando que cuando nos quitaron el transporte, docenas de ellas se quedaron sin sus casas, unas se fueron solas porqué el único camión que había pasaba lejos, y otras fueron despedidos. Todo quedo ahí por un tiempo por que el cansancio, la explotación y las largas jornadas diarias nos impedian pensar con

by Araceli Herrera

9


The Case of by Bill Stitchnot

T

Jared Loughner

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

he facts are clear. Jared Loughner got himself a gun, bought himself bullets, hunted down Rep. Gabriella Gifford, then shot her in the head. Then he turned his gun on the crowd, killed 6 people and wounded 13 others. Of that, there is no doubt. The question remaining is why. Loughner isn’t talking, so there is a lot of speculation. Some in the Center/ Left call him a Right Wing kook who got caught up in the Hate Speech of Arizona. He should be executed or be put away forever. Some in the Center/Right dropped the “Right Wing” part. Called him a kook and said he should be executed or be put away forever. You can see the common denominator. For the record, I am not sympathetic with people suffering from Major Affective (emotional) Disorders, or Personality Disorders who commit crimes”. I am not sympathetic to claims of “It was not my fault, the drugs made me do it”. These people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But, I do make exceptions.

10

At the risk of over generalization, this country sees crime through 3 different lenses. There is the revenge lens, an eye for an eye”, “pound of flesh”. Then, the lens of “we want justice”. Most of us, including me, want the punishment to fit the crime. Then there is the “compassion for the mentally ill” lens. They understand that the mentally ill can do some terrible things but they need treatment, not prison. In 1981, John Hinkley shot then President Reagan. The shooting was televised. He was found not guilty, by reason of insanity. The country howled: “The jury was duped”, “the man is faking”. Each state started looking at their insanity laws. Four states abolished insanity pleas completely. Hinkley was sent to a medical facility, where he’ll probably never be released. For the “revenge” crowd, sorry. For the “we want justice”crowd, he is serving his life sentence. For the “compassion” crowd, he is getting the help he needs. In 2001, Andrea Yates, with a history of mental illness, drowned her 5 children. She admitted it and was diagnosed with Post Postpartum Psychosis. She was put in a cell naked and on suicide watch. Her defense was insanity. She was found guilty of murder, partially on the testimony of Dr. Park Dietz who told the jury she got the idea from a Law and Order episode where a woman drowned her children and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Dr. Dietz had lied. There was no such episode. Yates was granted a new trial and found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. She is now in a mental institute. To the “vengeance” crowd, sorry. To

the “justice crowd,” you have your life sentence. To the compassion crowd, she is getting the help she needs. It was clear from the start, Loughner was more then a kook. He was in serious mental health trouble. Examine his actions prior to the shooting. He was delusional. His speech, disorganized. Picket and Cloud write, “As he grew older and sicker, his writings became more and more incoherent, regularly posing strange, nonsensical questions to teachers and fellow students”. Loughner asked a question to Gifford at a rally that made no sense, except to him. Gifford did not give an answer (who could have?). This may have been the stresser that made him become violent, because of an imagined slight. Look at his college career. He would laugh randomly and loudly, at nonevents. He was kicked out of college, and told not to return until he got a psych eval. He had few friends. The few he had, noticed he was getting stranger and stranger. A lot of people “didn’t feel safe around him”, a former classmate told Fox News. All of this occurred for years. His actions and young age of onset, endorsed the symptoms of one suffering from schizophrenia. On May 2nd independent doctors, after examinations, told a judge the same. Schizophrenia is especially sad. The untreated person, slowly, but surely goes mad. Schizophrenics are in their own world. Some therapists believe they are experiencing an alternate reality. And they are violent. A Justice Department study stated that each year, 1000 homicides are committed by the mentally ill, mostly schizophrenics. Loughner was violent, in a world all his own, and the entire community, knowing of his illness, failed to help him. He is now in a mental ward of the US Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri receiving treatment. On September 21st, he will be brought before a judge to ascertain fitness to stand trial. He may plead mental insanity. The vengeance crowd and many of the justice crowd should take heart. Fact is, according to the Indiana Law Journal, the insanity defense is only proposed 1% of the time. Of that, only 0.002% of the pleas are successful. You may get your revenge, perhaps the death penalty. For the remainder of the justice crowd – a not guilty finding will result in his being committed to a mental institution, probably for the rest of his life. You will have your life sentence. For the compassion for the mentally ill crowd, a guilty verdict will be a miscarriage of justice. A not guilty verdict will result in him getting the help that was long delayed. What crowd are you in? n Bio: Bill Stitchnot, an Esperanza supporter since 1992, lives in Hawaii and hopes to continue studies in Psychology @ Hawaii U.


claiming voice

“I am saying as you must say, too, that in order to see where we are going, we not only must remember where we have been, but we must understand where we have been...” - Ella Baker

act one

this past march i attended the conference critical ethnic studies and the future of genocide: settler colonialism / heteropatriarchy / white Supremacy at the university of california, riverside. having witnessed and documented genocide, having worked for decolonization, and having been inspired by the analyses of brilliant women of color activists about how we in the u.s. think and talk about white supremacy, i was intrigued. when a sisterfriend surprised me with the gift of the conference, i felt the excitement of the nerdy girl i am, now able to join this particular conversation.

by luz guerra

in my journal not only about the ideas presented and the books and authors they were referencing, and notes about the friends i needed to call and tell of the excitement i felt by what i heard in that room. five indigenous women scholars talked about the experiences of native women in canada, the u.s., and new zealand through examining native women’s literatures and written histories. what didn’t work for me was the uncomfortable physical and emotional space – we were in a room that didn’t allow us to look around the room or see each other as we were taking in so many realities about indigenous women’s experiences. as a popular educator / healer i absolutely believe we have to be able to take the time and create

the conditions for holding our stories of truth and trauma – with safety, and care and dare i say it, with love. this was impossible in the traditional academic classroom set-up. i could not look anyone in the eye – although i twisted around in my chair to see who was in the room with me. hearing once again the truth of the violence indigenous women have experienced and continue to experience – the truth of the lives of perhaps many of the women in that room – had no place to be held and honored.

