Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Confronting Fidel Castro's Death through Poetry

As the end of the year approaches, I am finally beginning to confront the death of Fidel Castro, who changed the course of my life forever.

My relationship with him  even as an absence  has always been complex. 


When I was little, I remember seeing his photograph, a big bushy beard overpowering the frame. And while we were eating our supper, I would ask my mom innocentlyas children often do, "Mom, doesn't Fidel get his soup noodles stuck all over his beard? And how does he ever get them out after he eats?"

My father in an undated photo toasting
for our future happiness, in Cuba
Fores Family Album

Maybe that's what happened to all those around him...

My father fled Cuba because he lacked political freedoms. He believed we had these liberties here in the United States, however, so my brothers, sisters, and I grew up convinced in this country of democratic justice and fair play. This lawyer  my gentle father  could have been imprisoned for years or died for us in Cuba. He suffered greatly trying to escape, just like my mother: as children, we do not remember much. And my parents never talked about it afterward, only to tell us how lucky we were to be living in this land. When my dad chose to come to the United States to ask for political asylum, he knew he wanted us to be able to live and speak freely, and he never doubted that we might not have that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Teacher & DREAMer Tries to Explain Inexplicable to Children...


I can not imagine the pain of being a teacher today, especially in a multilingual school.

Having to speak with the refugees I help is quite difficult. Talking to young angels who do not understand the madness of the past few weeks seems to me impossible.... Worst, needing to reassure these same angels, when I find myself in the exact precarious limbo they fear is insufferable.

Yet Rosalía Salazar — graduate from the University of Texas, kindergarten teacher, and DREAMer — has to do just that.



DREAMer Rosalía Salazar with her kindergarten class


It has taken me a while to translate Rosi's message, since I have been busy with many projects and translations especially relevant to the wake-up call we've gotten, but her words are just as important today as they were the day she wrote them after the Trump election. 


Monday, November 7, 2016

Every Vote Counts, brick by brick

When I went to vote the second day of early voting, I should have written about what happened to me then  in this very conservative town where I live in middle America  because I was furious. 


But I did not, as I had too many other things preying on my mind, and this was just another thing on the list. As I see the articles going back and forth, however, and I see the atrocities going on in the name of "voter fraud," I cannot stand it any longer. 

Do you want to vote but think you cannot because you do not have proper ID?

When you go to vote, even if you do not have two pieces of identification, or if you do not have a photo ID, it does not matter anymore, according to Texas law, which was voted on and "trumped" down in July of this year, against all Texas Republican conservative wishes and much to Trump's dismay. According to the Federal Appeal Court, Texas was in violation of the Voting Rights Act, and so, the state had to find ways to accomodate voters who could not find appropriate documents, the ones the state wanted everyone to use but were hard to acquire for certain folks.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

On the Responsibilities of Citizenship

In the past, this land has been renowned as the melting pot of nations. 

I am sure a lot of our parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents, however, are turning in their graves as my friend and colleague Paul Zoltan writes these cautionary words. The full support of the country our parents loved and clamored for, the USA — which they thought no one could surpass because of the liberty they won at such a hard price — would disappoint them. Our predecessors had to forsake their own countries. They left other safe harbors as well because they thought no one could ever offer them a better chance at safeguarding their liberties as this one true nation, yet that privilege now seems elusive. 

What was protected by the constitution they enthusiastically adopted as their own seems now to be a shard, used arbitrarily to break the most vulnerable, and indeed, many other populations as well. 

But I leave you with Paul's words, because he says it so much better... 

Paul's father's naturalization papers from 1965,
hanging in his immigration law offices




On theResponsibilities of Citizenship
By Paul Zoltan

In the waiting area of my small law practice hangs my father’s naturalization certificate. He took the oath of allegiance and became a United States citizen when I was all of eight days old.

My dad had arrived in this country as a refugee from Hungary six years earlier. The story of his exile begins, improbably, in Belgium. In 1958, two years after Hungary’s tragic rebellion, my father was chosen to represent his nation’s engineering achievements at the World Exposition in Brussels. Though Hungary’s Communist regime had encouraged him and other participants openly to share ideas with engineers from outside the Soviet Bloc, my father did so with trepidation: having grown up a member of Hungary’s landed aristocracy, he belonged to what the Communists called the “suspect class.” His three half-brothers, who’d never fought in the war, were sent off to Soviet work camps as “war criminals,” never to be seen again. When a telegram reached my father in Brussels demanding his immediate return to Budapest, he smelled a rat. Purportedly it came from the university where he taught, but his dean insisted she hadn’t sent it. So my father sought out the British Secret Service.



Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Justice of the Immigration Court & the Power of its Judge King


I went to an Immigration Merits Hearing at the Dallas Courts recently — the last hearing before an individual or family is deported or given asylum  and this young mother and child from Guerrero, Mexico lost, as asylum seekers in the majority of these cases do. Although the judge admitted that the young woman "might be in danger," he said he could do nothing about the consequences such criminal activity effects on these poor folk in the countries from which they are escaping. The actions perpetrated in such countries were individual criminal proceedings, not governmental undertakings, and thus the people who suffered individually were not privy to meriting asylum under our government statutes, according to the judge's ruling.


Ternura, by Oswaldo Guayasamin © 1989
How can these learned men say such a thing? 

As a majority, do these judges have blinders on? Do they not see the massacres committed by the cartels of Mexico, or the maras throughout Central America (that we deported!), gangs that have taken over entire populations, becoming a de facto, criminal and parallel local government, so that people in these countries cannot live in peace? 

These refugees are fleeing for their lives; they are not economic refugees, as the immigration courts so often want to make everyone believe, or as many judges delude themselves into thinking. 

Instead, judges deceive everyone — including themselves — by stating young mothers' stories as filled with discrepancies, their credulity doubtful, and their exaggerations tantamount: how can these "liars" and "illegal aliens" live in our midst, they proclaim? 


Monday, July 4, 2016

IMMIGRANT...

With the presidential race and all it stirs up in our collective pasts as immigrants  because we are all immigrants, even if some of us go as far back as the Mayflower — we will realize that we are all living on borrowed land, and if we learn to live together, we can learn that we are all one, and no borders need divide us. 

Kristian (right) joined a number of other community activists of all ages in Las Vegas 
to street canvass for the Bernie Sanders campaign this past February.

Some of us came later too, not in the early migrations but in more recent relocations, and especially today, we are still arriving, because the forced exodus from other lands  due to politics, warfare, poverty, displacement, or what have you  are all legitimate. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Poemas del destierro / Poems of Exile


Usually I post things about education or immigration.

Sometimes I post things on poetry.

So I thought, why not? 


This is about my father, and it is about his poetry, his beautiful poetry, which I want to translate completely, one day.  So this is the beginning... 



Today is my papi's birthday. He would have been 94 years young today, & he is still with me everyday, in everything I do. Looking at some old books, then, I decided to translate the prologue he wrote to his small book of poetry, of course, dedicated A MI ESPOSA/TO MY WIFE... 


I think this is the small birthday present I can give you, Papi. Little by little I will try to translate your book, and maybe, I will try to republish it, somehow, someday... Happy happy birthday, where ever you are!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Losing Paradise... Perder el paraíso


I’ll be off these next couple of weeks, a bit of repose after a long haul. 

Perder el Paraíso (Losing Paradise) by Tomás Sánchez, Cuban painter and engraver
http://tomassanchez.net/eng/work/paintings

But we won the asylum case for a young refugee mom with two children from Honduras, so I think I can take a little break before beginning again on a new case: a mother with two children who escaped from the Guatemala/El Salvador border. Her husband and brother-in-law were killed, and the maras  the gangs  tried to kill her son too, but their dog began to bark and saved him. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

PAINTING OVER GRAFFITI ON WALLS IS NOT THE SAME AS BLEACHING OUT BLOOD FROM PEOPLE’S COLLECTIVE MEMORY


The recent publication of the second damning GIEI report, first publicized in the New York Times with subsequent coverage on National Public Radio is clear evidence that the Ayotzinapa movement has endured the test of time by staying in the world’s attention almost two years after the forced disappearance of the 43 normalistas. The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts responsible for the GIEI Report (named such for its acronym in Spanish) was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on March 2015 to investigate what happened to the 43 students on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero.


Guernica by Pablo Picasso, 1937 Museo Reina SofiaMadridSpain
Guernica warns humanity against the devastation of war & suffering: aren't the forced disappearances of Ayotzinapa an annihalation of the worst sort?


Thursday, May 12, 2016

I Do Not Exist.... UNDOCUMENTED!


I went to see the play Deferred Action this past weekend, a wonderful production about the trials and tribulations of the DACA movement, and the real lives it touches.

I hope the play catches on and begins to make its rounds in other cities: it is defnitely worth seeing.

Erik during the 2011 "I am a DREAM Voter" Campaign 

In any case, this play depicts the ongoing conflict brought on by the onslaught of deportation, and how DACA and the DREAM Act are trying to counter deportation's horrible effects. Millions of young people who were brought to the United States as children are now finding themselves in limbo, or their parents are in the crosshairs. Although the US government wants to deny these young people the only home they have ever known  the United States  they cannot call their home country their own either, because in most cases, they do not even remember it.


