Photo credit to Al Jazeera Media Network

¡AYOTZINAPA RESISTE!: State Sanctioned Violence and Indigenous Resistance

Above photo credit to Al Jazeera Media Network

This article is a collaboration between La Gente staff writers, Maritza Geronimo and Kristian Vasquez.

Este es México. La de este país es una historia de equivocaciones. Pero hasta ahora, siempre de los que equivocan son ellos y nosotros [Indígenas] somos la equivocación y quien la paga.

—Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, un Zapatista de Chiapas, México

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Ayotzinapa Habla del Corazón

On November 21st and 22nd, a father and organizer of the Ayotzinapa 43 movement raised consciousness to the mass kidnapping of the disappeared students. They spoke of what took place on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero, México, and the aftermath of what was to come; it was a caravan which would spend two invaluable days at UCLA.

From student-led discussions, questions, and comments and a class led by Chicano Historian Juan Gómez-Quiñonez, El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA)–supported by the Chicana/o Studies Department–organized this important outreach/plática to take place.

The Organizers shared their testimonios of the students from Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa. These students were leading a bus to protest and remember the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre in la Ciudad de México.

The students were intercepted by Iguala municipal police,  were then taken, detained, and handed over to a drug organization. Speakers Felipe de la Cruz and Mario César Gonzalez Contrera discussed corruption and the reality of state sanctioned violence against the Indigenous people of México.

After the events of September 26th, Indigenous Resistance was pioneered by parents, families, and communities. The Ayotzinapa 43 lived on.

This is for them, their parents, and everyone.

This is the consciousness needed by the movement to find the 43.

Below you will find our personal stories, experiences, reflections, and frustrations.

 

“Ayotzinapa Somos Todos”

Siento su dolor, siento su resistencia, siento la desaparición de los 43. Siento como si fuera mi cuerpo, mi familia, mi sangre—y sí lo es.

The 43 went missing in México, but the pain was and must continue to be felt everywhere until they are found.

September 2014:

The sky feels mi gente’s pain; we cry as one. I hear the crowd count off, “uno, dos, tres, cuatro….” Alone with my camera in hand, I run through the crowd. I see the distress on all the brown faces as they yell for justicia.  Pictures of the 43 young men plastered on poster boards and in them I see myself: an 18 year old college student with a drive to learn and uplift my community. Yet our struggle is not the same, for I am here standing safely while they are missing. Pero su dolor es mi dolor. I carry that pain with me for the next two years. Not a day goes by that I do not remember the 43.

“Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos.”

November 2016:

I am standing outside the UCLA guest house awaiting MEChA’s two guest speakers: Felipe de la Cruz (representative for the families of the 43) and Mario Cesar Gonzalez Contreras (a father of one of the 43 missing students).

“It has been two years, but it feels like just yesterday. We are tired, but not ready to give up,” they share with a crowd of students. I am translating for them tonight. I translate the words of a father’s broken heart and with every syllable that comes out of my mouth I feel his heartbeat.

Don Mario recounts a personal narrative, one left out of most media outlets, where he recalls the last time he heard his son’s voice on the day of September 26, 3:35 pm. He looks at us students and says, “I have gotten the opportunity to speak in front of many crowds, but by far this college tour has been the hardest. I look at you all and see my son. Many of you are his age. Many of you have similar characteristics.” The crowd is silent. I am hurting yet quickly trying to formulate words for others to understand.

As Don Mario continues, he says, “To be a student in México is to be a threat to the government. Why do you think our children are missing? We cannot trust the police, the narcos, the government: because they are all the same.” If we cannot trust any systems then we as a gente must organize together and not forget the 43. Students are quick to ask the guest, “What can we do to help?”

Don Mario answers, “We were just farmers—humble people. Many of us did not know how to read and now we read every day. We have created a movement—us. You, you have all the tools. If we did it, you can too.”

It has been 2 years: a wound left open, a wound being continuously cut—sangre corriendo. The government’s hands covered in blood, come in for a handshake. Creen que no sabemos. They think they can continue to erase us—pero ya basta. A nuestra gente les quitaron tanto, que les quitaron el miedo. Entonces miremós al gobierno a la cara y recordarles de quien es esta tierra.

