February 18, 2005

‘Encanto Azul’ strives for Latino representation

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

Greg Morales has lived in Encanto for the past 10 years, and he said that during that time, he has felt as an outsider.

The reason: He is a Latino.

“As a Latino business-owner living in Encanto I feel completely isolated because everything here is set-up for Blacks, not for Latinos,” said Morales, who is a professional photographer and owns a photo studio.

Morales said that even though Encanto, which is a community in the City of San Diego’s 4th District, has a population of about 67% Latino, there’s hardly any political and business representation of the Latino community.

“Politically, the only political voice that is heard in Encanto is the voice of the council-member. And he only hires people who share his point of view. And from what I’ve seen, they don’t understand our issues as Latinos, and they don’t want to take us into consideration,” he said. “We have almost no politically power.”

That’s why he has created Encanto Azul, a grass-roots organization that tries to educate the Latino community of Encanto about their rights.

“I just want our people to get the knowledge they need. To share the information we have. I want our people to know we are aware of our condition and to tell all those politicians that we know that they’ve been lying to us,” Morales said.

Encanto Azul was named by a Latino activist and professor from Encanto who used to say that in Encanto, when the sun is setting, the grass looks blue. Morales said that there are about 100 members in Encanto Azul.

“The fact that Latinos have been excluded from political power tells you that if you want to work in city government, you either have to be Black or White. The truth is we’ve never gotten our turn,” he said.

Morales said that, because of his ideology, in the past he’s been called a racist by African-Americans living in Encanto.

“They try to call me a racist but it’s not that I don’t want to see any Blacks in power, what I want is to see some Browns as well,” Morales said.

Tony Young, who is African-American, is the council-member for the 4th District. He assumed office last January after winning a run-off election against former council-member George Stevens, who held office for more than 10 years.

Young replaced the late councilmember Charles Lewis, who passed away last August.

Venus Molina, council representative for the 4th District office, said that, although there have been many changes in the district administration, Council-member Young is receiving input from all communities, including Latinos in Encanto.

“I know that the councilmember is very interested in learning about the issues that are important to us Latinos,” she said. “He’s making everything possible to get the Hispanic community involved in the decisions taking place.”

Molina, who’s fluent in Spanish, invited all Latinos in the 4th District to call the district office and let her know any issues that should be addressed.

Molina added that the Latino population of the 4th District, which includes areas such as Paradise Hills, Skyline, and Encanto, is 36%.

Tommy Hightower, Councilmember Young’s chief of staff, said that the 4th. District office is making every effort to outreach to Latinos.

“Tony (Young) is very open for diversity in his staff, he takes it very seriously,” High-tower said. “We’re doing plenty for Latinos.”

Hightower pointed out that Young is meeting with Latino leaders in the district.

“We support any group that wants to help the community,” Hightower said.

Morales said that Encanto Azul will continue to organize the Latino community of Encanto. He said that its’ purpose is to educate in order to help Latinos to have a better quality of life through political representation.

“I want to continue telling people that they can help themselves, that they don’t have to put up with the discrimination anymore,” Morales said. “You do have a voice, and even though you don’t make a lot of money, and even though you don’t drive a new car, you should know you are equal, if not better, than those politicians who say they want to help you. We need real representation.”

The 4th District office number is (619) 236-6644.

You can contact Greg Morales at encanto_azul@hotmail.com.

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