Monday, May 9, 2016

The Refugee Problem under USA's Rug in a Future Without Poverty

I have been too busy in the day-to-day to write anything much these days, but I did want to post my talk at the recent two-day conference presented by Future Without Poverty and dedicated to Reducing Global Poverty Through Grassroots Sustainable Actions



My husband Andrés L. Pacheco and I have been working with refugee populations at our southern border for the past few years, and we presented some of our findings during one of these excellent sessions. I am hoping to be able to post more in the future, but at least — for now — I can present my own, “The Chronic 'Refugee Problem' Under USA's Rug: Migration Along Our Southern Border." Andrés informally spoke about our process — what it is we do from beginning to end with the people we come into contact with — while I had a more formal, even if short, talk prepared. 

----------------

We began to work with refugees when we went to the border to help out in McAllen, Texas, along with people from the entire city and beyond in the state and country, as well as interdenominational organizations who put aside their politics because what we were suffering at the border was a humanitarian crisis.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Day, Things Change; Things Stay the Same...

I was looking through my old May Day activities, and I came across this letter I had written to my petition followers two years ago, in 2014. Back then I had a little over 4000 signatures, yet today we have 10,141. 

Has that made any difference? Unfortunately, no. 


Indeed, what is a stark awakening  when looking at this piece from two years ago  is that conditions are eerily similar, if not worse. Though more people seem to know about our conditions, more people seem to condone them too, or look the other way. 


We must not give up. We must keep fighting, struggling to make a difference, a change for the better. 



I am a Man: Mural Design Artist Marcellous Lovelace
Based on Civil Rights movement, Sanitation Workers' Protest March, Memphis, 3/28/1968
photograph © Ana M. Fores Tamayo

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Rebellion of Los Mojados / LA REBELION DE LOS MOJADOS

My last post was from millenials and the vote, and how important it is. Now I bring you back longtime activist and frequent contributor Julio César Guerrero, telling us about the Xicano vote...

-----------

Back in 1954, the Mexican film industry released an iconic movie entitled LA REBELION DE LOS COLGADOS. Based on a novel by B. Traven, the movie told the story of a Chamula Indian family that ended up working as slaves in the mahogany rich jungles of Chiapas, illustrating the socio economic conditions prevalent during the Porfirio Dias dictatorship, which brought about the Agrarian Revolution of 1910. It goes without saying that when the movie came out, things hadn’t changed that much under the reign of the PRI, which may explain why the film begins with the disclaimer, "Today Mexico is one of the great modern democracies."

Poster for film La Rebelión de Los Mojados, 1954

The story of La Rebelión de los Colgados is a classic depiction of brutal oppression characteristic of feudal times juxtaposed against the era of the industrial revolution. The title derives from the depiction of workers' punishment, if they did not comply with the work assigned. Each individual was forced to cut four tons of mahogany per day, and failure to comply led to punishment: they would be hanged by their limbs from a tree. By the end, the Indians rebel, turning against the company men. 


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Your Vote, Your Voice!

As I cast my ballot early today in the voting booth, I decided to stop dawdling and write something about the importance of voting. I have wanted to post my daughter's words, because  as a millenial — she has something important to say about voting in a way I could never replicate. 

So an article right before Super Tuesday I thought would fit the bill. 


Sandra Karina Tovar, center, main speaker at the LASSO Conference (Latin American Student Success Organization)
Tarrant County College, South Campus in Dallas, Texas
Camila Pacheco-Fores is young, yet she is old enough to vote, and she has the privilege to do so, as many students and young professionals do. A surprising percentage, however, choose not to use that right. I am glad she has been thinking long and hard about the vote, however, and she is talking about it, discussing it with friends, and writing about what moves her. 


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Are Refugee Children Lesser than Other Children?

I have recently been posting a myriad amount of articles on the atrocities of what is going on with detention centers nationally. With the help of activists, lawyers, and too many to be named, we were able to stop the government from continuing to license Berks County Residential Center in Berks, Pennsylvania, 
Texas has decided to turn up the heat, however, to make up for this "loss." It will now allow not only these notorious for profit centers to continue, but also it will allow them to become daycare facilities as well. 
Though no one is allowed to take photographs in Dilley, ICE certainly does.
How is that playing by the rules?
Virginia Raymond, immigrant lawyer, human rights activist -- ex adjunct professor -- writes to us the next steps we can take in this battle of David against Goliath, and she shows us her own example, so that we might emulate.
I urge all of us who care about our future as a free society -- comprised of diverse human beings -- to join in her call and write to any and all who will listen. 
Ana M. Fores Tamayo, Adjunct Justice
---------------
To all of you who spoke or wrote in opposition to the Texas Department of Family & Protective (sic) Services (DFPS) proposed rule 40 TAC 748.7, which allows ICE and ICE-contract facilities to apply for licensing as "residential child care." 
Thank you. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

introducing #Ayotzinapa Matters


…Ayotzi Vive because Ayotzinapa matters.

