Monday, February 19, 2007


Deputy Mayor Pro Tem
Dr. Elba Garcia
Honorary Chair of International DFW Month
announces the 11th annual


Hong-Gia Vietnam Martial Arts (Vietnam)
Keola's Hula Halau (Polynesia)
Expressions India

Parastoo Folk Ensemble (Iran)
Candace Bordelon and the TWU International Folk Dance Company (Egypt)

Ugandan Youth Ensemble

Lois Becker of the NST Leikarring (Finland)
North Texas Caledonian Pipes & Drums (Scotland)
Zorya (Ukraine)
Orizon (Spain and the world)

Ballet Folkórico Jaguara (Native Americans)
Richland College Steel Drum Band (Caribbean)
Trío Folklórico Argentino
Danzas Folklóricas del Centro Argentino
Ballet Folklorico Huehuecoyotl (Mexico)
Friendship West Baptist Church Praise Dance Ministry (African American)
Mariachi los Reyes de Dallas (Texas)
La Trulla Boricua (Puerto Rico)

Sunday, March 25, 2007
Majestic Theatre
1925 Elm St. in Dallas
2:00 pm

$10 purchase tickets HERE

Sponsored by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, AFI International Film Festival, Univision, Telefutura, KTVT 11, KERA, TXA21

The Dallas International Festival is one of 20 events that form
International DFW Month 2007

See complete schedule of global events HERE

Sunday, February 18, 2007


The Poetry of the Americas
April 12, 13 and 14, 2007

An International Symposium on recent trends in Hispanic poetry; new directions in criticism on poetry; and the relationship between Hispanic and American poetry

Keynote Speaker
Distinguished Scholar, President of the MLA

GUEST POET: Charles Bernstein

PARTICIPANTS: Carlos Germán Belli, Christopher Domínguez-Michael, Enrique Fierro, Loren Goodman, Samuel Gordon, Jorge Guitart, Asunción Horno-Delgado, Jill S. Kuhnheim, José Kozer, Vicente Molina-Foix, Delfina Muschietti, María Rosa Olivera-Williams, Armando Romero, Fernando Rosemberg, Carmen Ruiz-Barrionuevo, Randolph L. Pope, Jacobo Sefamí, Ida Vitale

Send an abstract and the title of your presentation before February 20th 2007 to Professor Eduardo Espina ( A volume of selected best papers will be published.


Simposio Internacional “Poéticas de las Américas”
Abril 12, 13 y 14, 2007

Simposio internacional sobre tendencias recientes en la poesía hispana; nuevas direcciones en la crítica de poesía; y la relación entre la poesía hispana y la poesía estadounidense contemporánea.

Conferencia Magistral
Destacada crítica y teórica
Presidenta del MLA

PARTICIPANTES: Carlos Germán Belli, Charles Bernstein, Alicia Borinsky, Manuel Cortés Castañeda, Arturo Dávila, Christopher Domínguez-Michael, Roberto Echavarren, Enrique Fierro, John Garganigo, Loren Goodman, Rocío González, Samuel Gordon, Jorge Guitart, Asunción Horno-Delgado, Jill S. Kuhnheim, José Kozer, Karina Macció, Marianella Machado, Vicente Molina-Foix, José Morales-Saravia, María Rosa Olivera-Williams, Iván Oñate, Julio Prieto, Oscar Rivera-Rodas, Armando Romero, Fernando Rosemberg, Carmen Ruiz-Barrionuevo, Randolph D. Pope, Roger Santiváñez, Jacobo Sefamí, Ida Vitale, Miguel Angel Zapata, Lila Zemborain

Envíe una síntesis de su ponencia y el título de la misma antes del 20 de febrero al Profesor Eduardo Espina ( Se publicará un libro especial con una selección de los ensayos presentados.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Deadline is FEBRUARY 15th, 2007 (postmarked).

