In an effort to encourage civic engagement year round, as well as build the power of colonias within the political process, LUPE will host our first ever Hidalgo County colonia residents summit February 26 where delegations from Hidalgo County colonias will share victories and challenges, and create a plan of action to tackle their most pressing concerns.
“The lead up to this summit has been showing individuals that they are part of the larger colonia community,” says Organizer Javier Parras. “They have shared issues within the colonia and have a shared interest in making change.”
These individuals have joined together with their neighbors into leadership teams to begin to address the issues of their colonias. Some leadership teams have already begun to see improvements as a result of their organizing, like paved roads, road signs, and filled potholes. Others are in the process of making improvements.
The next step has been to unite colonias within the area to show leaders that the issues they are working on are faced by residents of other colonias as well and that making lasting improvements will require changing county politics.
For that reason, LUPE organizer Javier Parras has begun to bring colonia leaders together in mini-conventions and regional meetings. Leadership teams present their successes and the improvements they are seeking to the leadership teams of other area colonias. These meetings will build towards the February summit.
The colonia residents summit will also help create a colonia-wide identity and common understanding. “The colonia residents will see that the issues I face in my colonia are faced by others in other colonias,” says Organizer Parras, “and the process I’ve worked on to address those issues is something that I can teach to other colonias and I can learn from them.”
The colonia residents summit will also show residents that LUPE and the Equal Voice Network are working with both state and national coalitions to work for immigration reform, better health care, good jobs and improved living conditions.
The summit will build off of the organizing done to promote the vote this past November. The summit will bring together seasoned veterans of the immigrant rights movement with those emerging colonia leaders who dedicated themselves to engaging their neighbors in voting November 2nd and who are looking for ways to continue their involvement in the political process.