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

truth: i felt like an outsider at this academic conference. i was a popular educator amongst so-called “professional educators”. and as a person with a disability my every move—from walking across campus, to getting food and water and finding seating in crowded rooms—was defined by physical pain.

what i loved was the very truths the women were telling

11

my own battle with internalized oppression was both a challenge and a key to my participation. it provided me with a lens i had to subversively adjust in every interaction. it pushed me to speak my truth even when it was distorted by the physical pain - no greater than the emotional, mental and psychic pain i heard named again and again as i listened to the stories of other participants. this daily struggle with internalized oppression called on me to resist the systems of domination i saw at play and to offer instead the sweetness of desire and love with the fierceness of a mother in defense of her children. while i went to the conference to actively share with others, i was at the same time afraid that my words would not be understood as my offering of critical engagement with the other participants. i give thanks to audre lorde, who said in 1977: “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”

act two

so, honoring audre lorde, i want to talk about the most important and most challenging aspects of this conference. the first session i attended, “theorizing indigeneity, gender, and violence,” challenged me with it’s academic title – but the presentations moved me – i have copious notes

“Atabey” Taina goddess of Puerto Rico


– like the exciting stories of women’s resistance and survivance in canada and new zealand during the 50s and 60, where native women used the government sponsored programs and “women’s clubs” meant to “domesticate” and assimilate them to instead build on their existing power base as women, and leaders in their communities. they took advantage of government resources and the “invisibility” of native women to empower themselves and their peoples. i saw many connections to the subversive work of indigenous and women of color community organizations in the u.s. while each presenter was powerful, it was dian million’s presentation that had me scribbling notes like a mad woman. without this panel i wouldn’t have learned of dian’s article felt theory addressing how what we “feel” as women and particularly native women kept silenced and made suspect – and million asserts it is our felt truths that have the power to inform us most deeply. i don’t do the article justice, but it has influenced my thinking, my writing, and almost every discussion i engage in now. the truth is what i would have most wanted was to have sat in a circle with all the women in that room to celebrate each presenter and each woman there for having survived, i wanted to give them tea and laughter and give space for all our feelings having had the truths of our lived traumas laid out so strongly, so fiercely, so articulately. it was in some ways the most important presentation i attended during the conference.

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

act three

12

there was a plenary called forum on social movements and activism that i was looking forward to as a social justice activist. i was anxious to hear from the second speaker, joão costa vargas, an associate professor of anthropology at UT-Austin—where i got my masters degree. he has also worked with people that i know and respect. i welcomed him in the way my folk do from an audience in the bleachers of an auditorium – i gave a loud shout out when he was introduced, that he might know there were others from the experience that is austin, texas and the major university there. what i experienced as joão spoke i can only describe as a growing cry of “no!” in my gut, in my heart, in my mind. i acknowledge my notes on joão’s presentation are incomplete – my emotions overcame me and at one point i stopped note-taking and began responding in my journal with words of outrage and compassion, to what i was hearing. to try and be true to what he presented and not just my emotional response. i referred to the “liveblog” notes by alexis lothian on this session, to be able to think again about what he said – granted, she admits there is not perfection in liveblogging – but her notes served as a reality check for me. what i heard joão say was that social movements exist in the realm of possibilities rather than in actual practice – and the primary thesis i heard him present, in a manner i found to be more lecturing than sharing, more chastising than challenging – was that black suffering and death are essentially made invisible in non-black discourse. he suggests that the possible knowing of the reality of black genocide which has become the essence of blackness in the u.s. and in brazil might allow non-black people, non-black imaginations, to arrive at a place of empathy with black people. such a knowing, he implies, could lead to non-black people grasping what it means when the state becomes

a genocidal machine for black people – that only then will other see that the future is indeed a dystopia of genocide for all. joão gives examples of police murders of black bodies, black people in rio de janeiro, in the u.s., victims of a machine of black killing, story after story. it cannot go on forever he says, there are only so many black bodies. i saw before me an angry man (oh yes, i know the danger of saying these words – how often have i been called the angry colored woman as a means of dismissing my truth) but this is not the dismissal of truth, it is a calling out of the mother – for shame, i felt in my throat like bile, for shame. it felt to this colored woman like this man’s anger was the pain of too many generations of genocide – justified anger -- but using the privilege of academia, of being an expert presenter, to inappropriately stand on land that screams from the continuing genocide of california indians, in front of a room of hundreds of colored peoples of so many diaspora fleeing so many genocides, it felt like privilege gone mad, it felt abusive, chastising, and wrong. joão talked proudly of participating in a program that brings writing classes to youth in detention in austin, and gave statistics on the population in juvenile detention in texas: the majority “latino,” (about 50%), then white, then black. i felt the next slap of academic privilege: the making invisible of the “latino” youth. praising the program, all he learned from the youth there, he said it was a good thing that now these “latino” youth were able to know blackness through their experience in detention and incarceration. “Latino” youth in texas’s dystopia now can understand the excess of suffering and death that has characterized blackness – they are now somehow more likely to succeed in knowing the future because while not black they are next in line for the reality of blackness in the americas. here is an anthropologist who lives in texas who appears to be erasing or denying the history of the so-called latino people here. the majority of “latinos” in austin are of mexican origin. “mexican latinos” – whether born in the u.s. or in mexico – are diverse, some are pure indígenas who were “mexicanized, some are a mixed race people, and a few claim to be of pure spanish bloodlines. those whose ancestors are originally from texas are non-white because of their indigenous blood. the spanish came to central texas in the early 1700s,


www.danielzafra.com

with the express purpose of taking possession of the land and “christianizing” the local indigenous population – mostly tlaxcalan and coahuiltecan peoples. native peoples in texas were forcibly subjugated in the name of christianity and spain/mexico. they were forbidden to speak their own languages, practice their religions, or continue to live their traditional ways of life. this was not a choice, this was an act of genocide.

freedom, proposes joão costa vargas, might be possible when we can imagine black death and come out the other side to recognize that there is a genocidal machine that determines our reality. but to say that latino youth may become “free” in their imagining of black death is to erase the history of the land we walk on. not far from the university of california riverside is a graveyard of indian students who died far from their families, at the sherman indian high school. the first indian boarding school came of an experiment of military man– known for his role in the indian wars of the plains – in which he took indian prisoners at fort marion, florida and determined that he could force them to assimilate. this belief became his cause, and he established the first off-reservation indian boarding school – the infamous Carlisle – where native students were stolen from their families and communities and forced to “renounce” tribal ways, become christians, and learn to fit into u.s. society. pratt wrote that the u.s. government must “kill the indian to save the man.” this mother wants to say this: do you not know, you children of men / so afraid to lose your strong grip attempting to control all you fear: / if you tell the mother’s story then every truth will be known / the

if you want to tell the truth of genocide then you must listen to the mothers cries. if you want to tell the truth of genocide then you must place a moratorium on the words of the powerful, the circular words discussing words about ideas that are nothing more than ideas until they are manifest, made real by the people who are the sustainers of any system of power and ideology.

act four

flashback: i was a student in 1973 and my sociology professor was of the talented tenth of the caribbean, a black man who was brilliant, cynical, drank too much and taught me tools and questions i still use in my work today. one morning he pointed his finger at his young students (he was younger than i am now but seemed so old then) challenging us: you think you want to go to college to change the world. listen to me, the farther you go in this system the less you will have the capacity to change. listening to scholars at the conference those words came back to haunt me. during 1970-80s ethnic studies was an inclusive term we used to organize together-we did not have the luxury of competing for funds or debating whose scholarship was more “critical”-we had to join together to fight to make our peoples and our histories not only visible in all disciplines but areas of study in their own right. this mother says to you – you have ethnic studies because we gave our blood and time and the food we cooked to feed the children who would live to fight the battles we all now claim the privilege of transforming into ideologies to be taught in circular conversations that do not leave the universities or the pages of journals only those with salaries or the benefit of an academic’s access to locked down libraries can even obtain to read. if one can read.

