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In the Spirit of Zapata

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

The call for justice and human dignity rang out through East LA as hundred of marchers took to the streets to evoke the spirit of liberator and revolutionary Emiliano Zapata and to honor the EZLN, today's Zapatistas.

In the Spirit of Zap...
ezln.jpg, image/jpeg, 510x360

LOS ANGELES, April 9, 2006--As people were arriving for the march, a friend walked up to me after a conversation with a FOX News reporter. "I can't believe these guys," she began. The reporter had asked her why she wasn't in Mexico fighting the government there. "Why doesn't the U.S. stop sucking the Mexican economy dry?" she'd answered. The reporter was undaunted: "But if you don't like Vincente Fox, change the government." "Eighty percent of U.S. citizens don't like Bush," she came back, "and they can't change their government."

Then the reporter asked her if she admired Pancho Villa, and she said yes. "But isn't Pancho Villa the same as Bin Laden?" he challenged. Apparently she paused only for a moment: "If an armed nation had invaded your country, wouldn't the defenders be heroes?" she shot back. The reporter was forced to agree.

Outrageously he continued, "But you look like you have a lot of Spanish in you." "Probably not by choice," she retorted.

As she and I chatted, the reporter drifted by and asked where he could get a burrito. My friend pointed to a restaurant a few yards away with a large sign that said "Burritos." The reporter walked off in the other direction. It wasn't a Baja Fresh.

Three hawks circled overhead, an auspicious beginning. Six hundred people marched for Zapata today, drawing on East Los Angeles's deepest cultural and political roots, magically transforming the barrio into Mexico Norte for the day.

Shortly after 10:00 a.m., the conch shell blew a long note, the ayoyotl crackled, the drums thundered, and a hundred danzantes began their dance from Cinco Puntos to Lincoln Park. Following them were the rest of Mexican culture: campesinos, trabajadores, a squad of marchers in tribute to the Zapatistas, indigenists, estudiantes, anarchists.

¡Esta es mi tierra!
Esta es mi lucha!

With westbound traffic shut down, the six-block-long parade wound its way past shoppers and shopkeepers leaning on doorsills along Cesar Chavez Boulevard. Police cars escorted the marchers, with bicycle cops riding the yellow line.

The conches blew again, and paraders turned onto Soto Avenue. Pedestrians joined the marchers, and cars honked their horns, sometimes in support and once or twice, to shout out to a friend. Parading strollers and toddlers were sheltered by two columns of danzantes. Behind them, a group of South Central Farmers climbed into the sound truck and, for a while, replaced the recorded Mexican music with live guitars and workers' songs. A danzante stopped, wrapped one foot in bandaids, slipped his sandal back on, and returned to the line.

¡Raza sí!
Migra, no!

Another chorus of conches sounded, and we'd turned onto Chelsea. Neighbors poured into the residential sidewalks, many with Mexican flags in hand. Up Murchison, around to Alcazar, each turn announced with the conches, people lined the sidewalks and walked alongside the parade. A young boy blew bubbles at passersby. One old man stopped a Harmony Keeper and told him to wait a moment. The man went into his house and returned with a DVD. As he handed the young man a copy of Salt of the Earth, he explained, "So we won't ever forget who we are."

A hundred members of Mexicanos Unidos en Defensa del Pueblo brought up the rear, many dressed in black with anarchist masks, chanting anti-Bush, anti-Sensenbrenner, and anti-border slogans.

¡Somos un pueblo, sin fronteras!

Turning back onto Soto, pedestrians walking with the parade were forced into the street with the marchers when the sidewalk disappeared. The line slowed and stretched out as the marchers in the back stopped to take in the view of the front end of the march on the road below them, around the turn. The Zapatista honor corps, about twenty strong young women and men dressed as modern day members of the Ejercito Zapatista Liberacion Nacional, stopped and performed military drills for the crowd on the hill above. As they moved on, fifty Farmers in bright green shirts marched into sight around the curve, and behind them were the Jornaleros del Valle de San Gabriel.

