April 28, 2006

Latino activists organize alternative event to support the national boycott

By Martha Sarabia

In a surprisingly active participation during weeks of protest against some proposed laws in Congress considered to be anti-immigrants, Latinos in North San Diego County are preparing for the national boycott day on May 1.

The boycott is organized by many activists nationwide, who mainly oppose immigration bill HR 4437 that if it is approved, it would declare all undocumented immigrants in the United States as felons. They are asking immigrant communities to abstain from going to work, sending their children to school and spending any money to show their importance in the nation’s economy.

In order to support this boycott but with a different approach, various community organizations in North County have come together to organize the “Cultural and Informative Event in Support of the Boycott.”

“We want people to participate in some type of action that day instead of just being at home. We want them to come and get informed, involved and at the same time celebrate our culture,” said Yesenia Balcazar, co-coordinator of the Vista Human Rights Committee.

“We want to provide a safe, fun and informative place for people who are going to be supporting the boycott to come and get information,” she added.

Luis Higinio, another event organizer, believes that the gathering provides a different type of venue for the historical event.

“We want to offer a different outlet for the community,” said Higinio, member of the Coalition for Justice, Peace and Dignity in Vista.

For Higinio, asking others to not report to work is not an essential part of the boycott.

“We’re not saying don’t go to work and being risked fired,” he said while recognizing that many people cannot afford to miss work that day.

Organizers believe that deciding whether to send children to school or to go to work is a choice only individual families can make. They also believe that people can support the boycott in an effective way by not purchasing any items that day and by getting informed at the event after school is out or after work.

During the event, booths about topics such as human rights and immigration bills will be prominent as representatives of different organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and different human rights committees will be present to answer questions from the public.

The event is scheduled for May 1 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Wildwood Park, located at the corner of E. Vista Way and Escondido Ave. in Vista. This site was chosen because “it’s the middle point of North county” explained Higinio.

Special guest speakers including Vista Mayor Morris Vance and various student representatives from Vista, Oceanside, Fallbrook and Escondido will also participate in the event.

“We want to give students a chance to speak out for themselves,” said Higinio.

Children activities, music and entertainment such as Ballet Folklorico dances and other cultural performances will be provided by different community members during the event.

Both the Vista Human Rights Committee and the Coalition for Justice, Peace and Dignity in Vista formed after the killings of 3 young males in Vista by sheriff deputies last September as well as to combat anti-immigrant demonstrations by Minuteman Project members a couple of months ago. These groups are now focusing on informing the community about their rights and are working together in many events and causes.

“It is important that people get involved in their own areas and we need to strength the unity among organizations in North County,” said Balcazar.

The groups also hope to start similar groups in other communities around the region.

“We want to start pushing for more organizations in Escondido, San Marcos, Fallbrook because injustices don’t only happen in Vista but also in communities heavily populated by Latinos,” said Higinio.

The organizers also want to start a documentation campaign to make sure that no student abuse occurred during the student walkouts in March.

Maria Cortez, a San Marcos resident who has lived for more than 30 years in the United States, believes that the event is an excellent idea to participate in the boycott.

“I think it’s terrific. “That’s what we need, more information,” said Cortez.

Most of all, the organizers hope that after attending the event, community members like Cortez get inspired to get involved in the community and to start working on other issues that affect them. They also hope that many attend their event to show support for the immigrant community.

“At one point or another, everyone was an immigrant,” said Higinio.

For more information, call Balcazar at (760) 468-4518 or Higinio at (760) 415-4497.

Return to the Frontpage