act five

We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us. – audre lorde as a working class and poor colored gurl from both the streets of new york and the wilderness where my parents taught me, through their actions, the meaning of the sacredness of life, i have always fought to not choke my words. that doesn’t mean that i haven’t been silenced – by the academic industrial complex, by those that guatemalan poet and revolutionary otto rene castillo called the “apolitical intellectuals,” by the heteropatriarchy in the conference’s title, by those with privilege within the nonprofit industrial complex, and by myself. yes, i have choked back my truths many times. including during this conference. i have also dared to raise my voice in all spaces of my life – not always correctly, and not without intentionally or

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

the majority of latinos in austin detention facilities are young people whose history was defined by the colonization of mexicans, and of indigenous peoples. to say on a panel about social activism that these youth are enhanced by the opportunity to know blackness and black death / black genocide, is to erase the history of “brown” death, of latino genocide and death. to be latino, in austin, in texas, is to be non-white because of a primarily indigenous and stolen heritage. the creator of the writing program joão was so proudly a part of, raúlsalinas, fought a large part of his life to have this history recognized. as a woman of both african and indigenous descent, i cannot accept that black death is the only definition of genocide, even as my african ancestors haunt my dreams in the horror of the middle passage, even as i remember the indignities of the word “nigger” scrawled on our home.

truth of every son and daughter of every thread of genocide in this hemisphere / the truth of every daughter and son of the multitude of diasporas that walk these lands / our cries will tell us that the story of the mothers and their children running towards freedom / is the same no matter where you go on this mother earth.

13


unintentionally hurting others, but at least attempting to challenge the ways in which we have all been taught to collude with the colonization of our minds. none of us raised within this u.s. society are free from the misperceptions and misrepresentations of power, whether we have been so-called victims of power or so-called perpetrators of the abuses of power. none of us. this conference about critical ethnic studies was a study in power relations. of how beautifully some people have survived colonization with brilliant analyses and actions on behalf of positive change and growth, and of how some people refuse to let go of the privilege of power because it feels too good.

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

the last plenary session of the conference was opened by a man who epitomized for me the theatre that academia can be – although he was not the only one – of how people can profess to be breaking silences and challenging the status quo and using either the “freedom of tenure” or our lovely constitutionally protected “freedom of speech” with the fancy use of images, cultural concepts and words that are currently in fashion. hiram perez – using fancy words that stumbled over and quoting glamorous tenured academics at the same conference – proposed that we reconsider the naming of the documentation of torture at abu graib as pornography. instead, he said, we should consider it as homoeroticism. while he was busy referencing james baldwin and audre lorde, several of us spontaneously stood up and walked out of the session. when we stopped to talk with each other outside the auditorium, we were all in a state of shock. for myself, it had to do with the use academic privilege to take the idea of our decolonizing our sexualities and reclaiming our erotic selves and position it alongside the abuses of u.s. military power and torture. he used terms that seemed to challenge the overlap of sexism and violence, of colonialism and racism and horror around the globe while saying that critical ethnic studies is the possibility of “undisciplining” and “revisioning and rerevisioning of institutionalizations.” so what. i witnessed another participant’s emotional and spiritual cries of the loss of a friend who was tortured to death because he was both a gay man and a member of an ethnic minority who tried to break silences. hiram’s playing with words reveals to me that academic freedom is a plaything to

14

some people – a plaything of privilege that doesn’t take the time to consider how many people in that auditorium were themselves refugees from wars of such atrocity and horror that his bold breaking of silence triggered memories that should have been left alone. some things deserve to be silenced. some things do not need to be repeated. that i know the details of how someone was viciously raped and i have theories about why rape exists and why war exists and i have the academic privilege to talk about these theories doesn’t mean that i should irresponsibly talk about rape fantasies in a room full of people who most certainly include rape survivors. it only does more damage where damage has been done. i witnessed both silence and the breaking of silence at this conference. i broke silences and i felt silenced. i used my power and privilege as an articulate elder and i suffered the uncaring ignorance of privilege in the name of creating a “new” kind of ethnic studies and challenging the academy. i want to say to all those at the conference that there is an amazing network of people, communities and organizations in this country – among them the esperanza center who boldly publishes la voz and breaks silences every day – that have already created an alternative to the academic industrial complex. we may not have job security or the challenges of going for tenure – but we are constantly throwing off the weight of silences while simultaneously looking to heal the damages we have all suffered under this system. we do not do it perfectly as educators and writers, but we do it. we do it in order not to choke. and we do it in order to not silence others any more. i say – join us. leave the academy and leave the privilege to play with words in circles so you can say nothing that has any meaning to those whose labor keeps the world turning and who have paid for all of our freedoms with their lives and the future of their children. be bold, live the dreams you write about, leave the hypocrisy of the system you hate and yet imitate. join us in hope. join us in claiming voice to sing loudly our truths, our felt experiences, our lives. join us if you dare. bio: luz guerra is a mother, writer, popular educator, activist, and historian. she loves designing and implementing decolonizing curricula for our organizations and communities, and dancing to salsa and soul while cooking up great meals, medicines and conversations from her kitchen. luz can be reached at luzguerra@mac.com.


“Bint Scheherazade”

The Many Lives of

Osama bin Laden: The U.S., Saudi Alliance by Nadine Saliba

It was difficult to articulate my thoughts and feelings about the subject. I said that I have not paid too much attention to the news covering his death and what it could or could not mean. I was not curious to know the details of his assassination especially that I am highly skeptical of the official account and I know that we will never know what really went down. Were civilians killed in the operation at his compound? Why was bin Laden shot even though he was unarmed? Top Left: U.S. envoy Charlie Wilson meeting with (and providing extensive funding Why was he not captured and put on trial in a way & training for) Mujahideen during the Cold War on behalf of the CIA. that a country which respects the rule of law would do? What would bin Laden on trial have revealed about his old bin Laden and his fate are of no concern to me, as if to convince relationship with the United States during the heyday of the Cold myself, against the painful history of the past ten years, that this War when his colleagues, the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, were man and what “America” makes of him, does not affect me, that it slides off my skin like rain on a trench coat. Even though I described by president Reagan as freedom fighters? Irrespective of the veracity of the government’s account, I know that the sordid wheelings and dealings of bin Laden and decided to shut off from the whole affair in a bizarre way, as if the mythology built around him, in which the U.S. government

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

was asked recently by an American friend what I thought of bin Laden’s death.