 

“Triste Soy”

Este es nuestro grito, esta es nuestra canción

acabar con la obediencia y aplastar la sumisión

Antes que ser esclavos preferimos morir

Porque la obediencia es muerte y revelarse es vivir

This lyric—from the anarchist punk band de México, Desobediencia Civil—resonates with the powerful, beautiful, and resilient 43 Indigenous students who were taken from all of us.

With the rise of activism from students—of expression and direct-action—state sanctioned violence, which presents itself with the mass kidnapping of these students, speaks volumes. It reminds us all of the importance of protest, of the struggle for real transformation, and its reactive counter from the oppressive nation-state and their respective agents.

These 43 students stood up against what they perceived as wrong, against systems that oppressed, exploited, and marginalized their community. They fought, as Indigenous people of the land, for their liberation and self-determination to resist, exist, and emancipate themselves.

Education, often considered a privilege, is a necessity for all people, a right for all people. Education was fought for by the Ayotzinapa students: 43 sacrificed their lives for such a struggle.

I’m reminded constantly of the brutal, persistent, and unpleasant effects that have ruptured la tierra de México. The conditions of México have been in turmoil ever since the first wave of colonialism in 1492 and its later inception as a nation-state by the Spanish Empire, further complicated by México’s independence and what Mexican anthropologist Guillermo Bonfil Batalla called  the “Imaginary México.” But this gets spoken about differently in many and all spaces; between classes, family, institutions, the government, and so on. We see either its necessity, its benefits, or maybe (when we are critical) we perceive the complexities which birth the motions at work today.

Yet, we must always remember where México is grounded: who inhabits the lands (and always has), who works the land (and experiences first-hand the ills of modernity), and who breathes the air their ancestors did before 1492. The remnants of Mesoamerican civilization and its ongoing survival—these are the Indigenous who suffer the most and the imperative to see through their eyes is exponential.

We must read our history as Raza and see that across Abya Yala we are all connected—but some of us experience drastically different things (from different regions and upbringings), and because of colonialism las Indígenas de esta tierra are subject to subjugation far beyond what we know here in the United States.

With the rise and stabilization of modernity, with its catastrophic results, the situation we bear witness to in México is exemplified by what happened—continues to happen throughout México—in Iguala, Guerrero. The Indigenous people continue to suffer under the hands of colonial legacies and modernities and are erased slowly from the social fabric of our consciousness as we choose to forget. Students like the 43 wanted to mobilize against this reality.

The lost, they bleed through our neglect.

The lost, they incite inside many of us a fire that never burns.

The lost, they must never be forgotten—or we will have given up the Indigenous struggle, and the struggle for our entire Raza’s liberation.

Triste soy por toda mi gente que sufre este tiempo de corrupción.

This is violence, and this is injustice.

¡Ayotzinapa resiste!

As I turned my eyes and ears to the stories bled by a vulnerable father, I felt the pain for the 43 families, of a community who can’t find 43 young students. They paid with their lives for an education, which was evolved by parents to a grander and global movement for the future of México.

We must all struggle for their lives, for their vision, and for the struggle of Indigenous people in México.

 

Call to Action

“They thought they could bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.” —Popol Vuh

Indigenous people have been at the forefront of our liberation, yet too often it is us who continue to neglect them.

Somos de su sangre—pero no lo queremos admitir—escucha a tu corazón temblar por sus llantos—y verás que son tus llantos también.

As Students of Color, as Raza, it is our time and energy that must be put to work. We are reminded today of Don Mario’s words: “We hope the search does not have to continue for another 2 years”

The movement these parents started must continue to be heard—if it takes another 2 years; let it be 2 years of growing cross community organizing, 2 more years of building consciousness—but do not let 2 more years be silenced. It is our time to recognize our place in the fight for liberation of nuestra raza, which can only truly begin once we realize the 43 students somos todos.

We can no longer look at the Indigenous struggle as something of the past—it has been, it is here, and will continue to be here until we recognize it as our struggle too.

This is a call for you.