The 5th annual Sin Fronteras Film Festival 2007 in Albuquerque, New
Mexico is a media film festival meant to showcase the work of
independent, socially conscious videos and films from across the
Americas. We are especially looking for works dealing with Native
themes, Women of Color, sexualities, grassroots organizing, revolution,

cultural empowerment, struggles, workers, anti-war, and Afro-Latinidad.

However, all other social, cultural, and political themes are welcome.

With our ideology of NO BORDERS behind the festival we welcome not only

submissions from people of color in the Americas and their allies, but

from across the world.

Please refer to the website for submission information at, we prefer
DVD format:

Festival de Cine Sin Fronteras 801 Yale NE
MSC02 1690
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

For any information contact

Thank you and always in solidarity. -Sin Fronteras Committee

Pasen el mensaje!

La Fecha Limite es 15 de Febrero del 2007 (estampilla postal).

El 5to Festival de Cine Sin Fronteras 2007 en la cuidad de Albuquerque,

Nuevo Mexico, es un espacio para cineastas y obras independientes de
America Latina y las Americas en general. Buscamos obras con temas
Indigenas, de genero, sexualidades, las luchas de mujeres, anti-guerra,

revolucion, movimientos sociales, luchas obreras, e ideas sobre
Afro-Latinidad, pero claro que otros temas sociales, culturales, y
politicos estan bienvenidos. Con la ideologia de SIN FRONTERAS en el
festival, estan bienvenidos obras de luchas de la gente marginalizado
en todas partes de las Americas, en el mundo, y de la gente que nos

Para mas informacion, es perferible el formato DVD:

Festival de Cine Sin Fronteras 801 Yale NE
MSC02 1690
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Manden sus peliculas ahora! Si tienen preguntan contacten a Gracias y siempre en solidaridad. -Comite de Sin

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Monica Perales: Lenses into the Past Lecture at SMU

Source: "Elmore, Ruth Ann"

You are invited to the
Clements Center for Southwest Studies Brown Bag
Lecture Series
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
12 noon to 1 p.m


Monica Perales
Summerlee Foundation Research Fellow for the Study of Texas History,

Today there is little evidence of the Mexican community of Smeltertown, the now-extinct community that formed at the base of the American Smelting and Refining Company's copper smelter in El Paso, Texas.
Company and professional photographs locate Mexican Smeltertown and reveal the significant role that Mexican workers played in the daily operations of the plant. But because they focus on the smelter and the
work done there, these photographs reveal male-centered communities and spaces defined principally by work. Dr. Perales examines how personal family photographs help to illuminate how women in Smeltertown
articulated and defined meanings of community in their daily lives. Family snapshots reveal a more textured view of daily life in Mexican Smeltertown, and show a community, though marked by work at the
smelter, not solely defined by male labor. Instead, family photographs provide a window into the various relationships - relationships between family members, friends and neighbors; relationships with the company; with the schools and the Catholic Church - that helped to determine community boundaries, and illustrate how the women created their own spaces and communities within Smeltertown. Monica Perales is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Houston. She is spending the academic year with the Clements Center for Southwest Studies as a Summerlee Foundation Research Fellow for the Study of Texas History, completing her manuscript for publication.

In the Texana Room, DeGolyer Library (6404 Hilltop Ln. & McFarlin Blvd)
Bring your own brown bag lunch! For more information or if you need special
accommodations, please call 214-768-3684 or email

Directions and maps to sites frequently used for Clements Center events
at SMU. Visitor Parking at SMU

Lechuga—Let Us

Let us practice progressive politics and reject paternalistic gestures.

Let us demand safe, healthy, affordable, housing and stop corrupt institutions from presenting gentrification as the only solution.

Let us stop job exploitation and acknowledge the contributions of underpaid workers.

Let us draw a clear line to protect ourselves from the invasion forces made up of people who look like us, sent by those who look nothing like us.

Let us overcome the human inclination to ignore the obvious.

Let us acknowledge that we are all immigrants.

Let us take swift action to resolve the destructive contradictions that are meant to divide and conquer our collective will.

