¡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

Reflections from Election Day 2016

Photo by Mitchell Haindfield

Within a few hours, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. La Gente’s staff reflects on their initial reactions to Trump’s unexpected victory.

 

Kassandra Aldana

I’ll be honest: I cried. It wasn’t so much for myself, but it was for the millions who live in states that don’t protect human rights. I cried for the people who will not have the support Californians have shown each other. I cried because I can imagine fathers, mothers, children, etc. living each second in fear, hiding in some small, enclosed room, praying not to be prey. It isn’t just immigrants who are being targeted: it’s everyone. So, no, I wasn’t too happy about the results.

 

Anakaren Andrade

When I first realized who the new president was going to be I was devastated. I kept hoping that what was on the screen would change but it never did. My heart was broken and I began to cry. I couldn’t believe that somebody who had continuously shown so much hate was elected as America’s president.

Was this really what most of the country felt? Did the country I was born in hate me and others like me? My parents came here in search of a better life and have worked hard ever since. Was this how America was repaying them?

I couldn’t help but feel anger, fear and, sadness. I spent the first few days trying to cope and kept myself informed. It didn’t take long before I started to see people mobilizing and start protesting.

I was happy to see that many people did not agree with the hate and were willing to protect their communities. This gave me hope. I have spent time ever since trying to keep myself and others informed about our resources and the actions we can take to prevent policies that take away our rights. It is up to us to protect our rights and make sure this administration knows we matter and that are powerful.

 

Armando Berumen

I’m surprised and worried. When Donald Trump first began his campaign a lot of people took it as a joke. They argued that there was no possibility of him winning the Republican party’s nomination, that America wasn’t that stupid.

He obtained the nomination.

His campaign shifted toward winning the election. Again, the skepticism abounded. Now they argued there wasn’t any chance of winning the electoral college. Look at where we’re at now.

The skepticism is now aimed at his proposed actions of deporting millions of humans across the border. Now we hear “There’s no way he’ll deport those people.” But what Donald Trump shows us is that no matter how much we deny him, he has a record of getting shit done, he’s not a joke.

It’s time to brush off the denial and prepare ourselves for the political disarray to come. There is no time for skepticism. America has elected a man that embodies everything the political left fights against and it’s time for all of Trump’s detractors to organize if we want to oppose this presidential administration.

 

Kimberly Caal

When I walked into my room, my roommate was watching the election livestream. All I wanted to do was take a nap and have the election be over, but it was too late. The race was over and all I could do was cry in my bed.

When Trump started talking, I felt such strong emotions towards everything that it made me physically ill. I didn’t call my parents because I didn’t know what to say to them. When I saw my dad again, I just hugged him and we stayed silent.

I think what really helped was the rally that started happening right after he won, but what made it worse was when I looked at social media. I couldn’t go online without feeling those strong emotions. One of my professors has us think of how this new presidency might shape our history and how the past can teach us how to overcome future obstacles.

All I want to do is fight back, but I find everything so draining. Some people are like, “Get over it.” But from now on, I will wake up every morning fearful that my community and I are at risk.

 

Julio Chavez

My professor described the results of this past election as a “political earthquake.”

You see, we never really see the earthquake coming. Looking back to that morning, I remember feeling so confident about Clinton’s success. Later that night, as the results poured in, I felt as if I was dreaming. I felt fear. I was scared of the uncertainty.

What would happen to my parents? What would happen to my Abuelita, who just recently obtained her visa? What would happen to my undocumented family and friends who were attending universities?After the election, the protests began. I had friends that critiqued the protests. They argue that protesting would do nothing and that it was just an excuse to be rowdy. I disagree. Sure expressing ourselves might not change the outcome of the election, but it will definitely change its meaning. I know that in the next four years there will be art. Something beautiful will be born from this. Juntos somos fuertes.

 

Elena Diebel

Trump,

You disgust us. Every fiber in our collective being revolts against you. Everything about you screams phony from your “Cheeto” tan to your sickening campaign slogan. Though you are blinded by hate and your deep-seated fears, we are clear-eyed and ready fight you. EVERY. STEP. OF. THE. WAY.

