Texas is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, which dropped about 19 trillion gallons of water on the greater Houston area. Sixty-three people were reported dead as a result of the storm, with 30 deaths occurring in Harris County, where Houston is located. After the storm, Mexico announced that they were prepared to send resources, including doctors, to Texas to help those impacted by the storm. However, Mexico was devastated by two natural disasters since that time and the Mexican government has decided to refocus those resources to their own recovery.
After aiding in Houston’s recovery after Hurricane Harvey, Mexico is withdrawing their relief effort to focus on relief efforts at home.
Immediately after Hurricane Harvey passed through Texas, Mexican government officials announced their readiness to step up and help with relief efforts. The Red Cross of Mexico sent volunteers to help those who needed food, shelter, and comfort after the devastating storm. The Mexican government was preparing trucks full of food and supplies, as well as prepping medical staff to cross the border to help Texas. But according to Reuters, the U.S. government didn’t specify to the Mexican government what kind of relief was needed.
Mexico deployed 25 trucks with relief supplies to the U.S. and they were expected to cross the border on Sept. 6, however, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake shook the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. Two days later, on Sept. 8, Hurricane Katia made landfall in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The two natural disasters devastated Mexico, with more than 90 people killed in the earthquake, according to ABC News. The two natural disasters prompted the Mexican government to call the relief workers back to focus their energy on recovery at home, according to CNBC.
“Given these circumstances, the Mexican government will channel all available logistical support to serve the families and communities affected in the national territory,” the foreign ministry statement said, according to CNBC.
The majority of Mexican-American studies in this country mention, at great length, the contributions social activist Cesar Chavez had on the Latino farmworkers movement in this country. But there’s another Chicano pioneer who I didn’t learn about until a recent conversation I had with my dad…
Meet Ernesto Galarza one of the first Chicano scholars who began organizing for Latinos in 1948.
But I didn’t learn about Galarza in my history class, chicano studies lectures or even from reading on my own.
CREDIT: That’s my mom and dad back in the ’80s when they were field workers.
During a phone conversation, my dad told me that people in Jalco (the small village in Mexico my parents are from) had honored a native writer and poet in the town’s plaza. “A poet?” I asked. “A poet from Jalco…what the?” Most of the townspeople in Jalcocotán, Nayarit are hardworking laborers, caretakers, moms and dads, teachers, lawyers, nurses, but certainly not poets. When I asked my dad the name of the poet, I quickly Googled him and what I found was astonishing.
Galarza wasn’t just a poet but a profound historical figure in Latino history who lead major movements as a young boy.
CREDIT: Facebook/Man of Fire: Selected Writings of Ernesto Galarza
Galarza was born in Jalcocotan, Mexico on August 15, 1905, but moved to Sacramento when he was a boy. There, he quickly learned English and excelled in his studies. Because his English was so good, local farm workers in California asked him to protest on their behalf because polluted water had gotten them sick and even taken the life of a baby in the camp. He did that commendable act when he was just a kid.
He went from the fields on to attend Occidental College, Stanford and Columbia University. NBD, right?
That was just the beginning. Here’s more of his incredible accomplishments that contributed and aided the Latino community in the United States, and in Mexico.
Between the 1940s and 1950s, Galarza led the National Farm Labor Union.
His work with this organization led to many accomplishments for farm workers including the initiation of the Bracero program, but it also included the exploitation of these works by the U.S. government.
The National Farm Labor Union birthed a movement that gained another Chicano activist and that was Chavez.
Chavez’s work with this organization led to numerous strikes mainly in California, but also throughout the country. Galarza believed he could help the Latino community more effectively through his writings than through activism.
Reading about my dad’s hometown, my history, in such an eloquent structure was very emotional for me. Jalco has always been this little town that I wish everyone knew about, and here I was reading about it in a book.
Here’s an excerpt about Jalco from that book:
CREDIT: Immigrant Voices: New Lives in America, 1773-1986.
The artwork located at the San Jose Peace & Justice Center states the following: “Man of Fire commemorates the great and influential teacher and civic leader Dr. Ernesto Galarza. The artwork references Dr. Galarza’s life-long pursuit of bridging academic and civil life. The design of this commemorative work seeks to physically and conceptually connect San Jose State University with Plaza de Cesar Chavez, in the heart of the City’s downtown.”
Galarza’s extended family, some of them from Jalco, visited this dedication last year.
I don’t think I’d ever discover this great Latino trailblazer if it wasn’t for Dad. However, I am even more ecstatic that I can now share the amazing legacy of this labor activist, professor, writer, and the small village where we both have roots.