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How to Help

Organize! Join Raza groups! Join Student Groups! Create your own consciousness-building collective! Spread the word through your social media; your family, peers, friends, Gente; travel the far corners and yell #Ayotzinapa43Vive!

Follow:

https://www.facebook.com/Padres-Y-Madres-De-Ayotzinapa-489352334561638/

Donate:

Maximino Hernandez Cruz
Tesorero de los padres de Ayotzinapa

Num. Cuenta 0105636140 Bancomer

Codigo interbancaria: 012280001056361403

Codigo SWIFT: BCMRMXMM

Cel: 7541036291

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UCLA Students Keep Dia de los Muertos Tradition Alive

Bad weather conditions did not stop UCLA students from celebrating Dia de Los Muertos.

UCLA Professor Martha Ramirez-Operaza, in collaboration with UCLA’s Chicana and Chicano Studies students, organized a Dia de Los Muertos event that took place this past Sunday, October 30th, at the Social and Public Art Resource Center historic headquarters in Venice Beach, California.

“Dia de Los Muertos” is a festive holiday celebrated in Mexico and in various parts of the United States where there is a strong sense of Mexican heritage. For many, November second is often viewed as a day of celebrating–rather than mourning–the dearly departed. It is believed that on this day the spirits of the ancestors will visit the altars and enjoy the ofrendas, which consist of food and other objects with sentimental value that they enjoyed during their lifetime.

More than ten colorful altars representing different regions of Mexico surrounded the Social and Public Art Resource Center. Pictures of the departed, sugar skulls, papel picado and flores de cempasuchil (Mexican Marigold) were some of the various ornamental elements used to decorate the altars.

The event began with a ceremony traditionally carried out to invoke the spirits to join the celebration followed by ten minute presentations by UCLA students at the altars, where they explained the significance of Dia de Los Muertos and other special traditions.

The attendees were able to enjoy the traditional pan de muerto, champurrado, and ponche, among other typical Mexican dishes.

For many, Dia de Los Muertos highlights the idea of community. Hector Sanchez-Perez, a fifth-year Biology student at UCLA, cherishes the strong sense of community that such a significant celebration brings, which is strongly encouraged by Professor Ramirez-Operanza. “[Professor Ramirez-Operanza has] is really driving home the theme of the community.” Professor Ramirez-Operanza is often called “temachtiani,” which according to Sanchez-Perez, means “teacher of great things”—a testament to the respect and admiration she has garnered from her students and the wider UCLA community.

Similarly, Sra. Maria Conde, a participant of the event, believes that community is very important. “Visitar a los amigos que tienen sus ofrendas puestas, poner la mia y visitarnos unos con otros es mi tradición favorita,” Sra. Conde said.

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Individuals of all ages, who commemorate the spirits, have traditions that make this day even more special. Some people like setting up the altar and ofrendas, others making sugar skulls, or simply the idea of honoring their loved ones.

For third grade  Broadway Elementary student Karla Gonzalez and fourth-year UCLA student Veronica Martinez, the experience of setting up an altar is at the top of their favorite Dia de los Muertos traditions. “The best thing about making an altar is honoring the person that has passed away and most importantly, making this event be about the celebration of life, and having a happy connotation to death rather than the darkness [and] sadness typically associated with death, ” said Martinez.

“My favorite tradition of Dia de Los Muertos is when you make the altar, because I like setting up pictures of people who passed away and setting up the food,” said Gonzalez.

In many cultures, the skull represents a sign of death. For Dia de los Muertos, this holiday symbol can turn into a fun and creative activity. For Zac Reyes, a second-year political science major at UCLA, face painting of the half-skull continues to be his favorite tradition.

“[The half-skull] is supposed to show the quick transition between life and death,” said Reyes.

Likewise, Rosa Contreras, a second-year student at UCLA, enjoys the sugar skull and face painting aspect of the festivities because she “really likes being creative.”

UCLA educators and students understand the importance of maintaining tradition alive. By conducting the celebration of Dia de los Muertos every year, they continue to preserve the memory of their beloved while informing others about the beautiful customs of this significant day.

