Contact: Javier Rodriguez 213-909-3410 email@example.com blog LaRayueladeJavier.wordpress.com
MEDIA ADVISORY MARCH 15, 2012
The 10 ton Humanitarian Aid Convoy for Tarahumaras in Mexico was successfully delivered.
Angeles del Desierto celebrated its 15th Anniversary with Tarahumaras, local authorities and with Frijoles Charros and tortillas.
Exactly one week after leaving Southern California, on Saturday morning March 10, 2012, the Los Angeles del Desierto Humanitarian Aid Convoy reached its destination in the Sierra Tarahumara. It delivered ten tons of food, clothing and blankets to several hundred Tarahumaras, men, women and children from three communities, Huisorarare, Chineachi and Tonachi, located within the Municipality of Carichi. In a collective team effort, the eight hour aid giveaway was carried out by the nine member Angeles delegation, the municipal president, his family and his staff, the Tarahumara authorities and human development workers. At the same time, with a plate of “Frijoles Charros Chihuhua style” and tortillas prepared by PRD President Ignacio Leonel Varela Ortega for all the people, Los Angeles del Desierto celebrated its 15th Anniversary of rescue missions saving immigrants from death and humanitarian aid at the US-Mexico border.
The convoy arrived to the small town of Carichi, Chihuahua precisely 7 days after leaving the Southern California cities of Los Angeles and San Diego. The grueling and difficult trip was a people’s response to the call for humanitarian aid for Los Tarahumaras which hit the international news and the internet about five weeks before. At that time Hermandad Mexicana TransNacional and Dec 12 Coalition held a press conference in Los Angeles and made a call to the community for donations. Later, it partnered with Angeles del Desierto which resulted in the recent completed trip.
The Arrivali into Tarahumara Land
After traveling 1 ½ hours mostly on dirt road mountain path, we finally reached the small settlement made up of a school which houses 55 students all week, a community store, a church and a large conference room, the Tarahumaras belonging to the three communities mentioned, were waiting patiently. Some had left and one of the trucks headed out to bring them back. As a long time activist with many human rights trips to several countries in my portfolio, including several to Mexico, I have lived and seen hunger and poverty and on this occasion, it was no different. The familiar mixed feelings of sadness, compassion, love and of course anger and indignation came to the fore immediately. Especially when you’re well aware of the social and economic statistics that point to Mexico as having one of the highest ratios of inequality and corruption in the planet and at that moment you’re witnessing it. Of the almost 12 to 14 million indigenous people in Mexico, the Tarahumaras are one of the groups situated way at the bottom of the social scale in the country.
The list of products and materials that were distributed is long but it can be summarized as, the hot food, the tortillas, tons of grains in rice, beans, lentils, cereal, corn, sugar and wheat flour, crackers, dry shrimp and the non perishable canned goods. Then there was the blankets and the clothes including goose down –pluma de ganso- hooded jackets about three hundred of them. About 2,500 pieces donated by American Apparel in the form of Legalize LA TShirts, pants, panties, shorts, socks, and more.
The Distribution, the Angeles Anniversary and the Unforgettable Smile
During the distribution hours the climate was cold and windy. I almost didn’t make it to the Tarahumara community that morning because through out the trip I became ill with the flu and cough and it was serious. I was weak but I built enough strength and throughout the day at moments I protected myself in the truck. But from what I saw, the following are some of the highlights: As everyone gathered closely we had a brief program and two Angeles members addressed the people, spoke about the aid and the history of the rescue team. Everyone lined up, women and men separately, and the feast began with a rampant distribution of dry papaya fruit candy and then a lunch plate of Charro Beans with half a dozen tortillas and a soft drink, The meal, were prepared and distributed by the Municipal President, was a treat for everyone. Then as the families sat down and ate, all the blankets were distributed. I believe next were the broad variety of clothes donated by American Apparel and besides the popularity of the Legalize LA Tshirts and blouses and pants for men, women and children, at a certain moment the Mayor of Carichi began to speak out in Tarahumara and handed out red bikini panties. That brought the whole camp to laughter, including the women and they got them by the bunch. The momentum was building and next all the boxes with the hooded jackets were placed inside the empty large conference room for separation of sizes. At that moment all the men and boys lined up in front and one by one, children first, were given a jacket and then exited. Then it was the women and girls’ turn and they lined up, and again, one by one entered the room. As they came out also with the jackets on, what I saw then was an unforgettable smile and to understand that let me explain. La Sierra Tarahumara is cold most of the time and the women wear this colorful and beautiful full skirts, blouses and chals, which they make and tha’s it. Through out the day as they sat on the floor in groups, the cold wind that hit persistently had a chilling effect on them and their young ones. Upon putting on the high quality goose feathered garment, immediately the warmth set in and it became a pleasant feeling of gusto. Within an hour about three hundred people were wearing the warm jackets and of course all the children had their hoods on and began to play and run endlessly. But don’t get me wrong many of the kids were barefooted and just about everyone else wore the self made tire rubber sole huaraches.
The last items handed out were the grains, dry shrimp, tortillas and the canned goods and a good substantial amount was distributed to everyone one of the families and individuals. No one was left out.
It was dark when the delegation, the mayor, his family and the staff, left the settlement at about 7:30 PM.
