My work starts at 8 in the morning. I sweep the floor, and sweep the sidewalk in front, so that this place is clean and with dignity, so that the migrants can come and be happy here when they enter the Comedor. I’m the one who does the maintenance, the painting, I clean the toilets, I fix the bathrooms. I like my job. All I want is safety for the migrants here. Here I’m guarding the door. This is my job. It feels really good, I’m in charge of the door to keep this a safe place for the migrants. Saying no to somebody who is not a migrant, denying them food, feels really bad.
If I see this picture again in 5 years I would say:
“Where is this guy? Did he make it to the US? Is he back in his country?” We are here together today, but as soon as we take off in our different ways we won’t see each other again. Maybe they’ll make it through, but we’ll never be together again. That’s why I took a picture with all of them. In this picture we have everybody together the way we are today.
Si yo veo esta foto otra vez en unos 5 años podría decir:
Well, we’re all Hondurans, we all met on the road so we became friends because we come from the same place. Who would have thought that we would be meeting all these people from Honduras? When you leave there, you leave thinking that you are going North, but you don’t know who you are going to
meet on the road, and you meet all these others from Guatemala, from Honduras, from Mexico…
This guy lives from agriculture, he grows plantains and ‘chontaduro’ and other produce to eat, that is his sustenance. He used to cut wood but now that land is a protected area, so wood cutting is not allowed. He said he is one of the settlers, but event though he arrived here more than 25 years ago, he arrived to a place with land that had already been broken, from the Valencia family.
The corn is ours, our harvest and the name is really clear: “MAIS”: “Movimiento Indígena Alternativo y Social” (Alternative and Social Indigenous Movement). Is what I have always said: this movement is not only for indigenous people but for every social field and everything it involves: afro-americans, peasants, Yanaconas (indigenous people). Because it has been clear for a long time: if we are not united, next wars are not going to be for land but for water, that’s why we need to be united.
I feel happy because I know I’ve got something to sell. When I need money, I know by recycling I’ve got something to sell. Any cash you get for your products is useful. It’s sad because the
government is going to make this illegal.
Me siento feliz porque sé que tengo algo para vender. Cuando necesito dinero sé que al reciclar tengo algo qué vender.
Casa Latina has been a good connecting place ever since I first came here. They give you a connection with an employer, and if the employer has a lot of work, then it’s up to you to maintain the relationship with the employer. I wanted to have another picture at Casa Latina because it is a place where I come to meet new friends, I come to look for work, and we live here as a community.
I advocate for the rights of immigrants in this country. I travel around the country to do demonstrations, marches and carry the voice of the people with whom I work. I’m in the same situation as many of them. Why do I do this? I have the strength to keep on struggling for myself and my own rights. It is not the same to be fighting for immigrants if you are in the same situation. For this reason, you will fight harder.
These are four women, all from Casa Latina, at the Martin Luther King Day March… They’re all holding hands together, the four of them, like struggling together. It was a nice picture, as part of the march and in solidarity. That made me proud of my colleagues here at Casa Latina, with their strong will, that we can all keep on moving forward together.
This march was on Martin Luther King day. There have been other marches that I have participated in. And I like to be active, to let it be known who I am. I also participated in the march in 2006, and last year, when I was detained in the immigration detention center in Tacoma, I participated in the hunger strike. I share what some of the leaders here at Casa Latina say: “we have to be part of the battle for the rights of Hispanics.” It’s not just about me. It’s for the others too. Maybe I won’t get what I want individually.