Photo by: Eflon

Poverty in Mexico

Dear America, Mexico doesn’t send its worst; it sends its most desperate.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency, 52.3% of the Mexican population is living in poverty. Currently, the Comisión Nacional de los Salarios Mínimos has set the minimum wage at $73.04 pesos (or 3.85 USD). The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development calculated that the average Mexican Laborer works about 2,228 hours a year; this means that they earn about 8,577.80 USD annually.

The CIA, however, reported Mexico’s per capita GDP to be 18,000 USD, meaning that the average laborer should be making 10,000 USD more than they currently are.

How can anyone expect Mexico to survive and undergo social development when over 64 million people are living in poverty? With a CIA reported unemployment rate of 4.4%—slightly lower than the current US unemployment rate of 4.9%—the increasing rate of poverty seems inescapable.

Though the Comisión Nacional de los Salarios Mínimos has agreed that the minimum wage will be raised to at least 4.00 USD by the end of this year, it isn’t enough. The Mexican working class works the most hours yet receives one of the lowest incomes.

Income inequality and poverty rates are only increasing, causing a gross division between the 1% and the entire population. Univision reported that the richest 1% received 21% of the entire country’s income, quintupling their original fortune last year. Though there are over 5,000 government programs in place to try to decrease poverty rates and increase social development, they aren’t working.

The Indice Estatal de Capacidades Para el Desarrollo Social reports 18 out of the 32 Mexican states are incapable of actually putting into practice the various social programs, emphasizing the urgency of transparency and availability of them. The minimum wage, both proposed and set, isn’t enough to erase Mexico’s income inequality. Neither are the established social programs enough to decrease the growing poverty rate.

Poverty is the consequence of social conformity in respect to economic demands. When a country doesn’t require enough compensation for overworked, everyday jobs, citizens begin to fear for their future and the future of their loved ones. In an attempt to escape these parameters, many are forced into migrating to America.

The migration to America is dangerous. Both the Chihuahuan Desert and the Sonoran desert, which run along the border, span for miles in each direction.The heat coupled with dangerous animals, criminals, and border control only add to the uncertainty. Al Jazeera reported that over 2,000 dead immigrants have been found within these deserts. Even so, immigrants would rather face these conditions and the uncertainty that comes afterward than face poverty. With the upcoming presidency, however, neither America nor Mexico would be a livable option.

Trump has guaranteed the deportation of 3 million mothers, fathers, brothers, etc. The deportation of 3 million people would significantly increase the already high poverty rate, inducing an exponential growth of uninhabitable conditions as it has in other countries. Despite the fact that America’s GDP would significantly decrease at the sudden loss of 3 million people, the first 3 million have all been classified as “criminals.” They are not given the appropriate conditions to survive when they have returned to their homelands. This means unemployment rates and homelessness in Mexico will increase.

This is no longer about “job security.” This is about a serious crisis involving the security of food, of shelter, of survival, and of human rights.

La Patria: Sometimes You Have to Travel 8,432 Feet Above Sea Level to Revisit Your Roots

Zach knew he wanted a change, a change that could not be found on campus. The next step was figuring out where he wanted to go.

“Going into the trip, people were like, ‘Yo, watch out, don’t get stabbed or don’t get killed by somebody in a drug cartel, get pitched for doing cocaine,’ like that’s everybody’s first thoughts when you go to a place like that. Their first thoughts weren’t, ‘Yo, go to the mountains and see the most beautiful views you’ll ever see or go horseback riding for your first time and be in the Andes mountains and be able to have these beautiful experiences.’”

This is Zachary Trust, a recent graduate of University of Connecticut (UConn), who majored in Latin American studies, speaking about his study abroad trip that he took to Cochabamba, Bolivia. The application process was not easy. He applied to a program called SIT, School for International Training. SIT specifically has a program for Cochabamba, Bolivia, where students engage in the study of multiculturalism, globalization and social change.

While in Cochabamba, his class had a language course, either Spanish or Quechua, along with three other courses that were specific to globalization and its effects on a country like Bolivia.