The collection of Ayotzinapa links and images below updates automatically from multiple sources to bear digital witness. It is also a righteous and appropriate part of Adjunct Justice and the Precarious Faculty Network. Ayotzinapa's "disappeared" student teachers, marginalized educators, belong to adjunct and precarious worker communitie

Briefly, the horrific state violence of September 26, 2014 in the Mexican province of Guerrero has come to represent the deepest problems of an entire nation: a corrupt, violent government and military, their complicity with drug cartels, the many murders, even more unexplained disappearances, and disenfranchisement of the poor and powerless. On that day, 43 students from Raúl Isidro Burgos, the historic and revolutionary teachers' college in Ayotzinapa, were "disappeared" from the provincial capital Iguala.

To this date the state has failed to offer families a plausible explanation or reliable information and closed the case over strong public objections. The Ayotzinapa story is also the global reaction to these events. Spontaneous protests spread throughout both hemispheres and around the world. Fueled by the refusal to forget or be silenced, Caravana43 took the families' search for justice across both hemispheres, to the U.N. in NYC and across the Atlantic to the Hague.

... now visit the collection celebrating that refusal by saving and sharing stories and images of Escuela Normal Raúl Isidro Burgos, the Ayotzinapa 43 and their families' journeys

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Refugees & Hysteria: A Modern Day Witch-hunt?

As the new year 2016 gets under way, and we have completed our good tidings to all, I tend to wonder what might be in store for the thousands of immigrants who suffer violence and displacement from their homelands either south of us — especially in Central America — or across the Atlantic. I wonder what awaits all refugees suffering the endless pain and miles of degradation as they journey toward hope, only to arrive at a land that does not welcome them. I wonder, if we were in their shoes, what would we feel? How would we react? What kindness might we show toward others sharing our same circumstances? How understanding might we become, if we were to suffer only one hour in their shoes?


Yet we have never had to.


Donated shoes at the Humanitarian Respite Center in MacAllen, Texas
© Ana M. Fores Tamayo
But if ever we had to suffer such indignities — like our parents, grandparents, or great grandparents did — we have most likely forgotten.

Although the Salem Witch Trials in Massachussetts may not have been initially traced to one specific immigrant or refugee, it was a well-known fact that between 1689 to 1692 Native Americans had been striking out against English settlements, so that many people were displaced, and there was an influx of refugees to the area near Salem. Thus the fear that surfaced everywhere in the general population — plain folk panicking with unfounded beliefs running amok because of "witches hiding as neighbors among them" — caused innocent women and one old man to end up losing their lives, based on groundless fears.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Happy New Year: You're DEPORTED!

I met Paul Zoltan, immigration lawyer and human being extraordinaire, when I wanted to work a little closer to home helping refugees. Although going to South Texas to help the mothers and children crossing the border is extremely rewarding — and I know it helped both refugees and Sacred Heart Respite Center, which continues to do great work — I needed a place where I could volunteer my time and services closer to home. 


© Lalo Alcaraz 2014
Paul Zoltan has mounted an incredible operation, together with Catholic Charities of Dallas

But as all operations go, he needs much help. 


If you are a lawyer, a writer, a translator, a teacher, a good samaritan — and you can offer your assistance — please contact me to help out at the next pro se asylum clinic in February at Catholic Charities of Dallas. We hold these immigration clinics every two months now, so we are in constant need of volunteers! 



Sunday, January 3, 2016

Just in Time for MLA in Austin...

Just in time for the MLA Conference in Austin from January 7th through January 10th, I am adding these articles, trailers, and information about Ayotzinapa, crónica de un crimen de estado, so that if you happen to go to Austin for the conference, or if you live nearby, you can check out and see this impactful documentary in Spanish with English subtitles at Monkey Wrench Books on Friday, January 8th, at 7:30PM.


Thank you once again to my intrepid colleague Vanessa Vaile for putting this list of articles together. And if you are a filmmaker, do not overlook the STUFF Film Festival links: Robert & Mariella Perez will be reviewing new films now for their next festival Mundo de Sueños in September and then the 2016 STUFF film festival a few months after that!