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Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

How many of us knew that eighty years ago, in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, children of Spanish Republicans, facing the danger posed by the fascist government of Francisco Franco, were provided refuge in Mexico by President Lázaro Cárdenas?  463 children sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, landing in Veracruz on June 10, 1937.  After a being warmly welcomed, these child refugees were put on a train to Morelia.  Most never returned to Spain.  In the brief interview below, one of the still-living refugees, 87 year-old Amparo Rius Munoz, offers lessons for today.

http://players.brightcove.net/665003303001/4k5gFJHRe_default/index.html?videoId=5467422137001

The documentary, The Children of Morelia – Crossroads and Perspectives will be shown at the Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia (Morelia International Film Festival), October 2017.

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The headline in the New York Times reads, She Showed Up Yearly to Meet Immigration Agents. Now They’ve Deported Her.

For eight years, Guadalupe García de Rayos had checked in at the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office here, a requirement since she was caught using a fake Social Security number during a raid in 2008 at a water park where she worked.

Every year since then, she has walked in and out of the meetings after a brief review of her case and some questions.

But not this year.

Despite a night of protests and a legal appeal, this 35-year old mother of two, who has lived, worked, and played by the arbitrary U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rules — and who hasn’t lived in Mexico since she was 14 — was separated from her husband and children and dropped off in Nogales, Mexico early this morning.

I’m so sad and angry at the mean-spirited and grand-standing senselessness of it all.  Right now, all I can do is cry and post this heartbreaking music video, Ice El Hielo by La Santa Cecilia.

Y’all feeling safer up there in el norte?

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In the last five years one million Mexicans residing in the US have returned to Mexico, including children and youth who were born or raised in the US.  Una Vida, Dos Países presents the stories of these transborder youth, highlighting their experiences living between two countries, cultures, languages and education systems, and exploring their parents’ decisions to return to their home country after living undocumented in the US.

Thirty seconds into the new documentary, Una Vida, Dos Países by Tatyana Kleyn, tears began welling up.  Set in Ciénaga de Zimatlán and Tlacolula de Matamoros, both in the central valley of Oaxaca, the places and faces were so very familiar and it hurt to hear the anguish in their voices and see the sadness in their eyes.

I love Oaxaca and, at this stage of my life, have chosen to immerse myself in a foreign culture.  However, these kids didn’t have a choice.  One day, they are normal “American” kids — going to school, playing with friends, speaking English in bustling towns and cities in the USA.  And the next day, they are uprooted from all that is familiar to find themselves “transfronterizos,” living in small rural pueblos bound by a millennia of tradition, surrounded by strangers who are speaking languages, Spanish and/or Zapoteco, they are either not fluent in or don’t know at all.  In addition, they are forced to navigate a school system that has little or no understanding of the culture shock they are experiencing.

What more can I say?

Early in the film, Melchor’s father says, “This is my family, this is my house, not a beautiful house, but when you want to come here, the door is open for you, for everybody.”  Oh, that governments would exhibit that same generous hospitality.

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The previously mentioned Tlacolulokos collective has brought their artistry and social commentary to a wall on the upper floor of the Casa de la Ciudad.  The mural, “Con el fuego en las manos” shows two young women, almost mirror images of each other or, perhaps, two sides of the same woman.

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The young women/woman wear the traditional clothing of San Bartolome Quialana, a village near Tlacolula de Matamoros, home of the Tlacolulokos collective.  Like communities throughout Oaxaca, much of the male population has migrated to the United States, in search of work leaving the women to carry on alone.

As the introduction to the exhibit on the Casa de la Ciudad website explains, With a critical view towards the current cultural context, Tlacolulokos group, headed by Darío Canul and Cosijoesa Cernas, seeks to question the idealized images of the Oaxacan culture, tourism product discourse, and insights from the reality currently experienced by the people of Oaxaca.

There are elements in her clothing belonging to the Latina culture of the southern United States, as the cholo bandana that she wears on her head, or the tattoos on her arms that add a critical and provocative tinge to this cultural mix, a product of migration.  [ Google translation, with a little help from yours truly]

One of the trademarks of  the Tlacolulokos group is the power their images acquire and the emotion they elicit by limiting the palette to black, white, and grays.  For more background and a better understanding of the mural, a video (en español) of the artists discussing their work can be found here.