All their courses involved guest speakers mainly from Bolivia, which were facilitated by their primary teacher, also the director of the program.Trust recalls activists from the 2002 Water Wars who came to speak. They were all responsible for completing an Independent Study Project–somewhat of a thesis–on any topic that impassioned them. Trust ended up making a twenty-minute movie about soccer players and teams in the country. While he was there, he even ended up joining a league.

Trust’s trip is not a typical study abroad one. He has roots in Bolivia. His mother was born in Cochabamba. His abuelito, affectionately referred to by Trust as Bito, otherwise known as José Rico, was a former keeper for the Bolivian national fútbol team. There is a connection he has to the culture, the food, and the people.

He recalls, “I saw these two people, I remembered one of them; it was one of our great aunts and great uncles, Bita’s [abuelita’s] cousins. They were waiting at the airport for me to get there. I said hi to them, and everybody in my class was like, ‘Yo, who’s that, how do you know people here?’ ‘That’s my aunt and uncle,’ ‘I didn’t know you’re Bolivian!’ so I said, ‘Yeah.’”

Even though this was only the second time that Trust had visited Bolivia, he says he never really felt like an outsider. “It helps with our background being half Bolivian. I was in a different situation than most of my peers… as far as like the culture, a lot of the food they [Bolivians] eat there is a lot of the food I’ve had from Bito and Bita, you know?”

Trust describes himself as an outgoing person, someone who likes to meet new people and build relationships. What he discovered was that people in Cochabamba are not much different from people back at home.

“Some of my best friends still live there now. I still keep in contact with them. Like the whole [host] family I stayed with. I was able to meet our cousins, aunts and uncles that I didn’t know before, just because they’d never been to the States and that was only the second time I had gone to Bolivia. That’s a commonality in my life, the most rewarding aspect of anything I do is relationships I build with other people.”

Coming from a middle class neighborhood in Massachusetts, Trust talks about how the community he grew up in was mostly white and his friends were, too. Now, in college, most of his friends are Latino, specifically, Puerto Rican or Dominican.

Trust clarifies, “But I would never hold myself to just being friends with a certain type of person.” He elaborates, “A lot of it depends more on class. I feel like I would relate better with a lower class white person than I would with like an upper class Latino.”

“I think a lot of problems we see, like race and misunderstanding of each other has a lot to do with class. You can see in Boston too. It’s a very diverse place, you have public housing with all Puerto Rican, you have public housing with all Dominican and like Black, Haitian, Jamaican, whatever it is. One of the public housing [complexes in Boston] has the largest percentage of impoverished whites in the country. Poverty isn’t a color. It happens to be that Black and Latinos are the most impoverished people in our country, but it’s not like every single Black and Latino is in poverty. Just like not how every white person in the country is upper middle class.”

Similarly, Trust noticed that class is a huge factor in Bolivia. “Definitely the poor people are looked down upon there. For sure…Your class and race definitely have a lot to do with how you’re gonna do in life and what jobs you can get. Gender as well, women aren’t seen the same as men.”

 Although this is still an unfortunate reality that exists in Bolivia, there are other aspects of his trip that had an uplifting influence on his life.

One was the notion of taking care of people without them having to ask–a kind of unconditional love. In the United States, Trust comments, “A common thing would be like, ‘No, do everything yourself and you get what you earn, and if you’re lazy you won’t get it… [In Bolivia] It’s like ‘Aight, I care for you, I’m gonna do this for you because I know you would do the same thing back.’ Taking that approach to life, you know? ‘I’m gonna give this to you,’ and they’re just like, ‘Wow, if I don’t give something back to you I’m gonna give that something to someone else.’ So it’s either you pay it back or you pay it forward.”

Equipped with his experiences from his trip, Trust has started a fellowship at a private non-profit middle school in Boston for kids from underprivileged backgrounds. The best part? These kids get to go for free. Pretty cool.

Viajar. Aprender. Retribuir a la comunidad. Quién sabe a cuántos estudiantes Zach va a inspirar.

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Canciones Chingonas Para El Espiritu Revolucionario ~Hechas Por Mujeres~

The following list was made to give space to mujeres that are not often recognized in the music scene. These songs are meant to inspire people into consciousness about the troubles and beauty around us. These lyrics and musical creations are important as they differentiate from the often harmful or male dominated messages given in today’s music scene and demonstrate that music can, in fact, be revolutionary.