15


LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

16

and media played a central role, have affected Arabs and Arab Americans perhaps more than anybody else. I remember vividly the morning of September 11, 2001. We received a phone call from my aunt telling us to turn on the T.V. to see what was going on. I still have a visual of my sister, my father and I, sitting in the living room in our old house, watching the T.V. screen in complete shock, our hands covering our mouths, occasionally moving our eyes briefly from the T.V. towards each other, exchanging silent but nervous glances. Of course at the time we did not know who was responsible for flying those planes into the towers in New York City but like many Arab Americans around the country that morning, we were hoping and praying that it not be an Arab. The dread I felt that day and the anxiety over what the future would bring however have been way out matched by what has actually transpired in both Arab American communities and in the lives of millions in Iraq, the Arab world and Central Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan) since the attacks of 9/11. Arab Americans have been subjected to vilification, racism, discrimination, racial profiling, intrusive security monitoring, surveillance, FBI entrapment, violation of rights and liberties, extraordinary rendition, torture, intimidation and hate crimes. Iraq, a country that happens to house the world’s oldest civilization, has been destroyed, its social fabric rend asunder, misery and unspeakable violence visited upon its people and sectarian strife unleashed by U.S. policies, like a demonic midwife, with devastating implications for the wider region. All in the name of responding to 9/11. All of this and more is what I think of when I think of bin Laden. So on the occasion of his death, I want to tell a story, a true story, though stranger than fiction, about the life or lives of Osama bin Laden. Once upon a time, in the Cold War era, before Americans discovered bin Laden as a Muslim extremist, leader of the terrorist organization al-Qaida and “evildoer” extraordinaire, the bearded lanky man lived another life as a U.S. ally in our war against a prior “evil,” the evil of the Soviet Union and Communism. Bin Laden therefore is an offspring of the Cold War. To understand the phenomenon that he represents, one needs to examine his emergence, not only in the context of radical Islamist movements, specifically Wahhabism - Saudi Arabia’s puritanical brand of Islam - but also in the context of U.S. foreign policy.

This U.S. connection however is largely absent from mainstream media analysis. The Cold War manifested itself in the Arab world through proxy wars and conflicts between Arab States. The Arab countries were divided between secular nationalist1 republics that were quasi-socialist, such as Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser and traditional monarchies that had quasi-feudal systems and were religiously conservative, such as Saudi Arabia. During the Cold War, the nationalist republics were closer to the Soviet Union, even though they ruthlessly suppressed the Communist Parties within their borders, while the conservative monarchies were allied with the “west.” Islamist2 movements such the Muslim Brotherhood opposed the secular nationalist regimes, which ruled with an iron fist, suppressing opposition of all forms, including the Islamist opposition. The Wahhabi Saudi regime was the natural custodian of reactionary Islamist ideologies that were antagonistic to the progressive politics that had spread in the Arab world after decolonization. These conservative, rightwing movements were opposed to ideas like women’s liberation and class struggle taken up by the secular nationalist regimes even if only in a limited fashion that left much to be desired. The United States sought to undermine the Arab nationalist movement because it was antiimperialist and sought to resist western domination in the region. The U.S., Saudi Arabia and Islamist movements thus joined forces in their opposition to secular nationalist regimes. Eventually, the nationalist trend in the Arab world was dealt an almost fatal blow, when Israel attacked Egypt and other Arab states in 1967 and defeated their armies with the aid of western powers. This U.S.–Saudi-Israeli sinister alliance therefore has undermined leftist and progressive thought in the Arab world, strengthening the hand of Islamist movements

As Arab American professor As’ad Abukhalil put it recently, during the Cold War, reactionary Islamists were nothing but an arm of the U.S. empire and a tool to strike at leftist and nationalist movements.

1. Arab nationalism, roughly speaking, is the idea that the peoples of the Arab world from the Atlantic ocean to the Arabian sea are bound together by common linguistic, cultural, religious and historical ties. Arab nationalism emerged in response to Ottoman domination and European colonialism of Arab lands. 2. Islamism or Political Islam encompasses a diverse array of movements. It is important to note that not all these movements are as extremist as al-Qaida. In general however, Islamists aim to establish Islamic political systems that enforce Shari’a or Islamic law.


and Islamist thought at the expense of their secular and nationalist counterparts and today we are all paying the price. As Arab American professor As’ad Abukhalil put it recently, during the Cold War, reactionary Islamists were nothing but an arm of the U.S. empire and a tool to strike at leftist and nationalist movements. Abukhalil also pointed out that, during that period, these Islamist voices were not engaged with the Palestinian struggle, the Arabs’ central cause, and their only “contribution” on that front was a racist anti-Jewish discourse. The United States had established strong ties with the House of Saud, the ruling Saudi family, dating back to the1930’s. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia supported the Muslim Brotherhood against Gamal Abdel Nasser’s secular regime in Egypt in the 50’s and 60’s and backed the Mujadideen in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union and the Communist Afghani government in the 80’s. It is here that Osama bin Laden enters the picture as a wealthy Saudi who joined that fight funneling money, arms and fighters into Afghanistan. This is

the record of the U.S.–Saudi-Islamist alliance. Bin Laden therefore did not emerge out of vacuum and reactionary Islamist movements were not born on 9-11-2001. When the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 1979, the United States of America along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan began to provide support to the Mujahideen who were fighting the Soviets and the Afghani communists. They also imported foreign fighters into Afghanistan, amassing a group of hardened fanatics that were often received in Western capitals and given a hero’s welcome. The Mujahideen, who received extremely generous military and financial support, subscribed to an ultraconservative Islamist ideology. In other words, their agenda coincided with that of the Wahhabi Saudis. The United States was not disturbed by the ideology of the Mujahideen leaders and their views on religion, women and so on. What mattered was that they were allied with U.S. side in the Cold War. After 9/11, the Bush administration used the rhetoric of liberating Afghani women from the misogynist Taliban to give their war against that country an

consistent. Bin Laden has never served Arab causes. The project that he is part of has undermined the struggle for freedom and social justice in the Arab world. Bin Laden lived at the height of the Palestinian struggle but, despite his anti-Israel rhetoric, Palestine was never his battlefield. Al-Qaida’s indiscriminate bombings and sectarian targeting in Iraq tarnished the reputation of the resistance to the occupation. Bin Laden’s actions conflated in the minds of many around the world between Islam and his own extremist ideology that calls for war unbound by any fetters and views the other, including Muslims who do not subscribe to his interpretation of Islam, as unbelievers or apostates thus justifying the shedding of their blood. Dispatching terror clothed in religion, he relied on theories and doctrines that are different from the religious doctrines of the majority of Muslims around the world to rationalize his criminality. Bin Laden is not an Arab freedom fighter, he is a mercenary who was recruited by the United States and Saudi Arabia to fight their Cold War battles. Bin Laden committed mass murder and the U.S. punished him the same way it punishes whomever it pleases on this earth, taking on the role of both judge and executioner. But are the countless civilians that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and the many more that have been tortured in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay and so-called black sites not worthy of justice? Bin Laden’s assassination raises once again the specter of an unanswered but persistent question: who will judge U.S. officials responsible for war crimes? n

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

Al-Qaida is the logical outcome of the Saudi Wahhabi movement and the role it played in the Cold War empowered by U.S. support.

added justification at a time when the Saudi regime, a close U.S. ally, is equally misogynist and is the intellectual godfather of the Taliban. It is this American-Saudi landscape that gave rise to bin Laden, who at a later stage, and in a Frankenstein-esque fashion, turned against his creators. Al-Qaida is the logical outcome of the Saudi Wahhabi movement and the role it played in the Cold War empowered by U.S. support. If the United States came to see al-Qaida as a terrorist organization after it hit U.S. interests, antagonism among principled Arab leftists and progressives towards bin Laden, and his intellectual source, Saudi Wahhabism, is long-standing and

Bio: Nadine Saliba is an Arab American activist born in Lebanon who immigrated with her family to San Antonio.