 

Elizabeth Garcia

November 8, 7:43 P.M. I receive an optimistic “Ya vote mija” text. My mom’s enthusiasm for voting relieves the pain I can feel beginning to drill a hole in my head, as I worry about how awfully this night can end. I carry on with whatever distraction has topped my agenda for the hour.  

9:22 P.M. I receive a melancholic “Perdio Hillary” text. I assure my mom that it will be hours before we can be sure, but as the hours go on I lose hope for the milagro we had prayed for.

11:00 P.M. My roommates and I are in a state of disbelief. No amount of cussing, groaning, or Tweeting can express the disappointment I feel.  This is not the America my mother voted for.

November 9, 12:07 A.M. The Daily Bruin tweets about a giant student protest headed toward Westwood. Frustrated and hopeless, I head out with my roommate, and we chase down a crowd of equally disillusioned youngsters and chant alongside them. Nothing may change as we wave our Mexican flags in the air, but this cathartic experience is the only comfort we may feel tonight.

November 23, 7:22 P.M. My city looks the same, but it is also somehow uglier, as I see the world in its most grotesque form. Leaves invade the sidewalk and remind me of the quick passage of time. I yearn for the next four years to breeze by like the blur that is November 2016.

 

Rosa Garcia

Dear Trump,

It saddens me to see the brokenness within each and every one of us since you were elected. I am now aware of the fear and uncertainty in my people’s heart.

I see the value we place on money. We place more value on money than we place on people and our Earth.

Money and Conflict. I see a division that is very wide, and you as a leader are responsible to care for everyone living here, yet you create more division with hateful comments.

Brokenness.

I see a family that fears for the day that their benefits will be cut off. A family that fears being separated. I see people divided over issues of race, politics, and ideologies. Despite this brokenness, I know that we as a people will emerge from the brokenness. We will rise and this brokenness gives me hope for the day will be at peace with one another. The first step began when you awakened us. Thank you for letting us become aware of the broken world; now we are awake and can take steps to change it.

 

Victoria Garica Lecuona

One year ago I sat in my classroom in Mexico City.

We watched Trump’s speeches and analyzed the rhetoric that he used to motivate Americans to vote for him. We sat awestruck as he called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals,” questioning how someone could maintain such a fixated and stereotypical view of migrants in 2016.

As Trump began to gain more popularity, my peers and I helplessly sat watching the creation of more and more hateful opinions about Mexicans. One year later, as I settled comfortably into my new life at UCLA, I was somehow convinced that Hillary Clinton would win the election. I was convinced that even though Donald Trump had rallied such a massive amount of support, that his inhumane proposals would prevent him from winning the election.

Nevertheless, as I sat with the rest of my Latino friends on November 8th watching the election unfold, I began to understand that the outcome of the election was not going to be the one that I expected nor wanted. I returned to my room at night only to hear students screaming and banging on doors in response to the election results. As I watched a group of angry students make their way to a demonstration in Westwood, I envisioned how normal it would be to see this type of behavior in Mexico. Still, it became clear that the United States was about to change drastically.

 

Teresa Maldonado

Watching the election results come in, I was hurt because I kept thinking about my dad, who voted for the very first time in this election and was so excited but now, it seems, that the country he tries hard to be part of doesn’t want him.  But now that the time has passed, I am no longer hurt I am angry and I choose to fight against the national path so many people voted for.

Because I know that the country that I live in is so much greater than what our president-elect and the people who voted for him believe.

 

Jocelyn Martinez

Like so many others, on the morning of the election I was certain Hillary Clinton would be victorious. I’d mailed in my ballot a few days earlier, proudly wore my “I Voted” sticker, and eagerly anticipated hearing of Trump’s defeat.

The news I desperately craved never came.

Instead of celebrating the defeat of hatred, misogyny, racism, sexism, ableism, and the normalization of sexual violence, I cried.

I felt powerless.

The days following the election were eerie and haunting; however, I quickly found strength. Bumping into friends on campus, we all made sure everyone was okay. Professors allowed for discussion and expressed support for their students.

Despite the horrifying election results, I found further beauty within my communities.

 

Carmen Toscano

When I found out Trump was elected president, my initial reaction was shock; I could not believe that this racist, xenophobic, misogynistic man was going to represent me as my leader.