“Con el fuego en las manos”  is scheduled to run until December 2015 at the Casa de la Ciudad (Porfirio Diaz No. 115, at the corner of Morelos in Oaxaca’s Historic District).  Hours are 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday through Sunday.

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According to the Indigenous Farmworker Study (IFS), there are approximately 165,000 indigenous Mexican farmworkers and their children living  in California — with a significant percentage coming from the state of Oaxaca.  Writer and photographer David Bacon has been photographing and interviewing indigenous Mexican migrants working in California’s agricultural fields for many years.  The following Truthout article is from his photo-documentary project, Living Under the Trees, sponsored by the California Council for the Humanities and California Rural Legal Assistance.

Young, at Work in the Fields

by David Bacon

(Photo: Bacon/After Image)

(Photo: Bacon/After Image)

Most young farm-workers in California are migrants from Mexico, especially the south of the country, where many people share an indigenous culture and language. Ricardo Lopez, living in a van with his grandfather in a store parking lot in Mecca, a tiny farmworker town in the Coachella Valley, says working as a migrant without a formal home was no surprise:

This is how I envisioned it would be working here with my grandpa and sleeping in the van. It’s hot at night, and hard to sleep well. There are a lot of mosquitoes, very few services, and the bathrooms are very dirty. At night there are a lot of people here coming and going. You never know what can happen; it’s a bit dangerous. But my grandfather has a lot of experience and knows how to handle himself. With the money I earn I’m going to help my mother and save the rest. I’ll be attending college in the fall at Arizona Western College—my first year. I want to have a good job, a career. I’m not thinking of working in the fields. Not at all. I look at how hard my grandfather has worked. I don’t want to do field work for the rest of my life because it’s so hard and the pay is so low.

Lopez describes the reality for farmworkers in California in a way that gives tangible meaning to the facts and numbers describing farmworker life. There are about 120,000 indigenous Mexican farmworkers in California. Counting the 45,000 children living with them, that is a total of 165,000 people. They are the most recent migrants from Mexico. They speak twenty-three languages, come from thirteen different Mexican states, and have rich cultures of language, music, dance, and food that bind their communities together.

<snip>  Click HERE to read full article.

This project is therefore a reality check. The idea is to give indigenous migrant communities a vehicle they can use to find support for dealing with the social problems they face, such as housing, low wages, and discrimination. This documentary work is not neutral. Its purpose is to help provide a means for people to organize and win support in a world that, at best, treats them as invisible, and at worst demonizes them. I used to be a union organizer, and this work is very similar. Social documentation not only has to have an engagement with reality, but should try to change it.

Click HERE to read full article.

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I’m SO done with this so-called, Polar Vortex!  I was supposed to fly into Albany, NY on Thursday night.  It’s now Saturday morning, I’ve gotten as far as Chicago, and killing time until tonight’s flight by sorting through sun-drenched, color-filled, warm-weather Oaxaca photos.  Even if the weather gods and goddesses are not cooperating, at least their cyber siblings are on the job providing WiFi — thus a new blog post.

Store front: Makedonia

This watch-repair, jewelry, and gifts (large or small) shop on Calle 20 del Noviembre is owned by Alekos Gatonas, originally from Macedonia.  He studied at the University of Chicago, met his Oaxaqueña wife, and eventually they moved to Oaxaca.  He and his family also own the event venue, “Zorba El Griego” and a Greek restaurant on the way to El Tule, “El Griego.”

By the way, “EΛΛΔΣ” translates into the Spanish word, “ellas,” which can be translated into English as “including.”

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Around this time of year, the gringo and Canadian (they are adamant they are NOT gringos) population in Oaxaca begins to grow — an increase that will last for the duration of winter.  Called “snowbirds” by the resident ex-pats, they are an eclectic and interesting crowd.  Among them are a couple of talented people with whom I have become acquainted —  San Francisco Bay Area based writer, Robert Adler (who, along with Jo Ann Wexler, publishes the invaluable, Viva Oaxaca) and Seattle photographer, Tom Feher.

