(an excerpt from the non-profit organization Global Exchange)
On March 27, 2003, Fernando Suarez del Solar lost his son Jesus when Jesus stepped on a US cluster bomb while fighting in Iraq. Since then, Fernando has been traveling around the country speaking out against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. In December he traveled to Iraq with Global Exchange and a group of military families to listen to the needs and desires of the Iraqi people, and returned home to meet with congress people, UN officials and the media to call for the withdrawal of US troops. Fernando is also an active member of Military Families Speak Out www.mfso.org.
This Tuesday, March 27, on the anniversary of his son’s death and the beginning of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Fernando will be leading a two day fast in front of the Federal Building in downtown San Diego (880 Front Street) to demonstrate his opposition to the war and compassion for the families who continue to lose loved ones abroad.
Prior to his son’s death, Fernando lived a quiet life in Escondido, California, where he immigrated from Tijuana with his wife and children in 1997. The 48-year-old father made a modest living working as a cashier at a 7/11 store and delivering newspapers.
The death of his son turned Fernando’s life upside-down. His love and grief compelled him to get a deeper understanding of how his son died and what the war was really about, and to try to stop more young men and women from getting killed. He devoured information about the war, sought out other military families, attended anti-war gatherings. He went to Washington to talk to congresspeople. He demanded answers from the Pentagon. And at great risk to his own life, Fernando traveled to Iraq to pay his last respects to his son, and to see first-hand how the war was affecting both US soldiers and the Iraqi people.
Fernando sees no contradiction between supporting the troops and being against the war. When he visited Iraq with the human rights group Global Exchange in December 2003, he brought thousands of letters of peace and love from US children for both Iraqi children and the soldiers. “My heart goes out to the soldiers, many of whom come from poor communities and joined the military as a way to get an education,” says Fernando.
“Then they find themselves sent off to a faraway land where they are exposed to death every day, with their families suffering back homeall for the whims and lies of President Bush. I support the troops, but I don’t support the commander-in-chief who sent them into this unnecessary war.”
Fernando has received criticism for his outspoken anti-war stance from all corners, from his in-laws to other immigrants who call him an “ingrate” to military families who support the war. But he refuses to be silenced. He set up a group to provide psychological counseling for Hispanic families who have loved ones serving in the military or have suffered the loss of a family member.
Fernando founded his own counter-recruitment organization, Proyecto Guerrero Azteca, which aims to bring a message of peace and justice to sectors of the population which have historically lacked information about vital social issues in our society.
(For more info about the fast, call Juan at 619-665-0538)
Help support Chicano Park’s 37th anniversary! Join The Red CalacArts Collective for the 3rd annual Chicano Park Day Fundraiser in Calacalandia (Home of Calaca Press, 502 Rose Dr) in National City this Saturday, March 24, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Menudo will be served alongside classic Mexican music by Los Romanticos and roqueros Acteal. $20.00 per person. Children 12-17 years old, $10. Under 12 free. For more info, call 619-434-9036 or visit calacapress.com and redcalacartscollective.org.
The City of San Diego Public Library is pleased to present a free workshop on Buying a Home in San Diego. Buying a home is one of the largest financial investments you will make. Learn about the tax advantages and facts about the housing “bubble.” Find out what makes up your FICO score, what lenders are looking for and listen to a certified mortgage planning specialist. Find out the true cost of renting. This workshop will be held on Saturday, March 24, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at the Central Library (820 E St) on the second floor.
What is Islam? The misconceptions or the truths we invent? Speakers Jesse Mills from USD and Edgar Hopida from the Council on American-Islamic Relations will be hosting a discussion called Root Causes of Islamo-phobia and Its Remedies. Educate yourself about what you don’t know this Saturday, March 24, at Malcolm X Library (5148 Market St). The event starts at 10 a.m. and is free.
¿Recuerdos de tus abuelitos? Los Bilingual Writers is accepting bilingual poetry, prose and narrative submissions for their next anthology. If your abuelos ever shared a piece of their history with you and you are a talented writer, submit no more than three pieces of work by April 30, 2007 to losbilingualwriters @cox.net.
Caballero Music represents some of the finest musicians and performers in the San Diego and Tijuana Metroplex and we invite you to disfrutar our Latin style every Thursday evening at Voz Alta (16th and Broadway) in downtown. Caballero’s Latin Jam starts at 7 p.m. Donations accepted. For more info, call 619-628-8568 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Find out how to confront racial injustice against migrant workers every Wednesday at 7 p.m. with activist group, The Friends of Day Laborers. Meetings are held at Activist Center (4246 Wightman Street). For info, call 619-528-8383.
Danza Calpolli Mexicatl and Toltecas en Aztlan present a Danza Azteca Breakfast Fundraiser. Donations will go to host out of town Danzantes that will be performing for Chicano Park Day. This event takes place on Saturday, March 31 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Paradise Senior Center (1880 Logan Ave). For info, contact Rosa Olga Navarro at 619-264-2096 or Juan Flores 619-466-4395.
Activist and author Enriqueta Vasquez, a major figure in the Chicano Movement of the sixties will sign and discuss her recently published collection of writings, Enriqueta Vasquez and the Chicano Movement: Writings from El Grito del Norte at the Cross-Cultural Center at the University of California, San Diego next Monday, April 2 at 3 p.m.