I felt a surge of emotions at the same time: scared for my undocumented mother, anger and concern for the ways women would now be treated, and most importantly disillusioned with this country. I knew this country was rooted in hatred and racism but could not believe that so much hate was still in people’s hearts throughout this election.

I was upset and went outside my dorm to protest that night in Westwood. I felt sane to know that many people were just as upset as me. I knew my feelings were shared by countless others and that made me feel okay again. I just hope that Trump is a man that can lead us to a better future.

 

Kristian Vasquez

I was sitting in a room during a meeting of one of the organizations I am involved with. A quick look at the states Trump was winning was a very scary and real feeling that was met with a strong sense of disconnect.

But my meeting went on and everyone’s energies were felt in the room. After the meeting, I could do nothing but process what happened, understanding that real systemic racism was now blatant.

But I knew from the start that work in addressing, unpacking, and contesting these systems of oppression would not stop.

Now, birthed from the flames of white supremacy, we’ve obtained an incentive to continue to work toward our liberation and self-determination as a Raza.

Navigating UCLA sin nuestras Madres (a series): -Xillona Pero Xingona?: Un Amor Sin Fronteras-

We walked onto the UCLA campus for the first time: juntas. My mom’s eyes wander but she stays put, too afraid to explore, so I pull her along. I know what she’s feeling because I feel it too: do I belong here? But I stay quiet and pretend to be overly excited: her anxiety eases.

“Mira Ma, hay que tomarnos una foto allí.”

We pose in front of a huge UCLA sign. Esa es mi madre bien sonriente, bien chingona.

We then go from workshop to workshop, all in English, as if to remind us that this is not meant for us. Pero estoy acostumbrada, so I quietly translate in my mom’s ears, sometimes too engaged in what is being said that I forget to catch her up to speed. My mom smiles and nods her head as the speaker continues.

It is the end of Bruin Welcome Day and as we stand by Janss Steps my mom looks at me: “Ay mija que bonito esta la escuela, me da orgullo. Yo también me tengo que poner las pilas, que mensa soy que no puedo ni entender lo que hablan.”

My heart breaks. Ma, que no sabes que tu inteligencia is not measured by your inability to speak English. Your brain flourishes with knowledge: respeto, amor, sinceridad. Things all these people you call professional lack. Ma que no ves que la educación que tu me diste es la única razón que estoy aquí.

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Now I am halfway through my first quarter at UCLA and feel the distance growing between us. I do not want it to happen, mi corazón se sostiene pero no es suficiente.

I called my mom to ask about what she thinks of me attending UCLA and how it has affected our relationship. She laughs:“Pues ya no me hablas. Eso es lo que más siento, que ya no tienes tiempo. Pero me acostumbro y se que es porque estás estudiando. Son cosas de la vida, los hijos no son para siempre. Pero pues veo que ya estás muy ocupada,” she says sarcastically.

I know she is kidding, but she is right. I do not call her enough. It is not that I forget, it’s that most days I am hurting so much due to school that I feel like hearing your voice would only increase my pain. It would make me want to run back home to my safe space: to you.

I laugh as I ask if she misses me:

“No como no. Todos los días, pero ya no lloro,” she says as her voice cracks.

I miss her. I miss her so much sometimes no se que hacer. Extraño llegar a casa, y ver tu cara después de un dia largo. Abrazarte para recuperar las pilas. I need you most days mom, pero no te puedo decir sin preocuparte mas de lo que ya estas.

“Tambien me paso pensando en ti, si comes, si estás fuera tarde, es que tienes que comer ok Maritza. Estás estudiando mucho y necesitas las fuerzas.”

I have been going through this strange feeling of wanting to go home to my mom forever, but then realizing that I have to keep hustlin’ at this institution for her. Recently at a La Gente meeting I shared with a group of Mujeres that I had been missing my mom and wanted to write a piece about: 1) How higher education affected mother-daughter relationships and 2) How these Mujeres were now navigating UCLA without their madres.

I did not expect what was to follow: all the Mujeres collectively sighed and nodded their heads. Soon each of them started sharing a little of how they had been coping with the physical and emotional distance from their mothers. I then asked if they would like to participate in my article: they agreed with full enthusiasm.

So I begin by opening up a little about my experience and will continue this series by looking at different Mujeres’ stories as they share how they are navigating UCLA sin sus madres.