Robert and Tom have embarked on an ambitious project interviewing and photographing undocumented immigrants on their arduous and dangerous journey from Mexico and Central America, en-route to El Norte.  The result is to be a traveling exhibition of 24 to 30 of near life-size images on narrow aluminum sheets designed to be hung from the ceiling and accompanied by a booklet with the biography of each immigrant.  The exhibition will be called, I Have a Name — the title coming from a neighbor of Tom’s, “who, having hired a Latino man to do some work, refused to call him by his right name and referred to him only as “the Mexican”, even though he was from Guatemala. ”

The decision to leave all that is known and loved for distant country and alien culture is not undertaken lightly.  The creators of this project hope, in the words of Robert, that the exhibit, “will convey what we’ve been learning firsthand–that it’s one thing to have a concept such as ‘migrant,’ ‘migrant worker,’ ‘undocumented worker,’ or ‘illegal alien,’ and quite another to know people as individuals with their own names, faces, life stories and dreams.”

This is an expensive project and Robert and Tom need your help to bring I Have a Name to fruition.  They have mounted a fundraising campaign on the crowd-finding site, Indiegogo.  Please consider helping them raise $25,000 before their November 25, 2013 deadline.

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Another revealing article by one of my favorite journalists, David Bacon

What real immigration reform would look like

Clue: It’s Not a New Guest Worker Program

By David Bacon

Oralia Maceda, an immigrant mother from Oaxaca, asked the obvious question recently. At a meeting, talking about the Senate immigration reform bill, she wanted to know why Senators would spend almost $50 billion on more border walls, yet show no interest in why people leave home to cross them.

This Congressional blindness will get worse as immigration reform moves to the House. It condemns U.S. immigration policy to a kind of punitive venality, making rational political decisions virtually impossible. Yet alternatives are often proposed by migrant communities themselves, and reflect a better understanding of global economics and human rights.

Rufino Dominguez, who now works for the Oaxacan state government, describes what Maceda knows from experience: “NAFTA forced the price of corn so low it’s not economically possible to plant a crop anymore. We come to the U.S. to work because there’s no alternative.” The reason for the fall in prices, according to Timothy Wise of the Global Development and Environment Institute, is that corn imports to Mexico from the U.S. rose from 2,014,000 to 10,330,000 tons from 1992 to 2008.

Mexico imported 30,000 tons of pork in 1995, the year NAFTA took effect, and 811, 000 tons in 2010. This primarily benefited one company, Smithfield Foods, which now sells over 25% of all the pork in Mexico. Mexico, however, lost 120,000 hog-farming jobs alone. The World Bank says extreme rural poverty jumped from 35% to 55% after NAFTA took effect due to “the sluggish performance of agriculture, stagnant rural wages, and falling real agricultural prices.”

Read full article HERE.

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Yesterday, in the midst of Guelaguetza festivities, Oaxaca learned of the death of one of her beloved artists.   A sculpture and painter, Alejandro Santiago was only 49 years old when he succumbed to a massive hear attack.

Image of Alejandro Santiago projected on screen at Homage

Image of Alejandro Santiago projected on the screen at today’s Homage

Perhaps his most important work resulted from a return to the Zapotec village of his birth, San Pedro Teococuilco, after many years away.  He was moved by the large numbers of men and women who had left, leaving it almost deserted.  Inspired and feeling the need to make a statement about what had happened to his pueblo, and countless others in Mexico, he created a massive exhibition of 2501 sculptures, an homage to those who had left, plus one — those who are yet to make the journey northward.

One of his 2501 Migrants from a 2012 exhibit along Macedonio Alcalá,

One of his 2501 Migrants from a 2012 exhibit along Macedonio Alcalá,

There was an Homage to Maestro Alejandro Santiago this morning at the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá.

Casket of Alejandro Santiago on the stage of Teatro Macedonio Alcalá

Casket of Alejandro Santiago on the stage of Teatro Macedonio Alcalá

And, according to Think Mexican, there will be a memorial “in the coming days at La Calera.”