17


Our Movimientowe've just taken is not dead, a different route.

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

by Yoly Zentella

18

n electrifying event occurred in Las Vegas on gave us when they superimposed their authority, language, laws Wednesday June 8th that filled the orchestra section and values on Aztlan. We have now become educated, serve in the of the Ilfeld Auditorium at New Mexico Highlands government, teach, write, and are politicians, activists, artists and University to capacity. Together, on the stage as part musicians and, most importantly, we use the laws and the courts to of a panel calling for unity in the continuing struggle correct the great injustices that came with the end of the Mexican to take back the stolen Hispano lands of northern American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed in New Mexico sat the veteran icons of La Raza activism - Dolores 1848. Seldom is no taken for an answer. We learned from the Huerta, El Tigre Reies López Tijerina and Roberto Modragon - earlier violent days that resulted in the death of Ruben Salazar in flanked by a younger generation of activists and leaders of the Los Angeles, the violent manhunt and arrest of Tijerina, and the movimiento for land justice. Among the latter was the dynamic clash between police and huelga strikers. After the turmoil and the educator and land activist Shirley Otero of San Luis Valley in deaths we changed directions; we built a different struggle on the Colorado, Paul Martínez of the Alianza del Norte, and Paula García, hardships of our living icons. The panel clarified the present and Mora County Commissioner. the future; the continued struggle The stage was encircled by to access higher education, our uniformed members of the human rights, the laws and the Brown Berets, little Mexican courts, while re-building our flag badges on the right side of culture and keeping our language. their sleeves, symbolizing the Hispanos in northern New acknowledgement of our roots Mexico have not forgotten and connections. the land, nor the pain of being The audience consistently separated from it. Anaya (1988) interrupted the speakers with describes this in his Heart of standing ovations for Tijerina, Aztlán as Clemente Chávez signs the most influential man in New away his three acres and home in Mexico. They were clapping and the town of Guadalupe, having shouting to the pride embedded to move because of necessity, no in the word Chicano, to the call longer able to make a living from for unity in regaining our lands, the land. Clemente’s rage, his Photo (L to R): Dolores Huerta & Reis López Tijerina, 2011 and for the emotional plea to pain, and his tears, have also been save our youth from ignorance of their language and history and expressed in faces of people in Las Vegas, in Mora, in Springer, for the necessity of our youth to embrace their land legacies. as they describe leaving one’s land, having to sell it. They tell the Que Viva Nuevo Mexico, Que Viva Tijerina, Si Se Puede! The story of their ancestors leaving a part of their heart in the llano and exuberance of upraised fists accentuated the provocative show of the mountains, severing the most basic connection that can occur solidarity. between an individual and the earth. There are more tears at the The event transported one into the past, to the late 60s and thought of the void created by the inability to leave a land legacy early 70s when the movimiento was young and defiant, when to the children and grandchildren, and at the gap that is left in the demonstrations were called at a moment’s notice and flyers were culture when land is lost, the gap that continually grows until the quickly mimeographed and distributed. It was a trip into como era culture is erased. The void returns when buried ancestors are no antes, a remembrance of the elating sensation of being validated longer visited and honored because the land does not belong to and taking our future into our own hands. The event’s rapidly the living anymore, one part of the culture dying. moving speeches went back to a time when we recognized our Between the musings of Dolores Huerta about the early days misconception that we no longer had to bow and cower to the of organizing with Chávez, Tijerina forming parallels between dominant culture. Early movimiento days were the dawn of pride the land loss in northern New Mexico and that of the Palestinians, and determination, the dawn of the Chicano. and Mondragon lamenting the invasion of Las Vegas by General The array of passion and dedication that ran through the stage Kearney in 1846, the speakers spoke in only English, only and the energy of the crowd encapsulated the realization that Spanish or a mixture, the languages blending into each other, today our movimiento is alive and well; it did not die out as many their messages overlapping, building on each other. The crowd have claimed, it just took a different route, a different form of continued to cheer, clap, stand and shout with raised fists. In this activism. Now we use the tools that the dominant Anglo culture elegant auditorium built in 1914, two years after New Mexico continued on p.21. . .


Book Excerpt

Invisible & Voiceless

Editor’s Note: Martha Caso, a longtime Esperanza

supporter, has written this book in hopes that Mexican Americans will find their voice and stand up for our rights knowing our place in history.

by Martha Caso

After the end of World War II, when I was a child, I remember going to a segregated Mexican American school. It was a large boxed white building, with a bare schoolyard and two outhouses. The school consisted of only three classrooms: first low, first middle, and first high. We attended first low when we were six; if we did not fail, we attended first middle at age seven, and we would finally finish first grade by the time we were eight. Many stayed until they were nine or ten because they could not speak English well. By the time I reached second grade, they transferred me to a bigger brick building school. The children in

Introduction “. . . And those who knew the most important facts (history) were the idol’s priests and the sons of Nezahualpiltzintli, the King of this city and its providence, they are now dead and their paintings on which their history was written are gone. Today their descendants weep with a heavy heart after being left in darkness without knowledge and memory of their ancestor’s deeds . . .” - Juan Bautista de Pomar | Relación de Tezcoco In order to understand the historical, social and psychological culture of Mexicans as well as of Mexican Americans, we must return to Spain’s conquest of the Americas. Its invasion of Mexico by Hernán Cortez in the year 1521 resulted in

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

Foreword

that school were older, and they soon warned me I was going to hell because I was Protestant. I attended a very small segregated Protestant church, which had about three families, mostly old people. When I was about eight, my mother cleaned the Anglo church of the same denomination as ours, and I used to help her; I think she took me because she wanted to keep an eye on me. I spent most of the time playing with the ministers’ daughter. The kind, good-hearted pastor invited me to attend Sunday School at their church. He did not realize his terrible sin, and a week later, he was terminated. How dared had he invited a “Mexican” to integrate their church? The minister left the church but the deed had been done. As an eight year old, I did not realize the sacrifice that minister made. I personally liked the Anglo church because the children did not mock me for being Protestant. At the time, I did not realize the gravity of the issue of being Mexican American. For the congregation, it was a question of having the church invaded by Mexican Americans. I did not understand the issue of segregation, so I remained in church. My mother would say that the Anglos were afraid “Mexicans” would overrun the white church. I knew that my Mexican American young friends, who told me that I was going to hell for being Protestant, would not come and join me. I assumed there were not any Catholics dying to go to a Protestant church if all Protestants were going to hell. Catholics showed no interest in becoming Protestant and for a long time I remained the only Mexican American in that church. Years later, when I was finishing High School, after two new ministers who had no racial prejudice had been pastors of our church; I decided to ask our minister to help me get into college. He was very kind and generous and did not hesitate; he immediately set out to fill out my college application. The congregation agreed they would pay the tuition and buy me the clothes I needed to attend college; they even gave me a home permanent. The moral to the story is that one learns to hate that which one fears. The church learned that accepting a young Mexican American child, gave them an opportunity to learn, to love, to nurture and to cherish that which they had feared. Fear of the unknown causes aggression, anxiety and leads to hate. At the present the United States is suffering an anxiety about immigrants, especially Mexican immigrants, thus come the aggression towards anything that looks Mexican and the attitude of “show me your papers“.