Nancy L. Green

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Chicanas in Charge: Texas Women in the Electoral Arena

Press Release January 23, 2007
Contact: Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez
469 867 8188 mobile

January 31, 2007 (Wednesday) beginning at 2:30p at the Wyndham Hotel Dallas North (across from the Galeria) the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE) will hold its 32nd Annual conference. The kick-off event is a panel discussion with some of the Texas women profiled in a new publication, Chicanas in Charge: Texas Women in the Electoral Arena. Anticipated to attend are Gloria De Leon, Rose Herrera, Diana Flores, Socorro Medina, Trini Gamez, Anita Martinez, Alma Canales, Linda Yañez, Lena Levario, and Elvira Reyna. These women will discuss their paths to power and take questions from the audience. A reception will follow. Books will be available for purchase and signing by the women and co-authors. Co-authors are Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez, University of Texas-Arlington; Sonia Noyola, doctoral student University of Texas-Austin; and, Michelle Melendez, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
The event is free to the public. The conference program does require a registration fee.

Contact Dr. Gutierrez for a jpeg file of the book cover which features Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.


Walnut Hill, CA: AltaMira Press, 2007.

List of the 25 women profiled in the book:

PART I ADELITAS: The Warrior Trailblazers

OLGA RAMOS PENA*Unofficial campaign organizer for Alberto A. Peña, Jr., her spouse, in San Antonio during several decades. Leader of the Bexar County Democratic Women.

ANITA N. MARTINEZ---First Mexican American woman elected to the Dallas City Council. Served in appointed capacities for the White House and local entities.

VIRGINIA MUZQUIZ---First Chicana candidate for State Representative, Democrat in 1964. First Mexican American woman candidate for city council of Crystal City, Texas. First Mexican American woman elected County Clerk, Raza Unida Party, Zavala County, Texas in 1974.

ALICIA CHACON---First Chicana elected to various posts in El Paso County: school board, city council, County Judge, Democrat; appointed to regional Small Business Administration post; and later headed United Way of El Paso.

ROSA TIJERINA and MARIA ESCOBAR---Daughter and wife, respectively of Land Recovery Movement (Southwest) Reies Lopez Tijerina, that performed support roles for him, the Alianza de Pueblos Libres. Rosa led the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse Raid and was arrested for that event. Both live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

PART II The Chicano Movement Activists

ALMA CANALES---First Chicana to run for Lt. Governor, Raza Unida Party.

LINDA REYNA YANEZ---First Chicana elected to the Rio Grande Valley’s Court of Appeals. First Chicana to run for Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Democrat.

IRMA MIRELES---First Chicana elected to the San Antonio River Authority, multi-county district. Raza Unida Party official and leader from Bexar County.

ROSIE CASTRO---Student leader, Raza Unida Party leader, candidate for local office in San Antonio. Mother of current State Representative Joaquin Castro and former city council member Julian Castro.

SEVERITA LARA---Student leader of Crystal City Walkout of 1969. Mayor of Crystal City, Texas and candidate for County Judge, Democrat.

MARIA JIMENEZ---Student leader, University of Houston, first Chicana to run for State Representative, Raza Unida Party, Harris County. Immigrant rights activist currently.

Part III Puentes y Lazos: The Hispanic Connectors

HILDA TAGLE---Officeholder by election and appointment to various judicial posts in Nueces County (Corpus Christi), Democrat. First Chicana appointed federal judge in the state to the Southern District (Brownsville division).

ELVIRA REYNA---First Hispanic woman elected to House of Representatives as Republican (Mesquite).

LETICIA SAN MIGUEL VAN DE PUTTE---Pharmacist turned politician and elected State Representative from Bexar County (San Antonio), later elected as State Senator, Democrat.

SOCORRO "COCO" MEDINA---First Chicana to run for County Commissioner in Amarillo, Democrat. Former owner operator of Spanish language radio.

MARIA ANTONIETTA BERRIOZABAL---Elected city council member in San Antonio, later ran for Mayor and Congress.

TRINI GAMEZ---First Chicana to run for County Judge in Deaf Smith County (Hereford), Democrat. Former Texas Rural Legal Aid staffer and plaintiff in single-member litigation.