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La Bienvenida a California

¡Bienvenidos a California!

 

¡Bienvenidos al ardiente lirio!

¡Qué surreal! ¡Que genial! ¿Estaré dormido?

Maquilladas en su vientre triunfan las letras luminosas

ahogadas en luz tierna, tierna luz, deletreando

H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D, filmando en suspenso y drama y ¡acción!

 

Y estilando alboroto fino, mientras súbitamente

palpita la gran divinidad; el sueño americano

soltando un himno melódico e hipnótico

desde los fondos del universo subliminal.

 

La joyería exhibiéndose en el rio rubí y la

orquestra de cameras exclamando… ¡clic-clic-clic!

¡Hay! ¡Hay! ¡Casi Quedo Ciego por la inspiración relumbrante!

Simultáneamente, brilla el glamour de falacias, de sueños

de “Oscares” y “Grammies” que buscan dueños.

 

¡Bienvenidos al luciente cristal!

Sus lágrimas risueñas acarician las venas sonrientes

acomodadas por su sabana estrellada de luces relajantes.

Su espejo divino extendiendo su invitación a su imperio indefinido

salado, azulado, irresistible, monumental, majestoso.

 

¡Qué frescura! ¡Qué libertad!

El rey viento soplando brisa aerodinámica corriendo entre la V,

mientras la burbujeante espuma de su yacusi topa entre las piernas mansitas.

En su cintura fina, en su Mina de Oro, siente masajes cuando los chiquitines

emocionados intenta de ingeniar a Atlantis.

 

¡California Tesoro Extraordinario!

 

¡Bienvenidos al horizonte lozano!

Relajante aguacate verde, tierno coco blanco, agradable

mango amarillito, un clima con saliva pero que no muerde,

ni reseca, ni quema, ni congela.

 

Gracioso es zambullirse con el Omega-3

o esquiar las pirámides verdes afinadas por su sabiduría.

La diversidad goteando elegancia y captivando la nostalgia en sus zonas

culturales. ¡Viva Ciudad México! ¡Viva Ciudad China! ¡Viva Ciudad Corea!

Explosivas de color, creando mundos bienaventurados

y aspiraciones infinitas de felicidad inolvidable.

 

¡Bienvenidos al portón intelectual!

¡A la tierra fértil botando besos!

Abriendo sus puertas encandiladas al

universitario del saber multimillonario

que aprecia el arcoíris bruñido de voces autónomos

Socráticas, Einstenios, y Quijotescas.

 

¡California Tesoro Extraordinario!

 

¡Bienvenidos al estado dorado!

Adorado, adecuado, gloriado, iluminado,

con diamantes reflejando de su

dorada columna bañada en serotonina.

Fuegos pirotécnicos brillando en la negra

oscuridad, borrando a la depresiva y gris soledad.

 

¡California! ¡Gran Líder de la Nación!

Tu dulce sonrisa tejiendo un manto de memorias inmaculadas.

¡Tú riza caramelizada! ¡Oh Dios! ¡Tú riza caramelizada! Soltando una cariñosa

melodía orgullosa. Caminas entre la mañana bella como un lucero detallando

con humor festivo que suaviza el rojo interior puro y palpitante.

 

Lirio, cristal, intelectual, California tesoro extraordinario

California, tesoro, cristal, intelectual, lozano, dorado,

California, tesoro, intelectual, dorado, lozano

lozano, dorado, tesoro

tesoro, dorado

¡Tesoro!

Press Release: Statewide Strike of the University of California to Impact Students and Public

Below is a press release of the University of California workers strike that is taking place today on the Los Angeles and San Diego UC campuses. The workers, who are represented by Teamsters Local 2010, are protesting unfair labor practice violations. UC workers held a similar demonstration in November protesting insufficient wage increases.

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Daddy Smiles

I picked up daddy smiles at the local supermarket

I am the pinto bean daughter shoveling for a bag in between all the clattering carts

and the women picking vegetables and the babies stationed

plastic bags swishing, hands picking, eyes observing for flaws

 

Daddy you elbow through the people for that one dollar fix

You search for the women in the white apron who shovels the oven fresh bread of your delights

sign reads: PAN CALIENTE

 

You pack and seal the exuding bread,

What an art it is

How delicately your thunderous hands move

What a shock it is

For those hands live on the imprinted walls of mama’s home

And live fixed in my eyes like warning signs

He moves to and fro

 

What an unruly place for such an exchange,

For the warmth of the father burns, burns, and suffocates like the perspiring bread at the mercy of your terrible brown fingers.