For more photos from the 2501 Migrants exhibit, see my blog post The path of the migrant.

Update:  Valerie J. Nelson has written a lengthy tribute to Alejandro Santiago for the Los Angeles Times.

RIP, Maestro.

 

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Sunny, warm, and dry, Oaxaca’s sidewalks, mercados, restaurants, and zócalo are filled with “snowbirds” (the human variety) escaping the bone-chilling and wet wintry weather of el norte.  Alas, almost immediately after the previously mentioned “big move” next week, I’m heading in the opposite direction — to the bleak gray north for several weeks to visit family and friends in California (it’s not all bikini beaches and blue sky) and then east to celebrate my first grandchild’s first birthday — the best and maybe only reason to visit upstate New York in the dead of winter!  And, if previous return trips to el norte are a predictor, I’ll be missing the warmth and color of Oaxaca almost from the minute I step off the plane.

The “snowbirds” and I have the luxury of coming and going.  Some people do not.  One of my favorite journalists interviews a young Oaxaqueña trying to support her young daughter by working the fields in Madera, California.  As the title suggests, it is a poignant story…

The Only Job I Can Do–A Young Mother’s Farm Work Story

Editor’s Note: Lorena Hernandez is a young farm worker and single mother from Oaxaca, Mexico. Today she lives in Madera, Calif., with her daughter and aunt. She told her story to David Bacon.

hernandez_blueberries.jpg
Lorena Hernandez picking blueberries   [photo by David Bacon]

MADERA, Calif.–To go pick blueberries I have to get up at four in the morning. First I make my lunch to take with me, and then I get dressed for work. For lunch I eat whatever there is in the house, mostly bean tacos. Then the ritero, the person who gives me a ride to work, picks me up at 20 minutes to five.

I work as long as my body can take it, usually until 2:30 in the afternoon. Then the ritero gives me a ride home, and I get there by 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. By then I’m really tired.

Costs of Rides, Childcare on Little Pay

I pay $8 each way to get to work and back home. Right now they’re paying $6 for each bucket of blueberries you pick, so I have to fill almost three buckets just to cover my daily ride. The contractor I work for, Elias Hernandez, hooks us up with the riteros. He’s the contractor for 50 of us farm workers picking blueberries, and I met him when a friend of my aunt gave me his number.

<snip>

No Vision of My Future

I don’t have friends, just acquaintances from work. They don’t have responsibilities like I do, so they go out on the weekend. They share their stories with me because since I have a daughter, I don’t go out. I just stay at home.

I wash my daughter’s clothes on the weekends because during the week I’m so tired. There isn’t time to clean the house during the week either. That’s what we do on the weekends.

I don’t have a vision of my own future. I don’t really think about it. I know I want to work every day. I don’t think I’ll ever return to school because of my age. My job will be working in the fields. I’m at peace with my current situation. I would love to go back to school, but it’s too late for me. Perhaps one day.

Please read full story HERE.

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In the last month, several articles in the US press referencing Oaxaca have been called to my attention.  They aren’t the usual travel features enumerating the “10 must see sites,” “best places to stay,” and “local fare dining.”  Nor do they cater to the ever more popular fear mongering and demonization of Mexico and her citizens.  Instead, these articles provide a window on Oaxaca’s indigenous past and challenging present.

Triqui women sitting on a sidewalk

Triqui women and children in front of the Government Palace in Oaxaca de Juárez

From the June 15, 2012 New York TimesThe Past Has a Presence Here by Edward Rothstein.

OAXACA, Mexico — The past casts a sharp shadow here, wherever you look. You see it on mountaintop plateaus, where the ruins of ancient pyramidal staircases and capital-I-shaped ball fields hint at mysterious rituals that disappeared over a millennium ago.

<snip.

We are not dealing here with imagined reconstructions, but with the past’s palpable presence. And most of these ancient cities and monuments were abandoned some six centuries before the Spaniards plundered the region. After 80 years of archaeological research, their meanings are still unclear, though much has been written about Zapotec social hierarchies, gladiatorial-style games and stone carvings.