As the marchers approached Lincoln Park, the danzantes lined either side of the street to welcome them to the Zapata monument. The Zapatista honor corps saluted the statue from the base of the monument, and event organizers urged the marchers and those who met them at the park to struggle for their rights in the spirit of Emiliano Zapata. The last to come to the stage were the danzantes, who concluded their nearly five-mile dance by running in twos and threes across the last two hundred-yard stretch onto the stage.

Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.
¡Esta es la lucha popular!

Across the park, a little girl ran off, and her father ran after her, scooped her up, and rocked her in his arms. I stopped for a Tamarindo as we entered the park. "Un dólar y veinticinco centavos." The vendor looked up at me and corrected himself: "One dollar and twenty-five cents." The English was jarring; I realized that I hadn't heard it for the past three hours, since we'd left Cinco Puntos.

I was chatting with a friend when a stranger with a cane offered me his chair, another offered me a tostada with fresh nopales, tomatoes, and onions. She came back with a cup of jamaica. A rock en español group started up. The border had crossed me--I'd made it to Mexico, and Zapata was just around the corner, a short way off.

¡Zapata vive!
La lucha sigue!

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boys with flag

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

boys with flag...
boys_flag.jpg, image/jpeg, 320x181

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una Mexicana

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

una Mexicana...
mexicana.jpg, image/jpeg, 272x365

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people watching

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

people watching...
peoplewatching.jpg, image/jpeg, 312x240

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raza si

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

raza si...
razasi.jpg, image/jpeg, 397x298

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singing farmers

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

singing farmers...
singingfarmers.jpg, image/jpeg, 353x326

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from the hill

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

from the hill...
fromthehill.jpg, image/jpeg, 467x270

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more people watching

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

more people watching...
peoplewatching2.jpg, image/jpeg, 320x240

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Zapata presente

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

Zapata presente...
zapatapresente3.jpg, image/jpeg, 288x384

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Zapatista tribute

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

Zapatista tribute...
zapatistatribute4.jpg, image/jpeg, 404x279

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un Mexicano

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 1:42 PM

un Mexicano...
mexicano.jpg, image/jpeg, 480x640

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 27 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Re: Leslie 8 AM IN THE MORNING Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 3:32 PM
Well Done! Webmaster Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2006 at 9:50 PM
Pictures from Boston (1) @ Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2006 at 12:39 AM
Pictures from Boston (2) @ Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2006 at 12:40 AM
Leslie Rocks Marconi Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2006 at 2:05 AM
rock rodolfo Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2006 at 3:45 AM
Speakers Rockero Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2006 at 1:38 PM
This is AMERICA! us citizen Tuesday, May. 16, 2006 at 11:37 PM
This is NOT AMERICA! Leslie Wednesday, May. 17, 2006 at 4:08 AM
Not America? Ok.. so what's the plan? us citizen Wednesday, May. 17, 2006 at 2:46 PM
To US Citizen: So when are you going to learn critical thinking skills? I won't hold my breath Wednesday, May. 17, 2006 at 4:18 PM
But the moon?? us citizen Wednesday, May. 17, 2006 at 5:10 PM
Some of us aren't flag worshippers Or Bush worshippers Wednesday, May. 17, 2006 at 6:25 PM
Let me try to explain Leslie Wednesday, May. 17, 2006 at 9:48 PM
Got it? I know it! us citizen Thursday, May. 18, 2006 at 2:30 AM
Damn, Citizen, you are SLOW Nazi Hunter Thursday, May. 18, 2006 at 6:34 AM
and the winner is . . . Leslie Friday, May. 19, 2006 at 1:17 AM
Leslie us citizen Friday, May. 19, 2006 at 3:17 AM
us citizen is simple minded Pete Nice Friday, May. 19, 2006 at 4:21 AM
My heritage Leslie Friday, May. 19, 2006 at 8:10 PM
RAZA SI, MIGRA NO! AnA VegA Thursday, Mar. 08, 2007 at 9:27 AM
RAZA SI, MIGRA NO! AnA VegA Thursday, Mar. 08, 2007 at 9:27 AM

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