Part IV Twenty-first -century Entorchas/Torchbearers

NORMA CHAVEZ---Elected State Representative from El Paso, first Chicana Democrat. Leader of Mexican American Democrats in El Paso.

DIANA FLORES---First Chicana elected to the Dallas County Community College District as Trustee. Leader of re-districting initiatives, Primera Voz, and MEGAVOTO.

GLORIA DE LEON---Co-Founder, National Hispanic Institute. Recruiter and trainer of countless young Hispanic leaders across the nation.

LENA LEVARIO---First Chicana appointed to state district court bench in Dallas County. Elected to state district criminal court bench in 2006, Democrat.

ELFIDA MARQUEZ GUTIERREZ---Elected to El Paso County Community College District as Trustee. School administrator.

ROSE HERRERA---First Hispanic woman elected to Fort Worth Independent School District as Trustee. Leader of state Mexican American Democrats.

NORMA VILLARREAL RAMIREZ---First Chicana elected County Judge in Zapata County, Democrat. Former staff person with Texas Rural Legal Aid.

GUADALUPE "LUPE" VALDEZ---First Hispanic woman elected Sheriff in Texas, Dallas County in 2004.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

NACCS-Tejas Regional Conference

Tejas Regional Conference
University of North Texas
March 1-3, 2007
Conference Program

(First Historic NACCS regional in North Tejas!)
[See Schedule at:]

Maybe old news, but news for me

Emmy Perez, the El Paso Poeta, has relocated to Edinburgh. She is an Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing at the University of Texas-Pan American -- way to go Emmy!

Check out her blog: (created June 2006)

El Segundo Barrio as our Spiritual Place

Posted with permission

Hola, Señor Juarez!

I just enjoyed reading your comments over the Segundo Barrio controversy. I agree with many of your comments. Segundo Barrio has a lot of history and memories, es "El Barrio." You can tell who is not native to El Paso and those that are young when they need to ask, what Barrio? when reference to the Barrio is made. I was not raised there. I was born in El Paso but raised in the Clardy Fox area. However, my primos lived in El Barrio en los Presidios. Many people are not aware that Fort Bliss extended to that area and the Presidios were military barracks; that is why they had the latrines outside. There is much history in El Segundo.

The Soul. We do not often hear that word nowadays. What would happen, if the crazy council people decided to do their re-development along Scenic Drive? (Actually, a shopping village would work well there) Hijole, no! Que…desorden! The resident’s cry would be heard all across El Paso, Juarez and Las Cruces! They would, probably, employ the word "soul." They would talk about all the history and about their family lineage there.
It is the same thing. That old adage "walk in my shoes" would ring true.

There is so much talent at the Barrio. Artist, singers, actors, dancers, writers, artisans, you name it. Why not give them autonomy. Beautify it by allowing the residents to express their creativity. Can the mighty buck pass to their hands too? The situation calls for a paradigm; a new beginning. I know this is a "long shot" but since we are disseminating information, why not pass on the information that as Mexicans we are indigenous and can exercise our right as such. Can we imagine what it would be like? As it is, El Pasoans go to the Barrio for Bowie Bakery, Uhhhhmmm bread. We go to the Armijo and to special events at the Boys Club; we go to reminisce and get away from all the boisterous illusions of the city. There could be Dance at the Park (Danzon Contest on Saturday Nights).

I am an Aztec Dancer and we have danced numerous times at the Park and the Boys Club. The Barrio’s Clinic? It is a good thing but the administrator and friends have got to shape up, but I think ship out! De veras, talk about self-serving; they have forgotten the vision and mission, which is la gente. Get some decent people up there and a good board of directors to keep a close eye on them; no nepotism. A good many projects have not been realized because the CEO and his Gangita (sorry but I do not beat around the bush) brush them off. Hijole, no! As the United Farm Workers’ slogan goes-Si Se Puede! We need to take a new, fresh breath of air, oxygen into our system-the Barrio-and exhale that hot, thick air that has been used up and no longer serves any purpose except to make us feel a bit nauseous.