What is more clear is that remnants of those worlds also exist in the valley, where the slow-changing cultures of this buffeted but protected region still reflect Zapotec and Mixtec heritages. So here everything is plentiful that in the United States is rare: indigenous ruins, ancient languages, signs of direct lineage. And there is an edge to it all. Centers like Monte Albán are monuments to power and accumulated material wealth; they are also clearly evidence of a large-scale political organization, relics of perhaps the earliest state in the Americas.  [Read full article]

From California’s June 7, 2012 Monterey County Weekly, Native speakers and local missionaries work to save an indigenous Mexican language by Sara Rubin.

Gloria Moreno walks with a slight limp under the weight of the black messenger bag slung over her shoulder. It holds something of a botanical encyclopedia, petals and leaves gathered from the streets of Greenfield, which Moreno says help alleviate any number of ailments – pain, anxiety, weak bones.

Moreno says her collection is part of a medical tradition she began practicing as a teenager in Mexico. It was there, at 15, that she says she was instructed in a dream to take up herbal medicine.

Moreno dreamt her directive in Triqui de la baja, an indigenous language of the Copala region of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.

As native Triqui speakers disperse, leaving behind a notoriously violent region, there’s pressure both to preserve that language, and to leave it behind.

Of an estimated 40,000 Triqui speakers worldwide, about half of them are thought to have migrated away from Oaxaca, and as many as 10 percent live in the Salinas Valley.

<snip>

Moreno hopes for a generation of trilingual children, but many younger Triqui speakers are encouraged to trade their native tongue for English or Spanish, says a Salinas-based interpreter (who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal), because indigenous Mexicans are viewed as inferior. He trekked two hours to school from his childhood home in Oaxaca where he says he was bullied for being different.

“Because of the discrimination, parents don’t want their kids to learn [Triqui],” he says, “but then we lose tradition and culture.”

To reverse that, he hopes to get a grant or some cash to revive a bimonthly Triqui class piloted at the Greenfield Public Library two years ago. It drew about 35 students; of those, only a quarter were native speakers. The rest, mostly service providers, were there to learn Triqui.

“To speak Spanish, I used to think you had more value,” he says. “When I came here, I learned it is not that way. If you know three or four languages, you can explore and learn more.”

View Barbara Hollenbach’s Spanish-Triqui dictionary at www.sil.org/~hollenbachb/Posted.htm  [Read full article]

And finally from the May 28 Los Angeles Times, Epithet that divides Mexicans is banned by Oxnard school district, by Paloma Esquivel.

Rolando Zaragoza, 21, was 15 years old when he came to the United States, enrolled in an Oxnard school and first heard the term “Oaxaquita.” Little Oaxacan, it means — and it was not used kindly.

“Sometimes I didn’t want to go to school,” he said. “Sometimes I stayed to fight.”

“It kind of seemed that being from Oaxaca was something bad,” said Israel Vasquez, 23, who shared the same mocking, “just the way people use ‘Oaxaquita’ to refer to anyone who is short and has dark skin.”

Years later, indigenous leaders are fighting back against an epithet that lingers among immigrants from Mexico, directed at their own compatriots. Earlier this month the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project in Oxnard launched the “No me llames Oaxaquita” campaign. “Don’t call me little Oaxacan” aims to persuade local school districts to prohibit the words “Oaxaquita” and “indito” (little Indian) from being used on school property, to form committees to combat bullying and to encourage lessons about indigenous Mexican culture and history.

Indigenous Mexicans have come to the U.S. in increasing numbers in the last two decades. Some estimates now put them at 30% of California’s farmworkers. In Ventura County, there are about 20,000 indigenous Mexicans, most of whom are Mixtec from the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero who work in the strawberry industry, according to local organizers.

Many speak little or no Spanish and are frequently subjected to derision and ridicule from other Mexicans. The treatment follows a legacy of discrimination toward indigenous people in Mexico, said William Perez, a professor of education at Claremont Graduate University who has interviewed and surveyed numerous indigenous Mexican students.  [Read full article]

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And now a pause in the Semana Santa coverage…

The following article is part of the cover story project in the April 9 issue of The Christian Science MonitorWeekly magazine.  It’s long, but I encourage you to click on it and read the full article.

