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  • Edición impresa de Mayo 4, 2010

This is the 300th edition of El Puente.  Throughout these 19 years since March of 1992 we have seen our share of good and bad times both locally and in the entire country.

The small town where we arrived hardly had any Latinos at the time; it also had almost no stores open on Sundays, restaurants were scarce and in order to find Latino products one had to travel to Chicago, since no where around were there stores or markets that sold Latino products.

Later there was an economic boom and workers were needed for the many factories that were loaded with orders but no workers.  No questions were asked as they hired people to work. People came from many places and factories demanded more and more.

In twenty years the landscape has changed a lot and a more diverse and sophisticated crowd populates these vicinities.  This is no longer a remote province, you can hear more languages spoken and people have a knowledge of more places and peoples abroad.

Nowadays the local school system teaches individuals speaking 23 different languages in a town of less than 30,000 people. Even though the Midwest does not have the tradition of harboring foreigners as the east and west coasts of United States do, still the change of the city mirrors the way in which the people who are here were explicitly invited to come and work but not to stay.

The foreigners came thinking of making money and going back ‘home’, and the locals expected them to boost the economy and then go ‘home’.

Nevertheless in those twenty or more years, this is home for both populations and they both contributed to the expansion of businesses and wealth.  At the same time they sent children to school, they bought houses and cars, and learned to live with the changing seasons and before long, they felt they belonged here.

Most of the newcomers look different.  Their skin is darker.  They come from the ‘third world countries’ where the sun reigns all year long. They come from the same places where most of the medicinal and food plants are from.

Their lands have been taken over by unscrupulous people that have commercialized the rights to the land, the water and the products from the land.

Even the natives from this land became second-class citizens in their own country. Their dark skin is also testimony that they are the original owners of the Americas.

If Arizona is going to judge by looks who does not belong here, we may assume that many people who have been born here or have become citizens will also be judged as ‘the others’.

If we go way back in history maybe we can learn from the Egyptians and the people of the land of Goshen. They oppressed them so much that they left, and pretty soon the empire fell.  There were no more workers and the great Egyptians found out that they needed the ones that had left, but it was too late.

The economy in the United States is going through very difficult times, and the humble people who do the menial work that accumulates and turns to riches are about to leave.  Will the USA lament their departure later?

I agree with those who are now saying.  “We are all Arizona”.  This is not a matter of color; it is a matter of humankind.  It is a matter of acknowledging that those who work have the right to enjoy the product of their work surrounded by their families in the place they call “Home”.






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