I could go on and on, but I will stop now and ask you to help with ideas as to how we may come together and exercise a good effort to maintain our spiritual place; El Segundo Barrio.

Thank You,
Isela Laca

Keep Breathing
Isela Laca

Alma del Pueblo

Perhaps there needs to be a celebration of Segundo Barrio, in many forms, socially and historically.

Maybe Chicano Studies, and UTEP and EPCC faculty and HACU, NABE, TACHE, MEChA, Friends of the El Paso Public Library, and the El Paso Community Foundation, etc. (Humanities money too) can sponsor a symposium on Segundo Barrio. It can be titled something like:

"Alma del Pueblo: Segundo Barrio/South El Paso, Then and Now"

Wouldn't it be interesting to know who was the architect for Sacred Heart Church and how it was built? Who built it? Who paid to build it? Does Sacred Heart Church have any archives? If so, who is preserving them? How about the other Segundo Barrio churches? Where are their archives?

Or what is the full history of Clinica La Fe? Pete Duarte was instrumental but his name is absent from the history for an unknown reason? Are any of Professor Yolanda Leyva's graduate students writing a history of Clinica La Fe?

I saw in a recent conference that someone presented a paper on the life of Cleofas Calleros--what would Calleros say about the proposed plan?

When we lived in El Segundo Barrio in some apartments on Ochoa Street (the ones that used to house La Corona Grocery) there was a lady with a fiddle who used to come down and entertain us chicanitos with her fiddle playing. I never knew her name or who she was. Does anyone remember her?

Who were the movers and shakers in El Segundo Barrio in the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's until now? A lot of activistas have come through El Segundo. Who were they and who has documented the lives of these people? Who has their photographs and papers?

I remember hearing some stories of UFO abductions in El Segundo Barrio, is this folklore or did it really happen?

Who are some of El Segundo's Best Cuentistas? Toni Fuentes is a great storyteller and she has many great stories. How about a Segundo Barrio Storytellers Conference? Can one be organized?

What important murals are in danger of being lost in El Segundo if we don't figure out a way to conserve them?

Is the history of El Segundo Barrio being taught in schools? Does anyone at UTEP or EPCC plan on creating a course on the history of El Segundo? How can we celebrate El Segundo before it is wiped off the brow of our memories? How do we share our love of El Segundo with young people? Perhaps a minor in El Paso Studies?

We have a Border Patrol Museum but there not a Segundo Barrio Museum or Archive somewhere in El Paso? Something like they have in Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos in New York would be great.

What will the vision for the El Paso History Museum exactly be? Will it have some of the history of Segundo Barrio or will it just be history North of Paisano Street?

Will it have some of the history taking place between "the Plan" and the Paso del Sur group?

Will the History Museum have some of Bruce Berman's photographs?

I think Bruce's documentary photographs have really made a difference on the Paso del Sur website and on articles dealing with El Segundo Barrio. Berman's images have a Paul Strand feel and his attention to detail and simplicity and the cleanesss of his line is reminiscent of Laura Gilpin's images. His work has made us all look at the beauty that exists in El Segundo--they are great photos Bruce--thank you! Check out Bruce's images at: .
This is living history in the making!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hecho en Tejas

Read Paseno Dagoberto Gilb's article "Hecho en Tejas, Summoning the Ghosts that Haunt Anglo Texas Culture," in THE TEXAS OBSERVER (January 12, 2007) at

Dr. Gilda Baeza Ortego takes over as Library Director at Western New Mexico State University

The Library at Western New Mexico State University in Silver City is pleased to welcome Dr. Gilda Baeza Ortego as the new University Librarian. Dr. Ortego has been the Library Director at Texas A&M University-Kingsville for the past seven years. She will begin her position at Miller Library on February the 5th. Dr. Phillip Ortego, will also become the first Chicano Scholar-in-Residence at Western New Mexico State University! Please extend congratulations to both of them!

