CAMBIA TODO CAMBIA…
“Cambia todo cambia. Pero no cambia mi amor por más lejos que me encuentre, ni el recuerdo ni el dolor de mi tierra y de mi gente.” *
– Violeta Parra (Santiago de Chile)
On September 11, 2015 la Izquierda Latinoamericana commemorated the 42nd anniversary of the Chilean coup sponsored by the U.S. government, and the assassination of President Salvador Allende. Both events are obligated historical references for the Left in Latinoamérica.(1) They marked a short period of revolutionary optimism in the region, followed by a succession of authoritarian governments, an increasing criminalization of social problems and the subsequent weakening (or elimination) of social protections.
For me, a Latina woman born and raised in Mexico, who grew up within a progressive sector of the middle-class, Allende has been always an influential symbol. Partly because of his heroism – he gave his life for the people of Chile – but primarily because the issues that people are fighting for in Latinoamérica (and the world) today. These are the same issues that Allende fought for his entire life: economic equity, access to education, employment, housing and healthcare. The downfall of Allende and the systematic state violence endured by the people of Chile, were also my first contact with the devastating power of the New World Order that was evolving before my eyes: Neoliberalism.
Image of Mercedes Sosa, detail from Juana Alicia’s mural The Spiral Word: El Codex Estnfor, ÊEl Centro Chicano, 2012.
Photo Ever Rodriguez
In my youth I would hear from family members and friends, and later from college professors (like some kind of socioeconomic Nostradamus prophecy), that the Capitalist structure was undergoing a metamorphosis, in order to prevail. Apparently, the capitalist crisis of the last three decades had inspired the global corporate elite to create a “frankensteinish” new economic model. A model that together with a “victim blaming” ideological discourse will creep up on all societies, destroying the last vestiges of the Welfare State. Such a hybrid despicable creature would gradually annihilate the aspirations of the majority of the population, undermining democratic governments and using all forms of social control – including institutional violence. The collective wisdom would persuade you, “YOU BETTER GET PREPARED!”(for how the world would look like when you were a grownup). And so I did…
Aptos, California, June 1, 2015. After an evening party during my first convening with Move to End Violence, fellow Movement Maker Maria Rodriguez and I are the last ones on the beach. As we head back to our rooms, walking with our arms around each other’s shoulders, we are loudly singing. We sing revolutionary songs that we had sung a cappella and in countless gatherings. And yet tonight they feel different. I am singing them with a compañera en la Lucha who did not exist in my life yesterday.
Suddenly I realize we own those liberation songs from our Motherland. We have inherited them through our life choices. Maria and I have blissfully entered a familiar communal domain – a collective consciousness. These beautiful songs have not created political change per se, but have bridged the divide among revolutionary people of different cultures – like it happened with my hermana Puertorriqueña and I tonight. “Pero no cambia mi amor por más lejos que me encuentre, ni el recuerdo ni el dolor de mi tierra y de mi gente“.* Now, the verses have become more intense and personal and I secretly shed a tear. Sometimes when singing I get sad about the transitory moments of joy in the world, and the many life times that will require for our revolutionary movement to be consolidated and victorious.
After a long walk along the pathway to our rooms, Maria and I, though short breath, continue laughing and singing. Our finale includes Pablo Milanés, who turned Allende’s last words into a song that became a revolutionary anthem for all the Latinoamerican youth who were GETTING PREPARED to eternally antagonize with el Monstruo-Capitalismo.
At times, the Revolution takes different forms, sometimes it means clashing, at other times it takes the form of an unforgettable night with new comrades at a Californian beach, inspiring hope. “Un niño jugará en una alameda y cantará con sus amigos nuevos y ese canto será el canto del suelo a una vida cegada en la Moneda”** – Pablo Milanés (Santiago de Cuba)
(1) Latinoamerica is a political term coined to identify the territories that in U.S. (only) are referred as “The Americas.” It describes our common colonial period and the subsequent struggles for liberation. It embraces our common languages, traditions and other cultural representations we share from the North (Mexico) to Central, South America and the Caribbean.
* Everything, everything changes…but my love for my people and my land never changes. No matter how far I might be I never forget their pain and their struggle.
** A child will play in a public plaza with no more fear and will be compelled to loudly sing with his new friends. Their singing will be a homage to an heroic life that ceased in la Moneda (President’s Office).