19


LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

20

an indigenous holocaust and the clash of two cultures: the old Mexican Aztlán culture and the Western European Spanish culture; the new Mexican culture was a result forged out of violence and bloodshed. Without understanding the traumatic events that occurred during the Mexican conquest, we cannot understand the nature of our historical past. Every culture - no matter how primitive or illiterate -preserves an oral history in the form of religion, myths and legends. The destruction of Mexico’s history by the Spaniards left the area with an obscured and blurry understanding of their past. Today in the United States, most young Mexican Americans know very little about their ancient history. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, there was a renewed interest about ancient Mesoamerican culture, which taught our people about Mexico’s past. Today some Mexican Americans feel that young people no longer have to be as concerned about their past; therefore, many of our children are no longer searching for our historical roots, our “raíces“. Historically, the U.S. also had many moments that were very anti-Mexican and violent. After the Mexican American War and the signing of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty of 1848, Mexico lost vast amounts of territory. Mexicans who stayed in the new United States territories struggled to keep their lands from the advances of Anglo Americans who invaded Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and parts of Utah, taking over ranches and large Mexican land grants. In the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty, the United States had promised full citizenship and equal rights to Mexicans who wished to remain on their lands, but what occurred later was that a large number of Anglo Americans did not honor that treaty. The invading Anglos coming to the Southwest viewed Mexicans as non-Americans; considered as just another group of Indians, non-whites with no right to own property. Anglo Americans soon raced to make claims on the newly acquired lands and water rights, which legally belonged to Mexicans already occupying those territories, who, because of the treaty, had become U.S. citizens. Anglo Americans established tax laws, which Mexicans could not afford. The Anglo Americans took lands for extremely low prices leaving Mexican Americans destitute and poor. According to professor and sociologist David Montejano, The Laredo newspaper La Crónica on April 9, 1910 wrote, “The Mexicans have sold the great share of their landholdings and some work as day laborers on what once belonged to them.” 2 As Mexican Americans lost their lands, they were also segregated. They had to live in segregated neighborhoods, to attend segregated schools, and they were kept out of certain stores, hotels and restaurants, which were for-whites-only facilities. It would take generations before Mexican Americans could regain equal rights in the U.S. ; being racially different and poor made them the object of extreme prejudice, segregation and persecution. This historical reality continues to interfere with their acceptance in society, where they are still seen as foreigners and outcasts. As long as Mexican Americans are closely tied to their Mexican heritage by race, they need to be aware of their past no matter how many generations they have lived in the United States. As a whole, Mexican Americans have a strong allegiance to the United States; yet, many of their fellow Anglo Americans still associate them with Mexico, they consider them as outsiders. This is why modern Mexican Americans must remember their history in order to understand why they are still not considered

as real American citizens in the United States. Today in Texas there are some conservative politicians in the State Capitol who are trying to erase what little Mexican American history exist in school textbooks. A panel of “experts” working for the State Board of Education in Texas recommended removing Cesar Chávez (the farm worker organizer and civil right champion) from textbooks claiming he is irrelevant and not a good example for our youth. Mexican Americans should understand that racism is not a thing of the past, but a serious and present danger. Today our problems are aggravated by the drug war going on in Mexico, because of it, it has become commonplace to identify Mexican Americans with crime. Either we find a way out of poverty or it will be increasingly easier for Mexican drug lords to recruit Mexican American youth to sell their drugs in the United States. In turn, this will increase racial bias and send Mexican Americans on another downward spiral. More of our youth will be destined to serve their lives in prison. We must not fall into that trap of racism again, instead we must find ways to assert our rights as citizens and be included in professions that will allow Mexican Americans to have their rightful place in the United States. One way to accomplish those goals is to demand better education for our children. Education is the key to the survival of our race. Our past will influence our future, the fact that we are descendants of indigenous American people; will forever distinguish us as racially different from European American citizens. The motives used to justify Spanish aggression towards Mexicans and other Native Americans were similar to the motives used by the British, the French or the Dutch towards the Indians. Basically, those Europeans claimed that indigenous people of the Americas were savages, less than human; as expressed by the well known saying “the only good Indian is the dead Indian“. This idea was applied to our fellow brothers on the reservations, and to all of us as well. This sentiment will continue to hunt Mexican Americans living among European Americans, some of whom still think of us as savages. For instance, Barbara Coe, the leader of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform and a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens; frequently refers to Mexican Americans as savages. She also refers to poor Mexican and Central Americans gathering around Home Depot looking for work as “savages“. 3 Another example comes from cyberspace, where uninhibited by the anonymity of “blogs” and opinion forums; without shame, some people freely insult Mexican Americans as well as the so called “Hispanic” immigrants; referring to them as sub-human and savages. Some Mexican citizens tried to set up a dialogue between Mexicans and United States, they were hoping to find common grounds, the results were that U.S. conservatives immediately started to insult and rave against Mexicans. They claimed Mexicans should be grateful that the U.S. had started the dialogue, which could not take place in Mexico. In reality, the dialogue had started in Mexico by people who were trying to create better relationships with the U.S. Today in the U.S., there are strong prejudices against anything south of the border; by association, Mexican Americans are also subject to those prejudices. Mexican Americans still live and work secluded in their barrios. Their children often attend inferior schools, dropping out before graduation due to high incidence of poverty. Very often in the workplace, Mexican American men and women receive lesser salaries and promotions than their Anglo


American counterparts do. In the field of entertainment, our presence is almost non-existent, despite the fact that we are supposed to be one of the largest minorities. Madison Ave. discriminates in commercials, often we see ads where other minorities are included but Mexican Americans are left out; in the few cases where we see our presence, often is to portray us as menial workers, maids or garbage collectors; or in public service advertisements dealing with drug abuse or teenage pregnancy. These are all nega-

North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean suffered when the Europeans invaded these continents. The genocide affected Native people from the every corner of the Americas. Today the fires of racism are burning and blowing anew. This time it is against Mexicans, Central and South Americans: brown skinned immigrants whom Anglo Americans cannot often tell apart. The Mexican American community, because of racial and historical ties to Mexicans is very much affected by this antiimmigrant sentiment. The escalation of verbal abuse is not limited to the traditional racist groups of the United States, but among politicians who promote the buildup of troops and fences along the southern borders. To include aggressive innuendos from Washington politicians such as Steve King from Iowa, who infers Mexico is trying to take over parts of the United States; and the book, Who are We, The Challenges to America’s National Identity, by professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard which also serve to inflame racism towards Mexicans and other Spanish speaking immigrants. It is my hope that this book will give a small window of knowledge about Mexican Americans and where we should proceed as Americans who helped built this nation. We deserve respect and equal treatment, just like other citizens.