The Heart and Soul of the People
For now let me emphasize that every member of the delegation put his heart and soul in the trip, in getting there safely and in the distribution of the aid. The cooperation from the Mayor and staff and also their work was invaluable as well as that of the Tarahumara authorities and the nutritionist and development program aid Lupita Garcia. Additionally all the people that made it possible for the aid to get there from LA, Gloria Saucedo, Antonio Rodriguez and Marianna Herrera, Hermandad Mexicana, Dec 12 Coalition, Dove Charney and the giant rebel American Apparel, the Latino Media which as always helped us sent the word out to the community. From San Diego Mery Gallo and other volunteers to the restaurant and its owner in the town of Gila Bend, Arizona. Then across the border, the passionate Ninfa Romo and her family in the border town of Palomas who tirelessly moved her influences and her invaluable relatives inside Chihuahua like Don Roque, his spouse and daughter Claudia Quintana and children. In Ascension and Carichi the Mayors and police departments and the townspeople.
One conclusion I need to convey to you is that our people in LA, San Diego, Arizona, New Mexico as well as in every town and community in Mexico “for this cause and for the humanitarian aid displayed a high level of solidarity, love, compassion, hospitality, friendliness and respect.”
This report was prepared in Torreon my hometown and I thank my cousins Edmundo, Blanca, Nelly, Hortencia, Angeles, Ana Gabriela and Sara Elisa for their hospitality.” My next report will emanate from Mexico City and I should be there by Saturday Morning.
In the next report
I will describe the route, the economic difficulties, the problems with border and federal authorities but also cooperation for the permits to cross the aid, the fears of the social insecurity, the war within in and the stories of living in a state of war, the dedication, courage and tenacity of the Angeles members and our accompanying journalist, the leadership of Rafael Hernandez, some history, culture and social conditions of the Tarahumaras and also of Chihuahua and Madera, the land of Arturo Gamiz. I will also narrate some of the anecdotes of what I saw and was told, and trust me there are some interesting ones.
Some critical observations.
For now the brief criticisms I can contribute are: The delegation did not hold daily briefings and at times in dividual members lacked necessary information. Also, in retrospect, with sufficient time prior to the departure, the leadership of this humanitarian effort should have engaged the Mexican Consulates in LA and San Diego for assistance as well the corresponding delegate for National Human Rights Commission in Chihuahua, and any other supporting Mexican contacts such as federal senators or congress persons and finally leading humanitarian activists in the state. Also during the presentation program prior to the distribution in the Tarahumara community, all the five or more organizations that were fundamental in raising and collecting the funds and materials for the aid were not given due recognition for the benefit of all the people there. This point is relevant because the campaign for this humanitarian aid began with La Hermandad Mexicana TransNacional and the December 12 Coalition, organizations that serve Mexican working immigrants and many of the funds and goods donated in LA were given by immigrants and Mexican people. The large contribution of clothes by American Apparel were produced by the hands of Mexican immigrants. This point would have made a good connection with the Tarahumaras because it was largely their Mexican paisanos or paisano organizations who made the aid possible. However on an individual basis I did communicate this to the Municipal President, the Tarahumara authorities, Lupita Garcia, Claudia Quintana and most of the folks that helped us along the way and there is a standing invitation to Dov Charney visit Carichi.
The Delegation Members
Rafael Larreanza Hernandez, Javier Bedolla Carmolinga, Miguel Jimenez, Jose Luis Sierra, Danny the Activist, Alfredo, Guerrero de los Caminos del Sur and Javier rodriguez
For the sake of transparency below is an email sent to me during the trip by Gloria Saucedo of Hermandad
For the sake of transparency below is a brief summary of the total donated in funds and goods in monetary figures in Los Angeles and an email in Spanish sent to me during the trip by Gloria Saucedo of Hermandad
American Apparel -25 boxes 96 pieces ea. with an average value of $13.00 ea = $32,500.00
Hermadad Mexicana $1400.00 cash and unspecified quantity of blankets, clothes, canned goods and grains.
From: gloria saucedo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: BREAKING NEWS- 2nd Report from Columbus, New Mexico for March 6, 2012
To: “javier rodriguez” <email@example.com>
Date: Thursday, March 8, 2012, 9:33 PM
“Hola Javier, de la cuenta que se habrio en el Banco de America, para los donativos de los Tarahumaras, por indicacion tuya yo la abri con $25.00, y esto fue antes de que el Sr. Rafael Hernandez se comunicara conmigo pidiendo ayuda. En el ultimo reporte del banco se tenian 225.00 de esa cuenta le di un cheque de 200.00 (fue el ultimo que le di). Anteriormente abrimos una cajita en frente de el que era en efectivo cerca de $150. Ese mismo dia yo le di un cheque personal de $300. de parte mia y otro de $200. de Hermandad Mexicana mas otro cheque de $200. del Hank Lacayo Youth and Community Center. El sabado que estuvo alli volvimos a pedir un donativo al grupo que estaba tomando la clase de ciudadania ese dia el recogio el dinero pero no supe cuanto recibieron. Hoy le puso Esmeralda $300. a su cuenta de CHASE mas, en efectivo $200. de la Hermandad de Panorama y $100 de Oxnard. Yo creo que de la Hermandad se le ha donado $1, 400 aproximadamente. Desafortunadamente los donativos a la cuenta del Banco de America han sido muy poco y yo no he tenido tiempo de revisar si han dado otros donativos con los comunicados que tu has puesto ultimamente, pero cuando regresen podemos revisar el estado de esta “CUENTA”, y seria muy transpartente que esta se cerrara enfrente de Uds. Gracias.”