Donna – The road to strong communities is paved by strong leaders. LUPE leaders Manuela Luna and Rosie Tijerina are paving the way for strong colonias in Hidalgo County Precinct 1.
Rosie Tijerina has been fighting for 10 years to get streets fixed in her Donna-area colonia Goolie Estates. The unpaved roads caused dust to go into people’s homes, causing health and nuisance problems for colonia residents. Recently that fight bore fruit. Continue reading
Elda Gonzalez, resident of Tauros 14, announces the regional Public Light Campaign at last week’s Hidalgo County Commissioners Court meeting.
The Public light Campaign is now in month three and progress has been made with over 3,000 individual petitions signed, and other community groups and churches continuing to sign on their support.
Download the petition and ask your church, business or organization to sign.
LUPE leaders, along with members of ARISE, TOP, and START, have organized to increase support in our communities. In our 1,000 colonias lacking streetlights we continue to have unsafe conditions and unacceptable number of preventable fatal accidents. Because of this, members have met with county officials over the past month to bring close attention to this issue.
LUPE members, with support from ARISE, attended Commissioners Court April 23rd and for the first time addressed the campaign publicly in front of the commissioners. Much of the discussion was based on Continue reading
LUPE leaders with Dolores Huerta (center) on Tuesday in McAllen. Click photo for more pictures from the event.
This week, members of the Union visited with UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta during two events planned by the Hermes Music Foundation
to honor the farmworker leader’s “legacy of love.”
The Dolores Huerta Foundation and the Hermes Music Foundation have worked together to contribute to the empowerment of local communities through music, including distributing instruments to farmworker youth and promoting the CD, “Claro Que Se Puede,” which features artists like Carlos Santana, Ramon Ayala and Willie Nelson.
Dolores Huerta and Hermes Music founder Alberto Kreimerman see their work as complementing each other. Kreimerman says that Dolores Huerta and her foundation spread love and acceptance through community organizing and political awareness. And Huerta sees Kreimerman’s work spreading music as an important part of the empowerment of the communities her foundation serves.
At a press conference Tuesday, as a testament to the labor leader’s dedication to others, Huerta shared her own spotlight by recognizing the contribution of LUPE director Juanita Valdez-Cox and other LUPE members and former UFW leaders for their contribution to improvements in Texas. Under the direction of Rebecca Flores, Juanita worked as an organizer for the United Farm Workers in South Texas. Her and farmworker leaders throughout the state organized for and won clean water and toilets for agricultural workers and workers’ compensation for on-the-job injuries, among other farmworker victories. Now, as director of LUPE, Juanita leads the organization’s efforts to improve living conditions for Hidalgo County’s over 150,000 colonia residents.
Huerta said that her foundation is doing work very similar to our own work with colonia residents. She said that in California there are also neighborhoods without paved roads, streetlights and proper drainage. All funds raised by her foundation go to employing organizers from low-income working class communities and training them using a grassroots organizing model. Natural leaders are developed by their participation in community projects, which they prioritize by analyzing their neighborhood and community needs.
To learn more and support the Dolores Huerta Foundation, visit their website at http://www.doloreshuerta.org/
Children of colonia El Jay in front of recently named Teresa Barrera Park
In recognition of her 26 years organizing for improvements in her colonia and her tireless efforts to give a better life to those around her, LUPE leader Teresa Barrera received the honor of having a park named after her. The park, which was built in 2007 in the San Juan area colonia El Jay, will now carry the name of Doña Teresa and serve as a reminder to the community of what can be accomplished when we organize.
The park is only one of many improvements that Doña Teresa and the colonia El Jay committee achieved over years of organizing. When Doña Teresa and her husband Inocencio Barrera moved to the colonia in 1986, the neighborhood had nothing but lots and simple homes made from any material available. It had no running water or paved roads, and certainly not a park. She remembers telling her neighbors that even though she came from a poor ranch in poverty-stricken Mexico, even the ranch had better living conditions that her new neighborhood. From the start, Doña Teresa was animating her neighbors to speak up for the needs of the community.
Doña Teresa Barrera (center) poses with family in front of park sign bearing her name.
Now, after tireless years of organizing, the colonia benefits from paved roads, running water, streetlights, mailboxes, school bus stops, and even a park, an improvement that most colonia residents only hope for.
Teresa Barrera Park was built in 2007 under the authority of Commissioner Tito Palacios when colonia El Jay pertained to County Precinct 2. This year, because of redistricting, colonia El Jay passed to Precinct 1. Commissioner Joel Quintanilla renamed the park in Doña Teresa’s honor.
Colonia El Jay is an example of what is possible when we are persistent, work hard toward a goal, and above all organize together. ¡Sí Se Puede!
Residents of Colonia Bar 4 meet with San Juan PD about community policing
Since Colonia Bar 4 began their neighborhood watch program only weeks ago, the neighborhood as already seen crime drop.
The city of San Juan helped residents by installing neighborhood watch signs and training residents on how to manage the program in their barrio. The city will also help the neighborhood establish a person in charge of the program to communicate between neighborhood residents and city police.
While the program is already proving to be an important preventative measure, the community sees the next major step against crime to be the installation of streetlights. Residents say that the cover of darkness the neighborhood offers at night attracts people who are up to no good.
While the colonia is around 20 years old, the city incorporated the colonia about 10 years ago. That means that residents have been paying the city for the past 10 years without receiving streetlights. Past city governments have promised city services, but have not followed through on their promises. This year’s city government is the first government to take serious steps toward providing lights for Bar 4 residents.
City officials will have a meeting with the community in order to let them know the process, which will include signing permission for city workers to enter the residents’ property to install the wiring necessary for installation.
Residents are seeing clearly the results of organizing with LUPE. With each improvement, residents are more animated to continue in the process.