This has been a momentous year for the 99 percent in the Rio Grande Valley. From colonia residents finally winning relief for damages caused by Hurricane Dolly to fighting off anti-immigrant legislation, the organizing efforts led by working people have paid off big.
These victories have come largely as a result of people and organizations of different sectors joining together. While we might not always agree on everything, when we join forces to work for the things we do agree on, we are stronger for it. “Juntos pero no revueltos,” as leader Ramona Casas, of colonia organization ARISE says. That doesn’t mean we are mixed up or uniform. We have our differences and, used the right way, they make us stronger.
These victories are not in any specific order.
1. Colonia residents win streetlights for 10 Hidalgo County colonias. La Union del Pueblo Entero and ARISE
The vast majority of the Rio Grande Valley’s unincorporated neighborhoods are left in the dark nightly. This is beginning to change as colonia residents organize for safer, healthier communities, demanding streetlights be installed by their Hidalgo County Precinct officials. Thanks to these efforts, 10 colonias will see streetlights installed next year.
2. $14 million for drainage projects in Hidalgo County colonias. Equal Voice Network, Texas Low Income Housing and Texas Apple Seed
Hidalgo County Commissioners agreed to devote at least $14 million of Hurricane Dolly Disaster Recovery funds to colonias last month. The victory came as a result of the work of ARISE, LUPE, TOP, Proyecto Azteca and the rest of the Equal Voice Network’s housing and drainage team, who have organized with colonia residents whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Dolly. Colonia residents’ demand that disaster recovery funds go to colonias was backed by Texas Low Income Housing and Texas Apple Seed, who insisted that funding colonias was an absolute requirement for use of the federal funds.
3. RGV residents help fight off over 100 anti-immigrant bills in the 2011 Texas Legislative Session. RITA, Houston Unido, Equal Voice Network and many, many more
Texas joined a short but prestigious list of states able to fight off Arizona-style, fascist legislation targeting Latino and immigrant communities proposed in this year’s legislative session. In Texas, the victory was brought about by a multi-sector approach, with immigrant communities leading the charge and inviting law inforcment officials, small business owners, educators and more to join their oppositional voices. Immigrant-led organizations, including the statewide Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance, Houston Unido, and the Equal Voice Network’s Immigration Working Groups ensured that the fight remained immigrant-led throughout.
4. Low income residents win $122 million to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Dolly. Equal Voice Network
Thanks to an organized effort from colonia residents, along with LUPE and the Equal Voice Network, colonia residents from across the Rio Grande Valley will receive assistance for housing damage repair caused by hurricane Dolly in 2008. The federal government disaster recovery program is distributing $122 million to help residents. The EVN won the prioritizing of the lowest income families when those funds are distributed.
See the rest of 2011’s biggest victories at occupymcallen.org
We look forward to many more victories in the new year.
Compiled by Occupy McAllen.