Home again in Mexico: Illegal immigration hits net zero

Tiny Tamaula is the new face of rural Mexico: Villagers are home again as the illegal immigration boom drops to net zero

By Sara Miller Llana, Staff writer / April 8, 2012

Tamaula, Mexico – At this time of year in this tiny rural outpost that sits on a mountainside in Guanajuato State, most able-bodied men are gone. They’re off plucking and cutting chicken in processing plants in Georgia or pruning the backyards of Seattle.

But this year, Pedro Laguna and his wife, Silvia Arellano, are clearing rocks from their yard to prepare a field for corn. They’ve returned home to Tamaula, Mexico, with their four young children, after 20 years in the United States working illegally. Pedro’s cousin Jorge Laguna and his brothers are planting garbanzo beans in the plot behind their father’s home. Their next-door neighbor Gregorio Zambrano is also home: One recent morning he badgered a visiting social worker for funds to start a honey=production enterprise.

Since the Monitor last visited here in 2007, a major demographic shift has transformed this dusty village of 230. Migrants have come home, and with them have come other important changes. In 2007, there was no running water, no high school, no paved roads. A simple water pipeline, installed in February, runs to each of the 50-some homes. On a recent day the first high school class, including eight students ages 15 to 40, was finishing up math homework. And now, the main roads are paved.

“We can turn on the water and wash our clothes,” says Pedro’s uncle, Rodolfo Laguna, who spent 12 years working illegally in a chicken plant in Athens, Ga., before returning home in 2010 after both he and his son lost their jobs.

This is the new face of rural Mexico. Villages emptied out in the 1980s and ’90s in one of the largest waves of migration in history. Today there are clear signs that a human tide is returning to towns both small and large across Mexico.

One million Mexicans said they returned from the US between 2005 and 2010, according to a new dem-ographic study of Mexican census data. That’s three times the number who said they’d returned in the previous five-year period.

And they aren’t just home for a visit: One prominent sociologist in the US has counted “net zero” migration for the first time since the 1960s.

Experts say the implications for both nations are enormous – from the draining of a labor pool in the US to the need for a radical shift in policies in Mexico, which has long depended on the billions of dollars in migrant remittances as a social welfare cornerstone.

“The massive return of migrants will have implications at the micro and macro economic levels and will have consequences for the social fabric … especially for the structure of the Mexican family,” says Rodolfo Casillas, a migration expert at the Latin American School of Social Sciences in Mexico City.   [Read full article]

 

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… let us walk together.  And we, in Oaxaca city, have been for the past several weeks thanks to Oaxaca born artist Alejandro Santiago.

The streets and sidewalks around Santo Domingo have been peopled with “La Ruta del Migrante – Caminemos Juntos,” his heart wrenching sculptures representing the 2,501 migrantes, men and women, who have left his pueblo of San Pedro Teococuilco almost deserted.

No two sculptures are the same; each is a tribute to the unique individuals who, most certainly with great reluctance, left the homes of their families and ancestors to make their way north in search of jobs.  The pain in their contorted bodies, their faces, and their feet causes me to pause every time I pass.  I’ll let the images speak for themselves and ask the questions societies all over the world need to answer.

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These migrantes on the streets of Oaxaca are scheduled to disappear at the end of the month and I don’t know where they are next headed.  However, two documentaries have been made about Santiago’s tribute to migrantes:  Twenty Five Hundred & One by Patricia Van Ryker and 2501 Migrants: A Journey directed by Yolanda Cruz.

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David Bacon, one of the most perceptive labor and immigrant rights writer/photographers, interviews Rufino Dominguez, director of the Oaxacan Institute for Attention to Migrants (in English).  Let’s hope this isn’t another program that is all talk, no action.

Oaxaca’s New Government Calls for Migrant Rights

OAXACA, MEXICO The Oaxacan Institute for Attention to Migrants, and its director Rufino Dominguez, called for a new era of respect for the rights of migrants, in commorating [sic] the International Day of the Migrant in the Palacio del Gobierno, Oaxaca’s state capitol building. Representing the newly-elected state government, Dominguez paid tribute to the contributions of the braceros, the first of Oaxaca’s migrant workers to travel to the United States. from 1942 to 1964, and to the women who cared for the families they left behind.