To recognize whom we are as Americans... we must learn our history and learn about the lives of our ancestors.

Bio: Martha Caso has studied pre-Columbian and Latin American history at UTSA where she earned a B.A. and M.A. Her writing is influenced by her life, as well. Check www.iunivrse.com for more on this book.

Our Movimiento is not Dead cont’d from pg 18 became the 47th state of the American Union, we were all at home, deep and warm in the womb of Aztlán. Sitting next to acequia mayordomos, perhaps a few retired curanderas, family members whose ancestors stretch back to the days of the Las Vegas land grant, to the time of the Catrón swindles, to the time of dispossession, we were at home. Rubbing shoulders with interlopers, Chicanos and Mexicanos all of us were primos. All of us came with the same ancient bloodlines, inheritors of the racial mixture that came with the brutal colonization of the indigenous in Mexico, that came with the Spanish their blood mixed with a Moorish hue, a product of their own ancient, bitter battle for supremacy. The bloodlines connected the crowd and the temporary neighbors shared the day together. Thank you our icons, our fruit of Aztlán. We respect you for paving the way for us and validating our own personal movimientos that makeup one chignon landscape! Bio: Yoly Zentella is an independent researcher, writer, faculty and licensed psychotherapist living in el norte de Nuevo Mexico. You can reach her at yzentellnm@yahoo.com

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

tive portrayals that affect our image, especially for our youth; and we must seek to stop them. We are not an untouchable society destined to be the slaves. We must also be aware that commercials and films not only influence American society, but also take money out of their pockets. Consumers pay for advertising and the advertising agencies and television programs discriminate against Mexican Americans consumers by not hiring them as actors. Hollywood hire very few Mexican, this makes them the most segregated industry in the U.S. We are aware of how many people from India and China live in the U.S. because we see them as comedians, doctors, and among newscasters, but the television screens keep Mexican Americans out. This increases the myth that we are not truly American. I personally know there are many aspiring young people in Hollywood who never get a chance to act except in negative roles. This leaves Mexican Americans invisible and voiceless in the U.S. As the passing of Arizona controversial racial profiling law that request proof of United States citizenship increases for illegal Mexicans entering into the U.S., we must be aware of our Mexican American heritage and its close links to Mexico. Historically and racially, Mexican Americans and Mexicans are brothers and sisters; there is no way to identify legal and non-legal Mexicans living in the U.S. Laws like SB1070 in Arizona can spread to other states and can apply against our community. We may find ourselves victims of blatant discrimination. In the past many Mexicans and Mexican Americans were treated as illegal immigrants and sent to Mexico. Many Mexican Americans who were not aware of their rights as American citizens remained in Mexico. Today we are aware of our rights but there are still many Anglo Americans who refuse to recognize our Civil Rights. To recognize who we are as Americans, (some of us have lived in the U.S. longer than other citizens from European descent have), we must learn our history and about the lives of our ancestors. We must refuse to be treated as second-class citizens. In this book, I will attempt to show that the tragedy and suffering of the Mexican people was no different from the tragedy that

21


* community meetings * LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

22

Amnesty International #127 meets on 4th Thursdays at 7:30 pm at Ashbury United Methodist. Call 210.829.0397.

Be Part of a

Proyecto Hospitalidad Liturgy each Thursday at 7 pm at 325 Courtland. Call 210.736.3579.

Progressive Movement

The Rape Crisis Center, 7500 US Anti-War Peace Vigil every Thursday Hwy 90 W. Hotline @ 210.349-7273. 4-6pm @ Flores & Commerce. See: 210.521-7273 or email Drominishi@ rapecrisis.com ivaw.org | veteransforpeace.org Bexar Co. Green Party info@bex- The Religious Society of Friends meets Sundays @ 10 am @ The argreens.org or call 210.471.1791. Friends Meeting House, 7052 N. Celebration Circle meets Sundays, Vandiver. 210.945.8456. 11am @ JumpStart at Blue Star Arts Complex. Meditation, Weds @ 7:30 The San Antonio Communist pm @ Quaker Meeting House, 7052 Party USA meets 2nd Sundays from 3-5pm at Esperanza Center, 922 San Vandiver. 210.533-6767 Pedro. Contact: juanchostanford@ Critical Mass bicycle ride @ Main yahoo.com Library, last Fridays @ 6 pm, San Antonio Gender Association. myspace.com/satxcriticalmass meets 1st & 3rd Thurs. 6-9pm at 611 DIGNITY S.A. mass at 5:30 pm, E. Myrtle, Metropolitan Community Sun. @ Beacon Hill Presbyterian Church downstairs.| sagender.org Church, 1101 W. Woodlawn. Call SA Healthcare Now Coalition 210.735.7191. meets 1st Thursdays at 6:30pm For S.A. Free Speech Coalition @ National Nurses Organizing meetings check esperanzacenter.org Committee office 7959 or call 210.228.0201 Fredericksburg Rd. 210.882.2230 or Fuerza Unida, 710 New Laredo, healthcarenowsa.org Hwy. 210.927.2297 San Antonio NOW meets 4th Habitat for Humanity meets 1st Weds @ La Madeline on Broadway @ Tues. for volunteer orientation @ 6pm, 6:30pm. Call: 210.673.8600 HFHSA Office @ 311 Probandt. Shambhala Buddhist Meditation LGBT Youth Group meets at MCC Center classes are on Tues./Thurs. Church, 611 E. Myrtle on Sundays at at 7pm, & Sun. at 11:30 am. at 1114 10:30am. 210.472.3597 So. St. Mary’s. Call 210.222.9303. Metropolitan Community Church in San Antonio (MCCSA) 611 East Myrtle, services & Sunday school @ 10:30am Call 210.599.9289.

The Society of Latino and Hispanic Writers SA meets 2nd Mondays, 7 pm @ Barnes & Noble, San Pedro Crossing.

Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays, PFLAG, meets 1st Thurs @ 7pm @ 1st Unitarian Universalist Church SA, Gill Rd & Beryl Dr. Help line @ 210. 655.2383. Español on 1st Tues @ 2802 W. Salinas, 7pm. Call 210.735.7191.

S.N.A.P. (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). Contact Barbara at 210.725.8329. Voice for Animals meets last Sat at Whole Foods in the Quarry @ 3pm. 210.737-3138 or voiceforanimals.org

in San Antonio

¡Todos somos Esperanza!

