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Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

It began this morning, as la Selección mexicana took the field in Russia for game three of their Group F stage.  Even with two victories under their belt and leading their group, the people of Mexico held their collective breath.  During the game, you could hear a pin drop in Oaxaca.  I swear, the buses that usually grind their gears and emit clouds of exhaust on Crespo, were few and far between.  El Tri held off a tenacious Swedish team in the first half, but it all fell apart in the second and the green, white, and red lost.  The Mexican World Cup team and the country had to rely on South Korea to knock Germany out of the Copa del Mundo and assure Mexico goes on to the next round.  Every tenth person I passed this afternoon seemed to still be sporting the team jersey, but nobody was smiling.

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Oaxaca de Juárez — June 27, 2018, 7:00 PM

Today is also the last day of electioneering in Mexico — no more campaign materials are to be distributed, no more surveys disseminated, and no more robo campaign calls (gracias a dios).  Mexicans go to the polls on Sunday, July 1 for Mexico’s biggest election in memory.  Not only is a new president to be elected, but also 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies, 128 members of the Senate, 8 governors, and the mayor of Mexico City.  And, coming on top the deadliest year in Mexico’s history, 2018 has also been one of the most violent campaign seasons in recent history.  Tonight, final campaign rallies are being held all over the country, including one next door in the Plaza de la Danza — filled with amplified speeches and heavy-on-the-bass pounding music.  Let’s hope we awaken only to World Cup scores and not rising political violence tallies.

However, in the midst of all this, gringos gathered this afternoon to attempt to come up with a plan to show our opposition to the inhumane actions by the United States government and our support for all peoples escaping violence and in search of a better life for their families.  If you are in Oaxaca, on July 5, at 3:00 PM, there will be a peaceful protest in front of the U.S. Consular Agency under the slogans, ¡Todos Somos Migrates!  ¡Familias Unidas — No Divididas!  For more details, see the ¡Engage Oaxaca! Facebook page.  By the way, for a little background on the reasons men, women, and children are risking their lives to flee their home countries, I highly recommend, So we’re gonna pretend these refugees aren’t a result of our actions in Central America?

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The jacarandas are heralding spring’s approach.

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Bathing in the purple rain as the blossoms fall…

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Many thanks to Tatsugoro Matsumoto, one of the first Japanese immigrants to Mexico, for recommending to President Álvaro Obregón that jacaranda trees from Brazil be planted in Mexico City.

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Now, throughout Mexico, underneath the purple rain we walk.  And, this time of year, I always smile, remember, and begin humming Prince’s Purple Rain and Jimi’s Purple Haze.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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