News / Protests

  • Our Culture is Our Resistance

     

     

    Dear fellow Latinx Peoples,


    In the media and in this country we are raised to be believe that all we are good for is to labor for white capitalists like Donald Trump. That we are "at risk communities" needing white intervention. That in order to be successful we have to strip away our heritage and consent to whiteness.


    But fuck that. We have fought the colonization of our lands and minds for over 500 years defending ourselves against every colonial empire thrust onto us by Europe. Our tradition and heritage is one of resistance and militant action. Our societies have produced complex languages and methods of expression that don't rely on the written word but instead on how we relate to one another in community, story and song.


    The work of our ante pasados produced the most radical constitution on the planet: the 1917 Mexican constitution, which guaranteed, ejido, collective land rights. (These rights were significantly weakened as the Mexican government prepared for the implementation of NAFTA)


    In the face of dictatorships we have produced song to express the beauty and the belief in our shared resistance.


    We are the children of fighters and our legacy asks us to endure in the belly of the beast, here in what is now so obviously, the most racist society on the planet. In this, let there be no doubt that the American dream rests on a vision built off the stolen  land of native peoples and the enslaved labor of black folks


    Our generation has made its own mark as we fight the oppressive religious structures of our parents to embrace our queer and trans community. We have the ability to be intersectional, to feed the promise of a worldview and application of our heritage with our own voice and spirit


    We have learned that words move mountains and our moments of solidarity can take on any empire and any delusional "leader." 


    To my non Latinx POC community ... sup... I love you very much and I love the fight we have formed together. There is beauty in our struggle but pain with every step and breath we take.


    Know that the one truth I hold is that our future is tied to an intersectional understanding of how we relate to one another and that white supremacy needs to be dismantled


    And know that the only warmth I find comfort in is the space we hold together in our tears and our hopes. Our shared love will carry me as we get beaten, arrested, targeted, and deported. In short made disposable by the state and its white supremacists


    I will rise and love with you or I will die trying.

     

    Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

    El Huateque

    #dumptrump2017

  • Podcast with Cuicani, a Los Angles Music Collective

     

    Cuicani is a singer-songwriter’s collective comprised of five Los Angeles based musicians. The music of Cuicani features the talented Mavens: Marlene Beltran Cuauhtin and Marisa Martinez, who provide rich vocals and harmonies along with Tony “Tone-Irie” Sauza on vocals and guitar. I spoke with Marlene, Marisa and Tony on a series of steps in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. 

     



    In their own words, "The word  “Cuicani” is a Nahuatl word that means “Singer.” We chose this name because we felt it evoked the importance of exercising one’s voice, and also of giving a voice to the voiceless. Established in 2012, Cuicani’s eclectic mix of members reflects the diversity of the city it calls home. In our three years together we have written and recorded over 15 original songs with themes such as: environmental justice, immigration rights, and protesting police brutality. "

     

    Not surprisingly I was drawn to their sound and mission.

     

     

    A release celebration will be held on the album’s launch day at Center for the Arts Eagle Rock. The community-focused event will include an art installation and workshop celebrating the home as imagined by Ofelia EsparzaRosanna EsparzaFelicia Montesand other notable Eastside artists, as well as a performance by Entre Mujeres as part of the screening of the mini-documentary on the making of the Entre Mujeres: Translocal Musical Dialogues album project by Professor Martha Gonzalez, front-woman of the GRAMMY® winning band Quetzal. Special guest band Quetzal performs followed by the headlining concert by Cuicani.

     
    Now & Then Album Release Celebration
    Friday, March 25th from 6:00 – 11:00 pm
    Center For The Arts Eagle Rock
    2225 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90041
    Tickets $20http://www.ticketfly.com/event/1095225 (includes Now & Then CD)
    http://cfaer.org

     

    Now & Then is a 16-track double album that reflects Cuicani’s work in three distinct studio sessions, the first at Coney Island Studios with Grammy® winning percussionist/engineer Alberto Lopez (member of Quetzal and Jungle Fire), the second with Grammy® winning producer/musician Quetzal Flores (founder of Quetzal), and the last at 54 East Sound Studios with producer/songwriter London Parker McWhorterNow & Then also represents two phases of the band’s career—early work makes up the first half of the album titled “Then,” and the second disc includes the recently written “Now” tracks. The album takes you through a range of world, soul, Latin, and Afro-Caribbean sounds that include reggae, dancehall, cumbia, timba, son, rock, and blues. The songs circle around themes of cultural identity, struggle of the working class, empowering community, heartbreak, love, and unity, while maintaining an uplifting sound and flow.
  • Guatemala ¡Presente!

