We can’t stand by and do nothing, is the sentiment expressed by women around the world who are supporting the Women’s March on Washington, this Saturday, January 21. There are over 600 marches scheduled worldwide, including 15 in Mexico.
Oaxaca Sister March: In Solidarity with Mexicans
It’s the same here in Oaxaca, Mexico. We can’t stand by and do nothing. Engage Oaxaca steering committee, the march organizers here, emphasize, too, that this is a solidarity march for Mexican human rights in the United States of America. It is in support of Mexico’s long-standing friendly relationships with the USA as a key trading partner. It is in protest of homophobic rhetoric that dominates the president-elect’s messages.
In the aftermath of the November 8 presidential election in the United States, seven women and one man got together in Oaxaca to commiserate. They didn’t all know each other. They are seasonal visitors or permanent residents who live here much or part of the year. They felt they had to do something.
They heard about plans for the Washington, DC march, and knew if they couldn’t be there, they needed to show support in Oaxaca.
At a meeting I attended yesterday, Vicki Solot, one of the steering committee members, says the group, which had grown to 20 people by this time, discussed whether it was legal for ex-pats to march in Mexico.
Jackie Cooper Gordon says they consulted with a Mexican lawyer who reassured them that if the issues had to do with United States policies and politics, and this was not an anti-Mexico demonstration, then it was constitutionally legal to hold the march.
Women’s March Oaxaca Flyer. Please forward!
Solot says that it’s important for everyone to know that Engage Oaxaca has permission from the Oaxaca Mayor’s Office and the Transit Police to march. The police will go with the marchers from Santo Domingo Church starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 21. They will continue down the Andador walking street, Macedonio Alcala, to the Zocalo and disburse.
Roberta Christie, another steering committee member, says, “We are marching in solidarity with Mexican people. We live here in Mexico, we are U.S. citizens, and we don’t agree with his (U.S. president-elect) policies or escalating threats.”
Christie says the march gives us the opportunity to express our concern for the treatment of all immigrants in our country, and especially for Mexicans. “Local people I’ve talked to say this message is important,” she says. “We know Mexican people living in the U.S. who are fearful.” They are relatives of our friends here in Mexico.
Banner that Penny will march with in Washington, D.C.
When the committee first got together, Penelope Hand was there from Spokane, Washington. She said she would be in Washington, D.C. marching with friends on January 21. Penny will hold a banner representing Oaxaca ex-pats and friends.
So far, over 70 t-shirts emblazoned with Women’s March on Washington, Oaxaca, Mexico, have been sold. More will be available for sale just before the march begins. There’s no telling how many people will gather at Templo Santo Domingo on Saturday. March organizers say it may be between 60 and 100, maybe more.
Jacki Cooper Gordon is handling the t-shirt sale.
Where will you be, Saturday, January 21?
In Todos Santos, Mexico, Donna Schultz, a march organizer there, tells me that they will gather in the Town Plaza at 10 a.m. to stand together, men, women and children of all nationalities, who believe, “We have the right to protect our health, social, economic and educational rights.” She says that the focus is on women’s rights/human rights especially from the Mexican view-point. Local women will speak about progress being made in Todos Santos by women and for women that impacts the entire community. “We will sing together both in English and Spanish,” she adds.
Engage Oaxaca organized to create the march. Energy is building and there is more to do. They are discussing strategies to help more ex-pats vote in the next Congressional elections. They are starting an initiative to send postcards to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s home address in Wisconsin to voice concern over dismantling of the American Healthcare Act.
They will publish post-march photos on the website Engage Oaxaca and continue to hold meetings.
Through these actions, I’ve seen that being in warm, beautiful, sunny Oaxaca in winter months or year-round does not mean being isolated as a U.S. citizen from responsibilities to engage when cause merits it.
