LUPE members from Hidalgo County colonias are raising their voice together in LUPE’s first member convention. After marching 250 strong in Austin, colonia residents are coming back to the Valley energized to raise their voice on 6 key issues at home: immigration reform, housing, safe and thriving communities, health care, education, and employment and job training. Hidalgo County has over 1,000 colonias, with over 100,000 residents. LUPE’s Convetion gives voice directly to Hidalgo County colonias.
The member convention will take place this Saturday, February 26 at 9:30am, at LUPE’s San Juan office, located on the corner of Cesar Chavez and Business 83. In meetings and mini-conventions throughout January and February, LUPE members met to prioritize their top issues. At Saturday’s convention, members will choose which of the 6 issues they will commit themselves to and form working groups to tackle them.
Martha Sanchez, Organizing Coordinator, says: “Colonia residents are blamed for being apathetic about their problems. But when they see that their needs are being talked about, not by politicians making promises, but by their fellow colonia residents making commitments, they are moved to act. And that’s what La Convención shows: Colonia residents ready to act.”
Colonia residents are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. They face poverty, unsafe working conditions, poor housing, and are the targets of predatory development. They have a strong voice in creating solutions to their problems but for decades their voices have been ignored. They are blamed for not participating in the political system, when the reality is that they want to participate, but politicians have routinely left them out. County money is used on businesses while residents are left without streetlights; politicians don’t set foot on colonia unpaved roads, while residents worry they won’t get to work when it rains; County politicians race to meet the needs of large business interests while colonia residents are told to wait.
But when politics come from the colonias, from the poor neighborhoods, colonia residents want to participate and want to create solutions to their own problems. When engaged, colonia residents organize meetings, attend conventions, and create strategies and plans of actions to address their problems. LUPE’s member convention is the latest step in this process.