The only warmth I have known came in grocery bags packed by your vision daddy

walks to a cart among the potatoes

 

There is mama contemplating the meats!

You find me debating the potatoes, you find me in my quiet gaze….

y cambiamos sonrisas a medias.

no words spoken

 

Among aisles and aisles of pre-packed angry disillusions

Mama and I come to and fro to this daily routine

You conspire your wicked disguise as you push through the meats, the dairy, and the canned aisles of your neatly tangled rage.

There is Mama!  Cashier register rings

 

But there you are for the peaches,

Oh those mangoes who deliciously lie for you!

A daughter’s curtsey rages inside me as you crucify the moment with your tobacco breath, “adios mija.”

….at the local supermarket I pick up my daddy smiles.

Time elapsed two minutes

Same School, Different Stories: Getting to Know UCLA’s Non Angelenos

Students travel from all over the world to attend and graduate from an institution like UCLA. This is exactly what makes it such a prestigious university. Students come here with different majors, different cultures, and different experiences, but all with one thing in common: a motivation to succeed.

First year political science major Alejandro Cepeda traveled 2,000 miles to attend UCLA. “My experience has been pretty cool. Living in a big city like LA is great. Everyone wants to come here,” says the South Florida native.

Fortunately for Cepeda, it did not take a lot to convince his parents he was attending school in California.

My parents already dealt with it with my older brother. They were obviously sad about everything but they completely supported me [because] it was to improve my education,” he says.

“My family went to college in Colombia. My parents didn’t finish over there but my grandparents did. It’s a different system there but my brother and I are the first to go to a university in the United States.”

Though his family experienced education through a slightly different educational system, it allowed him to learn the importance of reaching for higher education.

Cepeda also mentions that moving away from home wasn’t a surprise to anyone around him. “I’ve never planned to stay at home in the sense that I would be a commuter, I never wanted to do that. But I always thought I’d go out of state because I have siblings that went to out of state, so it was just normal for me. It wasn’t this crazy idea,” he says.

He has embraced all that UCLA has to offer even taking the step to pledge for Nu Alpha Kappa, a Latino-Based fraternity on campus.

“Being separated from my family can be a bad thing but it’s also a good thing because I get to live on my own. I do everything by myself. It’s a learning experience for me,” he says.

Just a slightly further trip, first-year economics major Arthur Costa traveled 12 hours and 5,5000 miles on a plane from São Paulo, Brazil to spend his next four years at UCLA.

He is very happy having chosen UCLA to continue his education. “My experience has been pretty great, actually. I really like it here. I love California. I thought it was the best state to come to,” he says.

Costa applied to schools from all over the world but narrowed his options to schools in the U.S.

He was also fortunate enough to be influenced by his parents to attend college. Costa is not new to the idea of pursuing education considering that both his parents went to college in Brazil.

Though he is far from home, he hopes to go back to Brazil during the summer and intern at a Brazilian bank. He will definitely continue becoming a competitive candidate for graduate school.

On another note, first-year political science major Cindy Montoya had a different experience coming down to Los Angeles as a California native.

“The move was a little difficult for me because I was so attached to my family, but I got past the homesickness within the first days I got here,” she says.

Montoya traveled all the way from Salinas which is approximately 5 hours away from UCLA. “I come from a big city up in NorCal but nothing compares to the size of LA so everything is new to me.”

Even though she is a first-generation student, her parents continue to emphasize the importance of achieving higher education.

“My parents only finished high school and my sister is just starting her second year at Sacramento State University. Sometimes it feels like I’m doing everything on my own but I know it’ll be worth it for my family and myself,” she says. “My experience has been really great so far. Everyone is very friendly, the campus is beautiful, and L.A. is honestly amazing. It’s like a whole different world in SoCal.”

This just goes to show that UCLA has a diverse set of people with different stories. These three students are living proof that the Latino community is continuously fighting battles and still manage to represent our community in prestigious universities across the world.