Around the balconies of the palacio’s courtyard hung photographs showing the lives of current migrants from Oaxaca, working as farm laborers in California. Migrant rights activists, artisans and public officials spoke about the important role migration continues to play in Oaxaca’s economic, social, political and family life. The state, in southern Mexico, is the source of one of the largest waves of migration from Mexico to the U.S.

Dominguez, the former coordinator of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations, which organizes indigenous migrants in both Mexico and the U.S., was appointed director of the IOAM by Oaxaca’s new governor, Gabino Cue Monteagudo. Cue defeated the PRI, the party that governed Oaxaca for the previous 80 years. In an interview with David Bacon, Dominguez described the different road the new government is taking to ensure social justice for Oaxacan migrants today:

We can’t tell the U.S. government, or the governments of California and other states, to respect the rights of our people who are living there, if we ourselves are not respecting the rights of migrants here in Oaxaca. Many migrants passing through Oaxaca from Central America and other places suffer systematic violations of their human rights.

Have we just paid attention to migrants in the U.S. because they send dollars home? Sometimes the problems of migrants within Mexico are even greater than those we have in the U.S.  [Read full article]

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I don’t know the details or even if it is all that it is cracked up to be.  However, I can’t help but wonder… Where is the USA?

Ceramic sculptures of immigrants“La Ruta del Migrante” exhibit by Alejandro Santiago, in front of Santo Domingo in Oaxaca de Juárez (more on this exhibit to come)

Oaxaca’s Government and UFCW Canada Sign Agreement to Protect Mexican Migrant Workers in Canada

OAXACA, MEXICO–(Marketwire -01/17/12)- Migrant workers from the Mexican state of Oaxaca traveling to Canada will receive better protection this 2012 season after the signing of an agreement between the Instituto Oaxaqueno de Atencion a Migrantes (IOAM) and UFCW Canada.

On Monday, Wayne Hanley, National President of UFCW Canada, and Rufino Dominguez, Director of the IOAM signed a co-operation agreement to protect and assist Oaxacan migrants working temporarily in Canada. The agreement addresses issues of human rights, labor rights and social security, proposing a framework for transnational cooperation.

“Mexican migrant workers make an enormous contribution to the Canadian society and economy,” says National President Hanley. “This must be acknowledged and we look forward to working with Mexican institutions to improve the living and working conditions of Mexican migrant workers in Canada.”

UFCW Canada and the IOAM will collaborate to increase the level of protection of Oaxacan migrants before, during and after their stay in Canada. From now on, Oaxacan workers will be assisted in Canada through the network of 10 agriculture worker support centers operated by UFCW Canada in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA).

The centres offer Spanish-speaking staff who deal with legal support services and training in human rights, labor rights, housing, and health and safety problems. Services also include a toll-free telephone assistance number from anywhere in Canada and Mexico, both for workers and their families.

Meanwhile, the IOAM will benefit from workshops offered by UFCW Canada to insure workers receive proper information about their rights. The plan of action will therefore focus not only on legal assistance, but also on prevention, information, and training of migrant workers. The program will also will help the migrant workers access Canadian legal benefits to which they are entitled.

The IOAM consolidates its commitment to the people of Oaxaca, actively developing policies to protect its citizens abroad. Other actors who have joined this international cooperation strategy with UFCW Canada include the governments of Michoacan, Tlaxcala and Distrito Federal, as well as two of the biggest agricultural workers labour federations. In this spirit of cooperation, the federal temporary worker programs will continue to be an important link for labour between Mexico and Canada, and these cooperation partnerships will strengthen the programs by involving all the strategic partners to ensure the workers’ experience is fair, safe and productive.

Contact:

UFCW Mexico
Andrea Galvez Gonzalez
3300 6144
Cell: 55 31 26 24 21
andrea.galvez@ufcw.mx
www.ufcw.ca

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