Flip This Barrio

There is No Room for Nostalgia in El Segundo Barrio in South El Paso These Days (written before the hammer fell on "The Plan")
By Miguel “Mike” Juarez, c/s/r

I recently phoned a friend to ask her about her stance on the El Paso Downtown Revitalization Plan A year ago we would have had a friendly and polite conversation, but this time her words were cautious, as were they measured. I do not pretend to know the dynamics of present day El Paso, not having lived there since 1997. I now live in Bryan, Texas, and have formerly lived in Tucson and before that, in Buffalo, New York, but in the last ten years I have visited the El Paso more times than I can remember and I maintain close and deep ties with community persons, artists and writers there.

All my family, my seven siblings and my mother live there, but they are far removed from this zeitgeist. I know more of what is happening there than them because I stay glued to the drama unfolding on the Chuco and Raza umbilical chord composed of online newspapers: El Paso Times Online, Newspaper Tree; Blogs: La Bloga, Pluma Fronteriza, and countless e-mail message trees and listservs that crisscross cyberspace: Robb Chavez’s Xcruz rants, Donna Snyder’s Tumblewords list, and two vital electronic mailing lists: Molly Molly’s Frontera-L, and Beto Calderon’ s Historia-L.

In my phone call to my long-time friend, there seemed to be desconfianza in her voice about why I was calling. Little did I know that I was stepping into the highly debated and highly contested space about what is to become of El Segundo Barrio under the guise of redevelopment as the barrio prepares itself for gentification.

I asked her the question everyone has had on their mind, why certain people were siding with the "pesudos/the “heavies,” people who wanted to upgrade the neighborhood and ultimately "flip" Segundo Barrio like people on the home improvement channel "flip" houses? The concept is that you purchase a cheaper house, remodel it and sell it for more. I felt they were readying to do with El Segundo Barrio with the proposed Redevelopment Plan.

My friend was adamant in her stance, and it mirrored that of her peers--that the redevelopment would be good for the barrio, "that the redevelopment will ultimately improve the lives of la gente in el Segundo." Emphasis on the lives of the people who live there now, not the people who once lived there, nor the do-gooders like David Romo, author of Ringside to the Revolution, who unbeknownst to his enemies, is not trying to sell more books, but who has led a strong and visible opposition to the redevelopment.

If we were naïve, we could all go home and watch our tele-novelas and call it a day, yet what is really driving the issue is monetary gain, the almighty buck, some will gain financially from all this and we all know who they are. From a long-distance observer, there is a lot at stake. As an El Pasoan living away it pains me to see what is happening to people who are involved in this issue. What also troubles me is that the present-day move towards redevelopment is not one based in historical nor cultural preservation but one based on the buck and plain, old American greed in the mantra where the rich get richer and the poorer live in nicer places and unless, there is rent control, they eventually pay higher rent.

In my phone conversation, my friend, cautioned me against taking sides. She said Romo was appealing to artists and writers with ties to El Paso and encouraging them to take sides and add fuel to the fire. Little did she know that many months ago, deciding to put our differences aside, I phoned David and offered my help. I had a romantic idea that all the El Paso expatriates could set up a "Save El Segundo Barrio" Pay-Pal account and we would raise millions of dollars to finance the revolution. Instead David invited me to a drumming session at Alamito Park in Segundo Barrio last time I was in El Paso. I didn't make it, preferring to spend time with my mother who I see on my infrequent visits.

My friend told me how former El Pasoan and author Sergio Troncoso innocently walked into this power play like a deer in headlights when he wrote his nostalgic piece about his abuelita or how Latina author Denise Chavez sent her piece "Tearing out the heart of Las Cruces: An Unhealed Wound," that appears on the Frontera Del Sur website located at "There is no room for nostalgia in El Segundo Barrio these days!" she told me.