 

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  1.  Alais Clay – “Coals Into Diamonds” (Video)

“I know my heart is ready. My aim is steady. In the book of time I ascribed my name already. You can’t help it once you finally hear the call to rise up and add to the writing on the wall. The tapestry of humankind, animal kind. An epic tale of struggle and love overtime. Passed on and living deep in your mind and if you truly seek you shall find it.”

 

  1.  Alais Clay – “Never Gonna Hush Us” (Video)

Yo there’s devils responsible for conflict. There in our churches, our school and tour governments. The EMA and FDA they’re running it.They tried to disconnect us but we run with it…”

 

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  1.      Ana Tijoux – “La Rosa de Los Vientos” (Video)

 Si yo he nacido afuera estoy bien orgullosa. Si tengo sangre indígena mejor porque es hermosa.”

 

  1.      Ana Tijoux – “Anti Patriarca” (Video)

“No submisa ni obediente. Mujer fuerte y surgiente. Independiente y valiente. Romper las cadenas de lo indiferente. No pasiva ni oprimida. Mujer linda que da vida. Emancipada en atutonomia. Anti patriarca y alegria.”
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  1.  Oshun- “Gyenyame” (Video)

I am the love and I am the beauty. Protection of a mother but sometimes I can get moody. Especially when my children forget that there’s work to be done . Ignoring the truth of the Supreme One

Your greed and irreverence has dried me out. Rebel or prepare for eternal drought.

 

  1.  Oshun – “#” (Video)

“They got us praising their flag and we praising white Jesus. I praise my Allegiance. The season for grievance. And silence and credence. And faith and prestige. Ignorance for convenience. It’s over. I’m done keeping my composure. It’s time to get loud. I said fuck what I’m allowed! Fuck making them proud!”

 

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  1.  Gabylonia – “Abuso de Poder” (Video)

Ya Basta. Respeten a los cuidanos. Somos humanos que ustedes tratan como gusanos.”

 

  1.  Gabylonia – “Tirano” (Video)

“Y si ellos no tienen cajones yo si tengo mis ovarios.”

 

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  1.  Otep – “Confrontation” (Video)

 My religion of resistance. Challenging everything. Radicals and dissonance of creativity. We are the children of the siege you hide in this rich man’s war where the poor just die.”

 

  1.  Otep – “Rise, Rebel, Resist” (Video)

“Do we sit still?. Under Attack. Or do we start pushing back? Rise. Rebel. Resist. Make a fist. Resist!”

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11 Great Quotes by Octavio Paz

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Octavio Paz (1914 – 1998) was a Mexican poet, writer, and diplomat. He published his first poems in 1931 at the age of 17.   El laberinto de la soledad, perhaps his most renown work, was published in 1950. Paz serves as ambassador to India from 1962 until 1968 when he resigned in protest of the massacre of Tlatelolco. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990.

 

Octavio Paz’s style is abstract, profound, and distinctly creative. In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Paz stated that the central purpose of his works is to search for the present, which is itself a search for reality. Here are 11 of Paz’s notable quotes:

 

  1. ON SOCIETY & POETRY

 

“There can be no society without poetry, but society can never be realized as poetry, it is never poetic. Sometimes the two terms seek to break apart. They cannot.”

 

  1. ON ART

 

“Art is an invention of aesthetics, which in turn is an invention of philosophers… What we call art is a game.”

 

  1. ON HISTORY

 

“History has the cruel reality of a nightmare, and the grandeur of man consists in his making beautiful and lasting works out of the real substance of that nightmare. Or, to put it another way, it consists in transforming the nightmare into vision; in freeing ourselves from the shapeless horror of reality–if only for an instant–by means of creation.”

 

  1. ON BEING AWARE OF OUR HISTORY

 

“To become aware of our history is to become aware of our singularity…The past reappears because it is a hidden present.”

 

  1. ON PROGRESS

 

“Progress has peopled history with the marvels and monsters of technology but it has depopulated the life of man. It has given us more things but not more being.”