    In a series of protests and recently declared general strike Amid the entire Presidential cabinet quitting on corruption charges and the Vice-president already having resigned and charged with corruption: 

     

    Thousands of protesters have marched in the Guatemalan capital, demanding the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina over a corruption scandal.

    Businesses, including fast-food chains, were shut in support of the protest.

    The president is facing impeachment proceedings over the affair, which has seen his former deputy jailed and six cabinet ministers quitting in protest.”[1]

     

    Guatemalans are engaged in a level of activism not seen since the height of the guerrilla insurrection in the late 1970s.

     

    Speaking to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now long time investigative reporter Allan Nairn describes the scene:

    Well, it’s an uprising, and it could lead to the fall of Pérez Molina. They’re calling for a general strike, mass demonstration today. The issue is corruption. But if the movement develops further, if it spreads more fully to the Mayan heartland of the country, then the issue could move from corruption to justice, because the reason the Guatemalan elite, like General Pérez Molina and Vice President Baldetti, have been able to loot the treasury to the tune of more than $100 million, been able to steal for themselves cash which was used for Jaguar cars, plantations, villas, yachts, airplanes, helicopters, was because they took and have maintained themselves in power through mass murder. Pérez Molina was a commander in the northwest highlands during the '80s. He personally helped implement the Ríos Montt program of mass murder—effectively, genocide—against the Mayan population. And that's what the Guatemalan system has been built on.[2]

     

    Who is Otto Pérez Molina? In my estimation there is no greater villain during the genocide of indigenous Maya in the 1980s, aside from Rios Montt, then the current president Otto Pérez Molina. Molina was head of military intelligence during the most violent periods of the armed conflict, the early 1980s when over 100,000 of the over 200,000 killings of indigenous Maya occurred. Most infamously, during his time in the Guatemalan Army and particularly during the civil war, (1960-1996), President Molina commanded the special operative forces of the Guatemalan military known as Kaibiles, which had a reputation for brutality.[3]

     

     On top of public corruption analysts at the online news outlet Southern Pulse have noted ties between President Molina’s administration and gang and drug trafficking networks.[4] Molina has been tied to drug trafficking organizations due to his revered status among individual Kaibiles—both those who remain in the organization, as well as those who have defected from the military, many of whom are aiding and leading drug trafficking and gang syndicates within Guatemala and their Mexican counterparts, the Zetas.[5] The Guatemalan government’s ties to drug trafficking have become an increasingly troubling issue since the drug violence and conflicts in Mexico have served to move the production of drugs and the associated violence into Guatemala.[6] Military officials and heads of the National Civil Police have been arrested for corruption and their ties to elicit groups. Furthermore, Southern Pulse notes that some of President Molina’s business partners are known associates of drug cartels.

     

    The 2004 Nueva Linda massacre I documented revealed that despite the 1996 peace accords prescribing the complete separation of the military and police, and attempts by successive regimes to implement this separation, former members of the military continued to head the National Civil Police. This crossover between the military and police forces resulted in increased violence that involved the use of military tactics,[7] as evidenced by the Nueva Linda massacre and other violent confrontations that have followed and that have become increasingly violent under the “firm hand” regime of Molina. During these violent confrontations it has also been noted that private security, many of which are former members of the military, have been allowed to freely operate with the police. Many of these Public Security officials have been indicted for drug trafficking.[8]

     Within the milieu of strikes and protest another development has materialized related to the armed conflict,

     A Guatemalan court has said former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt can stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity – but cannot be sentenced because the 89-year-old suffers from dementia… Ríos Montt was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 80 years for genocide and crimes against humanity committed during his dictatorship in 1982 and 1983 at the height of Guatemala’s brutal civil war. The sentence was later thrown out on a technicality.[9]

     It seems in Guatemala a popular mobilization promising the possibility of substantive change is contrasted against the continued and underlying impunity that pervades Guatemala.

     -Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

    [1] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-34083073

    [2] http://www.democracynow.org/2015/8/27/uprising_in_guatemala_could_anti_corruption

    [3] http://justf.org/blog/2013/01/18/facts-about-guatemalas-kaibiles

    [4]Samuels Logan, The Politics of Corruption in Guatemala, (Southern Pulse, August 15, 2013). Pg. 11

    [5] http://www.insightcrime.org/news-briefs/us-report-shows-zetas-corruption-of-guatemalas-special-forces 

    [6] http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/us-beginning-of-the-end-for-mexicos-cartels

    [7] “Guatemala: 2013 Country Report,” Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/guatemala

    [8] http://www.ghrc-usa.org/Publications/factsheet_nationalcivilpolice.pdf

    [9] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/25/guatemala-rios-montt-genocide-trial-not-sentenced

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