She talked disparagingly about Romo and his groupito, El Paso Del Sur, but unbeknownst to her, I was a card carrying member too! The Paso del Sur group is actually a broad-based effort, made up of many people from throughout the community. “You know how David is, you know how he works," she told me. And I did know how David was and his undying, almost blind concern for the poor and disenfranchised in South El Paso. Although the Stanford-educated, multilingual, middle class Romo had not been born nor had lived in Segundo Barrio (like I did until I was ten years old), he has sought to channel his energies to improving the lives of youth and its people there.

David was passionate about El Segundo, but at times, he was also self-centered, but how many of us artists and intellectual aren’t. How many of us change agents are quiet and subservient when we want to affect change within our lifetimes. Romo did have a past of creating opportunities for himself (he and ex-pal Bobby Bryd totally appropriated the Bridge Center when they were at the helm) and sometimes stepping on toes, but again, this is the course of action in trying to make a difference--mistakes are made here and there.

Romo, like many of us, is not perfect. My friend pointed out that Romo and the Paso del Sur group were no where to be found at the El Paso Civic Center recently when scores of viejitos and viejitas from El Segundo were bused there when their homes were flooded. “If the Paso del Sur group was so concerned about the people of El Segundo, why were they not at the Civic Center handling out warm blankets and hot cocoa during the floods?”

I phoned her because I wanted to get to the bottom of the Downtown Development Plan issue, having read a lot of the events from afar, having witnessed the tearing apart of the close-knit activista El Paso community. What troubles me about the issue is how IT has divided the city and pitted the best of friends, and the best of allies, all who want to improve El Paso.

What is at stake, more than losing the character of South El Paso is the loss of the soul of the City that is first and foremost a Mexicano enclave. El Paso will never be Santa Fe; pray to god it doesn’t become San Antonio! Foreshadowing the loss of some of the best city’s best wall art, its murals and historic homes, the deeper and most enduring loss will be the trust people there have for each other.

El Paso is the last true Chicano-Mexicano city in the United States. Los Angeles has Olvera Street, we have Segundo Barrio. Segundo Barrio has been the Ellis Island for Mexicanos for close to two centuries and it is filled with history and memories that are months away from being bulldozed into condos and mini-malls.

Segundo Barrio was the staging place for thousands of families fleeing Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. It was in Segundo Barrio that intellectual Cleofas Callero documented the transition of life into the twentieth century, it was a stage for Carpa entertainers in the early 1900's, it was in Segundo Barrio that Zoot Suiters lived and partied, it was a stopping point for Anthony Quinn and his mother before they traveled out West and he went on to Hollywood to become a famous actor.

It was in Segundo Barrio that Bert Corona, the labor leader and his family lived before his family moved to Los Angeles where he laid to groundwork for the labor movement in this country. Segundo Barrio was familiar turf for journalist Ruben Salazar, and it has been a source of inspiration and mecca for numerous important Chicano/a artistic and literary voices of our time.

Clearly, El Segundo Barrio is important and historic to the national Chicano consciousness (although reading the promotional materials from the promoters of the plan you wouldn’t know it) and we are weeks away from having it disappear before our very eyes. The clock is ticking.

Days later, my friend phoned to tell me that someone had spray-painted "Vendidos" on some buildings. But the true vendidos, the true traitors in this story are not those who side with either/or, but those who remain silent and do nothing because they are related to the redevelopers or they have just forgotten their roots or they just want to stay out of it and get by.

Those of you fence sitters in El Paso, who haven’t taken a stance either/or because you are waiting to see who wins this one, need to show your cards now, the curtain is falling. What is in danger of being flipped here is not only the barrio, but the flipping of histories and memories, flipped out of the consciousness of time and place. And it is not just in South El Paso but also across the river in Cd. Juarez—it is a sign of the times like global warming, it is wide-spread regional sociological “flipping” “renewal” “rebuilding” “beautification” “re-gentrification” -- the synonyms are many, the effect the same, it is the redevelopment of our souls.

Paseño, El Paso Expatriate Miguel “Mike” Juárez works as an assistant professor and curator of Hispanic Studies Collections at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Miguel is the author of Colors on Desert Walls: the Murals of El Paso (1997, Texas Western Press) and other works. He was the lead curator in the exhibit !Siempre!