 

  1. ON SOLITUDE

 

“Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone.”

 

  1. ON LOVE

 

“To love is to undress our names.”

 

  1. ON THE SINGULARITY OF TEXTS

 

“Every text is unique and, at the same time, it is the translation of another text. No text is entirely original because language itself, in its essence, is already a translation…all texts are original because every translation is distinctive. Every translation, up to a certain point, is an invention and as such it constitutes a unique text.”

 

  1. ON MODERNITY

 

“I discovered that modernity is not outside but within us. It is today and the most ancient antiquity; it is tomorrow and the beginning of the world; it is a thousand years old and yet newborn. It speaks in Nahuatl, draws Chinese ideograms from the 9th century, and appears on the television screen… We pursue modernity in her incessant metamorphoses yet we never manage to trap her…We embrace her and she disappears immediately: it was just a little air…We are left empty-handed. Then the doors of perception open slightly and the other time appears, the real one we were searching for without knowing it: the present, the presence.”

 

  1. ON WRITERS AND READERS

 

“I don’t believe that there are dangerous writers: the danger of certain books is not in the books themselves but in the passions of their readers.”

 

  1. ON THE WORLD AS A CONVERSATION

 

“I thought that the world was a vast system of signs, a conversation between giant beings. My actions, the cricket’s saw, the star’s blink, were nothing but pauses and syllables, scattered phrases from that dialogue. What word could it be, of which I was only a syllable? Who speaks the word? To whom is it spoken?”

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We are all Ferguson. We are all Ayotzinapa.

On October 22, 2014 Black and Brown UCLA students joined forces to stand against police brutality and to demand justice for the 43 disappeared students of Mexico.

The students met in Meyerhoff Park in front of Kerckhoff Hall at around noon.  The rally began with a brief introduction to the issues being discussed and was followed by a moment of silence for those who have died at the hands of the authorities.  Then various participants took turns reading the names of those who have been killed by police in the United States as well as the names of the 43 missing Mexican students.

The demonstration consisted of displaying artistic representations of tombstones with pictures of Black and Brown youth who have been killed by police.  The students also placed photos of the students from the Escuela Normal Rural of Ayotzinapa in Guerrero, Mexico next to the tombstones.

In addition, other participants took the initiative of writing chalkboard messages on the walls of Kerckhoff Hall in solidarity with the protest.  However, UCLA administration immediately requested a cleaning service to wash out the messages, even before the students finished writing them.  Out of consideration for the worker, the students decided to help him clean the walls and wash out the messages they had themselves written.

At the end of the demonstration, everyone was invited to join the march in Downtown Los Angeles for the National Day Against Police Brutality.  Meanwhile in Mexico, thousands of people around the entire nation marched for the students of Ayotzinapa.

Here are pictures from yesterday’s demonstration at UCLA.


Created with flickr slideshow.
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Getty Funds Extensive Latin American Art Project in Southern California

Getty_Center_2The influence of Latin American art in the Southern California scene has always been present, and it seems people are starting to take notice. Recently, The Getty Foundation announced that it will be investing $5 million dollars for its yearly Pacific Standard Time project that will focus on Latin American art and its influence in the Southern California art scene. The Getty Foundation will be giving grants to a variety of Southern California museums and institutions to plan exhibitions that will focus on Latin American art to display in 2017. A great amount of research and resources will be invested in this project, which is something new since focus on Latin American art has not been very prominent in the California area.

Grant recipients will be presenting their Latin American exhibits through a variety of methods and with a variety of focuses as well. Some museums will be focusing on individual Latin American artists, specific time periods, specific countries, movements and many other aspects of the broad Latin American art realm.

UCLA’s very own Chicano Studies Research Center has received a $210,000 grant to have an exhibit at LACMA titled Home. This exhibit will focus on about 30 and more different Latin American artists from the 1950’s to present. Home will focus on the intersectionality of being an American and Latin American and the binary of what home means to such artists. There will be a variety of topics such as that of belonging, nationalism, and the way that Latin American and American methods plays directly into these artists’ pieces.