It takes a whole community to work for social change. You can support this work financially by becoming a monthly donor to Esperanza. Esperanza works to bring awareness and action on issues relevant to our communities. With our vision for social, environmental, economic and gender justice, Esperanza centers the voices and experiences of the poor & working class, women, queer people and people of color. We hold pláticas and workshops; organize political actions; present exhibits and performances and document and preserve our cultural histories. We consistently challenge City Council and the corporate powers of the city on issues of development, low-wage jobs, gentrification, clean energy and more. It takes all of us to keep the Esperanza going. When you contribute monthly to the Esperanza you are making a long-term commitment to the movement for progressive change in San Antonio, allowing Esperanza to sustain and expand our programs. Monthly donors can give as little as $3 and as much as $300 a month or more. What would it take for YOU to become a monthly donor? Call or come by the Esperanza to learn how. ¡Esperanza vive! ¡La lucha sigue! Contact Amanda @ 210.228.0201 or esperanza@esperanzacenter.org for more info

Make a tax-deductible donation. $30 La Voz subscription / $100 Institutions

for more info call 210.228.0201

Please use my donation for the Rinconcito de Esperanza


Notas Y Más July/August 2011

The People’s Market, is back on July 16th, Sat., 9am -1 pm at SW Union’s Roots of Change Garden, 1416 E. Commerce. Vendor fee: $10. Contact Diana @ 210.299.2666 or dianalopez@swunion.org

Brief notes to inform readers about happenings in the community. Send announcements for Notas y Más to: lavoz@esperanzacenter.org or by mail to: 922 San Pedro, San Antonio, TX 78212. The deadline is the 8th of each month.

Macondo presents La luz en los tiempos de la oscuridad with stories, dance & music on Wed., July 27th @ 7pm at Jump-Start Theatre with Julia Álvarez, Helena María Viramontes & Manuel Muñoz. Price $25, general & $50 for table seats. Thurs., July 28th, Macondo writers will be on stage @ 7 pm at OLLU’s Thiry Auditorium. Free! For info, visit www.macondofoundation.org or call 210.888.0517.

Stand with workers! Rally for Justice: Hyatt Workers Will No Longer Suffer In Silence! Thursday, July 21st EntreFlamenco Dance Space, at 5407 @ 4pm. Join us for Bandera Rd. presents José Luis Rodríguez, this historic action contemporary flamenco guitarist/composat the Grand Hyatt Riverwalk, 600 E. er from Spain on July 29th & 30th at 8:30 Market St., protesting mistreatment of ho- pm. Admission: $30. Call 210.842.4926 to tel workers. Call 210.843.0316 or check reserve or see www.entreflamenco.com Unite Here - San Antonio on Facebook. Competition for the 2012-13 Fulbright Jovenes de Fuerza will have a Loteria Scholar grants is open. The application Fundraiser, July 17th, 2-5 pm @ Fuerza Un- deadline is August 1st. Learn how to presida, 710 New Laredo HWY. AND a BBQ ent credentials at www.iie.org/cies. Conplate & yard sale on July 30th, 11am-4 pm. tact them at scholars@iie.org for details. Vendor fee is $5. BBQ tickets are $7. Proceeds go to the youth program and scholar- Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio ships. Call Fuerza Unida @ 927-2294 or Social’s (MALCS) Summer Institute, email Esme at baltazar.esme@gmail.com Against Fear and Terror: Una Nueva

Conciencia Sin Fronteras will be held at California State University, Los Angeles, August 3-7, 2011. See www.malcs.org The Hedgebrook offers an online application for the 2012 Writers in Residence program for women. See www.hedgebrook. org Deadline: September 8th. Are you a licensed psychotherapist exploring the idea of volunteering psych services in Central America? If so, there is an opportunity to work with children at an orphanage in Belize in English. Contact Yoly at yzentellnm@yahoo.com for details. CORRECTION! Our apologies to Lorinda Carr, author of Courage in the Path of Obstacles, (June 2011) who noted: “The incident where I approached the bench and could not reach it, happened at the John Wood courthouse here in SA. She adds, “The court house in New Orleans was messed up, too. Mary Agnes and I had to go to the back dock and through the kitchen to reach the courtrooms. People with disabilities must be the new ‘colored’ people.”

En el umbral de la agonia In the throes of death

EL MAiZ: un taller July 22-24 details tba

FRIDAY & SATURDAY, August 12 - 13th 7pm Free, Donations Appreciated

con Marietta Bernstorff del colectivo MAMAZ de Oaxaca, México visits San Antonio to lead a workshop on la historia del maíz and show mujeres how to quilt in solidarity (acolchar en solidaridad) with other women concerned about the state of maíz. Para reservar su lugar llame/call (210) 228-0201 to RSVP

other out & beyond films: El MAiZ (film titles to be announced)

Peliculas sobre las semillas transgénicas y el impacto dañoso en nuestras vidas Films about genetically modified organics (GMOs) and their negative impact on our lives

Gastrocultura del MAiZ Saturday August 27 at 6pm A Traveling EXHIBIT OF LOCAL & iNTERNATIONAL ART @ ESPERANZA THRU AUG 27, 2011

Admission $30 o más

…platica y meriénda con bocadillos precolombinos de maíz con maestra y cocinera poblana, Verónica Castillo ...a talk & meriénda with precolombian maíz dishes with maestra and chef, Verónica Castillo of Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla, México Para reservar su lugar llame/call (210) 228-0201 to reserve.

LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

SUMMER PROGRAMMING IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE MAIZ EXHIBIT

23


LA VOZ de ESPERANZA • July/August 2011 Vol. 24 Issue 6•

Noche azulEsperanza de

Sat. July 23rd

El México de ayer: puro y limpio

MAiZ:

En el umbral de la agonia In the throes of death

AN EXHIBITioN OF LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL ART june 25 - AUG 27, 2011

Esperanza’s monthly concert series featuring singer/songwriter Azul $5 más o menos @ Esperanza

Sat. Aug. 20th a tribute to

Juan Gabriel La Voz de Esperanza

922 San Pedro San Antonio TX 78212 210.228.0201 • fax: 210.228.0000 www.esperanzacenter.org

Non-Profit Org. US Postage PAID San Antonio, TX Permit #332

maiz SEE inside back FOR DETAILS ON SUMMER PROGRAMMING IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE MAIZ EXHIBIT

Desde Mi Altura / From My Altitude An art exhibit by Cuban 5* artist, Antonio Guerrero

Saturday July 16, 2011 • 7-9 pm @ Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, Free www.esperanzacenter.org • (210) 228-0201

Join us for an evening of arte, teatro, poetry readings, short videos, and music in honor of los 5 Cubanos and the Cuban solidarity movement. Light refreshments will be served.

Special Fundraising Dinner

to Support the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba

Saturday, July 16th • 5 pm

w/speaker Sandino Gómez honoring Lucius Walker (see p.6 inside) Tickets $10-$50 (pay what you can). Call (210) 228-0201 to RSVP.

Film Screening & Platica: Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up?

An in-depth documentary exploration of US anti-Cuba terrorism and the story of the Cuban 5. Filmmaker Saul Landau will be present.

Friday, July 22, 2011 • 7pm

@ Esperanza, 922 San Pedro, Free (Donations accepted) * The Cuban Five: Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramon Labonino, and René González :: five Cuban men serving unjust life sentences in US jails for trying to prevent US-based terrorist attacks on Cuba. Transcending their situations, the five have become artists, poets and philosophers.


La Voz de Esperanza - July/Aug 2011