Why I March! #whyImarch
“I march because I cannot stay silent. I march because of my three young grandchildren and the world I hope is there for them. I march in support of my many Mexican friends who get up at 3:30 AM each day to work on Wisconsin dairy farms. I march because we only have one precious planet. I march because of my firm and profound belief that everyone, everywhere, is interconnected and we must stand up together in the face of fear, greed and intolerance.” — Mary Michal
“I believe in the power of the voice of the people. I have seen change come from it, right change. When I left the US after the election, I was concerned about not being present to share in that voice, in the march on 1/21 and other actions. It is imperative to me to speak out against the atrocities proposed and continued against women, Mexicans and other groups…. It is more important now to show solidarity with the Mexican people. It is important to let them know that most of us do not agree nor tolerate the notions of “el muro” and disrespect of Mexican people. We are here not only because of better economy and great weather, we love the Mexican people and culture. I am so glad to be marching in Oaxaca, in solidarity with the march all around the world, in peaceful defiance of the policies the new electorate stands for.” — Nancy Clingan
“As a permanent resident who has spent most of the last 12 years living in Oaxaca, I am marching to (1) protest the incoming president’s outrageous treatment of Mexico. In words and promised policies he is waging economic war on this country and endangering the rights and the very lives of Mexicans in the U.S. (2) As a U.S. citizen, I am marching in solidarity with women in the U.S. and throughout the world. Only when women are equally represented in governance can we live in a more equitable and peaceful world. –Roberta Christie
“Why I march: To safeguard the gains we fought for and won in the past and to continue the struggle for a better future for my grandson and granddaughter-in-waiting.” — Shannon Pixley Sheppard
“I march to believe I will make a difference, that in the collective my one voice will rise with the many so a more positive world will unfold. I march to think of my grandparents and the generations before them who valued freedom of religion, a free press, an independent judiciary that protected minority rights, the equal rights of all people regardless of race, color or creed, that no human being is innately better or more deserving than another. I march because I have a responsibility to my country, to uphold the laws of the constitution that protect the individual. I march for women everywhere who are disenfranchised, enslaved, abused, controlled, belittled, seen as objects. I march because I love my family and friends and know that we deserve a just government, that the will of the people, the majority, will prevail.” — Norma Schafer
Add Your Voice! WHY DO YOU MARCH?
Margarita Time: What is Cinco de Mayo?
This Friday, May 5, 2023, marks the 161st anniversary of Cinco de Mayo. Why do we celebrate with a Margarita or Corona or Modelo Negro? More than party time, Cinco de Mayo is an important event in U.S. history, and not so much for Mexico. Read on to find out more.
First of all, it’s time to know that May 5, Cinco de Mayo, is NOT Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16, 1810, celebrating the separation of Mexico from Spanish rule.
Nevertheless, Cinco de Mayo marks a significant date in history when the French army was defeated in Puebla on May 5, 1862, marking an important symbolic moment to curtail Napoleon Bonaparte’s designs on establishing a monarchy in North America. When you visit Puebla you can still see the bullet holes in front of the house occupied by General Ignacio Zaragoza.
Most of us know Cinco de Mayo as a U.S. celebration of Latino culture. There are 62.1 million Latinos living in the U.S. according to the 2020 census representing 19 percent of the population, making it the nation’s second largest racial or ethnic group according to the Pew Research Center.
Perhaps we know Cinco de Mayo as the name of a favorite local Tex-Mex restaurant, or the promotion of a favorite beverage accompanied by guacamole. (Avocados are imported from Michoacan, Mexico.) At the end of this week, many will of us will welcome the occasion to have a party and raise a toast to our southern neighbor with a beer or Margarita. What are you doing for Happy Hour on May 5?
But there’s much more to it than that, according to historian David Hayes-Bautista, as reported by CNN and Reza Gostar in GlendoraPatch. It notable that Cinco de Mayo was a rallying cry in the U.S. by Latinos against the elitist French monarchy, which was sympathetic to the Confederacy during the Civil War. At that time, Latinos sided with the Union, fearing that a Confederacy win would expand slavery to include them. If Blacks could be enslaved, so could brown and indigenous people, too.
Puebla is Angelopolis, City of Angels
Dr. Hayes-Bautista, who is director of UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, has uncovered the first groundbreaking research that links the celebration of liberation for Mexicans with the U.S. Civil War and the hope that the Union would prevail. The win at the Battle of Puebla by the Mexican freedom fighters against the elitists energized many Americans early in the war when the Confederacy was powerful. This was especially significant for Latinos, since much of the American Southwest was populated by those with Spanish and Mexican heritage.
So, as you raise your glass with a hearty Salud, recall that Latinos volunteered to serve in the Union Army in order to preserve freedom, independence, and fight for racial justice.
Watch this YouTube video to know more about Cinco de Mayo as told by Dr. David Hayes-Bautista.
Quick footnote: I’m recovering from surgery at University of New Mexico Medical Center and in Albuquerque with my son and daughter-in-law. All went well. No pain. No opioids. Amazing surgical team. No worries. I’m hoping to go home to Taos this weekend. The kids are going out for Cinco de Mayo. I’ll be here, resting! My surgeon is Latina as is her medical resident. We’ve come a long way, but not far enough!
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Mexican Immigration
Tagged Battle of Puebla, blogsherpa, celebration, Cinco de Mayo, Civil War, culture, history, Mexico, Oaxaca