The Fowler Museum at UCLA has also received $170,000 in funding and will be having an exhibition titled The Roads that Lead to Bahia: Visual Arts and the Emergence of Brazil’s Black Rome. It focuses on African inspired arts of Bahia in Brazil and the manner in which they have had a strong presence in El Salvador. Taking note of the complex national, ethnic, racial, and religious aspect of Afro-Brazilian art in El Salvador and expanding parts of the world will allow the Fowler to further examine the importance of Latin American art at a more international level.

Another Los Angeles recipient will be the Hammer Museum who has received $225,000 in funding to bring an exhibit on Women artists in Latin America from the 60’s to 80’s. This focus has been inspired by the Women’s Rights Movement that will bring about varous artistic media from about 80 artists from 12 countries in the exhibit titled The Political Body: Radical Women in Latin American Art 1960–1985.

 The Getty’s decision to focus on Latin America is great news for the Southern California art scene as there has never been a strong devotion to acknowledging and analyzing the manner in which Latin American Art impacts Southern California. Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA will allow the link between these arts to be made more visible and, most importantly, LA/LA has the potential to create a larger awareness and recognition of how Latino/Latin American art has changed and continues to change the dynamics of Southern California.

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Outraged Demonstrators Demand the Return of Ayotzinapa Students

On October 9th, about 35 demonstrators met in front of the Los Angeles Mexican Consulate, located near Macarthur Park, demanding justice for the 43 disappeared Mexican students in the state of Guerrero. These students were taken by the municipal police of Iguala and members of the criminal organization, Guerreros Unidos.

On September 26th, students from the Normal Rural School from Ayotzinapa were assaulted by municipal police officers. The students were headed to the city of Iguala in public buses to raise funds for their school until they were intercepted. In the assault, police killed 6 students and wounded at least 25.

Days later, some burned and dismembered bodies were found in various pits located in the hills of Iguala. Guerrero’s chief prosecutor stated that at least 17 of the 28 bodies in the pits pertain to the normalista students that disappeared, but there are reports that more tests are being ran to identify the bodies. Still, the 43 students are currently missing. The school is known for being an educational institution whose students actively organize manifestations against unjust policies and corrupt governments.

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The collective of activists from various organizations in Los Angeles began the demonstration at 11:00 am. With a microphone in hand, speakers expressed their grievances toward the Mexican authorities for their negligence and complicity in the disappearance of the students.

“This is not the first time that the government attacks its own people and kills our own sons, our students. Have we forgotten? Have we forgotten the year 68? Who remembers it?” said Lilia Trujillo to the crowd of protesters.

Lilia Trujillo lived in Guerrero for 25 years. While studying in the University of Chilpancingo as a biology major, she met “estudiantes normalistas” from the Normal Rural School from Ayotzinapa and described them as prominent social fighters.

“They have fought, they have manifested, and they fund their own education because the government does not cover their educational expenses,” she said.

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After several protesters spoke, Assigned Counsel Juan Carlos Mendoza Sánchez came out to address the protesters. The crowd argued with Sánchez about his responsibilities to the events in Iguala until he agreed to sign a letter addressed to Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto that repudiates the crimes of the state and municipal government in Guerrero against the normalista students. The letter also made a list of demands, among them the resignation of current governor of Guerrero, Ángel Heladio Aguirre Rivero, thorough investigation of the assassination of the students, and punishment towards the culpable.

Jali Mejia, a member of the student activist group Yo Soy 132 from Los Angeles (which originated in Mexico as a result of student’s inconformity to the Mexican political system) and a native to the state of Veracruz, retrieved the letter signed by Sánchez. She hopes that the protest will bring attention the repression that is happening in Mexico.

“If the government will not change current situation, then the people have to take responsibility to make these changes,” she said.

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After the signing of the letter, Ana Quintero, named all the missing students. Each time a student was named the crowd lifted their fist and chanted “En pie de lucha!”

This demonstration was one of many others that spread throughout various cities in the world including Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Bogota, and London. There has also been protests and indignation in Mexico, including San Cristobal de las Casas, where Zapatistas mobilized in a silent march.